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Frequently Asked Questions

How  ... ?
     How do I prune my raspberries?
    
How do I plant my fruit trees?
     How do I plant potatoes?
     How do I plant asparagus roots?
     How do I apply Weed and Feed?
     How can I make my pond a success?

Why ... ?
     Why did my fruit trees not bear fruit?
     Why doesn't my rose bush bloom?
     Why do I have moss in my lawn and how can I correct it?
     Why are my tomatoes brown and soft on their ends?
     Why do I have so much algae growing in my pond?
     Why isn’t my peony blooming?

What ... ?
     What do the numbers on my box of fertilizer mean?
   
What are some good perennial combinations?
   
What perennials bloom the longest?
   
What will grow in my problem site?

When  ...?
    When should I fertilize my lawn?
     When can I plant bedding plants outside?
     When can I plant summer bulbs outside and how deep should they go?
     When should I fertilize my hanging baskets and other containers?
     When is the best time to plant perennials?

Miscellaneous ...?
     I have ants all over my trees. Will this harm them?
     I had aphids on my tree last year. Can I spray now?
     Should I aerate my lawn?
     Does my fruit tree need a pollinator?


How ... ?

How do I prune my raspberries?

Raspberries only produce fruit on two year old canes. Once the canes produce fruit they die so it’s very important to prune out these old canes. Prune out the old canes in the fall. In the spring, thin the remaining one year old growth – leaving six to eight of the sturdiest canes to bear this season’s crop.

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How do I plant my fruit trees?

The best place to plant a fruit tree is on a north or east facing slope to prevent early bud break. If this is not possible place a mulch or straw around the tree in late winter to keep the frost in longer. It is important to ensure that the fruit tree receives full sun. To plant, dig a large hole at least 12" wider than the root ball. Add a few handfuls of bone meal in the bottom of the hole. Mix 1/3 peat moss in with the back fill material. Water generously after planting and as required afterwards. Pick any fruit before it develops in the first year to help your tree to establish itself.

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How do I plant potatoes?

Use certified seed and cut any large tubers into pieces. However, make sure there are a minimum of three eyes per piece. Plant potatoes shallow, with eyes up, in deeply cultivated soil. Place in rows that are 3’ apart with potatoes 16" apart. Fertilize with a high content of potash. When foliage is 10" high hill up. This is important because you do not want the tubers exposed to sunlight. Light makes the skins turn green which is toxic. Do not use lime or manure. Manure will cause your potatoes to scab.

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How do I plant asparagus roots?

Use healthy 2 or 3 year old roots. Dig holes 16" deep, 2’ apart, and place rows 4’ apart. Place 12" of soil and well rotted manure into planting holes. Place roots into this mix so that the crown is 6-8" below soil surface. Do not cut any asparagus the first year.

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How do I apply Weed and Feed?

Weed and Feed should be applied when the weeds in your lawn are actively growing. Avoid use in the summer when it is dry and hot. Apply when 1 – 2 days of clear weather is forecasted. Only apply on calm days to prevent drift. Apply in early morning when there is still a dew. Weed and Feed should not be used on newly seeded lawns until after the third mowing. Most importantly, avoid OVER application.

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How can I make my pond a success?

The follow suggestions will help you have a successful pond:

  • The pond must receive a MINIMUM of 6 hours of sun per day.

  • Don’t keep changing the water as the water must age and the micro-organisms and plant populations must establish themselves.

  • A filter system is great for removing algae and fish wastes. A fountain or a waterfall is also desirable to oxygenate the water.

  • 50 – 60% of the pond surface should be shaded with floating plants such as lilies.

  • Oxygenators or submerged water weeds compete with algae for nutrients. A good rule of thumb is one bunch of submerged water grasses per 1-2 surface square feet of pond.

  • You will need a maximum of 1" of fish per 1-2 gallons of water. A pond requires both fish and oxygenators. Fish provide carbon dioxide for plant photosynthesis, which in turn provides oxygen for fish.

  • The pond also needs scavengers like snails, goldfish, tadpoles, or freshwater mussels.

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Why ... ?

Why did my fruit trees not bear fruit?

There are several reasons for fruit not setting on a tree. They may include:

  • Warm spring temperatures will stimulate early development of the buds. If freezing temperatures result after bud break the buds will die. Known as "winter kill".

  • A late frost during blossoming may destroy the pollen or injure the pistil.

  • Weather conditions during pollination were not ideal. Bees are needed for cross-pollination and they are not active when it is raining, windy, or too cloudy.

  • A cross-pollinator was not available.

  • The tree may have been under stress from pests, diseases, lack of water, or lack of nutrients. This will result in production of inferior pollen and a poor crop of fruit.

