Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Grow: Our Top Five Tips for Growing Herbs in Containers

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?!  

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.

Happy Easter!

Words + photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical

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:

  1. 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?).
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. Plant:
    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.
  5. 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

Monday, March 21st, 2016


DIY Succulent Egg 1

Can you feel it?

Spring is here, and the arrival of the new season is evident it seems everyone is buzzing and totally on board with spring and the promise of a not-so-far-off summer. And while we still have a little bit more waiting to do before we can get outside in the garden, diving into an inspiring indoor project is a great way to reconnect with the green stuff after a long, cold winter.

Whether you’re celebrating Spring Equinox, Easter or simply the promise of warmer days ahead, this eggshell garden is the perfect afternoon project to get your hands just a little bit dirty. What’s more is that this project is super simple, meaning you might actually have a chance to squeeze it in between spurts of spring cleaning and family get-togethers. Here’s how.

DIY Easter 2

Pick your plant friends

The options are endless here, and variety is key. Here, we used a few mini succulents and air plants, rounded out with just a couple of assorted seedlings from the greenhouse for good measure. If you’re on the ball, propagating from seed would be a great option here think cat grass or even microgreens.

Prep the eggshells

Any eggs will do, but go for farm fresh if you can swing it those speckled browns and blues just can’t be beat. Simply crack eggs in half or, to get the added effect of a whole egg, softly tap the crown of your egg with a spoon to remove just the upper portion of the shell. Either way, reserve the yolk and white for later use and rinse well. The eggs used here are wearing their original coat, but experimenting with natural dyes would certainly be a fun avenue to explore.

Plant ‘em

Carefully place your plant in the shell, using a spoon to add potting soil mixture as needed. If using air plants, of course no soil is required! (Note: These plant babies will eventually need to be repotted, but if you’re planning to keep them housed in the eggshells for a while yet, we’d recommend poking an additional hole in the bottom of the shell to allow for proper drainage.)

Choose your display

This wee little garden is adorable in an egg carton, but you could also get creative by arranging eggs in a nest of Spanish moss or in egg holders (imagine these at individual place settings for Easter dinner). Either way, these make a great last minute hostess gift as a unique alternative (or, if we’re being honest, addition) to a basket of chocolate eggs.

Here’s to spring!

Words + photos by Sarah Carson

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Heaven Sent! An Early Spring

Blog Image May 3, 2015

By golly spring has sprung! It’s hard to believe that just overnight we’ve burst into bud and bloom! An exceptionally warm, early spring like this doesn’t come our way very often, and as glorious as it feels, it also catches us gardeners a little off guard. We’re tempted to frantically plant our tomato plants and herb baskets, and to pot up our containers with colorful annuals and perennials.  But remember, Mother Nature is a quirky lady, and she may have a cold spell or even a frost up her sleeve! In our area, we’ve experienced frost as late as June 7, a tragedy for newly planted bedding plants.

So what’s a gardener to do with an early spring?

Take this time to start from the ground up. We suggest amending the soil in your beds by adding compost and manure. Thatch, aerate and topseed your lawn. Check your garden tools and tune up your mower – are they sharpened and ready for action?  Taking care of these fundamentals before you begin planting will ensure that you have a successful gardening season with thriving plants. And if you just can’t wait to see some colorful flowers, play it safe by potting up some cold-tolerant pansies or a few fresh hanging baskets that are easy to bring indoors in case a frost threatens.

Patience is a gardener’s virtue!

Hours of Inspiration



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Shelmerdine Garden Centre Ltd.

7800 Roblin Boulevard
Headingley, MB R4H 1B6

Phone: 204.895.7203
Fax: 204.895.4372
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