Thursday, March 26th, 2020
If you stop to think about it, gardening might actually be the ideal activity for little ones. Most kids love to dig in dirt and splash in puddles, and are inherently curious about bugs, worms, butterflies, and bees. Taking advantage of this to get them involved in the garden has SO many benefits: they’ll be more connected to and aware of where their food comes from, they’ll learn important lessons about science, and conservation, and they’ll build a genuine and lifelong love of nature. Sure, you might end up doing a few extra loads of laundry, but that’s a small price to pay! A recent article from our friend Bernie Whetter, owner of The Green Spot Home & Garden in Brandon, got us thinking about kids and gardening, and now we’re sharing a few tips for getting your kids or grandkids interested in helping around the garden.
Make sure they have some ownership
Something Bernie mentioned in his article that we really appreciated was ensuring that children have a sense of ownership around the garden. They’ll be a lot more invested if they feel like the garden is theirs, too. Don’t dictate every part the experience; loosen up and let kids truly be involved. It will be more fun for you this way too, we promise!
When it’s time to start planning, do some research together and let your child choose several plants or vegetables that he or she wants to grow. You might even consider giving them their very own section of the garden to plant whatever they want. Talking about the different kinds of plants, touring through the seed store, and letting kids make choices, followed by involving them in the day-to-day gardening chores, will get them excited and keep them interested.
Embrace beneficial bugs
We’ll say it again – kids love bugs! Gardening just happens to be the perfect opportunity to indulge that attraction, while teaching them about the importance and usefulness of these tiny garden friends. Incorporate flowers and plants that attract bees with this pollinating bulb kit, and put a ladybug house or butterfly house in your garden. Your child will be out there constantly, peeking at the tiny residents.
Make it fun
Play is obviously a huge part of being a kid, and the way to get kids to stick with anything is to make it fun! We loved Bernie’s suggestion of having your child make hand-drawn signs for each plant variety in the garden, and that’s just one way to involve kids. Install a rain gauge so he or she will want to run out and check it after a downpour. Make a game out of regularly checking on the progress of your plants, and get excited when you see them grow and change. Pick up some kid-sized tools in bright colours and fun gardening gloves to make it easy and appealing to dig in the dirt and help you with your regular garden tasks. Pair watering the garden with running through the sprinkler or a fun water fight with the hose! The possibilities are endless – just think like a kid.
Not only will you have fun spending time with your little one outdoors, but the teachable moments it will create are so wonderful. Before you know it, your family will be enjoying fresh veggies right from your own garden – and that will be so much more exciting for little ones if they helped! Ready to start planning? Try these 6 edgy veggies to shake up your garden, and your dinner table.
Tuesday, March 24th, 2020
Have fun, little sprouts!
There’s no better time to start seeds than now!
While we’re responsibly isolating at home, our new mission here at Shelmerdine is to offer ways for you and your loved ones to pass this time joyfully while connecting with nature! There are few acts that are filled with as much hope and promise as starting your own seeds at home. Within days, you’ll see tiny green baby sprouts emerging from the soil – joy! A few more weeks and you’ll be thinning and repotting them – fun! Soon, with the sun on your face and your fingers in the soil, you’ll be planting these seedlings into your garden. And finally, in a moment where it feels like the whole world holds its breath for you, you’ll pluck the most gorgeous, juicy tomato off the vine, and bite into the crunchiest, sweetest carrot that you’ve ever tasted – life giving!
Just take a moment to imagine how good this make you will feel.
We’d be remiss not to observe how the Covid-19 pandemic has been a wakeup call in terms of how reliant we are on our food supply chain. Most of our fresh produce comes up from the US and Mexico, so as Canadians, our food supply chain is vulnerable. This moment in time is an opportunity to take control of how and where we get our food from. Wouldn’t you like to become more self-reliant, to save money, and to reap the healthy benefits of growing your own fruits and vegetables? Wouldn’t you love to legacy your children, and their children, with the skills and knowledge they need to grow their own food, today and forever?
