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  • July 01, 2022 4:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Things to do in your garden this month.

    Taken from the Ontario Master Gardener Calendar
    by John Hethrington
    Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario.

    Please contact John for more information!

    July 2022 Garden Tips:

    • Watch for the Japanese beetle on your Asiatic Lilies, Roses, Rose of Sharon, Dahlias, Hollyhocks, and numerous other plants. Handpicking and squeezing, combined with a beetle trap, are the most efficient way to limit these ravaging critters. Luckily, the little red devils don’t eat Day Lilies (Hemerocallis)
    • Watch for earwigs and Gypsy moth caterpillars. Spray plants with a 40:1 mixture of water and dish soap.
    • Ants are also a problem. The ant powder does not seem to work for me. Maybe the ants didn’t read the instructions to take it back to their nest.
    • Trim evergreens, cedar hedges, etc., NOW as needed, not later in the summer.
    • Stake straggly annuals and perennials, or pinch them back to promote new growth and make them bushy.
    • Raise lawn mower blades for summer mowing. Grass should be at least 5 - 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) high to stay healthy and weed free.
    • Prune spring flowering shrubs like Forsythia and Spirea after blooming, If you really want to be picky, remove individual spent lilac blooms.
    • Water flower beds deeply and try a second round of weeding. Add mulch again to keep the weeds at bay.
    • Mulch your tomato plants. When a ripe tomato drops, it won’t split or get muddy. Mulch holds moisture too!
    • Thin, hoe, weed and water vegetables as required. (This is why I stick to flowers)
    • Water lawns and beds as deeply as you can. WE have had a fairly wet spring, but the hot summer day will dry out your lawn fast.
    • Tackle weeds now before they go to seed. Save yourself from weeding their offspring next year.
    • Stake tall perennials that may be weakened by too rapid growth.
    • Turn compost regularly and check the moisture level - not too wet, not too dry,- like Goldilocks, just right. 

    A big thank you to everyone who turned out for our Giant Plant Sale at St. George’s, the Anglican Parish for the Blue Mountains, in Clarksburg. You bought over 1,000 donated plants. Thanks to the many plant donors TOO!

    Come to the Frog Hollow Garden Tour of my many different gardens on Saturday, July 30 10am-4pm. (Rain Day, Mon Aug 1, 10 am - 4 pm) Proceeds to St. George’s, the Anglican Parish of the Blue Mountains. Pre-purchase your $20 timed entry tickets on line at www.froghollowgardentour.ca to see our 2½ acre Frog Hollow Gardens. It’s a safe, self-guided tour, with a detailed map and descriptions of the gardens. Refreshments will be served on the deck.

    John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario


  • May 27, 2022 3:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Things to do in your garden this month.

    Taken from the Ontario Master Gardener Calendar
    by John Hethrington
    Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario.

    Please contact John for more information!

    June 2022 Garden Tips:

    • Summer is really here! Lots of sun and rain. Get your annuals planted now. Add a little general-purpose fertilizer and water well.
    • Fertilize perennials, roses, shrubs and vegetables using a balanced fertilizer, not the one for your lawn, it has too much nitrogen. Pull back the mulch (that should already be there) from the perennials. Dig the fertilizer in lightly around each plant and replace the mulch.
    • Start cutting your lawn higher/longer and leave cuttings on the lawn as fertilizer.
    • Prune spring blooming shrubs and trees (lilac, forsythia) after they have flowered.
    • Prune evergreens and hedges now, not later in the summer.
    • Finish removing all daffodil and tulip flower stems. Leave leaves to mature and feed the bulb for next year’s bloom. Add a little bone meal around bulb clumps to promote bulb growth for next year.
    • Stake or cage tomato plants, dahlias, gladiolas, peony plants, etc.
    • Thin vegetable seedlings and plant successive crops. (Plant a second crop as the first is maturing eg. lettuce, spinach, radishes.)
    • Seed flowering cabbage/kale into garden rows for later transplanting.
    • Plant seeds of fast-growing flowers such as cosmos, marigold, calendula, etc.
    • If desired, move houseplants outside to a protected area.
    • Deadhead (cut off) faded blooms on plants such as petunia, rose, verbena, etc. This will promote continuous blooms and bushy plants for the second half of the summer.
    • Weed and water garden beds as needed.
    • Add mulch to suppress weed growth and hold in moisture. At least 2”.
    • Cut back by a third, late bloomers such as mums and asters. This will make them bushier and give them a mounded shape and more blooms in the fall.
    • Turn compost regularly and check moisture level, not too wet, not too dry, just right, like Goldie Locks.
    • Take cuttings of perennials, shrubs, roses, etc. for rooting.
    • Watch for local plant sales like the Giant Plant Sale at St. George’s Anglican Church in Clarksburg, Saturday June 11 2022. It starts at 8 am. Entry by car only. Choose from a wide variety of choice perennials for sun or shade, named Daylilies, raspberry canes and shrubs at really reasonable prices. 599 Garden Club experts will provide advice. Meet your resident Master Gardener at the sale to answer your horticultural questions.

