Saturday, March 29, 2014

10 Shrubs to provide year round interest

Who wouldn't want one or more of these beautiful shrubs in the garden. Start in December with the witch hazel through to the strawberry tree the following September.

File:Hamamelis mollis0.jpg
1. Witch Hazel-Hamamellis mollis

2. Viburnum bodnatense  Pink Dawn

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Container Potatoes

Not only does growing potatoes in a barrel reduce the amount of weeding and exposure to pests and fungi, you don't even have to risk shovel-damage to the tender potatoes by digging them out of the ground when they're done, just tip the container over! Earlier in the season you can very carefully slide your hand into the soil and check to see what's growing, even harvest a few baby potatoes without doing any harm, the rest will continue growing.  When the time comes to give up working a large kitchen garden the container will become your best friend. 

Joyce's recommendations 
warba-early season
Joyce says Warba taste as if they have already been buttered.

french fingerling

russian blue-late season
Try tomatoes, garlic, green beans and strawberries in containers too.

a useful book

Monday, March 24, 2014

Information Regarding Bill C-18

Fellow Club Members,
Monsanto, Cargill, Bayer, and other Agri business corporations that control  most of the seed growing and distribution networks in Canada and the USA have joined forces and put a Bill (C-18) before Parliament requesting sweeping changes to Canada’s basic federal agriculture laws.

This Bills seeks to diminish or eliminate farmers, orchardists and home gardeners’ rights to save all seeds, including heritage and open pollinated varieties --- a basic right that has stood in Common Law for centuries.
C-18 also seeks to increase royalties to the big corporations on all registered seed, and gives them the right to control all seed cleaning and distribution companies, as well as seed trading... this means even community venues like Seedy Saturday will become illegal, and plants from registered seed cannot be sold by private individuals. This also means fund raisers like the club plant sale may become illegal.

The National Farmers Union has begun a nation-wide campaign to stop the bill.
The NFU estimates a big jump in grain product prices and veggies prices at the retail level. In addition this can also mean more than doubling the cost of a seed packet at the garden centre, and a loss of many heritage varieties that have recently become popular again.  

Part of the NFU plan is a petition that will be presented to Parliament. Federal petitions must be on paper, so I will bring a copy to the club meeting on Tuesday so that all concerned folks can sign.
For the whole story, please go to the National Farmers website. Here’s the link....
Thanks for listening,
Jo Canning,
Master Gardeners Association of BC

Friday, March 21, 2014


We have already written extensively about the Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) which hosts on
our cherries as well as many other soft-skinned fruits and berries.

However, today I will write about the Western Cherry Fruit Fly (CFF for short), which we
suspect is also in Powell River. So this bulletin is particularly addressed to everyone who has a
cherry tree or trees – or who has a neighbour with cherry trees.

One of our important tasks early this coming summer is going to be to get a positive identification one way or the other on CFF.

What is CFF?

Its name is Rhagoletis indifferens, a fruit fly native to North America. It has been widespread in
North America for a century – but not suspected here until last year. It is a true fruit fly, unlike
the SWD which is a species of drosophila (commonly called a vinegar fly).
CFF is about the size of a small house fly, with distinctive striped wings.

Western cherry fruit fly common wing pattern

It hosts only on cherries, but on all kinds of cherries – sweet, sour, and wild. It has only one breeding cycle per summer which might make it a little easier to combat than the SWD.
Each female can lay 50 –200 eggs over a three-week period, depending on temperature conditions.

Once the skin of a ripening cherry is soft enough, at the pink/salmon stage, the female CFF can
pierce the skin and deposit several eggs. The eggs hatch in about a week and the larvae feed
inside the cherry for two to three weeks. Then they bore an exit hole to crawl out and drop to the
ground under the tree. There they burrow down a couple of inches and pupate until the next
Western cherry fruit fly
Western cherry fruit fly adult on cherry
with larval exit holes
It is difficult to determine if cherries are infested until the larvae exit through the holes, or the
fruit is cut to reveal the larvae inside. You can understand how easy it would be to ‘give away’
or sell infested fruit without knowing it, and thus cause the spread of CFF.

What signs of CFF have we found in Powell River?

Last summer it was late July when we got our first alert that there were grubs in cherries. A lot
of this damage was done for sure by SWD. However one grower in Wildwood not only got
specimens of a couple of cherries with exit holes but actually saw a grub crawl out of a cherry
and drop to the ground. This is CFF behaviour and not SWD behaviour. But it was too late to
catch a fly for positive identification.

I got many reports of grubs in cherries all over Powell River district, but we do not know which
kind of grubs. Remember that SWD also attack cherries. There were also a number of reports of
cherries not only rotting on the tree, but also of cherries falling into an unusual sticky mess under
the tree. Again, we do not know which fruit fly would have caused this.

How far do CFF spread?

