Volunteering During COVID-19 Times

By Meera Sinha, Master Gardener in Training


This article first appeared in a shorter version in the Medical Post on September 4, 2020, where it garnered attention from the National Institute of Ageing. It is reposted here with the generous permission of the Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Post.

COVID-19 zoomed in like the plague on all my plans to volunteer at organized gardening events and complete my Manitoba Master Gardener in Training (MGIT) internship. However, as the saying goes, “every cloud has a silver lining”.

My love of gardening started when I planted a potted geranium that my father had purchased for me at a florist shop in a suburb of London, England. Over the years I continued to dabble in various gardens in my life without paying much attention to the details, such as what makes plants, shrubs and trees flourish or not.

My Childhood Dream to Create an Indigenous Garden

by Elizabeth Sellors, Master Gardener
Part 3/3

I have located plants throughout my yard to suit their habitat requirements. My woodland area in the back yard is shady and located near two large pine trees. This area has Canada violet (Viola canadensis), Bicknell’s geranium (Geranium bicknelli Britt.) and ferns. I located my rarest native plants in the area where I removed Aegopodium so many years ago. It is a moist area of dappled shade, the perfect location for my yellow lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum), nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum L), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), and alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii). Brunnera or Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla, nn) and lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis, nn) are located here as well. At one time I had Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) growing in this area. I have not seen Jack for some time but keep hoping he will make an appearance again. I have had some plants take a hiatus and suddenly reappear again years later.

Gardening During the Pandemic

By Doris Mae Oulton, Master Gardener In Training

As the pandemic began to have an impact, the gardening community felt little rumblings of change in the gardening world.

Anyone following their usual gardening pattern would have been surprised at their first visit to their favourite nursery to find that the plants being offered were smaller because there had already been a first wave of buying. Nursery owners were surprised that plants started going out the door in March. When there were closedowns of the greenhouses, the beginning of a wave of panic could be felt.

Accurate Frost Forecast = Happy Gardener

By John Sauder

As a broadcast meteorologist, I’m always very careful when it comes to issuing a forecast because I know that it affects how Manitobans will plan their day. When it comes to a forecast for frost, I’m extra careful because it affects the incredible effort that gardeners undertake in spring and all season. And I have extra pressure; my wife is a gardener!

A forecast that includes a risk of frost, especially in late spring, really gets the attention of gardeners all over the forecast region. It can be a tricky forecast. I don’t want to tell people to cover their plants when it’s not required, because that can be a lot of work. On the other hand, I don’t want to see newly planted flowers and gardens destroyed by frost either, because that makes for a very unpopular local weatherman. When that happens (not often), I spend a lot of time hiding in the basement, and you won’t see me walking through the local garden centre for a while.

A Vegetable Garden Adventure


By Darlene Belton, Master Gardener

I’ve grown herbs and a few vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, for many years but I have always tucked them right into my ornamental borders. However, this year for many reasons, I decided to experiment with creating a dedicated vegetable garden.

The prime motivator was wanting to implement my recent learning about regenerative agriculture, a growing movement to restore farmed landscapes to levels of soil and ecological health not seen since before the European settlement. Soil health is now even more rapidly degenerating through impacts of industrial agriculture, which destroys soil and ecosystems by heavy tillage, chemical applications, and the increasingly intensive cultivation of monocultures.

My Childhood Dream to Create an Indigenous Garden

by Elizabeth Sellors, Master Gardener
Part 2/3

In order to achieve the prairie and woodland experience I wanted the garden would, in many respects, just “happen”. It would be loosely planted, not rigidly controlled by specifically positioned plants. My principal considerations for placement were light requirements, ensuring the health of my plants and their height. Formally landscaped properties tend to plan bed selections by bloom time, and often select species using a colour wheel. By comparison, my approach was a seemingly mismatched aesthetic. Native plant species have a broad range of bloom times and colours so I knew I would have plenty of interest during the growing season. Although I did not select my plants for a specific appearance, over the years my plants have provided more than enough aesthetic interest and wonderful blended colour combinations. Some plants eventually form drifts while others are more prone to singularity. I grow some plants for the beauty of their leaves, not their blooms. While the plants are mostly left without intervention, they all receive water while establishing. They are also mulched with leaves. The benefit of the leaves is weed control, reduce temperature fluctuations, provision of nutrients for the soil organisms and retention of moisture. Leaves that fall in my garden, stay in my garden. Since nature does not like empty spaces and bare soil, my plants are tightly grouped leaving little to no space between them. By treating my garden this way, it mimics natural habitats and offers sources of food for wildlife, insects and birds. Close proximity of plants attracts bees, allowing them to move quickly from one flower to another. At the end of the season, I leave my beds intact. The plant stalks, leaves and seed heads remain to be seen through the snow, allowing me to enjoy a completely different aesthetic of their end-of-season colours. The seed heads provide birds and voles some nourishment during the winter months.

Roses are Considered to be Picky

By Sandra Venton Master Gardener

Roses are considered to be picky, fussy, finicky, and a host of other pejorative adjectives denigrating them, but they strike a chord in the hearts of many gardeners, including myself. I planted by first rose in 1957 when I was ten years old – it was ‘Virgo’, a hybrid tea, and of course it lasted for one year, and promptly passed away during the next winter. Regroup and replant. Next came the hybrid tea ‘The Doctor’ in 1959, and it managed to last for 2 years, and then it also gave up the ghost.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Garden Plastic

By Jane Zoutman, Master Gardener

Spring has sprung and Manitoba gardener’s thoughts have turned to planting. We should also be thinking of what products we are using and how we dispose of them. Gardeners use a lot of plastic, from plant pots to the Velcro used to tie up plants. The plastic is often not recyclable so it ends up in the landfill and eventually in our water as pieces of plastic or micro plastics.

My Childhood Dream to Create an Indigenous Garden – Part 1

By Elizabeth Sellors, Master Gardener

An indigenous garden is one that respects the flora that evolved over millennia and that established itself prior to the introduction of European settlements. An indigenous garden is one that cares for wildlife through synergistic relationships. An indigenous garden is one in harmony with nature, put together as nature would, without geometry and controlling structure and with minimal interference from a gardener.

Gardening Question of the Month

Last year I had flea beetles in one of my vegetable garden boxes (thankfully only one) and I couldn’t get rid of them. I tried diatomaceous earth, neem oil, and planting some trap plants to lure them away (radishes). Nothing worked very well, but maybe there were too many by the time I tried to combat them.
I guess I have 2 questions:
1. what is the best way to get rid of them?
2. is the garden box where they lived last year going to be a bastion for them again? or does the winter erase that? Last year, that garden box had kale, lettuce, and arugula, and then the radishes (which turned out quite nice!)