Planting Flowers in Containers

"Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers." - Veronica A. Shoffstall

Container growing can be remarkably satisfying especially, but not exclusively, if you have limited space. I love to have potted flowers on my deck! If you pick the right flowers you will get the birds and the bees like hummingbirds and are able to see these wonderful birds up close.
So before you start picking containers decide where you want them to be. Just outside a kitchen window in a window box? Large wooden planters on a porch in the corners? Around the swimming pool deck?

Next we need to think about the container type.
You can plant your flowers in containers of mixed styles, shapes, material and height. Some containers make beautiful displays to brighten up a patio corner, against a bare wall or on either side of an outside stairway. There are so many pots in various shapes and sizes. There are clay, plastic, ceramic, wire pots, tubs and buckets. Containers you attach to the house (window box) and containers you hang off your railings or hang from posts. Containers that sit on the deck, patio or porch. You choose. You are the artist! Show your colours!
Ensure your containers have good drainage in them. Check to see if your containers have drain holes to prevent over watering and provide air circulation for healthy plants. If there are none put a layer of gravel or pebbles in the bottom of the pot.

Next is to choose the soil. Potting soil is rich in organic material. Added Vermiculite works to help the soil drain and keep it moist. Remember to add a slow release granular fertilizer to the soil to give your plants a great start.

Alright, so, you know where the containers are going, what type of containers you want and you have several bags of good potting soil. Off to the Garden Centre!!!!

No, not yet. Do a little research. You need a "planting plan". Select flowers and plants that compliment each other. Some flowers bloom pink, red, yellow or variegated, have huge blossoms or clusters of little tiny blossoms. Some are trailers, other uprights. You can talk to the gardener at your local Garden plant center. Look plants up online or if you are daring, just experiment with different kinds of plants. You can check out the labels for height, type, sun exposure and watering requirements.I like to add in plants that have showy foliage and trail down to the deck to go with my flowers, like Ipomea (Sweet Potato Plant). Gives the "overflowing look". I like to get height in a planter so often will put a tall grass in the middle.

I have listed a few options of flowering plants and foliage plants that work well in planters.
Annuals suitable for containers:
Alyssum, Begonia, Browallia, Coleus, Geraniums, Impatiens, Lantana, Lobellia, Marigolds,Periwinkle, Nasturtiums, Pansies, Salvia, Petunias, Sanvitalia, Snapdragons, Thunbergia, Zinnias

Some plants that are great for colourful foliage:
Hedera (English Ivy), Ipomea, Lamium, Pedilanthus, Pseuderanthemum, Strobilanthes(Persian Shield), Vinca

What ever you choose enjoy your containers. If you are not too fond of a plant this year, don't use it next year. You may just find your favorite types of plants or try different plants every year. Experiment! Enjoy!

Would not have been my choice in a container but to each their own!


Planting a New Vegetable Garden

Start planning!
What is it you want to grow?
Where can you plant?
In these times of fiscal restraint the addition of fresh home grown vegetables to your meals will benefit not only your pocket book but your health as well. It makes more sense now to consider growing some of our own vegetables.
Size up your garden
The first garden I made was huge! The next year I cut it down to half the size. Be realistic! How much time can you spend in your garden? Adjust the size accordingly. Vegetable gardens are a good deal of work, so start small and expand if and when you have the time. Squash, melons, pumpkins and corn-require large areas to spread out, so be aware of your limitations.
Sun Exposure
Vegetable gardens require at least eight hours of direct sunlight daily. Check the area to ensure there will not be any major shade obstacles in the way. Large trees, buildings etc.
Garden Site 
The ground should be fairly level. If the area you wish to plant is covered with grass, peel away the sod by using a sharp spade to cut the sod into squares, undercut the strips below the grass roots. I use this sod to repair bare areas in the lawn. Use a rototiller, or manually double-dig the soil to turn over the existing soil. Break up clods and add organic matter. (e.g., compost, shredded leaves or composted manure) You will need access to each plant (for seeding, thinning, weeding, watering, managing pests and harvesting), and paths help keep everything within easy reach so remember to leave a path up the centre of the plot.
Local wildlife that is happy to sample your gardens fare needs to be kept out. You may need to install a physical barrier, such as fencing or netting. I have used chicken wire for years but if you have a lot of deer in the area the fence will need to be at least 6” high.
Cool Weather Planting
These vegetables tolerate low temperatures and can be sown outdoors in early spring.
Beets, Broccoli*, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage* , Kale*, Kohlrabi*, Leeks , Lettuce, Onions, Peas*, Radishes*, Rutabaga, Spinach*, Turnips*
If marked with an asterisk they can also be planted in summer for fall harvest


Spring Cleaning for Your Garden

I really get cabin fever in the winter and so I just can't wait for those first few days in April when it starts to warm up and we are finally getting rain, not snow। This is a good time to start your "outdoor" spring cleaning। As a start you can clean your annual and perennial gardens.
  1. Annual plants are an eyesore and will not return for another year. Clean out those ugly dead plants , surrender them to the compost!
    I like to leave my perennials to prune in the spring। Clean away dead growth, mulch or leaves and prune to ground level as soon as you see new growth at the bottom of the old growth.
  2. Certain plants like to be pruned in spring as compared to the fall. Close pruning in the fall for some means no protection for delicate sprouts in the spring and so they don't fair well, like Artemesia. So here are a few tips for spring cleaning some perennials!
Caryopteris (Blue mist) Cut back to 6-8 inches when signs of green occur.
Buddleia Davvidii (Butterfly bush) Cut back to 6-8 inches when signs of green occur.
Astilbe Can just have a general tidy as they don't require much care, Cut out the dead wood.
Lobelia Cardinalis ( Cardinal flower) Trim the damaged areas or cut back to the ground.
Dianthus Clean up, remove dead wood.
Artemesia Clean in early spring, remove dead wood and leaves

Create a new garden plot

I detest grass!!!

Well.. maybe not grass itself,but cutting grass. Since I do not like to cut grass I prefer to have gardens. To make gardens I have to get rid of the grass! Vicious circle! There is hope though, a technique I heard of a few years ago and it makes creating that new garden in your lawn much easier and without the backbreaking work of removing sod.

Instead you "smother" the grass. Yes I said smother! Simple concept using newspapers, compost and mulch.The reward for smothering grass is a new beautiful plant bed, ready to plant in 60 days.

How to Smother Grass

  1. Determine the size and shape of the new bed. Mow the grass in this area to a height of 5 centimeters. Now spread newspaper over the mown grass. (Make sure its newsprint not glossy paper) Wet the newspaper thoroughly to ensure decomposition and do this to each layer as applied to a depth of 2-3 centimeters. You want this soggy.

  2. Cover the soggy mess with blood meal and composted manure. Sprinkle the blood meal over the newspaper and then layer 4 centimeters of manure on top . This retains the moisture and holds down the newspaper.

  3. Finish this by putting on top 5-7 centimeters of a chunky hardwood mulch. This discourages weed growth and holds the bottom layers in place.

  4. Spray the area with water to keep it moist for the next 45-60 days. Do not allow to dry out completely or the decomposition will stop. In about a month and a half Test the garden. use a trowel to cut several small holes in different places. If the newspaper has disappeared and the grass is suffocated ( I do like the sound of that!) it is time to plant.

  5. When planting don't disturb the soil too much. Dig out an area just large enough to slip in a plant and then replace the soil around it.

You now have a beautiful garden with out removing a single blade of grass to do so!

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