Archives > April 2017

Planning a Veggie Garden – A Timing Chart

Growing veggies does take some enthusiasm and elbow grease, but it is well worth the effort.

 

Our region here in Edmonton boasts an average of 115-125 frost free days and below is a list of recommended dates for various vegetable crops that we have used over the years when the Wallishes were market gardeners.  Please remember that these are guidelines and not guarantees because there is little about our weather that is predictable.

 

We hope this helps a bit!

veggie chart

Call us if you need more information on vegetable gardening in Alberta.

Ready, Set, Not Quite Yet

Our Alberta climate likes to play with our minds – especially this winter – and fool us into thinking that spring is settling in.  The thing with Alberta is that we are never really sure when a heavy frost may come.  The long weekend of May has historically been the planting weekend for Albertans but we can still get frost in 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 garden tools with warm soapy water
  • Yard Cleanup
    • Rake leaves
    • Cut down ornamental grasses and perennials that were left for winter interest
    • Remove dried leaves from perennial crowns
    • Rake the lawn
  • Gather your gardening supplies:
    • New tools
    • Garden stakes
    • Velcro tape
    • Labels & markers
  • Work on ‘hardscaping’ projects like:
    • Taking down the Christmas lights
    • Deck maintenance
    • Cleaning sidewalks & pathways
    • Restoring fountains & ponds
    • Building new flower beds or raised beds

 

And remember to avoid digging down into the perennial bed!!

Contact us today for more information

 

 

Scarlet Lily Beetles – Kill Them Dead

Scarlet lily beetles (Lilioceris lilii) a new pest to watch out for in the lily garden. They affect Asiastic, Oriental, LA, and Martagon types of lilies. Scarlet lily beetles do not bother Daylilies (Hemerocalis). Over that last 20 years they have been making a steady migration across the county from Montreal, folowing an apparent inadvertent import from Europe.

Scarlet lily beetles over winter in the soil surrounding lily stalks in the fall. They come out in early spring just as the lilies are emerging. The adults are hungry and ready to get on with life and mate. Any one female can lay as many as 250 eggs.

You will know Scarlet Lily Beetles are around if you see:

• multiple unsightly holes in your lily leaves.
• their bright red rectangular shaped bodies (slightly larger than a lady bug) and rather large black antennae.
Scarlet Lily Beetles love to hang out upside down on the bottom sides of the lily leaves. When they detect any slight danger, they drop off of the leaf backwards, landing on their red backs with their black underbelly facing up – an impressive protective mechanism because it makes them next to impossible to see in the soil.

There are few chemicals that are effective against Scarlet Lily Beetles, so the most effective way to catch them 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 their predictable back flipping, this is a technique that is wonderfully effective:
o 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 stick around until fall.

Getting the Eggs:

• Scarlet lily beetle eggs are easy to find. They are bright red, laid in an impressively straight line on the undersides of the lily leaves. The beetles hatch about 2 weeks after the eggs are laid.
• Pick off the leaves with the eggs and put them in a sealed plastic bag so they have no chance of surviving.
Death by suffocation.

Getting the juveniles:

• As the juveniles grow, they cover themselves with their own excrement as a way of camouflaging and making themselves less desirable for birds (No kidding no sane bird would eat that!).
Gross.
• As with eggs, the best way to take care of the these beetle babies is to pick off the leaves that they are on and add them to your above sealed container with the soapy water or vinegar or you could just put these a sealed plastic bag, so they will die.

In the autumn:

• Lily beetles over winter in the first 2-3” of soil around the stalk of the lilies. Loosen up the soil vigorously after the first few frosts to disrupt their napping and you can catch a few more that way.
• The more beetles you catch on this side of spring the better.
• Lily beetles tend to take flight this time of year 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 agressive beetle – you have to be diligent but you can do this!

 


 

Sources: gardeners.com  umaine.edu/publications/2450e, northscaping.com, http://calgary.ca

Why Raised Beds for Perennials are a Bad Idea

We have blogged in the past about the benefits of raised beds for annual flowers & vegetable gardens. Check out this link to Raised Beds for Vegetable Gardening. Very briefly, raised beds – those 8” and higher – provide:

• easier physical accessibility for planting, weeding, or drip irrigation installation
• greater control of soil content
• warmer roots which lead to quicker maturation
• simpler installation trellises, fencing, and netting supports

BUT

Beware of using raised beds for perennials…and here’s why:

• Perennials need the protection of the surrounding ground to insulate and protect their roots over the winter so they can grow again in spring when the weather warms up. Snow cover also adds a huge insulation benefit.
• Raised beds are considerably colder than level ground in the winter because they are elevated above the ground. The higher the raised bed, the more the exposure.

• For perennials, this increased exposure is like having their roots in an ice-cube tray, it exposes the roots to colder temperatures than they were intended for and perennials will eventually die from the freeze and thaw cycle that occurs.

Generally, perennials can handle life in beds raised to about 6”. For heights above that, some perennials will tolerate winter for a few years, but eventually, the overexposure will wear them down and the stress eventually kills them.

So, for a rule of thumb in our climate (horticulture zones 3 & 4) keep perennials down in the ground where they can stay protected during the blustery winter months.

Contact us today for more information

Perennials That Hate Being Moved

All plants, actually, don’t like to be moved.  There are a few reasons for this:

  • By virtue of their nature of being a stationary object, they were never intended to be moved in the first place.
  • Moving plants damages their microscopic root hairs.
  • The new location requires a period of adjustment for the plant.
  • Physical damage to other parts of the plant, like leaves & stems, affects their growth.
  • Avoid moving perennials when they’re in flower.  For spring & summer perennials, move them after they are done blooming.  For fall bloomers, move them early in the spring or early summer so they can get established and bloom in the fall.

Almost all plants can tolerate a move:

  • It’s best to move them when they are dormant.
  • It’s best to take the largest piece of root possible.
  • Dig down deeply and vertically as opposed to digging at an angle.  That way you can maximize the amount of root you take.
  • Be sure take along the crown of the plant.  The crown is its heart, and if you damage or don’t take the heart, you lose the plant.

Tap roots:

  • Perennials with deep tap roots hate being moved.
  • Carrots are an example of a tap root.
  • Tap roots make plants resilient to harsh climatic conditions.
  • Are mostly singular, and they are very difficult to divide without inflicting a lot of damage to the plant.

The perennials listed below all have deep tap roots and the success moving them is limited.

  • Acontium (Monkshood)
  • Asclepias (Butterfly Weed)
  • Baptisia (False Indigo)
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
  • Eryngium (Sea Holly)
  • Dictamnus
  • Limonium
  • Lupines
  • Oriental poppies
  • Peony

Sources: http://calgaryherald.com/life/homes/sunday-september-26-2010-its-a-good-time-to-move-if-youre-a-plant, http://www.dummies.com/home-garden/gardening/flower-gardening/how-to-identify-perennials-you-cant-divide/, http://northscaping.com/IZArticles/IS-0140