A month of unusually warm and sunny weather but with no rain and then on Saturday night we got snow. Just a few kilometres north of my garden, where we were doing the grandparent thing, we had to scrape a couple of cm of snow from the car to drive home. The deck was covered with a nice selection of trial plants that we had been given on Thursday and there I am at 1 AM trying to cover them with a tarp. Sort of worked but I can tell you that Basil, Coleus and Sweet Potato Vine do not like the cold. They are slowly recovering in the warmth of the solarium. The Tomato and Pepper plants had already been given sanctuary in the cold frame. You can tell where my priorities lie.

This issue of Dallying should have been out sooner but gardening in the spring has been very hectic. My speaking schedule has also been very full and each hour of speaking is usually preceded by a few hours of preparation time. Other significant items have happened in the garden. The east side of my lot, at the front of the house, has always been screened by a huge Cedar hedge that was about 4 m high and close to 3 m wide. It is now gone and do we feel exposed and vulnerable. It hid my work area with its potting bench, compost boxes and all of the other detritus that accumulates.

Now the world, or at least the neighbours and anybody walking by, can see what a truly messy pack rat I am. The new fence is going up shortly. At the front of the house the gardens now get considerably more sunlight and I have a patch of bare soil about 7 m by 1 m that is crying out for new plants. Just when I thought the garden was getting full. Several trellis are going up to replace some of the screening that the hedge provided but nothing is going to replace the several hours of work, up a ladder, that the hedge required. Change can be shocking but ultimately an improvement.

Keeping up to date on gardening activities can be followed on a more frequent basis by checking the front page of my web site, gardening-enjoyed.com. It changes every 2 or 3 days to show you what I am up to. That change only takes a few minutes, while producing Dallying is a much larger effort.

Almost all of the cool weather crops have been planted, except for the Onions, which should go in later today if the cool but sunny weather holds. The Peas are all up and looking great, excellent germination this year, we should be enjoying a bountiful harvest. The Sweet Peas are growing nicely in their pots and I will be planting many of them in between the Sugar Snap Peas to make a delightful combination growing up their support. I can pick the dinner and the table centre while standing in the same spot.

Let’s go back and look at all of those trial plants sitting on the patio. They came from Loblaws, a major grocery chain in my part of the world. Besides the free plants they also provided the group of garden writers with a tour of their growers and a nice lunch with some local wine. (Full disclosure of freebies.) This is a mass merchandiser that takes their garden centres very seriously. They research new varieties, featuring them in their President’s Choice line, and try to have the individual stores maintain their inventory in an appropriate manner. We learned much and incidentally enjoyed ourselves, on their media day. Lots of things to tell you about in coming issues. One of the most interesting stories is their recycling. Everybody is trying to tell us how green they are but Loblaw is actually being innovative and proactive.

All of the plastic that goes into making pots and flats can be returned to the store. They will even pay you to bring them back, if you bring enough, just to encourage you. From here the story gets better. They return all of that plastic, using the empty carts and trucks that delivered the plants, to the pot manufacturer. They then make the effort to sort it into the three types of plastic that are used and by so doing they can they reuse that plastic to make the pots and flats for next years containers. It is called closed loop recycling. The plastic is reused for the same high level products rather then being made into some lower grade product. The cooperation between plant grower, pot manufacturer and retailer is wonderful and they are all to be commended for their efforts.

In the basement under the lights the seeds of fast growing, warm weather crops such as Morning Glories and Cucumbers have all been seeded and should be popping out of the soil any day now. At this point in the year I am scrambling to find enough pots to plant everything in. The need to get the cool weather crops into the soil is highlighted by the fact that the melons need the containers that the cabbage are growing in. Reuse is even better then recycle.

Most of the Potatoes are planted and the two containers of Potatoes that are going to live on the patio this year have been planted. The containers are half filled with a good compost rich soil mix and the Potato pieces are just covered. As the vines emerge and start to grow they will be continually covered with more soil until the container is filled with soil; leaving just enough room to be able to water them thoroughly and regularly. That’s the key to container grown Potatoes. The lovely terra cotta pot in the picture produced about 7 kg of tubers last year, from three pieces of seed Potato. Amazing.

My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.

Lottie asks? Hi Ken! I like your idea of growing pole beans in a circle. what I haven't figured out is how to secure the string in the soil and on top of the post. Would you mind sharing you method.

Ken Answers! The strings are held near the soil by tying them around a small plastic plant stake, about 30cm long. Anything would do that was long enough to hold firm in the ground against the pull of a loaded bean vine. Most of the strength is need at the top. I originally had a series of screw hooks in the top of the post but was unhappy with the crowded convergence at the top. I attached an old bicycle wheel to the top of the post and then just tie the strings to its rim giving me a much larger circle at the top. Not particularly pretty in the beginning but the bean vines will eventually hide it. Check the Pole Bean page.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON