What your garden isn’t telling you (but you can learn)!

Photo The Soil Food Web retrieved from: Soil Biology Primer; http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/soils/health/biology/ [June 30, 2021]; authors: Elaine R. Ingham, Andrew R. Moldenke, Oregon State University, Clive A. Edwards, The Ohio State University; Illustrations: Nancy K. Marshall, Marshall Designs

By Darlene Belton, Master Gardener

Good gardeners see themselves as committed caregivers to their plants, but how many of us are aware of how much plants manage their own growth and health through partnerships and cooperative systems operating unseen to us, both below and above ground?

A new bioscience is gaining traction, with discoveries reported daily, about how plants obtain the nutrients essential to health and ward off disease and pests. The new understandings include: that natural systems are more cooperative than competitive; that biology controls soil chemistry; that plants direct the process; and, that conventional human interventions are more destructive than helpful, no matter how well – meant.

A Wet Habitat Garden Project at Albrin Lake Park

Wet garden area – all photos by Debbie Innes

by Debbie Innes, Master Gardener

Debbie Innes has been the primary volunteer caretaker of Albrin Lake Park since 1999. From the beginning Debbie has been supported in her work by her husband Stuart who provides tree pruning services and general help. The Branching out Study Group of the Manitoba Master Gardener Association joined to help with maintenance of the garden beds three years ago. Every other year volunteers from the nearby neighbourhood come together to help spread wood chip mulch on all the garden beds. Debbie proudly states ”the park has never looked as good as it does this year despite the drought”.

The Changing Garden

By Fran Wershler, Master Gardener

Ever wonder why a garden that seems great in spring in June either softens its tone to a monotony of soft colour, a big green place, or becomes a great splash of bright colours?

My garden seems to have gone through many of those stages and after reading, thinking, and viewing many gardens I find that I have to analyse my own passions, plants, interests, likes and dislikes, and then work with the garden to build on combinations of colour, texture and form to enjoy in each stage of summer. The most difficult stage may well be late July and August when heat and dry conditions exist.

On Mixing Native and Non-Native

by Linda Dietrick (l.dietrick@uwinnipeg.ca), Master Gardener

Above photo – Painted lady on Zizia aurea – all photos- Linda Dietrick

When I give presentations about the New Perennialist style in landscape design, I always make a pitch for including our own prairie grasses and flowers in our landscapes. After one such talk, an audience member identified herself as a native plant enthusiast and asked: “Who would ever want to pay $50 for a peony?” I replied: “I would, and I have.” “But why?” she asked. Before I could say anything, another audience member answered for me: “Because it’s beautiful!” Exactly.

Rain Barrel MMGA Fundraiser

Shade Love it or Hate It, Don’t be Afraid of It!

Winnipeg Public Library
June 1, 2021 – 6:30 – 8:00pm

Master Gardener Sandy Venton presenter –
Are you wondering which plants thrive in shade? This presentation provides a pictorial of shade-loving perennials, showcasing the various types, colours and shapes in her north-facing shade bed.

The Potted Garden: Growing Vegetables in Containers


The Potted Garden: Growing Vegetables in Containers
Florence Carey, MGIT
June 15, 2021 – 6:30 – 8:00pm

Have you always wanted to grow some vegetables or herbs, but don’t have the space for a garden? Florence Carey, a Master Gardener in Training from the Manitoba Master Gardener Association, will provide a primer for new gardeners on how to grow garden crops in containers. We’ll talk about choosing a container and soil, where to grow your potted garden, and how to select seeds or plants and get started.


Life Cycle of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes)

Life Cycle of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes)
By Sharon Gray, Master Gardener in Training

The black swallowtail butterfly is one of the most beautiful butterflies to be found here in Manitoba. Female swallowtails, identified by larger, more prominent blue markings, and lesser yellow markings are larger than males. The butterfly has a wingspan of 69-84 mm (2 3/4 – 3½ inches).

Female Swallow, Photo by Prof. Donald W. Hall, University of Florida, Dept. of Entomology & Nematology, used with permission

Outdoor Classroom

Master Gardener in Action
Outdoor Classroom at Hazel M Kellington School, Neepawa

By Glenda MacPhee, Master Gardener

Years ago I took on a two week outdoor learning challenge with my grade one class. It was a wonderful experience and soon my other grade one colleagues joined me with their classes. We had a good variety of trees on our schoolyard and were able to make use of local parks as well. I enrolled in the Little Green Thumbs program to grow vegetables in our classroom and ran a noon hour Garden Club. We planted flowers at the entrances, vegetables in raised beds, a long row of tulips along the west side of the school and trees on the playground.

Oh! For Peat’s Sake!

File:Schultz Sphagnum Peat Moss.jpg” by Ragesoss is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

By Liz Sellors, Master Gardener

It’s spring! Gardening advertisements are bombarding us! Like this one :

“Peat is a natural product, sustainably harvested. Environmentally friendly. Our products are primarily based on the renewable resource of Sphagnum peat, THE recognized medium for reliable, efficient and high-yield plant breeding worldwide. The world grows more than 10 million plants in our peat pots.”

The first documentation of peat having been used horticulturally was in the 1940’s through experiments that created standardized horticultural growing media that consisted of loam, sand and peat. By the 1950’s, soilless culture became the plant substrate of choice in greenhouses and containerized nurseries. Canadian sphagnum peat mixed with loam was the culture of choice.