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Help Drive Vancouver's Truck Farm April 21 2013

If you already know & love the Truck Farm

Because we are still expanding our retail reach, seed sales alone are not able to cover the costs of keeping the Truck Farm on the road so we have put together an Indiegogo campaign to help cover the costs. There are lots of great perks that we created for this campaign so they are not available anywhere else. We have even put together a Truck Farm tour for any hardy individuals who would like to have a tour of various Urban Farms in Vancouver (or we could just go for a picnic!).

We aren't trying to cover huge administrative costs (this is family run and mostly I do all the design, advertising, social media, etc). We aren't asking for something for nothing - we have put together some great perks that you won't find anywhere else, like Truck Farm mini seed packs, Truck Farm postcards with valuable advice and Special Edition Truck Farm seed collections. You can even sponsor a garden patch at a school or daycare, or donate a Truck Farm Harvest.

TruckFarmPostcards

Please check out the campaign at Help Drive Vancouver's Truck Farm

Why grow plants in the back of a truck?

• Teaching kids about growing food from seeds is one thing, showing them food growing in unique and unusual situations is much more inspiring.

• If you want to really engage people you need to create an emotional connection with them; when people see the Truck Farm, they can't help but smile. When we hand them a pack of seeds it really means something; they are more likely to take home that seed sample and try it out. If we were on a street corner handing out brochures, the impact would not nearly be the same.

• The Truck is unique and enables us to offer support to other groups in Vancouver who are teaching kids about growing, cooking and nutrition.

The Story Behind the Truck Farm

When I came up with the idea to turn my old Mazda into a Truck Farm, I had no idea of the journey it would take me on. Inspired by the original Truck Farm from New York City and my Cantonese neighbours who grow an amazing amount of food in their tiny garden strip, I filled my 1993 Mazda with a colourful harvest including tomatoes, carrots, chard, edible flowers, mustards, kale and, at one point, a Christmas Tree.

nowheels!SMwbThere were a few hiccups along the way. The truck had not been driven in 6 years and needed a little TLC. I was helped in this regard by the automotive students at Vancouver Vocational College and my friends over at the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau who helped me pull off the old winch, grind the rust off the bumper and apply a liberal helping of duct tape in appropriate locations.

Since those early days, the Truck Farm has become not only a mobile demonstration of small space gardening, it now helps teach school kids throughout Vancouver about growing their own food, and has given me and and my occasional sidekicks the opportunity to meet of the most interesting people in Vancouver - including two mayors, writers, artists and an amazing number of nostalgic people who grew up on farms. The Truck Farm has become an icon for Strathcona 1890 Urban Seed Collections which I launched to help support my family and the many volunteer projects I am involved in. I drive it around Vancouver and park in high visibility locations in order to engage people about urban food growing and give them a sample pack of Truck Farm seeds to help get them started. These are super easy kid friendly heirloom seeds like Little Marvel Peas or Scarlet Runner Beans. The Truck Farm is getting so good at its job that often it works solo. Soon it will be on display as part of the Sustainability Exhibit at the Telus World of Science (aka Science World). The Truck Farm will also be at various Farmers Markets and Craft Fairs this spring and summer before it goes on exhibit at the PNE. Who knew my little truck could get so busy!

kids2

So far the Truck Farm and all the programs have been supported by the sale of seed collections (with a little help from my regular work). My ultimate goal is to make Strathcona 1890 Urban Seed Collections a sustainable business which will help create employment opportunities in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Job creation will be focussed primarily on youth, single parents and people living on disability. Proceeds from sales of these unique collections of seeds also help develop sustainable food growing programs at Vancouver’s inner city schools, daycares and community centres. I am currently involved in a vertical food wall being installed at RayCam Community Centre in the DTES and hoping to create a teaching garden at Lord Strathcona Elementary School.

