Monthly Archives: July 2017

Urban harvesting

I just love love love seeing homes in the city growing food! I often see veggies growing in people’s yards, but I rarely see fruit.

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Yep, those are grapes growing along this front porch! How cool is that?!

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Peach tree in someone’s front yard.

If private homes need help harvesting their fruits or have more than they can handle, they can contact groups such as Not far from the tree who put the fruits to good use, sharing the harvest between the homeowner, volunteers and organizations in need. It’s win-win!

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A manifesto for gardening

Really diggin’ this manifesto for gardening.

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Mid-season garden in all its glory!


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Much ado about mulching

This year I feel like a proper gardener because I’ve mulched my plots for the first time during the growing season. Last fall I began the trend: adding manure at the end of the season and mulching with fallen leaves lying around my plot.

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Looks much better than having it bare all winter. The leaves will break down and add organic mater to the soil.

I scored a bale of straw from my plot neighbour who was replacing her straw border. I’ve used about half the bale already, between my community garden and my friend’s allotment.

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Bare plot at the beginning of the season with garlic and thyme bush (that looks dead) at the back and calendula next to the straw bale.

I think my plot looks really professional with the straw. One of my plot neighbours mulches with leaves he collects during the season. I’ve read that you can also use weeds as mulch, but you have to ensure they don’t have any seed heads, or you’d just be adding to the problem.

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Just imagine how bare this space would look without the straw mulch

Mulching has many benefits, the best (in my opinion) being weed control. My friend’s allotment plot has a huge weed problem. My brother and I have been pulling weeds but they inevitably return, especially with all the rain we’ve been having.

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Nicely mulched herb garden at the allotment

I’ve been hauling straw down by hand to manage the herb garden and the zucchini bed. Not sure I have enough for the tomato and pepper bed. I’m thinking I should save the straw for the my plot rather than the allotment (I’m not sure we’ll have it next year). Perhaps I could try weeds; there’s no end of them down there.

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Endless weeds. This space was in pretty good shape a few weeks ago but didn’t mulch it. Now it’s back to square one.

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Trap crops

Did I mention that radish was a good trap crop for flea beetles? Apparently aphids love them too. This is a photo from last year.

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Aphids covering radish seed pods. I’m pretty sure the white cottony stuff is a sign of mealy bugs which did become a problem in the garden last year.

I really liked this article on trap crops to control pests. It raised some great points, such as timing — the crops have to be in place to capture your pests. I’ve been thinking the same thing about timing companion plants — having them in place in time to attract the predators that feast on the pests.

What’s tough about trap crops is that they are just as delicious as the other veggies you’re trying to protect. Sigh!

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How do you start seeds?

Last year I decided to try coir after reading that it was a more environmentally friendly option than sphagnum peat moss, which is the base for store bought seed starting or potting mixes. The previous year I used leaf mould that I purchased, but this was expensive and a hassle to carry home.

I bought a coir brick at Bustan (and later found it at Home Hardware for cheaper). I was going to use this recipe, but decided to go for just plain coir after reading that this could also be done.

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Millenniumsoils is the Home Hardware brand. I used the Cocogrove I got at Bustan.

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Instructions are on the pack. Soak the brick in water until it dissolves.

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Squeeze out the excess water. Easy peasy.

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Basil seedlings in coir seed starting mix

Using the coir was OK. I can’t remember whether it retained water well or if it dried out easily, but I didn’t want to go through the extra step of dissolving it in water this year so I tried Schultz seed starting mix at Canadian Tire, which was about $6. I’m quite satisfied with it. I think I tried Promix seed starting mix in the past and it grew mould. No problems with the Schultz mix at all. I plan to use it going forward.

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Desert rose update

Two notes:

  • 100% germination (YES!!! I’m sure soaking the seeds for more than 12 hours made the difference)
  • Leaves are appearing!
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I gently lifted off some of the seed heads to reveal the leaves. You have to be careful with this or you could accidentally take off the leaves (I know from experience). Not sure why the one on the left is so pale. The leaves laying on the soil are from a string of bananas plant. Hoping it will make roots.



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Dumpster dive

For the past couple of years I’ve been saving cuttings from our office rubber tree (ficus elastica), rooting them, and giving them away as gifts. This year I had to dumpster dive for them (I couldn’t get to them before someone poured coffee all over the leaves, but that could easily be wiped off).

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Amaryllis taking centre stage while rubber tree cuttings try to make roots in the background. Just stick the cuttings in water and wait until they make roots before you stick them in well-draining soil. Don’t let the roots get too long or they might break as you try to transplant them.

I gave away 5 cuttings in April/May and kept one for myself. I watched over one for a friend as a house warming present so I was able to compare the progress of hers and mine. Hers took off right away. It’s only been recently that mine has started to make new leaves, even though they are both in the same environment.

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I was expecting a flower to come out of the red part. Happy to see it was a new leaf!

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And one became three, yay!!! This is one of my favorite plants, I’m glad to see that it’s growing.

Don’t knock dumpster diving. You can really get lucky. Even the shabbiest plant can sometimes be saved and give you or someone else great joy.

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