DIY Fairy Garden

fairygarden-300x200FAIRY GARDENS

A fairy is a small, imaginary creature or mythical being of human form that has magical powers. Fairies are said to bring good luck.

Creating a fairy garden is a good way to lure fairies and good luck to your home. A fairy garden is a small garden with living plants and little structures used to create the appearance of a fairy’s home. You can devote a small corner of your garden to one or plant one in a container. Fairy gardens in containers are ideal green spaces for small places that work well in offices or on top of tables as centerpieces. And, containers can be moved from inside to outside as the weather allows.

If you’re not sure how to create your own fairy garden, here are some suggestions on how to get started.

Buy a Kit  

You can purchase a Fairy Gardening™ kit that includes the following:

  • Box for planting
  • A lid that becomes a saucer
  • Arbor with bench
  • Birdbath
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tiny pebbles to form a path
  • Fairy Dust

This is an easy way to create your own garden and the kit includes everything you will need, except for the live plants and soil.

Be Creative

Fairy gardening encourages you to stretch your imagination. Fairies love creativity, so don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild. Try to create places for your fairies to play, sleep, and hide.

If you have purchased a kit, don’t stop there. Additional pieces can be purchased and added. Don’t be afraid to continually change around the furniture in your garden. Cottages, swings, tables, and chairs are just a few of the items that you can purchase to add to your garden.

Take a walk around your house and lawn to see what else you might add. Stones, twigs, and dried flowers are a few things you might find to add some interest. Also try adding some seasonal appropriate decorations around holiday times.


Lots of different plants can be used in your fairy garden. Again, use your imagination to create a garden that is personal to you. Small plants are great to use because they won’t overpower your decorations. If you have an arbor or a swing, climbing plants are fun to add. Here are a few plant suggestions:

  • Club moss
  • Bonsai
  • Ferns
  • Ivy
  • Polka-dot plant
  • Baby’s tears
  • Hens and chicks
  • Even herbs!

If you are unsure of how to position your plants, you can find patterns for gardens online that you can print and use as a guide.

After planting, fairy gardens are very easy to care for. Water as necessary and empty extra water from the saucer as it accumulates. Once a month you can fertilize with an all purpose general fertilizer following label instructions. If any of your plants get too large, you can simply cut them back. Just don’t cut a plant back by more than half its size.

Have fun creating your garden and when it is done relax and enjoy it. If you are in need of a bit of extra luck, simply sprinkle some fairy dust (sparkles) onto your garden while making a wish!

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Natural Insect Control

Insects are one of the major reasons why people avoid spending more time outdoors. Here are a few tips from Shelmerdine Garden Centre to help with natural insect control!

NATURAL INSECT CONTROLshutterstock_17862127-200x300

Insects are a natural part of any garden. Most insects are beneficial, but some are not desirable and can cause harm to your flowers and vegetables. Using pesticides and herbicides will usually kill all insects, not just the harmful ones and these chemicals are poisons that can be harmful to people and animals. It is impossible to completely rid any garden of all insects, but there are natural methods that you can use to control the harmful ones. Here are some suggestions of some methods that you may try:


The first line of defence against bugs is to simply pick them off. Squish the bugs as you pick them off. If you find a large number of bugs on one crop it is often easier to pick and drop into a container of soap and water. Simply dispose of the dead bugs after they have drowned. This is an effective method for many insects like potato beetles and aphids.


If you encounter a nest or gall of insects before it hatches it is easy to cut it off. This must be done in a timely matter before the insects hatch and leave the nest. Be sure to destroy the nest or gall so that the insects cannot spread after they have been removed. The tent caterpillar is an example of a pest that can be controlled using this method.

Spraying with Water

Small insects can be washed away with a stream of cool water. The spray will dislodge and wash away some of the bugs, reducing their numbers and the amount of damage they can do. Because spraying will not remove 100% of the bugs, you will have to repeat every few days. Aphids are an example of insects that can be managed in this way.

