Bringing Outside Plants Indoors

By Chris Freeburn, Master Gardener

The long hot summer is coming to an end. Now is the time to start thinking about what plants you are going to bring into your home to overwinter and how you can do that successfully. During the summer months, many houseplants can become outdoor plants.thumbnail_DSCN2619

It is relatively easy to overwinter ivies which can go into outdoor containers. Take cuttings from your ivies, spray them with a safer soap solution to eliminate pests and place the stems in water to root in a bright window. You can also try this with other annuals like coleus or wandering jew. Once the stems have rooted, plant them in good potting soil and you can enjoy them through the winter months and have them again for outdoors the following year. In early summer put plants such as oxalis, kalanchoe, asparagus fern, or wandering jew outside to enjoy on your deck. Most can come back into the house in early September after a thorough spray with safers soap.

Tropicals

Tropicals like hibiscus and bouganvillia love to be outside during the hot summer months but it is sometimes a challenge to overwinter them indoors. The trick to avoiding plant shock is to bring your plant in before the nights get too cool. Tropicals like a warm, even temperature so if you wait too long to bring into your home, the plant will shock, drop leaves and look like it is dying. I have had a bouganvillia drop almost all its leaves when I left it out during a lovely fall season. The trouble was the nights were down around +10 while the days were up over 20 degrees. I cut the branches back, saw there was still green in the stems, so put it in indirect light, watered lightly and eventually new leaves began to sprout and it came back to be placed outside again the next summer. If you can stop that reaction by bringing in earlier, it is worth the effort.

Spray for Bugs!

Any plant that comes inside should be sprayed for bugs. There is nothing worse than an indoor pest infestation which can travel from one plant to another. Using a good safer soap product and completely spraying leaves, stems and soil a couple of days before you bring them in will help. Now is also the time to transplant plants into fresh new soil. Over the summer, your plants will have grown below the soil as well as above. If you are bringing in plants from a container, plant up in a pot that is just larger than the root ball with new soil. This will help to eliminate those pests as many will lay their eggs in the soil to hatch and attack your plant. You can also prune back plants that have gotten large. Most annuals do well with a bit of a haircut.

Bringing plants indoors and extending their life can be a fun and rewarding task. Don’t be discouraged if you experience some failures. It is always nice to have to go out and purchase something new to add to your collection!

Protecting my Tomatoes

By Judy Bernard, Master Gardener

I love tomatoes, especially the ones I can pick fresh from the vine.

Last week I was anxiously awaiting my first tomato. I could see it slowly ripening. Two or three more days and it would be perfect. When I went to pick it, it had small bite marks in it. I feel the most likely culprit is a chipmunk. The bite sizes were about right.

I read somewhere that  old rose canes cut into short pieces 5-10cm sprinkled on the ground will keep cats from digging in the garden. Maybe they will deter chipmunks so  I put them around my tomato plants. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will work.tomatoes-879441_640

I’ve also seen large bites taken out of the tomato. They were deer size. To keep them away, I’ve put plastic webbing around my tomatoes, making sure none were within easy reach.

Slugs also like to eat ripening tomatoes. I went outside with my flashlight one night last year and the tomatoes, the ones that were just the right colour, were covered with slugs. This year, I’ve been collecting my egg shells to mash up fine. They’re going to be spread on the ground around the tomato plants hoping to keep the slugs off. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

The tomato plants in my raised beds 60-70cm high haven’t seen any critter damage (yet). I’ve also got a couple of plants that came up from seed that aren’t protected. I’m willing to share and hopefully the other plants will come through unscathed.

Weed Control

by Sharleen Pratt, Master Gardener in Training

Some of Mother Nature’s weedier creations can become a real nuisance in the garden because they rob other more desirable plants of nutrients, moisture and light. If they become established, they can be very difficult to control, therefore, it is highly recommended for the health of your plants, that you weed on a regular basis. The best time to weed is right after it rains as the weeds will be much easier to pull.

