Tag Archives: organic gardening

the art of growing fruits, vegetables, plants, trees, flowers with soil & amendments derived from living things…kitchen fruit & vegetable waste, grass clippings, garden waste, leaves, branches, etc…

The Positive Effects of Gardening

For those of you who garden regularly, you probably already know many of the benefits to your health.  Studies have proven there are great benefits physically, spiritually and psychologically from just a couple hours a week of nature therapy.

Even just a few minutes a day in the garden or somewhere else in nature, whether you plants some bulbs, walk through a forest or walk through a park, your body and mind will thank you.  This effect is called “Nature Therapy” and the benefits are countless.

A generation ago, most families had a backyard garden area where they grew seasonal fruits and vegetables.  Often times, the children shared the responsibilities of weeding and harvesting the garden.  Sometimes the family would preserve or can the fruits of their garden labour to enjoy during the winter months.  This contributed to a healthy lifestyle, both physical and spiritually and saved money.   All members of the family enjoyed increased activity and vitality from the healthy foods they grew and consumed.

How the world has changed.  An article written  several years ago, questioned a group of young Toronto students (age 5 & 6) about where their food comes from.  Many were unaware that food is grown on farms.  Several students told the interviewer that the food comes from the grocery store.  Beyond that, they had no idea.

This is due in part to the transition of populations to live in cities rather than on farms and in smaller communities where there was still a connection to nature.  Today, most of us could grow some of our own food and contribute to a healthier lifestyle.  It is possible to grow practically anything in a pot…including fruit trees.  If you have a patio or balcony, you can grow a tomato plant or some strawberries.

For those of you who would like to learn more about “Nature Therapy” here is a link to clinical trials that have been done with outstanding beneficial results.  This link is updated regularly with new information from ongoing clinical trials.

Please do read:

https://policylab.us/resources/clinical-trials-on-the-positive-effects-of-gardening-and-experiencing-nature/

 

 

West Coast Gardens

One of the most beautiful places on the planet is the West Coast of Canada.  Living in a temperate rain forest can be challenging if you do not like rain.  But if you are a gardener you welcome the rainy seasons and so do your gardens.  Creating gardens with native plant species correlates to healthy plants and new ecosystems, not to mention beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy all year long.  Native plants have evolved to thrive in this climate, regardless of the season.  Keep your garden design low maintenance by incorporating native species and mulch your gardens to protect and feed their roots through all seasons.

Once your garden design is complete…sit back and enjoy for years to come.  The only left to do is divide your grasses and other perennials every 2 to 3 years.  You can pot the new plants and give away as gifts or start a new garden area to enjoy!

 

 

Garden Oasis

We have continued the work on the “Front Yard Oasis” this fall.  The design is coming together and it is even more stunning then the computer generated design.  We have continued excavation of the river bed.  What we originally thought would be 3 to 4 more yards of waste has become 9 to 10 yards of excavation.  Painstakingly done with shovels and wheel barrows.  The yard is very rocky so we have sifted through much of the waste to keep the larger rocks to incorporate back into the dry river bed we will be creating.

The garden bed areas are now all installed and filled with organic soil, peat moss, bone meal and blood meal…and are ready to plant.  A path way will be installed to run along the river bed to allow stepping access to the garden areas and to visually separate the patio from the river bed.  The path will consist of 3 inches of rainbow rock that has been purchased at “Hillside Stone & Garden” near Duncan BC.  We will be using low edging along the pathway that Beryl – our garden owner has purchased.  It will help to define the edges of the river bed and the pathway as well as the patio and will keep the decorative rock from mixing with the river bed.  We excavated the path down to approximately 3 1/2 inches to ensure the path will be slightly lower then the patio so the stone will not migrate onto the patio.

These are the original designs on paper.  In a future post I will post the original designs with the actual designs to show the evolution of creating a garden space and how similar and also how different it becomes.  There will be many areas that mirror the designs but also differences as there are always changes and challenges that come with such an undertaking.

