Rogue Wood Supply

Insider tips for the ultimate herb and flower garden

botanicalsMeghan ZahariComment

It’s that time of year. The time when we are all super over winter and start to daydream about spring. Though my backyard is covered in snow, I'm starting to wonder where I’ll plant my tomatoes and which herbs I’ll commit to growing this year. My first time gardening was last summer, so I'm a complete rookie. My husband and I were a little too ambitious and we planted a lot without really knowing what we were doing. (This seems to be a theme in our lives.) We were mostly successful and ate a lot of tomato sandwiches. This year, I want to plan better, so that I can put our space to better use so nothing is being crowded. Or, maybe, if I know more going in, I can save my kale from being devoured by an army of slugs. So, I sat down with Elaine Stechisen from Shelmerdine Garden Centre and asked her all my pressing questions about planning for spring. Where to plant, how to plant, what to plant. Elaine has been working for Shelmerdine for years and has all kinds of gardening anecdotes and wisdom. I probably learned more in the thirty minutes I spent talking to her, than I had learned from my first summer of gardening.

Here are seven important things to consider when planning your plant and herb garden:

7 Tips for Planning Your Herb + Flower Garden

1. Ensure your soil is healthy

Whether or not you need to fertilize your soil really depends on healthy the soil around your property is. To find out, pour water on a patch of the soil and observe if it soaks it up quickly or not. If it absorbs right away, you have good, loose soil. If not, you need to amend it by adding a bit of fertilizer and turning the soil. Turning the soil is equally as important as adding the fertilizer because loose soil enables the roots to get the air they need. It is best to do this in the fall, but you can get away with doing it once the snow melts.

2. Don't plant until after the first full moon in June

Elaine follows the same tradition that her grandma followed. She plants after the first full moon in June and it’s never failed her. She starts with things, like peas and other plants that don’t like hot soil to germinate in, that can handle colder temperatures. It’s good to plant things in different places than the year before. Legumes will add nitrogen to your soil and you want to do your best to keep the nitrogen levels balanced.

3. Figure out what parts of your yard gets the most sun

Plant in areas that get 6-8 hours sun a day. That’s an adequate amount of sun to keep your garden growing and healthy. You may think you know the sunny spots in your yard, but it’s good to do some tests first. Elaine suggested putting a stick out in a spot in your yard and checking it five to six times within eight hours to see how much sun it gets. The spots that get less light are good for herbs like parsley, chives, and peppermint. Regardless of where you’re planting, it’s best to put your taller items in the back so that they don’t block the sun from your other plants. It’s also best to plant anything that grows on vines, like tomatoes, on trellises so that they don’t take up too much space. These trellises can also be great for covering plants that need more shade. Elaine plants her lettuce under her trellises since they can take partial shade.

4. Plan a watering routine

Herbs and flowers like consistency. Misting your garden when you think of it or when you find yourself outside with some time to kill isn't enough. You need to create a routine that includes deep watering every eight to nine days (or less when it hasn't been raining much). If you’re only watering lightly, you will encourage the roots to grow up to get it, but when you water your soil until the top 1.5’ are wet, the roots are encouraged to grow down.

5. Plan ahead to attract (or discourage) the birds and the bees from making a home of your yard

If you don’t want bees buzzing around your yard or you want to encourage birds to land and chirp songs outside your windows, you can strategically encourage or discourage them. Anything that flowers will attract bees. As for birds, they look for food, a place to nest, and safety. If you have trees, berries, or bushes with thorns, you’ll definitely attract birds.

6. Pick herbs you'll actually eat

Don’t plant a bunch of mint because it looks nice. Plant herbs you know you’ll use. This is especially important because you have to trim them once a day to keep them from getting spindly. That means you have fresh herbs to either use or dry every day, so choose ones that you would be happy to throw into your cooking or dry and store for winter.

7. Coffee grounds and marigolds keep bugs away

The scent that marigolds and geraniums give off repel bugs. Put a 2 inch barrier around plants affected by slugs. You can also scatter coffee grounds around the edge of your garden and it will deter some of them.

Meghan Zahari is donut shop owner by day and a writer by night. In between, she does photography and social media accounts for other businesses. Motherhood and emotions are a 24/7 gig. She lives with her husband, Brett, daughter, Emelyn, and cousin, Laura. (Plus, a pug and a puggle.) It’s a full life with a full house, so her introverted soul seeks refuge by hiding away with a book or watching Buffy or Grey’s.

Happy Women's Day! Nine rad entrepreneurs you need to know

Vanessa Kunderman4 Comments

Happy International Women's Day! Some countries celebrate this day as a national holiday, giving employed women a reprieve from their work life. But there are some women out there who never stop working, not even if her native country declares that she should. 

Currently, my laptop is sitting in its go-to position on my lap, an Apple logo nearly imprinted on my leg. My son is weaved against me like the most intricate little scarf, and he's holding my iPhone, waiting for Paw Patrol to load on our shitty, country internet. He's not usually allowed on our phones, but I'm desperate to keep him quiet while we wait for dad to get milk in town, and I plug away at some of the things overdue on my list.

The one potent natural ingredient your DIY beauty rituals need

botanicalsVanessa KundermanComment

Honey. It's one of nature's sweetest gifts. In exploring honey varieties to craft this piece, rolling different blends around my tongue actually became deeply therapeutic and... quite indescribable. It also jumped up the list on my family's morning rituals (and late night, sometimes, too). 

