Thursday, October 29, 2015

Is Jack or Jill Nipping at your nose?


The first chill of the fall gets us gardeners thinking of bed prepping and I'm not referring to the nice cozy one in your house!  Whether its raking leaves, trimming perennials or pulling out those last pesky weeds, completing these chores now will minimize your to do list when the busy spring arrives.

What I mean by prepping your “outdoor bed” in the fall is to amend soil, as well as tidy and trim debris from perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs. These types of cultural practices for your gardens are essential to ensure that plants remain healthy during the harsh winter.
You may even have the desire to prepare a new bed for next year or add a new shape to existing beds.
Choosing a beautiful fall day to spend cleaning up your yard is so rewarding in many ways, both you and your garden will benefit from it! Remind yourself not to get overwhelmed with chores and that what you don't get done today, you can finish another day. Begin by removing any “spent” annuals as well as tops from perennials. Some flower heads of perennials such as Astilbe or Sedum are full of seeds and can be left for the enjoyment of birds to feed off of. Maintenance of your yard at this time will help you take stock of what needs to be done and will help reduce the risk of disease and insect issues in the spring.  Diseased debris, including leaves from trees and shrubs should be discarded in waste and not compost. Not all compost piles are guaranteed to reach the ample temperature to kill any pathogens from diseased debris. You can “leaf” some leaves on the beds or lawn, as it will provide a good source of natural nutrients that will breakdown over the winter.

                                                          



Division and transplanting perennials can be done in the fall as long as your plants will have at least 6 weeks of good root establishment before the ground freezes. Some hardy perennials such as Chrysanthemums or Echinacea do quite well when divided in the fall. Learn more here about garden maintenance tips.
Cutting back perennials to ground level or leaving an inch of foliage in the will not harm the plant at this time. Perennials naturally transfer their nutrients to the roots as they go back into dormancy.

                                        



As you tidy debris from the beds you may come across some unwanted plants…AKA WEEDS!  For old time’s sake, take one last time to do some weeding and you’ll be glad you did come spring.  When weeding, be very mindful that you pull out the entire weed especially the root.  If any roots are left in the soil they will soon sprout next season and continue to spread.


                                                  


Many gardeners choose to add compost or fertilizers in the fall or spring to provide as much nutrition as possible for their plants including lawns and trees. This is a great idea especially when you may have encountered problem areas in your garden.  If you haven’t already  identified what it may be or
tried correcting the problem,why not invest in taking a soil test. It is an inexpensive investment for your garden, very simple to do and can even be done by you!  If you would rather not do it yourself, for a small fee you can drop of a soil sample at your local Agriculture Centre. Many communities have a lab where testing is done and along with the test you will receive a report of what your garden needs to be amended with.  The addition of these amendments can be done in the fall.  This will help you to know if fertilizer is needed or not as well as knowing exactly how much and what type for proper application. This process can be done for trees and lawns at this time as well.

As mentioned in another post, fall is a great time for planting.  Of course you will want to get your Vesey’s Bulbs planted before the ground freezes. You can also scatter hardy perennial seed such as Poppy , Forget-Me-Knot , and Lupins in your garden to overwinter as a head start in the spring.  Of course you can experiment with growing at this time, it’s your garden why not try something new!


Many people will save their mulching jobs for the spring and that is OK to do; however this task can also be done in the fall to help minimize the busy list in the spring.  Mulch will not only keep the level of weeds to a minimum, it will continue to ensure moisture remains, provides protection
from heaving and rapid fluctuations in temperatures during the winter months. Established perennials do not necessarily need mulch but still would greatly benefit from it.  Be mindful not to put too much mulch around the base of trees at this time. Too much mulch around the base of the tree will attract moisture resulting in rot and may also provide a nice warm home for rodents. Surrounding the base of young trees with guards before snow cover is recommended.  During the winter months rodents love to chew the bark of trees especially the young ones, tree guards will protect against this. You may also want to consider staking any young trees at this time to protect against possible breakage during high winds.

