Important Note

The format and layout of this issue of Dallying, are a bit strange. My great web hoster Site Build It, is struggling to fix this problem. I needed to get this timely information out anyway so I'm sending it as is. It was written last week, so back adjust all time references. We ate the Asparagus mentioned on April 28. Thanks to all of you for your input and questions and support.


Yes! The Crocus have been blooming and the Narcissus and Tulips are well on their way ---- BUT– spring is finally, well and truly, here. Twenty shoots of Asparagus on last nights dinner plate! Oh! What a sweet, fresh taste, spring has. Out of the garden, a few minutes in boiling water, a touch of butter and everything else on the plate becomes incidental. It will take a few more days of warm weather to get the next picking but then suddenly it will be every other day and then we will be looking for innovative ways to serve it. Parboiled and marinated in oil and verjus dressing and you have the best addition to my famous dinner salad. We did dig some of last year’s Parsnips last week and they were great but not quite the same freshness of flavour. The Lovage is far enough along to chop into a stir fry but it has never had the same appeal for me.

The ground is dry and crumbly enough to start planting. The Peas will be in the ground by the end of the week and some of the early transplants such as Rapini and Guy Lan will be the first to leave the cold frame and nestle into the warming soil. The many Onion transplants will follow very soon. There is a wealth of bloom all through the garden from the myriad of bulbs that have been planted over the years and we have already found a few blank spots, (yes that is possible,) to fill with other bulb varieties this autumn. The Pansies that have been struggling in the front porch planters are starting to bloom and make their presence known. This morning I noticed the first of the miniature bearded Iris in bloom. A peony known as Pink Angel is roaring out of the ground and is already 30cm tall with well developed flower buds. The “great Peony watch” is still showing no results. The Itoh hybrid, Garden Treasure, that was a birthday present from the children last fall, has yet to grace us with even one little red shoot. I have faith. They are always later and newly planted ones are even later. It will arise and be magnificent.

I have a wonderful neighbour and even he wishes that he had never planted the little patch of Goutweed Aegopodium podagraria in his wild garden. Several hours on the knees with a trowel digging to amazing depths and I think I have slowed its progress for this year. Only in my wildest imagination have I eliminated it. I suppose there is a use for this nasty but decorative invasive species somewhere in the realm of horticulture but that’s just not anywhere near a back yard garden.

The newly cleaned ponds and adjusted waterfalls are performing well and most of the flock (school?) of new small goldfish are adjusting well to their surroundings. I found a few that managed to commit suicide by roaring down the river, flying over the lower waterfall and coming to their final rest in the filter at the bottom of the falls. I have eschewed the fancy high priced separate filters and make do, reasonably well, with a couple of passive filters like the one that is hidden at the bottom of the waterfall and strains all of the water passing over. I just rinse out the filter cloth about once a week, a five minute job, and away it goes.

In the basement things are popping and growing at a great rate. Tried something new this week. I had one huge Begonia tuber that had put up several shoots. Did a little research, got brave, took it out of the pot and used a sharp knife to cut it into three pieces. Each piece, in their separate pots haven’t flinched or wilted and are looking fine. That large basket will now be even more spectacular with its pendulous Begonia blooms this year. There are only a few seeds left to start and that should happen next week. The large seeded and fast growing members of the cucurbit family, Melons, Cucumbers, Zucchini and the like will be started in large cell paks and will not be transplanted before they wind up in the garden in early June. Fast growing annual flowers such as Zinnias and my favourite Morning Glories will also be started later this week. Starting Morning Glories too early leaves you with a huge job when you go to plant them. They will have started to twine and climb and they climb on each other forcing you to gently unknit them before you can plant them. It’s a mistake you only make once.

It’s interesting to see how each of the various mulches that I tried last year, has come through the winter. Some are looking good and ready for a second year and some have almost disappeared. Watch the next issues of Dallying In The Dirt. I will give a complete update on what I have discovered about them and which ones I will be buying again.

My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.

Barb Asks?Hello Ken, can you tell me how I should grow my indeterminate tomatoes. Should they be pinched at all, or have the side shoots removed? And should there only be one main stock? I have them grow up on a rope that is hanging from a t-bar type of support. Many thanks
Ken Answers! I just happen to have a whole page dedicated to indeterminate tomatoes and it will tell you to grow one single stalk and how I support and prune them. A great way to get a lot of Tomatoes from a small space.

Alison Asks? For the first time, we are starting a (veg) garden from seed, and have planted indoors basil, coriander, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, watermelon, melon and eggplant in cardboard egg cartons. The seeds are organic and heirloom, (we are 1/2 north of Ottawa). The balance of seeds say to be planted directly at the end of May (spinach, carrots, peas, beans, lettuce, kale). So, the basil and coriander have come up really well (although the basil is a lot slower to grow than the coriander), and the other seedlings are just starting now as they were planted a week later. My question: because the egg cartons are so small, will I necessarily have to replant/repot them all before putting them outside in the garden? how 'big' do they have to be before I plant them? They are presently in the kitchen windows and seem to be happy....but we are newbie gardeners with very excited gardener-wannabe children!

Ken Answers! I wish that I had finished my ebook on vegetable gardening so that I could easily answer all of your questions. Soon! It’s exciting to see new veggie gardeners with such enthusiasm. Where to start. Some of your seeds such as the melons you have probably planted a bit soon and they will definitely need to be transplanted before they go outside in early June. Have a look at my seeding times page to get some of your answers. The time to plant them in the garden has much more to do with time of year and frost free dates than it does the size of your little plants. Transplanting to bigger pots will be indicated when you have to water the little plants more than once a day or they have become so big they are competing for light and space. The seeds that you are going to plant directly outside also need to be divided into warm and cold groups. The Spinach, Lettuce, Carrots and Kale you can plant now, even in your location. The others are frost sensitive and need to wait for the end of May. You will learn to space out your planting to spread out the work and to get a longer season of “eating from the garden,” a delight you and your children will fall in love with. Check out growing carrots, it’s a basic primer on the things you need to know to have some success. Let us know how you make out over the course of the summer.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON