Thursday, August 29, 2013

Arlene's Late Summer Gardening Tips

1. Thinking of over-wintering some of your plants? Start taking your plants in before the nights start dropping to below 10 degrees. Water them well and spray with an insecticidal soap or product to rid the plants of any insects and disease. Isolate the plants for a couple of weeks before introducing them to the house and near houseplants.
2. Collecting seeds or cuttings? Let the seeds mature, turn brown and dry on the plant. If you collect them too early, they will not germinate. Seeds such as tomatoes should be collected, fermented for about a week in a jar filled with a little bit of water and then dried and stored. Collect cuttings now while the plant is still strong and healthy and before the temperature at night starts falling.
3. High humidity causing mildew and fungus? Mix 1 – 2 T. of baking soda into 1 litre of water. Shake well and spray on plants that are susceptible or are suffering. Spray weekly. If your plant has become entirely covered with mildew, you may need something stronger. Drop into Jensens to pick up a cure. Sulphur Dust is a great product to use if a number of your plants have been suffering. Fungus is a cause of not enough air circulation and high humidity. You may want to give the infected plants a bit of fertilizer to help it through its stress.
4. Are you still fertilizing? Continue fertilizing all of your annuals, but, now is the time to stop fertilizing your trees, shrubs and perennials, unless they are suffering. Let them start preparing for winter rather than start producing more tender foliage that may be susceptible to damage from an early frost. Roses have to prepare for winter. Stop fertilizing and deadheading as you want them to start forming rose-hips. Fertilizer stakes for your trees, fruit trees and shrubs are great to put down just before the ground starts freezing so they will get a boost with the warmer temperatures of spring.
5. Harvesting herbs? Gather herbs early in the morning when the aromatic oils are the strongest. Hang them upside down in a clean brown paper bag to dry. The bags keep out the light and catch any seeds or leaves that may fall off the stems. Cut a few holes in each bag to increase air circulation. To keep spices and herbs longer, store them in the freezer rather than the cupboard.
6. Growing tomatoes? Now is the time to cut the tops off your tomato plants so the strength will go into the fruit. 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 and plums the same way.
7. Bumper crop of Tomatoes? Freeze whole tomatoes on baking sheets and then store them in plastic bags until ready to use. Use them in soups, stews, casseroles or chili.
Think of our friends at Winnipeg Harvest and bring them some of your excess tomatoes and vegetables!!!

Arlene Ortiz (Wheeler)

Posted by Tammy Jensen at 3:42 PM 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