Showing posts from February, 2014

Workshop: BUGS- Garden Buddies and Bad Guys


Organic Fertilizers

Examples of organic fertilizers are greensand, bat guano, cottonseed meal, fish emulsion, manure, and blood meal.

Blood meal is a powerful source of nitrogen and must be applied properlyor it will burn your plants. Follow the directions on the label. Blood meal is dried blood usually collected from slaughterhouses and may not be acceptable to vegetarians or vegans.

Greensand is mined from deposits of minerals once part of the ocean floor. It is approximately 3% total potash, along with iron, magnesium, silica and as many as 30 other trace minerals. There may be some ecological concerns here.

Cottonseed meal is a by-product of cotton manufacturing. Cottonseed will produce a slight acidic reaction; consequently, so is usually used for fertilizing acid-loving plants such as azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons.

Manure has been used as a fertilizer for generations, be sure that any manure you but has been well composted before you apply it your garden. I have used chicken manure and horse m…

Create A Garden For The Birds

It only takes a little effort to design a bird garden. Start with a some research; what birds are native to your region and what migratory bids will drop by, perhaps only for a short visit during the spring and summer. A trip to your local public library can be useful.

Once you know who your visitors are likely to be, then you can start your design by selecting plants that appeal to them. This is similar to accepting guests in your home, you want them to feel comfortable, but unlike your human guests you want the birds to hang around as long as possible.

It is not necessary to convert your whole yard into a bird sanctuary, although if that is what you want to do, enjoy. You can have your home vegetable garden, cut flowers, herbs and still create an area that is for the birds.

A bird garden will provide food and shelter as well as a look out point, exactly what plants will do the job depends upon where you live. However, regardless of your location, tall and medium size shrubs can …

Six Words to Guide Your Plant Choices

There are six words that will help you create a garden that thrives. The words are right plant, right place, andright time.

Right Time: It can be very tempting to rush out into the garden and start planting after a few days of warm weather. This can be especially tempting after a long and cold winter. However, this is often, almost always a mistake.

I have found this out from experience. Put seeds in the ground before the soil is warm enoughand they may not germinate. Put plants out before the night’s are warm enoughand they may die. If you follow the instructions on the seed pack and know when the last day of frost occurs where you live, the odds of success increase significantly. 

Here, in northern New Brunswick, spring may be a day away, but the ground is still frozenand I will not be planting any seeds until the last week of May at the earliest.
If you are planning to start seeds indoors, again read the instructions on the seed package. Seeds started too soon indoors will be ready t…

Tide Head Elementary School: Planting Day


Why Mulch Your Garden?

There are a number of benefits to adding mulch to your garden beds. They include:

1-water/moisture conservation - mulch works like a sponge in that it will hold water and nutrients close to the soil, shields the soil from the drying effects ofsun as well as reducing evaporation as it protects the soil from the wind’s blast. The plants form strong and healthy roots in this protective environment which also attract earthworms that provide another service, aeration. Aerated soil enhances water absorption.

2- Mulch controls weeds. Mulch makes it difficult for any weed seed to reach the ground and germinate; fewer weeds less time spend pulling weeds and reduced need for pesticides. 

3- Mulch acts as insulation that keeps the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter. 

4- Mulch breaks down and feeds the soil which as any gardener knows is the gardener’s principal task; feed the soil and your plants have a better chance of thriving and feeding you.

Mulching Tips:

1- Mulch is spread on…

What to Compost

What can you compost? The following information provides you with a list of items that can go into your compost pile.

From Your Garden:

Leaves (chopped - to speed their breakdown)

Grass (not wet)

Plants & Weeds (without ripe seeds)

Old potting soil

Soft plant stems
From Your Kitchen.
Coffee grounds and filters

Fruit scraps

Vegetable trimmings

Crushed egg shells

Tea bags

Shredded paper
The following items should not be placed into the compost:
Dairy products including cheese
Meat, fish (including sauces) and bones

The Strawbale Garden

Straw bale gardening is a great no dig garden method and a raised bed garden all at the same time. The number of bales that you use will depend upon the size you want the garden to be. You could grow a few cherry tomatoes and some basil in one bale.

Be sure to place the bales where you want them to stay, because, they are not easy to move. The bale will last for one or two seasons and makesideal mulch or can be composted when its life as a garden is finished.

