Author Archives: joyce

May & June Gardening Hints {courtesy of Rosemary}

May 2016

  1. Set out heat loving plants – such as Tomatoes, Peppers, Squash, and Aubergines (Eggplant) when night time temperatures are at least 10C. Because of our earlier growing season it should be safe to start bush beans and climbing beans now too.
  1. Plant bedding plants – Marigolds (which keep insects at bay when grown with veggies), Alyssum, Geraniums, Petunias and other flowering bedding plants are safe to plant now as well as most perennials. 
  1. Start bee friendly plants – Bee Balm, Cosmos, Lavender, Heather, Bachelor Buttons, Campanula and Borage all provide food for the bees. The space on the south side of the fence could be used for some of these plants, but please do not disturb existing patches of clover patches, tansy and borage.  This website provides a great overview of many bee-friendly plants by season, with great colour photos:  Feed The Bees
  1. Plant fruit – such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Use Rhododendron fertilizer for blueberries, as they are acid loving plants. 
  1. ‘Feed’ spring bulbs – with diluted fish fertilizer and remove the foliage as the plant dies down. You can remove bulbs if space is needed for new plants, and store them off-site until the fall. Just dig up the bulbs, put them in a box, cover lightly with soil and store them in a cool, dry place over the summer. Then they’ll be ready for planting in the fall, and to bring back some colour to your garden again in the spring! 
  1. Stop the spread of aphids – they can be hosed off plants with fine strong spray of water or removed by hand.

June 2016

  1. Continue to plant – most seeds and/or veggie transplants can be planted successively for continuous crops until the summer heat of late June, July & August is too much.
  1. Continue garden tending – regular weeding, removing morning glory, and clipping grass around your plot [including the North/street-side fence line, inside and out].
  1. Remember to fertilize – use diluted Fish Fertilizer during growing season following instructions on container.
  1. Prevent mildew problems – with plants like squash, zucchini, tomatoes and dahlias it’s a good practice to:
  • water from underneath
  • keep water off leaves if possible
  • water early in the morning rather than in the evening, so that leaves don’t become damp
  • try to keep good air circulation between plants (hard to do in our small spaces!)
  • always remove leaves affected by mildew and put them in the garbage, not the compost.

Here’s an example of powdery mildew on squash leaves:


powdery mildew


                         Organic Remedy for Mildew

  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda [sodium bicarbonate]
  • 3-4 drops vegetable oil
  • 3-4 drops liquid dish soap [not laundry detergent)
  • 1 liter of water
  • Dissolve baking soda in the water, add oil and soap, put in a spray bottle. Spray on plants early in the morning every one to two weeks throughout the season.  This remedy works well if applied in the early stages of mildew, or before an outbreak occurs.
  1. Enjoy playing in the dirt and tasting the fruits and vegetables of your labour 🙂

Pest Control Information

We were recently contacted by Regina Joseph who complimented us on the Gardening Resources section of our website – check it out if you haven’t already 🙂  An article she worked on for New York City Pest Control provides some good information on do-it-yourself methods to avoid insect damage to your garden, so we are sharing that link below.

Important Note:  Please do not use Diatomaceous earth (DE) powder in Maple Community Garden as it is too difficult to control where the powder goes, and DE will also kill bees.

DIY Garden Pest Control


City Purchases Arbutus Corridor from CP

On March 7, 2016 the City of Vancouver and CP Rail announced that they have come to an agreement on the Arbutus Corridor, and the City will purchase the railway route from CP for $55 million to create the “Arbutus Greenway”.  The deal represents 42 acres of open space, running about 9 kilometres from Milton Street at the south end, to 1st Avenue on the north end.

Despite the City of Vancouver buying the lands, Mayor Gregor Robertson says it will be status quo for gardens right now.  “What we are asking people to do is not encroach while the public planning process happens. There are about 350 plots along the Arbutus corridor that are legitimate. Those obviously remain. It is up to the community engagement to decide whether some more gardening space could be allocated somewhere along the corridor.” [CKNW News]

The City of Vancouver has posted further details, including the full press release and development plans for the Arbutus Greenway. If you’d like to receive updates from the City, you can subscribe here.

European Fire Ants fact sheet

European Fire Ants were discovered at VanDusen Garden a few years ago and some areas along the Arbutus corridor are already infested. These ants are aggressive and can deliver a painful sting when disturbed, though this rarely leads to allergic reaction needing medical treatment. They establish and spread colonies rapidly, and do not have obvious mounded nests, which makes them difficult to control.