    John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario


  • April 30, 2022 4:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Things to do in your garden this month—taken from the Ontario Master Gardener Calendar by John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario.

    Please contact John for more information!

    May 2022:

    There are lots of things to do in your garden in May, now that Spring is here!

    • If not done already, clean up winter debris in the garden as soon as the soil is dry enough to work. Dig in manure or compost around perennials and shrubs and weed well. An extra hour weeding now will save 3 days later in the summer!! Use a line to cut sharp straight edges for your beds. For curved edges, run hot water through a hose to soften it up and lay out a smooth curve. Watch you don’t chop the hose!
    • Take coloured pictures of your spring bulbs in each of your gardens so you will know where there are any gaps and where the bulbs are when you plant more bulbs in the fall. Save the pictures in a safe place.
    • Plan now to plant early blooming bulbs like snowdrops and crocus in the fall at places close to where you come in and out of the house. It’s nice to be greeted by early signs of spring.
    • Add 3” to 4’” of mulch to flowerbeds and shrubs to conserve moisture and discourage weeds. Shredded cedar bark is best, but expensive. Try 13/Forty Landscape Supply who have 3 types of mulch: Cedar, Pine, Black and Utility, the cheaper kind that I use.
    • Don’t walk on or roll lawns that are still wet and full of water. If you can see your footprint, stay off. It will compact the soil.
    • If your lawn is already compacted, rent an aerator which will dig out small plugs. Let the plugs dry and rake them back into the lawn as a top dressing. Add grass seed to bare patches.
    • When dry, rake lawns vigorously to remove dead grass and thatch.
    • Spread weed-free topsoil on thin patches in your lawn. Apply grass seed, roll and water. Keep seeded areas moist, but don’t flood.
    • If you find moss in your lawn, the soil is too acidic. Apply dolomite lime before a rain. You may need a second application.
    • If you have pots or planters that are very big or deep, put some empty plastic water bottles with lids in the bottom of the pot to take up space the roots will never get to. It makes the planter or pot lighter and easier to move.
    • Prepare containers and pots for planting. Fill with a mixture of compost and potting soil. Add peat moss or better still, coconut coir to retain moisture.
    • Place pots with culinary herbs close to the kitchen door for easy access.
    • Walk around your garden and look for perennials that should be divided, are in the wrong place, or you don’t like any more. Pot them up for spring plant sales at least 3 weeks before the sale. Add compost, not garden soil to the pots. To be really fancy, add a little bone meal to the pot before you put in the plant. Add plant labels with the name (Botanical and/or common), colour, sun exposure, height, bloom time, etc. Water well and keep in the shade. The St. George’s Anglican church annual giant Plant Sale is looking for perennials and offering Income Tax Receipts for donations. The sale is Saturday June 11 on the church grounds in Clarksburg. It starts at 8 am this year!
    • Harden-off seedlings for at least a week before planting outside. Google the last frost date for your area and allow at least 1 week more before planting tender transplants such as annuals and tomatoes; this year, probably into early June.
    • Plant beans now directly into the garden as they germinate quickly and will grow as long as the soil is warm. Maybe mid-May this year.
    • Install peony rings before the plants start to grow.
    • Monitor for the presence of slugs, cutworms, earwigs and tent caterpillars.
    • Control weeds in the lawn by hand pulling. Use nematodes to control grubs, which eat the grass roots, leading to brown patches in the lawn in summer.
    • Prune roses according to type.
    • Deadhead (cut the blooms off) tulips, daffodils and other spring bulbs but do not cut or pull out the leaves until they are brown and decayed. They are needed to nourish the bulbs for next year’s bloom.
    • If you have any fritillaries or Asian lilies (day lilies are beetle free), now is the time to watch for the red lily beetle (adult, larva and eggs). So far, removal by hand is the best and only way to reduce this problem.


    John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario


  • March 30, 2022 9:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Things to do in your garden this month—taken from the Ontario Master Gardener Calendar by John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario.

    Please contact John for more information!

    April 2022:

    Here are the things to do for your garden in April!

    • Make sure you have done everything you were supposed to do on the March Master Gardener's List
    • Do stretch and bend exercises before you start in the garden. I find skiing muscles have nothing to do with gardening muscles. Take it easy. There are a lot of gardening days before the ski season comes again.
    • I hope you had a chance to spread 19-19-19 general purpose fertilizer over the snow on all your flower beds and shrub boarders before the snow disappeared. It melts down through the snow into the ground as the snow goes away. It and other fertilizers are available at the Co-Op in Markdale, at 10% discount for 599 Members. If you missed this step this year, plan for next winter and buy the fertilizer in the fall.
    • While the snow may be gone, it may be back once or twice in April. If it is, you can still spread the triple 19 as long as it does not get on to the emerging plants, as it may burn them.
    • Organize your compost pile for the new season. Start a new one with the top foot of compost from last year’s pile as a base.
    • As the weather warms and the ground dries, prune back perennials and ornamental grasses to 1” to 2” from the ground. Collect the dead material and put it on your new compost pile. Shred it, if you can.
    • Push any plants that the frost has heaved back into place.
    • Prepare garden beds for planting. Dig in compost, and/or manure, and/or other organic material around each plant. Remove any weeds that have come through from last fall. When you have cleaned up the beds, ADD 3” TO 4” OF MULCH to control weeds this summer.
    • Remove rose protection. For Hybrid Teas, prune back to 6” or 8”and apply dormant oil spray before the buds break.
    • Apply dormant oil spray to shrubs like euonymus that may have suffered from scale last year. Do it before the buds break.
    • Prepare your vegetable garden with a good digging. Add compost, if you have it. Mid-month, plant the seeds of cool-weather vegetables like peas, spinach, lettuce, onions, beets. Plant seeds of frost resistant annuals like larkspur, sweet peas and calendulas.
    • When dry, rake your lawn vigorously to remove any thatch; repair damage with weed-free topsoil. Add grass seed to bare spots. Keep moist.
    • Fertilize your lawn with slow-release high nitrogen fertilizer (the first of the 3 numbers on the bag). Slow-release urea costs more, but it’s worth it, as it should last until the fall.
    • Apply crabgrass pre-emergence herbicide to your lawn, if required.
    • When spring finally comes, plant trees, shrubs, perennials and biennials in your garden. No need to wait until May 24th for perennials, that’s for annuals. It may be the first week in June before you can get frost tender annuals safely into the ground.
    • Re-fill your pots and planters with compost. Put empty plastic bottles with tops at the bottom of large pots. You will need less soil and they will be lighter to move. Add slow-release plant food to the top 4 inches.
    • Then plant frost-resistant pansies NOW for a little spring colour.
    • Start mowing your lawn only as needed. Keep it long.
    • Save Saturday June 11th for the St. George’s, Anglican Parish of the Blue Mountains, giant annual Plant Sale on the church grounds. There will be over 1,200 perennials, shrubs and tomato plants to choose from, plus free gardening advice from 599 Garden Club experts.


    John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario


  • March 01, 2022 5:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Things to do in your garden this month—taken from the Ontario Master Gardener Calendar by John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario.

    Please contact John for more information!

    March 2022:

    Here are the things to do for your garden in March!
    • Start tuberous begonias & caladiums corms in pots.
    • Plant brassicas (the cabbage family) seeds and hardy annuals for May planting outdoors.
    • Start tomatoes, lettuce and other fast growers from seed in late March to early April.
    • Make a list of spring chores in the order they should be done, if you haven’t already done so.
    • Order summer flowering bulbs. Try www.botanus.com
    • Order/buy seeds for summer planting NOW!
    • Check, repair and sharpen your gardening tools.
    • Apply combination dormant oil spray to fruit trees & pest-prone shrubs when above-freezing weather permits.
    • Bring Spring indoors. Start forcing branches of spring-flowering shrubs like Forsythia.
    • If you can find them, buy narcissus bulbs and grow them in gravel with water.
    • Prune summer-flowering shrubs and vines.
    • Before the snow goes, apply triple-19 agricultural fertilizer liberally over the snow only your flower beds. It’s available at Huron Bay Co-Op in Markdale at $33.38 a bag.
    • When the snow goes, loosen up packed winter mulch and press any perennials that have heaved, back into place.
    • Plan to plant a few bird-attracting, native berry plants and shrubs.
    • If there are any students out there who are Interested in garden work after school this spring and summer, please get in touch with me now. There are lots of jobs available. 


