Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's Growing in December?

The days are lengthening! With the current warmer spell, after the freezing weather in November and early December, some plants are looking more alive. Things to look for in these photos of front yard, boulevard, and lane gardens all taken in the Dunbar and Point Grey area of Vancouver: winter protection (or not), carrots, chicory, kale, kale, kale, cabbage, leeks, rye grass cover crop, green and red mustard, mâche, Brussels sprouts, radicchio, a blueberry bush, poppy seedlings.
This garden is known for nary a weed, but with the repetition of plants, I'm beginning to suspect that a fancy restaurant gets those tender greens.
A closer look at the radicchio:I know that this front-yard garden is a market garden:
And so is this large productive one, on the south-facing slope at the corner of Blenheim and West 41st Avenue, only a small portion of which is shown here:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Vancouver Edible Gardens Project on West 35th Avenue: A Young Teenager's Project

The Vancouver Foundation provided funds for this Generation Green project in the age category of 13 to 17. On West 35th Avenue in Vancouver a number of residents have one, two, or even three uniform wooden planter boxes on their boulevard. I first spotted them on July 1. I spoke to one resident on the block who expressed disapproval of the disruption of the continuous flow of grassy boulevards in this staid and traditional neighbourhood. Even I was skeptical, not for that reason since I approve of changing the way we use urban land, but whether there would be much productivity from these modestly sized planters. But, see for yourself; here are photos of a box of onion plants taken on July 10 and September 4:
In September, there were boxes flourishing with beans, carrots, and a brassica of some kind, and, in November, peas.

One home has three such planters. You can see the growth of plants and replanting between July 10 and November 3:

In early November, the boxes featured three stages of kale, a good choice for this tree-shaded street. This type of kale usually winters over here; however, these boxes above the ground are more susceptible to the cold. We'll see!
Or maybe these are radish seedlings!

However, I was proven wrong on the productivity! Even though the planters are insufficient to provide any level of food security for this block, the modest size has proven to be successful, perhaps because it is not an overwhelming venture. It also provides the opportunity for neighbours to get to know each other and exchange gardening advice. This provides another kind of security for the neighbourhood. Read more here about this successful and inventive teen project.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chafer Be Gone

Driving on West 16th Avenue, I spotted some corn growing high above the street and thought to myself that there just might be more veggies growing there. Later, I dropped by with my camera and talked to the owners. It all started with those destructive chafer beetles. The owners constructed the sturdy raised beds in half of their sunny front yard themselves and had good soil brought in to fill the beds. It was obvious even though it is now late October that they had successfully grown a great crop of vegetables. In fact, they were still harvesting and were making a soup that very day with beets, onions and carrots freshly picked from the garden!

Here's the view of the other side of their front yard--they are considering expanding next year to be rid of this eyesore lawn.

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Front Yard Veggie Garden in Fall

Spring is more exciting than fall in the garden because we usually think of spring as the beginning, with new life and all kinds of possibilities for the avid gardener. Harvesting is fulfilling in the fall, but otherwise it's a bit downhill in terms of thriving plants. In these photos from my front yard, the zucchini fruit may look grand but in reality is so small that anyone getting this two-inch wonder served to them on Thanksgiving in two days wouldn't even see it! The pea-sized Brussels sprouts are something to look forward to in 2012 (maybe). Only a couple of the red beets planted in early July survived, despite faithful watering; they now finally look alive with the cooler fall weather, but there may never be edible beets. The pea plants look awful, with powdery mildew, but the tips are still green and producing a few last edible pods. The ground cherry (physallis peruviana or cape gooseberry) production has slowed way down, but I appreciate every one of them more since I saw them being sold yesterday as "golden berries" (husked, not a great idea) from Peru at the Granville Market at $9.99 for a small box!

On the other hand, fall brings surprises and a bit of hope. The transplanted Swiss chard stands up straight. The volunteer fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) perseveres, but it's not a favorite of mine; I tolerate it for the insects. A shallot got left behind and sprouted. A volunteer cherry tomato plant is still toughing it out. With the recent cool and rainy weather, the hardy seedlings of mâche (corn salad, lamb's lettuce, repunzel), Red Russian kale, and Gotte Jaune d'Or lettuce are healthy and competing for space!

An offer from this messy gardener--does anyone want seedlings?

It might be easier to transplant some of this great surplus to your garden rather than "we plow the fields and scatter, the good seed on the land". For example, the spinach I painstakingly planted a month ago from commercial seed either didn't sprout or something ate it. These strong "volunteers" know when and where to grow.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Autumn Lane Display

What a wonderful surprise to come across this display in a lane near my house! The white flowers are some type of allium. The mass grouping of this simple flower looks great with the echinacea. In the background is a climbing bean. This is quite an inspired approach to using marginal land.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Corn Craze

I grew up surrounded by fields of corn. Corn thrives in hot muggy weather, with a heavy humid haze. People don't thrive that well; your hair goes limp, you lose your energy, and you can't take enough showers. The combination of 90 degrees F and 90% humidity is great for corn. That kind of weather does not happen even in Vancouver's hottest summer. But people like corn and try to grow it in this cool coastal city.

It's always worth taking a peek at this consistent and neat garden right on Dunbar Street. (for more on that garden, see the Jan. 13, 2010 blog). On July 31, I spotted their great-looking corn.

On my walk to do shopping on Dunbar, I usually pass by this front garden. The following 3 photos of the growing corn were taken on July 7, July 22, and September 17.

This side-yard garden along Wallace Street has grown corn for the last two years. This summer must have stressed out the one stalk that developed its ear so close to the ground!
Last September followed a better summer, and the corn crop was taller.Going back in time, this is how tiny the transplants looked on June 8, 2010. Can you see them?

In early September a friend took a photo of this plot of corn growing near Van Dusen Gardens, in a neighbourhood with few front-yard-vegetable gardens. The corn looks great! These gardeners must have applied some nitrogen.