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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #393 - The water Hyacinths bloomed for the first time in 20 years
September 12, 2022

I know it has been a while since I sat at the computer and published an issue of “Dallying” but it has been a crazy summer and the second item will go some way towards explaining where my time went. This picture is one of the exciting things that happened in the garden just this past week. After 20 + years of putting Water Hyacinths in my ponds, one of them finally bloomed. I realize it’s no big deal to some of you who live further south but this delicate mauve flower was a real treat to find in my ponds. The Hyacinths themselves multiply with amazing speed once they get started by midsummer and I spend time transferring baskets of them to my compost bins so that there is enough clear water to see and feed the fish. It’s amazing that no matter how many years I have been doing this gardening thing, there is still something new and exciting appearing in my garden.

This plain patch of fresh soil is the result of a summer’s labour. Almost all of this space was occupied by large perennial beds and the difficult decision to eliminate them was reached early this summer. Apparently my advancing years are having an unwanted effect on my ability to work in the garden for many hours each day and thus the great downsize was undertaken. Digging, dividing, giving away, finding new homes for a cherished few and then trying to dig out the deep roots of garden thugs such as Japanese Anemone can keep a person regularly looking for a shady spot to sit and rest. A yard of good compost was delivered and rototilled in and then a few hours were spent with a rake trying to create a smooth and level final grade. The sod will be arriving in the next few days and we will exhaust ourselves one more time. I’ve never been a big fan of grass but in many ways it is much easier to maintain especially as there are grandsons who are happy to cut it, for a small fee of course. I was able to hire Carolyn, an energetic and talented gardener to assist and keep working while I took my shady breaks.

Last week we made the 9 hour trek to Quebec City to see the magical Mosaiculture. If you have never seen Mosaiculture then you have until Oct. 15 to visit Quebec City and after that watch for its next location and plan to go. It took us several hours to make one slow wander around the entire exhibit, which covers a few acres and it was a constant thrill. This herd of galloping Zebras are bigger than life size and completely clothed in living plants as are the many other animals depicted. The various animals represented do not stand in blank spaces but rather are surrounded by thousands more plants that replicate their natural surroundings. I could go on about this show for several pages and still not do it justice. For a gardener one of the interesting things we notice are a few, of the small army, of gardeners armed with a bucket and a pair of scissors who are constantly trimming the animals to maintain their shape and colour patterns.

These two Tomatoes are telling the story of one of my garden frustrations. The on on the left looks like it needs to ripen for a few more days. It will never fully ripen as it suffers from a condition aptly called, Tomato yellow shoulder. That yellow persists through the bottom half of the fruit with hard yellow/white flesh that is quite unpleasant to eat. My research indicates that it is probably a Potassium deficiency but that deficiency may be caused by a soil Ph that prevents the plant from being able to take up the available Potassium. The good looking Tomato on the right is the same variety and does not appear to have the problem. It is growing in the front yard in my regular garden soil while the yellowed one is growing in my sub-irrigation containers where the “soil” is 90% peat moss. The red one will have received little if any fertilizer while the yellowed one will have considerable fertilizer in its container. The container grown plants get much bigger and have much larger yields but they almost all exhibit the yellow shoulders. Do I try to adjust the Ph in the containers or just plant my Tomatoes directly into the garden soil?? A little more reading, some soil testing and trying different varieties are the path that I will follow in my quest to grow an abundance of perfect Tomatoes.

I’m still inside writing and looking out at the much needed rain hopefully helping the drought affected plants in the garden. Last time I was working indoors these trays full of Pesto were the result. We had a great crop of Basil and Garlic this year and making big batches of Pesto is an easy way to enjoy them through the winter. Yes, those are ice cube trays and that is the easy way to have the right amount easily accessible in the freezer. Just pop them out of the trays and toss them quickly into a freezer bag and return them to the freezer. The quickly is important to stop them from starting to thaw so that they don’t freeze into one solid lump in that bag. I cannot seem to find a way to grow Parmesan cheese or Pine nuts but they are essential ingredients in this flavourful sauce.

I spent this past Saturday touring a couple of All America trial gardens. At William Dam Seeds they have great trials of both flowers and vegetables and they like to trial any seeds that might appear in their catalogue. This interesting flower is Pilotus x Matilda and she is native to the hot dry areas of Australia where she is a perennial. In our part of the world we will probably use her as an annual as she may not be hardy here and she readily produces these blooms in the first year. The bloom spikes are up to 65 cm tall and make great, long lasting, cut flowers. They enjoy hot dry conditions which seem to be coming more prevalent each year in my part of the world. I was drawn to her as she was quite different to any other flower and because Matilda is my youngest granddaughter who actually likes to help me in the garden.

Each year the vegetable garden seems to produce one exceptional treat and this year it has been Melons. This little beauty is Sugar Cube from Renee’s garden and it is incredibly sweet, tender and juicy enough to make you want to eat it standing over the sink. Iperoine is a larger one from William Dam Seeds that is equally sweet and juicy and is actually big enough that the two of us have trouble eating the whole thing at one breakfast and that is the meal where they really shine in our home. I grow them in my sub-irrigation containers and let them climb up some fencing because Melons are rather famous for long vines and limited fruit and this way the fruit is up off the the ground and not taking up too much valuable garden space. They have just been an amazing start to the day for a week or more now and there are a couple more to go.

We are enjoying doing our presentations in person again and it is wonderful to have a live and responsive audience. If your group is looking for an interesting and entertaining speaker then check out these topics

There is a form on the website where you can make a request to have me speak at your meeting.

If you have gardening questions you can just hit reply to this email you can ask me those questions and I will attempt to answer them.

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