A weed is generally any plant that is not welcome in your garden! They are usually plants that can grow in any kind of soil, reproduce prolifically and interfere or compete with other more desirable plants. Many weeds have been introduced from another country and often become invasive. They can be very difficult to control and it is important that all gardeners try to prevent these particular plants from taking hold and spreading through their neighborhood.

Weed Identification can be intimidating! A few of the more common weeds, generally found in your lawn are:

BROADLEAF PLANTAIN, Plantago major (pictured above)

Broadleaf plantain is a perennial weed that spreads rapidly by seed and new shoots arising from the roots. Broadleaf plantain is distinguished by its rosette of dull green, oval leaves with thick green stalks, and its elongated spikes of tiny green flowers. Each flower is followed by a small egg-shaped pod with 5 to 15 tiny dark brown or nearly black seeds that are rather glossy. The flowers set seed from spring until late autumn. Broadleaf plantain is easily removed with a dandelion fork. It can be out-competed in a lawn by over-seeding and aeration.

COMMON CHICKWEED, Stellaria mediastellaria-media-846435_640

The common chickweed may be an annual, winter annual or perennial. They have small white flowers with 4 to 5 petals. They reproduce by seed and by horizontally spreading leafy stems that root at the nodes. Common chickweed will flower through the spring, summer and fall. One plant can produce 10,000 to 20,000 seeds. The seed remains viable for up to 10 years.  Hand-weeding is best when the seedlings are small. It can be reduced by over-seeding since chickweed doesn’t like a lot of competition.

PURSLANE, Portulaca oleraceaPurslane

Purslane is a summer annual, reproducing by seed. It has fleshy leaves and stem, which lie prostrate on the ground. The seeds in small capsules are black, kidney-shaped and extremely small. An average plant produces 60,000 seeds. Purslane is one of the most common weeds in gardens throughout Ontario. Though rarely producing roots from the stem, if even a small portion of the root of an uprooted plant touches the soil, it can grow a new root system and become established. It is easily pulled and dies at first frost.

CREEPING BUTTERCUP, Ranunculus repensbuttercup

Creeping buttercup is a perennial and reproduces by seed and runners. There are two common buttercups, one is a tall buttercup and the other is a creeping buttercup. The tall plant does not have runners and, therefore, reproduces by seed only. Both will flower in early spring to the end of July. Flowers are bright yellow, about 1 inch across. Each plant is capable of producing up to 250 seeds. The first leaves are kidney-shaped and somewhat hairy below. This weed is poisonous to grazing animals, and care should be taken to control it from spreading. Creeping buttercup survives best in moist location, so any improvement in drainage will help to control it. Persistent cultivation will also help, as well as constant mowing.

CREEPING CHARLIE or GROUND IVY, Glechoma hederaceaCreeping-Charlie

Creeping Charlie, also known as Creeping Jenny or Ground Ivy is a perennial which reproduces by creeping tangled rootstocks and also by seed. It is part of the mint family. The leaves are opposite and palmately veined. They have a bright green surface. The seeds are smooth and dark brown. The plant reproduces well through its surface runners. It has rapid growth in early spring and is a persistent plant whose leaves and stems stay green under the snow, allowing it to flower early. It flowers in spring around the same time as the dandelion. This plant spreads easily in a lawn, particularly in shady areas. Close mowing will help. If possible, be sure to dig out the small seedlings by hand in early spring. With large patches, heavy mulch or newspaper would help to kill an infestation.

FIELD BINDWEED, Convolvulus arvensisbindweed-2453936_640

Field bindweed is a perennial weed that spreads rapidly by seed and creeping roots. It is a hairless, twining, or trailing plant with deep, cord-like roots. There is an extensive spreading, underground root system. The creeping white rhizomes have been reported to grow up to 30m in length and 5m deep. Under favourable conditions, plants may flower within 6 weeks of germination and the twining nature of the plant can cause serious problems with crops. It is part of the morning-glory family. Seedlings can tolerate frost temperatures of minus 8C. Seeds can remain viable for up to 50 years. A severe infestation of bindweed is capable of producing over 800 kg of seed per acre.