    John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario


  • January 30, 2022 10:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Here are the things to do for your garden in February!

    Taken from the Ontario Master Gardener Calendar by John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario. Please contact John for more information!


    February 2022:

    Here are the things that you should have done before we had all the snow. Just in case we get a mild spell and some rain to wash away the snow, here are a few things you still can do.
    • There is now lots of snow cover. But if we get a February Melt and the snow goes away, mound up all the available snow and any new snow that falls, around tender plants like roses. If you have a few branches left from your Christmas tree, put them over tender plants to catch the snow. It is the freeze/thaw that kills plants, not just the cold. The snow is wonderful insulation!
    • Start planning your garden projects for 2022. Make a list for the Spring, then you will know what you didn’t get done when you check it in June. I have mine done and I am tired already. A garden is never finished! 
    • If you have a few tulip or daffodil bulbs that did not get into the ground last fall, pot them up now, put them in an unheated garage or shed for 6 weeks and bring them inside to bloom.
    •  If you can find a store with narcissus bulbs, buy 5 or 6 and put them in a shallow dish, or a tall narrow glass vase on top of gravel and keep the gravel wet. You should have spring bloom in 3 to 4 weeks. 
    • Start propagating stem cuttings of geraniums, fuchias, etc. by the end of the month. 
    • Plant slow-germinating seeds inside, like impatiens, peppers, eggplants, etc. 
    • As the weather warms, you can start pruning shade trees, fruit trees and shrubs, if you can get to them through the snow. Leave trees that “bleed” like maples and birch until after they have leaves. 
    • Visit local nursery greenhouses to smell the coming of spring. Stop by the Garden Gallery just west of Barrie on Hwy 91 on the way to Angus just to inhale the SPRING. 
    • You can AGAIN forget about the big garden shows like Canada Blooms and the Peterborough Garden show this spring. They have all been cancelled because of COVID. Think Spring 2023.


    John Hethrington
    , Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario


  • December 31, 2021 10:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Here are the things to do for your garden in January!

    Taken from the Ontario Master Gardener Calendar by John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario. Please contact John for more information!


    January 2022:

    Here are the things that you should have done before we had all the snow. Just in case we get a mild spell and some rain to wash away the snow, here are a few things you still can do.
    • Inspect house plants for white flies, spider mites and aphids.
    • Apply insecticidal soap and spray with water.
    • Inspect spring bulbs you may have stored or forgotten about. Discard soft or mouldy ones.
    • Plant left over, not-yet-planted spring bulbs like daffs, tulips etc. in pots with good potting soil and a little bone meal. Water. Put the pots in an unheated garage or garden shed for 6 weeks. Take them inside in February or early March. You should get spring blooms in less than a month.
    • Not much snow yet. If the thaws continue and before all the snow melts away, mound any remaining snow over roses and tender perennials.
    • Cut the branches off your Christmas tree and place them over tender plants to catch the snow. It’s the freeze/thaw cycle that kills the plants.
    • Expand your personal knowledge through on-line courses, plus look online for seed and plant catalogues.
    • Start planning your garden for next spring. I’m already making lists of plants to divide.
    • Make detailed lists; BIG projects, regular maintenance, new plants to buy and plants to divide and donate to the St. George’s Plant Sale, June 4 or 11 2022. Call 519-599-5846 for more info.
    • Google “Seed Catalogue Websites” and see hundreds of seed sources.
    • Order flower and vegetable seeds. Decide which seeds should be started inside.
    • If you can find them, try forcing amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus now for indoor winter bloom that will cheer you up.
    • At the end of the month, start the slowest germinating seeds like begonias and geranium, also seeds for early spring bloom e.g., pansy, verbena, alyssum and dianthus.
    • The Markdale CO-OP, 1-519-986-2031, has a good supply of Triple-19 fertilizer still available. This is the strong agricultural fertilizer to put on top of the snow, only on your flower beds in March. It will fertilize your gardens all summer long. It’s worth the drive to Markdale!       

