It has been a long but wonderful two weeks since our last issue of Dallying. Two weeks is a long time for an addict like myself to be away from his garden but ten days with Rachael and Benjamin, the 8 week old twin grandchildren is a once in a lifetime experience.

So much is happening in the garden I don’t know where to begin. In my absence the garden got a lot more residents, a lot more. A couple of million Nematodes arrived. They came in the mail on a sponge and my assistant gardener took them all out and introduced them to the Iris. It’s their job to stop the evil Iris Borer. They are now all in the garden running around trying to find their lunch, which should be the aforementioned borers.

The Iris are blooming beautifully this year. The deep snow cover was wonderful for them and there is an large quantity of bloom stalks developing. Several of the new ones we planted least summer are going to bloom. All of the medium sized ones are in full bloom and the first of the tall bearded are starting to break open. They are maybe a week early. Now the competitive gardener has to start worrying that they will still be lots to enter into the Iris show that is still two weeks away.

The Tomato structure has been erected in anticipation of the Tomato plants finding their way into the garden next week. They will be followed by the Peppers which really don’t like cool nights. The plants survive but the developing flower buds get knocked off and it takes a couple of more weeks to develop some more.

I have been to my local garden centre since I returned from Corner Brook and looked with great happiness at the 4" Geraniums that didn’t look any better than the ones I grew under the lights all winter. They wanted $2.99 per plant and I went home and gleefully counted the 50+ that were reposing in my garden. The bed with Geraniums and Osteospermum needed some mulch. I liked what the wood chip mulch did last year but I’m not so sure I liked the actual material. All the small bits decompose and when I tried to weed and tidy the gardens this spring they are full of the larger bits of wood. Do I just dig them in and hope they eventually decompose. Now; there were very few weeds to clean up but I had hoped to work in some compost this spring and the wood chips became a great reason for procrastination and inaction.

Thus a search for an alternative mulch. I was given a sample of coconut husk mulch, known as coir. This material is a very compressed bale that expands on watering. Throw it in a wheelbarrow and add a fair amount of water. The package says it expands to 5 times its size in 5 minutes. The first statement is true. I learned to pour in some water. Do something else for a while, turn the bale over, add more water and work it a bit with a fork and then do another little job and eventually the mulch was all loose and ready to spread. Nice product to spread. I like the look of it and the larger hunks of fibre may be less problematic. It is not noticeably more expensive, about $7.00 a bale in my area, except I used to be able to save money by buying mulch in bulk with my truck. The bed in the picture took three bales to cover about 3 - 4 cm deep. The picture shows about 1/4 of the bed.

My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.

Susie asks? I have a Forsythia that bloomed better than ever this year but it also is getting rather large. When can I prune it?

Ken Answers! The rule for almost all flowering shrubs is to prune them as soon as possible after flowering. The new growth can then develop next year’s flower buds. If you prune it later in the season, you will prune off all of those flower buds. Won’t hurt the plant but you will miss a year of bloom.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON