Saturday, July 27, 2013

Arlene’s Collection of Gardening Tips & Tricks - Part 2

1. For a healthier lawn, forget the crew cut! A trim is all it needs. Lawns that are cut too short are more susceptible to drought and disease. For a vigorous lawn that chokes out weeds, keep your grass about 2 -3 inches long and never mow off more than 1/3 of the height of the grass blade at one time. 2. Easy and quick to make – Safe-to-use Insect Spray. In a blender, mix 1 garlic bulb, 1 small onion, 1 Tablespoon of cayenne pepper and 1 litre of water. Let this mixture steep for about an hour. Then, stir in 1 tsp. of liquid, non-detergent soap. Spray on your plants. Use immediately or store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 3. For the crunchiest cucumbers, soil calcium is essential. Expert cuke growers often side-dress their crops with a calcium source, such as bone meal, gypsum, rock phosphate or dolomite lime. Pick your cucumbers young, mature fruit isn’t crunchy. 4. Be sure your cucumbers get enough moisture. Drought can cause hollow fruit, unsuitable for pickling. 5. Rose growers successfully combat powdery mildew and other fungal diseases by spraying roses with a solution of 3 Tablespoons of baking soda in a gallon of water. 6. A Quick Fix for Acid Soil – Wood ashes take just a few weeks to neutralize soil acidity (limestone takes about 6 months to a year). For best results, thoroughly mix the ashes into the soil in the fall time, and then repeat the application every 3 – 4 years, if soil tests indicate a need. As a rule of thumb, use 1 ¼ pounds of ashes for each pound of limestone recommended. 7. Don’t water your lawn late in the evening. The grass will remain wet through the night, encouraging mold and fungus growth. The best time to water your lawn is in the morning or right after the sun goes down, so the water has a chance to reach the roots instead of evaporating. 8. Try planting pole beans between corn hills or rows. The beans will climb the corn and save you the bother of setting poles. 9. There’s a trick to getting more variety out of a small garden plot. Interplant (plant more than one variety within a block of space). Good combinations are fast-maturing varieties with slow-maturing ones. Harvest the quick-to-mature varieties before the other need to fill the space. Try planting: (a) lettuce with corn, peas, radishes, or tomatoes (b) beans with carrots, corn, cucumbers, onions or squash (c) radishes with carrots, melons, onions or peas 10. When drying herbs, hang them upside down in clean brown paper bags. The bags keep out light and catch any seeds or leaves that may fall off the stems. Cut a few holes in each bag to increase air circulation. 11. To speed the ripening of mature green tomatoes, store them with apples in a confined space. Tomatoes release ethylene gas as they ripen and so do apples. The extra “charge” from the apples will speed the tomatoes along. 12. The best time to gather herbs is in the morning as that is when the aromatic oils are the strongest.
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 3:17 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Arlene's Collection of Gardening Tips & Tricks - Part 1

