Thursday, 21 May 2015

Scarlet Lily Beetle Sighted!

Alas!  The Scarlet Lily Beetle is back to strike again!

At the May meeting, Audrey bemoaned the pests' damage to her lovely martagon lilies and Erica had to sing a requiem for her oriental hybrid.  They found these beasties to be fast, flipping and falling on the backs so their dark bellies blended with the dirt.  

Here's a reminder of what they look like and what to do from our article last year Pest Alert: Scarlet Lily Beetle
The Scarlet Lily Beetle has reared its black head (on bright red body) in Edmonton.
At last night's meeting, Margaret brought this to our attention and shared a pamphlet on this voracious pest. 
It's here in Edmonton, but hasn't been listed on The City of Edmonton's Pest Management - Insect Identification & Advice site.  The City of Calgary, however, has identified it as a common insect pest that is high risk.
Photos from the City of Calgary's site show it at different stage of its life cycle:

Adult lily beetle on lily flower.
Lily beetle larvae on underside of leaf. 
Lily beetle eggs on underside of leaf.

Wikipedia indicates there are no natural predators or parasites for the Scarlet Lily Beetle in North America.  Until pesticides that are also safe for bees and other insects are developed, crushing the beetle (at all stages) or hand-picking and drowning the adults are perhaps the best choice for population control. 
Stay vigilante and may your lilies bloom bright!

For more information and links to other resources visit The City of Calgary's "red lily beetle" siteLily Leaf Beetle Tracker, and Alberta Regional Lily Society.  

Monday, 18 May 2015

YEG Urban Beekeeping - Guidelines are here

Ready to keep bees?

Last month the City of Edmonton amended bylaws to allow for urban beekeeping.  The how-to on becoming an urban beekeeper have also been updated!  Below is an excerpt from The City of Edmonton's Urban Beekeeping page:

Steps to becoming an urban beekeeper

Step 1: Review the City's Beekeeping Guidelines
It is important to understand the commitment and responsibilities required to become a successful and safe beekeeper. The Urban Beekeeping Guidelines help residents understand the expectations that the City has for beekeepers. Interested beekeepers will also benefit from connecting with the beekeeping community and talking to existing beekeepers to learn more about what it takes to keep bees in the city.

Step 2: Register with Alberta's Premises Identification Program (PID)
As part of the Animal Health Act, owners of bees must have a premises identification account and premises identification number for the bees. This requirement is a part of a traceability system designed to address potential threats of disease outbreaks that could affect animal health, public health and food safety.

Step 3: Register with the Provincial Apiculturist
As a part of the Bee Act and Regulation, beekeepers must register with the Provincial Apiculturist every year by June 30.

Step 4: Apply for a beekeeping license
Using the online request form, apply for a license with the City. Be prepared to provide information about your beekeeping site, your training and your mentor if you are a first time beekeeper.
Turns out, our friendly neighbourhood permaculturalist and beekeeper, Dustin Bajer, also hand makes hives. Full details at in this Metro article.

With all the bylaw information now released: Are you considering keeping urban bees?  

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Weeds and Wine - May's Meeting

"Patches is going to think she's gone to heaven!"

Club members set to work on the community garden at this month's meeting and produced garbage bags full of dandelions: Patches (Marie's bunny rabbit), enjoy!  There are more where those came from!  

It was a mild night, perfect for spending outside.

We delighted in the ladybugs.  We weeded and discussed the potentials for making dandelion wine and urban honey mead...  

After a little over an hour, the garden was looking much improved and we went into the community centre to have our meeting.

One small point of scare: What of the wine?! 

No problem: There was no formal supply run, but members had individually brought snacks.  We had a feast of cheese, crackers, and three bottles of Shiraz!

One hour wasn't enough to consider all club business, what club members have been up to, and to talk gardening... so we stayed for another half.

We have some exciting things coming down the line and information to share.  Stay tuned! 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Protect the Pollinators Tour - Notes and Petitions

Back on 24-March, member Audrey braved the snow to attend the Protect the Pollinators talk hosted by the Sierra Club Canada Foundation at Kings College.
There she found from Pesticide-Free Edmonton that Edmonton is still using Dursban 2.5 G -- a neuro-toxin pesticide which Winnipeg has banned -- for killing mosquitoes.

The Edmonton Journal has reported on this outlining concerns in this April-2015 article

Click here to sign the online petition to the City of Edmonton to Discontinue the use of Dursban and all other forms of chlorpyrifos for killing mosquitoes.

The talk also featured John Bennett (National Program Director of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation), and Paul McKay (author of The Kepler Code), speaking on the threat of neonics and the importance of healthy pollinator populations.

Click here to download the handout "Five Reasons We Support Restrictions on Neonics".

