Now I know that we gardeners are obsessed by the weather but it has been doing strange things this year.

A couple of issues of “Dallying” ago I wondered about when to have my seed potatoes delivered because the snow was still piled up on the gardens. This week we have had several sunny days between 15 - 25C, (60 - 75F) and the garden has warmed and dried remarkably. If I had the potatoes I would have planted them. Yesterday I put in the early peas (picture right, wire frame goes over the pea seeds,) some Swiss Chard, Beets and Carrots. I transplanted the first of the onion seedlings and will get the new Violas into the front planters this afternoon. The bulbs are storming up out of the ground and are not going to stay in bloom very long if the temperature stays this warm.

I worked on continuing the paths that wander through the garden. I started these last summer and didn’t want to dig up the potatoes to finish the job. It’s all part of making the back yard a Wonderful Wander and dividing the former large vegetable garden into smaller more accessible areas. I will continue to integrate the flowers and vegetables to make the whole Wonderful Wander more interesting.

I should be planting some of the many early crop transplants to take advantage of this early spring but they are a bit small because I started them late to allow for the long heavy winter. I sometimes wonder if Mother Nature has a personal vendetta against me. I only try to make her look better with all of my efforts. Ate the first vegetables yesterday. Parsnips survive the winter in the ground and are rich and sweet, early in the spring. Just dig them up before they start new growth. Slice them in half lengthways, a little curry sauce on the cut side and then on to the grill until the interior is soft. Delicious! More delicious vegetable recipes here.

All of the warm weather has encouraged other things to get on with their spring rituals as well. The infamous Red Lily Bug adults are crawling out of the warm soil. They will find your emerging lilies fairly quickly but if you have any Fritillaria shooting up, these nasty beasties will devour them as appetizers as they wait for the lilies. Easy to spot if you are the slightest bit vigilant. Mine had already layed a few eggs before I got to them.

The pond system is up and running and the fish are coming to the surface. Apparently they did not forget how to get fed during their long winter sleep. This warm weather without any shade cover on the ponds certainly speeds up the algae growth. The ponds went from cold and crystal clear to warm and cloudy in just a few days. The minute floating algae does get trapped in my home made filters but they are nowhere big enough or efficient enough to keep up with the growth at these temperatures. I need the water lilies to leaf out and also the shade tree over the ponds, to reduce the amount of sunlight that is feeding this rapid algae growth. The fish just can’t eat that much.

Some very interesting responses to the last issue of “Dallying”. Several of you were kind enough to congratulate me on my new twin grandchildren. The interesting part was several said it would not be overkill to post pictures, they were all female and all the male responders just commented as they were asking a gardening question. Hmmm!

An old friend of mine, justifiably, took issue with my Vole killing recommendations. Here is an edited version of his response:
"A better solution with this problem is recognizing that they have the greater right to live in this area, and that they are an important part of the biodiversity that must exist in the environment if we are to have any hope of retaining a viable bioshere. That & the fact that their behaviour this year is part of the heavy snowfall syndrome. They'll cease being obvious as the season advances. Live & let live. We'll all (including the twins) be healthier in a healthier environment for doing so. I know this isn't immediately made obvious but it's true. We have both animals living in our area with little disturbance to our lives. In fact, spotting these beasts adds measurably to the pleasures of summer living in our yard.

But then I am a zoologist by training, and an ecologist by inclination."

Thank you John. It is sometimes difficult to keep that perspective when they have just eaten your expensive and newly acquired ‘3 leaf weeping whatnot.’

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.

Daniel Asks? The last two years I have been having a problem with my plants dying , they produce veggies but they seem to get a white fungi or something on the leaves and they die off one by one . I usually start to see it in my squash, pumpkins and cucumbers first, then it works it's way to my tomatoes. My carrots, beet's , broccoli and peppers don't seem to be affected . I had a soil sample done and they say my soil is fine . I was just wondering if you had any idea on what it could be and how to try and make my plants last a whole season.

Ken Answers! Yes, this is a fungus disease called Powdery Mildew. There is very little in the way of treatment that is economially or environmentally viable. Thorough cleanup of infected plants before planting the next year’s crop and searching the seed catalogues for Mildew resistant varieties are the easiest ways to reduce, (notice I didn’t say eliminate,) the problem. Don’t overhead water at night so that the leaves dry quickly. Don’t walk through the infected plants more than absolutely necessary and don’t do it at all if the leaves are wet, the spores will stick to your clothes and infect new plants. One of my resources mentioned that the spores spread rapidly at temperatures over 80F. Good luck with that information. See my comments about Mother Nature, above.

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