Good-bye Port Royal Community Gardens. This would have been my fifth summer gardening with you, but life is taking me in a different direction.
I learned so much from the amazing people at PRCG. Thank-you so much to those that took the time to teach me about gardening on the west coast. The experience was incredibly positive and I am so happy that I lucked out on getting to know such a fantastic group of people.
Below are some pictures from the garden that I took at the last meeting. I have to admit, I was a little teary eyed as I wandered through the beds. A lot of hours have been spent there, digging and weeding and (best of all!) harvesting.
As a parting note, I must say that if you don't have garden space of your own (or if you simply don't have enough!), you should definitely look into community gardens in your area. They are a fantastic opportunity to meet fellow gardeners, learn new skills, and increase your yields.
Of course, there are challenges as well. There are the challenges of pests and disease that do have a tendency to spread from plot to plot and, as in my case, sometimes the gardens aren't located close enough to be truly convienient. However that doesn't mean that you won't find them a good fit for you! Be open minded and see what is available in your area. I know that I will carry my time at PRCG in my heart for the rest of my life. I am a better gardener (and a better person) for having spent time as a member of that garden.
We move to a significantly darker home in just under two months. In preparation I am sorting through my houseplants to figure out which ones will be coming with me to the new house. Some will be transitioning to my office, some to new homes, and some simply to plant heaven.
My current home is filled with light all day. Our kitchen faces east and south. Our living room faces south and west. We have lots of big windows so essentially right now I live in a green house My new home will be much darker. I have an east facing balcony off our bedroom, but no windows in my kitchen (only wall) so no morning light on the ground floor of our new home. We have a big patio door that faces west but there are a lot of trees (yay!) in our back yard/patio area, so not a lot of direct sunlight comes in. I believe we have a skylight in the dining room area but I can't remember how much light we get from it.
Fortunately I have a lot of plants that like indirect light. I should be able to get enough natural light for those guys. My full sun plants, like my aloe, my cacti, my jade, and mexican hats are probably going to feel a bit gloomy, though. If I have a window at work I might be able to move them there but, if not, I might have to look for some adoptive homes. For some of my more invasive plants (eg, my Mexican Hats) I might just send them to plant heaven.
It will be a challenge fitting all my green babies into a new home, but I am eager to try! Expect lots of pictures of my new environment to come this summer.
To be honest this blog will probably suffer a bit this summer. Not only will I not be gardening much but I will also be adjusting to working full time AND moving into a new place. I apologize in advance but please know that this will only be a temporary issue. I am excited to build a new garden in my new home and there will be much to write about then!
My pansies are suffering from powdery mildew right now. I have already lost two of my four plants. The last two are fairly healthy but definitely have some spots. Very, very sad about this as my garden is minimal this year and I liked having the pansies there to put some colour into the mix.
I am trying a home remedy to see if I can salvage my plants. I put a teaspoon of baking soda into a litre of water and sprayed the plants and soaked the surrounding soil. Hopefully this will clear the problem up! I found this suggestions (and other great hints) at this site.
Has anyone else had this problem? If so, what methods did you use to combat the fungus? Were they successful?
So unfortunately I think my treatment was too little too late. The mildew was too far gone. The plants were unable to recover.
I took them out today. Now my balcony just has some perennials that I will be moving to our new house and lots of planters with dirt (and a few weeds!). A little dreary, but c'est la vie. You learn from each loss, non?
This spring is very different for me. Ordinarily I would be tending seedlings and eagerly awaiting my community garden's spring work party.
This year I have no plans for planting.
Why not? After all, how can I consider myself a gardener if I am not planning on having a garden?
The anser is, we found a new home! It is in beautiful Burnaby, BC, in a heavily wooded area that is part of a nature conservation area. Our home has small garden plot in the front with morning sun and a larger garden plot in the back that gets partial afternoon sun. Between the two I should be able to grow a fairly successful home garden but that probably won't be happening this year. Our move in date is July, which cuts our growing season pretty much exactly in half.
I will probably grow a few things - tomatoes in planters that I will move with us and spinach and other quick growing items that I can direct seed in mid-July, but it certainly won't be the garden I was anticipating. This is the second year in a row that I'm not able to have the kind of garden I love (last year pregnancy was the obstacle) but I am hoping that all this downtime will enable me to grow as a gardener.
That was punnier than I intended
The way I see it, taking some time to reflect and plan is not a bad thing. I can look objectively at the new space I have to work with and see what kinds of plants it will be worthwhile to attempt next year. I can review previous successes and failures and apply those lessons to my new garden. It will be a fresh start - one that I am definitely excited about making!
The one thing I am sad about is that I will no longer be a part of the Port Royal Community Gardens. Meeting the other gardeners there and getting to be a part of such a vibrant and supportive community was one of the best experiences of my life. It changed me, as a gardener and as a person. PRCG is a special place, and any gardeners in New West looking for a space should get their names on the wait list ASAP!
So, here is to a brilliant growing year for all of you preparing to plant your crops in the next month or so - and to a successful season of reflection and research for me.
Happy Spring everyone!
Spring has sprung here on the west coast! The crocus are out, and the daffodils and tulips will be following close behind. It is the season of spring rains, cherry blossoms, and the odd, unexpected day of sunshine that reminds you that summer is just around the corner.
For those of you planning on growing a garden this year, you are probably in the midst of clearing out your beds and starting your seedlings. I, too, am feeling the itch to start preparing for the season ahead but unfortunately this year my garden is probably not going to happen.
