Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vesey's Newest Spring Bulbs 2016!

                                                             

If you are anything like me...which for your sake that may not be so good, LOL!  But in this case it may be once you continue to read this post.

 As the new year had come and gone, I always got excited to receive the newest Vesey's Spring Bulb catalogue after the focus of the holidays had gone by.  I have fond memories and still do from year to year as I check out new types of plants or new cultivars of existing ones.  This past January was the unveiling of the 2016 Vesey's Bulb catalogue and if you can also view it online. There is nothing like cozying up on a cool winter day with the catalogue and taking note of what to look forward to as the spring arrives.
                                            


If you choose to look through the catalogue, which is what I prefer the most, then you will see most of the new varieties on the first number of pages.  These pages are generally saved for our newest mentionables as these varieties are showcased here and easy to find. If you prefer  looking up websites, you can check out our new entries by clicking our Spring Bulbs and perennials link online. Of course, its not just all about the new entries, the old reliables such as bleeding hearts are just as beautiful.

Many people now-a-days love the plants that are also known as "low maintenance".  I always love hearing this term when describing the garden and realizing that its not just a term for people! I can understand though why people would choose these types of plants. As time during the day gets away from us, we may not have energy or time to give our flower gardens what they deserve, but on the same token, we would love to have our yards beautifully landscaped.

If you would like to choose these types of plants that really are "low maintenance" then you can refer to this list for those varieties. When we talk or describe plants as being easy to maintain it simply means that they are very carefree and just need to be planted when you receive them. All that is required is to water them from time to time and clip them back if needed before the cooler temperatures arrive.  If this sounds like your kind of gardening then these types of plants may fit in perfectly with your landscape design. I'm sure many gardeners have at least one or two Hostas included in the garden. Hostas are a very popular low maintenance plant that is noted for its beautiful foliage.  It actually does have an unique bloom in mid to late summer that can be cut and added to any type of bouquet. They last quite well as a cut flower and also attract beneficials.
                                               

Along with this category of plants, there are many other types of plants and small shrubs that really don't take up much time to care for. Whether its full sun or plants for shade that you require, there are many choices. One of my favourite types of perennials that love part sun/shady locations is the Astilbe.  Astilbe's come in all different colours, sizes and set a beautiful, unique plume perfectly above the foliage as picture below. Blooms similar to Astilbe's are encouraged to be left during winter because they are known to set seeds that the birds will enjoy when their food is scarce.  Perennials like this make a great choice especially since they are not only beautiful but dual purpose as well.
                                                     

Along with all the choices of perennials and shrubs, there are many other beautiful selections for your garden such as bulbs like Dahlias, Lilies, Callas and Gladioli to name a few.  Some of these types of plants will need to be dug up in the fall, but because of their long standing beauty and bloom time, they are well worth it. Full planting instructions for perennial roots or bulbs that you receive from us can be viewed on our Youtube video here or found online as well as in our growing guide that you will receive with your order.

Options of planting small shrubs or ornamental trees as a centre piece of your garden can also compliment or make it complete.  There are so many selections to choose from whether you are looking to provide shade,colour as well as height or form to your landscape design. One of my favourite trees of all time was added to our newest line up this year.  I'm sure many of you have heard of the Gingko biloba tree, aka Maidenhair tree.  It has a unique fan shaped leaf that is light green in colour and turns a stunning bright shade through-out the season as pictured below. This tree has so much history, as stated in our catalogue,fossils of this tree date back millions of years and it also has amazing medicinal healing properties. Many of these selections will be available soon and before you know it, warmer spring weather will be here and these can all be planted.
                                                 


Some of these unique selections may not be found at other garden centres so if you find a favourite plant or something new that intrigues you, it would be best to order it as soon as possible. We have over 145 new items this year, I invite you to check out what's new and exciting if you haven't already. When making your selections, you can check out the noted individual attributes for each plant type that is found with each description.This will ensure also that you can grow this type of plant within your region. As always...we are happy to answer any inquiries at any time so please feel free to contact us.

Continue to check out our website, facebook,new blog posts as well as our catalogues each season as there is always something new! You never know when there may be something that you have been looking for in a long time.  

