Reviews and recommendations are unbiased and products are independently selected. Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through links on this page.
Q. Since moving to the coast, I’ve been unable to grow beets, even in a soil amply enriched with compost and generous supplies of fertilizer. What could be wrong? Almost all my other plantings are doing well.
A. This is a common problem in coastal areas of the province, where the plentiful (usually) winter rainfall leaches alkaline elements like calcium and magnesium out of the soil, leaving it acidic.
In the acidic to alkaline “pH” scale of 1 to 14, 7 is considered neutral. Lower numbers indicate the degree of acidity. Many nutrients are locked up and unavailable to plants in soils that are too acidic or too alkaline. For most plants, a just slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.5 is ideal. Beets will not thrive in soils with a lower pH.
In preparing a plot to grow beets, add Dolopril, a pelleted, fast-acting form of dolomite lime to the soil along with compost and a balanced fertilizer.
Q. What pest could have caused my well-watered cabbage and cauliflower plants to wilt and stop growing? I think they are dying.
A. A common pest of cabbage family vegetables is a small grey fly that lays eggs on the soil beside the stems. The eggs hatch into maggots that burrow into the roots, causing stunted growth and wilting, even if there is adequate moisture in the soil.
My prevention measure of choice is to arrange a lightweight, floating row cover over the plantings. The cover prevents both the cabbage maggot fly and the cabbage butterfly from accessing the planting.
Other barriers often used are squares or circles of cardboard, several newspaper layers or something similar, cut into the centre and fitted snugly around the stems of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
In gardens I’ve visited I’ve also seen rings of scrunched-up old floating row cover fabric tucked around the basses of broccoli plants to bar access to the cabbage fly.
Protecting your peppers from the summer sun
How to keep cut roses fresh and fragrant