Spring Gardening


I think Spring is almost here….well, almost! Here are a few tips from Mark Cullen, a best selling author, and the host of “Gardening Tips with Mark” on CTV’s Canada AM:

  • Start With a Plan. Make a list of the things you want to accomplish with your garden: Do you want to do a complete renovation? Create some space for your kids? Design a place to entertain? Consider these goals before you start any planting.
  • Go Slow. Now is the time to start sowing your seeds indoors. Find a sunny window and let the plants warm up to the March weather in the comfort of your living room. These can be both vegetables and flowers and can stay indoors until the frost has completely thawed.
  • Only the Best Will Do. Prepare your soil with lots of organic matter, as most gardens’ success revolves around this preparation. Plants will actually take care of themselves; you just need to feed the soil. Add compost and triple mix, especially if the soil is poor to begin with, and let the soil support the plants.
  • Mix and Match. Once plants are ready for the outdoors, make sure each one has its needs matched to the environment. Shade-loving plants go in the shade; sun worshippers go in the sun. Watch out for aggressive plants- only choose ones that you know you can keep at bay.
  • Lessen the Workload. Choose native plants like Echinacea to round out your space. They reduce your water usage and lighten the maintenance required.
  • Patio Party. For those with condo patios or house decks, containers are essential. Buy good quality container soil and don’t use old earth from last year (take it to a nearby park and spread it there). Make sure your containers have drainage access and use a slow release fertilizer, like a “once-in-a-season,” that you only have to apply at the beginning of spring.
  • Behave Yourself. Or rather, pick plants that behave themselves. Aggressive plants can create more work than you have time for. Ornamental grasses, for example, are big right now: the travellers, which move mostly by root through the garden, are very invasive, yet the clumpers tend to stay in their place and won’t take over your garden. Choose the latter.
  • Stay Away from Chemicals. An easy way to prevent weeds from growing is to overseed your lawn, for example, with fresh quality grass seed. The quality of the grass seed in the bag is the pedigree of your lawn tomorrow. Buy quality grass seeds and you won’t regret it.
  • Keep Weeds at Bay: A low maintenance (and natural) way to reduce weeds in your garden is to add finely ground mulch about 5 cm thick. This insulates the soil so that evaporation doesn’t take place as fast. Sun can’t reach down there, so the weeds won’t push through, eliminating the majority of your weeding problems within the first year.


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