Good Soil: The Real Dirt

No matter what you grow, vegetables or flowers, in a spacious garden or a pot on a balcony, the first thing you need is good soil. It took me years to understand this, and now “Soil First” is my gardening mantra.

To read more about improving your garden soil, click on the picture above.

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Time to Plant Spring Bulbs

Sometimes gardening is just so confusing! Want a winter garden? Plant in July. Want tulips and narcissus in spring? Plant in September and October. That’s just how it is: for some garden rewards, you have to plan ahead. So, it’s time to plant spring-flowering bulbs for a colourful display next year. Bulbs flower as early […]

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Time to Think “Winter”

Now that that summer has arrived, it’s time to think about your winter garden. Yes, that’s right: if you want to extend your vegetable harvest into the fall and even right through the winter, you need to start planning for it now.

The biggest mistake new gardeners make is not starting early enough. Come September or October, it’s too late to plant a winter garden. Some plants, like kale, leeks, mustards, carrots and beets, can be planted now for winter eating. Since you’ll will be eating these plants throughout the winter, they must be full size by Halloween, so make sure you plant your winter harvest garden no later than mid-August. July is even better.

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Small is Beautiful: The Chronicles of an Allotment Garden

What can you grow in a 12 foot by 3 foot raised bed? Let me tell you – an awful lot. Right now this little bed has rhubarb, strawberries, bush beans, cucumbers, zucchini, green onions, beets, several kinds of lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula, dill and spinach! With some careful succession planning, it will also produce garlic, sprouting broccoli and kale. Read more …

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Be Kind to Your Body

Who hasn’t experienced stiff and sore muscles after a long day in the garden? With a gardener’s enthusiasm to get into the garden – especially after this long cold winter – it’s easy to overdo it.

Here are a few tips from the BC & Yukon Divison of The Arthritis Society that make sense for all gardeners.

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This Year, Grow Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Set the tubers approximately 3”-4″  deep and 12” apart in prepared trenches spaced 24” apart.

Or use a potato grow bag. You will have to plant the potatoes a little closer, no more than 4-6 in the bottom of the bag.  Plants will emerge around 2-3 weeks after planting. When plants are 1′ tall, hill-up the soil 6-8″ around the plants.  It’s ok to cover green leaves! Straw or grass mulch also works well. Don’t water after planting until the plants have emerged. For more information on how to grow potatoes and descriptions of this year’s varieties, click here.

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How to Get an Amaryllis Bulb to Re-Bloom

The technique recommended for years has been growing the plants on through the summer outdoors, and then inducing dormancy by stopping watering in the fall and placing them in a dry cool spot indoors for 10 to 12 weeks. This will encourage the bulb to bloom again around Christmas.

However, for bigger, healthier plants, some experts recommend allowing the bulb to continue growing vigorously as long as possible, so it will reward you with better blooms in January or February.

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Give Your Tools a Little TLC

Everything I have read or been told tells me that garden tools should be cleaned after each use and maintained regularly throughout the year.

Sure. I do that! Well, maybe I think about it a lot.

Truth be told, I’m more likely to chuck tools into my tool bag or worse yet, leave them in the garden. But I repent from my tool maintenance sins in the fall by undertaking overdue maintenance and getting everything sharp and clean for the next gardening season.

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Problems with Powdery Mildew?

This is the time of year when powdery mildew strikes many vegetables and flowers. While it rarely hurts the plants, it is unslightly.

To prevent powdery mildew, plant disease-resistant varieties and make sure there is good air circulation around your plants. Water early in the day so leaves don’t remain wet overnight.

Once it’s established there’s not much you can do, but if you spray the leaves at the first sign of any mildew, you can slow it down.

For the recipe for an effective organic spray, click here.

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