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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #166 --- The Kohl Rabi and other cool crops have moved to the cold frame
April 21, 2014

Spring is well and truly here. I killed my first Red Lily Bug today. Technically they are Red Lily Beetles, not bugs but most gardeners don’t care what entomologists call them they just care about the damage they can do to their Lilies. The overwintering adults emerge as the warming soil starts the Lilies emerging. Those of us who are truly on guard against this red menace will look first at our emerging Fritillaria. These exotic bulbs are about the only thing other than Lilies that these little red menaces consume. The adults are bright red and somewhat slow moving so their eradication is relatively easy. I will now go into the garden every day with my needle nosed pliers in my back pocket and look closely at every emerging Lily. A quick but satisfying crunch will indicate that another of these little red devils has been eliminated from my gardens. The adults eat their share of emerging Lilies and for that reason alone we should hunt them down. Even worse is the devastation that their larva can bring upon the foliage of our blooming Lilies. I have found that a little diligence squishing the adults is a vital part of an effective control of these nasty red devils.

The weather is slowly, ever so slowly, warming and all of the Crocus that have been ignored by the squirrels are popping into bloom all over the garden. Yellow, white and many shades of purple are appearing in clumps and clusters all over the yard. It’s interesting to watch as the garden slowly dries towards the low point in the south east corner, the emerging Crocus follow the drying ground. The full foliage of the emerging Tulips is promising a great show in a couple of weeks. I’m always amazed at the Bergenia. It emerges from the snow a wilted, brown and limp mess and within a few days of warm sun those lifeless leaves stand up and start to turn green and new leaves emerge from what appeared to be a lifeless mess. How something with that leaves that large can even attempt to be evergreen is really quite amazing. This is another example of the deep snow cover this winter actually protecting the garden from the extreme cold that we experienced.

All of the cool weather crops moved from under the basement lights to the outdoor cold frame this weekend. I need the room under the lights to transplant the Peppers and Tomatoes from their tiny plug cells into the larger cell paks that will be their home until they finally make it to the garden. The Broccoli, Cauliflower, Pak Choi, Kohl Rabi and others will also benefit from exposure to the outside weather and the brighter light of the spring sunshine. The trick now is to stay in tune with the daily weather and open the cold frame’s doors when the sun hits them. It effectively maintains an overnight temperature of 13 C (55F) but when the sun shines upon it during the day it can quickly reach temperatures in excess of 32 C (90F) which is really not that healthy for the little plants. The sun hits the cold frame about 11:00 am and I need to be out there to open it before noon if I don’t want to cook my Broccoli before it even grows.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Susann Asks? Morning Ken ... I have had a Mole attack and they have really decimated my lawn this year!!! Holy dirt, it looks like a elephant pooped all over the place! What is your go to remedy?

Ken Answers! I have never had the opportunity to welcome these little critters to my garden. Not that I’m disappointed. The best results that I am aware of are with sound emitters. They produce a sound that is quite uncomfortable for the moles when they are setup near the entranceto their burrows and the respond by packing their bags and moving on to somebody else’s garden.

Bonnie Asks? Anything new in the battle with Downey Mildew and Impatient's? Trying to plan my summer garden's and what I'll have to use as an alternative for them.

Ken Answers! I have seen nothing about any resistant varieties so far and realize that Impatiens will be essentially disappearing from the market. There are alternatives. There are a range of Fibrous Begonias that do well in the shade and provide quite a variety of colours. They don’t grow quite as rampntly as the Impatiens did but will fill in nicely and flower continuously during the summer. Coleus also provide some great colour from their brilliant foliage and there are a range of varieties both in colour and size.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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