Let’s start today!
1. Make a list of what you want to grow. This part is easy. What do you like to eat? Once you’ve decided this, it’s time to select the seed varieties you want to grow from our Shelmerdine Seed Starting Catalog. This is where the fun begins – there are so many varieties, from organic to heirloom and common everyday favorites. If you need ideas advice or ideas, ask your parents or grandparents – they have this knowledge and they would love to hear your voice right now!
2. Prepare the basics . . .
SEED STARTING MIX is a special blend that’s ideal for sprouting seeds. You simply cannot expect successful germination of seeds without Seed Starting Mix. This lightweight blend holds enough water for seeds to germinate in, but allows essential oxygen to flow and delicate roots to easily penetrate the soil. Do not use regular potting soil, it’s just not fine enough for seeds to germinate and root in.
CONTAINERS can be anything from empty yogurt containers to small, inexpensive peat pots. Whatever you use, be sure to poke holes in the bottom for drainage, so that your seeds are not over-watered. Alternatively, you can plant directly into peat pellets – these little guys are amazing! They’re biodegradable and can be planted directly into the garden when the time comes. It’s also handy to set all of your seedling containers onto plastic trays so you can easily move them around and protect surfaces from water.
Thursday, March 12th, 2020
HEAT, not light, is needed for seeds to germinate. Consider setting your containers on top of radiators, fridges, or ideally, a Heat Mat. If your seeds don’t have enough warmth, they won’t germinate. Once planted, cover containers with a clear plastic dome, or with a layer of plastic film. Poke a few holes in the plastic with a toothpick for ventilation. This will create a biodome of heat for the seeds to germinate in.
MOISTURE is essential to seed starting. The best way to water seeds and seedlings is with a gentle spray bottle, like a reused windex bottle. They dispense water gently without causing too much soil disruption. You’ll have to check on your seedlings twice a day to make sure they don’t dry out. Set a timer so you don’t forget! The clear plastic dome or plastic film will also help to keep moisture in.
3. Timing is everything. Different seeds germinate at different rates, so you’ll want to start your seeds according to their ‘days to maturity’. This is the time it takes between germination and harvest time. Days to maturity is always indicated on the seed packet, but we highly suggest that you consult our favorite Seed Starting Chart before planting your seeds.
4. It’s time to plant! Fill your clean containers with moistened Seed Starting Mix. Next, plant your seeds at the depth listed on the seed packet, and cover them gently with a light layer of mix. We know you’re excited, but do not plant the whole packet at once! In most cases there are more seeds in the packet than the average household can manage at harvest time. Share excess seeds with your friends, or store them – most seeds can keep up to 3 years. Check on the seedlings daily, making sure to keep the seed starting mix moist but not saturated. Think of the mix as a damp sponge that contains both water and air.
5. Label your containers. This is very important. There’s nothing more frustrating than forgetting what you planted! Seedlings can look the same, and in order to plant out your garden you’ll need to know who is who!
6. Get ready for growth. Once the seedlings emerge from the soil, it’s time to move them into a bright, sunny spot for 6-8 hours of direct sun per day. Cool room temperatures are best for young seedlings. You’ll get sturdier, stockier seedlings if you grow them at temperatures in the high 60s. At higher room temperatures, seedlings may get leggy and weak. Using our favorite local and organic Seedling Fertilizer, start to fertilize once per week, once the sprouts have one or two sets of leaves.
7. Once seedlings have two sets of leaves, it’s time to thin. Unlike the hair on our heads, thinning seedlings is welcomed! You want one seedling per pot, so choose the healthiest, strongest-looking seedling to keep. Snip the other seedlings off at the soil line and discard them.
8. You got this! Our team is ready to take your orders for seeds and seed starting supplies! Call us at 204-895-7203 to place your order, or order using our Shelmerdine Seed Starting Catalog. Contactless curbside pickup is available Monday – Saturday from 10am – 4pm, and citywide delivery is also available.
