Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why Are We Here?

A short sentence, one many of asked and many answered but have we found the truth?  Let us start here. Why does earth exist?

Does earth exist to serve humans or do humans exist to serve earth? Perhaps both are wrong.

I am taking a break until 2015 but will be back with a story, for now I will leave you with this one.

an ancient tale:

One day a man leaves his village for a short walk. His attention is captured by the scenery and he soon discovers he has taken an unknown path. Up ahead he sees a tiger and the tiger spots him. The man tuns and flees. in his haste, he misses the turn and soon finds himself at the edge of a cliff. the tiger is approaching. The man jumps.

Fortunately, there is a tree growing out of the side of the cliff, he grabs a branch and holds on. He starts to pull himself up but hears the tiger growling above. Looking down he sees another tiger at the bottom waiting for him to fall. He looks around and spots a wild strawberry bush. He plucks one, and eats it. It is the sweetest strawberry he has ever eaten,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What is permaculture, anyway

There seems to be a battle among permaculture designers over the nature of permaculture. Why, who knows or cares. Permaculture is a nature-inspired, holistic design system that draws upon current technologies and ancient roots to create sustainable human environments.

Permaculture was originally intended to grow food in a manner that did not harm the earth,as industrial agricultural system did and are still doing, but to nourish and replenish it.

I apply my design skills to creating community gardens, school gardens and anyone who wants to grow food in a sustainable manner.

I also apply the skills to create the invisible structure, committees, worker coops and so on. 

I believe societies and individuals are living a false story, one they have all agreed upon, knowingly or not. As a storyteller and gardener I am planting a new story. Want to help?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Buy Books For Christmas

Hi, books make a great gift, anytime of the year. What better way to purchase a book than from an Independent Publisher. For a wide range of books on a variety of topics, all; from independents visit here.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book: Organic Pest Control

With growing consumer awareness about the dangers of garden chemicals, turn to The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control (by Fern Bradley) as the most reliable and comprehensive guide on the garden shelf. Rodale has been the category leader in organic methods for decades, and this thoroughly updated edition features the latest science-based recommendations for battling garden problems. With all-new photos of common and recently introduced pests and plant diseases, you can quickly identify whether you've discovered garden friend or foe and what action, if any, you should take.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014


If you are looking for a plant that is happy in the shade, produces great foliage and beautiful flowers then look no further than the hosta.
The hosta is a native of Japan and it was Englebert Kaempfer (1651-1715) who was a doctor and botanist with the Dutch East India Company who was the first Westerner to see a hosta. Kaempfer was also the first to draw and describe one.
He gave them names which reflected the style of the times calling one Joksan, vulgo gibbooshi Gladiolus Plantagenis folio (meaning 'the common hosta with the plantain-like leaves'); the other he named simply Gibbooshi altera (meaning 'the other hosta').

The hostas were renamed by also by a doctor who followed Kaempfer who was also a botanist. Carl Thunberg (7143-1828) renamed the hostas in Linnaean binomial style, calling one of them Aletris japonica, transferring it to the genus Hemerocallis in 1784.
It was an Austrian botanist, Leopold Trattinick (1761-1848), who first proposed the generic name Hosta in 1812. The name hosta was chose in honour of an Austrian, Nicholas Thomas Host (1761-1834), who was not only a botanist, the author of Flora Austriaca and a work on grasses. Host was physician to the Emperor Frances II.
The hosta can survive in all zones and is a hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs). The flowers bloom from August to September. The young leaves and stems are said to eb edible when cooked, steamed or sir fried.
Hostas can handle a variety of soil conditions; light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soils; and acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils.
I acquired my first hosta plant this year when we moved into our new house. I have included them in various garden designs but this is the first time I have had one in my direct care.
The hostas are clustered around a senior maple tree in our backyard. The roots of this ancient run throughout the yard and the one hosta, a small plant with a single flower, that I decided to transplant was sitting right on top of a root.
Hostas are fairly simple to transplant; but I did not want to harm the tree or the hosta. So rather than using a shovel to dig it up, I got my trusty hand trowel of the shed. It came out easily enough and the tree root was not visibly marked.
I had already filled the wheelbarrow with the soil I was moving to a new garden bed beside the side porch along the driveway and placed the hosta on that.
It was a cool and cloudy morning so the trauma to the plant would be minimal.
I spread the soil over the cardboard that I had lain down two days ago and watered twice since then, the last time just before I put the soil down. Once the soil was in place, I situated the hosta and made sure the roots were well covered and the soil was all around then I watered again.
The plant is doing well and is in an area with dappled shade so should stay happy. If you are seeking a plant for that shady or partially shady spot one that will provide great foliage and gorgeous flowers and ask little from you then the hosta is your best bet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rose of Sharon

