Today the world celebrates Earth Day 2009. There are many special events being hosted world wide as the world focuses on saving our planet. While Earth Day brings an immediate awareness to our planet's plight, living green is something each and everyone of us should strive for daily. There are so many things we can do daily that do make a difference not only on a personal level but as a small part in the big picture.
As gardeners we are stewards of the earth. We should strive to grow and maintain our gardens in an eco-friendly manner. That means growing and saving seeds from heirloom varieties, something that is becoming increasing important. It means using strictly organic methods for soil ammendment and pest control. It means growing enough for you immediate usage as well as enough to can or freeze to feed your family to the next season. It means collecting seeds for the next growing season. It means collecting rain water for watering your gardens. This takes the strain off of municipal water purification plants. It means composting year round. It also means sharing your knowledge with others. Be excited about gardening and let others know. The more you share the more you will be rewarded! All of these practices define eco-friendly gardening.
I strongly encourage everyone to grow a vegetable garden. Years ago this was known as a Victory Garden and these gardens served the same purpose as they can today. If you can't grow a garden in the traditional manner think outside the box. Very small areas can be rather productive using the square foot gardening method. You can grow in containers quite successfully and do look up as hanging baskets can be used for growing food as well. If you have no outdoor space at all which is common in city apartments and condos, look to growing food indoors both on windowsills and using energy efficient light supplementation. Low cost, low energy CFL light bulbs are now available for growing indoors. Whatever method or combination of methods you choose, take the plunge and get active in gardening! Your body will thank you in more than one ways and you can rest easy knowing you are helping the earth.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
March 26, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
March 25, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
March 22, 2009
I recently spent a couple of weeks at the home of oldest grandbaby so managed to get a few pictures of their garden visitors. Everyday a few Red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) would visit the feeders. Red-winged blackbirds are members of the passerine family. Males display the bright red wing band while the females are a rather nondescript dark brown. They are quite prevalent in southwestern Ontario and in fact many farmers and gardeners view them as being pest birds. It was rather interesting seeing them at feeders in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Red-winged blackbirds feed on both grain and insects so they can be beneficial to attract to home gardens providing you are not growing any grains. They can help keep insect populations in check. However, cash crop grain growers must discourage them in our area and usually this means sound deterrents that sound intermittently to scare off the grain feeders. I cannot say whether this method is affective as birds do become acclimatized to this type of thing. In home gardens the best bet is to use bird cloth to prevent red-winged blackbirds of stripping your grain crops.
In our general rural area we do have a lot of red-winged blackbirds but they seldom venture to our bird feeders. Surprisingly they don't even seem to bother the gardens but that could be due to them being well fed by the surround fields. I think they are a very pretty bird and they do have a rather pleasant song. So if you see these birds in your garden, welcome them. Protect any grain crops then enjoy their beauty.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Many are interested in putting in vegetable gardens this year partly as a way of keeping the ever rising food costs in check. At the same time herbs should be considered for a few reasons. Fresh herbs are a wonderful way to add a lot of flavour to dishes without a lot of cost. Second and most important is some herbs act as companion plants improving the growth of some vegetables or acting as natural insect control in the garden. I honestly feel no vegetable garden is complete without herbs! Here are a few tips for successfully growing herb:
- Herbs do best in full sun. I have had good success with herbs grown in partially shaded areas where the herbs receive full afternoon sun.
- Herbs will generally do well in poorer soils as long as the soil drains well. Wet or soggy soil is not a good choice for most herbs so use soil amendment if necessary.
- Herbs should be harvested when the foliage is dry and before they flower for best flavour, scent and colour.
- Remove any flower growth as they form to encourage leaf growth.
- Pick flowering herbs (eg. lavender, chives) when the buds are just starting to open. If picked too late seeds with have formed and will drop when dried.
- Herbs that are getting straggly should be cut back to encourage bushy new growth.
- Herbs are prolific. The more you cut the more they will produce. Start cutting as early as June and continue until the first frost.
- Herbs grown in containers will need more watering than those grown in the ground. Many herbs grown in containers can be brought indoors for the winter.