Master Gardeners

Removing air pollutants with houseplants

Written by  |  Thursday, 16 February 2012 05:10  |  Published in Master Gardeners
By Margaret Inwood, Lanark County Master Gardeners We are inside the house a lot in the winter months and the indoor air is often full of pollutants such as formaldehyde from paints and adhesives, chemicals from personal care products and from building materials. Our bodies are constantly exposed to these toxins and most of us could benefit by having more of these natural air purifier plants around the house for beauty as well as to improve our health. Almost any plant will absorb toxins from the air, metabolize them and return oxygen and moisture back into the room, but extensive testing has shown that certain plants are better at it than others. Bamboo palms, Dracaena, Peace Lily, Ivies, Ficus, and potted mums excel at removing…

Growing peppers from seed

Written by  |  Thursday, 02 February 2012 05:10  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Georgina Bailey-Wicher, Lanark County Master Gardeners Capsicum annuum, a member of the Solanaceae family, originated in Central and South America and was brought back to Europe by Columbus; the Spanish and Portuguese introduced peppers to other parts of the world. They have become a very popular part of our diets, adding vibrant colour and welcomed flavour to countless dishes. Peppers, especially the red varieties, also provide substantial amounts of vitamins A and C. Hot varieties (chili and cayenne peppers) are normally used as a pungent flavouring while milder varieties (sweet peppers) have a very pleasant, slightly sweet flavour and are often used raw in salads. Why not start pepper plants from seed? Whether you love the hottest of hots or the biggest sweets, you…

New Year’s resolutions for gardeners

Written by  |  Wednesday, 25 January 2012 19:00  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Dale Odorizzi, Lanark County Master Gardeners   As the old year ends and the new year begins, many of us make resolutions as to how we can improve our lives and our health. This is also a good time to make resolutions about how we can improve our gardens. I have included some areas you can consider and different levels of “resolutions” you might want to consider. Garden Rehabilitation—This year I vow to (a) review the notes I made in my Gardening Journal about plants that need dividing and areas or times of years that need a boost and act on those actions; (b) make notes during the gardening season about plants that need dividing or about areas I would like to improve on…

A gardener’s second best friend

Written by  |  Thursday, 20 October 2011 08:04  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Dale Odorizzi, Lanark County Master Gardeners A Rain Barrel is a gardener’s second best friend. It is an extremely easy, low tech, low cost way to collect water that is so vital to your plants. If you live on a town water supply, you have to pay for every ounce of water that comes from your tap. In drought conditions, many towns will impose a watering ban that prevents you from keeping your plants hydrated, often when they need it the most. Towns often put additives such as chlorine or fluoride in their water supply that your plants do not like. In the country, your well pump burns a lot of electricity, usually not at the off-peak hourly rate. Lanark County well water is…

Storing winter squash

Written by  |  Thursday, 13 October 2011 08:04  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Paul Pospisil, Lanark County Master Gardeners The centuries’ old practice of putting food by for winter has disappeared from many households for a number of reasons: with an abundance of supermarket food, fewer people are growing their own; the time pressure of having both mom and dad working out leaves no one at home to do the gardening, harvesting and storage or preserving; and technology has made our homes so warm and dry that the old cool basement or root cellar used for food storage is no longer there. For the avid gardener, however, growing and eating your own vegetables is a delight. Winter squash is one of those traditional winter keepers that is relatively easy to store with a little preparation. Winter squash…

Fall is the time to think of Spring Bulbs

Written by  |  Thursday, 25 August 2011 08:02  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Ankaret Dean, Lanark County Master Gardeners One of the miracles of gardening is found in spring bulbs. We buy them in the fall, plant them before freeze up and then, in the spring, there are our beautiful colourful flowers. No weeding, no watering, no fertilizing. Up they come ready to welcome spring. There are a few tricks to the trade, but essentially they are foolproof. Choosing bulbs is the first step, and here a little knowledge can help. Firstly one thinks of daffodils. These come in a huge variety of sizes, shapes and types. There are small dwarf daffodils for small gardens and rockeries, these usually bloom early. There are daffodils which have a lovely fragrance, like narcissi, and daffodils which are very traditional…

Lily leaf beetle

Written by  |  Thursday, 21 July 2011 07:59  |  Published in Master Gardeners
By Lanark County Master Gardeners  Lily leaf beetles make noise by rubbing two body parts together when they are threatened. Just as their name suggests, their foods are lilies and fritillarias. Even their scientific name, “Lilioceris lilii” tells us the plants they feed on. They do not feed on daylilies or other plants with lily-like names. They have four stages to their life cycle: egg, larvae, pupa and adult. These insects over-winter in the adult stage as a beetle. They are bright red on top, less than half an inch long ( 6-9 mm.) and an eighth of an inch (3mm.) wide. Their head, antennae and underside are pitch black. One of the defense mechanisms (thanatosis) is to fold up its appendages and fall to…

