June 1, 2018
You’re probably overwatering your outdoor plants.
Kevin Wesenberg is the general manager for Central Alberta Greenhouses and he says too much water is routinely the biggest mistake home gardeners make.
“We actually have that same challenge in the greenhouse with training staff how to water. That is one of the toughest jobs out there. It is a very important job and if you keep something too wet, it won’t root and it will eventually die on you,” explains Wesenberg, whose company, located outside Blackfalds, Alberta, supplies hanging baskets, and bedding plants to Calgary and area Co-op stores.
Learning to Water Correctly
Wesenberg says his watering instructions to his staff are the same ones he’d give to homeowners for their raised planters, garden beds, baskets and pots.
“In the greenhouse I teach my people that if the soil is a light tan colour then that needs water, if it is black or very dark brown then that is looking wet. They can even put their finger into the soil and feel if it feels moist. If it feels moist then you definitely don't want to be giving it more water.”
Central Alberta Greenhouses has been a supplier of plants to Co-op for more than a decade, but this family business has a very long history in Alberta. The business was started back in 1931 by Kevin’s wife’s grandparents and today stretches over eight acres.
Plants Arriving Today Were Born in the Winter
Despite what some may think, growing summer plants is a year round business with tightly controlled timelines. When plants start arriving at Co-op in May, they actually started life as seeds in January. When holiday poinsettias arrive in November or December, they may have been planted back in the summer.
Wesenberg says there are advantages to choosing plants that started their lives in Alberta, as opposed to ones coming in from B.C. or the U.S.A. which can face an uphill battle adjusting to Alberta’s unique climate and weather.
Locally Grown Has Its Advantages
“Sometimes a B.C.-grown plant has a little harder time getting adjusted when it finally gets planted outside, compared to something that is grown in Alberta. So that is the other advantage of buying locally grown.”
Using locally collected rain water, and remembering to fertilize are two more tips Wesenberg offers home gardeners.
“Try to water them from the side, particularly hanging baskets or patio plants so you don't get so much water on the leaves. If the foliage stays wet sometimes you can start having disease problems,” says Wesenberg.
While many home gardeners may wonder how often to water, Wesenberg says it’s not uncommon to need to water plants and some hanging baskets once per day and sometimes more.
“Towards end of the season I find that I’m watering them a lot more often, sometimes even twice a day if it is a really hot, dry day,” offers Wesenberg. “Morning and night, just to make sure that they are not drying right out.”
Shop Local, with a Family Business
Central Alberta Greenhouses is a third generation family business and Wesenberg says they appreciate having Co-op as a partner.
“Co-op focuses on locally grown items which obviously we are happy to supply. They like our quality of crop and we just really have a good relationship with them which we really value.”
Ultimately, Wesenberg says Central Alberta Greenhouses just wants backyard green thumbs to succeed, so they try to grow the strongest and healthiest plants,that are just right for our southern Alberta environment. They also like to educate customers, particularly new gardeners.
“Ultimately if the customer takes a plant home and doesn't have success with it, chances are they're going to say I just don't have a green thumb, and then they won’t buy again. And nobody wins in that type of situation. We as an industry need to do all that we can to encourage them to grow plants and to try it. We give them the tools to help them to be successful.”
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