Is My Kiwi a Male or a Female?

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Arctic kiwi in fruit. Photo: University of Minnesota Extension

You planted a hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta, zone 4b) or an arctic kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta, zone 3) a few years ago, and it hasn’t yet produced any fruit. Then you discovered you actually had to plant at least two kiwis, one male and one female, because the plant is dioecious (male and female flowers appear on separate plants). So you want to plant a spouse for your lonely kiwi, but you can’t find the label that (hopefully) indicated the plant’s sex. How can you tell if your kiwi is a male or a female?

You have to wait until it blooms. It’s really only by looking closely at the flower when it blooms in June—in fact, actually touching it!—that you can tell the two apart. Here’s what to look for:


Abundant stamens bearing yellow pollen show this plant to be a male. Photo: Apple2000, Wikimedia Commons

The male flower is filled with thin stamens topped in yellow pollen. When you touch them, yellow pollen sticks to your finger.

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Female flowers have a cluster of sticky white stigmas in the center. Photo: Mnolf, Wikimedia Commons

The female flower produces flowers with peripheral stamens, but they’re sterile and don’t produce pollen. In the center, however, you’ll see white stigmas that project outward beyond the stamens and they’ll feel sticky to the touch.

There you go! Simple, isn’t it? But do have to check while the plant is in bloom.

Leaf Color Can (Sometimes) Help

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The popular cultivar Actinidia kolomikta ‘Arctic Beauty’, a male, is grown as an ornamental for its variegated pink and white leaves. Photo:

You can sometimes make a good guess about the sex of an arctic kiwi (A. kolomikta) by studying its leaf color. The most commonly sold cultivar, A. kolomikta ‘Arctic Beauty’, offers foliage heavily variegated white and pink … and it’s a male. You can therefore assume that if your kiwi is very colorful, it’s probably a male. However … female cultivars of A. kolomikta too are usually variegated to varying degrees and other male cultivars may be entirely green or only slightly variegated, so the color of the foliage is more an indication of plant’s sex than a proof.

Still No Fruit

You did plant at least one male and female, but it’s been years and there are no fruits yet. What’s going wrong?

Nothing, probably! Normally, hardy kiwis and Arctic kiwis are very cold-tolerant climbing plants that produce a lot of fruit, at least, when you have at least one male plant to pollinate up to 8 females. And they’re very adaptable when it comes to growing conditions: you could say, without too much exaggeration, that they’ll grow anywhere! Indeed, they thrive in just about any well-drained soil in both sun and shade.

So why then is it taking yours so long to produce fruit?

Here are a few possible reasons:

  1. It’s too young

If you want to grow kiwis, you have to be very patient. Most won’t even start to flower until they’re about 3 years old and even then, rarely bear fruit in any quantity until they’re 5 to 7 or even 9 years old.

  1. It’s not hardy enough
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The typical supermarket kiwi, Actinidia deliciosa, isn’t hardy enough to produce fruit in many climates. JJ Harrison, Wikimedia Commons

Any kiwi grown in a colder zone than one for which it is recommended will likely never bloom as it flowers from new growth appearing from the previous year’s branches and if they are damaged or killed back by a cold winter, there’ll be no fruit. Therefore you have to plant your kiwi in a hardiness zone to which it is adapted.

The kiwifruit of our supermarkets, with its large hairy fruit, is called A. deliciosa (formerly A. chinensis) and it’s not hardy in cold climates. It grows best in hardiness zones 8 to 9, although it can sometimes succeed in zone 7. In the north, it will only fruit successfully a greenhouse.

The plant usually called hardy kiwi (A. arguta) is indeed quite hardy: usually to zone 4. Despite its hardiness, it’s not the best choice for regions with short summers, as the fruits take about 150 days to mature. Its fruits are small, green and smooth. There’s no need to peel them, just pop them in your mouth, like a grape!

