Archive for April 2008

city square update

Last week we planted our first square foot plot with the children at the daycare,
peas, lettuce, spinach, beets, radishes, kale, 2 kinds of orange carrots and one variety of purple carrots. PURPLE CARROTS?!?!? Yeah, that's what the kids said too. I can't wait to see their faces when they try them!

It was really fun to see them each taking turns, with eager hands and trying very hard to only grab one tiny carrot seed, and reach waaaaaaay over (about a 1'), to the little hole that it belongd in. Many had gardens at their homes, and everyone seemed really excited to garden.

Here is the finished result

Then, on Saturday, we had a delivery of worm castings, compost, and a soil mixture from Jacob at Transform Compost, which will help greatly to provide yummy nutrients for our plants. (in the future we will use our own compost too, made on site)
We mixed this in today, on areas that were not yet planted, digging in the leaves and weeding as we went. Here's Liz in action, working those gardener biceps!

There is a lot of space, now ready to go, waiting for the soil to warm up. Our tomatoes and tomatillos are big already in the greehouse, but they will have to wait -

We still had some baby greens to plant though - thanks Carole!

<-- Corine sending good vibes to our little friends

The garden is looking great, the ground is spongy, and ready.

Depending on the weather, we can plant hopefully plant the warm stuff in a few weeks. For now, we will gather again next Sunday, 10am in the garden!

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Blossoms and Shadows

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I took this photograph early one morning last week, just before we had a snow storm. Of course that snow was short lived; it’s just been too warm and windy for any moisture to hang around for long. Speaking of wind, I’ve had a tough time taking many successful photos this spring. I’m determined to upgrade my digital camera this year and am considering the new Nikon D60. Has anyone tried this out yet, or had experience with other mid-range Nikon digitals?

Yesterday I was at Colorado State University to team teach a class on sales techniques for landscape designers. The class was part of a course called “Professional Practices” that was developed by the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado in conjunction with the CSU faculty. The goal of the class series, which is taught by working landscape professionals, is to give students in the landscape design and construction program a “real life” look at the realities of business in their chosen profession. I love visiting with the students there---it always amazes and impresses me to see how much the program has improved since I was a student there (class of 1980!)

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Notes from last Sunday at City Square

A few musings through recent observations -

The City has been in to repair the sprinklers, and the lettuce seems to have survived without too much damage! Now if only we could figure out when they go off.....

Something (or someone?) has been eating the garlic tops! Squirrels? Raccoons? A mystery to be solved!

Most of the peas seem to have survived this crazy weather, but haven't grown much. The fava beans planted last fall, although sparse, have grown to about 8"! Also, some lost kale and romaine we must have planted last fall have also begun to grow.

The 'storage area' behind the bench has been cleaned, and after all season with that organic matter on it, looks to have arguably some of the best soil in the garden!

And lastly, the soil was prepared and a 4'x4' square foot frame laid out in preparation for planting with the daycare this Wednesday, April 23! We will have some kids planting and others weeding, while exploring the natural cycle of food. If you would like to volunteer, contact me at

We also look forward to the delivery of about 150 lbs of worm castings, which will help immensly to help build the soil!

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April Showers Bring SNOW?

Spring is acting pretty crazy here in Vancouver. Thursday we were busy at the rooftop getting our seedlings into containers. Than it snowed on Friday night! I checked the seedlings on Saturday and they seemed to have survived the snow and cold weather.

Baby Betsy Mae having a nap while the adults worked.

Ndonodji helping to clear sitting water off the roof.
Remember - sitting water becomes home to mosquitoes so be sure to clear out what you can!

Ilse taking a turn with Betsy Mae.

$1. 99 for a bunch of organic dandelion greens. Just another reason to love your local weeds!

Have a great week!

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First Impressions

First Impressions is the title of a new class that I’m presenting this week on Thursday, April 17th. The presentation will guide you through landscape solutions for developing basic curb appeal (i.e. I’m putting my house on the market, now what?) to creating the perfect setting for your dream home. Many of my recommendations are simple and inexpensive; others will require more of an investment in thought, money, and care. So if you are ready to take your front yard from “ow” to “WOW,” then join me at Echter’s Garden Center at 6:00pm on Thursday. It’s free!

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Crazy Crow

Can you see the crow perched in the top of the spruce (Picea pungens) tree? That crazy crow has spent the last three days sitting up there cawing his head off! As soon as another crow comes along he swoops down, chases it away then promptly returns to sit. And caw. Now, I know nothing about crow behavior or crow society, so I wonder: Is this crow protecting a former or choosing a new nest site? Is this crow calling for an old mate or looking for a new one? Is he claiming an entire territory visible from the tallest tree around? Whatever the problem is, I hope it gets resolved soon. CAW!

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We're planting the Roof Top Garden!

April 14, 2008
Tara is watering the newly planted seedlings at the SPEC Roof Top GardenWe rescued the little guys just in the nick of time before they dried out in this delicious but unseasonably sunny and warm weather. We have plenty more to do and need volunteer help on Thursday morning (17th) at 10:00 am. We also got ourselves ready to do our first container gardening workshop on Wednesday for a local preschool. It will be good practice for the bigger challenge of planting the City Square Garden with the nearby Day Care Centre which is coming up soon. Vicky will post that date on the blog in a few days. Get ready to come and help us move 200 pounds of worm castings at the City Square Garden on April 26th. Exact time will be posted closer to the date.

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Summer is in the air...

You can definitely smell summer in the air. I was on the SPEC rooftop today and it was great to see that insects were in abundance and the veggie transplants were doing okay. They REALLY need to be potted up. A must for this week!

Ilse and Carole tasting the veggie transplants.

South-facing view from SPEC rooftop at the corner of Maple and 6th street.

Vancouver is just bursting with spring flowers of all types.

On Thursday 13 April we potted up the tomato seeds that were started on 12 March and also sowed some other plants including :

We are busy planning a Square Foot Gardening workshop for 10 May. More info on this will be posted soon!

Vicky and Carole sowing seeds.

Enjoy the weather!

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This Bud's for You

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I wanted to show a whole collection of shrubs and trees ready to burst into bloom, but my little digital point-and-shoot camera just isn’t up to the task. So…enjoy this portrait of Mahonia repens (creeping Oregon grape holly). It will soon to burst into bright yellow flowers.

Spring seems to be lagging behind this year. At first I thought it was just psychological---the early switch to Daylight Savings Time was tricking me into thinking it was later in the season than it actually is. However, plants that are reliable March bloomers in my yard, like my apricot tree and cameo quince, are just now in bud and may take another week to actually bloom. So what gives? The winter weather was not unusual, and the spring weather seems pretty “normal” too.

Ah, the mysteries of mother nature.

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