Tuesday, March 24th, 2020
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.
Tuesday, May 15th, 2018
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!
Fresh herbs are easy to grow and are so delicious and healthy! Let’s get started!
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 are also one of the easiest things to grow and will thrive in containers, which means that you can blow your dinner guests, or just your family, away with homegrown scents and flavours that totally transform your cooking.
Here are our five essential tips to growing a vibrant and lush potted herb garden!
1. Grow organic.
Herbs that are grown in organic soil and with organic fertilizer have much better flavour and potency. We recommend using a 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 also help to improve drainage. And it’s not just your container or your pot placement that matters – well-draining soil is KEY! Our favorite her growing medium is a mix of lava rock with organic soil. It allows perfect drainage and a rich medium in which your herbs will thrive!
3. Plant with the herb varieties’ needs 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 herb as well as the pot size and type that you should 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 that is 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 really want to get the most out of your herb garden, place your pots in close proximity to your kitchen; you’ll use them more often.
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?!
Friday, December 8th, 2017
The smell of a crackling fire, a fresh Christmas tree, or gingerbread cookies baking in the oven… the sure signs and scents of Christmas! Because our sense of smell is a trigger point for emotional memories, fragrances play an undeniably central role in the holidays. That’s why the scents associated with Christmas can instantly transport us back to the feeling of being a kid waiting in anticipation for Christmas morning. Tapping into the powerful sense of smell by playing with holiday scents is a surefire way to get into the festive spirit.
Here are a few ideas to get your home smelling great this season.
Seasonal Simmer One of the simplest ways to infuse your home with an intoxicating aroma is on the stove top. Grab a saucepan and add a few cups of water along with your favourite holiday ingredients. We love cedar or pine branches, sprigs of rosemary, and classic holiday mulling spices. Head to the pantry and get creative! Simmer on a low heat or in an open crockpot throughout the day, adding water as needed, or start your simmer just before your holiday guests arrive.
Citrus Garland A citrus garland made from thin slices of home-dried oranges and grapefruits is a perfect DIY for the holidays. After slicing, drying and hanging, a citrus garland creates a beautiful stained-glass effect when hung in a window — and leaves a delectably fresh scent in the air!
How to: First, thinly slice oranges or grapefruits and pat dry each segment with a towel. Add a few drops of your favourite holiday-inspired essential oils to each disk — try eucalyptus, peppermint, citrus, frankincense or bergamot. Then, bake disks on a baking rack at 250 degrees for three or more hours, flipping occasionally. Allow the slices to dry in the open air for another day or more — you want the discs to be completely dry before stringing them up with your choice of twine or string.
Simple Scenting One of our favorite items this season is a simple yet intensely scented Cinnamon Wreath that can be hung from any door or wall in the home. It adds instant warmth and aroma to your surroundings. If you love the simplicity of this method, you’ll also enjoy using Frasier Fir Home Fragrance Mist to add a quick spritz of crisp, natural fir to the room.
Fragrant Candles A tried and true way to bring warmth and aroma into your home is with scented candles. We love these hand-poured soy candles by Winnipeg candle maker Soy Harvest Candles. Some of our favourites include new holiday scents like Treetops, Sleigh Ride, and Grandma’s Cookies. It feels like Christmas already!
Have fun creating a warm and fragrantly festive home this holiday season!
Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical
Saturday, September 2nd, 2017
The popularity of indoor plants is on the rise! A connection to nature is an essential way to enrich our daily lives and to enjoy a healthy and happy lifestyle. So this year, we’re keeping things simple with low-maintenance indoor plants. With that in mind, we asked our greenhouse team for their top hard-to-kill houseplants that can thrive – without a green thumb. They share their thoughts on six favorites, below, to make it easy for you to make the green connection!
1. Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica): Very easy to care for, this ornamental specimen is low-light and low-maintenance. Rubber plants should only be watered when the top layer of soil is dry to the touch; be sure you don’t over-water. Keep your rubber plant in a warm location, and avoid exposing it to any sudden temperature changes, which can cause leaf drop. Not only are rubber plants beautiful, they’re also excellent air purifiers. They emit high levels of oxygen, and remove toxins like formaldehyde and airborne mold from a room.
2. Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata): East, west, north windowsills with filtered light, or in office spaces with flourescent light. Wait until the pot is quite dry before watering. Water if you notice the leaves are drooping and the pot feels dry.