In order to make the seeds appeal to people who normally don't garden I took the guess work out and made the seeds more inspiring - something people will buy as a gift or a little something special for themselves (as opposed to a pile of seed packages that will slip behind the coffee maker and be forgotten). With the help of some very knowledgable people, who have been in the seed and nursery industry for over forty years, I compiled collections of open-pollinated, non-gmo seeds for container gardens on urban balconies, roof top gardens and window boxes. I wanted collections that people with small yards or even no yard at all could grow in order to produce a portion of the food they eat. This would cut down on our their carbon foot print as well connect people with the very nature of their food. The packaging is a labour of love and allows me to release some artistic energies.

What we've done so far:

Last year the Truck Farm toured Vancouver for the first time. Due to mechanical issues we launched late in July, but within a few short months we had our first harvest and:

• Visited local farmers markets

• Exhibited at the Pacific National Exhibition The PNE boasts over a million visitors during its 3 week run - we ran out of seed samples pretty quick.

• Worked with kids and helped grow gardens at three of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Daycares.

• Engaged the masses at a number of arts & craft fairs

• Got busted at the Strathcona Harvest Festival (just kidding - the police car just needed a good parking spot which happened to be behind us, really.)

• Currently working on the food wall at RayCam Community Centre to teach the kids about growing their own food, which they will also get to eat. Apart from helping organise and source materials for the project, we are in the process of growing close to 2,000 seedlings to plant in the wall.

What we hope to do this year:

This year our goals are to expand our educational programs in schools, community centres and daycares, increase the amount of exposure the Truck Farm receives in order to engage more people in the importance of growing even a small amount of their own food.

• Visit more local farmers markets

• Exhibit at the Telus World of Science

• Exhibit at the Pacific National Exhibition

• Work with kids and help build gardens at more schools, community centres and daycares

• Cause a stir at the Stone Soup Festival

• More art & craft fairs

• Be a part of the Strathcona Harvest Festival again

• Develop and implement more parent & kid growing workshops (we have some super cool ideas!)

• Work toward building a teaching garden in Vancouver's inner city

• Expand our distribution of seeds


We just got new license plates, need we say more? March 07 2013

 

  

Actually yes, I think we should say more. Much more. 

When I applied to get these plates a couple weeks ago, I really did not think they would be available and came up with multiple alternate plates for the application. I got my top choice. I figure there are a few possible reasons for this. 

  1. There are angels looking out for me that really want to help me succeed (this would be great because it would mean the 14 hour days will finally start paying off!) 
  2. I am way ahead of the curve on the GMO issue
  3. Not enough people really care. (I have to mention that I found patent numbers on seed packages being distibuted at a Seedy Saturday recently which bothered me greatly). For anyone who hasn't been to one, a Seedy Saturday is sort of like a farmers market that sells seeds, seedlings honey etc as well as offers people the opportunity to trade seeds from their gardens so it usually attracts more experienced gardeners.

The one possibility that disturbs me is number 3. And I really need to address this.

I get that this is a daunting and time consuming issue to educate yourself on, but, for me, I think my children and future grand children are worth the effort. I encourage you to read up on the subject of genetically modified food crops from sources more knowlegeble than me but I will do my best to explain how I understand the process of genetic modification and my fears and opinions regarding GMO foods below.

In genetic modification (or engineering) of food plants, scientists remove one or more genes from the DNA of another organism, such as a bacterium, virus, or animal, and “recombine” them into the DNA of the plant they want to alter. This is different from hybridization which is the combining of seeds and pollens from two different plants (this can happen naturally). There are some very persuasive people who believe that genetic modification of plants is a good thing because they believe that it will really help increase productivity and feed the world.

I have differing opinions and am not prepared to agree just because big corporations want me to.

Over the last 80 years the number of seed varieties available has dropped by almost 93% in some crops. This is why I am a huge proponent of seed saving and maintaining seed diversity. In fact I just bought one of the last packages I could find of Cranes Melon (with 25 seeds).

