Archives > June 2015

Gardening Keeps You Healthy | Gardening Tips

Gardening gives us reason to be outdoors and enjoy the tranquility of nature. It’s a wonderful way to slow down, collect our thoughts, and on some days, gain perspective. Gardens remind us that life is not instant and they teach us patience. There is something about flowers and the color green that invigorates our bodies, souls, and minds. Aside from making us more tranquil (if we’re not getting anxious over our garden’s outcome), it provides an avenue for keeping us active and thinking. There are flower beds and containers to maintain, and usually some logistical problem to solve; be it how to properly deadhead or pinch back a plant to how to best support a tomato with a trellis or a pergola.

Aside from the benefits of garden maintenance, we have the beauty to enjoy and the bounty of fresh vegetables to savor. Fresh vegetables taste better, invigorate our culinary creativity, and are just better for the health of our bodies. Fresh vegetables burst with flavor in a way that cannot be duplicated by any grocery store or preservation method. As we garden, our creativity is stimulated and we look for ways to make our gardens more beautiful and productive.

Gardens also provide a medium for community. People love garden parties, love to enjoy its produce, and take pleasure in the warmth and beauty provided by its natural beauty. Gardeners are passionate about sharing their gardens with others; enjoy touring people through their work of love and telling their stories of their gardens. Invite friends into your garden, invite people who walk by into your garden and share your garden with them. Who knows, you might get some good tips as you share together, and you might even make a new friend.

Enjoy your gardens, savor the moments, and keep it all in perspective.

We like to Move it, Move it – When to Move Perennials

A garden is a dynamic work of art – it is always changing, never static.  Trees grow and spots that once were sunny become shady.  The plants that thrived in the sun are now languishing in the shade. The sun perennials are weakly blooming or not blooming at all.  The area you thought was dry, is actually a puddle for most of the summer; and that area you thought was shade actually gets 8 hours of sunshine. It’s time to make a move. Plants in general don’t like to be moved, but done gingerly, it can happen successfully.  Then the question then is when is the best time to move perennials?

The rule of thumb for moving perennials is answered best by narrowing down when they bloom so you can enjoy the bloom and move your perennial too. For spring and summer bloomers, savor the bloom, and once they are completely done, it is safe to move them.  A few perennials that bloom in spring are Phlox, Poppies, Primula, Pulsatilla, and Saxifrage.  Summer blooming perennials include Campanula, Daylilies, Delphiniums, Salvia, Veronica, and Hollyhocks. For the perennials that bloom late in the summer season, such as Fall blooming Sedums and Solidago, move them early in spring so they can reestablish with the goal that they will ultimately bloom.

Be sure to maintain a large clump of soil around the root to minimize shock to the roots as much as possible. Dig a large hole and just fill in where there is extra space rather that peel off soil from the roots to fit the hole.  Give your perennial a big drink of water – always water when you transplant & roots are disturbed – and keep a close eye on it.

Not all perennials like to be moved and disturbing the roots can mean certain death.  Some of the candidates for a very difficult relocation are Euphorbia polychroma (Cushion Spurge), Peonies, Bleeding Hearts, and Dictamnus (Gas Plant). This by no means is an exhaustive list; always do your research to double check that a perennial will tolerate being moved.

Remember, be gentle.

For more gardening tips, contact us now!

Rainy Day Watering

When it is wet and rainy, generally we don’t water and don’t need to – we sit back and let the natural rain take care of our gardens, which makes perfect sense.  When it rains, it is cooler and metabolic needs of plants are reduced but there are a few spots to pay some special attention to. Even when it is rainy, check your containers and hanging baskets daily.  Sometimes, without us realizing it, the rain never hits the hanging baskets or containers because they are under the eaves and sitting on front steps and porches. Feel the weight of the hanging baskets to check for moisture and dip your index finger deeply into the upright containers. If they are dry, give them a full drink just like you would any other day by letting the water drain out of the bottom. If it stays rainy, you likely will not need to water them for quite a few days.

