Wednesday, September 28, 2016

T'is the season for Fall planting


Yes gardeners, it's that time of year again as we can start preparing our gardens for our fall bulb planting. Whether it's daffodils or hardneck garlic...'tis the season.  I'm sure you all have had lots of time since this past spring dreaming or designing what you may like to plant this fall, right...? Well,  if you haven't had time or given it a thought, then read on as these simple little tips, they may help and it really is just that simple to plant and end up with a beautiful display next spring. 
It could be a daunting task to visualize what might look good together, or the amounts to plant in certain areas...  that's where the selected themed gardens will come in handy.  If you want to try to make your own design then we have that covered as well.


Fall bulbs are so easy to plant and only require minimal care, just a little bit of patience as we make it through the winter months.  These types of bulbs are to be planted in the fall as they need at least 10-12 weeks of cold temperatures to stratify (otherwise known as cold treatment) which will result in a successful and beautiful display in the spring. For more detailed instructions on planting these bulbs, you can check these easy to follow steps.

Much has been spoken about on the beauty of these plants, but really what is the trick in making them look so stunning? The following simple tips and ideas will hopefully spark your imagination and remember part of the fun of any type of gardening is experimenting and trying something new.

As I mentioned, tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths, to name a few, are only planted in the fall season as they need the cool temperatures of the winter and warm spring time temperatures to force them to bloom.  It's really very interesting to think that nature has them programed this way and sets them apart from many other types of flowers.


As you set out to plant your bulbs the most important rule when planting is to choose an area that is well-drained.  Most bulbs will rot or deteriorate quickly where soil is constantly damp. The majority of these bulbs will enjoy sunny locations as well and should receive at least 5-6 hours of sunlight daily. Have a shady area?...You can choose bulbs such as wood hyacinths, or frittillaria to grow in any shade garden.


Fritillaria meleagris- Checkered Lilies

Plant bulbs individually by digging a hole for each bulb with a trowel or bulb planter, or place several bulbs on the bottom surface of a larger hole, then cover with soil. As planting depths and spacing varies depending on the type of bulb, refer to the cultural information found in our Online growing guide


Whichever method you use, be sure to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole and at this time work in a handful of organic fertilizer or other types such as Veseys Bulb Fertilizer. There is no benefit to fertilizing fall planted bulbs while they are in flower or after flowering. Excess nutrients at this time can in fact lead to fusarium bulb rot, which is the number one cause of bulb loss. Press each bulb firmly into the soil, top pointing up and fill in the hole.

                     

     
     When in doubt as to which way is up on a bulb, plant it on its side as shown to the right and let 'Mother Nature' decide!
  




After planting, water the area well to settle the soil and to start the roots growing. If rainfall is sparse, you may need to water the bulbs once a week to help them become established.
 
For strongest visual impact, we suggest planting your bulbs closely in groups, drifts or clumps of a single kind and colour. With small bulbs like squill, snow crocus or grape hyacinths, it is essential to plant them in generous drifts if they are to be noticed. When planting bulbs, be sure to take colour into consideration. In general, groups of a single colour have the most impact.

 If you have left over bulbs and are wondering what you can do with them why not try a process called forcing. It's very easy to do and all you have to have is an area that won't allow the bulbs to freeze but kept very cool for at least 10-12 weeks. 






     Select a container with drainage holes and is at least twice as deep as the height of the bulbs. Shallow or heavy containers will not topple as readily as high containers. 
     Plant in well drained potting mix and be sure that there will be at least 2" for root growth.




      

      When bulbs are placed on this layer, their tops should be even with the rim of the pot. 
     You can use several in a pot for creating a stunning display. Cover with potting mix and water in to settle.








  
     As mentioned, store in a cool, dark and dry location for at least 10-12 weeks to allow for proper chill time. You can store in a cold room or unheated garage as examples, just be sure you check for moisture and any sign of sprouting.  Once the chill time has passed, you can bring them indoors gradually to warmer temperatures and within 3-4 weeks you should see a bloom.  For more information of forcing bulbs as well as other bulb topics, please check our website. It is an excellent resource full of many different gardening topics.