Use Transplants

Some plants have a history of being susceptible to damage by insects. By using transplants rather than directly seeding, the plants may have a better chance of surviving. Even if the bugs eat the same amount, if the plant is larger it will be able to handle the stress better. The larger the plant, the more leaves it will be able to handle losing.

Keep Things Clean

Be sure to continually clean up your garden throughout the season. In the fall it is especially important to clean up old plant matter. Some insects can overwinter in leaf litter. If you’ve had problems with one plant in particular, be sure to burn or throw out leaves, cuttings, et cetera, instead of putting them in the compost.

Tree Bands

Tree bands covered with a sticky substance can catch wingless insects, such as caterpillars, before they lay eggs in the tree. These also catch beneficial insects. Tree bands should only be applied between September to May.


Physical barriers placed around and on plants can prevent insects from eating vegetables, spreading disease, and from laying their eggs on plants. You can buy commercial covers or create your own at home from netting or pantyhose. Collars placed in the dirt can prevent cutworm damage. Tarps laid around fruit trees can prevent larvae on fruit from entering the soil. Although some of these methods can be unsightly they are often very effective.

Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soaps are effective against small, soft-bodied insects, but have low toxicity to mammals and do not often harm larger, flying insects such as bees. To be effective, the soap must come in contact with the insect. Some plants may be sensitive to insecticidal soaps. Therefore, it is a good idea to test a small area on a plant if you are not sure. Visit your local garden centre to see what products are available in your area.

Predator Insects

Predator insects are insects that naturally eat the undesirable ones. Some of these are native to Manitoba and some can be introduced. The most well-known predator insect is probably the ladybug. These are found naturally in Manitoba and can also be purchased at your local garden centre. Ladybugs only eat aphids. The downside of using lady beetles is that they may fly away. Another predator insect that can be purchased is the praying mantis. The mantis has a voracious appetite and it is territorial. If there is enough food for it, the mantis will usually not wander far from where it hatched.

These are just some of the natural insect control practices that are used today. Visit our garden store to see what products and methods our experts suggest.

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If you are new to gardening, be sure to read these vegetable gardening basics for beginners. Learning these skills and techniques will make your gardening experience far more pleasant and rewarding.

Planning the Garden Location

Choosing a location for your garden is the most important step in the garden planning process. Vegetables need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight for optimal growth. Leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce will grow with less sunlight. Choose a location as far away as possible from trees and shrubs. The roots of nearby trees and shrubs will rob your vegetables of needed nutrients and water. Good soil with good drainage is also important. Whether sandy, loamy, or clay, amend the soil with compost. For ease of watering make sure your water source is close by.
** Make sure there are no underground cables or lines by calling Manitoba Hydro at 1-888-MBHYDRO before you dig. You may have to call other utilities as well- refer to the website for more information**

Keep a Garden Journal

It is a good idea to keep a journal of your activities in the garden. Keep a list of the varieties of vegetables grown. Record seeding and planting dates, insect and disease problems, weather, harvest dates, yields, and any other information that may be important. This information will be valuable as you plan future gardens.

What To Grow

Don’t go overboard- grow what your family likes to eat. If you’re a first time gardener, stay away from “exotic” vegetables. Kohlrabi, or other hard to grow veggies like cauliflower and head lettuce may be a disappointment for beginners.

Grow hybrid vegetables. Hybrid vegetables are usually stronger and healthier than other vegetables. They often have higher yields. Many have a built-in disease resistance and they perform well under a wider range of conditions.

Draw a Plan

It is always a good idea to draw a plan of your garden. It doesn’t have to be a fancy diagram. Remember the tallest plants in your garden such as corn should be at the north end of the garden and permanent vegetables like asparagus should be at the side of the garden.


If you don’t have space in your backyard or only have access to a sunny balcony or patio, you can still grow vegetables in containers. A container for vegetables can be as simple as a bushel basket lined with plastic, a hanging basket, or a self contained growing container.

All containers, whether plastic or clay, must have drainage. Soil in containers will dry out quickly, so frequent watering is necessary. Containers with no drainage will cause your vegetables to develop root rot. Always water thoroughly until water comes out of the bottom of the container.

