It’s not the temperature

“It’s not the temperature” is a common Canadian phrase, followed by either “it’s the windchill” in the winter, or “it’s the humidity” in the summer.  We Canadians tend to be very weather obsessed.

In this case,  however, I am talking about why I cover the base (crown) of my roses in my gardens…

It’s not just the cold temperature (although it is advisable to choose plants hardy to your area) that affects (kills) the roses, it’s the freeze and thaw cycles very common to Ontario weather that do them in.  The mounded earth helps prevent the rose crowns from heaving out of the ground in these freeze/thaw cycles.  Be sure to use clean soil (I purchase plain garden soil in easy to manage bags for this purpose) to avoid introducing mold, mildew, bacteria or insects and their eggs to the roses.

I counted twenty-two rose crowns to cover in my own gardens, lots more in my client’s….

You know summer is over when…

You know the summer is over when your favourite french fry stop closes down for the season.  Ours is Fitz’s in Lanark, Ontario on the way to our cottage on Palmerston Lake…

 

Fitz’s has an extensive take-out menu, but our order is always the same; sweet potato fries for me, and regular fries for hubby…hot (greasy) and crispy….Yum!

 

 Today was Fitz’s last day of the season, a sign that summer is over and winter is on its way.

Can you be an orphan at forty-six?

Can you be considered an orphan at forty-six years of age?  I always said (still do) that when your second parent passes away you feel like an orphan. Not to diminish the pain that children who lose their parents at a young age must feel, because that is truly horrible, but I can attest to the fact that there is still pain to be felt at forty-six and counting.

My father passed away eleven years ago today and my mother twelve years prior to that. Today I am reminded by the calendar, other days a picture on social media, a commercial on TV, a precious smile from their newest great-grandson, or even something I see that I know one or both of them would love or hate.  Yesterday I ran into a friend who is planning an 80th birthday party for her mother.  Although I am happy for her and her mom, I could not help but feel a pang of envy and longing  I miss them both so much….

mom & dad

 

I grew up in Cornwall, Ontario a small city not far from Ottawa.  Now that my parents and most of their siblings have passed on, and most of my own siblings have moved far away, I feel that my connections or roots are slipping away, especially in the Cornwall area.

If you are lucky enough to have one or both parents alive, give them a hug or a phone call to show you appreciate their presence in your life.  Trust me, you will miss them when you no longer have that opportunity!

Are grubs destroying your lawn?

 

Many people are discovering that grubs, the larvae of some beetles, can destroy your lawn if not detected early and treated.

Although the most common destructive grub in Canada was originally from the native June bug, recent introductions of the Japanese beetle and the European chafer within the Niagara region have resulted in their migration further east and north in Ontario, causing havoc to lawns in eastern Ontario.

Adult June bugs are a shiny red-brown color, reaching up to 1 inch in length.  The Japanese beetle is much smaller, less than 1/2 inch long, with a metallic bronze and green color.  An adult European chafer is similar in size to the Japanese beetle, but tan or light brown in color.

All of these grubs have c-shaped bodies and six legs, however, the June bug larvae are white, while the larvae of the Japanese beetle and European chafer are a beige color. Upon hatching the grubs are tiny but reach a mature size of up to 1.5 inches.

 

 

 

Another major difference between the types of grubs is that the June bugs take 3 years to mature while the Japanese beetle and European chafer only take one year.  As a result, infestations of white grubs (June bugs larvae) happen every third year, while infestations of the other two types can happen annually.

 

Chafer calendar (1)

 

Although grubs prefer the fibrous roots of your lawn the best, they do feed on other plants, especially carrots and potatoes.  Ryegrasses and fescues tend to be more resistant to grubs in your lawn, while geraniums and larkspur are immune to grubs in your gardens.

So, how do you know if your lawn is being attacked from below by grubs?  These are a few signs:

  • patches of lawn turn brown and can easily be lifted in chunks
  • skunks and birds, mainly starlings and blackbirds, will tear up chunks of lawn to get to the grubs
  • patches of affected lawn often feel spongy and soft to walk on

 

The best ways to prevent grubs are:

  • keep your lawn healthy as adult beetles prefer weak, stressed lawns for laying their eggs
  • aerate and remove excessive thatch annually to break up compacted soil and ensure good drainage
  • do not cut your lawn too short as adult beetles prefer short, dry lawns to lay their eggs
  • leave lawn clippings on the lawn and use fertilizers with high potassium and nitrogen
  • water your lawn deeply but infrequently to encourage deep roots and promote drought tolerant lawns
  • hand pick adult beetles putting them in soapy water to kill them
  • attract natural predators like blackbirds and starlings with birdhouses
  • use a mixture of ryegrass and fescues lawn seeds

 

To treat grub infestations:

  • apply nematodes (microscopic, parasitic organisms) to attack the grubs. Be sure to read package instructions on when and how to apply them
  • water your lawn heavily to bring the grubs to the surface so birds can eat them
  • apply composted manure and grass seed to replace the destroyed lawn patches

 

Hopefully, you will not experience the damage these grubs can do!  If you do, I hope these tips help get rid of them quickly.

Long sleeves and gloves necessities for garden work

In addition to gloves, I like to wear long sleeves to work in my gardens.  Most garden gloves do not protect much past the wrist area, and without long sleeves to protect my arms, I end up with scratches, scrapes and contact dermatitis…

 

My skin is extra sensitive, so I have kept some of my sons’ (outgrown) long sleeved, lightweight T-shirts and sweaters for this purpose:

20170430_203815

 

 

Now I just have to remember to quit pushing up the sleeves when I get warm!  That’s the problem I have when the weather warms up too quick in spring.  That seems to happen often here in Ottawa, Ontario.  I don’t get a chance to finish the spring cleanups in long sleeve weather.  It’s a tough problem to have, I know, but I do love the cooler weather for garden work.

 

Great weather for ducks (or for overseeding and fertilizing your lawn and trees)

This rainy weather is good for ducks (as my mother used to say) or for overseeding your lawn.  Weed and feed is also best applied in cool, wet weather, but not at the same time as the seed.

There are a few new products on the market to fix bare patches too, 3 in 1 or 4 in 1 mixtures of composed/amended soil, seed and fertilizer.  They do not contain a weed-killing ingredient…

If your lawn is patchy (bare spots and grassy spots with some weeds) try the mixed product on a raked lawn.  Although there are several “weed and feed” products out there, I prefer to feed first, then weed, otherwise I tend to feed the weeds,

 

Another garden job for cool, wet, spring weather is fertilizing your trees.  I have three evergreen trees I planted as tiny seedlings when each of my three sons was born.  They were planted in my backyard, but as they reached about four feet in height, I asked the man that owns the building behind us if I could plant them in his yard.  He agreed, so now I get the privacy, but still have space for a garden in my yard…

20170501_172830

 

To fertilize my trees I use spikes that get pounded into the ground around the tree’s dripline.  One spike for each 2 inch of tree diameter.   There are many varieties on the market, choose the proper spike for the tree(s) you want to feed…

 

As the weather here is going be cool and rainy for a few more days, too muddy for work in my clients’ gardens, I should be able to get these chores done at home.

Beavertails and poutine at Tangier Outlet Mall

 

Shopping with my son at Tangier Outlet Mall here in Kanata, Ontario recently, we just had to stop for a treat.  That’s me in the pink coat.

For those of you (non-Canadians) not familiar with beavertails, they are a delectable Canadian treat, in the form of a flat, donut-like concoction of pastry, available in many flavours.  Choose from cinnamon & sugar, killaloe sunrise (lemon & sugar),  chocolate hazelnut, maple butter, skor cheesecake, garlic butter & cheese, banana chocolate and more!

Unfortunately for me, there is no gluten-free version of the beavertail (yet), so I had to settle for poutine, another Canadian favourite.  The poutine here was not nearly as good as I have from other establishments, mainly because the gravy was goopy.

 

As we were waiting for our order, we had a good chuckle over this sign posted on the front of the food truck…

20170222_142131

I guess people do not like to wait in the cold for their food; some have been driving right up to the truck and ordering from the warmth of their cars!

If you are going to indulge in treats like Beavertails and poutine, you have to park your vehicle and walk a bit, come on!