Monday, May 19, 2008


The Redbud (Cercis canadensis) in my backyard is in full bloom. One of the best years its had. I grew it from seed given to me by a fellow Ontario Rock Garden Society member 7 years ago. It's now over 18 feet tall with a beautiful vase shape, characteristic of Cercis. Many cultivars are available . Such as the lime green form 'Hearts of Gold', a weeping 'Covey' and the dark burgundy leaf of 'Forest Pansy' an odd name for this most handsome tree. All Redbuds are small trees and suitable for city yards with an understorey of dappled light. The magic of this tree is how it blooms on bare wood before the leaves emerge even buds form on the trunk itself.
Yesterday at my Allotment Garden I Planted 25 varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes grown from seed 8 weeks ago ,the last 2 weeks they have been hardening off in the backyard, only once I brought them inside when the night temperature threatened. The seed was collected last year from tomatoes I tasted and liked, the moist wet seeds are put onto paper towel and if known, the name is written on the paper towel and stored away in a cool dark place. I planted out 2 of each variety this year.I have found tomato seed has 100% germination, so this year I was selective with each seed getting its own space in a tall narrow plug tray. At week 2 they were potted up deeper (about half their height)into the tallest and narrowest pots I could find.
When I arrived at the garden plot I found that my newly planted squash and selections of seed grown plants in pots were excavated ,undoubtedly by raccoons, my garden nemesis. Interestingly enough they only dug up the Clematis 'Lake Baikal' seedlings that I had recently re potted. Was it the fact they were newly potted up or could they read the three labels????I will spray the mixture I use around the perimeter of my home garden to keep all the vermin away. The mixture is 1/4 ammonia with the remainder water into a large spray bottle with 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper. Shake then strain and return to the spray bottle. It has to be applied every time it rains but it seems to work. I have had terrible situations in my backyard with raccoons vandalizing newly planted items night after night. To the point I had to cage in a newly planted raised bed until it gets established. They would toss aside the plant and continue to dig in the planting hole. An animal psychologist is needed to explain this. Or its just opportunism to investigate in newly tilled earth for grubs and worms.

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