FLOWERS & GARDENS

GARDEN CENTRE:

Looking forward to working with our local grower to supply all of our plants for your own pots, planters, baskets and gardens plus supplying our vegetable plants, hanging baskets and tropical planters — Can’t wait to ‘get my hands in the dirt’ for a great planting season!

We have lots of natural & dyed cedar mulches, triple-mix, potting mixes, manure, compost and play/work sand for your garden & yard top-ups this spring.

THINGS TO DO IN YOUR GARDEN THIS MONTH — Excerpts of newsletter from Mark & Ben Cullen

OUTDOORS:

IF you are snow free in your region, apply Wright’s Feeds ‘N Needs “28-4-8” 60% SCU (sulpur-coated urea/nitrogen)+ Iron lawn fertilizer.   It is our custom-blended landscaper formula that is tried and true for customer’s lawns for many years.  Wait until your lawn is dry enough to walk on without compacting the soil.  Rake lightly to remove winter debris and help the grass blades stand up.  After you have raked your lawn using a soft fan rake, it is time to feed your lawn with the element that it craves most first thing in spring – nitrogen.  Sophisticated, slow release nitrogen like SCU will be released to the grass roots as temperature rise, rain falls and microbial activity in the soil picks up.  It will last for up to 8 weeks and will make a huge difference to the number of weeds you have to pull later in the season.

detail of rose bush cane getting prunedPrune roses.  We advised you last fall to leave your roses standing over winter.  If you did that, now is a good time to remove the soil you mounded over them with a garden fork and cut them back to about 30 cm high using clean, sharp hand pruners.  Need a new pair? We’ve got several types to choose from……just saying.

Prune hydrangeas. The old fashioned Annabelle-type hydrangeas are ready to be cut about 10 cm high, just above the ground.  This will encourage new growth and a shorter, stockier plant that may not need to be staked up.   Same for all ornamental grasses that are still standing in your garden.   Hybrid hydrangeas like the new Incrediball and Lime Light should be lightly pruned to bring the size under control. Always prune to the nearest green bud.

Image result for cut down perennials in springCut down standing perennials.  You left your rudbeckia standing last fall, as we suggested, right?  The birds have foraged their little hearts out throughout the winter months and now you just twist them off at the soil level where they will break with little effort or use a pair of hand pruners — Compost all the leftovers from last season.

Clean out nesting boxes. Mark emptied the nesting boxes on his property last weekend to get ready for returning birds.   Don’t sanitize your yard. The fallen leaves of autumn sit on the surface of the soil as nature intended them to. Leave them there. If tempted to rake them up, go for a long walk by yourself instead. Or tune in to hockey reruns on the Leafs Channel. Ha! That’ll teach ya.

Prune your apple trees. Mark pruned his two weeks ago. Best to do this before they break dormancy.

  1. The first step is choosing the height of the first branch. To be a good pruner, imagine your tree when it will be old. Think about the future. Do you want to sit under the tree? Do you want to use the lawnmower close by? Do you want to attach a swing? To make a good decision, plan how much space you will need below your branches. In the north, we also have to consider the snow. The first branch must be higher than the maximum snow cover you receive. For example, if you have snow cover of one metre, your first branch should not be located below one metre, as the snow will probably break the branch and damage the trunk.
  2. Once the first branch is chosen, cut all the branches below that one.
  3. Next, choose the main branches you want to keep. For apple and pear trees, leave enough space between branches for the tree to be well balances around the trunk. We suggest allowing 30 cm between branches.  Another useful tip is to alternate the direction of the branches, one towards South, one towards North, one towards East, one towards West, and so on. Red flags are a great help in identifying the branches to keep. This will enable you to have a clear idea of the final result and correct it if something is wrong.
  4. Once you have chosen all the branches to keep, cut all the others with a sharp pruning shear. Cut only the main branches starting from the trunk and don’t worry about the rest.  When you cut, be careful to cut just after the branch collar; this way, you help the tree to heal itself.
  5. Don’t cut the head of the tree!

INDOORS:

Start seeds of slow germinating veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, leeks) and flowers (petunias, geraniums, and impatiens). We use ProMix seed starting mix and added scoop of worm castings.  Cover with a clear plastic lid to create a humid environment.  If evidence of fungal disease such as powdery mildew appears, remove the cover for air flow or prop it up using a popsicle stick.  Light is important once the seed has germinated and the first green leaves appear. For many seedlings, a sunny south-facing window will suffice, provided plants are rotated daily to avoid getting lopsided.  If you opt for artificial light, adjust it to 10 or 14 cm above seedlings for 15 hours per day.

