Tropical Foliage Plants

By Colleen Zacharias, Master Gardener

As gardeners, we have a deep interest in plants – even those we may not personally grow in our gardens or homes. As Master Gardeners, we have a deep interest in sustainable solutions and growing practices. I can’t explain where my deep curiosity about the intricacies of a nursery or greenhouse operation comes from. I have never worked in the horticulture industry but that is where my fascination lies. The chance to pull back the curtain on the inner workings of a greenhouse operation and the opportunity to listen to a grower or nursery owner describe her or his specific challenges is a window to understanding the consolidated efforts that go into bringing plants to the marketplace.

Sweet Potatoes Sweet Research

By Dr. Sajjad A. Rao

In recent years, the importance of growing sweet potato has increased considerably in Canada. About 1,700 acres are currently grown in Canada on a commercial scale, with southern Ontario’s Norfolk County hosting the majority of this acreage. These operations mostly grow long-season varieties, common in the southern United States. Canada’s growers supply less than one quarter of the sweet potatoes consumed in this country. In 2018, imports of fresh sweet potatoes amounted to approximately 72,390 metric tons in Canada; an increase of around 28,040 metric tons as compared to 2008. Due to market and industry demand, sweet potato became a crop of interest for Canadian growers, and is now making in-roads in Manitoba farms and gardens as a potential crop for Manitoba vegetable growers and gardeners.

Manitoba’s Provincial Flower – The Prairie Crocus

By Meera Sinha, Master Gardener in Training (MGIT)

The prairie crocus, unlike its common name suggests, is not a crocus (Iris family) but an anemone, Anemone patens, syn. Pulsatilla patens, and belongs to the buttercup or crowfoot family (Ranunculaceae). Cut-leaved anemone (Anemone multifida), long-fruited anemone (Anemone cylindrica), and Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis) all native to Manitoba, are closely related to it.

Anemos = wind (Greek), patent = lying open (Latin), pulsare = to beat (Latin)

It has many different common names throughout North America: Pasque flower, wind flower, prairie smoke, blue tulip, ears of the earth, gosling flower.

It is a long-lived (several decades) flowering perennial herb occurring throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It can be found on the sunny, wind-swept, dry, uncultivated native prairie and in open woods.

In early spring, the hairy flower emerges from a single hairy stem. The flower is one to two inches across with blue-violet sepals that are pointed at the tips. The sepals are usually 6 in number and arranged like a saucer. They reflect the sunlight towards the center, warming it by as much as 10º C above the surrounding temperature. Numerous yellow stamens and a tuft of greyish pistils in the warm center act as a food source and a warm-up shelter for pollinators in early spring. The flower is open during the day and closes at night. The narrowly segmented leaves emerge after flowering and the risk of frost is over. They stay green throughout the summer.

As the flower fades, the numerous pistils develop into a hairy seed head (reminiscent of clematis and three flowered avens, Geum triflorum) while the hairy stalk elongates. The spear-shaped seeds (achenes), with their distinct characteristics of backward pointing hairs on a water absorbing tail, ensure successful self-planting.
The root is a woody taproot. Early on the root system develops a symbiotic partnership with mycorrhizae which assists in the establishment of the seedling by exchange of nutrients. In the first two years, the plant develops an extensive and deep root system that adapts well to the drought prone prairie environment.

American Goldfinches and black birds eat the seeds of the prairie crocus in the summer. While the hairy prairie crocus is unattractive to the grazing livestock, the ground squirrels, deer and elk are undeterred by its defense strategies. The plant contains a poisonous alkaloid, protoanemonin that can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal symptoms when ingested.

The First Nations Peoples were aware of the plant’s properties and used it to treat rheumatism and muscle pain with the application of poultices. They were aware of the danger of ingestion.

The massive loss of prairie habitat has resulted in a decline of the prairie crocus and as a result its conservation status is under review in North America. It is not yet on the Endangered Species Act list, although it is at risk in Nunavut and Ontario. In the United States it is critically endangered in Utah and possibly extirpated in Kansas. In Europe it is on the list of endangered species of vascular plants (Red List).

If you wish to grow prairie crocus in your garden, please note that it is unethical to dig up wild native plants. According to Ethical Gardener’s Guidelines (Johnson, Lorraine; 100 Easy to Grow Native Plants, Whitecap Book, 2005) one should obtain native plants from seed, garden, or nursery and buy only wildflowers and ferns certified by the vendors as “Nursery Propagated.”

Prairie crocus plants can be purchased from native plant nurseries and it can be successfully grown from seed with a little care. The prairie crocus likes a well-drained sandy or gravelly soil in full sun to light shade.

Find further instructions on how to grow prairie crocus in your garden in this Fact Sheet from Shirley Froehlich, former owner of Prairie Originals Native Plant Nursery .

