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  • Most flowers on an orchid plant (monopodial) Guinness World Records

    UPDATE: Kevin Englisch is the current record holder for the most flowers on a monopodial orchid. He has submitted this orchid for the second time to break his record achieved on 30 March 2023 with 131 flowers. His current record can be viewed here. We will receive notice of his current attempt in June, 2024. One of our society members, Kevin Englisch (find him on Instagram) contacted us to bear witness as he attempted to break the world record for the most flowers on an orchid plant (monopodial) to beat the current world record (held by himself). The previous record was held by Karen Barlett in the United Kingdom with 106 flowers, verified on January 11, 2016. With bated breath, we saw Kevin carry the gigantic orchid and placed it on a lazy suzan on the kitchen island. After counting the flowers, we hit record on the video for the final count. Unfortunately we lost count because there were just so many stems! Wine charms to the rescue!! We searched the kitchen cabinets and came up with an ingenious idea to add a wine charm to ever stem counted. Once we were confident that the plan would work, Kevin pressed the record button and he counted 1, 2, 3 ... all the way to 131 blooms! The record was beat. We were thrilled and humbled to be in the presence of such an incredible specimen of hard work, dedication and spectacular blooms. Kevin almost gave us all a heart-attack when he asked if he should take all the blooms off the stalks and display them on the kitchen counter! Kevin proceeded to show us how he uses technology to keep the orchids happy, humid and illuminated in their "homes". When we asked if growing orchids was something he always loved to grow, he admitted that once you get started with orchids (and having success) it can become a plant obsession. This is something that every gardener can relate to! A little bit about Kevin: Kevin is a software engineer with a passion for gardening and growing orchids. When he's not developing web applications he can usually be found tending to his gardens, playing video games, or hanging out with his two cats, Ellie and Smutzie. Kevin's Plant Passions: My favourite aspect of gardening is collecting data regarding my plants, and using that information to adjust their environments and feeding schedules to get the most out of each one. Each year I’m in a competition with myself to see if I can outdo my previous records. Then I get to share most of what I learn across several online communities so others can benefit from what I’ve learned, as well as techniques I've developed that are successful and repeatable. What is the best plant advice you've received? Don't be a helicopter parent to your plants and practice patience. Care was provided to my plants when I felt they needed love instead of looking for signs they needed it. Many of my plants suffered from over watering, over fertilizing, too much light, too much training, and other issues. And, similarly to how a watched pot never boils, a watched plant doesn’t grow! What is the worst plant advice you've received? Starting seeds, and planting seedlings directly into a fresh banana or potato. It's supposed to provide a good environment and nutrients for a young plant. In reality, the only thing you'll end up with is a container filled with rotting produce and a healthy population of fungus gnats. Using ice cubes to water orchids is another. The melting ice won't do much to hydrate the plant, and doesn't provide much nutrition. Water not absorbed by plants will pool at the bottom of the plant's pot, stagnate, and cause root problems. Your favourite plant show to watch or book to read Online reading: Articles from the Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources. YouTube: MIGardener, Epic Gardening, and Miss Orchid Girl on YouTube. Books: The Farmers Almanac. Your advice to new gardeners "Feed the soil, not the plants." This is advice I didn't understand until I had gardened for several years. I thought I could purchase some manure each year, a high quality fertilizer, and those would be adequate to feed my plants. However, each year I noticed a decline in yield. It wasn't until I built up the health of my soil with compost, leaves, grass clippings, and other organic material that it sprung back to life. Not only are the plants happy, but I've built an entire ecosystem within my soil. I still apply manure in spring before I plant, and feed organic fertilizer throughout the growing season, but my garden is much less dependent on these resources while producing significantly more fruits, veggies, and flowers. Thank you Kevin for your sharing this gardening highlight with us! Below are some photos from the 2024 record attempt:

  • Fall Garden Clean-up List

    As the days get shorter and the temperatures begin to drop, it is time to prepare your garden for the coming winter. There are many little tasks that need to be done to get ready. Landscape Ontario has prepared a detailed list of fall clean up tasks. The complete list can be found at https://landscapeontario.com/fall-gardening-checklist Here are some of these tasks: September:  Add compost or manure to garden beds. Plant new trees and shrubs, to give them at least six weeks before frost. Plant spring flowering bulbs. Clean bird feeders, gardening tools. Bring in any clay pots. Pull weeds before they go to seed to reduce the number of weeds next year. October: Transplant shrubs or young trees to new locations.  Cut diseased areas out of perennials. Do not compost.  Clean up garden debris. Remove all vegetable plants and fallen fruit.  Remove dead annuals from the garden, after a frost.  Cut back perennial foliage to discourage overwintering pests. Leave flowers with seeds for the birds. Dig up tender bulbs such as dahlia, canna and gladiola. Wrap them in moist material and store in a cool, dark space. November:  Divide spring and summer blooming perennial plants.  Buy bulbs to force for winter.  Mulch rose bushes. December  Start paperwhites and amaryllis for winter blooms. Over the winter months you join a horticultural society to learn more about gardening and meet other gardeners to share gardening tips.

