CSL continues our pandemic series for those looking to broaden their knowledge about creating beautiful, eco-friendly and beneficial gardens.
A GREAT CANADIAN GROWN SHRUB
Last year CSL’s readers were interested in growing familiar fruit and vegetables. This year, you asked for tips on experimenting with fruit shrubs. Although exotic looking, sea buckthorn is a great choice – native to some parts of Canada, and well-suited to our northern climate. Plus, its berries have a high Vitamin C content.
WHAT IS SEA BUCKTHORN?
This hardy, deciduous shrub with striking silvery-grey leaves grows in coastal areas in the wilds of Europe and Asia, and tolerates temperatures of – 40°C. As its root system fixes nitrogen, it can be used to improve soils and establish the growth of other plants. Drought and salt tolerant, it can reach a height of 0.5 to 6 m. Although a little tricky to harvest, you can freeze the berries raw, make into jam or preserves. While the taste of the berries is quite sour, one of the best ways to make a nutritious drink is to blend with pure organic apple juice which provides just enough natural sweetness to balance.
HOW DOES IT GROW?
Completely thaw seedlings before planting. Supplier, TreeTime does not recommend chemical fertilizer. Instead, try a little bone meal in the bottom of your hole. Sea Buckthorn grows best when planted in full sun and in dry to normal soil. Allow for a spread at least equal to its maximum height. You will need to plant both male and female trees to reap berries via wind pollination (suppliers tend to sell bundles of both sexes). Plants reach maturity in third or fourth year. Be careful of thorns when harvesting berries, which birds tend to ignore.
TreeTime is unique as one of the only Canadian suppliers of sea buckthorn. Primarily a reforestation nursery specializing in 1-3-year-old peat plug tree, shrub, and berry seedlings, the company harvests their seedlings in the fall and stores them in a frozen warehouse at -3 to -5°C for the winter. In the spring, TreeTime ships seedlings directly from the frozen warehouse via Canada Post, thawing en route as they break dormancy. Best of all, they are a Canadian company. treetime.ca
ATTRACT BENEFICIAL POLLINATORS TO YOUR GARDEN
THE LOWDOWN CSL asked David DeRocco, Senior Manager, Marketing and Events for the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) what the impetus was for creating this line of plant kits? “People ask us all the time what they can do to have a positive impact on wildlife. Helping to provide healthy, native food sources is one of the simplest ways. We recognized that gardeners are great allies in CWF efforts to restore pollinator pollinations. We’re thankful to have two like-minded partners in Medallion Plants and The Home Depot who really want to make a difference for wildlife.”
Canadian Wildlife Federation Medallion Plant Pollinator Collection, and WILD About Birds tree and shrub collection available at participating Home Depot stores across Canada this May and June (while supplies last). cwf-fcf.org; homedepot.ca
CREATE A GREAT LAWN
“Take some time to plan out your yard with your family. Once you know the purpose you want it to serve, it’s time to start working with it,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing manufacturers and suppliers of outdoor power equipment, small engines, battery power systems, portable generators, utility and personal transport vehicles, and golf cars.
“A well-cared for lawn and landscape provides the canvas for a year-round backyarding lifestyle. You’ll want to get out there with your outdoor power equipment, like your lawn mower and trimmers, as soon as spring arrives, and you want to do it safely,” said Kiser.
Prep the soil before you add grass seed and broadcast seed liberally over patchy areas or to establish a new lawn. Water to establish and refrain from walking or disturbing the area until roots establish and growth occurs. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute also suggests allowing a pile of grass clippings to decompose on your lawn (rather than bagging it for the trash) will shelter insects, worms and other backyard critters. Dead tree branches can create nooks for butterflies, bees, birds and other wildlife. If you’re not getting at least an inch of water a week from Mother Nature, you’ll want to keep watering through the fall. Install watering solutions, such as smart controllers on irrigation systems, to help conserve water.
In fall, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute recommends aerating your lawn for lush turf in the spring. Aerating prevents soil from becoming compacted and covered with thatch – a thick layer of roots, stems and debris that blocks water, oxygen and nutrients from reaching the soil. Stop trimming your lawn once it freezes. Trim your grass to the height recommended for your lawn variety before it freezes. Cutting your grass too short can leave it dry and exposes it to the elements, not to mention insects and disease. Add a thin layer of mulch to your lawn before it’s too cold. A thin layer of mulch can protect your grass roots from snow and frost. It can even prevent deeper layers of soil from freezing, making it easier for your lawn to bounce back in the spring.
PLANT EXOTIC FRUIT AND VEG FROM SEEDS
CSL asked Densie O’Reilly, owner of A’bunadh Seeds for her tips on planting from seed.
1/ Not all seeds do their best from seed straight into the garden. They need an early start indoors before you can set them out in the Alberta climate. Start February: celery, parsley; March: oregano, thyme, lemon balm, marjoram, sage, rosemary and lavender; April: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, savory and basil.
2/ Plant some cool season crops out in the ground before last frost when ground is warm and workable. Early Spring: spinach, cilantro, dill, radishes, kale kohlrabi, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, beets, carrots and peas.
West Coast Seeds
Shanghai Express Goji, $4.69; Wasabi Radish, $3.29; westcoastseeds.com
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Red Orach, $3.00 (USD); Red Mountain Winter Celtuce, $3.00 (USD); rareseeds.com
Salt Spring Seeds
Epazote, $4.00; Ashwaganda, $4.00; Nodding Onion, $4.00; saltspringseeds.com
Osu Blue Tomato, $3.25; Chinese White Daikon, $3.25, Lemon Cucumber, $3.25; terraedibles.ca
White Egg Eggplants, $3.50; Asian Tat Soi, $3.50; Italian Valeriana Mache, $3.50; abunadhseeds.ca
This original gardening article first appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.