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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #216--- The arrival of Potatoes and Asparagus is an excting time.
May 01, 2015

First the good news and then more good news. Last week’s Dallying was a bit depressing but things are definitely looking better this week. The sun has shone and most days it has been warm enough to actually make me want to go outside. The Cabbage, Kohl Rabi etc. that I planted behind the rabbit fence is still there. I’m cautiously optimistic that my 60cm (2') high rabbit deterrence is going to work. There’s lots of other things in the garden for them to eat without having to learn the high jump. Now, the big question, do I break open the wallet and fence the other large section. The first section is filled and there are all the warm season crops to plant yet. Last year they loved the Peppers and beans so I must find some way to protect them. The Narcissus are starting to bloom all over the garden and there is even some sign of the 250 new ones that I planted on the berm. Strange things excite gardeners. My Potatoes arrived this week. Of all the things that I plant, why do I find such joy in the arrival of a few bags of seed potatoes. I have several new varieties to try this year and I can’t wait to get them into the ground. I don’t think rabbits like them but they will like the lettuce or whatever other short season crop that I plant between the rows of Potatoes. Those large Potato plants won’t need all that space for several weeks and I hate to leave all that soil bare, so that’s why the Lettuce and Spinach will occupy it in the interim. The Potatoes are chitting in the heat and light of the solarium. Chitting: the process of letting the tubers develop some short shoots at each viable eye in order to shorten the outdoor growing season. Gardeners have strange words as well as strange things that excite them.

We are not home for dinner tonight so we might indulge in a large vegetarian lunch. Another of the great exciting events has occurred. The Asparagus is up and there is more than enough for a big feed. It’s quite warm out and that means that by tomorrow night the earliest spears will be getting too big. We will show no restraint or even much common sense, we’ll just pick it, steam it, add a modicum of butter and savour each bite. What else could we add to this perfect lunch. I did notice as I was walking to the Asparagus that the little bit of grass, that I keep in the back yard, is looking beautifully green but already rather long and uneven. I’ll need to sort out the garage and put the snow blower at the back and bring out the lawn mower. I did take the time to sharpen my special little Asparagus cutting tool so I should also take the time to sharpen the blade on that lawn mower before it shreds the grass. I was thinking that it’s a bit of a vicious circle, I fertilize the lawn and overseed it and that means that I then have to cut it more often. Actually the Assistant Gardener usually cuts the grass so I need to keep it thick, rich and fast growing so that she gets to spend more time in the sunshine.

The Peonies are poking their deep red shoots out of the soil in a multitude of locations. They do not seem to have noticed that it was a very cold winter as each clump looks bigger than it was last year. The real joy of Peonies is their hardiness and their life span. A well planted Peony provides at least 20 years of carefree satisfaction. That’s, of course, assuming that you planted it in the correct location and aren’t forced to move it because the adjacent tree has grown so much that the Peony is now in the shade. It can be hard to predict what will happen next year, never mind 20 years form now. Procrastinate if your Peony needs moving, they prefer September. The Fern Leaf Peony, in the picture, already has large flower buds on it and they should produce their small bright red flowers in the next couple of weeks. The few large double flowered Peonies that I grow will require some support and if I was the efficient gardener I would like to be, I would be out there this week putting in those supports when the plants are just a few cms. tall. That would save me the great struggle of trying to add the supports after it becomes obvious that they are needed. Like many chores in my garden that can always be done tomorrow.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Dan Asks? I'd like to start my dahlia tubers in doors (next week) to give them a head start considering the cold spring we are having. How difficult is it to transplant them into the ground once they have started to grow and the weather has warmed, or is this something that you would not recommend?

Ken Answers! My Dahlias have been in pots for about two weeks now and are already putting up green shoots. They transplant to the garden with no trouble at all. The hard part is finding big enough pots to start some of them.

Joe Asks? In some places, I've seen people Graft Tomatoes tops to Eggplant root bottoms, I think. Is this tomato treatment necessary?

Ken Answers! Most Tomatoes do very well just growing on their own roots. Greenhouse growers have been grafting Tomatoes onto different rootstocks for many years to get increased growth and to induce some disease resistance. Such plants have recently become available in retail locations but they command a premium price. I’ve tried them and am not sure they are worth the extra cost. It’s not that difficult to do so trying it yourself for a couple of plants can be a bit of gardening fun.

Thanks you to all of my readers who gave me locations where I might find the Gem Marigolds this year.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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