Master Gardeners

Flowers: Pretty enough to eat!

Written by  |  Wednesday, 10 July 2013 20:00  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Dale Odorizzi, Lanark County Master Gardeners   We often think vegetables are for eating and flowers are for looking at. You can combine the two to add flair to your food with flowers. Make sure that your flowers are edible and that they have not been sprayed with chemicals. Home-grown, unsprayed flowers or those grown by organic growers are the best. Edible flowers should only be used in moderation to add zest or as a beautiful garnish. Some of the best flowers to eat are: Nasturtiums are ideal to brighten a tossed salad. They have a watercress-like taste. The leaves are edible with a peppery flavour and the large round seeds have been used as a substitute for capers. Violets are small in size…

Gardening with children

Written by  |  Wednesday, 10 July 2013 20:00  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Kathleen Lang, Lanark Master Gardeners You would be hard pressed to find a child who doesn’t like digging in the dirt, so gardening has a built-in draw as a fun activity. To get young children excited about having their own garden, start small. Don’t make the mistake of overwhelming them with a huge space. Container gardening is a good place to start with small kids. Get them excited by letting them pick out what they will grow. Take a walk down the seed packet aisle and let the pictures tempt them. Steer them towards fast growing plants like radishes, peas, beans and cucumbers. Smaller children do better with larger seeds such as corn and sunflowers. Be sure to give a glance at the show…

To Fertilize or not to Fertilize?

Written by  |  Wednesday, 08 May 2013 20:00  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Ankaret Dean, Lanark Master Gardeners For centuries people have used fertilizers to increase their crops and encourage plant growth. Until the 20th century these consisted of organic material and inorganic mined mineral nutrients. It was not until the industrial revolution that chemically synthetic inorganic fertilizers were discovered. It has been estimated that almost half the world’s population are currently fed as result of synthetic inorganic fertilizers. Nowadays, gardeners can purchase an easy soluble fertilizer from the store, add it to the watering can or hose and they only need to keep a record of how often they apply the fertilizer. It is as easy as that. Alternatively it can be spread over the ground using a fertilizer spreader. Fertilizers typically provide six nutrients and seven…

How To Choose Tomatoes From The Seed Catalogue

Written by  |  Wednesday, 20 March 2013 20:00  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Ankaret Dean, Lanark Master Gardeners Tomatoes, we are told, are the most favourite vegetable grown by gardeners in North America. This is partly because our climate is ideally suited for their growth, lots of warm sunshine and a long frost-free growing period. Because of this, there are now over 700 varieties of tomato that have been developed. Huge ones, tiny ones; there are now 700 varieties from which to choose…large ones, tiny ones, early ones, late ones, disease resistant ones and we still have the heritage ones. The choice is rather daunting and here are a few pointers to help you make up your mind. Firstly, you must decide if you want to grow tomatoes for canning and making paste, or for summer eating. If…

Cyclamen, a favourite house plant

Written by  |  Wednesday, 13 March 2013 20:00  |  Published in Master Gardeners
By Ankaret Dean, Lanark County Master Gardeners At this time of the year, the flowers in the local grocery shops look so tempting. They make a perfect cheer-up gift for an ailing friend, a thank-you present or sometimes just to spoil yourself. A cyclamen is reasonable price and great value; it will flower for ages and then it can go in the garden for the summer and come back into the house again for next winter. There are a few tips that will help your cyclamen thrive, and as always, the more you know the happier your plant will be. Cyclamen grow from a corm, which is like a tuber, and is planted on the top of the soil. It does not like to be…

Lavender - how to grow it and use it

Written by  |  Wednesday, 27 February 2013 19:00  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Ankaret Dean, Lanark County Master Gardener Lavender is native to the mountainous areas of the Mediterranean, and belongs to the mint family of plants called Lamiaceae. The name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means "to wash." In Egypt, lavender was used in cosmetics and embalming products. The Greeks used lavender oil as perfume for their bodies. In Rome, lavender was widely regarded as a healing herb. Included in insect repellents and bath water, lavender was taken internally and topically in ancient Roman societies. In the Middle Ages, lavender flowers were grown and used by monks as medicinal herbs. Locally the two varieties of Lavender, I’ve had the best results with are Munstead and Hidcote. Lavender likes full sun, well-drained conditions. Find a…

Amaryllis

Written by  |  Thursday, 20 December 2012 10:21  |  Published in Master Gardeners
This plant is bought as a bulb, usually in the fall. Plant the bulb half into the soil. Water and fertilize. It will take six to eight weeks for the bulb to flower. Usually the flower stalk will grow first followed by the leaves. All the time you should water and fertilize as required. Keep the soil moist but not wet and fertilize with a liquid fertilizer (all three numbers about equal) at one quarter to half strength every time you water. Less is better than more. Once the flowers have faded remove the dead petals leaving the green stalk and the leaves. This greenery will now replenish the bulb so it can flower again. You can now decide approximately when you want the amaryllis…

Preparing garden tools for winter

Written by  |  Wednesday, 19 December 2012 19:00  |  Published in Master Gardeners
Dale Odorizzi, Lanark County Master Gardeners   As the days of working outside in your garden draw to a close, it is time to put away your garden tools properly for the winter. Doing so can add years to the life of your garden equipment. Your tools will be protected from rust and wear and they will be ready to go the moment spring fever hits next year. Scrape any excess mud or dirt from the tool. You can use a stick to knock off large pieces and a wire brush for tougher spots. If soil is really caked on, you may need to leave the tool soaking in a bucket of water for a few minutes before moving on to the next step. Wipe…