    John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario


  • November 26, 2021 12:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Here are the things to do for your garden in December!

    Taken from the Ontario Master Gardener Calendar by John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario. Please contact John for more information!


    December 2021:

    Here are the things that you should have done before we had all the snow. Just in case we get a mild spell and some rain to wash away the snow, here are a few things you still can do.
    • Loosely wrap evergreens and especially rhododendrons with Burlap. It is better to use 3 tomato stakes and make a triangle of burlap 6” away from the plant. The objective is to break the drying wind and shield it from the winter sun.
    • Protect young trees and shrubs from rodents with spiral plastic wraps. I know they are ugly, but they are white to reflect the sun and minimize sun scalding.
    • Hill up the soil or add compost around your hybrid tea roses and other tender plants and shrubs.
    • I place loose straw over my potentially tender phenomenal and Check lavender to create an iglu of protection.
    • Bring in, drain and store all hoses and water related equipment.
    • Wash all your garden tools. Wipe the metal parts with a cloth soaked in 3-in-1oil. If you really want to be fancy, wipe the wooden handles with boiled linseed oil.
    • Make sure you have stocked up on firewood for the winter.
    • With all the snow cover that just arrived, the ground will not be frozen yet. That means, if we get a break in the weather, you can still plant those spring bulbs that you forgot in your garage or basement.
    • I’ve planted tulips on Christmas Day in my garden by the sidewalk in downtown Toronto. An elderly gentleman passed by and asked me, “Whatever are you doing?” I told him “It’s an old Hethrington tradition. I always plant tulips and daffs on Christmas Day”. He shuffled off shaking his head, but there were blooms in April. So, stick them in the ground before it freezes.
    • Inside, check to see that your house humidifier is maintaining the humidity at over 40% to benefit both house plants and people.
    • Put lots of garden tools and garden books on your Christmas list
    • Order seed catalogues and start dreaming about SPRING!
    Merry Christmas from your Beaver Valley Master Gardener!

    John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario


  • November 01, 2021 8:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Here are the things to do for your garden in November!

    Taken from the Ontario Master Gardener Calendar by John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario. Please contact John for more information!


    November 2021:

    • I usually recommend a little last-minute deep watering, but with all the rain this year we should be OK until spring.
    • Buy discounted bulbs on sale and get them in the ground. The Grey Heron nursery on Hwy 26 just south of Meaford still has a good selection of a variety of spring bulbs. Your extra efforts will bloom in the spring. See the article "Bulbs, Bulbs, Beautiful Bulbs - Work Now Enjoy Them in the Spring" also posted this month.
    • Remove plants from your pots and other containers and empty the soil. Dump plants and soil into your compost pile; clean pots thoroughly and store them.
    • There is an annual argument as to whether you should cut back your perennials, grasses etc., in the fall, or leave them long for “winter interest”. Up here, most perennials are covered by 2 feet of snow, so you can’t see them anyway. Since Spring Clean-Up can be daunting and there can be wet weather, a late spring and/or instant summer, this year, I am opting for a BIG FALL CLEAN-UP to get a jump on spring 2022. Suit yourself.
    • Dig up and bring in dahlia tubers, tuberous begonias and gladiola corms, cala lily bulbs when the leaves turn yellow. Remove the soil and wash the tubers. Remove little cormlets from glad corms for more plants next year. Cure the tubers and corms for 2-3 weeks in a warm dry place. Place in trays and cover with dry compost, peat moss, sand or perlite. Store at about 5 C in a cold-cellar, or slightly heated garage.
    • Try potting up some spring bulbs like amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus and force them into bloom for Christmas and/or for late winter indoor colour. Different bulbs will require various lengths of cold to flower, so read the product packaging carefully. Store the bulbs in an area where they will not freeze (about 5°C). A fridge or cold cellar will work well for this.
    • Complete winterization procedures for plants, containers, drain hoses and clean all other garden equipment. To be a perfect gardener, sharpen tools and put linseed oil on wood handles. Paint small hand tool handles RED so you won’t lose them next spring.
    • Protect young trees from rodents by using wire collars or plastic protectors.
    • Hill up your hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses with 10 inches of compost covering the stems, or use a metal or plastic “Rose Collar” and fill it with compost before the ground freezes.
    • Create one or more Winter/Christmas urns using a variety of evergreen branches. Find branches with berries and add colour with red dogwood and dried hydrangea blossoms.
    • Check mulch levels in gardens. Pull mulch back 2”-3” from around shrub and tree trunks to discourage rodents. Add more compost or leaves to beds if you have them. Provides winter homes for pollinators and other insects.
    • Order seed catalogues for next spring.
    • And finally, buy your supply of Triple-19 fertilizer from the Co-Op in Markdale for March application ON TOP OF THE SNOW on all your garden beds. Then, you will have the fertilizer when the time comes to apply it in March. Many times, the Co-Op’s summer supply has not arrived until after the snow has gone from your garden beds.
     