European Fire Ants can be easily transferred through the movement of infested garden material. To help prevent the spread of these ants, avoid sharing soil, mulch or plants with others. As well, be sure to check newly purchased plants and soil before introducing them to your garden. 

Please take a moment to read this fact sheet produced by VanDusen Botanical Garden, Bloedel Conservatory and Vancouver Parks and Recreation which gives detailed information on how to identify and prevent further spread of European Fire Ants.

March Gardening Hints {courtesy of Rosemary}

a) Winter mulches: Remove in early March and compost them.  See Guidelines For Communal Composting to figure out which composter to use.

b) Garden beds: Prepare for planting. Ideally, lime and manure would have been added to the soil back in the Fall. However, you can also do it in the Spring by working in plenty of compost/mushroom manure/sea soil (one 20kg bag will support our smaller plots), then two weeks later dig in about 1 cup of Dolomite lime. The lime comes in a big bag so it could be shared by a Section or two. Avoid adding lime to areas where you might plant potatoes or blueberries.  Do not plant anything for at least one week after adding the lime, it needs a bit of time to settle into the soil. 

c) Organic fertilizer: Ideally, add to soil a few weeks before you sow seeds or plant seedlings. Maple Community Garden is an organic gardening area, and organic fertilizer contains many micro nutrients of value for plants which release slowly without washing away as fast as chemical fertilizers.

Recipe for Homemade Organic Fertilizer

1 part Blood meal          Nitrogen (N)  

2 parts Bone meal           Phosphorus (P)

1 part Kelp meal            Potassium (K) 

The above ingredients are found at most garden centres and feed stores, and this recipe provides an N-P-K ratio of approximately 4-5-4 to 5-8-5.  Nitrogen promotes vigorous growth, phosphorus improves flowering and root system growth, and potassium assists with fruit quality, root growth and reduction of disease.

d) Planters or pots: If you are using any in your garden, remove the first 4” of old soil and add Sea Soil or Soil Energizer to top up the planters.

e) Perennials: Lift and divide perennials, plant before too much growth starts.

f) Summer flowering plants and bulbs: In garden centres now, here’s a blooming guide for common plants:

bloom guide1 bloom guide2

g) Bush & cane fruit: Blueberries and raspberries will be in the stores soon for planting. Prune existing blueberries by removing any dead and crossing branches. Cut fall raspberry canes down to the ground, as well as old canes of summer bearing plants. Now is a good time to plan supports for raspberries : )

h) Vegetables: Plan rows going from North to South for the most sun exposure. Be sure that larger plants are at the North end of the plot to prevent shading of smaller plants, and shading plants in your neighbours’ gardens.  If you are interested in practicing companion planting to enhance natural pest control and productivity, here is a simple guide:

Beginning of March: Sow kale and parsley and start successive sowings of peas, spinach, radishes, and lettuces about every 2-3 weeks. Plant veggie seedlings as they become available in garden centres. Safer’s Slug Bait is a good organic choice if you find slugs damaging new shoots and bulbs.

Mid-March: Remove spring bulb flower heads as they mature and let the leaves die down naturally.  Sow sweet pea seeds.

Later in March: Once the danger of frost has passed,

  • plant Dahlias, Canna lilies and Gladiolas;
  • plant onion sets, turnips, and greens such as bok choy;
  • set out new strawberry plants and feed established plants with diluted fish fertilizer;
  • sow seeds of annual herbs (except basil, too early to plant yet); and
  • prune established herbs such as sage and thyme that have become leggy.

Fertilize garden plants, vegetables, flowers and herbs with diluted fish fertilizer throughout the growing season.  Fertilized blueberries, which are acid lovers, with a Rhododendron or Tree& Shrub fertilizer before buds break and after flowering according to label.

Seems like gardening chores are never done : ) Try to enjoy your garden too and watch as things push through the earth on their way to another great gardening season!

September/October Gardening Hints {courtesy of Rosemary}

from joyce 2015

from joyce 2015

1) A quick reminder that we still need to conserve water even if it rains. Please be sure to water by hand, using either a bucket or a hose with nozzle to control the amount of water you are using.  There has not been enough moisture to get us back to a normal water level after the extremely hot and dry summer that we’ve had.