I was perusing my pile of gardening articles and information when I came across my collection of tips that I have collected over the years and I would like to share them with you. Enjoy! 1. To get rid of Aphids, mix 1 Tbsp liquid soap and 1 cup of vegetable oil together. Add 2 tsp. of the blend to 1 gallon of water. Spray the plants with the mixture and follow with a spray of water. Wait about 15 minutes and then repeat. Don’t use this on squash, cauliflower or cabbage as they can suffer leaf burn. 2. To test if seeds are viable, put them in a container of water. If they float to the top, they are not good. 3. Prolong the life of cut flowers by putting a couple of drops of bleach in the water. The stems in the vase will stay bacteria free. 4. Kill weeds and grass growing in sidewalk cracks by dousing them with undiluted bleach. 5. Plant mint between cabbages to discourage caterpillars and other pests. 6. Plant green beans next to eggplant and potatoes. The beans deter an eggplant and potato nemesis, the Colorado Potato Beetle. 7. Natural sweetening for Tomato Sauce: If the tomato sauce you’re making isn’t sweet enough, instead of adding sugar, grate in some carrots, they work wonders! 8. Keeping lettuce longer: Moisten a clean kitchen towel; then wrap it around a head of lettuce. Place the wrapped head in an open plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep well for up to 2 weeks. (Don’t seal the bag, allow the air to circulate.) 9. To peel fresh tomatoes, plunge them briefly into boiling water, then into cold water. The skins will crack and slip off. You can peel peaches, plums and beets the same way. 10. Storing potatoes: Don’t store potatoes near apples as apples give off ethylene gas, which causes potatoes to sprout. 11. Allow water to come to room temperature before using it on seedlings you start indoors as cold water chills the seedling roots, significantly slowing growth. 12. If you have trouble getting your beet seeds to germinate, try spreading the seeds on a piece of wax paper and then, using a rolling pin, crush the outside husks. This gives the seeds a head start. 13. For weeds growing in the cracks of a sidewalk or patio, mix ¼ cup of salt, 1 litre of vinegar and 2 tsp. of dish soap. Spray on the weeds when they are actively growing. 14. To keep cats and dogs off your lawn, put 2 – 3 cloves of garlic and 3 -4 hot red peppers into a blender to grind them up. Then combine this mixture with about a gallon of water and a few drops of dishwashing soap. Mix well. Sprinkle this solution around the edges of your yard and garden and along sidewalks. Repeat often. Stay tuned for more! Arlene Ortiz (Wheeler)
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Arlene's Dill Pickle Recipe

Arlene’s Dill Pickle Recipe – Makes about 7 – 1 litre jars 18 cups of water (spring water works best, if possible) 1 cup of white vinegar 1 cup of coarse pickling salt ½ cup of white sugar cloves of garlic bay leaves fresh dill seed pickling cucumbers Wash cucumbers and prick them a couple of times with a fork to prevent them from exploding. Bring water, vinegar, salt & sugar to a boil to make the brine. Pack jars with cucumbers, 1 clove of garlic, 1 bay leaf and a sprig of dill. Fill brine to the top of the jar. Seal. Store for 2 weeks before use. I found using spring water makes them last longer and they’re clearer and crisper. Store in a cool spot.
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Monday, July 22, 2013

Arlene's Beet Pickle Recipe

Arlene’s Beet Pickle Recipe 4 cups of white sugar 4 cups of white vinegar 3 cups of beet juice 1 Tablespoon of coarse salt Cloves Fresh beets Wash beets. Place them in a big pot and cover them with boiling water. Boil until tender. Save the juice!!! Mix 4 cups of sugar, 4 cups of vinegar, 3 cups of beet juice and 1 Tablespoon of course salt. Bring to a boil. Put a couple of cloves in each jar. Peel the beets while they are still hot and then cut them up into the jars. Cover beets with the brine and seal. Enjoy!
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Friday, July 19, 2013

Composting made easy!