Once the spring arrives, you will be welcomed by many beautiful flowers that make a stunning display and will last for many years to come.  You will be so glad you took the time to either begin planting these bulbs in your garden or adding even more color to your existing bulb garden.


Please feel free to stop by and have a look at our display every spring or view our pictures on our Veseys facebook page.

Happy Fall Planting!  
 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Transitions to Fall Traditions


It's beginning to look a lot like...Fall! I know this almost sounds like a take from the ever popular Christmas song, but we are not quite there yet.  We are thankful enough to be able to have four seasons and with this being one of the first days of fall, I thought it would be fitting to do a quick little post of what is to come.
Lots of good things come with Fall or as some would refer to it as Autumn. This is the time when harvest is plentiful, hopefully...


So fall isn't just all about doing chores and putting your flower or vegetable gardens to rest, it's about getting out on garden tours and taking in different workshops to help us learn what will work better for our gardens in years to come. We can share our stories whether it be successes or challenges and help each other learn from them. Topics of preparing for seasons are usually our main focus as we transition into the changes, however there are always new and interesting ways of doing things and helpful hints and tips. Learning and becoming aware of new varieties to put our trust into trying or experimenting with, being able to use our own creativity with planting fall bulbs whether it be our first year planting them. Keep an eye out for all of our new varieties that we are offering this fall as introductions for our spring line up are in progress as we speak.


I had the honor of presenting at the PEI Garden club at the Farm Center here in Charlottetown just recently. The topic was of course on Fall Gardening and hopefully the avid gardeners that came were able to take home some new tips. New members were gladly welcomed and there was some new faces to the club at the most recent meeting. New memberships are welcome and encouraged to join at any time of the year. Just having an interest in gardening is all you have to bring with you.  This club meets every month and during the summer months they set up garden tours all across PEI. At these meetings you may even be surprised to win something! The picture that I posted below was one that I just recently took of two sisters, Edi and Karen.  They were very excited with their prizes from Veseys. As it turns out they won an assortment of bulbs that are planted in the fall that they can have fun with and be creative in their own garden.  Maybe they will even make a new garden this year.


I did ask them for permission if I could post their picture and they were very happy to oblige. So as you see, even when the outdoor part of gardening is starting to slowly wind down..we can look forward to activities like this that will keep our excitement, enthusiasm going as well as meet with fellow gardeners all year long.  And besides this is the start of the season when we don't have to feel as guilty when we take one of these...
Or drink too much of this...
In my opinion, you can never have too much of either of those things and to add to that, we can always make time to talk about gardening. Please feel free to talk to us about gardening. We love to hear from you and are ready to be your professional gardening resource at any time.  You can visit our online growing guide posted on our website. You will find that it has lots of gardening tips with current topics that can also be found on facebook, twitter and our instructional how to videos on our own Veseys youtube channel.

Until next time, enjoy the extended summer that the kind weather forecasters promised that mother nature will bless us with!




Monday, September 19, 2016

Favourite Sunflower Varieties

Every time I look at one of these...
                                                                                    ...I can't help but smile!

What is it about the Sunflower that cheers us instantly?  One of the many attributes that is so positive about this flower is that it seems like it's smiling at us and not to mention the bright and cheery colours that it displays. Just like snowflakes, there are no two alike. Times have really changed in the cultivation of sunflowers and they aren't just the ole' reliable yellow and black anymore.




While walking around the trial gardens here at Veseys, I just had to take some photos as the sunflowers are at their peak right now. Whether you want these types of plants to serve the purpose of displaying in your garden or as a cut flower, we have you covered. This variety displayed below makes an excellent late summer hedge when all other plants are starting to fade. To make your display last longer, simply snip off the spent blooms to encourage new ones to grow. For tips on dead heading these plants as well as other summer annuals you can visit our you tube channel to see how this rejuvination is done as well as any other gardening topics you would like to learn from.



