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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #145 --- I let the town compost asparagus ferns for me.
October 11, 2013

I was never so happy to see the garbage man. He’s not collecting garbage, but the brown bags that are part of our municipal composting system. He comes once every two weeks to collect yard waste. Now most of the material from the gardens goes into my own compost bins but some heads out to the street. It was Thursday morning and I set out to cut down some of the Asparagus, which does not go into my compost because of its sharp scales that remain to snag my hands next year. I decided to keep filling bags until he showed up. That was close to 8:00 am and he finally put me out of my misery about 1:00. A long morning of cutting, chopping and carrying. The upside, and in the garden there is always an upside, was the route from the Asparagus patch to the street. At this time of year the Morning Glories are in full bloom. Heavenly Blue is the most apt name for a flower that I can think of. There are relatively few, true blue, flowers but my favourite Morning Glories certainly are. I have to walk under a large trellis of them on the way to the street and that causes me to pause and appreciate their fleeting beauty.

The front garden, near where I’m stacking the big brown bags, also has a wonderful floral display at this time of year. The Japanese Anemones Anemone hupehensis x hybrida are living up to their common name of windflowers by waving gently on their 1.5 M stalks. Dozens of light pink blossoms are brightening up the fading perennial patch and do so for several weeks in the autumn. They do have a bit of a problem. They don’t like to be contained and every spring I ruthlessly rip out many of its, ramblin’ roots. With that bit of effort they then spend the summer producing some interesting foliage and rewarding me with those wonderful late fall, fresh blooms. I must get myself the white flowered variety that tends to bloom even later.

Once the nice man has picked up the brown bags, I thought he would never come, I can stop for lunch and contemplate an easier task for the afternoon. The big planters hanging on the front wall of the house have usually been planted to Impatiens. The Downy Mildew problem forced me to look for alternatives this year. Dragon Wing Begonias have been around for many years and are often used as street plantings because of their expansive growth. I came by a few small plants this spring and planted them in those front wall baskets. They did amazingly well. The light afternoon’s work was to take a few cuttings of these large, bright red beauties. Hopefully I will be able to root them so that I can repeat this display next year.

Time to answer a few questions. If you have a gardening question just ‘reply’ to this newsletter and send me your query. I try to answer most of the questions and the ones that I answer here are those that I think will have the widest interest. You can also find the latest garden updates on the front page of I try to change it every few days so check back often.

Lois Asks? Ken, enjoy your Gardening mail .can you tell me if blood meal helps keep the squirrels from digging up tulip bulbs? Thanks

Ken Answers! Blood meal should help with the squirrels. I use the blood & bone meal mix, probably mostly out of habit. A teaspoon in the bottom of the hole before the bulb goes in or mix it in the soil that is going back into the hole. Spreading some Acti-sol brand fertilizer, (dehydrated chicken manure,) on the surface of the soil after planting also works.

Several people responded to the query about over wintering perennials in containers. Here is one of the ideas.

Norma Responds. Ken, I have several large Hostas in 9" to 12" Black Nursery Pots & for 4-5 years in late fall I dig a hole in my vegetable garden & bury them just over the lip. Have a few day lilies too. No problem. Then in the summer I can elevate them to discourage slugs.

Ken receives more ideas.

Huberte Responds! Regarding the tomato cage : I put a tomato cage, upside down, over any tall perennials, that flop down. It works very well. There is no need to put the cage in the ground. Within weeks ,the cage disappears.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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