Recently, I took a phone call from a garden owner wanting some advice on how to insure his fruit trees would have a good pollination which correlates to a higher yield of fruit. It is quite simple really. He explained to me that his fruit trees are in an area of his property completely separate from his flower beds and flowering shrubs. He has fenced in the area to keep deer and other plant eating rodents out and has struggled for two years with low fruit yields. The trees themselves are quite healthy and growing well. They just have not produced the amount of fruit he felt they should.
I explained to him, the past year of strange weather did not help. Here on Vancouver Island we had a very late spring, many of the flowering trees and shrubs were 6 weeks behind because we had such a cold winter and a late one at that. So when the pollinators (bees, ladybugs, butterflies,etc) have come to your garden and cannot find food, they move on.
Plants give off what is called “Pheromones” which are used for many things…one of which is communication among plants and with insects. When the plant starts to flower and needs to be pollinated for sustainability, it releases its pheromones into the air to attract pollinators. So to increase the pollination processes in your garden and off set things like cold winters, late bloomers, etc…choose companion plants to grow with or near your fruit trees that will increase your trees chances of getting a high pollination count. Choosing flowers that bloom for long periods of time to overlap with the fruit trees helps encourage pollination. Choose daffodils, garlic, lavender, rosemary, marigolds or heather. They will not only attract the right pollinators to your garden but also deter pests with their strong odors and help to keep your garden healthy for years to come.
Also…these choices are also deer resistant. I have never seen deer eat these plants so it just might help to keep your plants from being eaten.
Happy Gardening…see you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂
We are fast approaching the end of garlic planting on Vancouver Island. Ideally it is best planted during the month of October but can still be put in now. Garlic is easy to grow and can be planted in pots, raised beds or direct into the ground. Planting in a pot I would suggest using a pot with a depth of 8 to 10 inches to allow for plenty of root space. Just place the separated cloves and plant approximately 3 inches in depth and 4 inches apart for best results. Use only organically locally grown garlic as many of the grocery store varieties have been sprayed with chemicals. Plant in organic soil and harvest next year.
Ladysmith Health Food store has an abundance of garlic for sale and very reasonably priced. They are located on 1st Ave in downtown Ladysmith.
One of the biggest challenges of gardening is how to protect our precious plants and trees from being eaten. On Vancouver Island, (a temperate rainforest) it is one of our greatest challenges. We do not get the cold snowy winters with inches of frozen ground and plants dying back until spring. Rather, we have greenery all year and can garden year round most years. This creates a greater challenge as the deer and other rodents too are active and seeking sustenance all year long. The deer have a natural mechanism built into their DNA that allows them to remember where they found food and to pass this information on to their off spring, as do other creatures. The deer population on Vancouver Island is at an all time high due to the increased human population pushing the boundaries of nature and with less predators lurking in their midst, the deer have thrived. Our gardens represent a bounty of unlimited greens all year long!
There are many ways to minimize the damage done by deer and other plant eating critters. I would strongly recommend using as many as possible to manage if not eliminate the problems or at the very least to successfully protect your garden gems. Yes, the deer are beautiful and are protected so minimizing the appetite of these gracious creatures is a must to protect your gardens and create harmony for all. Keeping deer at bay from the garden is important for many reasons, not only to protect your plants, but to minimize the risk of Lyme’s Disease from the dreaded ticks that deer can carry. I have compiled a list of how to control deer and other rodents in the gardens to help keep you, your pets and your plants safe!
- Do your due diligence and choose as many plants as possible that deer and other rodents do not like to dine on. Ask your local garden centre for advice or down load a list here.
- Fence your garden area to keep deer out. Although this can be costly and extreme, it will solve the problem completely. Remember, deer can jump a fence 6 feet high or more. If you choose to put a fence up, try to fit it with your garden design to add to the landscape rather then making it unsightly. If you do not want or cannot afford to fence in the entire garden area, then adding a fence around each fruit tree or rose bush is also an option…one that also works…although it too can be unsightly in your garden.
- Choose plants with strong scents that deer do not like and use them as companion plants with plants that deer do love to dine on…often the strong scented plants will deter the deer or confuse their sense of smell so they will miss dining on their favourites. Remember though, they will return to your garden again and again will probably find and feast on the plants they love so much.
- Use a product call “Plant Skydd” to deter the deer and with continued use many garden owners have stated the deer no longer come to their garden. The product is all natural, will not harm plants, pets or people and does not need to be applied after every rain fall. This is great news for gardeners and it really works!
- Plant the perimeter of your entire garden space with plants that deer do not eat. Choose different types of plants with strong scents to deter the deer from crossing the line into your garden. Deer have very sensitive noses and will often decide not to cross the line into the garden if there is a wide perimeter of smelly plants that offends their sense of smell.
This summer we did a small pruning and clean up at a property and saw the full extent of the damage deer can do in a short span of time. This cedar hedge is obviously to the deers liking. Planting cedrus or true cedars will help minimize the damage done by deer. Often deer will taste fresh new shoots on trees and plants…even the ones they are not supposed to eat but will not eat much more then a taste.
Good luck in your garden…see you in the garden or the garden centre!
