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Clematis Pruning: A,B, or C?

So, you’ve bought a clematis, and you’re confused about how to prune it? Newly planted clematis vines should be pruned to the lowest pair of strong buds after their first winter (In about march) to promote a thicker and more vigorous plant. Subsequent pruning is based on when that particular species flowers, starting the following year. Doing this helps you to train the plant into the shape you want to take. Look at the plant’s tag; it should tell you which pruning group it is a member of.

Pruning Group ‘A’ 

Macropetala 'Blue bird'  has 2-3 inch lavender blue bell shaped blooms in early spring. Group A.
Macropetala ‘Blue bird’ has 2-3 inch lavender blue bell shaped blooms in early spring. Group A.

These types of vines flower on wood from the previous year in early spring. Only prune weak, spindly growth after they bloom. Excessive pruning will delay flowering for one growing season.

examples: C. montanaC. armandii, or C. macropetala

 

 

 

 

 

Pruning Group ‘B’

An old fashioned variety with large bi-colour blooms, mauve pink flowers with carmine pink bars. Blooms in spring and fall on growth from previous season (Group B).
Nelly Moser is an old fashioned variety with large bi-colour blooms. It blooms in spring and fall on growth from previous season (Group B).

Members of this group bloom on both current and old growth from summer to fall, either in two showings or one continuous one. Pruning this group takes a bit of finesse but can be done if you pay attention to blooming times throughout the season. Stems that bloom late should be hard pruned, about a foot from the ground. Stems that bloom early should be dead-headed after the flowers fade, but not cut back, as they will produce buds for the following season. Some gardeners will protect the old wood by laying it on the ground over the winter.

examples: Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’, ‘Henry’, “William Kennett’

 

 

 

 

 

Pruning Group ‘C’ 

'Jackmanii' clematis is a fast-growing member of group C
‘Jackmanii’ clematis is a fast-growing member of group C.

Vines in group C bloom on current growth only. In early spring, cut every stem to 12 to 18 inches or so to keep these prolific vines under control.

examplesC. viticellaC. tanguticaC. virginianaC. texensisC. crispa

Sources: Classic Climbers, and 
Woody Ornamentals for the Prairies by Hugh Knowles
Woody Ornamentals

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Growing Orchids: The Basics

So, you bought an orchid, or received one as a gift. What now?

Orchid roots are thick and fleshy to store water
Orchid roots are thick and fleshy to store water

What are orchids?

If you purchased an orchid in a store, chances are it’s an epiphytic 
orchid. This type of plant grows on other plants or objects, such as large trees, rather than in soil. Their roots absorb nutrients from the air, rain, and material surrounding them.

Okay, so how do I grow it?

The trick to growing plants indoors is to try and replicate the environment the plant is accustomed to in the wild. This is why orchids are generally sold growing in moss or bark. Always plant this type of orchid in a loose, fast-draining potting mix with lots of bark. Research the type of orchid that you have, but most prefer a medium amount of light — a few hours morning sun rather than a hot south-facing window.

Water well, once per week, allowing the water to drain through the bottom of the pot. (If your pot has no drainage holes, you’ll have to re-pot the plant or drain the water yourself). Fertilise once per month with a general purpose orchid fertiliser, such as this one.

Keep your plants in humid, well-lit area that’s not too hot, away from air conditioners and radiators, and not directly next to a window, and your plant should be happy as can be!

Source: Bloom-Again Orchids

Bloom-Again Orchids
Bloom-Again Orchids: A great beginner’s guide

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Composting: The Basics

What is compost?

Compost is produced when organic matter slowly decomposes in aerobic conditions. It is the dark, spongy, earthy-smelling component of soil often referred to as “humus”. Compost adds nutrients and water-retention capacity to your soil while improving soil structure and moderating pH. It acts as a “slow-release” fertiliser, generally lower in the “N-P-K” nutrients, but adding more trace minerals and micro-nutrients. The main advantage is that nutrients are available to the plant as they are needed, rather than synthetic fertilisers which sit in the soil in excess and can be washed away by rainwater. Beneficial microbes and fungi present in compost both aid in making nutrients available to plants and have been found to help prevent some fungal and soil-borne diseases.

Finished compost should look a lot like soil

 

How do I do it?

Successful composting comes down to one basic thing: creating an ideal environment for the decomposers that will be breaking down the organic waste for you. They simply need water, adequate air flow, organic matter, and time. A compost pile with too much air flow lacks the required amount of water for the bacteria to operate. Too much water/too little aeration leads to less-efficient anaerobic bacteria taking over, which produce smelly by-products such as ammonia. Besides air and water, the decomposers require an even balance of carbon (“browns”, such as bark, sticks, dried leaves, and newspaper ) and nitrogen (“greens”, like grass clippings and vegetable scraps).  Do not add animal by-products to your pile. To create a compost pile, set  aside a space in the garden or build/purchase a bin that will allow air to flow through. Lay down a layer of wood chips or similar material to allow for drainage. Mix green and brown material evenly throughout the pile, add some garden soil and/or worms (to introduce microbes) and water the pile. You’re done! Just turn the pile once per week or so.