Hometown Habitat-Stories of Bringing Nature Home (Film)

Hometown Habitat, Stories of Bringing Nature Home
Saturday, February 1, 2020
12 noon (doors open 11:30am)

Cinematheque Theatre
100 Arthur St., Winnipeg, MB
Cost: Non-member: $15.00 Member: $10.00
All are Welcome!

The Meadow Project’s mission is to educate and raise awareness about sustainable, native, healthy, easy and affordable land care practices that support wildlife and human life.

This documentary features renowned entomologist Douglas Tallamy, whose research, books and lectures about the use of non-native plants in landscaping sound the alarm about habitat and species loss. Producer/director Catherine Zimmerman of the Meadow Project spent two years visiting and filming seven Hometown Habitat heroes. Their inspiring stories of community commitment to conservation landscaping illustrate Tallamy’s vision by showing how humans and nature can co-exist with mutual benefits.
The 90-minute film will be followed by a panel discussion led by Linda Dietrick, editor of The 2020 Prairie Garden “Inspired by Nature.” The panelists are:
Carla Zelmer, biology instructor and manager of the Buller Greenhouse at the University of Manitoba;  Chris Penner, restoration ecologist with the landscape firm Scatliffe Miller Murray; and Aimee McDonald, owner of the native plant nursery Prairie Flora in Teulon, Manitoba.

Gardening Garage & Bake Sale

Let’s celebrate the start of Spring!
Are you cleaning up your garage – or downsizing your house?

Donate your gently-used garden-related items to the MMGA Garden Garage Sale! We will accept tools, equipment, books, magazines, garden ornaments, planters, etc

And what is a Garage Sale without a Bake Sale? Do you like to bake? Why not donate some of your specialities (well wrapped and labelled, of course).

Or do you have a plant specialty, that you want to share, either through demonstration or for sale?

There will also be a limited number of tables available for members and garden vendors. Tables for MMGA members are free, tables for non-members, groups -$15.

Any questions, or to reserve a table, contact Shelley at 257-1327 or

Veggie Garden Remix – Niki Jabbour

Niki Jabbour is the award-winning author of three books and in demand speaker on unique vegetable growing methods you do not want to miss.
Grow your garden better learning from experienced vegetable gardener Niki Jabbour, and best-selling, award-winning author of Veggie Garden Remix. Jabbour specializes in growing delicious herbs and vegetables with international flavours and utilizes clever planting techniques
Veggie Garden Remix explores how gardeners can diversify the crops they grow.

Niki Jabbour is the award-winning author of three books – The Year Round Vegetable Gardener , Groundbreaking Food Gardens, and Veggie Garden Remix. Niki is the winner of the 2019 American Horticultural Society Book Award, winner of the Gold Book Award from GardenComm, and winner of the 2019 Silver Award from Taste Canada. She writes for magazines like Fine Gardening, Horticulture, and Birds & Blooms. An demand speaker, offering seminars and keynotes at events, shows, societies, and greenhouses across North America such as the Canada Blooms, Northwest Flower & Garden Show, The Philadelphia Flower Show, and The Boston Flower Show. Niki has hosted and executive produced her radio show, The Weekend Gardener which airs on News 95.7 FM in Halifax as well as online. For her broadcasting work, Niki won the 2015 Gold Award from GardenComm as ‘Best On-Air Talent’. Niki is very active on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Niki gardens in her twenty raised-bed vegetable garden in Halifax, Nova Scotia growing an eclectic mixture of popular vegetables including unique heirloom varieties, and crops from around the world like cucamelons, snake gourds, and za’atar

Niki quotes: “Vegetable gardening is huge right now, it’s a huge trend, and a lot of people are growing their own food in containers, raised beds, and in ground gardens.”

Come and learn Niki’s many unique gardening methods and unusual vegetables that she grows in her raised-bed gardens.

Unfortunately the Niki Jabbour event has been cancelled.
Thank you to all who purchased tickets and for your support for this event and others that we organize!
All monies from ticket purchases will be refunded as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding and patience!

Gardening Saturday

Steinbach and Area Garden Club – ‘Come Grow with Us’

Here at the Steinbach and Area Garden Club, we are excited about our special Manitoba 150 “Come Grow with Us” Event that we are hosting on
Saturday, April 18. This event will include presentations by local gurus, a keynote presentation by Lyndon Penner, an opportunity to have questions answered by seasoned gardeners, etc. The Opening Ceremony will include the unveiling of a Regal Celebration Maple Tree that we will be planting at the Mennonite Heritage Village to commemorate Manitoba’s 150 Anniversary and a special presentation honoring Fred Kaita whose work over the last 70 years has added so much beauty to public gardens in South East Manitoba .You will recall that Fred Kaita was a founding member of the Steinbach and Area Garden Club.

We are delighted to be partnering with our South East Artists Group to hold a special Manitoba 150 Art Exhibit titled “Gardens Through the Eyes of an Artist” during our event. Twelve artists from south east Manitoba will be exhibiting their art works that have been inspired by gardens they have seen. As well, one of the artists will be working on a painting in progress during the event

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.