Mayne Island Seedy Saturday-How to Divide Perennials

Mayne Island Seedy Saturday-How to Divide Perennials

Last weekend I travelled to Mayne Island to give a short talk on how to divide perennials. What a great day I had. Not only did I meet so many amazing gardeners but I saw my first daffodil blooms in my friend Linda’s garden. It seems the climate on the island is a lot further ahead than ours.

Mayne Island Seedy Saturday-How to Divide Perennials

Photo credit: Linda Dzus

I arrived early and had plenty of time to set up for my talk at the Agricultural hall. I wasn’t the only speaker as they had four other talented speakers on all sorts of topics. As I entered the hall, tables were lined up with seeds donated by community members. You could bring seeds to donate and take whatever seeds you wanted. There was even a plant sharing table which got everyone thinking about spring. Who doesn’t want new plants?

Mayne Island Seedy saturday- How to Divide Perennials

The display tables had so much information. This one was all about saving seeds.

Mayne Island Seedy Saturday-How to Divide Perennials

Linda Beer, a resident and master gardener on Mayne Island, gave a wonderful talk on growing garlic. She talked about planting, harvesting and problems with garlic. Did you know elephant garlic is a member of the leek family and regular garlic is from the  Allium family?

Mayne Island Seedy saturday-How to Divide Perennials

After my talk I was treated to lunch overlooking the water of Mayne Island. What an amazing way to spend a Saturday.

Mayne Island Seedy Saturday- How to Divide Perennials

Thanks to Barb who picked me up at the ferry and invited me to see her garden. This Euphorbia was huge! I love the texture this plant adds to the garden. I look forward to returning in May to see it again.

Mayne Island Seedy Saturday-How to Divide Perennials

Here is my talk on how to divide perennials for those who missed it.

Why do we need to divide perennials? Dividing is done when clumps start to appear dead in the center, when plants are too vigorous and growing out of bounds or when flower decline is noticed. 

Mayne Island Seedy Saturday-How to Divide Perennials

Here I am dividing chives

When is the best time to divide perennials?  Spring is the time to divide fall blooming perennials and in the fall divide spring bloomers. You want to divide the plant when it’s not in bloom. That way energy will go into root production. In spring, divide your plants just as their growing tips are emerging from the soil. In fall, wait until September or October to divide perennials. 

How do we divide perennials?  Be sure to water your plants before you dig them up. This will soften the soil and make it easier to lift them. Have a tarp or table on which to work. I find it easier to see the plants on a tarp. It’s useful to use a spade to divide clumps that are large. I also like to use a pitchfork to lift clumps without damaging them. Dig up the plant you want to divide.  Insert the pitchfork at the edges of the root systems which are on the outside of the plant and not near the plant’s crown. Be sure to dig from all sides to make your task easier. Do not be surprised at the weight of the plant as soil is heavy. You may end up dividing your plant on the ground. If you are lifting Hostas or large clumps of daisies they can come with heavy clumps of soil. A pitchfork lets you pry the plant apart.  Be tough and use a handsaw or sharp knife to slice through tough root systems. I used one at my talk and people gasped nearby. It won’t kill the plant by sawing it into sections.  

Mayen Island Seedy Saturday- How to Divide Perennials

Hosta emerging in spring

It’s very important to prepare new planting holes before you begin to divide your plants. If you do not have room, place your divisions into containers as a temporary home or use them to create a perennial container. Don’t be one of those gardeners wandering around the yard with a plant in hand trying to find a suitable planting spot. Yes, we all do that. 

Once the plant is out of the ground  carefully pry away any soil that is attached. Watch for weeds as this is the time to get them out. The last thing you want is to move weeds to another part of the garden. I try to remove as much soil as possible. It makes it easier to see where you will be dividing the plant. You can always wash the soil off the roots before replanting.

Let’s take a look at the different root systems:

Spreading root systems are found on plants such as Lambs Ear or Stachys and are easy to divide. Some can be invasive if not divided regularly. With these you need to dig up a clump and replant. What happens with this plant is it tends to die out in the center. You need to replant the outer sections and discard the centre part. 

Clumping roots like Hostas have to be cut in quarters and be replanted. Plants like Astilbe, Daylily, Hostas and ornamental grasses fall into this group. Often you need to cut through the crown on the fleshy roots and between the roots and stems to divide the plant. If the plant is hard to divide, use two pitchforks on either side to separate. Keep at least one developing bud with each division. 

