Lucky me! I got to spend the day with local bloggers and fabulous ladies at the Hometalk Meetup at Milner Village Garden Centre for a Garden Party. I was introduced to the event from Funky Junk Donna from the popular blog, Funk Junk Interiors. Donna is a Hometalk Ambassador who took her cool junkin’ style to the event to show us how to make some pallet wood garden trugs.
Last night I joined some of my fellow bloggers from the Canadian Design and Lifestyle Bloggers West at the media preview for the Coquitlam Bouclair Home store. Bouclair Home is a Canadian company that combines value and style with exclusive designs created by their own in-house designers. Known for their exceptional value I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable everything was.
Hey Vancouverites, are you looking for a night market that’s actually good for you? Cool urban farmers, Sam Philips and Lisa Giroday of Victory Gardens have teamed up with the one and only Jessica Wadsworth to create the Mount Pleasant Victory Market.
The event is running in conjunction with the Livable Laneways Night Markets and features urban producers, growers and local small business. You’ll be pleased to find vendors like SOLEfood, Yummy Yards, Barefoot Farms, Backyard Buzz, Olla Flowers, Sugo Sauce, Patch and Victory Gardens.
The Mount Pleasant Victory Market takes place on Saturday August 4th from 5:00 – 10:00 pm in the laneway west of main and between 8th and Broadway. You won’t want to miss it.
If you are in Vancouver and want to learn how to grow food in containers this event is for you!
Victory Gardens is running a container gardening workshop at Old Faithful Saturday, May 12th from 9:30 – 11 AM. Not only will you learn some important basics on container gardening from this stylish collaboration, but also you will leave with your very own wooden crate planted with various greens and herbs and some certified organic Westcoast Seeds (my very favourite seeds!).
To register for this event, please go to http://www.Oldfaithfulshop.com/. Space is limited.
Few years back I visited Skagit Valley in Washington state where each year they delight visitors with a little taste of what Holland’s tulip farms might be like during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. The area is home to many producers of spring flowers including tulips, daffodils, and irises.
The festival runs April 1-30 of any given year and a quick look at the bloom map will tell you which of the fields are in full glory. Bloom times are always subject to Mother Nature’s schedule, but you can usually find a couple fields of tulips in bloom in the middle of the month, but you best be quick because the blooms don’t last more than 2 weeks before they are cut, bulbs removed, and soil turned for another year.
Since February is Before and After Month at Apartment Therapy, the Gardenist, Rochelle Greayer of Studio G and Leaf Magazine, featured the backyard renovation that we have been working on for the past many years. While it’s always changing and evolving (as a good garden should) here is the original post I wrote that features the big reveal.
May marks the anniversary of breaking ground on my back patio project. I use the term “breaking ground” loosely as the year was basically a mud pit in the winter and a dust bowl in the summer.
Over the course of a few months, my husband loaded up thousands of pounds of the backyard “soil” (another loose term) into a wheelbarrow and replaced it with a patio surrounded by beds and a small grassy area.
In the next 5 years the patio changed many times over. New house colours. New patio furniture. New deck. And last year was the beginning of the potager phase where I packed this wee garden with hundreds of vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers.
This year it already looks quite a bit different. I have replaced one of the tomato planters with a strawberry planter. I’ve been growing only lettuces in the wine barrel planters as they get too much shade from the trees now. I’m now growing mushrooms in my zen garden under the deck. I’m only going to grow what was a success last year (sorry, no purple cauliflower) and I’m going to try to keep the clutter down (damn giant purple cauliflower).
The corner of the patio holds the container herb garden. While the plants change up yearly deepening on culinary fancy, this photo shows sage, parsley, oregano, garlic chives, Egyptian walking onions, romaine lettuce, wild arugula and a few other treats.
The herbs don’t get lonely however, as we also grow quite a lot of veggies. Enough to feed us through the summer and put some by for the winter. The keys to growing edibles in a small space (that you want to use mainly as entertaining space) are to choose decorative varieties, tuck them in among ornamentals, and use interesting containers (like the wine barrel of lettuce shown here).
There are many showy flowers to keep spirits bright…
….and containers, containers, containers.
In the end what the space is now best used for is enjoying a little quiet time in the garden.
Ever wanted to be a part of a flash mob? The energy of being involved in the 2010 Olympic Flash Mob was unlike anything I can describe. There is really something special about dancing with a large group and here is your chance to give it a try.
To celebrate the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival the VCBF is putting on a Cherry Blossom Umbrella Flash Mob Dance complete with pink umbrellas! Part Bollywood and part Singing’ in the Rain, this upbeat flash mob is sure to be a blast for those who participate! Sign up at: www.vcbf.ca .
This winter we are incredibly lucky to have a large number of Snowy Owls visiting right now in Delta. Snowy Owls are normally found in the Arctic where their main meal is a small Arctic rodent, the lemming. Due to a decline in the lemming population (which happens approximately every 4 years) the owls have migrated to locations like Boundary Bay in Delta looking for food.
