Thursday, August 23, 2012

Arlene's List of Plants Harmful to Cats and Dogs

The following are plants that are more toxic and may cause diarrhea, colic, weakness, stupor, asphyxiation, colic, depression, leg paralysis, kidney failure and possibly death.

1. Azalea
2. Daylilies – Toxic to Cats
3. Asiatic Lily (Lilium) – Toxic to Cats
4. Cyclamen
5. Foxglove
6. Hops – Toxic to Dogs
7. Monkshood – loaded with the poisonous alkaloid
8. Nicotiana
9. Oleander
10. Perennial Sweet Pea
11. Periwinkle
12. Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)

The following shrubs should be avoided or used wisely in the garden as they have thorns that could cause a lot of harm to both pets and children:

1. Barberry
2. Sea buckthorn (The fruits are valuable for their high content of Vitamin C and antioxidants.
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 7:47 AM 0 Comments

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Seeding Your Lawn and Laying Sod by Arlene

Arlene’s Tips on Seeding Your Lawn and Laying Sod

Fall time is an optimum time for laying sod or seeding your lawn as the weather is not too hot, precipitation is prevalent and the conditions are ideal for establishing turf.

The fall is the best time to over-seed your lawn as well, so as in the spring, the new grass will help choke out any weeds.

If you are seeding a new lawn or laying sod, as in everything else in the garden, preparation is the key. Prepare the ground.
TIP - In our clay soil, work in some organic matter such as peat moss. Do not add sand as it will pack harder and become like concrete.
Slope the soil away from the house. Remove rocks, weeds and any other debris that could prevent good contact with the soil. Till to a depth of 4 – 6 inches and insure all big clumps are broken up. You may want to add a good quality top soil, 3-way mix or just plain peat moss.
TIP - If you are using peat moss, mix it in a large muck bucket with water to prevent it from blowing away to your neighbours before applying it to the lawn.
Rake the soil to an even level. Water the soil, purchase a good quality grass seed and apply it according to directions. Push a lawn roller over the seed or tamp it down to help it make better contact with the soil. Unless it makes contact with the soil, it will not germinate. Keep it moist but not drenched and don’t water it so heavily, the seed washes away. Don’t let the seed dry out! The seed needs soil, water, warm temperature and nutrients to germinate.

The same preparation as above is needed if you are laying sod.
TIP - If you are unable to lay the sod as soon as it is delivered, lay the sod pieces out in a shady area and do not leave the sod stacked in piles.
Start laying the sod against a straight edge like a sidewalk or driveway and lay the sod so the rows are perpendicular to your house. Unroll the first piece of sod, keeping it tight against the straight edge as you go. Butt the second piece tightly against the first, without stretching either piece and keep in mind that sod pieces will shrink as they dry out. Start the second row with a partial piece of sod as the seams between the end of one strip and the beginning of the next should be offset like brickwork. After completion, use a roller to compress the sod slightly to help the roots make contact with the soil.
TIP – Don’t let the sod dry out. Begin watering the sod within about thirty minutes after installing to encourage rooting and preventing it from drying out.
Keep the sod moist after installation but don’t soak the area. Water in the morning, if possible, so the grass has a chance to dry before nightfall. Leaving grass wet overnight, encourages disease. Newly laid sod requires about 1 inch of water every 2 – 3 days, depending on the soil temperature and rainfall. Once established, 1 inch of water every 4 – 7 days is sufficient. Allow the grass to grow for a couple of weeks and then mow to about 2 inches. Never remove over 1/3 of the leaf blade when mowing.
TIP – Over time, decrease watering to encourage deeper root growth.
Try to keep children and pets off the area until your new lawn is established and until after the second mowing.
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 8:06 AM 1 Comments

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Container Gardening by Arlene

Arlene’s Container Gardening Tips

Container gardening can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. Here are some tips I’ve gathered through the years to be successful:

Choosing the right container


TIP - Choose a container that is at least 12” in diameter. Smaller containers dry out very quickly in hot weather. The container must also have drainage holes to allow for moisture to drain out if over-watering occurs or if they are out in rain.

There are many different containers to choose from to hang or place on the ground. There are wire baskets with a coco liner or lined with sphagnum moss; plastic, fiberglass, self-watering; glazed, terra cotta, metal and wooden containers.
TIP - When using clay or terra cotta, soak the container in a tub of water until the air bubbles subside before you pot them up, to avoid drying out the soil. Also, place a saucer of water underneath to keep them moist.
TIP – When using baskets lined with either a coco liner or sphagnum, put a plastic liner punched with holes, over-top of the coco or sphagnum liner and then plant your plants. The basket will not dry out so quickly.

Darker coloured containers attract the heat more than lighter coloured ones, so keep that in mind if you plan on spending weekends away. Use light coloured containers for the sunny spots.

Choosing the right soil

A peat based soil less mix dries out more quickly than a quality potting soil. Choose a quality potting soil specific for containers or hanging baskets that contain key nutrients. Consider using a product such as Soil Moist that contains water crystals that hold water and release it into the soil as it dries. Soil Moist is added to the soil before you plant. Add compost to enrich your soil.
TIP – Don’t use soil from the garden as it will compact, be heavy and may contain insect or disease.

