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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #289 - The front yard is at its best filled with magnificent Tulips.
May 02, 2017

There is always an upside to life’s adventures. Cool damp, (damp??? Soaking wet actually) weather is tough gardening weather but it makes the Tulip show last much longer. The front yard has a wonderful Tulip display. It has somewhere in excess of 1000 bulbs contributing to that show. There are several colours and types, some that start blooming now and the last ones will be blooming in early June. By mixing early, mid and late season varieties, the Tulip show changes colour and shape a few times over the season and that season is extended as long as possible. On the right of the picture you can see the lovely crinkled foliage of the Peony Pink Angel, which is one of the earliest of my Peonies. It will take over the role of lighting up that garden as the Tulips fade. They seem to co exist quite happily. The whole bed received some fertilizer as the bit of grass around it was fertilized and that will be it for the year. The Tulips will quietly die down as the rest of the perennials grow up and hide the fading tulip foliage. At some point in mid summer I will wander around and pull the dried, brown, tulip foliage and toss it into the compost. If the weather stays cool the Tulip show will continue to be one of the highlights of the front yard. Cool is ok but it can stop with the excessive rain at any point.

Last week on one of the non rainy days, I was able to plant the first of my sub irrigation containers with the early Asian vegetables. This one has large Pak Choi and Chinese Cabbage. These vegetables love the cool weather and will provide dinner time delights for several weeks in the spring. When they have been consumed, those containers will be replanted with warm season crops. If you look behind the container you can see the small lake in that half of the garden. I expect a pair of ducks or geese to move in and set up house any day now. I will also have to look silly later today. Even if it is raining I will have to go and fill up the water reservoir in those containers. The plastic covering over the soil stops any rain from entering. I filled them when I planted them but that first fill of water gets drawn up very quickly to moisten the container’s soil. The container in the picture is an Earthbox a commercial product but I also have several that I have made myself. Last year’s trial one worked very well so we have added several more this year and will try other crops in them. Easier watering, no weeds!

Sometimes my timing is terrible. I thought I planted my Dahlia tubers at a good time to produce healthy plants for the planting season. For Dahlias planting is at least another two weeks, when I can be sure there will be no more frost. This Dahlia was in the cold frame doing very well. Too well actually. It has grown so much it will no longer fit into the cold frame. There are couple more in there approaching the same size. They are all tubers that I had saved from last year and when I planted them I reduced the size of the tuber clump by a significant amount so that they would fit into a reasonably sized container. Now I have them on the deck and I will watch the weather in case I have to carry them all inside if we have a cold night. The new Dahlias that I purchased and planted are growing quite nicely but have not yet turned into monsters like this one. The upside, there always is one if you look, may be Dahlia blooms much earlier in the summer if I can provide the room and the support for such gigantic plants. The Begonia tubers are being much better behaved and should be appropriately sized plants at planting time. Next year I will try to adjust my planting schedule and that should make sure that the Dahlias will be tiny little things at planting time because Mother Nature likes to keep me confused.

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.

Shirley Asks? I am requesting this for my neighbor Rick whom you met at Richters re his peppers. He has hot, mild & Hungarian (+blue jays) peppers growing and the tallest is about 3". They are under grow lights. He wishes to know when to fertilize and what ratio and when they should be pinched. I told him not to use one with a high nitrogen content, but he says he checked on line & it says 20-20-20.

Ken Answers! I start to fertilize my seedlings when they produce the first set of true leaves and use half the label recommendation. 20 20 20 is a good all purpose fertilizer that I have used but I tend towards one with a little less Nitrogen. I would pinch Peppers when they have about 3 pairs of leaves.

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