Posted in gardens, loreeebee.ca, weather

Itching to get Gardening? What you Can Do Now.

Photo Credit

Is spring looking promising in your neck of the woods? The warmer, sunny days here (Ottawa, zone 4/5) are making me itch to get into my gardens.

Use Caution!

It is still (at least it is here) early to get into the gardens to clean them out as many (most) hardy perennials and shrubs are still dormant. I know it is tempting when you start seeing green shoots, but hold off a bit. At least until the soil is not mushy.

The same cautionary rule applies to your lawn. If the snow is gone, wait until it is no longer squishy to walk on before raking, aerating, top dressing etc. I have been aerating in the fall for the past few years, so I am one step ahead.

You also should beware of overwintering bees and other beneficial insects. Gardening too early will disturb them before they are ready to come out of their cozy spots under the debris in your gardens.

Also be on the lookout for nests belonging to our fine feathered friends. Spring is nest and baby season for birds. If you discover one being used, avoid it for a while, until babies have left.

Rabbits have their babies in burrows or holes in the ground in a protected area. I came across one a few years ago when weeding a client’s garden. I was pulling weeds, when I spotted movement. The only way I could distinguish that they were baby rabbits was by their big feet. They had no hair yet. I replaced the weeds to protect them and moved onto another area of the garden.

What can You Do This Early?

Prune Trees

You can prune trees now, in fact this is the best time to do so, before the leaves come out. Just do not prune anything that blooms early, like lilacs or forsythia, as you will cut off the spring blossoms. And, if you have to trample all over your soggy lawn to get to the trees to prune them, perhaps you better wait for a few weeks.

Use a good quality, sharp set of loppers to prune branches. This is one of those times it pays to purchase quality. Choose a set you can handle, as some are quite heavy and create a workout for your arms.

If cut branches are diseased, wipe lopper blades with disinfectant (rubbing alcolol or hydrogen peroxide) between cuts.

Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

You can and should cut back ornamental grasses that were left tall for the winter. By now they look weather-beaten. Cut them back to 4 to 6 inches from the ground. This will ensure the new green shoots (when they appear) wont have to compete with the dead brown ones.

Use a sharp pair of garden shears to make the job of cutting back the ornamental grasses much easier.

Plan and Dream

This is also a great time of year to plan. Make a list of things you want to do, even if they seem far-fetched. Sometimes dreams become reality!

Get Ahead of Crabgrass

If crabgrass is making an appearance in your lawn, treat it quick! As soon as the snow is gone crabgrass germinates, so the earlier you get to it the better. The snow is always gone from my south facing lawn first, so I have to get on the crabgrass now. You can recognize the sprouts as they are bright green in an otherwise drab lawn, and whorled like spokes on a wheel.

I have tried corn gluten, a preemergent, with varying results; the biggest problem is finding it in the stores so early. Scotts has a product out with good reviews for treating crabgrass. I have yet to try it.

This year I poured boiling water on the germinating sprouts, will let you know how that works.

Disinfect Tools and Pots with Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an environmentally friendly alternative to bleach for cleaning and disinfecting in the garden.

If you use containers on your patio, deck or in your gardens, a warm sunny day is a great time to clean them out. Rinse them out and spray with undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide to disinfect them. Let the pots sit in the hydrogen peroxide for at least ten minutes. Rinse again, then fill them with new soil so they are ready to fill with annuals when your last frost date arrives.

If you intend to fill any containers with perennials (I have some with ornamental grasses in them) you can do that now. Contact your local nurseries to see what they have available, my favourite here is Ritchie Feed & Seed.

Hydrogen peroxide is also an effective way to clean your tools. Spray or soak them, let them sit for a minimum of ten minutes, then rinse and dry.

Change up Your Outdoor Decor

Remove your winter arrangements (the evergreens that are not so green anymore) and replace them with harbingers of spring. Nothing says spring like pussy willows (I saw some at Farm Boy yesterday) or forsythia branches!

Start Some Seeds

Non-hardy seeds should be started at least six weeks before your last frost date, so this is a great time to get them going. I have learned a few tips over the winter regarding seedlings. Stay tuned for a future post on that subject, coming soon.

