Organic Gardening Tips and Plants – How to

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Organic
Gardening Tips

Terra Viva Organics

December Newsletter

 

Gardening
ideas for the winter

Improve
pollination in your garden with Orchard Mason Bees

Rheubin’s
Squash Soup Deluxe


Gardening
Ideas for the Winter

Force bulbs indoors

Bring spring in!

The dull days of winter
can dampen even the most dedicated gardener’s spirits.
To bring a bit of spring into the season, try forcing
bulbs indoors. Bulbs of narcissus can be planted indoors
without pre-chilling. Select healthy bulbs from your
garden center that are firm and free from blemishes.

Fill a shallow container
with about 3 inches of pebbles or stones and then firmly
place the bulbs in the stones. Fill the container with
water just to the level of the bottom of the bulbs and
top up as the level goes down. Blooms will appear in
about 5 weeks.

Order seed catalogues

Some seed companies have
already begun sending out catalogues for next year so
make sure you’re added to the list. Nothing lifts the
spirits like browsing through catalogues and planning
new ideas for the garden. Here’s a list of must haves:

Thompson & Morgan
– an incredible selection of flowers. You can now browse
on-line at www.thompson-morgan.com/tm/home.html

Johnny’s Selected Seed
– vegetables, herbs & flowers with excellent customer
service. Order your print catalogue at www.johnnyseeds.com/14a.html
or browse on-line

West Coast Seeds – seeds
selected for coastal gardeners who have to garden through
cool summers and mild winters. Their catalogue can be
ordered at www.westcoastseeds.com/index3.cfm

Bethlehem Seed Company
– A large variety of open-pollinated seed. All packages
are priced under $1. View their website at: http://www.bethlehemseed.com/

Seed Savers Exchange –
this organization has printed their first seed catalogue
which is just stunning. An incredible listing of heritage
beans & tomatoes along with a whole range of heirloom
seed. The catalogue is $2 but well worth it. Contact
them at:

SEED SAVERS EXCHANGE 3076
North Winn Rd. Decorah, IA 52101
TEL: 1-319-382-5990 FAX: 1-319-382-5872

Or, if you don’t have
time to shop around but still want a great selection
of seeds, try Eseed.com. The site lists many different
varieties and will ship seeds anywhere. View the site
at http://www.eseeds.com/

Take gardening classes

Your local community college
or botanical garden will be putting on a variety of
courses through the winter. Learn how to start seed
indoors, make a bird feeder, plan a butterfly garden,
or learn how to grow & use herbs.

Remember to leave your
leaves

Echinacea cones provide winter food Don’t clean up
your garden too much. Seed heads provide food for birds
and insects, and ground foraging birds appreciate it
if you don’t make your garden “floor” too clean! After
all, nature doesn’t hire the elves with leaf-blowers
in the autumn. Everything falls down and forms that
lovely mat of slowly decaying organic material. Leaves
contain high percentages of nutrients so mulch your
garden with them. Or, use leaves to layer with garden
waste in your compost.


Attract
Pollinators!

For the last couple of years, home gardeners have been
finding poor fruit set because of the lack of pollination
insects. The population of honeybees has been steadily
declining due to a highly infectious virus that has attacked
the bee population across North America. Additionally,
areas where other pollinating insects seek refuge through
the winter have been destroyed from urban sprawl or agricultural
spraying practices.

For any gardener who grows
fruit trees or plants squashes and cucumbers, pollinating
insects make a great deal of difference in the amount
of food they can harvest. To overcome the problem, gardeners
can attract the solitary Orchard Mason Bee. These bees
are super-pollinators and their solitary nature has
allowed them to withstand becoming infected with the
virus. The bees are highly active early in the season,
before most honeybees even come out of their hives.

The female Orchard Mason
Bee is attracted to deep holes in wood boards and fences
where she can lay her eggs. She then caps the ends of
the holes with mud so that they are insulated through
the winter. In the early spring, the adults will emerge
from the holes and begin pollinating nearby fruit trees
and flowering plants.

You can make your own
Orchard Mason Bee House if you have access to thick
blocks of wood and a drill. Holes need to be drilled
at least 6″ deep so make sure the wood is thick enough.
If you can, construct a roof over the block – female
Orchard Mason Bees really like the added protection.
Hang the block on any south-facing wall or post and
you should begin to see the holes being filled with
eggs by April-May.

A great gift for anyone on your list

For those without access
to supplies or who are looking for wonderful gift ideas,
Terra Viva Organics is pleased to supply gardeners with
handmade Orchard Mason Bee Houses crafted by Vancouver
artist Taren Urqhart. These houses come pre-drilled
with eight holes and are decorated with tiles designed
by Taren. A set of replacement straws also comes with
the houses so that holes can be reused. For $22.95,
this gift can be given year-round.

For further product information,
click
here

Written
by Arzeena Hamir, Agronomist, Terra Viva Organics arzeena@tvorganics.com
&
by Sharon Hanna, Master Gardener and Urban Garden Designer,
Emerge hanna@direct.ca

 


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