Monday, June 20th, 2022

WATER CONSERVATION

Because over 70% of the Earth is covered in water, it is often a resource that we take for granted, especially in this part of the world. But, only 2% of this water is suitable for drinking. With water consumption rates rising, water conservation is something we can all do to help protect our Earth’s most precious resource.

Water conservation is reducing the amount of water you use and recycling waste and rain water. Not only does this reduce your water utility bill, it also prevents pollution in nearby lakes, rivers, and watersheds.

There are many ways for you to practice water conservation while gardening at home:

  1. Collect rainwater in a barrel or cistern. Remember to keep it covered with a screen to prevent mosquitoes from breeding or use biological mosquito control briquettes to kill mosquitoes before they are able to bite.
  2. Build a rain garden and divert rain water runoff towards it. See the section on Rain Gardens for more information.
  3. Test soil moisture before watering and only water when necessary.
  4. Water lawn less frequently and more deeply. This will also encourage the roots to grow down and become more established.
  5. Adjust all irrigation system outlets so you are not watering the pavement.
  6. Do not water in the heat of the day or when the wind is too strong.
  7. When planting, group together plants that require similar light and moisture conditions. This will reduce the need for additional watering.
  8. Plant drought tolerant plant material and/or install a dry creek bed to utilize rainwater runoff for irrigation.
  9. Use mulch for moisture retention.
  10. Use drip irrigation systems as opposed to overhead sprinklers.
  11. Keep lawn free of weeds. Healthy lawns require less watering, resulting in more water conservation.
  12. Mow higher and less frequently.
  13. Use a broom to clean pavement, not the hose.
  14. Do not use the sprinkler just to cool off or for play, combine these activities with lawn and garden watering.
  15. When washing your car, only have the hose on for initial wetting and final rinsing; or, use commercial car wash, where they are required by law to recycle water.
  16. Use shut off nozzles on all hoses and faucets.

Also remember to check the taps inside your home to ensure they are not leaking. Even a small drip can waste hundreds of litres of water per week!

Water conservation benefits everybody!

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

RABBIT REPELLANTS

Although rabbits can be cute and interesting to watch, they can also wreck havoc on your garden. There are several varying methods you may try to discourage these little mammals from visiting your garden. You may find that you have to change methods periodically if the rabbits are getting used to or tolerating one method. It is generally best to use more than one rabbit repellent method for best results.

 

Plants

Although no plants are guaranteed to be 100% effective in repelling rabbits and other animals, there are quite a few that they do not favour. See our section on Deer and Rabbit Resistant Plants for a list of the most common ones. You can try planting a border of some undesirable plants around your garden to ‘hide’ the ones you know the rabbits will munch on. One plant that rabbits specifically do not like is lavender. Another is catmint, which ties in to the next method of keeping these little critters out of your garden…

Animal Scents 

If a garden has the scent of an animal that a rabbit may find threatening, the rabbit is less likely to visit that area. By planting catmint to attract your cat to the garden, you are discouraging the rabbit at the same time. You can scatter some used cat litter around the perimeter of your garden. This is especially effective if the cat has caught and ate any wild animals. Placing some tufts of cat or dog hair may also leave enough of a scent to deter rabbits.

Motion Activated Sensors

There are motion activated devices that can be used to scare away rabbits, as well as other animals. These devices will release a spray of water if motion is detected. These work both day and night. The downfall to a device like this is that it doesn’t detect what or who is making the motion. Kids or people may get an unexpected surprise if they unknowingly play or walk within distance of the sensor. It may also scare away pets or birds from your feeder.

 

Fencing

If nothing seems to be working as a rabbit repellent, you may need to build a physical barrier. Chicken wire can be wrapped directly around the trunks of trees to stop the rabbits from nibbling on the bark. For young trees, protective covers can be purchased from your local garden center.

Chicken wire is also one of the most effective things to use to make a fence around your garden. Because rabbits burrow, for any fence to be effective, it has to be dug into the ground. Dig a trench, 6 inches deep and six inches wider than the stakes you are using, where you want the fence to be. Pound the stakes into the inside of the trench. You can use as many stakes as you want, but the more you use the sturdier your fence will be.

