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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #245--- My neighbour has an unhappy Magnolia.
January 09, 2016

We’re back. The holidays are over. The grass stayed green. The Snowdrops started to bloom. The skis stayed in the basement until sometime this week. The picture is my neighbour’s Magnolia. The buds are large and nicely expanded and I’m very afraid that when we get a hard freeze they are not going to be happy. That great show of bloom in the spring may not materialize. The tree will undoubtedly survive and grow some nice leaves but that’s not really what we plant Magnolias for. As I write this, the little bit of snow that we did have is running down the catch basins encouraged by the +5 C temperature and the rain. Mother Nature apparently likes to play with my affections both during the gardening season and ski season.

I will just sit inside, ignore her and peruse my seed catalogues. There are so many new and wonderful varieties featured in those catalogues that I find it almost impossible to choose the few that I actually have room to grow. Each fall during the heaviest days of the cleanup routine, I pledge that next year, I really must cut back and then the catalogues arrive. The Assistant Gardener threatens to pick up the mail every day and stop at the recycling box before she lets me see that days offerings. Most of the seed companies also seem to have my email address and remind through that medium about their newest and greatest.

Even without opening a catalogue, I start to run out of room. The Geranium cuttings that I took last September have turned into lovely large plants and they no longer fit under my lights. That’s easy to solve, I just cut them back so that they branch out and become even bushier plants. Oops! That leaves me with a lovely pile of very viable Geranium cuttings. The propagation bed is not very busy in January so I can stick them all in there and at least double my production. Do I need any more Geraniums??? Where will I grow them when everything else starts to demand space under those lights? I must not add any more lights to the basement growing area, the neighbours already think I’m running some kind of grow-op down there. Root them or compost them? What a dilemma for a dedicated gardener who can see all those free Geraniums just waiting to grow.

The expansion of the Earth Box garden was one of last summers great experiments. Did it produce enough vegetables? Did it reduce the weeding? How much water did I use? Yes and yes to the first questions. I have been gathering my thoughts and have finally produced an Earth Box page on the web site. This page is my personal experience and certainly not a thorough scientific experiment. They will be continued and probably expanded next year. I also installed my drip irrigation system to the rest of the vegetable garden last summer and now to expand the earth box area I may have to undo some of the irrigation. One step forward, two steps back but it’s all done in hopes of reducing the amount of human (aka mine,) effort required to produce an equivalent vegetable crop.

There’s no questions to answer this week as we have all been on holiday but do send them in. Just ‘reply’ to this emailed newsletter and I will try to answer. . Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities and other tips about what can keep a gardener active at this time of year.

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