Time to dig out the spade

For some people, when they remove their winter mittens each spring, a green appendage appears to guide them effortlessly through the growing seasons.
But for those of us without a green thumb, here is some advice on how to get started.
Blair Lowey, of Lowey’s Garden Centre here, said the bedding plant season is quickly approaching.
“We just finished Easter and Mother’s Day is just around the corner,” he noted last week, referring to two of the busiest holiday times for flowers.
“[Usually] bedding plants run from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day.”
Lowey sensed people are becoming antsy to get their gardens into the ground, but stressed that it doesn’t pay to jump the gun.
“We’re still messing with frost,” he warned. “We still have ice on the lakes.”
He explained that as the winds cross the lakes with ice, such as Lake of the Woods, the air is cooled and not as favourable for the less hardy plants.
“Most people wait until Victoria Day weekend [to plant their gardens and bedding plants],” Loney noted, adding things begin around Mother’s Day with hanging planters.
However, he suggested some things can go in the ground ahead of the last frosts. For instance, those people wanting to plant carrots, beets, onions, radishes, and potatoes, as well as a few other garden plants and vegetables, can start immediately.
“Things like tomatoes and peppers are finicky,” Lowey said. “You have to wait until June. Most people use the first full moon in June as an indicator.
“You have to have a 62-degree ground temperature for corn,” he added.
As for bedding plants, Lowey said some of the most popular are geraniums and petunias, but noted people were beginning to get a little more adventurous in their plant selection.
“People are looking, willing to try new things,” he remarked.
He felt genetically-enhanced flowers are really giving people a variety to choose from, as well as offer more bang for their buck when one genetically-enhanced plant can take the place of six regular ones in some cases.
He recommended the tried and true geranium for those looking for something that easily adapts to the climate here, adding they’ll last “’til the snow, pretty well.”
For something new, he suggested the New Guinea impatiens plants. Similar to other varieties of impatiens in shape of leaf and flower, though bigger, this plant will work well in flower beds, hangers, or patio pots.
No matter what bedding plants you choose, Lowey had a few suggestions in how to keep your gardens looking beautiful all season long.
“People should feed their plants all summer with water-soluble feeds,” he said, adding products like MiracleGro would be fine although some plants need specific nutrients.
He also said the time of day you plant your plants really doesn’t matter as long as you give them lots of water.
“[But] try not to water too late in the day. You don’t want to get water on the leaves,” Lowey warned, adding the excess water can cause disease.
If you need more advice, visit Lowey’s or any of the other greenhouses in the district. Safeway also will have products for sale from Lowey’s from Mother’s Day through Father’s Day to make buying your bedding plants easy.