Mississauga Seed Library 10th Anniversary Celebration, Saturday Feb 24th: 10 am to 2 pm. Join Mississauga MGs there!

Mississauga Seed Library 10th Anniversary & Launch

Join us as we celebrate the 10th year of the Mississauga Seed Library with workshops, gardening experts and family friendly activities.
Saturday, February 24 | 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Small Arms Inspection Building

Visit Mississauga MGs advice table and bring your garden questions!


Seed Library Launch Drop-in Schedule

10 am – 2 pm | Exhibitors
10 am | Opening Remarks
10:30 am | Indigenous Gardening Methods and Techniques
12 pm | Attracting Pollinators to Your Yard with Credit Valley Conservation
1 pm | Get Growing: Vegetables in Pots, Vegetables in Plots with Master Gardeners

Attracting Pollinators to Your Yard
12 pm – 1 pm | Drop-in
Pollinators help plants to bloom and thrive. Want to support butterflies, bees and other pollinators in their natural roles? Discover the top native flowers, shrubs and trees you may plant to help them along. Learn how to create beautiful, healthy habitat even in the smallest spaces. Presented by Credit Valley Conservation.

Get Growing: Vegetables in Pots, Vegetables in Plots
1 pm – 2 pm | Drop-in
Learn about growing edibles and planning your vegetable garden in pots or plots this growing season. Presented by Master Gardeners.


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Hurray for the Amaryllis! Queen of the Christmas Flowers

 

By Diana Westland, Mississauga Master Gardeners

At this time of year, it is common for us to celebrate the holiday season by filling our homes with evergreens and flowers. The showiest among the flowering plants is the mighty Amaryllis. Many people are intimidated by these bulbs, and once the blooms are over, they discard them. However, for those who can take the time, aftercare for these exotic bulbs is simpler than you think. These bulbs can continue to bloom for you every year.

First, a little background on the Amaryllis plant. The bulbs sold during Christmas originate in South America and are Hippeastrum spp. rather than the original Amaryllis belladonna native to South Africa. These Hippeastrum bulbs have been heavily hybridized over the years. The natural cycle of dormancy, blooming and leaf growth must be emulated for them to bloom for us in December.

The larger the bulb, the larger and the more numerous the flowers. The energy for producing the flowers is stored in the bulb. Therefore, there must be a period where leaves are permitted to develop exposed to full bright but indirect sunlight for a period of several weeks. During this growth period these plants can be treated as houseplants and placed in a sunny window, or placed in the ground or on a sunny balcony in late spring and summer once danger of frost has passed. The more sunlight the leaves receive, the more energy the bulb can store to produce the flowers.

However, as the plants are tropical, grown in USDA Hardiness zone 9-11, the bulbs cannot stay outside in Mississauga in late fall/winter. They must be brought inside. Repotting with sterile soil is recommended if they have been exposed outside to ensure no insect eggs or fungal spores are carried inside to breed during the dormancy period.

 

My first Amaryllis was a gift. When the blooms ended, I decided I would care for it and hope to get blooms the following year. I moved the plant to a window exposed to morning light. Lily-like leaves emerged and continue to thrive from that Christmas to the following September.

In September I moved the bulb to my cold cellar where there is no light, and temperatures are slightly cooler. The bulb received no water or nutrients during this dormancy period, roughly 8 weeks.

As the leaves faded, I removed them. I restored the bulb to a sunny window in Mid-November and sparingly watered and fertilized it: the soil was allowed to dry between waterings. The flower stalk emerged and produced the flowers in time for Christmas once again. Success!

References:

//plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/amaryllis/

Amaryllis, Hippeastrum – Wisconsin Horticulture

 

 

Going to the CNE this year? Bring your gardening questions to the Master Gardener’s Booth @ Heritage Hall

The Canadian National Exhibition  2023 runs from August 18 to
Sept 4, including Labour Day Monday.

Master Gardeners from all over the GTA will be on hand at Heritage Court at the Master Gardener’s booth throughout the event. Find us near the flower show.

Bring your gardening questions along; our MG volunteers are ready and willing to offer our expert advice.

Hope to see you there!

How does your garden grow? Peel residents are growing their own food during the pandemic

Pandemic is providing  an opportunity to build better connections with our food by creating edible gardens.

Story from The Mississauga News includes an interview with our own MMG Michelle Wilson.

