Master Gardeners

Growing Pumpkins

Written by  |  Wednesday, 03 May 2017 11:35  |  Published in Master Gardeners
What do Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, Cinderella, Jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pie have in common? Why pumpkins of course. Pumpkins  originated in Central America and have been grown there for thousands of years. In early times, they were baked or stuffed. Medicinally they were used to treat snake bite, freckles and tape worms. The Jack-o-lantern , symbol of Hallowe’en, was popularized by Irish immigrants who told a tale of a stingy man, Jack, barred from heaven and hell, condemned to carry a turnip lantern and hot coal and walk the earth until Judgement day. Since pumpkins were so readily available to Americans, they substituted a hollowed pumpkin for the turnip and so the tale became folklore.   Pumpkins need space in the garden, and a fairly long growing…

Windbreaks

Written by  |  Wednesday, 03 May 2017 10:51  |  Published in Master Gardeners
Early spring is a great time to plant trees. With that in mind, you might consider planting a windbreak. Rows of trees and shrubs can shelter your house and garden from winter winds and summer sun. Early settlers knew the value of dense wind-busting evergreens planted north and west of their yards and deciduous shade trees planted in the south and east areas. Their wisdom holds true today as well. A good windbreak can substantially reduce energy costs for heating in winter and cooling in summer. Slowing the wind can help create microclimates in our yard, making it possible for us to push the plant hardiness zones. Ideally, we want to slow the wind speeds by half. This will keep good air circulation even during…

Care of Moth Orchids

Written by  |  Wednesday, 19 April 2017 13:20  |  Published in Master Gardeners
The orchid family of plants is the largest in the world with over 30,000 species with thousands of hybrids and varieties. Ontario has its fair share. We have, what are called terrestrial orchids. One of the best shows of these terrestrial orchids are the slipper orchids found in the Purdon Conservation Area in Lanark. These orchids grow in the ground. What I am writing about has become a real plant phenomenon. It is the moth orchid ( Phalaenopsis amabilis ). This has become very popular. It is probably the easiest orchid to grow, has very nice large flowers with many colours and bright green foliage. It is called an epiphytic orchid meaning that it grows in the canopy of large trees in the tropics. Because…

Bulbs

Written by  |  Wednesday, 01 March 2017 12:36  |  Published in Master Gardeners
When is a bulb not a bulb? Quite often. The term bulb, in every day vernacular, includes corms, tubers, tuberous roots, rhizomes and stolons. I think I have them all. Except for tuberous roots which the name suggests is a root, all of them are modified stems. What makes a modified stem? A stem is made up of three parts. First the stem or branch, then the node and at each node is usually one or more leaves and buds. The bud is the required part because without it there can be no new growth. These modified stems are compressed or very short. Take a look at an onion. It comes with a basal plate which practically has no internodes. From this basal plate all…

Love at first site

Written by  |  Wednesday, 13 January 2016 20:01  |  Published in Master Gardeners
For some time now, you have been dreaming about vegetables grown, harvested and eaten from your own little plot of land. To make this happen, first think site selection. To be productive, most vegetables require lots of sun, a minimum of six hours per day; eight hours is better. Take the time now to study your yard and record the amount of direct sun each area receives. A flat space is better than a slope but if the slope is sunny and flat areas are shaded, it is possible to work the slope to your advantage. Beware of a location at the bottom of a slope. Water runs downhill and your nice, sunny, flat garden plot might be flooded before spring is over. Frost tends…

Grass: Lawn Care in Spring

Written by  |  Wednesday, 04 May 2016 20:15  |  Published in Master Gardeners
By Robert Pavlis, Master Gardener Grass is found in almost every garden and lawn care is part of a gardener’s job. What should you do, and not do, to your grass in spring? In this post I will look at lawn maintenance for temperate climates that grow cool growing types of grass. Spring Lawn Care: The sun is shining, the snow is gone and I want to get outside and do some gardening. It is only April 1 but I know the gardener inside of you is also tugging hard to get going. Here is a simple rule for caring for your lawn in spring – DO NOTHING! At this time of year the ground is wet and the soil compacts easily. Stay off the…

Penny-pinching gardens

Written by  |  Wednesday, 11 May 2016 18:42  |  Published in Master Gardeners
Today I went to a nursery and saw a herbaceous peony priced at $99. Yes, it was rather a rare plant. That made me remember my visit to a lovely garden a couple of years ago, whose owner told me she had a $200 budget for the entire gardening year. I was amazed at the time that her frugality could produce such a wonderful collection of plants, and I asked her how she acquired such variety. If you are beginning to garden and have limited money, some of her ideas may be helpful. First of all, start a compost pile. With fall fast approaching there will be lots of leaves and garden waste. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just make a heap, and turn…

The second round in the veggie garden-

Written by  |  Wednesday, 13 July 2016 22:27  |  Published in Master Gardeners
By Helen Halpenny, Lanark Master Gardeners Now that the early vegetables are being harvested it is time to plant again. Lettuce, radish and spinach have probably bolted in the extreme heat in recent weeks. Green onions are developing their bulbs and are no longer mild tasting. So, plant again. Call it succession planting or second cropping. It extends the harvesting and you get fresh, tender veggies. Every three weeks plant a few dozen onion sets to have a continuous supply of green onions. Lettuce and spinach, being cool season lovers, can be successful if planted in the shade of taller plants, such as staked tomatoes or corn. Make sure the soil is damp and cover the area with a board so germination can take place.…