Composting is one of the greatest ways to recycle and add nutrient-rich humus back into your lawn and garden, naturally. There is less waste; you will create soil with a greater water-holding capacity and you will have better crops with better created nutrients. The microscopic organisms in compost help break down organic matter for use by the plant; help ward off plant disease and aerate the soil. Compost also stabilizes nutrients, helping neutralize over-phosphorous limits. So, let’s do it the easy way. You really don’t need a large, fancy compost bin; all you need is a bit of an area in the garden a few feet square. Any of your fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee and tea grinds, grass clippings, leaves, table scraps, straw, lawn and garden plants, annual weeds that have not gone to seed, egg shells, flower clippings, dryer lint, sawdust, twigs, shredded paper (avoid using the glossy coloured paper) and cardboard are items that can be composted. DO NOT add any meat or milk products, fish scraps, bones, diseased plants or perennial weeds to your compost pile. The fish scraps will attract pests and the diseased plants and the perennial weeds will spread throughout your compost. Also, do not add any pet manure. To accelerate the compost process, chop the larger material into small pieces. A blender works very well for kitchen scraps and peelings. Do not add banana or peach peels as well as orange rind, unless organic, as they may contain pesticide residue. You can either dig in the compostables in that area of your garden (I did this for years and it didn’t take long to break down) or if you have a bit larger area, you can start your compost pile right on top of the bare earth. This allows for earthworms and beneficial organisms to aerate the compost and be transported to your garden. Add a few inches of twigs or straw first. This helps aerate the pile and adds drainage. Add your compost in layers of moist and then dry. The moist would be food scraps, seaweed and tea bags. Dry materials would be twigs, straw, and leaves. Then, add green manure in the form of grass clippings, clover, wheatgrass, etc., or any other nitrogen source. This helps activate the compost pile and speed the process along. Jensen’s also carries Compost Activator by Orgunique, a 100% organic product that speeds up decomposition and breakdown of organic waste by increasing microbial activity. Within a very short time, you will have a high grade compost, rich in minerals and nutrients. After adding your green manure or nitrogen source, water occasionally or let Mother Nature do the job with the rain. Cover the pile with wood, plastic sheeting or anything else you may have that will help maintain moisture and heat, which are two essentials in composting. Covering also prevents the compost from being over-watered by rain. The compost pile should be moist but not soaked. Turn the pile every few weeks with a pitch fork or shovel. Oxygen is required for the process to work. Mixing or turning your compost pile is key to aerating the composting materials and speeding up the process. Adding a layer of soil to your compost pile will help mask any odours. Once your compost pile is established, you can add in new materials by mixing them in rather than adding them in layers. Your plants will soon be enjoying their own Black Gold! Arlene Ortiz (Wheeler)
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 3:21 PM 0 Comments

Friday, July 19, 2013

Are you that Gardener That Used to be on Breakfast TV?

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Are You the Gardener That Used to be on Breakfast TV Last Year? I was on my balcony a few days ago enjoying the sweet perfume of my Heliotrope and reading a book when I heard someone calling “Are you the gardener that used to be on Breakfast Television last year”? “I wonder if you can help me”. One of my neighbours on a balcony above was trying to get my attention. She was having some problems with her tomatoes. She showed me one of the tomatoes and it had a blackened end. After explaining to her that her tomatoes were lacking in calcium, I was thinking that she is probably not alone. If your tomatoes are starting to ripen and you notice a brown/black end on your tomato, you have Blossom End Rot, which is a calcium deficiency. Give your tomato plants some calcium in the form of bone meal, Dolomite Lime or even milk powder. Mix it into the soil around the plant. Apply every couple of weeks. Save your egg shells as well, although they take some time to break down. Crush them and break them down as best as you can and then work them into the soil around the plant. Make sure you give your tomatoes enough water to allow the plant to uptake the calcium from the soil, but, never water overtop of your tomatoes, only around the root area. .I used Orgunique 4-3-7 Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer last year and I swear by it. I was so late in planting my tomatoes, I didn’t expect to be eating tomatoes in July, but, by using Orgunique’s Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer, I was enjoying large, tasty tomatoes in no time. It is 100% organic and contains all the nutrients needed for tomatoes and other vegetables. Applied monthly, it promotes strong stems, flower and fruit set. It contains added calcium which discourages Blossom End Rot and kelp which stimulates growth in all stages of plant development. Read my blog on Tomatoes for more Tomato tips and tricks. Arlene Ortiz (Wheeler)
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Keeping Your Plants Healthy!

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Make Your Life Easy by Keeping Your Plants Healthy! If you’re wondering why some of your plants are just not performing the way you expected, maybe it’s because they are starving! Keep in mind the plants you purchase from most garden centres are grown in a soil less mix. It has little to no nutrient value as it is composed mainly of peat moss, perlite and possibly some vermiculite. If you’re not into composting, try using a fertilizer that is 100% organic. Jensen’s carries a fabulous line of organic fertilizers made by Orgunique, a trademark of BioFert a Canadian company out of Langley, B.C. Orgunique provides a 100% organic and chemical-free gardening choice to help build greener and healthier gardens. The General Purpose Fertilizer 2.5-2-5 is a 100% organic liquid product that offers an environmentally friendly alternative to your gardening needs and helps keep your plants looking vibrant and fresh. It can be used on all indoor and outdoor plants including fruits, vegetables and ornamentals, etc. The Rose and Flower Food 2-3-5 is a 100% organic product that is formulated to meet nutritional requirements of flowering plants in your garden. The product is easy to use and will keep your flowering plants fresh and blooming. Rose and Flower Food 2-3-5 can be used for bedding plants, hanging baskets, potted plants and flowering shrubs. Rose growers successfully combat powdery mildew and other fungal diseases by spraying roses with a solution of 3 Tablespoons of baking soda in a gallon of water. Tip – Never spray your plants when the sun is shining on the leaves as this may promote leaf burn. Orgunique’s House Plant Food 2-1-3 is the way to go if you are concerned about exposing your home to chemicals. Unlike chemical fertilizers, it fulfills all nutritional requirements in a natural way. It is 100% organic liquid fertilizer ideal for feeding houseplants and patio plants. It brings rich foliage and bright colour to all houseplants. Kelp Boost is another great product to try and is a supplement to be used along with plant food. It is a 100% organic emulsion made from highest grade Atlantic Kelp. It is an ideal plant supplement that provides vigour and boosts all stages of plant development. As a spray, all you have to do is mix 3-4 tsp. (15-20 ml) in 1 litre of water and spray once every 10 – 15 days or so, or apply 2 – 3 tsp. in 1 litre of water and water it in at the root zone. Apply to wet ground. Tip – Always ensure your plants are well-watered before you fertilize to avoid any burning of leaves. Arlene Ortiz (Wheeler)
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pests, pests and more.....

PESTS, PESTS AND MORE…..

If you haven’t been checking your plants on a regular basis, you may be surprised when you do! If you have noticed, in passing, deformed or sticky leaves, your plant may have aphids. Check the underside of the leaves. They are very tiny insects that oftentimes gather along the spine of the leaf or they may be all over the underside of the leaf if you have an infestation. They produce sticky honeydew and they may carry plant viruses resulting in those yellow, curled leaves. Take out your garden hose and blast the aphids off the plant or tree. Aphids are also attracted to the colour yellow so place a yellow tray or dish near the plant and fill about ¼ of it with water. The aphids will be attracted to the colour, mistaking it for a plant, and will sink and drown. Also, try to rid your lawn and garden of ants as ants feed on the sticky honeydew excreted by the aphids. They will also carry those aphids to their nests during winter months to continue their food supply and then, come spring, will carry them back to a plant to continue their food source. Companion planting helps as well. Marigolds are somewhat of a deterrent as are cilantro, chives, onions and garlic. Nasturtiums, an aphid attracter, will attract many of the existing aphids out of your garden and onto themselves. Ladybugs, lacewings and hummingbirds are some of the natural predators of aphids, however, if you find yourself with a situation that’s out of control, drop in for some Ambush or Insecticidal soap to use. Follow the directions, they are both effective!
Keeping your plants healthy, well-watered and well fertilized will help deter a lot of insects and disease. If you are using a fertilizer that is too high in nitrogen, be aware, as high levels of nitrogen help aphids produce!
With all the moisture, high humidity and some cool nights the number of cases of mildew and black spot have increased. A tablespoon or 2 in a litre of water has always been a great organic deterrent but if you wish to try something stronger and a little bit more effective, come in for some Defender, ready to use or concentrate; Copper Sulfate spray or Garden Fungicide. Remember never spray your plants or trees when the sun is shining on them as this will result in the burning of the leaves. Spray in early morning before the sun gets to them Copper Sulfate spray is very effective for black spot. Remember – Read the Directions!!!

Arlene Ortiz (Wheeler)
Posted by Tammy Jensen at 1:01 PM 0 Comments