Our new COVID-19 world has changed the way we as a society live and consume. In just a few weeks since physical distancing and other health regulations were put in place, communities have quickly learned how to adapt and react.

One area that has been impacted most is food, leading to food insecurity.

Since the pandemic was declared nearly two months ago, food bank usage has increased, farmers are having to discard their produce due to closures of large customers like restaurants, and talks of food shortages are everyday occurrences.

But one “hobby” is emerging as a potential solution to our food woes. The interest in gardening and growing your own food has bloomed immensely.

“On multiple levels this is definitely a trend that has happened around the world,” said Joe Nasr, of Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Food Security and Toronto Urban Growers.

“People are concerned, and more exposure is making them think of the food and agriculture system in a more tangible way.”

Nasr believes there are multiple reasons behind the spike in amateur gardening.

Not only do more people have time of their hands, gardening can also be a therapeutic release during stressful times. Not to mention potential food shortages or how many people rely on community gardens — which were closed until recently — for their food supply.

“A shortage of food hasn’t happened yet, but it can easily happen. Food coming from Mexico to feed Canada is dependent on access to borders,” said Nasr.

For Jane Hayes of the Erin Mills Community Garden and Garden Jane, she believes this opportunity allows people to connect with memories of the past and cites victory gardens from the war.

“You’re essentially joining quite a big movement and that is reassuring,” she said.

She also lists giving people a sense of control, self-soothing and calmness as additional benefits of taking up gardening.

Michelle Wilson of the Master Gardeners Mississauga and Chinguacousy Garden Club believes the move to growing your own produce is the right step to self-sufficiency.

“We need to move away from ‘nice looking’ to having something to eat,” she said, explaining that aesthetically pleasing lawns and flower beds are not of such importance.

“These are trying times, if we get a second wave that (growing for aesthetics) is going to disappear, people do need to garden for themselves for security.”

Wilson has spent many years learning the do’s and don’ts of gardening and planting and has provided some tips for those experimenting with their green thumbs.

For the first time-gardener, it’s best to pick plants that are easiest to grow. Vegetables like radishes, herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, kale, swiss chard and squash are some that Wilson suggests.

Growing vegetables from plants instead of seeds is also suggested for beginners.

“Your garden area needs to have good drainage,” says Wilson, adding it will also need access to rain and good light, at least 6-8 hours of sunlight daily.

Enriched soils are better for growing conditions and Wilson suggests keeping your food waste to do the job. Crushed eggshells, coffee grounds and banana peels can be mixed in to create organic compost.

A tip that is often forgotten is giving your plants enough space, as Wilson explains, “a lot of times you get excited and plant too much.” Overcrowding will lead to the death of your plants.

If you don’t have access to garden space, Wilson suggests grabbing a pot and start experimenting.

“There’s no reason why we can’t grow things in pots,” says Wilson. “But they have to have deep roots.”

Beets, carrots, kale and swiss chard need pots large enough to home the growing roots, while herbs, lettuce and green onions can be grown in shallow containers.

Pots and containers will need to be placed in a sunny location to get their 6-8 hours of sun.

Wilson cautions that growing vegetables in containers above ground often dry out quickly and will need to be monitored during the warmer months.

In general, Wilson says to keep it simple — have fun and grow only what you will eat.

“Do not expect to learn everything all at once, there will be failure along with the success,” she said.

“This is key.”

For the meantime, there is no denying the impact of growing your own food, but will this practice continue after the pandemic is over? Both Wilson and Nasr hope the answer to that question is yes.

Hayes sees this moment as a chance to “learn how to improve our local food access and our relationship with foods, with farmers and with our fellow community members,” and hopes to see these relationships flourish in the future.

Miss Riverwood’s Webinar “Ask the Garden Experts”? Here’s a link to the video

Riverwood’s “Ask the Garden Experts” online webinar filled to capacity early on, so if you missed it, as we did, you might have been disappointed.

But, fortunately, Riverwood has posted the entire webinar to YouTube, where you can watch it at your leisure. Here is the link: Ask The Garden Experts Apr 23/2020

In this video, you will visit the spring garden of Douglas Markoff (Executive Director, The Riverwood Conservancy) and his wife Gail, pictured below  in their greenhouse.

As well, we learn about soil health,  growing vegetables, pruning shrubs, dividing perennials and more.

One particular plant that garnered a lot of interest from the participants is one of Douglas’ favorites:
Mukdenia rossii, a plant with multi-season interest.  Learn more about mukdenia here: