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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #141 ---We visit Quatre Vents and harvest a few Potatoes
September 16, 2013

I’m sitting inside with my warm fleece on this morning. How the weather can change in a few days. That is a great reminder to get on with some of the early autumn gardening activities. Now is the time to save money on next spring’s plant shopping. Those gorgeous Geraniums that are presently filling your containers need to propagated. I’m going out to take some cuttings from my Geraniums. Rooting these and growing them gives me a little basement gardening to do during the winter and it saves me considerable money next spring. I may also take some cuttings from my Begonia boliviensis. I grew them from seed this year but the seed I’ve found in the catalogues appears to be a bit expensive so I may try some cuttings. In previous years I have done this with some success. They certainly don’t root as readily as the Geraniums.

There is another job that delights me every autumn. I get a great thrill every time I dig up the Potatoes. I know that I planted them and I know what they are going to do. Somehow, there’s still always this amazement that these fat delicious tubers appear from out of the soil when I go digging. They did very well this year and I will have a nice quantity of each of the five varieties that I planted. We have been digging and enjoying them since late July but we always seem to have enough to get us part way through the winter. They will be dug and have most of the soil washed away and then as soon as they are dry, any damaged ones will be sorted out and the rest will find their way to the cold room.

Saving the best for last. After the Garden Writer’s meeting in Quebec a small group of us, about 40, went on another excursion. Two hours east of Quebec City in the Charlevoix region we were treated to a tour of a, one of a kind, garden. Quatre Vents is the private summer estate of the Cabot family and within this huge holding there is the most incredible garden. Frank Cabot spent much of his life developing about 22 acres into a series of garden rooms and spaces. We were treated to a tour of it by his son Colin, who regaled us with stories both horticultural and personal about its development. From tiny kitchen gardens, holding the brick oven to expansive forest areas, every corner of this delight is carefully planned and executed to give the visitor a constantly changing experience that still manages to have unifying themes running through it. I’ve tried to capture the essence of this garden in my story and I hope you enjoy following it as much as I did experiencing it.

Time to answer a few questions. If you have a gardening question just ‘reply’ to this newsletter and send me your query. I try to answer most of the questions and the ones that I answer here are those that I think will have the widest interest. You can also find the latest garden updates on the front page of I try to change it every few days so check back often.

Ann Asks? I have a purple smoke bush many of whose leaves are curling and dying. I read about something called vermicullum wilt. Is that likely and is there anything I can do about it?

Ken Answers! Yes, verticillium wilt will attack varieties of Cotinus, (smokebush) There is very little you can do about it. Read this page to understand it better. Cotinus wilt

Bill Asks Hi Ken this year we planted one of the new varieties of tomatoes where the plant is grafted to the root stock. We had very strong plant growth however the tomatoes have stayed green and refused to ripen, the tomatoes are quite large and are also misshapen. What are your thoughts and any comments about the new tomato plants.

Ken Answers! I had mixed results with the grafted tomatoes. They did have more disease resistance then the regular types but most did not grow much larger. The late ripening and misshapen problems, are things that are often part of growing heritage tomatoes and grafting them does not really change any of those features. Many of the grafted plants available were heritage types such as Brandywine.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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