As everything around me grows and blossoms I will be waiting (impatiently!) to move into my new home. That probably won't be happening until the summer, though, so my garden this year will have to be very limited.
I will be giving up my community garden plot and focusing instead on the growing space I will know have outside my front (and back!) doors. I am sad that I will be saying good bye to the beautiful space and wonderful people that I have come to know over the past three seasons; however the things I have learned and the experiences I shared I will carry with me forever.
Recently my husband and I have begun to search for a new home. Currently we have four people living in an 850 square foot condo and it is beginning to get a little squishy.
Of course, one of the things foremost on my mind is finding a new home that suits my plants. When we move we plan to stay there for the forseeable future so having a space to grow my plants is a necessity.
This means there are a few things I have to consider when looking at a property.
1. What direction is the home facing? For plants, south is best, north generally is less than ideal and east/west can vary.
2. Is there anything blocking my sunlight? Buildings, trees, a covered deck that prevents direct sunlight?
3. How big are the windows and how easy will it be to put plants in front of them (eg, are there windowsills, bay windows, etc)?
4. How much space, if any, is there outside? Is there a balcony? A garden space? How usable is that space? What kinds of things could I grow - veggies, herbs, flowers, or just shade plants?
5. Is the location conducive to me keeping my community garden or would I need to quit that once we move?
So many things to think about - and that is on top of the usual issues of number of bedrooms, size of the kitchen, and how much are property taxes and strata fees.
We aren't in a rush, but if that perfect place with that perfect garden appears soon we'll take it. Our growing family - both human and leafy - needs some room to spread out!
A nice way to ensure that you have fresh herbs for the winter months is to grow a small indoor herb garden.
This can be done in a sunny windowsill or with the aid of grow lights.
Many herbs grow well in pots - oregano, thyme, mint, sage, basil, dill, rosemary, and cilantro are a few that can spice up your winter cooking.
If you are growing with a grow light you can grow from seed, but I usually just buy starter plants from a local grocery store. There is a great little market a few blocks from my house that sell herb starters for $0.99. If this isn't an option for you, a local gardening store will probably carry herb starters year round.
The best part about herbs is that they are usuable right away. You don't need to wait for the plant to develop fully to start plucking off pieces to use in your recipes. In fact, most herbs grow better if kept pruned down, rather than left to grow in an unruly fashion.
This year I personally chose to grow thyme, rosemary, oregano, and sage in my windowsill. It has definitely added some zest to my pasta dishes!
Much like my summer garden, my winter planting this year is a very simple affair.
I cleaned out my garden plot and (as described in my previous entry) planted bulbs for spring.
On my deck I have added a few plants to dispel the grey of the dreary winter months. Just some kale and pansies to give me something to love until the long, sunny days of the next growing season arrive.
Above are pictures of my newly planted winter crop.
Want to put in some plants for the winter months? Below are some suggestions for things that will grow even in the coldest months here on the coast:
Kale (edible and ornamental)
Lettuce, swiss chard, spinach (if kept in a covered shelter with good drainage)
The rainy season has begun here in the "wet" coast, giving me time to both focus on my indoor plants and to prepare for the 2013 outdoor growing season.
It's cozy, tucked inside with my baby boy, fireplace crackling and bad crime drama playing on the TV. It is a day for reflection and preperation.
Next year's garden is already taking shape in my mind. I plan on putting in garlic this week, as well as adding some more tulip bulbs for a splash of Spring colour. Right now is the perfect time to start prepping your garden for spring growing - IF we can get a break from the rain.
There are a number of things that can be done this time of year to prep your garden for next year. I will be going into more detail in a later posting, but here's a quick overview of what you can be doing now to ensure a great harvest next year.
Ensuring that your garden is prepped and nutrient-rich for the next growing season is an important annual event to put in your gardening calendar.
And, after everything has been prepared in the garden plot, it will be time to turn my eyes inward to the houseplants that always get a little overlooked during the busy summer months.
Coming soon...more detailed info on prepping your garden and suggestions for how to show your houseplants some love.
My last entry made me realize that I didn't really answer a rather fundamental question about what to do with a sick plant - how do you know if your plant is sick? Or unhealthy, or in conditions that don't allow it to thrive?
How can your plant tell you that it is unhappy?
Obviously plants can't talk. They also don't have the option of body language like a dog or a cat, or even the ability to cry like a baby. The language of plants is far more subtle. However, by paying close attention to your leaf babies it is possible to interpret their messages with relative ease. Plants have a language of sorts. Like all living things they have predictable responses to situations that can tell you if what you are doing for them is helping or hurting them.
How can you learn to speak the language of plants?
Pay attention! Spend some time with your plants. I'm not suggesting taking them out for lunch or a stroll on the beach. Just spend a couple extra minutes when you water gauging your plant's health. I do talk to mine but that is optional.
What are you looking for, exactly?
Signs of health include new growth at the top (or ends of an ivy type plant) and green, lush, vibrant foliage.
Indicators of an unhealthy or unhappy plant are numerous. Different things indicate different problems, so once you have identified the problem you should look up the issue for your particular variety of plant to figure out what can be done to resolve the issue. Things to watch for include: yellowing leaves, loss of leaves, drooping foliage, browning of flowers, rotting roots, stagnation of growth, spots or discolouration of the plant, bugs living on the plant (on leaves, in the dirt, in flowers), or really anything that looks off, such as leggy growth or a washed out green colour in the leaves.
Being a plant whisperer takes time and patience to learn. For myself it has been a skill learned through much trial and error. The time spent has paid off, though, as is evident in my living room full of lush, happy plants.