Arctic kiwifruit (A. kolmikta) isn’t really from the Arctic, but it is the hardiest variety (to zone 3) and the best choice for northern gardeners. Its fruit ripens early as well, usually at the end of August or early in September. Its fruits are much like those of the previous species: small, green and smooth. Often, but not always, its foliage is variegated with white or white and pink, making this the most attractive kiwi.

  1. It’s a naturally poor producer

Curiously, the best-selling hardy kiwi by far is also the least likely to bear fruit!


‘issai’ is commonly sold in garden centers in areas where it simply won’t produce fruit.

The Japanese cultivar ‘Issai’, although sold as a hardy kiwi (A. arguta), is actually a less-hardy hybrid (A. arguta x A. rufa). It’s inevitably offered as the variety of choice for gardeners who don’t have enough space for two kiwi plants, a male and a female, because it’s said to be bisexual. (In fact, ‘Issai’ is 100% female, but is parthenocarpic: it can produce a limited number of fruits without pollination.) It is also said to begin to produce fruits at an exceptionally young age: only 2 or 3 years and is naturally a fairly small, weak grower, taking up less space than other kiwis.

All that sounds good, but it rarely lives up to its hype. While it may produce fruits without a male variety nearby for pollination, expect only a few fruits per plant per year… and expect none at all in colder regions. Although the stems may be hardy to zone 4b, it rarely blooms at all anywhere north of zone 6b and is only likely to be very productive in zone 7 or above. It can be very productive in mild climates, but only in the presence of a male hardy kiwi (A. arguta).

  1. The parent plants aren’t of the same species

When you plant a male kiwi and one or more female kiwis, they must be of the same species. In other words, a male arctic kiwi (A. kolomikta) will, under normal circumstances, only pollinate a female arctic kiwi and a male hardy kiwi (A. arguta) can effectively pollinate only a female hardy kiwi. If your male belongs to one species and the female, to another, you aren’t going to get fruit!

  1. There’s a lack of pollinators in the area
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Bumble bees are the kiwi’s main pollinators. Photo: Buzzy Bee, Kiwi Flickr

Usually, bees pollinate kiwi flowers but not necessarily honeybees (Apis mellifera). Kiwi flowers don’t produce enough nectar for their taste, plus they prefer to visit flowers exposed to the sun, while kiwi flowers are hidden among the plant’s foliage. Bumble bees (Bombus spp.), larger hairy bees, are much more effective pollinators. In fact, kiwifruit farmers are increasingly using commercially-raised bumblebees as pollinators. Where bumble bees are absent, you may have to pollinate your kiwis manually.

  1. A late frost killed the flower buds

This happens when there is a severe frost while the plant is in bud or in flower. Curiously, there is a greater risk of frost damaging kiwi flowers in a mild climate, as plant growth starts up earlier there, even while a risk of frost lingers, than in cold regions, where flowering is naturally delayed until all danger of frost is usually over.

Essentially, hardy kiwis are very easy to grow, but you have to choose the right varieties, plant at least one of each sex of the right species and be very, very patient!20170617A University of Minnesota Extension

Feed Your Soil’s Microflora and Microfauna and Your Plants Will Thank You!


Feeding  the soil with compost will make your plants very happy!

I often get very interesting messages from the readers of my blog. For example, after I wrote about the difference between fertilizer and compost just the other day, I received a very interesting letter that deserves to be widely shared.

Here it is:

I would have liked it if you’d told your readers that plants (all plants, including trees) get 90% or more of their nutrients from the air – CO2 + H2O (photosynthesis) = C6-H12-O6 (sugar) + O2 (which we need to breathe!) – and that only 10% of the nutrients, at most, come from nutrients in the soil.

They’ll be surprised to find that the purpose of compost is to feed the soil’s microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, etc.), not the plant itself!

Feeding the soil pays more than feeding the plant with chemical fertilizer and in the long run (you are very right), if you don’t feed the soil, you’ll always need to add more and more chemical nutrients to obtain an equivalent or even reduced yield.