Conclusions

While it is still too early to really get started, there are a few things you can do to scratch that gardening itch.

Stay tuned for a more detailed post next week on the next steps in spring cleanups.

Posted in business, gardens, loreeebee.ca, motivational

Turn your Hobby into a Business

I am proud to report that I was recently featured in an article in First for Women magazine about turning a hobby into a lucrative business opportunity. The picture of me isn’t the most flattering one, taken in a hurry first thing in the morning (my grandkids take better selfies than I do) because the one I had submitted was too blurry, but the garden pictured is one of my favourite projects. I have literally watched it evolve over the years from a weed filled, uninspired, large area into a stunning, colourful, well-planned perennial garden bed.

I was approached in January to submit a story on how and why I started my own business, then told it was accepted to be published. The magazine is on newsstands from March 11th through to March 31st. This, of course, is a much-edited, sugar-coated version of my story. I have learned tons over the years, including how to create a website, blog and invoicing or accounting system. I’ve also learned what not to do. If anyone needs further motivation or details on how to get a (very) small business up and running, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

While many people have been inspired to find unique ways to earn income during the pandemic, my gardening hobby-to-business adventure began in the spring of 2012. In fact, last summer my business took a hit, due to the fact that many of my clients were working from home and able to manage their own gardens. Others gave up their gardener to tighten their budget as the pandemic stretched from weeks to months. I was excited, however, to be able to design a few new gardens, something I have been doing less of in recent years. It was a hot and dry summer too, so the cottage season was an exceptional one.

I was thrilled to see the magazine article in publication, especially as the weather appears to be warming up to what could soon be gardening weather. I do still have quite a bit of snow covering my gardens, but it is melting. My south-facing front yard is always the first on the street to reveal the grass under the snow…

In the meantime, I am still repotting, dividing and increasing my collection of houseplants. I think I need a larger house!

Posted in current events, lorieb.wordpress.com

Lessons to be Learned

There are many lessons to be learned these days, some are learning the hard way, but (hopefully) learning none the less. Covid-19 and the systemic racism that has reared its ugly head is making 2020 a year to remember, and it’s only half over!

These are just a few examples of lessons we (should) have learned….

Social Media Comments can Come Back to Bite you in the Butt!

Just ask the two guys fired from Vanderpump Rules. Racist comments made many years ago have cost them their jobs, at least on the popular TV show. It has not yet been determined if their jobs at the bar owned by Lisa Vanderpump are at jeopardy as well. Maybe they didn’t deserve to be fired from the show for comments made so long ago, (especially when they are only in their mid twenties now and comments were made ten years ago) but perhaps TV stations are making an example of them.

Racist Jokes or Pranks are not Funny!

Another Vanderpump Rules pair (two of the original females) were fired for
phoning the cops on a light skinned, black co-worker because her tattoos and dark skin fit the description of someone the police were looking for. This was a recent (and immaturely stupid) discretion.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Admedia/Sipa/Shutterstock (1713227af) Lisa Vanderpump-Todd and Andy Cohen Andy Cohen’s ‘Most Talkative: Stories From The Front Lines Of Pop Culture’ Book Release Party, Los Angeles, America – 14 May 2012

Just Because you are not a Racist does not Mean you are Anti-Racist

It’s not enough today to be non-racist. The Black Lives Matter movement is demanding we become anti-racist. If you have a platform, it is essential to speak up and put your money where your mouth is. Watch Arnold Schwarzenegger tell it like it is (or should be)

White Privilege is Rampant

White privilege is a fact that many of us are not (at least we were not) aware of. An example of it in the news (at least one of them) featured Jessica Mulroney, the host of CTV’s I Do, Redo. For some reason she believed her projects were more important and pressing than someone else’s. Perhaps because she is a Canadian socialite, married to the son of a former prime minister, and/or BFFs with Megan Markle. I don’t believe that her comments, although aimed at a black woman, were racist. Just insensitive and egotistical, coming from a lifestyle of white privilege.

photo credit to Us Magazine

Who knows if firing these TV personalities was the right thing to do, but perhaps it’s the only way to get the right message out there. Hopefully the standard will be raised.

Positive Changes

Along with the tough lessons learned from the issues in the news, some people have taken learning to a whole new level. Activities they never had time for before COVID forced them to stay home are now hobbies that may just last a lifetime.

