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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #302 - Sometimes the large begonias are too successful.
September 23, 2017

This is what success looks like! Theses containers of Begonias were growing on the side of the garage wall and as a result, all of the growth is in one direction. That amazing growth creates a lot of weight that overbalances the weight of the soil and over they go. I try to keep them as wet as possible to keep the container itself heavy but our unseasonably warm weather has been drying them out quickly and as soon as enough water is transferred to the plants this happens. Cutting them back is the only realistic option but not one that appeals to me. I’m trying to get these plants to produce some viable seed to grow for next year and cutting them back will make that difficult. They have many fat green seed pods but they need a bit more time to ripen those pods. I really only need one to ripen. Begonias produce some of the smallest seeds and one good pod will provide hundreds of seeds. It’s interesting to grow some of these fancy Begonias from seed and see the range of colours that result. All of these Begonias are highly bred hybrids and as a result they produce this variation in their progeny. I will do my little bit of plant breeding and choose seeds from the plant who’s features I like best and then I'll find out what that produces next year. This is the kind of fun that keeps me gardening another year.

Farther out in the garden, other containers are also producing great growth. These sub irrigation containers are planted with our, fall season, vegetables and with the incredible warm weather we are enjoying they are growing much more rapidly. This lovely Kohl Rabi graced our dinner plates last night. Cut into thick slices they are coated with mixture of grated Parmesan cheese and Panko and fried in a little butter. Delicious! That pan also held some slices of eggplant treated in the same manner.. Those same sub irrigation containers have also produced a bumper crop of Eggplant this year and I will be making a large batch of Eggplant Fritter mixture. The sub irrigation containers with the developing Kohl Rabi and other fall vegetables are new to the system this fall and as I mentioned last issue, are not hooked up to the automatic watering system. In a normally cool autumn that would mean filling them by hand maybe once a week but I have been forced by the very warm weather to fill them almost every day. Not the most interesting bit of gardening activity. Now that the great apartment renovation is completed, I must take the time to hook them up to the system. That should make the weather cool off.

I have a new favourite Rose. The fine folks at David Austin Roses send me Roses to trial and this one, Munstead Wood, arrived a couple of years ago. It has struggled along barely surviving some harsh winters and this year it obviously was well established and produced a few blooms in the spring but the warm weather this fall has made it very happy and it has a number of these beautiful blooms. The dark wine red colour is quite dramatic and when combined with the signature form of David Austin Roses this is the result. I probably should have chosen a better location to plant it originally but they are tough plants and seem to survive no matter how much I ignore them. I do try to fertilize them regularly but probably not often enough. Each year I promise myself that I will pay more attention to these Roses but there always seems to be something else that demands my attention and these Roses just carry on anyway. I cut them back a little bit after the spring bloom and they reliably produce some new growth and these resulting blooms, starting in the late summer and on into the autumn.

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.

Sue Asks? I have 3 Dahlia's which are just starting to bloom and like many plants this summer have lots of foliage but skimpy on blooms. I am wondering if I trim back some of the foliage will this bring on more blooms before the growing season is finished?

Ken Answers! My Dahlias were just the opposite. They started to bloom as I was planting them out and they continued to produce a few blooms but the plants never really grew significantly. That makes me thoroughly unqualified to answer your question:-) Do an experiment, defoliate one of them and see if it performs better than the untouched ones. Let me know if you see any difference.

Julia Asks?I just put out a lovely compact sunflower in the garden beside two pink mums. In one day the leaves have been eaten and there is a shiny substance on the leaves. What the heck is that? Can I just spray it with olive oil and Dawn detergent to stop it from being eaten entirely? Could tell me the recipe for this spray? Also what is in your vinegar spray you used on the tiny weeds that were coming up? It would be a great help for my garden if it works!

Ken Answers! Eaten leaves with shiny stuff certainly sounds like slugs. Not familiar with the oil and Dawn spray. The vinegar is usually 7% acetic acid and a touch of Dawn as a wetting agent. Commercially available as Wilson's Path Clear. Household vinegar sort of works but it is about 5% acetic acid and therefore not as effective.

Shirley Asks? How do I get rid of rust on my grass. I have a lot on front and back lawns. Is it because of the heavy dews?

Ken Answers! The easy answer is to cut the grass and the rusted portions will be mostly cut off. You really want to know how to control it and I’m afraid there isn’t a good answer. I have it as well in some parts of my lawn but not in others. The local conditions create the right situation for it to develop and we can’t change the weather and spraying the whole lawn with enough fungicide to control the problem is just not a viable option.

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