Sunday, February 25th, 2018
It happens each year around the same time and yet, without fail, we are always filled with the same level of unbridled joy at the mere thought of it: Spring. Is. Coming! Among many other wonderful things, the lengthening days and upward-creeping temperatures (honestly, it’s happening!) mean it’s almost time to start your vegetable seeds! This printable seed-starting calendar is a helpful guide for when your favourite veggies and annuals should be started for best results, but before you reach for the same old standbys, let us introduce you to six unexpected edibles that are worth shaking up your garden plan – and your dinner plate.
1: Caramel Crisp Popcorn
If you, like us, go to ball games and amusement parks specifically for the caramel popcorn, then you’re about to have your dreams come true. This popcorn is bred specifically for caramel coating, with a special mushroom shape when popped that helps the coating cling to the kernel. The large sweet cobs are also delicious fresh!
2: Bloody Butcher Corn
The kernels of this cob dry to a deep red colour – no doubt the inspiration for the somewhat sinister name. A dense kernel means this corn is suited to grinding into cornmeal or grits vs enjoying as corn-on-the-cob – it’s also a beautiful ornamental variety for fall displays. This one needs to be started as early in the season as possible, so don’t drag your heels!
3: Lemon Cucumber
These do not look like your average cucumber – the round shape and lemon-coloured skin are distinctly different than what you’re used to. Inside, the flesh is mild and sweet, with no bitterness, and perfect for slicing. Be prepared for the vines to sprawl and produce a lot of fruit – along a trellis or fence is the perfect spot for your new favourite cucumber plant to thrive.
4: Parsley Pea
This plant is the gift that keeps on giving! Pick the delicious edible tendrils, leaflets, and flowers, or resist the temptation to harvest the greens and wait for the snap peas instead (we’d suggest getting the best of both worlds by simply planting lots!). These do well in a patio container or flower box – ideally, one conveniently located close to the kitchen for snipping fresh tendrils to enjoy on salads and sandwiches.
5: Chile de Arbol
If you like a salsa that bites back a little, this pepper is exactly what you want in your garden. Easy to dry, they develop a pleasantly hot and smoky flavour and have a long shelf life. It’s extra worthwhile to put a little TLC into starting this pepper yourself – when planted in a container and brought indoors over winter, this variety will survive as a perennial for several seasons.
6: Wasabi Radish
Anyone else instantly craving sushi, just from the name of this radish? Us, too. If you’re the type that orders extra wasabi, you’ll love this bright green radish with a similar flavour and heat. Enjoy the crisp flesh, or grow it for micro-greens with the same lovely spiciness.
Thursday, February 22nd, 2018
In a climate like ours, where outdoor plant life goes dormant under a blanket of snow from November through March, those cheerful green houseplants bursting with life around your home can become a bit of a lifeline, and seeing their health begin to falter after months of winter can feel like an emergency of pretty real proportions. Many are friends you’ve been tending to for years, after all, and you’re not about to let them meet the garbage bin on your watch. If you’ve noticed your indoor greenery is looking a little worse for wear these days, don’t despair – reviving your houseplants is totally doable, and you don’t have to be a greenhouse expert to pull it off! Here are six simple things you can do:
1. Dust the leaves.
Everyone knows that plants need light, but many don’t realize that the dust which accumulates on leaves can actually prevent your plant from taking in light, reducing the efficiency of photosynthesis and affecting the overall strength and health of the plant. To make sure they’re taking in all available winter sunlight, such that it is, regularly swipe the front and back of leaves with a soft, damp cloth or better yet, use Leaf Shine for even more glowing results. Leaf Shine contains natural oils which help to clean and shine the leaves, maximizing your plant’s natural beauty. After all, if a leaf is shiny, it just looks healthier!
2. Rethink your plant placement.
Because the sun’s position in the sky changes over the course of the year, your plants might need a summer home and a winter home. Take a fresh look at your space and notice whether your plants are getting too much or too little light as compared to summer months. The number one sign that a plant is not getting enough light is that leaves will begin to pale. Remember that more isn’t always better – direct sunlight can be harmful to most plants, burning the leaves. Look into the ideal light conditions for your various species, and then take a Saturday to do some reorganizing. Think of it as the winter version of gardening!
3. Feed – but don’t overfeed.
Plants need more than just water and light – they’ll really thrive when they’re fed properly. There are different schools of thought about how much to feed your plants over the winter, but we find it works well to fertilize between Easter and Thanksgiving. This is because plants are naturally dormant in the winter, and it’s best not to encourage growth by giving fertilizer over this period. Once it’s time to start feeding, you can’t go wrong with this all-purpose plant food for almost any plant.
4. Boost humidity with misting or moisture trays.
There are no two ways about it, February in Winnipeg means your home has been filled with forced-air heat for months now, and that creates a really dry environment. While running a humidifier is certainly an option, there are simple and cost-effective ways to specifically target humidity-loving plants like orchids, tillandsias, and ferns. One option is to regularly mist your plants (call us crazy, but there is something about how beautiful this mister is that makes the task a treat). Another option is to fill a plate or tray with river rocks and water, then place your humidity-hungry plant on top of this. The water evaporating from the tray will create a miniature atmosphere of humidity around your plant.
5. Do NOT overwater.
This mistake is so common that we probably should have put it first. So many of us show our houseplants love by watering… and then watering some more. However, overwatering is the number one killer of indoor plants, so before you go back to the tap, check out the signs your plant is giving you. While browning leaves can signify a need for humidity and drooping leaves insufficient watering, leaves that are yellowing might be telling you to back off with that watering can. Make sure your pots have proper drainage, and that soil is dry to the touch before you water. Better yet, get yourself a moisture meter to eliminate the guesswork and to ensure the optimum moisture level for all of your plants.
6. Get some advice.
Last but not least, we are always here to answer your questions and offer ideas for solving your nagging plant problems, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Believe us, we can – and do! – literally talk about plants all day. Call or email us, send a message on Instagram, or of course, stop by! We’ll do everything we can to help.
Spring is just weeks away and we can see the days starting to get longer, so show your plants a little extra love now and before you know it, they’ll be back to their summer selves. And if you’ve suffered a plant loss this winter or are just starting to wet your green thumb, check out these 6 hard-to-kill houseplants for some great options to get you back on track.
Keepin’ it green!