Wednesday, May 30th, 2018
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!
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!
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
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
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!
Sunday, May 6th, 2018
When colour giant Pantone declares its annual Color of the Year, everyone from fashion leaders to interior designers take notice, and before long we start to see the colour all around us. We were overjoyed and very much on board when Ultra Violet got top honours for 2018, because purple just happens to be one of our favourite colours in the garden!
It’s no secret that colours have serious power – take a look at how the beautiful blooms you choose can affect things like mood and energy here – but our love for purple goes beyond the aesthetic. Fruits and vegetables of this hue have been linked to many health benefits that prevent disease and enhance our wellness.
Studies indicate that antioxidants produced by purple power foods can:
- reduce the risk of high blood pressure
- lower cholesterol
- help prevent obesity and diabetes
- assist in lowering the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological diseases
- reduce inflammation and therefore chronic disease
- aid cognitive functions
- help prevent urinary tract infections, fight ulcers, and reduce liver damage and diseases which affect cell development
So with all of that in mind, here are a few of our favourite ways to put some purple on our plates!
Purple Ruffles Basil
Why we love it: The large purple leaves of this basil plant have both a strong fragrance and flavour.
How to serve: We recommend using this basil to create colourful and flavourful herb vinegars.
Cosmic Purple Carrots
Why we love it: Who says you can’t mess with an old favourite? These beautiful carrots will not only make your side dishes more lovely, the flesh is also particularly sweet.
How to serve: Try it cooked in a side dish, or add some colour and variety to snack time and enjoy raw.
Red Ball Brussel Sprouts
Why we love it: These little beauties are sweeter than your average brussel sprout, and pack an even heavier nutritional punch.
How to serve: Pull the leaves apart for a lovely salad, serve whole drizzled with a creamy hollandaise sauce, or go with a classic roasted method to get these on your table.
Pomegranate Crunch Romaine Lettuce
Why we love it: Is the name enough reason? Think of this lettuce as a cross between romaine and butterhead varieties.
How to serve: The salad possibilities are endless!
Honeyberry or Haskap
Why we love it: The first reason to love this berry is its sheer hardiness; this plant was made for the Canadian prairies, just like us. The second reason is that nutritional studies show the haskap to have antioxidant levels similar to or perhaps even greater than blueberries! The plant attracts butterflies to your yard, and the berries are delicious.
How to serve: Eat fresh, or make preserves.
Ruby Mizuna Mustard
Why we love it: It looks pretty and tastes great, but a major reason to love this plant is how easy and versatile it is to grow. Expect great results in cooler soil and winter harvests, in outdoor containers, or right in your kitchen.
How to serve: This plant makes for tasty microgreens or delicious and nutritious salads.
Why we love it: This grape is perfect for making wine… need we say more? Aside from its edible properties, it also makes a great landscaping component for hedges and screening.
How to serve: Try your hand at making juice or wine!
Long Purple Eggplant
Why we love it: The eggplant is such a beautiful purple that “eggplant” has become a colour in its own right. This particular variety is productive and hardy.
How to serve: Try in a stir-fry, or roasted in the oven.
Purple Peacock Pole Beans
Why we love it: These beans are a triple threat! They flower and produce quickly, provide an extremely prolific yield – as long as you pick them, they’ll keep coming in – and they retain flavour extremely well after being picked. Basically there are no reasons NOT to love them.
How to serve: Any way you enjoy green beans will translate – we like these lightly steamed!
Why we love it: Ah, the saskatoon, that uniquely prairie berry. Like its cousin the haskap, this plant is hardy and versatile, and the berries are lovely but also delicious.
How to serve: If you’ve never had saskatoon pie, you’re not really living. Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but it really is a must-try!
Why we love it: This beautiful plant produces clusters of lovely little blueberries that are sweet and juicy. So long as you get the soil and drainage formula right, you can expect a bumper crop from this plant.
How to serve: Really, you can enjoy these in almost any way. Sprinkle them fresh on cereal, salads, or ice cream, mix up blueberry pancakes, bake in pies or crisps, make jellies, jams, and preserves… the list is endless!
Some cultures consider purple to be the colour of royalty, and it’s not hard to see why! Add this shade to your garden and your table, and you’ll feel like you’re eating like a king.
Long live purple!
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
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