Honey's texture seems to promote mindfulness and awareness through the eating experience. The whipped, creamy textures were - by far - a favourite of mine. Something about the texture was even a bit sensual. And while many of us use a dollop in our tea or spread a tablespoon on fresh toast, honey's benefits extend much further than being a mindful natural sweetener full of vitamins and enzymes.

Look out, coconut oil. ;)

Honey is nature's secret elixir that can help enhance your beauty rituals. It has amazing antibacterial and antioxidant properties that benefit all skin types. If you have acne-prone skin, honey is a great treatment and even prevention method when adopted into your skincare rituals. It also slows down the skin's aging process, helping aging skin to remain youthful and bright. It brightens and boosts complexions with natural enzymes by cleansing pores, drawing blood to the surface of skin and deeply penetrating with rich hydration. You will love the DIY honey face mask below.

Honey is also beneficial for moisturizing dry hair. Using raw honey in a conditioner mask (DIY below) helps boost shine and feed dry hair with healthy nutrients. It strengthens the hair follicle and even promotes new growth when applied near the scalp.

Honey is a humectant made by nature. Humectants are substances that preserve moisture, making it a beauty ritual powerhouse for your skin and hair. Just make sure you're using raw honey to ensure it still has all its natural enzymes and vitamins.

I chat with maker - and beekeeper! - Natassia Brazeau of Northlore Goods, who recently added Peace Honey to her seasonal goods offerings. She shared the inside scoop and intricacies of caring for a hive and the queen bee. Natassia comes from a long lineage of beekeepers who once made honey for the Buckingham Palace!

The beekeeping lifestyle for her family was sparked by a self-sufficient streak and a keen curiosity of the natural world, something Natassia has upheld with her plant-based apothecary of wildcrafted prairie plants. 

"My great grandfather once replaced the front of his wooden hives with glass so that he and passing neighbours could get a peek at the inner workings of the colony," Natassia says.

Growing up, Natassia says her entire family was involved in harvesting days, each scraping frames or dipping fingers into the flow of extracted honey for the first taste of the season's yield.

Natassia's parents were fourth generation hobby beekeepers before she and her husband took over their hives, now keeping the family tradition alive with just two humble hives. This pair provides them with enough honey each year to share.

She and her husband live on a quaint acreage, allowing her bees to thrive through access to native wildflowers and her garden - which she plants mindfully with herbs and flowers that her bees enjoy. The native wildflower varieties in her prairie land like Bee balm (Wild Bergamot) are especially attractive to her bees for pollinating, and double by offering nutritious and flavourful herbs for her tea blends, also available in her shop.

Caring for the hives comes with regular duties. Natassia says that monitoring the health of the queen bee and her brood is extremely important. She checks for disease, overcrowding, and of course, a steady honey production. And though Natassia has grown up in bee culture, she has never been stung.

"I credit this to the advice passed down to respect the bees by keeping calm, moving slowly, and checking the hives on sunny days when most are out and about collecting nectar."

Natassia uses her grandpa's old smoker to "smoke the bees" making them temporarily drowsy and calm so she can check the hives.

And then, the process of making honey is absolute magic.

After the bees collect flower nectar, they regurgitate it between one another to naturally break it down and store inside their honeycomb. When the bees fan the comb with their wings, it evaporates the water, leaving behind a comb full of honey at the end of the season. The job of the beekeeper is then to simply collect and insert frames into an extractor that spins the comb, causing the honey to flow out.

There are as many different types of honey as there are bee colonies, and the flavour of the honey is dependant on whichever plant varieties the bees collected nectar and pollen from. Natassia adds whole botanicals to the Peace Honey blend, meant to inspire you in the soul nourishing ritual of eating flowers on your toast or in your tea.

Though commercial honey is pasteurized, Natassia chooses to simply filter the wax out of her honey before storing it so that it retains all the natural vitamins and enzymes that the heat during pasteurizing breaks down.

Below are three of Natassia's secret recipes using honey as a natural elixir for your beauty rituals, or creating a powerful tonic to help keep the body healthy and strong. You can snag her delicious, floral Peace Honey here.

Honey DIY #1

Honey Facial Mask

Gentle enough for daily use, this combination of honey and olive oil plumps and hydrates skin while drawing blood to the surface to generate a natural glow, noticeably improving dull and tired complexions.


1 tsp. olive oil (or other natural carrier oil)
1 tbsp. raw, local honey
2 drops of essential oil (consider using oils to treat your skin type, such as tea tree for oily skin)


Mix together thoroughly and pat onto face to stimulate the skin. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse off with warm water.

Honey DIY #2

Honey Hair Smoothie

This is a great natural boost of hydration for dry, damaged hair or split ends without leaving your hair weighed down or oily like many treatments can.


2 tbsp. raw, local honey
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. coconut oil


Combine all ingredients in a blender. Apply to the tips of your hair, or all over depending on the level of hydration that you’re after. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes, (you may want to wrap plastic wrap around your hair, or a towel around your shoulders to catch any drips).  Rinse thoroughly and shampoo as normal.

Honey DIY #3

Golden Milk

This combination of honey and spices contain anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that increase blood flow to help boost your immunity, lower cholesterol, and fight off the bacteria that contributes to pesky late-winter colds.


½ c. raw, local honey
1/8 c. turmeric
1 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. black pepper


Warm all ingredients in a saucepan on low heat until just combined, being careful not to heat the honey too much. Store in a small jar and use 1 tsp. per cup of hot coconut milk for a richly satisfying and nutritious drink.