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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #146 --- Julia shows us the Sockeye Salmon
October 18, 2013

Despite the wonderful weather, I did not spend any time in the garden over our long Thanksgiving weekend. (We Canadians are a bit ahead of our American friends celebrating Thanksgiving. ) Instead we decided to cross the country and have our Turkey and Pumpkin pie with our west coast grandchildren. The dinner and the granddaughters were all wonderful. First we provided the big city cousin with houseplant advice in trade for bed and breakfast and then flew into the interior of B.C. the next morning. Why is this of any interest to my readers? It was not a garden visit but it was amazing. We walked along a section of the Adam’s river, about 500 km, by river, from the Pacific Ocean and were entranced by quantities of large bright red Sockeye Salmon. They swam that distance to return to their birth place where they will mate and lay their eggs and then die. The sight of these majestic fish is made all the more fascinating as you contemplate what they have done over the past weeks to reach this location. The granddaughters took great delight in showing us this natural wonder and encouraging us to return next year when the number of fish will be much greater. There is a four year cycle between the huge migrations that bring over a million fish to this location. We thought the 10,000 + that we were witness to, were an incredible site.

Just before we left we harvested our crop of Lemongrass. Coincidentally, marinating salmon in white wine and Lemongrass before grilling, is one of our favourite fish preparation methods. Lemongrass Cymbopogon citratus is a tropical grass that is used as an herb in several types of Eastern cooking such as Thai. I grow a large clump of it most years and then harvest it before the first frost and store it in the refrigerator. This year I am going to try drying it and storing it as a powder as my large fresh crop will not keep long enough for me to use it all. Follow the link to learn how to easily grow it using one of the harvested stalks.

I usually recommend that houseplants get repotted in the early spring just as their growing cycle begins again. Some part time houseplants need to be repotted when they are returning to the house for the winter. They grow very well outside during the summer and have far outgrown their pots when it’s time to bring them in. One of the rapid growers that I like to have, is the date palm Phoenix dactylifera. This plant is an interesting and inexpensive delight. I buy a package of dates at the grocery store, eat the dates and plant the pits. When they are small, they are lovely little palms but they grow a massive root system that is designed to search in the desert sands for any available water. As a result they quickly fill up a pot with roots and need to move up a pot size or two each year. I did manage to keep the first one, that my daughter planted, as grade school project, for about 30 years. The Assistant Gardener had suggested for several years, that it had minimal horticultural or aesthetic appeal and I finally agreed with her and left it outside one winter. The new one in the picture is about four years old. Great kids science / horticulture project.

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.

Joyce Asks? I am wondering about pruning my Rose of Sharon bush. The flowers have gone but they leave what looks like a large bud, which in the spring dries out and looks bad. Can I now prune this bush back behind these "buds"?

Ken Answers! Those “buds” are actually seed pods and you will do yourself great favour by pruning it now and removing those pods. This plant’s seeds, germinate easily and if those seeds fall to the ground you could find yourself with many unwanted Rose of Sharon seedlings in your lawn or flower beds.

Claire Asks? Is it too late to plant my Narcissus and Tulip bulbs?

Ken Answers! Absolutely not. Anytime before the ground freezes solid will still work. The best thing about planting late is the opportunity to purchase your bulbs when the garden centres have them on sale. They may bloom a little later the first year but they will be fine and the squirrels will have a tougher time digging through the frozen soil to eat your Tulip bulbs.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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