It is my pleasure to take this time to officially welcome all our gardening friends to a new spring season. My hope is that you will all enjoy a successful, happy and healthy time in your gardens and remember as the saying goes,take time to stop and smell the flowers!
                                                 
                                                    


 

Best flower varieties to start from seed

                                                                  


No matter what type of gardening you enjoy whether it's flowers,veggies or a little bit of both it is all very relative as well as enjoyable. With the decrease in numbers of beneficials, especially bee population in particular, growing plants is highly recommended no matter where you live.  Along with bees, some butterflies as well as bats have suffered a great decrease in population, it is up to us to bring back these beneficials by growing certain types of plants as well as practicing ways to entice them to stick around for longer periods of time. We can set out beneficial habitats in our gardens such as Mason Bee Houses ,Solitatry Bee Hives, Ladybird Log, Butterfly Feeders(Yes, I did say butterfly, these are similar to  bird feeders), Bat Houses and Frogitats. All of these pollinator and predator attractors can be found here at Veseys. These will ensure you great results with increasing beneficial populations as well as proper plant pollination. As an added bonus you have full entertainment in your own yard!
                                                       
Whether you are growing flowers indoors from seed or direct seeding in your garden after all risk of frost has passed, it will enable you to grow a much wider variety of plants. Growing seeds indoors doesn't have to be complicated or feel like it takes a lot of time, money or energy. You only need a few things to get started and still be very successful. By choosing this method of growing certain types of flower or vegetable seeds, you will be able to be sure these plants reach maturity. When living in a short growing season like I do, we need to start certain types of flowers from seed indoors in order to enjoy the beauty of their bloom and to grow them to reach their full potential.

When looking for ways to grow flower seeds, look no further...as this is the best way to maximize your flower choices. Now is the time to "get growing" with some of these varieties so that they will be ready for transplanting outdoors after all risk of frost has passed.  The flower varieties that should be started now if you haven't already are listed below. Check out our veseys website if you would like further information on detailed growing instructions for each individual plant.

Banana(if you haven't already)-Banana is a particular type of plant, when grown from seed, has a long germination process and takes patients to grow. However, I guarantee you will be impressed and pleased with the results as it makes a very stunning centre piece in any flower garden.
                                                      

Begonia (annual), Butterfly plant(perennial), Calibrachoa(annual and new this year!), Campanula(annual), Canna(annual), Coleus(annual), Coreopsis(perennial), Delphinium(perennial), Dianthus(annual), Dichondra(annual), Echinacea(perennial), Geranium(annual), Heliotrope(annual), Lavender(perennial) and Swedish Ivy(annual). 

The above list of flower seed to start right now is a basic guideline and may or may not be what you would think should be started at this time as all regions have different growing conditions. This list offers a good selection to get started with and are all easy to grow. Wondering which types of plants are best to attract pollinators...look on our website or in our catalogue for the symbol below. 
                                                     


As the season keeps growing forward, Veseys will offer many more suggestions for other types of plants to either grow indoors or directly seeded in your garden. As mentioned, by starting these seeds early and indoors they will have a head start and grow successful through-out the whole season.  You can continue to check out our facebook site for all the updated veggie and flower tips as well as photos and stories from fellow gardeners starting now! We can always learn from one another so feel free to send us your stories or photos that you may want to share as well.

Happy growing and don't forget to stop and smell the flowers during the buzy days of spring!
                                                     

Vegetables to start indoors

                                               
        


     It seems like just the other day I had mentioned that we should now relax, enjoy the cooler weather and get cozy indoors as the gardening season had been put to rest for another year. Well the time has come! This is what we've been waiting for during those late fall/winter months whether they felt like a long time or to some just a blink of an eye. Now I'm not saying get out there and start your garden right now, but it is a good idea to make all preparations for being ready.  I trust that you all had taken the time to organize and care for all your supplies in the fall before putting them away...right?  Well if not, then no worries as it can be done now as well. Once you have all your supplies and tools in order then you can start thinking about whether you want to take on either a new adventure starting seeds indoors or continuing on the tradition from other years. Starting seeds indoors, whether its flowers, vegetables or a bit of both, is such a benefit and here's why:


