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Stories Tagged - Garden


May 27, 2016 | Donna Balzer

Fools rush in

Create a back-up plan with insulating fleece

newDonnawebIt's early spring and it seems like time to plant.

Well go ahead and shop 'till you drop. But consider holding back on planting the tender plants such as Hosta, Begonias and even Marigolds unless you have a backup plan this spring.

I'm not talking a big plan like a home greenhouse or sturdy cold-frame. The backup plan can be as simple as a few meters of insulating fleece, also sold as Reemay or spunbond polyester. This light fabric is sold in packages at hardware stores and by the meter from rolls in garden centres.

It is sold in different thickness levels and is good for different degrees of frost. Even the thinnest, lightest fleece materials will give a few degrees of frost protection, and that is what we need in May in Calgary.

Gardening is two parts dreaming and three parts doing, says expert horticulturist Donna Balzer.

Feb. 26, 2016 | CREBNow

Five questions with the 'No Guff Gardener'

Sneak peak at this year's Home + Garden Show

Nobody arguably knows more about how to succeed as a gardener in Calgary than Donna Balzer. The noted horticulturist and speaker is author of No Guff Vegetable Gardening, a regular CREB®Now columnist and trusted messiah for countless Calgarians trying to discover their green thumbs.

On Feb. 26 and 28, Balzer will take the stage at this year's Home + Garden Show to talk about how we can change our world, one cabbage at a time. CREB®Now recent sat down with Balzer to get a sneak peek.

CREB®Now: Why should I start thinking about my garden now when there's still snow on the ground?

Balzer: Gardening is two parts dreaming and three parts doing. The best ideas might be waiting for you right now at a talk, on Pinterest or in a gardening book. If you are serious about starting a garden, you will want to start looking and reading now because by the time the weather is perfect for doing it is too late.
Donna flowers

Nov. 08, 2015 | Donna Balzer

Slow down . . . you move too fast

Three garden tasks you don't have to do this fall

newDonnawebMowing down your perennials the way you mow your lawn is not the best way to spend your time this fall. If you have your shears in hand, gently place them on the shelf in the shed and take a minute to read this fast-breaking gardening news.

1. There is no need to cut back most perennials in the fall:

Gardeners often cut plants back to within an inch of their life while plants are still green, still blooming or still providing interest. If you cut back green plants, you remove stored energy and weaken plants.

closeup of woman holding broccoli in her hand

Oct. 08, 2015 | Donna Balzer

Ready or not it is time to get picking

Harvesting is not an exact science

newDonnawebMy friend Susan asked me when she should start harvesting vegetables.

"When they are ready," I replied as I wondered why she would ask such a question.

But then it sunk in: Susan has never planted a garden before. She thinks gardening is like farming where the whole harvest happens at once on some mysterious date in fall.

Heads up Susan: spinach and arugula picking is already finished in most home gardens. Oops. Sorry if you missed that. My first crop of lettuce is finished, too. It got too hot and went to seed.


June 03, 2015 | Donna Balzer

Small bite approach

You don't have to get all your gardening done in one go

newDonnawebAre you doing all your own gardening this summer?

Are you ready to rock 'n roll in the radish patch and primp your patio?

While your internal kettle is boiling and your energy is high, you probably think you can do it all in one big push.

And then reality sets in.

You just don't have enough time. Instead of a marathon garden workout, you need the small-bite approach to gardening. Don't look at your garden as a huge mess needing to be tamed over a weekend. Lighten your load and start looking at tasks in tiny nibbles or tasty snacks wedged between your other daily tasks.

April 30, 2015 | Donna Balzer

Fit to a T

Design your landscape to suit your neighbourhood, yourself

newDonnawebFor homeowners, their work is never done once they've found their dream home. In fact, it's often just the beginning.

During this time of year, most owners will turn their attention to the yard. My advice: please your neighbours in the front yard and please yourself in the back. Everything else is icing on your landscape cake.

April 01, 2015 | CREBNow

The perennial truth

To water or not to water in Calgary's early spring, that is the question

Perennial plants close to buildings were popping up in the heat wave a couple weeks ago, but my shovel clunked into ice just below the surface.

It reminded me winter is still transitioning into spring in Calgary. Our mild winter with yo-yo temperatures and light snow cover makes it both tricky for outdoor plants and stressful for gardeners such as Marilyn Brown, who was worried about her Columnar Blue Spruce and wanted to know if she should water it.

March 18, 2015 | Donna Balzer

I'm a failed gardener...

The trials and tribulations of dealing with scale in the yard and garden

Last week, I was outside in the shed sorting last year's plastic pots before bringing them inside for cleaning.
When I came in, I noticed a sticky mess on my little lime tree. Sadly, I knew what the trouble was. It was the same trouble I have been tackling since I bought the tree a year ago.

The trouble was scale — insects that have a crawling stage where they march up stems to new leaves, insert their pointy beaks into the leaf and build a hard tortoise cover over themselves, often looking like bumps on a branch.

Feb. 26, 2015 | CREBNow

5 Things: Home + Garden Show

Running Feb. 26 to March 1, the Calgary Home + Garden Show celebrates 34 years of home improvement and design in the city.

More than 650 exhibitors are expected to be on hand for the four-day event, joining industry experts such as HGTV's Carson Arthur and Janette Ewen and Jef Hancock of Parker Barrow.

Here's five things you won't want to miss at the show:

Sept. 11, 2014 | Donna Balzer

How late can I plant?

The big plant sell-offs with drop-dead discounts are on now and every gardener wonders the same thing. Will buying plants in the fall really save money or is it false economy to shop for plants in September?

If I was a meteorologist, I could answer the question of "how late can I plant?" with more accuracy. however, I'm a gardener and can only speak for the plants.

Here are five reasons why late plants don't transplant well, one thing you can do to help the survive and a list of plants waiting for you to buy them right now.

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