An excellent website to help you identify weeds is: www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/ontweeds/weedgal.htm

Back to the Garden…

By Vince Picchiello, Master Gardener in Training

It wasn’t long ago that Joni Mitchell sang about making it to Woodstock. In these last few years though, there is a more serious and vibrant movement when the subject turns to the foods we eat and their genetic composition. Additionally, there are real concerns about the lack of nutrition and vitamins that exist in many of the fruits and vegetables that we purchase at our local supermarkets what with the deteriorating state of soils that are infested with herbicides and pesticides. Hence, the return to our own gardens for fresh organic fruits and vegetables.

First and foremost of concern is the introduction of foods that are Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO’s. Genetically modified foods are organisms that have had their characteristics changed through the modification of their own DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). GMO’s have had their genomes (organisms that contain the complete set of genetic instructions) changed in a way that doesn’t happen naturally.banner4-min

In the United States, in large scale agricultural crops, at least 90% of soy, cotton, canola, corn and sugar beets have been genetically engineered. In Canada, canola, soy beans, corn and sugar beet are crops that are genetically modified. However, most of these foods are exported. The lingering issue is whether these foods have any health issues now or in the future. The Center for Food Safety is of the opinion that not enough information has been gathered to deem these foods safe for consumption in the long term. Regardless of the debates, there is an awakening among consumers of the foods we eat.

Obviously, not everyone has access to a garden and some only have room for container plants but the awareness arises from the quality and certainty of the foods we eat. It becomes about choices. We can choose to shop at our local farmers markets whereby we can engage directly with the lovely people who sell their foods. We can ask about farming techniques; whether they use pesticides or herbicides, whether their soil is certified organic or if they use GMOs. Alternatively, for those of us blessed with space on our properties we can slowly begin to amend our soils and start our own self-sustaining journey.

Not to be forgotten through this movement to the garden is our choice of using heirloom seeds in order to preserve some of our declining specimens of fruits and vegetables that have been marginalized by corporate “farmers” in their quest for profitable crops.

Finally, not only is gardening a rewarding endeavour that enhances our health, it attracts nature with the butterflies and bees and the multitude of insects that cultivate our soils, ultimately we get to enjoy the fruits of our labour with pure authentic produce. Back to the garden is a reality that is picking up steam. Why not join us!

Something’s eating my bulbs!

By Judy Bernard, Master Gardener

In an earlier post, I talked about digging up spring bulbs for planting them in the fall and about planting them. I didn’t talk about the little critters that dig them up. In addition to the usual tulip bulbs which disappear, I’ve had asiatic lily,  gladiola, and even garlic bulbs dug up. Most of them were eaten (except for the garlic). They don’t seem to dig up established bulbs, so what can we do to keep new bulbs where we want them to grow and bloom?

There are several strategies that fall into 2 categories–repellants and barriers.

Repellants

  • Blood meal – this also nourishes the soil naturally, so it’s a preferred one.
  • Urine – human male urine will deter most animals. Cat urine can be used in the form of cat litter.
  • Hot pepper sprinkled on the ground, although lately this treatment has been considered inhumane due to the pain that it causes the critter doing the digging.

Repellants will need to be reapplied when washed away with rain or after watering.

flower-bulbs-494399_640

Barriers

Chicken wire cages will be the most effective prevention. Just put a layer of chicken wire in the bottom of the hole, place the bulbs on top, put another layer of chicken wire on top of the bulbs and nothing will be able to get at the bulbs.

Another thing you can use is green plastic strawberry baskets for 2 or 3 bulbs.

The articles below will give more information about what you can do. Let us know how you make out!

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/bulbs/bgen/protect-flower-bulbs.htm

https://www.adrbulbs.com/page/Squirrels-Deer-Pests

 

The Importance of Plant Labelling

By MJ (Mary-Jane) Pilgrim, Master Gardener

Why should we label the plants in our gardens? The answer is simple–so that we know their names & can then give them the correct care. For herbaceous plants, the labels act as placeholders over the winter, so that we don’t accidentally disturb them, or try to plant bulbs too close to them while they are dormant.