3. Z Z Plant (Zamioculcas Zamifolia): This is a nice, compact, neat and tidy looking plant. Almost impossible to kill, the ZZ can accommodate a broad spectrum of light conditions, except for bright, south facing light. It can also withstand drought, so it’s the perfect plant for someone who forgets to water. Expect it to do very little; it doesn’t grow, it doesn’t die, it just kind of sits there.
4. Succulents/Cactus All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. There are thousands of varieties of succulents and cactus to choose from! Succulents and cacti are deﬁned by their moisture-storing capacity allowing them to survive in arid climates by retaining water in their stems and leaves. They require very little water (read: maybe once a month waterings) and love bright, sunny windowsills to grow on.
5. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): A great choice for novices, this vining plant can be trained to climb around windowsills, or to hang down from tall ledges. They also look great in hanging baskets or in wall planters. I love the different shades it comes in, from lime green to variegated to deep green. It can thrive even in very low light such as offices that only have flourescent lights, and won’t suffer if it goes a bit too long without water.
6. Bromeliad (Vriesea, Neoregelia, or Aechmea): There are more than 3,000 known species of bromeliads, but the three varieties listed are some of my favorites. They offer an interesting, architectural shape and bright, beautiful flower stalks. Bromeliads can withstand drought, but aren’t tolerant of excess watering. They can thrive in a variety of light situations, but most prefer brighter environments with some protection from direct sun.
Our greenhouse is filled to the brim with hundreds of these hard-to-kill plants! Be sure to stroll through our collection of stylish pots and planters while you’re here, to design the perfect plant and pot duo for your decor. Our greenhouse team will pot your new houseplant up for you (free of charge) when you select both a plant and pot.
Here’s to the green life!
Words + Photos by Nicole Bent
Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
With summer in full swing, chances are you’ve taken note of the sweet sights and smells of the many flowers in bloom right now. Whether it’s annuals, perennials or foraged blooms, we love harvesting flowers, bringing the outdoors in, and creating beautiful arrangements all season long. But how can we make those beautiful arrangements last as long as possible? Today we have grower, designer and flower expert extraordinaire Kelly Tellier from Lily Stone Gardens sharing her best tips for success.
When to Harvest
“The best time of the day to harvest flowers is early in the morning or late in the evening when it is cool outside. Every flower variety has an appropriate ‘harvest stage’. Cutting at the correct harvest stage is key to a longer vase life of your cut flowers. For example, we do a ‘wiggle’ test on zinnias. If you grab the stem between two fingers about six inches down from the bloom and give the stem a little shake — if the stem stays stiff and the bloom doesn’t sway side to side, it’s ready to cut. If the bloom wiggles, or feels a bit limp and not sturdy on the stem, it’s not ready. Another example is poppies. Poppies should be cut when the bud has a slight crack and you can just see some color inside the bud — not when the bloom is wide open. Each individual flower variety has a very specific period of time where it is in its prime for cutting purposes.”
How to Harvest
“Always use sharp snips and try cut at an angle. Place flowers directly into water. If flowers stay out of water for any length of time always re-cut before placing in the water again. Also, it is always very important to use clean snips, and clean vases. All foliage that would fall below the water line of your vase should be removed. Change your water in your vase every two days and give your flowers are fresh snip at the same time.”
Arranging & Displaying
“I love arranging garden flowers in unique vessels. Antique urns or old milk bottles anything that enhances the character of the blooms.”
“My favorite way to style or display flowers is ‘less is more’. Let the flowers speak for themselves. I love to display flowers against a white wall or white table. It makes all the colors and flower tones pop. Arrange each bloom so it’s visible and has its own space among the other flowers. Or, get creative with these oh-so-sweet bud vases, reveal bottles and classic pitcher vases available in store and online. I normally like to pick three to five larger focal blooms per arrangement, as well as some upright flowers (tall) and then some filler flowers. Pick colors that are complementary to one another or use shades of the same color.”
“It is important to ensure your flowers are kept out of intense sunlight and change the water every two days — and at the same time, give your stems a fresh cut. As flowers fade, pull them out of the arrangement to keep the remaining beautiful as long as possible.”
“One of my favorite, easy to grow flowers for August are Cosmos. Cosmos can be direct seeded and grow very easily and will continue to seed themselves year after year if you let the old flowers go to seed. Cosmos look so beautiful just on their own in a vase or pair so beautifully with grasses or fall foliage for a unique non-traditional wild looking fall bouquet. I would encourage everyone to look beyond ‘just the flowers’ in their gardens and yards. Unique shrubs and greens can also really add a unique and romantic feel to arrangements. For example, spirea in the springtime is a wonderful greenery and filler to mix with spring flowers and ninebark is one of my favorite foliages for September bouquets.
