Gardening 101: Gardening On A Budget

gardening on a budget

If you’ve been putting off improving your garden because you think it will be too expensive, here’s some good news:  gardening on a budget is possible!

All it takes is a little planning, patience and perseverance. Here are a few tips to help you on your way:

  1. Start from seed:
    gardening on a budget
    You can start many flowers, vegetables, herbs and other popular plants from seed.  Granted it will take a little longer to get that full, mature looking flowerbed, but it also brings a great feeling of accomplishment when you look out onto a bed with healthy plants you grew from scratch!
  2. Plant and divide:
    gardening on a budget
    When you do buy plants, you get a good bang for your buck when you buy perennials that will multiply allowing you to divide them in subsequent seasons to populate other areas in your garden, or swop with friends.
  3. Shape and shift:
    You don’t have to cover your entire landscape with plants. Creating an interesting mix of beds, ground cover, lawn and unplanted areas creates great visual interest. Unplanted areas can be covered with gravel, rock, mulch or even stepping stones, driftwood or sculptures to provide texture and drama.
  4. Repurpose, Recycle, Upcycle:
    Container Gardening gardening on a budget
    Use your imagination and repurpose old items sitting in your shed or garage. An old wheelbarrow can become a flowerbed.  An old tire can become a fountain.  Look with new eyes at the possibilities.
  5. Shrubs and Trees:
    Using beautiful shrubs and trees can provide ‘anchors’ in the garden. Choosing just one or two to add to your garden each season needn’t break the bank, but can add colour with seasonal flowers or interesting foliage.
  6. Elbow grease:
    Keeping things trimmed and cleaning up dead leaves, weeds and unruly branches doesn’t cost anything except some time and energy and it can make your garden look immaculate!
  7. Let there be light:
    Adding a few solar lights, or outdoor garden lights can add that final touch of pizzazz that will make your landscape an interesting and fun place to be day and night.  Just make sure that they placed or hung neatly. There’s nothing that creates an air of neglect like lights hanging haphazardly or bulbs that don’t work.

January In The Garden

October

JanuaryThe weather this winter has been pretty brutal! January in the garden has its challenges and chores and as soon as it warms a little – and hopefully it does – there are a few things to take care of.

Hopefully you’ve already protected vulnerable plants from the snow and ice and spread a good layer of mulch around the roots.  With the storms we’ve had, you might have had some damage to branches and it’s a good idea to cut of broken bits to prevent disease later on.

If the winter continues in this crazy cold fashion, you might not be able to do all that much outside other than some basic clean up, but, you can plan for the spring and summer.

January

Grab a nice cup of hot coffee, a sketch pad and a pencil and begin to dream your best garden plans now.  You’d be surprised at how quickly spring comes around.

If you’d like some inspiration for that dream garden, especially if you want it to be waterwise, check out these plans. Then make a list of what you’ll need to move and what plants you’d like to see.  Pay attention to creating colour and texture during all the seasons of the year. If you get stuck, or aren’t sure where to start,we’d be happy to help you.

garden tips JanuaryIf you like to start plants off from seed, now’s the time to start getting those seeds – we have a good selection from West Coast Seeds, so be sure to check those out.

Here is an article that will help you with information about how to start off your seeds and here’s an article that gives you information about how to transition your seedlings to the outdoors.

If you really can’t wait to get your fingers into the soil and begin growing something, consider starting an indoor garden.  You can grow edibles and flowers as well as the usual houseplants.

Although you might not get much done outside during January, as you can see, there’s plenty of gardening to be done!

Keeping On Composting During Winter

DIY Compost winter

winterComposting has many benefits. It’s a pity to let it lapse during the Winter.

Composting is good for your garden. It’s good for the landfills because you’re minimizing what you put into them. It saves money – you don’t need to purchase compost!

It can be a bit of hassle developing the composting habit, especially come the winter months, but it is worth it.

The two main components that go into composting are:

  1. Organic, dry material such as dry leaves, hay, wood chips, straw, cardboard and paper
  2. Organic wet material such as food scraps, tea leaves, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peels, grass clippings, fresh leaves. (No dairy or meat should be added.)

These two main components combine to supply the necessary elements for the composting process: carbon and nitrogen.  Composting needs 1 part nitrogen to 3 parts carbon.

During winter you’ll mainly be dealing with the nitrogen component provided by the ‘wet’ material.

When it’s cold and it’s wet, the last thing you want to do is traipse out to the compost bin with your food scraps, open it up the bin, put the scraps in and then turn the bin.  That’s enough to put anyone off composting!

Instead what you can do is to take your food scraps, chop them up if necessary and put them in a plastic bag in your freezer.  When the weather warms up, you can simply take out the bags a few at a time, let them defrost and then put them into the compost bin.

This way your composting habit will be reinforced, your compost bin will quickly get back in production and your garden will thank you!  So will the landfills!

 

Making A Christmas Wreath And Garland

Christmas Wreath Christmas Wreath and Garland

It’s time to get your greens on!

