Categories > Container gardening

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

Maintaining with Mulch

Mulch really IS magical! Mulch technically is a top dressing for soil. For this conversation, we will define mulch as shredded wood or bark chips or leaves; or a mix thereof. It truly is the golden ticket to simpler gardening. With a mulched garden you water less and weed less and still can have a beautifully maintained yard. With a little muscle power on the front end, you can reduce your gardening work load significantly.

Mulch can be placed in flower gardens, vegetable gardens, and even containers. In all of these applications, mulch keeps roots cooler and reduces water consumption because the water evaporates less.

Listen to how your life can be simplified by using this modus operandi in your garden.

For more information on mulch, click on this link to view our blog on The Magic of Mulch / Gardening Tips on our website. If you have more questions about types of mulch or on techniques, reach out to us via email via our website, or feel free to call us at 780-467-3091. We are always happy to support you in your quest of gardening.

Caring for Your hanging Basket or Container

EEEKK! Hanging Basket Care can be overwhelming! In this short video we want to show you that caring for your hanging baskets is simple and easy. We cover a quick system for tending your hanging baskets using the word CARE.

 

Listen in, enjoy; and if you would like more information regarding the general care of hanging baskets or for specific kinds of hanging baskets, click on the links below:

As always, we are happy to answer your questions either via our website at or on the phone – yes, we still personally answer the phone – at 780-467-3091.

Geranium Hanging Basket C-A-R-E

We all seem to be looking for a way to simplify our lives from sorting through and clearing out gadgets we no longer need to whittling down our clothing collections to capsule wardrobes – all with the intent of spending less time on stuff and more time on the things we love to do with the people we love to do them with.

Applying this to gardening, Geraniums have a way of making life simple.  If you have an area that gets 6 or more hours of sunshine, this one is for you. They are easy to grow, they are hardy — hardy means they can take a lot of heat and they also bear with our cooler nights.  Never to be one that would recommend abusing or neglecting plants, it can be said that they can take an element of…let’s say…”forgotten-ness”…on occasion.   But not every day.  They come back and revive well from being dry – but again, not every day.  They aren’t sensitive like fuchsias, and they make a great entry-into-gardening plant.

We grow 2 classes of Geranium hanging baskets:

  • Trailing Geraniums
  • Mixed Geranium

In Trailing Geranium hanging baskets, we plant and grow only trailing geraniums.  They cascade down and around the pot and many of them look like a huge disco ball (kind of) or let’s say a big flowering ball. They come in a large array of colors from deep, deep reds to shades of pink, and now orange. Trailing Geraniums are really tough plants and are super easy to care for and hence, their steep rise in popularity over the last few years.  They excel in extreme heat and cold (not freezing) nights – there aren’t a lot of plants that have that kind of range.  They handle the occasional ‘drought’ when they get forgotten in the watering queue and a number of them will handle high winds. Our blog Trailing Geranium Hanging Basket C-A-R-E  has even more detail on how to care for this type of basket.

With mixed Geranium hanging baskets, we plant upright geraniums as the feature plant and then we fill in with trailers to spill out of the perimeter.  That’s why they’re called Mixed Geranium baskets. In this container configuration, the plants that you need to pay more attention to are the trailing plants.  They can be more sensitive to neglect, so keep a watchful eye on them.  Please visit our blog on Mixed Geranium Hanging Basket C-A-R-E to get the nitty gritty details on these baskets.

As always, we would be delighted to walk you through our collection of Geranium hanging baskets in our retail greenhouse and to help you simplify your life.  Nature’s Source, the fertilizer we use, is our favorite.  Miracle Grow and 20-20-20 work well, too.

As always, we are happy to answer your questions either via our contact form on the website. or on the phone – yes, we still personally answer the phone – at 780-467-3091.

Stuff it : Adding Detail to Containers and Hanging Baskets

What is a stuffer?

Stuffers are used in planted containers used to add depth and detail. They are the smaller plants placed around the central plants in containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. They finish off containers by adding splashes of color and texture – they make a container unique and pop with creativity.

