Six on Saturday – 15/05/2020 – Burn Pile

The County had a ‘burn ban’ in place starting near the beginning of March. This is somewhat normal, since although the ground may be damp or even wet, there’s a lot of dead grass in the early spring that’s very combustible. We joined the province in issuing an extended burn ban this year to avoid sending first responders to fight out of control grass fires when they may have been needed to help deal with COVID emergencies. This meant that all open fires – camp fires, burn barrels and industrial or residential burn piles were prohibited. My burn pile consists of accumulated brush that can’t be easily composted – mainly buckthorn branches and other fallen, dead wood, plus ornamental grass stalks and wildflower (aka weed) stalks with seeds. The ban was lifted about 10 days ago and, after obtaining my permit (on-line for the first time this year, instead of at the library), I had my first burn of the year on Sunday. My pile is at the far end of the property, well away from structures yet within reach of the garden hose, just in case. I hope to provide it a proper stone border this year, to make sure things stay within the proscribed three metre size limit. Last Sunday’s Burn is the first of the Six things in my garden this week.

Every Saturday, The Propagator encourages gardeners around the world to share six things that are happening in their garden. Please pay his site a visit to see what’s going on outside our COVID enclosed personal space.

I’ve had a few semi-failed attempts at seed starting this year. My artichokes started out great but quickly developed either a disease or an insect infestation or a reaction to bad growing conditions. They’re hanging in, barely, and are now hardening off on the porch. If they turn out well they’ll likely be part of a future SOS. My tomatoes also started off like gang busters. Unfortunately they continued to grow like gangbusters and are now flopping all over the place (seriously – they are a bushy 40 cm high, at least…). Hardening off will begin for them today, if I can figure out how to safely move them from the light stand to the porch, and back again after their allotted daily limit of natural light, for the next week or so. Ugh!

Numbers two through four this week are images of successful attempts at propagation.

Snap peas – these are Magnolia Blossom. These vines grow more than two metres high and produce gorgeous magenta flowers, followed by really tasty peas. I planted the seeds Easter weekend, using seeds saved from last year’s plants.
The Ranunculous have firmly sprouted. They were also planted at Easter.
This is what plants started indoors SHOULD look like! Marigold (Tagetes) ‘Fireball,’ from seed collected off last year’s plants, and Shishoto peppers, seeds from a friends who lives in a flat but dreams of sauteed fresh peppers.

Back to spring bulbs for the final two this week. First off is Leucojum aestivumGravetye Giant‘, sometimes called Summer Snowflake. I’m not sure why, since it blooms in late spring. And it look more like Lily of the Valley on steroids than a snowflake. Whatever – I really like it and have a dozen or so clumps like this growing here and there.

And this is Fritillaria persica. It’s a huge bulb and this one looks nice and happy but, like F. imperialis, it doesn’t grow that well in my garden. I planted a dozen bulbs just three years ago and there are just a few stalks this year, with these being the only ones flowering. Worth it? Probably, since I’m out there ogling it all the time….

Have a great weekend everyone. If you live where restrictions are being lifted, please, be safe. Practice physical distancing – don’t be like the Exotic Emperor tulips or Quail daffodils in this bonus shot.


  1. I’ve had a few issues with seeds this year. My tomatoes started off well enough but appear to have stalled – they’re barely a few inches high. Love the vibrant marigolds – they go very well with the fire shots, and I can see why you would ogle the Fritillaria persica!

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  2. My father had a burn barrel. Your pile would have scared me! My neighbor in my previous house would burn trash in a very small backyard. The smoke and horrid smell filled my yard. They would get permits for “luau” and say they were roasting a pig. That way no one would come when I called the fire department to complain. Oh, occasionally, it was a pig, but mostly their trash. Yard debris burns are illegal in my city, but we have a big green waste can for things I don’t compost. Then the trash company makes compost out of it all and sell it by the bag. I am not sure how it can be “organic” when it starts with city refuse, and who knows what’s been put on that, but it is sold that way.

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    1. I have a large compost pile(s) but it doesn’t seem to get hot enough to kill weed seeds, nor of course deal with branches. I could get or rent a wood chipper I suppose… My biggest fear with a burn is the wind, so I try to start early in the morning so it’s done by 10 or 11.


  3. Snowflake is what I grow instead of snowdrop.I am not impressed with snowdrop, particularly since it is such a fad. I would not have bothered with snowflake either, but it just showed up here, and happens to look great in white. I suppose I would try snowdrop too if it just happened to show up.

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  4. We have similar burn bans here and it has been fire weather off and on lately, a lot of controlled burns are done in parks, signs posted everywhere don’t call 911. I love seeing your spring bulbs, my mother tried for years to grown Fritillary – unsuccessfully – not cold enough in the south.

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  5. who doesn’t love a good bonfire. for lack of space i use a small firepit, usually to burn useless bits of dismantled pallet. there are usually toasted marshmallows. i once had a bonfire (several conifer trees…) so large i endangered the fence and next doors apple tree. the fire brigade were nearly called. your marigold plants look very good. sturdy.

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