Figuring out how to handle labeling is one of the trickier parts of perennial and vegetable gardening. Do you keep the tags your plants come with, filling your garden with dozens or hundreds of bits of plastic? Do you tape them into a special garden notebook, so you can keep track of where all of the information for your plants? Or do you simply toss the labels in the recyling bin as soon as you get the plants in the ground?

For me, the answer to all of these questions was ‘no’ simply because most of my first plants came from local plant sales and were probably pretty common (and invasive?) plants. The white paper address label from the sales were usually blank the following spring so I was no further off than when I started. Then, I started buying more unique perennials at garden centres — the real money kind of plants. It seemed a shame to toss those beautiful tags full of information, so I buried them close to the plant which worked well — but the tags did crack and disintegrate after a couple of seasons. Tags created with my simple Dymo labeller were often blackened by the sun after a similar amount of time. Then, I listened to a speaker at my local horticultural society discuss his approach to labels — one of those portable labelling systems that could take a special kind of tape: “high temperature/low temperature”. He reported that his labels were lasting 10 years and counting. Being a “techy” kind of person, I bought one from Brother/Staples about 5 years ago and I’ve been pretty happy with it. I also record plant information and cultivar names into my mobile phone’s “notes” feature in categories such as ‘hostas’, ‘coneflowers’, ‘sedum’, ‘trees’ so that if I forget to create a label, or the label goes through the chipper in the spring (yikes!), I still have something to go back to. Keeping a list of plants I’ve purchased on my mobile device also helps but doesn’t prevent me from purchasing duplicates. Sigh. (Been there, done that, too many times to count).

My last reason for labelling is that any visitor to your garden will ALWAYS want to know the names of your plants! They may already THINK they know what it is, and they are happy to have their knowledge confirmed with the presence of a tag.

Downside of Plant Labeling

  • The amount of time it takes to check the plant, produce the label, and attach it, not to mention regular checking and replacing of broken, moved and missing labels
  • The cost to purchase the labeller ($100 ish) and the label tape ($30 per roll)
  • Labels can be easily be mistakenly moved from one area to another at cleanup time — and a wrong label is worse than no label.
  • Labels can sometimes detract from the beauty of the garden.

Reasons to Label:

  • You’ll remember your plants’ names, and can give them the correct care.
  • You’ll remember which heirloom veggies are which for reordering next year.
  • You’ll know which very expensive perennial you purchased LAST year did not show up at all this year.
  • The labels act as placeholders so that you don’t accidentally plant something new in the space being held by another, but dormant, plant or bulb.
  • “Oh, I’ll remember what this is.” Oh no, you won’t; trust me.
  • Plants are worth WAAAAYYY more at plant sales if you know the cultivar name — we normally know the genus and species, but the cultivar name is much more tricky and often impossible to determine after the fact.

labelling optionsPlant Label Materials:

  • Simple white plastic labels for seed-starting are available at many landscape supply stores, but what to use for the actual marking?
  • Copper labels – use a ballpoint pen to make a true inscription on the thin copper — although these are sometimes difficult to read years from now.
  • Paint the plant names on both sides of hand-sized smooth river-style rocks.
  • Cheapest option: plastic mini-blinds or wooden popsicle sticks but these often fade or disappear.
  • Strips of galvanized “duct hanger” metal strips, cut to length with a plastic label.
  • Metal hairpin-type labels with a plastic label: sturdy, but easy to step on or pull out with a rake.

According to my research, the following will work on plastic, wooden and/or metals tags: pencils, ballpoint pens, paint pens, Sharpies, and supposedly fade-resistant nursery marking pens. According to some articles I’ve read, the unexpected hero is the ordinary pencil on plastic or wood: it’s perfect for all but the shiniest materials. A great suggestion is to include the plant information on the back of the marker, too. If the front fades or is damaged, the info on the more protected back side will hopefully still be readable.

brother-labeller low-resMY Preferred Labeling System: hairpin-type label stakes (Lee Valley), pushed more than halfway down with white “live forever” plastic label tape (Amazon) printed on a small Brother labeller (see picture).

One last suggestion for plant record-keeping is the digital camera. It’s so easy to take a picture of the label right against the plant in the garden — you’ll then have a visual record of the name and where the plant is growing.

