Sustainability Gardening – MMGA Education Event

Sustainability Gardening
MMGA’s Annual Education Event

Saturday, January 18, 2020, 10am – 12pm
Canadian Mennonite University South Campus Conference Room
600 Shaftesbury Blvd, Winnipeg, MB R3P 2N2

All are Welcome!
Non-members: $5.00 at the door
Members: Free

Rod Kueneman and Tiffany Grenkow are presenting a fascinating discussion on food security, techniques for building healthy soil, and delicious edibles that you can grow in your garden.

Rod Kueneman and Tiffany Grenkow are garden stewards for the food forest at Sustainable South Osborne Community Co-operative (SSOCC). Located at 250 Churchill Dr., the fruit orchards and network of riverside garden plots near Riverview Health Centre are models of efficiencies.

Gardening for a Lifetime – How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older

By Sydney Eddison, Timber Press, 2011

A Book Review by Lenore Linton, Master Gardener

Sydney Eddison is a garden writer who has lived and gardened in Newtown Connecticut [zone 6b] since 1961. By 2004 both the author and her husband were experiencing health problems which made gardening more challenging but they were not ready to leave their well-loved home and garden. In Gardening for a Lifetime she explores the options available to older gardeners, especially those wishing to stay put. However, this book is not just for 80 year olds; there is much in it for busy younger gardeners who have work and family responsibilities.

A Canada Nursery Inbound Trade Mission – Travelogue part 1 of 2

Alaska Peony Growers – on left: Rita Jo Shoultz, peony grower/owner of “Alaska Perfect Peony” farm

By Colleen Zacharias, Master Gardener

In June I was invited to participate in a Canada nursery inbound trade mission to Alaska, Washington State, and Hawaii. This agricultural trade mission was sponsored by the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association with the goal to promote agricultural trade between the U.S. and Canada.

The Canadian group consisted of nursery owners and florists from Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia, myself, and representatives from grocery chains whose businesses include garden centres and floristry departments. I was the only writer on the trip and signed a contract to write a series of articles. Our visit, beginning in late July, to the three states involved a total of 12 flights and dozens of visits to tree farms, peony farms, native plant nurseries, protea and anthurium farms, tropical foliage nurseries, and orchards. In addition to on-site visits, we also attended presentations (including a wedding workshop) and met with individual growers.

The Scarlet Lily Leaf Beetle

An Update on the Activity of the Beetle in Manitoba
By Ian Wise

Whenever an invasive insect spreads to a new habitat, climatic and environmental parameters will determine whether the insect is able to establish. The scarlet lily leaf beetle, Lilioceris lilii, has now been in Manitoba for over 20 years. Initially found in Portage la Prairie, this pest is now present throughout Winnipeg and recently was located in Brandon. The beetle was first found in North America in Montreal in 1943, and began to invade other lily growing areas of Canada and United States in the 1970’s and 1980’s with the growing popularity of potted lilies. This leaf beetle is not suited for long distance travel because of its poor flying ability, but readily has taken advantage of human’s propensity to unknowingly distribute all forms of life. Manitoba experienced the effects of this previously with the arrival of the European elm bark beetle, and is witnessing a further repeat of this tendency with the recent arrival of the emerald ash borer. Unfortunately, expect this problem to continue.

The Prairie Garden – 2020 Launch

The Prairie Garden: Inspired by Nature
Sunday, November 24, 2019: 2:00 p.m.
McNally Robinson Booksellers
4000 – 1120 Grant Avenue, Winnipeg MB

The 2020 edition of The Prairie Garden, featuring the theme “Inspired by Nature”, focuses on how gardeners in our region can take a cue from nature in everything from design to plant choice to ongoing care, to create beautiful, resilient gardens that are less work to maintain and friendlier to all living things.

Meet our guest editor, naturalist and cultural resource specialist Maureen Krauss, and the all-volunteer Prairie Garden Committee that produces our publication, including editor Linda Dietrick and committee chair Ian Wise, plus the contributing authors who attend.
Have your books signed by the guest editor and editor, and enjoy some light refreshments in an informal setting.
Come celebrate with us and learn about this year’s edition!

