Categories > Vegetable Gardening

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.

Bitter, Bolting Lettuce

Few things are more disappointing that biting into the salad you have proudly prepared from your garden patch of fresh lettuce to find it — a bitter bite to swallow!

Why does lettuce get bitter?

1.      Summer heat –  lettuce is a cool weather crop – its favorite temperatures are below 20C

  • Mulch to keep roots cool
  • Pick in the morning
  • Immerse in cool water to soak for a bit, that can help with the bitter taste
  • Pick new leaves, not a whole head
  • Companion plant where it can get some shade from other veggies to get a break from the sun  and heat

2.      Plant successive crops every 2  or 3 weeks so the plants you are harvesting are young

3.      Too dry: browning edges of leaves

  • Water regularly in the mornings, evening watering can cause molding
  • Lettuce is a heavy feeder d/t quick growth – try organic liquid fertilizer

4.      Experiment with different varieties

  • leaf varieties & red lettuce tend to tolerate warmth more
  • Romaine tolerates high temperatures moderately

Why does lettuce bolt?

Summer heat causes lettuce to bolt – temperatures above 23C trigger lettuce to bolt & flower to produce seeds for the next generation of lettuce babies.

Sources:
1.      http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/lettuce/bitter-lettuce.htm
2.      http://tendingmygarden.com/lettuce-bitter-secrets-to-keeping-it-tasty/
3.      http://homeguides.sfgate.com/causes-bitter-lettuce-sap-76697.html

A Canadian Classic: Rhubarb | Gardening

In light of this weekend celebrating Canada’s birthday, let’s put the spotlight on a well known plant that’s been here so long, it can be called a ‘classic’ – Rhubarb.

Rhubarb, its Latin name “Rheum”, is not native to Canada, but made its appearance in the late 1700s, brought over in seed form with Europeans settling in Canada. Prior to that, records show that Rhubarb came to Europe from China.  It thrives in cool climates and actually, heat slows its growth.  It is a drought tolerant, overall tough plant that can withstand tremendous amounts of abuse.

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that has nutritional benefits, making sense that those settling here would want to include it in their pantry.  The stalks are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber & Vitamin C and it’s low fat – 1 cup of rhubarb boasts a measly 26 calories!

Due to high levels of oxalic acid, remember that the leaves are toxic to humans.

Care & Planting:

  • Rhubarb will grow in pretty much any type of soil but thrives well drained, rich soil – it will  rot if the soil is too wet
  • Plant in full sun
  • Plant the crown1-2 inches below soil
  • Don’t harvest the 1st year after planting so the roots can get established
  • When you do harvest, always leave at least 2 stalks to provide nutrients to the roots
  • Remove flower stalks so the plant’s energy will go into producing stalks
  • Every 4-5 years, rhubarb tends to get spindly, so thin them out
  • Can use a slow release fertilizer 5-10-10 applied once yearly.  Rhubarb is not a heavy feeder.

Other uses:

  • Can be used as a cleaner
  • Insecticide: cabbage caterpillars, aphids, peach & cherry slugs
  • Natural hair coloring

For more information on rhubarb, be sure to check out the website, “The Rhubarb Compendium”, they have a lovely recipe index as well.

Sources: rhubarbinfo.com, almanac.com

Call us today for more gardening information! 

 

School’s Out! Children & Gardening

Gardens are great places for children!  It’s a place for them to come face to face with every sensory sensation – sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste.  It’s a great place to learn and of course, burn off energy.  If all goes well, you could actually develop a helpful garden ali.

Valuable life lessons can be learned from the garden like:

  • plant biology & reproduction
  • where their food comes from and how different veggies grow
  • how yummy freshly grown veggies taste
  • how to work
  • gaining an appreciation for the struggle with weeds and bugs

All that being said, be careful to keep your garden, veggie and flower, a fun place for your children to be.  Sometimes we can get distracted with the dream of keeping a beautiful yard like the retired neighbours across the street when we have children – that day will come all too quickly.  So be encouraged to keep your garden a happy place where your children love to be.

On the playing side, give your space items children can enjoy playing on with your kids’ favorite play things.  On the gardening side, include gardening items like a watering can or a wheel barrow and small hand tools like a trowel or a broom or a rake in their size so they can learn to experiment with them in the garden setting.