How to cope with drought

Written by  |  Wednesday, 13 July 2016 22:28  |  Published in Master Gardeners
By Ankaret Dean, Lanark Master Gardeners So far this year has not been an easy growing year for gardeners, especially those on a well with a limited amount of watering potential. However here are a few ideas which will be useful, perhaps a little late for this year but helpful for the future. Firstly, mulching the garden beds certainly helps prevent evaporation from hot sun and drying winds. Cedar mulch is good, but straw, hay and dry leaves can provide adequate shelter. Other possibilities are layers of newspapers or old thin carpets laid out between tomato plants or under trailing squash. Just make sure the water can be absorbed around the base of the plant. Try not to disturb the plants roots during hot weather…

How to grow gigantic tubs of red geraniums

Written by  |  Wednesday, 07 September 2016 18:44  |  Published in Master Gardeners
By Ankaret Dean, Lanark Master Gardeners Ever since I moved into the hamlet of McDonalds Corners five years ago and walked down to the shop, there opposite it, is a tiny house with two gigantic tubs of bright red geraniums; Every year they are bigger and better, so I asked the owner if he would share his secret of success. They belong to Ralph Lehman, who originally purchased them in 2005. Ever since then he has seen them grow and flourish, and now they are like pets! The large tubs are watered daily with one gallon of water, and fertilized every second week with an all purpose liquid fertilizer. They face south, enjoying both the early and late sunshine, and are carefully deadheaded with garden…

Winter Composting - Be Pepared

Written by  |  Wednesday, 06 January 2016 16:03  |  Published in Master Gardeners
Gardeners know the benefits of using compost in their gardens. It improves the soil tilth and adds nutrients to help plants grow and thrive. Gardeners also know that the best compost is made at home, using kitchen and garden organic waste, which also keeps this waste out of landfills. We gardeners diligently compost as much as we can through spring, summer and fall but when winter rolls around, we often stop. Organic waste freezes and our compost bins get full and it is much easier to simply throw out valuable compost materials. Winter composting is very feasible but it does take a bit of preparation in the fall. Compost bins - If you compost in a backyard bin, empty all the finished compost from that…

Honeyberries

Written by  |  Thursday, 16 July 2015 12:17  |  Published in Master Gardeners
Lanark County Master Gardeners I wonder how many people have met the comparatively new shrub called Honeyberry.  The University of Saskatchewan began breeding Honeyberries in 2002 using the line from Russia, Japan and the Kuril Islands, and they produced a fruit that is sweeter and superior in taste to many other Honeyberry varieties on the market. The berries are also larger and more easily detached from the plant. Interestingly, Honeyberries belong to the honeysuckle family. They are ideal for our climate, being hardy to -55°F and the blossoms can withstand 20°F. The early blooming varieties bear fruit before strawberries and the later blooming varieties a few weeks later. They will grow in most soils in a wide range of pH levels, unlike blueberries. Some varieties…

Lasagna Gardening

Written by  |  Wednesday, 02 December 2015 19:21  |  Published in Master Gardeners
Lanark County Master Gardeners No, I am not going to teach you how to grow lasagna. I am going to talk about a “no-dig” method to use to grow the vegetables you love and use to make lasagna. Lasagna gardening refers to the method of building the garden up by adding layers of organic material. There is no need to remove existing sod and weeds. They are organic matter and contain a wealth of nutrients. You don’t have to double dig or work the soil at all. The first layer on top of the sod will be corrugated cardboard or 10+ sheets of newspaper laid directly on top of the sod or weeds in the area you have selected for your garden. Wet this layer…

Sean Maloney

Written by  |  Thursday, 16 July 2015 12:16  |  Published in Master Gardeners
Lanark County Master Gardeners Fresh cut flowers, whether picked from our gardens or purchased from a store or Farmers Market, add beauty and bring the outdoors into our rooms. We often wonder if there is anything we can do to extend the life of these beauties. To keep your arrangement looking its best, for the longest time, follow a few simple steps. Start with a vase that has been cleaned with hot soapy water to eliminate bacteria and fungi and then rinsed thoroughly. Be sure to prepare the flowers properly. Cut just-opening flowers early in the morning and place in water immediately. Improve the vase life of flowers that ooze a milky "sap" (poinsettias, poppies) by immersing the bottom 5 cm of their stems in…

Pollinator Gardens

Written by  |  Wednesday, 08 July 2015 11:15  |  Published in Master Gardeners
For plants to reproduce, they need pollinators. These include insect species such as bees, butterflies, beetles, flies and thousands of other insects, as well as hummingbirds. Unwittingly, while searching for nectar, pollinators move pollen from the male anther of one flower to the female stigma of another. Plant scientists in Ontario are concerned about a decline in pollinator populations, including the honeybee. No matter if you have a large country garden or a small urban garden, you can help Mother Nature by planting a pollinator garden. Even if your growing space is limited to a deck or balcony, containers can be used to grow pollinator plants. Pollinators have the same basic needs essential to all life, namely: food, water and shelter. A pollinator garden strives…
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