Start begonia tubers and dahlias indoors.  Make sure the tubers are in good shape when you purchase them. Use peat moss or seed/cutting mix and a shallow growing tray.  You’ll also need clay pots that are four inches in diameter (one for each tuber), some quality potting soil for potting up in about 6 weeks.  Spread a layer of peat moss in the bottom of a shallow growing tray, then place the begonia tubers hollow (concave) side up in the peat moss.  Sprinkle enough peat moss in another layer to just cover the bulbs.  Keep the peat moss lightly moist until the tubers have developed substantial roots.  Place the tray in a warm spot while the roots are forming. The top of the refrigerator works well.  Once white roots have reached 2 or 3 centimeters long, pot each tuber up in a 4″ clay pot with good drainage and ProMix or potting/container mix.  Place the pots in a sunny window until top growth starts.

Repot over-grown indoor plants – they know spring is coming, as the days get longer. And they are about to put on their first flush of growth and a new pot and soil will make a huge difference!  First, pull the plant out of its existing pot and examine the roots.  If they are ‘hitting the wall’ of the pot and twirling around in circles that is a sign that the plant is under stress.  After you have removed the root mass from the existing pot, pull the roots apart.  When it discovers new soil in a clean pot it will begin putting down new roots. Increase the pot size by one size when re-potting (e.g. from an eight inch to a 10-inch pot) and use quality, new plant soil like Pro Mix or potting/container mix.  After the plant is in its new home, compact the soil around the roots with a wooden ruler or similar piece of wood.  Push air pockets out, which can trap water and cause root rot.  Water thoroughly and don’t begin to fertilize until new growth appears on the top portion of the plant.

Clean used pots with a mild ammonia solution (10 parts water/1 part ammonia) to prepare them for planting this spring.  Chances are you have a bunch of pots and window boxes in storage that need attention.  We just use a stiff brush to clean the inside wall of each container before we fill them up with new potting/container mix.  Don’t replant into old potting soil as it is ‘finished’.  Place the used soil in your garden where it is useful as an addition to your existing soil.  Replace it with a quality potting or container mix.

Feed the birds — Use a quality seed mix so that it does not get wasted and you attract quality birds.  Birds wintering in the south will be on their way back over the next month or so clean your feeders again and fill with Wright’s Premium Wild Bird Seed — Birds love it!  Also available are sunflower seed, safflower seed, peanuts (both in and out of the shell), nyjer seed, lots of varieties of suet, corn cobs and lots of feeders for all types of backyard birds.

Participate in Project Feeder Watch –FeederWatch is a winter-long (November-April) survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America.  Participants periodically count the birds they see at their feeders and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. Your bird counts help you keep track of what is happening in your own backyard and help scientists track long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.  With FeederWatch, your observations become part of something bigger. Click here to join.

HOW TO PRUNE FRUIT TREES & EVERGREEN HEDGES:

“HOW-TO” VIDEOS FROM MARK & BEN CULLEN:

Summer Lawn Maintenance – This one is very timely! Check it out!

How to Use Nematodes to Control Grubs

How to Buy Plants at the Garden Center – Good thing to consider now that garden centers are starting to discount their seasonal plant material.

How to Plant in Containers

How to Build a Living Fence – Something you can do with the discounted plant material from the garden centre.

How to Build an Insect Hotel – A year-round project to benefit the diversity of life in your yard.

The Benefits of Mulch

CONTAINER PLANTING TIPS:

It’s trending to use an assortment of different and unique new annuals, tropical plants (hibiscus, dipladenia, rubber plants, elephant ears, crotons) tubers (caladium), houseplants (kalanchoe, angelwing begonias), perennials (hostas, coral bells, hydrangeas, ferns, ornamental grasses, sedums, coreopsis), succulents, herbs (globe basil, variegated basil, rosemary) and vegetables (think beet tops, ornamental peppers, red millet) in planters to give a more dynamic look.  

Have a look at what you’ve already got growing in your own home or your gardens that might make a nice focal point/accent to your planters this year.  Take a look around at other nurseries/garden centres for new and different plants that might work for you that we don’t have here at Wright’s Feeds ‘N Needs.  


You might even consider creating your own spray-painted sticks/twigs to add as an accent to your planters to match your outdoor living space to add that extra punch of colour and style or add a candle feature in your planter for summer evening ambiance.

When your planters and baskets start to look tired and/or over-grown in late-summer, another popular idea is to yank out early performers or straggly plants from your planters/pots ~ half-way through the season and replace with a new late-summer bloomers or cool-weather performers in the empty space.  This will extend the life of your planters and give a new look as the seasons change. 

     

Once the annuals have been bitten by frost, you can stick in coniferous greenery, sumac branches, mountain ash berries, mini pumpkins & squash; plant colourful mums or flowering kale & cabbage; add ornamental grass tufts, birch twigs & branches, pine cones, magnolia leaves, grapevine accents; spray-paint (gold or silver) branches or pine cones, add decorative balls and ribbons (the list is endless, really) to carry your planters from a Thanksgiving theme right through until Christmas.

See how much fun this can be 🙂  ‘The possibilities are only limited to the bounds of your imagination’ and anything goes these days.  

We would be happy to share our extensive knowledge on plants, lawns, gardens and pest control to help you optimize your garden care experience.