May 11: Best from the blogosphere

May 11, 2015

By Sheryl Smolkin

Turning over the calendar from April to May brings out the latent gardener in all of us. Beautiful shrubs, flowers and home grown vegetables are highpoints of summer even in parts of Canada when the season is short.

How to Start a Home Vegetable Garden – Benefits & Saving Money by Heather Levin on Money Crashers discusses the benefits of a home garden including relieving stress and saving money. Gardening can also be a family activity.

The Irish Food Board extols The Economic Benefits of a Well-Kept Garden. They include enhanced curbside appeal of your property and increased productivity of workers in offices and industrial buildings with landscaped areas.

Twenty expert tips to make you a better gardener by Canadian Gardening has all kinds of useful hints. For example, never plant trees that will become large with age too close to your house and set your lawn mower blades at 7.5 centimeters or higher to allow your lawn to go dormant during periods of drought.

Sheridan Nurseries offers great suggestions for growing roses. Roses should be watered regularly through the summer, every few days if there is no rain at ground level and not by overhead sprinklers. Avoid wetting the leaves as this promotes disease. Early morning is the best time to water as late evening watering also promotes disease.

And finally, if you have a small planting space, check out Rodale’s Organic Life’s 7 Secrets for a High-Yield Vegetable Garden. Did you know that you can get maximum yields from each bed if you avoid planting in square patterns or rows? Instead, stagger the plants by planting in triangles. By doing so you can fit 10 to 14& more plants in each bed.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Also read: How to plant an inexpensive, maintenance free garden

How to plant an inexpensive, maintenance free garden

May 2, 2013

By Sheryl Smolkin

Once the snow finally melts and the first tender shoots of green grass poke through the mud, I can’t wait to see beds of beautiful flowers on my street. But a garden can be expensive to plant and maintain unless you know what you are doing.

To give you some tips about putting in an inexpensive, low maintenance garden, we talked to Jill Umpherville, the greenhouse manager and third-generation owner at Dutch Growers Garden Centre in Saskatoon. Here is what she told us.

  1. Do your research: Go to Pinterest and get inspired. Search gardening catalogues and the Internet. Figure out the direction your house faces so you know if it is sunny or shady and you can get plants that fit the area. Come to the garden centre with ideas so the staff knows how best to help you.
  2. When to plant: Don’t plant flowers in Saskatchewan until temperatures at night do not drop below five degrees for about a week. Before that, you may want to put flats of flowers out during the day and bring them in at night to harden them.
  3. Early flowers: Pansies are a cold tolerant plant that you can put in early. But they won’t survive nights where the temperature is below -10, so cover them or put them on a cart and bring them into your garage at night.
  4. First steps: If you want a neat looking flower bed, put in edging. Also add mulch. This will save you time, as beds with mulch don’t have to be weeded.
  5. Prepare the soil: If you live in an area with heavy clay make sure you have a nice base of topsoil. A triple mix of peat moss, top soil and a little bit of manure will provide the soil with nutrients.
  6. Get advice: Depending on your space, you probably need fewer shrubs and bedding plants than you think because they spread.
  7. Hanging baskets: If you have the space to start plants from seed it may be more economical to plant your own hanging baskets. However, with the short growing season in Saskatchewan, buying them already planted will give you instant colour that will last longer.
  8. Perennials: There are dozens of varieties of perennials that do not have to be replaced yearly. For example, Dutch Growers has over 40 varieties of hostas with colours ranging from a bright vibrant green to chartreuse. This plant typically flourishes in the shade. Day lilies are hardy flowering plants that bloom year after year.
  9. Annuals: Inexpensive tried and true annuals are colourful petunias, marigolds, lobelia and impatiens (shade).
  10. Getting value: Look for plants you can lift out of the pot with roots wrapped around the pot. This means the plants are well-rooted. Also look for a deep green colour in the leaves (unless it is a chartreuse plant). This shows the plant is not nutrient deficient. A flowering plant should have additional buds so you know it will bloom right away and all season long.

Are you on a tight budget? Whether you want to spend $25 for a pot of flowers for your condo or thousands to landscape a large property, Umpherville says everybody can have a garden. “Let people at the garden centre know what your budget is. They will help you work within it,” she says.

Sign up today, refer a friend or transfer funds from an RRSP to the SPP before May 21, 2013, and you could win a $500 Dutch growers gift card. You can find the full contest rules here.

Have you started planning your garden yet? Send an email to socialmedia@saskpension.com and share your ideas with us. If your story is posted, your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card. And remember to put a dollar in the retirement savings jar every time you use one of our money-saving ideas.

If you would like to send us other money saving ideas, here are the themes for the next three weeks:

9-May Mother’s day Mother’s day gifts for every budget
16-May Spring cleaning Cleaning your closets? What to do with stuff
23-May Budget How to set up a budget and why