Gardens that lie in the ‘rain shadow’ of a building such as a house, garage, garden shed, or shed can get very dry when it rains because they don’t get to share of the wealth of the rain. As well, even though another part of the flower bed is wet, the moisture from the rain will only travel 4-6”. Be sure to give those gardens a generous drink, despite the rain beyond the drip line.

For more gardening tips contact us today!

Culinary Trends in The Garden & Edible Flowers

Over the last few years, we have seen a rising interest in vegetable gardening as concern of food safety increases.  People are beginning to dabble their feet in kitchen gardens as media also promotes ‘super’ vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage and new, fun ways to prepare them.  Roasting vegetables has definitely become a favorite method of preparing vegetables, topping them with various oils, vinegars, and cheeses.  If you have not explored roasted vegetables, do a quick search and definitely give it a try! You will be converted to an enthusiastic consumer of veggies.

Mushy carrots never hit home base, but roasted carrots and parsnips tossed in a little olive oil, then topped with balsamic vinegar and goat cheese sends it out of the ball park!

Another thing that is trending is edible flowers – either as garnishes or as part of a salad. Some popular edible flowers are Begonias (have a little lemony zing), Nasturtiums (a little peppery), Pansies (slightly sweet or tart), Petunias (mildly sweet & spicy), and squash blossoms – remove their stamens and sauté  them in butter or olive oil.

Just a cautionary note – don’t ever dive any flower without checking out multiple sources for their safety beforehand!

Happy munching!

*Photo by: Sara Joy Tetz

The Magic of Mulch | Gardening Tips

Mulching your garden is the single most effective way to diminish your gardening workload thus, in the gardening world, making it magic. Mulch is shredded wood, bark, and leaf chips.  It can be purely shredded bark or it can be a blend of all three.  Mulch is a top dressing that is placed on vegetable gardens, flower gardens, and raised beds. A layer of mulch 2-3 inches thick reapplied every 2-3 years provides protection for the underlying soil and has multiple benefits for the plants that are growing in those areas.

Benefits of mulch include:

  • Providing a barrier between the soil and wind and sun thereby decreasing demand for water by approximately 25-30% by helping the soil retain moisture due to decreased evaporation.
  • Keeping soil and root temperatures cooler, decreasing stress to plants
  • Decreasing weed growth by cutting of light needed for seeds to germinate.
  • And all of this decreases gardening workload – yeah!! – and more time to relax and enjoy your garden.

We’ve taken mulch to another level by not just applying this concept to gardens, but also adding mulch to planters, containers, and hanging baskets.  The watering benefits are enjoyed in this application as well by decreasing watering by 25-30%.

Just a quick note on rock ‘mulches’ in flowerbeds and around tree roots –  They are actually harmful to bedding plants, perennials, and trees because the rocks heat up the soil below and in a sense, bake the roots.  Rock mulches hence, increase the water requirements and they can get to be impossible to weed.  Many times, rock landscaping goes bad because dust and dirt get blown into them, seeds then get blown in, and then we have a lovely crop of weeds to contend with, living amongst the rock. All this just makes more work. Do a survey the next time you are out walking or driving and see how rock mulches have gone wrong in your neighbourhood.

Mulch makes gardening easier for our busy lives.

Contact us now for more gardening tips.

Let’s Talk Tomatoes | Gardening Tips | Alberta

Tomatoes are probably the strongest draw for the non-gardener to venture into trying to grow something because there really is nothing like a fresh tomato.  Tomatoes are originally native to the tropics, producing smaller berry-like fruit than we know today. Here are a few tips on the environment of their choice and care.

Because of their rtopical ancestry, tomatoes love it hot and humid.  They grow well in pots, raised beds, and gardens. They love to have their feet warm, so containers and raised beds are a favorite. Tomatoes are split into 2 basic categories: determinate and indeterminate.  Determinate tomatoes have a finite height that they reach and are known as bush types and indeterminate tomatoes just keep growing.  Some determinate varieties need to be staked and generally all indeterminate varieties need the support of staking.