Yvon Beaulieu
Medical Biologist

American Elms Resistant to Dutch Elm Disease

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Once a popular street tree, the American elm has been largely wiped off the map by Dutch elm disease.

The American elm (Ulmus americana), with its large size and outstanding arching umbrella habit, was long considered the ideal street tree. Hardy and  tolerant of urban conditions, it was planted by millions across North America and the “tree-lined street” many of us have in our imagination are of those endless rows of American elms. Unfortunately, its role as America’s favorite street tree came to a crashing halt with the arrival of Dutch elm disease (Ophiostoma spp.), a fungal disease carried from tree to tree by elm bark beetles. Once established in a tree, the fungus can then spread to neighboring trees through their roots when they touch.

Dutch elm disease probably originated in Asia, but went largely unnoticed there, as Asiatic elm species have good developed genetic resistance to it over thousands of years. It was first noticed in Europe in 1910, but was only identified in 1921 in the Netherlands (hence the name Dutch elm disease). It first arrived in North America in 1928 when elm wood from the Netherlands containing bark beetles was shipped to New York, then transported to Ohio, starting two separate outbreaks. Since then, it has spread widely and newer, more virulent strains of DED (Dutch elm disease) have only increased the problem.

The disease now occurs throughout Europe and much of the United States and Canada, although its spread westward has been partly checked by the Rocky Mountains. It’s presently absent from Alberta and British Columbia while elms in Quebec City and Winnipeg are “holding their own”, helped by their colder climates (the beetles that carry the disease don’t overwinter in the north, but can fly there from the South during the summer). More than 77 million elms have died of DED in North America so far. Today, in many areas, any mature elms that are left only survive because their owners are willing to pay for expensive preventative treatments that have to be repeated every 2 or 3 years.

Hybridization and Selection

Fortunately many researchers have been working on solutions since the 1940s and have come up with some interesting solutions.

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Street planting of a naturally disease-resistant American elm, ‘Princeton’. Photo: Mr. Matté, Wikimedia Commons

For example, healthy, mature American elms have been found in areas otherwise devastated by the disease. Cuttings from these survivors have been tested and many were found to be resistant to DED, even when inoculated with the spores of the disease. They aren’t entirely immune to the DED: they may catch it if they are raised under stressful growing conditions, such as repeated droughts. Even so, some of these varieties that have been successfully used in landscapes for over 40 years and are still thriving.

Another possibility is using naturally disease-resistant Asiatic species as substitutes, notably the Japanese elm (U. davidiana japonica), which is remarkably similar in appearance to the American elm, although of a smaller size.

Finally, there is considerable hybridizing going on, notably between desirable North American and European species and disease-resistant Asiatic ones, and several very interesting hybrid elms, all with good DED resistance, are available in many nurseries.

Pick Own-root Elms

If you intend to buy a DED-resistant American elm (U. americana), make sure to get one growing on its own roots. To save production time, some growers have been grafting resistant varieties onto elms grown from seed, but this can allow the disease to enter the tree through its roots. It’s therefore best to choose trees identified as non-grafted or growing on their own roots.

Elms Resistant to Dutch Elm Disease

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Accolade™ Morton’ elm is a hybrid that is now widely available on the market. Photo: Chicagoland Grows

What follows is a list of varieties of elm that offer both the majesty of the American elm and a good resistance to Dutch elm disease. Most nurseries will carry at least one of these varieties, so pick your favorite and help bring back the majestic American elm to its status as a beloved street tree.