You can grow, for example, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, greens, peppers, gourds and flowers in straw bales. The peppers and tomatoes could be staked if needed.

I grew potatoes for two seasons this way and then used the straw to begin a new no dig garden bed.
I suggest, when you have selected the spot where the straw bale raised garden will go, you place the bales on their sides. Next water the bales over a seven day period, making sure that they are wet right through.

Add between three and five inches of compost to the bale topsand you…

My Favourite Balcony Garden Plants

Personal favourites:
Cherry Tomatoes, I use CampJoy but any cherry tomato will do well in a container and the bonus is you can grow basil in the same container. Two containers, 18 inches across and 2 feet deep will hold two tomato plants and two basil plant.Green Peppers, both peppers and tomatoes enjoy the sun but need heat so if the spot is cool, then I suggest planting something else. Plant peppers same as tomatoes without the basil.Pole beans need support; I use bamboo poles, available at the plant nursery. They are cheap and last for years. You can put two plants per 18 inch diameter pot.Peas, you will need a support and there are trellises that will fit into an 18 inch or larger container. They can also support themselves on balcony railings.Herbs, chamomile, borage, chives, thyme will all do well in a container. You could create an herb garden in one 24 inch diameter container and plant a few of your favourites. They will also he…

A Permaculture Garden at the Community garden

The We Are Nature Working Experience met this am. We agreed we will install a garden based upon permaculture principles at the local community garden. The Campbellton Community garden is expanding from 15 plots to 40.

There is a good sized space left for us to work.

Making Seedballs


Why We Must Value Bees- Part 1- Honey bees

Honey bees are not native to Canada. Honey bees likely hitched a ride to North America sometime in the 1700s.

The honey bee is a major pollinator of many of our food crops, almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, sunflowers, watermelon and many other crops all rely on honey bees for pollination.

So if honey bees disappear, and we do not find replacements that can do the work they do, then, foods we take for granted, will decrease in supply and increase in price. 

The pollination service provided by insect pollinators, bees mainly, was €153 billion (euros) in 2005 for the main crops that feed the world. This figure amounted to 9.5% of the total value of the world agricultural food production.

The main reason that the honey bee is important for our world is as simple as this; if the honey bee does not pollinate the crops, the crops do not grow and produce the food that gets harvested and brought to the store where we buy it and bring …

How Much Time do you Have to Spend Gardening?

Great gardens take time; time to grow and time to learn. To begin gardening, you do not need a lot of knowledge but you do need the time to allow what knowledge you have, to expand, as you get out in the dirt, and discover what you need to know.

When people ask me how to get started with a garden, one of the first questions I ask them is how much time do you have to spend in your garden each day?

The reason I ask this question is people often have great gardens in their minds, but in their daily lives, they simply do not have the time to care for those gardens. Sure, the first few days are full of energy, as the garden bed or beds are prepared,and the seeds and seedlings are planted, and everything is watered.

But then life happens, and the busy schedule that is many peoples’ reality starts to take over and tending the garden gets put aside or left to the weekend. Now, once a garden is established, you do not need to visit it every day, although I do recommend that if you really want a t…

Gardening for the Birds, Bees and Butterflies

The three Bs, birds, bees and butterflies are a gardener’s good friends. If you make a few wise plants choices, refrain from engaging in chemical warfare and understand that Nature will provide what you need, then you are well on your way to creating a great garden; one that will provide the fruits, herbs, flowers and vegetables you seek to grow.

The plant choices you make need to be those that provide for the needs of the beings you wish to attract to your garden. Herbs are a great place to start and can be incorporated into a garden bed or arranged throughout your design. 

Dill and mint, for example, will bring the butterflies to your garden. Be sure to consider the whole butterfly family and choose plants that provide a place for the butterflies to lay their eggs. If you also provide them with a drink of water, they will hang around.

Sunflowers will attract all three, bees and butterflies first and then as the seeds develop the birds will drop by for their snack.

There are two things t…

Last Summer: Getting Ready to Plant Trees @Rotary Peace park


A Community Garden

We have one community garden which is being expanded this summer and the possibility of a second one.

A community garden is a plot of land that is usually divided into subplots with each gardener having their own plot. You can grow herbs flowers or vegetables or a mix of all three.

