• 2024-05-02 15:56 | Anonymous

    We are only able to accept divisions that have had the proper protocol to stop the spread of Jumping Worms.

    Clean the Roots

    Bare root your plants and rinse away soil in a bucket of water, or spray with a powerful hose nozzle. Make sure all soil is removed from between roots.

    Here is a video link for cleaning plant roots for making divisions. This is the only way donated garden stock for the May Plant Fair will be accepted. (The video is somewhat ironic because they are digging up an invasive plant for replanting, to show how to remove an invasive pest!) 

    Re-pot plant into a well cleaned pot, with commercially produced potting mix. Store the pot off the soil, somewhere worms can not crawl into!

    We have FREE potting soil for members that are making divisions, growing seedlings or repotting houseplants for the Plant Fair. Email us at

    Please label your plant.

    Label Your Plants

    • Plant Name: plus, if you know it's a native plant, definitely say so!
    • Type: grass, shrub, ground cover, flower, vine, tree, etc.
    • Partial to Sun, Shade, or a Mix: you can just draw a circle - hollow circle is sun, filled in is circle is shade, and half-and-half is a mix — see image below.

    • Flower Colour (if applicable)
    • Size (if possible)
    • An Image (if possible): BONUS marks to those who can print off an image of the plant in bloom or fully grown. Just google it! An image really helps give people a sense of what the plant will look like in time, and it makes it easier to sell.

    Deliver Your Plants or Request Pickup

    We're gathering the plants 2 weeks before the Plant Fair so we can ensure they have survived root washing and we can price them. Drop off potted-up plants on or before Saturday May 11, to Jessie's front porch — 49 Boustead Avenue (one block south of Bloor & Dundas). If you need the plants picke up please email


    We really, really appreciate your support.

  • 2024-03-12 23:09 | Anonymous

    Yes, the Jumping Worms are here...

    They've even been positively identified in High Park! We've put together some information about this invasive pest to increase awareness, help you identify them, and let you know what you can do about reducing the spread.

    Our cold Winter climate had prevented the Jumping Worm from gaining a foothold in Ontario. Since the worms and cocoons live in the top inches of soil, a severe cold for weeks can prevent their spread. With recent Winter warming however, the worms have been found in our soil, including the GTA. The only prevention of further spread is now up to individuals and the gardening community.

    Why Are They A Problem?

    Jumping Worms can kill plants by removing nutrients from the soil. They are such voracious consumers that they quickly eat through leaves and groundcover, leaving little to break down further for plants. What is left behind are crusty pellets which easily wash away, leaving nothing behind to feed the soil or retain moisture. Once they get into a natural ecosystem they will completely change it and reduce biodiversity.

    There are currently no controls or pesticides to stop Jumping Worms once they are in a garden or natural area. One cocoon is enough to infest a garden. Early detection and rapid response are critical.

    Identifying Jumping Worms

    Since Jumping Worms die off in the winter, look for cocoons (eggs), similar to the size of soil, in early Spring. Areas that may have Jumping Worms have soil that has a texture similar to coffee grounds. In late May young worms begin to appear.

    Look for unusually active worms.

    John Abrams, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

    Test by disturbing the worm and observe how convulsively it moves (see links at end for bringing worms to soil surface to identify).

    Stopping the Spread of Jumping Worms

    Confirm with anyone sharing plants that their soil is free of Jumping Worms. Many gardeners are not yet aware of the problem. Also check with your garden centre if they are screening for Jumping Worms and use heat treatment on mulch or soil.

    Shoes / boots used in your garden should not be used in other natural areas. Clean shoes / boots when arriving home from a hike, or a visit to another garden or garden centre. Before visitors enter your garden, brush off footwear or wrap in plastic bags when entering your garden area.

    Ask garden centres if their products (plants, soil, mulch) are free of jumping worms.

    Planting Garden Stock

    Always check the soil of plant containers for cocoons or castings, or bare root stock prior to planting, or when introducing new plants to your garden wait with planting until later in the season when worms are more mature and easier to identify.

    Moving plants from garden to garden will accelerate the spread of these pests. The Hort wants member divisions for the Plant Fair, but we do not want to spread this worm. This year divisions will have to be carefully prepared, with no soil from anyone's garden going anywhere.

    Sharing Plants?

    Bare root your plants and rinse away soil in a bucket of water, or spray with a powerful hose nozzle. Make sure all soil is removed from between roots. Here is a video link for cleaning plant roots for making divisions. This is the only way donated garden stock for the May Plant Fair will be accepted. (The video is somewhat ironic because they are digging up an invasive plant for replanting, to show how to remove an invasive pest!) 

    Re-pot plant into a well cleaned pot, with commercially produced potting mix. Store the pot off the soil, somewhere the worms can not get to!

