Now is the time to sit back, relax and learn

Within two months, the weather will warm and all the snow will melt. People will be outside getting their yard ready for the coming season. So now is the time to sit back and relax and learn.

Within two months, the weather will warm and all the snow will melt. People will be outside getting their yard ready for the coming season. So now is the time to sit back and relax and learn.

There are many websites that contain useful and relevant information for Central Alberta gardeners, but it can be time consuming finding them. So here are some good options:

• A Calgary-based company has an online booklet that is full of information on gardening indoors and out. It contains lists, pictures and information about plants, size, shape, and sun preferences on hardy and not so hardy varieties. Basic information on landscaping materials is also provided. The 181-page PDF is put together to encourage people to visit their establishment but it isn’t necessary to go there to take advantage of the information.

http://www.goldenacre.ca/garden_guide/GoldenAcre_GardenGuide.pdf

• Wondering what plant to place where in the garden? Go to a web-based plant finder program where there are places to check off: plant type, plant characteristics, landscape attributes, ornamental features and site conditions. The program will scan its data base and come up with a list of plants that match the criteria that was picked. The default for the program is set at zone 3 but can be changed for people who live in other zones. Be sure to check the hardy box to find plants that will survive the cold temperatures unless you are willing to give them extra protection each fall.

http://plants.parklandgarden.ca/11050011

• Information about plants can differ between sources depending on where the information was attained. Take the time to compare information. The following website contains an extensive data base of plants listed alphabetically.

http://www.sunnysidehomeandgarden.com/Info/Resources/PlantDatabase.aspx

• This site also contains a large data base of plants. They are listed with common and Latin names.

http://www.gardenweb.com/

• People who are interested in fruit that is hardy to the Prairies will be interested in the University of Saskatoon’s website. It provides information on different types of fruits and their cultural requirements. It also lists companies that propagate and sell the plants. Most of the new introductions of fruit hardy to the Prairies have come from the program at the University of Saskatchewan.

http://www.fruit.usask.ca/

There is a multitude of seed catalogues available in print and online. The following lists contain seedhouses that have an extensive inventory to ones with only a few specialty seeds. Peruse the list and go to ones of interest.

• For a comprehensive list that includes most plant and seed sources in Canada go to:

http://www.canadiangardening.com/how-to/seeds/browse-for-seed-catalogues/a/2493/2

• A shorter list contains a number of Canadian organic seed sources:

http://www.cog.ca/documents/SeedlistingWI06.pdf

• The Alberta Native Plant Council, a non-profit organization, has compiled a list of plant and seed sources for plants native to Alberta. Read information carefully and do research as many of the companies also sell plants that are not native to Central Alberta.

http://www.anpc.ab.ca/assets/ANPC_2010_Native_Plant_Source_List.pdf

The following websites contain articles on a wide range of topics. Sift through them to find information that is relevant.

• http://www.canadiangardening.com/gardens

• www.icangarden.com

• http://www.gardenswest.com/qry/page.taf?id=24

• http://www.localgardener.net/pages.php?lang=en&page=home

• http://www.bhg.com

• The City of Calgary’s website has information for those looking for an easy to maintain, environmentally friendly yard.

http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/Water/Pages/Water-conservation/Lawn-and-garden/Water-wise-gardening-and-plants/Water-Wise-Trees-and-Shrubs.aspx

• Permaculture is a type of gardening that stresses working with the ecosystem to produce food security. It is gaining popularity within groups that would like to know where their food originates.

http://www.foodsecurityalberta.org/node/35

• Ever wonder how to propagate a particular plant but not able to find the information? The answers to many plant propagation questions can be found at:

http://grow.ars-informatica.ca/

The sites listed provide a broad range of information on current gardening. When looking at websites, look to see when they were last updated. Be critical of information on any site, the same as when one reads books, magazines or newspapers. Then sit back and learn.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at www.igardencanada.com or your_garden@hotmail.com.

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