Four tips to get your garden ready for spring
Want to move indoor plants outside, or build a yard that attracts butterflies? Marjorie Harris offers expert advice.
Advice to quickly turn yourself into a green thumb
From weeds to soil types to dealing with perennials that have overgrown their space, learn how to deal with common gardening challenges.
What can I prune and when?
The rule of thumb is that if it blooms in spring, prune after the flowers are spent; it if blooms in autumn, cut it down in late winter and early spring. This generally works for vines and shrubs, but when it comes to the latter, don’t take out more than about one-third of the stems from the base. As for trees, it’s safe to prune them now, since they’re mature enough to form calluses in order to heal themselves after being cut. But again, don’t remove more than you have to – it’s really only about shape and safety. That said, many old evergreens – especially very old yews – can get a whole new lease on life if you whack them right back. They’ll come back looking almost like new. − Marjorie Harris
How much and how often should I water?
Give big trees and large shrubs three buckets of water twice a week – that’s about the same as letting the hose or watering system run gently for 45 minutes. Avoid mini-watering – letting the water run every day for 20 minutes – as it produces plants with a shallow rooting system. As for plants in containers, water them almost every day depending on size and rainfall. When in doubt, use the knuckle test: Stick your finger into the container and if it’s dry above the first knuckle, water slowly until it runs out the bottom of the pot. − Marjorie Harris
The edible garden
DIY kitchen garden essentials: How to grow your own bountiful harvest
A primer on creating high-yield food plots that are also attractive (plus tips on what to do with all that bounty).
At first I just wanted free lunch. But now I can’t imagine life without my vegetable garden
Tending to his vegetable garden – with all of its glorious frustrations – left Beppi Crosariol with more than a green thumb.
Why I converted my container garden into one that’s 100-per-cent edible
When planning her container garden, Nathalie Atkinson wanted three things: a decorative array to brighten the terrace, edible flowers to use as informally as fresh herbs and plants to attract pollinators.
Choosing what to grow
Want a high-impact, low-fuss garden? Try xeriscaping
This low-maintenance gardening trend groups plants with similar needs – all sun, all shade, etc. – together. Xeriscapes are also drought-tolerant, which means that after a good watering they can survive for about a week before needing more hydration.
How to make native plants feel at home in your garden
Native plants can look “weedy” to a non-expert eye because they aren’t always neat, tidy and picture perfect. But these plants are crucial to every garden.
From rocks to water, consider these alternative gardens
Natural, native and sustainable gardens are being nurtured in more creative ways by professionals and amateurs alike.
How to plant and care for grasses
Grasses are relatively inexpensive, difficult to kill and add a lovely soft movement to the garden, but also take most of the summer to come to maturity. Placed with skill, they will enhance the tiniest of gardens.
What you should know about growing your own cannabis
It’s safer and easier to grow pot outdoors rather than an expensive hydroponic indoor grow-op.
I’m confused about mass planting versus a mixed bed. How do I avoid a haphazard look?
A good mixed bed isn’t easy to achieve – and it can take years of gardening experience to get there. A mass planting usually means having a large area covered with one kind of plant (as in all the same hosta); a mixed bed, which is one I prefer myself, has many different kinds of plants, often with similar colours blending into the next. Try planting three of the same kind of plant in a triangle. This will prevent anything from looking too spotty. Then add the next threesome in a complementary colour, texture or contrasting foliage (pointy with fluffy). To my eye, it is a much healthier, more interesting way to plant than dozens of the same plant in huge drifts, unless you are dealing with acres of land. − Marjorie Harris
How do I figure out whether I have alkaline or acidic soil?
That is always something useful to know. Many plants really like acidic soil. To make a test of your own, mix soil from one part of the garden and add it to a jar of water. Pour some baking soda over it; if it bubbles, it’s acidic. In another container pour ordinary vinegar over the muddy water; if it fizzes it’s alkaline. If nothing happens, you’ve got neutral soil, which is what most gardens like to grow in. This is, of course, a crude method. Another way to figure out what you’re working with: Look around. Are there lots of cedars and other evergreens? Any healthy-looking rhododendrons? If so, you can bet the soil is acidic. − Marjorie Harris
How does your condo garden grow?
With more Canadians now living in urban dwellings than ever before, people are increasingly looking for ways to sprout life in tight, traditionally non-green spaces.
My balcony garden might be small, but it’s a project of hope
Oleksandra Budna loves what container gardening does for her sense of well-being.