Rhizome division-These are plants that grow horizontally at or above soil level. Irises fall into this category and are usually divided in August. My Iris have open centers and most of the flowers originate from around the outer edges. This tells me its time to lift and divide them.

Mayne Island Seedy saturday- How to Divide Perennials

Tuberous roots- Dahlias are a tuberous plant and are cut apart with a sharp knife making sure you have a piece of stem and an eye or growth bud on the division. During my talk I used the Dahlia ‘Alpen Cherub’ above to be divided.

Tough Plants-How many of you have had a plant so tough you dropped it on the ground hoping it would break apart? That’s when I use a saw or knife to cut through the plant. I think my pruning saw is used more for dividing than for pruning. 

Some plants are best not divided.  Butterfly weed, Euphorbia, poppies, baby’s breath, Japanese anemones, Baptista, Helleborus, Columbines, woody shrubs like Santolina, Baby’s Breath, Lavender, Rosemary and Artemisia fall into this group. These are best left for cuttings or root layering. Some will self sow and produce new plants. 

So take a look at your garden. You should see signs of new growth very soon. Take note as to which plants should be divided. If you don’t have room for them, donate them to friends or to plant sales.

Transplanting the Raspberry Canes

Transplanting the raspberry canes

Farmer Jim and I have been discussing needed changes to the garden. We are battling horsetail in one corner of what was a flower garden. Last fall Farmer Jim took down the flowering quince. I hated to see it go but it had some fire blight which is a horrible fungal disease. After the flowers finished blooming, they would dry up and many of the leaves would turn brown leaving ugly dead branches. Of course, because it suckers I have around six new quince to find homes for. I will pot them up in containers for this year and watch to see if they have fire blight symptoms. If they do they will be discarded.

Transplanting the Raspberry canes

This area is a mess now with containers all spending the winter on a deck. The wind has blown some containers over and its time to get them cleaned up. The deck itself needs repainting. We need to make better use of this space. I think the plants in the front area will be dug up. Landscape fabric will go down and then two new raised beds will be built on top of the fabric. I still want a rounded edge to this garden as it’s the walkway along the water.  Yes, it would be easier to have lawn here and mow the  horsetail to death. That won’t happen as we have too much lawn already.  So a new garden project has begun.  Somehow when we moved a plant to this area a piece of raspberry cane came with it. It then became a mix of tulips, bluebells, quince, raspberry and horsetail.

Transplanting the Raspberry canes

Yes, we will build some more raised beds for this area. You see it gets full sun unlike the gardens near the house. It will be a wonderful place for a fruit garden. I love my jam. Now that I look at the raspberry photo from last summer I see Sedum angelina that will have to come out as well.

So this morning I went out to dig up the raspberry canes. The soil is heavy clay so it wasn’t long before my boots were clumped with soil. I had to take advantage of a sunny day and get the plants out of the ground.

Transplanting the Raspberry canes

I ended up with a pile of canes. I know there are some broken roots left in the ground and I will get them later. I took the raspberry canes and hosed the roots off. There was no way I was chancing any horsetail moving with them. It doesn’t hurt to remove the soil off of plant roots.

Transplanting the Raspberry Canes

I was able to see tiny eyes of new growth starting near the crown of the plants. The white part on the photo above is new growth near the roots. Some roots were damaged by the shovel but they will be fine. I haven’t lost a cane yet. They are tough plants.

Transplanting the Raspberry canes

The important part is preparing the new planting area so its ready to receive your plants. The raised beds in the kitchen garden all have new soil in them. I took the canes, cut off the old growth and was able to plant most of them in the raised bed above. It’s important to remember that the canes that produced fruit last year will not produce this year. The older canes I dug up had a grey hollow stem so it was easy to distinguish them from the new canes and know which stems to cut back. The new canes were produced last year and you can see new buds forming along the stems. This pruning is done on summer bearing raspberries. I will do some tip pruning next month when the plants have settled into their new home.

Farmer Jim has installed a post and trellis system to train them on. I am still waiting for the clothesline to be strung from end to end.  In the mean time I am using baling twine from the barn. Its strong and will work for now. Above are the canes I planted last year. I only had a few berries from them but hope to have a better harvest this summer.