Christmas greens on your door and mantle that is!  Here are a few videos from our friends at Garden Answer which demonstrate very nicely just how to make a Christmas Wreath and Garland.

How to make a Christmas Wreath:

 

How to make a Garland:

 

Remember – we have all the fresh greens you need plus lots of trimmings to make the perfect Christmas wreath and garland! If you prefer to buy these ready made, we have them here for you!

 

Keeping Your Holiday Plants & Greenery Looking Great

holiday

You go to a lot of trouble to make sure that your home is bright and welcoming during December. Part of that is adding plants and greenery as part of your holiday decor.

HolidayThere’s nothing brighter and more quintessentially a Christmas plant than Pointsettia.  Keeping it looking good – or even keeping it going so that it’s alive and well for the following year takes a little attention.

First of all, make sure that you don’t forget to water them frequently, but, whatever you do, don’t allow the pot to stand in water. Remove the tray underneath so the pot can fully drain. Pointsettias come from warmer, dryer climates so they like to be warm and dry – cold feet aren’t good for them! Make sure they get plenty of light. They especially like sunlight.

Christmas Greens HolidayEvergreen Christmas wreaths and garlands.  When you purchase the ‘fixings’ to make your Christmas wreath and garlands, choose the freshest possible.  Soak them in water overnight before you make them up.  This helps them to absorb moisture and stay fresher longer. You can also gently mist them every few days to maintain them even longer.

Amaryllis HolidayAmaryllis makes a delightful show at this time of year and they’re popular as hostess gifts too!  Because they’re bulbs you can enjoy them for years to come with just a little care.  Water sparingly – perhaps every 3 to 7 days. Don’t let them get too cold. If they freeze they will die.  When the blooms fade, cut them off to encourage reblooming.  Keep them in a pot as they prefer this to being planted in the ground.

The Evergreen Hedge – Without Conifers!

gardening tips

In B.C. we love to use conifers to provide an evergreen border to our property, but, what about mixing it up a little for more visual interest?

Evergreen Hedge

The key to a great evergreen border is to not insist that everything be evergreen.  That might sound like a contradiction, but stay with me here…

Take a hedge / border that incoporates evergreen boxwood (you can use the single green or variegated variety) teamed with ornamental grasses, red Japanese Maple and Rhododendron.

The Boxwood and Rhododendron provide a solid anchor giving privacy while the ornamental grasses and red Japanese Maple provide color, texture and architecture.

Boxwood and Rhododendron are evergreen and don’t normally lose their leaves here on the West Coast.  Red Japanese Maples do lose their leaves.  They provide height and visual interest throughout the year – first with the foliage and then with the bare branches.

Ornamental grasses can be added between or in front of the Boxwood, Rhododendron and Japanese Maples providing softness and movement.

Throw in a Goldy™ euonymus as an inner border along the edge of the hedge for added pizzazz. This is a very versatile and showy, glossy gold-leafed plant can be used as a ground cover, climber, or even a small shrub.

Voila! An evergreen hedge with colour and interest!  Plus, it’s low maintenance!

Fall Or Winter Gardening Projects For Kids

Tanglebank's History

Just because it’s getting colder doesn’t mean that you can’t entertain and educated kids with gardening projects.

Because kids have short attention spans and like instant gratification it’s a good idea to do a variety of projects – some with immediate payoff and some where they’ll learn patience as they wait for results.

Here are a few ideas to keep kids busy and engaged:

Immediate results:

    1. A miniature garden / fairy garden
      Both boys and girls will enjoy putting together a miniature garden if you gear it to their interests.  Here are some suggestions:
      – fairy garden
      – leprechaun garden
      – hotwheels garden
      – dinosaur garden
      – a beach garden
      There are no limits when it comes to miniature gardens. The requirements are fairly simple. You can purchase fairy garden accessories from us and you can also utilize your child’s own toys.  All you need is a a suitable container, potting soil, your container plants of choice and the accessories.
    2. A indoor herb garden

    1. An indoor planter using plastic bottles

    1.  A worm farm

 

Planting patience: teach your kids about the virtues of patience while you teach more about how nature works with these projects:

  1. Plant bulbs for spring flowers
  2. Container indoor vegetable garden
  3. Planting seeds

Tips For Pruning Fruit Trees

Pruning Fruit Trees

Having your own apples, pears, plums or other fruit right in your backyard is a wonderful thing.

Pruning Fruit TreesUnderstanding how to look after those fruit trees ensures that you’ll enjoy their fruit for years to come.

Fruit trees aren’t necessarily high maintenance but they do need regular attention.  They need to be fertilized and protected against disease.  They also need pruning if you’re to enjoy edible fruit long term.

