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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #113 --- Training grapes has taken on huge proportions.
June 19, 2012
Well ! I think I have almost everything planted at last. It’s difficult to spend a lot of time in the garden doing things and also to find time to write about it. The weeds can wait; they’ll get bigger and easier to find as if they weren’t big enough already. It’s also much too hot to be in the garden. I quit being outside at about 9:00 this morning when I couldn’t find any more shade to hide in. Time to get back to “Dallying In The Dirt,” and let you all know what is happening in the garden now and for the next couple of weeks.
In the middle of planting season I was “foolish?” enough to agree to some volunteer activities. It seems to be common knowledge that I can do some reasonable floral arrangements. That information seems to have made its way to the people organizing two large church functions that were one week apart. Several large arrangements for the local church opening and a couple of them, plus 60 table centres, for the banquet the following weekend for the Presbyterian Church’s general assembly, seemed to conspire to slow down my planting schedule and speed up the weed growth schedule. I quite enjoy doing them but could they not fit my gardening and writing schedule a bit better?
The strange weather patterns continue to bring many things into bloom well ahead of their normal schedule. I enjoy my Tall Bearded Iris whenever they appear but by arriving two weeks early they play havoc with the competitive gardening schedules. The Iris show this year had no Tall Bearded Iris entered. I scrounged through my garden looking for anything that I might enter but could only find a few final bedraggled blooms. The Roses, on the other hand, were doing very nicely and we entered a few of them. There won’t be much left of them by the late June Rose Show. I had the privilege of judging the large flower show at the Oshawa Peony festival. Over 500 blooms were entered and Gordon and I scrambled to judge them all in the two hours allotted. Peony fanciers are a dedicated lot. They had been picking blooms at the soft bud stage for the past 7+ weeks, then wrapping them in newspaper and storing them in the fridge. It’s amazing to watch these buds as they are unwrapped and exposed to the heat and light of the day. They will go from tightly closed to fully open in a remarkably short time. I watched one large dark red Japanese variety pop open in less than hour. It is not a gradual process, they literally pop open. Quite amazing but then so much of gardening is.
Last year, about this time, Loblaws gave me a couple of their potted, President’s choice, grape vines and I decided to give them a try. I figured that I could spend a few years training them to grow on the west facing fence. Luckily I did get out and put up the wires for them early this spring. Each one was pruned to three pairs of leaders, each one a little higher. The growth this spring has been amazing. Each shoot has grown close to 2 metres and is reaching beyond the ends of the wires that I thought would be plenty long enough. There are several bunches of fruit developing on each vine and I’m hoping to taste the fruits of my labours by mid summer. The local bird population probably has similar thoughts and we will have to see who is the quickest and smartest. The best part of these wonderful vines is that they take up almost no garden space but rather decorate a dull wooden fence. I have had to prune and train them a few times already and am wondering just how much more they are going to grow.
The strange weather has also done some good things. I planted Peas in the middle of March, at least 4 weeks earlier than usual, and we have already had two delicious meals of fresh Peas and there appears to be a third one that will be ready to pick tomorrow. There is an abundance of Pak Choi and some delicious Kohl Rabi overflowing the garden. The Kohl Rabi are reacting to the strange weather. We went for weeks in May with little or no rain and they struggled along, slowly maturing. Then we got rain and then more rain and then more rain and the Kohl Rabi started to grow rapidly and many of the bulbs split into two or three segments. I’ve picked them and cooked them anyway and they are succulent and delicious. The Spinach has already bolted to seed in the early heat but there is an abundance of Lettuce from the seeds that were planted with the Peas in mid March. The Rhubarb has been a disappointment and what little growth there is, is quite chewed up by something. It looks like we have developed a Rhubarb tolerant slug species, something I have never noticed before. It’s always interesting to watch how different plants react to the same conditions. I planted my Melons at the bottom of the garden where they have happily grown up a bit of fencing for the last several years. I planted one climbing Nasturtium with each variety of Melons. It rained etc etc and the soil there was quite sodden. The Melons seemed to have drowned and may not recover but the adjacent Nasturtiums are thriving. Gardening! Always a mystery and always reminding me that I’m not in charge.
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 gardening-enjoyed.com .
Ken Answers! If you listen quietly in the night, in the garden, you can hear the Monarda singing that old classic,”Don’t Fence Me In,” It will spread no matter what you do. Just be ruthless each spring and rip out all but a tidy circle of it. You could put a bottomless old plant pot in the ground around it, to try and keep it from spreading but it will eventually escape.
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