Time to start planning the garden season says local expert

Berta Briggs

Berta Briggs

No matter what Alberta’s spring weather sends your way, it is never too early to start planning for gardening season.

Organization and preparation were just two of the tips Berta Briggs, founder of Arber Greenhouses Ltd., talked about during a gardening presentation she gave at the Wetaskiwin Public Library on April 25.

Being in the library, with limited space available, Briggs first talked about container gardening before moving to topics such as composting and outdoor beds.

Not limited just to small pots, container gardening has grown to include living walls and rooftop gardening and other innovative ways to flex that green thumb.

As with any gardening, soil quality is important with container gardening. “You want quite a light soil if you’re in a container,” said Briggs.

Gardening soil should not be overly sandy or compacted, as plants need water, oxygen, and organic matter to thrive.

“When it comes to organic matter compost is gold,” said Briggs. Compost can contain a mixture of dirt, yard waste, kitchen waste and animal waste.

Briggs says more successful composters keeps a balance between green and brown matter, as well as churn the compost often.

With the region’s lower temperatures, Briggs says sometimes garden dirt is needed when starting a compost to get the micro-organism bacteria growing. “You need the green and the brown.”

When asked about chicken waste, Briggs told the audience it is a good option for gardens; however, chicken waste needs to age two to three years in compost before being applied to a garden due to how hot it is.

With container gardening, potting soil can be combined with top soil to add nutrients and organic matter. But adding too much will make the soil hard and compact, and insufficient to use for hanging baskets.

Container gardening plants only need about eight to 10 inches of soil for their root systems. If using a larger pot the bottom can be filled with styrofoam or another light packing material. Briggs says this helps keep the container light for mobility and increases drainage for the plant.

To avoid overcrowding in container gardening a gardener’s best course of action is to read the tag stating how much room each plant needs. Briggs says plants are being bred more aggressively than in the past, and therefore need more room to grow without competing with other plants nearby.

“Also, cutting back is so important with container gardens,” said Briggs. Whenever the plants are fertilized a few stems should be trimmed to promote new growth.

When deciding what to plant, whether inside or outdoors, Briggs says there are many options and choices should be considered ahead of time. “Wintertime is the time to do armchair gardening.”

“There’s loads of catalogs, loads of magazines,” she added.

While they can be grown indoors, Briggs says herbs love the sunshine that comes with being grown outside.

Like container gardens, herbs also need regular trims. The trimmings can be dried or frozen in ice cubes or oil cubes for cooking.

Briggs explained root crops such as carrots, turnips, radish and spinach can be planted in the fall for a head start on spring gardening.

Arber Greenhouses annual Ladybug Release Party is scheduled for May 7 at 11 a.m.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta adds 463 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

The central zone has 818 active cases

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Blackfalds RCMP investigate fatal collision

Preliminary investigation revealed a south bound pickup truck collided with an eastbound car

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Most Read