  • The tree may be a biennial bearing fruit tree meaning that it bears a heavy yield one year then almost nothing the next

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Why doesn't my rose bush bloom?

The most common answer to this question is improper pruning. Hardy shrub roses such as those in the Parkland and Explorer series, bloom on second year canes, while other roses such as hybrid teas bloom on current years growth. If a shrub rose that normally blooms on 2nd year wood is pruned down too low, you will lose your blooms for that year. If pruning wasn’t the problem, an application of fertilizer which is high in the middle number (phosphorous), will generally rectify the problem.

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Why do I have moss in my lawn and how can I correct it?

Moss grows in areas with poor soil aeration, poor drainage, low fertility, high acidity, or heavy shade. It is a common problem of neglected turf but cannot compete with a vigorous, healthy lawn. Chemical treatment using moss killers provides only temporary control and growing conditions must be improved to prevent the re-establishment of moss. The following steps can be taken to improve growing conditions. Aerating your lawn will reduce compaction and improve drainage. A good slow release turf fertilizer high in nitrogen will increase fertility. Lime may be applied to reduce acidity, however, soils in the interior of British Columbia tend to be alkaline and lime should only be applied after a soil pH test has been taken. If shade is a problem use a grass seed that is shade tolerant such as Fescue.

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Why are my tomatoes brown and soft on their ends?

Blossom end rot is a physiological condition that often affects tomatoes that are given uneven moisture during growth or a lack of calcium.

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Why do I have so much algae growing in my pond?

One of the main indicators of an unbalanced pond is algae, which thrives on sun & excess minerals in your water. To cut down on algae growth, ⅔ of a pond’s surface should be protected from the sun, either by floating plants such as lilies or through the use of marginal plantings. All plant debris and leaves should be removed from the water. A good pump and filtration system will also help keep your pond water clear by oxygenating your water and removing unwanted waste.

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Why isn’t my peony blooming?

Usually the cause of non-blooming peonies is that they were planted too deep. When planting, make sure that the crown is 2 inches below soil level. Any deeper than this, and your peony will fail to bloom. Also, when dividing your peonies, make sure that each division has at least three eyes, or you may again be disappointed by lack of flowering.

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What ... ?

What do the numbers on my box of fertilizer mean?

The first number in a fertilizer analysis is nitrogen. It is responsible for maintaining healthy, green foliage. The second number is phosphorous. Phosphorous is aids in fruit production, flowering and rooting. Last, but definitely not least, there is potash. Potash is responsible for plant hardiness, disease resistance as well as speeding up the ripening of fruit. A good quality fertilizer will also contain trace elements such as iron, magnesium & zinc.

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What are some good perennial combinations? Here are some of my favorites:

  • Euphorbia polychroma (Cushion Spurge) & Blue Fan Columbine

  • Hosta, Ferns, Astilbes, Dogwood, Azaleas , Rhodos and Solomon’s Seal

  • Nepeta faassenii, Scabiosa and Achillea ‘Moonshine’

  • Echineacea (Purple Coneflower) , Liatris, Monarda and Rudbeckia

  • Lychnis (Maltese Cross) , Shasta daisy and yellow lilies

  • Daylilies and Narcissus ( the daylilies cover up the dying foliage of the narcissus)

  • Delphinium and Icelandic poppy

  • Yellow foxglove, Lupines and red Valerian

  • Hardy shrub roses and peonies

  • Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Fountain grass and Rudbeckia

  • Lavender and roses

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What perennials bloom the longest? 

People often think that perennials will provide them with flowers all season long. Unfortunately, unlike annuals, perennials have a shorter blooming period, but here are a few that have some of the longest blooming times.

Icelandic Poppy, Rudbeckia, ‘Luxuriant’ Bleeding Heart, Salvia, Nepeta, Coral bells, Heucherella , Cranesbill and Armeria.

Ideally, a good selection of perennials will give you colour from early April to Oct. Although this is a challenge, it is a learning experience. I hope that more people will find a greater appreciation of what perennials have to add to their garden in texture and colour by choosing them not only for their flowers but for the beautiful foliage they have to offer.

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What will grow in my problem site?

