April 18, 2024

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Growing Things: Latest Prairie Garden ushers in new year of growing

Published annually since 1937, this year’s edition is dedicated to climate-aware gardening

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I just received my review copy of The Prairie Garden and if you’re looking for a last-minute gift for the gardener in your life, this is it. It’s truly one of my favourite publications, always topical and extremely helpful whether you’re a rookie or veteran gardener. The Prairie Garden is a non-profit publication dedicated to the advancement of horticulture on the Prairies. It is a digest-sized softcover book published annually since 1937 by a volunteer organization. The orientation of the publication is always prairie-based but certainly applicable to many areas in Canada.

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This year’s edition focuses on climate awareness and the guest editor is Dr. Danny Blair. Dr. Blair is a co-director of the Prairie Climate Centre and a professor in the department of geography at the University of Winnipeg. His expertise is climatology and his research looks at climate change with a particular focus on the Prairie provinces. Dr. Blair and a number of his colleagues, as well as several of the other authors, provide information to help understand climate change, how it’s affecting us now and how it will continue to influence our future home-gardening practices.

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The publication offers tips on lessening your carbon footprint by reducing the use of plastic, for example. Several of the articles deal with xeriscaping, which is the use of drought-tolerant plants. In light of the drought periods much of Western Canada has been facing in the last few summers, choosing plants tolerant of these dry environments can help us be better gardeners and friends with nature. Xeriscaping might well be the way of gardening in the future. In these times of climate change, it certainly is the environmentally-friendly method of gardening.

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I encourage you to go to The Prairie Garden website where you can order the 2023 copy or other gardening annuals.

You can also purchase copies at Greenland Garden Centre, Parkland Garden Centre and Hannas Seeds in Lacombe but I suggest calling ahead to make sure they have the book in stock.

Extend Christmas-tree freshness

Next, some tips on getting the most life out of your fresh Christmas tree. With my trees, I cut the trunk when it is brought home about 2.5 cm from the bottom. I then put it into a container of water in the garage. I know the water is likely to freeze but it does give the tree a drink after you make the first cut. If you leave the tree out in the garage for a week or so you will need to make a second cut just a centimetre above the first cut before you bring it into the house.

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Always keep the tree well-supplied with water. Check the water level in the stand several times each day. Trees may use several liters of water each day. Keeping the tree supplied with fresh water is absolutely critical to the tree’s longevity.

  • Never let the water level fall below the base of the tree. If this occurs, the cut end can seal over, preventing further water uptake. The tree must then be taken down and a fresh cut made to allow water uptake.
  • Adding aspirin, soda water, bleach or sugar to the water in the tree stand is no more effective in keeping the tree fresh than adding plain water each day. In fact, the bleach can harm the tree.

Family Fun Edmonton has a great website on choosing the best Christmas tree along with a list of some of the tree lots and U-cut sites.

I’d like to wish all my readers and gardening friends a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season. May the New Year bring health, peace and much happiness to you and yours.

Learn more by emailing your questions to [email protected], reading past columns at EdmontonJournal.com or my book, Just Ask Jerry. You can also follow me on Twitter @justaskjerry01.



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