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What to Plant in Your Vegetable Garden in March

Categories:
27/03/2017
What-to-Plant-in-Your-Vegetable-Garden-in-March

With spring in the air, now is the time when gardeners get eager to start prepping and planting their gardens for the summer. But March can be a tricky month for planting. As the weather begins to slowly warm up, it still holds the potential for some harsh frost and snow. Knowing what will hold up to the elements before you start planting is a must.

In March you will want to plant a variety of cool weather vegetables and herbs that are hardy enough to survive any cold fronts.  Let’s explore some ideas about what you can start planting in March to be ready come summer.

Vegetables

When it comes to planting, it’s important to remember that it isn’t just the temperature of the air that affects how vegetables grow, it’s also the temperature of the soil beneath the surface that matters. Gardeners need to ensure they are choosing the right varieties for their garden that will sustain all the elements that can occur in March.

March is the perfect time to jump on planting some of your favourite vegetables, like: Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Corn, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Onion, Parsnips, Peas, Rhubarb, Spinach, and Swiss Chard. Just don’t forget to give them all the space they require and water them thoroughly to give them a good start.

Growing your own food can be very rewarding and, of course, delicious! Knowing what plants can tolerate the temperatures at the start of spring will guarantee that you’ll end up with lots to harvest throughout the summer and fall.

In March, you can begin to plant the following: Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Melons, Strawberry, Squash, and Tomatoes. You’ll need plenty of sun, around 6 hours and well drained soil. Also, remember to leave enough space between each one as plants need a lot of room to grow.

Herbs

Growing herbs is so great for making herbal teas and adding flavor into your favourite recipes. Herbs are also easy to plant and will grow virtually anywhere. Plus, if weather hasn’t been the greatest you can always start planting them indoors in trays and, depending on the weather, begin to sow later that month.

In March you can try planting: Italian Parsley, Oregano, Sage, Dill, Thyme, Chives, and Coriander. Just remember that herbs prefer sun over shade and require adequately drained soil.

Getting a head start on planting once the first signs of spring and the warmer weather arrive can ensure you’ll have a beautiful and bountiful garden come summer. Ottawa gardeners trust Ritchie Feed & Seed for expert gardening advice and supplies.

7 Tips for Planting a Flower Bed

Categories:
13/03/2017
7-Tips-for-Planting-a-Flower-Bed

As the snow begins to melt and the ground thaws out, it’s time to gear up for the planting season! But when it’s time to select different plants to place throughout your flower bed, it can be challenging to decipher all the different variables that are necessary for attaining that beautiful, vibrant garden that you desire. Between the soil conditions and other requirements needed for successful growth, careful thought and consideration for the planning process is important before jumping right into the planting process.

If you don’t know where to begin, you can start here with some simple tips on planting a flower bed.

Research ahead of time

If you show up at the Ottawa garden centre unprepared, you may quickly feel flabbergasted by all the different colours and varieties available. Taking some time in advance to look at your neighbours’ gardens, flip through magazines, browse websites, or ask the garden experts at Ritchie Feed & Seed. You should also have a plan on what types of flowers you will want to plant – whether it’s annuals, perennials, shrubs or even a mix. Having a strategy in advance will make your trip to the garden centre much easier.

Purchase the right varietals

Many retailers have plants that are ready for purchase come the first signs of spring, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to put those into the ground. Make sure you purchase the right varietals at the right time or you may end up with withered plants.

Keep the containers moist

Nothing is worse than killing your plants before they even enter the ground. When you have purchased the right plants for your soil bed, make sure that you water each of the containers before planting since the plants are fragile and tend to dry up very quickly.

Read the instructions before planting

Different plants will have different requirements in regards to how close they should be placed next to others and so forth. And one species can be much more sensitive than another. Always read the instructions thoroughly before placing them into the flower bed. Also, read the instructions in regards to correct depth and width of the hole in which they should be planted. That way you won’t damage the roots.

Loosen the roots before planting

Once you are ready to place the plant into the hole, take the container and flip it upside down and gently slide out the plant. Once it is free, squeeze the soil to loosen the roots before and placing into the hole. Loosening the roots will help the plant grow and develop more easily.

Level the bed

Once your plants are in the hole you will want to push the surrounding dirt into any space so the plant roots are covered but not too tightly packed. Just make sure that you level the bed and pat the soil to remove any air pockets before watering.