In an earlier post I showed the beginning of a new front garden design. The work continues and here is the design on paper with the before pics and the concept design.
The patio will not be exactly as shown although she has chosen different hues of pink.
To all of our clients…thank you for giving us the opportunity to show you what we can do for you! Cheers!
Call us for all your lawn and landscape needs… thank you from Tim, Trevor, Mike, Miss Ryla, Kathleen and baby Ashlyn.
The work continues on my Garden Labyrinth in my own yard as discussed in a couple of previous posts. We have now built another garden box and I have started planting the first one. I have added ever-bearing strawberries to the first box. The strawberries are later to come to fruitation. The harvest will begin late in July, about a month after the regular strawberry harvest starts. Ever-bearing strawberries will produce until late in the year. I have eaten strawberries as late as December. I planted two rows and will now plant sunflowers in the back half of the bed. The sunflowers will create a privacy back drop and will be a beautiful addition as they mature. They will be facing East so they will get plenty of morning sun. The sunflowers will also attract many bees and insects that will serve to pollinate everything I have growing in my gardens. The strawberries were a gift from one of my garden owners who wanted to divide and had lots to give away. They have weathered the winter a little worse for the wear but are already perking up. I have tested my soil and it is a well balanced soil and does not need any enrichment. The first two garden boxes built are 11.5 inches high by 4 feet wide x 8 ft long. The newest garden box is built from pine 2 x 4’s and is 16 inches high by 4 feet wide x 7 feet long. Four feet is the widest we will build them as anything wider will be hard to weed. We have reinforced each box with a brace to ensure they do not bulge from the weight of the soil inside.
I also have regular bearing strawberries that I planted underneath my Japanese ornamental cherry tree so my grandchildren will have strawberries to eat for many months.
In an earlier post, I uploaded a garden labyrinth design for my own back yard. The challenge is to create privacy and grow all of my own food this year. Each year I grow more of my own food and this year I would like to grow 100% of it organically. I have purchased all organic seed. This is important as seed that is not organic has residual chemicals which would be left in the soil. I have purchased organic soil from Milan on Brenton-Page road-250-667-1029 https://www.facebook.com/highlineenvironmental/
The first two garden boxes took 2 yards of soil to fill. Each box measures 4 foot x 8 foot and are 12 inches high. I placed them parallel along the south side of my driveway with enough space between them to get a lawn mower or a wheel barrow between them. This area of the yard is very wet due to the gray water from the laundry room being drained here, so it should be a perfect place for a growing medium. I have added bone meal and blood meal to the boxes and worked it in. I will test the soil today and see how high the nutrient level is and if anything more is required. In a few days I will plant some early vegetables. It is a busy season already so I will have to fit my garden time in after work as I did the last two nights. When buying seeds it is important to verify they are organic non-GMO seeds. West Coast seeds are offered for sale at almost every garden centre and many other retail outlets. They also offer mail order for convenience. They are high quality certified organic seeds and their website is a wealth of information on gardening.
See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂
Originally this job was supposed to be completed before Christmas. There were 300 plus bulbs that needed to be planted once the garden was built. However, Mother Nature disagreed and so the bulbs had to wait. There was also a boxwood hedge to plant along a newly installed walkway. That is if Mother Nature could ever release her icy grip!
The spring garden design was a simple one. Clean the garden area along the driveway, install garden ties, amend the soil and plant the spring bulbs. Simple right? Wrong! Previously there were coniferous trees growing on that side of the property and had been taken down long before my arrival. Their stumps were in the garden bed area and the roots were everywhere. Some had traveled underneath the paved driveway bulging the tarmac upwards. Intertwined with the tree roots grew english ivy…everywhere. I never ever thought there would be something more difficult to remove then english ivy. But I was wrong again. When I originally looked at the job last fall the ground was covered in leaves and did not give a clear picture of the labour that would be involved to beautify the area. And so the work begins. A pic axe was purchased to chop the roots out and a chain saw was used to cut the roots off at the driveway edge. The easiest part of the job was planting the boxwood hedge.
Organic soil was purchased from Milan at HighLine 250-667-1029 located on Brenton-Page Road near Ladysmith. You won’t find a better soil. Milan creates the soil himself from organic matter. The soil is well balanced with sand and rich organic compost. I added bone and blood meal, peat moss to retain moisture and triple steer manure to enhance the growing medium. However, this soil is so rich that you could just plant and grow. I amended it to minimize the work for the garden owner. She is not an avid gardener so this will allow her to have a no fuss garden for a couple years. She will not have to add anything. I planted over 300 bulbs of daffodils, tulips, narcissus and crocus’. I am looking forward to seeing this garden in full bloom this spring. stay tuned for the update in a couple of months.
Warning: If you are using a pic axe or any other equipment for digging or cutting, make sure you know if there are water lines, hydro lines, gas lines or telephone lines in the area!
The winter has been very long here and much work is needed in the gardens for spring clean up. This small front yard took 6 hours from start to finish. the yard was raked, the tree was trimmed and a new garden created along the house. The clean up included putting wood chips around the plants and along the new garden bed. The lilac bush was trimmed and the english ivy cut back also.
Front yard before
Front yard after