The Sustainable Garden – Biggest Trend This Season

sustainable garden

The biggest trend this season is the Sustainable Garden.

If you’ve not up to speed on sustainability trends, don’t worry.  This one is really easy to follow and it’s pretty easy to implement as well.  In fact, you probably already do to one extent or another.

vertical garden sustainable garden

Here are some of the most common features of a sustainable garden:

  • Firstly and most obviously, no chemical pesticides or herbicides.  Here are some natural alternatives.
  • Plant pollinator friendly plants that attract the bees, butterflies and birds.  Here are some suggestions and here are some more..
  • If you use lighting in your garden, make it solar, or at least LED
  • Upcycle and recycle old garden and home items as garden decor.  Recycle old pots with a new look.  Check out some ideas here and here and here and here.
  • Make your garden edible for humans as well as for birds and insects. Growing veggies and fruit and even edible flowers is a fun way to eat healthy produce without the chemicals and G.M.O. influences found in most store bought produce.
  • Make use of storm debri.  Instead of throwing away the broken branches and other debri from those storms and strong winds, collect them and use them for creating bedding borders and interesting garden pieces.
  • In the same way you can use rocks to add interest to your landscape.  In B.C. there are many places you can collect river rocks for special features in your garden.
  • Green your vertical spaces.  If have boundary walls, trellis or other upright spaces in your landscape, think about creating a vertical garden.  Here are some ideas.

We hope that this has given you some great ideas to begin looking at your garden with new eyes!  Have fun becoming a sustainable gardener – and remember that we are always available for help, advice and supplies!

DIY Compost Tips

DIY Compost

We all know that compost is a great addition to the garden and we all know that recycling is a good idea. 

So combining the two composts and making your own compost should be a great idea, right?

DIY CompostIf you’d like to try your hand at recycling your own kitchen and garden waste to create your own compost, here are some tips to help you achieve that goal.

The great thing about making your own compost is that it doesn’t need to cost you very much at all.

You don’t need to buy fancy composting systems or additive microbes or any other tools.  All you really need is a few containers to handle the various compost components during the various stages..

Your kitchen and garden waste, as it rots will create all the necessary microbes on it’s own. And all you need to do is to keep the kitchen waste in some kind of bin or container and keep the yard waste in another, bigger container.

Allow the kitchen waste to begin decomposing and then add it to the yard waste container a few times a year.

The containers can be as simple as garbage cans with holes punched into the lids to aerate them.

A few popular methods of DIY Composting:

DIY CompostSome people just put the yard waste in a big pile in a corner, out of sight.  This works but the trouble is that it can also provide a home for rats and other unwanted pests.  It’s best to keep it contained so that these critters don’t have easy access.

Others like to keep it even simpler.  They keep their kitchen waste in a container in the fridge until they’ve built up enough, then simply dig a hole and bury the waste in the designated area in the garden.  The earth takes care of the composting process and pretty soon there a lots of nice, juicy worms working away!

The key is to just get started.  It’s easy. It’s realtively quick. It’s super inexpensive.  It’s also great compost that you can then dig into your garden to enrich the soil and add vital nutrients that will keep your plants healthy and vibrant.

Please feel free to come into Tanglebank Gardens and have a chat with us about making your own compost if you have any questions or need advice.  We’re always happy to help!

 

 

5 Perfect Perennials For Shade

It’s not always easy to find the perfect perennials for shade.

Most perennials like at least a little sun.  However the following top choices will thrive in a sheltered shady spot.

