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Autumn Gardening – 5 Awesome Tips for Planting in the Fall

While the evenings are cooler, the days are still warm, making autumn gardening a perfect time to start your winter preparations.

Traditionally Spring is seen as the optimal season for planting, but that’s really a fallacy.

Thanks to the summer warmed soil and more frequent rainfall of early fall, autumn gardening is far better for perennials and many trees and shrubs. Why? It’s easier for them to form roots with a more temperate and evenly moisturized soil.

Spring planting often leaves plants struggling for their first season as they are planted in cold soil, making rooting more difficult, while at the same time the new plants are dealing with fast growing foliage thanks to the warm air that surrounds them.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some plants and trees that you can plant when doing autumn gardening, to enjoy right away and into next season as well:

  • Hostas
  • Daisies
  • Daylilies
  • Peonies
  • Maple, spruce and pine trees—if they’re very small, don’t forget to stake them to avoid damage from the stronger fall winds.
  • Don’t forget your bulbs, like tulips, daffodils and garlic!

TIP! Fall planting is most successful if you continue watering, so that roots can develop adequately and the still warm soil will be fully moisturized, prior to the first frost. Make sure to use mulch, which will help to retain the moisture and warmth in the soil and add much needed nutrients for the rooting process that will take place over the winter.

What About Planting Seeds?

Nature knows what she is doing: seeds blow around in the autumn, end up in the soil and germinate in the spring. There are certain seeds that do very well by being planted in the fall:

  • Sweet peas
  • Pansies
  • Snapdragons… to name but a few!

Get Your Garden and Soil Ready For Winter

Late August/September is the perfect time to take care preliminary garden tasks like:

  • Adding compost to your gardens or vegetable beds, readying the soil for spring planting.
  • Covering your water features with nets to keep them leaf-free.
  • Pulling weeds—these will go to seed in the fall and you’ll have that much more to pull in the spring if you don’t do it now!
  • Adding fertilizer to your lawn.
  • Continuing to water your plants—as we noted earlier—to make sure they are hydrated right up to the first freeze.
  • Trimming back any diseased foliage to avoid a new outbreak next year. Do NOT compost the diseased clippings!
  • Pruning perennials that are now dormant—gone yellow/brown in the stems and leaves.

Sod Or Overseed Your Lawn In The Fall

Cooler air in September onwards means less evaporation and limited growth of grass stems, so the grass seeds or sod have ample time to develop a strong root structure. Next summer? Your lawn will be the envy of the neighbourhood.

Consider using a high quality weed free overseeding soil—which contain organic compost—if you are going with seeds, to ensure that there are adequate nutrients available.

Don’t Forget Your Herbs

This is a perfect time to collect all the remaining herbs in your garden to dry them out for use throughout the winter. If you’re bringing some inside for the season, September is the perfect time, before the temperature fluctuations start to damage the plants.

Remember, clay pots, in particular, don’t do well as temperatures begin to cool more – they crack in the cold.

Once the temperatures start to really dip in October, it’s time to bring them inside for the season. Even if you have plastic pots, our advice is to store them in the garage at the very least so they don’t become bleached and weathered and last a year or two longer.

The average Southern Ontario September is mild and enjoyable with cooler evenings and no mosquitoes! So get outside, start autumn gardening and enjoy the fruits of your labour now and next season. Be sure to let us know if you have any questions about fall gardening.

Mississauga Soil Types

In our last post on soil preparation, we spoke of Mississauga’s soil types. Approximately 60% of Mississauga has three types of soil. Here is a fast recap of soil summary in Mississagua:

  • Heavy clay soil – At 75% to 100% moisture, the clay soil is too wet, it is dark in color and feels slick when rubbed between thumb and forefinger. The soil will be completely pliable and you can draw with it. A ball will form moisture content is less than 50%.
  • Coarse clay soil – This soil is more of a sandy loam or silt loam. At 50% moisture, you can probably form a ball and will tend to crumble. At 75% to 100% moisture it will be similar to a heavy clay soil.
  • Coarse sandy soil – A ball will not form at less than 50% moisture. At 75% to 100% moisture, a weak ball can be form but shatter easily.

You can see a map of Mississauga soil types at the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development Mines website. This map is called the Quaternary geology of Toronto and surrounding area, Southern Ontario. Essentially this is a map of the most recent geological period of time in Earth’s history, spanning the last two million years and extending up to the present day.

You can go to here to see the maps in both the jpg format and PDF file format.