The Rose of Sharon or Hibiscus syriacus, depending upon variety is hardy from zone 5a to zone 9 and I am a zone 3 or 4 gardener.
Soil ph ranges
From 5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
The Rose of Sharon is referred to in the Bible in King Solomon’s Song of Songs
I am the rose of Sharon,
and the lily of the valleys.
As the lily among thorns,
so is my love among the daughters.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood,
so is my beloved among the sons.
The flower's symbolic significance stems from the Korean word mugung, meaning immortality.
If leaf spots are seen, pick off and destroy the infected leaves.If bacterial leaf spot causes problems, pick off and destroy infected leaves. Canker can kill branches or entire plants. Bright,reddish-orange fruiting bodies may appear on the bark.Prune out infected branches.
Flowers may be infected with a blight caused by a fungus.Bud drop can be caused by too much or too little fertilization. One potential problem that may affect the Rose of Sharon is during its first summer, if you live in a hot climate or have a particularly hot summer, the first year that you plant it, it is possible that the heat will kill the plant if it does not get enough water.
When most plants are first planted they usually need closer attention than they do when they have become established and this is especially so in extreme weather, excess heat or rain, for example.
The plant requires ample moisture and some protection from midday to afternoon sun if it is to reach its peak. The Rose of Sharon is a shrub that will keep its upright form as it grows. This means you will not need to do much pruning.
Best pruning times are late winter or early spring; this way you will minimize the loss of the emerging flower buds on the new growth.
Heavy spring pruning cutting back to nor more than 3 buds will produce fewer but larger flowers.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Gardener's Imperative

For the true gardener there is no gardening season. There is an outdoor period beginning, locally, after the May 24th long weekend and ending usually in late September.

However, in the days, weeks and months between that time there is the indoor gardening season. For some, this consists of taking care of a variety for houseplants, for others this time involves study and reflection, looking through the garden journal, examining what worked in the previous year and what did not. 

Spending time in seed catalogues, dreaming of next years garden and making plans. For others, it is both. I fall into he later category.

My houseplants are only two, an ivy and a Christmas cactus; however, this year I started a bean seed in the kitchen window. At the moment it is approximately 18 inches high.

My point, I must garden or be involved in garden related activities. Gardening is an imperative. It brings me pleasure and challenges and plants make great companions.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Stem Cuttings: Propagating Houseplants

Many houseplants can be propagated from stem cuttings. The cuts need to be made with a sharp knife or razor blade as you do not want to bruise the stem which may split the stem and casue rot to set in.
If you plant this operation ahead of time you can be sure to water the plant about two hours before you cut.
This ensures that the stems and leaves are fully charged with moisture.
If you are using a flowering stem, pinch the flowers off first.
If you want to hurry up the rooting process you can coat the cut end of the stem with a root hormone.
Rooting in water:
  1. make a clean cut just above a leaf axil or node, this allows the parent plant to make new shoots from the top axils.
  2. make a second cut immediately below the lowest node of leaf axil of the cutting and then gently remove the lower leaves.
  3. place in water ; it may take up to 4 weeks, but do check, for 2-4 cm of new root to appear.
Now you can place the cutting into a potting mixture. I have found this to be a very effective method for creating new plants when I want to expand my collection or to prepare a gift for someone, also if the plant is getting too large for its location, taking cutting and rooting them is an effective way to keep the size under control, maintain the plant’s shape and create a new plant.
It can take up to 4 weeks for the new roots to develop sufficiently enough to be placed into potting soil but I do strongly suggest that you keep a close eye on their growth as I have seen, basil at least, develop, much faster than this.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Christmas Plants: Amaryllis

