Gardening information is just a click away
Computer mouse helps with gardening
By: Susan Jones
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 16, 2013 06:00 am
Last week I was looking online for information on a Jim Hole (of Hole’s Greenhouses) column and that search became the seed behind this story.
Hole was writing about the Glamouflage Petunia and so of course, I wanted to know what one looked like. The search took me to a video – not of Hole – but of the Glamouflage hybridizers who are proud of their new variegated leafed, grape-coloured petunia. It’s the leaf that enthralls them, as much as the bloom, because the foliage is striking and interesting.
The Glamouflage page listed some 20 or more gardening columns, including how-to videos about pruning flowers as well as information about seeding and even landscaping. That soon led to gardening blogs with information posted about gardening from all over the world.
The Internet provides a gardening primer that is so rich you can almost feel the loam on your fingers, and in February, when the greenest thing in your house is a ragged-looking African violet, that’s not all bad. As for African violets, they too are on the Internet with information about everything from cloning them to problems with cats and violets. There are also photos, and especially in winter, the pictures are the best part of gardening via the computer.
“You can access so much on the computer from various sites, such as the St. Albert Garden Club’s site to the botanic park site to seed catalogues, to nurseries and of course you can use it as a tool for planning your garden,” said Derrick Harrison, who manages the www.stalbertgardenclub.info website.
Harrison said that at this time of year he uses the computer to look for information about new plants.
“I still like using a paper copy of a seed catalogue, probably because I can put a piece of sticky paper on a page, but if I’m looking for a specific plant, I browse online,” he said.
Harrison’s garden is well established, and he has no plans to do any major landscaping, but he may consider making small changes to accommodate the big trees that shade his yard.
“I might look at landscaping ideas for shady gardens or I might look for new varieties of shade plants,” he said, as he also offered a note of caution for would-be computer gardeners.
“You can search the Internet and it can be a benefit in planning a garden but be careful. Don’t be too trusting. You have to decide how relevant the information is for this area,” he said.
One Better Homes and Gardens site about landscaping seems to fit well with Harrison’s warning. The site was complete with sample drawings and photos. It had questions to ask yourself about your own yard. It included information about creating mood, analyzing the soil and even the climate but then the site invited the reader to stand out in the middle of the yard to get a feel for the lay of the land.
Clearly the information will have to wait a few weeks unless the St. Albert reader wants to plow through a few feet of snow.
“Using do-it-yourself landscaping sites are a great way to start with landscaping designs but beyond the actual basics, you have to beware of the tricky climate conditions we have in this part of Alberta,” said Tam Andersen of Prairie Gardens, near Bon Accord.
Andersen explained that when shopping on the Internet, gardeners must realize we normally have 100 frost-free days in this part of the province. But while the growing season figures into deciding what kind of tomatoes to plant, Alberta winters can be a bigger concern for anyone who wants to landscape their yard with less hardy perennials or trees.
“In Bon Accord we are Zone 2 (but) in St. Albert your gardening zone is likely 3B. But what wreaks havoc on perennials and some trees is the way it can go to -20 C one day and then the next day you get a chinooky thaw that stays. Then it plunges into the deep freeze again. If the chinook stays long enough, the sap starts to move in the plants. That flash freeze, thaw cycle is unique to Alberta,” Andersen said.
Still, Andersen uses the Internet herself when she’s looking for new plant varieties to sell.
“I found purple peas on a site called Seeds of Diversity out of Newfoundland and mixed Kaleidoscope carrots, which are purple, red and orange on a site called The Cook’s Garden. On another site I found Johnny’s Red bunching onions along with Johnny’s video on growing edible flowers. Online gardening is a great way to wile away the hours instead of shovelling snow,” Andersen said.