Stuffers can be classified as stuffers or trailers, if you want to get technical – stuffers have an upright growth habit and trailers cascade downward out of the pot. Stuffers can range from leafy trailers of lime green, bronzes, deep purples, or even blacks to delicate upright stalks sporting flowers from every color of the rainbow. The choices can almost be overwhelming.

Of all the plant categories we grow, there is the greatest crossover in this one as to the plants having both sun & shade tolerance, but always be sure to check labels.

We thought we would feature some of our favourites below. Know that this is in no way an exhaustive list of what we carry at Wallish Greenhouses – we’d be happy to tour you through our basket stuffer department to show you the options. To make things simpler, we even have them divided into our sun and shade departments. Feel free to email us or call us at 780-467-3091 if you have any questions.

Favorite Stuffers & Trailers

Stuffer
(Upright)
Trailer
(Trailing)
Full Sun
(8 hours)
Part Sun
(4-6 hours)
Shade
(<4 hours)
Bacopa Bacopa
Black Eyed Susan Black Eyed Susan
Calibrachoa
(Million Bells)
Calibrachoa
Coleus Coleus
Dichondra Dichondra
Dorotheanthus
(Mezoo)
Dorotheanthus
Euphorbia Euphorbia
German Ivy German Ivy
Impoemia
(Sweet Potato Vine)
Impoemia
Lamium Lamium
Lysmachia Lysmachia
Scaevola Scaevola
Verbena Verbena

Hanging Basket Care Infographic

They’re everywhere. Hanging baskets are a fun, fast, and simple way to add color to your outdoor world. But how do you keep them looking fresh and lovely all summer? By using the word C-A-R-E we have some simple ideas to keep your baskets at their best.

Looking for more information or detailed information about your specific type of hanging basket? Well, we have blogs to cover every category of hanging basket that we grow here at Wallish Greenhouses – check out the following links. And if you would like to talk to us about your hanging basket, feel free to stop by the greenhouse, give us a quick call at 780-467-3091, or fire us off a quick email via our website or wglperen@telus.net (please put in a link) – we’d be happy to help!

Hanging baskets and container C-A-R-E, previous blogs:

Choosing the Right Hanging Basket Vlog

Have you ever stood under a canopy of hanging baskets and wanted to tear your hair out trying to figure out which hanging basket is the right one for you?  Well this video is intended to help with that!

Being armed with precise information is key in making the right selection. Know where you’d like to put your hanging basket and then, know:

#1 – know where you’d like to put it

#2 – how many hours of sunshine that area gets

#3 – how windy it is

Most baskets can tolerate some wind, but some can’t stand any – we have that indicated on the chart below. There is more information in our blogs: Hanging Basket & Container Location Recommendations and Things to Consider When Choosing a Hanging Basket.

Actually, as an aside, these rules apply for non-hanging containers, too.

We’d like to invite you stop by our greenhouse and allow us to help you mull over the many hanging basket options we grow – we have baskets for any location.  Got questions?  Give us a quick email via our website, or call us at 780-467-3091.  We’d be happy to help out.

Hanging Basket & Container Location Recommendations
Hours of Sun / Shade Types of Containers
Full Sun and Part Sun Direct Sunshine exposure:

Full Sun: >8 hours

Part Sun:  6-8 hours

Calibrachoa aka Million Bells Ivy Geraniums

Mixed Geranium

Trailing Petunias

Part Sun to Part Shade Direct Sunshine exposure:

Part Sun: 6-8 hours

Part Shade: < 6 hours

 

Indirect Sun exposure

Mixed Geranium

Solenia Begonias

Sunpatiens

 

Fuchsia

Shady & Deep Shade Locations Direct Sunshine exposure:

Shady:  < 4 hours

Deep Shade: 0

*All in this category hate wind

Bossa Nova Begonias

Solenia Begonias

Tuberous Begonias

Mixed Foliage

Impatiens

Fuchsia

Windy Locations Direct Sunshine exposure:

Full Sun: >8 hours

Part Sun:  6-8 hours

Ivy Geraniums

Mixed Geraniums

Who’s Your Buddy? Let’s Take a Look at Vegetable Companion Planting

Companion planting is a concept that has been practiced for years.  It is born out of the idea that there are groups of vegetables and flowers that grow more robustly together than they do alone.  And conversely, there are certain plants that actually grow worse – their growth slows down or is impeded – by certain neighbouring plants.