Water thoroughly

Knowing how much water to add once planted can take practice. After you first plant, you will want to give the plants a thorough watering. Let the water soak in and then water again until the soil is moistened. For the first week ensure that you water directly on the plants, as the roots will need to absorb moisture from only a small area until they begin to grow out.

With a little preparation and planning, getting the perfect garden is easier than you think. Follow these tips to help you get started! Our Ottawa garden shop has everything you need for the perfect flower bed, from plant seeds to garden tools! Visit one of our convenient locations in Ottawa, Stittsville, Richmond, Brockville, or Winchester. Happy gardening!

Controlling Soil Erosion

Categories:
24/02/2017
Controlling-Soil-Erosion

Soil erosion is a naturally occurring process that can affect the quality of topsoil for both farmers and gardeners alike. As the climate changes, it has become an increasing problem, especially for areas that experience a frequency of high winds and heavy rain since they can easily sweep away that top layer of soil and all of those important nutrients along with it. But there are ways to help combat it and strengthen your soil and plants. Here are a few of our top suggestions to incorporate into your landscape to control soil erosion.

Plant Shrubs and Ground Cover

A high volume of foot traffic contributes to brittle soil, which is a main cause of soil erosion. You can easily prevent this by planting good, strong ground over and shrubs that can help deter people from walking along certain areas that may be more prone to erosion. Hearty plants, such as juniper and rosemary are great choices for this purpose. They can stand firm against the wind and are easy to maintain. Buttonbush is another popular choice since it absorbs water and loves all of that excess moisture.

Plant Trees

Trees with deep, broad root systems are also highly recommended for areas throughout your garden and landscape that may be more susceptible to erosion. Some trees to consider include pine, fir, cascara, and willow.

Fir trees and pines do well in dry soil and sub-zero temperature since they are part of those hearty conifers. However, they do require a generous dose of sunlight. Cascara and willow one the other hand, prefer moist to wet soil, but also love the sun.

Plant Ornamental Grasses

There are a few great, hearty grasses that can provide soil with the buffer it needs from both the wind and intensive rain. Grasses such as mondo, blue fescue, and yellow foxtail are all great species to use. They also require little effort to maintain and they can grow well in both shade and full sun. One of the best features about each of these is the roots system they develop. They all establish extensive, strong roots and are a popular choice for placing along borders of a garden.

You can improve the quality of your soil and help reduce and prevent the effects of soil erosion by controlling it with what you plant. Incorporate some of these suggestions into your garden to help maintain nutrients and topsoil.

If your garden or lawn has an issue with soil erosion, come talk to the lawn and garden experts at Ritchie Feed & Seed.

5 Deer and Elk Resistant Plants for Your Garden

Categories:
10/02/2017
5-Deer-and-Elk-Resistant-Plants-for-Your-Garden

Deer and elk can be cute to look at from afar, but once they end up munching on your shrubs and plants, they can quickly become a nemesis to your garden and a problem worth taking action against. In rural areas of Eastern Ontario or on the outskirts of Ottawa near forested areas, deer and elk like to roam onto properties in search of food. Keep deer and elk away from your greenery by incorporating these five deer and elk resistant plants into your landscape.

Morning Glory

These climbing plants are a great addition to any garden. Deer and elk stay away from morning glory plants as the seeds can be very toxic if ingested. These are beautiful annual climbers that blossom into trumpet-shaped flowers of pink, purple-blue, magenta or white. They have a classic, dainty look to them, but don’t let that fool you. These climbers can be used as ground cover or along fences since they grow quickly and self-seed easily too. They require lots of sun and shelter from the wind. And instead of deer and elk, you can look forward to butterflies and hummingbirds in your garden as they are attracted to the fragrant flowers.

Lavender

The bold, aromatic properties of lavender make it one of the most popular inclusions in any garden. Aside from its stunning display of gray-greenish foliage and bright purple flowers, it is very durable and robust. It can be used as a border plant, or placed in plots. Either way you decide to plant it, this herb loves full sunshine and well-drained soil. Deers do not like fragrant flowers with strong scents, and lavender certainly falls into that category. Deer are also less likely to trample your plants as they dislike getting lavender oil on their bodies.

Primrose

These plants are very adaptable and hearty. And they are of course, stunning to look at. The range of white, yellow, orange, red, pink, or purple flowers that bloom are also resistant to deer or elk. They are vigorous as they can grow rapidly and multiply each year. This makes them a great addition to garden beds, or in containers and along borders. They can survive in varying conditions, but usually prefer light shade and well-drained soil.

