Garden Hints for the Novice or Seasoned Gardener

Now that Spring is well around us…pushing us to get all those jobs done we wish we could have started earlier and planned better…..unfortunately the weather does not always co-operate…..so here we are…raking, cleaning pots, burning last winter’s branches, cones, .and ordering more soil as we till what gardens we have.   We all know it is the beginning of slug season so here are a few ideas to control those hungry critters that all too well can destroy your day’s work overnight if left unchecked. One idea is to mix 1 part ammonia with 10 parts water…mix well and water your garden beds….it acts to kill the eggs, and grub and is also a fertilizer.     I have been told , but have never tried , ringing your plants with a thin layer of coffee grounds.    There is of course the old remedy of leaving a few beer cans lying about with a little beer in each. The problem with that is if you leave enough cans around your neighbours may think your marriage is in trouble as you have started to hit the bottle big time.     So. to protect your reputation, spread the word around!     There is commercial slug bait but is not recommended for vegetable gardens or for birds and snakes that may pick up the poisoned slugs.    Speaking of poison….with the mild winter this year the authorities have speculated that the rat population will explode this summer, especially as the population in the valley is already high.    Vancouver Island has been experiencing a large increase of Owls  catching and eating rats that have consumed the toxic poisons.   We have lost quite a few of these amazing birds so we are recommending switching to traps of various kinds and the sticky mats to control the rats.   All dead rats should be either buried or burned.    I might add using poison stations while, more convenient,   is very expensive costing for a single feed trap approx $13.99 plus tax…..and if there is one rat you can be sure there are more and they are all pregnant!.   All you gardeners are probably well on your way to setting up your seeds on your favourite window sill.   It’s a good idea, so shop now for seeds as they are going quickly. The cost  of plants this  year has risen once again, and some packages of 6 started flowers are over $5.00 when  you add the appropriate taxes.    Vines, shrubs, trees and novelty items are even higher with Rhododendrons at $29.00 or more.     Get out there and track down those bargains.     As we will not be having a plant sale this year other garden members may be willing to sell their extra plants or trade.   One exception….if you have an invasive plant in your yard please do not pot up a plant from that area.   Once established they are impossible to get rid of…so be kind.      If any of the members have any ideas on slug control that has worked for them , or any hints to share we will be posting a contact number for you to respond to at a later date…so  please keep us in mind as we are all here to help one another.   Next rambling will be on Dahlias…time to check out all your tubers, sort, plant….but wait that’s for another day.    Until then…Happy gardening.    

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