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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #297 - The Cucumber Beetles have pretty yellow stripes but nasty appetit
July 19, 2017

If you persist long enough you can eventually achieve your goals. That’s true in life as well as in gardening. I’ve been trying to get this Clematis to twine through the Crab Apple tree for several years. It had a case of Clematis wilt once and I may have accidentally pruned it severely one year but there it is this year blooming beautifully through the branches of the Crab Apple. Hopefully next year it will light up the whole tree with its deep purple blooms. It is a Jackmanii variety that blooms mid summer on its new growth. Most of my other Clematis bloom earlier in the year.
You may have noticed that I skipped a week and a bit since the last edition of “Dallying.” I needed a break and there were many garden chores demanding my attention on the few days without rain. More importantly it was camp week. Our church puts on 4 weeks of camp for the children and I volunteer to prepare snacks and drinks etc. for one of those weeks. It’s great fun to watch kids doing all the games and crafts that the leaders have organized for them. The only thing that grows faster then those children are the weeds I left at home. More about that problem later.

Every morning, even before going to camp, I patrol the garden examining all of those big yellow squash flowers. The dastardly Cucumber Beetles have returned and they like to spend the night inside those flowers filled with pollen and nectar. It actually make for easy hunting in the morning. Just a spray bottle of insecticidal soap and I can either hit them with it or fill up the bottom of the flower and watch them flounder, sadistic gardener that I am. I do have to be careful because I often find a honey bee or some other useful critter in there having breakfast and I don’t want to kill them. Interestingly I can’t remember seeing a flower with both Cucumber Beetles and bees sharing the same space. Sounds like a PhD thesis to me .

That’s a strange picture that takes some explaining. It’s the time of year when I sow another round of seeds for the cool season vegetables. I have about 12 types sown that should be nice transplants for the end of August. They will grow happily in Sept. and Oct. feeding us well in the late fall. Cabbage, Pak choi, Cauliflower, Kohl Rabi and something I’ve never tried before. I sowed some Brussels Sprouts that are usually a long term crop that I plant early in the year and harvest in the late fall. The rabbits, that I found inside the fence, enjoyed that first crop of little B Sprout plants and they have not recovered. I’ve often wondered how late planted Sprouts would produce and this year those rabbits have kindly helped me in my research. What you see in the picture is my soil riddle and it is covering all of the seedling trays. I first put those trays out there with a clear plastic cover to keep the humidity high so that seeds wouldn’t dry out before they germinated. On the second day I noticed that there were some strange marks in the soil and some seeds near the surface. Because the clear plastic cover did not reach all the way to the bench, apparently some little critters found their way in to look for their lunch. The riddle, (it’s a screen to separate soil particles,) touches the bench and covers the plastic dome and the seeds have stayed where I put them. When I looked today most of them had germinated. I will have to remove the plastic but will keep the riddle in place for a while because tender green seedlings are even more appealing than seeds.

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.

Mary Asks? I moved a peony last year to a sunnier location. It did not set any blooms this year. I tried to keep its root near the surface... I think. Should I dig it up and re- position, or give it another year? It's is healthy with dark leaves.
#2.... some of my iris have mottled leaves... are they diseased, or just too damp this season?

Ken Answers! Peonies often don't bloom the first year so give it another chance. My Iris leaves look like they have brown measles but that's fairly normal for them especially in this weather. Don't panic.

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