Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Native Plants

There are two projects happening here in Campbellton that have me turning to the subject of native plants. When we are discussing native plants what we are referring to is plants that have evolved here, in North America, over many years.
These plants have adapted to environmental changes where they are growing and have been part of the evolving local ecosystem for many, many generations. These plants have adapted to the rainfall patterns; to the myriad of other creatures that have evolved with them, pollinating them, feeding on their nectar; to the area's soils and climate; to the whole web of connections that nature provides.
This is why native plants will require little attention from you, they are hardwired to thrive.
One project is Bee City Campbellton. The purposes of Bee City Campbellton is first: to encourage people not to use pesticides or purchase plants that have been treated with pesticides. The second purpose is to inform people about native plants that attract pollinators such as the honey bee, the bumblebee and the blue mason bee.
The second project is the Heritage Garden at the Galerie Restigouche. The Gallery will be planting, on June 11, a vegetable garden using seeds that would or could have been historically grown in this area.
If you are planning to create a native plant garden, you will need to know what plants are native to your region. I always recommend that people visit their local public library as the library can be a source of much information. If you have a native plant society or a naturalist society in town, then contact them.
There are some very sound reasons for selecting native plants for your garden, for me the environmental reasons carry the most weight but ease of care follows as a close second.
Environmental reasons:
The environmental reasons are strong motivators for selecting native plants, with a native plant garden you will:
·         increase biodiversity;
·         provide habitat for a wide variety of creatures such as birds and butterflies;
·         provide a home for many native plants that are becoming increasingly rare in the wild;
·         conserve water;
·         and eliminate the need for chemical inputs such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
The other important reasons for using native plants are the practical and aesthetic benefits of native plant gardening: less work and lots of beauty!
Once you get started you will soon discover that native plant gardens almost look after themselves. Remember the plants look after themselves in Nature and do not have a gardener to feed and water them.
However, the best guarantee of gardening success is taking time to stroll through your garden. Enjoying the sights, sounds and smells, with an eye open to spotting the unusual, unexpected or unanticipated. This investment of time can head off possible plant catastrophes.
Next week, we will look at invasive species and the difference between plants that present a threat to the garden and ecosystem and those that enhance our gardening success. So, until next week, happy gardening.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Indoor seed Staring

I was at the Galerie Restigouche Gallery the other night and among other topics, I was asked when is the best time to get seeds started indoors. The person asking the question was eager to get going but also wise enough to know it was too soon.
Tomatoes seeds need 8 to 10 hours of sunlight daily in order to germinate properly indoors. If they do not get adequate sunlight the stalks will grow as they reach for the sunlight. I have seen this effect in the greenhouse which does not get enough light to grow tomatoes properly.
The plants grew tall as they stretch themselves towards the sun but the fruit was undersized and took too long to turn red.
Tomatoes are a heat loving plant. However, for indoor seeding, they prefer a lower night temperature of between 10 and 16-degree C or 50 to 60 F. This temperature range helps the plants grow strong.
Some suggest that running your hands lightly over the plants will also result in stronger plants.
Be careful with watering the seeds, especially during the germination period. Too much water at this stage can cause a fungal disease which will kill the plants.
Different seeds, whether they are beans, peas, carrots or spinach, for example, may require a different germination temperature.
Beans will not germinate in a cool soil. They demand that the soil temperature be higher than 16 degrees C or 60 degrees F. It takes time for the soil to warm to this temperature. Remember simply because the air feels warm does not mean that the soil is warm enough to plant.
People have had to replant seeds because they put their seeds into the ground too soon. The seeds rot, the potential crop is gone and disappointment sets in. However, if this does happen do not quit. It is usually possible to plant new seeds and still get a good crop.
Keeping an eye on how the seeds are doing and record the time they begin to emerge from the soil. The record provides a guide for next year’s garden.
A soil thermometer is a good way to know what temperature the soil is. However, gardeners who have been planting in the same area for a number of years also have a sense of when it is time to plant out.

