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Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips began in September 2020 as a weekly collaboration with Email recommendations for future gardening tips to 

Society members may click Add Comment following any article, and post comments such as adding more retrospective, agreeing with the contributor, or even suggesting a correction. 

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  • September 27, 2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Planting Supplies Created from Used Materials 

    Contributed by Ingrid Sunar and Doreen Coyne, members of The Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

    This article focuses on amazing things you can do with materials you find around your house which you might otherwise discard. Let your inner crafter out while saving dollars to grow plants!

    Your own bird feeder

    Bird FeederHolding an empty plastic bottle in front of you with the lid on, punch a hole straight through from one side to the other about an inch or 2 inches down from the lid of the bottle.

    Use a piece of wire (perhaps a part of an old hanger) to slide through those holes and then bring it up and around to the top twisting them together to form a hanger for what it's going to become your bird feeder. Lower down on the bottle, punch a hole from one side to the opposite end thread a pencil through the hole. The pencil ends become the perch for your birds. You can optionally do another set of holes slightly below that, and 90 degrees over for another perch.

    Above each pencil entry to the bottle cut a small semi-circle about the size of a dime or nickel. The holes will allow the bird to reach in to get seeds. To finish your bird feeder, just fill the bottle with seeds, put the lid back on and hang it up.  It will be great to see the finches visit the planter during this fall and winter.

    Saving seeds

    Neatly stored seedsAfter you dry your seeds having harvested them from your plants, you can store them in an envelope. Be sure to do this for unused seeds you bought as well. No need to buy envelopes as you likely get lots of these in your bills and requests for donations each month.

    Date and label these including both the type of seed and colour of flower.

    An alternate idea is to put your seeds into empty Tic Tac containers which can then be labelled appropriately.

    Labeling herbs

    Save wine bottle corks and label them with the name of the plants or herbs that you are growing in individual pots indoors this winter. Then skewer the cork to either a metal or wooden skewer, a chopstick, or a discarded metal or plastic fork.

    Creative herb labels

    Garden tools

    In a prior article, we told you how to turn a small, 1 litre jug into a watering can or a scoop. Note that the scoop could also be used this winter to get salt out of its bag and then spread it onto the sidewalks.

    Creative gardening tools

  • September 20, 2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Want to start a garden now? Try indoor plants. 

    Contributed by Ingrid Sunar, Publicity Chair for the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

    Given the temperature is dropping, why not start a garden indoors! You don’t have to be an expert if you follow the advice in this article, you can have some nice plants growing in your home in no time! And the act of planting and maintaining your gardening does have benefits! It relieves stress, improves your mental health, reduces risk of depression, and can help lower blood pressure.

    Start with a small number of plantsTips For Beginners

    • Start Small. Even 3 to 5 plants will be a welcome addition.
    • Pick a place in your home with indirect light and windows.
    • Decide whether you like to grow flowers, succulents (such as cactus) or perhaps herbs. Or maybe a combination such as two potted flowering plants and a smaller planter of succulents.
    • Get some pots and potting soil. If on a budget, try a local Dollar Store. Or take a trip to a nursery or a box store such as Canadian Tire, Home Depot, or Lowes.
    • Do not crowd plants in each pot or container.
    • And once planted, remember to water them every 2 weeks. You can put your finger into the soil to check if it is dry within the container. If dry before 2 weeks, then water that plant more frequently.
    • Have some fun picking out your plants!
    • If you are growing herbs, I’d suggest 1 smaller pot (about 5”) per herb. Chives, Parsley, Thyme, and Basil make good choices that can be used in many of your meals.
    • If you decide to grow flowers, I’d check the nurseries for available plants before choosing your pots to ensure you get pots of the right sizes. And make sure the bottom has drainage holes and that you get a bottom “plate” that will ensure that water doesn’t come out and ruin your furniture!

    You can take your potted plants outdoors in the summer if you wish!

    Do you need some tools to pot your new plants? If you are on a budget, try some of these creative ideas:

    • For getting potting soil from its bag to your new pot, cut a plastic jug and use it as a type of hand shovel. Be sure to keep the lid on the jug! Alternatively, you can use an unwanted large spoon or a small plastic cup or even your last take-out coffee cup!
    • For watering, put holes in the lid of a plastic jug. Hammer a nail into the lid in multiple spots to do this.

