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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #313 - The herin visits the ponds and has a great dinner
March 23, 2018

Apparently I can be startled, excited and angry all at the same time. I wandered out into the garden, it was +10 C and sunny, to look for ideas and take some pictures for this edition of “Dallying.” As I crossed the deck, camera in hand, there was a significant motion in the yard. The visiting Heron dropped out of the sky and touched down at the edge of the lower pond. He seemed to know exactly where he was going but apparently I startled him as much as he startled me, as he barely touched down before he spread those huge wings and took off. This picture was taken in the fall, when we usually see him, a couple of years ago. He stops by to re-energize before his flight south. After his quick departure I walked around the lower pond to see how much clean up there was and was dismayed/angered to see no fish anywhere. I stood around for a while hoping they would come out of hiding, but no luck. When I checked the middle pond it was also very quiet where just a couple of days ago there were several good sized fish cruising around. It would appear that this was not his first visit as he seems to have cleaned out the bottom two ponds. The top pond is much deeper and there seemed to be some fish hiding in the bottom. The only upside will be taking the grandchildren to the fish store to purchase some more Heron food.

While I was out in the garden I went to check on one of the true harbingers of spring. The Witch Hazel blooms sometime between the end of February and the end of March. It appears that spring will be very slow arriving this year as there were only a few of these amazing flowers open and it’s almost the end of March. The amount of snow on the ground appears to have no effect on this shrub’s blooming pattern. It’s probably how cold it was during the winter and how cool the nights are in spring. Despite the +10 C this afternoon we have been well below freezing at night for the past few weeks. I suspect that has a lot to do with the bloom time of Diane, the Witch Hazel. The soil in the garden, on the other hand, looks dry enough to start planting some seeds. I think I’ll wait until we start getting nights that are regularly above freezing and the Witch Hazel has burst into full bloom.

Down in the basement, it’s a different story. Spring is in full force. 10 days ago, in the previous “Dallying” I showed you all of my little cells filled with soil and seeds. Here they are filled with a wonderful array of bright green seedlings all reaching for the light. Those little cells dry out quite quickly so it requires a daily check to make sure they have enough water to keep growing. If they get noticeably wilted at this early stage of their lives they are unlikely to recover. They also grow rapidly at this stage and we must have some nutrients in that water to keep them growing. A soluble fertilizer at half strength is used to irrigate these seedlings. When they have developed their first pair of true leaves then it will be time to transplant them up into the larger cell paks.

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.

Shayna Asks? I have a question about re-using soil. At the end of the fall, I tried saving the soil from the flower and veggie containers I had used throughout the summer. But there's so many roots throughout, is it worth trying to save it for next year? Or should I start over buying new soil each spring?

Ken Answers! The only people who recommend that you use new soil each year are the people selling soil:-) I pull out the main plant stalk and the big roots that come easily with it and then just loosen the soil with a trowel and add a bit more to refill the container. The planters on my front porch have had the same soil in them for at least 15 year. It only provides physical support to the plant and holds the water and fertilizer that you supply. The old roots will decompose and add to the organic content of the soil.

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