Back to Back Issues Page
Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #311 - The winter lettuce container is ready to become salad.
February 27, 2018

Let us start the late winter growing season with some fresh Lettuce. This container was seeded about a month ago and is ready to yield its first salad. It has grown under the lights which tends to make the Lettuce a bit soft but I’ll be moving it outside to the heated cold frame to make room under the lights. The cooler temperature and stronger light will produce crisper Lettuce. The spring speaking season is also ramping up and that is keeping me busy traveling to various locations to meet and talk to a wide variety of gardeners. You can follow my schedule here. If I’m in your neighbourhood come out and listen. This Friday I am at the Stratford Garden Festival. How does this tie in to the container of Lettuce. One of my talks is “Save Money Grow Your Own Vegetables” and this container of baby Lettuce leaves is an easy way to avoid paying $4+ for a box of those leaves and you can cut this a few times from the original sowing of $2 worth of seed. One of these containers will be a draw prize at a talk for the employees of the Teacher’s Insurance Plan in Waterloo. If your company does “lunch and learn” sessions this could be a great idea for you.

Sowing Lettuce seed is so much easier than Begonia seed. Then the Begonia seeds, hundreds of them, germinate and the even trickier job of transplanting them arrives. You can see the mass of Begonia seedlings in the seedling tray on the right and the 50 that I managed to transplant on the left. I probably threw out 3 times more than I planted as I struggled to separate them and not damage them. Part of my technique is to let them grow as big and thick as you see them here, working on letting the strongest survive and that’s the ones I will try to separate and plant. I’ll keep that survival of the fittest battle going on in the seedling tray for a while. These are Begonia boliviensis and I would like 50 of them to plant the garage wall planters this year. Not all of the ones I transplanted will survive and the retained ones will get separated in the next week or so to fill in the cells where survival didn’t happen.

Here’s a few of my hacked up Geraniums. It’s not plant cruelty it’s plant propagation. These plants were started from the cuttings that I took last September and they are too big to fit the space available for them. I cut them back to make them branch out and become bushier. Of course the pieces that are cut off are rooted to make another batch of Geraniums that will be ready to fill some container in the spring. A little bit of fall and winter gardening and I will have plenty of healthy geraniums with no cash outlay in the spring. I’m enjoying my favourite pastime and saving money, (my other favourite pastime,) when the weather is too nasty to go skiing or to go outside and prune the Crap Apple tree. This poor Crab Apple is excessively pruned because it acts as a giant Bonsai shading portions of my ponds. Each year, almost all of the new growth is removed leaving just the fat spurs where the flower buds tend to be. It’s the perfect job for that first day when the sun is warm the snow is almost gone and our need to get outside is difficult to ignore.

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.

Susann Asks? Ken, I don't know your limit for questions, hope 3 is ok. I have Englemans Ivy growing on our house and over the course of 17 or so years in a few places we have black spots on the brick which I think is from the plant. How do I get it off the brick? My 17 year old Christmas cactus is on the way out I think, it's dropping leaves a lot and looks poorly. Can I root them? If so in dirt or water? There are little flies a bit bigger than a fruit fly coming out of my bathroom sink, I never seen them before and in the winter! Got a guess for me?

Ken Answers! Here goes my attempts
1. Move :-)
The little suction cups left behind are very difficult to get rid of. Use a sharp knife and scrape each one or see first suggestion.
2.Should root easily in something like Promix. Usually hard to kill probably over or under watered, symptoms look similar.
3. No idea

Colin Asks? I have a Amaryllis which has really started to grow tall but no blooms yet, how long should I wait?

Ken Answers! If it is growing a couple of flat strap shaped leaves then the blooms may or may not appear. It should be growing a round bloom stalk with the flower buds on the top. They can get quite tall before they open and may be in danger of tipping over if the pot is not heavy enough.

Back to Back Issues Page