Soil Preparation for Planting

As our spring days become warmer and warmer, now is the time to think about soil preparation for your garden. So before you get out there and start shoveling or tilling the soil consider the following when you should start “working” the soil.

Too Early

Clumps. That is what happens when you start to work the soil too early. When the ground is still saturated with water from melting snow or spring rain, turning the soil over will give clumps that will be difficult to break down at a later time. Wet soil doesn’t break up into loose and fine particles of dirt that create miniscule air pockets perfect for plant roots to grow in.

Dried Yet?

You can get a moisture reader which is expensive, but the surefire way is a much simpler and you’ll know whether or not the soil has dried out enough to be worked on. Grab a handful of soil (the size of a baseball) and squeeze the soil together until it forms a ball. If the dirt can be crumbled by pressing your fingers together or dropping it from table height, then you’ve got soil that is dry enough to start digging. If the ball of dirt maintains it shape or breaks into solid sections rather than loose soil, there is still too much water in the dirt.

Mississauga Soil

Approximately 60% of Mississauga’s soil being clay, here are some pointers that will help you understand the soil in your yard:

  • Heavy clay soil – At 75% to 100% moisture, the clay soil is too wet, it is dark in color and feels slick when rubbed between thumb and forefinger. The soil will be completely pliable and you can draw with it. A ball will form moisture content is less than 50%.
  • Coarse clay soil – This soil is more of a sandy loam or silt loam. At 50% moisture, you can probably form a ball and will tend to crumble. At 75% to 100% moisture it will be similar to a heavy clay soil.
  • Coarse sandy soil – A ball will not form at less than 50% moisture. At 75% to 100% moisture, a weak ball can be form but shatter easily.

The “RIGHT” soil

Having the right soil can greatly affect the quality of your plants. Soil composition should be balanced, well-drained, fertile and with a pH (acidity level) between 6 and 7.  If the soil is too acidic, add some lime. If you have sandy soil where there is not enough organic matter OR if you have clay soil which is too heavy and compact, you need to add decomposed manure or compost to help improve soil structure and composition while providing the nutrients required by the plants.

Image sources:https://www.flickr.com/photos/scrap_pile/

Vegetable Soil Mix – Get your garden growing

With all the rainy and cloudy days, it has been a challenge to grow vegetables and flowers into the luscious green foilage that we are used to. One of the things that we can do to prepare for sunnier days is to have the right type of soil and nutrients in the ground that our plants and vegetables to draw from.

Introducing Veggie Soil

Veggie Soil or vegetable soil mix from Toemar is a clay free mixture product containing peat loam, sandy loam, compost and manure. This premium soil blend is a fertile organic soil which is native to the Holland Marsh area. It is an excellent product if you are looking to apply it to a new or existing vegetable or flower garden bed or looking to repair your lawn with grass seeds.

About Holland Marsh

Holland Marsh is approximately located north of Toronto, Ontario and is commonly referred to as Ontario’s
vegetable patch’ because of its incredible variety and copious amounts of fresh produce.

The Holland Marsh is a community of approximately 100 farms on 7,000 acres of low-lying land that
contains some of the richest farmland in the province, with another 2,500 surrounding acres
also being recognized by growers as prime agricultural land. It is the largest and most productive
marsh because of the canal drainage system and exposed organic soil which products nearly 60% of Ontario’s
carrots and 55% of its onions, along with a number of traditional crops such as celery, lettuce,
potatoes, parsnips, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers and commercial
flowers to more diverse options like Chinese broccoli, Asian radish and water spinach.

Getting started

If you still have questions about the veggie soil, please feel free to contact us and/or visit our location and we will be more than happy to answer your questions about our veggie soil or any other soil that we carry such as topsoil, cattle manure, sheep manure, 3-way mix, and peat moss.

Garden Walls: A Primer

A well-designed landscape can be inspiring, consider creating visual interest by adding garden walls. Changing the heights in your garden is one sure way to improve curb appeal on a once boring, flat yard. A low retaining wall or garden wall might be just what your landscape needs.

Concrete vs Stone walls?

The difference between the |”look and feel” concrete versus stone walls has become more indistinguishable as technology continues to evolve in concrete forming. Here is a list of pros and cons for both concrete and natural stone walls.

Concrete Walls

Modern concrete walls are not the ones you think of in cold, commercial plazas. They have much improved over the years and come in a variety of shapes, textures and colours allowing it to blend in well with the yard, garden and the exterior of the house.