  1. U. x Accolade™ ‘Morton’ zone 4
  2. U. americana ‘Brandon’ zone 3
  3. U. americana ‘Delaware’ zone 3
  4. U. americana ‘Independence’ zone 3
  5. U. americana ‘Jefferson’ zone 4
  6. U. americana ‘New Harmony’ zone 4
  7. U. americana Prairie Expedition™ ‘Lewis and Clark’ zone 3
  8. U. americana ‘Princeton’ zone 4
  9. U. americana ‘St. Croix’ zone 4
  10. U. americana ‘Valley Forge’ zone 4
  11. U. americana ‘Washington’ zone 3
  12. U. x ‘Arno’*, zone 6
  13. U. x ‘Cathedral’, zone 4
  14. U. x Commendation™ ‘Morton Stalwart’, zone 4
  15. U. x Danada Charm™ ‘Morton Red Tip’, zone 4
  16. U. davidiana japonica ‘Jacan’ zone 3
  17. U. davidiana japonica ‘Discovery’ zone 3
  18. U. davidiana japonica ‘Freedom’ zone 3
  19. U. davidiana japonica (formerly U. wilsoniana) ‘Prospector’ zone 4b
  20. U. x ‘Fiorente’*, zone 6
  21. U. x ‘Frontier’ zone 5
  22. U. x ‘Homestead’ zone 4
  23. U. x ‘New Horizon’ zone 4
  24. U. x ‘Patriot’ zone 4b
  25. U. x ‘Pioneer’ zone 4b
  26. U. x ‘Plinio’*, zone 6
  27. U. x ‘Rebona’ zone 4
  28. U. x ‘Regal’ zone 5
  29. U. x Resista® ‘Sapporo Autumn Gold’ zone 4
  30. U. x ‘San Zanobi’*, zone 6
  31. U. x Triumph™ ‘Morton Glossy’ zone 4
  32. U. x Vanguard™ ‘Morton Plainsman’, zone 4

*Varieties developed for growing in warmer climates (zones 6 to 9) than the usual American elm.

Grasscycling: Making Life Simpler for the Laidback Gardener!


Just leave the clippings on the lawn: so much less work for the laid-back gardener!

Grasscycling: Making Life Simpler for the Laidback Gardener!

Did you know that you don’t have to rake up grass clippings when you finish mowing the lawn? In fact, if you leave them where they lie, grass cuttings quickly melt away, slipping down into the grass below and disappearing from view, usually within 24 hours. And as they disappear, they’re actually decomposing, recycling a lot of the moisture and minerals that were chopped off when you mowed.

If grass clippings decompose so readily, it’s because they’re so very rich in moisture and in nitrogen (the microorganisms that decompose plant materials just love nitrogen!). However, they also contain all the nutrients, like phosphorus and potassium, that lawn grasses need to grow well. So every time you leave clippings on the lawn, you’re actually fertilizing and watering it!

Of course, grasscycling is really nothing new. My father used to do it when I was a kid and practically laughed at our neighbors as they carefully raked their lawns after each mowing. As a former farmer, he knew dead plant material feeds the soil. The only new thing about the technique is the name. It never used to have one per se: you’d simply talk about “leaving the clippings on the lawn,” but now that it’s considered the environmentally friendly thing to do, it’s taken on the name grasscycling. You may also see the term mulch mowing, especially when it refers to lawnmowers.

Ideal for the Laidback Gardener


Grasscycling lets you finish mowing sooner.

Grasscycling couldn’t be easier. After all, it’s something you don’t do: you don’t rake or bag clippings)! If your lawnmower is equipped with a bag or bin for clippings, remove it and put it in mulching mode. The manual supplied with the mower will explain how to do so. Then you just mow and the clippings end up dropping to the ground under the mower as you mow. Couldn’t be siimpler!


Mulching blades are now the standard ones used on power mowers.

To make things even easier, most modern lawnmowers are now mulching mowers and come equipped with a mulching blade, a somewhat twisted blade that chops grass leaves into even finer pieces than a regular blade would. They were specifically designed for “mulch mowing” (grasscycling)… but even a straight lawnmower blade (now harder to find than a mulching blade) will still do the trick!

