Sunday, June 14, 2009

More tips for new gardeners

First-time Gardeners:

It is usually shown on a map. These zones show a geographically-defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the
In order to survive our harsch winter climate in Ontario, the plants you buy should not have a higher hardiness zone than 5.

Compost is an organic!!! fertilizer and mulch. Learn how to make organic fertilizer in a compost pile and benefits of compost as organic fertilizer and mulch:- Making compost is cheap or free.- Organic compost improves the environment.
- Compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration.
- As a mulch, compost helps the soil retain water.
- Compost is an organic fertilizer that improves soil and plants.
- Compost stimulates healthy root development.
- A compost pile is an excellent means of disposing of organic debris, leaves, food wastes, grass clippings, etc.
- Organic compost improves the environment.

Major Ingredients: Most commercial fertilizers have 3 numbers on the front label, separated by dashes. For example: 5-10-5. This is the fertilizer analysis or percentage by weight of the 3 major nutrients plants need: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, in that order. These are abbreviated as N-P-K. This example contains 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 5% potassium. The remaining 80% could be comprised of other nutrients and filler.

Nitrogen: The first number gives the concentration of nitrogen in the product.
Nitrogen encourages foliage growth, among other benefits.
Phosphorous: The middle number refers to the concentration of phosphorous. Phosphorous contributes to many fundamental plant processes such as rooting and setting flower buds. Potassium: The final number states the concentration of potassium.
Potassium contributes to the overall health and vigor of plants.

Plants that you buy at nurseries or garden centers always have labels that show the maximum height and width of the mature plant - to show you how far apart they should be planted from each other. Most important is the location info, if the plant likes sun or shade (or partial shade) and the watering instructions. Then you can find the hardiness zone, blooming time and pruning instructions. Most of the time these instructions are given as pictograms.

Place mulch around the plants. This serves many purposes; it cuts down on weeding, as well as aiding in temperature control and water retention. Your flower bed will always look fresh and groomed. Even if you love to work the soil and weed the plants - it would be more rewarding to tending to the plants or just watching them grow, rather than weeding.

If you have lots of trees and shrubs in your garden, your perennial flowers live in dry shade and are very thirsty, as they receive very little rain and the big roots of the trees "steal" them their moisture.Water the roots - not the leaves. Water around the plant, not on top of it. The tap water we use in the garden is not as good as rain water for the plants. Ideal would be to install a rain barrel.
To maintain really healthy plants, water for longer periods of time, but less frequently. If it is not raining, water at least once a week. Do not let the plants dry out.
Always water very early in the morning so the plant leaves have time to dry out during the day which helps prevent fungal disease and sunburn (water acts like a magnifier glass of the sun rays).


The sunny part of your garden is ideal for herbs. All herbs prefer full sun and well-drained and "fluffy" soil, maybe added with a little bit coarse sand. Herbs are blooming too! Here is a variety of herbs with attractive blooms, just plant them in a sunny flower bed between your other perennials.

Compact, green foliage is topped with fragrant spikes of blue flowers. An excellent border and pot plant.

Basil is a beautiful plant that has culinary, medicinal and ornamental qualities. There are about 150 species and they can be rich, spicy and mildly peppery and are used traditionally in Mediterranean, Italian and Thai cooking.

Tastes like mild, sweet onions. Great in salads or herbal vinegars.

Goes great with poultry, lamb, pork and is terrific in vinegars. Mulch well or cover with evergreens before winter.

Sage (Salvia)Beautiful gray-green foliage, with blue flowers. Used in sausages, pork and veal dishes, as well as in poultry stuffings.

Used in a variety of tomato dishes and in Italian, Spanish and Mexican cooking as well as in vinegars.

Orange Thyme
A citrusy thyme that is excellent with fish, roasted vegetables, stews and soups or in marmalades and chutneys.

Freezing your herbs:
I use a lot of herbs for cooking. But some herbs grow so vigorously that I have to cut the surplus in fall. I rinse the twigs thoroughly under running water, cut them in tiny pieces, fill them into a separate ziplog bag for each type, (mark the name on the bag) and store them in the freezer. That gives me herbs for many months ahead and memories of summer.