Hello and happy Friday! This reading week has come and gone so quickly, and I can’t believe it’s already the end of February, but things are starting to grow all around the city and spring is very nearly here!
Even though this was reading week, it was still a busy week in the garden. Every new season brings new preparations to be done and new challenges to face, and spring is no different! The weather has been back and forth, teasing springtime and then bringing us back into winter, so a big challenge this month has been in getting our timing right. This week, Jack was busy planting spinach, radishes, carrots, parsnips, mustard, arugula, parsley, AND cilantro! To help make sure the things we’ve started planting will make it through the indecisive weather, Kate organized building some cold frames this week. Cold frames are bottomless boxes that are placed over plants in the garden to protect them from colder temperatures, kind of like a mini greenhouse. We made ours using scrap wood and sheets of plastic that we had around!
Another seasonal preparation task that happened this week was pruning! Lyndsay and Anuinder spent a lot of time in the food forest, pruning our currant, blueberry, and goumi berry plants! Pruning is an important seasonal task; it helps keep our plants happy and healthy, increases their fruit production, and overall ensures long-term thriving of the food forest!
There were also a couple of events this week, both of which happened today, actually! First up was the Special Collections Garden Tour, which was a real treat! Heather from the McPherson Library’s Special Collections organized a mini-tour of garden-related items from the library archives. There were posters, zines, and lots and lots of books! We learned about native plants, the development of UVic, the history of food growing in Victoria, and so much more. We are definitely interested in doing another tour in the future, so keep an eye out if you missed this!
The other event today was our work party! The focus of today's work party was spring cleaning, involving a variety of tasks to help the garden prepare for springtime. The main task was cleaning up the pathway to the garden!
I hope you all enjoyed your reading week, and have a wonderful weekend :)
Hi everyone, my name is Jessi and I’m the CCG’s new Outreach Coordinator. Before joining as a staff member, I was involved with the garden through the board of directors, and I’m really excited to keep growing with you all :)
This was a busy week at the CCG, spring is in the air and we’re hard at work getting ready for a bountiful growing season! Almost all of our plots are rented out, and we expect to have a full garden over the summer. Our new seeds arrived this week, and they’ve started going into the staff-run plots. We also wanted to give a reminder that staff are available to help new plot renters with scaffolding and getting set up in the garden - send us a message or chat with us in person if you’re looking for gardening support!
Another exciting thing that happened this week was the UVic Gender Empowerment Centre’s SEXPO 2024! This four-day event featured panels, workshops, art, vendors, community resources, and entertainment centered around informed and empowered sexual wellness and expression. The CCG had a table at SEXPO on Wednesday and Thursday, and we brought a button-maker with us! We had so much fun chatting with everyone, and making saucy button collages out of old gardening magazines we discovered in the office! Check out these photos of some silly buttons made by pals of the garden :)
The CCG also partnered with the Victoria Compost Education Centre to put on the first of two workshops today! For this first workshop, Kayla from Compost Ed came to the SUB to teach us about yard-free composting, and will be returning for part two, which focuses on container gardening, on March 16th! The Victoria Compost Education Centre is a wonderful organization and we’re so excited to learn from them and incorporate their teachings into our practices, both in the garden and at our own homes. If you want to learn more, you can check out the Victoria Compost Eduation Centre’s website here!
Looking forward, we have some really exciting projects in the works! During reading week (which is next week! wow time flies!) UVic Libraries’ Special Collections is putting on a Garden Tour, showcasing historic garden-related items kept in the library archives! This special tour will take place on Friday, February 23rd at noon, meeting in the Special Collections reading room (bottom floor of McPherson Library, at the back). The CCG has changed a lot over the years, and we’re really looking forward to taking a look through the history with all of you!