Forcing Bulbs in the Midst of Winter

Gardeners Share North Presents
Saturday, November 23, 2019 – 1:00 PM
Gaynor Regional Family Library – Selkirk

A whiff of warm air woke up dormant bulbs in the pot. ”It’s spring! It’s spring!” they started to shout, preparing their shoots to grow up into the light! It was in the midst of winter not in the spring. A crafty gardener can trigger them to sprout and bloom.
Horticulturists call this technique “Forcing”. At Easter thousands of forced lilies are sold on the market.
Forcing bulbs is fun. Blooming plants will give a special “feels like spring” touch to your place.
Plant material will be provided.  All are Welcome!

It’s All About the Partnerships


by Marcia Hamm Wiebe, Master Gardener

Our garden known as Green Futures North, in Brandon, MB is the second largest community garden in the city. Samaritan House Ministries is able to tend this garden with the following partnerships:
The City of Brandon has offered access to the land free of charge since 2012. The Parks Department also offers soil and compost as needed for the gardeners to add to their raised beds.
The 81 raised beds (dimensions 4 feet x 12 feet) were given to the community garden by Enactus, a student group at Brandon University. The following is a description of the Enactus group from their Facebook page:

Company Overview
“We create programs to address social, economic, and environmental issues in our community. These programs incorporate financial literacy education, environmentalism and entrepreneurial practices to improve the livelihoods of the people in our community. Last year, our team put over 3,500 volunteer hours into eight projects. Working with a variety of local groups, we’ve helped form community gardens, taught new immigrants about Canada’s financial system, and helped small businesses create an online presence.”

Winter Bulbs

by Diana Dhaliwal, Master Gardener

Having put our gardens to bed for the winter, we can now turn our thoughts to gardening indoors. The first thing that comes to mind is to start bulbs indoors. Amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp. and cvs.) and paperwhites (Narcissus papyaceus) are very popular as they do not require vernalization.

One can buy amaryllis either in a pack with a pot and some peat or coir to grow it in, or as loose bulbs. As they are not cheap bulbs it is worth keeping them from year to year. Keeping amaryllis involves cutting off the flower stalk, keeping the leaves in as bright light as possible indoors, and then planting out once the danger of frost is passed. Feed the bulbs over the summer but don’t overwater. In late summer or fall bring the bulb into a cool dry place, allow the leaves to wither and the plant to go into dormancy. Do not water the bulb. Once the bulb is dormant it can be started up again after 2-5 months of dormancy by potting it into new soil, watering it, and putting it into bright light. Amaryllis will bloom about 5-8 weeks after starting. Of course the very biggest bulbs will give the best results.

Winnipeg Forest Watch

Trees Winnipeg (Coalition to Save the Elms) was originally established as non-profit in 1992 dedicated to preserving Winnipeg’s beloved American elm trees through community engagement and education. Since then Trees Winnipeg mission has evolved into protection, preservation and promotion of the urban forest and urban environment.

Trees Winnipeg is an organization committed to protecting and educating Winnipeg on the benefits of its urban forest and threats that impact it. Trees Winnipeg is asking for your help in conducting the Winnipeg Forest Watch Program. We are looking for volunteers to conduct surveys on pre-determined routes. There will be two types of surveys. The first survey will be held in early summer to identify trees that may have been affected by emerald ash borer (EAB). The second survey will to identify potential candidates for the City of Winnipeg’s ash injection program.

Volunteers will be invited to attend two workshops, the welcome workshop and the wrap up workshop. At the welcome workshop, all volunteers will receive the information they need to identify trees that are affected by EAB and trees that can be candidates for injection to prevent EAB.

Trees Winnipeg with the partnership of the City of Winnipeg and dedicated volunteers can help combat and manage invasive pests in Winnipeg. Please, send this notice to any members interested in volunteering.

On behalf of Trees Winnipeg and our executive board of directors, I would like to say thank-you and we look forward to working with you in preserving our canopy.

Preparing your Garden for Winter Birds

Preparing Your Garden for Winter Birds
by – Richard Staniforth

It is the middle of October; we have already had snow and cold weather. But today as I write, the sun is shining, the snow has gone, any remaining foliage on shrubs and perennial plants have their delicate colours and there are Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows searching for fallen seeds beneath remains of the perennials. We try not to think of it, but winter IS on its way and we will lose some or most of the autumn charm. Is there any way that we can keep some of the features of October to help us keep up our spirits through the long winter months?

