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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #340 - Amazingly there are no red bug on the Lilies.
May 21, 2019

There is always an upside to things that seem to be less than ideal. This spring has been very cold and damp, actually wet, and that has kept us out of the garden. The shoulder surgery is compounding that problem but is slowly getting better. This rather English weather has allowed the bulbs to grow magnificently and to last for a few weeks. My front yard Tulip display has been putting on this show for quite some time and delighting me and many passers by. There are few if any blind bulbs that need to be pulled because they have ceased flowering. It is hard to see if any of my new perennials that were planted last fall are thriving but they will appear in due time, meanwhile I just admire the Tulips and ignore the very late vegetable garden. I don’t count them but there are easily 1000 bulbs blooming as the early varieties give way to the late ones, changing the colour scheme as the weeks pass.

This is a Maratgon Lily one of several I treasure for their ability to do well in the shade. What’s particularly exciting about this picture is all of the perfect leaves. The Red Lily Beetle would normally have turned some of these leaves into Swiss cheese by now. I have killed exactly 2 of them this spring and see almost no sign of their presence. They have been a constant battle for several years and they seem to have almost disappeared. Even tough winters apparently have their upside. Maybe something else has dramatically reduced their population but I suspect the weather. Whatever it is, I’m delighted. My trusty needle nosed pliers are slowly getting rusty in the cupboard as my regular Lily inspections find nothing. Let this not be just a one year phenomenon.

Despite the very cold bits this winter all of my Roses seem to have survived, even some of the more delicate David Austin Roses are showing signs of growth. I’m particularly excited by the Albrighton Rambler that is showing tremendous vigour and is getting ready to fill that trellis with an amazing show of her charming, small, cup-shaped flowers of softest pink held in large sprays with a light musky scent. The trellis should be covered all summer as Albrighton is a repeat bloomer.

One of the advantages of growing my vegetables in my Earthboxes has always been that the resident rabbits never seemed to want to reach up and eat from them. This box of nicely shaved Kohl Rabi seems to put an end to that dream. A few other boxes that I have planted have met with similar barbering. I have noticed two very large rabbits in the yard this year and I guess they are big enough to reach up. This particular box has another unplanted one beside it, that they could easily hop onto, in order to reach their treats. It’s time to bring out the traps again and try to figure out just what I could bait them with that would make the bunnies forgo the banquet all around them and wander into a wire box to find their dinner. I now have to cut a length of chicken wire to wrap around each box after I have planted it. Amazingly, the two boxes with the large leafy Napa and Pak Choi are ignored by the rapacious rabbit in favour of the plants with stiffer leaves and stems. Makes no sense to me but apparently I don’t think like a rabbit.

Now this is a picture of amazing tenacity that I just wanted to share with you. This Dandelion has found a crack between the deck, the rocks and the pond and is thriving in that location. The roots going back are just finding the gravel under the deck but this spring it has seen no shortage of water to sustain its growth. Taraxacum officinale common Dandelion is a plant with very little genetic variation but an amazing tolerance for varied growing conditions. It was brought to N. America with the early settlers as a food and medicine source and was never considered a weed until lawns became popular.

Besides cultivating wonderful plants it helps to cultivate wonderful friends. They showed up yesterday morning and spent several hours helping me to catch up in the garden, doing things that need two functional arms. Immense gratitude. The shoulder is “slowly” becoming more useful but it will be several weeks yet before I’m using the wheelbarrow.

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? My neighbours had well problems last winter and had to dig up lawn and flowers beds to get at the pipe. He is filling in with sand and then topsoil now. What to do about the tulips. They are blooming and are quite lovely. I told them to cut of the blooms and enjoy them and replant the bulbs. Is this correct.

Ken Answers! Shirley, your answer is perfect. Get the bulbs back into the soil quickly so that they can regenerate.

Jeff Asks? If memory serves me, I recall you were going to try planting some potatoes from the Little Potato Co. Did these ever produce for you?

Ken Answers! The package I used had three varieties in it. The purple one grew some lovely tubers but the red and white ones would not sprout.

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