Transplanting the Raspberry canes

The raspberry canes are planted in their new home. It was a good thing I planted them as it has rained ever since. Tiny green shoots are appearing at the soil level from new growth just beginning from the original plants. These raspberries plants are the ‘Tulameen’ variety which have large sweet berries and are good producers. They continue to bear fruit for weeks.

Blooms on a Rainy Day

Rain, rain go away, this gardener wants to play. Its day three of rain and I am getting stir crazy. I need to get outside but the lawn is as slick as can be with mud. Moats are forming around the gardens. I decided enough is enough, I wanted to see what was up in the greenhouse. At least there it was dry. A quick look and I saw my Impatiens have started to germinate. Yes! They are a slow growing plant and take a couple of weeks to germinate.

I stepped outside to the downpour again. Do I take a look around and risk life and limb in the garden? Well, that’s exaggerating but you know what I mean. No slips for this gal. I need to be in good shape for the garden season.

Blooms on a Rainy Day

By the tool shed the winter Jasmine is still blooming. I will prune it back after its finished blooming. If you look closely you can see the rain drops in the water behind the fence.

Blooms on a Rainy Day

I knew the Helleborus were in bud and I thought I could see blooms from the house. I had to venture in the muck we call lawn and moss. I have several plants from my mom’s previous garden. White blooms are starting to open on this Hellebore with lots of buds to come.

Blooms on a Rainy Day

This one has the darkest flowers of my collection of Helleborus. Its unnamed at the moment. Mom would buy them if she liked the colour. She never kept track of their names.

Blooms on a Rainy day

A pale pink Hellebore is in bud under the oak tree. The garden is a mess of leaves and I am glad I pulled some leaves away from the Hellebores last week. So far one garden bed has been raked and the leaves have been used to mulch along our waterway.

Blooms on a Rainy day

This Primula was a surprise. It should open as soon as the sun returns. What is remarkable is the leaves. No slug bites, not yet. The slugs and snails love this plant. Spring is close now. I saw the first wasp and house fly and Farmer Jim is smelling skunk along our road. Yes, February is mating time for skunks. Let it be in someones yard, not ours, please. Do you have flowers blooming?

Growing From Seed for Your Kitchen Garden

Growing from Seed for Your Kitchen garden

I am working on a class in early March and participants will be planting up a salad container to take home. There is nothing better than being able to harvest fresh salad greens in spring for use in the kitchen.

Growing From Seed for Your Kitchen Garden

Many gardeners in this community live in condos and townhouses so I decided to plan something that will do double duty in their gardens. When you have limited space you want all your containers to look great. I want my container plantings to be not only edible but pretty. When you are gardening in a small space you want that wow factor. You want a container that embodies the three basics, thriller, filler and spiller.

So this week I am in the greenhouse planting seeds. The thriller for my container planting will be Swiss chard ‘Neon Glow’. I had some swiss chard seeds that have either yellow or red stalks. I will use the swiss chard as the center or back plant depending on where the container will be located. If the container is seen from all sides, it will become the center plant. If a container is up against a wall the swiss chard will go towards the back of the container.

Growing From Seed for Your Kitchen Garden

I planted twenty six-packs of seeds up for the class as I have space for that many gardeners. In one section I have swiss chard planted as we only need one plant for each person.

Growing From Seed For Your Kitchen Garden

In the other sections I planted red and green lettuce, spinach and a salad mix. These plants will be the filler in the container. I have used the salad mix before and had lovely chervil  and arugula from it. What I love about the salad mix is you can cut it and it keeps coming back. You don’t have to harvest the whole plant, just snip a few leaves off when needed.  Wasn’t I surprised to see my seeds germinating in the greenhouse. Tiny salad greens starting to grow in just four days!

Growing From Seed for Your Kitchen Garden

To go with the salad greens and swiss chard I will need a spiller plant. Above I planted ‘Tom Thumb’ peas. They are a shorter variety of peas suitable for containers and will cascade over the side. They only grow to about 9″ high. Peas are another early cool season vegetable and can be started outside as soon as any chance of frost has passed.

