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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #133 --- The front is a riot of midsummer colour.
July 19, 2013

Enough of last weeks disasters and disappointments. The garden is filled with delights each and every day. We’ll ignore the fact that I had a dumpster delivered on Monday and spent the hottest week of the summer excavating for my replacement deck. Even that has an upside. I probably sweated off several pounds. The front yard, which is a riot of colour during spring bulb season has responded to my ministrations and continued its ever changing display into the middle of summer. A wealth of bloom from Lilies, Roses, Daylilies and the few Delphiniums adding some much needed blue in the background. The creeping Thyme pathways have finished blooming but are a delightful mat of green and are amazingly good at suppressing weed growth. In the back the low yellow mat of annual Mecardonia is covering the soil with its dense mat of small yellow flowers. Odds and ends of other delights are available to the more intensive observer. The Cucumbers are winding their way up the trellises displaying their bright yellow blooms with the promise of crisp cool fruit to come. It is so colourful and interesting that the few weeds are hardly noticeable.

Sometimes a bargain plant can turn out to be a real treasure. The local Daylily breeder has an annual open house and sale in the middle of peak bloom season, usually late July. “We’re In The Hayfield Now” admittedly a strange name for a Daylily nursery, unless you know their history, has a wide variety of delights available for drooling over and for sale. Each year there are a number of new introductions and at the sale there are always a few “garden specials.” These are nice plants which they have not deemed worthy of being introduced as named varieties. Being a somewhat frugal gardener, I have purchased a few of these over the years. One of them is now a highlight in my garden. We just call it #9 because it was the # 9 garden special that year. I don’t remember when I bought it but it has brightened up a couple of spots over the years. Large dark yellow flowers just burst forth like little suns throughout July. I don’t know what it lacked when they were choosing new varieties that year but it is a wonderful testament to the luck of the frugal gardener.

It always amazes me, the changes from year to year. Last year, any and all of the Cucurbits did very poorly and those that made any attempt to grow were devastated by the Cucumber Beetle. This year they are all growing like triffids. The Cucumbers which died out completely last year, leaving me to explain to the Assistant Gardener why there were none of her favourite vegetables, are already over the top of the 8 ft obelisk. The summer squash, of which the Patty Pan types are our favourites, are in danger of taking over the garden but they are also producing an abundance of fruit. Like all summer squash, you wait patiently?? for the first fruit to develop and then a week later you are looking for family and friends to give the excess to. I have seen and killed a couple of Cucumber beetles and that seems to have scared away any others. Where did they go?

Time to answer a few questions. If you have a gardening question just ‘reply’ to this newsletter and send me your query. I try to answer most of the questions and the ones that I answer here are those that I think will have the widest interest. You can also find the latest garden updates on the front page of I try to change it every few days so check back often.

June Asks ? I have a climbing rose that 's been in the family for over fifty years, five years in this location. The leaves are in good condition -- shiny and few holes. The bloom clusters though, are very pale pink and appear shrunken and chewed. I can't find any culprits who are doing the dirty work.... I'm going to try soap spray . Any suggestions on cause and cure ??

Ken Answers! I grow a few Roses but am no expert on them. Check out info on rose midges as they cause damage similar to your description.

Bill Asks? Hi Ken what would the right date be for planting peas for a second crop in this part of southern Ontario (Durham). Thanks

Ken Answers! The standard answer is 01 August and I have done that with some success. Use early varieties because they are obviously short season types.

Huberte Asks? I'm from Moncton,?New-Brunswick, we're having a dry summer. My vegetable garden is infested with a little black fleas. As the seedlings are growing, it eats all the new leaves. It even eats the potato leaves. I ask the local garden center, they told me to use Sevin. I hate chemicals. Do you have any suggestion how to get rid of this fleas.

Ken Answers! Flea beetles can be a big problem. A few solutions. Cover your newly planted crops with a floating row cover to physically keep them away. There is a beneficial nematode that will attack the Flea Beetles at certain stages. Check out as a source and for information. Sevin is a powerful insecticide that is banned in Ontario and, like you, I would never spray it on my vegetables. Insecticidal soap may have some effect but you must hit the bugs with it and that is difficult with the rapidly moving flea beetles.

Spencer Asks? I have a question for you. I started off with about 5 or six sunflowers but after some kind of animal chewed off a couple of the plants at the stems, I'm down to just two. I want a few more than that. On the seed package it says 75 days to maturity. If I sowed some more seeds today, do you think there would be enough growing time left (in Ajax's climate) to produce sunflowers (and their seeds).

Ken Answers! Sunflowers seem to be a particular favourite of some critter. They ate all of my transplants while leaving many other things alone. 75 days gets you to the end of September so I would give it a try. Find some way to protect them from the critters until they get big enough to defend themselves.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON
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