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Get your Garden Ready for Spring – Canada Blooms

After this brutal winter, I am so ready for any signs of spring. With the clocks going ahead this past weekend and the temperatures finally getting above zero, I am starting to feel hopeful. I even saw clean, dry sidewalk this afternoon! Can you believe it? Now if only the 3 feet of snow in my yard would melt.

Although I won’t be seeing plants in my own garden any time soon, I’m looking forward to checking our the gardens at Canada Blooms, happening at the Direct Energy Centre for March 13-22. It does my heart good to walk through and experience the beautiful colours and smells of the flowers, and I know I will leave with lots of inspiration for my own space.  I wonder what new products and plants I will see? 

In the meantime, while we await the chance to get out in our own gardens, now is a great time to start our planning , so we are ready when we see soil again. There’s lots of work to be done before planting can begin.

“We Canadians are a hardy people, as are many of the plants and flowers we find around our homes,” says Denis Flanagan, a horticultural expert with Landscape Ontario. “But a little prep work when the snow melts away will help ensure your garden is lush and vibrant when the warm weather arrives for the summer.”

Denis offers the following tips for getting your garden and yard ready for spring:

  • After another harsh winter be sure to check plants for winter damage, prune out dead or damaged branches and bark. Damaged bark if not cleaned correctly can be a hiding place for pests and diseases.
  • Rake out winter debris and dead grass (known as thatch) from lawns, open up pores on the lawn’s surface by using an aerating machine so that when you apply a high nitrogen fertilizer it is reaching the roots of the grass.
  • Clean up perennial plants by removing dead foliage, carefully avoid damaging the centre (crown) of the plant, and apply a fresh layer of mulch around the root zone.
  • Prepare vegetable gardens by turning the soil over to a depth of 15 inches and digging in manure and compost to supply valuable nutrients to vegetables throughout the growing season.
  • Freshen up pots and containers by turning the soil and adding compost and a slow release fertilizer.
  • “You are usually safe to plant tender plants around the Victoria Day long weekend, but getting all of this work done now means you don’t have to do it then,” says Flanagan. “That means you get right into planting your annuals and seeds.”

Co-located with the National Home Show, Canada Blooms takes place March 13th to 22nd, 2015, at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto. For more information or for tickets, please visit Follow Canada Blooms on Twitter @CanadaBlooms and Like it on Facebook to stay in touch.


WW – In the Garden w/linky

We spent the majority of the Victoria Day weekend in the garden. Sunday and Monday were particularly gorgeous days, and we got a lot of work done. And found some odd surprises. Here are a few shots.
What do you mean it’s too big? I can handle any stick, any size. I swear!
I found all of these empty snail shells in a 4 square foot area of my herb garden. A friend suggested shrews or voles like to snack there. I haven’t seen any vole damage, but I know there’s shrews in our garden, so I’m going with that. Very strange.
And then there’s this skull. It’s not human, so that’s the main thing.
(About 2 inches long, maybe a little more.)

And to apologise for the skull and snails, here’s a pic of my lovely bleeding heart.
That’s nicer now, isn’t it? 🙂

An InLinkz Link-up


In the Garden – Starting Seeds

April is the time my heart really begins to sing for my garden. As the weather warms and the soil dries out after a long winter, it’s time to look after garden clean-up and to plan for the growing season. It’s also a great time to start seeds in Southern Ontario. The rule of thumb is to start seeds about 6 weeks prior to the last frost, which is approximately mid-May in these parts.  Of course, always refer to the information on the seed packets to be sure of how long your specific variety requires. I buy most of my plants as nursery stock, because we don’t have great light for starting seeds indoors. But Boo and I like to start a few things from seed as well. Kids love to watch things grow, and the magic of a little seed sprouting out into a plant is pretty cool.

This post isn’t so much a how-to on starting seeds, but some ideas on the types of containers you can consider. I’m a big fan of re-using and re-purposing, so I have a few suggestions for you!

When looking for containers to start my seeds, I prefer to use materials that can readily break down and add organic matter to the soil. You can purchase peat pots or peat pellets at the garden centre if you want to go that route. Or, you can use items you already have around the house. Like …

1. Egg shells. When you crack your eggs for breakfast or for whatever recipe, try to break the shell close to the pointed end. Rinse the larger part of the shell and set aside for later planting. Bonus – egg shells provide lots of calcium for the soil as they break down.

