Warming up that frostbitten green thumb
With temperatures below freezing, the ground covered in snow and the sight of plant life scarce, your green thumb may be feeling a bit frostbitten.
However, with spring slowly coming into view, Canada Blooms would like to suggest five ways to start preparing your garden for the warmer days ahead.
1. Pruning. Winter is the prime time to prune your summer-blooming trees and shrubs to make room for new growth. While your plants are dormant and bugs are at a minimum, cut back your wisteria vines, rose bushes, ornamental grasses and other summer-blooming foliage.
2. Winter-sowing. While it may be too cold to sprinkle seeds in the garden, you can get a head start on growing your perennials and hardy annuals with DIY miniature greenhouses of recycled clear plastic materials. Place outside during the cold winter months to allow hard-shelled seeds to naturally germinate, and plants to grow stronger and sturdier as they withstand the elements.
3. Weak annuals. Some weak annuals require a warmer environment to get started. To get a head start on those plants that require a longer growing season such as geraniums, begonias and peppers, sow these seeds within a heated propagator. To mitigate costs, a similar miniature greenhouse as mentioned previously could be created and placed in direct sunlight indoors for a similar effect.
4. Egg shells and coffee grounds. Save up egg shells and coffee grounds. Both eggshells and coffee grounds act as natural fertilizers for your garden, shells providing calcium while the grounds provide nitrogen. Eggshells have also been known to deter pests such as slugs, snails, and even deer. On the other hand, coffee grounds work quite the opposite, attracting earthworms and helping beneficial microorganisms thrive in addition to improving drainage, water retention and soil aeration.
5. Feed the birds. During the cold months, insects are scare, water is frozen, and most of the natural food supply is covered by snow, making Canadian winters a stressful time for birds. By providing high calorie food options such as sunflower seeds, suet, or peanut butter, you will be helping your feathered backyard residents stay warm and cozy throughout the winter. In return, birds will provide natural pollination among your garden, while also minimizing the amount of weeds and pests.
When and where. Canada Blooms will be held from March 8 to 17 at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto. For more information or for tickets, visit www.canadablooms.com.