Once your stakes are in place, bend the bottom six inches of the chicken wire in an ‘L’ shape facing away from the garden. Place the chicken wire into the trench with the ‘L’ lying flat on the bottom of the trench. Fill the trench in with the dirt you removed making sure to completely cover the chicken wire at the bottom of the trench. Then simply tie or staple the wire to the stakes to complete your fence. If done correctly, this type of fence will prevent rabbits from burrowing under to reach your garden.

Traps

If all else has failed, you may have to resort to traps. You can get humane traps that will not kill or harm rabbits. Keep in mind, though, that if not released far enough away, the rabbit may still find his way back to your garden.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2022

PROPER WATERING TECHNIQUES

In Manitoba, we have to change our watering techniques to match the weather. If we are having a cool, rainy stretch of weather you may not need to water at all. During a hot, dry stretch of weather your plants will obviously need more water. On the hottest days of summer it is possible for your plants to get stressed because of the heat. Remember to always water in the morning or evening, never in the heat of the day. This will reduce wasted water and prevent even more plant stress.

Plants that are newly planted require more consistency in watering. It takes about 3 years for perennials and most shrubs to get to their mature size. It takes trees, depending on the species, many years. During the initial year(s), the plant is putting a lot of energy into root formation. In order to remain healthy and flourish, they need to be getting adequate water down to the roots.

 

Follow these techniques for watering in a variety of conditions to keep your plants healthy:

One of the most commonly asked questions, especially during a time of hot temperatures and infrequent rains, is, “How long and how often should I water my plants?” There is not one simple answer to this question. It depends on a number of factors and will vary depending on them. The one constant is that you want the soil to remain somewhat moist. You can compare the soil to a sponge- you don’t want it bone dry, or dripping wet. When watering, you want the plants to receive enough water to replenish the moisture throughout the plant into the root zone.

Location matters.

The same plant in different locations can require very different watering practices. You must tailor your watering to the conditions and the plant. Obviously, a location that receives afternoon sun is going to dry out faster than somewhere that only receives morning sun. Clay soil holds onto moisture and drains slowly. Sandy soils drain quickly and do not hold onto moisture. Loamy soils have a high concentration of organic material in them, drain appropriately and stay moist longer.

Check your soil.

Are you uncertain the type of soil you have? Dig a hole and fill it with water. If the water does not stay in the hole at all but drains almost as quickly as you fill it, you have sandy soil. When the water stands for a long time in the hole, taking hours to over a day to drain, you have clay soil. Amending clay or sandy soil annually with organic materials such as compost, peat moss, topsoil will help add nutrients as well as change its composition, over time, so it drains more appropriately. Simply amending the hole you plant in does not make a significant enough change to dramatically affect watering technique.

The best way to determine when to water is by checking a few of the plants in each type of condition. Push the mulch away from the base of the plant and dig down a few inches with a trowel. If the soil is crumbly, you need to water but it is squishy no need to water for awhile. If it is lightly moist, check again in a day or two. You will find you need to water some areas more frequently than other areas. Remember– there is no “one answer fits all conditions” in terms of watering. Keep in mind too that if you have clay soil, even if the soil near the top of the plant feels dry, the base of the plant may be very wet. It would really help to test how quickly things drain in your yard and utilize that to help you determine the optimal watering schedule.

Plants benefit most from slow, deep watering.

This is most effectively achieved via soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Overhead watering is less effective, can promote disease and fungal problems and wastes water. On hot, windy days, you can lose over 50% of the water due to evaporation and runoff before it even gets to your plants. In-ground irrigation systems that are set to water your lawn are not appropriate to water most perennials, shrubs and trees. The perennials usually get too much water, and the shrubs and trees usually do not get enough. It is common to run into similar problems with hand watering. You are very likely not giving the trees and shrubs enough water. If your only option is to water by hand, for trees and shrubs it is better to just place a hose at the base of the plant, turn the water down to a trickle, and leave it on each plant for 15-30 minutes (depending on the type of soil you have and how dry it has gotten since the last watering). That will allow the water to fully saturate the plant’s roots.