Proper pollination of fruit trees and other fruit bearing plants

Recently, I took a phone call from a garden owner wanting some advice on how to insure his fruit trees would have a good pollination which correlates to a higher yield of fruit.  It is quite simple really.  He explained to me that his fruit trees are in an area of his property completely separate from his flower beds and flowering shrubs.  He has fenced in the area to keep deer and other plant eating rodents out and has struggled for two years with low fruit yields.  The trees themselves are quite healthy and growing well.  They just have not produced the amount of fruit he felt they should.

I explained to him, the past year of strange weather did not help.  Here on Vancouver Island we had a very late spring, many of the flowering trees and shrubs were 6 weeks behind because we had such a cold winter and a late one at that.  So when the pollinators (bees, ladybugs, butterflies,etc) have come to your garden and cannot find food, they move on.

Plants give off what is called “Pheromones” which are used for many things…one of which is communication among plants and with insects.  When the plant starts to flower and needs to be pollinated for sustainability, it releases its pheromones into the air to attract pollinators.  So to increase the pollination processes in your garden and off set things like cold winters, late bloomers, etc…choose companion plants to grow with or near your fruit trees that will increase your trees chances of getting a high pollination count.  Choosing flowers that bloom for long periods of time to overlap with the fruit trees helps encourage pollination.  Choose daffodils, garlic, lavender, rosemary, marigolds or heather.  They will not only attract the right pollinators to your garden but also deter pests with their strong odors and  help to keep your garden healthy for years to come.
Also…these choices are also deer resistant.  I have never seen deer eat these plants so it just might help to keep your plants from being eaten.

Happy Gardening…see you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂

 

 

Planting Reminder

We are fast approaching the end of garlic planting on Vancouver Island.  Ideally it is best planted during the month of October but can still be put in now.  Garlic is easy to grow and can be planted in pots, raised beds or direct into the ground.  Planting in a pot I would suggest using a pot with a depth of 8 to 10 inches to allow for plenty of root space.  Just place the separated cloves and plant approximately 3 inches in depth and 4 inches apart for best results.  Use only organically locally grown garlic as many of the grocery store varieties have been sprayed with chemicals.  Plant in organic soil and harvest next year.

Ladysmith Health Food store has an abundance of garlic for sale and very reasonably priced.  They are located on 1st Ave in downtown Ladysmith.

 

A front yard oasis

In an earlier post I showed the beginning of a new front garden design.  The work continues and here is the design on paper with the before pics and the concept design.

The patio will not be exactly as shown although she has chosen different hues of pink.

Transforming a Front Yard

We were hired by Beryl to transform her front yard in Ladysmith.  After several discussions we came up with an initial plan so I could design the area.  She wanted raised garden boxes in front of the house and smaller raised garden boxes on each side of her trellis.  There will be no grass in the front yard.  The grass is non-existent anyway, with only the weeds growing.  She wants a low maintenance design, with a large curving patio.  We incorporated a dry river bed to run along the perimeter of the patio.  This will add visual appeal as well as natural drainage from the yard.

The fence and arbor were installed last year.  The shrubs in front of the house had to come out and the garden boxes installed.

Then the yard had to be taken down in height.  In some areas it had to be taken down 14 inches so that it would be level.  This design is an ongoing project.  I will update with the design pics next.

Clean-up and Re-design of a patio garden space

In October last year, a lovely senior lady contacted me in regards to cleaning and re-designing her small patio garden.  She loves gardening but found she could not do the manual labour of weeding, digging and replanting some of her potted plants and some of the plants that were already in her garden.

Small garden spaces are a challenge and take some getting used to…not to mention they try your patience at the worst of times.  Such small spaces make for cramped quarters for the gardener and can cause cramped muscles, short fuses and damaged areas if not careful from miss-steps in the garden area itself.  After many many small garden projects for many garden owners (as well as my own small garden space) I have discovered that often times these small spaces can take as much time and sometimes more then a larger space, due to the confined quarters.  What I truly love is the final display of the garden owners design.  Sometimes, the design is left up to me and sometimes (most times) Mother Nature shows you how the garden should look…if we really open our visual telepathy we will see the plants characteristics…in terms of colour, size, growing patterns, leaf patterns and flowering times…then the design picture comes to light…such was this garden…it really just unfolded as I weeded and cleaned the area.