I mentioned above recording the progress of the seeds you have planted. If you are new or have only been gardening for a few years, I suggest you keep a planting journal. What did you start indoors when did you move them outdoors? What did you direct plant outdoors? Be sure to keep records for both seeds and seedlings both should be recorded?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Cut-And-Come Again Garden

Nutrient density is a measure of the nutrients provided per calorie of food, or the ratio of nutrients to calories (energy). The salad or cut-and-come-again garden is ideal for some high nutrient plants.
This is one of the simplest gardens to set up and even a small space can yield meals all through the gardening season.
Cut-and-come-again refers to the plants’ abilities to grow new leaves after they have been harvested. Careful cutting will keep the plant growing new leaves.
In hot weather, lettuces and other green leafy plants have a tendency to bolt, in other words, go to seed, rather quickly and the crop is lost.
Now what to grow in the cut-and-come-again garden or salad garden? There are many options. I like spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, and arugula, for example, but there are a number of others, that are ideal in a salad garden.
My five top crops for the home salad garden are and this is not in order of importance: leaf lettuces, radishes, snow peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
The snow peas, cucumbers, and tomatoes can all be grown vertically in containers if your space is limited or if you simply do not want to bend over to tend them.
Leaf lettuce is a lettuce with an open growth habit, which forms loose clusters of leaves rather than a tight head of lettuce, red leaf lettuce is an example.
Leaf lettuces reach maturity before other lettuces and are ideal for the short season garden. I like growing several plants that are early producers because winter is long and the growing season quite short.
Growing something that provides a yield early provides fresh food early in the gardening season. This is why I also grow radishes. Some radishes can reach maturity in 28 days. We enjoy the mild heat and flavour in salads and sandwiches.
Cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce make a fine sandwich. Cucumbers are one of the foods that remind me of my youth and a garden just would not be complete without them.
Snow peas are great in a stir fry served with rice or make a great addition to a salad. In fact, all these vegetables can be combined in a number of ways to produce healthy and delicious salads. So, until next week, happy gardening.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

Photo:Jalapeno in Greenhouse

Gardening with Osteoarthrits

I love to garden. Anything that prevents me from doing so would be most unwelcome.  There are many benefits to be gained from the garden, above and beyond growing your own food. Gardening gets me outside to enjoy the wind and sun.  In addition, working in the garden exercises the mind, body and spirit.
However, if you have a bad back or knee problems for example, garden related activities can be painful, no fun at all.
I have osteoarthritis in both knees. This makes standing up difficult and kneeling down impossible. However, I can continue to enjoy the multi-benefits having a garden brings by using raised beds. There are many ways to raise the garden up.
A garden does not have to be a patch of earth on the ground set aside for the specific purpose of growing plants. A garden can be a series, or even one container, placed upon a table or a bench high enough so a chair can slide in and out under that table. Keep the length and width of the table to dimensions that allow the gardener to reach across it from any side.
If you are a do-it-yourself person build your own raised beds. using wood, bricks, concrete blocks, rubber tires, or compost and earth piled up above the ground.
If you have little time, then, buy some organic soil, cut a slit into the bag and plant right into this, if you want it higher, put it on a table or bench.
One of the advantages to using a raised bed, besides the ease of gardening, is that the soil in the raised bed will warm up faster in the spring so you can get an early start. Another advantage to a raised bed is you can build a seat or two along the edge of the bed so that the gardener can sit down while planting, weeding or harvesting.
The ease of access means that the various gardening chores, such as planting, weeding, deadheading, watering and perhaps the most fun, harvesting require less effort.
A major expense, depending upon the size of the garden, will be soil. The plants need healthy soil and this may need to be bought, the first year.
The raised bed will need to be placed where the plants you choose get that light they need. A second location consideration is putting the bed as close as possible to the water source should the rain be insufficient to meet the plants’ needs.
It is also a good idea to keep the bed as close to the house as possible, in order to cut down on the number of steps needed to reach it.
If you are putting in a new garden take a close look at the raised bed garden, you may just appreciate the advantages. Next week we will begin to look at the best vegetable to plant. The ones that provide the most nutrients in return for the work done. Planting season is coming, be patient and happy gardening.

Native Plants

There are two projects happening here in Campbellton that have me turning to the subject of native plants. When we are discussing native pl...