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Jun 20

Grasses, milkweeds - and a reminder, we're closed this Saturday for BioBlitz

The Return of the Native plant nursery will be closed this Saturday June 23, 2018 - I will be at the Tiny Marsh BioBlitz - but will be open 10 am to 4 pm on Friday and Sunday (call or email if you want to come early or late on those days, or at any other time.

I have a full complement of native grasses on sale, as well as our three local varieties of milkweed. Check the plant list for more details. 

If you want to learn more about beautiful native plants in their natural environment, you would really enjoy one of the BioBlitz outings that focus on the plants of Tiny Marsh (a huge property that includes many habitats, not just wetlands).

Leaders are Lynn Short, a long-time Tiny Township cottager who teaches horticulture at Humber College and is an expert in Phragmites control and Clare Holden, a member of Nature Barrie and Ontario Nature and a graduate of two Master Naturalist courses. Their walks run from 10 am to noon.

In the afternoon, you can gain an indigenous perspective by going out with Gary Pritchard of Curve Lake First Nation or Jake Charles of the First Nation of Georgina Island. For more informatio, go to Eventbrite, and scroll down to the schedule. 

Is it too late to plant? No. If you are dealing with potted - as opposed to just-dug bareroot - plants, you can carry on planting all summer long, although success is easier to achieve in spring and fall.

It's just that you have to take more care.

Watering is helpful for the first couple of weeks at least, and if the planting area is in full sun and there's no rain in the forecast, you might want to erect a temporary shade structure with newspaper or fabric for a few days. But native plants are tough, and most will soldier through if you soak the planting hole and the plant ahead of time. Rootbound plants (ones that have been left in a pot too long and have circling roots with hardly any soil mix left in the pot) will have the hardest time - be sure to break up the root ball and spread the roots out well.
May 25

Gardening for life in the foodweb

A newsletter called Landscript came through in the mail (the actual postal mail!) the other day, and as I leafed through it after enjoying the lovely cover photo of a Prairie Warbler, I found an article about the importance of gardening with native species. This is good, I thought. And then I noticed some familiar phrasing. And realized the newsletter came from the Georgian Bay Land Trust, and this is the article they had asked me to write. So I'll share it with you. 

Also, I hear an email I sent the folks at CBC Radio's Ontario Morning show was mentioned on air. Wei Chen had been talking about getting rid of the Goutweed in her garden and she and Mike Ewing - my early-morning companions - were bemoaning the lack of good plants for shade. Well, there are native plants for every situation, and certainly a wide array of choices when it comes to shade. Here's what I emailed Wei:

"Good for you for fighting off the Goutweed! It took me two years, and then another couple of years of eagle-eyed pursuit of very occasional sprouts. Good groundcovers for shade are:
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Apr 29

When the leaves of the dogwood are the size of a squirrel's ear

When the leaves of the dogwood are the size of a squirrel’s ear, it is time to plant. So say instructions from the Ahkwesahsne Mohawk Board of Education on a Six Nations website. Corn, of course, a delicious culinary treat for us, a vital and nutritious staple for the first peoples of the Americas, is the plant under consideration.

You should plant three days before the full moon (there’s one tonight), they say. It’s too cold still, and there are no squirrels’ ears on the dogwood, so wait until the next full moon on May 29. Which would make corn planting day May 26, a time by which there’s little danger of frost. The important point is that the soil should have warmed up. Seed that’s sitting in cold wet soil is likely to rot. How warm? The time-honoured method is the bare-bottom test. You can also use your hand. If it feels comfortable, it’s time. 

Meanwhile, it’s good to prepare a bed soon and let it sit, so the first flush of weeds can germinate and be hoed out before planting. Deep digging has gone out of style (read my post on soil) unless you are dealing with very poor compacted ground. Just lightly fork it over, remove the weeds and smooth it out, raking in a top layer of finished homemade compost (infinitely superior to anything you can buy). After that, don’t walk on your bed. Make it of a size that you can reach in to seed, plant and weed without treading on it. Add mulch through the season to promote soil organism activity.
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