It is thought that CFF do not travel very far once they have host fruit available. But within that
area they may infest fruit heavily. If we can determine this May/June if they are here, and where
they are, we can take measures to contain them and try to get on top of them. The only evidence
so far - the exit holes - came from one site in Wildwood.

What can I do now in spring?

1. If you also remember seeing exit holes in your cherries please let me know right away. If we
can map where they are, we can concentrate our efforts.
2. Practise good garden hygiene, just as for the SWD and other pests.
3. Start getting large cherry trees down to a size where you can pick the whole crop.
4. Just as with SWD, we have to ‘pick early, pick often, pick clean’. Any fruit left on the tree
provides a breeding ground for more CFF (and SWD) for next year.

What can I do if I think I may have had CFF in my cherries last year?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Burpee Seed Clock

Have you used or even seen one of these beautiful clocks?

Item image
buy the clock here

In the 1970s, Burpee sold the Burpee Planting Clock, also called the Burpee Seed Clock, now a vintage collectible. The clock has four settings: time of day, calendar date, moon phase and length of growing season.

Read more:

Plenty of information on planting is coming up at our next meeting on Tuesday March 25th.

 10 best shrubs for your garden
 When to plant what
 Container gardening 
 Planting by the Moon

See you there.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dividing Perennials in the Spring

One of the most rewarding aspects of perennial gardening is the fact that most plants actually increase in size over the years.  After a time, some of your perennials are going to benefit from being divided, and in most cases spring is a terrific time to go about this task.
We divide perennials for a number of reasons:
1.  Clumps have started to die out in the middle.  The classic “doughnut” shape with an empty hole in the center is a sure sign that a perennial clump needs attention.
2.  Flowering performance has declined.  The clump may have become congested, or the roots old and woody.
3.  Soil nutrients have been exhausted around the clump.  Signs of this might be stunted growth, yellowish leaves or lack of bloom.  Dividing and moving to a new location is a wise idea.  Sometimes simply fertilizing the plant will make it smarten up.
4.  Perennial weeds have infested the clumps.  When this happens, usually the best approach is to dig up the entire clump and divide it, picking out every single piece of weed root that can be found.
5.  We want to make more of our favourites.  Dividing established clumps can provide plenty of new plants for a new garden bed, or to share with friends and neighbours.

What to divide in spring?

One rule of thumb for division is this:  perennials that flower between early spring and mid June are best divided in early fall.  Perennials that flower after mid June are best divided in the spring.
This rule is one that many gardeners break with regularity, experiencing relatively few problems.  I don’t like to see spring-flowering perennials divided while they are blooming, but doing it immediately afterwards often works just fine.  Primroses, for instance, can be dug up and divided into numerous piece in late spring, giving them an entire season to recover before flowering again the following year.  Same thing with many of the spring-flowering rock garden plants, such as Rock Cress (Aubrieta), Basket-of-Gold (Aurinia) and Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata).
Summer and fall-flowering perennials have the whole spring and early summer to recover from being divided, and most will give you an excellent flower display the same year.  Spring is the very best time for dividing most ornamental grasses, and especially the fall-flowering types such as Maiden Grass (Miscanthus) and Fountain Grass (Pennisetum).
Three plants that I prefer to see divided at other times are Peonies (fall only), Oriental Poppies (in July or August when they are dormant) and true Lilies (mid to late fall). Daylilies (Hemerocallis), on the other hand, can be divided at nearly any time, but spring seems to suit them perfectly.
Traditionally, the time for dividing Bearded Iris is shortly after flowering, in July or early August.  But if you have stubborn clumps that refuse to flower, then you might as well go ahead and divide them in the spring, since they likely won’t bloom this year anyhow.
How to Divide

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tips For Dividing Perennials

With our plant sale coming up on May 4th this would be a good time to think about dividing our perennials. How about donating some to the club table or even having your own table? Click on the link below for an excellent article from Fine Gardening. It gives ten really useful tips on how to go about dividing perennials with confidence.

your plant here

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Great Deal For Garden Club Members

Hello Garden Club!

Another great fertilizer offered as a one-time good deal to our Garden Club members!  Carla has arranged for "Simply Fish" Soil Amendment to be sold at our meeting on March 25.  "Simply Fish" is produced locally by West Coast Fish Culture, and one of their staff will be there to explain its use - another feature of our varied program that night. See details below.

Get things growing this spring with Simply Fish Soil Amendment! Simply Fish is a great, eco-friendly product which is Pro-cert approved and approved for organic production. Available in 250ml, 1L, 4L, 20L and 1000L! Join us March 25 for more information and a great ONE time only offer. Learn more about the product at

The 1L container will be available for $6.00!! This special offer is only available at the March meeting so bring exact change and take you fertilizer home. Please would you let us know if you are wanting  a 1L container of the super concentrated fertilizer so we have enough available. Let us know by

We will keep it simple and only offer one size to purchase that night - the 1L container for $6.                      

