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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #369 - The pickerel weed in the pond is probably going to stay.
July 22, 2020

“Dallying” has been on a bit of holiday for the last couple of weeks as other things have intruded into my gardening life, not the least of which is the heat, that suggests that a nap in the shade would be a more pleasurable activity. No rain, lots of heat and the weeds still grow at amazing speeds. The vegetable garden gets all the water and much of this gardener’s limited time and this is the result. It’s always difficult to decide what to have for dinner and we often wind up with “several” vegetables on the dinner plate and they are all wonderful. Amazing harvests of Peppers this year, have put a few varieties on the plate each night. Lots of small Tomatoes already and a few colourful Eggplant are starting to show up. I’m thrilled to report that Japanese Beetles like Eggplant. At least they are easy to see on those big leaves. On the right side of the picture those small dark objects are the purple fleshed Potatoes which apparently are going to be small but plentiful and delicious. A wealth of food continues to pour forth to reward my efforts and remind us about the joys of gardening.

This year I have noticed how the Peonies, Lilies and Daylilies have been noticeably smaller. These beauties are growing in the Asparagus bed which has the drip irrigation system running twice a week. Obviously all of the others, which are half this size, are reacting to the prolonged drought. I’m not a big fan of watering ornamentals but this would certainly encourage me to do so if I didn’t care about water conservation and just incidentally my water bill.

On the Trellis at the front of the yard there is a Clematis that grows from the ground each year and easily makes 2 m by the time it blooms Sweet Summer Love has masses of small purple flowers that require the gardener to walk by slowly and appreciate. Because it dies to the ground each winter, it is very hardy and comes roaring out of the soil in the spring with an amazing growth rate. It’s just one of those delights that take minimal care. Simply cut the vines to the ground in the autumn, now if you are growing it up a trellis it can be a bit intertwined, making us spend a few minutes, or more, untwining the dead vines but since they are going in the compost we certainly don’t have to be careful about it. It stays in bloom for a few weeks and will even do a bit of rebloom some years.

Now here is another hardy and successful plant. You can see the very dormant grass all around but the Creeping Charlie or Ground Ivy or formally Glechoma hederacea is a rich vibrant green. Now maybe we should stop trying to grow grass and just make an intentional lawn with this much despised weed. It was introduced here as a useful medicinal herb a few generations ago but that usage is rarely seen as a reason to grow it in modern times. It’s problem as a useful groundcover is its inability to stay within bounds. It rapidly spreads, it is not all that nice to walk on and its fragrance is a bit unpleasant. Besides that, we are gardeners, why would we grow something that was easy to grow? It is also as difficult to eradicate as it is easy to grow. There can be some success treating with Boron, search for instructions as the quantities are very specific. I have one of the new selective herbicides to try but as it is not listed on the label I’m not too optimistic. When the weather gets a bit cooler and with more moisture I will try it and let you know how it works.

Several years ago when paddling a canoe down the York river in Ontario I pulled up some roots of a few plants to try in my ponds. This Pickerel weed Pontederia cordata has been the most successful of the lot. The tall purple bloom stalks are quite colourful and they stay in bloom for some time. It never did that well in a container in the pond but this pond has not been cleaned for some time and all of the plants, including the thriving waterlily behind the purple flower stalks, are now well established in the muck in the bottom. As I was talking about cleaning it the other day the Assistant Gardener pointed out how attractive it is growing wildly. She pointed out that we have other ponds that are quite clean with lots of visible fish and some nice potted Lilies so why not save myself the effort of cleaning this one and just enjoy the rich and thick plant life. Sounds Like a good idea to me especially as it looks so good at the moment.

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.

Nicole Asks? My mom got me hooked into your newsletters and I quite enjoy them! I have planted Dahlias in my garden this year and I have one that looks pretty sad all of a sudden, like two days ago it was fine and now I've got these brown necrotic lesions and the whole plant is wilting. The googling I've done takes me to verticillium wilt or necrotic spot virus, neither of which sounds overly great given I have multiple Dahlias planted together in this part of the garden. Just wondered if you had any ideas?

Ken Answers! I’m not too sure what might be attacking that Dahlia but I had one this spring that suddenly turned all brown and crispy but it never seemed to spread to its neighbours. There are few if any fungicides that we can purchase in my part of the world so we watch carefully and isolate or eliminate if needed.

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