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In The Garden: Stay-Cool Gardening

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In The Garden: Stay-Cool Gardening

Whether you follow the farmers’ almanac, the pundits of global warming, or listen to the long range forecast, this summer is bound to be a hot one. So, the burning question is, “How do you enjoy a great-looking garden in the heat?”

You can train plants to expect water only when the soil around their roots dries to three to five centimetres below the surface of the soil. Of course the amount will vary from plant to plant, but the point is that if you water your garden a little bit at a time, the roots stay up near the surface of the soil and wait for you to stand at the end of your hose each evening. It may be water therapy for you, but its bad training for your plants. This rule is equally true for perennials, annuals, veggies, and even the shrubs and trees on your property – not to mention your lawn.

Plants that are watered infrequently, and deeply, will send down roots in search of moisture.

Plants that are watered infrequently, and deeply, will send down roots in search of moisture as the temperature rises, and the timing between summer rainfalls stretches from days into weeks.

THE LAWN

Don’t water your lawn at all in a drought situation. Save yourself the time, expense and the resources that are required to cut your lawn when its actively growing. Yes, it will become brown and dormant, but it will not die. Dormant is the equivalent of sleeping.

Come mid-August your lawn will wake up as days get shorter, evening temperatures fall and the morning dew increases. This is the reason why every sod grower in the province (and there are many) sow their seeds for the next crop between the middle of August and the end of September.

THIRSTY TREES

Trees need water too – more so when you think back to the weeks of below normal rain fall that we experienced last summer. Apply water to the root zone of both young and mature trees by placing a hose at the base of the tree with just a trickle of water coming out. Leave it there for three to four hours.

If you have trees on your property that were planted within the last three years, watering them is critical at this time of year. A mature, 20-metre-high maple tree transpires more than 500 litres of water on a hot day, so its important to get water down to its roots. The tree that grows on the boulevard also needs water. Even though it may be owned by the municipality, consider it your responsibility and give it healthy drink.

THE MIRACLE OF MULCH

A six- to eight-centimetre layer of finely ground cedar or pine bark insulates the soil from the drying effects of the sun and the wind. This layer of mulch can reduce the need for water by up to 70 per cent, and is one of the best monetary, and timesaving, investments that you can make for your garden.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author and broadcaster. Check out his new book The New Canadian Garden published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and on Facebook. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at MarkCullen.com

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Tips for taking control of body pain

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Tips for taking control of body pain

By News Canada

As much as we’d like to steer clear of long-lasting muscle, joint, back and arthritis pain, we may be unable to dodge these symptoms as time marches on.

So why does this happen? With age, muscle fibres shrink and weaken, which can contribute to fatigue and limit physical activity. At the same time, joints may stiffen and lose flexibility, resulting in pain, inflammation and, in some cases, arthritis.

Long-lasting body pain may be more common as we get older, but it shouldn’t stop us from enjoying life and accomplishing all we want to. Research has found that a combination of treatment methods, including physiotherapy, massage therapy and medications, show the best results when managing body pain.

“When we leave our 30s and enter our 40s and 50s, pain can become a regular part of life. Some of my patients complain that they have to rely on taking multiple doses of pain relievers in a day to cope,” says Dr. Jeff Habert. “Advil 12 Hour offers an option where just one pill keeps working for up to 12 hours.”

If you’re looking for an additional way to help get some relief, try applying icepacks to reduce inflammation and ease pain, or a warm bath to relieve aching muscles. As always, consult your health care provider with any health concerns.

Some pain can be episodic, kicking in after a physically strenuous activity. Or, it can be long-lasting pain, perhaps preventing us from participating in the activities we love. If you experience long-lasting pain that interferes with your ability to stay active or accomplish the things you want to, these simple tips can help you take control of your pain:

Stay active: Body pain may lead you to avoid physical activity. But low-impact activities like walking, stretching or light exercises can actually help manage pain and even increase strength and flexibility.

Get relief: To help gain control over your pain so you can accomplish everything you want to, try a non-prescription pain reliever.

Hot and cold: Direct heat from hot packs or a warm bath can help relax tight muscles, while ice packs can reduce inflammation and ease pain. These tips are suggestions. As always, consult your health care provider with any health concerns.

GARDENING PAIN

The long, sunny days of summer are returning, and that means it’s time to dust off those gardening tools. But if you experience long-lasting body pain, yard work might be easier said than done.

Gardening and weeding involve a wide range of motions, including kneeling, squatting, twisting and lifting, engaging many muscles and joints. These movements can exacerbate existing pain, including arthritis pain, if not done right.

