Garden Tip: Adding compost the easy way

by Leslie Cox; Monday; November 29, 2021

An easy way to mix your compost into the soil is to spread it over your garden in late fall. Cover with a mulch of hay or chopped leaves and let nature take its course. Come spring, the winter weather and the soil organisms will have worked the compost in for you.


Garden Tip: Mulching young plants and trees

by Leslie Cox; Monday; October 25, 2021

newly planted espalier apple tree

If you have incorporated new plants in your landscape this last summer it is a good idea to cover them with mulch for protection against freezing temperatures.

The best mulch material is leaves. They are on the ground anyways, so it is easy to either rake them up and spread them over the garden beds, or run over them with the lawn mower and spread the leaf mulch over the plants.

If you do not have any deciduous trees on your property, ask or beg your friends, neighbours, family members if you can steal some of theirs.

If you do not have any access to leaves, bark is a good substitute. We prefer the fine bark mulch which is available from our local pole yard but you can also by bagged bark from your local nursery or big box store.

Straw is another good mulch option but most people prefer to use this material on their vegetable gardens rather than on their front yard garden beds. It sometimes cones down to aesthetics…and the rules in some development communities. Just be sure to buy straw and not old hay. Hay, even the old stuff, will still have viable seeds in it which you will wind up cursing next spring.

Whatever you use, spread your mulch material 4 – 6 inches (10 – 15 cm) thick over your plants. This will provide adequate protection against freezing temperatures.

One final tip…or warning…

Do not spread the mulch right up against the trunks of your trees, especially young trees, Best to leave a 6 inch (15 cm) gap around the base of the tree. Otherwise, you will be creating good camouflage for mice, squirrels and other chewing demons who like to chew on fresh tree bark.


Garden Tip: Rescue drowning plants

by Leslie Cox; Monday; October 18, 2021

Saxifraga fortunei 'Magenta'Be sure to check your potted plants after a heavy rainfall. Plants…any species that are not marginal (ie. those that prefer a spot by a pond or stream)…can develop crown rot if they are wallowing in a puddle of water in their pot.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, crown rot is one of the main causes of plant deaths through the fall and winter seasons. (Sadly, we lost this beautiful saxifraga to crown rot two years ago.)

Take away the trays under the pots to allow for free drainage. Or, if there are no trays underneath but the plant is still water-logged, place a couple of wood blocks or flat rocks underneath the pot to raise it up off the ground. If the plant is still swimming in water, knock it out of the pot, check the drainage hole is not plugged and re-pot the plant with up to one-third sand or small grit added to the new soil mix to increase the drainage.

Garden Tip: Learn from your mistakes

by Leslie Cox; Monday; September 6, 2021

You might make mistakes in the garden, but learn from them.

We sometimes will lose a plant…even when we have done our due diligence and researched the needs of the plant. Unfortunately, things happen. Perhaps you gave the plant too much full sun, or you planted it in a “cool pocket” in your garden, or you did not test the soil pH.

Say a prayer for your plant and try to figure out how your plant died so you do not make the same mistake again. Then try again.

There is a saying: “Class is always in session in a garden.” Decades later, I am still learning new things about gardening.


Garden Tip: Best homemade plant labels

by Leslie Cox; Monday; February 15, 2021

Seed sowing will be starting very soon…if it hasn’t already…and you will need plant labels to identify what the seed varieties are in each pot or tray.

By far, the best material I have found for making my own labels are plastic venetian blinds and for several reasons:

  • easy to cut to size needed…much easier than cutting up a yogurt tub
  • easy to write on
  • use a lead pencil instead of a permanent marker
    • easily readable
    • erasable so you can re-use the labels
    • name label will withstand weather for a couple of years, or more
  • plastic blinds can often be found in thrift stores for a reasonable price…and if not,
  • are not expensive to buy from a discount store when you consider how many labels you can get out of even the smallest size blind offered for sale

It should be noted that plastic blinds are better than metal ones for making plant labels. Metal labels have sharp edges that can make painful cuts when handled.

Metal also does not accept pencil or ink very well. Can be difficult to read…or worse…and the writing may rub off when label is handled.

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