  1. Shade Garden Hosta Perfect Perennials For ShadeHostas come in a variety of shapes and sizes and in a variety of colors too. There are those with variegated foliage and those with solid green in a variety of shades, as well as the ‘blue’ hostas. Whether you have a small space or a large space, Hostas are the #1 choice for shade.  Ranging in size from 6″ to 6′ you will definitely be able to find one (or a variety) that will be perfect in your garden. These shade garden staples mostly flower in spring and summer and some even have a fragrance. Best of all, they multiply so you can, after a few seasons, divide them and plant them in other shady spots as well!  These plants die back in Winter but come Spring they’ll pop up again!
  2. Perfect Perennials For ShadeGeraniums – we’re not talking about the so called geraniums you associate with Swiss Chalets, but rather the original Geraniums which spread and have a gorgeous blue or pink flower. They grow in mounds and are very easy going requiring little or no maintenance. They do die back in Winter but come Spring they’ll spring to life again and will flower from late Spring right through the Summer.
  3. Perfect Perennials For ShadeAjuga is a tough little ground cover that has dark green or even purple foliage and striking blue flowers in the spring.It’s pretty hardy and doesn’t really die off in winter.
  4. BleediHummingbird_bleeding-heart Perfect Perennials For Shadeng Heart is another very showy and very easy perennal.  Their gorgeous multilayered pink and white heart shaped flowers are a delight in Spring and early Summer. Some varieties have green foliage and others have a golden tint. These gorgeous plants die off early – mostly around June, but they will pop back up in the Spring.
  5. spring helleboresHellebores pop up early in the Spring.  They have unusual flowers that look almost as if they’re hand made from tinted silk in understated pinks, mauves and tinges of green.  These lovely plants are also known as ‘Christmas Rose’.  They will begin fading by mid Summer.

While these are the most popular and well known of shade plants, there are many more, both flowering and non-flowering.  Shade gardens can be an oasis of tranquility and cool in the heat of summer.  Come in and chat with our talented horticulturalists to find out what varieties will work best for your particular garden and preferences.

6 Eco Friendly Garden Tips

spring is almost here

Gardening, like anything else, is easier when you have the right tools and know the right short cuts.

eco friendly gardening tips

Here are a few tips that you’ll find make your life easier and make gardening more fun:

 

  • Don’t like wearing gloves when you garden?  No problem. Take a bar of soap and run your fingernails into it so that you have soap on and under the nails.  You can now put your hands in the dirt without having to scrub it out from under your fingernails for hours afterwards.  If you’re gardening with bare hands, invest in some heavy duty gardener’s hand cream to moisturize them afterwards so they don’t get rough and hard.
  • Use the water left over when you steam your vegetables and pour it onto your pot plants.  It’s full of nutrients and plants love it.
  • Save your coffee grinds and tea bags!  Dig them into your flower beds – plants love coffee grinds! Hydrangeas, Rhododendrons and other acidic loving plants benefit greatly.
  • Got bugs?  Little pests like aphids can be blasted off plants with a spray of water.  Just be sure not to break the plant. Or you can pick them off with sticky tape or masking tape.  It’s gross but it works!
  • Put your wheelbarrow to work when you’re potting.  Put a plank across the top of the wheelbarrow and rest the plants on the plank along with your tools.  In the wheelbarrow put your potting mix. Voila!  A mobile potting table!
  • Use a mixture of vinegar and water to do clean up outside.  Whether it’s garden tools or crusty terracotta pots, this mixture is eco-friendly and works like a charm!

Gardener Newbie? Easy Gardening Tips To Get You Going

garden tips

So you’ve decided that it’s time to garden but you feel overwhelmed.  Don’t panic, we have easy tips to help you make a success of your gardening efforts.

attract butterflies gardening tips

Take inventory

For an existing garden:

If you’ve inherited a garden someone else planted then the best way to begin is to take some notes and pictures so that you can speak with your friendly horticulturalist at the local garden center.

Take a series of pictures of the garden layout, then photograph each plant close up.  You may not know what the plants are so the photos will help the garden center identify them for you.

For a new garden:

Make a note of what you like and don’t like.

Walk around your neighborhood to see what looks good in the surrounding gardens.  Taking pictures will help your garden center both identify the plant and tell you whether it’s likely to do well in your garden.

Take a picture of the garden area and make notes of the sun /shade patterns.

gardening tips

Dream and Plan:

For both new and existing gardens:

Look at garden pictures online and in magazines. Save the pictures that you like.  Make a note of what you’d like your garden to look and feel like.What does your dream garden look like?  If you’re going to start gardening, you may as well work towards making that dream a reality.

Also make a note of your lifestyle.

Do you have lots of time to garden?  Do you love being outdoors? Do you want something low maintenance and functional?

All these details will help your garden center advise you about how to plan and plant a garden or plan and alter a garden to suit your specific requirements.

Put the Plan on Paper:

Mapping out your dream garden layout and the plants you want to surround yourself with is the best way to figure out what you’ll need to make that dream come true.

