Living rural in the city is great – you can do it, too.

Category: Gardening (page 1 of 5)

Montréal’s annual garden giveaways

The spring gardening season is upon us with even more speed than it usually arrives, because regardless of what winter does, that’s the way time works: every year accelerates. So it is time that the Ville’s annual “embellissement” campaign (“embellishment,” or rather “beautification”) is coming again to many boroughs in just a few weekends.

Pepper plant from the garden giveaway
A pepper plant I received from the garden giveaway as a seedling, once it matured and produced two peppers!

This annual event gives residents of Montreal a number of floral, vegetable, and herb seedlings for their gardens and balconies. Past entrants have been impatiens and begonias, echinacea (cone flowers), sage, rosemary, basil, and mint, and peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Always included: as much compost and wood chips as you want to take. Bring your own bags, baskets, buckets, and a wagon to cart it all away! Oh, and don’t forget your ID. You have to prove residency in the borough in which the plants are being given.

When? Well, you’ll have to check the Montreal.ca website and consult the calendar or the page for your borough, or other community listings, to find out when the “distribution” of plants is (that’s the search word to look for), but it typically happens on the long weekend in May, and for some, the weekend after that, and lastly, the first weekend in June.

I know it seems late for gettting them in the ground (last-frost date seems to be happening in April, if you’re in the city), but frankly, it takes time for the seedlings to grow up and “harden off” (acclimate to the outdoors) before they can be distributed for public planting. Though outdoor plants that are well-established are now as lush as can be, the seedlings I’ve planted are hardly ready for planting; the ones the Ville distributes have been started in greenhouses.

Read on to find out more about Montreal’s giveaways and garden resources:

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Resources to help you design your garden – Newly updated for 2024!

Well, here we are, late, late March! Are you ready to design the layout of your garden and get your seeds started?

For those who have space and haven’t planted a garden before, or for those who planning it anew this year, you always start with a rough plan: what to place where, and how much space and sun it will get. This will give you an idea how many seedlings you should start or have on hand of each kind of plant.

I don’t always start seeds every year, and when I do, I’m almost always late at it. We gardeners always get a little overzealous and end up tending tonnes of seedlings we have to sell or give away. But of course, you start by planting many seeds, because some never germinate, or else germinate and start, but then fail. If you have the space to add a few more good planters, extra seedlings can come in quite handy.

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Milkweed seed offer, to plant before the ground’s too frozen

Oh, hai, my patient or happenstantial reader!

While I may have disappeared, I haven’t gotten sick and/or completely wasted away. I simply took a solid year off, using COVID as a flimsy excuse while the rest of the world rediscovered the joys of gardening and baking bread. These were things that I was already doing, sometimes well, sometimes badly. Unfortunately for me this year, I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to blog about them. I was enthusiastically doing other very quiet things this year.

Two weeks ago, I had the city come and prune the locust tree, which was casting too much shade to produce the bumper crop of tomatoes I’d hoped for. The tree will grow taller, and its twinned apple tree may also fill out and add shade in future years, but the opening up will hopefully let more sunlight hit the ground.

I also thinned more than half the violets from my prolific patch in the front yard and weeded out all but one or two clumps of the equally-prolific feverfew. Along the fence where the vegetables go, I added more mini-bulbs from the previous year’s tulip harvesting; these will not produce flowers for a few years, but each year that produces a leaf will strengthen the bulb for eventual flowering. Unless the squirrels get to them first.

A very satisfied squirrel, who wasn’t fazed one bit by my chasing him/her up the tree, tulip bulb in mouth.

Next year I may prune back the box hedge even further, but this year it was a source of great pleasure (and some nutrition) for my rabbits, who hid between the fence and the bushes and pruned them from the base to as high as Parker could reach, standing on his hind legs (he’s my main garden assistant). New bunny Willa, found in the park across the street on August 23rd, also taught the boys to resume their lawn-mowing duties.

New founding rabbit Willa
New rabbit Willa, the week after I found her, getting her used to the idea of outside-at-home. Soon after this, I let her out with my boys and she reinterested them in grazing.
Inspiring cooperation at the one job I give them

After having moved around a few more plants that I hope took root this autumn, I’m thinking of transplanting the milkweed to the back yard – rather: seeding it, and once it’s taken, remove all except the best-placed two to three from my front yard.

Which brings me to today’s offer

…which I posted on Facebook and Instagram and didn’t think to mention here until after Indian Summer was over:

As the caption says, there’s still some time to plant milkweed, because the seeds need to freeze to germinate. So long as you can scratch it into the soil and then add some compost, you can plant it.

I bought a lot of these milkweed packets as a gift for people subscribing to my mailing list. I still have about sixty packs to sell and donate. You can buy-1-donate-1 where I will donate a pack to an organization or establishment for every one sold, or buy-1-gift-1 to give to someone you know who will plant them. 1 pack for $2 or 3 packs for $5, postage included. Click the link to PayPal me, and include your address and which option you choose: Donate or Gift.

If you receive the seeds too late this autumn, you can keep them in the fridge (which is where I’ve been storing them) and plant them early next spring.

There. Blogging drought ended. I have a few more projects to tell you about soon. And if you have any questions or comments, I’d like to hear from you as well!

It’s summer – get your tulips 🌷🌷🌷 ready for replanting!

This quick tutorial on getting your tulips ready for next season is something I first posted on BCLH’s Instagram account. Please follow me there!

Did you know it helps your tulips if you dig them up in spring and replant them in the fall?

Preparing tulips for a beautiful garden begins when this year’s flowers have withered and you have the seedpods left on the stems. Deadhead them! Chop off the seedpods unless you’re cultivating for seeds, in which case you probably know what you’re doing (or else: do your research). Deadheading puts the plant’s energy back towards the bulb. For other flowers, it puts energy towards more flower production.

A deadheaded pink tulip

Leave the tulips for another week or so, and then dig them up (carefully). Keep them sorted by colour if at all possible! You’ll find that the bulbs have likely multiplied into smaller ones. (Dig deep, and carefully).

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