You are probably wondering why I am planting seeds in January. It can take up to six weeks for plants to grow and seeds germinate at different times. I want the plants to be nice and fresh and full for my class. Yes, I could have gone to the garden center and bought them in March but that isn’t fun. This way I get to decide what to grow. Another reason to start now is we had a very warm May last year. It caused several of our cool season crops like lettuce to bolt and go to seed. I hope to enjoy salad greens earlier this year.

Are you interested in learning how to grow plants for your kitchen garden? I am giving a class at the Harris Barn in Ladner on March 8 from 6:00pm-7:00pm. Here is the link to register. Click on gardening for a list of garden classes.  Growing From Seed for Your Kitchen Garden

Crocuses and Seedlings are Up!

Crocuses and Seedlings are up!

It doesn’t take much to get me excited in the garden. Seeing colour showing on the Crocuses above made my day. I decided to spend a few minutes pulling back mulch from the front garden. You see my front garden is planted with hundreds of spring bulbs. Guess what? They are all coming up. The front garden is heavily treed so it gets a huge amount of shade in the summer. Since the trees are leafless in early spring it makes it a wonderful area to plant spring bulbs.

Crocuses and Seedlings are up!

I wanted to pull back the six-inch deep pile of leaves covering some of the smaller bulbs. After all, I do want to see them bloom. The Primula will be setting buds and getting ready to bloom. Above is a photo from last spring. The leaves of Primula are a bit ragged looking but warmer temperatures will fix that. I can’t wait for them to bloom.

Crocuses and Seedling are up!

The smaller bulbs like Crocuses and miniature Daffodils need the same uncovering. As I pulled away the mulch I could see the stems looking a bit yellow-green instead of  dark green. Buds are forming on the Narcissus. They usually bloom next month so it looks like they are on time.

Crocuses and Seedlings Are Up!

I have placed some of the leaves out for curbside pickup but most were moved into the center of the garden under large Rhododendrons.  I am hoping they act as a mulch so the soil will stay cool and retain moisture over the summer months. Hubby says the leaves will dry up and blow away so we will have to figure something out. Right now we are not agreeing on how the garden should look. He loves the tidy look, me not so much. I know how valuable the leaves will be in the heat of summer.

Crocuses and Seedlings are up!

Do I rake and bag the leaves off the flower garden and save them for later? It seems like double duty to me. If I don’t save them it will mean ordering new mulch and spending money that could go to other things, like new plants. Farmer Jim did mow most of the leaves that were on the grass but there are not enough to effectively cover our whole garden. Leaves that fell on the flower gardens last fall are still there. We have six large bags of shredded leaves to place on the gardens. They may end up on the gardens getting more sun such as the raised beds in the kitchen garden.

Crocuses and Seedlings are up!

Last month I told you about my new growing experiment with winter sowing. I am excited to see germination of spinach, Chrysanthemum and Dianthus. You can read more about my winter sowing project here at Lets Sow Seeds in Winter.  Its been 27 days since I planted the seeds. As temperatures have warmed the seeds have germinated. Each week as I finish a jug of milk I plant another one up. So far I have about ten milk jugs planted with cold tolerant crops.

Crocuses and Seedlings Are Up!

Well its time for a walk in the garden. We are planning on moving all our raspberry canes and Irises. I am not sure where they will go yet so I have to do a bit more redesigning in the garden. We have more raspberry canes than we need so I may have to share some. We grow Tulameen raspberries and they are heavy producers. There is nothing better than fresh berries from the garden.

Crocuses and Seedlings are up!

As for the Irises, it’s not really the time to dig and divide but they need to come up. They are one of my favourites flowers in the garden. Unfortunately  they are next to the greenhouse and I now need the space for a potting bench or two.

 

 

Planting Seeds with Children

Planting Seeds With Children

Planting seeds is easy and an economical way to grow plants. Seeds generally cost a few dollars but a package can contain many seeds allowing you to grow more plants than you will need. Check the front of the seed packages to see how many seeds you are buying. Packages can range from ten seeds to two thousand. 

Planting Seeds With Children

When starting to grow seeds for the first time, choose larger seeds that are easy to grow. If you are working with children and growing plants for a plant sale, you should choose seeds that are easy to handle like nasturtiums or peas and beans.

Planting Seeds With Children

Growing seeds and holding a plant sale is a fun activity for children.They get to watch the seeds grow and learn along the way. At the plant sale they can help to count the money as plants are purchased. This helps them with their math and people skills as well.

