Prairie Gardener Part I: The Garden Centre and Starting From Seed

Hello again, it’s been a while hasn’t it? I’m sorry. I struggle with self-discipline as you can tell by the erratic nature of this blog. Between the short attention span, lack of discipline and notoriously bad time management skills, I often struggle to follow through on projects.

Oh well, none of us are perfect right? Or I hope not anyway. I am happy to report that although the blogging is behind schedule, I volunteered for several different charitable opportunities. And because nothing happens until it is documented on the internet, I will blog about them in future. And also because they are excellent causes of course.

In my time away, I have been tackling a very different type of project – gardening. I dabbled a little bit with it last year, but since it was our first summer in the house, I was pretty unprepared. This year I ordered seeds online and grew them in Jiffy peat pellets. Mainly the seeds are for perennial flowers that are beneficial to butterflies and bees, but I also planted the seeds from a pepper I bought at the store and those are growing quite nicely. I have been doing a lot of reading and research for this. I did not realize how complicated it gets. The flower species are called half a dozen different names and there often seems to be multiple variations of the same flower. When, where, and how you plant seeds is dependent upon each plant’s preference as well. It’s pretty overwhelming. At this point, my seedlings have been hanging out in my house for over a month with me bringing them inside and outside to both the front and backyard depending on the time of day.

In the latest installment of homeownership adventures, I hadn’t realized there is a period of time in the fall where plants are supposed to be trimmed back and cleaned up so when the snow melted, it became clear there was a large clean up job. This ended up turning out for the best because as I was clearing away the debris from last winter, I uncovered so many lady bugs! It’s amazing how nature hunkers down for the winter. Before this year, I used to kind of scoff at the idea that gardening counted towards your daily exercise targets. Watering and moving some soil around looks pretty underwhelming. Instead it’s basically p90x outdoor addition. I lost count of the number of squats and lunges I did while using a rake or spade. Not to mention how heavy af the paper yard waste bags get. It’s possible (ok, it’s likely) that I’m wildly out of shape, but at this rate I might be able to fit last year’s shorts after all.

Since we made it through May long, I have started to transplant them which also has to be done correctly and appropriately for each seedling. Of course, there is no guarantee that any of these seedlings will survive, so we purchased some plants from Shelmerdine’s as well. I have never been to such a large garden centre in my life and Mike patiently waited while I ran up and down the rows of plants trying to ferret out individual types of plants that I was looking for. Two hours later, list abandoned somewhere between the delphiniums and bee balms, we walked out with 11 plants that I had never heard of.  They are currently sitting in their pots, patiently waiting for their forever home. And on that note it is time to channel my inner Poison Ivy.

Image result for poison ivy batman cartoon





Victoria Day Weekend in Winnipeg is spent in one of two ways; either at the lake or working on outdoor projects. My long weekends generally are spent in an unproductive combination of sweat pants, sleeping in and not brushing my hair. This long weekend was a little bit different. I  celebrated the long weekend by doing what so many home owners do – yard work.

My mom and my grandfather have the most intense green thumbs. My mom still has my poinsettia from Grade 12 which has morphed into a tree. Between the two of them, I grew up with the idea that summer means plants and a large garden. Until now I haven’t had a huge interest nor had the resources to pursue gardening as a hobby. I’m not sure what has changed that. Possibly feeling more connected with prairies. Maybe just feeling like I’m putting my own roots down. More likely, it’s the feeling of horror when the cashier rings up the bill for our groceries. Whatever the reason,  I had green ambitions this year. In March I had done a bunch of research and compiled a list of plants that met the following requirements:

-rabbit resistent

– bee & butterfly friendly

-native to the prairies

This list is on a grubby sticky note that I have been carrying around with me for roughly 3 months, and prior to the weekend, I had yet to actually pick up any of the listed plants. This isn’t because I haven’t tried. Every time I walk into a garden centre I get super overwhelmed and after wandering around the aisles not finding a single item on my list, just beeline it out of there. Did I mention that most of my list has the latin names of the plants? No wonder I haven’t been able to pick them out.

Mike sent me to on an expedition to pick up some yard waste bags. As I was driving I knew May Long weekend was the reckoning. The do-or-die moment of planting.  My first stop was a stand full of seed packets. Who knew there were so many kinds of tomato?  I randomly grabbed a few packets, carrots, peppers, catgrass. After I threw those in the cart, I was questioning whether or not they would have time to grow. So then I moved into the live plant area and successfully found one of the plants on my list (salvia). After about an hour I made my way back home and started unloading my purchases, only to have Mike point out that we actually were not prepared to plant anything because we had nowhere prepared to plant them. Right. This hobby takes a little more planning than video games. We spent most of Sunday afternoon weeding and raking up the existing flower beds.  Only to have to clean the gutters out….directly into the flower beds that we had just finished clearing out. Sigh. Apparently there is a method to this yard work madness.

Monday we went to my parents place. We nabbed a few plants off of my list including lamb’s ears, lily of the valley and bog lilies (they look nicer than they sound).  The trunk of my car was stuffed with plants before we left. We transplanted all the flowers Monday evening with our furry overlord supervising. We always bring the cat into the backyard while we work. Normally it’s without incident, but last night a rabbit hopped into the yard. It was one of those time slows down moments and I was watching in horror as Rocky tried to cut off the rabbit as it ran towards the fence. Luckily the rabbit was smarter than the cat (not a huge achievement) and it got away. And that was when I realized I should let go of Mike’s shirt which I was clutching with both hands.

So everyone made it through a working weekend alive. So far at least. I keep anxiously checking on the plants to make sure they haven’t died. I’m hoping that I have inherited a green thumb. If not, there’s always St. Norbert’s Farmers Market.