gabriola garden

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring Sunshine, Plants Perking Up, Slugs Growing

Sara’s from New Zealand so she’s partial to a potpourri type English garden. She is expert at mixing and matching when it comes to buying plants. I thought she was buying annuals the other week, but she corrected me. She only buys perennials—so there!

Already growing in Sara’s flower garden are Monkshood, Clematis, Larkspur, Parsley, Italian Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Mint, Lady’s Mantle, Peony, Tree Peony, a Dwarf Lilac Bush, Echinacea, Campanula Latifolia, Campanula Ground Cover, Varieties of Lavender, Yarrow, Phlox, Cyclamen, Forget-me-not, Sweet William, Periwinkle, Black Eyed Susan, Shasta Daisy, Poppy (Papaver orientale), Campanula Bell Flower, Japanese Anemone, Catmint, and Foxglove.

If you’re wondering what the eggshells are doing next to her Bell Flower in the picture, they’re actually protecting a young Delphinium shoot from slugs. Yes, we have young slugs already in our garden, and they’re hard to get rid of. Seems they like Delphiniums the best, so Sara is making us save all our eggshells and putting them around all the Delphiniums, which are spread out over the entire garden.

The yogurt containers worked up to a point, but she’s convinced that eggshells are better when it comes to warding off slugs. Hey, once the eggshells decompose, they will provide a lot of Calcium to the soil, so I certainly don’t mind.

Delphinium, also known as Candle Delphinium or Candle Larkspur, Latin name Delphinium x elatum, is a late Spring, Summer flower, that has blue, purple, pink, white, or bicolour blooms, shaped like a thick candle. It grows 36 to 72 inches tall (last summer ours came up to my chest, and I’m almost six feet tall) and some of them will rebloom in the Fall, if deadheaded.

This flower requires full sun and a fertile, moist, and humus-rich soil, with excellent drainage. Sara has been working extra hard carting composted horse manure from the stables where Hedgehog takes horseback riding lessons, and we’ve been composting our kitchen parings all winter.

In addition, we add Grandma Enggy’s Humic Acid and Fulvic Acid in order to create that rich, black, humus-filled soil that Delphiniums love. These two Advanced Nutrients products are derived from a calcified, organic layer of material usually found above coal beds, deep within the earth. It is called leonardite and it has to be professionally mined.

Because of their height, Sara’s Delphiniums will probably need staking in the Summer, when they’re fully grown. She likes to put them in the back row of the garden, with smaller flowering plants in the front row.

I haven’t even begun to plan what vegetables to grow this season. The nights are still cold, even here in British Columbia, so I have a good few weeks before planting my vegetables outside. I will, however, start germinating my beans indoors in glass jars, so they’ll be ready for outdoor planting when the danger of frost is gone.

Sara’s lugging the ten Liter containers of Iguana Juice Grow and using the empty ones as mixing and watering cans. You have to check the label of this product, because the application rate was changed recently. The new Iguana Juice is more concentrated and calls for 3.5 mL per Liter, given standalone feeding. This ends up saving us money in the long run.

We do have a mixing tank that I use to blend all the Advanced Nutrients products we use to make sure that our garden is the envy of the neighborhood. It holds 50 Litres of solution and allows for overnight mixing of hard to dissolve products like Barricade. The Potassium Silicate in this great additive strengthens the cell walls of Sara’s flowers and my vegetables, enabling them to ward off many insects and pathogens.

It makes sense. Most insects that attack our garden are the sap sucking variety, that literally suck the life out of the leaves and stalks that they attack. If the cell walls become strong enough to resist this type of intrusion, the insects will go elsewhere for nourishment.

Sara was wondering if she should use some Iguana Juice Bloom as well, since many of her flowers are in full bloom. I’m going to have to consult with the Advanced Nutrients tech guys on that question. I know that certain of their synthetic fertilizers do mix in smaller amounts of Bloom on top of Grow during the vegetative stage, but when most plants in the garden are just starting to veg, while others less then a foot away are flowering, it’s a dilemma.

Primrose, or Primula spp. comes in red, orange, pink, purple, white, or yellow and grows to a height of 6 to 24 inches. It seems that all our plants grow taller and bushier than expected, given the fertilizer regimen that we feed them regularly. Some of the store-bought primroses are in flower right now; the ones from last year will flower later in the Spring.

Primroses prefer partial shade, so Sara planted them around the edge of the garden, where taller plants in the immediate proximity will provide convenient shadows. Primroses don’t mind if your soil is slightly acidic. I finally broke down and bought a soil pH testing kit and try to test not only my nutrient solution, but also the soil on a regular basis. 6.3 pH is a good acid-alkaline balance for the soil.

After all the rain we’ve been having, the sun smiled on our garden for the last two or three days and it’s a wonderful feeling. I hear that in Vancouver the famous cherry trees are in full blossom and here on Gabriola the sun actually has warmth in the middle of the afternoon. Oh yes, it’s officially Spring!

posted by Tim at 9:30 PM


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