  • Freezing and Drying Vegetables and Herbs

    Parsnips, horseradish, kale and salsify can over winter in the garden. Carrots, beets and turnips can stay in the ground until there is a hard frost. Once items are harvested, process as soon as possible and use the best of the crop for freezing. Vegetables that may be kept in the freezer very well include Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, chard, corn, herbs, kale, peas, sweet pipes, pumpkin, rhubarb, spinach, winter squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini. No special equipment is needed for freezing but consult a reputable source for the method needed and safe storage time. Now is a good time to pot up foliage herbs that you want to try indoors as a house plant for the winter. Herbs with a high water content like basil, chives, mint, dill, and cilantro can be frozen on a cookie sheet, then stored in bags afterwards. Raw herbs will keep frozen for about eight months. To dry herbs, pick a three to six inch tip. Remove any spoiled foliage and rinse away dirt lightly with a spray. Dry the herbs quickly between sheets of paper towel. Spread the herbs on a screening lined with cheese cloth or on cheese cloth in a basket. Herbs that can be pick in long enough branches to be tied loosely together may be hung upside down to dry. Store in a dry well ventilated, warm dark from to dry. In ten days to two weeks when leaves are cracking dry, strip them from the stem and pack whole into small jars for kitchen use.

  • Fertilizer Basics

    The soil provides plants with nutrients that are essential to make them grow. Fertilizers are used when the soil does not have sufficient nutrients. How do you choose a fertilizer? There are two important things to know. First, what do the three numbers on the label mean, like 5-7-4? This is referred to as the “NPK” ratio and represents the available nutrients by weight in the package. The first number is nitrogen (N), the second is phosphorus (P) and the third is potassium (K). For example, if a 100-pound bag of fertilizer has an N-P-K ratio of 5-7-4, it contains 5 pounds of nitrate, 7 pounds of phosphate (which contains phosphorus), 4 pounds of potash (which contains potassium) and 84 pounds of filler. The second thing to know is whether the fertilizer is organic or synthetic. Organic fertilizers are made naturally from mineral deposits and organic material, such as bone or plant meal or composted manure. They are not water soluble so they are usually applied in Fall to provide nutrients for the Spring growth. They also help to improve soil texture, stimulate soil life, or improve your soil's long-term fertility. Synthetic fertilizers are manufactured raw materials. They are water-soluble and can be taken up by the plant almost immediately. They can give your plants a quick boost, but do not help to improve the soil.

  • Best Gardening Books

    Thank you to our members who shared their favourite books with us! We've compiled the list and these are our top gardening books for beginners to experts in no specific order. Remember to contact your local bookstore and request a copy! #shoplocal Sue Stuart Smith's The Well Gardened Mind was my standout gardening read of the year! Her insight into why and how we garden and the benefits it brings to all of us and especially people with mental health problems was a revelation!! Big ups! Submitted by Debbylewisgardens Definitely Gardening from a Hammock by Dan Cooper is my go-to for inspiration. I love visuals, plant lists and suggestions suitable for our area. Fun Fact! Dan was a great speaker at our club via Zoom a year or two ago. Submitted by K. Pearson A Garden for the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee is a new book on native plant gardening in southern Ontario. Highly recommend! Submitted by L. Butcher The First-Time Gardener: Growing Vegetables: All the know-how and encouragement you need to grow - and fall in love with! - your brand new food garden (Volume 1); By Jessica Sowards Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook: Perfectly Timed Gardening for Your Most Bountiful Harvest Ever; By Jennifer Kujawski, Ron Kujawski What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?): A Visual Guide to Easy Diagnosis and Organic Remedies, by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth What's Wrong With My Vegetable Garden?: 100% Organic Solutions for All Your Vegetables, from Artichokes to Zucchini, by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth. Submitted by J. Steele The Year Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour. Extend your growing season. The Organic Gardeners Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control by Bradley, Ellis and Martin. Complete guide to maintaining a healthy garden and yard the earth friendly way. Submitted by Waterloo Region Master Gardeners / Kitchener Master Gardeners. The Complete Gardener, by Monty Don Submitted by C. Bergsma Children's Gardening Books: The Garden Next Door, by Collin Pine Submitted by Lindsay B. Join the conversation on our Facebook page and add your favourite gardening book! We'll keep the list updated on this page.