The amaryllis loves a bright sunny window and will produce its large, trumpet shaped flowers when properly situated. This makes sense as the plant’s native land is South America’s tropical zones. 
If you want blooms for the Christmas season then make sure to purchase a Christmas flowering variety. The Apple Blossom variety is white with soft pink touches. The bulbs are large and will produce up to three stems that have four to six flowers per stem. 
The Apple Blossom will reach a height of approximately 20 inches (50cms) and will flower six to eight weeks after planting. 
The name amaryllis comes from the Greek αμαρυσσω (amarysso) which means "to sparkle". The amaryllis flower is named for a heroine in Virgil's epic poem 'Eclogues'. 
There are two plants that are often confused, the Hippeastrun hybrida (Amaryllis) and the Amaryllis belladonna (Belladonna Lily). This hub refers to the former the Hippeastrum hybrida.
The amaryllis is one of the easiest bulbs to get to bloom: you can bring your plant into bloom either indoors or out.
Beside the large trumpet shaped flowers one of the amaryllis’s main attractions is that it is available in a variety of colours and red, white, pink, salmon and orange. In addition, the amaryllis has a number of striped and multicolored varieties.
When you first bring home your amaryllis remember to place the base and roots of the bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours. If you must wait to plant them store them at a cool temperature between 40-50 degrees F.
The bulb must be planted up to its neck in the potting compost, do not to damage the roots; then firmly press the soil down to set the bulb securely in place after planting.
Amaryllis is a great container plant and needs to be put in a warm place with direct light since heat is necessary for the development of the stems. The ideal temperature is 68 to 70 degrees F.
Until the stem appears you will water sparingly and gradually increase water as the bud and leaves appear. Now the stem will rapidly grow and you will see the flowers burst forth when the stem has reached its mature growth.
When the plants stops flowering you can bring the blooms back by cutting the old flowers from the stem after flowering, and when the stem starts to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb.
The leaves will likely begin to yellow in the early fall and that is the time to cut the leaves back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb and remove the bulb from the soil.
If you plant to store your bulbs, first clean them and then out them in a cool (40-50 deg. F), dark place such as the crisper of your refrigerator for at least six weeks.
Indoors over the holiday season the amaryllis adds to the festive atmosphere. They also make great gifts for anyone on your list that enjoys houseplants. They have become almost as popular over the holidays as the poinsettia.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Three Sisters

One of the oldest plant communities that we know of is the Three Sisters, beans, corn and squash. It is a First Nations planting method that goes back for several centuries and is often associated with the Iroquois.

Now corn is not often a crop that a backyard gardener, unless the backyard is a good size will plant but it can be a great community garden crop and the sisters can make an excellent shared garden within a community garden.

However, if you have the space or simply want to experiment then the 3 sisters will increase your yield and reduce your labour.

The three plants work together to help one another grow and help the grower get a healthy crop. The beans grow up the corm stalks and provide the nitrogen that helps the corn grow and the squash is planted between the corn rows and acts as living mulch and thereby reduces the need to weed and water.

Growing Corn:
If you are planning to plant corn then you will need a minimum of three rows (ideally four) of about four feet in length. You will also need to leave a three foot space between rows.
This minimum space allows adequate pollination for the corn. Corn is pollinated by pollen from its tassels (the tops of the corn plant). Corn usually only produces one or two ears per stalk.
Now consider corn and tomatoes; tomatoes, which are self pollinating so you only need one plant to produce a number of tomatoes.

The main reason that I am introducing you to the three sisters is to expand upon the plant community concept and to help you understand that your garden will achieve its best results when it grows naturally or at least when the design you choose is modeled on nature and not on an artificial construct.
When it comes to gardening, work and Life itself, we will thrive if we let Nature be our guide and teacher and model our activities after the lessons that nature provides each and every day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pollinating an Indoor Garden

Plants grown indoors have the same needs as plants grown outdoors,however, there is a major difference. Indoors, the gardener supplies the sun, perhaps in a brightly lit window, perhaps with artificial light, or maybe a combination of both.

The soil used indoors differs from what we plant our vegetables in outdoors and the plant roots rely on the gardener for water and food.

