Hey guys, I did it! I unlocked the Prepare the Garden For Winter achievement!
The weather this week has been beautiful, sunny, and mild so I resolved to take advantage of what are surely our final nice days to complete all of the garden chores that have been nagging me. I don’t know about you but I hate doing messy, wet garden work and soil digging while dressed like the Michelin Man and wearing cold weather gloves (not work gloves). Cold weather is often a deterrent to getting out into the garden and getting things done. It is a happy day when I can work outside for hours at a time wearing only a hat, a fall jacket, and no gloves.
- The garlic is in! And not too soon as I was growing tired of worrying about it. I still have a few more bulbs that I could put in if the desire strikes me, but I don’t need to. I love that everything from here on out is a bonus. I planted Elephant Garlic as well. The 2012 crop did so well that I thought I would experiment with growing it in a few different conditions to see how it can be better protected but also pushed.
I’ve been hurriedly bringing all of my frost-sensitive houseplants indoors for the winter in a mad rush to beat the season. As always I am doing it at the last minute rather than drawing it out slowly. Many of you are in a similar boat so I thought I’d compile a checklist of things that I do in the process.
- Check all plants thoroughly for critters. Check underneath mulch, leaves, in the crevices between stems…
- Slugs, snails, sowbugs, and earwigs can cram themselves into the tiniest spots. Check all around containers, especially plastic pots and hanging baskets that have a crevice underneath the lip.
- To flush pests out of the soil: Add a few inches of water to a deep sink or bucket and mix in a few drops of natural dish soap (no chemicals or scents added). The unscented Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap works well for this. Set pots in the liquid for a couple of hours. I am often lazy and don’t bother doing this with all pots — just the ones that I know are problematic.
- To flush pests out of the soil: A few drops of neem oil can be added to the water as an alternative to soap.
- Scrub any outside dirt from the side of the pots while they have their turn in the soapy water.
- Lightly shower particularly dirty or pest-infested plants with a hose before bringing them inside.
- Scrub down empty pots with a scrub brush and lightly soapy warm water. Set aside to dry thoroughly before putting them away.
- Place a small piece of newspaper between stacked terracotta pots to keep them from sticking to one another.
- Prune off any dead or diseased leaves and stems and cut back hard any plants that will be going dormant through the winter months.
I’ve been down for the count these past few days with some sort of epic plague. My brain is slow and foggy so now is the perfect time to republish a few of my Globe and Mail Kitchen Gardening articles.
This one on good soil for your vegetable garden is the perfect companion to my recent HGTV article on reusing container soil. Speaking of… I have a new article up on HGTV that answers the ever popular question, “Are there any edibles that I can grow in the shade?”
Originally published in the Globe and Mail on May. 23, 2009.
The subject of garden soil is conversational codeine to most people. Yet refer to that brown stuff as “dirt” in the wrong company and be prepared to have some thrown in your face.
“It’s soil, you moron, not dirt!” an obviously superior gardener recently informed me. “Only idiots like you call it dirt.”
While it is still early days yet here in the upper regions of North America, many of us (myself included) have begun the process of buying and planting seeds for the 2012 gardening season. There are 12 years of resources published on this website, many of which even I have trouble locating, so I’ve compiled a list here to make it easier for you.
Caring for Seedlings & Planting Out
Ascending up to the front door of our new place is a series of cracking concrete steps. They are fully exposed to the sun and I predict that in combination with the metal railings, they should prove to be a hot spot by mid-summer.
Since moving in I’ve been contemplating what to grow there. The steps are thin so I could not install large pots that would impede the mail man’s ability to get to the box. They’re in front of the house, and now for the first time in my life I am actually considering the neighbours. To a degree. This isn’t the suburbs after-all. Fortunately, I live in a mixed ethnicity, working class neighbourhood so it’s not an external pressure to “Keep up with the Jones” but more about not inciting bad blood with the Castilhos or receiving hostile stares from the De Silvas.