2) This is the time of year to start thinking about bulbs for spring if you wish. Choose healthy, firm bulbs and store them in a cool, dry place until each type of bulb is ready to plant over the next couple months. Adding a small amount of bone meal in each hole when planting will help establish the root system and promote flowering.

3) It’s also a good time to harvest seeds from flowers in your gardens to save for next year. If you’re inspired, throw some over the North fence to help create a bit of a wildflower garden out there to improve the look of that side and provide more food for the bees too 🙂

4) Keep weeding and deadheading, and keep grass trimmed in and around your plot as usual.

5) Keep picking produce regularly, and also herbs for drying so you can have a little taste of summer later in the year!

6) When summer veggies and flowers are finished, remove the spent plants and compost healthy parts of the plants.

7) Please do not compost diseased leaves, shoots and plants. If disease-causing spores, fungus or viruses are present, they will survive in compost.  Please take a moment to review the information and photos about disease management to help keep all Maple Community Garden plots healthy

8) Divide perennials like peonies, asters, Goldsturm daisies and Autumn Joy sedums. Make sure you have 3-5 “eyes” on each division of the peony for a solid new plant.



9) Begin fall garden cleanup of your plot, and prepare the soil if you plan to grow fall and/or winter vegetables.

10) Set out transplants, seedlings of fall/winter vegetables like Spinach, Lettuce, Purple flowering Broccoli, Chard and Kale. Plant Garlic later in October. West Coast Seeds has a brochure that provides lots of good information on their website called Planting Guide for Fall & Winter Harvests

11) Amend your soil with Dolomite lime (1 cup for each of our small beds should do) and then one week later add mushroom manure or compost. Dig in some organic fertilizer as well (see recipe below) and you are ready to plant fall veggies. Most veggies will grow well with this addition of nutrients, other veggies like potatoes prefer acidic soil (more on this in the spring).

12) Maple Community Garden is an organic gardening area, and organic fertilizer contains many micronutrients of value for plants which release slowly without washing away as fast as chemical fertilizers.

Recipe for Homemade Organic Fertilizer

1 part Blood meal           Nitrogen (N)  

2 parts Bone meal           Phosphorus (P)

1 part Kelp meal              Potassium (K)

The above ingredients can be found at most garden centres and feed stores, and this recipe provides an N-P-K ratio of approximately 4-5-4 to 5-8-5.  Nitrogen promotes vigorous growth, phosphorus improves flowering and root system growth, and potassium assists with fruit quality, root growth and reduction of disease.

Encouraging Bees {courtesy of A. Jonker}

As you may know, bee populations have been under serious threat, due to habitat destruction, pesticide use and natural factors such as fungi infestations.  Maple Community Garden established a number of hives of honey bees a few years ago to help increase the populations in our gardening area.  These hives are managed by individual members acting as beekeepers responsible for the health and maintenance of the hives. There are also many ways that all garden members can improve and support populations of local bees.

While honeybee and bumblebee populations have been hard hit, other species, of which there are many, can be encouraged to populate and at least partly make up for the decline in numbers.  Of particular interest are the species known collectively as “Mason” bees.  They take their name from their habit of closing the door to their nest with a layer of mud, as a mason might do.  They vary greatly in size and may be unrecognizable as bees.  The good news is that, while they are efficient pollinators, they are not aggressive, do not normally bite, and do not swarm, being solitary bees that do not live in colonies.  Therefore, you can assist the cause of bee re-population without taking any personal risk!

There are a number of website links at the bottom of this article that include general information applying to all bees, as well as specific information for those interested in creating and managing a solitary bee habitat.   Here are some suggestions on how you can help create a better, bee-friendly environment.

Bee Bath



  • Place a plate of water at ground level, shallow enough to evaporate over the course of the day. This will help support bees, not mosquitoes.
  • Put a few dry rocks and/or flowers in the water for bees to land on, they cannot land on a water surface.
  • Placing the plate near infested plants will attract natural predatory insects, which will help reduce unwanted insects, such as aphids.