Not only are the sunflowers beautiful but they "benefit" our beneficial friends as well.  We see many different types of pollinating insects that are attracted to the blooms and just when the  pollinating has completed and blooms are spent, the centre's dry up and serve as food for our flying feathery friends.

Growing sunflowers as a commercial cut flower has become quite popular. As well as growing sunflowers commercially they are also selected as one of the most popular flowers for fall weddings.  They are so easy to grow and there are now so many different types to choose from.  Sunflowers, when picked fresh, will last well in water, some varieties may even last up to 10 days when water has been changed on a daily basis.

It is so quick and easy to pick a bouquet of sunflowers that looks like you spent a lot of time arranging.  Some types are so well branched that when picked as a stand alone stalk it makes a very simple, yet tasteful bouquet just as is.  


With all of these interesting attributes of Sunflowers, why not add them to your list of things to grow next year. You can check our new varieties as well as our ever popular and reliable existing varieties here.

Until the next time...Have a Sunny Day! 
 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ideal Vegetables to plant late in the summer



Still have the gardening "bug" and would like to continue with more growing success?  It's still not too late to enjoy some late summer planting. The following veggies , Peas, Spinach, Radish, Leaf Lettuces, Carrots, Oriental Veggies, Swiss Chard will grow successfully when planted during this time, possibly even better, as they enjoy the combination of cooler air and warmed up soil from the summer months.


Consider these cool weather veggies for your garden for fresh harvests well into the fall! You can plant these veggies directly in your garden or even in containers if you are concerned with cooler temperatures. If they are planted in containers, they can be moved into a sheltered location to protect them until it is safe to put them back outside. In the pictures below you'll see bunching onions that I harvested from my own small apartment balcony. Gardening can be done any where!


                 



They are very hardy and will take well to cooler temperatures, so planting in containers and moving them indoors may not be necessary. They will also keep growing past your first frost. If you are still concerned about cooler temperatures with an "in ground" planting, then you may  consider using row covers as a means of extending your harvest or protecting plants that are already established.


Late season planting has its benefits, it decreases weed competition, quick germination and reduces insect pressures. You should also be aware of the benefits YOU will  reap! Lowered grocery bill, knowing where your food is coming from, convenience of just walking out to your yard and the opportunity of an extended new or experienced hobby to name but a few.


On site here at Veseys we have displayed raised organic gardens for the public to view. These gardens have shown great results with all early, mid as well as late season plantings. It just "grows" to show that you don't need a lot of space or many plants to supply you with a great amount of fresh veggies to harvest.  These planter boxes would ideally suit a family of four all season as well as fresh picked veggies to use for preserves to enjoy during the winter months.



Veseys completely organic raised garden boxes, pictured above, were amended with natural compost, planted all organic seed varieties and as these crops continued to grow natural fish fertilizer was applied every ten days to ensure optimal health and harvest. The garden kept clean and free of pests, diseases and yes of course...weeds!


Pictured above also shows you a planter box that has hoops.  These hoops are ideal to drape row covers over to give plants room to grow and will also extend their harvest time




This type of gardening has given me great enjoyment as I was able to experiment with soil fertility, crop rotations, succession plantings and of course successful harvests which started with lettuce and radish early in the season.  In the picture below you'll see an example of succession planting at three different stages. These types of veggies are so delicious and don't take up much room.





As you can see, planting can still continue even now as well as further into the fall. Cooler weather can sometimes even bring certain veggies a tastier flavor. So bundle both yourself and your garden up and continue to enjoy what you love to do!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Raining Zucchini!!!



     You know how the saying goes..make hay on a sunny day, does this also apply for harvesting summer squash, a.k.a zucchini? One would almost think that it is raining zucchinis! 

Have you seen a lot of these in your garden lately?

 

    Summer Squash/Zucchini is one of the most abundant crops when it comes to harvesting. The huge blossoms as well as the big healthy plant allow it to develop many zucchini's that will have you picking from early/mid July until sometime into September. 