Choosing the right plants

Choose the right plants for the conditions (sun or shade). If you get away on the weekends and have your hanging baskets or containers in hot dry sun, choose annuals such as Geraniums, Strawflower, Portulaca, Million bells, Osteospermum, Cosmos, Lantana. Scaevola, Marigolds, Heliotrope, Salvia, Celosia, Verbena, Gazania, Ice Plant, or Castor Bean, to name a few, that will tolerate a lot of hot and dry.

Keeping your plants healthy

Add compost to enrich the soil before you plant or use a slow release fertilizer that breaks down with heat and moisture.  Some slow release fertilizers last for up to four months.  If you haven’t improved the soil, you may also want to use a water soluble fertilizer or an organic fertilizer such as sea weed or fish emulsion to supplement until the slow release fertilizer starts breaking down.

Remove the spent flowers by removing the flower head right back to the stem to keep the plant from going to seed.

Checking for insects and disease
Check for insects and disease regularly and deal with the problem immediately before the plants gets stressed or destroyed.

Water your hanging baskets or containers slowly to insure the entire container is moist.  For hanging baskets, you may want to submerge the basket in a bucket of water until air bubbles subside. This way you know the basket is very well watered.
TIP – The feeder roots will gravitate to the outside of the container so make sure the soil at the edges of the container is well watered.
Water bulbs are available to fill and leave in your container when you are away.  I have also filled 2 litre plastic bottles, punched a few holes in them and turned them upside down in a large to container to drip water slowly into the soil when I am away for a few days.

The use of mulch in containers also helps keep in moisture and keep the soil cool.

TIP – if you are going to be away for a number of days and are not able to have someone come in to water while you are away, you might consider moving smaller baskets and containers inside or into a shady, sheltered area outside to keep them from drying out in the hot sun.

TIP – If you have planted perennials or shrubs in containers for the summer, make sure you remove them from the container and get them planted into the ground by the middle to the end of September to insure they settle in before winter.

These are some tips that I have used over the years to keep my hanging baskets and containers looking in top shape all summer long!  If you keep your plants healthy, they will be able to survive on their own through periods of both drought and a lot of rain!

Posted by Tammy Jensen at 1:24 PM 0 Comments

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Arlene’s Mid-Summer Tomato Tips

Arlene’s Mid-Summer Tomato Tips

This is the time of year we should be starting to enjoy some tasty, home-grown tomatoes.

Here are some tips:

Don’t forget – Tomatoes are calcium lovers, so save your eggshells to work in around your plants or add bonemeal to prevent the Blossom End Rot (the black end on the tomato).

Water the soil around the tomato plant and not overtop.

If you are a smoker, wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly before handling the tomato plants to prevent the Tomato Mosaic Virus.  This virus produces distorted leaves and blotches on the fruit.

Remove all the suckers (the stems that grow out between the main and side shoots).

Once the tomato plant has set fruit, remove all the stems underneath the fruit.

Fertilize with an organic fertilizer made by Bio Fert Manufacturing in B.C..  It is made up of plant extracts, alfalfa, kelp and soy bean mulch, natural potash, blood meal and fish emulsion (without the smell!!!).

You will have a rich tasting, larger tomato with a longer shelf life!
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 4:21 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Arlene's Fertilizing Tips

Arlene’s Fertilizing Tips

Don’t forget to fertilize if you haven’t amended your soil, added compost or any organic matter before planting!
Use the correct kind of fertilizer for each of your different plants, shrubs and trees!  Too much nitrogen (the first number of the fertilizer) will produce a lot of leaf, with little bloom for your blooming plants and ornamental trees and shrubs.
Always fertilize when your plants are well watered, never when they are dry as they may get leaf burn.

For your blooming plants, use a fertilizer with high phosphorus (a high middle number fertilizer), such as Miracle Gro 15-30-15.  Follow the directions and fertilize right through until frost!

For Vegetables, I recommend using an organic fertilizer such as Tomato & Vegetable fertilizer made by Bio Fert Manufacturing from B.C.. It’s all organic; contains blood meal, plant extractions (alfalfa), kelp & soybean mulch and fish emulsion without the odour!  The numbers are 2.5 – 1 – 4.  It produces richer tasting vegetables with a longer shelf life.

For leafy plants like Hosta, use an all-purpose fertilizer like a Miracle Gro 20-20-20.

For Evergreens, make sure you use an evergreen fertilizer.  They are acid lovers and require a different fertilizer than deciduous trees and shrubs. Use a fertilizer specific to evergreens.  Azaleas, blueberries and Rhododendrons are also acid lovers.

For Deciduous Trees and Shrubs, in particular, your blooming ones, use a high phosphorous such as you would use for your blooming plants, such as a Miracle Gro 15-30-15.

Established trees need only to be fertilized every few years, while recently planted trees and shrubs need to be fertilized every year.  There are several factors that should be considered in deciding whether or not to fertilize.  Observe the general vigor of the plant and the colour of the foliage.  Undersized leaves and short new twig growth generally indicate a need for fertilizer.  Yellowing leaves, if you can still see the green veins, generally indicate a lack of iron and an iron should be added to the soil or sprayed on the leaves.  At times the application of a fertilizer will also correct the problem.

Stop all fertilizing after the second week in August at the very latest for everything except annuals.  If you continue to fertilize, plants, trees, shrubs and especially roses, they won’t have time to prepare for winter.  You don’t want a lot of new growth going into the frosty season!

Keep your plants healthy with what they require for nutrient and you will have fewer problems with insects and disease!!!
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 5:00 PM 0 Comments