Here are a few tips on the best time and methods for pruning:

  • Prune ‘stone’ fruit such as plums, apricots, peaches, cherries etc by as much as two thirds in height. This helps the tree become bushier and stronger and it will bear more fruit.  Do this roughly in mid summer once all the spring growth has happened.
  • Prune to shape the tree in late winter – but be sure to do so when it’s dry and there’s no too much danger of frost due to rain.  This can be tricky in our climate!
  • Prune so that the branches are around the outside of the tree i.e. trim away the inside branches so that all the fruit is easier to reach. This also helps with air circulation through the tree which can help prevent disease.
  • Prune in the right place on the branch: just above the bud node that faces toward the outside of the tree. Remember you only want branches growing out, not into the center of the tree.
  • Prune using the right tools. Make sure your pruning tools are heavy duty enough and sharp enough to not tear the branch but cut through easily and cleanly.  Ragged cuts can become diseased.

 

Indoor Plants for Very Low Light Rooms

low light plant

As the cooler weather approaches, our focus turns indoors.  Indoor gardening is healthy – both for the air as well as for your physical, mental and emotional well being.

But, with our Northern climate, we often struggle with indoor gardens due to the low level of light at this time of year.  Small windows are great for keeping the heat in, but it does present challenges for the indoor gardener.

You can use grow lights, but, if you don’t want to do that, there are certain plants that will grow well even in very low light conditions.

Here are a few choices that work well with a minimum of light:

low light plantMother-in-Law’s tongue / Snake plant – it has stiff, sword shaped leaves often variegated with dark green / light green / gold.

 

 

low light plantCast iron plant looks a little like Mother-in-Law’s Tongue in that it also has sword shaped leaves although these are a bit more floppy and they are a dark green with no variegation. They are completely ‘dummy proof’ as they’re not only tolerant of low light but also dampness, dust and general neglect.

 

 

 

low light plantPeace Lily also has dark green sword shaped leaves, but it has a creamy white ‘flower’. It likes moist soil.

 

 

 

 

low light plantDracaena has spiky long leaves in a mid to light green colour and can be variegated.  It looks like a cross between an ornamental grass, a reed and a small palm. It is easy to grow and should be trimmed to keep it at the size you prefer.

 

 

 

low light plantPhilodendrons come in many varieties  including creeping or vine-like varieties. They may have variegated leaves or areas of other colors on a green background. These can look lovely in a hanging basket as well as in a pot.

 

 

low light plantChinese evergreen looks a bit like the Peace Lily or Arum Lily, but with variegated leaves.

 

 

 

 

low light plantHen and Chicks / Spider Plant  is often a summer hanging basket favourite, but it also does well as an indoor low light plant.

 

 

 

low light plantZZ plant looks a little like a ficus tree except that it’s a pot plant and comes up from the roots in multiple stems with dark green oval leaves that are quite fleshy.

October In The Garden

october

It’s October and Fall is making its appearance in the garden.

As Fall kicks off during October, it is one of the best times of the year to garden and there’s plenty to keep you busy!

October

Here is a brief list of garden-keeping tasks for this month:

OctoberPrepare for color:  it’s time to plant your spring flowering bulbs and late flowering perennials.  Because those bulbs are underground and won’t pop out till next Spring, it’s a good idea to put markers on the spots where they are buried so that you don’t plant over them or dig them up by mistake!

OctoberDivide and move perennials that have grown too much in a clump over the summer.

Plant your paperwhite bulbs so that they’re blooming in time for Christmas.

Plant garlic.

 

Skimmia RubellaPlant or move shrubs nowFall is a great time for planting as the plants energy goes into establishing roots rather than growing upwards into shoots and leaves.

 

 

OctoberTrim your climbing vines and make sure they are securely fastened to their trellises so that they don’t get broken when the winds begin.

Prune all the shrubs and herbaceous perennials that should be trimmed at this time of year – hostas, certain ornamental grasses, spirea, bearded iris, beebalm, columbine, corydalis, crocosmia, daylily, margeurite, golden star, ground clematis, hardy begonia, peony, ph;ox, salvia.

Many plants should not be pruned until spring, so be sure to check with your garden center to avoid winter damage.

OctoberGet a head start on your flowers next spring: dig up all the tender ones that would normally die off in winter. Pot them and keep them in a light place protected from cold and frost, then replant in the spring. Geraniums and fuschias can be overwintered by removing from soil, trimming back and storing. Geraniums can be hung roots up while fuschias can be buried under soil.

If you’ve grown apples, now is the time to store them at between zero and seven degrees celcius.

Dry beans well before storing in airtight containers.

Clean and dry onions before storing.

Store root crops that have been cleaned in a cool, dry, dark spot. Trimming off the tops will help them to last longer.  Squash / Pumpkins need to be cleaned well with bleach or vinegar solution and then stored in a cool, dry place.

To Rake or Not To Rake: Now’s the time when the trees really begin shedding their leaves.  Some people like to take advantage of dry Fall days to blow these leaves clear, gathering them up and adding them to the compost heap.  Others prefer to leave them in the garden as a protection for shrub and tree roots from the cold.