Archive for annaDunvegan

Poinsettias

Nothing speaks Christmas like a Poinsettia.  Here at Dunvegan we have double and single blooms with their dark red flower bracts to the white and pink varieties.   All are beautiful!

In the north, make sure your Poinsettia is wrapped before you take it out of the store, they do not like cold or hot drafts. If the flowers get cold or frozen at all, the leaves will start dropping off.  Upon getting your Poinsettia home, unwrap it and place it in a sunny or bright window, making sure it will not get a cold draft by being too close to the window and not over a heat vent. Place the plant out of pets, they are mildly toxic to cats and dogs. They will last the best if the temperature is between 18- 22 degrees.

Water the plant only when it is dry to the touch and discard any excess water after 10 minutes.  Healthy Poinsettias will last well through the holiday season. If you want to winter it over for next year, here is what you do:

  • December     Full bloom. Water as needed.
  • April               Color fades. Keep near a sunny window and fertilize when new growth appears. Cut back stems to about 20 cm.
  • June 1            Repot if necessary. Fertilize with a balanced formula  20-20-20. Continue to water when dry to touch. Move outside if temperatures do not fall below 10°C. Place in light shade.
  • Late August   Take inside. Cut stems back, leaving three or four leaves per shoot. Sunny window. Water and fertilize as needed.
  • Sept 20 -Dec 1  Keep in light only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Put into the dark (NO LIGHTS) 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.

To Ensure Success you have to follow the light/dark instructions carefully.

Live Christmas Trees!

      

Oh the Smell of Christmas!  Nothing says it more than a real Christmas Tree.

Here at Dunvegan Gardens, we have some of the loveliest Christmas Trees in the area and one of the best reasons to check out our trees is that our trees are some of the freshest. A freshly cut tree will last much longer than one that has been cut weeks ago and sold at most retailers around town.

Spruce, Pine and Fir are the usual choices for a Christmas Tree and our selection is amazing! Spruce trees tend to drop their needles first and fir trees last.

You do not want brown or dead needles on your tree, stroke a branch or shake the tree and ensure the needles are not falling off already.  Bend a needle and if it does not break and forms a “U” the tree should not be too dry.

Be prepared: trees standing outside do not necessarily look “big” until you bring them into the house. Make sure you have ample space prepared to place your real tree.

A tree that has been cut for more than 8 hours should have a ½-1” cut off the bottom again before you place it into the stand with water.  The reason being that trees that are cut and left open to the air block off the tree cells on the trunk bottom so the water uptake could be inhibited.

Place your tree into a stand with a large water reservoir with some “Keep It Green” (available in store), real trees like to drink water, possibly up to 4 liters of water per day and keep them away from heat sources.

Be sure to recycle or compost your tree after Christmas and for the fastest and easiest cleanup be sure to grab one of our Tree Bags.

Come and make some new memories with us at Dunvegan Gardens this Christmas!

Orchids

Once a hobby only for the rich, Orchids have become one of the most beloved plants for indoor and outdoor use around the world and the rule is: once you get one Orchid, you will become hooked and need more!

With over 30,000 species being identified, Orchids are a very diverse family. Orchids can be as small as a thimble or they can grow to over 20 feet tall in some instances. Flower sizes can range from mosquito-sized blooms to the size of a common dinner plate. Colorful and often fragrant, Orchids are thought to be a tropical plant.

Orchids can be grown indoors and are Perennial in nature, Orchids will rebloom – usually with a little bit of help. Orchids can bloom once a year, biannually or even continuously.

Orchids like light and after over watering, being too hot or in a wrong light location is usually a cause for killing off orchids. Place Orchids near a window but not in the window, they love light but not directly.

If your Orchid has wrinkly or leathery leaves, it is probably being overwatered. Orchids need a special type of soil, one that is fast draining but also water retensive.  Here are Dunvegan we have several varieties of already potted Orchids. Orchid seeds grow slowly and it can take 2 years or in some cases 7-10 years for a plant to bloom; this often is why certain species are more expensive.

If your Orchid has stopped blooming, it is not dead, it is taking a much needed rest. Place the orchid in a cooler part of the house 55-60 degrees is ideal and feed it 20-20-20 every other week until it starts to grown again.