Japanese Maple

Japanese maples can provide that bold, fiery red colour to your landscape. These miniature trees need a little more care when being placed in the ground. They prefer a spot that can provide morning sunshine and shade in the afternoons. Any intense conditions can make them wilt fairly quickly.

Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing hydrangeas display brilliant fragrant clusters of white flowers against dark green foliage. They’re hearty and can grow into massive climbing vines, which can latch onto just about anything, so keep it pruned where necessary. They’re easy to grow and can tolerate shade or sun, but prefer rich, wet soil.

Visit your nearest Ritchie Feed & Seed garden store for expert recommendations on deer resistant plants. Our 2017 seeds are now in stock!

What Plants are Best for Wet Soil?

Categories:
23/01/2017
What Plants are Best for Wet Soil?

If you have wet soil throughout your garden, it can be tough to know what plants can actually survive those conditions. Although wet soil appears to be better than dry soil, it can be every bit as challenging when selecting what can grow and thrive in that excessive moisture.

Here are a few suggestions for different plants to consider when you plan out your garden during the springtime.

White Cedar

Cedars love wet soil and they can thrive in it. Any areas that have excessive moisture or even swamp areas are great for cedars since they love those moist, nutrient-packed soils. It’s also one of the reasons why cedar is such a favourable wood to use since it’s resistant to water and bugs.

River Birch

River Birch trees are beautiful. They are similar to paper birch trees but have an almost pinkish hue to the bark that peels off in a stunning display, along with delicate small leaves as the foliage. They have a shallow root system so they are actually quite sensitive to the heat, and dry soils. Thus, they are perfect for placing in cool, moist soils.

Honey Baby Honeysuckle

This shrub is tolerant in most soil conditions and is winter hardy. It is a bush so it doesn’t grow high but it’s perfect for gardens or even planters, especially if you’re looking for something that smells great.

Elderberry

Elderberry is a shrub that is most commonly found in Southern Ontario and throughout North America. Many people love them for their berries, which can be used in a variety of ways, including in wines and pies. They are also hardy and love wet soil.

Cinnamon Ferns

Ferns are always a great addition to the garden. And the cinnamon fern prefer medium to wet soils that nutrient rich, with partial to full shade. So any of those darken, swampy spots are just the spot for these.

Siberian Iris

These are a popular plant for the long-lasting blooms and low maintenance that comes with them. They bloom small purple petals and have bright green stems that really brighten up any garden. They require lots of water, especially during the first year until they are well established.

Find a full list of plants for wet soil here

There are so many wonderful plants that simply love those excessively damp soils, so don’t feel limited if you have wet soil. Try adding in some of these plants to your garden and watch them thrive. Visit a Ritchie Feed & Seed garden store near you and one of our expert staff would be happy to make a seed recommendation for your specific needs. While you’re here, stock up on the best selection of garden tools, pond supplies, plant seeds, bird feeders, and much more!

The Best Native Plants for Ottawa Gardens

Categories:
09/01/2017
The Best Native Plants for Ottawa Gardens

Native plants are always an important addition to any garden. They are stronger, and usually much more resilient to various conditions regarding soil, climate, and even water consumption. Plus, they are less prone to infestations from insects.
It’s important to always incorporate some native species into your garden and softscaping. Here are a few plant species that are native to Eastern Ontario that can make a beautiful addition to your garden.

Chokeberry

These deciduous shrubs are generally found in damp soils since they tend to be more sensitive to dry soils. They are common shrubs that can be found scattered wildly, but are great for the garden as many people cultivate them for ornamental purposes, as well as for food and wine.

Staghorn Sumac

These shrubs are exceptionally strong and hardy, and for this reason can be found growing along roadsides, clearings and along the edge of forests. They grow well in most soil conditions and can even tolerate poor, dry soil. They are also resilient against pests and disease. They grow into tree-like sections with unique, twisting branches and foliage that turns into a bright red display during the autumn.

Hawthorn

Hawthorns are shrub-like trees that can grow up to 15 metres tall, similar to the sumac. But these are commonly used and trimmed as a hedge plant. These shrubs grow berries and usually have thorns throughout the stems. They are also a favourite for many pollinators and can grow in most soil conditions. And when placed in the sun, they produce beautiful scented flowers.

Bitternut Hickory

This is a strong and very sturdy tree with bark that is often used for making tool handles as well as sports equipment. It prefers conditions of low, moist and nutrient-rich soil. They also produce brown inedible nuts and have darker foliage with dainty pointed leaves.