Try these tips to minimize pain when gardening:

Limber up: Tend to yourself before tending to those precious flowers. Stretch your arms, back, wrists and hamstrings prior to planting — your joints and muscles will thank you.

The right gear: Choose tools that help ease the burden on your body. Use a wheelbarrow to carry bags of soil and other heavy materials across the yard and wear kneepads to reduce the strain on those joints.

Relieve your pain: A non-prescription pain reliever can help you focus on your gardening tasks without your pain holding you back, and also relieve pain after a gruelling day in the soil.

Proper technique: Proper technique and positioning reduces strain on muscles and joints. Bend your knees when lifting heavy objects and alternate between heavy and light activities to avoid repetitive-motion injuries.

These tips are suggestions. As always, consult your health care provider with any health concerns.

www.newscanada.com

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How To Get Your Kids Out Of The House And Into The Garden

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How To Get Your Kids Out Of The House And Into The Garden

By News Canada

Look up the positive effects of gardening and you’ll find a wealth of studies from educational and government institutions that support its impact on your physical and mental well being. But it’s not just adults who benefit from time in the garden. It’s a great way to spend time with your kids while teaching them about biology, food and geology.

Here, garden guru Frank Ferragine, aka Frankie Flowers, shares his tested and true techniques to get your kids in the garden.

Give them a plot of edibles: Your backyard garden can be a fantastic source of delicious fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and berries. “Letting the kids pick out and maintain edible plants or grow them from seed in their own plot will help foster ownership in the garden,” said Ferragine. “If you’re looking for something that will really get the kids and their tastebuds excited, the geniuses at President’s Choice have put together a strawberry trio that contains framberries, pineberries and seaburst strawberries.”

Give them their own tools: “A watering can, trowel, gloves and kneeling pad may be all it takes to get your son or daughter in the garden with you,” said Ferragine. “Their own set of tools will make them feel more grown up and more responsible.”

Create a miniature garden: Condo or apartment living shouldn’t keep your kids from learning about gardening. “PC Garden Centres have tons of fun planters and colourful pots for the balcony. Planting some microgreens or seasonal flowers in them is a wonderful way to teach your young ones about planting and watering,” said Ferragine. “Hanging baskets are another great choice for these smaller spaces, and the bright colours that are trendy this year will captivate your kids.”

Get connected: For younger generations who engage each other on social media, showing them gardening has its place online can go a long way. “Kids love taking photos, so why not give your little ones an assignment to take some gardening photos to share with you or their friends? It’s likely to spark more interest in the work you’re doing out there and you’ll make some memories to last a lifetime.”

TOP GARDENING TRENDS FOR 2017

With warm weather on its way, there’s never been a better time to start planning your garden. To help you get started this season, Ferragine has some thoughts on top gardening trends this year.

Big pops of colour: Last year we saw some contrast with loud hues married to more muted, pastel tones, but this year is all about bright colours. Calibrachoas will be this year’s showstoppers with brilliant purples and beaming yellows. Not only do they require little maintenance, but they’ll last from spring until first frost with masses of cascading branches full of petunia-like flowers. Expect to see a rainbow of vibrant impatiens with brighter reds, pinks and oranges in hanging baskets across the country.

Urban planting: This year, condo and apartment dwellers aren’t likely to miss out on the gardening fun. “Urban gardening is going to be bigger than ever,” said Ferragine. “Hanging baskets will be popular spring purchases and many gardeners are already excited about the wide selection of colourful pots from brands like President’s Choice to make a statement in their yards or on their balconies.”

Tough meets tender: A great way to keep your garden looking lush throughout the year is by mixing tough plants with tender ones. While softer, less hardy varieties like peonies, salvia and verbena look lovely, it’s a good idea to intermingle them with lower- maintenance resilient varieties like echinacea, roses and succulents that will keep your garden full in spite of harsher, dryer conditions.

Climate consciousness: Canada is huge and our climate is varied, therefore it stands to reason that a plant that grows well in Victoria may not fare so well in Winnipeg. Plant tags contain key information on plant hardiness zones and what type of plant will do best in specific zones or regions. Still, Ferragine says that “Canadians are more informed than ever about the role our climate can play in growing a successful garden.”

Patriotic plants: Red and white plants are already gaining a lot of attention in the gardening world. “Without a doubt, this year’s hottest flower is the Canadian Shield Rose,” says Ferragine. Made in Canada, this choice is a perfect way to celebrate our country’s 150th birthday. Named as 2017’s Flower of the Year by Canada Blooms, the Canadian Shield Rose (pictures) is is able to survive our rigorous winters from coast to coast. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Canada in your garden this summer.