Is my compost done yet?

In Calgary during the winter months the chinook/freezing cycles will help break down the material in the pile but the low temperatures push the the microbes into dormancy. Your pile will likely take at least a year to produce usable compost. Your compost is finished when it smells sweet and earthy and looks like soil.

Source: Easy Compost

 

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How To Use Zeolite

Zeolites are minerals derived from volcanic origin in and consisting of about 50 elements. It contains an array of basic minerals that were spewed back to the earth’s surface in a volcanic eruption, such as silicon, aluminum and other metals. Over millions of years, hot springs leached the calcium, sodium and other contaminants out leaving this unique material. Zeolite, while having many applications, does the following in the garden:Zeolite

• Improves soil structure, providing better drainage in clay beds
• Increases cation exchange in soil (prevents leaching of nutrients)
• Long lasting, does not break down in soil

Zeolite is considered superior to sand as a soil amendment because while sand also improves drainage, it can decrease water and fertiliser retention. Zeolite’s crystalline structure “grabs” nutrients and water while still providing adequate aeration. Studies have shown that zeolite helps retain nitrogen and increases yields.

Application Rates:

Lawn: 20 kg per 100 square metres, apply after aerating.

In garden beds: 20 kg per 10 square metres.

Outdoor planters, beds, or new lawn turf before planting: 1/2″ of zeolite applied to the top of the soil and mixed in.

Bulbs: Mix a handful in with the soil below the bulbs before planting.

Orchids and houseplants: Use zeolite in pebble trays

In a compost pile: Use 1 kg for an average compost pile to aid the decomposition of raw materials, absorb odours from the atmosphere, and improve nutrient retention.

Mulch/Slug Deterrent: lay a ring of zeolite, about a 1/2″ high around hostas or in areas where slugs are known to feed.

Potting Mixes: to improve drainage, mix 1/3 zeolite with 2/3 potting mix.

 

Buy it:

$11.95 for 10KG at Garden Retreat
$14.95 for 10KG at Garden Retreat
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Seed Starting Dates for Calgary

These dates are assuming first frost-free date is June 1st (check in late winter when the last frost is expected to be).

