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Programs > In My Garden

"In My Garden" is about what local gardeners are doing to care for their indoor and outdoor plants.  Seasonal advice is valid year after year, so please scroll down to find the current month.  Contributions from members are welcomed - email bolton@gardenontario.org

May

Lily Beetles have arrived.  These bright red beetles emerge from ground to munch on plants in the lily family, including the earliest varieties of Fritillaria (checkered lily).  Combat these pests by hand picking - the beetles drop to the ground when disturbed, so take advantage of this characteristic and place a jar of soapy water under the plant and let them plunge to their demise.  NEEM oil, often sold as a leaf shine product, can be sprayed on the emerging foliage of lilies to make the plant unpalatable to the beetles and their larvae.  NEEM oil will not kill the beetles.  Eggs are orange and laid in a line on the underside of the leaves.  As the larva mature, they surroung themselves with frass (insect poo) making it a messy job to kill them.  Rinse the frass off and you will see the plump orange larva that are destroying your plants.  A beneficial insect with an appetite for lily beetles has recently been released in the Ottawa area.  In time, the lily beetle pest may become less of a problem for lily growers.
Rain, Rain Go Away If you have clay soil, resist the temptation to garden while the soil is saturated.  Clay soil takes a few days to dry out sufficiently after a rainfall to become workable.  If you dig in the clay when it is too wet, the result will be large clumps of clay that will become rock-like when they dry.  After a  few dry days, those same clumps of clay will break up into friable soil that very easily incorporates soil amendments such as compost. 

April

Pruning - Complete pruning of shrubs that bloom on new wood.  Do not prune shrubs that flower on shoots developed last year (you can usually see the flower buds, e.g. Lilac).
Perennials - Divide, fertilize, top dress perennial beds with 1" -2" organic matter such as compost or composted manure.

March

Pruning The ground in my yard is still frozen, but daytime temperatures are starting to climb above 0C.  I pruned my Concord grapevine, which tends to bleed sap profusely if the tempertature is too warm when pruned.  Click here for a YouTube video of pruning technique I follow.
Pruning I grow Heritage everbearing variety raspberries which bear a crop in June on old wood and also in the late summer into fall on new wood. I choose to cut the canes to the ground early each spring to allow all the plant energy go toward the later season crop. Click here for a YouTube video of pruning technique I follow.

February

Vegetable Seeds It is a good idea to check the viability of any seeds you saved from previous years before sowing them indoors or in the garden.  Take 10 seeds, set them 1 - 2 cm apart on a wet paper towel, roll the towel (seeds inside) and place in a ziplock bag.  Place the bag on top of the fridge where there will be constant warmth - no light is needed.  Check the seed package for typical germination time.  After that time has elapsed, count how many seeds have germinated.  If fewer than 50% of the seed have sprouted, maybe its time to buy fresh seed.  To view a YouTube video of the paper towel method, click here. To find out when to sow your seeds, download a vegetable seed starting chart, click here.

Annual Seeds Check seed viability (as above) if planning to use seeds saved from previous years. For seeds you plan to sow directly outdoors, especially plants you have never grown before, sow a few seeds using the paper towel technique explained above.  This will get you familiar with how the new plants look in the early stages of growth.  Then when the seed start to grow outdoors, you will not mistake them for weeds. To view an Annual Seed starting Chart, click here

January

Houseplants:  In checked for insects and discovered SCALE on my orchids and SPIDER MITES on my Dipladenia vine.  For more info about houseplant pests and what to do about them, click here.

Houseplants: Last week, I started fertilizing plants that are showing new growth with 1/4 strength 20-20-20. This made the plants look better - the longer days and the plant food gave them a boost. For more advice on fertilizing houseplants, click here.
Outdoor Bulbs: During the thaw earlier this month, I noticed many snowdrop bulbs lying on the surface of the soil.  I had divided the perennials that were the snowdrops' companion plants late in the fall, and replanted the bulbs at that time, too late in the season for them to have taken root.  Frost heave pushed them to the surface during the January & February thaws.  Instead of trying to push them back into the ground, I gathered them up and planted them in pots to take indoors.  I hope that they bloom; they are already showing sprouts.

Last Updated: 2018-02-27