Grow Your Own!
“I would highly encourage any gardening lover to grow a small cutting garden for themselves. Designate a small area of your garden that you allow yourself to snip from. Don’t be afraid to experiment with cutting different varieties. It can be extremely therapeutic — and anything home grown is just that much better and that much more special.”
Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your expertise with us!
Kelly Tellier is the owner and operator of Lily Stone Gardens, a seasonal cut flower farm and year-round floral design shop. You can find catch up with Kelly and her team on their website or on Instagram @lilystonegardens
Saturday, April 8th, 2017
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
Monday, September 26th, 2016
Tall, dark and trendy, fiddle leaf fig trees are everywhere. And if you’re not familiar with the fiddle leaf fig just yet, a quick flip through any design magazine or blog and you’ll spot one in short order. This interior plant has come to its current popularity with good reason. With its height, dramatic shape, and sculptured dark leaves, the Ficus lyrata’s bold silhouette is perfect for today’s modern, minimalist aesthetic. Available in bush or in tree form, it will continue to grow until told to stop, meaning that pruning may be required to maintain an appropriate scale.
A fiddle leaf fig will take any room from drab to fab!
Here are a few basic tips for keeping your fiddle leaf fig healthy and happy in your home:
- Light – First off, fiddle leaf figs like a good amount of sun. The best spot in your home for your fig is one that provides four hours or more of indirect sunlight each day.
- Soil – These plants require a rich well-draining, peaty soil.
- Temperature: This is the hardest part about caring for a fiddle-leaf fig tree: they do not like change. Make sure yours stays in a temperature-controlled environment between 60 and 75 degrees throughout the year.
- Water -During the summer months, water your fig tree when the top three inches of soil is dry. In the winter months, allow the four top inches of soil to dry down before watering. Test this by sticking your finger in the soil. Pretty soon you’ll figure out about how often you need to water. Keep in mind that this may fluctuate based on seasonal humidity, etc. Though it’s hard for some of us to resist over-watering, water only when soil is dry to the touch. When you water, water thoroughly, and allow it to dry down again. If your plant isn’t getting enough water, the upper leaves will turn brown, while if they are over watered, the lower leaves will brown and drop.
- Clean – Those big, showy leaves are also great dust collectors, so be sure to dust and wipe leaves with water or leaf shine when needed. Regular cleaning will keep your plant healthy, shiny, and able to absorb the light that it needs.
Come in and check out our amazing selection of fiddle leaf figs! With good light, soil and general care, your fiddle leaf fig can will grow with you for years to come.
Come visit us in store and one of our experts can help you pick out the proper pot, soil (and fertilizer) for your fiddle leaf fig.
Words by Sarah Carson @the.botanical
Sunday, February 22nd, 2015
Orchids are a true wonder of nature.
With an estimated 30,000 varieties occurring naturally, and over 150,000 hybrids, orchids make up one of the largest and oldest flowering plant families. Orchids are one of the most popular flowering plants; its simplicity and beauty are hard to resist. When sourcing orchids, our greenhouse buyer Deanne Cram, works with a few selected orchid suppliers, taking into account ease of care, color, height, number of buds, and stage of budding.
Orchids can be surprisingly low-maintenance. Unlike most plants, some orchid varieties are epiphytic, meaning they grow in air. Their roots attach to trees or rocks, where they capture moisture and nutrients. Others are terrestrials, growing in loamy, detritus soil. Most varieties require little water, plenty of direct or indirect sunlight, and healthy doses of orchid fertilizer. For more specific care guidance, our greenhouse staff (some are orchid fanatics) would love to share their knowledge of orchids with you.
We’re excited to be taking part in the MB Orchid Society Annual Show and Sale coming up on March 20, 21 and 22 at the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. We’ll be featuring a selection of affordable mini orchids, as well as growing medium, pots, fertilizer, and supplies. A breath-taking display of hundreds of orchids will be available for admiration or for purchase.
1: Dendrobium Species (Classic White ‘Memoria Yukie Nakano’); 2: Dendrobium Phalaenopsis / Oncidium Species (Dancing Lady Orchid); 3: Oncidium Species (Miltassia Charles M. Fitch ‘Izumi’)