Perhaps the greatest difference between growing vegetables indoors as compared to doing so in your back or front yard is that indoors there are very few helpers. There are no earthworms in the soil, for example. Most significantly, there are no pollinators, no bees, butterflies, wasps and so on, or at least very, very few and most of us are happy that is so.

So what does the gardener, who wants to grow vegetables indoors do. Well, some plants, such as sweet peppers and eggplants, can be manually pollinated. A brush, a small art paint brush can work or even your fingertips. This is time consuming but it will get the job done.

Other plants, such as tomatoes and beans, can't be readily pollinated by hand and some recommend that the plants be gently shaken each day in order to release the pollen.

I have used a small fan for this purpose and been pleased by the results; also, an open window near the plants, lets the breeze in, should it be blowing. Obviously, this is not a good method in cold weather but has worked for me in the warmer months. I like the idea of working with the wind but a fall back method will be needed when the wind is not blowing.

I have heard that some gardeners use an electric toothbrush to create a similar vibration to a bee's wing, but have no direct experience with this technique. Experiment and keep a record of what works and what does not.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gardening Learn as You Grow

Gardening is a learn by doing experience that requires the gardener to take a chance and observe and record the results. Careful observation and interaction will allow the gardener to see what works and what does not so that the gardener can learn from the experience and make necessary changes to improve the process.
You cannot fail.
Not all you plant will grow but you will always get positive results if you know your garden, yourself and put the right plant in the right place.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Home Vegetable Garden News: October 19, 2014

"So how do you deer proof your garden? If you are growing vegetables, the safest way to do so is to build or buy a greenhouse. "

The Home Vegetable Garden News

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Keeping The Deer Out

So how do you deer proof your garden? If you are growing vegetables, the safest way to do so is to build or buy a greenhouse. This will keep the deer out and keep you food safe from their hunger.
A greenhouse will also help keep another unwelcome garden raider away, the rabbit. A greenhouse is more effective than a fence
Now you could put up an electric fence; however, the price of energy is arising and adding to that bill offsets any gain that you may get from growing your own food.
Of course, a small solar panel could be used to fuel the fence. Deer when properly motivated and food is a great motivator, can leap pretty high. However, for a small garden plot an electrified fence can be a good alternative to the greenhouse.
Deer cannot sense electricity but will come up close to an object before leaping it so if they receive a shock, they are unlikely to proceed and will turn elsewhere for their meal.
If you want to grow organic vegetables then either a greenhouse or a solar powered electric fence is your best option for success. There are other alternatives such as repellants and some of these will work but they do need to be applied more than once over the season so if you forget, you may wake up one morning and find the cupboard bare.
There are ornamental plants that are not on the deer’s favourite dining menu and if there is soemthign they like handy, your ornamental garden might be safe.Rittenhouse has put together a list of plants that are deer resistant, just rememebr that a hungry deer is not a fussy deer.
Humans have destroyed deer habitat and humans have expanded their territory so that deer-human conflicts are all but inevitable. If you live in an area that has a large deer population and are a gardener then you will need to plan for deer control when you plan your garden.
This means that your costs will be greater than they would if you were gardening where there are no deer. The fence may trun out to be low-impedance electric fence, for a small garden, may turn out to eb the cheaper option. It will last 25 years or so whereas a poly green house will not even come close to lasting that long.
If you build a glass green house your cost will be higher. However, the added advantage to ether greenhouse is that unlike the fence they will extend the garden season both in the spring and the fall and this increases the yield and variety of plants that you can grow.
The choice is yours to make.

Last Flowers

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Indoor Garden: Lights

The most important element of success in indoor vegetable growing is light. Light determines how long plants remain active and is essential for photosynthesis.

You need to pay close attention to light intensity as it affects the manufacture of plant food, stem length, leaf color, and flowering.

The intensity of light a plant receives indoors is dependent upon how close the light source is to the plant as you move away from the light source light intensity decreases.

This means you are not likely going to be able to grow much in the way ofvegetables relying solely on light from a window.

Before planting anything asses the area where you plan to set up the garden. Consider the factors, paying close attention to available light. If you are planning to grow vegetables, in quantity, indoors, you will likely need to add lighting.

