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Archives for November 10, 2016

Favourite books for Canadian gardeners

There are gardening books that are worth reading and others that end up collecting dust on a bookshelf, despite any initial enthusiasm when the book was purchased. I keep them all — the good ones and even the not so good ones that I never finished reading — perhaps as a reminder of all the not-so-useful gardening books out there or more likely as a trace of the meandering path it took to get where I am today.

Regardless of the reason, I can’t part with them, so those books remain dusty on the shelf while the good ones are always near my work area, relevant pages marked with scribbled-on pieces of coloured post-it-notes.

Still, it would have been helpful to get a nudge in the right direction. Had I known, for instance, that advice offered in many English-language gardening books is not always written with consideration to our unique, north-eastern Canadian climate — meaning horticultural or landscaping advice therein should be taken with caution — I might have saved myself a little money. After all, one can’t expect the plant care advice in a book about gardening in California to apply to the gardens in Quebec.

So with another gardening year coming to a close, you may be considering a good Canadian read that won’t end up collecting dust on your bookshelf, now that the autumn leaves are finally composting with the Halloween pumpkin.

Here are three favourite gardening books you may enjoy delving into during the long, off-season — the first two are on food gardening, since this topic is still quite popular nowadays and the last is a gardening manual:

Incredible Edibles: 43 Fun Things to Grow in the City — By Sonia Day

The great thing about this book is that, just like the author’s weekly column, it’s fun to read and a cinch to finish — unlike those overly detailed, encyclopedia-type books that you fall asleep reading and end up in ‘to read’ piles.

Despite its slim size, it is packed with no-nonsense, straight to the point advice on the ‘incredible edibles’ the author deems suitable for growing in urban gardens, where space and other resources are often limited.

And according to Day, there’s plenty to grow, including some unusual foods like melons, tomatillos and ground cherries along with the expected herbs and beans.

Her ‘ten commandments’ of growing food in the city will help you pick a proper container as well as keep critters away from your produce. She also throws in a few of her own simple, taste-tested recipes. A handy side panel on each page gives a glimpse of the who, what, where, when and why of each vegetable. Read it on the metro ride back from work or on a rainy weekend then try growing a few of her suggestions.

The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener — by Niki Jabbour

If you want to harvest your own home-grown leafy greens, carrots, kale and many other vegetables 365 days a year — even when there is snow piled in your yard — or grow food without having to wait for the soil to warm up in spring, then this book is for you. Niki Jabbour, a Halifax-based food gardener, garden writer and host of a call-in radio show in Nova Scotia, doesn’t let hardiness zones or a long Canadian cold season prevent her from growing veggies in the dead of winter in this unprecedented, treasure of a book that no serious food-gardener should be without. In it, she shares how to work with not just one, but three growing seasons by selecting the most cold-tolerant varieties of vegetables at the right time of year and by using season-extending devices like cold frames, mini-hoop tunnels and row covers, or a combination of these as protective microclimates so you can garden in months you never thought possible.

There are even detailed instructions on how to build the season-extending devices she uses. Veggies suitable for container growing are suggested throughout the book. However, The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener is a book meant for food gardeners, like the author, with space (and time) to grow.

Canadian Gardener’s Guide, 2nd edition-editor — by Lorraine Johnson

This handy, comprehensive guide takes the reader from the plant basics to just about everything you can think of in between, such as designing your garden, controlling weeds, seasonal plant maintenance and so much more. Aside from the complementary photos, what I like about this extensive reference book is that each topic is concise enough to read in one sitting, like an ongoing gardening course that you can pick up where you left off. The inside cover also features a Canadian Plant Hardiness Zone Map (which has since been updated). New gardeners in particular will find it useful.