Come check out our blooming selection of Orchids, feel free to ask us questions on how to care for them and ask us about ice cube watering for Orchids.

 

 

A Healthier Family Home & Indoor Plants

 

It has been reported that people spend at least 90% of their time indoors, in the north it could even be higher in our cold winter season.

That is a lot of time to be inside whether it is inside your home or inside a work or school environment. The air in these environments can be laden with toxins from the furnishings, the carpets, cleaning products, furnace ducts, pollens, bacteria and molds. Scientists say that indoor air can be worse for you than outdoor air.

What can you do to make your surroundings for you and your family healthier?

Here at Dunvegan we have always known what to do, and it seems NASA has done extensive studies on improving our indoor environments and their answer is cheap and easy.  Houseplants.

Adding potted plants to a room can introduce more oxygen because plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and plants also filter out those harmful toxins.

Do not worry if the plant does not come in a “cute” container, you can easily put the container inside another “trendy” one or simply transplant the plant into a new container. Houseplants can add texture, color and warmth to any indoor space.

There are so many varieties of indoor plants and we at Dunvegan have a huge selection. Each plant will have a tag that tells you how it likes to be treated. For example: some need a bright light so place “near” a window not beside so it will not get cold from the glass. Some need to be watered frequently and others not so much.

Here is a list of some of our favorite houseplants that are easy to grow and take care of.

  • NASA rated the Garden Mum as the air purifying champion.
  • Spider Plant – is a really easy plant to grow so it is excellent for those beginner gardeners and those of us who forget they have plants.
  • Snake Plant – is an easy care tropical plant that is hard to kill. Water occasionally and it likes some sun.
  • Rubber Plant – thick, glossy oversized leaves adorn this tropical plant.
  • Ferns – love low light and humid environments.
  • Bamboo Palm – is a great pet-friendly plant that loves the sun and is a huge formaldehyde filterer.
  • Aloe Vera – is a really easy plant to take care of and it will take care of you. The thick juice packed leaves can be broken off and rubbed on skin ailments, rashes and burns.

Have Pets? Come in and look over our Pet-Friendly Houseplant list. If you need more help getting your indoor space healthier – ask us, we will be happy to help.

 

 

Fall Leaves

 

After this past week with incredible temperatures hopefully you got the last of your gardening done, but you might be asking yourself: What do I do with these tree leaves all over the ground?

Great question and here at Dunvegan we have a few options:

  • Use the lawnmower and go over them, it chops them into finer, smaller pieces and as the leaves decompose they release nitrogen for the lawn. Lawn food. You must chop them into finer pieces because left whole the leaves are too heavy and they could smother your lawn.
  • You could leave them whole and use them as mulch over other plants. Ideal for covering and giving a layer of protection to strawberries, raspberry or blueberry roots or a covering for perennials.
  • Compost them. If you mix the leaves and the grass cuttings those 2 things will produce a fine mulch to add to the garden next spring.  Just layer the 2 – use approximately 3-4 inches of leaves and then a layer of grass clippings then leaves, then grass – you get the idea.
  • Add them to the soil – dig some leaves into your soil – it will give it a boost and provide great living conditions for earthworms.

If you have no leaves go check out the neighbours yard, I’m quite sure they will share with you!

Pumpkins

Our Dunvegan Gardens Pumpkin Festival is October 6 and this month we celebrate Pumpkins.

We will have 3 contests at our Festival:  Best Pie, Best Carving, Biggest Pumpkin

There is so much you can do with pumpkins, they truly are a nutritious food to add to soups, stews, casseroles and of course muffins, pie and cookies. You can freeze pumpkin to use at a later date as well.

Growing pumpkins is relatively easy in the north, we recommend getting a small plant already started from our nursery in the spring. There are so many types and kinds of pumpkins, from the sweet pie pumpkins to the huge and massive. The current world record holder is 1,000 kilograms.

Pick a sunny patch with rich deep soil, that is not too soggy, they like moist roots, and not too dry. Pumpkins take a lot of nutrients from the ground so be sure to add some mature compost or manure to the soil.

Give your plants a lot of room to grow, not just a bit –  a lot of room, pumpkin plants grow with large leaves, prickly stems and grow long vines.

