Helpful Gardening Tips

Learn a variety of different gardening techniques including the importance of bees, winter maintenance, ideal times for planting, and much more.

Credit: Netherlands Flower Bulbs


Buzzy bodies

Bees go mad for the strikingly dramatic architectural flowers of the Allium genus: edibles like leeks and onions, and decorative types as well. Plant them now to support these hardworking garden helpers.


Barely-there perennials at garden centres are great value now. Oriental poppies, irises, wallflowers and peonies may look half dead, but they’ll double in size by next year.


Treat lily-of-the-valley to a layer of leaf mould or finely chopped autumn leaves. Water regularly in dry spells to ensure lush greenery and exquisite fragrance in May.


Bug buddies

Feathered friends flock to our gardens for shelter, water and food – bugs both “good” and “bad,” berries and seeds. So use a light hand when cutting back perennials – leave seedheads and allow herbaceous grasses to rustle in winter breezes. Aronia’s shiny black berries, blue-purple Amelanchier (Saskatoon), blueberries and elderberries are perfect cold-season bird food.

Hardy heroes

Protect artichokes, rosemary and other marginally hardy plants. Remember that potted plants lose two climate zones, so mulch containers with a thick layer of hay or straw and wrap with burlap sacking; bring potted herbs indoors (briefly) during a very cold snap.

Cool beans

Plant broad beans in good soil in sun October through mid-November, covering with 8 cm (3 in.) of soil, and enjoy them late May to mid-June. Their fragrant blossoms attract beneficial insects. They may also attract aphids but that is not necessarily a bad thing: some gardeners use broad beans as “trap crops” to lure aphids away from nasturtiums, lettuce and other vulnerable plants. The pods will get a bit black and unsightly, but you can still enjoy the beans.

Better greenhouse

If your greenhouse is exposed to cooling winds or extreme cold, you can improve the heat retention by insulating the walls with a layer or two of bubble wrap.

Root Veggies

Beets and carrots can be left in the ground in coastal gardens. Mulched with hay or leaves, they’ll last until spring and stay fresh. Potatoes, too – but if you don’t harvest them you’ll have potatoes everywhere. In cooler zones, load on extra mulch!


Bumper crop of fruit? A dehydrator is a great investment for food gardeners. Fruits and berries dehydrate well.

Fall Planting

Last chance to harvest squash and pumpkins before hard frost. It’s mostly too late now to cure outdoors, so choose a warm, dry location inside. Cool greenhouses work well too. To prevent rot and increase storage life, add 15 mL (1 Tbsp.) of bleach to 500 mL (2 cups) water and use a rag to coat the squash skin well. Store in a cool cellar or in a dry basement.


Plant fall rye for “green manure” in zones 7 and 8 until mid-October. It’s important to chop/incorporate into soil while the stems are still tender, before lignin (tough fibre) forms in stems in early spring.


Purchase “whips” or young fruit trees while dormant October through February. Plant as long as the ground can be worked.

Row Cover

Extend the fall veggie season using row cover or check out a “hoop and plastic” system. This can give you an early start in spring, too, for lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, parsley and Asian greens. Partially remove plastic on sunny days to promote good air circulation.