Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Six Sustainable Benefits of Clover in Your Lawn

butterfly on white clover

Clover in the lawn is one of the best things you can have. This butterfly agrees.

Thinking of patching your lawn with grass seed? Consider adding white clover seed instead, or a mix of clover and grass for a more sustainable lawn.

  1. Clover has small white flowers in summer that are good nectar providers for pollinators, like butterflies and bees.
  2. Clover is nitrogen fixing. This means it increases soil fertility by adding nitrogen to the soil, by taking it in from the air. Let the clover feed the lawn instead of chemical fertilizer.

Nitrogen is abundant in the world, but most of the nitrogen in the world is a gas and most plants can’t use nitrogen as a gas. Most plants must rely on the addition of nitrogen to the soil. There are a few plants that love nitrogen gas, though. They are able to draw the nitrogen gas from the air and store it in their roots. These are called nitrogen fixing plants.

Continue »



Meringue Cookies for Spring

 

 

IMG_0680

 

Recently I was tasked with making a big batch of French Vanilla ice cream, and since I was doubling the recipe I used fourteen egg yolks. The ice cream turned out fine, by the way, but I was stuck with fourteen egg whites.When life hands you egg whites make meringue. And if you don’t feel like making a meringue that very day you can always freeze the whites for use at a later time. Continue »



Growing New Plants from Individual Dahlia Tubers

Single dahlia tuber planted in grow mix.

Single dahlia tuber planted in grow mix. The eye is the tiny dark spot in the protruding part at the top.

At the Peterborough Garden Show recently I was surprised to see samples of new dahlias growing in pots looking like fingers stuck in the ground. In my dahlia growing experience I’ve always planted an entire cut-off stalk surrounded by several tubers in a mass, usually purchased in a bag with tubers and sawdust. However this was something new I’d never seen. A dahlia specialist at a garden show gives you the opportunity to see a wider variety of species, as many specialists will have myriad varieties. The tubers they provide are individual dry tubers, harvested last spring, cleaned and trimmed so they are stored singly. And they do look a little bit like fat fingers.

The important thing about each dahlia tuber ‘finger’ is that it must have a little piece of original stem attached which contains the growing “eye”. Dahlia tuber eyes are similar to the eye that you see growing on a potato tuber, except they tend to be small and harder to notice. The grower pointed it out to me on the tuber I bought. Very small, but unmistakeable once you see it: a small round swelling on the tuber around the place where it joins the stem. Any other tubers that fall off a purchased dahlia stem without this eye are useless. The tuber provides the food source for the plant, but nothing will happen without an eye, as it is the growing tip.

Continue »



Get Those Dahlia Plants Out of the Bag, Pronto!

Dahlia tubers getting started in aluminum trays.

Dahlia tubers getting started in aluminum trays.

Did you buy dahlias, bleeding heart, lilies, or another type of perennial packed in a plastic bag? I can’t stress this enough: Get it out of that bag as soon as possible! Buying in a bag is the equivalent of a neighbour digging up a perennial plant from her garden and, not having a pot, sticking in a plastic bag for you to lug home. It works fine, but it’s a temporary measure. It’s a cost efficient way for plant sellers to save on soil and pots when they sell you a plant. Saves on transport costs too. However, it’s not a great way to ensure the survival of the plant when you get home. You may think to yourself, “I’ll get around to that later”, then forget about it. There’s nothing sadder than opening a bagged dahlia and seeing the shoots, white and gnarled where they have tried to grow inside the bag. I’ve done this many times, and, weeks later, found half-dead (or fully dead) plants waiting for me in the bag, staring at me accusingly….why???

Continue »



When March Comes in Like a Lion

braised-lamb-shanks-with-gremolata-and-baked-polenta-940x560

 

You’ve heard the expression, “When March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb.” Well March is drawing to a close, and though it came in with a roar this year, it is still pretty leonine. We’re hoping that the weather gods get the message and send it out as gentle as a lamb. Looking at the forecast doesn’t help! Thursday in Toronto calls for thunder and lightning and a low of 6 C. So just to be on the safe side of things, we’re taking the bull by the horns (there’s a lot of animals imagery here today!) and making sure there’s lamb in the hood. Or at least in the Dutch Oven.  Continue »