    John Hethrington, Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario


  • October 31, 2021 8:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Bulbs, Bulbs, Beautiful Bulbs - Work Now, Enjoy Them in the Spring

    Spring flowering bulbs are the best blooming investment you can make in your garden, BUT you have to do the work NOW have beautiful blooms this spring! While you can plant bulbs into late November, get them into the ground in October or early November; water them well and their roots will grow vigorously this fall to give you better blooms next spring.

    Now, what to plant? There is a huge variety of spring bulbs, different colours, different heights and most important, different bloom times. Your objective should be to use this variety to generate the longest possible period of bloom, from snowdrops in early April to alliums in June.

     EARLY  MID SEASON  LATE
     Snow Drops  Trumpet Daffodils  Late Flowering Tulips
     Crocus  Hyacinth  Lili Tulips
     Anemone Blanda  Mid Season Tulips  Grape Hyacinths
     Mini Daffodils  Double Daffodils  Giant Alliums
     Early Single Tulips  Fritillaria Imperialis

    When buying bulbs, as in most things in life, SIZE MATTERS. Bigger bulbs make bigger blooms. Check out the size of the bulbs that are available. Look for 12-14 cm (the circumference of the bulb) or more for daffs and pay a little more for bigger bulbs. Some online suppliers provide mixed collections of different colours that will save you money. If you order from a catalogue, get your order in fast, as some suppliers run out of the most popular kinds early in the season. Gray Heron Nurseries (formerly Ormsby’s on Hwy 26 just before Meaford) still has a wide variety of bulbs available.

    Planting is easy. Select a sunny area, the more sun the better. If your garden is shady, don’t worry, plant very early bulbs which will enjoy the sun coming through the bare branches before they leaf out. Your soil should drain well, as bulbs don’t like wet feet. If you have clay soil, add 3 inches of sand or ravel to the bottom of the hole. Ideally, you should have a loose soil with lots of organic material like compost, at least for the soil used to fill up the hole over the bulbs.

    Plant bulbs in concentrated groups of 7 to 11 in several spots in your garden for a real show. Otherwise you will have a spotty “meals” display with little impact. Avoid long rows of say 20 daffs. Five groups of 5 (I know it’s 25) will be more impactful. Plant a minimum of 5 to 7 bulbs in each hole, with the bulbs spaced 3 inches apart. The experts say, always plant odd numbers of bulbs 5, 7 or 9. (I’m told it’s a design thing.) Check the package for the proper depth to plant, as it varies by type of bulb.

    Dig a good-sized hole to an inch below the correct depth, loosen up the soil at the bottom, add a sprinkle of “bulb food” or bone meal (formula 4 -10 – 4, make sure it’s a big middle number) and mix it in, tamp down the soil, add an inch of compost and set the bulbs in the compost. Fill up the hole with more soil/compost mix, adding a sprinkle of bone meal when the tops of the bulbs are covered by 1” of mix. For our cold winters, when the snow melts away in mid-January, it’s good to add a couple of inches of mulch over the planting hole. It will help keep the soil temperature more even. Pull it back in early spring and let the warm sun in. Reapply the mulch after blooming to deter weeds.

    Now what about pesky squirrels, chipmunks and skunks? They love tulips and will dig up your tulip bulbs this fall and eat the blooms in spring. Some people recommend moth balls on the top of the soil, but don’t go as far as a pellet gun. I recommend a piece of chicken wire placed an inch below the soil over hole where the tulips are planted and then and cover it up. You can add moth balls on the top of the soil for good measure The key is, the squirrels can’t get through the chicken wire, but next spring, the tulip stems will come right through the wire and bloom.

    Happy Gardening,

    John Hethrington, Master Gardener, Emeritus
    Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario


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