Saturday, May 30th, 2020

BETTER SOIL FOR BETTER PLANTS

Healthy plants start with healthy soil! But with everything from bison manure to sea soil on our shelves, knowing what to grab, what to mix, and what does what can be a bit of a head scratcher. So in the interests of this whole issue becoming a lot clearer than mud, let’s get you the dirt on all the different kinds of dirt.

The dirt: Red River Basin Clay

What it does: Honestly… not a whole lot!
We love our hometown as much as anyone, but the soil around Winnipeg is notoriously tough on gardeners, due to the very high clay content. It is difficult to dig into, and low in nutrients.

How to use it: Break up the clay and add organic material
To see success in your garden, you’ll need to give your natural soil a little helping hand by both breaking up the clay and adding nutrients. In other words – read on!

 

The dirt: Claybuster

What it does: Loosens tight clay, to let air and water penetrate the soil

How to use it: Turn over clumps of soil in the fall, for great results come spring
While it can be used at any time, our preference is to apply claybuster in the fall. Spread generously, then work into your garden using a spade to lift large clumps of soil. Come spring, those clumps will melt like butter! Repeat yearly.

 

The dirt: Peat Moss

What it does: Loosens clay soil and improves texture; retains moisture and improves drainage
Peat moss has always been many a gardener’s favorite soil amendment, and will greatly improve our high clay content soil.

How to use it: Using liberal amounts, mix thoroughly with your existing soil

The dirt: Coir

What it does: Decomposes slowly while conditioning soil, improving moisture flow, and retaining water
Harvested from coconut husks, coir is naturally disease and weed free and 100% natural and renewable, making it an eco-friendly way to improve your soil. Coir will help your plants develop stronger root systems and improve soil’s nutrient and moisture retention – it holds up to 10 times its volume in water!  

How to use it: Mix with any soil (it’s especially great for sandy soil), or use it to line hanging baskets


The dirt: Compost

What it does: Improves soil texture, and adds a TON of nutrients
Compost trumps most other soil amendments due to the sheer amount of nutrients it contains. Compost can include everything from decomposed egg shells and banana peels to leaves and grass clippings – anything organic that has sufficiently broken down to look like rich, dark soil.

How to use it: Mix generous amounts of compost into soil

 

The dirt: Manure

What it does: Improves soil structure, and increases organic nutrient value
Similar to compost, manure will give your plants the food they need to grow and thrive. There is little difference between sheep, steer, and mushroom manure.

How to use it: Mix with soil in a ratio of up to 50/50
Bagged manure is odour-free and highly concentrated – a win-win!

 

The dirt: Bone Meal

What it does: Builds soil fertility over time, with a slow and steady release  
Bone meal contains lots of phosphorous for bigger, bolder blooms and stronger roots. It releases slowly and steadily, keeping your plants healthy and strong over time.

How to use it: Mix with any soils, but especially for use with roses, bulbs, and blooming plants

 

The dirt: Blood Meal

What it does: Gives anemic plants an organic boost; repels mice and other rodents  
High in nitrogen and fast-acting, blood meal is a perfect compliment to bone meal, which is why they are often mixed together in the same package.  

How to use it: Use together with bone meal

 

The dirt: Worm Castings

What it does: Cycles nutrients, consumes pathogens, and stabilizes soil  
This stuff is 100% organic black gold! It’s also worm poop, which has an amazing diversity of plant-beneficial biology. Along with cycling nutrients, worm castings will actually destroy pathogens, and even create stable soil aggregates – the perfect triple-threat for the healthiest of plants.

How to use it: Work into your garden for healthy, stable soil

The dirt: Wood or bark mulch

What it does: Breaks down over time to add organic matter; retains moisture, insulates, and keeps weeds at bay
Good gardeners know that mulch is the ticket to healthy soil and strong plant growth. Like the forest floor, organic mulches break down over time, contributing to soil health. Over the shorter-term, it retains moisture and reduces temperature fluctuations during the growing season, and insulates soil to minimize injury over the winter.

How to use it: Top up once a year to refresh appearance, maintaining a depth of 2 to 3 inches

Once your soil is up to snuff, you can be confident that the time and energy you put into planting and tending to your garden will be well worth it. If you’ve got a large project on your hands this year, remember that we deliver bulk loads of topsoil, compost, peat moss, sand, and other commodities to help make the process a little easier. Just a quick phone call to 204-895-7203 is all it takes, and we’ll deliver your order to your property in 2 days.

While you’ve got growing on the brain, check out our top 5 tips for growing herbs in containers!

Happy planting!

Friday, May 15th, 2020

CARING FOR HANGING BASKETS

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of summer, and our gardens are officially at prime lushness! If you picked up some flowering hanging baskets at the start of the season that you’re struggling to keep looking fresh and full, here are 4 quick tips for making sure that your baskets are only more beautiful as the summer stretches on.

