So, you know about Fall Bulbs: bright Daffodils, fragrant Hyacinths, adorable Crocus, and of course the rainbow of colours in the Tulip family! All of these stunning spring bloomers need 12 to 16 weeks of cold temperatures (aka fall and winter) which is why they’re available in September to be planted before the ground freezes. But that’s a long time to wait and the winter months can be so dreary, if only there was an earlier way to enjoy these beautiful flowers…oh wait, there is!
You know fall is coming when: the temperature starts to drop; the leaves start to turn brilliant tones; your sweaters come out of the storage closet, and your gardens start to lose their lustre. But not to worry, because now you can fill your beds and containers with beautiful fall bloomers like Fall Mums! Also known as Garden Mums or Chrysanthemums, they add a vibrant pop of colour and are available in shades of yellow, orange, red, white, and even pink and purple. The perfect addition to late season gardens and containers!
When it comes to gardening, you can control just about every aspect except for one: sun exposure. Luckily, there’s a vast selection of Annuals that are just made for the shade! Belgian keeps all the Shade Annuals in Greenhouses #8 to 11 (Sun Annuals are in #12 to 20) so it’s easy to find the perfect addition to your shady sites!
What Do We Mean By “Shade” Annuals?
All plants need some level of sunlight, and many varieties can thrive with fewer hours and/or lower energy levels. These shade-loving Annuals could burn to a crisp in the hot midday sun, so give them the protection they need, especially in the afternoon, to keep them happy and healthy.
Here at Belgian, we transplant and grow thousands and thousands of Annuals, just for you! And to keep things running smoothly, we’ve organized our Annual Greenhouses into Sun (#12 to 20) and Shade (#8 to 11). So let’s take a look at the latter, shall we?
What Do We Mean By “Sun” Annuals?
All plants need sunlight, and some require more of the sun’s rays than others. Varieties that need and thrive on 6+ hours of direct sunlight are deemed “Sun” Annuals, while those that would cook and burn in such conditions are for “Shade”.
Full Sun vs Part Sun
We try to have as much plant care information on our Annual signs as possible; you may see some state “Full Sun” or “Sun to Part Sun” but what exactly does this mean?
A lot of people are thinking about expanding their veggie garden by using raised beds, and that’s great! There are lots of advantages to having raised beds: reduced strain on your back, weed control, good drainage, protection from critters and other pests nibbling on your tender greens, etc. There are many types of raised beds out there, from simple wooden boxes to metal troughs, and some even have legs! We prefer ‘bottomless’ beds which are open to the ground below to allow roots to go as deep as they want, which then results in strong, healthy plants.
There’s something about growing your own food that is oh so satisfying, even if it’s just a few tomatoes or a handful of sweet green peas. Best of all, growing vegetables and other edible plants is surprisingly easy and will only reap benefits for you, your family, and your neighbours if you seeded too many zucchini!
Find Your (Sun)Light
You can change your soil and you can change your watering habits, but you can’t change the sun. Discover where it shines on your potential garden beds, and for how long, to determine your ideal location. Always go for the sunniest location you can find, as most vegetables and herbs require full sun (6 hours in the afternoon at minimum, ideally 8+ hours every day).
Have your green thumbs been itching to get outdoors and into the dirt? Ours too, like they do every year once that sunshine hits us in the face. And yes, we’ve all heard that Victoria Day weekend is when we can start gardening again, but remember that Mother Nature is in charge of the schedule and some years are last frost can be as late as early June!
As you walk through Belgian Nursery during the busy Spring season, you may wonder we have a “Perennial Centre” and “Annual Greenhouses” – aren’t all plants the same? They all need sun, water, soil, airflow, maybe some fertilizer, so what’s the difference?
Annuals Bloom All Summer then Die Off In Fall — Plant Every Year
Perennials Bloom for 3-6 Weeks but Come Back Every Year — Plant Once
It’s amazing how plants can take such simple ingredients – sunlight, water, soil, air – and turn them into a four-course meal. But sometimes they need a little boost to keep up that vitality, and that’s where fertilizers and other soil additives come in. They’re like multivitamins for your plants, and just like the vitamin shelves at the pharmacy there are LOTS of options out there! Hopefully, the following can help you sort out which fertilizer/additive/combination is right for your plants.
The topic of fertilizing is a large, open-ended category since it literally means anything added to the soil, but we’ll keep the manures and peat moss to another blog. For now, we’ll focus on the three big letters: N, P, and K.
We are all about proper plant care here at Belgian, so we try to carry items you’ll need to keep your plants happy and thriving. But what exactly is vermiculite? Do you really need to add charcoal to your pots? Which potting soil is best for which plants? So let’s shed some light on our Bagged Goods:
Potting Soils – use for both indoor and outdoor pots, planters, hanging baskets, etc.
All-Purpose: our “yellow” and “purple” bags are from two Canadian suppliers, Fafard and Lambert. Fafard/Yellow can be used for nearly any indoor and outdoor container planting need. Lambert/Purple is a lighter mixture thanks to its slightly higher peat moss content, and very similar to what we grow all of our Annual crops (and African Violet soil that used to be available years ago); it’s great for indoor planting, seeding, and propagating.