Balsam Fir

These are one of the most common trees that you will find throughout Ontario and one that many people can easily recognize. They grow tall and narrow with short, firm needles and sticky sap. And they are of course, a favourite for Christmas trees since they have that beautiful great narrow shape and give off that wonderful fresh scent.

Find a full list of native plants here

Native species are always best to plant throughout your garden. They are much stronger and resilient against fluctuations of climate and soil conditions. When it comes time to plan out your garden in Ottawa, stick to some of these great native plants.

4 Hardy Shrubs for Next Planting Season

Categories:
19/12/2016
shrubs Ottawa

Shrubs are an essential part of every garden. They may not always stand front and centre like their neighbouring plants and flowers, but they are great for providing background structure, fill, and colour. They’re also generally hardy and can work well against harsh weather elements. So before you dismiss the idea of adding some shrubs to your garden, here are a four you should consider that can enhance your garden next year.

Northern Hi-Lights

Despite the great name, this is a shrub to plant if you’re looking for some fragrance. This is part of the Azalea family, so it’s a slow growth, but will reach about 4 feet high. You can look forward to early blooms around May and June, with blossoms that display creamy white and yellow flowers.

Amur Maple

If you’re looking for that bold addition of colour, then this is the shrub for you. Amur Maple displays stunning fiery yellowish-red colours during the autumn. So when all of your flowers have shed their petals, you can still have a vibrant display. This shrub grows large, reaching up to 20 feet high and grows wide and dense. It’s easy to prune and does well in moist, well-drained soils.

Boxwood

The Boxwood shrubs are good and hearty. They are slow growing and require minimal maintenance. They do well in sandy and clay soils, but should be placed in a location that shelters them a bit from harsh wind. They’re great for pruning and popular for adding along borders or used as a hedge way. They can provide a very polished look to the garden.

Barberry

Barberry shrubs are native to temperate and subtropical regions and do well in full sun to part shade. These are quite resilient to varying soil conditions and are great foundation or bordering plants. They are smaller and compact, and grow small colourful leaves, but have many varieties. They are great for placing at the front of the garden, especially since deer and rabbits don’t like to touch them due to the thorns.

Check out a full list of hardy shrubs, trees, and evergreens on our hardy shrub list. Or, visit us the pros and one of our Ottawa garden stores to discuss the best hardy shrubs for your garden.

Every garden should have some shrubbery within it to provide that hardiness, structure and colour once your annuals and other flowers have faded. So get your garden prepped next year by incorporating some of these shrubs into the mix and providing your garden with some hardy plants that will help protect your soil and keep your garden looking great even during the wintertime.

Winter Plants

Categories:
21/11/2016
Winter Plants

Whoever said that gardening is not a winter hobby is wrong! Even in the harsh winters Ottawa has been known to dole out, some plants can survive and add beauty and colour to your winter wonderland garden. Yes there is always the chance that there will be six feet of snow to battle through, but for the majority of the winter months, snow can be seen as a decoration as opposed to a hindrance. A little touch of green is so beautiful when covered in a light powder of snow.

Holly

When you think of winter you may instinctively think of Christmas decorations. One of the most common Christmas decorations is holly. This makes holly the perfect addition to your winter garden! The beautiful white backdrop of winter combined with the crisp red and green of the holly sets the perfect winter wonderland scene. Get creative with where you plant the holly and see how bright and beautiful your house can be even in the midst of a winter storm.

Crabapple Tree

A uniquely special tree is the crabapple tree. There aren’t many plants that can have life in all four seasons but the crabapple tree is unique in that way. Planting a crabapple tree is a beautiful way to decorate your yard in the winter months.

Balsam Fir

If you are looking for long term winter beauty, try planting some trees that are built to withstand and even thrive in the winter. A great choice is a white fir or a balsam fir. Many different types of birch trees are also good winter tree options. Only certain trees can survive in cold winter months so if it is your goal to have green gracing you with it’s presence over the winter months be certain to ask an expert before committing to anything.

There is typically special care required in the fall for plants that thrive in the winter months. Some require extra fertilizer while others are able to thrive with simple mulching around their roots. Each plant is unique in their own way and each will be sure to brighten up even the most depressing of winter months! If you require any advice or guidance on how to plant and maintain a successful winter plant, feel free to contact the lawn and garden experts at Ritchie Feed & Seed to help you on your way. Your very own magical winter wonderland may be easier to attain than you initially thought.

