Fall Clean-up: Mulch and Protect

Fall is arguably Edmonton’s most beautiful season. No mosquitoes, lovely warm afternoons and calm evenings with spectacular sunsets. The foliage changes to shades of red, yellow and orange, and the air is crisp and fresh.

It’s also the time of year when we have to put down our spades and pick up our rakes, cleaning up the garden beds and protecting them for the upcoming cold winter months.

It can get as cold as -40C in Edmonton during the most frigid nights of winter, so having a good protective mulch over the hibernating plants is a must.

I take a simple approach, first slaying the perennial foliage with my clippers, then pulling all the annuals that won’t survive the winter. Once I’ve done that, I collect the leaves and mess on the lawn and run it down with a mower. I’ll do the same with the leaves from my trees as soon as they’ve come down, and sometimes I’ll borrow from neighbors if I feel I need even more browns.

The resulting mulch is returned to the garden to cover the plants with a 10-12″ airy quilt which will provide that extra layer of warmth they’ll need to get through the coming months.

IMG_2404.JPG

IMG_2403.JPG

IMG_2489.JPG

Advertisements

High Bush Cranberries Almost Ready to Pick

I was walking in the Edmonton river valley this morning and I saw that there seem to be plenty of high bush cranberries this year.

IMG_2328.JPG

The beauty of these berries is that they are free, easy to pick, and delicious in jellies, smoothies and ketchups.

I’m not going to tell you precisely where I saw lots on the trees, but the Edmonton river valley should be able to provide enough for all of us. The key is to pick them when they’re ripe (I estimate next week), but not to wait too long or someone else might steal your secret stash.

Clematis Jackmanii

Clematis Jackmanii is one of the most popular and widely grown clematis culitvars in Canada. Hardy to zone 4a, I’ve found it to be not only successful but prolific in my zone 3 garden.

20140728-135645-50205582.jpg

It prefers cool roots but flourishes in direct sun, blooming from mid summer into the fall. Mine is at its prime this week, already more than 8 feet tall and covered in luscious 5-6″ purple blossoms.

I trim my Jackmanii to 24″ above the soil in the late fall once it has finished flowering, but if I forget or don’t get it done before snow falls I can do the same in the spring before the new sprouts emerge.

20140728-135644-50204515.jpg

Clematis Jackmanii was originally developed by horticulturist George Jackman of Surrey England in 1862. It can be purchased at virtually any garden center in North America.

Thanks Lucy…I Think

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post entitled, “Death From Above” about the scourge of the local sparrows.

Lucy and her Lunch

Lucy and her Lunch

The birds love my backyard and they hang out there in the dozens. They also love my spinach, my lettuce and especially my pea sprouts.

I really don’t wish to debate the issue of domesticated animals hunting and harming birds in the city. I don’t feel terribly strongly one way or the other on the subject. I can tell you that, short of keeping Lucy indoors at all times, there isn’t much I can do to prevent her from displaying her predator instinct.

Lucy knows how I feel about the sparrows feasting on my garden, so she makes it her personal mission to sow fear in the hearts of the feathered enemy. This week she successfully ended the (very short) life of a fledgling. Then Lucy buried it among my tomato plants. Yuck.

Thanks Lucy…I think.

Haskap Berries AKA Honeyberries

If you haven’t already planted Haskap berries in your garden I can’t imagine why not. The first of all my bushes to provide me with fruit, the Haskap are by far my favorite. They taste like a blueberry, but with a bit of a tangy raspberry taste as well. Best of both worlds.

Hardy in Edmonton, luscious early fruit. Mmmm.

20140620-225136-82296898.jpg