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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #249--- Valentines brings cut Roses to many homes.
February 15, 2016

Valentines has come and gone and many of you now have a bowl of Roses that somebody paid a ridiculous price for. We don’t do Valentines at our house, it’s always filled with flowers anyway and the Assistant Gardener’s birthday is only a couple of days later. You really want those Roses to last for as long as possible so I hope you added the packet of floral preservative that came with them, to the water. It really does make a difference. In a few days it’s probably wise to change the water and add some more of the preservative. If the Roses are looking a little peaked then cut another 2 cm off the bottom of the stems but do that cut under water. The stem will immediately suck up the water when cut and it will suck up air if they are not underwater when cut. That air bubble will move up the stem and hasten their demise. I did have some sympathy for the floral delivery people trying to deliver quality flowers and arrangements on the coldest Valentines day in 100 years. My many years in the indoor plant business were always made more difficult when we had to deliver on freezing cold days. Now we just sit and admire the 2 dozen plus Cymbidium Orchids that are blooming in the solarium. The Tuberous Begonia seedlings are thriving in the basement and it’s fascinating to observe the different germination times and growth rates of the different colours. You wouldn’t think that red Begonias would germinate better and grow quicker than white ones but that is what seems to be happening.

Now for one of my pet peeves. Christmas is over! It’s almost dead! Compost the poor thing! You cheerfully throw out the cut Roses, that cost $40 or more, after a couple of weeks but because the $7 Poinsettia has roots you think you should keep it growing into the next millennium. It can be an interesting experiment to cut it back and regrow it and try to get that Poinsettia to rebloom next Christmas. While that is technically possible your chances of doing it successfully are somewhere between slim and nil. After you pitch the plant into the compost you at least have a 15 cm pot to reuse for some other plant. At least two readers will now write to me to tell how well they have been able to rebloom their poinsettias.

I spent this morning in the basement propagation area. Several small seedling flats were washed and sterilized with hot water and bleach. Then they were filled with sterile soilless growing media and then seeded with 5 varieties of Onions and 2 varieties of Leeks. The seeds are spread as evenly as possible on the level surface of the media and then they are covered with some finer material. I simply take the soilless mix and shake it through the Assistant Gardener’s baking sieve. She long ago abandoned it and bought herself a new one. When I cannot see any of the seeds I apply a nice even pressure to the top of the mix so that the seeds are in firm contact with the mix and then they are put into a water bath to soak up water from the bottom, thus making sure that all of the media is thoroughly dampened. From there they go onto the heated propagation bed and have the clear plastic cover put over them. That cover keeps the soil moist so that I don’t have to water it until the seeds germinate.
I sorted all of my seeds this past week and tossed any that were packaged in 2014 or older. Many of them would have some germination success but they can be unreliable and by the time you realize that they are not going to perform it’s too late to order new ones. Now I have to sift through the catalogues and order the things that I absolutely must have this year. I then attempt to apply common sense and cut that order at least I half.

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.

Rasheed Asks? Winter is here, finally !!! What seeds do you start in February? It would be great if share the seeds to plant in weekly your newsletter.

Ken Answers! Good idea, I will try to add a seed starting section each week. Just the Onions this week.

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