Controlling earwigs without chemicals

Written by  |  Thursday, 16 June 2011 07:54  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Margaret Inwood, County Master Gardener 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 5cm 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 over-wintering 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 that will provide shelter.…

Grow Your Own Salad Greens This Spring

Written by  |  Thursday, 07 April 2011 07:42  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Margaret Inwood, County Master Gardener It is very easy and convenient to grow several salad greens in a small amount of garden space. You can pick them fresh and enjoy their colourful, delicate flavours such as peppery, tangy, or a taste of mustard or anise. Several lettuces can be cut and they will grow back again. These looseleaf types come in shades of green and red. One just carefully harvests from around the outside of the plant, leaving the ‘heart’ free to keep growing. Then there are head lettuce and romaine types. One can also buy a package of mesculin mix to include varieties of lettuce, endive, chicory, oriental greens, kale and mustards. Also nice in a salad is fresh radish, green onions and sugar…

Prepare now for your spring gardening season

Written by  |  Thursday, 10 March 2011 06:26  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Judy Wall Lanark County Master Gardener Are you already yearning to be outdoors in your garden, as you wait for the snow to disappear? This is the time to start planning your spring gardening projects. There are some activities, however, you can do prior to the comfortable spring weather, which you can actually do indoors. If your gardening tools are anything like mine are right now, they were set aside in the fall, dull, dirty and are in dire need of some TLC. Take your pruners, saws, scissors, bypass cutters, shears, loppers etc. This is the time to give them all a good cleaning, and sharpening. You might find this you tube video helpful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LlBSrkq-ZU&feature=related How about your shovels, spades, garden folks, trowels? Are…

Storing Winter Squash

Written by  |  Thursday, 16 December 2010 05:34  |  Published in Master Gardeners
By: Paul Pospisil, Lanark County Master Gardeners The centuries-old practice of putting food by for winter has disappeared from many households for a number of reasons. With an abundance of supermarket food, fewer people are growing their own; the time pressure of having both mom and dad working out leaves no one at home to do the gardening, harvesting and storage or preserving; and, technology has made our homes so warm and dry that the old cool basement or root cellar used for food storage is no longer there. For the avid gardener, however, growing and eating your own vegetables is a delight. Winter squash is one of those traditional winter keepers that is relatively easy to store with a little preparation. Winter squash includes…

The “No-Dig” approach to creating garden beds

Written by  |  Thursday, 21 October 2010 06:40  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Kathleen Lang, Lanark County Master Gardeners If a new bed is in your plan, now is the time of year to put your plan into action. If this new bed is presently planted in lawn, you probably think that you will have to dig up all that sod. The saying “No pain, no gain” is not for gardeners. Besides being very difficult and hard on the back, digging or roto-tilling will also churn up thousands of dormant weed seeds. Finally being exposed to light and air will result in an eternity of weeding. Instead, follow these simple steps. 1. Mark the edge of your new bed with a hose. Play with the hose until you are satisfied with the size and shape of the…

Fall vegetables

Written by  |  Thursday, 23 September 2010 06:42  |  Published in Master Gardeners
by Helen Halpenny, Lanark County Master Gardeners The time is here to harvest the last of the vegetables in the garden; the hardy cole crops like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale are at their best, having had a touch of frost. As long as the weather stays around the zero mark on the thermometer these mainstays of the fall garden can stay in situ and be harvested as needed. Sometimes, it is pos-sible to have them into December. Just before winter sets in, pick and store in the crisper of your fridge. Root crops need harvesting before the ground freezes, except for parsnips, which are best left in the ground during winter and harvested as soon as the earth thaws in spring. Carrots, beets, potatoes…

Lavenders

Written by  |  Thursday, 09 September 2010 06:44  |  Published in Master Gardeners
By Kathleen Lang, Lanark County Master Gardeners The scent of lavender is familiar to all. Whether grown in a border or bed, in a large pot, or as a hedge, it is one of the most attractive and fragrant of all herbs. Lavender is also a traditional country-garden plant. Used by the Romans as a laundry herb, they introduced the herb to Europe and Britain. The name lavender comes from the latin word lavare (to wash). The fragrant flowers have been used in dried sachets, scented soaps, perfumes and potpourris. In ancient Europe and Britain, lavender oil was an important article of commerce. In the garden, lavenders are sweet-smelling border plants. There are basically three types of lavender: the English group, the French group and…

Guerrilla Weeding

Written by  |  Thursday, 12 August 2010 06:46  |  Published in Master Gardeners
By Dale Odorizzi, Lanark County Master Gardeners It has happened to all of us—maybe we have been away on vacation or working too hard or the weather has been too hot or we have forgotten about a distant garden but all of a sudden, we cannot see our beautiful flowers for the weeds. When that happens, we feel like taking out the weed wacked and cutting everything down or simply ignore the garden for the rest of the summer. Instead of doing that, consider spending some time “guerrilla weeding”. The first step in this process is to weed thoroughly for the area 1-2 feet from the edge of the garden. This is the area that people can see when they come to visit your garden.…
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