Monday, 23 March 2015

Edmonton Seedy Sunday 2015

My first Edmonton Seedy Sunday was a blast!

Alberta Avenue Community Hall was filled to the brim with people interested in growing plants or ready to spread to the word.

The hall had been divided into four areas: A free swap / community room, demonstration area in the lounge, a lecture room, and vendors in the main hall.  

Announcer-Flower-Fairy-Bell-Ringer -- Maryann of Goodnote Community Farm -- made sure everyone knew the schedule and what was coming up in the other rooms.

I spent most of my time in the community room speaking to friendly and helpful representatives of Pesticide Free Edmonton, Edmonton Horticultural Society, Front Yards in Bloom and many other groups.

And don't forget the seeds!

Edmonton Seedy Sunday volunteers, behind the long table covered with donated seed packets, helped us to chose among all the different flowers, tomatoes, beans and herbs available.  The selection kept growing as people dropped off more. Those with nothing to swap could also get seeds for a monetary donation.  

Neither Erica nor I picked up any of the "Mystery Squash", but did go adventurous with a few different kinds of heirloom tomatoes.

We took a walk around the vendor hall and filled any remaining seed-gaps.  All while, we were keeping an eye out on the time: The Native Bees of Alberta talk was at 3 p.m.

The speakers, Ashton Strum and Monica Kohler, are both U of A Masters students researching bees.  Their enthusiasm for the subject certainly shone through as they introduced the audience to different families of bees, their living arrangements (social, non-social), and ways to make the our yards bee havens.  

It was certainly a informative and fun time overall.  But, in my excitement, I may have picked up more seeds than I can handle... Anyone else like some seeds to start? 

Friday, 20 March 2015

A Sweet Endorsement!

Edmonton's Urban Bee Keeping Pilot Project has been a success!  The city is abuzz as the recommendation to expand the program has been given to city councillors.  Read more at MetroNews "Edmonton councillors to look at expanding backyard bees city-wide."

Monday, 16 March 2015


Niki Jabour's Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden, is available at EPL

The featured book is made up of 73 different edible garden plans -- each designed by a different garden writer / blogger / horticulturalist /... The collection covers a wide array of situations, interests, and themes (E.g. Chickens! Balcony only! The entire front yard! A biodynamic farm! Go Elizabethean!").

Each plan is introduced by Jabbour with information about the designer, background on the theme, and great gardening tips to complement.  Charming illustrations (3 different illustrators) give each plan life. 

Though plant lists are included, Jabbour's introduction stresses "grow what you like to eat" and that designers offered the lists only as suggestions (to be replace freely with things that fit your region, climate, and personal tastes).

Overall: A great jumping point to finding your next favourite garden writer / blogger / designer / ... This book is a sampler: packed full of inspiring ideas and information from general to niche, but as a result not everything is applicable.  I will definitely be coming back to this book because even plans not obviously achievable for a urban Edmonton home are still educational (design and ecology) fun reads.

  • Jabbour has done all the work in tracking down the best people to submit a garden design.  
  • Plan design principles and complementary gardening methods are included making the book educational -- more than just a "plant this here" map
  • Some powerhouse food producing plans and some more focused on style -- most fall in between
  • Adaptable, environmentally-conscious plans to fit many situations
Cons / Limitations:
  • The plans are fairly flexible, but does seem to be geared towards mid-range climates.   Edmontonians and other northerners will have to work harder to adapt the plans
  • Can be overwhelming as plans are not obviously grouped in anyway 
  • No photographs - which would be particularly helpful for some of the more abstract plans

Bee-Friendly: Working with nature is highly stressed in many of the plans and Jabbour uses organic methods.  Plans particularly focused on this include "Backyard Beekeepers' Garden" by Kenny Points, "Pollinator-Friendly Raised Bed" by Paul Zammit, "Wildlife-Friendly Garden" by Tammi Hartung, "Good Bug Garden" by Jessica Walliser

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Seeds, Stories, and Signs of Spring - March's Meeting

"I saw a bee!"  

With business out of the way, club members were happily chatting about just everything and Erica's first bee sighting of the year was exciting. But we knew the other signs of spring with the warm weather were going to be trouble - sprouting bulbs and budding shrubs would get damaged when the snow came back!  Someone suggested moving whatever snow was left to cover them up and maybe trick them into staying dormant a little longer.

Seeds were also on the mind:

  • Margaret told us about Seedy Saturday in Stony Plain on March 14th
  • Lori was experimenting with milkweed seeds and mentioned she read they needed cold stratification.  Margaret suggested planting them in a pot outside and letting nature do it.    
  • Erica had brought in some organic seed catalogues, including High Mowing which has organic seeds for edibles and flowers.  The consensus, however, was to wait until after Edmonton Seedy Sunday on the March 22nd to order.  

With a small prompt of "funny gardening stories" - a good portion of the night was spent laughing.  Stay tuned!  More will be put down in words and posted!

Lori: I got [compost] worms for Valentine's.
Janice: Nothing says love like worms. 
Margaret: They're red!  That's romantic.   

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Neonics in the News: 97% in Ontario Support Restrictions

Great news! 

"Ontario's proposal to restrict bee-killing pesticides received an overwhelmingly positive response from the public. Close to 50,000 comments were submitted during the official consultation on Ontario's pollinator health proposal last month. Approximately 97 per cent favoured government action to restrict the use and sale of neonicotinoid pesticides."  

They are now in the second consultation phase.  Complete article here

Continue the good work by visiting to send a message to provincial and federal ministers for Canada to ban neonics. 

Get both Canada and the provinces on board because they have different regulatory powers regarding pesticides and their use - read more about this here