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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #178 --- You can just vacuum bugs if they are too prolific.
July 11, 2014

It’s late on Friday afternoon and I’m sitting on the porch with a cool beverage. I didn’t spend any time in the garden today and I didn’t start “Dallying” until now. I spent the day being driven around the villages just East of me, to judge the gardens of their club’s members. Always an interesting day and a chance to get up close and personal with some wonderful and diverse gardens. Choosing a winner is the really difficult part because they are all great gardens but are all quite different from each other. The job is done and now I can relax and send you all my weekly missive. Lots of intensive gardening, especially weeding, next week as the my garden is on the local Communities in Bloom garden tour and I have to make the garden look almost as good as I make it sound in my various writings. Not necessarily an easy task. The vegetables have all perked up with a bit of fertilizer and some heavy watering and they should look good for the tour. The other beds are brightening up as the the Daylilies are throwing up large scapes and their blooms are popping open each day. The Lilies are also starting to open open and will be putting on a good show by next weekend. With any luck the visitors will be so impressed by these flowers and vegetables that they will not notice the odd weed that I miss this week.

As I sit on the porch, the late afternoon sun is shining through the brightly coloured Coleus leaves. The upside to having the Downy Mildew eliminate Impatiens from our planting palette is the wonderful other shade tolerant plants that we have had to discover. These Coleus are just as colourful as the Impatiens and have an intriguing multi-coloured effect that is quite different from the mass of solid colour that the Impatiens supplied. I think I may actually like it better. The Rex Begonias in the side yard planters are also doing very well and putting on an equally impressive show. Just beside the Rex Begonia planters is a small area of Lilies. There are a few Martagon Lilies there because they tolerate the shade. They have bloomed quite well for their second year. Beside them was an assortment of other Lilies that I have planted over the years to see which ones would flourish there. Last week I found many of them chewed through at the base and laying on the ground. Over the next few days the leaves were eaten off all of those fallen stalks. Rabbits! Curse the Rabbits. I have the traps and 6 Chipmunks and a squirrel have been retired to their new country homes but the Rabbit trap is still untested. What do you use for bait in a Rabbit trap when it is surrounded by all of the foliage they love to eat? I’ll keep trying to find the correct inducement that, hopefully, has no appeal to any skunks that may be in the neighbourhood.

I was at a family gathering last Sunday and the conversation with cousins naturally turned to gardening. I had very little help to offer the young lady with the Cucumber Beetles. I have only had them once and they obviously didn’t like it here as they did not return the next year. They do tend to congregate in the blossoms overnight and they can be crushed in there in the early morning or sprayed with insecticidal soap. Having said that, they will now probably show up here next week. It seems that every time I tell a reader that I have no personal experience with a particular problem, that problem arrives in my garden the next week. I’m almost afraid to mention things. These same cousins asked about the Colorado Potato Beetle. I’m not sure what Colorado did to get such a nasty bug named for them. Again, I haven’t seen any in my garden for some years but we are now enjoying our garden fresh Potatoes. The cousins seemed to have a significant infestation and were going broke paying the children five cents for each beetle picked. Being my cousins and therefore naturally creative they found a solution. Out came the industrial vacuum from the workshop and an extension cord that would reach the garden and in a few minutes, with a loud sucking noise, all of the beetles were successfully removed from the Potatoes. Ingenious and organic.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Bill Asks? I have a couple of questions about your treatment of the patch of half-dead weeds beside the maple. I have a similar patch that my Assistant Gardener is concerned about. With a couple of differences: my weeds are healthier than yours were, and the patch is known as the "backyard". Did you put the landscape fabric directly on top of the soil and the flat stones directly on the fabric? Or is there pea gravel under the stones? Also, how thick are the stones you used, approximately?

Ken Answers! Thanks for your interest and good luck with the weed patch. The flagstones are about 1.25" thick. There is landscape fabric under the whole path directly on the soil and the pea gravel is on top of that. There is some pea gravel under the stones because it is easier to move than the soil under the fabric and that makes leveling the stones much simpler. I have more pea gravel under the stones than necessary and the gravel is a bit deeper then necessary but when you go to the stone yard and buy 1/2 yd of gravel, you tend to use it all.

Yasmeen Asks? I have some onions I tried this year, the greens are thick and fleshy, if I pluck them for salads will I loose the onion bulbs? They also get scapes like garlic, should I be cutting that off?

Ken Answers! It’s not a good idea to cut off the Onion leaves for greens as the lack of leaves will inhibit the bulb’s formation. I just plant my Onions quite close together and then get green onions for salad by thinning the row, pulling out the entire small onion and thus leaving more room for the others to develop their bulb. Onions are biennials and don’t usually put up scapes until their second year. If your weather is inducing them to put up scapes I would cut them off and use them in your salad or stir fry. That should leave lots of greens to produce the bulbs.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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