Planting Seeds With Children

To get started with your fundraising plan, have all your supplies ready to go. You will need to use plant pots, soil, labels and seeds.You can have the children make labels ahead of time from recycled plastic or use popsicle sticks commonly found in craft stores. Be sure to label each plant pot as you go as its easy to forget which plants are being sown. Try to do your planting outside so the mess can be controlled. Set up all your supplies and start planting. You can use either plastic pots or peat pots. Plastic pots can be washed out and used year after year. Peat pots can be planted directly in the ground which makes transplanting your new seedlings easier.

Planting Seeds With Children

Place  soil or seed starting mix in your containers and fill to the top. Water the soil well before planting your seeds. This helps the soil settle and removes any air pockets in the soil.

Planting Seeds with Children

Plant the seeds according to the seed package instructions. Note if the seed needs light or darkness to germinate. It should say on the package. You only need to plant one to two seeds per pot. Tiny seeds are planted on the top of the soil and pressed down slightly to make contact. Larger seeds can be planted in a depression and then covered with soil. When planting seeds with children expect some to go astray. They may end up planted at the side of a pot but the plant will be fine. 

Planting Seeds With Children

Place your planted seed pots on a tray that will hold water. I like to use what is called a no-hole plant flat as it will hold up to 15 four-inch pots comfortably. The tray below acts as a reservoir for your plants. A couple of days after planting your seeds, check the soil by feeling it with a finger or lift a pot to feel the weight. If it feels heavy, it doesn’t need watering. If the soil looks and feels dry, add water to the tray below. The soil will wick water up and take it to the seeds. You will need to place your seeds in an area that gets good light such as a south-facing window. In a few days to a week you should see signs of growth on your plants. This is a good time for children to record what they see in a journal. That way they will see how a plant develops. 

Planting Seeds With Children

Once your plants are large enough and the temperatures are warm, they can start their move outside. If you plan on selling your plants at a plant sale, be sure to harden them off beforehand. Hardening off means gradually moving them outside a bit at a time, one hour the first day and increasing the time each day. This is very important to your plants. Its like going outside without a coat on and they need to get used to the change in temperature. If you decided to plant them in your garden, be sure to choose a location with the proper light requirements. You may have to refer back to the seed package for this information.  Now that your plants are ready for outside its time to enjoy them. 

Are You Ready for a Seed Swap?

 

Are You Ready for a Seed Swap?

Today was a rainy one so it became a good day to pack up some seeds. As plants finished last year I collected seed and let them dry. It was time to look in the bin to see what I had to share. Not only do I collect seed, I buy my fair share wouldn’t you say? It’s an addiction. I can’t resist and don’t want to try. Seeds are so amazing! It’s hard to believe something so tiny can feed us all.

Are You Ready for a Seed Swap?

Ladner Seedy Saturday is next month and I want to have some seeds to trade at their seed swap. Have you been to a seed swap before? Many people haven’t. It’s just what it says, a swap where people bring seeds to trade with each other.

Are You Ready for a Seed Swap?

So this afternoon I sat inside and packed some Marigold seeds into coin envelopes. Coin envelopes are the perfect size for seeds. They are about 2″ by 3″ so there is room to write the name of your plant on the front along with some growing details. It’s important to bring your seeds packaged to a seed swap. Its easier for all.

Are You Ready for a Seed Swap?

The Ladner Seedy Saturday & Garden Expo 2016 is being held on February 20 this year. I can’t wait to trade some of my collected seeds at the seed swap. I know its important to package them in small quantities so I placed about 60 seeds in each package. Last year the seed swap was very busy. You need to drop your seeds off at the seed swap between 10:00am and 10:30am so the volunteers can get them organized. You get a ticket for each package of seed that you bring in. The seed swap opens at 10:30am and you can use your tickets to get seeds. It’s so much fun to see what everyone brings to trade.

Are You Ready for a Seed Swap?

If you have seeds for a vegetable, flower or herb that you didn’t like, now is the time to tape it shut or repackage them. Everyone likes different plants for their garden so trading makes it fun ad you go home with something you like.

Are You Ready for a Seed Swap?

The Ladner Seedy Saturday & Garden Expo is being held at Harris Barn, 4140 Arthur drive in Delta, British Columbia. For more information on the event check out the Ladner Community Garden site.