Chinook Landscaping and Design – Landscaping Calgary Specialists
Calgary, Alberta
Mon-Fri 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM.
20 Feb 2020

When to start tomato seeds in Calgary?

Tomatoes are some of the most nutritious of the fruit and vegetable family and they can be grown quite easily in Calgary’s climate.  It is interesting and fun to grow your own organic vegetables in Calgary and we all know they typically taste better than anything you can buy in a store. A tomato is a fruit you can grow in Calgary with just a little TLC. Knowing when to start tomato seeds in Calgary is key to making sure your plant is ready to move outdoors in spring.   The key to a good yield from your tomato plants is to make sure they are planted at just the right time in spring.  If you do not want to buy your tomato plants in pots from your local garden centre then you may want to consider starting your tomatoes from seed.

Use a good quality soil for your tomato seeds.

It is very important to start your tomato sees off right and the best way to do that is to use a good quality soil.  The best soil mixes include vermiculite or perlite, peat moss and organic garden soil.  You can create a good mix of these three components at home or you can buy a ready mixed soil from your local garden centre. The easiest way to obtain the soil is to buy it already in the seed pod in the container.  Once you have your soil ready you can fill small seed trays or pods with the soil.    Plant the tomato seeds about a quarter inch below the surface.

Choose a proven tomato seed

It goes without saying that you should make sure you choose a proven tomato seed. Proven winners can be found by searching varieties on the internet or visiting your local garden centre and speak to someone there who knows their tomatoes.  You can choose from many tomato types including large beefsteak tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.  Cherry tomatoes produce more fruit obviously but they are smaller.  The higher amount of single fruit means you can almost always check on your plants and have a fresh tomato ready to enjoy.  Young children especially love picking cherry tomatoes.  Tomato seeds are not expensive and some great varieties can even be found on

Tomato seeds germinate and grow best under grow lights.

Having a grow light gives your tomato seeds a great head start and the grow lights will provide not only nurturing light to your tomato plant but a warm soil will encourage your seed to sprout quickly. So when to start tomato seeds in Calgary?  Tomato seeds should be started in late February or early march.  Starting your tomato sees at this time will give them a great head start for spring planting outdoors.  When to start tomato seeds in Calgary also depends on whether you plan to use grow lights or not.  Grow lights are recommended even if you have a fairly sunny window because the daylight hours in Calgary are so short in winter and spring.  You can purchase grow lights at many garden centres and other suppliers in Calgary.  It is best to keep your grow lights on for a minimum of 18 hours.  Keep your grow lights about 4 to 6 inches from the soil.  Tomatoes grow best when the temperatures is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  You may want to cover your tomato seeds for the first few days to retain the moisture in the soil.

When to transplant your tomato sprouts to containers

Once your seeds have germinated and reached a height of 1 1/2 inches its time to transplant your tomato sprouts to containers.  This is the most enjoyable part of your tomato growing experience.  You now have a living plant to tend to and watch grow!  Transport your tomato sprouts to 6″ pots.  You will not need to transplant them bare root, rather you can simply take the whole soil mass out of the container and transplant directly into the new soil in the new pot.  Try not to disturb the root system if at all possible.  Continue to place your tomato plants under grow lights and keep the light on them for 18 hours.  The best temperatures for tomato plant growth is 72-80 degrees in the daytime and 65-70 degrees in the evening.

Transplanting your tomato plants to the garden

You could choose to grow your tomatoes in planters or pots but they do now best when their roots are allowed to drain properly and in soil where their roots can grow deep.  Modern patio ideas do include some attractive deep planters you can consider. Tomatoes do best when planted in deep well draining planters or planted right into the ground.  Transplanting your tomato plants to the garden should only be done once you are sure there will be no risk of frost.  In Calgary, the best time to plant your tomato plants is after the May long weekend.  This time of year usually signals the end of frosty nights Calgary.  If you think a frost may occur after this you can cover your tomato plants with plastic or a tarp making sure not to damage the foliage.  You can plant your tomato plants amongst other trees and shrubs but make sure the tomatoes are not crowded in you shrub beds and that they will receive enough light. Landscaping in Calgary often includes a productive vegetable and/or fruit garden.