More Advantages

In addition to fertilizing your lawn, grasscycling offers several advantages:


What a time-saver! No need to pick up all those lawn clippings after you finish mowing

  • Mowing will be faster, because you won’t have to pick up and bag clippings when you finish. One study suggests a saving of 35 minutes per mowing session for an average lawn;
  • Since grass clippings provide a good percentage of the minerals a lawn needs to grow well, you’ll be able to greatly reduce the cost of fertilizer… as well as its frequency of application. Many people are finding that, when they grasscycle, a single annual application of slow-release organic fertilizer at half the recommended rate is all it takes to maintain a premium lawn;
  • Clippings also provide the turf with moisture, reducing watering frequencies and, in some cases, even the need to water;
  • Lawns largely fertilized by grasscycling are proving more resistant to insects and diseases than lawns only fertilized with synthetic fertilizers.

No Need to Worry About Thatch

Many gardeners blame lawn clippings for thatch, that mysterious layer of mixed rhizomes and grass roots that forms between the soil and the green leaves of the lawn grasses above. And many automatically see thatch as their lawn’s enemy… yet they’re wrong on both counts.

Under good lawn conditions, clippings disintegrate too quickly to make up a significant part of thatch. Also, a certain amount of thatch — about ½ inch (1.25 cm) — is actually normal and a sign of a healthy lawn. The more pesticides are applied to the lawn, the more synthetic fertilizers are used and the shorter the lawn is mowed, the thicker the thatch layer will be. Grass clippings, given their capacity to keep the thatch zone moister and to better feed the microorganisms that live there, actually decrease the thickness of thatch in situations where it tends to accumulate excessively.

Treat your lawn with the respect it deserves and excess thatch will largely disappear all on its own!

Are You Breaking the Law by Putting Out Lawn Clippings?

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Putting out bags of lawn clippings may be illegal in your area. Illustration: Clipart Panda

Bagged lawn clippings often make up nearly 50% of the residential solid waste added to municipal landfills during the summer, a huge cost to the municipality and an environmental nightmare. As a result, many municipalities, and indeed some states, have banned lawn clippings from their landfills. Leaving bagged lawn clippings out for the garbage truck can result in fines.

I must admit though that in my neighborhood, although it’s covered by just such a ban, the law is certainly not being applied, as plenty of my neighbors still put their lawn clippings out for municipal pickup, yet no one seems to be handing out fines. So, bring on the police! I’m sure lawn owners would be much more likely to recycle grass clippings if they were being fined!

Mow High and Often

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If you leave too deep a layer of clippings, you’ll have to break them up and spread them around: extra work for you! Photo: Gardena

The only drawback to grasscycling is that you have to mow regularly. Of course, that’s also best for the lawn’s overall care anyway, but if you let your lawn get very tall (over 4 inches/10 cm), then mow it down very short (less than 2 ½ inches/7 cm), this can leave too thick a covering of grass clippings for them to disappear as quickly as they normally would. Worse, since they contain a lot of water and are therefore moist, clippings tend to clump together when present in excess quantities, and such clumps don’t let air or sun through to the grass below, harming the turf. That means you have to go back with a lawn rake, break up the clumps and spread the clippings more evenly, resulting in extra work for you.

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Cut back the turf by about one-third each time. Photo: Gores Facility Services

Ideally, a lazy gardener would cut back his lawn by no more than a third at once, resulting in short clippings that don’t clump together. The recommended regime for lawns of most types is to let it grow to 4 inches (10 cm) tall, then to mow it back to about 3 inches (7.5 cm). That means mowing every 6 to 11 days under most conditions. This gives the ideal conditions for a healthy lawn and makes sure the clippings spread correctly.

Grasscycling: work less and get a greener, healthier lawn? It just seems tailor-made for the laidback gardener!

Unbelievable Miss Montreal Begonia

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Unbelievable Miss Montreal is practically covered in flowers all summer long. Photo: Dümmen Orange

Sometimes really interesting things happen by pure coincidences. That’s the case when the new begonia Unbelievable Miss Montreal (Begonia Unbelievable ™ Miss Montreal) was launched on the North American market as a new plant introduction for 2017.