We have put together the chart below to give you ideas as you plan your veggie gardens, be they in ground, in raised beds, or in square foot gardens.

Before we get to the chart, just a few quick definitions:

  • Allium Family – onions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots
  • Cole crops – also known as cruciferous vegetables – include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, etc
  • Leaf crops – includes lettuce, lettuce mixes, spinach, Swiss chard
  • Root crops – the roots are the vegetables we eat – include: beets, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, onions, turnips
  • Squash family – includes squash, pumpkins, zucchini

One other note: Marigolds are included in this chart because of their overall benefit to gardens in general – they assist in controlling many garden pests and nematodes.  Specifics are included in the chart.

We welcome you to reach out to us with any questions that you may have via email us and encourage you to come into our greenhouse this spring for seeds and started veggies in our vegetable department.  We’d be delighted to help you choose fun and tasty varieties to try this growing season.

 Vegetable Companion Planting    

                                                                 

Lovers

Haters

Notes

carrots, celery, cole crops, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, squash family

strawberries

allium family, cabbage, chives, fennel, peppers, sunflowers corn acts as a trellis,

beans add nitrogen to the soil

carrots, cole crops, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, onions beans, tomatoes
asparagus, allium family, beans, lettuce, parsley, peas, peppers, rosemary

tomatoes

celery, coriander, dill, parsnip, potatoes onion, parsley & rosemary help the companions deter carrot fly
beans, cole crops, dill, leeks, marjoram,  peas, potatoes, spinach, tomato, cosmos, daisies, marigolds, nasturtiums, snapdragons anise, dill, carrots, corn, parsley, potato, asters Asters may cause a disease called Aster Yellows
beets, carrots, celery, dill, garlic, mint onions, parsnips, peas, rosemary, sage pole beans, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries,

 

mint & rosemary deter cabbage moth

garlic improves flavor

beans & peas & pumpkin

cucumber, lettuce, marjoram, potatoes, sunflower, squash family

celery, tomato beans + corn + pumpkin / squash = the 3 sisters that work together to fix nitrogen from the air & into the soil
beans, celery

cole crops, corn, dill, lettuce, peas

squash family, potatoes, heavily aromatic herbs potatoes & zucchini cause cucumbers to produce poorly
beans, beets, cole crops, leeks, mint, peas, peppers, radishes, strawberries, marigold parsley mint helps to repel slugs
cole crops, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes, squash family, tomatoes beneficial for deterring many garden insect pests, beetles, and root crop damaging nematodes
beets, carrots, cole crops, lettuce, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, tomato, rosemary,  strawberry asparagus, beans, peas, sage  
beans, beets, carrots, celery, cole crops, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, squash, sage, turnips allium family, onions, tomatoes  
basil, carrots, coriander, onions, spinach, tomatoes beans, eggplant share similar traits and pests – keep a distance from each other
basil, beans, celery, corn, garlic, lettuce, onion, peas, spinach, asparagus, carrots, cole crops, cucumber, peppers, squash, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, sunflowers cucumbers, raspberries & tomatoes share similar pests – maintain a healthy distance from each other
beans, corn, dill, garlic, peas, radish, strawberries, spinach, marigolds, nasturtiums, sunflower potatoes  
Basil – best garden buddy for tomatoes

asparagus, carrots, celery, chives, oregano, onion, parsley, rosemary, strawberry

beets, cole crops, corn, eggplant, okra,   peas, peppers, potatoes

 

share common insects & diseases with  peppers, eggplant, okra,   and  potatoes =  space these apart from each other so they don’t infect one another

Sources:

Square Foot Gardening

Garden grown vegetables have a quality and taste that can’t be replicated – think about the crisp crunch of baby carrots, the flavour of steamed new potatoes, fresh peas & beans, juicy ripe red tomatoes, the coolness of cucumbers, and on it goes…is your mouth watering yet?  Are you feeling nostalgic for you grandma’s garden??

Growing your own veggies is becoming a thing as we see urban gardens popping up all over the place.  Growing your own veggies can be a reality and for those with limited spaces — square foot gardening could be the answer.  Let’s talk about Square Foot Gardening and explore the role it could have in getting those fresh veggies on your table.