It’s happening! The snow banks are melting, your green thumb is itching, and was that a robin you just heard? Yes, all signs are pointing to that oh-so glorious word SPRING! But, as all Canadians are painfully aware, this magical thaw won’t reach its peak overnight, so we’ll all have to be patient as we wait for Mother Nature to get all the cold nights and late frosts out of her system. We’ve done it before, we can do it again; luckily, we don’t have to wait too long before getting our dose of colour.
Most annuals, and newly planted perennials, cannot handle any kind of frost. Let’s say that again: Most Annuals and Newly Planted Perennials CANNOT Handle Any Kind of Frost! Seriously, we can’t stress this point enough, and this is why there’s an entire paragraph about how they can’t handle frost. Good? Great, let’s move on.
Whether you’re looking to decrease your grocery bills, or in the market for a new hobby, indoor seeding is a great way to do both! Besides, nothing beats the flavour of a freshly picked tomato! So let’s get started!
As much as we love our gorgeous spring bulbs (the Glads, the Dahlias, the Calla Lilies, and all the rest) their beauty comes at a price: they cannot overwinter in our gardens. But that’s okay, because a little effort now will mean you can enjoy them again next year! Here’s how:
Note: For the sake of space (and a certain writer’s sanity), all varieties in question will be referred to as “tender bulbs” or just “bulbs”, even though most of them are corms/tubers/rhizomes/non-bulb beings.
What to Lift: You’ll need to lift any and all of your tender bulbs before the hard frost hits, including Dahlia, Gladiola, Calla Lily, Freesia, Anemone (not the Perennial/Japanese varieties), Ranunculus, Tuber Begonia, Tuberose, Caladium, and Canna Lily.
Summer is finally here, and we can all enjoy the bright sunshine and hot temperatures on our patios, balconies, pool decks, and backyards. It’s also a prime time to enjoy all our planters and garden spaces, though with the excess heat and humidity we will all have to add a few more items to our gardening “To Do” lists. Here are some of our top tips to keep those beautiful annuals hanging baskets and bedding plants looking their best throughout the summer!
Well, we’ve made it. It took a lot of hard work, planning, and table space, but we are finally ready to put all those adorable seedlings outside…almost. You’ve been so patient with them, they just need a little more time before they can grow big and strong outside (and you can reclaim your tables and shelves!).
Experienced gardeners know a simple truth: in order to have the best crop possible, you must choose which of your precious plants will live, and which have to be sacrificed for the greater good.
Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you’ve been watching these adorable seedlings grow for a few weeks and you may now find yourself, well, a bit attached to them. However, sometimes you must be cruel to be kind. After all, this is the main reason you seeded extras of your varieties, knowing that some wouldn’t germinate at all and others would have to be thinned from the crop. Plus, some of your taller varieties may need to be “potted up” into slightly larger pots, which means less space on your seeding station which means less plants so…*sigh* it must be done.
What do you think of when you hear “flower bulbs”? Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, the usual. Now think of “Spring Bulbs” and what comes to mind? Tulips, Daffodils…well, yes, those all flower in spring, but they have to be planted in the fall. We’re talking about bulbs you plant in spring to get the gorgeous blooms anytime from spring through fall, depending on the variety. Yes, many are tubers, rhizomes, corms, and other non-bulbs; the point is that they’re all oh so pretty! Tip: Some will need to keep their foliage after they’re done flowering to absorb enough energy for next year’s flowers. Oh, and they all need a sunny location, at least 4-6 hours, to generate those blooms, and their tubers/corms/etc will need to be dry before going into winter storage.
At last! You have been so patient, getting all your supplies together, making sure you have the proper soil mix, and setting up your seeding station for all your future little sprouts. And now it’s time to put all that preparation to good use and get dirty!
Remember that mountain of information on your seed packets? Remember the all-important “Sowing/Start Indoors” date? No, no need to panic, you’ve still got plenty of time to double-check your dates. For vegetables, most of them want to be planted 4 – 8 weeks before the last frost, except for onions, leeks, and eggplants which take 10, and celery and celeriac prefer 12 weeks of cozy indoor growing. Flowering plants, both annual and perennial varieties, can vary but usually hit that 4 – 8 week window, as well.
Oh, one more thing! If you’ve got specific numbers in mind as to how many of each plant you want to end up with, make sure you sow a few extra of each variety just in case. This goes back to that tricky germination rate; some seeds just don’t take very well, no matter what you do to coax them out of hiding. So it’s better to have extra and then thin out the weaker ones later to get the best plants, but more on that in Part 4!
Bees help us, a lot! As much as 3/4 of the food we eat depends on bees for pollination. And now more than ever, our bee friends could use a hand in return. This can be as easy and fun as potting up a planter or two, or scattering a few wildflower seeds in an unused section of your yard. Whatever the scale of your garden, we gardeners can make a big difference for our little buzzing buddies! Read More
For most perennials, whether you cut them back in the fall verses spring is completely up to you. Before you start, determine which season gives you more time for working in the garden. And consider what may provide winter interest: many taller grasses or perennials with seed heads atop sturdy stems can look very attractive with frost/snow on them, even providing a place for wildlife, like birds, to rest. Read More