Garden Rewards Already Being Delivered
Spring is almost done and summer is days away. Local gardens and landscapes are looking good as most people have finished their planting and are now waiting for the results of their hard work.
Some vegetable gardens and greenhouses are already producing enough vegetables to make a salad. Lettuce, greens, gourmet cucumbers, radishes, green onions and early tomatoes are already being harvested. Hascap berries and strawberries are ripening and will soon be ready to pick.
Maintenance is a major part of gardening. Keeping the weeds down, by going through the garden with a hoe every 10-14 days will dislodge any weeds before they become established. As the garden is being weeded, check plants for any potential problems. Look for diseases, or pests that could affect the plants health. Onions and carrots are checked for root maggots, and broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, are checked for root maggots and for cutworms which attack the plants stem at ground level. A crop cover placed loosely over the crop, will help prevent root maggots as it creates a barrier and stops the fly from laying its eggs on the soil. A crop cover (row cover) is made of very lightweight fabric that allows water, air and light to penetrate through. When placing the crop cover over the plants/seeds, make sure that is loose enough to allow for growing room, and that the edges are secure to prevent pests from getting underneath it. It can be left on for several weeks till the threat of the pest has passed.
Frost can be a problem for many local gardens, especially if you live in the outlying areas outside of the city centre. We had frost at our home garden on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Covering frost tender crops such as beans, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, peppers, corn, eggplant as well as frost tender flowers with ‘Reemay’ (a heavier gauge of the crop/row cover) will keep a few degrees of frost out and protect the plants. We are always watching the weather forecast and have the ‘Reemay’ nearby.
Moisture is very important for growing healthy plants. We have been experiencing warm dry weather, which means that the garden needs to be watered periodically. It is better to water for a longer time and less often, rather than for a short time every day. You want the plants roots to grow deep so that they do not dry out as quickly. Plants that are watered daily will have shallow roots that are just below the surface and have the potential to dry out quickly during dry hot weather.
Flowers need to be tended to on a regular schedule. Remove finished flowers (deadhead) quickly, so that the plants energy goes into producing new flowers, rather than seed, which happens if old flowers are left on the plant. Removing the old flowers, also keeps the plant looking tidy and neat. Also, remove any broken stems, or damaged foliage to prevent them from rotting which can damage the plant.
Fertilize plants as they need it, using the correct fertilizer for the plant. Container plants that are fertilized with a water soluble fertilizer should be fertilized weekly. Flowering plant fertilizer such as 12-36-12 is ideal for flowering baskets and containers. Vegetable gardens can be fertilized with an all purpose 6-8-6 or 8-20-20 which can also be used flowerbeds. Another annual/perennial fertilizer is 8-12-14. Trees, shrubs and hedges can be fertilized with 18-4-8 and fruit trees and berries with 4-19-17. A good lawn fertilizer is 24-4-16. Not all fertilizers are created equal. Use a good quality fertilizer that has the added trace elements, important for a plants health.
Early blooming shrubs such as Lilacs should be pruned right after they have finished blooming. Break off all the old finished flowers and prune the branches to keep the bush nicely shaped.
If you see a space that needs to be filled, or you are late getting started, there is still lots of time to plant bedding plants, trees, shrubs and perennials. You can still sow fast growing , short season seeds, such as spinach, lettuce, radishes, etc., and get that first or second season crop. Gardening is a hobby, that will keep you busy from spring, right through to the fall!
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road