Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Two Words: Campfire Cooking




Canadians love the outdoors; we get out of the city whenever possible and we embrace the change of seasons, and when we can, we camp in the wilderness-or at least semi wilderness- and we cook outdoors. Is it too early to start thinking about camping and cooking in the great outdoors? We don’t think so. There’s a reason so many people rhapsodize about the Canadian spring, but so few of us really get in touch with nature this time of year. And if you’re thinking about camping you’re going to want to brush up on your campfire cooking skills.  Continue »

Forsythia Means Planting Time 

forsythia in bloom

Even before most trees leaf out, forsythia flowers emerge.

Forsythia means planting time.

When the forsythia is blooming it’s the “all clear” sign: a bright yellow beacon telling us that the soil and daytime temperatures have warmed up enough for us to start planting our gardens. Not everything, mind you, but we can plant a lot:

Plant when Forsythia blooms
  • Hardy perennials, shrubs, trees and roses.
  • Annual sweet peas. Annual pansies, violas.
  • Edibles: peas, spinach and cool vegetable crops.
  • Berry bushes and perennial vegetables like rhubarb and asparagus.
  • Hardy bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, in a container for a seasonal display.
  • Pre-planted pots of flowering bulbs can be planted right into your garden. They’ll put down roots and come up again next season. It’s a good trick for those who didn’t get a chance to plant bulbs in the fall. (Like me!)
  • Perennial Herbs: sage, thyme, oregano
Wait for May 24th, or later
  • Heat-loving annual vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, eggplant cucumbers and melons.
  • Tender herbs like basil


Rooting Your Own Mint

Rooting mint

Rooting mint in a small decorative vase.

There’s nothing like having fresh mint on hand, and I don’t know about you, but when I buy a bunch of mint, I tend use it a couple of times for a specific recipe, or to add to the best gin and tonic recipe anywhere.

Best Gin & Tonic Anywhere

Mix up whatever ratio of gin and tonic you prefer, with ice cubes.

Add to it, a generous squeeze of fresh lime, a couple of slices of cucumber, and a mint leaf or two. Swirl. Enjoy the taste of summer.

But after making my gin and tonic or whatever, I generally toss the remaining mint bunch into the fridge where it often dies because I forget it’s there. Pulling a squishy bunch of decaying mint out of the fridge is always sadness-inducing. And the last thing we need is more sadness in January, the month that contains the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday.

Fresh mint showing root development.

Fresh mint showing root development.

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Perennials: Early spring blue

Ajuga in flower

Ajuga (or Bugleweed) is a common groundcover with exquisite blue flowers.

The rejoicing starts when the first perennials start blooming in the garden. And the fact that so many are blue—one of my favourite garden colors—is an added bonus.

Vinca's masses of blue flowers are a welcome sight in spring.

Vinca’s masses of blue flowers are a welcome sight in spring.

One of the first to bloom is vinca, (at left) a dead easy to grow ground cover that grows in shade. Roundabout now it’s completely covered in little blue flowers that bumblebees are happy to see. Be careful, it’s a true ground cover, so don’t plant it where you don’t want it to spread. It does well in the shade, and that’s another plus of vinca.

Another of my favourite spring blue-bloomers is Pulmonaria. It gets its common name lungwort from the circular pattern on its leaves that look a little like a cross section of a lung. The species comes out in flowers that are pink and blue. There’s also a fully blue variety, ‘Blue Ensign’. Bees really love them, and you can’t blame them, it’s their first meal after a long winter sleep. It’s an ideal garden perennial that the bees can feed from early in the season.

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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.

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