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Spring in your mailbox

It is almost the end of January and although it is quite cold outside, spring could arrive in your mail box soon. Perhaps it’s already sitting on your planting bench or kitchen counter. Yes, it’s time to start planning your 2015 garden season. At this time of year many of us are yearning for the taste of a real vine ripened tomato, a fresh pepper, the enchanting flavour of homemade pesto, or a simple stroll through the garden. Others, not yet acquainted with the rewards associated with growing your own food may be considering their new year’s resolution to really make an effort to eat healthier. Whatever your experience level, it is time to select your seed and make your plans.
Sowing seed and growing your own food is much easier than you may think, it is also a cost efficient way to ensure you and your family eat well and have fun outdoors. A successful garden does not have to be expansive, in fact it may only be a couple of tomato and pepper plants, perhaps micro greens for your morning smoothie, Basil for your weekend pesto party, or maybe you just really like squash. Whatever you choose to grow it can save you some money and reduce your intake of the not-so-friendly stuff in your grocery cart.
To start, all you need is desire; follow up on that interest with a few easy to find (or make) items and you will be cleaning the dirt from under your finger nails in no time! Containers which can be used to start seed abound, virtually anything will work but for ease of monitoring, watering and transplant you may want to invest in some common plant flats. They will allow you to easily sow and keep track of the smaller seeds and when it comes to transplanting it is easier to get at the little guys.  Each plant has its own set of requirements but fortunately most have some overlap so you don’t need to worry about investing in an array of equipment. Some seeds require light, others do not. Virtually all will benefit from bottom heating which can be accomplished with an inexpensive, thermostatically controlled heating cable or, if budget permits, a  ready-made heating mat.  The time to start your seed will vary with the critter you want to grow but generally speaking you will need to start approximately 4 to 6 weeks before the date of last frost in your area.  Seed companies are very good at printing the sowing instructions for each plant on their packaging so feel confident in following their recommendations and don’t forget the most important requirement...patience. Once your seeds have begun to sprout begin your thinning and transplanting if necessary and once outdoor temperatures have climbed above 50 F you can start to plant.
It is almost the end of January and although it is quite cold outside, spring could arrive in your mail box soon. Perhaps it’s already sitting on your planting bench or kitchen counter. Yes, it’s time to start planning your 2015 garden season. At this time of year many of us are yearning for the taste of a real vine ripened tomato, a fresh pepper, the enchanting flavour of homemade pesto, or a simple stroll through the garden. Others, not yet acquainted with the rewards associated with growing your own food may be considering their new year’s resolution to really make an effort to eat healthier. Whatever your experience level, it is time to select your seed and make your plans.

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Lilium Cultivation

Lilium
The lilies are a large group, primarily native to the Northern Hemisphere; as such they are frost hardy. Flowers are often quite large and fragrant and produced in late spring to summer; the plants develop from bulbs. Plants range in height from 12 to 96 inches, with 48 inches being quite common.
Cultivation
Lilies require well drained and fertile soil with a pH between 6 and 7.  The bulbs will rot if left in wet soil. Manures should be used sparingly with lilies. Plant bulbs approximately 6 inches deep ( Trumpets are planted deeper, this will be self evident when one sees the size of the bulb) and water thoroughly.  A single addition of balanced slow-release fertilizer applied just as leaves unfurl will keep your Lilies happy and well fed all season. Alternately, an organic fertilizer can be used monthly. The Asiatic varieties flower earlier than Trumpet and Orientals so plant for progressive effect.
Lilium
The lilies are a large group, primarily native to the Northern Hemisphere; as such they are frost hardy. Flowers are often quite large and fragrant and produced in late spring to summer; the plants develop from bulbs. Plants range in height from 12 to 96 inches, with 48 inches being quite common.
Cultivation
Lilies require well drained and fertile soil with a pH between 6 and 7.  The bulbs will rot if left in wet soil. Manures should be used sparingly with lilies. Plant bulbs approximately 6 inches deep ( Trumpets are planted deeper, this will be self evident when one sees the size of the bulb) and water thoroughly.  A single addition of balanced slow-release fertilizer applied just as leaves unfurl will keep your Lilies happy and well fed all season. Alternately, an organic fertilizer can be used monthly. The Asiatic varieties flower earlier than Trumpet and Orientals so plant for progressive effect.
   

Dahlia Cultivation

Dahlias are one of the most spectacular sun loving, summer blooming, heavy flowering garden wonders you can plant. They are hardy to zone 7 so must be enjoyed as annuals or lifted and stored for the winter. They prefer a fertile, well drained soil that is sandy, but will tolerate most soil types, a ph near 6.5 is ideal. Wait until the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees to transplant or direct plant your tubers as they detest cold. Grow them in a full sun location for best results. They can be fed a low nitrogen, liquid  fertilizer  once each month when starting out and this can be altered to a bloom balance fertilizer as they come into bloom but do not over feed them or they will perform poorly.  Each of your taller types should be loosely tied to a stake to prevent damage. Avoid leaf and bark dust based mulches, the tubers like the heat.
   

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