Rabbits in the Garden

Categories:
07/11/2016
Rabbits in the garden

If you live in one of Ottawa’s many suburbs, chances are you’ve seen them. They hop around like they own the place and no matter how many times you ask them to leave, they return in numbers! They seem to eat almost anything they can get their little paws on. You know what we’re talking about: cute little destructive rabbits!

Although having them around may seem like you’re living in a Snow White enchanted fairytale, reality is they are excellent at destroying vegetable gardens and other beautiful flower arrangements if given the chance. There are ways you can passively combat these furry garden foes and cause no any harm to anyone. By simply planting a few rabbit-resistant perennials around your garden you can ward off their harmful little claws and teeth without causing them any pain.

Lily-of-the-Nile

Start by planting a few Lily-of-the-Nile. These plants bloom in the late summer early fall and blossom into a starburst flower head. They can brilliant bright blue to white in colour. Rabbits don’t like these plants and will steer clear of them, and hopefully any plants surrounding them.

Snow-in-Summer

A great plant to ward off bunnies is the snow-in-summer plant. They bloom in the spring and are a fantastic way to fill a large garden space. Snow-in-summer plants are planted from seeds and have a tendency to spread around. They can fill any gaping holes you may have in your garden and be a bunny repellant at the same time!

Blazing Star

Since rabbits are crafty creatures they can likely navigate around a fence with a certain amount of ease. Try planting a row of Blazing Star plants along the fence line and see if that helps to minimize your popularity in the bunny community. Blazing Star plants can grow to be as tall as four feet, so they make excellent backdrops to your garden.

Herbs

Plants don’t have to be purely decorative to be effective in minimizing your bunny problems. Thyme and oregano make great bunny deterrents while also providing you with a great source for delicious home-grown herbs.

Bunnies are cute in kindergarten classrooms and Saturday morning cartoons, but any homeowner will tell you that they can be quite destructive when playing around in your garden. If you can intentionally plant some bunny-repellant plants in your garden as a safe and easy way to keep them away, your garden will have the chance to flourish all year long.

To learn more about rabbit-resistant plants or discover other gardening tips, talk to the experts at Ritchie Feed & Seed. We are the leading Ottawa garden centre and stock everything you need for your lawn and garden, including seeds, gardening tools, and more!

Which Plants Are Best for Fall Colour?

Categories:
03/10/2016
fall colour

With that fresh autumn breeze just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about colour – and we don’t just mean the trees. When it comes to autumn, you’ve got to take full advantage of that palette of colours it provides us with. So get out that garden hoe, grab your gloves, and take your pick of these plants that will be your best options for magnifying those fall colours.

Arkansas Blue Star

This perennial plant offers you a variety of foliage to enjoy. In the springtime it blossoms into tiny blue star flowers atop willow-like foliage that you can enjoy all summer long. And come autumn, that foliage turns into a beautiful golden-yellow, all the while being able to withstand the winter.

It’s the perfect plant if you’re in search of something low-maintenance and resilient with a variety of colour to enjoy throughout each season.

Red Osier Dogwood

If you’re in search of a shrub that will provide you with vibrant colour throughout the fall and the wintertime – red osier is it. This shrub is hearty and strong. It’s the perfect shrub if you’re looking to plant a hedge, or simply add a splash of colour to the mix. Due to the fibrous roots, hardiness, and deep, vibrant red stems that last all throughout the winter – this shrub has become a favourite among many avid landscapers and gardeners.

Fragrant Viburnum

If sight and smell are what you seek, consider the fragrant viburnum. These shrubs are also a favourite among gardeners. If you’ve got a problem area – dry, wet, sunny or shady – viburnums will jump to the rescue. They can survive just about anywhere. Plus, they offer attractive foliage, burgundy hues and fresh fragrances. It’s the perfect bundled package to embrace those autumn colours.

Balloon Flower

Also known as a Chinese Bellflower, this plant is your show-stopper. If you’re looking for a plant that has that “wow factor” – this is it. This perennial is easy to grow and offers dazzling blue flowers that peak in mid-to late summer and into the fall. It can handle extreme cold and extreme heat, so you can get the benefits of vibrant blues, mixed with white and pink palettes to liven up your garden during those autumn months.

Embrace the beauty of autumn this year by adding a few splashes of colour to your garden. And if you’re look for plants that will put on a show, you can bet any of these will do just that.

Looking for more fall gardening ideas? The friendly staff at Ritchie Feed & Seed can help with everything you need: plant search, lawncare, seeds, bird feeders, pond supplies, garden tools, and much more! Browse online or visit our Ottawa garden stores to learn more.

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