You see, Montreal celebrates the 375th anniversary of its foundation this summer and you might have thought that the plant’s developer, the Dutch plant breeder, Dümmen Orange, had named the plant because of this special occasion, but no. I checked with them and they knew nothing of the anniversary! The name “Miss Montreal” was in fact chosen to emphasize this begonia’s exceptional resistance to cold temperatures (I assume the Dutch figure Montreal is pretty much the equivalent of the North Pole and indeed, if you visit the city in midwinter, the resemblance can be striking!).


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The flower color is hard to define, but most attractive. Photo: Dümmen Orange

Begonia Unbelievable Miss Montreal is an absolutely striking begonia, the result of complex crosses between the classic tuberous begonia (B. x tuberhybrida) and the Bolivian begonia (B. boliviensis). It’s a semi-trailing plant with stems at first upright and then arching, forming a mound about 10 to 16 inches (25 to 55 cm) high and 18 to 20 inches (45 to 50 cm) in diameter that will trail gracefully from a hanging basket or flower box. The large 3-inch (7.5 cm) double flowers are at creamy white with pale yellow highlights and a coral-pink edge, then, still keeping the coral-pink edge, turn a very pale apricot, a charming combination. The dark green and bronze foliage, rather narrow and pointed, brings out the best in the flowers.

This plant blooms abundantly throughout the summer until well into fall, even when temperatures begin to drop, showing exceptional cold resistance. It is self-cleaning, so you won’t need to deadhead to keep it blooming.

The plant has proven to be a hit with growers and is currently available in nurseries everywhere.


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There is no limit to the way you can use Unbelievable Miss Montreal. Photo: Dümmen Orange

Plant begonia Unbelievable Miss Montreal in rich, well-drained soil in sun or, better yet, part shade. You can grow it in a container or in the garden. It’s not a very needy plant when it comes to fertilizer: just one application of all-purpose, slow-release organic fertilizer at planting time will suffice. In the garden, space the plants about 12 to 14 inches (30 to 40 cm) apart to ensure complete coverage. In pots, you can easily grow it all by itself, but it’s also attractive used in mixed baskets.

If rainfall is irregular during the summer, make sure not to forget to water it. During periods of drought, a thorough watering about every 5 to 7 days should be sufficient.

How to Overwinter Tubers

In the fall, when the frost has killed back the foliage, you’ll need to store the tuber indoors over the winter. First place the plant in a shed or garage for about a week so the tuber can start to dry out. When the stems practically snap off the tuber on their own, remove them and toss them in the compost, keeping only the tuber.

If you grew yours in a pot, it’s often more convenient to leave it there during the winter, just storing the whole pot indoors. If yours is growing in the ground, dig the tuber up, clean it thoroughly and store it in a perforated container so as to allow a bit of air circulation, covering it in shredded paper or peat moss. In both cases, store the tuber in a cool, dry, frost-free place for the winter.

In the spring, about 6 to 8 weeks before the planting-out date, repot the tuber (if it was stored bare) or just bring out the pot and start gently watering again. To start the plant on the way to summer bloom, place it in well-lit spot indoors at normal room temperatures. In no time, your Unbelievable Miss Montreal begonia will be in full leaf and shortly after, in full bloom as well, just what it takes to properly launch your new flowering season.

The Unbelievable Miss Montreal begonia: a true winner!20170613B Unbelievable Miss Montreal_21244

Fertilizer or Compost?


20170611A ENG.jpgMany gardeners want to know what they need to apply to “feed” their plantings: fertilizer or compost? In fact, you can use either one … but there is a difference.



The percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium is expressed by 3 numbers on a fertilizer label.

