Tuesday, June 28, 2011

To Feed or not to Feed - that is the Question

I have been guilty of underfeeding my potted plants. It started with going organic in my outdoor garden. Eventually I started letting everything take care of itself.

Trouble is, potted plants and hanging baskets don’t have much of a chance if they are not fertilized and watered. They are living in a holding material we call soil but it is really just mixed materials and none of them provide any nutrients. Top that off with the fact most annuals are highly bred flowers. Like the horses of Cavalia, they need grooming and feeding, not just pasturing until performance day.

Patty Bretin of Bretin's Flowers Farm in Calgary suggests using evergreen fertilizers for flower pots because of our high pH water. "You can't feed them (petunias) enough- I put them on a constant feed, and I like the acidic qualities of the evergreen fertilizers....

*** For more info: Listen to my column on CBC's Alberta@noon this Thursday (June 30) or check out the expanded version of this column in the Calgary Herald's Gardening section July 8th where I give you all the tips you need to keep your flower pots & basets great all summer.

(P.S. My hanging basket at right is still in good shape because I just bought it two weeks ago- to keep it that way I will start fertilizing this week - for sure)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

More Blue in the June Garden

Blue Boy and Frankie Clematis bloom on wood from last year so they are the first to show their delicate petals in June before the later clematis such as Jackmanii bloom. In this photo Maureen Wagner of Calgary props a birdhouse on an old wooden swing in her back yard amid the early clematis. She won't be using that swing this season!

Look for my Herald article on this topic later in July. Meanwhile send me your ideas for items that can be repurposed for the garden.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Calgary Herald Garden Videos- Pruning

The video series running with the Calgary Herald is a chance to share info in a new way. Check out the latest one!

Oops #1 on this video- from the angle Ted was filming, the shrub was blocked so it looks like I am pruning a fern instead of hydrangeas.

Oops # 2 - my shears were dull you can see me ripping rather than cleanly cutting the small branches.... Never do that yourself. Always clean and sharpen your tools so you don't look silly on tv.

Oh well- let us know if we are going in the right direction with this video series. We'd love to get your feedback.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Drive By Viewing: Gentian in Bloom

For the sweet lady who stopped her car yesterday, here is a photo of the mysterious blue gentian you have been seeing in bloom for the last few weeks. I no longer have a proper rock garden in the front yard but I do have rock and I do have this rock adapted Himalayan beauty: Gentian acaulis.
The plant is only a few inches (5 cm) tall but the flowers are that tall again. It blooms from late May to mid-June in Alberta and it definitely stops cars with it's vibrant blue blooms.

So many people have stopped by in the last few days to ask about this plant that I thought it deserved it's own mention on the blog. I was outdoors weeding and fluffing soil...(AKA playing in the garden) and one lady told me she had been walking by for years hoping to see me out front. I ensure you I do weed and fluff more than once every few years but we had not crossed paths until Monday. The lady who stopped her car said she pulled over as soon as she saw I was in the garden. She was so curious to find out about this plant and had been wondering about it for a few weeks.

This hardy perennial is a beauty and tough as nails. In the past I have seen it sold at Greengate Garden Centre, Wilhelm Roth's private back yard in NW Calgary, and the Calgary Rock Garden Society (CRAGS) spring sale.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beautiful Blooms along the cowboy trail

Southern Alberta is gorgeous and I stopped the car when I saw these wild penstemon's in bloom along Highway 22 in Southern Alberta... and PS The folks at Springbreak Garden Center in Hillcrest were tremendous - what a wonderful event!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Calgary Garden Videos- Using a turning composter

Got a minute? Watch me struggle as I work with two different turning composters in my back yard."Garden Guru Shorts" one minute videos are an added bonus to the gardening section at The Calgary Herald. This is the third one in the series.

These videos show hands-on gardening one tiny piece at a time. If you like them let us know! If you have an idea for a future Garden Guru Short let me know that too! I plan to shoot most segments in my back yard but I could be convinced to come to your yard if there is something we can do in under a minute. And no- that doesn't include garden makeovers! You'll have to pay me to come and do that. And- by the way- that will take more than a minute.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First Harvest- Yum Veggies

Pulled potatoes out of pots on Sunday - mainly because some of the plants were dying. Wow- fifteen little red potatoes in a 5 gallon nursery pot planted in February. How fun is that? The best news is that potatoes came out clean because I was using soiless mix instead of soil...

In my "soil" garden in the front yard I have picked a radish already- okay that is no big deal in most climates but in Calgary- it's huge! The radish was spicy and clean and perfectly round. Yum. Planted these just before Easter and eating them in early June (about 40 days). That's not bad for a 21 day variety (Topsi). Calgary gardeners are so easy to please!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mulberry Books Today

Save our small bookstores! Today I am at Mulberry Books in Qualicum Beach BC at 1:30 PM- and on Saturday I am at 32 Books in Vancouver at 2:00 PM. Honestly the best way to save and savor these small stores is to support them. Join me - bring your questions and see my new book!