It's an inexpensive way to grow a wide variety of plants.
                                                             


Seed choices are found in a wider variety of colors, sizes and growth habits rather than starter plants.
                                                              


Long-season vegetables must be started indoors in early spring. When selecting vegetable varieties, check packets for the number of days until harvest to be sure your choices will mature before frost, this will enable you to grow something that you really enjoy even though our season may be short then if it was directly seeded later in the season.
                                                              

                                                        
Peace of mind in knowing exactly where your plants are coming from. You get to decide how to raise your own seedlings by choosing soils as well as what type of fertility to add to them as they grow.
                                                           


Endless learning, theraputic and so enjoyable as it becomes a new hobby no matter what your age.
                                                               



Whether you are a seasoned indoor plant grower or considering it for the first time, it really doesn't take up much space or time. In the end you will be glad that you put the little amount of effort into it once you reap the benefits at harvest time. 
 
If you do decide to start this adventure then you will want to begin soon if you haven't already. Here in Canada we have such a wide variety of zones that enable different seed starting dates.  If you are unsure of what your zone may be then you may want to check out our hardiness zone map to be sure which time to begin is right for you.  This will also help in seed selection by making sure you can grow those selected varieties successfully.  Vegetable Seeds to start growing indoors any time now are Artichoke, Asparagus, Leeks,Onions, Celery, and Peppers

To grow these veggies with ease and success use sterile, well-draining soil and containers. If you choose to use any from previous years then it is necessary to sterilize old containers in a very mild bleach solution. Use fresh, pH neutral soiless mix composed of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite. This mix will ensure successful as well as even germination since regular soil is too heavy for seeds to emerge. As mentioned it is so important to use containers or trays with proper drainage holes so that your plants aren't in standing water.  Watering plants from the bottom or providing a light sprinkle with a small watering can is best until seedlings reach the two "true leaf" stage.
                                                   


Allowing proper air circulation at all times is detrimental through this seed germination process. Seedlings shouldn't stay damp for a long a period of time as this can increase disease issues resulting in fatality. You can sprinkle a thin layer of sand or perlite on soil surface to keep stems dry at the base by absorbing excess moisture. So just to review a few tips: You will want to avoid heavy and acidic soil. Overhead watering, this is likely one of the biggest problems I commonly hear of with seedlings. Remember to use a small watering can with a light mist. Letting the soil dry out slightly is OK and should be done if overwatering had been an issue. You will also want to transplant your seedlings from the starting tray as they get bigger, however taking cuttings when not mature enough could result in injury or major set back.  It is best to wait until seedlings have at least 1-2 sets of true leaves. Some humidity is good but keep level at a minimum and allow space between seedlings. This will also support proper air circulation.

When it comes time for planting outdoors most gardeners wait until after the risk of all frost to plant their gardens. As mentioned above Frost dates are very specific for each region. Know your area; low-lying gardens will tend to get the first frosts. Another indication of when to plant is once the soil warms up to 65°F (18°C) for the majority of proper seed germination or when small weed seedlings start to emerge from the soil. Some varieties of seed can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring such as Spinach and leafy green vegetables. Check seed packages for planting times or why not contact your friends here at Veseys Seeds.  We are always ready for any type of gardening inquiry and comments. We also love when gardeners share their experiences with their gardens and send us photos. You can check out some great garden photos on our facebook page as well as our website. For additional information on how to grow a specific vegetable check out our growing guide or contact us here at Veseys.

So needless to say...it's time to get up, get going, and get active so you can be ready for yet another exciting gardening season and I'm sure it will be enjoyable and successful.
                                                     



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

This One's for the Birds



As the saying goes..."Birds of a feather flock together" in backyards that set out bird feeders, especially during the winter months.