Elaine Sanders can be reached at

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AgCenter 2017 ‘Get it Growing’ calendar available, offers tips …

BATON ROUGE — Almost any time of year is a good time to “Get it Growing” in Louisiana, and the latest edition of the LSU AgCenter lawn and garden calendar can help you do just that.
The recently published 2017 Get It Growing Lawn and Garden Calendar is designed to help gardeners and others learn about and enjoy gardening in Louisiana.
The calendar offers monthly tips for the seasoned or novice gardener as well as beautiful photos of plants, flowers and gardens from photographers across Louisiana.
The full-color, 32-page, 9-by-13.25-inch calendar features photos of beautiful flowers, vegetables and plants.
Monthly gardening tips and a special feature on environmentally friendly landscaping come from LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill, who is known across the region for his expertise on Louisiana gardening. The calendar alerts gardeners about when to divide irises and plant strawberries as well as giving other helpful information for their gardening projects.
“People across the state rely on our lawn and garden information. It’s one of the most frequently visited topic areas of our website,” said Elma Sue McCallum, of AgCenter Communications, who serves as calendar coordinator.
“The Get It Growing calendar is another way for us to distribute our reliable, research-based information, and it comes in a lovely package,” McCallum said. “The calendar has been published since 2005, and its arrival is always greatly anticipated by expert and beginning gardeners alike.”
The calendar continues to be popular with gardeners and makes a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys photos of attractive garden scenes, she said
In addition to the monthly gardening tips and landscaping features, the calendar also includes a special, illustrated how-to section on repotting container plants, a list of AgCenter lawn and garden publications and information on Louisiana Super Plants, the AgCenter Master Gardener program, Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic, and Soil Testing and Plant Analysis labs.
Photographs for the calendar are chosen each year through a call for entries and competition that begins in the fall for the following year edition. The 2017 calendar winners include Ann Anderson of New Orleans, Glenda Balliviero of Lafayette, Norman Balliviero of Lafayette, Debra Jones of Walker, Catherine Lorio of Oscar, Conchita Richey of Gonzales, Wade Riddick of Baton Rouge, Charlotte Schafer of Ponchatoula, Rhoda Stevenson of Campti, Charlene Troxler of Baton Rouge and Lynda Williams of Gonzales.
The Get It Growing calendar sells for $11.95 and is available for online orders at Calendar. Phone orders can be placed by calling 225-578-4646. Sample photos and more information are also available through the website.
The calendar, designed as part of the popular LSU AgCenter Get It Growing educational campaign on home lawns and gardens, is expected to be available through a variety of bookstores, garden centers and gift shops across the state this fall.

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Julia Bradbury’s top five autumn gardening tips

This is one of my favourite times of year, ideal for walking: bracing but colourful. The leaves are turning, the evenings are drawing in and there’s a fresh bite in the air. Perfect bonfire weather.

Clean and tidy: fallen leaves can smother your lawn and impede growth


This is the time to show your garden some love ­– and if you show your love now you’ll get it back fourfold in the spring. It’s like lending a fiver and getting back £20.

  1. Clear up the leaves. They don’t just look messy, they can wreck your lawn. Leaves don’t decompose as quickly as we’d like and they can smother the grass which will, in turn, impede growth. Fallen leaves also provide cover for ground-dwelling mammals such as mice and moles (that like to dig holes). Ignore them too long and you may find yourself stumbling on some unexpected trip hazards hidden under there. Ever since my time living in Los Angeles I’ve never understood leaf blowers – they just blast the leaves around noisily. I prefer a handsome wooden rake (try Rudd’s Rakes in Dufton Cumbria for a handmade beauty).
  2. Plant your spring bulbs. It might seem strange to be planting anything this late in the year but it actually makes sense. You can get impressive results for little effort. Tulips are ideal to plant now. But it’s not just the season for bulbs, it’s also a great time to think about planting a small apple tree. A year from now, you could be eating your own delicious fruit or making your own apple juice or cider. You don’t even need to buy an expensive press – two sheets of plywood, a car jack and some straw make an excellent substitute.
  3. Prune your roses – and your raspberries. Colour and scent lift any garden but, if left unchecked, climbing roses can become tangled and scrappy. If you prune them now they will flower well in spring through to summer. Remove dead or damaged branches. And if you do just one other thing in the garden, get on top of your weeds.
  4. Don’t forget to feed the birds. Birdsong is one of the greatest things about the British countryside. But food is scarce for those birds that don’t migrate. Putting out fresh food and water is vital. In colder weather, try and feed them twice a day. Establish a pattern that wild birds can follow – once in the morning and again in the early afternoon. Make sure you don’t run out of food but don’t allow uneaten food to accumulate and begin to rot. Fat balls are a brilliant food source for them. If you have a cat, make sure they can’t pounce on your bird table – a holly bush round the base should be enough to deter them.
  5. Look after your lawn. It’s important to care for your grass, even at this time of year. If there is one thing that lets down a garden, it’s a neglected lawn. Your local garden centre can advise you on the best tonic or feed for your grass. But most of all, get out there and enjoy your garden.