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


This is No 4 in a series of bulletins regarding the threat posed to our area by the Spotted Wing Drosophila. Click on the Fruit Fly tab above for all the bulletins.

March 5, 2014

What can we do now in March to deal with the
Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD)?

I have read that the brutal winter back east may have helped the blueberry farmers there in their battle. Our late freezing spell here has definitely dropped the number of local over-wintering SWD, but there will still be enough of them who have survived in walls of houses and sheltered sheds, etc, to start their breeding cycle all over again about May when the weather warms up. However, the good news is there may be less of them to start with this year! So let’s be prepared to take advantage of this.

This month is the good time to concentrate on:

1. Getting control over your blackberries
2. Stocking up on supplies to make fruit fly traps.
1. Blackberries
Blackberries are everywhere here, and they are one of the biggest host plants for SWD,
both as host fruit for feeding and breeding, and as over-wintering habitat. At the personal level, let’s try to get blackberries on or near our properties cut back to just what we can“pick early, pick often, pick clean.”

a. Stop young blackberry plants from getting established
March is the ideal time to pull up small blackberry plants and also the new plants taking root where cane tip are touching the ground. Right now, the earth is still soft and moist,
and the roots have not grown too deep. Even the root knuckles of big clumps are easier to get out at this time. Wear a good pair of tough gloves and start ripping.

b. Stop big blackberry bushes from producing fruit that will not be picked
Blackberries bear their fruit on the second-year wood. If you cut off last year’s wood,
you will get nice first-year growth of just leaves this summer, but no flowers or fruit.
Now is the good time to see where all the old branches are before the leaves start to hide them. Cut them down to the ground if you can manage. Try to get rid of canes that are growing through trees, over sheds and through rock piles and down steep banks. Just
chip them to a mulch, or stack them up for burning in April – or leave them in a corner of your property to be a play-station for birds. If you find shriveled fruit on the vines, treat
it as potentially housing SWD (although we hope the freeze in January killed these).
Don’t remove these canes from your property as this spreads infestations. Burn these
fruits, put them in your freezer for two days, bury deep or solarize them. Just leave a
selected blackberry patch for your own picking if that is what you want, and pick it clean.
Hack out all those other clumps.

c. If your neighbours have fruit trees or bushes on their property that are not cared for,
perhaps give them a copy of this article and see if they want to sign up to receive the fruitfly bulletins.
2. Start to stock up supplies for fruit fly traps
SWD breed at a great rate and there will be a new generation every few weeks once the warm weather arrives. It is at the fly stage that we have to deal with them, and we must do this early before the number explodes. One easy and organic method to reduce numbers will be to set out bottle traps as soon as you know the flies are around. We can
trap a lot of SWD just in baited jars.

We will write more about the actual methods closer to the time. All you need is a jar with a tight-fitting lid; jars can be either glass or plastic, but clear glass allows you to see what is happening. You bait the jar with some cider vinegar and poke a few small (vinegar-fly size) holes in the lid, set it out when we know they have appeared (we’ll be keeping watch for them and we’ll alert you) – and they will be attracted in. Every mated female we can trap early will potentially reduce the multiplying population later in the season.

Our garden centres will also be carrying supplies of various kinds of traps, and we will fill you in soon on what they have and the best uses for each kind of trap.

Last bulletin we wrote about getting large fruit trees trimmed down to manageable size. I
have heard some growers talking about doing this and about getting unused trees cut down. Good stuff!

Don’t despair. Remember, we can still grow fruit. Let’s be pro-active to control the SWD this year, and “Pick early, pick often, pick clean”.

Best wishes,


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Seedy Saturday March 8

Powell River Seedy Saturday, Community Seed Swap and Garden Fair
is coming up on March 8 from 9:30am to 2:30pm at the Recreation Complex.
Note the earlier times and that the Seedy Cafe will not be open this year.
Come out to talk to community groups and seed vendors and sit in on a wide range of workshop topics presented by knowledgeable local gardeners. In addition, Carolyn Herriot, author of The Zero Mile Diet, enjoyed her trip to Powell River and speaking to the Garden Club so much last fall that she’s coming back for Seedy Saturday!

To help you plan your day, we’ve provided the schedule of speakers below:

10:00 AM to 10:45 AM
- Three Ways to Start Seeds - Kevin Wilson or
- Surviving the Invasion of the Spotted-Wing-Drosophila – Jo-Ann Canning & Margaret Cooper

11:00 AM to 11:45 PM
 - Soil Health: The Foundation for Thriving Plants - Julia Adam & Rob Hughes or
- Seed-saving for Beginners - Maria Hunter

12:00 PM to 12:45 PM 
- Gardening with Poultry - Rosie Fleury or
- Should or Shouldn't I Keep Bees? - Doug Brown 
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM - How to Save Seeds to Grow Local Food - Carolyn Herriot