{ Archive for the ‘garden resources’ Category }

It’s getting to be bulb planting time…

I’m not generally the type to pay a lot of attention to advertising, but I do have an admiration for a clever tagline or whimsical campaign. So when I first saw a Dig.Drop.Done magazine spot, it peaked my curiosity. A brightly colored home, with a vaugely Leave-it-to-Beaver mom at center, precariously icing a zillion-layer cake? And it’s for flower bulbs? I love bulbs. What is this?

I went and had a look at the website. It was started by a group of bulb companies to “promote the joy of bulb gardening and ensure its future in North America.” Much of it is aimed at the beginning gardener as opposed to the seasoned vetran, but some of the pop-up tips from the three “ladies” — mascots of bulb planting — were helpful to me though I’ve been planting bulbs for a good ten years.

Check out their “bulb-pedia” for planting and species info on a very respectable range of flowers; and the ladies’ videos if you’re up for a groan or two…

In search of local food

So I got an email last week about a shindig going on up in Edmonton (my old stomping grounds) this Friday — the Sturgeon County Bounty local food event. Local chefs will be presenting food sown and grown in the area. Sigh. Too bad I’m not in the area anymore.

One of the drawbacks to country living — and I’ll admit, there are a few — is being far away from all the fun events like this one. And Home and Garden shows. And Canada Blooms. And Hort shows in general.

But I digress.

As I wallowed in my lack of County Bounty attendance, a pang of guilt struck my heart. I remembered that up the road a little out of my way is a market garden I have never visited. I’ve driven past the sign for Room 2 Grow lots of times; but usually on my way up to Edmonchuck so I’ve never justified a stop. Why am I worried about local food in Edmonton when I’ve got local food right here that I’m ignoring?

A cayenne pepper growing in the greenhouse. Also here are tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet and hot peppers.

So I repented and made a trip up there today (a whole 20 km, my odometer tells me) and had a visit with Heather, who runs the place with her husband Norm. They have about 2 acres of berries, vegetables, and herbs with the rest of their 1/4 section dedicated to raising bulls. It’s a laid back, unassuming place, with gardens of strawberries hiding behind tree lines and potato patches snuggled up against pastureland. They sell eggs, chicken, and beef as well. Heather (who is also an award winning artist) seems preoccupied with all the weeds she hasn’t pulled, but says she would “rather have it messy than have it full of who knows what.” She hands me a strawberry right off the plant and I taste the result of their zero chemical approach: the unbelievable flavor locals, tourists, and three local restaurants keep coming back for.

One of the ladybugs Norman released in the greenhouse to snack on the aphids. The Dodds rely on biological approaches like these to tackle any gardening problems.

I left with a bag full of strawberries, a cucumber, and several of the tastiest, most gorgeous tomatoes I’ve ever had.

Heather also reminded me that I have two different weekly farmer’s markets within a half hour’s drive of my house.

Drawbacks to country living, my eye.

So your challenge this week is to discover what kind of food opportunities are hiding close to you. I’ll bet you a sweet little strawberry they’re closer than you think.

Here’s a sampling of local food resources from across the country. Try Googling “local food” and your city or province.

Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association

Greenbelt Guide (Ontario resources)

Eat Local Manitoba

Select Nova Scotia

My seed addiction

Hi, my name is April, and I’m a seedoholic.

I came to face the brutal reality of my situation after a trip into town last week.

We are in the middle of a bathroom renovation, and I put “vent for bath fan” on my shopping list, not realizing the danger I was putting myself in. I walked innocently into the hardware store and instantly the paint/grout fog of recent weeks melted away and the proverbial sunshine shone down upon me: the seed displays were up. Even more, soil mix and peat pots were on sale. My heart quickened. Before I knew what I was doing I had detoured from “heating and ventilation” and had a mitt-full of little bounty-promising packets.

A sane voice somewhere inside reminded me not to try too many new things all in the same season. It mentioned the catalogues waiting patiently at home for careful, measured appraisal. The voice pointed out the total lack of sunny counter space to place the mini-greenhouse I was carrying to the checkout.

The voice was right! I had stacks of cell packs in the shed and an already bulging box of seeds tucked away. Was I medicating my cabin fever? The drawn-out-reno blues? Was I simply willing February to hurry on up?

Whatever the reason, I still came home with three bags of assorted growing medium, the aforementioned greenhouse, a pack of peat pots, and, ahem… several seed packets.

On the way home, I mentally constructed a make shift shelf on which to put all my potential babies. I resolved to organize those seeds and have a proper look at my catalogues.

I also realized I’d have to come back into town sometime and pick up that fan vent.

Some of the less common seed companies I like (when I can avoid the impulse buys and choose carefully):

Bedrock Seed Bank – seeds for Alberta native plants. I met them at Edmonton’s Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market.

Richter’s – best for herbs according to most people I know who know. Seeds, plugs, extracts. Other plants as well.

Prairie Seeds – out of Saskatchewan. Heirloom and open-pollinated varieties, stuff that actually lives on the prairies.

Gardening gift of the day: New annuals and perennials for Canada

From Lone Pine Publishing, New Perennials for Canada (by Don Williamson) and its companion, New Annuals for Canada (by Rob Sproule), are a fantastic, and dare I say, essential resource for the seasoned gardener’s bookshelf. Jam-packed with information and gorgeous photographs, each book features a few hundred varieties of interesting plants.

Williamson “encourages readers to push the limits of the hardiness zones in their area, exploring microclimates in their own yards to further enhance the potential plants that can be grown.”

Sproule “emphasizes the selection of healthy plants and deals with gardeners’ most common questions.”

