Annuals

Annuals are demanding plants since they grow, bloom and die in one single season. For profuse blooming all summer long, they need regular feeding and correct watering. A sunny location with good drainage is more important to most annuals than soil quality.

Plenty of moisture is essential when you set out young plants. First, soak them in a tub of water. Plant only after the root ball is thoroughly wet. As extra insurance, soak the planting hole with a good watering as well. Water potted plants and cell-packs very well before transplanting outdoors.

Do not plant outdoor until temperature is frost-free.

Pinching young plants delays blooming but helps them become stockier and bushier. Use your thumb and forefinger to nip out the growing tip of the main stem just above a leaf or pair of leaves.

Flower boxes, hanging baskets and planters need more care as soil volume and root expansion are limited.

When buying annuals, the seedlings should be well rooted but need not be in bloom. While you wait for perennials to take hold, dress up the garden with annuals.

Bulbs

Standards for choosing bulbs: The bulbs are firm without wounds, or soft or deep blemishes. They are not moldy or dried, and the basal plate is firm and not cracked. The skins may be loose.

In areas where bulbs are not winter hardy, they must be dug up and stored for the winter.
1. After the foliage has yellowed or been killed by a frost in the fall, carefully dig up the bulbs with a spading fork.

2. Discard any wounded, diseased, or deformed bulbs.

3. Cut off the foliage close to the bulb, and shake off any loose soil. Dry the bulbs in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight for about a week.

4. Carefully brush off any soil. To protect the bulbs from storage rots, dust them with a fungicide containing captan.

5. Bulbs are live plants, and continue to breathe. Store them in shallow trays or plastic buckets, covered with dry sand, peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite.

6. Store the bulbs at temperatures between 35° and 45°F. They must not be allowed to freeze.

7. Store until the proper planting time for your plant.

Precooling: In mild-winter areas where the bulbs’ chilling requirements are not satisfied, purchase precooled bulbs, or precool them yourself. To do this, place the uncovered bulbs in a shallow pan. Store in the refrigerator or any area where the temperature remains just above freezing for 6 weeks. Plant outdoors or in pots. Blooms will appear in 2 to 4 months, depending on the plant variety.

Moss

Try applying buttermilk to stonework; it can stimulate the growth of moss.

Outdoor plant care – General rules

Once or twice a month, break the surface of the earth by doing a superficial hoeing. One hoeing is worth two waterings.
The installation of a compost mulch, bark or scales reduces the frequency of watering, limits growth of weeds and enriches the soil with organic substances.
Watering plants during period of dryness is very important. water abundantly, not merely a sprinkling. it is better to water well only once than to water incorrectly 10 times.
Eliminate all weeds that grow near flower beds or right near cultivated plants. Weeds are a cover for many harmful insects and deprive plant of nutritious elements.

Perennials

Because these plants remain in the same place for many years, it is important that the soil be well prepared when planting. Loosen it to a depth of 12 to 18 inches and mix in manure or other organic substances.

When planting, add bone meal.
Leave enough space to allow for expansion.
Consult the Plant Profiles Section for specific needs as to the sun, humidity and height of each species and variety.
During the first winter following planting, it is recommended to placed mulch on the plants. Conifer branches, buckwheat scales, etc may be used. Straw and leaves will not do as they retain too much moisture, a frequent cause of rotting.
Fertilize regularly for good flowering.

Potting Soil

Potting soils may be purchased or made. The best potting mixes provide good drainage, yet retain enough water so that the soil doesn’t dry out too frequently. Any of the following recipes will provide 3 cubic feet of enough potting mix to fill ten to twelve 1-gallon containers. Mix thoroughly and store in a closed container until used.

Recipe #1
4 gallons medium or coarse sand
4 gallons moistened peat moss
4 gallons composted bark or sawdust
¼ cup garden lime
3 tablespoons superphosphate 0-20-0
1 tablespoon 10-10-10 fertilizer

Recipe #2
6 gallons moistened peat moss
6 gallons perlite
¼ cup garden lime
3 tablespoons superphosphate 0-20-0
1 tablespoon 10-10-10 fertilizer

Recipe #3
4 gallons pasteurized garden soil
4 gallons medium or coarse sand
4 gallons leaf mold
3 tablespoons superphosphate 0-20-0
1 tablespoon 10-10-10 fertilizer

Raspberries

Plant at 40-50 cm spaced 2 m apart. Certain varieties must be staked.
Each year, after harvesting, eliminate the stems that have produced. New vigorous growth will bear fruit the following year. In the spring, remove the tips of the stems that were damaged by frost.
Only everbearing raspberry plants will produce fruit on the stems of the current year. Therefore, these varieties can be cut down to 15 cm from the ground in the fall.
Clear the rows in May and June, eliminating some stems and keeping the more vigorous ones.
Black raspberry plants are pruned in the same manner as the gooseberry and currant.

Rosebushes

Rosebushes require a minimum of six (6) hours of sun per day and rich, well-drained soil. An area that is well-ventilated will limit development of disease.
Before planting, trim any damaged roots and place the root system for a few hours in a solution made of water and soluble 10-52-10 fertilizer.
Form a mound from the mixture of earth.
Gently, separate and spread the roots
Place the graft point (bulge) right below ground level.
Fill the two thirds with the mixture of earth, pack and water
Fill in completely when the water has been all absorbed
Plant climbing rosebushes at 30 cm from a wall with the roots directed towards the exterior
Watering is especially important during period of dryness or flowering. Avoid watering the leaves which would encourage development of fungal disease. Water abundantly during the planting year.
After a first hoeing, adding mulch at the base of the rosebush diminishes development of weeds and the frequency of watering.
In the fall, remove dead leaves, which often carry disease.