Hope this helps to save some time, energy and frustration for someone!

 

Book Review – The Natural Formula Book for Home & Yard

by Suzanne Seryck, Master Gardener

Yesterday I was lamenting the fact with a friend, who has just celebrated her 90th birthday, that something had been eating the leaves on my fruit trees. She went away and quickly returned with a book that in her own words talked about using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach which consisted of making home pesticides using ground up insect pests.

Having piqued my interest with visions of myself running around in my pajamas early in the morning trying to catch said insects, I felt that I had to read the book, The Natural Formula Book for Home & Yard, edited by Dan Wallace and published in 1982.

book cover

The section in the book that I most focused on was the section entitled ‘Outdoor Formulas’. Topics described include the importance of nourishing and rebuilding the soil using organic methods such as composting and mulching, crop rotation, interplanting, companion planting and succession planting, along with fertilizing and managing garden pests. The book does a good job explaining what each of these terms means and gives a detailed explanation on types of composting, how to achieve the correct balance between carbon and nitrogen, and what materials to add.

Natural Fertilizers

Natural fertilizers are discussed in detail and the reasoning behind using natural or organic fertilizers (as opposed to chemical alternatives) is laid out reasonably and convincingly. Formulas are included for making your own general purpose organic fertilizers, as well as specific fertilizers for trees. What I like about this book is that detailed descriptions are included that explain the reasoning behind each ingredient and how to apply the fertilizer. An example of the all-purpose tree fertilizer formula is as follows:

  • 3 parts soy or blood meal
  • 2 parts finely ground raw phosphate
  • 3 parts wood ash, granite, rock or green sane
  • 1 part dolomitic limestone

trees_royaltyfree

Managing Garden Pests

Managing garden pests is outlined in the book as follows

‘There is more than one way to approach garden problems and so-called pests, Insects, soil diseases (like fungi), prolific weed control, and trespassing wildlife can be viewed as enemies that need to be obliterated as soon as they are discovered – or they can be considered natural occurrences that call for careful management’.

IPM is described as a way to structure your garden or farm so that different animal and plant species can coexist and complement one another thereby creating a stable growing environment where no individual species takes over; balance is created.

Steps to achieve this balance include achieving good soil health, choosing the correct plant varieties, and growing crops at specific times when pests are less active. If however balance is lost, there are a number of formulas included for making your own organic sprays. These formulas are given with the suggestion that you should first try spraying with cold water from the hose for at least one week before resorting to other sprays. Again, the formulas are given with detailed explanations on how and when to spray along with the reasoning behind the individual ingredients. Sprays include liquid soap sprays, plant and insect sprays, dormant oil spray and botanical sprays.

At the time of writing this review, I have not tried any of the recipes or formulas in the book, I am therefore not recommending that we all start catching and grinding up our garden pests. However it is an interesting read and does offer us alternative options.

Used copies can be purchased through Amazon.ca or your local used book store (links to Peterborough area stores below)

Mark Jokinen Books

Lakefield Station Book Store

Knotanew Bookstore

NOTE: The book explores more than just gardening/outdoor solutions – it also has detailed directions for making polishes, stain removers, detergents, shampoos, herbal remedies, baking mixes, cereals, and other household products from easily available ingredients.

For more information on IPM, please check out the following links:

National (US) Pesticide Information Center on IPM

OMAFRA IPM

Continue reading Book Review – The Natural Formula Book for Home & Yard

Where’s the Rain? How to Deal with Drought Conditions in Your Gardens

By Emma Murphy, Master Gardener

(top photo courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Gardens website; Dogwood (Cornus) wilting from water stress)

Just two years ago, the Peterborough area experienced Level 2 drought conditions. Local residents and businesses were encouraged to reduce their water use by 20 per cent daily and there were 11 days in August when daytime temperatures were higher than 30 degrees Celsius.ONDrought_zpsal2mmbjn

Drought conditions usually relate to sunny, dry conditions, combined with an extended period of very hot weather, and it looks like the summer of 2018 is shaping up to be very similar to 2016. “The watershed region received below normal precipitation amounts in June, and during the first two weeks of July precipitation has been 25% of normal.” said Dan Marinigh, Chief Administrative Officer for Otonabee Conservation.