These magnificent birds are a beautiful sight to see, yet there are many warnings around that caution visitors so that the owls are protected. Please, if you do go to see the owls, maintain a respectful distance from them. If they start flying away, you have gone too close. To ensure they are not disturbed view them only from the dyke (do not enter the marsh area), keep quiet, and don’t go as a large group or bring children or pets. Stressing the owls will not only drive them away, but also threatens their survival.
That being said, seeing Snowy Owls and their habitat is a rare treat that anyone interested should get out and enjoy. Bring binoculars, a telephoto lens and/or a spotting scope so you can get a good look at them from a distance. For more information on the Snowies and where to find them, please check the updates at the end of this post.
If you liked my wreath but don’t have the time or desire to make your own, please consider buying one this year from Emerging Hope. This wonderful organization works with people living with addiction by providing them with gainful employment in landscaping, nursery work, and holiday wreath-making . Below is the call out to Vancouverites for this year’s wreaths.
Wreaths of Hope 2010
People living in poverty and addiction are awaiting the opportunity to use their unique talents once again to create your holiday wreaths. By purchasing one you are giving one of the greatest gifts possible: dignity and hope to someone struggling to improve his or her life. Just as the wreath was an early Roman and Greek symbol of victory, with every purchase you help someone experience a small victory in his or her life.
Each year the need is even greater than before, as many people face the winter without even their basic needs met. While we are not able to solve the big picture for the poorest people in our city, together we can make a difference in the lives of some. In this, our tenth year of wreath making, we aim to create many more hours of meaningful employment.
Pricing remains unchanged this year at $45.00 (Small) $60.00 (Med) and $90.00 (Large).
Please call Emerging Hope Projects to order: Ph:604.716.4284
THANK YOU for giving someone a hand up not a hand out this holiday.
This week we thawed out from that crazy November snowfall and I jumped at the window of opportunity to dig up the rest of the root veggies from the community garden plot. It was a very beautiful day at the garden. Even though the plots are a mess I found it quite romantic with the setting sun beaming through the skeletons of our summer gardens and sky-high pampas grass.
It felt great to get out and dig in the soil, and harvesting is always fun. While I was disappointed to only have a few pounds of potatoes, I did get a bunch more Gladiator parsnips and a ton of various beets that I didn’t expect. I roasted up this bunch of roots for a family dinner tonight.
Now that the community plot is officially put to bed for the winter I wonder weather I want to keep up the space again next year. I have enough room to grow a small variety of veggies at home and while I love gardening with the community members, it has lately been feeling more like a chore. Much of the food at the gardens gets stolen, many say because of the part of town we are in (notorious for homelessness and drugs) but sadly, the folks that I’ve seen steal are (gasp) other gardeners or visitors in suits who drive Hondas and show off their knowledge of growing food by cutting off all my garlic scapes or plucking a pumpkin. Mostly the thieves are foodies with a sense of entitlement and little concern for community. So that sucks.
Then there’s the growing conditions. The soil is poor and disease is rampant. Without daily weeding the plots are soon overrun with buttercup, horsetail, bindweed and in some cases the dangerous giant hogweed. This year I just wanted to grow squash. I ended up planting 10 types of squash and got about 12-15 orange spaghetti squash and downy mildrew killed the rest. I did also plant strawberries, potatoes, artichokes, tomatoes, beans, celeriac, beets, parsnips, peas, fennel, carrots, garlic, leeks, and kale, so I strayed from my focus and got a little of everything (except the celeriac which was a big failure). It’s fun to bring home fresh veggies and I haven’t really shopped for any in the grocery for the last 5-6 months. The number and variety of what is left after theft and disease is just a taste. Despite a valiant effort–I added manure to the soil, a bacterial / fungal mix that we bought at the farmers market and compost compost compost–the soil still lacked nutrition. This combined with the fact that disease is so quickly spread in a community garden space that I fought rust, mildew and blight daily. I certainly appreciate the fresh food I brought home, yet this alone is not worth the effort when I can buy the like at the farmers market each week.
Even if I never brought home a veggie I would still be a member because I joined the garden in the first place for the community. I wanted to learn from others, connect and share. In my mind perhaps I had the idea of a communal gardening group of people laughing and sharing huge baskets of fresh produce, while tending their lush green plots and beautifying the neighbourhood. The reality is that you see most of the members only at the monthly work parties. For most of the year I went to the work parties religiously. A few of the other members have the same commitment, a few. It’s great to see some of them, sometimes, but I wouldn’t call it a community. There is rallying around the condom/needle clean up and stopping the crazy dude from pouring rat poison on our plants, but it’s not quite what I had imagined. I’ve made a few friends at the garden though, so that’s something.
Now, as another year comes to a close I’ll reflect on whether or not it’s worth the effort or if perhaps there is another group or space that would be a better fit for me. For all the reasons above I almost gave up my membership last year, but something kept me there. The promise of something new, perhaps. Maybe this year some new people with join and keep me company at the work parties. Or perhaps I’ll get to run a seed starting project with the new greenhouse or learn something new. Who knows? But if I’ve learned just one thing about being a member of a community garden, it’s that it is about a whole lot more than just growing food.