Plant (Veggie/Fruit) Start inside or outside Approx starting date (inside) Planting outside ( number of weeks relative to last frost)
Artichoke Inside April 6 On the frost-free date
Beets Outside (but can be started inside) April 6-20 2 weeks before last frost
Broccoli Inside April 6-20 2 weeks before last frost
Cabbage Inside March 23 – May 4 4 weeks before last frost
Cauliflower Inside April 6 – May 4 2 weeks before last frost
Carrots Outside N/A Early May, every few weeks until summer’s end
Celery Inside March 16-30 1 week after last frost
Collards Inside March 23 – April 6 4 weeks before last frost
Corn Outside (but can be started inside) May 4 – June 1 0-2 weeks after the last frost
Cucumber Inside May 11-25 1-2 weeks after last frost
Eggplant Inside April 6 – April 27 2-3 weeks after last frost
Kale Inside March 23 – April 6 4 weeks after last frost
Kohlarbi Outside (but can be started inside) March 23 – April 6 4 weeks after last frost
Leek Inside March 9-23 2 weeks before last frost
Lettuce Inside (but can be planted outside) March 30 – April 13 3-4 weeks before last frost
Melons
Onions Inside Feb 23 – March 9 4 weeks before last
Peas Outside (but can be started inside) March 9 – March 30 6-8 weeks before last frost
Peppers Inside April 20 2 weeks after last frost
Pumpkins Inside May 18 – May 25 2 weeks after last frost
Potatoes Outside N/A Early May
Radish
Rhubarb
Spinach Inside March 9 – April 13 3-6 weeks before last frost
Strawberries
Tomatoes Inside April 13 – May 4 1-2 weeks after last frost
Swiss Chard Inside April 6-20 2 weeks before last frost
Squash Inside May 18-25 2 weeks after last frost
Watermelon Inside May 18-25 2 weeks after last frost
Zucchini
Plant (Herb) Start inside or outside Approx starting date (inside) Planting outside ( number of weeks relative to last frost)
Basil Inside April 27 1 week after last frost
Mustard Outside (but can be started inside) March 23 – April 6 4 weeks before last frost
Oregano
Parsley Inside March 2 – March 16 2-3 weeks before
Rosemary
Sage
Savory
French Tarragon
Thyme
Plant (Flowers) Start inside or outside Approx starting date (inside) Planting outside ( number of weeks relative to last frost)
Ageratum Inside April 6-20 On frost-free date
Agrostemma (Corn Cockle) Outside (but can be started inside) April 6-20 On frost-free date
Amaranthus Inside April 27 – May 11 1 week after last frost
Ammi (False Queen Anne’s Lace) Outside (but can be started inside) April 6-20 On frost-free date
Artemisia (Sweet Annie) Inside April 6-20 On frost-free date
Asclepias (Butterfly Weed) Inside March 9-23 On frost-free date
Aster, China Inside April 6-20 On frost-free date
Bells of Ireland Outside directly April 6-20 On frost-free date
Calendula Outside (but can be started inside) April 6-20 On frost-free date
Calibrachoa
Carthamus (Safflower) Outside (but may be started inside) April 20 – May 4 On frost-free date
Castor Bean Inside April 13-27 One week after last frost
Celosia Inside April 13-27 One weeks after last frost
Centaurea (Bachelor’s Button) Outside (but can be started inside) April 6-20 On frost-free date
Coleus Inside April 13 One week after last frost
Cosmos Outside (but can be started inside) April 13-27 On frost-free date
Delphinium Inside Feb 9 – March 23 On frost-free date
Dianthus (Sweet William) Inside Feb 23 – March 23 1-2 weeks before last frost
Digitalis (Foxglove) Inside March 9-23 On frost-free date
Forget-Me-Not Inside March 30 – April 6 On frost-free date
Hibiscus Inside March 30 – April 13 1 week after last frost
Hollyhock Inside March 23 – April 6 One week after last frost
Impatiens Inside March 30 – April 13 1 week after last frost
Ornamental Kale Inside April 6-20 On frost-free date
Lupine Inside March 2-9 2 weeks before last frost
Marigold Inside April 13-27 One week after last frost
Morning Glory Inside May 25 – June 8 3-4 weeks after last frost
Nigella Outside (but can be started inside) April 20 – May 4 On frost-free date
Pansies
Phlox Outside directly April 6 1-2 weeks before
Petunia Inside March 23 – April 6 On frost-free date
California Poppy Outside (but can be started inside) May 11-18 On frost-free date
Corn Poppy Outside (but can be started inside) May 11-18 On frost-free date
Iceland Poppy Inside April 6-20 On frost-free date
Ptilotus Inside April 6-20 On frost-free date
Rudbeckia(Black Eyed Susan) Inside March 23 – April 6 On frost-free date
Salvia Inside March 23 – April 20 On frost-free date
Snapdragons Inside March 23 – April 6 On frost-free date
Statice Inside April 6 On frost-free date
Sunflowers Outside (but can be started inside) May 4-11 On frost-free date
Sweet Pea Outside (but can be started inside) April 6-27 1-2 weeks before last frost
Thunbergina (Black Eyed Susan Vine) Inside April 6-20 On frost-free date
Verbena Inside March 9 – April 6 On frost-free date
Viola (Pansy) Inside Feb 23 – March 30 1-2 weeks before last frost
Yarrow Inside March 23 – April 6 On frost-free date
Zinna Inside May 11 1 week after last frost

Partial Source: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/e-pdgseedstart.aspx

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Guide to Tomato Varieties

Tomatoes are a favourite of our customers here at Garden Retreat. Here is a quick handy reference for the common tomato varieties (many of which we carry). For a guide to vine/bush tomatoes, look here.

