Last week was the second TED event hosted by the nearby city of Vancouver so what better time to look at some of the great talks old and new that relate to gardening and food security.
A great inspiration to me is well-known activist and chef Jamie Oliver. Jamie has been a huge advocate for food education his food foundation does everything from encouraging garden projects in schools to encouraging and teaching others to cook from scratch with his Ministry of Food program. I first heard of Jamie Oliver through his Food Revolution television show and got hooked almost immediately because of his passion on this subject.
I just learned about Ron Finely a week ago but had to include this because he is such a great speaker and is sending a powerful message. This gentleman is a guerrilla gardener who simply wanted to improve his neighbourhood, give them an option for healthy eating and teach them about food. I’m sure all of us can relate to his comment about just because the city decided to change the name of his neighbourhood from South Central to South Los Angeles doesn’t change anything in context to Whalley being re-branded as Central City. It takes more than that to change the community.
I mentioned in the gardens first post of the year about a seed library at Kwantlan Polytechnic University and here is a talk by Jonathan Drori about what The Millennium Seed Bank is trying to achieve. This is the largest seed bank in the world. Best sure to also check out Jonathan Drori’s other Ted Talks such as the Beautiful Tricks of Flowers.
In this talk by Louie Schwartzberg the real reward is in the last half of the talk with the amazing time lapse video ‘Wings of Life’ on the beauty of pollinators.
I’m sure like me most gardeners are jumping at the chance to get into the garden and get their hands in the dirt. As we live on the west coast we don’t have to worry anymore about the last frost date but still have to contend with the spring rains and a bit of mud. If you haven’t done so already (I know I started doing this when I received my first seed catalogue of the year back in January) this is a great time to give some thought into what seeds you are going to plant, where your going to place them, and what prep work needs to be done for a successful gardening season.
This is now my third year doing seed starting after many lessons such as how critical the right level of light is which I learned my first year when all my seedlings were too ‘leggy’ and most didn’t survive. Since then I have used a number of different resources to learn something new each year in addition to just simple trial and error. One such resource is a blog by Gayle Trail of you Grow Girl who was the author of one of my first gardening books I bought and she is Canadian. I have yet to find a great garden blogger on the west coast so if anyone has any recommendations please let me know. Gayle offers some great tips on economical ways to start Seed Starting which is a great way to increase to longevity of the growing season as you can get a great jump-start on what mother nature would normally allow. Learn More…
Companion Planting is another great tool in the organic gardener’s kit that allows you to plant certain crops close together to assist with pest control, pollination and the attraction of beneficial insects to your garden. A great resource for this is provided by West Coast Seeds. Where you can learn the best place to plant a patch of basil or is it okay to place my beets near my pole beans. Learn More…
Beneficial Insects are always included in my plans for the garden every year which is why I always plant a little wildflower garden within my plot along with crops like Basil, Chives, Chamomile, Sage, and Thyme which also have the double benefit of being delicious and fresh for meals from my kitchen. If rumours are true 10 different types of bees have been spotted in Cedar Grove garden last year I have also already seen several lady bugs in my plot this year. If every garden member planted a little something on their plot for these beneficials we can hopefully see these numbers go up and this will benefit everyone at Cedar Grove Garden. Mother Earth News put out an article on this very subject. Learn More…
Cool Season Crops don’t forget on the coast there are already a lot of cool season crops that you can get into the ground such as peas, lettuce, arugula, spring onions, corn salad, kale, radishes, and spinach.
A large part of what makes up any community are the people who live within the area and what better way to bring them together than through special events, classes and workshops. This is a great way to have some fun, meet others with similar interests and make an impact on how your community is shaped. Many of these events are well-known and others are what are referred to in travel guide lingo as being off the beaten path. I recently learned about a few events that would fall directly into this category that occur south of the Fraser.
Many community garden’s are grass-roots organizations that often start off with guerilla gardening taking over a nearby vacant lot either with or without the owner’s permission or even just a tiny strip on the sidewalk in front of your home. This provides a spot of beauty in what otherwise would be a dull or trash ridden location and brings a smile to those who pass it daily in the hopes this will encourage them or even businesses in the area to plant a few flowers. Resulting in a more warm and welcoming community showing that the people who live there are engaged, interested and proud of their neighbourhood. On Sunday, March 29th come and make ‘seed bombs’ from recycled paper at this family friendly neighbourhood beautification initiative. Newton Community Hall between 3:30pm and 5:30pm. Learn More
Although I am still what would be considered a new gardener only enjoying this rewarding pastime with the last couple of years I already have a collection of seeds sitting at home. I buy something to try but can’t use the whole packet for my community plot so often try to give these away if I’m not able to use them to following year. So I was excited to learn that Kwantlan Polytechnic University’s Langley campus has a SeedLibrary that you can pick up seeds from with the expectation that you donate some back at the end of the season. What a great way to spend the afternoon searching for a unique find for your garden and sharing some of your own with the local gardening community. Learn More…
Not as off the beaten path as those above yet I still drive by this once a week but like many rarely stop to venture inside. Green Timbers Urban Forest offers everything from a fishing lake, to nature trails and Surrey Nature Centre. Free Birding walks are hosted by the Surrey Nature Centre within Green Timbers with the next one occurring on Saturday, March 21st. Learn More…
The days are getting shorter and the nights are a lot cooler now. Even though we just had what seemed like a summer heat wave, we are fast approaching fall. Now is the perfect time to get the cooler temperature loving, fast growing plants in the ground for a final harvest: peas, bok choi, arugula, winter kale and radishes. Another crop to get in the ground in the next few weeks is garlic for next summer’s harvest. If you don’t want to plant anything else this year consider a cover crop like alyssum, barley, or buckwheat, for over the winter to protect and add nutrients to the soil.
There has been a lot of buzz over the past few years regarding the possible extinction of native, honey and bumble bees. Although clearly the bees are not extinct right now, we should all bee very concerned about their population health and endangered status. Bees are very susceptible to the toxic pesticides used both commercially and residentially. Which is why it is so important that we all avoid using any kind of toxic chemical in our gardens or yards and eat organic food whenever possible.
I was made aware of an article highlighting the illegal use of a pesticide in an Oregon Target parking lot that killed about 25,000 pollinating bumblebees. This is approximately 330 hives destroyed by this one parking lot. Check out the article and pictures of this terrible story here.