  • Women Gardeners & Quotes

    There have been many talented women gardeners throughout history. Here are some of the greatest: Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) was an English horticulturist, garden designer, and writer. She is known for her colourful and naturalistic garden designs, and she authored several books on gardening. Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) - Sackville-West was an English poet, novelist, and garden designer. She is best known for creating the famous gardens at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, England. Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959) was an American landscape architect and garden designer. She designed the gardens at many prestigious universities, including Yale and Princeton. Ellen Willmott (1858-1934) was an English horticulturist and garden designer. She is known for her large-scale garden designs and her collection of rare and unusual plants. Edna Walling (1896-1973) was an Australian landscape designer and garden writer. She is known for her naturalistic garden designs and advocacy for using native plants in gardens. Beth Chatto (1923-2018) was an English plantswoman and garden designer. She is known for her innovative use of plants and her pioneering work with drought-tolerant gardens. Canada has also been home to many talented female gardeners over the years. Here are some of the most notable: Marjorie Harris (born 1947) - Harris is a Canadian garden writer, journalist, and editor. She authored several gardening books, including "Thrifty Gardening: From the Ground Up" and "Ecological Gardening." Lois Hole (1933-2005) was a Canadian politician, businesswoman, and gardener. She owned a successful business in Alberta and authored several gardening books, including "Lois Hole's Vegetable Favorites" and "Lois Hole's Bedding Plant Favorites." Liz Primeau (born 1951) is a Canadian garden writer and editor. She was the founding editor of Canadian Gardening magazine and has authored several gardening books, including "Front Yard Gardens: Growing More Than Grass" and "My Natural History: The Evolution of a Gardener." Egan Davis (1908-1977) was a Canadian horticulturist and garden designer. She designed the gardens at many prestigious estates and institutions, including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Legislative Building. Edna Walling (1896-1973) - Although Walling was born in England, she spent much of her life in Australia and designed gardens in Canada. As mentioned above, Walling was a prominent landscape designer who advocated for using native plants in gardens. These women have made significant contributions to Canadian gardening and continue to inspire gardeners today. Famous quotes by female gardeners: "A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all, it teaches entire trust." - Gertrude Jekyll. "Gardening is a work of a lifetime: you never finish." - Oscar de la Renta (quoted by Beatrix Farrand in her book, "The Garden Book") "The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow." - Proverb (quoted by Lois Hole in her book, "Lois Hole's Bedding Plant Favorites") These quotes capture the joy, passion, and complexity of gardening and the lessons it can teach us about life.

  • Grass alternatives for an amazing landscape

    If you're looking for grass alternatives for your lawn, many options can be both eco-friendly and visually appealing. Why might you be looking at alternatives to grass? Environmental sustainability: Grass alternatives can be more environmentally sustainable than traditional grass lawns, which often require large amounts of water, fertilizers, and pesticides to maintain. Many grass alternatives, such as groundcovers and wildflowers, require less water and maintenance and can provide critical habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. Water conservation: Grass alternatives can help conserve water, particularly in regions with limited water resources. Many grass alternatives are drought-tolerant and can survive without supplemental watering. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions: Lawn care practices such as mowing, fertilizing, and watering can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by using grass alternatives that require less maintenance. Reduced maintenance costs: Grass alternatives can be less expensive than traditional grass lawns. They often require less water, fertilizer, and pesticide applications and may require less frequent or no mowing. Aesthetics and diversity: Grass alternatives can provide a diverse and visually appealing landscape with various textures, colours, and shapes. This can enhance the beauty and diversity of the local ecosystem and offer significant benefits to local wildlife. Overall, grass alternatives can offer a range of benefits, including environmental sustainability, water conservation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced maintenance costs, and enhanced aesthetics and biodiversity. In addition, by using grass alternatives, individuals and communities can help to create more sustainable and resilient landscapes. Here are some ideas on grass alternatives: Groundcovers: Groundcovers such as clover, creeping thyme, and sedum are low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, and provide a lush and diverse ground cover. You might even find a lucky four-leafed clover on your lawn! Wildflowers: Wildflower lawns can provide a colourful and low-maintenance alternative to grass. Native wildflowers can also support local ecosystems and provide habitat for pollinators. Moss: Moss lawns can be attractive and low-maintenance for shady areas where grass may struggle to grow. Artificial turf: If you're looking for a low-maintenance option that still provides the look of a traditional lawn, synthetic turf may be a good choice. While it's not as eco-friendly as natural alternatives, it requires no watering, mowing, or fertilizing. Vegetable gardens: Consider converting your lawn into a vegetable garden. You can grow your food while reducing your water usage and carbon footprint. Xeriscaping involves using drought-tolerant plants and landscaping techniques to create a low-water landscape. This can be an excellent option for areas with limited water resources. When considering grass alternatives, choosing an appropriate option for your climate, existing ecosystem and soil type, and your specific needs and preferences is essential. If you have questions about your existing lawn, feel free to contact one of the many companies in the Waterloo region that specialize in sustainability and landscape design.

  • Sustainable lawns

    The history of grass in Canada is closely tied to the country's colonial past and the arrival of European settlers. Before European colonization, grasslands were an essential feature of the Canadian landscape, particularly in the prairie regions of the country. Indigenous peoples used controlled burns to maintain these grasslands and to encourage the growth of essential food sources such as bison and elk. With the arrival of European settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries, the grasslands of Canada began to change. Grasses such as timothy and Kentucky bluegrass were introduced as forage for livestock, and the clearing of forests for agriculture and settlement led to the expansion of grasslands. In the late 19th century, the Canadian government actively promoted the settlement of the western prairies. It encouraged the cultivation of wheat and other crops. This led to a significant expansion of grasslands, as forests were cleared and natural grasslands were plowed under for agriculture. Today, grass remains an essential feature of the Canadian landscape, particularly in rural pasture and hay production areas. However, converting natural grasslands for agriculture and other uses has led to losing vital ecosystems and wildlife habitats. As a result, there is growing recognition of the need to protect and restore these grasslands. As a result, efforts are underway to promote sustainable agriculture practices and to conserve remaining grasslands through initiatives such as protected areas and habitat restoration programs. As gardeners, we can participate in restoration efforts by understanding our ecosystems and encouraging sustainable lawn practices. Sustainable lawns are designed and maintained to minimize negative impacts on the environment while still providing the benefits of a healthy and beautiful lawn. Here are some tips for creating and maintaining a sustainable lawn: Choose suitable grass: Select a grass appropriate for your climate and soil type. Native grasses are often a good choice, as they require less water and are better adapted to local conditions. Use organic fertilizers: Avoid synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which can harm the environment and human health. Instead, use organic fertilizers that are made from natural ingredients. Water efficiently: Water your lawn in the early morning or late evening to minimize evaporation. Use a rain gauge to determine how much water your yard needs, and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Consider installing a rain barrel to collect and store rainwater for later use. Mow at the right height: Set your lawnmower to the correct height for your grass type. Mowing too low can stress the grass and make it more susceptible to disease and pests. Compost yard waste: Instead of bagging and disposing of grass clippings and leaves, consider composting them to create a nutrient-rich soil amendment for your lawn and garden. Plant a diverse landscape: Consider adding trees, shrubs, and other plants to your lawn to create a more varied terrain that supports local wildlife and provides additional benefits such as shade and erosion control. By following these tips, you can create a sustainable lawn that is beautiful and helps protect the environment. Also, consider planting a grass-alternative lawn.

  • Common Garden Pests & Diseases

    Garden pests and diseases can be a significant problem for anyone who loves gardening, as they can damage or even kill plants. In this article, we'll discuss some of the most common garden pests and diseases and provide tips on preventing and treating them. Aphids Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can be green, yellow, or black. They suck the sap out of plant leaves and stems, which can cause stunted growth and leaf curling. To prevent aphids, keep your garden clean and debris-free, and encourage natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings. You can also spray plants with water and dish soap to kill aphids. Slugs and Snails Slugs and snails are common garden pests that can eat large holes in plant leaves and fruit. Avoid overwatering your garden and keep it debris-free to prevent slugs and snails. You can also set up beer traps or use copper tape around plant beds to keep them away. Powdery Mildew Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that causes a white, powdery coating on plant leaves. It can weaken plants and cause them to lose their leaves. To prevent powdery mildew, make sure your garden has good air circulation and avoid overcrowding plants. You can also spray plants with a mixture of milk and water to help prevent powdery mildew. Tomato Blight Tomato blight is a fungal disease that affects tomato plants. It can cause the leaves and stems of the plant to turn brown and wilt and can also affect the fruit. Ensure your plants are adequately spaced and have good air circulation to prevent tomato blight. You can also water them at the base of the plant instead of from above to avoid getting water on the leaves. Japanese Beetles Japanese beetles are a common garden pest that can eat many plants' leaves, flowers, and fruit. To prevent Japanese beetles, handpick them off your plants and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. You can also use a trap to catch them, but be aware that this can attract more beetles to your garden. In conclusion, garden pests and diseases can be a significant problem for any gardener. However, proper prevention and treatment can keep your plants healthy and thriving. Remember to keep your garden clean and debris-free, encourage natural predators, and use organic methods whenever possible. Happy gardening! To learn more gardening tips and tricks, come to one of our events or sign up to become a member.

