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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #404- Sometimes a Gerbera bargain becomes a success.
October 27, 2023

Gerbera have always been on favourite flower list but I have never had much success growing them in the garden. These beauties have suddenly been very floriferous. Bought them at a big box store, on sale for $1.30, late in June and since the middle of September they have been wonderful. Our lack of frost has contributed to their continued success. Sometimes an apparent bargain actually turns out to be a true bargain.

The summer Cucumbers have long since ceased to occupy this container so we threw in some late lettuce and it is thriving in our warm autumn. The chicken wire over the top is to stop the squirrels from digging in the fresh soil. When it appears that we might actually get a frost, I’ll just move this pot to the cold frame along with a container of Parsley and see how long we can keep them thriving. The giant Walnut three had a blessed low nut yield this year but the squirrels are always looking for a place to store the few that they find. I keep hoping the small harvest will send them elsewhere but apparently not.

We are finally getting around to planting some bulbs. No one want to destroy a bed of blooming annuals to make room for bulb planting and that’s maybe the only reason not to appreciate this very late warm weather. Eventually we have to rip out those beautiful but fading Zinnias to get the bulbs into the ground. The silver bowl in the middle of the picture is filled with blood meal. Squirrels find Tulip bulbs by smell and the smell of the blood meal confuses them. It is also a great long lasting fertilizer for the bulbs and so a spoon full is stirred into the soil at the bottom of the hole under the bulb. When they are all planted the surface of the soil is well sprinkled with Acti-sol and that also does a great job of deterring the squirrels. Do we seem obessed by squirrels?? Yes!!

Another joy of the no frost October is continuing to pick fresh Tomatoes. This bowl of Valentine Grape is like having a bowl of candy sitting on the counter. It is difficult to walk by without popping a couple of them into your mouth. Heavy harvests and great sweet flavour have contributed to making this new variety a AAS award winner. It’s a dilemma, for this chocoholic, deciding whether to grab one of these or a piece of chocolate??

These Red on Chocolate Begonias have been absolutely spectacular this year, as you’ve seen in previous editions of Dallying. They were 120 cm ( 4 ft) across before the strong wind created what you see here. It wasn’t just the wind that tipped them over, the plants had become so heavy that they outweighed the container even when I tried to keep their containers well watered, therefore as heavy as possible. You can see the one on the left laying on its side and they have all been found that way in the last week or so. Begonias have some very thick but brittle stems and they break badly and quickly when they hit the ground. Maybe I should put some bricks in the bottom of next year’s containers.

We do love our Asparagus and lately it has been showing up as new seedlings in odd locations. This one is in a gravel path and there are a couple growing in the cracks between patio slabs. Mother Nature is amazing because if I planted an Asparagus seed in some if those locations there would be minimal chance that they would grow. We don’t have too much viable seed produced because we prefer the male plants for their thicker stalks and the spotted Asparagus Beetle’s larva dine on the inside of the berries making them non-viable. Soon we will be digging these seedlings up and moving them to the Asparagus bed, although digging the ones between the patio slabs may be a bit bigger job.

Now that the Colchicum are finished and done the Autumn Crocus make their entrance to provide fresh blooms in the late autumn garden. We find them in the oddest of locations. They seed fairly well and those seeds do seem to wander around the garden. The squirrels also have been know to move them about when they dig up more than they can eat. They are small and delicate and relatively inexpensive as bulbs so you can plant lots of them and watch them light up your October garden. If you grow the correct species, Crocus sativus, you can harvest the long reddish stigma and you will have your own supply of Saffron. Once you have done that you will appreciate why that spice is so expensive.

This beautiful double, white Amaryllis is blooming on my kitchen counter against all odds. They are amazing plants. This pot of bulbs from last year was left in the basement last winter when we started to bloom most of its friends. I’m not sure how it got left behind but I discovered it a few weeks ago with some bloom stalks emerging. It had not seen water or light for almost a year so I realized that I should make up for my past mistake and give it a chance. A thorough soaking and the warmth and light of the solarium soon produced these three bloom stalks with four blooms on each one. The other ones, that bloomed this winter, just left their summer in the sun and went to hibernate in the basement a couple of weeks ago. Such amazing tenacity and desire to live and bloom is another of Mother Nature’s delights. My problem, now, is how to let it grow in sufficient light so that it can regenerate those bulbs again. I guess we will be watering a pot full of long green leaves all winter, probably tucked in beside the Orchids in the solarium. Such tenacity must be rewarded.

I am working on updating all of my presentations about, a variety of topics. for all of the clubs that give me an opportunity to speak to them. Follow this link to see all of my presentations and just fill out the speaker request form and we will find a suitable date and topic.

If you have any gardening questions just “reply” to this newsletter and I will attempt to answer them.

Donna Asks? I am busy putting my garden to bed. I have a question. During September, a lot of my phlox developed chalky mildew and I did not tackle it early. Now I am cutting down the stalks and am wondering if I should do something to them before winter sets in here in Ottawa. I hope it stays away for next spring growth.

Ken Answers! There's nothing that you can do. It will likely blow in from somewhere next year. When you see it start, spray it with 9 parts water 1 part milk and that MAY control it.:-)

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