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.

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...