We also want to encourage you to visit our friends at Westcoast Seeds in BC. They’re the most amazing humans, and their website is an absolute treasure chest of seed starting, veggie growing, and garden planning information.
Stay home, be safe! Sending you love, inspiration, and positivity!
Every holiday comes with its cherished family traditions, and Easter certainly has its share. There’s the excitement of hunting around the house or yard for chocolate treats and the anticipation of sitting down together for a beautiful meal, but decorating eggs is the quintessential Easter activity we look forward to most each year. One of our favourite ways to make the egg decorating experience even more special is the German tradition of hanging Easter eggs on a branch, tree, or bush, creating a cheerful display of bright colours that is exactly what we need to get us through the last few weeks till spring. Consider how much your kids love decorating the Christmas tree, and you’ll get a great idea of the hit this project will likely be! You just might find yourself with a new family tradition that you’ll all look forward to each spring.
It’s super simple to create an Easter Egg Tree – here’s how:
Choose your tree or branch
If the weather outdoors is still more wintery than not, trim your tree indoors by choosing a nice branch with lots of forks on which to hang eggs. If Mother Nature is cooperating and you want to take the fun outdoors, choose a bush or tree in your yard to decorate.
Blow out your eggs
This part is really fun for kids, so we highly recommend letting them help! Just poke small holes in either end of the egg, use a toothpick or straightened paper clip to break the yolk, then blow out the yolk and whites. If you happen to break an egg or two, don’t sweat it – set them aside and make these sweet eggshell succulent gardens later!
To save your eggs after the season is past, place them back in the egg carton for safekeeping. It can be a lot of fun to look back on past decorating efforts as children grow, or even reuse them to fill the same tree or bush in your yard more and more each year!
Get out your colours, and let the kids go for it! If you have young children and want to forgo the traditional but messy dyes and paints, try this spinning EggMazing egg decorator to make beautiful designs using markers. Watch our video to see the decorator in action.
Trim your tree
Use the holes you created when blowing out the eggs to run a string or ribbon through the egg. Your kids will have so much fun stringing the eggs up on your branch or tree like ornaments, and running to look at the finished product again and again.
If you create an Easter Egg Tree or decorate eggs this year, we’d love to see them! Tag us on Instagram or Facebook to share your photo. And now that you know how you’ll be keeping the kids busy, check out this post for inspiration on creating an elegant Easter table setting.
Sunday, March 1st, 2020
Of all the plants that grace our greenhouse, one special plant rises above all others, and it’s the Snake Plant. The Snake Plant or Sansevieria (san-se-vi-ee’-ri-ah) is a tried-and-true houseplant that anyone can keep and enjoy. But it’s also a superb air purifier that has the power to improve your sleep and change your life. Our team is so passionate about the benefits of Snake Plants, and here’s why!
Let’s talk about air quality.
Air quality is important – we all know this, but sometimes air quality escapes us. We don’t see it, so we don’t think about it. But the air in our homes can be a far greater source of unhealthy air than outdoor air pollution. This is especially true in Manitoba, where we tend to spend the majority of our year indoors. Poor air quality in your home can effect your heart and lung health, hurt your sleep quality, and impact your mood, with children being even more succeptible to this than adults. The air we breath is as important as the food we eat.
Now, let’s step into the bedroom!
You will spend about 26 years of your life sleeping. Sleep disorders are on the rise, and one facet that effects our sleep is the air quality in our bedrooms. If you have to choose one room to focus on air quality, it should be the bedroom! So how exactly does keeping a Snake Plant in your bedroom improve the air quality? The Snake Plant is unique because it has the ability to perform a type of photosynthesis called Crassulacean Acid Metabolism. What this means is that it converts CO2 (carbon dioxide – the air you exhale) to O2 (oxygen – the air you inhale) – at night! Most plants go throught this process during the day. While the Snake Plant performs this oxygen producing function, it’s also filtering chemical toxins like formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene from the air. These are chemicals released by mattresses, bedding, furniture, carpeting, and paint, which we would otherwise inhale.
