VIDEO GARDEN TOUR: Manitoulin August 2015

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One of the best ways to learn about gardening is to see what works for other people. That’s the idea behind the garden tour video I put together for you above. It offers three mainstay techniques that my wife, Mary, and I have learned over 30 years of gardening together. They’re not complicated things, but beginners don’t often put them into practice. Maybe this post will change that.

Technique#1: Container Gardening

clay_potWe have lots of gardening space on our Manitoulin Island property, but we still use pots and hanging baskets and window boxes to add interest and variety. We fill containers with ordinary bagged soil, then either empty the ceramic pots in the fall and turn these upside down so they don’t hold water and crack during winter, or we choose synthetic pots that don’t crack when the soil in them freezes.

We’ve found water soluble fertilizers make a huge difference to the success of container-grown plants. Miracle-Gro is the brand we’ve settled on after trying others, and we’ve bought it consistently for more than 10 years. It comes in different formulations, but the general-purpose type is our favourite. It’s nice and simple and works well when used every two weeks. We just use the Miracle-Gro liquid fertilizer dispenser that fastens to the end of a garden hose, fertilizing as we water on a twice-monthly schedule.

How much to water pots and baskets? That really depends on locations, temperature and humidity. Our rule of thumb is to water a day or two after the soil stops feeling moist to the touch. This means watering some containers every three days when it’s hot, and others go a week or more between waterings.

Pests? We have almost none. Sometimes slugs eat too many hostas, but it’s not often a problem, especially as the summer heat comes on.

Technique#2: Direct Seeding of Flowers

I don’t know anyone else who seeds flowers directly in the garden but it’s a great way to add interest and colour. We use this technique alongside perennials and annuals planted as transplants. The video shows the results of the Scotts Miracle-Gro flower mix – a blend of seeds, plant food and a moisture-holding coir substrate.

Technique#3: Habitat for Birds and Bees

The video above shows the bird feeders and mason bee homes I’ve built to attract flying creatures to our garden. They add a lot of beauty on their own, while also boosting pollination of productivity of our raspberry canes and apply trees. Click to watch and see what a mason bee house looks like first hand below.

P.S. Our lawn looks pretty green in the video, and that’s thanks to two things. The soil at our place is fairly heavy silty clay loam, so it holds moisture well. The growing season has given us a lot of rain this year, too. We haven’t fertilized the lawn for years and never water it, nor do we use herbicides.

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