Winter Protection
If the hardiness zone is respected, Hardy and English rosebushes need no winter protection. However, climbing rosebushes do need protection.
Using a well-sharpened shovel, cut part of the root system at 40 cm from the trunk.
Detach the stems from their support and spread them on the ground when the leaves have fallen or are at least yellow or brown.
Cover with earth or mulch (15-30 cm)
At spring, unearth and reattach the stems to the support when there is no longer a significant risk of frost.

Shrubs

It is preferable to protect plants for the first winter with mulch or a winter protection, even if they are hardy. This allows them to develop a better rooting system.

Seed Plants

Seed geraniums and fibrous begonias should be started as early as possible before the end of January.
Impatiens are also slow to start so February is a good month for them.
Marigolds, one of the easiest plants to grow from seed, can be left until March or April.

Soil

The most fundamental element in the garden is soil: the very foundation for all plants. The gardener’s job is to see to it that soil is healthy and in the best possible condition.

Acid Soil
In general, acid soils are associated with high rainfall and humid summers. Extreme acidity causes problem since it makes some nutrients chemically unavailable to plant roots. The problem with acid soil is that the plants grow slowly and the leaves turn pale green to yellow. Plants don’t improve very much when fertilized. A soil test shows a pH below 6.0.

Most garden plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a ph between 6 and 6.5. This includes such fruits, vegetables, and flowers as apples and raspberries, beans and peas, and pansies and delphiniums.

But other plants like more acid. Azaleas, foxgloves, heather, camellias, gardenias and blueberries, for example need a soil with a ph between 4.5 and 6. For a more example of plants, please see the ‘Special Plants’ Section.

Tip: to make a soil less acid, apply 1 to 5 kg of lime of dolomitic limestone per 9m2 (2.5 – 10 lb per 100 ft2) of soil, depending on soil type: a heavy clay soil will require more amendment than a sandy one. Dolomitic limestone is recommended because it adds magnesium as well as calcium to the soil. The limestone should be cultivated into the soil.

To raise the pH still higher, till the limestone into the top 15cm (6in.) of soil. Ashes from the fireplace or a wood-burning stove can also ‘sweeten’ the soil. Spread 2.5 to 5 kg per 9m2 (5-10 lb per 100 ft2) to raise the pH by one unit.

Alkaline Soil

In general, alkaline soils are found in dry-summer regions with low rainfall. Most plants grow well in slightly alkaline soil (pH 7.0 to 8.0). However, in soils that are more alkaline than 8.0, some plant nutrients, including iron and manganese, become insoluble and are not available to plants even though they are present in the soil. Plants growing in soil that is too alkaline for them develop yellow areas between the veins on their newest leaves. Older leaves usually remain green, unless the plant has been growing for some time in soil that is too alkaline.

Tip:Make soils more acid by adding aluminium sulphate, ferrous sulphate, or soil sulfur. Add 2 pounds per 100 square feet, wait 2 weeks, then test the soil pH. Reapply these acidifying amendments until the desired pH has been attained. Maintain acidity by using a fertilizer that has an acid reaction in the soil. Alternately, select plants that are tolerant of alkaline soil from the list in Plants That Will Grow in Alkaline Soil (pH 7.5 to 8.4).

Reduce alkalinity by adding acidic materials such as peat moss, sulfur or aluminium sulphate to your soil. To lower the pH by one unit, add 2.5kg (5lb) of peat moss, 350g to 1 kg (.75-2.5lb) of sulfur, or 2.5 to 7 kg (5-15 lb) of aluminium sulphate per 9m2 (100 ft2). Use the smaller amounts of additives in sandy soils and progressively larger amounts in heavier soils.

Improving drainage may help reduce alkalinity by allowing water to wash through and carry away alkaline salts. Put plenty of dead leaves, compost, or other organic matter into the bottom of planting holes.

Coffee grounds help reduce alkalinity too. Dig a good helping into the soil.

Desirable flowers in this category include the Madonna lily, purple coneflower, and candytuft. Alkalinity-loving shrubs and trees include lilac, peashrub, juniper, peach, hawthorn, and Russina olive. For a more example of plants, please see the ‘Special Plants’ Section.

Soil Test

You can buy a kit at nurseries and garden centers
For more precise information, send a soil sample to a commercial laboratory. Your provincial Ministry of Agriculture can provide information on testing and sampling.
For a quick and easy soil test, wet a soil sample and add a pinch of baking soda. If the mix fizzes, the soil may be too acidic for most garden plants and vegetables.
Add a few drops of cider vinegar to a soil sample. If it fizzes, the soil is alkaline.

Strawberries

Form raised rows at every 30-45 cm. The roots must be completely covered, but not the crown.
during the year it was planted, remove flowers from the plant and maintain rows that are 45-50 cm wide. Late in the fall, add mulch that is 5 to 10 cm thick.
In the following spring, as soon as the first growth appears, remove part of the mulch and spread it between the rows.
After harvesting, reduce the rows to 30 cm wide. Well-tended strawberries will produce for 3 years. The first year’s harvest is the best one.