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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #314 - The Mighty Crocus continues to amaze me.
April 03, 2018

Crocus are such tiny little bulbs. Their power continues to astound me. It’s all part of Mother Nature’s seemingly unstoppable force. These Crocus were planted in the renovated lawn two years ago and then that lawn was killed and lightly rototilled and then covered with sod last fall. That sod appeared to be the thickest most impenetrable material. Cutting it to fit was difficult because it was so dense. Yet! Here we are in the coldest spring for a long time and those tiny flowers have survived and pushed their way up through the soil and that thick mat of sod to bring a little brightness and hope to this winter weary gardener. There were large areas of renovated perennial beds that were covered with that sod and I’m not surprised to see the first signs of forgotten Tulips and Narcissus starting to poke their way through that sod as well. We are nicely into April and the witch Hazel is still not fully in bloom and that’s telling me that spring is going to be slow but it appears that I may be able to squeeze in one more day of skiing this week. There is usually an upside if you look for it.

Down in the basement Mother Nature is once again displaying her power. These Chinese Cabbage, (Napa) seedlings are just 3 weeks old and they have roots out of the cell and deep into the propagation bed soil and at least 2 pairs of true leaves. They are now transplanted and will be quickly outgrowing even those larger cell paks. We need spring and dry soil to plant these amazingly fast growing and delicious vegetables. There were a few other cool season vegetables that were transplanted but the Napa is noticeably faster and stronger than any of the others. It’s amazing because they are really all just variations on the same species. The much slower Begonia boliviensis are also ready to be moved from the small cells into the larger ones and the mass of those seedlings that were left in the seedling tray have been separated with the noticeably bigger ones being transplanted and the rest made into compost. You can’t keep everything.

Those transplanted seedlings need all the help and encouragement they can be given and that usually means a shot of a transplant fertilizer. We have a new product to try this year. ProMix has been a long established name for soilless mixes and Premier Tech, the people who package it have decided to use Pro Mix as a brand name for other horticultural products. This transplant fertilizer has a high quantity of Phosphorous, (the middle number,) that is important for root growth as well as some root inducing hormones. We do need to be careful to use the quantities listed on the label. Those little seedlings need feeding but they can easily be damaged by too much fertilizer. If you are going to make a mistake or an adjustment do so by using less then directed. More is not better in the seedling world. The last of the Geranium cuttings also needed transplanting and all of a sudden I’m running out of room. The cold, actually heated, frame outside has been plugged in and warming for a couple of weeks and should be able to take a lot of the overflow. It has always performed well in cool conditions but I do get a bit nervous with overnight temperatures near -8C. The lettuce a been fine out there.

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.

Joyce Asks? The blue herons clean out our pond also. We stock it with 100 each spring and by autumn, only about 6 remain. How do we deter them? I turned my guns in! :)

Ken Answers! My neighbour manages to keep most of his by having a patio slab sitting up on a couple of bricks in the bottom of his pond. Gives the fish a secure place to hide.

Carol Asks? Ken, I thoroughly enjoyed your site on Watering. Thanks. My last year's Geraniums are coming back to life. Should I fertilize them now that new growth is appearing?

Ken Answers! Yes. maybe 1/2 strength fertilizer to start.

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