Sweet peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes are vegetable garden favourites but they like other fruiting vegetables have high light requirements. There are other choices such as salad greens and lettuces whose light requirements are less.

After lighting the next most important choice is your growing medium which is basically either a soil mix or hydroponic. If I do decide to grow more than culinary herbs for personal use indoors I will use an appropriate hydroponic system.

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 lighting and 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 vegetative growth and then switch to high pressure sodium lights.

The high pressure sodium lights favour the red and orange spectrum which is needed for the development of fruits.

To effective grow fruiting plants indoors under artificial lights you are likely to need to switch three times as the as the metal halide are too strong to start seeds.

Stage One: Fluorescent grow lights for getting started

Stage Two: Metal halide for vegetative growth

Stage Three: High pressure sodium for fruiting.

This may not be advisable for the home gardener who seeks to turn a basement into a vegetable garden, unless herbs and salad green are the desired output. A greenhouse in the yard may be a preferred alternative.
There is another option that is making some ground LED grow lights are reputed to be very efficient, my suggestion is do your research before buying anything.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

BOOK: Seed Libraries

Seed Libraries" is a practical guide to saving seeds through community programs, including:
  • Step-by-step instructions for setting up a seed library
  • A wealth of ideas to help attract patrons and keep the momentum going
  • Profiles of existing libraries and other types of seed saving partnerships

Get your copy here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Forest Gardening: An Introduction

Forest Gardening: An Introduction

"Have you begun to feel that the time you spend watering and cutting your lawn is a waste and probably doing more harm than good? Tired of using poisonous chemicals to keep that lawn green and golf course ready?

Or are you longing for fresh fruits and vegetables?"

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Permaculture Garden

Working entirely in harmony with nature, The Permaculture Garden shows you how to turn a bare plot into a beautiful and productive garden. Learn how to plan your garden for easy access and minimum labor; save time and effort digging and weeding; recycle materials to save money; plan crop successions for year-round harvests; save energy and harvest water; and garden without chemicals by building up your soil and planting in beneficial communities. Full of practical ideas, this perennial classic, first published in 1995, is guaranteed to inspire, inform, and entertain.

Buy here.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Literacy Garden

The Western Sydney Institute, Blacktown College provides evidence for my belief that gardening can be a great educational tool. The College was recently awarded first place in the Sustainable Garden Competition for its vegetable garden.
The garden was established and is maintained by new immigrant students as part of their educational program.
“Not only have the gardening practices used at Blacktown College been recognized as the best possible practice in sustainable gardening, but the garden has also been built and maintained by migrant students, many of whom are refugees from war-torn countries,” said Ms Susan Hartigan, Institute Director. The garden is a great success because it works on more than just the environmental and educational levels.
“The students have also been learning English through gardening. It’s been incorporated into the English language educational program at Blacktown College. It’s a great example of the College’s organizing its approach to best suit the community.
Now this particular garden is working with people who have immigrated to a country in this case Australia and it is quite possible that a similar program would be capable of success in other countries as well.
There are also excellent examples of gardens working with children as a form of active learning and encouraging them to become engaged in the learning process. It is through this active and ongoing engagement that we can not only build a literate population but one that takes interest in what is going in the immediate and distant community. It can all begin in the garden.
Now let’s go back to the beginning how can a garden help with an adult literacyprogram. The successful creation of a thriving garden involves a number of skills. Many adults, despite the fact that they cannot read, have a wide range of skills.
I worked some years back as a volunteer literacy tutor and was amazed at what some of the people who I helped learn to read could do.
It is feasible that we can combine the skills that people have with their desire to learn to read and do so while building and maintaining a garden.
People learn best, through an active process, that is by doing, and in the case of the garden, the first lessons could begin with the design of the garden plan. The first step could be determining what they gardeners want to grow and drawing on seed catalogues to form the basis of a reading lesson. Seed packets can also be included as they contain information that the gardeners need.
However, before we begin designing lesson plans, there are a few things that are even more essential. One is the land. Where will the garden be located?
There are some possible options; a church may be willing to allow the use of some of its property for this [purpose, or perhaps a school or community centre?
The municipality may have available land or if there is a literacy organization they may have land.
The teaching could be handled by master or other experienced gardeners working with literacy tutors to develop the lesson plans.
How does the process of creating a literacy garden begin? Well, as with most projects, you will need to assess your resources. For example, is there a master gardeners group where you live? Is there a literacy organization? If the answer is yes, you may want to contact these two organizations in order to determine their interest.
If you are a gardener and feel comfortable with your ability to share your knowledge with others then you may want to team up with a teacher or literacy worker and get a few ideas down on paper; keep it simple what you are looking for is a discussion paper, something to get people giving some serious thought to the idea of a literacy garden.
Share your idea with others, municipal politicians, church leaders, teachers,community centres, and food banks, for example; compile a list of possible organization and individuals who might be interested and send them your initial document.
Ask for feedback, review what you get and incorporate what is useful in a revised document.
The prime reason for putting your plan into words is to help you focus your thoughts into a concrete goal, one that you can readily share with anyone who may be interested in taking part in the development of a literacy garden.
When you decide to engage in this process be prepared to take criticism, consider it as a means to hone your plan and to enhance your ability to clearly sate what it is you are doing. Do not get angry or at least let your anger show, you are seeking allies not enemies, if someone is not interested than say thank you for your time and move on.
What you are doing when you share your plan with others is planting the seeds of an idea, further conversations will nourish those seeds but it will take time for them to germinate so be patient.
The starting of a literacy garden is not all that different than the beginning of acommunity garden, the steps are similar. You are looking to bring together people who are willing to grow their own food or flowers but who want to improve their ability to read first.
Learning how to garden and the act of gardening itself is a hands-on activity and the success of growing a tomato or a sunflower can nurture the confidence that people may require to learn how to read a newspaper. It all begins with taking the first small step, making a commitment with yourself to set out on the path that takes you to the garden.
Then you assess your resources; see what skills and tools you bring to the plan compare that with what you need and start the search for the people who can provide the project with what it needs.
Identify any gardening clubs, community centres and literacy programs that may already exist and start to plant the project’s seeds there.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Soil Daily: Sept 19, 2014

"Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? Not anymore, according to soil health experts—unless the apple comes from a tree grown in healthy, organic soil. According to Australian soil scient..." More, read the Soil Daily

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Grow Your Own Nutrition

All the nutrition our bodies require comes from the food we eat or at least the food we should be eating. I am referring to real food, fresh vegetables, fruits, grains as well as meats, fish and chicken. These foods to be healthy must be organic and to be fresh need to be grown or produced as close to your kitchen as possible.
Peas, for example, are a common and relatively easy vegetable to grow. According to Dr. Decuypere's Nutrient Charts~~ Vegetables Chart ~,
one cup of boiled peas with no salt added contains 8.58 grams of protein, 134 calories and 8.8 grams of fiber. Peas also contain calcium (43mg), iron (2.46 mg), zinc (1.9mg) as well as the vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, and others.
If you are not eating real food at all your meals each day you may need to use a nutritional supplement to make sure your brain and body get the vitamins and minerals, including the trace minerals, required each day. Trace minerals include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.
You can grow your own nutritional sources on your balcony, in your backyard or in a community garden plot. Chance are unless you have the time and space you will need to purchase a considerable amount of your food from another source. As best you can buy this food from a source that is as close to your home as possible. The closer the supplier is to yoru home the fresher the food will be.
Fresh vegetables, fruit, and beans for example are not excessively packed and labeled. When it comes to vegetables I make two recommendations, eat what is in season, it is usually cheaper and embrace root vegetables, beets, potatoes, carrots, turnips and parsnips to name some.
Ideally you want to purchase food that is both produced locally and produced organically. This way you are not consuming any artificial chemcails when you sit down to dinner.
In his book “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” Michael Pollan advises us to “Eat food, not too much and mostly plants.” This is sound advice. Food is our natural source of the nutrients we need.
If the food we buy at the grocery store is not providing us with what we need to eb healthy we need to do more than take supplements to make up for the food’s failing we need to grow as much of our own food as we can and we need to support those who are growing food in and near our cities towns and villages.
Food is life and to allow it to become degraded and do anything is a very dangerous course to follow.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Permaculture: A Brief Introduction

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 industrialagriculture 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 people
- taking responsibility for personal consumption and production and sharing the surplus.