Fertilizer is composed of concentrated minerals. Three macronutrients are almost always present: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They form the famous N-P-K, the three figures that appear in large print on fertilizer bags and containers. But your fertilizer probably also includes calcium and perhaps sulfur and magnesium (the percentages will be indicated elsewhere on the label): these are the other three macronutrients, the ones plants need in fairly large quantities. Many fertilizers, especially organic fertilizers, also contain other minerals: micronutrients or trace elements such as boron, copper, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. These are nutrients plants need for their growth, but only in very small quantities.

The minerals present in fertilizers dissolve quite rapidly and can therefore be absorbed quickly by plant roots. On the other hand, fertilizers contribute nothing to the texture and overall quality of the soil.


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Homemade compost is usually the best compost. Photo: PPD, pixie

Compost is a soil amendment resulting from the decomposition of organic matter: lawn clippings, leftover food, dead leaves, garden refuse, etc. It contains minerals that cover the entire range of macro- and micronutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, but only at very low percentages. Instead, what it mostly contains is organic matter. Added to soil, it makes it lighter and less compact, improving its tilth and texture. And it feeds and maintains the soil’s microorganisms, a vital part of any soil that many gardeners fail to take into consideration.

When added to soil, compost usually contains enough minerals to satisfy the needs of slow-growing plants, but if the original soil is poor, it may be necessary to add fertilizer to get optimum growth from fast-growing plants, such as vegetables.

Is Commercial Compost Really Compost?

Certain composts really are 100% compost: homemade compost, for example, or vermicompost (compost made from worm castings). However, most commercial composts, such as cow manure compost, shrimp compost and sheep manure compost, are not pure composts, but a mixture of peat moss and compost. Mushroom compost can be true compost… or it too may be mixed with peat moss.

Commercial composts do lighten the soil, but contain very few minerals. Often the label doesn’t tell you the percentage of ingredients, so it’s very hard, if not impossible, to tell if whether such compost blends are mostly compost (ideal) or mostly peat moss (not so good). Some contain very little true compost, only enough so they can legitimately call it compost. Normally, it is always necessary to use a fertilizer in conjunction with these highly diluted composts.

In Just a Few Words

I’ve sometimes heard the phrase: fertilizer nourishes plants, compost nourishes the soil. That may be a rather simplistic explanation, but it’s pretty close to reality.compost, bin, with, pitchfork

Laking Garden: Bloom At Its Best!


If you go to Laking Garden at the right season, you’ll be greeted by a sea of irises!

Writing a blog while you travel is tough, especially when you’re the tour leader and have 46 people to look after and entertain. I usually try to avoid it: it’s just too exhausting! As I sit here writing this at 9 pm after a full day spent visiting gardens, I just feel like going to bed! But I saw such extraordinary beauty the other day I’m overcoming my desire for sleep to share a few photos with you.


Just part of the vast peony beds in Laking Gardens.

Our visit to Laking Garden, part of the Royal Botanical Gardens located in Burlington/Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, really took the cake. This vast flower garden, largely dedicated to a huge collection of irises and peonies, was in absolutely full bloom. Considering the trip was planned months in advance and the flowering could have easily been over, we were just extraordinarily lucky. Over the years, I’ve visited this garden on many occasions, but never have I seen it looking so beautiful.

If you live near Laking Garden and are reading this blog on the day it was published, that is June 11, 2017, do get there as soon as possible. Remember, bearded irises rarely remain in bloom more than 10 days and peonies only scarcely longer. If you can’t get there in 2017, plan a visit in early to mid-June, the period when both collections ought to be at their best.

Have a wonder visit, be it virtual or real!

Some of My Favorites

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Tall bearded iris ‘Mystery Book’

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Siberian iris ‘Pennywhistle’

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Tall bearded iris ‘Hello Darkness’

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Tall bearded iris ‘Florentine Silk’

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Paeonia lactiflora ‘June Rose’

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Paeonia lactiflora ‘Rare China’

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Paeonia lactiflora Ellen Crowley