Most gardeners would think that with all the fall moisture it is not necessary to water any trees. Watering needled and broad leafed evergreens, especially during dry spells in the fall, is so beneficial. These types of trees and shrubs depend on a reserve of moisture to protect them from drying out.  You will notice that many evergreens eventually go brown, this is a result of lack of moisture and drying out from high winds during the winter months.  Keeping the roots well watered in the fall will provide them with a good amount of moisture to draw from before they go into dormancy.  You can also wrap your trees and shrubs with burlap at this time as an added protection from harsh winds and temperatures where needed.
                                                    

Once the fall chores are completed and the even colder weather sets in you can sit back and relax with a nice warm cup of coffee or tea and dream about next season as you look through the newest Vesey’s bulb and seed catalogs that are coming soon!

              
For more information on this and many other gardening stories visit us at Veseys Seeds 

                          

Friday, October 23, 2015

Best Bulbs for growing in containers


     Are you a gardener that has limited space but would still love to be able to grow beautiful flowers?  Growing bulbs in containers is a great way to continue gardening in small spaces such as apartments, condos or even smaller yards.  You can also use these containers to grow any remaining bulbs you didn’t have room for in your garden or to give as a gift. Planting bulbs in containers is just as easy as planting them in the ground! Check out the selection we offer http://www.veseys.com/ca/en/store/fallbulbs

    Selecting a large enough container that has holes to allow for good drainage is the key to success of this type of gardening. It is also recommended to supply a layer of rocks or crushed gravel in the bottom of the pot before adding soil.  Be sure that you use good quality potting mix that provides good drainage and is not soil based.http://www.veseys.com/ca/en/store/tools/container/organicgrowing  Using well-drained pots and soil will prevent bulbs from rotting and put on a spectacular display.
                                                       
                                    
     Use a pot that is at least 24” in diameter and has a depth of at least 8” if you are planning on leaving it out all winter.  Flexible plastic pots are best to use in this case because when water in soil freezes, it expands and can easily break clay, ceramic or other types of rigid plastic pots.
Follow the same requirements for planting depths as you would if planted directly in the garden, maybe even a little deeper. Larger bulbs such as tulips will be planted deeper then small bulbs like crocus.  You can group the same types in one container for best impact of color and growth or if using an extra large pot you can do a planting process called layering.                                                                                                                         

     Begin by planting the large bulbs in soil in the bottom of the pot; cover with at least an inch to two inches of potting soil and then plant the smaller bulbs on top cover with proper amount of soil. Layering planting gives your container a stunning and full display of color that will last you for weeks.  Water the bulbs lightly after they have been planted, check on them periodically throughout the season to be sure they aren’t too wet or too dry. Bulbs generally do not need to be watered during their chill time, however if soil appears dry you can lightly mist them from time to time until they are ready to grow.


                                                  
     All fall bulbs need a period of cold treatment.  This is otherwise known as “Chill time”.  If bulbs don’t receive the proper amount of chilling time, they may not bloom. These containers can be left outdoors all winter long if a large enough pot is used that would properly insulate the bulbs and hold enough soil. Adding extra protection such as wrapping with burlap, bubble wrap or other types of insulating material would be an added benefit.  If you live in an area of the country where winter temperatures regularly fall below 32F(zones 2-5); you will need to protect your container from freezing. Chilling doesn’t only have to take place outdoors. http://www.veseys.com/ca/en/learn/guide/bulbinfo/otherbulbs
     To stimulate the effect of winter as well as offering proper protection, place the container in a cool, dark and dry location such as a frost free unheated basement, cold room or garage. Chilling bulbs in a fridge is also possible however be mindful of keeping them away from certain types of fruit such as pears or apples that give off ethylene gas. This can cause the bud inside the bulbs to desist resulting in little or no growth.
     When taken out of cold storage and set into warmer temperatures, place in a sunny location.  This stage is called “Forcing to Bloom”. A regular watering regime will  be needed at this time, taking care not to over water. You will be amazed at how quick they will grow!
Generally gardeners will time these containers to force a bloom in early spring giving all a sign of what’s to come!
    Once these bulbs have finished blooming and had time for the stalks to brown, they can be removed from the container and stored in a cool, dark and dry location until the fall. 
                                           
     Stay tuned because in weeks to come I will post a picture of the end result and to learn more about growing bulbs visit our website www.veseys.com
Check out our newest and latest "Vesey's Bulbs Holiday Gifts 2015" http://www.veseys.com/ca/en/store/holidaygift

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

 Overwintering parsnips

We never want vegetables fresh from the garden to stop coming when the fall season rolls around. I personally dread the idea of grocery store produce in the middle of winter.  Wilted, soggy and poor flavour, right? Well there are a few vegetables that can keep producing for you year round! Parsnips are a perfect and very simple example.