We’re also excited to be launching a new project, our brand-new campus community garden journal, SUNDEW! The journal is named after Sundew, a funky carnivorous plant of which there are a couple species native to BC and living on Vancouver Island. These little guys thrive in wetlands like marshes and bogs, and are easily overlooked as part of the landscape. Sundew the journal aims to shed the light on something small making a big impact, finding inspiration in the garden’s humble beginnings as a community garden started in 1996 by a group of hard-working volunteers. Submissions are open now, and we’re accepting a whole lot of everything! This is a journal for everyone, so please feel free to submit whatever speaks to you - we’re really looking forward to putting it together! For details on submitting and some loose guidelines, click here. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to us on instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s all the news I have for today! Check back next week for another weekly recap, and follow us on Instagram to stay in the loop about all things CCG.
Over the summer we have been compiling some of our gardening advice into short videos on our YouTube Channel! Check this video out on how to plant a Zucchini plant. More videos to come...
Pruning Workshop Notes:
February 8th, 2020
At the garden, our apple tree has been pruned using the open centered technique. Other techniques include espalier pruning that has your tree growing on one plain. Last year our tree had a hard pruning, for deciduous trees, keep in mind that the harder you prune, the harder the tree will respond (or come back).
Unless hard pruning, on a normal year, you should take no more than 25-30% of the whole tree. Having said that, you should remove all dead, diseased and damaged branches.
How do you know what to prune? The goal is to take the tree back by ⅓, keeping a balance of new and old growth and fruiting and not fruiting branches.
What about Fig Trees? Watch this cool video by Bob Dunan for tips and tricks!
Beeswax Wraps: the newest trend in the zero waste movement. But what's the big deal? They are expensive and what can you even use them for? They are a great replacement for ziploc bags, saran wrap and much more. You can use them to store food, transport soap and toothbrushes or to deliver cookies to a loved one. Fun fact: it's actually better for your food to be stored in a beeswax wrap because they are breathable and prevent the formation of condensation! And as for the expense, you can actually make them yourself. Here's how:
- Pine rosin to add to the durability of the wrap and it's adhesive properties
- Jojoba oil for its anti-microbial properties and keeps the coating soft and pliable
- Cloth! you can use any cotton material from old bed sheets to fun fabric from a store
To make 6 9"x 9" wraps, you will need 100g beeswax, 20g rosin, 3tsp jojoba oil.
1. Melt the beeswax in a double boiler set up, you can use an old aluminum can if you don't want to go through having to cleaning out the pot (the beeswax can be messy!)
2. Crush the pine rosin in to small ish pieces and added it to the melted beeswax, keep over heat to melt the rosin / keep the mixture melted.
3. Add in the jojoba oil!
4. Cover your work surface with aluminum foil and lay your fabric down on top.
5. With a chunky paint brush, paint one side of the fabric, making sure that it is completely covered in wax but that there isn't too much excess.
6. Heat your oven to 100*C or the lowest oven setting and bake the wrap for 5 minutes with the painted side facing up (remember to put the wrap on a cookie tray that has been lined with aluminum foil) .
7. If after 5 minutes the wrap is dark, looks wet and the wax has soaked through to the other side of the wrap completely then you are done! If not, you can chuck it back in the oven for another 3 min.
8. Hang the wrap to set!
9. If you have left over wax mixture, it will solidify and can be stored as is, to be melted down again and used at a later date!
Some additional notes and maintenance:
DO NOT wrap meat with your new pal.
Wash them in cold water, using hot water will make the wax melt off. If it does start to lose it's stick you can place it in the oven again or add a bit more of the wax mixture for a wrap revamp!
Once your pal is completely exhausted of use, don't fret! They can be composted :)
Enjoy your new adventure in to the world of beeswax wraps, and keep your eyes peeled for another workshop hosted by the garden on this topic!
There are many different ways in which a plant can pollinate:
Blueberries are called buzz pollinated crops. They need a bee to do high frequency buzzing to release the pollen from the anthers.
In the central valley of california in late march, 70% of the world's almonds are in bloom and produced. 1.7 million honeybee colonies (most of the ones in the US) are trucked in to california to help pollinate these crops. As the honeybee has issues, so do the almond crops.
Squash have both male and female flowers and the pollen needs to travel between these two flowers in order for the plant to produce.
Any monocots/grasses do not need pollinators as they are wind pollinated.