Genetically modified seeds are patented - this means farmers (or anyone) who buy GMO seeds can be sued if they use the seeds that come from the plants they grow with GMO seeds (aka seed saving). So every harvest requires a purchase of new seeds. This can significantly increase the cost of seed to farmers since historically they were able to save money by using seeds from previous crops and adding new seed as needed. In fact there have been farmers sued because the pollen from neighbouring farms growing GMO crops contaminated their non-GMO crops. The argument is they infringed on the patent. (For more on this google Percy Schmeiser and Rodney Nelson.) I am not sure how farmers are supposed to keep pollen from crossing fences. Seems to me bees rarely recognise man made boundaries. Read about one Canadian farmers fight here http://www.percyschmeiser.com/conflict.htm  To add a little salt to the wound, organic famers risk losing their organic status if GMO pollen is introduced into their fields by bees, birds or wind. 

But the tides may be turning. Here is a link to a recent lawsuit against Monsanto: http://princevega.com/2013/02/18/monsanto-slapped-with-a-7-7-billion-lawsuit-by-5-million-farmers/

GMO proponents will say, yes, farmers have to buy more seeds from the same source but the seeds they get are impervious to select popular herbicides (coincidentally made by the same company that created the GMO seeds) so farmers can spray to eliminate weeds without harming the crop plants which means less labor is required for weeding.

Hmm, seems to me that Darwin's theory of evolution may throw a kink into this theory. Many plants and organisms evolve to overcome challenges to their survival. Here is a non-plant example. Every year there are new flu bugs that require the development of a new flu vaccine. This is because the flu virus is constantly changing to adapt to antibodies trying to kill it off through “antigenic drift.” This means people vaccinated the previous year may not have antibodies to combat the new flu virus. I have seen some recent information on the internet that would indicate that weeds are adapting and becoming impervious to the herbicides they are sprayed with. This will mean a new kind of herbicide will have to be developed in order to keep weeds at bay which will likely mean new GMO crops will have to be developed. I have concerns about whether companies will put in the time and resources to ensure these new GMO crops do not have adverse effects on humans, animals or the environment. Especially if the weeds start adapting at a faster rate.

GMO crops have also been developed so that the plants have built in insecticides. Personally I do not want to feed my kids corn that makes the stomachs of insects explode without absolute proof that it will not be found to cause harm to my children now, or after 10 or 20 years of consumption. As well, are beneficial insects (like bees) immune to the insecticidal effects? 

I want to mention that there are some naturally evolved plants that have insecticidal properties. Up until the 1940's when synthetic pesticides were introduced, plants had been used for thousands of years to ward off insects. There are also carnivorous plants that can help keep insects at bay too. I found a fascinating article on this http://ipmworld.umn.edu/chapters/SilviaAguayo.htm. I might add that just because they are naturally evolved does not mean their insecticidal properties are harmless to people. There are numerous highly toxic plants we should all be aware of.

Again I would wonder how much study will go into what long term effects these new GMO plants with built in herbicides and insecticides might have on humans. Especially given that one of the most well known companies that has a patent on these seeds also manufactured DDT and agent orange too.

I copied these exerpts from Wikipedia (I invite you to read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_orange and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT ):

"The Red Cross of Vietnam estimates that up to 1 million people are disabled or have health problems due to Agent Orange." 

In 1962, Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Carson was published. The book catalogued the environmental impacts of the indiscriminate spraying of DDT in the US and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without fully understanding their effects on ecology or human health. The book suggested that DDT and other pesticides may cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds. Its publication was one of the signature events in the birth of the environmental movement, and resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led to DDT being banned in the US in 1972.[5] DDT was subsequently banned for agricultural use worldwide under the Stockholm Convention, but its limited use in disease vector control continues to this day and remains controversial.[6][7]

Along with the passage of the Endangered Species Act, the US ban on DDT is cited by scientists as a major factor in the comeback of the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, from near-extinction in the contiguous US.[8]

And what of the bees and frogs? Bees are incredibly important for pollination of the fruits and vegetables we eat, let alone the health benefits of real honey. And frogs, known to be harbingers of our environmental health, are disappearing at an alaming rate.