     The more you pick, the more you will harvest. As mentioned zucchini plants have huge blossoms that also will attract many beneficial insects.  The earliness of the blooms is timed perfectly to allow all other garden plants an opportunity to increase in pollination as well.

     The abundance of harvest may draw people away from growing this plant as they wonder what they would ever do with so many.  You can find many ideas on how to cook and serve them as well as all kinds of recipes for main dishes, salads as well as desserts online or in cookbooks. This vegetable is so versatile, so just use your imagination and come up with your own entree or snack of your preference.


     Zucchini makes a great light snack when eaten raw or blended in a smoothie instead of the ever popular ingredients like kale or spinach.  You may have heard of Spaghetti squash . This type of squash is a great alternative for people who have gluten or dietary restrictions.  Delicious and tasty vegetable is cooked up so easy and when hollowed out, it resembles noodles.  You can add whatever sauce or different topping on it or it is even great with just a little butter and brown sugar.  How could you not want to grow one of the most easiest vegetables going right now? and is this making you hungry...?


     Am I right in saying that many of you would also wonder, where would I ever fit a plant that size? If this is one aspect that may prevent you from growing this prolific producer then guess again. There are many compact varieties of zucchini including our Patio Star.


     Just the other day I had an abundance of zucchini AGAIN and so this time I decided that I would make some chips out of them.  You can find kale chips, apple chips and many other types of vegetables and fruit done this way, so why not try thinly slicing the zucchini.  I have found that the Zucchini variety named Magda was best for this as it has a tiny seed column and can be used at any stage big or small.  This variety is actually quite tasty when eaten raw as well or my favorite spread with a bit of pumpkin seed butter. It has its own bit of sweetness with a slightly salty after taste and really wouldn't require anything to be added to it.  This is a very healthy alternative and will leave you feeling great with the high nutritional value zucchini's have to offer.
     With all of these attributes in mind as well as being one of the easiest vegetables to grow, might you consider growing them in years to come and enjoy the many delicious ways they can be served.

 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Disease Identification


Seeing spots before your eyes? I'm sure this looks familiar...Tar Spot (Rhytisma acerinum) on Maples!

     Heat and humidity have arrived, we all know what that means for our plants...yes you guessed it, high disease risks. Although this weather is great for us, especially while enjoying some free time or taking vacation, however our plants never take a break. They work very hard which can make them easily vulnerable to all kinds of pests and diseases. Even though these issues are present and could potentially put our plants at risk, please be encouraged to know that there are successful ways in prevention, treatment and controlling spreading risks.

     If this is a concern with your garden, or you have already noticed disease activity, and may not be sure what it is or where it came from, then I invite you to continue to read on...
It's very unfortunate when these issues happen with our plants but awareness is the key to success. The first defense in treatment is to identify the cause.
 I have listed as well as included some photos of some of the more common ones.



     You are probably aware with any size vegetable or flower garden, whether large or small, your plants can become susceptible to disease. There are as many plant diseases as there are pests, however these can be controlled through early prevention and treatment as well.

     Of course there are "repeat offenders" each year and you can be sure to be ready for it. As mentioned, identification is the first step in diagnosing diseases. Once you have your diagnosis then you can begin the treatment. As preventative measures, you will have to apply treatment before possible onset of disease. Once certain diseases have set in then all you can do is prevent from further spreading as some of these diseases are incurable at this stage. I have listed as well as included some photos of more commonly known types and I can be sure that most of you that grow tomatoes or potatoes have been faced with this disease pictured below:

Late Blight- Affects mostly potatoes and tomatoes

    
Early stages of late blight
Late blight that has spread to stems       
    
     The above pictures are of both beginning and later stages of late blight that has affected tomato plants. You can also read more about this nasty disease by clicking on this link. As mentioned both Tomatoes and Potatoes are notorious for being infected by the fungal spores of this disease. Late Blight will ultimately destroy the whole tomato crop if no prevention is practiced. The best time to start your prevention regime on both tomato and potato plants is before humidity, wet or hot weather set in. Daily scouting this time of the year will help alert you to any changes. You can use this practice to scout out other diseases as well. There are some products that are safe to use on these plants if you choose to practice prevention. Other planting practices that will benefit your plants in ensuring disease risk is at its minimum is to plant them in an area where they can receive good air circulation followed by proper spacing and pruning. If watering is needed, be sure to water your plants preferably at ground level in the morning to ensure leaves will dry during the day. Watering prior to night time won't allow leaves enough time to properly dry, and as a result this can contribute to perfect breeding grounds for any types of blights,molds or mildews to set in.

     The most reliable way of ensuring you will have control of late blight as well as a harvest is to choose late blight resistant varieties. These varieties have shown great results time and time again as they can stand up to resisting late blight even if they are planted next to other varieties that end up with the disease. You may have also heard of early blight (alternaria), not to be confused with late blight, although this disease is nasty as well,it is not as fatal as late blight (phytophthora)To help determine the differences between both blights, you will find them pictured below:
Tomato affected by early blight
                                                    
Tomato affected by late blight
      Another type of blight that you may have heard of in the more recent years is fire blight Erwinia amylovora, classed as a bacterial blight (mostly found on fruit trees as well as some Ornamentals in the rose family).  Pictured below certainly displays how it may have been named as it affects stem tips first by showing a wilted look later to result in what looks as if it had been scorched.


   











      It is quite possible that your plants may not even be infected with disease.  Some physiological issues can mimic those symptoms of what a specific disease may look like for example; a deficiency in a micro-nutrient such as magnesium may display yellowing or odd brown patches on the leaves of your plants (as pictured directly below), insect damage or disease can present themselves this way as well (as pictured further below to the right). It may leave a person in doubt of treatment and that is why it is always recommended to ask your resources. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
                                                             

    Inspect the area for insects, as they too, can sometimes make leaves look as if it's diseased requiring a completely different type of treatment.  Often times if your plant is compromised with disease it will make it more vulnerable to pests.






     


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another very common disease among both flowers or vegetables is Downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola). You may have heard in the more recent years of the big scare of the ever popular walleriana impatiens being hit hard by this disease.                                                                                                                      These plants are loved by many as the common impatiens are so versatile for any garden.  This was a huge upset a few years ago, however things have seemed to improve with the dry weather as they grow quite successful when humidity and moisture levels are low.

If you take notice of the leaf pictured above, it shows the beginning signs of Downy mildew on the underside of the leaf. It tends to take on a more furry gray appearance, whereas Powdery mildew will look as if your plants were covered with a dusting of icing sugar. If only that was the case, we would have sweet pumpkins for sure.


     A cousin of Downy mildew is Powdery mildew (Podosphaera leucotricha), as mentioned above. I'm sure many of you have experienced this disease at one time or another especially with growing vine crops, like pumpkins or perennials such as phlox. This disease is caused and spread by a fungus and presents itself with an infamous dusting of white to gray powder. It coats the whole leaf surface leaving it to eventually wilt, brown and resulting in death. 


Your best defense against this disease is to; buy plants or seeds from reputable companies, plant in an area where there will be good air circulation, regular feedings of fertilizer and maintenance, and water early in the day at ground level trying not to splash on leaves. All these cultural practices apply for both Downey,and Powdery mildew as well as all other fungal diseases and will certainly help with ensuring your plants remain disease free. 


Other types of diseases that are quite common are leaf spots/black spot (especially on roses), Anthracnose, Rusts,Wilts, Root and stem rots as well as cankers, just to name a few.  Don't let this list despair you from growing the plants that you enjoy whether it's veggies or flowers. With this list in mind, preventative measures or even simple maintenance such as leaf picking will help solve these issues.  Diseases come with a vengeance but once they serve their time and we gain control over each specific one, they eventually won't pose as much damage year after year and you will be sure to benefit from that success in many ways.