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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #303 - A wonderful Colocasia surprise was waiting for me in the pond.
October 07, 2017

Mother Nature continues to fascinate me even after all the years I’ve spent working with her. The Colocasia that I plant in a basket hanging in the waterfall did not do well this year. Some years it puts on huge growth making it a spectacular addition to the pond area. This year it is has done something even more interesting. A couple of old leaves fell over and landed in the pond. When I was pulling out some of the overgrowth of Water Hyacinths last week I happened to notice these small leaves emerging from the pond. Closer inspection revealed that the fallen leaves have turned into new little plantlets. They have significant roots in the water and these small leaves that can be seen emerging from the water. I will rescue these little plants and bring them indoors for the winter. They will spend those months in a container of water and will be ready to go out next spring and find their place somewhere in the ponds or rivers. I’ve always struggled to find the appropriate small piece of Colocasia to overwinter and this year Mother Nature has provided the perfect solution.

Colchicum have to be one of my favourite plants. These spectacular flowers emerge from the soil in the early Autumn and each year the size of the clump increases. This clump started as one bulb that was planted in the fall several years ago. I have a few others around the garden that are equally wonderful but this is the biggest clump. When you get to the garden centre you may find these bulbs in a cooler to stop from them blooming. They will actually bloom just laying on your counter top if are too slow planting them. Plant them anyway they will carry on for years. Every year I wonder what kicks these delights into bloom. They are underground so they probably don’t notice the shortening of the days. They bloomed this year late in September and there certainly wasn’t any cool weather to initiate those blooms. My own records show them blooming as early as the 15th of September and as late as the 25th and this year they may be a few days later then in previous years but in the middle of a heat wave. I actually spent some time with that fount of all knowledge, Google, and could find nothing definitive on Colchicum bloom initiation. Don’t confuse these huge blooms with Autumn Crocus it’s a totally different plant family. Those real crocus will bloom a couple of weeks later. All that aside, spend the $5 that each Colchicum bulb will probably cost and enjoy the increasingly large clump of blooms every year. I may have to dig, divide and move this clump this year as part of the great garden renovation. Apparently this is easy to do and quite successful.

I’m just so excited to have one whole section of my veggie garden without weeds that I really wanted to share it. There’s actually a lot happening here. The last of the fall vegetables were just planted and I don’t expect much from them as they were in the cell paks too long. In the upper right corner you can see those same vegetables in my sub irrigation containers. They were planted a few weeks ago and they are huge and we are already eating some of them. The large damp spot on the right side is where I just planted next year’s Garlic. It thrived this year because I have finally learned that it doesn’t like competition and now it gets a space of its own. Bottom left just shows the end of a healthy row of Swiss Chard that likes the cool fall weather. In both corners you can see an Iris clump where all of the old foliage has been removed and the green foliage will also be removed as it drys. The nasty Iris borer overwinters as eggs on the dead foliage and removing it is one of the best control methods. In the centre back with the sun shining on them is a massive crop of Peppers and Eggplant which will both be harvested soon to go into my large winter supply ofSpaghetti sauce and Eggplant fritters. There, I’m tired just thinking about all the things that happen in just a small area of the garden. That’s why the back yard gardens are well on their way to being dramatically downsized and even doing that is a time consuming task. The really hard part is deciding to actually compost some plants that I have enjoyed for many years but now just represent too much work. The garden has always given us much joy and after the renovations, it will continue to do so for many more years.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. To ask a question just “reply” to this ezine. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Dan Asks? I'm going to be unavailable starting in early October. Is it to early to dig up my Calla Lillies and other bulbs.

Ken Answers! If I wasn't hiding in my office because it is too hot to go out into the garden I would say go ahead and dig but they really haven't had any cool weather to make the bulbs think about going dormant. That said it's probably better to dig them than leave them until the ground is frozen later in the fall. Mother Nature being as unpredictable as always she may take us straight from this heat wave to an early freeze up :-)

Jeff Asks? I want to try to over-winter hollyhocks for the first time. Some are in flower now, some not. Since these are reputed to be a tender perennial or biennial could you suggest any special preparations?

Ken Answers! They usually reliably biennial. As such, those that are in flower now are unlikely to return in the spring. If the others have not flowered then they should come back and flower next year with little effort on your part.

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