I know the weather outside is a bit disappointing, but spring is on its way. I can see the tulips coming out of the ground and a bit of a green hue on the trees in our ravine. These signs give me hope that it won't be long now until gardening season begins. Everyone is getting very itchy fingers and we want to get started. I will warn gardeners to wait until after the long weekend before planting in the ground.
On a sunnier note, growing annual flowers in your garden is an excellent way to ensure that you'll have colour in your yard all summer long. Annuals can be used for borders, in flowerbeds, and can fill up any open spaces between trees and shrubs. They can also be used to create beautiful hanging baskets and overflowing patio containers.
Our shorter season is perfect for most annuals. Choose begonias, impatiens and coleus for those shady areas, and alyssum, petunias, and geraniums for the sunny side of the house. Annual flowers are free flowering and some will need regular deadheading to encourage continuous blooming. Wait to plant annuals until after the last frost and then until warmer spring days arrive. Remember to use an all-purpose blooming fertilizer to feed your hungry annuals.
Growing certain veggies from seed is always better. Root crops such as carrots, radishes, and beets grow better when we seed them directly in the garden. You rarely see these sold as started transplants in the garden center. Vegetables like peas, beans and potatoes are also good ones to plant directly in ground.
You’ll know when the soil is warm enough because the first weeds will have started growing. To prepare the ground, turn the soil over with a spade and level the soil with a rake. Amend your garden soil with compost so you have a nice, rich loam to plant in. Pay attention how deep you place the seeds. Deep down it’s too cold, so just below the surface is best. Keep well watered and you can’t go wrong!
Fall is here! The first frosts have come and our plants are going into their dormancy. I prefer to clean-up in the fall so the perennials can start growing fresh again in the spring. Now is the time to prune back their summer growth. We recommend using scissors or a sharp knife to remove dead or dry leaves and branches, as this prevents pulling or tugging on the roots and keeps the plant intact. Leave 3 to 4 inch stems so you know where your plants will be next spring. Incorporate a small amount of bone meal fertilizer around the roots.
A good watering now and again before the real winter freeze is most important. Use a sprinkler or place your garden hose, with a slow trickle, at the base of perennials and shrubs to give a good fall watering. Roses will need the same treatment. Hybrid tea roses need extra winter care.
Prune plants down to about 12 inches above the grafted stem. Incorporate a small amount of bone meal fertilizer around the plant. Water well and mulch with peat moss or bark mulch. Cover plants with a rose hut. Leave your roses covered until end of April or until spring weather is reliable. Hardy shrub roses may need pruning back and good watering. No mulching is necessary.
Clean up annual flower beds by removing plants and roots. Spade beds for the winter leaving lumps and bumps for best insect control. Leaving a rough surface makes it harder for insect eggs to winter over under the snow. One last cutting of the lawn is best for winter. Set your lawn mower at about a three inch height for best results. The last fall food should be applied to grass at the middle of September.
Fall bulbs should be planted before the end of September. Tulips, Crocus, Daffodils, Allium and many more are good for our zone three climate. Bulbs should be planted at three times the depth of the bulb in rich, well drained soil. Make sure the growing tip is planted upright and water them in well for winter.
Enjoy the fall weather and if we do a little extra work now, our gardens will be more than ready for the spring!
The selling of herbs has always made our greenhouse an exciting place to work. There seems to be a constant buzz around the plants, with people sharing ideas and tips on using their favourite herbs. I have learned over the years what different ethnic herbs our customers love. Sweet basil, Italian oregano, French tarragon, garlic and regular chives, sorrel, English thyme, sage, rosemary, and lemon thyme to name a few. It’s great that herbs are so useful in the kitchen and they also make wonderful garden plants.
Herbs tend to thrive in warm sunny areas. Amending the soil with fresh compost each planting season gives lush, vigorous growth. Chives, tarragon and parsley grow well in the shadier areas while thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary are best in the sunnier beds. Dill and cilantro are varieties that tend to seed themselves, so I always have volunteers popping up where I don’t expect them.
One of my new favourites is the sugar plant called Stevia - the leaves are so sweet, it’s wonderful to pick and just chew on them while working in the yard. I always grow my sweet basil in a ceramic pot on my doorstep as it loves warm, dryer conditions. It needs a pot by itself and I only water it when absolutely necessary. Combinations of your favourite herbs can be planted in containers on your patio or deck for easy access to fresh flavour.
The pinching of herb leaves and flowers should be done regularly to keep plants producing. If you are unable to use them fresh, hang them up in bundles in a dry room until they crumble. Also store them in glass jars for using in your favourite recipes during the winter months. Herbs that are harvested in the summer or fall are great in soups, stews, sauces and all your favourite recipes!
Everyone loves to decorate their outdoor living space with a variety of colourful plants. There is still more than enough time to get your planters out and filled up with lots of color. Hanging baskets and patio planters can be placed in the sun or the shade according to the type of plants you prefer. The containers you choose should have holes in the bottom of the pot to ensure good drainage. Start with fresh potting soil and add some slow release fertilizer like 14-14-14 to your mix. To make your arrangements interesting choose plants that have various textures, flowers and colors. Taller plants such as grasses or dracaena should go in the center or at the back of your container. Place shorter plants at the front and use trailing flowers and vines for over the edges.
Once your planter is complete make sure you water it well and place it in the ideal place for proper exposure. It is very important to water daily, and be sure to use a water soluble fertilizer once a week to guarantee healthy growth and beautiful flowers all summer long. Don’t forget to take time regularly to deadhead all the spent flowers.
Enjoy your patio living!
The days are getting longer and the sun is becoming warmer and more welcoming. Against the house, we are beginning to see our tulips, crocus and daffodils poking through the ground. This means the soil is warming up too and that thoughts will soon be turning to backyard barbeques, delicious summer salads and dishes made from one’s own grown vegetables. Here are some quick and easy tips for a wonderful summer garden.
Now that it’s spring, it’s a good idea to start raking the top 6-8 inches of soil so it starts to dry. Once the color of the soil changes and you see it is drying, you can go ahead and seed some early plantings of your favorite veggies. Varieties such as spinach, peas, lettuce, radishes and carrots can be seeded in the garden early. These will germinate when the soil is warm enough and you will get a head start on a great-tasting garden. If you don’t have a garden plot, a window box on your patio or deck will also grow great-tasting veggies.
Good luck, happy gardening and enjoy those delightful vegetables!
I remember when I was young, the old refrigerator mom had in the house was used as a germination table. The top of the fridge was always very warm and she would place her seed trays on top in order to germinate them quickly. Those old fridges are long gone; however, we still need warm soil to germinate seeds, so you’ll need choose a place where the sun shines and it’s nice and warm. When germinating seeds indoors, remember to keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. Plants that need to be sown early are pansies, impatiens, geraniums and petunias.
Many of the vegetables we love to have in our garden are better started indoors, and this is the time of year to begin seeding them. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are seeds that should be sown now in order to be ready for transplanting out on June 1. Once the seeds are germinated, start fertilizing with an all-purpose food and monitor your watering, allowing the soil to dry between each watering session. Once the weather warms up outside, start to harden off your plants by placing them in a sheltered place, like out on your patio or deck, and make sure they’re out of direct sun and wind.
Good luck and enjoy growing an early garden!