Eager to garden? Here are a few tips to get started

With double-digit temperatures expected for the next week in Calgary, gardeners are getting anxious to dig into the newly softened earth. Kath Smyth of the Calgary Horticultural Society has some tips on what you can do now.

Calgary Horticultural Society hosts series of growing lessons online this weekend

Customers shop at the Golden Acre Home and Garden centre facility in Calgary on Tuesday. Garden centres are starting to sell plants and soil as people get eager to plant. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

With double-digit temperatures expected for the next week in Calgary, gardeners are getting anxious to dig into the newly softened earth.

The idea is welcome after a month of pandemic restrictions.

Kath Smyth of the Calgary Horticultural Society said she's already enjoying early spring lettuce and kale popping up from a late fall seeding, and she's started spotting crocuses on her walks.

"They are stunning and just make you think spring is finally here," she told the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday.

Smyth had been looking forward to the group's annual convention this week, but it was cancelled as part of the physical-distancing measures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Kath Smyth of the Calgary Horticultural Society is a gardening columnist with the Calgary Eyeopener. She's getting ready for gardening this weekend. (Harington Telford)

Instead, she plans to spend the weekend taking in virtual, free gardening classes.

Anyone can sign up for the day of learning at The video lessons will discuss planting native plants from seed, tree pruning and growing root vegetables, among other topics.

For those looking to get going on their gardens and lawns, Smyth has a few tips.

Too early to rake

She asks that people don't yet rake leaves on their lawns. Leaves and old grass, called hatch, keeps the ground moist. That helps ladybug eggs hatch and baby grass to grow without risk of frost. You can start raking in about two weeks' time.

Raking early can create a spotty lawn, Smyth said.

Add soil, compost

Turn your garden beds over and change out the soil, adding manure and compost.

You can order this for curbside pickup at many stores now. Smyth recommends mixing in worm casing compost in particular.

Cold-hardy plants

Consider what cool season vegetables and flowers you can plant now. Smyth said she's going to plant potatoes and onions over the weekend.

"There are some things that are more cold-hardy than others," she said. "Pansies will take a bit of frost and a bit of cold."

English ivy will also survive a frost, she said, as will small, potted roses.

Until you can put all your summer plants outside, Smyth recommends taking the time to plot out your garden. Consider where plants might best thrive, and write it all down so you don't forget where you put things.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.


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