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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #391 - Old fashioned purple Poppies are illuminating the garden
June 29, 2022

Sometimes an old one is worth planting. This is an Heirloom Poppy, Lauren’s Dark Grape. She is an annual but will apparently self seed quite easily. I started the seeds under the basement lights on 04 March and she has been blooming for a few days now. It would be wonderful if she was a perennial but was quite easy to grow and very much worth the effort. The flowers are almost a metre tall over bright grey foliage making the whole plant a standout in the garden. The seeds came from Renees Seeds and the package had more than enough seeds to last for two years.

Last night’s dinner featured some great pasta with Garlic scape pesto from these freshly cut scapes. Some garlic scapes, a bunch of Basil, a few Pine nuts, some grated Parmesan and enough Olive oil to make it smooth when they are all tossed in the food processor. Dry ingredients first until they are thoroughly chopped and then the oil. The remainder of the big batch is frozen in ice cube trays for ease of use in the winter. Removing the scapes from the Garlic has other benefits. It allows the garlic buds to grow much bigger and it stops the scapes from opening and spreading their bulbils far and wide. I have volunteer Garlic all over the garden no matter how diligent I try to be in eradicating it.

My Garden Communicators association had a wonderful meeting at the Royal Botanical Gardens last week and we were treated to a tour of the new Rose garden and then the Rock Garden. The RBG is an amazing place and well worth a visit at almost any time during the gardening season. It’s Mediterranean garden is also a delight in the colder months. The Rose garden was completely rebuilt just before the Pandemic and is now operated with no pesticides and little or no fertilizer except the decomposing mulch, which is applied about 7 cm deep each year. They had a large infestation of Rose Sawfly last year and discovered that the Sawfly was probably overwintering in the fall applied mulch. Mulch was applied in the spring this year and the Sawfly attack has been minimal. What is really interesting is which varieties are thriving and which are not. They are evaluated a few times each year and the under achievers are replaced with other varieties. This picture is obviously a thriver and is sold as Party Hardy.

This is one of the Asparagus beds where the Asparagus is soaking up the sunshine to regenerate its roots so that it can send up its multiple shoots next spring. The thing to actually notice is the lack of weeds and the trimmed edge to the bed. That was a few hours of work as the weeds seemed to grow with great vigour this year and they apparently have no respect for my birth certificate. The other Asparagus bed already has thistles reemerging happily pointing out that I didn’t get all of their roots as I pulled and dug the weeds.

Beside the side porch is this sweet Martagon Lily and her name is Manitoba. They are certainly not the showiest Lilies in the garden but they have two great attributes. They are usually the first to bloom and they will thrive in a reasonable amount of shade. This clump is under the edge of the great Walnut and and is also shaded for much of the day by that porch. The clump on the other side of the path has been almost totally stripped of leaves by the nasty Red Lily Beetle. I was keeping a close eye on them but obviously missed a few. In a perfect world I would like to think that Manitoba is a resistant variety but I’m fairly certain that’s not the case. Anyway they are just one of the many small delights that brighten up the garden.

Each year seems to bring an unexpectedly healthy crop of something and this year it is Parsley. We always grow a nice bit of Parsley for garnishing and flavouring and we dry a bunch to use all winter. This year that Parsley has gone raving mad and is producing huge clumps from the few transplants that are scattered around the garden. It does tend to get scattered because it is a rather attractive filler. The Assistant Gardener was admiring it the other day and went researching and found a recipe for a Parsley sauce. We sauteed a lovely piece of Pickerel and served it with that sauce for another tasty dinner. We will be making that sauce again and still have lots left for winter drying.

We are enjoying doing our presentations in person again and it is wonderful to have a live and responsive audience. If your group is looking for an interesting and entertaining speaker then check out these topics

There is a form on the website where you can make a request to have me speak at your meeting.

If you have gardening questions you can just hit reply to this email then you can ask me those questions and I will attempt to answer them.

Bill Asks? Previous years we have had numerous frogs/toads, but none this year. Wondered if you had noticed any correlation between cleaning your ponds, or not, with the numbers of frogs, etc, or if this is perhaps just part of a natural life cycle. (My daughter loves to show her Gr 1 students the development of spawn into little frogs, but no spawn this year.)

Ken Answers!I tend to clean mine every 4 or 5 years and in between I have a net/scoop thing that I use to dredge up the worst of the sludge. In the 20+ years of having ponds I have never had frogs or toads take up residence. Maybe mine are too small, about 10' x 4', or too far away from any source of such creatures.

Anita Asks? Inside I have some orchids and a stag horn fern. I found this week that something is taking little nibbles off the stag horn leaves. Now I notice a few orchids are being attacked. I have looked for droppings, sticky residue and bugs. But nothing. Any suggestions

Ken Answers!Are you giving your husband enough food:-) If various plants are being chewed then you have to suspect something mobile like mice. Few indoor bugs would eat enough to leave a visible hole. Sorry not much help.

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