There may be a communal plot where you grown corn or squash which is then shared.
Each gardener tends their own plot according to whatever rules the groups ahs set.
For example, you may want to grow organicallyand in order to do this then all the gardeners would need to agree.

Terms such as whether the garden is organic or not are best set out in a contract which each gardener agrees to and signs before the season gets underway.

There may be communal work days. Especially at the beginning and the ending of the season to take care of site preparation and clean up as well as putting the plots to bed for the season.

There may be chores that all share. When I was in Saint John, New Brunswick, for example, I be…

Rotary Peace Park

Last year, I had the opportunity to create a park. The project began as a suggestion for a peace project for the Campbellton Rotary Club. In discussions with the Village of Tide Head, the Club was able to form an agreement to create the Park on land the Village owned. 

Working with both the Rotary Club and the Village council,  a plan came into being that combined the use of perennial flowers, fruit trees, wildflowers and trees to create a place that will attract butterflies and be a quiet, beautiful spot for people to stroll through.

The students at Tide Head Elementary School helped plant sunflower and wildflower gardens. This summer, we plan to add a number of milkweed plants, so Monarch butterflies will be able to visit the site. Appropriate plants will  be selected so the Monarchs will be able to feed and breed. I will be posting pictures here and updates this year as the work continues.

Campbellton Community Garden: My Plot: 2013


At The Campbellton Community Garden


Ten Steps to a Succesful Organic Garden

All you need to do to grow flowers, herbs and vegetable, organically, is follow these ten steps.

1.      Put the right plant in the right place. In other words, make sure the plant you choose is placed where it gets the amount of sunlight it requires as well as the water and food needed for strong growth.
2.      Do the above in the planning stage so you know what you are going to do before the actual planting, what you will plant, where you will plant it.
3.      Organic gardeners feed the soil because healthy soil will produce healthy plants. One of the most effective ways to build healthy soil is to add organic material, such as compost to the soil.
4.       Mulch, proper mulching prevents weeds from taking over your garden and thus reduces your labour. Mulch also reduces the soil’s thirst, as it reduces the rate at which it dries out after watering, and will warm up the ground in Spring and Fall.
5.      Use organic and heritage seeds as these will breed trueand you are then able to sa…

The Indoor Vegetable Garden: Lighting

Planning to grow vegetables indoors, is there enough natural sunlight available (6-8 hours)? If not artificial lighting is needed.

When it comes to indoor lighting sources the illegal grow op has lead to the development of equipment that will assist you to set up an indoor vegetable garden.

It is possible to guide your garden from seeds to fruit under fluorescent lightingand the gardener who wishes to do has a number of options.

The standard fluorescent bulb can be used to start seedlings and for salad gardeners they can suffice throughout the whole season as long as the bulbs are close to the plant tops, say about four inches above them.

Compact fluorescent grow lights may be more efficient but will cost more and still may not provide the green peppers and tomatoes the gardener seeks.

The best solution for growing fruiting vegetables (tomatoes, peppers etc) indoors may well be a combination of metal halide which puts out an intense light that is high in the blue spectrum and ideal for ve…

Growing Vegetables Indoors

Over the years, I have had some success in growing vegetables indoors. Cherry tomatoes did very well in our Thunder Bay, On. apartment. The plants produced tomatoes for 11 months before giving up. They did get 8 (eight) hours of sunlight per day.

Growing Vegetables Indoors

My Working Definition of Permaculture

'Permaculture is a holistic, nature inspired design methodology that draws upon modern technologies and ancient traditions to design sustainable communities on a micro and macro scale.'

Storytelling and other art forms may play an important role in permaculture learning.

Permaculture and Our Community Garden; part 1

I am working with a small group; introducing them to permaculture design as we develop a plan for the local community garden.

Permaculture was coined from the words permanent and agriculture by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s. Both men, Mollison, the professor, and Holmgren, the grad student, where concerned about the environmental damage that industrial agriculture was causing.

Together, they sought to develop a method which would create a self-regulating and therefore sustainable food production system which nurtured the land rather than harming it. Permaculture designers observe and work with Nature rather than attempting to force Nature to fit into a mechanized production system.

Today, many designers, are applying permaculture design to developing communities, project governance and the urban environment.

Permaculture is an ethically based design system for creating sustainable human environments. The permaculture ethics are:

- care for the earth

- care for p…