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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #344 - There are Zucchini blossoms aplenty looking as good as the Begoni
July 11, 2019

Is it my age or the weather or what? I really try to publish “Dallying” on a weekly timetable but every time I save the one I’m working on I see that the previous one was about two week ago. Life just seems to fly by almost as fast as the weeds grow. Of course, everything started late this year and we spend most days playing catch up. I bought some new Tuberous Begonias in mid March, before the shoulder surgery, and planted them. By the time they made it into pots and moved outdoors they were quite large and I’m amazed at how well they recovered from the root ripping, transplanting. Most are now blooming prolifically with some wonderful colours like this red and white variegated one. They continue to prove that they are the flower of choice for blooming in the cool shade of the back deck. If I was a really good garden communicator I would be able to give you a variety name for this beauty. Apparently I’m not. I’ll just try to convince you that the package just had a picture and no actual name. I continue to be a bit sexist with these Begonias. The big fancy flowers are the males so I go about snipping off the females as soon as I can recognize the large triangular ovary behind the bloom.

Now! To a dedicated veggie gardener this cluster of Zucchini flowers is just as pretty and exciting as the Begonias. We have eaten the first couple of Zucchini in the last few days and they are wonderful cooked or raw. If you look closely at the picture you can see the usual Zucchini problem. There will soon be a surplus just from this plant and it’s one of about six that are starting to produce. This light green one is Clarimore and there is also Raven dark green. Out on the fence growing at an incredible speed is Zucchini Trombata which will produce a few metres of vine each year and some delicious little fruit that have the potential to reach over a metre in length and 2+ kilos in weight if we don’t pay attention.

Here is a wonderful array of little white flowers that I actually don’t want to see. Gai Lan is a delightful small Chinese Broccoli that grows at an amazing pace. I cut this batch for dinner about 4 - 5 days ago and now it has produced the next crop and they have already gone to inedible flowers. After taking this picture I chopped each plant down removing all of the flowering stalks. Now to pay attention because there will be another crop ready for the kitchen in just a few days. It’s a great tasting vegetable in a variety of recipes and its ability to produce several harvests makes it continuously useful.

Petunia Wave Carmine Velour is the latest in the Wave Petunia series and like some of its predecessors it has earned an All America Selections award for 2019. This batch was started from seed a bit late, about mid March, but this week they have all popped into bloom. They are in the containers on the west wall of the garage where they get full sun in the afternoon but are shaded in the morning. Petunias are strange creatures. There is little or no sign of developing flower buds and then suddenly one morning these lovely dark red flowers appear. They may get a bit leggy by mid August and then we will just cut them back by about half and they will be back in full flower in a week or so. Containers like these are the most successful when I make sure that every time I water them there is some soluble fertilizer in that water.

These very healthy looking Tomatoes are growing in one of my sub irrigation containers and you can see how robust they are. Each plant is pruned to single vine and they are then grown around a rope from my Tomato structure. If you look closely at the top of the plant you can see the new growth, about a week’s worth, that I will twist around the rope that is visible veering off to the left. At the same time I remove the suckers that try to grow from each leaf axil in order to maintain the needed single vine. This variety is Big Beef. I grow several new varieties each year to try them out but always have a few Big Beef. I know they will produce the fruit big enough to cover the toast of my bacon and Tomato sandwich with a single slice. Some things just need to be a constant in life.

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.

Marny Asks? We moved to this home two years ago. there is a lovely Weeping False Cypress on the front lawn... at least it was lovely until this summer. Over the past month it has been turning yellow from the inside out ... now it is really noticeable. Also, there are probably 20 branch tips that have died - totally brown. We are going to trim these off. The local garden centre told me to water the roots so I bought a watering spike and am watering once a week for an hour. Are you aware of any disease that is hitting these trees or is it just a watering issue? Thank you for any advice you can give!

Ken Answers! The yellowing from the inside out will be just the older needles dying off and dropping. If it's very dry there may be more die than usual. Here's a couple of theories for the dead tips. Evergreens that don't have sufficient water in the soil over the winter will often show similar symptoms. The strong spring sun will wake up the leaves and they will start photosynthesis and transpiration and then call on their roots for more water. If the ground is still frozen or quite dry the roots cannot respond to that call and the needle start to turn brown from that lack of water. So, the damage could have been started before the rainy spring even started. Watering well now may be of some help, it can't hurt, but the damage is often permanent and can hope that the buds survived and there will be new growth to take over. You also suggest that your tree is in the front yard. It's amazing how far the salt spray from the road will carry and that can affect evergreens. In any case your tree will probably recover but it is unlikely that the yellow/brown needles can be restored to health. Not want you probably want to hear but make sure that your evergreens are well watered before freeze up in Oct. Nov, this fall.

Cathy Asks? I have a quick question about lily beetle. A friend has given me a plant from her garden, but has advised she has lily beetle. Does the beetle possibly reside in the soil that came from her garden I don’t want to introduce it to my garden. Hope to be planting this plant this weekend, but am reluctant.

Ken Answers! The Lily Beetle overwinters in the soil as an adult but they have long since emerged so there should be very little chance of it coming to your garden. If she is giving you a Lily check to make sure there are no Beetles, eggs or Larva on that plant. They would only be on a Lily.

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