  • St Lucia Botanical Gardens

    When our long-awaited passports arrived in the mail, we couldn't wait to get on a plane and explore the world. We chose St Lucia as our first international destination with our new documentation. It is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean and boasts incredible views, activities and plant life for the whole family to survey. I'm a planner by nature and researched all the must-see places before we headed on our journey. Of course, the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens & Mineral Baths were a must! On all our vacations, we enjoy exploring how the local communities live, what they do for fun and how they perceive their natural world. Our expert driver's grandfather was brought to the island as a slave from India. He subsequently married a native woman, and his family still has their home on the island. As we drove through the winding roads on the Atlantic side of the island - and it was winding (note: take some motion sickness pills with you when you go), we were amazed at the sheer size of the plants! It looked like we were in a scene from Jurassic Park - complete with goats tied to trees feasting on a nearby shrub. I told the driver that my favourite fruit was guavas, but there were none at the resort. So I missed the season by a few months. Suddenly, he stopped the car, got out and ran to a nearby tree. He returned with four guavas the size of baseballs! I've never seen fruit that big. He informed us that the trees planted along the road are for the people. Nobody on the island goes hungry, especially during mango season when it drops to the ground like rainfall. St Lucia has 30 varieties of mangoes! I made a mental note to look at the mango varieties in the grocery stores when I got home. After a quick dip in the mud baths from the collapsed volcano (also a must if you're on the island), we headed to the botanical gardens. Feeling small under the canopy of the gigantic fauna and flora, we were reminded of how nature puts everything into perspective. Once the land was used as sugar plantations, now the botanical garden is a refuge where anyone can reconnect and recharge. In the same way, in which the mineral baths hold healing properties, nature has the power to transform if we dare to grow. To learn more about the history of the gardens and the mineral baths, go to the website at https://www.diamondstlucia.com/history. ​

  • Vegetable Confetti, also known as microgreens!

    Even the smallest counter space can accommodate this excellent addition to salads or as a snack on the go. Microgreens, also known as "vegetable confetti," are a variety of edible, immature greens. They are harvested with scissors less than one month after germination, and plants are up to 2 inches tall. Unlike sprouts, where you can eat the root, seed and shoot, only the stem, cotyledons (seed leaves) and the first set of true leaves are edible. Like all plants, some varieties are better suited than others to be grown as microgreens. Salad greens, herbs and edible flowers are suitable for beginners. If you're new to planting microgreens, start with one type of seed, like broccoli, chia or sunflower. They are the easiest to grow. Microgreens vary in taste, from spicy to bland. The flavour, generally speaking, is considered strong and concentrated. They are also packed with nutrients like potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper. The nutrient content is concentrated, resulting in higher vitamin, mineral and antioxidant levels compared to the same quantity of mature greens. Microgreens are considered safe to eat when appropriately grown with good ventilation and at least four hours of sun per day (or a grow light). As a rule of thumb, always buy seeds from a reputable company and increase the microgreens in mediums that are free from contamination. Compostable, single-use growing mats are produced specifically for this purpose and are considered very sanitary. Wash microgreens before eating them with cold water. Use a salad spinner to dry them! Like most vegetables, eating them raw will provide the most benefit. However, microgreens can be added to any warm meal like pizza, soups, omelets and curries. They are a nutritious addition to smoothies, salads and wraps. Growing your microgreens is an excellent way to get children involved in planting their food. It's easy to maintain, and children can even harvest their own (with adult supervision or help with scissors). Children who learn how their food is grown are also more prone to keep doing so in adulthood. ​Oregon State U Extension Services offers a 15-day microgreen grow-along course for free! http://extension-website-prod.s3-website-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/mg/workshop/microgreens-grow-along/#/ Note: Always be aware of allergic reactions when introducing new food to your diet. Or check with your healthcare provider or nutritionist.

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