Planning Techniques

Plan to use all the space in your garden. Through planting techniques like vertical cropping, succession planting and intercropping, you can make maximum use of the space you have.

Vertical Cropping

Train vegetables like pole beans, peas, cucumbers, squash, and gourds to some type of support to save space in the garden. Existing fences, poles, wire cages, and trellises can be used for support.

Succession Planting

This technique involves growing a crop like lettuce in the spring and replacing it when the warm weather hits with a crop like beans. In the late summer, you can reverse the process and replace the beans with a cool season crop like lettuce or radishes.


Intercropping is the growing technique of planting fast growing vegetables among slow growing vegetables. An example of this technique would be planting radishes, lettuce or green onions among caged tomato plants.

Planting Tips

For best results, use new seeds. Old seeds may not germinate well. Clean your garden tools. Remove soil and use a wire brush to remove rust. There is also garden tool cleaner available in our garden store. In the spring, never work your soil when it is wet. Tilling or digging when the soil is wet will cause it to dry into concrete-like clumps. Pick up a handful of soil before digging and squeeze it. If it crumbles easily, it is ready to be tilled. If it doesn’t crumble, it is too wet. Allow the soil to dry for a couple of more days and test again before digging. Follow seed package instructions. If using transplants, follow planting instructions or ask one of our knowledgeable employees.

Soil Preparation and Fertilization

Before you can plant, soil preparation is a must. Dig the soil to a depth of at least 6-10 inches. Add a two to four inch layer of organic matter (compost) and incorporate it into the soil. Organic matter will improve your soil structure and will add nutrients to the soil.

Vegetables need nutrients to grow. You can use bone meal or a balanced vegetable garden fertilizer. The first number on the fertilizer stands for the per cent of nitrogen; the second number the per cent of phosphorus; and the third number the per cent of potassium. Nitrogen promotes green growth, phosphorus promotes root growth and fruit development, and potassium promotes disease resistance and fruit development. If you are growing your vegetables organically, organic fertilizers like peat moss, compost, or composted manure are a good source of nutrients for your vegetables.

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Early Spring Gardening Checklist

In the spirit of the Home & Garden Show coming up in Winnipeg this weekend, I am going to be re-posting a series of blog posts from Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Everything from checklists to weed control to fairy gardens!

Check back each day to see a new topic highlighted!




Make sure you get a good start to the season by following this early spring gardening checklist.



  • Clean up and repair- remove broken stems and branches and clean up any winter debris that has gathered around plants.
  • As days get longer, start feeding indoor plants with a fertilizer solution at ½ the recommended strength.
  • Start seeds for annuals and vegetables, but don’t start them too early! Follow the sowing instructions on the back of the seed pack.
  • Give summer flowering bulbs, such as cannas, dahlias, and begonias a head start by potting them indoors under lights until the last day of frost.
  • As soon as the ground is workable, plant cold crop vegetables such as sweet peas, onions, cabbage, radishes, and leeks.
  • Prune deciduous trees and shrubs, except for those that flower in spring, such as lilac.
  • Spray scale-infected trees and shrubs with dormant oil spray before their leaves appear.
  • Cut the stems of ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea back to the ground.
  • Apply slow release fertilizer to flowering shrubs and vines.
  • Pull out weeds as they appear.
  • Inspect your gardening tools for any repair or sharpening that might be required.
  • Apply lawn fertilizer with corn gluten to minimize the germination of crabgrass and dandelions.
  • Start to plan out which trees and shrubs you’d like to add to your landscape, so you can plant them as soon as they become available. Make an appointment with a landscape designer to help with your plans.

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Spring Home Maintenance

RoofExamine Roof Shingles

Examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.



Probe the Wood Trim

Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.



Check the Gutters

Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.




Use Compacted Soil

Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.



Examine the Chimney

Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.



FoundationInspect the Concrete

Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home’s foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power-wash and then seal the concrete.



Move Firewood

Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.


faucetsCheck Outside Faucets

Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you’re at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.


acService the AC Unit

Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.



Check Power Equipment

Check your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier.


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