Click here to send a message to the federal and provincial governments to ban the use of neonics (via the David Suzuki Foundation).

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

2015-06-12: Permaculture Design: An Approach To Vibrant Communities

Permaculture and vibrant communities - another chance to make the connections - free!  See below:

Urban Systems is kicking off the third year of the Vibrant Communities Speaker Series with Takota Coen.  Check out the website for more information on the VCSS and past events!

When: Tuesday, June 2 from 7:00pm-8:30pm (doors at 6:30pm)
Where: Yellowhead Brewery, 10229 105 Street
This is a Free Event but please RSVP

Clean water, nutrient dense food, shelter and medicine are the building blocks for vibrant community no matter where you live on planet earth. However, most of the ways we supply our basic needs come at the cost of someone else’s or the earth itself.

In this thought provoking evening with Takota Coen of Deep Roots Design and Grass Roots Family Farm we will explore how permaculture design can address our fundamental needs in a way that is regenerative for the planet. Takota will provide practical examples of how families everywhere can use the principles and design methodologies of permaculture to ensure productive backyards and farms that strengthen our local food systems and restore the environment.

Using Grass Roots Family Farm as a case study, Takota will illustrate how to design functional relationships between various elements like forest gardens, chickens, annual crops, honeybees and even elements that would only be seen on larger acreages like a dairy cow, pasture pigs, beef cattle and water harvesting earthworks. This edition of the Vibrant Communities Speaker Series will also explore our Western society’s relationship to the natural world and how Takota believes it can be transformed through the ethical use of permaculture design, education, food, and celebration. Vibrant communities can exist. But only if we design them to succeed!

RSVP (through Eventbrite)

Friday, 8 May 2015

2015-05 29-30 That Bloomin' Garden Show and Art Sale

Mark your calendars!  That Bloomin' Garden Show and Art Sale is back for another year.  Look forward to Saturday, 30-May 2015 for an activity filled day at Alberta Avenue Community Centre (9210 118 Avenue NW) featuring :

- Various Gardening groups and vendors
- Artisans and art gallery
- A Perennial & seed swap
- A Book & magazine exchange
- Compost sale
- Live musical performances
- Family friendly games

The second annual Rubber Boots & Bow Tie Garden Party is on the night before (Friday, 29-May, 2015).

More information about both events at

Monday, 4 May 2015

Highlights: Think "Bee Friendly"

The Highlands Garden Club is again in the Highlights Community Magazine.  The May-2015 edition hit post boxes this past weekend, including with it the Club's message to ask before buying plants (Are they bee friendly?), along with educating readers about neonicotinnoids (neonics) pesticides. 

Help spread the word!  Pass along, Deb's article and Think "Bee Friendly"

Additional resources:

Think "Bee Friendly"

Debbie Petit, Highlands Garden Club

The Highlands Garden Club was formed in 1989.  Some members have had a garden for many years and some are new at it.  We have all have a love for perennials.  These are the purest and most trustworthy plant.  We know there is nothing in these plants to harm our bees, but the same can't be said for annuals. 

The club's theme this year is "Bee Friendly."  We have been gathering information on neonicotinoids (neonics), a bee-killing insecticides that has been linked to the global decline of bee populations.  Neonics are grown in the plant from seed, and cannot be washed off.  Neonics cause bees to become confused and unable to communicate; they die an awful death.

Now that it's May, please pay attention to what you feed the bees.  There is nasty stuff in those pretty annuals you buy at the big box stores.  Ask questions.  If staff do no know if a plant is bee friendly, go to your local greenhouse.  It makes sense to buy from a greenhouse, rather than somewhere you can buy lumber, tires, or clothing.  

The Highlands Garden Club met with Rob Sproule from Salisbury Greenhouse, he says if you must use a pesticide do not spray when trees and shrubs are in bloom.  If some bugs become too much a pest, be patient.  Predators will come.  Also, while many see dandelions as a nuisance, they are very important as they are the first flower of the season for bees to feast upon. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Easter Lily Rescue

Potted Easter Lilies have wilted and faded, and may have ended (pot and all) next to the garbage bin. It's a sad sight -- but you can come to its rescue!  

Photo by Wadester16
Easter Lilies are but Lilium longiflorum (a summer blooming lily originating from Japan) forced to flower in spring for Easter festivities.  The plant is sometimes ranked as only USDA zone 7*, but club member Deb confirmed last meeting they've been growing strong in her garden.  No need to dig out the bulbs to overwinter indoors: she mulches them heavily, has them in a sunny spot, and they return year after year!

So, what do you have to lose**?  The next time you have an Easter Lily past its prime or see one waiting for the binman: Rescue it! 

Here are some online resources to help you do just that:
Do you have Easter Lilies in your garden? 

* But also listed as zone 4 on
** Caution: Easter Lilies are poisonous to cats