You do not need a cross-pollinator with pumpkins because the plants actually produce male and female flowers on the same plant. You do need bees to pollinate between the flowers, the female flowers are the ones that produce the fruit. If your plant is not producing you may need to pollinate it by hand with a small paintbrush.

How do you know if the pumpkins are ready to pick?

  • Listen for a hollow thump when you tap it, much like a watermelon
  • Make sure the vine has died down and turned brown
  • Pumpkin skin should be hard like a shell
  • Cut off the stem with a sharp knife or a pair of pruners

Pumpkins that are green will turn orange with warmth and sunshine even after they are picked.

To cook a pumpkin:  put a couple of knife slices (like poking a baked potato) into the sides of the whole pumpkin, a really important step so they do not blow up in your oven. Place onto a cookie sheet and put into a 250 oven for 2-3 hours, or until it is soft with a fork or knife poke. If the pumpkins are too high you can snap off the woody stem at the top as you will not need it.

Once baked, cut them in half and let them cool, then scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. Some people will keep the seeds and roast them to eat, then with a spoon, scrape the “meat” away from the skin, this is the part you use for baking and cooking or freeze it to use throughout the winter.

 

 

Fall Clean Up

The first icy blast of winter has descended upon us this month and it came quickly so hopefully you got your ground vegetables out but if not, do not fret you still have some time and in fact some vegetables need a snap of cold to mature and sweeten. Freezing temperatures cause some of the starch in the vegetables to turn into sugar thus producing a sweeter tasting vegetable.

The following vegetables will do well in the ground even after the tops die off from the cold. Potatoes, carrots, beets, turnip, rutabagas and parsnips will be fine in the ground for 2-3 weeks after the tops die off as long as the ground is not too wet or frozen. Do not leave them too long or you can find mushy, squishy vegetables instead of nice crisp and sweet ones.

Onions should have been taken out of the ground by now as they do not do well in the cold.

For the rest of the garden and flower bed areas, adding in some of our rich bagged compost or manure and mixing to about 6” is a great idea so you can just plant in the spring and not have to worry about adding nutrients.

Get rid of the container plants and flowers before the snow comes. Pull out the plants and ensure you get all the roots, some dirt can stay in your container as long as it will remain dry, if not empty all your containers and put the pots away for the winter and add your plants to your compost.

You may want to start storing away all your shovels and rakes, do some maintenance on your lawn mower and store them away for the winter.

Fall Bulbs for Spring Color

Do you love those fresh and colorful spring flowers? Tulips, Crocuses, Snowdrops, Alliums, Scillas, Daffodils or Narcissus

Daffodils need extra mulching and protection for our harsh winter climates but are very doable bulbs to grow in the Peace Country.

Early to late September is the perfect time to get those spring (early May color) bulbs into the ground before the ground gets frozen.  Bulbs need time to take in nutrients and sprout good root growth and get themselves established before freeze-up. If you want to plant bulbs into October, remember to place them a couple of inches deeper than indicated to protect them.

One of the hardest jobs is to decide which bulbs to plant, tulips and daffodils have an abundant selection to choose from.

Harsh winters do take a toll on some bulbs (as do squirrels or rabbits) so we recommend – plant more not less.  To make a Spring WOW statement, plant bulbs in groups, placing them with other bulbs or in between your perennials, herbs, strawberries, hostas, bulbs bloom first so they will not hinder the growth of other later blooming plants. Bulbs usually come back each year so you only have to plant them once (if it is a harsh winter or they get thawed and frozen a couple times because of the weather they might not come back).  If you do not like the location or grouping, you can always move bulbs around.

To plant bulbs – pick a sunny spot in your garden, dig down 6-8” and place your bulb in with the sharp end up, throw in a bit of Myke or a bit of bone meal and cover them up. Water well – bulbs covered in ice for the winter will preserve the best.

Then wait for Spring – planting bulbs is easy!  Need more info, please come in and talk to us here at Dunvegan, we love to talk gardens!

 

Herb Garden

    

Your gardens is in peak harvest time, the beets, peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and so many more wonderful veggies are in their prime and ready for picking, cooking and getting ready to store for the winter.