THREE TIPS FOR A BEE-FRIENDLY GARDEN

We don’t all have a green thumb, but a beautiful flower garden doesn’t have to be difficult. Planting a little patch of colour can be easy and rewarding, not just for us, but also for pollinators like honeybees. By following these tips, anyone can turn their outdoor space into an area that looks beautiful and helps feed hungry honey bees all summer long.

Your garden is like a buffet for honeybees. Plants reproduce through pollination. This occurs when pollen is transferred from one flowering plant to another. Moving the pollen is where honeybees come in. They use nectar and pollen as food for their hives, but in their travels they can also spread the pollen. Make sure you plant bee-attractive flowering plants that will bloom in your garden at different times throughout the summer.

Plant wherever you can. It doesn’t matter if you live in a house or an apartment — whether it’s on your balcony, on a rooftop or in your backyard — a small patch of flowers can help feed honeybees in your community. Consider plants native to Canada like lance-leaved coreopsis, sneezeweed, New England asters, dense blazing stars and golden tickseed.

Choose the right seeds. Researching the best plants for your area doesn’t have to be a long and cumbersome process. Bees Matter offers free pollinator-friendly seeds with an online sign-up at http://www.beesmatter.ca. Using pre-packaged Buzzing Gardens seed kits can help make planting your garden quick and easy.

www.newscanada.com

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In The Garden : Welcome To Spring 2017

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In The Garden : Welcome To Spring 2017

Recovering from the heavy weight of snow on their branches, the cedars are now bent over. The local rabbit population have nibbled the bark on your young apple tree, and the yew hedge is burned on the south and west sides. This may not describe your garden, but these are things I’m witnessing in mine. Many of your precious plants can be saved with the following information.

WINTER BURN

The dead foliage on the south and west sides of your yews, holly, boxwood, and other evergreen shrubs, isn’t necessarily the result of a cold winter, but more likely a sun burn. The sun is remarkably powerful as we approach spring. As the sun reflects off of the late season snow, it can burn the outside foliage of the aforementioned shrubs. There’s very little you can do to solve this problem. Using a gloved hand, give the plant a vigorous shake to get rid of some of the brown foliage. By late May or early June, your evergreens will look fresh as a daisy as the new growth pushes past the dead, brown foliage.

SALT DAMAGE

You may notice salt damage along the margins of the driveway and the street, in addition to plants that have salt-laden soil near their roots. The west-facing foliage of the cedar hedges will have received the brunt of the westerly winds that carry the salt spray from the road. The answer to all three of these dilemmas is to wash them down with clean water from your garden hose. Soak the foliage of all plants that have been exposed to salt and to salt spray.

To save your tired lawn, spread a three- to four-centimetre layer of triple mix or lawn soil over the thin and damaged portions, then broadcast grass seed by hand at the rate of about one kilo per 100 square metres. Rake the works smooth, step on it to get a firm contact with the soil and seed, and water it well for up to six weeks until it has germinated. Fertilize your entire lawn, especially the boulevard at this time of year, to bring it back to life. Use a quality, slow release fertilizer with DDP iron in it for the best results. Or, you can apply a lawn recovery product that contains all of the above ingredients – seed, fertilizer and compost.

SNOW DAMAGE

The weight of a wet snowfall may have pulled your cedars and junipers down to the ground. Pull them into an upright position and secure them by using long two- by two-inch stakes or guide wires. Or, you can leave them alone and wait for the sap to rise. When late spring arrives and new growth appears, the chances are very good that your sad-looking evergreens will find their own way into their naturally upright position.

YOUNG FRUIT TREES

You may find that these have been nibbled by rabbits and other vermin. When the snow lies deep, winter ready rodents (versus those who hibernate) get hungry, as their normal food sources are covered. The bark on a young fruit or crabapple tree becomes very tempting by late winter. If you have lost the bark layer all the way around a branch or the trunk, it is likely dead. If the rascally rodent only ate a portion of the bark, you could be in luck. Do not use a sealant or pruning paint. Never underestimate nature’s ability to fix things without our interference.

You really won’t know the extent of damage until the daytime temperatures rise and new growth appears. In the meantime, plant some pansies and violas – you can’t go wrong with an early splash of colour.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author and broadcaster. Check out his new book The New Canadian Garden published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and on Facebook. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at MarkCullen.com

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