Archive for May 16, 2018

Growing Tomatoes




How do you chose what kind of tomatoes to grow – there are so many?

That is where Dunvegan Gardens can help. We know it can be overwhelming when you start looking at all the varieties. Here at Dunvegan we strive to have quality plants for our growing zone, plants that can handle our up and down climate and winds.

A couple of questions could help you decide what kind of tomato to grow.

  • Are you growing tomatoes to eat fresh or for canning?
  • Do you have a greenhouse or planting straight into the ground?
  • Do you want juicy or beefy tomatoes?

Tomatoes or fresh eating have size variances from the mini cherry to the large Beefsteak, Bush Beefsteak, Bush Early Girl, Better Bush. One of the most popular varieties is the Super Fantastic and a hardy tomato equally as popular is the Manitoba. Get a few varieties to try and be sure to check out our yellow tomatoes as well.

For canning tomatoes and those pasta sauces, look for a meatier tomato with less juice like the Roma or the Little Napoli – a large type Roma.

Because our growing season is short in the Peace Country we recommend buying a good healthy plant, not starting from seed. Look for plants already in flower or with small green tomatoes already starting to grow. We have hundreds of amazing plants growing in our greenhouses ready for your garden or try one of our hanging tomato baskets.

You will have to brace, stake, trellis or cage your tomato plants as they tend to be top heavy and fall over, damaging the plant.

Look for a sunny spot to plant your tomatoes, they really love the heat and need 6-8 hours of heat per day to get flavorful. If planting in a greenhouse, they will flourish with the warmth. Watch out for those cold nights because tomatoes do not like to get cold – remember to cover them should the temperatures drop.

Plant the plants 2-3 feet apart or grow in containers that are at least 18” in diameter.

Because of our strong winds, we recommend that you plant at least 2/3 of the stem of the tomato plant in the ground to get a good strong plant. The deeper roots will also help the plant to find water should we have a dry summer.

Check your plant regularly for pests – green caterpillars or hornworms, can strip a plant quickly. Deal quickly with pests. Watch your plants for fungus, or dark spots on the leaves, remove those leaves.

Remember to feed your tomato with Miracle Gro Tomato Food, add the Miracle Gro Tomato Food to every second watering.

You can then sit back and reap in your harvest as the tomatoes turn from green to yellowish- pink to red. You can pick tomatoes and start using them at the yellowish-pink stage. Store your tomatoes at room temperature, not in the fridge as they will be more flavourful.

Extra tomatoes can be canned, frozen or dried.

Hanging Baskets

May is famous for two things: Mother’s Day and the time to put out our Hanging Baskets.

In Northern Alberta we have to be wise in putting out our baskets – whenever the temperature might fall close to freezing or if a cold northern wind blows in, we need to bring our baskets inside for the night or a day or two.

How to choose a Hanging Basket: 2 options – pre-made and make your own.

If you want a pre-made basket, here at Dunvegan we have thousands to choose from. For flower baskets, one of the first things to decide is colors. Are you aiming for a harmonious look? That would be a look with several shades of the same color. Example: a basket of several different pink flowers would be considered harmonious.

A contrast color theme would be where opposite colors are planted in the same basket. Example: purple and yellow flowers.

If you want to get creative on planting your own basket, consider checking a color wheel on the internet and looking at what colors are opposite each other – those are known as complementary colors. Artists use this in paintings and it can also be used in flower arranging and basket making.

Next decide on how big a basket you want. The bigger the basket the more volume of soil and that is better for your plants, if you are into math, a 14” pot has almost half as much soil more than a 12” pot. If you are planting your own basket, the general rule of thumb is one plant for every 2-3 inches of diameter of the basket. This would mean a 12” pot would require 4-6 plants.

Soil is the next factor in making your own basket. You need a soil that is suitable for drainage and not dense so that the plant roots can make their way through it. At Dunvegan we recommend our own bagged Dunvegan Soil for this.

Now that you have your hanging baskets picked out or made up, maintenance is the next step.
We cannot emphasize it enough – water, water, water. More hanging baskets are killed by failing to water than anything else. Realize that on a hot day, baskets take more water; on a windy day, the soil dries out and baskets take more water, you often have to water at least 2 times per day.

Fertilize your baskets. Our favorite is Miracle Grow All Purpose 24-8-16 an excellent choice for your hanging baskets. We also like Miracle Grow Ultra Bloom as well. Fertilizing should be done on moist soil and every 2nd watering to ensure your baskets bloom until fall.

Sometimes by July your basket might look a little straggly, when that happens pinch off the straggly stems or give your plant a haircut. Pruning can liven that basket back up. For blooms that are finished and wilted, be sure to pinch them off of the plant – this helps the plant to create new blooms and to look fuller longer.

Feel free to stroll through our back greenhouses and look at our thousands of hanging baskets or come pick your own flowers to make your own.