2. Egg cartons. The cardboard kind, not styrofoam. Remove the lid and add soil to the individual compartments. Once the seedlings are ready to transplant to the garden, cut or tear the sections apart.

3. Empty toilet paper rolls. Cut four slits approximately 1 inch, evenly spaced, on one end. Fold in the resulting four tabs to create a bottom.

Any of these options will hold your soil and seeds and can be planted directly into your garden when the time is right. You won’t disturb delicate roots, your seedlings will have an easy and smooth move, and the containers will slowly break down into the soil.

Of course you can also use things like empty yogurt or pudding containers. You will need to carefully remove seedlings from these containers to transplant, so it’s a little more touchy, but the containers work great. Just try not to disturb the roots too much. Either gently squeeze the sides, while holding the seedling close to the soil and pulling gently (upside down), or use scissors or garden shears to cut the container away.

Especially if you are using biodegradable materials, you will need a tray of some sort to keep the surface underneath the pots dry and clean. Purchased kits will come with a covered tray, but have a look around and see what you have already. And old cake pan, or even foil pie trays work great. How about clamshell containers from the bakery? Built in cover to keep in the humidity! If you have styrofoam egg cartons, use those to hold your eggshell plants. If don’t have anything to hand to keep your egg shell planters upright, check out your local dollar store. You should be able to find a variety of disposable foil trays and pans there for $1 – $2 each, or even less. Pack your shells or other containers in snuggly. I picked up a super, covered, foil casserole dish for $1.25 at my dollar store. Having a cover over your seeds aids in keeping the soil moist and the temperature warm enough for germination. You can remove the cover once the seedlings are an inch or so tall. If your tray/pan/etc. doesn’t have a clear lid, cover your seed containers with plastic wrap.

What do you think? Do you start seeds indoors? What kids of containers have you used?


Nurture Photography Photo Challenge – Favourite Spring Photos

Nurture Photography Challenge - Spring 2013 Edition

This is the final week of the #NuturePhoto Spring Photo Challenge. The theme is a good culminating theme – Favourite Spring Photos. I’ll try not to use ones I’ve shown you already in the challenge.

Bleeding Hearts


Cherry Blossoms
First Ice Cream Truck of the Season

Sun, Shorts, Garden Dirt, Beer. Heaven.

Flowering Crab

This challenge has been hosted by Project AliciaBumbles and Light, and Live and Love Out Loud. I’ve enjoyed taking part and welcomed the challenge, to keep me looking for new things to capture through my lens. I’ll be watching to see what challenge comes next! Thanks for hosting, ladies!!

Starting Our Seeds

Little Boo and I spent some time in the back yard on Easter Sunday. It was a gorgeous day and a great chance to get outside and start some work cleaning up the garden.  We also started some seeds in peat pots. Kids love to see things grow. The magic of a plant growing from a tiny seed they planted and watered themselves is really wonderful. And it’s such an easy and cheap activity to do with them.
I like to use peat pots because you can plant them directly in the garden when the seedlings are ready to set out, and not disturb the young plants’ delicate roots. I got a big package of them at the dollar store for, you guessed it, a dollar. I also bought a bag of potting soil there for a dollar. You can even buy seed packets at many dollar stores.
I like to place my peat pots in a tray so that I don’t get excess water flowing all over my windowsill. This time I used an old stoneware cookie sheet that has a little crack in it.

Fill the pots with soil and scatter some seeds on top.

Tamp down with your finger. You want to make sure that the seeds have good contact with the soil and have a light covering of soil on top.
Water lightly and cover with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap helps to cut down on moisture loss due to evaporation and to hold in warmth. Place the pots in a warm spot and keep an eye on moisture level and keep looking for growth. Once the seedlings touch the wrap, you will need to remove the wrap and move the pots to a sunny window. Be sure to keep the soil moist.
When the weather is right and the plants established in their pots, move them to your garden or a larger container. Remember you can plant them peat pot and all. 
Have fun!


WW – Early Spring

I love these first, hopeful signs of new life in my garden. Please ignore that I haven’t cleaned up yet. The ground is still pretty soft, so I am trying to stay off it to avoid compacting. 
Check out my first flowers of the year:
Pulmonaria is a great early perennial. So nice to see some colour in March!