A garden is a place where great memories can be made and life lessons are learned naturally.  Enjoy your children! And enjoy your garden!

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Perennials | Gardening

Deer ravage country gardens and rabbits love to mess with country and urban gardens.  We are often asked for ideas for deer and rabbit proof annuals and perennials.  Unfortunately, there is nothing ‘proof’ when it comes to deer and rabbits – when hungry enough, they will eat basically anything that’s not poisonous to them.  Below we have listed some strategies to help combat these pesky visitors and hope that this helps somewhat.

General guidelines:

Use plants:

  • with a bad taste or smell
  • that are highly fragrant
  • that contain a milky sap
  • that are highly textured with fuzzy leaves
  • that have prickly stems
  • like ornamental grasses – deer have difficulty chewing they long stems

The following is a list of perennials that deer tend to avoid sourced from fellow gardeners, customers at our greenhouse, and perennial suppliers.  Please remember that this is a general list but there is no guarantee that deer or rabbits will not eat these.  Let us know what you discover.

  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Aconitum (Monkshood)
  • Aquilegia (Columbine)
  • Artemesia (Silver Mound)
  • Cerastium (Snow in Summer)
  • Delphinium
  • Dictamnus (Gas Plant)
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
  • Digitalis (Foxglove)
  • Euphorbia (Spurge)
  • Lupines
  • Monarda (Beebalm)
  • Nepeta (Catmint)
  • Rhubarb
  • Salvia

A few other strategies:

  • Be aware of time / weather that makes your garden more vulnerable to visits from deer and rabbits i.e. drought
  • Protect vulnerable plants with physical barriers like cages, netting, and noisy materials that flap in the wind
  • Put up fencing
  • Plant less desirable plants

Wishing you success because this is a challenging issue!

 

Natural pest control: Cut Worms

Cutworms are a finite problem lasting 2 – 3 weeks in the early spring – just about the time you have planted your veggie garden seedlings and your seeds have erupted.  You generally don’t know you have them until you see wilted and dying seedlings in your garden that have been cut off near, at , or below soil level.  Here are some strategies to cope with them.

Who they are:

  • larvae from eggs that have overwintered, laid by a variety of adult moths on grass or other green plants/weeds in the garden or at the garden’s edge in the fall
  • they emerge hungry & ready to feed so they can reach their next enstar (stage of development), which is that of a pupae or cocoon
  • range in color from grey to brown & black, with or without spots
  • curl themselves up into a classic C shape when exposed from the soil
  • check out this Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Fact Sheet on identifying cutworms (note: this is not of natural pest control): http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-055.htm

What they do:

  • live in top 2” of soil
  • like to feed at night or on cloudy days
  • some emerge from the soil, others feed just below soil level
  • feed on the stems of the young plants – thus cutting off the stem – hence the name, cutworm
  • feed by wrapping their bodies around the stem to grip on & eat

Getting rid of them:

It is possible to reduce the incidence of cutworms but it takes discipline

Here are a few ideas

  • Tilling in both the spring and fall to expose the cutworms
  • Placing collars around the base of the stems
  • Placing something (a nail, toothpick, straw) right beside the stem so the cut worm can’t wrap itself around the stem to dine
  • Natural pest control

Also,  check out the following links below:

1. The Old Farmer’s Almanc

Link:   http://www.almanac.com/content/cutworms

2. Gardening Know How

Link:  http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/get-rid-cutworms.htm

3. Natural pesticide recipes

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/organic/natural-home-pesticides-organic-garden-pest-control.htm

4. Montana Homesteader

Link:  http://montanahomesteader.com/get-rid-cutworms-garden/

5. Mother Earth News

Link:  http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/natural-pest-control-zmaz87mazgoe.aspx

6.  Canola Encyclopedia

http://www.canolacouncil.org/canola-encyclopedia/insects/cutworms/

Well Water & Your Garden| Edmonton & Strathcona County

Well water in our Edmonton Capital Region area and the Strathcona County is high in iron and dissolved minerals such as calcium and sodium.  This high iron and dissolved mineral salt content is  what makes water hard causing yellow staining, soap scum, and other issues. Well water not only effects machinery, household appliances, and bath tubs, it also affects plants.