Simply put, permaculture is a system design tool. It is a way of
  • 1. looking at a whole system or problem
  • 2. seeing connections between key elements (parts)
  • 3. observing how the parts relate,

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Garden Tale

I will tell you a story, a tale of how a child grew into a gardener. Our story begins some years back when the child was just learning how to walk. His parents love to spend time outside and the family enjoyed picnics, swimming and having fun under the sun.

Their backyard was a good size, at least, from the child's point of view. The boy's father showed the boy how to dig a compost pit and explained that compost provided the soil with good food and this helped the plants grow. Tomatoes were the father's favourite vegetable and he grew big beefsteak varieties. they made very good sandwiches.. to be continued.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Type 2 Diabetes

My interest in growing a wide variety of plants, including, at least some of the food, we eat has historical root. Both my parents enjoyed gardening. Mom preferred flowers, Dad grew tomatoes. 

My secondary interest in fresh, healthy food, and only food grown close to home, can be fresh, is related to the fact that  I have Type 2 diabetes. Fresh vegetables and herbs play a major role in m management plan. I will expand upon this relationship from time-to-time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Earn Some Cash from Your Vegetable Garden

This year we started a Sunday Market so we could sell the produce we grew nearby. It was a success and next year we will expand our garden and are encouraging others to considerr growing a bit for the Market.
You can earn some extra cash with a backyard plot and the willingness to do some gardening. There are a number of ways anyone who has some gardening skills, the desire to grow and some space can create their own market garden business.
You could specialize in herbs, salad green, gourmet vegetables or a number of different products.
You do not even need your own space to do, it is possible to negotiate the use of someone else’s property for your urban agricultural enterprise.
Let’s take this step by step. You will need to conduct a market study in order to determine what herbs, vegetables and small fruits (berries) are being sold in your location and who is selling them.
You want to know what the price of the various items is because you must be able to price your product competitively in order to capture a share of that market.
Second you may want to fill a niche, grow and sell something that is not being sold by others but before launching into that determine if there is a market.
You will have to determine how much time you can devote to the business: is it a hobby business that generates a few extra bucks each month and cuts the cost of growing yoru own food or its it your main source of income?

If you have your own backyard then assess the space in light of how much time you plan to spend growing, marketing, harvesting and delivering. Running your own business is more work than growing only for you and your family.

You may find that the growing is the easiest part of the process.

If you do not have a yard of your own, then give some thought to approaching, a friend, neighbour or family member and ask if you can sue their yard for your agricultural enterprise, offer them a portion of the food you grow in exchange for the use of their property. As your business grows you may even be able to pay them in cash.

You do not need a large space to grow for the market place, for example you could grow heritage cherry tomatoes, herbs and salad greens in containers and sell them at a weekend farmers’ market.

You may want to do a survey of the restaurants near you, especially the high end ones who may well be in the market for heritage varieties and a steady supply of fresh herbs in season.

You will need to talk with the head chef and that may not be easy so be sure to have a business card and take a sample of what you are selling along with you. The chef is looking for quality and may even make some suggestions as to crops but the chef is also looking for consistency. They want the product delivered when they need it. If you cannot guarantee this do not enter the restaurant business.

My first venture into the market garden business went fairly well because I started small; in fact, I only grew three kinds of basil. I had two small specialty grocery stores buy the herb and I sold potted plants from a store front that a friend let me use. It worked because my overhead was minimal.

That was the marketing plan phase and the business would have expanded if I had not moved.

I am not planning a similar venture, however, I am working on another concept.

Another way to approach this is to set up a community shared agriculture project. You solicit members to buy a share at the beginning of a season; for their purchase, they get a basket of whatever is available each week.

You can even give them the opportunity to get their hands dirty and help in the planting and harvesting. This shared experience gives you the money you need to get the seeds, etcetera; you need and guarantees them a fresh return. Of course they also share the risks should the season be a bad one.

I would get a few years of growing and selling in before I ventured into this territory.

Now and this you must do first, find out what the bylaws and zoning laws are where you live. You do not want to get a thriving enterprise set up only to find it contravenes local ordinances. Municipal officials may not be forgiving so a do it and say sorry later approach is not going to work.