Gardening

I had to laugh with a garden center employee when she told me someone informed her they wanted to grow tomatoes, then quickly asked “what does a tomato look like?” All of a sudden gardening is everyone’s new hobby. This was evident as all plants at the nurseries were quickly picked over the very weekend they were permitted to open. Grrrrrr.

I can understand the discovery that gardening is relaxing and very rewarding, no new revelation for me. I started a gardening business eight years ago now, and still love every minute of it. This new found hobby many have taken on has affected my business though as many of my clients are now able and willing to look after their own gardens.

Online Shopping and Banking

Several of my elderly clients have now learned how to etransfer funds. This may sound trivial to many of you younger folk, but the older generation is more prone to mistrusting using computers and cell phones, especially for anything financial related. To them this is huge!

Of course online shopping has been around for years, but during this COVID pandemic it is more popular than ever. Delivery services are saying they are busier now than during the Christmas holiday season. Amazon released a statement recently saying they are prioritizing their orders, so if you ordered something they deem non-essential, you wont be receiving it anytime soon.

I learned this the hard way when I ordered Mother’s Day gifts for my daughter in laws. Even though I placed the orders in late March in anticipation of the holiday mid May, the gifts did not arrive until mid June.

Quality Time with Family

My two eldest sons have both learned they are enjoying the COVID restrictions as it is allowing them to spend more quality time with their children. It is a well known fact that children thrive from spending quality time with their parents. Unfortunately, our pre-COVID lives were so complicated and busy that quality time was slipping through the cracks. Simple things (after all, that’s all we are allowed to do) like going for a walk, movie nights, homeschooling, crafts and more are becoming the new normal. Your children are probably loving all the attention.

We may just have a baby boom next winter as couples spend more quality time together too. On the flip side though, the divorce rate may already be increasing as some couples are struggling being cooped up with their significant others.

Supporting Local Businesses

As small businesses struggle with the tanking economy caused by the pandemic, it is more important than ever to support them. Without money coming in from customers, business owners are struggling to pay their rent. Many have also been forced to lay off employees due to the huge loss in revenue.

The big chain stores/businesses will probably survive, but the mom and pop restaurants, bars, gift shops, novelty stores etc. may not. Research local small businesses offering curbside pickups and take out food or purchase their gift cards to use when these stores reopen. Many have switched to an online process, ensuring touchless payment. Some even offer free delivery through Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats or their own delivery service.

Losing the Judgement

We must all learn to be less judgmental of others, especially when living in such trying times. Everyone’s situation is different, so people should concentrate on their own, without worrying and complaining about the actions of others.

photo credit to John Hain, Pixabay


What have you learned?

Feature picture credit to pixapopz

Posted in family, loreeebee.ca, relationships

Daughter from another mother

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I am devastated this week after hearing of the sudden and unexpected death of a dear friend.  The initial shock is fading, but I am still having difficulty believing that she is gone from my life.

Although she started out as a client in my gardening business, ….. Continue reading “Daughter from another mother”

Posted in business, lorieb.com, Ottawa

Safety glasses for gardening

Today while gardening, I stopped to shed a sweater as it got warmer.  To do so, I removed my safety sunglasses.  After removing my sweater, I slammed the door to the trunk of my van, forgetting to replace the sunglasses on my head first.   As I had left them on the bumper of the van, they flew across the yard and a few swear words flew out of my mouth…

 

The good news is, as they are incredibly durable, they did not shatter as I feared they would.  One lens popped out, but other than that, they were no worse for wear, not even scratched!   I was easily able to put the lens back in…

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I would not recommend testing your glasses this way, but I was impressed.  My safety sunglasses survived an incredible safety test.  I have no doubt that they would protect my eyes from a flying object other than the glasses themselves!

The glasses were purchased at OTTAWA FASTENER SUPPLY INC    I found them while wandering through the store as my husband shopped for a tool he needed for a project.  As they were inexpensive and  fashionable,  I tried them on.  I loved the fact that they cover the sides of my eyes and that the nose grip prevents them from falling off when I bend over.  I decided they would be perfect to wear while gardening…

Good decision!