If you read when to start tomato seeds in Calgary you will know that February and March are the best months to do this. If you planted your seeds at this time your tomato plant should be over 12 inches tall and ready to plant in your outdoor garden.  Make sure to prepare your garden soil properly and don’t just plant your tomatoes in old silty or poor soil.  To enrich your soil and prepare it for planning loosen up the soil first with a pitchfork.  You will need to dig the soil area about 16″ x 16″ and 18″ deep.  If your soil has poor drainage you can add some pea gravel at the bottom of the hole.  Enrich the soil by adding some good quality garden mix that contains compost, peat moss and vermiculite or perlite.  Plant your tomato plant with the top of its root ball about one inch below the surface and make sure to pack the soil very well around the root ball.  Packing the soil with help the plant retain moisture and make the plant stock sturdier in windy conditions.  Stake your tomato plant or add a tomato ring.  A stake or tomato ring will help keep the plant upright and less stressed.  This will be especially helpful once the tomato begins to bear the heavy tomato fruit.  Fertilize your tomato with a good quality tomato fertilizer.  You may need to do this as much as once a week but be careful not to over fertilize.

Enjoy your fresh tomatoes by mid to late July all the way up until late September.  We hope you enjoyed reading when to start tomato seeds in Calgary.  Enjoy!



20 Feb 2020

Lawn Pests in Calgary

You may have notices some changes in your Calgary lawn over the years.  The overall health of your lawn may be declining or you may see specific changes that are obvious.  Lawn pests in Calgary are quite common and they can really affect the health and look of your lawn.  It is important to know what pests you have in your lawn and how best to deal with them.

Dew worms

Dew worms or night crawlers as they are often called do not enhance your lawns health at all and in fact can be very damaging to your lawn. Dew worms are provably the most destructive of all the lawn pests in Calgary.  Dew worms can grow up to twelve inches in length.  Most worms are healthy for your lawn as they excrete worm castings that are full of nutrients.  Also the worms themselves provide nutrients to the soil when they die.  Dew worms are quite a different story as they do nothing but make a mess of your lawn. The damaging effects of dew worms can be noticed by mounds or bumps that appear throughout your lawn.  These mounds or bumps are caused when dew worms excrete a clay like substance after you water or after a rainfall occurs. These large mounds can making mowing your lawn a real hassle and walkway on your uneven lawn will be uncomfortable especially if you do it with bare feet.  The clay like substance that comes from the dew worms prevents good drainage and also interferes with the grasses rooting systems.

Dew worms are hard to get rid of

Dew worms are not easy to get rid of as they live under patios, walkways or deep within the surface of your lawn.  There are natural predators for dew worms like coyotes robins and other birds.  Trying to dig out dew worms is next to impossible as they are usually too deep to encounter with a shovel and they will scurry away quickly.  Totally replacing your lawn will definitely help with eliminating your dew worm problem.  New sod care will very much help your lawn stay healthy for years to come and fertilizing your lawn  will help prevent dew worms in the future.There are no proven chemicals or pesticides that work for killing dew worms.

Fairy rings

Fairy rings are caused by a fungus that can appear more often in drier locations or areas with poor soil conditions that have low nutrients including some soils in Calgary

You will typically notice a fairly uniform circle or ring of mushrooms appear on your lawn.  You may also notice dark green grass rings bordered by another inside ring of dead grass.  There may also be mushrooms growing within these rings of discoloured grass.  These mushrooms are typically a light brown or tan colour.  There are many other mushrooms that grow in lawns but these fairy ring mushrooms are distinguished by their small size and brown colour.  You may notice these fairy rings and mushrooms more during the rainy season or after you have watered heavily. As lawn pests in Calgary go, fairy rings are very common and can be seen most often during spring and early summer