Chocolate is pollinated by the tiny midge fly. Since midge flies like to be in the rainforest, only 2-3% of the flowers on the cocoa trees are pollinated.
Importance of Animal Pollination
Habitat Loss, Insecticides and Parasites and Diseases negatively affect both the native bees and the honeybees.
How to Save the Bees?
Bee Life Cycle
Why garden for Pollinators?
The species of milkweed native to western North America! It has evolved alongside our Monarch butterflies and is part of a crucial stage in their life cycle. This perennial plant is a self-fertile hermaphroditic plant that is in flower from June to August and has seeds that ripen in September. It is pollinated by Bees and insects. The milkweed plant provides all the nourishment the monarch caterpillar needs to metamorphose into a monarch butterfly. Without the milkweed, the caterpillar cannot complete metamorphosis.
It is best to plant showy milkweed in sun or partial shade. It prefers well-drained sandy or loamy soils and an area where slugs are not present, as they pose a threat to the plant. Showy milkweed is not a plant that you should transplant very often, it does not appreciate root disturbance so should be planted into a lasting location when the plant is young.
Not only is the showy milkweed a fantastic species to plant to attract monarch butterflies, it is also a practical plant to humans as it has a variety of edible and medicinal uses. The flower buds can be eaten raw or cooked and tastes like peas. The young shoots and leaves can substitute for asparagus when cooked. The flowers can be boiled into a syrup or eaten raw. Just avoid constantly eating the root, as it can be poisonous in large quantities.
The latex of the plant can be applied once a day for a couple weeks and will cure your warts. The latex can also be used to treat sores, cuts and ringworm. The root can be chewed to treat stomach aches and some coughs. A poultice of the roots can also be applied to rheumatic joints to provide some relief.
When the plant has died down in the fall, fibers can be extracted from the bark and used in twine, coarse cloth and paper. The floss from the seed can be used to stuff pillows or mixed with fibers to make cloth. Seed floss is also used in life jackets as it is water repellent and can also be used to mop up oil spills. Not only is this plant very useful- it will also turn your garden into a beautiful butterfly sanctuary!
Strawberries naturally contain a bit of pectin, and can be made into a two ingredient jam of fruit and sugar!
A hardy perennial, strawberry plants can be started from seeds and also propagated from cuttings and runners. There are three strawberry varieties native to Coastal British Columbia: Fragaria virginiana (Wild Strawberry), Fragaria vesca (Woodland Strawberry), and Fragaria chiloensis (Coastal strawberry). The woodland strawberry is a trailing plant that flowers from March to May. The sweet red berries are edible and the leaves can be used in tea. Germination of seeds can be a tricky business and makes strawberries challenging to start from seed. West Coast Seeds has some more detailed tips and tricks to starting your own strawberries. Strawberries react strongly to plants nearby so consider planting good companion plants alongside your strawberries such as beans, borage, garlic, lettuce, onions, peas, spinach, and thyme. Avoid Brassicas, fennel, and kohlrabi.
Pollinators love these purple blossoms! You can expect your mouse garlic to bloom beautifully in the late spring or early summer!
Mouse garlic is an evergreen bulb that grows to about half a metre in height. The roots, leaves and flowers of this plant are all edible. The bulbs can be eaten raw or cooked and preserved for winter by salting. These slightly bitter leaves are edible raw or cooked and the flowers can be placed raw onto salad as a garnish.
This plant prefers well drained soil but is suitable for all sandy, loamy and clay soils. The bulbs should be planted pretty deeply. It can grow in semi-shade or no shade and no shade and likes moist soil for growth. Sow these seeds in spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough, place the seedlings into individual pots, or three per pot if you’d like to produce clumps at a quicker rate. These seedlings will then need to be placed in a greenhouse until they are large enough to survive outdoors, when they can be moved to their permanent location.
This allium contains sulphur compounds which can reduce blood cholesterol when eaten regularly. If you juice this plant, it may help repel moths.
This plant should be sowed beside roses, carrots, beets and chamomile. However, they are not optimal to grow beside legumes or alfalfa.
Warning: may be toxic to dogs when consumed in large quantities.