It will help you, together with your garden center horticulturalist, figure out exactly how many of each variety you’ll need and the tools you’ll need.  All this will help you work out what it will all cost.  If it’s beyond your budget, you can still work towards the end goal, but just scale it down by either doing a section of the garden as you can afford to, or by planting a ‘skeleton’ garden that can be fleshed out later.

 

Don’t have space for a vegetable garden? Use a Container

If you don’t have space for a full out vegetable garden, you can still grow veggies! Just do it in a container!

Growing vegetables in a container is very similar to growing flowers in a container. The video above gives you quick step by step instructions.

Step 1:

Choose your container

Step 2:

Choose your vegetables according to similarities in the type of environment they’ll do best in.  For instance, if the container is to be in full sun, choose vegetables that all like full sun.  If some like shade and some like sun, only some of them will be happy and grow healthy.

Step 3:

Add good quality potting mix to the container

Step 4:

Soak the vegetable plants in the nursery pots in water until the soil around the roots is wet

Step 5:

Remove the vegetable plants from the nursery pots and untangle the roots if they are at all root bound

Step 6:

Plant them in the container at the same depth they were in the nursery pot

Step 7:

Water well and make sure you water again when the soil begins to dry out.

Plan, Plant and Prosper: Vegetable Garden Tips

Were you disappointed with last year’s vegetable garden? 

If so, don’t despair: here are some tips to help you make your best vegetable garden ever!

Plan before you plant:

Planning ahead of time will save you time, money and frustration.  In order to plan, you need to know where your vegetable garden will be and the conditions that prevail.  Is it sunny all day, or partly shady?  Is it sandy soil, or clay?  Is it exposed to wind or is it sheltered.

You’ll need to choose the vegetable plants that will do well in this particular location – and that will do well when planted together. If you want to plant lettuce and squash, you’ll probably need to have vegetable beds in two different locations: one in a partly shady spot and one in full sun. You’ll also need to decide if you’re going to start those plants off from seed or planting seedlings?

If you’re a gardening novice, then take photos and notes and head on down to your garden center for advice.

vegetable garden

Plant Productively:

The best way to plant vegetables is to do so with a harvest in mind.  If you want to reap for longer, you’ll need to plant successive crops.  Many vegetables have varieties that ripen at different times.  Check before you plant.  If you’re planting vegetables that all ripen at exactly the same time, you’ll end up with a huge harvest and not be able to use all the vegetables you reap.  While you can always donate and give away the excess, you also don’t want to be left with nothing else ripening for the rest of the season.

While all this planning might feel like a chore, if you take care of it before you begin preparing your beds, you’ll find that you do less work for better results.

Here’s a link to a vegetable garden planner you’ll find helpful.

 

Dead Or Alive?

dead plant

deadYour plant looks as if it has gone on to the happy hunting grounds, but is it really dead or is there still life inside?

 

Here are a few ways you can check to see whether it can be revived:

  • Is there any green in it?  Are there still some green leaves or twigs to be seen?  If you cut a twig or stem is it green inside?  If so, don’t give up on it just yet.  Cut off the dead foliage and water it.  It may just recover!
  • Did you water it too much?  If so the leaves may be yellow or brown.  They’ll likely be limp or at least soft.  In that case check the soil.  If it’s very moist or waterlogged this could be the problem.  Make sure there’s proper drainage and allow the soil to dry out before watering again.  When you do water, do so sparingly.
  • Did you water too little?  If the leaves are dead and hard on the edges and if the soil is rock hard and pulling away from the sides of the pot, this is likely the problem. Cut off the dead foliage. Make sure there’s proper drainage then start watering that plant.  Set an alarm on your phone so that you remember to water it twice a day. It may well recover.
  • Is it getting too much sun?  If the leaves look as if they have brown spots or burnt areas, this plant probably needs some shade.  Cut off the dead foliage, move it out of the direct sun and water it.
  • Is it getting too little sun?  If the leaves appear pale and wan and limp, this could be the issue.  Especially if you recently moved the plant from one position to another.  Change the position so it’s getting the right amount of light and / or sun depending on the plant and water as usual.
  • Plants often like humidity, especially indoor plants.  They absorb moisture through the leaves so make sure it’s not being dried out in the position it’s currently in.
  • Is the plant starving?  it might be deficient in some nutrients. Ask your garden center which fertilizer would be best for this plant then apply as per product directions.
  • Is it time to say goodbye?  If you’ve done all you can do to revive the plant and it’s not working… well it’s probably time to head down to your garden center and get a new plant to love and care for!

fall color mums

Container Gardening 101

container gardening

Successful container gardening is easy with these basics:

Remember that when you are planting a container you are dealing with a different environment than you are when you plant directly into your garden.

