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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #130 --- I'm going to try to turn weeds into garlic pesto.
June 28, 2013

The variety of vegetables on our dinner plates is expanding with each passing day. The Snow Peas are delicious, the Sugar Snap peas are ready and the shelling Peas will be ready in a day or so. Strange weather that has them all ready at the same time. Even the late shelling Peas are filling out as fast as the early Dwarf Peas. I stopped pulling weeds for a day this week. They probably grew several cm while I wasn’t looking. I spent the day dividing and repotting my collection of Cymbidium Orchids. Several of them should have been done last year and they had actually broken their pots. They sit outside all summer and when I took the pots off I found considerable old rotted roots that I attributed to the rather consistent rains they have been subjected to this spring. Ripped them apart and cleaned up the roots and found new pots for most of them. I now have at least twice as many as I want or need and will have to find a way to dispense with them. I was planting them in a mixture of fibrous and chunks of coir, (old coconut shell fibre,) which I thought would be great. About 3/4's of the way through them I found one that I had obviously replanted last year and it had been done with coir. Now I’m nervous because that plant had not put a single root out into the new coir. Don’t they like it? I guess we’ll find out.

I have had the opportunity to trial several David Austin Roses. They are an English firm that breeds old English style Roses and they do grow and sell them in N. America as well. I have not always had great success with some of them, probably more to do with my efforts, than the quality of the Roses. Others have been quite wonderful. Right now I stop each morning and admire one that is about 2 M tall with dozens of wonderfully scented apricot blooms. It is Crown Princess Margareta, who was a Swedish granddaughter of Queen Victoria and was an accomplished landscape gardener. I have an obelisk supporting her as she tends to grow quite large and in my garden leans out a quite a bit to escape the shade behind her. She has overwintered quite successfully for few years and in the spring I just prune out the thin canes and prune the thicker ones back to a good developing bud or two. David Austin produces a lot of Roses that are grown on their own roots which makes protecting the bud union in colder climates, a non issue. Margareta will bloom for a few weeks as the central blossom finishes and equally large side blooms open. I will then give her a bit of a haircut and she will do it all over again later in the summer.

The large bed that I’m currently spending much time on and cursing vehemently is filled with a pernicious problem of my own making. Garlic is a terrible weed in this bed and it doesn’t just pull out. I have to loosen each of the many little plants with a trowel and then pull. Otherwise it just regrows from the remaining bulb. I thought I had eliminated most of it when I renovated the bed last fall. Wrong!! One year I did not cut off all the Garlic scapes and the little bulbils disbursed themselves widely all over the fertile soil. The upside, and I always try to find an upside while cursing, is that I am reaping a large harvest of young tender scapes as I weed. I’m carefully cutting them off and saving them in a separate container. They are a wonderful vegetable in stir fries and salads. The large quantity that I’m gathering is leading me to try something new. I have tasted it before at a farmer’s market. A pesto, where the main ingredient is ground Garlic scapes. I’ll add a bit of Basil and some Pine Nuts and some grated Parmesan cheese and let you all know how it works out. If nothing else I will have come closer to eliminating all of the rampant Garlic from this bed. This bed also has much of our Asparagus in it but I’ve never noticed whether that Asparagus has a slight Garlic flavour.

Time to answer a few questions. If you have a gardening question just ‘reply’ to this newsletter and send me your query. I try to answer most of the questions and the ones that I answer here are those that I think will have the widest interest. You can also find the latest garden updates on the front page of I try to change it every few days so check back often.

Dorothy Asks ? Yes, a question. Two years ago our street was in shambles, dug up for new sewers, water mains and curbs. The "sod" that was put down on the boulevards has all died and it is an ugly patch of weeds. The town has hired a landscaper to spray, fertilize and re-seed, but, in the meantime, because our boulevard was such a mess, I decided to create a boulevard garden. I did about 1/3 of the boulevard but ran into a very nasty surprise. The construction crews left the boulevard full of broken asphalt and gravel, then threw down a thin layer of soil on top and the bad "sod". My boulevard gardening turned into containers...which I don't want as I don't want to water there. When I complained to the town, they agreed to excavate my boulevard and fill it with screened topsoil. question is...what plants do you recommend for a sunny boulevard? They must be drought resistant, salt tolerant (resistant) and relatively low.

Ken Answers! Nice to know that the city inspectors are as diligent in your area as in ours making sure we get value for our tax dollars:-) There are several short tough Daylilies such as Stella D'oro and her newer cousins that should survive and give you flowers most of the summer. Some of the new small shrubby Roses such as the Oh So Easy group could also work. Have fun with your new garden.

Yvonne Asks? First, thanks for your great newsletter.? I find it entertaining and helpful.?? I also have a question about Irises. ? After they have flowered and the tips start going brown, what is the correct way to make them look tidier?? I have been cutting off just the tips...but seem to be doing that it okay to cut them back by half?

Ken Answers! Iris foliage, after they have finished blooming, is not their best feature. They are often brown tipped and yellow spotted. I know people who cut all of the foliage about half way down. I just learn to ignore them and concentrate on enjoying the Lilies and Daylilies that are blooming. There is no really good answer and the brown and yellow bits do no damage to the plant.

Joyce Asks? I have two hanging plants called Begonia Waterfalls ,is this the same as your Begonia boliviens cv you wrote about last issue. One plant is getting quite leggy and doesn't appear to be doing too well (perhaps I over-watered). If is this the same plant should I cut it back?

Ken Answers! Yes, Waterfall is another cultivar of Begonia boliviensis. They really don't like to be over watered so that may be your problem. They are quite receptive to being cut back so go ahead and then let them get quite dry in between waterings.

Jim Asks? I started some Geraniums from seed in my small greenhouse at the beginning of March and have since potted the plants and transferred them outside to clay pots. One type of Geranium is a Trailing Ivy type which I have in hanging baskets. All the plants look healthy but not one flower yet. Are Geraniums typically late in flowering?

Ken Answers! Seed started Geraniums do take a long time to bloom. Most greenhouses would start them in mid January to have blooming plants for sale in late May. If they are looking healthy then good care and some patience is probably all that is required.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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