Saving Tomato Seeds

Written by  |  Thursday, 13 September 2012 11:14  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Dale Odorizzi, Lanark County Master Gardeners Did you grow a tomato you loved this summer? Try saving its seeds so you can enjoy the same great taste next year. Select a tomato you loved. There is no point saving seeds from an inferior plant. It will result in inferior tomatoes next year. Save seeds from tomatoes that are: open-pollinated or heritage plants. Seeds saved from hybrid tomatoes won't come true. fully ripe, but not over-ripe. the best-looking, best-tasting fruits on the plant. Slice the tomato across the tomato, not from stem end to blossom end. Squeeze the seeds and surrounding gel into a plastic or glass container. Pour 2-3 inches of water over the seeds in your container. Cover the container with plastic wrap…

Harvesting and drying herbs

Written by  |  Thursday, 23 August 2012 11:12  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Margaret Inwood, Lanark County Master Gardeners Timing is everything in life, especially when it comes to harvesting herbs for pre-serving and storing. Whether you intend to use the herbs medicinally or for cooking, it is important to gather them at that point in their growing cycle when their volatile oils are most concentrated, and at the time of day when there is no unnecessary moisture on them. To obtain maximum benefit from herbs, treat them with great care, preserve them without delay, and store them away from bright light. Leaves are at their most fragrant, and their oil levels highest, before any flowers have fully opened. Seeds should be captured as soon as they are ripe, while roots should be left in the ground…

Master Gardener Open House

Written by  |  Thursday, 02 August 2012 11:10  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Dale Odorizzi, Lanark County Master Gardeners Lanark County Master Gardeners invites you to join us at our Open House on August 11 from 2-4 pm at Rock Wall Gardens as we celebrate 25 Years of providing gardening advice in Lanark County. Come to view gardening demos, ask questions, join our group or just to say hello. The Master Gardener program is an international organization that began in 1972. It now operates in 45 states and across Canada. A Master Gardener is a trained volunteer who has completed the required educational component (college horticultural courses) and volunteer time. Today, we deliver Horticultural Courses at Algonquin College, answer questions on line (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), via telephone and live at advice clinics or wherever we meet people. We also have…

Conserving Water For Gardeners

Written by  |  Thursday, 19 July 2012 11:09  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Ankaret Dean, Lanark County Master Gardeners This spring and summer the rainfall has been very low again: passing showers seem to miss us and no long three day rains. However there are quite a few ways that we can help to preserve moisture in the soil even if the rains keeps missing us. Firstly, water retention depends on the soil. Sandy soil dries out at least three times faster than clay and twice as fast as loam. Adding organic matter will improve all three types: by binding sandy soils for better water retention, and opening up the clay and loam for better retention of water and air. Secondly, a mulch over the dry earth helps cut down water loss due to heat and evaporation…

Good bugs, bad bugs

Written by  |  Thursday, 28 June 2012 11:08  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Judy Wall, Lanark County master gardeners As we head into the upcoming gardening season, this is a good time to review many of the bugs in our gardens. So many of them are actually very beneficial in that they can actually help you eliminate or control the bad bugs. The following are considered good bugs: Lady bugs – predator of aphids, mites, thrips, whiteflies and mealybugs, to name a few. Bees - Major pollinators Praying Mantis prey on caterpillars, mites, leafhoppers and other soft-bodied insects. Lacewings Larvae also eat mealy bugs, scale, spider mites, mite eggs, whiteflies, leafhoppers, small caterpillars, and thrips. Adult lacewings feed on pollen, honeydew, and mealy bugs. Earwigs can make a holey mess of leaves, which is unsightly but doesn’t…

Controlling earwigs without chemicals

Written by  |  Wednesday, 06 June 2012 20:00  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Margaret Inwood, Lanark County master gardeners   Earwigs live for only one year and may die during the winter months. In early spring, any surviving females lay their eggs in tiny nests in the top 5 cm of the soil. It is a good time to dig around all plants to disrupt the larvae and expose them to air which kills them. Also, cultivating the soil during the summer will prevent larvae from thriving. In the fall, remove all debris that could provide overwintering sites. Favourite hiding places for earwigs include cracks, curled leaves and crotches on trees and shrubs. They also like to hide in the blossoms of flowers with many petals or have deep throats. One can create instant traps with anything…

Ginkgo biloba - the tree that fed the dinosaurs

Written by  |  Wednesday, 06 June 2012 20:00  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Judy Wall, Lanark county Master Gardeners   Millions of years ago, dinosaurs as big as houses ate their way through ginkgo groves in North America, munching on the trees’ leathery fan-shaped leaves as they went. Today, we only know about dinosaurs because of their fossils, but the ginkgo tree is still with us. The ginkgo became almost extinct when continents shifted and glaciers bore down during the Ice Age. But about 300 years ago a specimen was discovered in a Japanese temple garden. The ginkgo tree which was cherished by gardeners in Japan, was reintroduced to Europe, and reached North America again about 1800. It was a homecoming for the tree after millions of years. Besides its ability to thrive in cramped conditions, the…
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