Once the temperature starts to consistently drop to freezing it is time to over winter your parsnips. Cover the parsnips heavily with 6 to 12 inches of mulch, the mulch can consist of straw, hay or compost. Avoid using any mulch that may have unwanted seeds present (especially weeds) as this will help reduce the presence of unwanted plants in the garden next season.  Now that the crop is protected from the cold temperatures your bounty is safe until you are ready to harvest.  A few parsnips can be harvested during a winter thaw for a treat, to do this simply pull back the mulch from the area which you are going to harvest. Then using a garden fork loosen the soil and pull out the parsnips. Make sure to put the mulch back to keep the soil in that area well insulated. When springtime comes and the ground thaws it is time to harvest any parsnips that are left. Ensure that all parsnips are harvested immediately when the ground thaws, this will prevent the parsnips from rotting and therefore going to waste.  For more information contact me at matt@veseys.com and we can discuss any questions you may have!

Cheers!


Friday, October 16, 2015

Bulbs for Fall Planting: Planting doesn’t only happen in the Spring and Summer!

When you are taking a drive through different communities or while going for a walk about, you will likely see bright bursts of colour that surface in early spring, maybe even poking through drifts of snow.  If you have always wanted to achieve a design or even a little snap of colour in your own garden, now is the best time to plant these little beauties. After the long cold days of winter and by being buried in depths of snow, these bulbs will delight your landscape and create such a welcoming feeling of spring.





Whether you decide to plant the ever popular tulip or daffodil bulb, they will need to be planted at least 6 weeks before the ground freezes.  You can plant bulbs just about anywhere the soil drains well and providing that ample light conditions are favorable.  Dig the soil so that it is workable and loose. If you have clay type soil mix in a small amount of lightweight soil amendment such as peat moss. This will aid in proper drainage and provide better soil composition.


        When deciding on a design or colour scheme for your bulb planting it is always most dramatic when bulbs are planted in masses where they can really display the colour giving you the curb appeal you are looking for.  You can even plant smaller bulbs such as crocus or scilla in layers over top of daffodils, tulips or lilies.



    When planting these bulbs of many different sizes, the easiest way to remember how deep to plant is to dig a hole that is 2-3x deeper then the bulb is tall if it was sitting upright in the bottom of the hole. There may be some exceptions, so check the veseys growing guide for a complete list of instructions just to be sure.  If you are unsure of which end is up, its easy to just lay the bulb on its side and let nature flip it the right end up!


    A fun way also to add a boost of colour to your landscape is to naturalize them right into your lawn.  When we say naturalize we are referring to lifting the sod and placing the bulb right under it.  Its just like sweeping dirt under a mat…so easy to do! Toss them by the handful and plant them where they land.  Be sure to stamp the sod back in place, this will not damage the bulb.  Bulbs best suited for this process are daffodils, crocus, squill, snow drops and early blooming miniature tulips.  These bulbs will be done blooming just before you need to cut your lawn. Siberian squill, crocus and grape hyacinths are spectacular when blooming by the hundreds in early spring under trees, along flower garden borders, just anywhere!


     If deer or other critters frequent your yard as well, plant bulbs that they don’t like such as daffodils, crown imperial, grapehyacinth, siberian, squill, allium, frittillaria, english blue bell, dog tooth violet’s, glory of the snow, winter aconite or snowdrops.

Click here for a complete list of vesey’s bulbs.





    A few hours on a beautiful cool autumn day can yield months of colorful excitement in your yard or garden next spring and you will be extremely glad that you took the time to plant. For more information on planting bulbs in the fall visit our website, www.veseys.com


 

Our hope is for you to enjoy the extended growing/planting success and creativity fall bulbs can offer.