Gardening Questions Answered

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In a crisis such as the one we are facing now, the normal craving for spring colour and ‘getting your hands in the dirt’ has really intensified. I’m getting so many questions about when plants will be ready to buy despite the fact that this still is Northern Ontario. The weather is still going to swing from double digits with sunshine to gloomy cold days with snow falling.
I have focused my articles on information about starting seeds indoors and how to plan for an increase in growing you own food. I want to continue with providing some answers to questions I’m getting from people who want to grow herbs and vegetables but don’t have a lot of experience.
One such call was from a woman who wanted seeds, starter pots and soil to give each of her children as an Easter gift. What a great idea!
(This made me think of the years when my siblings and I received little indoor plants in our Easter baskets along with chocolate, Easter eggs and a small toy. My mother loved her houses plants and passed her green thumb along to all 4 of us!)
The family project will be a great learning experience, serve as a part of the home schooling curriculum and provide the them all with the skills to grow their own food. I made suggests for some seeds that were easy to grow for both starting indoors and others for sowing directly outside when the weather and soil temperature is appropriate. The mom focused on seeds from my suggestions that she knew her children would eat. That was a wise move.
My good friend, who is a professional gardener in Oakville, has a young grandson who she introduced to vegetable gardening last spring. Joanne had Jacob plan vegetable seeds and transplants into containers that she placed on her sunny back deck.
After watering the seeds in, he immediately crouched down, eye level with the pots and stared at the soil, waiting for the seedlings to emerge. Such is the reality of children seeing video games and tv shows where that in fact happens.
It was a real lesson in patience for Jacob to grasp the concept of having to wait for growth to begin. Every time he came to grandma’s house, he bee-lined for the deck to check for progress.
Joanne told me that Jacob started asking a month ago about when they could plant their seeds! He may end up being the 5th generation of plants-mans in her family.
Another question I getting asked frequently is what soil is best to use for starting seeds indoors. I had quite a long phone conversation with a gentleman that wasn’t convinced that the less expensive bagged garden soil was a poor choice for indoor growing.
Always choose a good quality soil-less potting mix for starting seeds indoors. Garden soil will have loam and compost in it that may harbor insect eggs and disease spores. That isn’t a major issue in the vast outdoors but Inside your house, in the small environment of starter pots, it isn’t a problem you want to deal with.
There is also the issue that the heavier garden mixes don’t allow for optimum root penetration for fragile seedlings and may stay too wet for too long. Many novice gardeners are very disappointed when young seedlings suddenly keel over, having rotted at the soil line due to their growing medium being too wet.
It’s important for the soil to be moist enough to encourage seed germination and healthy root formation but not wet enough that seedlings perish. Soil-less potting mix provides excellent drainage but still holds the appropriate amount of moisture.
As always when growing plants, be sure that all the containers you use for seed starting have drainage holes!

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About Me

I began my journey in horticulture in 1982 after graduating from the Humber College Landscape Technician program. At that time, I lead a talented crew of landscapers, taught evening courses in horticulture and had my own landscape design and consulting business. Then I ventured into the garden centre world. I’m lucky enough to be leading the friendly and knowledgeable team at New North Greenhouses. 

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