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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #308 - There is a fragrant Oncidium orchid lighting up the kitchen.
December 19, 2017

It’s been a while since we went “Dallying in The Dirt.” Winter arrived and it seemed to have stayed. I took advantage of the opportunity and visited family in B.C. where I managed to squeeze in a few days of skiing in wonderful early winter weather. Upon my return I have brought out the snow blower on at least three occasions which is somewhat un-December like for my part of the world. The ponds remain frozen over and I will have to chop a hole in the ice to insert the bubblers. No bubblers for the winter equals dead fish in the spring. Of course, as soon as I fight my way into the ponds, Mother Nature will probably thaw them out just to remind me who’s in charge. Inside, gardening continues. This beautiful miniature Oncidium Orchid spent the summer outside in the shade and has rewarded my minimal efforts with this magnificent bloom. It also seems to be noticeably fragrant. I have, of course, long since lost the label but it remains an amazing little, reblooming, winter delight. I do remember buying it at the local grocery store a couple of years ago for a ridiculously low price. That is probably why I bought it.

Brussels Sprouts are a staple of our Christmas dinner and frequently they come from the garden as the last vegetable to be harvested. They become noticeably sweeter with a few frosts. The early weeks of winter have been a bit harsher this year and I was a bit late planting the sprouts. When I took this picture this morning there was a good crop of sprouts but they were quite small. We will harvest them near the end of the week and remind ourselves to plant them earlier next year. Trimming a 100+ small sprouts is a lot more work than 40 larger ones and produces the same bowl full of green delights for the Christmas dinner. They have been subjected to some very cold weather this year so it will be interesting to see how they have survived. I have harvested them when they are quite frozen and as long as they go straight into the cooking pot they are fine. Letting them thaw and holding them for a few days may have a different result. Maybe I will continue to leave them in the garden. Christmas dinner will not happen here until 30 December when we can gather as much of the family as possible. It is actually above freezing today so I will wander out this afternoon and check on them while I’m adding bubblers to the ponds. Winter in the garden is always and adventure.

This picture is a testament to my firm belief in procrastination. This is the rain barrel that didn’t quite get emptied on time. The back barrel was used to water the sod and this one was supposed to water the newly planted bulbs in the front gardens. Oops! The expanding ice has pushed the lid off the barrel and the down spouts are frozen solid making it difficult to detach them and point them in another direction for the winter. Hopefully the next two days of warmer weather will allow me to partially correct my bad timing. The barrel will never thaw enough to empty but maybe I can move the down spouts. It will sit there all winter reminding me. There are a few other things that didn’t quite get done this fall and I will try to convince everyone, including myself, that the large standing clumps of Peony foliage are meant to provide winter interest in the garden.

As all of the TV dramas end their winter season with an unresolved mystery, I will end this year of “Dallying” the same way. When I first saw one of these holes in the snow I thought it might have been a spot where the neighbourhood hawk stopped to pick up his dinner. There are now several of these holes all over the back yard. The snow is removed and the hole extends into the frozen ground for a few cm. leaving a scattering of uprooted grass in the surrounding snow. Can a squirrel actually detect a buried nut under that much snow? Aren’t they supposed to just go somewhere and sleep for the winter? I see rabbit tracks in the snow as well but not usually near these bomb sites.

I’m not going to sleep for the winter although some days it does sound like a good idea. “Dallying” will sleep for a few weeks and we will sprout up again when the Begonia seeds do. I will be planting them in the next few days and then relaxing and reading seed catalogues as my favourite winter gardening activity.

Thanks for being loyal readers and questioners. May you have a joyous Christmas and a wonderful holiday season filled with dreams of next years garden bounty.
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