What is Square Foot Gardening?

  • Square Foot Gardening is a cultivation method of that it super productive – it maximizes the use of space and optimizes growth through the use of companion planting.

What are the Advantages of Square Foot Gardening?

Where is Square Foot Gardening done?

  • As we said, Square Foot Gardening is very flexible and it can be done:
    • In the ground

OR

  • In raised beds – this is the most popular way because —
    • they are more accessible for planting, watering, weeding
    • the soil stays warmer and plants grow better
    • we recommend that raised beds have a 12” depth of soil for vegetable production – this will help maintain soil moisture
    • for more details on raised bed gardening, check out this link to our blog

How does one get Square Foot Gardening Started?

  • Take out time to research, get great ideas, and plan – otherwise your efforts could wind up being in vain – there’s nothing like building a tower without having the proper plans in place. This can seem like the least productive phase of the entire operation but you really do save time in the end when you have a plan and you are prepared.  Familiarize yourself with the following information:

Where is the best place to put your Square Foot Garden?

  • Pick the sunniest part of your yard – vegetabless need at least 8 hours of sunshine.

Make a list of what you’d like grow

  • Annual vegetables
    • know which produce continually – like tomatoes, herbs, peppers
    • know which only produce once – root crops like beets, carrots, leeks, onions, cole crops like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli
    • know which veggies have a flush of production over a period of weeks, but they don’t produce all summer – peas, beans and leaf crops like lettuce, kale, spinach, and swiss chard all have a period of production, but they don’t last the entire summer

Develop a schematic diagram

  • Either make one from hand with a photo or do one on the computer
    • Draw a grid representing 1 foot x 1 foot grids, or you could use bigger grids if you’d like
  • When planning vegetable placement keep the following in mind:
    • match heights – grow vegetables of similar heights side by side so that the smaller ones don’t get choked out
    • place taller plants and those that need a trellis together and in a place where they won’t shade out the sunshine from the smaller plants
    • optimize your use of companion planting – some veggies do better grown together and others inhibit growth – our blog on companion planting is coming out next week.
    • be careful to not overcrowd your garden – take heights and widths of the plants into consideration – and believe the dimensions given. Overcrowded gardens decrease production because of the stress it causes on the plants.

Make a schedule of when things need to be seeded

  • Not all vegetables take the same amount of time to produce so they don’t all need to be seeded at the same time; and for our northern climate, timing is everything.
  • We have prepared this veggie timing chart, check out this link (veggie garden timing chart) for suggestions on when to seed various vegetables
  • Direct Sowing – some crops do best being sown directly into the garden:
    • peas, beans, and corn always do best direct sown
    • cole crops like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale do well either direct sown or sown indoors a few weeks earlier. If they are grown indoors, they will usually produce earlier than sown directly into the soil.
  • Sowing Indoors – to get a jump start on some vegetables that take a longer time or are more sensitive to the cold, you can always seed them indoors. Check out our blog on seed timing to be careful to not start them too soon.  If they are started too early, they may stretch and it’s more difficult for them to be productive.  Never be in a big hurry to get these crops started.
    • celery, herbs, peppers, and tomatoes can be started indoors in mid-April
    • sensitive and vining crops like cucumbers, pumpkin, squash, and zucchini that get really large very fast are best sown indoors in the first and second week of May – plant these outdoors around the last week of May or 1st week of June because of their sensitivity to our cool nights.
  • Successive Seeding – leaf crops like lettuce and spinach work very well seeded directly into the garden every 2 weeks to ensure a continual supply during the summer

How to Maintain your Square Foot Garden?

  • Weeding – it is always best to get the young weeds early because when the weeds are large, especially in a Square Foot Garden, you may accidentally take some good plants out while getting rid of the weeds.
  • Watering – with a raised bed depth of 12”, water retention shouldn’t be a big issue. Water when the soil is dry; avoid watering your garden on a strict schedule because it may end up getting over watered and soggy.  Plants stress from overwatering as much as they do from overwatering.
  • Mulch – using 2-4” of mulch around your veggies will decrease weeding, keep roots cooler, retain moisture, and decrease your work overall.  Mulch is the golden ticket for reducing work in your garden.