Tip 1: Cut back leggy plants to clean up their shape and promote new growth.

As mid-summer comes around, plants in hanging baskets can start to look straggly – around here, you’ll hear our garden experts say it’s time to ‘give it a good haircut!’ Aggressively cutting back plants like verbena, petunias, and impatiens will encourage new growth, and a new set of fresh blooms will emerge within a week! Just make sure you have a good set of pruners like the Gardena Classic Secateur.

Pro tip! Cut leggy stems back by about 2/3 of their length.

 

 

Tip 2: Baskets are susceptible to wind and are quick to dry out, so water often and thoroughly. 

Plants in containers generally need to be watered more often than those planted in the ground, and this is especially true for hanging baskets. You should expect to water hanging baskets every day, or even twice a day when temperatures or winds are really high. Run water over the center of the baskets and around the edges, and water until you see a continual stream pouring out of the bottom of the pot.

Pro tip! A quick way to assess whether your basket needs watering is to reach up and lift the pot from below – if the basket feels light, it really needs water.  

 

Tip 3: Deadhead blooming plants regularly to promote new blooms, and keep plants in good health.

As flowers fade and die, simply pinch the dead blooms off where they meet the stem. Not only will your plant be healthier, but you’ll be more likely to see another bloom before the season is over!

Pro tip! If you do a quick deadhead sweep each time you water your plant, the task will be quick and easy and your plant will always look its best.

 

 

Tip 4: Nutrients will leave the potting mix quickly due to frequent watering, so replenish soil by fertilizing.

Most hanging baskets are planted with a slow-release fertilizer in the soil mix, but after weeks of frequent watering you’ll need to top it up. Around mid-summer, start to feed your plant with a liquid fertilizer like Ultra Bloom Plant Food, and continue to add this to your watering routine every two weeks or so.

Pro tip! Always feed when soil is moist, and never when plants are wilting.   

 

If you’re still struggling with a particular plant, drop by or remember that you can always email our experts with your questions! And while you’re spending so much time in your outdoor spaces, get some inspiration and tips for beautiful container arrangements right here.

Enjoy the summer!

Friday, May 15th, 2020

TOP 5 TIPS TO GROW HERBS IN CONTAINERS

Fresh basil on homemade pizza, fresh oregano in a pasta sauce, fresh thyme on roasted chicken – when it comes to cooking, fresh herbs are the secret to taking your dish from good to mouthwatering! Luckily, herbs in containers are one of the easiest things to grow, which means that you can blow your dinner guests or your family away with homegrown scents and flavours that totally transform your cooking.

Fresh herbs are easy to grow and are so delicious and healthy! Here are our five essential tips to growing a vibrant and lush potted herb container garden!

 

1. Grow organic.

Herbs grown in organic soil and with organic fertilizer have much better flavour and potency. We recommend using quality organic soil like this one to get the best results. Don’t forget that regular fertilization is an important step in caring for any plants! During the growing season, feed your herbs with a slow-release organic fertilizer or a half-strength solution of organic liquid fertilizer such as Sea Magic every three to four weeks.

 

2. Provide good drainage.

Herbs thrive on good drainage, so make sure that your pot has sufficient drainage holes. Elevating pots on pottery feet, bricks, stones, or even another pot turned upside-down can improve drainage. And it’s not just your container or your pot placement that matters – well-draining soil is KEY! Our favourite herb growing medium is a mix of lava rock with organic soil. It allows perfect drainage and a rich medium in which your herbs growing in containers will thrive!

3. Plant with the needs of the herb varieties in mind.

Chives are perennial and overwinter very well, so they are a great option for planting directly into the ground. Mint is an aggressive plant that will take over an entire area or container, so you’ll want to give it its very own pot. Watering needs will vary according to the variety of herbs and the pot size and type you choose. Be sure to consider all of these factors before planting.

 

4. Know when to water and when to wait.

Drought-tolerant herbs such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano like soil on the dryer side, so let the potting soil dry slightly between waterings. For moisture lovers like basil and chives, keep the mix slightly moist – about as damp as a wrung-out sponge – at all times.  The best way to tell when it’s time to water is to let your finger be your guide. If the soil feels dry 1 to 2 inches below the surface, then it’s probably time to water. Be sure to water thoroughly until you see water flowing freely from the pot’s drainage holes.

5. Pinch and harvest.

The more you pinch off and use your herbs, the more they’ll be encouraged to leaf out. The result will be a bushier and more productive plant, so don’t be shy – snip those flavourful sprigs and get cooking! If you want to get the most out of your herb garden, place your pots near your kitchen; you’ll use them more often.

pinching herbs

If you’re interested in connecting with others passionate about herbs, you can join the Herb Society of Manitoba

Now that you’re prepped and ready to grow, get started by scrolling through this lovely list of fresh herbs that are popping up weekly in our greenhouse. Then, browse this helpful collection of specific tips for your favourites. You can make your selections with total abandon, or have fun with a theme like Mexican or Italian!

