Archives > July 2018

Fairy Rings

Posted by Wallish on Jul 31 2018

Few things drive a person crazier than a fairy ring making its mark in the middle of a beautiful green lawn. You’ll know you have one when a lush green ring appears and is followed by a dead brown ring. Sometimes just a brown ring appears.  Both rings birth mushrooms and the mushrooms come & go. Fairy rings can be stubborn and difficult to eradicate. Let’s take a look at how fairy rings work and at some strategies to deal with them.

What causes fairy rings?

  • Fairy rings are caused by fungi – fungi feed on dead & composting material in the thatch layer of the lawn.
  • Some varieties emit nitrogen – at first the lawn looks healthier and that’s what causes the dark green ring.
  • Some varieties are hydrophobic – they hate water so then they create a very dense mat of mycelium fibres – causing the grass to turn brown from being starved of water.
  • Other varieties may deplete the soil nutrients and others produce toxic levels of hydrogen cyanide – with the same net effect as the hydrophobes, causing the grass to die.

How does one tackle fairy rings?

  • Eliminating fairy rings can be a challenging task but if you keep at it and are diligent, the odds improve at ridding yourself of them.
  • Fungicides are generally ineffective, producing inconsistent results at best because the mycelium fibers stay in the lawn; so save your money.
  • Listed below are some strategies for fairy rings:
  1. Prevention
    • Remove anything that may decay in your lawn before you put it your lawn in.
    • Level with clean, fresh top soil before you lay out your sod or sow grass seed.
    • Keep your lawn healthy with regular mowing and fertilizing.
    • Dethatch and aerate your lawn regularly, about every 2 years.
  2. Fertilize
    • Fertilizer can mask the symptoms of the fairy ring.
    • Do a deep root fertilizer to get under the mycelium fibres, described in more detail below.
    • Wondering what the best fertilizer for your lawn is?  Check out this link to our blog on fertilizer Unwinding The Fertilizer Numbers or Unravelling Fertilizer Numbers .
  3. Get through the Thick Tangled Fibers
    • Aerate dead & dying rings by poking holes in the ring with a garden fork or crow bar.  It is recommended that you get anywhere from 10” deep to 24” deep.  Aerate to 6” on either side of the ring.
    • The rationale for this technique is to get through the thick mycelium mat and kill the fungi by watering the area heavily. This type of fungi doesn’t like wet soil, they’re hydrophobic, so they will die in wet conditions.   
    • Water the ring every 2 days or every day for at least a month – if you can add a little bit of a mild dish soap to the water to reduce the surface tension of the water, do it.  Surfactants like soap will make the water more absorbable.
    • Fertilize deeply with a water soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks.
    • Rake or pick mushrooms as they appear.
  4. Complete Removal of the Ring
    • This is the go-to when all else has failed – take out the infected turf and 1 -1.5 feet around either side of the ring.
    • Roto-till, reseed or put in new sod.

Got questions?  Give us a call at 780-467-3091 or send us an email.  We are happy to dialog with you about your garden.  We wish you all the best with this challenge!



Let’s Talk Tomatoes | Gardening Tips | Alberta

Posted by Wallish on Jul 17 2018

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

Cup & Saucer Vine – Cobea

Posted by Wallish on Jul 3 2018

This plant has a lot of names:  Cup & Saucer Vine, Cathedral Bells, or Cobea are just a few of them.  This lush, vigorously growing vine has its origins in the south western parts of the United States, Central America and parts of northern South America.  The thing that makes this a garden favorite is its ‘energetic’ vining growth habit and its bell shaped flower that turns from green to purple over 3 days.  Cobea climbing up a trellis can add height to containers, can be used as a privacy screen, and it can add coverage to fences. The flowers make it so delightful – most climbing plants that are this vigorous don’t flower.

How does one grow Cobea?

Cobea likes to grow in full and partial sun locations, getting a minimum of 4 hours of sunlight so it will bloom.  It doesn’t like to be up against a hot wall that reflects heat because it may burn.  That kind of a hot location is good for Clematis, Hops, Virginia Creeper, Honeysuckle (Lonicera), and Black Eyed Susan vine.  If Cobea is in a full sun location, like a southern or western exposure, let it be over a trellis or gate that is standing away from a really hot area.

Plant Cobea in a good quality soil that drains well and keep it evenly moist. If you are planting it in the ground, dig a generous hole and add some good quality soil to place it in.  Fertilize it weekly.  Our favorite fertilizer – and the one that we use in our greenhouse – is called Nature’s Source.  It’s a natural fertilizer that we feel make blooms brighter and is great for overall plant growth.  Other good options are 20-20-20 and Miracle Grow 15-30-15.  Remember to check labels for the fertilizer dilution instructions. For more details on fertilizer, click this link to our blog on Unwinding The Fertilizer Numbers.

Cobea blooms a little later in the season, toward the middle or end of July, but it is definitely worth the wait.  Watching the trumpet shaped blossom transition from green to purple is amazing.  It’s hard to decide which stage is the most beautiful and the full colored purple flowers are long lasting.  As it continues to bloom, you will have a collection of flowers in the various stages of development.

If you haven’t tried Cobea, put it on your ‘to do’ list – we carry it in our basket stuffer department each year.   Always feel free to call us at 780-467-3091 with your gardening questions, or send us an email – we are happy to dialog with you to help your gardening adventures be successful!