    Do not accept plants with garden soil - OR - rinse off soil into a bucket, strain the water through fine fabric (old t-shirt) so nothing but water goes through it, and then solarize the soil to kill worm eggs. 

    To solarize soil, put it into a black plastic bag and leave it in the sun. Jumping worms and their cocoons cannot survive temperatures above 40C for 3 days, after which he soil should be safe to re-use in the garden. (What a pain, best not to accept plants with garden soil!)


    Thank you to the Ontario Master Gardeners for their excellent information and images used in this newsletter.

    The OHA has an excellent comprehensive pdf with LOTS of info:

    And more info about them here:

    Canadian Invasive Species web page

    University of Minnesota has latest findings about Jumping Worms - 1 hour long presentation to a Garden club. REALLY GOOD!

    Interesting article from the Atlantic, with mention of Canada:

    - Annelies Groen & Emieke Geldof

    If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at

  • 2023-04-16 09:17 | Anonymous

    What To Do If You Take A Tomato Plant Home

    Where possible, dig a hole deep enough so that the tomato stem is covered up to the first leaves or even higher. This will help these large plants quickly create a big root network. Most of the tomatoes are "indeterminate", which means the plants will keep growing from the tips.

    The Journey Of The Tomato Plants At The Hort's Plant Fair 2023

    It's a sunny cool day in early February as I write, so of course I'm thinking about starting tomato seedlings. Not just yet, mind you, but some time in March. The blooming witch hazel, the hellebores, and the buds on the snowdrops and crocus in my backyard incite me to gardening frenzies at this time of the too-long winter.

    Witch hazel blooming in Clement's backyard

    Those who saw me talk about my Tomato Wall in September may remember that I suggested we have a tomato contest this year. I'm keen on making this happen at our September 25 meeting (once again, we overlap with high holidays - this will be Yom Kippur. Sorry, Jewish friends!). If enough of you express interest, we can have a mini-harvest festival and judging contest (appearance, taste, etc.) at the church, featuring tomatoes you grew and photos or stories of how you grew them. Perhaps someone will bring basil and great olive oil and some mozzarella buffala? You never know...

    If you want the biggest head start you should of course buy large plants from professional growers such as Urban Harvest. But as a way of expanding your options, we've located two greenhouses that will kindly allow us to keep potted seedlings under glass in April and May, to be sold at the Hort's May 27th Plant Fair. Although I don't want to count my seedlings before they sprout, I do have packets of interesting tomatoes awaiting my heated kitchen floor in March.

    I have seeds on hand of:

    • Peruvian tomato (Solanum peruvianum) from Joseph Lofthouse: pale green to purple cherry-size fruit have sweet flavour and plants tolerate mild frosts. Good for a garden up north? "Clusters of big flowers are carried above the foliage producing a bold flower display."
    • Wildling Panamorous tomato from Lofthouse. "Ridiculously diverse [plants] from crosses between domesticated tomato and two wild tomato species...Fruit color might be green, pink, red, yellow, white, or purple. Some fruits are striped prior to ripening. Mostly cherry tomatoes, though some fruits in later generations are expected to attain 8 ounces." Some plants may have cold tolerance from their Andean parents.
    • Neandermato (Solanum habrochaites) from Lofthouse: "Closely related to domestic tomatoes, and can act as a pollen donor to them...has done very well in both spring and fall frost/cold tolerance...has huge showy flowers, and looks great in a flower garden."
    • Minsk Early: "One of the earliest tomatoes you'll ever find. We're eating them by the handful come July every year."
    • Zapotec Pleated: No cold tolerance but doesn't mind drying out. Good for hot balcony gardens or walls? "This spectacular scalloped tomato was found in the dry mountains of Mexico, where it's grown by the Zapotec Indians. It's sweet tasting, very ornamental, and it loves dry heat."
    • Brandywine. Amish heirloom with large pink beefsteak fruit.
    • Pineapple. Yellow beefsteak-size with red streaks and nice, fruity flavour.
    • Purple Calabash. Ruffled and ribbed purple heirloom fruit with great flavour. Later season, needs some heat.
    • Chocolate Stripes: "One of the "Top 3" "best tasting" tomatoes in several years of TomatoFest events...a plentiful crop of 3-4 inch, mahogany colored with dark, olive green-striping (similar to black zebra). Fruits have delicious, complex, rich, sweet, earthy tomato flavors." 
    • Black Cherry. Delightful plant which enthralled the kids upstairs. Good flavour and produces until frost.
    • Hillbilly. Large heirloom with orange-yellow fruit streaked inside with red. Delicious on my wall.

    I've ordered seeds of Brandysweet Plum, LYC 859 El Salvador, Verdal, Barry's Crazy Cherry, Berkeley Tie-Dye, Lucid Gem, Indigo Apple, Pink Boar, and Brad's Atomic Grape.