Price: $21.95 each
Available at: Order through the Lone Pine Publishing website or from Chapters Indigo

Gardening gift of the day: My Garden, A Five-Year Journal


When I first moved into my house, a couple of neighbours would point out certain plants, tell me their name, give me tips on how to care for them. While I managed to retain most of the information, sometimes I wish I had written it all down. Keeping a garden journal is a great way to chronicle your successes and failures, ideas and advice, all in one place.

This journal by seasoned gardener Mimi Luebbermann allows you to record all the nitty gritty, inspirational details about your garden throughout the four seasons. Quick tips serve as gentle reminders of what needs to be done, instructive how-tos help you do everything from choosing the right tool to picking the right plant, and handy checklists ensure no essential tasks are missed. There is also plenty of room to include sketches and ideas, and an expandable envelope at the back will hold plant tags and other loose bits of paper nicely.

Price: $24.95
Available at: Chronicle Books, Chapters Indigo and Amazon.ca

A new blog beginning

Even though our growing season can seem rather short, the Canadian Gardening team has gardening on the brain all year long. We are constantly writing, shooting and editing stories for both the magazine and the website that we hope will inspire you to plant and grow, whether it be a few pots of herbs on a windowsill or an ambitious perennial garden. That’s why we’ve got various editors from the magazine on board to bring you tips and advice for all abilities, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how those breathtaking pages of blooms are created.

Check here for a list of who you’ll start to see on our blog in the coming weeks!

20 years of covers

Canadian Gardening magazine is going to be celebrating its 20th anniversary with the upcoming April issue. This morning I was in art director José’s office with assistant art director Florence narrowing down my selection of favourite covers. (I’m going to be running a little poll on the site for readers to vote on the finalists once the new issue comes out!) It was quite difficult, but I finally chose six, including the one that’s in the works, which is GORGEOUS! What I found interesting about my picks is that four out of the six are April covers. I guess this speaks to my absolute love for springtime. I also tend to gravitate toward the closeups. Here is one of my April picks–from 2006! Have any covers stood out for you over the years?
april06-cover

Paint your garden black

Ok, don’t paint all of it black. But add some contrast this spring with something really interesting, a conversation piece. Plant something black. I came back from my holiday vacation to find Black Plants by Paul Bonnie on my desk. It was an interesting contrast to the white swirl of snowflakes that I could see out the office window. The featured plants are gorgeous and unexpected–a nice change from the usual botanical suspects gracing the nursery. Now they’re not all pitch-black per se, but some plants have black leaves or stripes on their petals or are deep shades of purple or burgundy. I’ve included a couple of examples below!

Black hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'Nigra')

Black hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'Nigra')

Large wild ginger (Asarum maximum)

Large wild ginger (Asarum maximum)

black-plants

Purchase Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden through Amazon.

Good-for-you spa-a-ah

Jocelyna Dubuc is a woman ahead of the curve. More than 30 years ago and long before it became fashionable, she began composting, practicing water and energy conservation, planting organic, pesticide-free gardens and observing many other eco-friendly practices at Spa Eastman. Located in the gorgeous Eastern Townships of Quebec, an easy drive from Montreal, this destination spa–dedicated to the pursuit of relaxation, fitness and a healthy lifestyle– was recently named “Best Affordable Spa” in the 6th annual Spa Finder.com readers’ choice awards.

Along with the six other journalists invited on our Girlfriend Getaway, I spent a tranquil 24 hours in this lovely place. There I enjoyed the delights of its 315 wooded acres, the wide array of delicious and wholesome food choices at mealtimes, locally sourced as much as possible (in the photo: rabbit and an array of veggies).

I love good food (um, perhaps just a tad too much), and can report there’s nothing miserly or holier-than-thou about the size of portions here. Organic wine is available as well.

At the spa, I was treated to lymphatic drainage as well as a demonstration of watsu underwater massage, which felt a bit like returning to the womb. (Guilty treat: I also plumped for a 1/2 hour numerology consultation–a first for me. And hey, my numbers are looking good!)

Several of us also went on a head-clearing anti-stress walk with Ms. Dubuc (she’s the one to my left in the white parka, above) and all of us attended two interesting symposia. The first was given by Edith Smeesters, a biologist who has been at the vanguard of the anti-pesticide movement in Quebec. The founder of Nature-Action Quebec and the Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (CAP), Ms. Smeesters led a workshop titled “One Step at a Time to Save the Planet,” a useful overview of the many simple ways we can all work together to make this a better and healthier world.

The second (and far less familiar to me as a topic) was aimed at helping people understand stress, emotions and health. Ilona Barbara Dowgiallo, who is on staff at Spa Eastman, earned a doctorate in physics and spent 15 years in a department of nuclear medicine specializing in cancer research before pursuing her interest in the role proper nutrition and the body’s energy circuits play in health. She has studied acupuncture and is a certified naturopath. What followed was an absorbing 1 1/2 hours, during which Dr. Dowgiallo outlined which emotions affect what parts of the body (for example, anger affects the liver and sadness affects the lungs, while anxiety affects the digestion and stomach), and put forward her support for natural healing by eating for your blood type, unblocking the body’s energy circuits, meditating, getting some sunshine daily to stimulate the pineal gland and using Bach Flower Remedies (devised in early 20th century England by Dr. Edward Bach) to help alleviate various problems.

Then again, as gardeners, we know all about the power of flowers, don’t we?

www.spa-eastman.com
“Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type” by Dr. Peter d’Adamo (also: www.dadamo.com)
Info on Bach Flower Remedies: www.bachcentre.com/centre/remedies.htm
More info on emotions and organs: www.shen-nong.com/eng/principles/bodyorgans.html

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