Herbs in the garden are ready to be taken in and dried for storing, or they can be chopped up or even bagged as is and simply thrown into the freezer to use throughout the winter. Elaine likes to pop herbs into ice cube trays with water and then just drop them into soups or stews. Dill, fennel, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano,  and mint – all can be dried or frozen.

Why not plant a herb garden for indoors for use in the winter?  Here at Dunvegan we have herbs ready to plant inside or you can transplant some of your outside herbs into pots. Our recommendations for an indoor herb garden: Lavender, Parsley, Mint, Thyme, Basil, Rosemary, Chives, Fennel.

Things to remember as you plant your herbs.

  • Light – herbs like a bright light environment. They really thrive well on 6-8 hours of direct sunlight on them. Did you know that herbs grown in the brighter light will actually have more flavour. If you do not have a bright area, we have CFL bulbs here at Dunvegan that will give your herbs the light they need. Parsley, Mint and Chives can grow well in less bright conditions.
  • Temperature – between 60-70 degrees is the ideal temperature for your indoor herbs.
  • Pots – choose the right pot for the herb and environment. Ceramic pots hold the moisture and would be best for a dry climate rather than clay pots. Containers must have good drainage and holes in the bottom of the container are a must. Be sure to place a saucer or drip tray under the plant. Basil has long roots and thus a long, tall pot would be best. Repurpose containers and mason jars into planters for your herbs.
  • One Herb = One Pot. Grow each herb separately.
  • Soil – never use soil from your garden, be sure to pick up a bag of potting soil, one with a good ratio of peat, perlite and sand. Our Dunvegan potting soil is an excellent choice.
  • Water – try to have a regular schedule for watering. 2-3 times per week should be sufficient for the herbs.
  • Fertilizer – during the winter, slow growing months, a once a month treatment of fertilizer is ideal. Use our Miracle Gro General Purpose fertilizer to help maintain strong and healthy plants.

Get a good start on your indoor herb gardens now and get those plants off to a great start outdoors before you bring them in for the winter.  Have fun and keep gardening!

 

 

Apples

There is nothing more satisfying than going out to the yard, heading to the apple tree, standing there and spotting the best looking one, reaching out and picking it and then taking a bit bite of a fresh, juicy delicious apple.

August is the beginning of Apple month.  Crabapples should be getting to their peak and the other apple trees should be loaded and if not ready, almost.

 

Tis the season for apple jelly, apple juice, applesauce,  apple pie, apple crisp and even apple cake.

Apple trees are easy to grow and here at Dunvegan we have many varieties to choose from that do well in our cold winters.

Remember to pick up Mykes Tree and Shrub here at Dunvegan to get the 5 year tree warranty when planting your apple or any tress.

Gladiator crabapple  –  a highly ornamental tree as well as a great producer of crabapples. The spring produces bright pink flowers, followed by reddish-purple fruit and the leaves of the tree are bronze-purple leaves.  A beautiful tree to add colour and fruit to your yard.

Purple Spire Columnar Crabapple  – a great compact hardy disease resistant crabapple that has purple-green foliage that turns more purple in the fall, has pink flowers in the spring and produce a purple crabapple.

Goodland apple – is a hardy tree for Zone 3, it can be grown in Zone 2 but might need some protection or prune off any frost damage the following spring.  It will start bearing fruit at a young stage. It produces a moderately sweet green apple with a red blush. These apples will keep for you for 20 weeks in a cool room.

Haralson apple –  a hardy tree producing a red apple, great for baking, eating and cider with a mildly tart flavour.

Honeycrisp apple – pinkish white flowers with a red apple that is great for eating and cooking.

Multi-Variety apple trees – these trees have been grafted to have a few varieties of apples on the same tree.

Norland apple – a very hardy semi-dwarf tree with red/green apples, a dependable fruit producing tree.

Zestar apple – a crisp juicy sweet/tart flavoured red apple.

 

Family Favorite Apple Crisp:

4 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples

¼ cup flour, ½ cup white sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg – mix together and sprinkle over apples, stir together. Put into a greased baking dish.

Combine together:

1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 cup oats,  1 tsp cinnamon, stir in ½ cup melted butter or margarine and stir together, place on top of apples.

Bake in a 350 oven for 45-50 minutes.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipping cream.

Enjoy!