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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!

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.

Helpful Tips To Keep Mosquitoes At Bay

Sitting outside in the evening can be so refreshing, until the mosquitoes find you, then the sound of slapping and cursing can often be heard in the cool night air.  Is there anything we can do to naturally to repel them? It has been reported than the pioneers used to rub skunk urine on themselves or wear spruce boughs around their necks.  Besides spraying down, here at Dunvegan we have a couple other options.

The first thing to do is to prevent any water from sitting around your yard, mosquito larva is found in water. Getting rid of any standing water is the first prevention to mosquito control. Treating those standing pools, like a pond with lavicide is the next option. Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) – a naturally occurring bacteria is used as a larvicide in ponds and other areas where mosquitoes are breeding. The larvae die when they feed on it in the water. It is not harmful to animals, birds and most other insects.

Having flowers, shrubs and trees that attract birds is another excellent way to control mosquitos because some birds eat mosquitoes. Purple Martins, Barn Swallows, Robins, Chickadees and Woodpeckers like to feast on these annoying pests. We have a wide selection of trees and shrubs ready to plant to attract our feathered friends.

Dragonflies eat their fair share of mosquitoes often up to 100 per day, the plant Black-eyed Susans can help attract dragonflies. Dragonflies like to sun themselves often perching on flat rocks or long stemmed plants. Dragonflies are harmless to humans. The best way to attract Dragonflies is with a small pond and submergible plants (Dunvegan sells pond and submergible plants) that attract them to lay their larvae in. There are even some towns in the states that release Dragonfly nymph (early stage dragonflies) to help reduce mosquito populations.

Citronella, the oil found in Lemongrass, has been proven by the USDA to be a proven insect repellent. Plant some around your yard or you can buy Citronella in an oil form, candles, sprays – mosquitos do not like the lemony scent.  Citronella geraniums are another option. You can plant them amongst your patio plants around you and surround your outdoor space with them.  The best way to use them is to break off a leaf and rub the scent all over you. You will have to apply it every hour and it does take a toll on the plant, so have plenty around.

Catnip has a tendency to keep creepy crawly and flying insects away. While cats go crazy for this plant, spreading some leaves on an ant infested area can tell them they need to move on: or pour boiling water onto the nest, or you can use one of the many ant traps, sprays and powders we sell here at Dunvegan.

Marigolds – Lemon Gem:  the lemony scent of the Marigold will deter mosquitoes.

Ageratum or Floss Flowers will bloom all summer, are heat resistant and produce a chemical which mosquitoes avoid.

Basil – produces an oil that kills mosquito eggs, mosquitoes avoid it – plant lots around your patio and use it in your recipes as well.

Lavender is sweet smelling to people but disgusting to mosquitoes, flies and moths.

Rosemary is a plant that flying insects avoid, be sure to use Rosemary inside your kitchen as well as it tastes amazing. At the end of the season you can dry some sprigs for use all winter long.

Did you know?

Petunias – repel squash bugs, beetles and aphids.

Get outside and play in some dirt, do not let those pesky critters deter you from the garden!

Sod or Seed, Trees & Shrubs

What are the advantages of laying sod over seeding a lawn? Both of these will require soil preparation to get good results.  Sod is instant, a quick and efficient way to establish a lawn. There is no mud with sod, a tidier alternative than seed. You basically roll out strips of existing lawn over top of your top soil, then water like crazy!

To lay sod, you must prepare the soil, sod must make contact with soil to establish a root. If you have a lawn already and wish to lay sod over it, you should first remove the old grass and put a layer of top soil down.  Weeds will grow through sod so treating them first before laying the sod is important. When laying the sod you must allow for shrinkage when being laid down and butt each strip tight to the next.

With sod you can have a lawn in a day with a little work.

Seeding is a less expensive option; it takes longer, and is more labour intensive, but it gives you more variety of grasses to choose from. Again soil preparation and watering are key, you can get a beautiful lawn with deep roots that looks amazing. Remember that after you spread the seed – you can loosely rake the seed into the top soil and then roll/pack the soil. Seed grown in the same climate it is going to live in, can often do better than sod. Come in and talk to us about the various grass seed options. Summer and fall can be ideal times to start seeding a lawn.

Dunvegan in partnership with Mykes offers a 5 Year Guarantee on your shrubs and trees. If you buy your tree and Mykes from us, and use Mykes when you plant your tree and shrubs, that is correct – there is a 5 Year Guarantee on those plants (keep the paperwork). Come in and talk to us more about this.

