Did you know Maple Community Gardens is home to a bunch of plots managed to grow food to donate to soup kitchens in Vancouver? All this good karma is making for prolific spring growing. Last week Kate and Rosemary did a food drop, and this week the section 7 soup kitchen plot was so full of food we had to do another trip! Yesterday we delivered 5 plastic bags bursting with kale and chard. Thanks to Sarah for her help watering the plot and Dana for doing yesterday’s food run to the Union Gospel Mission. Let’s keep this going!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Plant fruit – such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Use Rhododendron fertilizer for blueberries, as they are acid loving plants.
- ‘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!
- Stop the spread of aphids – they can be hosed off plants with fine strong spray of water or removed by hand.
- 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.
- Continue garden tending – regular weeding, removing morning glory, and clipping grass around your plot [including the North/street-side fence line, inside and out].
- Remember to fertilize – use diluted Fish Fertilizer during growing season following instructions on container.
- 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:
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.
- Enjoy playing in the dirt and tasting the fruits and vegetables of your labour 🙂
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.
I will provide clay and top soil.
What you need to bring:
- seeds —ideally bee and butterfly loving plants like wild flowers, herbs that will flower, poppies and other flowers to pretty up the corridor beside our gardens
- a flat container to take your balls home in, eg tupperware bin, cookie tray, cardboard shoe box
It is best if the balls air dry for 24-48 hours before you throw them. If the balls dry quickly we might be able to get together that Sunday and huck them as a group. That would be a super fun and chaotic, no? Just please don’t let your kid lob seed bombs into people’s gardening plots!
Flory is a night fairy. When a bat mistakenly bites off her wings she falls into a human garden, makes her home in an abandoned wooden bird house, and re-births herself as a day fairy. No bigger than an acorn, she learns to live with the birds and squirrels, fashions herself dresses of flower petals and learns to feed herself by collecting seeds and fruit she finds in the garden. The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz is a lovely story of a strong-willed and brave little garden fairy. It has become one of our favourite books.
Inspired by her story, today we built homes for fairies in the children’s garden—only two little houses today, but it’s just the beginning of spring. There is plenty of room in the community garden for you to join us in building fairy habitats. As you can see, one of the homes has already attracted a friendly miniature giraffe.
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 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.
Hurray! It’s spring in the children’s garden. The tulips we planted last fall are poking out of the soil. Yesterday we thinned the carrot patch and Talulah pronounced the small carrots delicious. The chives and kale are tasting yummy too.
Big news: Talulah, Charlotte and Amanda built a beautiful mosaic path out of found pieces of tile and brick. It was their own creation—they developed the whole project in one day without adult help. The children’s garden is a big square and so the mosaic path will allow the kids to garden and play without as much small plant squashing. So far one side of the path is veggies: kale, carrots and snap peas; the other side is flowers and herbs.
This year the children will caring for a soup kitchen garden. This is a great opportunity for the kids to be involved in community service, growing food to donate to someone who really needs the vegetables. Hopefully this will be lots of fun as well. Next week we will be digging to amend the soil and then start planting food. We will hopefully have a kids work party within the next two weeks to dig and plant in the soup kitchen plot.
We look forward to seeing you in the garden. Connect with Krista to join children’s garden activities. Happy planting.
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:
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!
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 http://maplecommunitygarden.ca/gardening-resources/disease-management/
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.