At the nursery customers will tell me the woes of a site where nothing will grow because it is either too shady, wet or too dry. Perennials offer solutions to the different problem areas in a garden. Here is a list of the perennials I suggest will grow best in those problem sites;

HOT DRY SITES
Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’ - Yarrow
Cheiranthus - Wallflowers
California Poppy
Gaillardia
Helianthemum
Sedum
Salvia
Blue fescue
Echinacea – Coneflower
Liatris
Sage
Alyssum saxatile
Sempervivum
Armeria
Sedum acre
Iberis – Candytuft
Aquilegia – Columbine
Delphinium ‘Butterfly’
Artemesia
SHADE
Anemone
Aegopodium – Goutweed
Ajuga
Aquilegia – Columbine
Astilbe
Globeflower
Lady’s Mantle
Bergenia
Campanula
Dicentra – Bleeding Heart
Doronicum – Leopard’s Bane
Hosta
Monarda – Bee Balm
Myosotis – Forget-me-not
Primula
Vinca
Viola
HEAVY CLAY SOILS
Asters e.g. Michelmas Daisy
Helenium
Rudbeckia
Doronicum – Leopard’s Bane
Hemerocallis – Day lily
Monarda – Bee balm
Digitalis – Foxglove
Myosotis – Forget-me –not
DRY SHADE
Lamium
Vinca
Mahonia
Aegopodium – Gout weed

HEAVY SHADE
Goutweed
Hosta
Lily-of-the-valley
Ostrich Fern
Primrose
Pulmonaria
Solomon’s Seal

MOIST
Astilbe
Bergenia
Iris Siberica – Siberian Iris
Ligularia
Monarda – Bee Balm
Myosotis – Forget-me –not
Primula
Trollius
Hemorocallis
Creeping Jenny
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When ... ?

When should I fertilize my lawn?

Fertilize your lawn in spring (April) and summer (July) with a good slow release turf fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Another application of fertilizer should be made in early September. At this time use a fall fertilizer that is higher in potash. Apply according to label instructions and avoid over fertilizing to prevent leaching into the groundwater.

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When can I plant bedding plants outside?

With the changing weather patterns in the Cariboo it is hard to pinpoint a date that is safe for planting. A good rule of thumb is the long weekend in May for all bedding plants. However, there are a few plants that will tolerate 3 to 4 degrees of frost. These include: Calendula, Snapdragons, Dianthus, Dusty Miller, Pansies, and Petunias.

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When can I plant summer bulbs outside and how deep should they go?

Summer bulbs include Canna and Calla lily, Gladiola, and Dahlia. These bulbs should be planted once the chance of frost has past. If they are planted earlier they must be protected from frost. Each has their own planting depth, but all summer bulbs need to be lifted in the fall, placed in dry peat moss and stored in a cool basement. Calla lilies should be planted 4-6" deep, 1 ft apart, and in full to partial sun. The Canna lily should be planted 5" deep in rich loose soil, in full sun. Gladiola should be planted 4-6" deep in rich, well-drained soil, in full sun. Dahlias should be planted 4-6" deep in rich loose soil.

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When should I fertilize my hanging baskets and other containers?

Hanging baskets should be fertilized with a water soluble fertilizer once a week. In addition to this, it is a good idea to add a slow release fertilizer to the soil at the time of planting such as osmocote or 14-14-14. As there is limited soil in hanging baskets, their nutrient holding capacity is not very good, requiring fertilizing more often than planting beds which thrive on a fertilizer application once every two weeks.

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When is the best time to plant perennials?

Spring or fall are preferable. Summer planting of containers is successful if watering is carried out. Transplanting or dividing should take place in spring or fall, with the exception of Bearded Iris in July or August. Peonies are best divided in fall.

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Miscellaneous... ?

I have ants all over my trees. Will this harm them?

If you look a little closer at your trees, you will probably find that you have aphids as well. Ants farm aphids by packing their eggs up into the trees and other plants so that they can later eat the sugary honeydew they secrete. A band of Tanglefoot at the bottom of your tree will help prevent ants and other crawling insects from climbing your tree in the spring.

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I had aphids on my tree last year. If I spray with a chemical insecticide now, will this keep them from appearing this year?

Most insecticides are contact sprays, and will only kill insects that are currently on your tree. If you had an insect problem the previous year, the best thing to do is spray your tree with a dormant oil spray kit in early spring before bud break. This mix of sulphur and dormant oil, will help kill any over-wintering insects or disease that you may have had a problem with. Maintaining a clean yard and destroying all infected plant material will also help keep problems under control.

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Should I aerate my lawn?

Aerating your lawn will increase rooting depth and drainage, and reduce compaction. A high traffic lawn with compacted soil would greatly benefit from aerating. However, if your lawn is healthy and receives light usage, aeration is probably not necessary.

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Does my fruit tree need a pollinator?

The flowers of fruit trees contain both male and female parts on the same flower. Many of these fruits are self-sterile, meaning that they cannot be fertilized by their own pollen. Most fruit trees require a cross-pollinator. For good results the cross pollinator should be a different cultivar, have blossoming times that overlap, and the trees should be planted within a 1000 feet of each other.

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