The importance of feeding birds was re-iterated to me while visiting my aunt's home in Nova Scotia this past weekend.  We had arrived for a visit on a beautiful sunny day, hardly a stitch of snow covered the ground, and not one bird found perching on any of my aunt's many bird feeders.  On days like this, birds enjoy all kinds of wildlife seeds and food that are found naturally near nesting areas as well as being discrete and feeling safe from possible predators. The following day proved to be much different as we woke to a snowstorm with a forecast of at least 10-15 cm of snow. By 8am the next morning my aun'ts bird feeders were brimming with all different sizes and species of birds. It was such a welcome sight and we were all very entertained!  This proved the importance of feeding birds, especially when they are challenged finding food on these kinds of days.
                                                 
                                              

As I had mentioned feeding birds is important in the winter months. Not only is it harder for the birds to find food under blankets of snow, but they need to have a good reserve of food to support the extra energy to keep warm especially during extreme temperatures. As birds begin to migrate and seed sources are harder to find in the spring, these feathery friends can benefit from your generosity in your own back yard.  You can benefit by feeding the birds just as much as this becomes a hobby and great entertainment while you take a few months off from your gardening duties.



So when it comes to feeding the birds you may wonder what is the best type of food to set out for them.  Much of what you feed them will depend on the time of year.  With each season, these little guys have a menu preference much like we do.  In the winter times we choose to have comfort foods like soups and stews, summer time we tend to BBQ as much as we can.  Well, birds don't fire up a BBQ, but I'm sure the foods you set out at preferred times of the year would compare just as important and delicious as ours would!  During the winter months as we enjoy certain types of birds that visit the feeders we can set out seeds such as Nyjer,millet, ever popular black-oil sunflower, cracked corn, peanuts and suet cakes to name a few.
                                

This menu can often change as the spring arrives. You can serve fruit, as well as baked or crushed eggshells to name a few.

If you choose to continue to feed the birds during the summer months you can consider filling it with food like Nyjer seed. Once the cooler weather of the fall approaches you will notice different types of birds begin to show up again.  At this time you can start introducing your fall/winter menu of suet, sunflower seeds etc.  The bird visits to your feeders may diminish during the summer/fall months as there are many natural types of food sources that birds will find tasty as well, but this is a good thing when food choices are more plentiful.

When feeding the birds you will want to refrain from feeding anything like left overs, bread, (especially moldy bread) as all these types of foods will wreak havoc to the bird's overall health. Chocolate is definitely a food that you should refrain from sharing with the birds as it is very toxic to any animal...besides this is one that you should keep as a treat for you!


                                      

                                      




You may notice that home owners have hung bird houses for nesting and shelter purposes as well as bird feeders. Setting out materials for nesting such as pet fur,string,yarn,etc. are much appreciated at this time as birds begin their "family planning".  Bird feeders come in all different styles and sizes to attract all types of birds large and small and are so plentiful as this hobby and benefit has grown.

You can visit our Garden Gate store or check out our bird house and nesting selection online. There are many different sizes and styles to choose from.  Once these bird families discover a cozy house, you will have permanent tenants.


                                                 


As the weather warms there are many other types of habitats, houses and feeders for other beneficials such as bee houses, lady bug and bat homes, frogitats and even butterfly feeders.  By setting all these important structures in your yard, you will have many visits from beneficials that will help your garden be that much more successful.

From as far back as I can remember my aunt Mary has always enjoyed feeding the birds and watching them interact with one another from month to month.  She has a wealth of knowledge in identifying them as well as what they like to eat.  When you experience feeding the birds you not only benefit them but you will also have so much fun learning about them.
                                               


*Some of the above pictures were taken from the backyard of my aunts home at our recent visit and I would like dedicate this story to my Aunt Mary and my late Uncle Don.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Benefits of Growing Your Own Garden

                                                 
                     





With the threat of rising costs of groceries, have you ever considered growing your own garden?  Aside from money savings you also would benefit from knowing where your food comes from and what is used on it, with these two important factors in mind...doesn't it make sense to consider growing your own vegetable garden?

There are so many other benefits to growing your own garden too. One reason that comes to mind if you think back to one blog that I had referenced about the health benefits you get from eating vegetables, that's enough of a reason right there.