Find more information on NFU Mutual at

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Plymouth Garden Club meeting

Plymouth Garden Club meeting: 12:30 p.m., Nov. 9, Chiltonville Church, 6 River St., Plymouth. Social time starts at 12:30 and meeting begins at 1 p.m. Speaker for the meeting will be Karin Stanley, garden designer, who will present “Sculpture in the Garden.”

PLYMOUTH – Plymouth Garden Club meeting: 12:30 p.m., Nov. 9, Chiltonville Church, 6 River St., Plymouth. Social time starts at 12:30 and meeting begins at 1 p.m. Speaker for the meeting will be Karin Stanley, garden designer, who will present “Sculpture in the Garden.” She will show how her sculptures are incorporated in her garden designs to create a quiet inner room. Guests are welcome to attend the meetings for a $5 fee.

Floral Design Workshop: June Aronson will lead the class in creating a floral design from flowers, nuts, and berries on the morning of the meeting. Take floral scissors, wire cutters and pruners to the class. If you are staying for the meeting, you may want to take your lunch. Please add your name to your tools. Class starts at 9:30 a.m. at the church and the fee is $25. You must preregister for this class. Call Susan Denehy to register. Space is limited. This program is for members only. Horticulture: Take in a single horticulture specimen from your home or garden. Please label it.

The annual Greens Sale will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the main library, 132 South St., Plymouth. Fresh decorated wreaths, centerpieces, cemetery baskets and fresh greens will be for sale. For further information on the Plymouth Garden Club, visit

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Longwood opens registration for its gardening courses





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Treasure Valley gardening classes include growing greens indoors in winter

Saturdays, Nov. 19 and Dec. 10

Indoor Kitchen Gardening in Winter: 12:30 p.m. at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. Workshop on growing all types of edible greens in your home through the winter. Free. RSVP to 995-2815 or

Monday, Nov. 21

Growing Fruit in the Treasure Valley: 9 a.m. to noon at the University of Idaho Extension Center, 29603 U of I Lane, Parma. Join fruit tree expert Essie Fallahi to enjoy a class that addresses general grape and fruit tree (including peach, plum and apple) selection and production. Emphasis will be on factors to consider for boosting fruit production. Following a lecture, the group will travel to the orchard to learn proper pruning techniques. $12 Idaho Botanical Garden members, $17 nonmembers. Register: 343-8649,

Friday, Nov. 25

Indoor Kitchen Gardening in Winter: 11 a.m. at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. Workshop on growing all types of edible greens in your home through the winter. Free. RSVP to 995-2815 or

Saturdays, Nov. 26 and Dec. 3

Terrarium Building Workshop: 12:30 p.m. Nov. 26 and 11 a.m. Dec. 3 at Madeline George Garden Design Nursery, 10550 W. Hill Road Parkway, Boise. Craft a mini eco-system with foliage, succulents, cactus and more. Feel free to bring your vessel. Free. RSVP to 995-2815 or

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FDOT presents San Carlos Boulevard ideas

If one opinion was made clear at Monday’s Florida Department of Transportation presentation, it’s that some of the town council members are not fond of roundabouts.

Staff from the Florida Department of Transportation gave a presentation to the town council during its Monday, Nov. 7, workshop to update the board about its traffic study on San Carlos Boulevard from Summerlin Road to Crescent Street. Some of the proposed solutions to traffic issues included roundabouts, which are lauded by FDOT for reducing fatal accidents.

Mayor Dennis Boback thinks the older demographic of Fort Myers Beach can’t learn how to use them, especially when he compares the beach’s population to the “younger, supposedly more alert” population that does not effectively use the roundabout on Plantation Road in Fort Myers.

“I despise them,” said Vice Mayor Summer Stockton.