Pros

  1. Lightweight – Machinery is usually not necessary when installing concrete garden walls, most attempting this DIY project are able to lift one or two blocks at the same time. Concrete products are usually compact and easy to work with.
  2. Quick and easy install – The integral lip or tongue-and-groove system interlocks the blocks and makes the installation fast and easy. You simply drop the blocks in place. Just be sure to stagger the vertical joints between rows.
  3. Versatile design – The shapes that this material comes in allows for curves in the design and much more versatile than stone.
  4. Inexpensive – The cost to make a garden wall out of concrete is less expensive than using natural stone and is widely available at home centers.

Cons

  1. Requires a strong and level base – Leveling a concrete garden wall requires more tedious leveling, it is imperative that your base (4 to 6”) is perfectly level before installing. We do not want the wall to shift. Unfortunately, this means more digging and base material required.
  2. Cutting with a saw – Cutting is required when installing a concrete garden wall. A special saw is required to cut these materials during installation.

Stone Walls

Natural stone (Armour Stone/rock) of different shapes and sizes fit tightly together when stacked to form a wall. Stones create the nicest-looking walls but are more costly and it will take much more skill and creativity to build as they are also much heavier.

Pros

  1. Less time is spent on the base when installing Armour Rock because most rocks are not perfectly level to begin with, most applications do not need tedious leveling.
  2. Strength – Strength is one of the biggest reasons why a natural stone wall built out of Armour Rock is a terrific option for a garden wall, the sheer weight of an individual rock will make it next to impossible to shift or move.
  3. Best-looking – Natural Stone is currently the trendiest option for landscaping; it offers great curb appeal to all homes. With increased competition within the industry natural stone is more affordable than ever before.

Cons

  1. Too heavy – Weight is a problem when using Armour Rock, most of the time a machine (skid steer) is used when installing Armour Rock.
  2. It is much more difficult to install Armour Rock on a tight radius, most of the time you are limited to straight/linear designs.
  3. Harder to work with – Stacking Armour Rock is difficult because of the various heights, skill and experience is important when selecting specific Armour Rock.

The finished product looks complicated but is a fairly simple project. Be sure to do your research. Regardless of the material you choose to build your new garden wall, with a little planning and effort, you will soon have a new focal point in your yard and a new home for your flowers and plants.

For more free landscaping advice, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Soil Preparation for Gardens and Lawns

Good news fellow green thumbers, it’s time to get your gardening tools and gloves ready for spring! As we slowly enter into April, the snow melts into the ground and the cold winters break into longer, warmer days; many of us become eager to start planting in our gardens but it is important to care for the soil at this stage by adding back important nutrients and improving texture so that healthy plants can flourish.

Here’s a checklist to get your soil preparation for gardens and lawns started:

1. When can we start digging? Check the soil conditions.

A mistake that many make is working on the soil too early. Allow the melting snow and spring rain to pass and the earth to dry out a bit before attempting to do any work. Heavy, wet soil is difficult to work with and doesn’t break up into loose, plant-friendly texture. Also, treading across wet ground will further compact the soil making it much more difficult to dig up later.

Is the soil dry enough? Do a quick test!
Squeeze a handful of soil and form a ball in your hands. If the lump of soil shatters easily when given a tap, it is ready! If the lump keeps its shape or breaks apart in solid sections, it still contains too much water and you must let it dry out some more. Clay soil, the type commonly found in Mississauga, when too wet will feel slick when rubbed between the fingers.

2. Clearing the area

Springtime is often associated with new birth and green growth, but as the white snow melts, we are often left with areas of debris, rocks and twigs. These need to be cleared away. A spade or a hoe is a handy tool to have.

3. Dig deep and loosen the soil

Don’t make the common mistake by using lousy soil. Plant roots grow below the ground so remember to dig deep! It is best to work soil 10 to 12 inches deep.

4. Adding organic matter

Lay the organic matter on top of the loosened, prepared soil and work the material thoroughly into the soil with a spade or a fork. Make sure it is even distributed. You can’t change the soil you have but adding organic matter drastically improves the overall soil quality.

Organic matter improves the soil by:

  • It helps loosen and aerate clay soil
  • It improves the water – and nutrient-holding capacity of sandy soil

Add lots of organic matter such as:

  • compost
  • manure
  • peat moss
  • grass clippings
  • aged sawdust
  • Spring soil preparations maybe hard and tedious work but it can save you untold disappointments and ensure you give your new plants and seedlings the best nutritious soil to grow and thrive in.

    For more free landscaping advice, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help you out.