    I'll be sprouting as many of these as I can in late March, growing them on a few weeks, and then asking for some volunteers to help repot them and get them to the greenhouses.

    Start planning your pestos and salads now!

    Zapotec Pleated tomato

    Neandermato (Solanum habrochaites) from Lofthouse

  • 2022-05-20 10:00 | Anonymous

    I frequently drive up Bermondsey Road (on the East York, North York border). Five years ago, I noticed the ground in the Hydro corridor was being ploughed up. This continued for the next two or three years with signs saying “Naturalization Project”. This sounded good, but I did not have high hopes.

    Then last summer - “Wow!” The area was full of colour with yellow daisies of several kinds, white Queen Anne’s Lace, pink milkweed and touches of mauve and blue from Bergamot and Vervaine. Butterflies were flitting around.

    I Googled and discovered this was the 200 hectare Meadoway, costing $85 million. It will, when completed in 2025, be 16 km of linear green space, linking the Don Valley Ravine with the Rouge Urban National Park. It passes through 34 neighbourhoods, 15 parks and 7 ravines. The areas were mostly seeded in 2020. It will be home for over 1000 species of flora and fauna, providing scientific research possibilities. These include possible techniques for invasive species eradication, use of cover crops and the role played in adding grass species. It also has 10 agricultural gardens.

    The path beside the Hydro lines is open to cyclists and pedestrians, but not to motorised vehicles. This path is almost complete - driving along, we cannot yet see a link from the Don Valley. A new bridge will link the eastern end to the Rouge. It will then be possible to cycle from Downtown Toronto to the Rouge on a mid town route without travelling on a street (only crossing them!) It will be the largest linear park in Canada and has won a 2021 Design Award. In mid July, we drove east through Scarborough, trying to keep close to the Hydro lines, stopping when a street crossed the corridor. There was colour all the way along, but with different combinations. Some had more Bergamot.

    I stopped again to take photos in early October. The yellows then were Evening Primrose and Goldenrods, with blueish accents from Fall Asters. Brown spikes of seed heads from earlier Evening Primroses and Mullein were prominent. The picture was softened by tawny grasses, undulating in the breeze. I saw a late monarch floating around and a few other butterflies. I was excited by the almost deafening twitter of small birds. I could see Goldfinches and House Sparrows and I thought many others. We have several species of Hawks in this area so we expect they will be hunting rodents and birds.

    Now in April, some areas look untidy with bent over stems and some garbage.

    Go and visit, spring, summer, fall and winter for a walk or bike rides. Watch how the biodiversity is, we hope, increasing.

    The Meadoway is led by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the Toronto and Region Conservation Foundation in partnership with the City of Toronto and Hydro One. It is made possible through the generous support of the The Meadoway and Weston Family Foundation.

  • 2021-09-14 12:00 | Anonymous

    Pete was raised in the UK countryside, armed with binoculars, a Jack Russell Terrier and numerous footpaths for exploring the natural world wherever possible! He spent 12 years in Shetland, including a post as Assistant Warden for three years at the world-famous Fair Isle Bird Observatory. His introduction to applied conservation was provided during six years working for the UK government as Nature Conservancy Council officer for Shetland, and then Hertfordshire. His doctoral work on Black Guillemots in relation to the offshore oil industry, was completed at Oxford University in 1986.

    In 1990 he moved to Canada and worked until 1996 on the Great Lakes wildlife toxicology programs of the federal government’s Canadian Wildlife Service, documenting levels and impacts of toxic pollutants on wildlife at the top of aquatic food webs.

    He joined World Wildlife Fund Canada, as Director of Canada’s Endangered Species Program in 1996 and then led WWF’s Arctic conservation work from 2000-2006, focusing heavily on shifting the industrial development paradigm to one that provides adequately for conservation of intact ecosystems, and ecological and cultural diversity, while the opportunity still remains.

    Pete was lead specialist for WWF’s Canadian species conservation work from 2007-20. His work centred on flagship species conservation in globally significant regions, such as whales and polar bears, accelerating the recovery of Species At Risk, and increasing the connection of urban citizens to wildlife species and their needs. He has published over 100 scientific papers, book chapters etc.

    In recent years he’s been very active in wildlife habitat restoration in urban areas via Nature-Connected-Communities initiatives at WWF, and now independently with Project Swallowtail in west Toronto. He finds this very inspiring now with rapidly increasing numbers of citizens keen to play a role in building a better- balanced future, and getting practically involved with wildlife and nature in their neighbourhoods by restoring local-sourced native plant habitats in gardens and other private and public spaces. He is also a regular marine-ecological resource expert on Arctic cruises with Adventure Canada.

Copyright © The Horticultural Societies of Parkdale & Toronto. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software