There are also concerns about GMO foods causing inflamation, increased allergies, and even autism which is on the rise. How many people are effected by eating wheat today. (I am one of them - when I eat wheat my ankles swell noticibly - I suffered cankles for years before I figured it out because raising 4 growing boys often meant making meals with pasta or sandwiches to help fill them up.) I copied an exerpt from the Institute for Responsible Technology ( http://www.responsibletechnology.org/health-risks ) below :

In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) stated that, "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

Even if you think that GMO food are perfectly healthy, think about this. The number of fruit and vegetable seed varieties has dropped by up to 92% in some cases. So what do you think will happen to food prices if there is a monopoly on seeds that can be used to grow foods. (Just think of the pricing difference between generic prescription drugs and name brands that do not have a generic version.)

I highly recommend to everyone that you do some research and come up with your own opinions and decisions as how you want to feed yourself and your family. I certainly do not want to rely on what the government or big food corporations tell me. Apparently higher ups and leaders of past generations were also known to put pesticide control above the value of human life - one of the earliest known approaches to pest control was human sacrifice. This was also thought to be a cure for drought.

 


Truck Farm meets the mayor of Vancouver! (well almost...) February 12 2013

Some of you may already know that the Truck Farm was launched with the help of a Small Neighbourhood Green Grant from the Vancouver Foundation and the City of Vancouver. The Vancouver Foundation recently touted the Truck Farm as one of their successes. To that end we were invited to Vancouver City Hall to meet the mayor. 

So, thinking that maybe I can get a picture of the mayor with the Truck Farm, I get up at the crack of dawn to wash the truck and top up the oil (one of the perks of an old truck). I make sure to get to City Hall early (those of you who know me get what a feat this is!) and find an almost perfect parking spot right near the doors.

It becomes clear to me that the chances of getting a shot with the mayor are pretty slim unless we can find a way to get the Truck Farm to the third floor council chambers. But, we do some meet and great, listen to stories from other grant recipients and sit through what seems like hours of agenda items to see how things will play out. Ethan, the youngest Bean Counter on the Truck farm Team team hands out cards like an old pro. 

Finally, it is time for the photo. So who ends getting their picture with the mayor???

 


Green thumbs not required, just opposable ones. February 01 2013

 

You can grow and harvest small batches of microgreens on your windowsill for fresh picked greens throughout the long winter months.

Microgreens are tender and tangy lettuce and mustard greens that are usually harvested when they are barely a few weeks old. They are basically at the growth stage between sprouts and baby greens. This short growth span that makes microgreens possible to produce on even the darkest windowsills through
the dingiest months of the year. And since the plants only need to be kept alive for a few weeks even the most beginner seed starter is pretty much guaranteed success.

As you can see, I will plant microgreens in just about anything. If you don't want to deal with "messy" soil, we offer a Microgreen Kit that comes with seeds, fertilizer and a small roll of Baby Blanket which you can use instead of soil. One of the easiest and most cost effective containers to start microgreens in are recycled plastic takeaway containers and clamshell packaging. To prepare, simply punch 5 drainage holes and fill the container with well-moistened container mix or seed-starting mix to within an inch or so from the top. Evenly distribute a thin layer of seeds, sprinkling them over the soil surface with about 1/4″ of space between them. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, about 1/8″ deep and water well to get them germinating. Place it with the lid of the clamshell underneath as a drip tray in the sunniest window you’ve got or under a grow light. I have positioned microgreens in various locations and even in partially shaded north light they still come up. That said, the more light and gentle warmth they get the faster they will grow. (Be careful not to cook them or let them dry out.)

Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. Microgreens can be harvested in about 2 weeks depending on how large you want to grow

them. I generally let mine grow until they have their first set of “true leaves”. The first leaves you see are called “seed leaves” since they are actually a part of the seed. “True leaves” are the second set to appear and look very different than the seed leaves.

To harvest them, you can either cut them off just above the soil or gently pull them out of the soil and cut off the roots. I find this is easier then cutting them first and then trying to pull the roots out so that I can reuse the soil. As long as there were no problems with disease or pests  you can reuse the pot and soil. Just till the remaining soil with a fork. and you are ready to plant your next crop.


Not your usual suspects December 22 2012




We just launched a new collection. In fact, it is so new only one store has even seen it. We will, however have it for sale at the Last Chance Craft Fair at the Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver on December 23. Talk about just in time for Christmas. So for anyone looking for a gift for the gardener who thinks they have everything, here is your chance to show them something new. The collection has Red Malabar Climbing Spinach, Black Spanish Radishes, Striped Cavern Tomatoes, Atomic Red Carrots, Pattypan Squash and Antohi Peppers. Seriously, there is nothing like it.




Winter Wonders : Forcing Bulbs to Reveal the Beauty Within November 05 2012

 

This is a shot taken on January 9 of the first blooms from a Paperwhite bulb started just before New Years. We have a Paperwhites collection but you can also force Amaryllis, Hyacinth, Tulips, and Daffodils.

For those of you who have never forced bulbs before this is probably the easiest garden project you will ever try.

Usually bulbs being sold for forcing come ready to go - often they will even start sprouting in the package! This eliminates the need for a rooting period (12-15 weeks of cold storage).

Paperwhites are tender members of the daffodil (narcissus) family. To force them, all you need are a few bulbs, a watertight container and some pebbles or marbles. Paperwhites grow well in water, and bulbs contain everything else they need to flower. You can force them in soil but they will take about twice as long to bloom.

To force bulbs, choose a glass or ceramic bowl 8 to 10 centimetres tall and 16 centimetres in diameter. Fill container 2/3 full with pebbles or marbles to anchor the roots as they grow. Place bulbs on the pebbles with the pointed end up, They look best when tightly clustered and can even be touching. Add more pebbles to position the bulbs firmly, leaving the top halves of the bulbs exposed. Fill the container with just enough water to touch the base of the bulbs, this will help keep the bulbs from rotting and draw the roots downwards to anchor the plants as they grow taller.

When the plants begin to flower (about 3 weeks after planting), remove them from direct sunlight and place them in a cooler area with indirect light. This helps to prolong the flowering of the plants.

Tips

Planting paperwhites in a tall cylindrical hurricane vase not only looks beautiful but also gives the plants added support as they grow taller. You can also plant them in a rustic clay pot with soil for a country kitchen look.

For shorter stems throw in a shot or two of vodka or gin into their water once the shoots reach about five inches tall.

When the buds begin to swell, lightly tie a wide ribbon halfway up the stems and make a bow with trailing ends. Looks pretty and helps the stems stand upright.

Forcing Paperwhites can be an excellent project for kids. They are easy and fast growing. So fast that, once bulbs sprout, kids can measure the leaves and stems daily.

Photography © 2013 Judy Kenzie









Truck Farm Tour August 18 2012

Ah, it is so beautiful one the weather turns to summer in Vancouver. So the Truck Farm and I have been taking some time to play tourist. And since pictures say far more in this situation, here are some recent shots. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/TruckFarmCanada) to see more of our mobile demonstration of small space container gardening. You never know where we might show up.



Truck Farm in front of the Vancouver Planetarium


Truck Farm in front of the Vancouver Planetarium - a closer look.


Truck Farm in front of Gassy Jack Statue in Gastown.



Truck Farm drops by the famous Teahouse in Stanley Park. She fits in perfectly!



No trip would be complete without a visit to the Olympic Cauldron!



Stopped to smell the fresh sea air and check out the yachts in Coal Harbour. 



Chatted with some of the folks at Bard on the Beach in Kitsilano.


Here we are in front of the World Trade Centre. 


Fear of germination August 10 2012

 

What more can we say?Kids will plant just about anything anywhere. I used herbs to demonstrate this point but I have a 6 year old who will jump at the chance to plant his favorite bean. That's not to say he remembers to water it al the time but at least he is willing to take the chance on turning a hard dried seed into a lush plant. 



Edible baskets - beautiful! August 03 2012

Everything you need to make a delicious garden salad!

all organic, no pesticides, delicious.



Truck Farm : Trials & Tribulations July 27 2012

Ok, so it has been a little tougher than expected to get this show on the road. So far it has been in the shop for a total of 5 weeks (and counting). Sitting in an alley for 6 years tends to take a toll. That said there is hardly any rust and for the most part it runs great - just a few hiccups. The truck is a 1993 Mazda B2600 that I have owned since 1994. 

Apart from the mechanics there has been the issue of some rusted out add ons - like the tub bumper on the back. So they have all been pulled off and fixed up (or tossed). Amazing what some flat black paint and a little duct tape can do! We also pulled the canopy and may even build a greenhouse on top for the winter, maybe.

Someone likened it to putting lipstick on a pig, but actually she (for some reason the truck takes on a feminine personality) is looking quite nice these days.

Here are today's shots taken when I watered the bed while the truck is up on a hoist. Amazingly (or maybe not) the seeds I planted a week ago are all coming up and some are almost 2 inches tall! Maybe we should always start seeds in an auto repair shop...


These are shots from last weekend when the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau came to the rescue with their warehouse. It was a looong weekend and not in a good way. But we got a lot done. 




Build your own Edible Hanging Baskets June 25 2012

                  

Above are photos I took today of some of the seedlings I am growing for a workshop I am giving on July 2, 2012 at Orling & Wu in Vancouver's historic Gastown. All materials, seedlings and seeds are included for participants. We are doing the first workshop at cost in order to encourage more people to try growing their own food, even in small spaces. To reserve your space call 778.869.8668

Quite honestly one of the hardest things about building your own edible hanging is finding all the right ingredients.

Here are the things you will need:
  • wire framed basket (preferably with a swivel hanger so you can rotate it easily) The wires need to be far enough apart and/or pliable enough that you can insert your plants without damaging the branches or roots.
  • coconut coir, grass blanket or woodland moss -Woodland moss is my personal favorite. You can also use burlap or outdoor fabric for a different look.
  • water saucer or 18 inch square of plastic sheeting to help keep water from running out the bottom.
  • light weight soil for containers
  • seedlings - whether you grow your own from seed or hunt them down, a good basket will likely have a few rarities you simply wont find in a big box store. Some of my favorites are cherry tomatoes, cut & come again lettuce, miniature white cucumbers, dwarf peas, peppers, thyme, basil, cilantro, chives, violas, and nasturtiums.
  • seeds - it is a good idea to do succession planting of some plants to extend your season. I would recommend succession planting peas, cucumbers and cilantro.
  • you will also need gloves, scissors, plastic wrap & soil

Once you have all your materials follow these steps

Step 1: Place your liner in the basket, or line it with moss. Fold any excess liner material over the rim. Then, place the water saucer inside the basket. Don't use a saucer for shade baskets in damp climates, since it may keep the basket too wet.

Step 2: Mark the liner for side-planting. To designate planting positions, use a felt-tip pen to mark the plant positions with dots around the basket about 3-4 inches from the rim. Cut a cross-shaped slit in the liner about 2 inches by 2 inches at each dot.

Step 3: Prepare 20 quarts of hanging-basket soil mix and moisten it with 4 quarts of water. Add soil mix to the basket, patting it down firmly but gently until it reaches 3-4 inches below the rim.