    Creative ideas for Tools

    Gardening, even indoors, can be a great activity for both you and your children as you spend time with them making the garden and watering the plants. And as you tend your garden, your whole family will learn more about plants.

    Start now and you’ll appreciate the greenery and blooms for years!

  • September 09, 2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Christmas Cactus Tips 

    Contributed by Rahe Richards, Flower Show Director of The Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

    50 year old cactus blooms twice each yearWe are approaching the time of the year when people give Christmas Cactus (Zygocactus) as hostess gifts. They bloom with beautiful red, pink or white flowers then they go dormant and many people then throw them out.

    These plants can be kept year after year as house plants and they can grow larger throughout the years if they are looked after with the simple steps listed below.

    Some also take the plant outdoors in the summer months. Others, showcase the Christmas Cactus as a beautiful table arrangement by using two or more plants with different coloured blooms in the same pot or a set of 2 or 3 pots each featuring one of the bloom colours.

    Tips for Success

    • After blooming, keep watered every of weeks or when the top one inch of soil is dry. Many people prefer to place the pot in another dish and then allow the plant to absorb its water from that dish. Be sure your original pot has holes in the bottom to allow the water to get to the plant.
    • 3 year old plant in dormant stageWhen the weather turns warm in the summer, you can bring these potted plants outdoors where they will start to grow again showing red tips which turn into leaves. Continue to water and fertilize with all purpose fertilizer. Of course, if you prefer, you can keep your plant indoors year-round.
    • As soon as the first frost hits it in the fall, bring the plant indoors again and place it in a nice bright spot with indirect light. They will start to bloom for Christmas.
    • A few friends allow their plant to get a little drier after Christmas for a month or so – not too dry though – and then water as normal again for an additional blooming season around Easter.

    • September 09, 2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Weeds: Killing Them Off More Easily! 

      Contributed by Doreen Coyne, Vice President of The Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

      Weeds. We all have them; we all want to get rid of them. Weeds are just starting to regrow in my yard and garden. I’ve enjoyed a lack of weeds for several weeks now but it is time to get them removed once more before fall sets in.

      Vinegar SolutionFor spot treating grass and walkways, I’ve found a solution that works well for me without getting harsh chemicals involved. Mix together 1 gallon of vinegar, 2 cups of Epson Salts and ¼ cup of Dawn Dish Soap (the blue one) in a large spray bottle. I bought a gallon spray container that has a long plastic tube from the lid to the spray handle. I got mine from Dollarama but I’m sure lots of stores sell these. This is great for walking around the yard and walkways to spot treat the weeds. This is not meant for spraying an entire area nor near plants you do not want to kill. Spray this solution on the weeds during the heat of the day. In the evening, you should be able to pull out the browned weed remains and put them into your yard waste bag. You may need to treat the weeds more than once.

      Dutch HoeFor your garden beds. Another friend at the Horticultural Society told be about a Dutch Hoe. I’d not heard of this tool before but I was told it was very handy in eliminating, or slowing down, the growth of weeds in my garden. You can buy this tool at several stores including Lee Valley. Sometimes the handle comes in 2 lengths. I chose the longer handle to avoid having to bend. The Dutch hoe allows you to “slice” off the weed’s head slightly below ground level. Some weeds and especially runners may come back but less each time. The theory is that cutting the head off eliminates the roots’ source of food (sunshine) and thus the roots will die. Pulling weeds can stimulate the roots to grow more weeds, especially those with underground runners. This summer and last summer have proven to me that the Dutch Hoe is a valuable garden tool.

      Weed TorchFor walkways, sidewalks and driveways. My neighbour introduced me to this very useful tool, the Weed Torch. These are long handled tools ending with a flame source near the ground and a small propane tank near the cane-like handle. When I bought mine, I found good choices at Canadian Tire and Lee Valley. And yes, it burns the weeds for instant results. But be careful. Wear hard toed shoes and don’t burn near your lawn or underground wiring nor gas lines as fire can travel underground via roots into your grass. It wouldn’t hurt to have a hose turned on nearby! I found my weed torch particularly useful on the interlocking stones around my pool but it also did a good job on the edges and cracks in my driveway and between the sidewalk slabs.

      Have a happier time weeding by using these ideas!

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