Fall Planting Container Gardening

You have to treat the container as a micro-environment, not as part of the entire garden. 

Here’s what you need to do:

 

 

  1. Choose the right container for the plants and visa versa
  2. Make sure the container has drainage holes in the bottom so that it doesn’t become water logged
  3. Add some drainage medium – small gravel or stones works well – in the bottom of the container
  4. Use potting mix as your planting medium, not just soil you dug up from your garden
  5. Soak the plants you’re going to plant in the container in a bucket of water – push the pot into the water until all the air bubbles escape.  Leave the plant to soak while you prepare the container.
  6. Remove the plants you’re going to put in the container from the pots in which they were sold – use your fingers or a small garden fork to tease the roots apart.  Many of these plant have become somewhat root bound and will grow better if you ‘unbind’ the roots so they can reach out for water.
  7. Add bone meal and fertilizer. Ask your garden center which will work best with your chosen plants.
  8. Wet the soil mix  in the container and then plant the plants in the grouping you want.  Ask your garden center for advice about container companion planting to ensure your plants are compatible and that they’ll produce a nice show of flowers and foliage throughout the season.
  9. Be sure to get the soil off the leaves and stems of the plants.  Cover the roots. with soil
  10. Water the planted container thoroughly but not so much that the water runs out the bottom as this will wash out all the nutrients.
  11. Water the container at least twice a day, especially as the weather warms.  Remember that container soil will warm up and dry out quicker than garden soil as it’s exposed on the sides to the sun and the heat.
  12. When blooms fade, if the plant requires deadheading do this to prolong the blooming seasonContainer Gardening

Helping Your Garden Recover From Winter

helping your garden recover from winter

This Winter was a doozy!  Here are a few tips to help you bring your garden back to its vibrant best.

 

Tip 1:

The good news is that lots of snow isn’t always bad.  Snow actually insulates the roots of plants.  When it doesn’t snow and just gets cold, roots are not protected and they run the risk of freezing which will often kill off the plants.

Tip 2:

helping your garden recover from winterCut off the dead leaves and twigs and aerate the soil around the roots.  Water as usual and wait a while.  Those ‘dead’ plants may well surprise you with new shoots as the weather warms.

 

 

Tip 3:

helping your garden recover from winterCheck for split or broken branches, road salt damage or other damage that could hinder the plant’s recovery.  Trim off these damaged areas. In the case of split or broken branches, make a clean cut above the break so that the branch can heal. Make sure to hire a professional arborist to remove larger branches as these can be very unstable and dangerous.  If in doubt, take a photo and ask your local garden center’s advice.

Tip 4:

helping your garden recover from winterA quick way to tell if a plant has actually died or if life still lingers is to check to see if the stems are completely dry and brown inside or if there appears to be a hint of green or white inside which indicates that there’s still sap flowing.

 

 

Tip 5;

If the stems or branches appear dead, sometimes the plant will shoot again from the roots, so be patient and wait a while before ripping it out of the ground.

Tip 6:

helping your garden recover from winterTake care when trimming evergreens with foliage damage.  Don’t prune the foliage any more than normal as you might end up with bare patches.  Instead wait a while as new foliage will likely make an appearance soon.

 

 

Tip 7:

As the weather warms, prune, water and fertilize.  Ask your local garden center about the correct fertilizer and amount of water for your specific plant.

Tip 8:

helping your garden recover from winterIf you notice that your shrubs such as hydrangeas are not blooming after this hard winter, don’t worry too much.  They will probably begin blooming again the next season.

 

 

Tip 9:

For shrubs and plants that were flattened under the snow, give them time to rejuvenate unless they are actually broken or the roots pulled out.

Tip 10:

Make a note to mulch around your plants, shrubs and trees before next winter sets in.  This is the best way to avoid damage to the roots.