Controlling your fairy rings

The cause of fairy rings is a fungi but as there have been no fungicides developed that will control the mycelium fungi you will need to address the fairy rings by doing some manual digging.  Lawn & garden care are the keys to keeping your lawn healthy.  A healthy lawn that is watered and fertilized will will be affected less by lawn pests in Calgary.  We have found great success by using a pitchfork to punch holes in the lawn wherever the fairy rings exist.  It is best to make your holes as deep as possible ( up to 12 inches) and they should be about 3-6 inches apart.  After you have throughly punched the holes in the affected area you can then apply water.  Soak the area thoroughly with water every couple days or as much as every day for at least a month.  if your fairy rings have gotten so bad that they have left the grass brown and unhealthy then we recommend watering daily.  You can also apply some generic dish washing liquid to the fairy rings before you apply the water.  To do this, simply mix a couple teaspoons of water in a large gallon bucket and pour it over your fork holes.  Then soak the detergent into the holes by applying more water.

Replace your lawn if yard pests have taken over

If you have found that dew worms, fairy rings or other lawn pests in Calgary have taken over your lawn then you may want to consider replacing your lawn and soil.  You may not need to do complete sod removal and replacement if there are only small affected areas. If for example you only have a small patch of fairy rings then totally removing the sod and lawn and replacing it will likely be less work than fighting with the fairy rings for weeks or even months.  We have found dew worms to be very persistent and are definitely the most damaging of lawn pests in Calgary. Customers often ask us when is it time for lawn removal? If your lawn has been over run with bumps and mounds caused by dew worms then it is probably best to totally replace your lawn.  Chinook landscaping Calgary would be happy to provide you with a free estimate for your lawn replacements.

07 Feb 2020

Don’t pay for a landscaping estimate

We want to give a quick thumbs up for all the landscape contractors out there who work hard to provide free estimates to Calgary homeowners.  Chinook Landscaping and design has provided free landscaping estimates to our Calgary customers for over twenty years.  Landscaping estimates should be something that is provided at no cost regardless of what your project is.  There are some companies that will ask you for a fee in order to provide you with a landscaping estimate.   It is understandable to charge for a landscape design but a landscaping estimate should always be free,  Your landscaping estimate should include the following important details.

Itemized list of landscaping components

It is important to have a detailed itemized list of your landscaping components included in your estimate.  Some estimates just list a grand total for all the work you have requested.  We find our customers really like the detailed list of components.  This way you can pick and choose the landscaping components you want.  The separate costs for each landscaping component will help you decide whether the amounts fall in line with your budget.

Dimensions of hardscape components

Your estimate should include the dimensions of hardscape components like patios, walkways and retaining walls.  Knowing the dimensions will help you compare prices with other estimates you have received.  The dimensions will also allow you to double check the hardscape areas to make sure the measurements are correct.  There will always be some differences once your landscaping components are installed but the initial estimate should give you a very good idea of the dimensions of hardscape components.

Varieties of trees and shrubs

Knowing the varieties of trees and shrubs is very helpful.  This is an important part of all the free landscaping estimates we provide.  There are many trees and shrubs that grow well in Calgary but not all of them grow well under varying conditions.  Varying conditions include sun exposure, water availability, soil conditions and drainage.  We provide shrub and/or tree recommendations based on these variables.  It is very important that the appropriate shrubs and trees are placed in areas where they will flourish otherwise your plant investment will be wasted.

Landscaping options

We always like to included landscaping options in our estimates.  These landscaping options are important and give homeowners some choice when it comes to different landscaping items.  Common landscaping options include hardscaping such as patios and walkways.  We like to list material options for patios and walkway such as paving stones, exposed aggregate, stamped or broom finished concrete.  The prices of these different materials can very greatly so having options is very important.  Tree, shrubs and perennial options are also valuable and should be included in your landscaping estimate.  Many tree and shrub varieties will grow well in similar conditions so its good to know what your options are.

Request your free landscaping estimate