If you are using soaker hoses or a drip system, the type of soil you have will also be important in determining how long to leave them on. With well draining soils, several hours is okay; for poorly draining soils 1 hour. If you are using overhead sprinklers, put them on for a set length of time (30 minutes or 1 hour) and check a few plants to determine how deeply watered they are. Use this to set up an appropriate schedule.

Don’t forget to mulch!

Mulching your plants with bark, straw, or compost products will help retain moisture and thus reduce the amount of watering you will need to do. See our section on Mulching for more information.

Evergreens need to be watered until the ground freezes. The leaves will have fallen from your perennials and bushes by this time and will not require additional watering. If you have an in-ground system, have a plan in place to get water to your evergreens once the system has been shut off. Because evergreens have needles, they lose moisture through them during the winter. If they do not have an adequate supply of water going into the winter, come spring, they may be dead.

Keep in mind that all your plants will require different watering techniques, depending on their location, soil, and the weather!

Wednesday, June 1st, 2022

SUMMER GARDENING CHECKLIST

SUMMER GARDENING CHECKLIST

Now is the time to really enjoy your garden and all the hard work you put in- use this summer gardening checklist to keep your garden looking its best the whole season!

  • To encourage fresh growth, clean up browning daylily foliage by plucking out dead leaves or cutting the clump to 20 cm above the crown.
  • Use a soaker hose to keep trees, shrubs, and perennials well watered during periods of drought. Consider buying a sprinkler timer, so that watering occurs at night or when you leave for the holidays.
  • Continually remove spent blooms from annuals to encourage continued flowering.
  • Check roses and patio tropicals for aphids, leaf rollers, black spot, and powdery mildew. Treat as needed.
  • After flowering, cut delphiniums to the ground to stimulate a second bloom.
  • Sow cool-weathering vegetables such as lettuce, kale, and spinach.
  • Weed, weed, and weed some more.
  • Water, water, and water some more depending on the weather.
  • Monitor watering of your container gardens and hanging baskets- extreme heat will call for daily watering.
  • Take a break and go on a garden tour! You’re sure to find inspiring ideas and plants!
  • Take pictures of your garden and containers at their prime. They’ll be a great reference for the next spring and will help in your planning future projects.
  • Harvest and enjoy or preserve ripened fruits and vegetables.

Click here for a printable version of our Summer Gardening Checklist.

Wednesday, June 1st, 2022

MULCHING

Mulching is putting a layer of material on the surface of the soil around plants.

Types

Organic mulch, such as bark, adds nutrients, retains moisture, reduces runoff, reduces soil erosion, and prevents weeds. Inorganic mulch, such as stone, can be used as well, but it does not add nutrients back into the soil and does not improve soil quality. Because inorganic mulch does not break down, it does not require as much upkeep as the organic kind.

Mulching makes your yard look great and it is not hard to do. Up keeping organic mulch may take some time at the beginning of the season, but you should be well rewarded for your efforts. Your plants, trees, and bushes will greatly benefit from the nutrients you are adding back in.

Benefits

Mulch is a great protector of plant roots in the winter and helps to prevent frost-heaving; in which plants are literally pushed out of the ground by the natural expansion and contraction of the soil as it cools off and heats up. It will also keep the roots of plants cool during the heat of the summer.

How and Where

A good depth is 2-4″ inches. Make sure to keep the mulch itself from touching the trunks of trees or the bases of shrubs. If the mulch sits against them, rotting can occur because of too much moisture retention. Another problem with too much around a young plant is that small rodents can nest there, feeding on the tender bark and harming the tree or bush.

When you apply the mulch, spread it out to at least the plant’s drip line. The drip line is the diameter of the plants outermost branches. You can spread it out even further if you want because it will protect the plants roots. The roots often extend further than the branches do.

Every year, check the depth of the mulch before adding more. It might not be necessary to add more. If it’s not, but you would like to refresh the appearance, just try raking it to break up any clumps and improve its appearance.

Done right, mulching improves both the quality and appearance of your lawn.

Hours of Inspiration

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

Shelmerdine Garden Centre Ltd.

7800 Roblin Boulevard
Headingley, MB R4H 1B6

Phone: 204.895.7203
Toll Free: 1.888.895.0032
Fax: 204.895.4372
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