Now… what’s for dinner?!  

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

WHEN CAN I PLANT? FACTS ABOUT FROST

In spring, the very mention of frost sends gardeners scurrying for sheets, boxes, or whatever they can scrounge up to keep their plants safe from a possible cold snap. Take the guesswork out of what you can, and what you cannot plant until the threat of frost is over.

The threat of frost exists until the first full moon in June, which this year falls on Sunday, June 5.

There’s truth to this old wives tale! Therefore up until June 6:

It is not safe to plant: annuals, herbs, vegetable plants or greenhouse-grown perennial plants.

It is safe to plant: shrubs, trees, bulbs, and vegetable seeds sown directly into the ground such as peas, beans, corn, onion sets or potatoes.

 

frosted plant

If you can’t wait

At least try to wait until the first and last frost days calculated in the Almanac. And if you just can’t wait until June 6 to start planting your annuals, vegetables, herbs and perennials, get ready to watch the forecast closely.  Cool, clear nights with low humidity are signs of an impending frost.  In case of a frost warning, you will need to protect these plants, or they could perish.  You can protect your plants with these measures:

  • Irrigate
    • The air temperature above wet soil is 5 degrees F higher than that above dry soil. Thus, plants should be well watered the evening before a frost.

 

  • Cover
    • Covering plants can give you 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit protection. The covers can be laid right over the crop, but more warmth is provided by covers that are supported on stakes above the foliage. Any material can be used to cover the plants, however woven fabrics such as bedsheets and burlap are better insulators than plastics or paper. The best time to apply frost covers is in the late afternoon after the wind has died down. Remove covers the next morning before the sun hits them.

 

For those of you who like to buy your plants early in May, store them in a sunny, warm room and keep them well watered right up until it’s time to plant. Plants kept in garages often suffer from a lack of sunlight.

Happy (early) spring!

 

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

THE PERFECT SUMMER HERB – MINT

Mint Shelmerdine Garden Center

With barbeque and picnic season just around the corner, we’re excited to start using fresh mint from our gardens.  Mint is really the perfect place to begin as you build your herb garden. It’s easy to grow and is so versatile, as its flavor compliments both sweet and savoury dishes and drinks.   Spearmint is the most common type of mint, though there are more than 20 others, each with its own flavor profile. Peppermint and English Mint have a slightly peppery flavor, while Lemon, Orange, Pineapple and and Mojito Mint are sweeter and are best suited for beverages.   There’s no doubt in our minds, mint’s versatility is unrivaled!  Here are a few of our favorite uses for mint:

  • Add a simple sprig to garnish a dessert or cocktail.
  • Frozen into ice cubes.
  • Mint-infused water flavored with ginger, cucumber, lemon, lavender, strawberries or watermelon.
  • Chopped up into a bowl of fresh garden peas and some butter (delicious!)
  • As a compliment to lamb or pork dishes.
  • Brewed as a hot tea to soothe indigestion or a sore throat.
  • A few leaves brightens up the flavor profile of any salad, especially quinoa or couscous.

What’s not to love about mint?

HOW TO GROW MINT:

  • Mint’s roots are called ‘runners’ and are incredibly invasive: they sprout new leaves and new plants as they go. Mint will overtake a flower bed or garden in no time if you’re not careful.
  • When choosing a location for your mint, find one where the plant will receive morning sun and partial afternoon shade.
  • Plant in a container with drainage holes.
  • As with all herbs, mint prefers well-draining soil and even moisture.
  • When planting the herb in a flower bed, first submerge a pot, leaving the rim above ground level when potted, so the mint’s fast-growing root system will be contained. Otherwise, the herb will take over your garden and lawn in an annoying weed-like fashion.
  • Harvest mint sprigs before the plant flowers.
  • To extend the harvesting season, pinch off the flowering buds as they appear.
  • Most mint plants are Zone 3 or 4 and can overwinter outdoors in our local climate.  However, we do not receive enough daylight hours in the winter to sustain the plants indoors.  Harvest and store the leaves in the summer to keep that fresh mint flavor for winter use.

 

 

Hours of Inspiration

Monday-Friday / 10am-5pm
Saturday / 9am-5pm
Sunday / 12pm-5pm

Curbside Pickup Hours
Tuesday-Saturday / 10am-4:30pm

Shelmerdine Garden Centre Ltd.

7800 Roblin Boulevard
Headingley, MB R4H 1B6

Phone: 204.895.7203
Fax: 204.895.4372
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