Eva is a lovely lady who waited since last October as it froze up before I could get to her garden and was kind and patient enough to wait for me to get to her re-design this spring.  A sincere thank you Eva for giving me the opportunity to beautify your outdoor space…it really was a pleasure for me and I am so very please that you are happy with the end result…hope you enjoy your patio all season long!  Cheers Eva !

Total length of time was 5 hours…which included weeding and mulching her front gardens as well, although I did not include before and after pics as I forgot to take them. Total cost to her was $175.00 which included the mulch costs.  The plants that were in pots she had me plant into the ground.  With the exception of her mint…because if you have ever grown mint you know how invasive it is.  In a small garden like Eva’s, the mint would have spread to every area of her garden by fall.  So we agreed that I should heal in the entire pot with the mint in it.  I dug the hole 3\4 the depth of the pot and placed the pot in the hole and filled in around it.  The pot will maintain the mint in the pot and not allow it to travel throughout the garden area.  It will go to seed and spread that way but it will be much slower and easier to manage…just by pulling out the seedlings as they sprout.

 

 

Creation of my Garden Labyrinth

The work continues on my Garden Labyrinth in my own yard as discussed in a couple of previous posts.  We have now built another garden box and I have started planting the first one.  I have added ever-bearing strawberries to the first box.  The strawberries are later to come to fruitation.  The harvest will begin late in July, about a month after the regular strawberry harvest starts.  Ever-bearing strawberries will produce until late in the year.  I have eaten strawberries as late as December.   I planted two rows and will now plant sunflowers in the back half of the bed.  The sunflowers will create a privacy back drop and will be a beautiful addition as they mature.  They will be facing East so they will get plenty of morning sun.  The sunflowers will also attract many bees and insects that will serve to pollinate everything I have growing in my gardens.  The strawberries were a gift from one of my garden owners who wanted to divide and had lots to give away.  They have weathered the winter a little worse for the wear but are already perking up.  I have tested my soil and it is a well balanced soil and does not need any enrichment.  The first two garden boxes built are 11.5 inches high by 4 feet wide x 8 ft long.  The newest garden box is built from pine 2 x 4’s and is 16 inches high by 4 feet wide x 7 feet long.  Four feet is the widest we will build them as anything wider will be hard to weed.  We have reinforced each box with a brace to ensure they do not bulge from the weight of the soil inside.

I also have regular bearing strawberries that I planted underneath my Japanese ornamental cherry tree so my grandchildren will have strawberries to eat for many months.

 

 

My Garden Labyrinth

In an earlier post, I uploaded a garden labyrinth design for my own back yard.  The challenge is to create privacy and grow all of my own food this year.  Each year I grow more of my own food and this year I would like to grow 100% of it organically.  I have purchased all organic seed.  This is important as seed that is not organic has residual chemicals which would be left in the soil.  I have purchased organic soil from Milan on Brenton-Page road-250-667-1029     https://www.facebook.com/highlineenvironmental/

The first two garden boxes took 2 yards of soil to fill.  Each box measures 4 foot x 8 foot and are 12 inches high.  I placed them parallel along the south side of my driveway with enough space between them to get a lawn mower or a wheel barrow between them.  This area of the yard is very wet due to the gray water from the laundry room being drained here, so it should be a perfect place for a growing medium.  I have added bone meal and blood meal to the boxes and worked it in.  I will test the soil today and see how high the nutrient level is and if anything more is required.   In a few days I will plant some early vegetables.  It is a busy season already so I will have to fit my garden time in after work as I did the last two nights.  When buying seeds it is important to verify they are organic non-GMO seeds.  West Coast seeds are offered for sale at almost every garden centre and many other retail outlets.  They also offer mail order for convenience.  They are high quality certified organic seeds and their website is a wealth of information on gardening.

Cheer!

See you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