This study, which began in May 2015, is supposed to examine traffic problems and find a number of solutions to those problems, then deliver the ideas to the public for input and feedback.

FDOT’s Charles Bleam presented to council some of the data the study had collected and some solutions that FDOT was considering. However, Bleam said that none of the ideas the organization were studying were set in stone.

“These are not hard, we’re not building tomorrow or next week, just ideas,” Bleam said.

In the short term, Bleam identified a few fixes that would potentially help traffic flow.

Pedestrian management: by removing the pedestrian signal at the base of the bridge and putting a traffic signal at Crescent Street and Estero Boulevard and 5th Street and Old San Carlos Boulevard, pedestrians would have to cross the street at the crosswalk at the signals instead of crossing at any place on the street in that area.

Redirecting traffic: by restriping San Carlos Boulevard, without changing the bridge itself, FDOT could allow two lanes of traffic onto the beach and one coming off the beach.

Roundabouts: FDOT would begin analyzing every intersection for potential roundabouts. However, Bleam said not every intersection is a good place for a roundabout.

Council Member Rexann Hosafros said she was told years ago by a different FDOT representative that a roundabout would be built at the southern end of the Matanzas Pass Bridge, to help keep traffic moving. She asked if this roundabout was still likely, as she had been telling residents who asked that this was FDOT’s solution.

Bleam said FDOT would have to examine that area more closely, but a roundabout would help people trying to go left to get off the beach from the north end of the island.

FDOT is also examining the potential of removing the alternating signal on San Carlos Boulevard at Buttonwood and Prescott, but only if the restriping occurred to allow two lanes southbound over the bridge.

“If you take out that alternating light, it’s a nightmare,” Boback said, with several council members in agreeance.

Without the light, people are speeding up the right hand lane of San Carlos Boulevard trying to merge over into traffic to get to the beach, he said.

Bleam explained if there were two lanes going over the bridge, then it wouldn’t be an issue. Hosafros disagreed, saying people would be in the right lane and try to merge into the left lane over the bridge trying to drive down Estero Boulevard, so the problem would just be shifted.

“I do not believe that 50 percent of people are turning right,” she said, adding that the alternating signal was a solution that the community and town worked on together and was one of the few times residents said the government had done something right.

Charlie Whitehead, a San Carlos Island resident, asked during public comment if the FDOT analysis would include any proposed development and its impacts, such as the Bay Harbour Marina Village. Bleam confirmed that developments that have made applications would be factored into the equation.

Another solution – although not a new proposal – would be pedestrian walkovers and landscaping that would funnel pedestrian toward those walk-overs. Bleam suggested two of these bridges could be built on Old San Carlos and on Estero near Crescent Park.

“I don’t like it, it makes me think I’m in New York,” Stockton said.

She said she didn’t believe most people would actually use the walk-over: if they were on the other side of the street they would be looking for the quickest and most convenient way to get across.

Bleam said it was only a suggestion, but that FDOT would also put in landscaping in its right of way – such as hearty shrubs or thick bush – that would discourage people from trying to get through the shrubs to cross the street and instead use the overpass.

“I’m not going to use that,” Stockton said, adding, “I’ll be that person going right through them.”

Gore also expressed concern than during spring break, people would throw things off of them or jump off them.

Cereceda, however, said such walk-overs could become an attraction to some people – with their elevated height, she said people would like to walk over them to take photos.

For the long-term fix for San Carlos Boulevard, Bleam said FDOT will consider widening Matanzas Pass Bridge to include a sidewalk on the southbound side of the bridge, implement roundabouts and traffic signals at intersections that would be appropriate and use signs that could forewarn drivers of the traffic situation on the beach.

However, before pursuing any final plans, FDOT will be meeting with the public to gather its input, ideas and complaints about any of its suggested solutions. The meeting is not scheduled yet but Bleam projected it would be in January or February.

“How much do our opinions weigh in to this?” Stockton said.

Bleam said feedback would be critical for making decisions on solutions. If people disagreed, FDOT would try to explain better why a solution was preferred, but ultimately, his department wants to make sure what gets put in will work, and feedback was part of that process.

“It’s paramount,” Bleam said.

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