Dabbling in the Garden

When I saw the tomatoes flopping over in the greenhouse, I went to grab a roll of string to hold them back. On my way to find the string, I saw the wilting mint and decided I should plant it in the ground, so I went to get my favourite transplant spade. My husband admitted to leaving the spade out front in the new pumpkin patch. When I got the spade, I spotted a nest of emerging baby spiders on a hosta leaf so went indoors to get my camera. In case you’re at a loss — there is definitely a lot of dabbling in garden this week.


I saw a man down on one knee on his lawn rooting out dandelions with a knife. If you have this kind of time, I suggest you also add a bit of soil and grass seed to the hole so the grass starts growing before another dandelion blows into the holes you’ve created.


Peonies are a hardy perennial flower for Calgary but they are better when staked. Once a peony flops on the ground and its blooms are mashed into the mud, it is too late to stake it. Tip: tie the plant together with a sting to keep it compact while you wedge a peony ring over it then untie it. Other easy-to-use stakes include flop bars and curly steel rods for tall plants such as martagon lilies.


It is okay to wait and let the plants tell you when they need nitrogen. The lower leaves will yellow if there is a shortage of nitrogen but if there is too much nitrogen the plant attracts aphids. I prefer to fertilize with compost. I use it on lawns, and flower and vegetable beds to allow for a more natural, slow-release addition of nitrogen and other elements to the garden.


Vegetables are often seeded heavily and unless you want to eat baby carrots until November, thinning is a good idea. I have already thinned my beets and spring greens, removing clumps of plants to allow a centimetre or more between them. I use the plants I have thinned in salads.

Remember Charlotte’s web? This is the first time I have seen baby spiders hatch.

Balzer speaks and writes about gardening, tweets @NoGuffGardener and blogs at www.gardenguru.net.

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