So what can a gardener do to help their gardens survive (and even thrive) during dry or drought conditions?

In the Short Term

Just before or during drought conditions

Recognize the Signs of Stress

Plant dehydration symptoms include:
• Curling or rolling of leaves
• Slowed/no growth, undersized leaves
• Leaves, blossoms, or fruits drop prematurely
• Wilting, limp and droopy leaves
• Leaf scorch, yellowing and/or browning, death of leaf edges
• Dead or brown/dying extremities starting from the outer leaves inward

Water Wisely

Avoid watering during the heat of the day when evaporation rates are highest. Water either very early in the morning or late in the evening, and adhere to any watering restrictions that may be in place. Try and keep water off flowers, as sunlight is magnified through water droplets and can damage delicate flowers. Depending on your garden, consider hand watering rather than using a hose or sprinkler. Hand watering using a watering can targets the water to the areas that really need it, keeping waste to a minimum.20180716_133136

Harvest Water

Water harvesting is a great way to use water from your home’s roof and direct it onto the landscape, where the soil becomes your “holding tank.” The best example is using a water barrel – we have four of them in our garden and they are a great investment. You can also practice ‘passive’ water harvesting by creating depressions that fill with water from the roof runoff or formal rain gardens, both of which help with stormwater runoff issues. You can find out more about rain gardens here. Peterborough Greenup Rain Program 20180716_132548

Reduce Stressors

Skip the fertilizer or pruning live branches during drought conditions. No need to add to the plant stress! When soil moisture is low or temperatures are high, plants don’t benefit from fertilizer and without adequate water, fertilizer can burn your plants. Excessive pruning will stimulate new growth that will not be drought tolerant. However, it is good practice to deadhead flowers, as removing spent blooms before they have a chance to set seed saves energy for your plants.

Make Priority

Give priority to watering newly planted trees and shrubs during periods of drought. Young plants have not had sufficient time to establish deep root systems, and depend on surface water for survival. Do not let the root balls of newly planted trees and shrubs dry out completely or become too saturated.

P1040111.JPG

Over the Long Term

Planning for Future Drought Conditions

Think About Plant Selection

Use appropriate plants, which are often marked as drought tolerant or resistant. Consider native plants, which generally adapt better, have lower water demands, and fewer pest problems. Group plants according to how much water they need. Ask your local garden centre or nursery staff which plants they recommend. Check out members of the local Peterborough Area Garden Route. Peterborough and Area Garden Route

Maintain Healthy Soils

Good soil is the foundation for good plant growth. Anything you can add to your native soil like compost or other organic matter will make it easier for roots to penetrate deeper, creating more expansive root systems that can seek out water and nutrients. The result? Healthier, more drought-resistant plants. Good soils are better able to absorb surface water runoff, minimize erosion, and access nutrients and sediments.fresh-2386786_640

Use Mulch

Mulch reduces evaporation, moderates soil temperature, and inhibits weed growth. It is estimated that three quarters of the rain falling on bare soil is lost to plants through evaporation and runoff. Both of these are reduced up to 90 percent by adequate mulch. Use compost, wood chips, bark nuggets, shredded bark mulch, shredded leaves, or any other organic material to cover the surface of the soil at least 5 cm deep.

Water Well

Deep watering encourages roots to go deep down in the soil to where it is moist and a lot cooler. Water less frequently but for longer periods, so water reaches deep into soil. Good thorough watering promotes healthier plants. Also, water only when necessary, based on condition of the plant. Most plants will normally wilt in hot sun, and then recover when watered. Also, a dry surface is not always a sign of water need. The surface generally dries out first and is not a true indicator of what is going on down deep near the plant root. Make use of a hand trowel to check for moisture.

Weed Management

Weeds will compete with your plants for moisture and nutrients. Keep your gardens and areas beneath trees and shrubs weed free. Once the weeds are eradicated, apply mulch.

