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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #315 - There is a layer of thick ice on the cold frame that is holding u
April 16, 2018

If that was a bit of snow on top of the coldframe, I would just go out and brush it off. This has been the most bizarre mid-April weather that I can remember. That’s 5+ cm of solid ice sitting on that cold frame roof. Not only can’t I brush it off, I can’t easily get to it since that same ice is covering a rather uneven path between the back door and the coldframe. You all know that it is actually a heated hotframe and I’m fairly confident that the few things that are in it will survive just fine. The problem is in the basement under the lights. There is no more room and there are many things to transplant and pot up and to do that I need the space in the coldframe. It continues to pour rain today and it is just above freezing so the ice is not increasing but it’s not disappearing in a hurry either. All through the garden there are bits of green poking through the ice and I wonder how all of those bulbs will fare under these rather interesting conditions. If April showers bring May flowers what does an April ice storm bring??

These Dahlia and Colocasia tubers are looking rather dried out and they would like to be in some nice moist soil and then out in that ice covered cold frame. I will go and start potting them up as soon as I publish this edition of “Dallying” hopefully later today. They can sit on the basement floor absorbing the moisture for a few days before they will require much heat and light. The Geraniums are ready to go outside as well but the early ones are looking a bit crowded in their 10 cm (4") pots and I would like to pot them up into some deeper 10 cm pots so that they have room to extend their root system. The deeper pots are also heavier and that makes them less prone to tipping over when sitting on the somewhat uneven floor of the coldframe. I also have to weed that floor. Last week when I was looking in it there were a couple of Dandelions already sporting bright yellow blooms. They were actually the best harbingers of spring that I have seen but I really don’t want them producing seed in there.

There is a rather successful company out there, somewhere in Alberta I believe, called the “Little Potato Company” and their product is a few varieties of very small Potatoes. I have purchased and enjoyed them. Being the curious gardener I have done a bit of research about them to discover that these little potatoes are not small or immature but appear to be varieties that get that big even at maturity. I have grown a wide variety of Potatoes over the years and have had many “favourites.” Now I want to see if I can grow these little potatoes. Here is a tray of them that I have rescued from the cook pot and have them in the solarium to see if I can chit them. Chitting is a rather British expression for a process of getting the eyes of the Potatoes to start growing before they are planted in the garden. My regular varieties are already showing some growth under the lights in the basement and will be moving to the floor of the solarium any day now. So far there is no sign of growth from these little varieties. In a regular world I would anticipate planting the Potatoes in the garden at the end of April. That will require a noticeable change in the weather this year.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. To ask a question just “reply” to this ezine. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Laurie Asks? I read your last month's letter with interest as I had over-wintered two amaryllis plants and brought them up at the same time. One bloomed beautifully but the other did nothing. You had said to compost them if they don't show, so I went to pull it up and there were roots still clinging on. So, I put it back (this was a couple of weeks ago) and continued watering it. Lo and behold, it is putting up a green shoot right now, the beginning of April. The only thing I can think that delayed it so much was that when I brought it in I put it in a much larger pot than the other. Is that possibly the case? I read they like to be pot bound. Now let's see if it will bloom!

Ken Answers! Yes, they do like to be pot bound and that was probably the delay while they grew additional roots. Clever of you to check before composting.

Joan Asks? Thanks for your wonderful presentation on vertical gardening that you gave recently for the Peterborough Master Gardeners. I have begonias that I overwintered in containers starting to grow again. Do I pinch them back? I keep rotating them so they aren’t leaning in one direction but wondered about the pinching back.

Ken Answers! Begonias are a bit strange, they often don't respond well to pinching. I would pinch a sample plant or two and see what happens and then decide what to do with the others.

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