Mark Cullen, Expert in gardening Home Hardware
Gardeners today have different priorities than a generation ago. The focus has shifted to these three trends: growing your own food, container gardening and growing a great, environmentally responsible garden.
Growing plants from seed is rewarding and economical
With the increased demand for locally grown food, urban gardeners are growing more of their own vegetablesand fruits. March is the month to startsowing many vegetables from seed if you want to harvest homegrown produce this summer. Seed racks in the stores are filled with a great selection this time of year. I recommend that you look them over early in the season while the seed selection is at its best.
Sowing seeds can be as simple or as sophisticated as you choose. A sunny window can provide sufficient light or you may opt for supplemental grow lights.
Mini greenhouses have a humidity dome to help seal in moisture and encouragegermination. This year, try the new Natura®/Mark's Choice® Biodegradable CornstarchPots. They can be planted in the ground to decompose or can be added to your compost pile.
Home Gardener Seed & Cutting starter soil promotes optimum seedling growth. Seed-starting soil mixes areformulated to maximize water retention and provide proper drainage. Growing your own vegetables is one of the fastest growing gardening trends. Icall this the '100 metre diet'. A short listof your favourite vegetables that will grow best from seed sown directly into garden soil in the spring include: peas, beans, corn, squash, pumpkins and carrots.
Growing demand for containers
I have been watching Canadian gardeners for a long time and have observed that we love to plant upcontainers for decks, patios, pathways and everywhere we want colour and plants above the ground. I urge you not to use the same soil you used last year when you plant your containers this year. There is nothing wrong with digging the old soil into your existing garden soil. That's a good idea! The point is, the nutrition was pulled out of the soil last year from the plants you had growing in the container. A container soil mix is specifically formulated for the demands of containergrown plants.Check out my new Mark's Choice® Container Mix. Itcontains some interesting surprises: calcinated clay, which is a natural water absorber, compost and sharp sand, for porosity.
After your containers are planted, add a teaspoon or so of Smartcote® Feed & Forget® fertilizer. I like this stuff because it eliminates the need to mix or reapply fertilizer for the entire season. The granules of Feed & Forget provide a diluted form of fertilizer every time you water, or it rains. It's well named and a terrific concept for the busy or forgetful gardener - which pretty much covers the whole group.
Reduce watering up to 50%
All natural Water Wicks are a Mark's Choice® product that I am very excited about. Each Water Wick tea bag absorbs up to 400 times its weight in water. Prepare a hole for planting, drop a pre-moistened Water Wick tea bag into the bottom of the hole and place the plant directly on top of it. Firm the soil around the plant. Now, as the soil dries out, the plant will draw moisture from the Water Wick. When you water your plants, the Water Wick is automatically recharged with water.
The results: you reduce watering up to 50% and your plants will become deeply rooted from searching for water at the bottom of the planting hole. Each Water Wick lasts up to six months before it composts into the soil. It's important to me that they are made of 100% natural ingredients - even the tea bag, which is hemp! Give them a try! I have used them in the veggie garden, under newly planted perennials and in containers, with great success.
Water Wicks are made in Canada and are a 100% Canadian concept! Environmental awareness is no longer a trend, but a widely accepted part of gardening life. Those of us who enjoy gardening share a love of nature and want techniques that save water, minimize insect and diseaseproblems, enhance the environment and improve our soil.