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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #232--- The Lilac Squash are astounding visitors again.
September 07, 2015

Here I am laboring on labour day because I was away last week enjoying two of my grandsons while their parents worked. Now it’s too hot to venture outside, although I was out there early this morning attempting to fix the leak in my river system. It was a hot, dirty and unpleasant chore but I appear to have been successful. Without the waterfall and rivers running the pond water gets stagnant and unpleasant very quickly. That pond water seems to repel my Sweet Potato vine Ipomea sp. The large pot beside the pond has some very happy Ipomea growing out of it but curiously when it got to the pond, it turned and grew back onto the deck. That’s away from the sun which would seem to be opposite to what might be expected. Plants never cease to amaze me. We are also in one of our local drought cycles; I don’t think it has rained in my garden in a few weeks. Once again I’m thankful for the irrigation I put into the vegetable garden in the spring. Between that and the Earth Box planters I have an abundance of Tomatoes of various sizes and colours and Peppers with a similar variety. As soon as the kitchen gets a bit cooler it will be time to make the large batch of Spaghetti Sauce for the freezer. That’s how I save some of my vegetables for the winter.

This morning while wandering the garden looking for the pictures that are my inspiration of each of the sections of “Dallying,” I was very unhappy when I peeked at the lovely white Rose in the front garden. There were two of these large ugly beasts tucked between the petals, madly eating away. I have only noticed a Japanese Beetle Popillia japonica once before in my garden and have counted myself lucky. They are horrible pests with a voracious appetite and they are difficult to control. I controlled these two quite quickly with my thumb and forefinger and will now keep a close eye on my other Roses. They like Roses but they are quite indiscriminate when it comes to choosing their next meal. Their larva are white grubs in our lawns and that is a good place to attack them. In our pesticide free environment, the application of Nematodes to the lawn at the correct time of year can be an effective control. The adults tend to be in clusters and hand picking is probably the best method of controlling them.

Does your Lilac bush bear fruit? Mine does, but they are very strange. A few large orange fruit can be found hanging in the Lilac at this time of year. It is one of the easiest parts of my vertical vegetable efforts. I simply plant my wandering winter squash near the Lilac bush and as the Squash vines start to grow I twine them up into the adjacent bush and stand back. By late summer there will be several bright orange squash hanging in the Lilac. They are easy to pick and don’t have any slug damage or yellow spot where they were laying on the ground. I should confess that they did this all by themselves the first year and I quickly realized the benefits and now assist them each spring as they start to grow. The vines tend to be inside the Lilac and not readily visible, giving visitors a bit of a surprise when they first walk past.

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.

Donna Asks? A nice grouping of purple coneflower (about 4 years old in this spot) has only produced the cone this year and no flower petals. It looks healthy and this is the first year that this has happened. I know they are rather drought tolerant and like sun. Where it is planted, it gets about half day of sun and it has been dry this summer. I was wondering if I should move it in the fall or try another year?

Ken Answers! I have no idea why your Echinacea have cones and no flowers, sounds weird for the whole clump to respond like that. Try this site, sounds like mites or possibly aster yellows.

Carol Asks? So, Ken, you obviously don't deadhead your Clematis. Reason? I just assumed all plants need to be deadheaded. You're right, the seed heads are attractive.

Ken Answers! Deadheading, in my garden, is only done to encourage repeat blooming, something that Clematis will never do.

Mary Asks? Grass.... This weeks dilemma .... We have a acre property, which my husband mows, trims, fertilizes and loves....I'm the assistant trimmer, chief gardener! ... Around this time of year a grass emerges with wider leaves, and bright green foliage, with purple reaching " seeds"... They are not welcome in our lawn.... Suggestions?

Ken Answers! You appear to be describing crab grass which is an annual that grows each year form those seed heads that you are seeing. It has been there all summer but small and growing, you just notice it when the seed heads appear. There is little that you can do about it now except make sure that the seed heads are cut off before they distribute next year's seeds. There are pre-emergents such as corn gluten that you can apply early in the spring that should reduce next year's crop.

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