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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #323 - VThe first Eggplant with dates and garlic is a feature of the din
July 22, 2018

This is why I chase the Red Lily Beetles. A beautiful Oriental Lily but of course I’ve long since lost the name. I infuriate myself as much as I infuriate my readers but the Assistant Gardener points out that I’m unlikely to change my slovenly habits. This Lily is actually growing under the Crab Apple tree but on its south side so a fair bit of sun reaches it and it tends to grow at an angle to reach that sun. The Beetles didn’t seem to be as bad this year, maybe years of killing them has somewhat diminished the breeding population. I can only wish. There is so much happening in the garden just now that I’m about to give you five pictures instead of the usual 3. I just couldn’t choose. I also have a bit of time because we are finally having that nice day long rain that we so desperately need. I go out on the porch and stand there and just watch it and can imagine all the plants dancing with joy.

This is the Bean trellis yesterday. It has been planted since late May and should be well established but I have found it badly wilted like this a couple of times and rushed to bring it a bucket of water. We have had one feed of Beans from it despite the wilting but it should be covering the trellis by now. It is looking much happier today. No amount of water that I can pour on it does the same job as a good soaking rain. The other, similar, trellis is slightly better because it’s around the corner and only gets sun from about 11:00 am. Both of these trellises also have Morning Glories interplanted with the Beans but I haven’t seen any sign of them for some time. The Morning Glories were transplants and the Beans were direct seeded but they seem to be winning. This combination usually grows quite happily together.

The ugliest plant in the collection occupied the Assistant Gardener’s office all winter and I miss-named it in that past issue of Dallying. It is now earning its keep with a dozen or more of these amazing flowers. They develop right out of the flat stems and do so with amazing speed. That speed, unfortunately, also affects their longevity. Two or three days for each bloom is all that we can expect. Is 11 months of ugliness worth it to enjoy these blooms in midsummer. It has bloomed indoors sometimes but usually it just sits there or grows long round branches. There will be a big decision this autumn when moving indoors time arrives. If it makes it, there will be significant pruning.

You wonder why I have minimal love for the furry tailed tree rats, aka squirrels? I noticed that this Tomato was just turning pink and was going to be the first Tomato of the summer and the next morning this is what I found. It’s up off the ground and laying on top of its subirrigation box and it’s inside the fence so it’s unlikely that a rabbit found it. I can just picture the squirrel or its even sneakier little cousin, the chipmunk, sitting on the provided platform and happily enjoying “MY” first Tomato. The only nice thing I can say is that he came back a second time and continued to eat the same Tomato instead of starting on a couple of other ones. How would he know it was getting ripe and why would he fight his way through the fence to find it?? Only squirrels would know that answer and they are not talking to me. We had our first Eggplant for dinner last night and it was delicious. I beat the squirrels to that one or else they belong to that unenlightened part of the population that doesn’t like Eggplant. I picked it fresh and cut it in half, longitudinally, smeared the cut side with a Persian Sauce that I found at a farmer’s market, it’s basically Dates and Garlic. Tastes far better than it sounds. About 8 - 10 minutes on the BBQ and Eggplant becomes a feature of the dinner. I’m still battling Japanese Beetles on those Eggplants but I think I’m winning with vigilance, insecticidal soap and needle nosed pliers.

This is a picture of a lack of planning and foresight. My three tiered planter is producing some wonderful Lettuce It’s clean and slug free because it’s up off the ground. Each layer has a different variety of Lettuce so it’s also quite attractive. There are a lot of Lettuce plants in each layer and they are growing well and it has been very hot and dry so they need water every day. So why did I set it up as far as possible from any source of water?? It’s high enough that the Rabbits can’t reach it and apparently Squirrels prefer Tomatoes. I have plenty of time to reflect on my bad planning each day as I carry a large bucket of water, always with some dissolved fertilizer, right to the back of the yard. If I could only think of a way to hook up one of my watering systems to it.

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.

Carol Asks? we're having Radish problems. Only these last two years, our radishes have NOT even grown to pencil size. Any clues as to what our problem might be? Same soil. Same gardeners. Same pampering.

Ken Answers! I have experienced the problem and have no definitive answer. This year I sowed radish in 2 spots in the garden. One produced beautifully and the other grew nice tops. The ones that produced were well spaced, they were actually just row markers for the parsnips, and well weeded, i.e. no competition. The poor ones were sown thickly and I didn't get after the weeds quickly. Maybe competition for space might be the answer.

Mary asks? Iris borer... I just dug up a small iris bed, because it was full of grass... long deep roots... when I went to replant I found lots of borer evidence. Soft brown leaves, and even an ugly white critter. I cut all the leaves to 3 inches to replant, and hopefully only planted " clean" plants, about 3-4 inches apart.. anything else I should do? I will reduce all my other iris to the ground in the fall!

Ken Answers! If you found all the ugly white critters then most of your problems are solved but you probably missed a few and they will eventually become adult moths and lay eggs for next year. Those eggs are laid on old Iris foliage so it is very important to clean the Iris bed thoroughly in the fall so that the eggs are gone in the spring.

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