Variety name Vine/Bush Number of Days from germination to fruit Size and Colour of Fruit Comments 
Arctic Cluster Vine (indeterminate) 55-65 Medium Red Early and Cold Tolerant.
Better Boy Vine (indeterminate) 72 Medium Red, 12-16 oz Resistant to VFN (Verticillium and Fusarium wilt). Hybrid.
Big Beef (Beefstake)  Vine (indeterminate) 73 Red, 12-20 oz Disease resistant. Hybrid. High yeilding.
Bonny Best Vine (indeterminate) 72 Deep Red, 8 oz Cold tolerant
Brandywine Red/Yellow Vine (indeterminate) 80 Dark Pink, 10-16 oz Hierloom. Open Pollinated.
Cherokee Purple Vine (indeterminate) 80 Flesh is red brick colour. Skin is rose/purple in colour, 10-12 oz Beefstake fruit.
Chocolate Cherry Vine (Indeterminate) 65 Deep Purple (1 inch) Cherry tomato. Heriloom.
Cluster Grande Vine (indeterminate) 63 Intense red, 4-5 oz High yielding and disease resistant
Cobra Vine (indeterminate) 65-70 Uniform red, round or oblong, 7-8 oz Beefstake fruit. Hybrid.
Champion Vine (indeterminate) 62-70 Red, 7-10 oz Hybrid. VFNT resistant
Cabernet Vine (indeterminate) 70 Red, 10oz Grape tomato. Cold tolerant. Hybrid. Disease resistant. High yeilding.
Dr Carolyn Vine (indeterminate) 61-70 Pale ivory to pink cherry to yellow in colour. Heirloom. Cherry tomato. High yeilding.
Early Girl Vine (indeterminate) 54 Bright crimson, 5 oz Resistant to V and skin blemishes.
Fantastic Vine (indeterminate) 70 Scarlet globes, medium to large fruit size. Hybrid.
First Lady Vine (indeterminate) 66 Uniform red and smooth, 8-12 oz. Heirloom.
Gardeners Delight Vine (indeterminate) 65 Bright red Cherry. Crack resistant.
Golden Sunrise Vine (indeterminate) 78 Bright golden yellow, small to medium fruit size Heirloom
Goldie Vine (indeterminate) 85-95 Golden, 1-2 inches Heirloom
Green Grape Bush (Semi-determinate) 78 Yellow and green, 3/4 inch fruit Heirloom
Healthy Kick Vine (indeterminate) 70 Red, 4 oz High in antioxidants, vitamin A, B, and C, potassium, iron, and phosphorus.
Ildi Vine (indeterminate) 60-65 Yellow, pear shaped, 0.5 oz. Grape tomato. Greenhouse variety.
Juliet Vine (indeterminate) 60 Red, 1-2 oz. Resistant to cracking. Saladette type.
Lady Red Vine (indeterminate) ? Dark red, 7-9 oz Greenhouse type.
Lemon Boy Vine (indeterminate) 72 Lemon yellow, 7 oz VFN resistant.
Miracle Sweet Vine (indeterminate) 67 Red, 5-6 oz Hybrid. Disease resistance.
Red Grape Vine (indeterminate) 60-70 Red, 4 oz Grape tomato. Crack resistant.
Moneymaker Vine (indeterminate) 70-80 Red, 4-6 oz. Heirloom. Old English greenhouse type
New Girl Vine (indeterminate) 62 Red, 4-6 oz. Disease resistant. Successor to Early Girl tomatoes.
Red Robin Vine (indeterminate) 55 Red, 1 1/4 inch. Cherry tomato. Dwarf plant.
Red Siberian Vine (indeterminate) 55 Bright red, 4 oz. Heirloom.
San Marzano Bush (determinate) 80 Deep red, 3-4 oz. Italian saladette type. Long cylidrical fruit good for canning. Crack resistant.
Sophie’s Choice Bush (determinate) 55 Red-oragne skin, deep red flesh, 8-10 oz. Heirloom. Disease resistant. Likes cool temps.
Sun Gold Vine (indeterminate) 58 Orange/gold, 1 inch, 13g Hybrid. Cherry tomato. High in vitamin A.
Sunsugar Vine (indeterminate) 58 Bright tangerine orange, 1/2-1 inch. High in vitamin A and sugar.
Sweet Baby Girl Vine (indeterminate) 65 Dark red, 3/4 oz. Hybrid. Resistant to Tobacco Mosaic disease.
Sweet Cluster Bush (semi-determinate) 60-67 Dark red, 4 oz. Hybrid.
Sweetie Vine (indeterminate) 50 3cm Cherry tomato. Good preserved or fresh.
Sweet 100 Vine (indeterminate) 60 Red, 1 inch. Hybrid. Better yields, fruit quality, and growth habits than Sweet Million.
Sweet Million Vine (indeterminate) 60-65 days Red, 1 inch. Disease tolerant, unlike Sweet 100. Hybrid. Cherry tomato.
Tomatoberrty Garden Vine (indeterminate) 60 Deep red, 1 inch. Very sweet. Stawberry-shaped fruit.
Trust Vine (indeterminate) 75 Red, 8 oz Hybrid. Crack tolerant. Greenhouse type.
Red Tumbler Bush (determinate) 48 Bright red, 2 inches. Cherry tomatoes. Hybrid. No pruning. Good for haning baskets and containers.
Ultrasonic Bush (semi-determinate) 65 Red, 12 oz No green sholder. Crack resistant.
Ultra Sweet Vine (indeterminate) 62 Bright red, 10 oz. Hybrid.
Valiant Vine (indeterminate) 80 Red, 5-8 oz Heirloom
Vendor Vine (indeterminate) 70 Red, 6-8 oz. Greenhouse type. No green sholder.
Window Box Roma Bush (determinate) 70 Bright red, 60-80g Hybrid. Dwarf plant. Good in containers.
Yellow Pear Vine (indeterminate) 75 Yellow, 1-1 1/2 inch. Heirloom. Cherry tomato.