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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #286 - Last fall we planted Crocus in the lawn and we are being rewarded
April 03, 2017

It’s been almost a month since I last published “Dallying” where did the time go. My speaking schedule has been hectic, Canada Blooms, Winnipeg, Montreal and a few points in between. Great fun meeting all those wonderful people but a bit tiring and leaving me little time for all of the indoor planting that needs to be done. Almost caught up now and off to Ottawa by mid week. The picture above was taken yesterday when it actually felt like spring had arrived. The air was warm, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the Crocus were blooming. The first Crocus showed up on the last day of March. These Crocus were planted in the newly seeded lawn last fall. They are obviously doing better than the lawn is. Lots of grass seed will be spread there sometime this week. The Crocus are C. thommasinianus Ruby Giant. They are a different species from most Crocus and have this special quality, the Squirrels don’t like them. I don’t remember how many I planted, probably about 200, and a quick count yesterday came to 150. A great success. They should multiply and spread and show up in that lawn for several springs. One of my gardening success stories.

It’s certainly time to pot up all of the various tubers that we dug up last fall. Tuberous Begonias both the large flowering type and the rather large tubers produced by the Begonia boliviensis need to be finding warmth and moisture to break their dormancy and start them growing. The Dahlias were amazing in the garden last summer and I dug up some huge clusters of tubers in the fall. I was faced with a dilemma this week. Do I try to find pots big enough to hold those large clusters of tubers or do I break them up allowing me to use smaller pots that take less soil and more importantly, less space. They were broken up and then a smaller healthy looking clump was retained and potted. I’m very proud of myself. There is no room in the garden for many more Dahlias and certainly not several of the same variety. I tossed all of the extraneous tubers from those large clumps into the compost. I did not plant them! They will probably grow up out of the compost heap as a couple did last year. Despite my self restraint and lack of garden space, a few new Begonias and Dahlias seemed to have somehow found their way through the door and onto the potting bench. It’s amazing how that seems to happen. All of these pots need heat and water to get started but not any real light until the shoots appear. That’s why they are tucked in between the Orchids in the solarium as you can see in the picture. Only the Colocasia corms still need to be planted and that should happen this week. They present another dilemma. They multiply quite well over the summer and I have a large bucket of them to be planted. How many do I actually need or even want?? Since the corms are edible and are widely consumed in tropical countries maybe I should plant some and try eating the others.

While at the garden centre late last week, looking for soil to pot up the tubers, I just happened upon the flats of Pansies with their smiling faces. They were next to those Begonia tubers that fell into my shopping cart. I love to fill my front porch planters with Pansies as early as possible so a flat of them managed to follow me home. They were planted yesterday while we enjoying all of that warmth and sunshine. I really should be a bit more restrained about these things. Many years, after the Pansies have been planted, I have been forced to water them with warm water to melt the snow on them and thaw their newly frozen soil. They do seem to carry on and grow despite that sort of treatment.

Wandering the garden checking for signs of life was also very encouraging. Last summer we had to rip two large Peonies out of the front garden just as they were blooming, to make room for the town work crews installing new sewer lines. Absolute worst time of year to move Peonies. They looked terrible all summer trying to survive in the vegetable garden but yesterday they were poking up several bright red shoots to indicate that they were indeed alive. They will stay where they are until autumn, the time of year when they should be moved.

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.

Julia Asks?I was just wondering if I could buy some worms from a Bait Shop and distribute them in my garden in the Spring? I assume this would be good for my soil.

Ken Answers! Earthworms actually reproduce quite well on their own if the soil conditions are right. They like a soil rich in compost, their food, and moderately good at holding moisture. Any purchased worms will not thrive or stay around if the soil conditions do not keep them happy. Bait worms would work but they are going to be relatively expensive. Google, garden earthworms for sale, and you will probably find better species and better prices.

Joan Asks? A friend sent me a note asking if tulip bulbs that have been stored in a box in an unheated garage all winter would be ok. Do you have any advise or experience in regards to this?

Ken Answers! Typically they don't do well. If they have been thoroughly frozen then they will probably make good compost. The bulbs root heavily when planted in the fall and that helps their survival and these have no roots. Spend a few moments planting them and see what happens but if they bloom they will be quite late.

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