According to NASA’s Clean Air Study, the Snake Plant is so effective in producing oxygen that if you were locked in a sealed room with no airflow (yikes!), you would be able to survive with just 6-8 plants in it. NASA recommends 15 to 18 medium-to-large size plants for a 1,800 square-foot home for optimum air quality.
As if this plant weren’t amazing enough, it’s also the most durable of all plants to survive even the most unsuitable growing conditions, abuse and neglect that a plant could receive. Basically, you have to work really hard to kill a Snake Plant! It’s the perfect plant for apartments, dorm rooms, and of course, the bedroom. Purchasing a couple of these miracle plants will greatly enhance your sleep quality. Try it for yourself! We guarantee that you will notice a difference within a week or two.
Sunday, March 1st, 2020
For gardeners everywhere, we are approaching an undeniably exciting time — spring is near! As for us, we’re a few short weeks away from our annual Spring Open House, so we’re extra excited to see all of you in our greenhouse again. Now is the time to start thinking about all things green, like starting seeds for this summer’s vegetable garden. If you’ve tired starting your own seeds, you’re in for a treat. Not only does it save save you money, it’s a rewarding practice that extends the gardening season and allows you to get to know your plants a little better. And it’s easy. Here are the basics to get your started:
- Select your seeds:
This is half the fun! There are so many varieties out there – from your grandparents favorites to new gourmet vegetables. New this year, we’re excited to be carrying West Coast Seeds, an amazing organic seed collection from right here in Canada. They offer an assortment of untreated, non-GMO seeds with some truly unique heritage varieties we just can’t wait to try (wasabi radishes, anyone?).
- Set the stage:
While grow lights are becoming more and more popular, you can have a great deal of success with a simple set up on a sunny windowsill. Egg cartons or other upcycled containers work well, but our pick is a handy windowsill starter kit that includes everything you need to start your seeds with confidence. It’s important to use seed starting soil, which is light enough for seeds to sprout through, and a heating mat which will help to speed up germination time.
- Plan your schedule:
While it’s tempting to start as soon as possible, planting too early means you run the risk of plants being ready for planting before the ground is. A good rule of thumb is to start seeds about six to eight weeks before you wish to plant them outdoors. To make sure you get it right, consult this germination chart for our Zone 3 climate — or the instructions on your seed package — to ensure you’re planting at the optimal time for each variety.
Simply plant your seeds following the directions on your seed package. Remember to plant a few extra of each variety to account for those seeds that may fail to germinate, and be sure to clearly label each pod.
- Take care:
Make use of a spray bottle for watering in the early days of germination. From there, keep the soil moist and never allow it to dry out. Let them bask in the sunlight and your seedlings will be sprouting before you know it!
Happy Seed Starting!
Want to learn more? Join us on Saturday, March 11 for our FREE Indoor Growing and Seed Starting Class and save 20% off all seeds and seed starting materials from March 4 – 11.
Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical
Sunday, March 1st, 2020
Spring is the time of fresh blooms and the slow return of those sweet pink, purple and yellow hues. It makes sense then, that these are the colours often associated with Easter decor. But since we tend to err on the side of green, we thought we’d play with a little something different this year. Here’s a little dose of inspiration for a fresh and undeniably elegant table runner or centrepiece — perfect for spring.
How’d we do it? First, we used reindeer moss to create a soft, but bold, bed of greenery. From there, we layered different varieties of tillandsias, otherwise known as ‘air plants’ along with naturally green-hued farm eggs. The beauty of decorating with tillandsias is that they only need light, air and moisture to live. They don’t require soil, so they can be placed just about anywhere. These soy candles from Winnipeg’s own Soy Harvest Candle provide the perfect pop of colour to complete this table setting. Notice how they highlight the pink-streaked tillandsias?
You could also experiment with small potted succulents, ferns, twigs or low vases of fresh cut flowers.
Now that you’ve set the table, just add a simple frittata, a batch of mimosas and a few friends, and you have an elegant springtime brunch.
Words + photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical