Saturday, 4 November 2017

November In The Greenhouse (Ramblings)

This month in the greenhouse is all about puttering around for me. The hard work is done, the greenhouse is spotless, the plants have been repotted, sprayed for bugs, and I can take it (pretty) easy till spring seeding time.

Planning for the holidays... 
What kind of puttering am I doing then? Playing around with bulbs for Christmas. Planting amaryllis in clay pots and forcing paperwhites in glass vases. Holiday decorating is just a few weeks away.. gulp!

Rustic Glam... Adding a bit of bling with gold leaf gives these simple clay pots a touch of chic holiday charm.

Planting bulbs...
Do not bury Amaryllis bulbs completely, leave the top third of the bulb above soil level. Adding a foot long, pretty twig to the pot will help to keep the blooms straight and tall, thus giving the tall blooms more stability.

If you want to add moss to the top of the pot, make sure to not over-water as moss retains moisture.
Please, remember that a lot of what you see on Pinterest is about staging, looking pretty, not practicality ; ) 

Both amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs can be forced in water.
Add some rocks, pebbles, or marbles to the bottom of a vase, nestle the bulb(s) into the stones, add water so that it comes to the bottom of the bulbs. They will put roots down into the water, grow green tops, and bloom in about three week's time.

Not everything is fun and games though, some work must also be done... 

Plant Maintenance...
Time to stop feeding all plants now, start up again in February.

Pick off any yellowing leaves and spent blossoms to prevent mould and stem rot.

Water sparingly. Keep plants on the dry side while they are dormant. 

The cool-ish temps of the winter greenhouse (+5°C) are fine for geraniums, fuchsias, and other hardy annuals, as long as you keep them clean, bug free, and do not over-water.   

This pic is from

Greenhouse maintenance...
This is the time to add your extra layer of poly or bubble wrap to the greenhouse to save on heating costs and prevent drafts. Each layer adds an extra 2 degrees of warmth to your greenhouse.

You can also add some reflective insulation to the north side of the greenhouse (so as not to block out any sun) to help absorb more heat.

Is possible to add an additional 2° to 5°C of warmth to the greenhouse by using items that absorb the sun during the day and slowly release it back into the greenhouse at night... look into information about water barrels, tiles, insulation, compost, and more.

Make sure that you can still run a fan, open your vents, windows or doors to let out excess humidity and condensation, as needed. 

Yellow sticky strips. Put out yellow sticky strips to monitor your pest population during the winter months. If you start to find fungus gnats or whiteflies on the strips, take measures right away. Spray everything to a drip with Safer's Soap once a week, for three weeks in a row, to catch the pests at all life stages.

Over-Wintering Lemons and Other Citrus Trees.... 
We have now had a few nights of below zero weather. This is too cold for citrus trees. They like to be kept at 5° to 10°C in the winter time. Not hot and stuffy inside your house, and not unprotected outside either. Frosts will make them drop their flowers, their fruits, and foliage, too. You may even lose the plant if it is too cold for too long.

Some people actually build a wee poly 'greenhouse' for them on the deck or by the wall of the house. It does not have to be fancy, just a frame with some poly over top. Add some Christmas lights for heat, and voila, you have happy citrus trees all winter long.

For more ideas about how to over-winter your lemons, oranges, limes, and more, please Click Here.

Bug Control on Citrus Trees 
Citrus trees (and Sweet Bay Laurel) are very prone to scale, a wee little sap-sucking bug that builds a waxy shell around itself for protection. Scale cannot be controlled with a spray of soap because the soap just slides off this shell. However, a weekly, or even monthly, preventative spray with one of the Safer's Soap products will catch them at the crawly stage, thus killing them before they have time to make a shell.

How do you know if you have scale? Keep an eye on the plant for yellowing leaves. If you see this happening, turn over the leaf and you will probably find some small brown dots. That is scale. Luckily, the form that lemon trees get is usually soft-bodied scale, which is much easier to control than the hard one.

Soft scale can be blown off the trees with a strong jet of water. If you choose this method, you should probably bring the plant back outside so you don't end up with a wet, humid greenhouse.
You can also wash them off with soapy water and a soft cloth or scrub brush.
I wipe the leaves clean with baby wipes, but use the scrub brush on the stems. 

Growing greens...  for those of you who grow food in the greenhouse... 
My own greenhouse is used to over-winter flowers, citrus trees, start seeds, etc... I do all of my winter food growing outside in the potager, where I still have carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi, turnips, kale, celery, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli growing. Oh, and a bit of lettuce and spinach, too. If we have a mild, normal winter, they all do just fine. If we have a harsh winter, I may lose some of the stuff to frost or snow. A wee bit of snow doesn't hurt anything though ; )

For those of you growing food in the greenhouses, yours will look something like the above picture. Greens in varying stages of growth.

If this is what your plans are for your greenhouse, please note.... Veggies do not actively 'grow' in winter, unless you provide additional light and heat. The days are too short and the weather too cool. The greenhouse is more of a 'fridge' at this time of year, a holding area to keep your greens fresh and tasty throughout the winter months.

Greens like mache, spinach, kale, mescluns, mustards, etc... plus root crops of carrots, parsnips, turnips, and brassicas, were seeded in July and August, grew throughout the fall, ready to be harvested now.

Actual 'winter' veggies, like Sprouting Broccoli and Walla Walla onions, are harvested in March. They were seeded in July, planted out in August or September, rooted themselves in , and will now sit and wait till late winter for the days get longer and brighter and then begin to grow again in late January/February. (In the greenhouse and in the potager, too).

Happy Greenhouse-ing! 

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Garden Ramblings - What To Do In The November Garden

Wow, does it ever feel like the month of October just flew by! Garden chores aplenty kept me busy, busy, and here we are in November already.

The vegetable gardens are cleaned up and top dressed for the winter, feeding the soil throughout our wet winter, ready for me to plant up again in spring.

The perennial flower beds still await, however. I leave everything standing for as long as possible, to feed both the birds and the bees. 

I attended a bee seminar in mid-October, and learnt that our native bees, here on the island, are actively feeding from February through the month of October. In fact, I saw some as recently as yesterday, buzzing around the pots of heather and mums. 

The Anna's Hummingbirds stay here on the island year-round, so leaving perennials standing in fall keeps them supplied with both plant nectar, plus the insects they need for protein. If you feed your hummers in summer, please keep the feeders up all winter, too. They will be counting on that sugar water as a reliable and regular source of food, as they are used to feeding from it. Do not change the concentration.    

What do I leave and what do I remove? 

I clean out all the soggy and bedraggled flowers that are now finished, and no longer feeding anyone. Some will leave them till spring and then just rake them up, but if I have time, I like to clean up the really messy looking stuff now.

I leave my roses till late winter, the grasses and sedums, and any fall perennials that are either still flowering or otherwise look great. 

I also leave standing any plants with hollow stems. This is new for me, I would usually have cleaned those out, but after attending the bee seminar, I understand that some of our native bees like to lay their eggs and overwinter in hollow stemmed plants. Perennials like echinacea (coneflowers), rudbeckia (black-eyed susans), sunflowers, beebalm, and more. They also like raspberry canes. 

So, if you have not yet done your clean up, start from the top and work your way down. If you notice that the stems are hollow, or pithy (spongy), let them stay or just cut them back a bit, leaving the stalks about 8 to 10 inches tall. You will help increase the native bee population and create a pollinator haven in your own garden. Win-win for everyone. 

What else to do this month... 

Lift bulbs, tubers, and corms. You can leave your dahlias, glads, and whatnots in the garden beds, if you do not mind the thought of losing them should we have a harsh winter. If you cannot bear the thought, is best to lift them now, clean them up, and store for the winter. For a how-to on over-wintering bulbs, please click here!  

This time of year is the best time to plant and transplant trees, shrubs, roses, and perennials. 

Toss your tulips, daffs, and other bulbs into the garden and into pots for colour in early spring. Always so welcoming after a long, grey winter.   

Prune ever-bearing (autumn) raspberries down to just a couple of inches high (unless you are leaving them for the bees, of course ; ) They should be fed with organic matter once a year, so in either fall or spring, top dress with a few inches of compost or manure. Summer bearing raspberries were cut back in late summer, after they finished fruiting, or are left till spring.   

Rake up your leaves to use as mulch or to make into leaf mould. Do not leave them in a thick mat on the grass to smother your lawn. If you want to add organic material to your lawn, run them over with your lawn mower a time or two to shred them, and then they will break down nicely over the winter.  

Leaves can be used as organic matter in your veggie beds. Dig them in, or toss them on top with the manure that you are top dressing with. The earthworms will turn it into garden gold. The leaves can also be used as a mulch for garlic, roses, and perennials, or to protect tender plants from hard frosts. Ideally, shredded leaves are better as they break down faster, but whole ones work great, too. I just rake mine into piles and let them compost down into leaf mould. 

In the veggie garden... 

Plant garlic very soon if you have not done so yet. Is still fine enough to plant, if you can find a dry day to work in the garden.   

Mulch your carrots and parsnips with the shredded leaves you raked up. The tops will die down during the winter, after a few good frosts, but the roots will be just fine. 

If you are just finishing up the garden clean up, don't forget to remove all weeds and debris that bugs can lay their eggs into, or over-winter in. Top dress with manure or compost to feed the soil. Weed the pathways, too.   

Move your citrus trees into the greenhouse, under the eaves, or into the porch. For over-wintering information about all citrus trees, please click here! 

Happy Gardening! 


March Garden Ramblings

Welcoming the month of March! Bringing us spring flowers, longer days, and (with any luck) warmer, drier weather. February was a tough ...