                                                                   White-breasted Nuthatch

Chances are the Juncos and White-throated Sparrows will be far away before we reach the deep freeze that is February. Nevertheless, there will be other birds to catch our attention and keep us peering through the kitchen window at the otherwise white wasteland: Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, and Blue Jays keep us entertained and are frequent in our cities. In forested rural areas to the east of Winnipeg, the inhabitants may expect additional species, such as Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pileated Woodpeckers, Canada Jays and winter finches such as flocks of the diminutive Common and Hoary Redpolls, or the robust Evening and Pine Grosbeaks.

                                                                   Downy Woodpecker

Aside from the availability of commercial bird food such as suet, or black-oiled sunflower and Niger seeds is there anything we can do to attract and hang on to winter birds by our gardening practices? Two items come to mind: shelter and a natural source of food.

                                                                         Hairy Woodpecker

Over the years, my wife and I have discovered that densely foliaged trees and shrubs offer protective dormitories for winter birds. Shrubs such as cultivars of various cedars, junipers and dwarf pines (Thuja, Juniperus and Pinus species) and even dense stands of dead stems of perennials (now long dormant) such as Peonies (Paeonia species) and Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum species) may offer protection from powerful winter winds. These are welcomed by birds. The plan to keep the stalks of perennials available for winter birds must be made in autumn before the enthusiasm for efficient garden clean-up takes hold! Strategically placed log piles and solid wood fence lines also play a role in winter shelter for birds.
Soft fruits of many species are long gone by the time winter has set in. They have already been wolfed down by passing flocks of migratory birds until none are left for winter birds. Such species may include cultivated and wild cherries (Prunus species), Dogwoods (Cornus species), Highbush Cranberries (Viburnum opulus var. americanum, formerly V. trilobum ) and Nannyberries (Viburnum lentago). Exceptions to these are perhaps the Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) and certain non-native species that are not in step with our seasons in Manitoba. The dogwood flowers and fruits continuously until the first fall frosts and therefore provides a longer fall feeding period. Non-native species may produce fruit so late that winter arrives before they fall from the parent plants or are eaten. This latter category includes various apple cultivars which may attract a Robin or Varied Thrush if we are fortunate. Of European origin, the Black and Bittersweet Nightshades (Solanum nigrum and Solanum dulcamara) hold their berries well into winter. By the time they are black or red respectively they will have lost all or most of their poisonous chemical, solanine, and are edible to birds – a fact not worth testing by humans!

                                                                             Dark-eyed Junco

It is certainly worthwhile to leave old seed heads above the snowline; they will likely attract birds! Cultivars of Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Blood Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus), Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) and many other garden flowers retain a proportion of their seeds during winter and these attract birds like Chickadees. There are usually tiny bugs hiding in their seed heads which are equally as attractive as food. We have found, by neglect, that the same is true for “weeds” like Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica), Spotted Lady’s-thumb (Persicaria maculosa) and Prostrate Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare), Redroot Amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus) and Common Lamb’s-quarters (Chenopodium album).

                                                                         Leaving seedheads

For those gardeners who are anxious to continue with fall clean-up, seed heads which are borne on long stalks may be artistically arranged in planters above anticipated snow lines, attached to the fabric of fences, or displayed in hanging baskets.


Customise your yard in the autumn to feed and provide shelter for birds during the upcoming winter but both endeavours must maintain a predator free environment for birds to feel safe. Unfortunately, the establishment of your winter bird sanctuary will soon become a magnet for cats. Tricky, because usually the local cat owners may be your neighbours and you may not wish to antagonise them! The price of encouraging birds to your yard, perchance?

Richard Stanifoth was born and grew up in Devonshire, England where he, his sisters and brother benefited from the diversity of landscapes, animals and plants that filled their environment. He went to Bangor University for an Honours degree in Plant Biology and it was there that he met his future wife, Diana Parry. After their marriage, the couple made their home in London, Ontario but eventually moved to Winnipeg where Richard taught plant and ecology courses at the University of Winnipeg for 33 years.