When I think back to when I was growing up I can honestly say that I can fondly remember walking out to the vegetable patch and grabbing the first carrot that at least resembled a tint of orange to it and pulled it out of the ground. Not even wiping the dirt off, I would take a bite into it and think there is no better taste then this! This is the reason why I always had a circle of dirt surrounding my lips, besides I was the third born and they always say the third child eats more dirt. Carrots, to this day, are my favorite vegetable especially when picked right out of the garden.
                                                       
                                                    
Vegetable gardening can save you money if done wisely. By purchasing the seeds of the vegetables that you want to grow as well as keeping in mind not to over do it, it can be done. The more effectively you use your space in the garden as well as "know what you grow", the larger the savings. Grow cool weather crops like carrots, potatoes, onions and squash to name a few. These are types of vegetables that can be eaten fresh as well as provide a longer storage life. Choosing vegetables that are versatile like peas, tomatoes, beets and peppers, to name a few, are great for canning,pickling, bottling or freezing. When making a decision on what to grow for vegetables it should be quite easy.  Think in terms of what veggies would be most expensive as well as what you would buy often at the grocery store and begin from there.
                                                 

                                                     



Growing your own garden is said to be very therapeutic.  I know many people will say, "how can it be good therapy when its such hard work?" The whole idea of having your own garden is to treat it like a hobby. If you make your garden the size that is manageable for you, then it won't get overwhelming and you won't think of it as work. Gardening is great exercise as well. You definitely wouldn't need to buy an expensive gym membership if you had a garden in your own backyard. There is nothing better then being in the fresh air this time of the year and you could consider this an additional savings. There are many different trends and styles of how to grow a garden that are easy and inexpensive to make it worthwhile and successful even if space is limited. Containers and vertical types of gardens are becoming more popular and still something that you can take pride in.
                                               


As I had mentioned in the beginning the importance of also knowing where your food comes from. If you think of all the potential additives that are included on many different types of foods, wouldn't it be such a peace of mind in knowing everything about what you can offer for yourself and your family. By growing your own vegetables it definitely promotes you to make healthier choices and it gets your family involved in a way that would impress you. I have heard from many families that have said to me that since they grew their own garden they were surprised at how their kids got involved in not only eating the produce but also taking more interest in maintaining the garden.  Get your family involved further by encouraging them to choose something that they would enjoy. This will also allow them to participate and take pride in something them can call their own resulting in confidence building, learning, patience and togetherness with families. You will see your family evolve as they become more open to eating or trying vegetables they may never wanted to try or never even knew existed...I promise!

There have been many times where I have been so glad that I could just go home at the end of a long day at work and know that all I had to do for my meals is to just go out in my own backyard and the food would be readily available for me.  I've caught myself standing in long lineups at the grocery store at the end of a work day with handfuls of groceries that may even be considered less then par for consumption. I would grab things quickly so that I could get home prepare and eat my meal and perhaps go out the door again for the evening. By grocery shopping this way we tend to choose unhealthy quick fix things that may even result in a more expensive grocery bill because it wasn't thought out.  How many of us are guilty of doing this even more then once per week. Choosing your meals or having a weekly plan will also help you save money and even better if it is food that you have picked right from your own garden.

Does the term "kitchen garden" ring a bell?  The kitchen garden is such a type of garden that is grown right outside your own kitchen and offers you everything you need to easily pick and prepare something healthy but so efficiently. These types of fresh produce and herbs will offer you so much more nutrients and minerals resulting in better flavor.  Foods that have been chemically treated will allow some of these benefits to be blocked and that is why you may notice that the flavor isn't as fresh or tasty as your own organic would be. 

As I mentioned it is best to start out small so it will be manageable enough to bring you joy and success. If you find that you have consumed more then what you grew then perhaps you can add to the garden the following year or years to come. If you do have food left over and your not sure if you or your family can eat it all, you can always "share the wealth". Why not consider surprising your neighbors with the fruits of your labor or even make donations to your local food bank during these times. 

To be able to enjoy and have a sense of pride, the fresh air and the physical activity you benefit from, it just gives you an all around great feeling and that is why we say gardening is such great therapy.