Consider Alternate Watering Methods

Investigate use of soaker hoses or other irrigation techniques using a timer, which keeps water on the soil and reduce losses by evaporation. Adjust watering frequency and amounts based on season, temperature, and amount of rainfall. Overhead watering uses more water and encourages fungal diseases.

Practice Water Conservation

Not just in your gardens. Water is our most valuable resource. Learn how to reduce water use throughout your house and gardens at this link.
Water Conservation Fact Sheet – Otonabee Conservation 20150822_185728

Spring Bulbs… What do you do with them?

By Judy Bernard, Master Gardenerspring-3118899_640

Your spring flowering bulbs have given you much pleasure during their bloom time. You have cut off the spent flowers to allow the leaves to photosynthesize and provide nourishment to  the bulbs. Now, tulip,  hyacinth, and daffodil bulbs have all died back. You have 2 choices of what to do. Leave them in the ground for next spring, or dig them up and replant them in the fall. You may want to put them back in the same spot or move them to another location.

Dig Them Up Sometimes

If you find that your flowers aren’t doing as well as they did the year before, or are getting too crowded, then they can benefit from being being dug up for replanting.

When you dig up your bulbs and separate them, you will find they have multiplied. Discard any spent or diseased ones, clean them up and let them dry out. Store them in a cool dry place, making sure they aren’t touching each other.

I always find that I have more bulbs than I know what to do with. These can be potted up and brought out in the  middle of winter for an early taste of spring.  See Fine Gardening’s Planting Spring Bulbs in Containers.

bulb-3168129_640

Replanting

In the fall, when it is time to replant them, prepare the bed by digging down to a depth triple the diameter of the bulb. Add organic material and a little bone meal. You can also use specialized bulb tools to make individual holes. See Canada Gardener’s How and When to Plant Bulbs.

If you wait to dig them up in the fall, the leaves will have died back, making it difficult to know exactly where the bulbs are. By making sure you have marked the site where the flowers  were,  you won’t miss any when you dig them up.

By digging up and replanting my bulbs, including tulips, I have had them to enjoy for many years.

Summer Deadheading

by Christine Freeburn, Master Gardener

After spring cleaning in your garden, when you have been weeding and digging and transplanting and prepping flower beds, July gives you time to really enjoy your gardens. But don’t spend all your time sitting in your muskoka chair admiring all your work. Deadheading perennials and annuals keeps them neat and tidy and in many instances, brings back more blooms.

The definition of deadheading from Barron’s Complete Gardener’s Dictionary states “Removing spent blooms before they form seeds. This tends to lengthen bloom season because it encourages many plants to produce more flower buds.”

Deadheading Annualsdeadheading

When taking spent blooms off most annuals, don’t just snap off the blossom. Follow the stem right down to where it meets another branch and break it there. Otherwise you will leave on a stem that will just turn brown and be ugly. Annuals like geraniums, large petunias, marigolds, daisies, and cosmos to name a few, will continue to produce more flowers if they are regularly deadheaded. When plants like alyssum, diascia, bacopa and other trailers have lots of dead blooms, use scissors to trim back, removing the dead parts like giving a hair trim. Coleus grow seed heads which should be broken off to encourage more leaf growth. Most annuals will love it when you cut them back and will bloom again looking bushier and healthier.

In the Perennial Gardensharleenpratt

Perennials also benefit from deadheading. Again, do not just cut off the spent flower head, but go down the stem. If the flowers are en masse, like creeping thyme, take a pair of grass shears and give the plant a hair cut to make it neater. Deadheading also stops unwanted seeds from dropping to the earth and reseeding where you don’t want them.

In the Vegetable Garden

In your vegetable garden, you may want to leave on those peas and beans that got away on you and have become over ripe. You can let these seed pods dry out and ‘harvest’ those seeds to plant next season. Peas plants are a great source of nitrogen, so you can leave them in your garden to die back naturally before you compost, allowing the nutrient to go back into the soil.

When you keep up with the removal of spent blooms, you keep your garden looking tidier, don’t invite disease from rotting blossoms and spread out the fall clean up.

So, grab your wine glass in one hand and get close and personal in your garden to deadhead.

Peterborough, ON, Canada