Archives > April 2016

Ready, Set, Not Quite Yet | Planting Tips

Our Alberta climate likes to play with our minds – especially this winter – and fool us into thinking that spring is settling in nicely.  The thing with Alberta is that we are never really sure when a heavy frost may set in.  May long weekend traditionally has been the planting weekend but we can still get frost into June. So, while your fingers are itching to get into the garden, here are some things you can do to make your garden ready:

  • Rinse out hoses
  • Wash of garden tools with warm soapy water
  • Gather your gardening supplies like any new tools, garden stakes, Velcro tape, labels & markers
  • Concentrate on yard clean up: raking up leaves, cutting down perennials that were left for winter interest
  • Building raised beds, if you are thinking of incorporating them in your grow zone

And remember to avoid digging down into perennial roots with your fingers to check to see that they have awakened – this kills perennials!

Soon, yes, very soon, spring will really be here!!

Call us for more greenhouse and gardening tips: 780-467-3091.

Scarlet Lily Beetles!! SOS!!

Scarlet lily beetles (Lilioceris lilii) is the newest ailment for lilies in our area and could likely be the thing that would even destroy all lily growing potential. Over that last 20 years they have been migrating across the county from Montreal, an apparent inadvertent import from Europe.

Scarlet lily adults emerge from the soil surrounding the base of lily plants that they have overwintered voraciously hungry and ready to mate. They come out in early spring just as the lilies are emerging.  Any one female can lay as many as 250 eggs.

You can spot that they are around by:

  • Multiple unsightly holes in your lily leaves
  • By their bright red rectangular shaped body (slightly larger than a lady bug) and rather large black antennae
  • They love to hang out on the bottom side of the leaves and dine upside down. When they detect any slight kind of danger, they drop off of the leaf in a back flip, landing on their backs with their black underbelly facing up – making them next to impossible to see.

There are few chemicals that are effective against Scarlet Lily Beetles, so the most effective way is to go out regularly, like every 2 or 3 days, and catch them manually.  This requires resolve and diligence, but this war can be won.

How to catch the adults:

  • Because of the back diving, this is a technique that is wonderfully effective: Very gingerly, without shaking the lily plant, hold a sealable container filled ½ full with soapy water or vinegar against the stem below the beetle and knock the leaf the beetle is on – it WILL back flop right into your container.  And drown. Yay!

–          Keep scouting for adults all summer, they stay around until fall.

Ridding yourself of the eggs:

  • Scarlet lily beetle eggs are easy to detect.  They are bright red, laid in an impressive line on the undersides of the leaves. They hatch in about 2 weeks after being laid.
  • Pick off the leaves with the eggs and put them in a sealed plastic bag so they have no chance of surviving.

Getting rid of juveniles:

  • As the juveniles grow, they cover themselves with their own excrement as a way of camouflage and making themselves less desirable for birds (no kidding!).
  • As with eggs, the best way to take care of this is to pick off the leaves that are hosting them and add them to your sealed container with the soapy water or vinegar or a plastic bag, so they will die.

In the autumn, lily beetles tend to take flight and they do fly well.  That is how they have spread from garden to garden, town to town, and province to province.  Be encouraged to do your best to rid our gardens of this very scary beetle!

Call us for more information on gardening tips and getting rid of pests! 

Sources: gardeners.com, umaine.edu/publications/24 50e, northscaping.com, calgary.ca

Raised Beds for Vegetable Gardening

As spring approaches, this is a perfect moment for building some raised beds ahead of time to keep planting impatience at bay. Raised gardening beds continue to trend popularly for kitchen vegetable gardens and here is why:

On design:

  • They can fit to your space be it a large yard, small yard, or balcony
  • The design is flexible & creative – just google ‘raised bed garden designs’ and you will find a entire world of designs, plans, and creative innovations
  • The heights can vary
  • They are great for those who find bending increasingly challenging
  • BE SURE TO USE UNTREATED LUMBER to keep any toxic chemicals from leeching into the veggies

On garden cultivation:

  • The raised soil level is warmer – warmer soil translates into quicker maturing flowers and vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs are particularly fond of this
  • They are easy to weed, mulch, water, and set up a drip irrigation system
  • You can rotate crops or do successive plantings easily
  • They are easy to add trellises, fencing, & netting

This would literally be taking your gardening to higher heights!  Enjoy!

Call us today for more vegetable gardening tips: 780-467-3091.

Fifteen Fab & Faithful Perennials

Below is a list we have compiled of zone 3 and 4 perennials that day in and day out, season in and season out have proven to be good performers for our locale here in the greater Edmonton area.fab and faithful chart

This is just a quick list, we could do a blog on each one of these plants.  There is an entire world of detail on the internet, in gardening books, and gardening magazines describing each of these plants, so use this as a springboard for your creativity.  Another great source is a very well written book called Perennials for Every Purpose by Larry Hodgeson – it is still available at Amazon.com.

Note that these are classes of perennials, and with most of them have a good selection of varieties to choose from – so if you selected from this list itself you could end up with quite a beautiful garden that blooms all through spring, summer and fall.

When you go to purchase perennials, be careful, however, to double check the classification zones of all the varieties.  Sometimes they are not zone hardy for our area.

Enjoy experimenting and discovering which of these are fab and faithful for you!

Call us for more information on gardening in Edmonton!

 

Planning a Perennial Garden – Tips to Make it Easier

Planning and getting organized is key to a successful perennial plan.  Below is a list of steps to help you think through the process:

1.       Identify your purpose, what you would like to do with this space – is it for things such as:

  • An outdoor living room, dining room, kitchen or all of the above?
  • Walking or meandering through?
  • Growing cut flowers?
  • Looking at from indoors?
  • Attracting bees & butterflies?
  • Growing some food as well?

2.       Identify if you would like to incorporate some ‘hard-scape’ pieces such as:

  • Furniture for a sitting area
  • A fountain
  • An arbor
  • Old barn antiques
  • Sculptures or other art
  • Rocks

3.       Study the location you’d like to plant a garden to know what kind of exposure it has in respect to:

  • Hours of direct sunlight
  • Hours of shade – possibly from a nearby building,  eaves, trees, shrubs
  • Wind
  • Tree roots

4.       Identify other factors which may affect your garden like:

  • Animals
  • Dryer vents
  • Drainage spouts

5.       Do Your Research

  • At this point, jump onto the internet and see what you can come up with for ideas regarding design and plant ideas
  • Google terms like:  garden design, perennial garden design, zone 2, 3, 4 perennials
  • Make a list of perennials you like and colors you like
  • Take care to include perennials of each season of bloom – perennials classically bloom in spring or summer or fall – only a few have a continuous bloom season
  • Check out our list of Fifteen Fab and Faithful Perennials to be posted on Thursday, April 15, 2016 Karleigh, can we put a link here? The 15 fab & faithful is the next blog.
  • Consider planting annuals (those that only live through one growing season) to pull color through as perennials wind down from and gear up to their season of bloom.

6.       Start to Dream, Be Creative & Draw it Out

  • Identify the shape you’d like it to be
  • Use a hose or spray paint to outline your garden area
  • Draw it out on graph paper with the proper dimensions

7.       Take pictures of the space and keep them with you or on your phone or iPad for when you go to a greenhouse or garden center – it really helps with identifying the plants that could work well.

For more information on planning a perennial garden, call us today: 780-467-3091.