Bee Food



Bees can use pollen and nectar from a variety of wildflowers.  Early bloom, mid-season bloom and late bloom flowers will support them throughout the season.  The Maple Community Garden website has a list of bee-friendly plants by season at

  • Use native plants or heirloom varieties
  • Bright flowers are preferred (honeybees have very good color vision): blue, purple, violet, white and yellow.
  • Plant flowers of a single species in clumps about four feet in diameter instead of in scatterings so bees are more likely to find them.
  • Plant a variety of flower shapes as this will benefit a diversity of bees.
  • An interesting plant to consider for your bee friendly environment is Himalayan Honeysuckle. It doesn’t need full sunand has some stage of a flower over almost the entire year, so a constant rotation of pollinators go to it.

Habitat (Honeybees and Bumblebees)

Honeybees and bumblebees, being social, require a large productive area to support the colony.  Honeybee presence may be indicated by a visible hive, while bumblebee presence may be undetectable as they nest underground or in clumps of vegetation.  If you own a large property, or know others that do, such as farmers, encourage owners to leave the edges of fields, lawns or other productive areas empty, wild and undisturbed.  This will allow wildflowers to grow in abundance and nests to remain intact year after year.

Habitat (Mason and other solitary bees)

If you would like to experiment with supporting a local solitary bee population, and are not up for building a bee house yourself, you can buy a bee house from a supplier such as Wild Birds Unlimited on West Broadway. They sell manufactured bee houses and nests, as well as bee cocoons. You can also check with your local garden center.  Look for these products in December/January prior to the start of the season.  Mason bees are active in the spring [March-June], so your bee house/habitat needs to be in place by February-March.  Fall and winter management includes cleaning cocoons and cleaning the nests.  Mason bee cocoons are vulnerable to predators and parasites and must be stored correctly over the winter as well.

Before purchasing or making a homemade bee habitat, please review the sites below for general information on bees and also for additional information on creating and maintaining a successful solitary bee habitat.

Further Information:

The City of Vancouver

The David Suzuki Foundation

West Coast Seeds

Dr. Margriet Dogterom “Pollination with Mason Bees: A Gardener’s Guide to Managing Bees for Fruit Production”   [available at Indigo, Vancouver Public Library, or online]

Also by this author, Build A Bee Box:


July Garden Hints {courtesy of Rosemary}

from Rosemary 2015

from Rosemary 2015

  1. Watering is key to growing healthy plants and veggies in this heat!  Try to water in the mornings when it is cooler, slowly and deeply, which will cut down on need for watering frequently. Don’t water leaves of tomatoes or roses, always water these plants from the bottom close to the trunk.
  2. Add Mulch of straw or compost to the garden to conserve water.
  3. Harvest fruit and veggies frequently and pull weeds before they go to seed. Deadhead spent flowers, cutting close to the base of the stalk.
  4. Use bait to discourage slugs, especially on new plants. Safer’s has an organic bait now.
  5. Plant successive crops for continual harvest like peas, radish, carrots and beans.
  6. Sow seeds of cool season crops by mid-late July and keep watered. Some examples could be: lettuce, spinach and arugula.
  7. Fertilize June-bearing strawberry plants after you harvest, ever-bearing types should be fertilized halfway through the season. Half strength fish fertilizer is a good choice.
  8. Irises can be divided now.  Although daffodils and tulips have bulbs, irises have fleshy rhizomes. Just dig up the whole clump, break the rhizomes apart, trim the roots to about 4″, cut the leaves to a fan shape about 6” on top to make them easier to work with, and then replant in groups of three or more with the fleshy rhizome exposed to the light and roots below in the soil. Irises need the rhizome exposed to capture sunlight, like in the photo below:


CP to resume clearing Arbutus Corridor February 10, 2015

Excerpt from CP website:

“Arbutus Corridor upgrades, Vancouver

Update: February 6, 2015-  On January 20, 2015, a judgment of the BC Supreme Court dismissed the city’s application to prevent CP from operating along the Arbutus corridor and continuing its work. After taking time to evaluate the court’s decision, CP is resuming steps for reactivating the corridor for rail operations.

Letters informing residents that CP will resume brush cutting and removal of encroachments on February 10, 2015 should arrive in mailboxes as early as February 6, 2015.”

Scroll down to the section on British Columbia, which also includes a link to the CP Letter To Residents being distributed:


BC Supreme Court hearing continues

As of December 17, 2014 the BC Supreme Court hearing continues for the City of Vancouver’s civil claim with CP Rail.  The judge is expected to give his ruling in the case at a later date.

The Province:  December 17, 2014

The Province:  December 10, 2014

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