Step 4: Thoroughly soak the plants by submerging the pots in water until all air bubbles disappear. This makes them more pliable for planting and helps them get established more quickly.

Step 5: Insert plants through slits in the liner. Remove plants from containers, holding them by the root ball to protect the stems. Wrap root balls in a square of plastic wrap to make insertion easier from outside the basket. From inside, pull root balls through so they rest on top of the soil. Remove the bag and anchor the root ball with a handful of soil.

Step 6: Next, add soil to within an inch of the rim. Place one plant in the center, and then space the other seven around it, an inch or so from the edge. Firm the soil around the base of each plant. Sprinkle one tablespoon of slow-release fertilizer beads over the soil.

Step 7: Attach hangers to the rim and hang the basket outside once there is no chance of overnight frost. In hot, dry weather, water it immediately and hang in the shade for a few days. In cool, damp weather, wait until it warms up before watering your basket thoroughly. Firm the soil around the roots of plants on the top layer after the first watering.


Incredible Edible Baskets June 24 2012


Creating a fantastic edible basket is easy, with the right ingredients. First you need a basket that you can work with. I want as much surface area as possible so my plants have room to grow. This means I use the sides and bottom as well as the top. You need to take root space into consideration too but using a mix including shallow rooted plants allows for more plants in a basket. The basket in the picture has not had a chance to fill out, once the weather improves (like we get some sun) I expect it to bush out more fully. 

There are a lot of Chinese made moss lined baskets on the market for around $30 which have tightly woven mesh. I have tried to use these with moderate success -  I lost approximately half the herbs I tried to plant in the sides. I opt for Canadian made wire baskets with more working space between the wires. I also use bulk moss or a coir matt (grass or coconut). Surprisingly, building your own basket using bulk moss and bare wire baskets is a little more expensive however the results are better, and perhaps a little more satisfying.

For those of you living in Vancouver, I am teaching a 1.5 hour Edible Hanging Basket Workshop at Orling & Wu in Gastown on July 2, 2012. Everyone will be taking home their own basket with a delicious array of herbs, veggies, and edible flowers. 

The seedings I am currently growing for the workshop include: thyme, rosemary, cut & come again lettuce, tomatoes (of course), miniature white cucumbers, peas, nasturtiums, lavender and violas. 

Participants will also learn how to make an eco friendly newspaper pot for propagating seeds, and some of the basics for seed propagation. 

They will not only take home their own edible hanging basket but, included in the price are seeds they can start themselves  for succession planting or growing next year (seeds can be used for up to 2-3 years) and their own newspaper pot with freshly planted seeds. 

We are introducing the workshops at a special low rate of $75.


mmmmarvelous Swiss Chard June 23 2012

 

photo of baby Swiss Chard by Jason Lang.


If you are reading this blog you are likely as interested in how nutrition and taste as aesthetics. But I have to say it is really a thing of beauty.


But for all you healthy types here are some quick facts:

  • Swiss chard is the store-house of many phytonutrients that have health promotional and disease prevention properties.
  • Chard is very low in calories (19 kcal per 100 g fresh, raw leaves) and fats, recommended in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.

  • Chard leaves are an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C

  • Chard is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K.

  • It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin-A and flavonoids anti-oxidants like ß carotene, α-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

  • It is rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid that are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.

  • It is rich in minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutaseIron is required for cellular oxidation and red blood cell formation.

Regular inclusion of swiss chard in the diet is found to prevent osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, vitamin A deficiency and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases and colon and prostate cancers.


Here is a quick & simple recipe to try:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard 
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

Slice and discard the stalks of the chard. Cut the leaves into wide ribbons. Mince the garlic and saute it in the olive oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add the chard and balsamic vinegar; cook and stir until the chard is wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper and serve.




And we are live!! April 25 2012

It has been a mad rush but finally we are live! Four months of designing, ordering, illustrating, photographing, writing, thinking, rethinking and rethinking again.


whew.


I hope you like what you see. 


Judy