tofino gardening in may 2011

Tofino gardening in May 2011

by Trina Mattson, Tofino

the letter 'S'Spring has arrived (finally), most bulbs have bloomed, and some are still to come, for those that finished, wait until the leaves die back before cutting them off, if you must, fold them over and wrap an elastic band around them to keep the garden or planter looking tidy, then when the leaves have all browned off, it’s as easy as popping the leaves of at the soil level, and composting them. Don’t tug too hard, if they don’t just pop off, then give them another week. The bulbs need the energy from the leaves, for next year’s blossoms.

Any heather that has finished blooming can be cut back, usually about 3-5 inches is fine, this will promote thicker growth, and for any heathers that are woody and bare in the center, pile some soil/compost over it, and it will send new shoots from the middle.

Unfortunately with the rough winter and extended wet spring we had, many people lost plants, or they don’t look great. Two ways to do this, either dig it out, and replace it, or wait and see, some have just died at the top, but the roots are sound, and will send up new shoots from the bottom, Bamboo, Hydrangeas, West Coast Palms (dracaena) are some of the ones that are prone to this.
Of course it is time for horsetail, it is extremely hard to get rid of, a healthy garden, usually high in nitrogen is said to hold less horsetail. I’ve found from pure accident that weed-whacking seems to keep it at bay, now if you don’t want to weed whack your garden the equivalent would be going around with scissors and cutting them of at soil level. Why cut and not pull, rip or tear? The theory is that cutting them frequently will starve them of sunlight and eventually kill off the roots, pulling etc, actually shocks them in to putting on more growth. Mulches and landscape fabric do not work, the roots on horsetail can travel for miles, and will even pop up through pavement.

So glad to see the hummingbirds back, late but in numbers I think unseen for a while, we have at least 12 battling it out over the 4 feeders and all the blossoms in the yard, it sounds like a swarm of bees. As well we are seeing many others birds back and those too seem to be in greater numbers.

Ponds are starting to green up again, both with plants and algae, now most algae’s will not hurt your fish, string algae is not great, and green water doesn’t look pretty, but can be beneficial. Mainly if you put enough floating plants in your pond, to cover 80% of the surface, it should keep the water clear.

Bedding plants are available at garden centers, watch your temperatures, one of the biggest questions I get every year, is “I purchased plants out of town, because you didn’t have any in yet, and planted them, and now all the leaves have gone red, or the plant has died, what happened?” well my obvious response is you bought them from out of town, where the temperature is 5 degrees warmer (and yes it makes a difference), and it’s too cold here. Sorry no help here cause other than digging them up and putting them in a greenhouse, there is nothing you can do.

When building hanging baskets and planters, take the time to empty out the old dead soil, even if it is from last year, annual bedding plants, can exhaust soil, so it’s best to dump it into the garden or compost and freshen the soil with new stuff. If it’s a garden bed you are working on, amend the soil with compost and manures to build it up. Bedding plants are heavy feeders to keep them blossoming all summer and it late fall you will get out of them, what you put into them.

Vegetables can safely be sown in the garden by mid May, and consecutive seeding of fast growing crops, lettuce etc will keep you in the green all summer. Again some vegetables are heavy feeders, like tomatoes, squashes etc. so pile it on, I like to use both a granular and liquid organic, so when the granular is breaking down and building my soil, the liquid is feeding my plants immediately, seems like over kill, but I get great crops so…

Anyway, this time of year is busy, busy in the garden, enjoy and Happy Gardening!


Trina Mattson runs the Ordinary Corner Nursery in Tofino. Find her on Facebook under OCN Garden Center,
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Tofino Time May 2011

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tofino gardening in may 2011Gardening in Tofino in May 2011: Tofino gardening tips by Tofino gardener Trina Mattson for Tofino Time Magazine.


tofino time may 2011