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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #262 - The long wait for a Wisteria tree is almost over.
June 20, 2016

A few years ago I planted this 4"x4" in the garden with a couple of purposes in mind. One of the trees that my hammock hung from had died and was cut down. I thought careful placement of this pole would take over that function. Have never tried to hang the hammock from it because I never seem to find time to actually use a hammock. I couldn’t, of course, have a single use for that pole and I decided that I wanted to create a Wisteria tree. Went to the garden centre and chose the cheaper, naturally, of the two Wisterias on offer. Further research when I got home showed me that I had purchased Wisteria frutescens and possibly the variety microstachya, know as the American or Kentucky Wisteria. It’s not as big and has smaller racemes of flowers but the upside is that it is much less aggressive than its Asian counterparts. For the past few years it has slowly grown and sometimes died back and I have continued to train it around the pole. This year there was a mass of vine and foliage at the top so I finally put the two cross pieces onto the top of the pole. While I was patiently?? untwining the mass of vines and trying to train them on the cross pieces I discovered, much to my surprise, what looked like flower buds. A couple of weeks later there they were, wonderful long racemes of light purple flowers that lit up that pole and made the few years of effort worth well. I will continue to train it out onto those cross pieces and give it its needed prunings in the hope of having a 2 m diameter, blooming Wisteria tree. The best things in the garden are often those that take some considerable time effort and patience.

In contrast to the beauty in the back yard, I have had several helpers in the front yard most of this week. They asked me to move Constance. That’s a Peony that carries the same name as the Assistant Gardener’s mother. When I pointed out that they wanted me to dig up and move my mother in law at the worst possible time of year they didn’t seem to share my concern. That’s where the hookup to the new sewer had to be made. Another Peony, a few Iris and assorted other perennials were also apparently in the way of their sewer hook up. When they finally found the old sewer pipe coming from the house it was over 2 m, from the indicated position and was actually in the middle of the front pathway where nothing was growing, except for the few usual weeds. Constance is struggling to stay alive in her temporary home in the vegetable garden and if you listen closely you can hear her muttering about construction workers that don’t like plants and have no idea of where they should actually be digging. She could have stayed in place if their locates had been accurate but we are trying to see it as an opportunity to renew and redesign that portion of the front perennial beds.

On a happier note this smooth green beauty was turned into some crunchy green cole slaw this week. Katarina is a new Cabbage variety this year that is an All American Award winner It’s a lovely smooth small headed cabbage that does well in containers or in the garden bed. This one was growing in one of my Earthbox planters. It actually wasn’t that far ahead of the ones in the garden but it did look and taste wonderful. Half went into cole slaw the first night the rest was just lightly steamed and buttered the next night. Both were delicious. It retained it’s bright green colour and its crispy texture on both nights. The next one is ready in the garden and it will find its way into the kitchen some time this week. With the Asparagus retired from the daily menu, the variety of cole crops, Broccoli, Kohl rabi, Cabbage and Pak Choi have been providing variety and taste sensations on the dinner plate for the past several days. I, sadly, still find myself in the grocery store buying Red Peppers because all of the delicious early vegetables are green and the dinner plate needs a little colour.

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.

Norma Asks? Rose chafers ruining my Peonies. last year I read that working up the surface of the garden (which my three peonies are planted in) in early Spring should disturb the eggs that overwintered in the soil, Well that didn't seem to work. I have so many that I am tired of knocking them off or hand picking them and dropping them in soapy hot water. This takes so much time each day, sometimes twice a day. This is the 3rd year of dealing with this pest. What is your suggestion?? .

Ken Answers! I haven't had the pleasure? of hosting Chafers on my peonies, or Roses, but I find the use of beneficial nematodes quite effective for other problems. Here is a link to the source that I use and the nematodes they sell for rose chafers.

Dorothy Asks? I've grown a ficus benjamina tree for several years and always have good luck putting it in a sunny window indoors in winter and on the deck for the summer. It is now about five feet tall (and, no doubt quite root bound). In March, all it leaves started exuding a very sticky resin which adhered to the window and hardwood floor. It's been banished to the deck now but I'm wondering what might have caused this and how to avoid it next winter.

Ken Answers! Ficus sometime do exude a bit of sticky stuff but I suspect that you may have scale insects doing the exuding. Look carefully on the small branches and the underside of the leaves to see if you can find any little brown bumps that are Scale. The sticky stuff is usually on the leaves below where the scale are.

Ken Notes A reader sent me this link to a new problem with Downy Mildew that has been seen doing great damage to Basil crops. Not good news but we should watch out for it and report it as the page requests.

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