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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #267 - Crocosmia's choice of a good place to grow is irritating.
August 06, 2016

Begonia boliviensis San Francisco looks fabulous against my garage wall on 04 August but I do note that they are drying out more quickly and thus the containers are getting lighter while the mass of stem, foliage and flowers are getting noticeably heavier. All of that new weight is obviously growing on one side of the container, away from the garage wall. I ask myself if this might become a problem and what could I do about?

The morning of 05 August I think I should try and solve the heavy Begonia situation before it becomes a problem. Too late! Mother Nature has expressed her displeasure with my procrastination. Two of the containers are on the ground and have remarkably little breakage. Now I have to deal with them. I move them to the lower shelves and put the regular Tuberous Begonias onto the top shelves. My hopes of angling the shelves back were not possible without dismantling the whole affair and rebuilding it. Not happening! I vow to keep them well watered for the rest of the summer and hope that their position on the lower shelves might miraculously solve the problem. I believe that’s known as being in denial. I watered them and went away for the weekend, see below, and hope that they might stay on their shelves until my return. Pruning them would work but they would take more horticultural courage than I posses. Months producing all of those beautiful blooms makes it difficult to imagine cutting them back even if it means keeping them alive and in place. We’ll see what it looks like when I return tomorrow.

Out past the Begonia wall, some things are happening as they should. All of my Garlic has the bottom leaves drying up. Three dry leaves and they are ready to harvest, another chore for early next week. They will come out of the ground and be left in the sun for a few days to cure and then into the cold room. That cold room isn’t that cold this summer but it is dry and dark and the Garlic will keep well there until It adds it’s wonderfulness to some of our meals. We have seen very little rain this summer but as soon as I lay out the Garlic to dry and cure in the sun we are sure to get a thunderstorm to get them wet again if I don’t rush out and bring them in. Some of the biggest will be separated and taken back outside in mid September to be planted for next year’s crop. You can see from the picture that Garlic is planted in a separate corner well spaced from each other and with no other competition. I discovered this a few years ago. They have huge root systems and if they have to compete for resources then the size of the bulbs is greatly reduced.

This is the garden of the friends that we are visiting this weekend and it annoys me. She lives many kilometers north of my garden in an interesting part of the world known as the Bruce Peninsula. What annoys me are two plants in this picture. The bright red flowers of the Crocosmia and the deep purple flowers of the Buddleia. They are both delightful but they rarely survive the winter in my garden a zone or three farther south. That’s my good frenemy Mother Nature just playing with me again. The winters here are a bit colder but they are moderated sometimes by the immediate presence of Georgian Bay, a huge piece of the great lakes. They also get a reliable and deep snow cover for most of the winter. That snow is actually an insulator that stops the deep cold from penetrating the ground and killing off those delightful perennials. At home, snow cover is often not present all winter and sometimes hardly at all. That allows the cold to penetrate my perennial beds and kill of tender perennials such as those Crocosmia and Buddleia. Gardening is always fascinating and a challenge and things that should make sense often don’t until you fully analyze the situation. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense at all and that’s why I can drive North for four hours to see things that won’t survive in my garden. I’ll keep trying, however, because that’s what gardeners do.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Angela Asks? I read about your prolific zucchini. I too have zucchinis producing very well right now. However, invariable I go out and find a small zucchini has been bitten from the plant and left lying on the ground. My zucchinis are yellow and I am wondering if this makes them more attractive and also wondering what I can do to protect them?

Ken Answers! Shoot the squirrels. Not a really viable option but anything else you can do to keep them away will help.

Heather Asks? Any ideas of what to do about squash vine borer? For the past few years I've been unable to grow any decent winter squash in spite of planting 3 beautiful wide beds, anticipating a winter of enjoying my favourite vegetable! Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Ken Answers! I'm afraid to answer this because it seems that every time I help someone with a problem that problem then shows up in my garden the next week:-) Try this link to get some good advice.

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