     

Shrubs are often overlooked. Shrubs are an ideal way to bring variety and visual contrast to your landscape. They are perennial meaning they come back year after year. Shrubs should be planted with bonemeal or Mykes. The key to planting shrubs is to get the ideal plant for the ideal spot. Common mistakes are planting shrubs too close together. Shrubs continue to grow and enlarge, so you want to give them room to grow over the years.  Shrubs should be planted enough away from the house to allow growth, not right against the wall. Evaluate the height of the shrub before you plant it.  We have an extensive selection of shrubs here at Dunvegan, check us out.

       

Trees can be planted in spring after the ground is thawed. You can also plant trees in the fall, but not too late or the roots could not be established before the winter and frost hits them. Fruit trees that do well in our climate are apples, some cherries, plums, and pears. Ornamental trees are chosen because of their foliage and flowers.

No matter what your goal is for your landscaping plans for your home, here at Dunvegan, we can help you with the planning and preparation needed to have an amazing outcome.

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.

Heirloom Seeds

There are some gardening terms used today that need a bit of clarification. One of those terms is Heirloom seeds, they can also be known as Heritage seeds.

Heirloom seed refers to open-pollinated; pollinated naturally by the wind or insects, which produce plants like the parent plant. Heirloom and Heritage seeds are seeds that are passed down from family to family or generation to generation. Heirloom or Heritage seeds are often more tasty, aromatic and have a higher vitamin content.

There are family Heirloom seeds and Commercial Heirloom seeds. Commercial Heirloom seeds are seeds that are passed down in the company that have been used for many years. Thus Heirloom seeds do not necessarily mean Non-GMO.  The Heritage and Heirloom seeds that Dunvegan carries are Non-GMO and say so right on the package.

Some terms to be aware of:

Organic seed refers to the way seed is grown

Heirloom refers to the parent plant.

Hybrid is a plant that is not bred from seed.

Untreated seeds are seeds that are not treated with insecticides or fungicides.

More questions? Please feel free to give us a call or stop in and talk gardening!

 

 

 

 

Gardening in the Zone

When living in the Northern part of Alberta, before you can make decisions about what to grow in your garden you should take some time to plan.

The very first thing you should know is what growing zone you are in. The government of Canada’s Plant Hardiness Map (above) is helpful to figure this out.

Or… we here at Dunvegan can just tell you:

Grande Prairie is Zone 3                      Beaverlodge Zone 3                         Fairview Zone 2-3

Peace River Zone  2-3                          Valleyview Zone 3

After you know what growing zone you are in, you can then find plants that suit your area.  Every plant identification tag should have growing zones marked on it for that particular plant.

When temperatures are dipping down to minus 35 and 40 you may begin to wonder what plants can handle that kind of cold. The good news is LOTS! From flowers to fruit trees there is a wide range of flowers, plants and trees to choose from.

The Friesen family has been growing in the Peace Country since 1952, when Chad Friesen’s grandfather opened a commercial vegetable garden. Through trial and error, patience and pruning, the expertise at Dunvegan gardens through the Friesen family is second to none.

We pride ourselves in having a selection of plants that will not only grow in Zone 3 but will also thrive.

We would love it, if you want to stop in and talk to us about your garden, no matter what time of year it is, we are always ready to chat.

It’s Seed Time

                 

It is time to think about Seeds!  Here at Dunvegan we choose our seed companies very carefully, our selection includes:

McKenzie Seeds & Livingston Seeds – Manitoba Since 1896 A.E. McKenzie Co. has been a leader and innovator in the Canadian Gardening industry. Now Canada’s #1 Packet Seed Company, specializing in flower and vegetable seeds.  They are conscious and responsive to the growing concerns involved with food: cost, quality and safety.  Non-GMO, and carry organic seeds.

McKenzie Heritage and  Heirloom Seeds –  Manitoba  All seed is open pollinated, non-hybrid, non-GMO, untreated, natural seed. Heirloom Seeds, also called Heritage Seeds, are open-pollinated varieties that are usually at least 50 years old. They specialize in rare & endangered heirloom vegetable, flower & herb seed.

Pacific Northwest Seeds – Vernon, BC   Seed is of the highest quality and vitality with an excellent selection of vegetables, herbs and flowers, suited for Western Canada’s climates.

West Coast Seeds, Vancouver, BC  Untreated seeds for organic gardening, non-GMO. Choose from varieties of open-pollinated and hybrid vegetable seeds. West Coast Seeds features certified organic and heirloom seeds for growing, just about any vegetable seed you would like to grow.

Burpee Seeds, USA  Proud to have delivered the finest quality, non-GMO varieties in home gardening for over 140 years. They are a company of gardeners, for gardeners, and guarantee each and every product.

Renee’s Garden, California  The garden to table seed company. Offering the varieties that are very special for home gardeners, based on great flavor, easy culture and exceptional garden performance.

Mr. Fothergill’s has established itself as one of the most recognized seed brands available today. Commitment to their customers and striving for the best possible quality.

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!