Tomatoes are what we call heavy feeders and heavy drinkers.  Tomatoes grow rapidly, produce large crops and consequently need plenty of water and fertilizer to maintain that growth.  If they are growing in a container on hot summer days they will likely need a large drink of water in the morning and possibly at night as well.  When you water our container tomato, be sure to let the water run out of the bottom of the pot so you know that it is completely watered.  Use fertilizer specific for tomatoes weekly, or follow package directions as some fertilizers are slow release and need to be reapplied less frequently.  Another very helpful tip is to put 2-3 inches of mulch around the base of the tomato, be it in a container, a raised bed, or garden.  The mulch will keep roots cool, decrease water evaporation, and protect the roots from repeated waterings.  If you choose to grow tomatoes in pots, be ensure that you select a sufficiently large pot so that the tomato has plenty of soil capacity to hold enough water for its metabolic needs. There is nothing worse than having to water a tomato 50 times a day just to keep it from wilting on a hot day.

There is no rule of thumb any longer regarding whether to pinch back suckers or not.  Suckers are additional stems that grow on stem nodes between the stem and leaves.  At one time, it was recommended that they are all removed but that is no longer the case.  In view of that, our recommendation is to just trim your tomato so it is manageable, because sometimes they can get quite, let’s say, ‘ambitious’.

Tomatoes and Basil are best garden buddies, companions that love each other and grow well together.  You can even pop in a basil plant at the base of your tomato plant if it’s in a container or in a garden, plant it right next to it.

Enjoy your fresh tomatoes!

Have more gardening questions? Call us today: 780-467-3091

Shade Solutions | Gardening | Perennial Gardens

There Is Life After Shade…

Shade  is one of the gardening areas that people struggle with the most, and we receive the most questions about it in our retail sales greenhouse.  The shade garden is a unique garden and can happen in unexpected places, like under a heavily foliage tree in the middle of a sunny yard or next to a building or under a pergola. We have a few ideas with how to tackle this area, starting with the structure of a perennial garden, filling it in with annuals, and we also a few tips on care.

We recommend that you begin this garden with the structure and framework of perennials.  Shade perennials have their specific season of bloom most commonly ranging in the spring and summer category, however there are a few that bloom in the late summer or early autumn.  In choosing perennials, one of our favorite suggestions is to incorporate some that have chartreuse and lime colored leaves.  It is striking how this leaf color brightens up a shady area.  White flowers also glow in low light.  There are many perennial shade choices. Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) are extremely hardy, have a lovely spring bloom with colors of white, pink, and now red with the newer ‘Valentine’ variety.  ‘Gold Heart’ is a variety of Bleeding Heart with chartreuse foliage and pink flowers worth trying.  Hostas provide structure by virtue of their leaf texture, are available in multiple heights, multiple leaf patterns as well with chartreuse accents, and bloom in the summer.  Ligularia varieties start at 24” tall and range to heights of 5’.  Our favorite is ‘Rocket’ which blooms in the summer with golden yellow flowers blooming on a spire. Heuchera (Coral Bells) have a multitude of leaf colors and variations from whites, silvers, greens, corals, oranges, pink, reds, chartreuse, and lime that bear delicate blossoms in summer. One last favorite is Astilbes with foliage that is ferny in appearance bearing flower plumes in hues of white, coral, pinks, and reds.  They grace the shade garden in summer.

Annuals pull constant color through as perennials cycle through their blossom times.  Reliable choices for shade include: Fibrous Begonias, Nonstop Begonias which are very popular for their bright flower colors, Fuchsia, Abutilon, and Schizanthus. Should you happen to have a shaded balcony, take a look at Dragon Wing Begonias for a dramatic container.

Shade gardens generally have a moister environment because of the minimized exposure to the sun, especially when mulched, require less watering.  As a matter of fact, begonias generally die from overwatering. Their stalks become soft & slimy and they rot to death. In general, a shade garden may need water about every 10 days but always check before watering. Some areas of shade gardens may need water even less than that.

