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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #376 - The Snowdrops are reminding me to publish Dallying
March 18, 2021

These Snowdrops have been in bloom for a while now, reminding me to get on with publishing 2021's first “Dallying” and obviously I have been ignoring them. I don’t believe I have ever taken this long of a break before. In these strange times of staying home, all of the days and weeks seem to merge together and stand still and yet fly by with nothing significant to mark the passage of days. Here we are at the start of another gardening season and I seem to find myself somewhat unmotivated but the weather is supposed to warm dramatically this weekend and that should stir my gardener’s soul. The first municipal pick up of yard waste is the first week of April so I need to get into the garden and at least prune the Harlequin Maple as it produces an amazing amount of fresh growth each year.

All of the seed companies are overwhelmed again this year and I am still waiting for the seeds I ordered the first week of February. The Onions are going to be late this year. I do have a fair bit of seed from last year and I have started sowing it. The picture is all of the seeding trays drying, after there yearly wash and bleach treatment. Cleanliness is our best defence against “damping off” disease. If you look closely you will notice a nice layer of dust on all of those trays. I have been doing some woodworking in the basement and apparently creating a noticeable amount wood dust. With a little luck a fine layer of ground Oak will be a damping off deterrent.

Here we are all set up to start sowing seeds. Clean plug trays, sterile soiless sowing mixture and the very important labels, as we won’t recognize them when they emerge no matter how experienced we think we are. Off to the right, is the tray of water that the seedling trays will be set in, so that they become thoroughly moistened. They will then get set on the germination bed that is visible in the background. That bed is about 120 cm, the length of a fluorescent tube, by about 90 cm wide and is filled with that soiless mixture in which there is a buried heating cable. That heat is the secret to good germination of most seeds. That soil is about 25 C and at that temperature my Pak Choi and Chinese Cabbage germinate in about three days. Not visible in the picture is the clear plastic cover that goes over the seeds to keep the humidity at 100% so that I usually don’t have to water until they germinate. The fluorescent tubes will be lowered setting them about 5 - 7 cm above the seedling trays and they are moved up as the seedlings grow. Now if the postman would just show up with the rest of my seeds.

This my very reliable Christmas Cactus which always puts on a great show at Christmas. It wasn’t quite as floriferous this year but it has also continued to put out a few blooms continuously since Christmas. Maybe it was also in lock down at Christmas and is just now bursting forth with some saved up blooming power. It blooms at Christmas because it is a short day plant. These plants are kicked into their bloom cycle by the shortening days of autumn. After a certain day the hours of dark exceed the hours of daylight and that allows the plant hormones that are produced at night to overrule the daylight ones and that accumulation tells the plant that it is time to flower.

There are no recent questions to answer but feel free to ask some now. Just hit reply on this email and send me your questions and I will do my best to answer them. Let’s have a great gardening season together.
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