Take good notes

  • Get yourself a good notebook and keep a garden memoir. This will help you avoid making the same mistakes twice.  One thing:   Remember to review your notes at the beginning of each season!  This is where the real learning and becoming a savvy gardener happens.

Disadvantages of Square Foot Gardening

  • It can get over full – like, stacked & packed – so be careful to research heights and widths of the vegetables you plant to grow and plant accordingly. It’s VERY tempting to put more plants in when they are really small but they will fill out.
  • Water retention can be a problem if the raised beds are less than 12” deep.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog on Companion Plantingfeel free to email or call (780-467-3091) with any questions.  If you are looking for vegetable plants already started, we have a large selection in the vegetable department of our retail greenhouse. We are happy to help make your veggie garden fun, simple, and wildly successful place!

Sources:

In My Space – About Balcony Gardening

Balconies can be places of refuge where we seize a little garden tranquility by stepping out of the busy-ness of life and into a little nature outdoors.  With the popularity of container gardening over the last years, planning for a balcony garden has become versatile and fun as plant breeding programs are focussing more energy into developing compact versions of many flower and vegetable standbys.  Now you can have your choice of growing fresh veggies, like patio peas which thrive in containers, alongside herbs and floral favorites.

One of the most fun parts of doing container gardening is shopping for the containers and the flowers but before you start purchasing anything, know what your end goal is so you make wise buying decisions. Check out this list of things to consider:

  1. Know the exposure of your balcony – This information makes the difference between success and mediocrity. Ask the following questions to determine which plants will do the best in your location:
    1. Which direction does the balcony face? Does it get sun in the early morning, all afternoon, or late in the day?
    2. How many hours of direct sun does it receive? How many hours of shade does it get? Direct sun means that the sun is shining right on your balcony.
    3. It is windy? What direction does the wind come from most days?
    4. How hot does it get?
  2. Know what kinds of plants you’d like to grow:
    1. Would you like to grow kitchen herbs?
    2. Would you like to grow veggies?
    3. Would you like to edible flowers?
    4. Would you like to grow amazing and colorful flowers?
  3. Know what kinds of container options are available:
    1. A mix of container styles & shapes – upright and hanging
    2. Consider where you may implement lattices and trellises – these extend your container heights

We have crafted this chart of small plant ideas with a big splash for balconies:

Balcony Gardening Ideas
Sunny
6-8 hours or more of Direct Sun
Usually a direct east, south, or west exposure
Shady
4 hours or less of Direct Sun
Usually a northeast, north, or northwest exposure
Hanging Baskets:

– Calibrachoa (Million Bells), Mixed Geranium, Ivy Geranium, Sunpatiens

Hanging Baskets: 

– Begonia, Solenia Begonia, Bossa Nova Begonia, Fuchsia, Sunpatiens

Flowers & Containers with:

– Black Eyed Susan, Cobea on trellises
– Cannas
– Calibrachoa (Million Bells)
– Dahlias
– Gazania
– Geraniums
– Grasses
– Helichrysm
– Impoemia (Sweet Potato Vine)
– Lamium
– Marigolds
– Salvia
– Petunias
– Princess Lilies
– Scaevola
– Verbena

Flowers & Containers with:

– Abutilon
– Begonias – Solenia, Dragon Wing, Bossa Nova (trailing), Nonstop upright
– Browallia
– Coleus
– English Ivy
– Euphorbia
– Fuchsia – upright & trailing
– German Ivy
– Impatiens
– Iresine
– Lamium
– Lobelia
– Lysmachia
– Plectranthus
– Scaevola

Edibles:

– herbs of any kind
– patio peas, beets, carrots, peppers, tomatoes
– mixed lettuce bowls

Edibles:

– most vegetables need at least 6 hours of direct sunshine, you could experiment & see what will grow

Hanging Baskets are great for balconies – if you would like more information about which types are good for yours, take a peek at these two blogs:

If you have any questions about Balcony Gardening, feel free to contact us or call us on the phone at 780-467-3091 and we will be happy to dialog with you!

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