This just scratches the surface of the possibilities for shade, there IS life after shade; and we’d love to help you live it. Come visit us in our shade section to show you the possibilities.

 

Veggie Companion Planting 101 | Gardening tips

Companion planting is a concept that has been practiced for years.  There are groups of vegetables and flowers that grow more robustly together than alone.  For this discussion, we will be talking about vegetables and their companions.  The list below is a good start:

Beans & Beets

Like: carrots, cole crops (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, etc), corn,  cucumber, peas

Cole Crops ( also known as cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, etc)

       Like: carrots, onions, beets, garlic improves flavor, rosemary, sage, mint deters cabbage moth

Hate: tomatoes, strawberries, pole beans; all of which are thought to negatively affect growth

Corn

     Like:  beans & peas & pumpkin  which are nitrogen fixers from air into the soil and corn needs plenty of nitrogen

Cucumbers

   Like: beans, cole

   Hate: pumpkins, squash, sage, zucchini – will not produce

Tomatoes

    Love:  Basil – best garden buddy   Like: parsley & oregano

    Avoid planting veggies that share common problems that tomatoes are susceptible to such as: peppers, eggplant, okra,   and  potatoes =  space these apart from each other so they don’t infect one another or share bugs with each other.

– One other note: Marigolds in general deter beetles

Have more gardening questions? Call us today! 

Hanging Basket and Container C-A-R-E

Hanging baskets and containers are THE trending gardening item these days…

So you have your hanging basket or container…and just like bringing a baby home from the hospital…you ask, now what?

Container care is actually simple and we’ve broken it down into the 4 letters of CARE to put it into baby sized bites for you.  At this point, credit must be given to a former team member of ours, Arlene, who came up with this wonderful acronym.

C – Check: Give your container a quick daily head to toe – or root to tip – assessment. Inspect for things like moisture, leaf and flower health, bugs, and diseases. Inspect for curling, wilting, dried or spotted leaves. Turn over leaves to glance at the under sides for bugs, they love hiding there.

A – Adequate hydration:  This is all about watering. A good way to check hanging baskets for adequate hydration is to feel how heavy they are, lift them a little from the bottom and check the weight.  As you get more familiar with how heavy a fully watered hanging basket is, you will be able to tell when it’s time to water.  On very hot days, it will likely be every other day.  For containers, you can dip your index finger deeply into the soil.  If the soil is dry at about 1.5 inches, it’s time for a drink of water.  When watering containers, water thoroughly so that water runs out of the bottom of the pot.  That is how you know you have watered effectively and that all the roots are bathed in a fresh drink of water. If you don’t let water flow out, salts from the fertilizer will accumulate and the leaves and flowers will begin to burn.

R – Replenish Nutrients:  This step is about fertilizing.  The reason why replenishing nutrients is important for containers and hanging baskets is that there is a finite amount of nutrients held within the container and when the water drips out of the pots, some of those nutrients are lost.  We recommend fertilizing every week.  Pick a regular day of the week, and make that your fertilizing day, make it an alarm on your phone.  Our favorite fertilizer is called ‘Nature’s Best’.  It is a natural fertilizer and we have found it to be easy to use, gentle on plants with no burning leaf tips, and we think it makes flowers brighter.  ‘Miracle Grow’ is another good choice and other balanced fertilizers work well.

E – Encourage Growth:  This is a maintenance step.  Growth of plants is encouraged by taking off old flowers, also known as deadheading, removing dead leaves, and pinching straggly, leggy plants back.  Taking off old flowers is important because the ultimate purpose of flowers to produce seeds for reproduction. By taking off those dead flowers, the plant continues to flower.  Old wilting and curled leaves actually take energy from the plant to repair them, if they are removed, the plant can continue to focus its efforts on flowering.  Plants can also get long and straggly looking – it’s ok to literally give them a haircut – it will make them branch, become bushy and thrive.

Enjoy your new baby!

Call us at  (780) 467-3091 for more gardening tips! 

*Photo by: Sara Joy Tetz