Despite the snow, Kings County gardeners are preparing for spring

Kirk Starratt
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Seminar offers tips on getting plants started

It’s the time of year when those with a green thumb, or those wanting to develop one, turn their thoughts to the garden. However, it isn’t always easy getting seeds or plant cuttings started.

About a dozen current and aspiring gardeners attended a presentation by Lloyd Mapplebeck about seed and plant propagation March 1 at Blomidon Nurseries in Greenwich.

Mapplebeck, who has a farming and nursery operation in Hilden, south of Truro, taught for 29 years at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. He said he does a lot of presentations relating to agriculture, horticulture and forestry. When it comes to the home gardener, he said the three things people seem most interested in learning about are seed propagation, propagating plants from cuttings,  and crown division.

Laura and Ken Chaddock of Wolfville were among those in attendance for the presentation. They have a sunny basement, which Laura said is a great spot to start plants. She said she and Ken interested in learning how to best use the space in their yard, propagating plants from cuttings and seed propagation.

“I need to know when to start,” Laura said about planting seeds. “Timing is everything.”

Ken said he was interested in learning about propagating plants from cuttings.

“If you’re someplace and you see an interesting plant, I’d like to learn how to take a cutting and propagate it at home,” he said.

Mapplebeck said those interested in gardening are starting to delve into seed catalogues and turning their thoughts to getting plants started with spring around the corner.

“You can propagate a lot of plants at home with fluorescent lights or in a greenhouse,” Mapplebeck said. The level of difficulty involved often depends on what kind of plant, he added.

“I’ve been propagating plants for 40 years and I’m still learning more,” he said.

Mapplebeck said the top outdoor activity in Canada and the United States is gardening. Like himself, many people interested in plants and gardening are also interested in the natural environment. There was a time when people had to garden for food and while many still do, for most people today, the activity is therapeutic.

“It’s physically and mentally good for you,” Mapplebeck said.



About seeds and plant cuttings

As Lloyd Mapplebeck used to tell his students at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, “a seed is a baby plant packed in a box with its lunch.”

When it comes to deciding what seeds to plant, some people like to order them from catalogues and buy from stores while others like to gather and collect their own. Mapplebeck said there is a great deal of interest in heirloom varieties these days.

When buying seeds, it’s helpful to have a “best before” date and germination percentage information on the package. There is also a great deal of information on the Internet about optimal soil temperate and planting dates for seeds.

Gardeners can directly plant seeds outdoors or start them inside on a windowsill, under fluorescent lights or in greenhouses or solariums. If using lights, it’s important to keep plants about six inches below the light to the leaves don’t get burned. There are various types of fluorescent lights available.

When growing plants from cuttings, or cloning, using rooting hormones will usually help get the roots sprouting.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Agricultural College

Geographic location: Kings, Greenwich, Hilden Truro Wolfville Canada United States

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