To recap, how much time are you devoting to the urban agricultural enterprise; how much property do you have or have access to; who is your competition; what are you planning to sell, for what price and to whom?

Answer these questions and you are on the way to be an urban market gardener and by the way , if you do not know much about gardening, do not be discouraged, grow some of yoru own food this season and next and then take a look at going commercial.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall Bulb Planting

We will be planting daffodils, alliums and tulips in the Rotary Peace park this Saturday as part of the Fall park cleanup.

Not all the plants we plant this fall are actually bulbs, even if we refer to them as such. A true bulb is a fleshy bud sprouting roots from its bottom, and stems, flowers and foliage from its top or crown. Tulips, lilies and onions are bulbs.

Corms are comprised of fleshy tissue and have a bud at the top. Crocus and gladiolus are examples of corms.

Tubers (potatoes), rhizomes (bearded iris) and tap roots (lupins), for example, are planted similar to bulbs. Be sure to read the package the plant material comes in, so, you will know the proper planting depth. Remember pointy side up and all should be well.

As the garden season winds down, consider combining the bulb planting with an end-of-season cleanup. For example, getting rid of any debris, and adding mulch are two useful activities that can be done, just before you plant bulbs.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Garden Memories

My gardening experiences stretch back over several generations. The gardens of my youth were primarily tended my father, mother and her mother, my grandmother. I have vague memories spending hours in the back yard watching them and helping in my own way, tend to tomatoes, peonies, lilies, flags and more.
One vivid memory is of the snapdragons that grew in the crack along the driveway whiel another, is of the hollyhock, which inhabited the space between the houses and which came back many years later after the house next door had been torn down.
In later years as I entered, what is now known as the pre-teen years, I remember tomato sandwiches from fresh picked beefsteak tomatoes with lettuce provided by a neighbour. This was a late summer treat.
When I moved away from home in the late 1960s I wandered far from the garden physically, but now and then when I visited my parents, especially during the gardening season and sat in the backyard or lent a hand deadheading or harvesting, I was reconnected with the wonder and mystery that is a garden.
The magic that is alive on a mid-summer’s day when all is movement, light and sound stayed in the back of my consciousness until the mid-1980s, when I began to care for plants first hand, once again. True, they were houseplants, but a plant is a plant and while the process may be different a plant’s needs are the same no matter where it is growing.
When we moved to Thunder Bay, not only did I have a balcony garden and a garden plot in the backyard, but the furnished apartment came with a spider plant and a dracaena. These two plants soon had companions and at one point I had to remove a chair from the living room to make room for the collection. My wife is very understanding and a plant appreciator.
The gardening experience grew as I became part of a community garden project in Thunder Bay, going on to become the garden co-coordinator. Community gardens are a positive experience and do so much more than grow flowers, herbs and vegetables.
I also gave workshops tot he gardeners and otehrs on organic gardening and was a speaker at a number of community events.
When we moved from Thunder Bay, Ontario to Saint John NB, I was a member of a community garden, a large, well-organized and friendly palce. I made the arrangements via email before leaving Thunder Bay.
This year I have the opportunity to transform a double lot which is the backyard of the house we are currently renting into a food forest. Last summer I had a small raised bed garden on the property, but there is room for so much more. This is an exciting and enticing project. There are no community gardens here and I am talking with people about starting one.
My gardening experiences over the years have taught me much, mistakes yes I have made them and will continue to do so., for how else do we learn if not by doing and often we do not get it right the first time but need to keep on keeping on.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Potatoes Growing in Used Tires

This year we decide to experiment with potatoes. We had a surplus of seed potatoes and a number of sued tires on site, so we put them together to create tater towers. I checked on them the other day and they are doing fine, even though we were a bit late in the planting. Our plan is to give away the potatoes, on Saturday food swap days in the community garden.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Soil Daily, August 18, 2014

"- In her book The Soil Will Save Us, writer Kristin Ohlson interviews farmers, soil scientists, and agronomists and concludes that the low-cost, low-tech solution to climate change..."

The Soil Daily

Native Plants

There are two projects happening here in Campbellton that have me turning to the subject of native plants. When we are discussing native pl...