Get in the Garden

After spending six months buried beneath the snow and ice, your garden is as eager to come out and play as you are. City Life spoke to some local gardeners who are challenging plant lovers and amateurs alike to don their dirt-tainted gloves and their mud-friendly boots and have some fun in the soil — because you know it’s not summer until you’ve made something beautiful sprout from the muck. Here are their tips on how to make your garden, and your spirits, flourish this summer.

Jesse Barker
Nursery Manager, Terra Vaughan
11800 Keele St., Maple

Since the ban on commercial pesticides went into place a few years back, homeowners have been looking for ways to get rid of the weeds growing in their lawns. A good natural way to do this is seed and feed. I recommend a good overseed in the early spring followed by fertilizing. A good tip on when to fertilize is on the four major holidays (Easter, Victoria Day, Canada Day and Labour Day.”)

“Mulching your flowerbeds is a great way to improve the lives of your plants and to bring some colour and contrast to your gardens. Mulching serves many great purposes: it creates a natural weed barrier, retains moisture in the soil and protects delicate root systems from extreme heat in the middle of the summer.”

“With new trends surfacing like the 100-Mile Diet, gardeners and non-gardeners alike are growing more and more of their own edibles in their gardens. To help improve and increase your yearly harvest, it is recommended that you manage your soil yearly, rotate your crop selection and properly space out your rows — and why not plant an
extra row to be donated to your local food bank?”

Natalie Cinquemani
Owner and Floral Designer,
Terracotta Home & Garden
2 & 4 Kellam St., Kleinburg

Always ensure your tools are clean and sharp — that makes them easier to work with and they do a better job.”

“Before you get to work on your garden, prepare your work area with all the tools and products that you might need to get the job done: a shovel, soil, flowers, a pair of gloves, a watering can, etc.”

“Always water in the early morning.”

“Enjoy your garden — watch it grow.”

Laura Serpe-Galifi and Laura Piazza
Assistant Managers,
Vaughan Garden Centre
8955 Weston Rd., Woodbridge

Trim any broken branches, and cut on an angle to make sure that water doesn’t sit on the tree, which promotes diseases. Then spray it with pruning spray to protect it.”

“Fertilize all your blue hydrangeas with aluminum sulfate — it helps blue flowers bloom. You can also use this on blueberries and magnolias. Only use it as directed, usually two or three tablespoons to every one litre of water. Never use too much.”

“Always prune roses back in the spring. Cut back until green is seen in the cane. Remove all the dead canes and fertilize around the drip line — it’ll promote healthier plants and more flowers.”

“Don’t prune lilac bushes in the spring, because lilacs bloom on old stems and you will not get flowers if this is done in the spring.”

“When container gardening vegetables or annuals, always use a potting soil, and fertilize and water your plants for best results.”

“When planting a shrub, ornamental tree or perennials in a pot, make sure the pot is deep enough to promote root growth and is able to drain water for overwintering. Use a heavier soil (gardening soil) to keep plants upright during storms, and fertilize.”

James Zaza
Owner, Kleinburg Nursery
9450 Hwy 27, Woodbridge

Bright-coloured tools save you time spent searching for misplaced hand tools. Buy trowels, cultivators, forks and pruners with bright red or orange handles so you can quickly spot them amid the greenery.”

“There’s no better time to visit a garden centre than on a rainy day. Nurseries are less crowded, lines are shorter and staff members are more available to answer your questions. Once the rain eases, go out and pull weeds — even clumps of crabgrass and deep-rooted dandelions pull easily out of wet soil.”

“Find local inspiration. When walking or driving, take note of interesting plants and plant combinations. Write them down or take pictures on your mobile device and take the list with you to the nursery. Having an itemized list will speed up your shopping trips, making it easier for staff members to help locate the plants, and it reduces the urge to impulse-buy.”

“Make sure you have constant reminders. Plant vegetables and herbs near your back or front door. Since you’ll see them often, you’ll remember to keep them watered. And they’ll be nearby when you need dinner fixings.”

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Amanda Storey

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