When well water as described above is used to water plants, salts accumulate in them also.  As dissolved salts accumulate you will see:

  • Loss of a dark green color, paling of the plant in general
  • Yellow leaves
  • Burned leaf edges
  • Wilting that doesn’t respond to watering
  • Death

Plants most sensitive to salt accumulation tend to have more succulent leaves such as:

  • Sunpatiens
  • Impatiens
  • Begonias of all types

Geraniums will be one of the last kinds of plants to show burning but they as well will succumb to death by excessive dissolved salts.

Understanding that water trucked in is expensive, we recommend that you collect and use rain water to hydrate you plants.

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

Sources: water-research.net, douglasenviro.ca, bestwaterworks.ca, outdoorsmenforum.ca

Container Planting: Soil Quality is Huge

High quality soil is the foundation for growing success. Soil requirements for plants in containers are different from those grown in the ground or a raised bed garden. This is the thing worth spending extra money on if you were ever debating over spending money on a pretty pot or soil.  Pick the soil. Below is an exploration of soil – its function and what a high quality soil looks like.

The Function of Soil:

  • Acts as an anchor /support for plants
  • Holds moisture & nutrients
  • Provides air for roots to breathe

Components of good soil

  • usually sterilized for weed prevention
  • Has a light, airy density
  • Is a mix of peat, composted bark, vermiculite, and possibly perlite

Peat moss – Canadian sourced peat moss is considered to be of excellent quality, its function is to  retain moisture & nutrients.

Composed bark –  serves as an anchor for roots,  moisture & fertilizer retention, provides air spaces and organic matter.

Vermiculite is like a sponge – keeps the soil loose, keeps soil from compacting, aids in  holding water & fertilizer.

Perlite– provides air spaces – keeps the soil from compacting, adds no nutrient value, using a large amount can lead to fluoride binding to it if using fluoride treated water – more of an issue for long term houseplant gardening than for container gardening – this is why not all mixes contain perlite.

Cheap Soil

  • Mostly  made purely of peat moss
  • The problem with pure peat moss isthat when it gets dry out, it is extremely difficult to rehydrate & it actually repels water like a brick of concrete – so needs to be soaked –it may be able to return to its water retaining properties but this is challenging

Also, heavy soil doesn’t mean it’s good soil.  It is either:

  • very wet: very wet is likely an indicator that the soil is decomposing in the bag which can cause root rot  (losing air space and then causing roots to rot)

OR

  • has a lot of sand: sand is a cheap filler – sand causes the soil to lose air spaces and that as well will cause root rot

Other notes on soil:

  • There is a need to fertilize because potting soil doesn’t naturally possess a lot of nutrients
  • Complex mixes with manure, garden soil, compost are for landscaping purposes, not container planting
  • Good quality soil is most often bought at greenhouses and garden centers and it is always best to ask if the soil being sold in bags is the same as the one used in for their products

Contact us today for more container gardening tips!

Sources: provenwinners.com, exploratorium.com, healthyurbanhabit.com

Garage Syndrome – Stressing on the Inside | Gardening Tips

“Garage Syndrome” is a real thing.  It happens when plant material spends too much time inside a garage when the weather is cool.  What happens is that garages, in general, are built for vehicles and they aren’t able to provide an adequate amount of light and air circulation for plants to thrive.  If they spend too much time in a garage – even as little as 2 or 3 days, or too many weeks going in and out of the garage – they begin to languish.

Symptoms of this failure to thrive look like:

  • Green leaves begin to pale and turn yellow
  • Plants begin to stretch, get leggy, and weak
  • Wet and soggy soil (because of a decrease in metabolism) that could start root rot

How does one combat garage syndrome?

  • Wait for the weather to warm up before you buy – the 3rd week of May is usually safe for day time temperatures, but always watch the night time lows and bring them in at night if it is threatening temperatures at +8C or below, bring them in for the night

Let us take care of the plants at the greenhouse until the outside weather can support them – you will be less harassed and much happier with your purchase.

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

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.

Next Page »