The first official day of spring was March 20, and this year it actually feels like spring!  As an avid gardener, I am itching to get my hands dirty again, but I must practice restraint because even though the days are longer and we can really feel the warmth of the sun, actual planting is still some two months away! 

Canada is divided into growing zones, and Temiskaming Shores falls into the 2b-3a zone.  This means that with adequate snow cover, most plants hardy enough for this zone can overwinter down to -30 or more with success.  In Canada, the zones start at 0 in the high artic and go to 6b in the most temperate areas down south.  The zones only apply to perennials which come back each years, and not annuals which you plant once all danger of frost is past and then they die off in the fall.  I mentioned adequate show cover for perennial success as the snow cover helps insulate the plants in the ground below.  This year we lost most of our snow cover very quickly last week, and if it drops down to -20 or so, many perennials may die as they have no protection.  One year we had a really hot week or so in April and then once all the snow disappeared, it dropped back down to really cold temperatures.  That year I lost many plants...

Hardiness zones are not the only thing you must be aware of when planting.  The type of soil is also very important.  Our region is classified as sandy, humo-ferric Podzol soil.  This is the predominant soil in boreal forests.  Now, our area is also part of the huge clay belt that covers 180,000 square miles, with 120,000 square miles of that in Ontario which makes the soil more fertile.  The clay belt is the result of the draining of the ancient Glacial Lake called Ojibway around 8,200 years ago.  Most urban gardeners enhance their soils with compost and manure so this may not be an issue for you.

The COVID-19 pandemic has really sparked a renewed interest in gardening.  Last year it was hard to find seeds and the garden centres sold out quickly, so if you are going to start a garden this year, you should acquire seeds as soon as possible.  Many individuals wait and purchase bedding plants when the garden centres open mid May.  I like to start a lot of my flowers from seed, but even that must wait another few weeks.  We really have a hard time putting out plants here before the end of May.  The locals say to plant after the last full moon in May.  That would be May 26th this year.

If you're interested in gardening, TSPL has some books that may help!


Photo Gallery: Gardening Books will appear here on the public site.

I must admit that I only plant flowers.  Well yes, I have pots of leaf lettuce and cherry tomatoes for salads, but my heart is not in vegetables.  I purchase my veggies from the local Farmer’s Market, and follow my heart which tells me to dig up every inch of lawn I own and put in flower beds.  I have a large downtown lot, and still have to mow some grass, but each year I dig up more sod and put in a new flower beds.  It’s an addiction to be sure, but one that involves physical activity and lots of sunshine and fresh air!

It’s been a long winter with the stress of the pandemic and isolation, but now is the time to start planning your garden.  We have a great selection of books on garden design, northern perennials, and lovely annuals.  There are tips on preparing garden beds, insect control, complementary plantings, garden designs and much more.  As well, I am in charge of our four houseplants here at the library, and my spider plant is very happy and has many babies to be given away.  We have plastic bags at the downstairs circulation desk, and if you ask you can take home a gardening book or two and a few baby spider plants!  Here is a picture of a portion of my somewhat wild back yard.