Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Garden, garden, garden

Hello everyone,

Hope you are well.  What's coming up in your garden?  Or what are you noticing on your walks, if you don't have a garden?  We had some rain yesterday, and it's washed away much of the dust that settled on last year's plants as the snow melted.  What this means is: the yard still needs cleaning and clearing, but there's  greenness to things instead of grey/brown.  This may no sound like much, but it is! 

And ... it makes it easier to see where the little nubbins of plants are starting to come up.  Scylla are coming through, with their leaves separating from the stems; no flower buds yet.  There curled grey/green leaves at soil level and they'll be centaurea dealbata (a magenta flowering plant I think of as a variant of cornflower). Swiss chard are coming up, wrinkled leaves like a collapsible umbrella; they need about two days to unfold. There are some lamb's ears leaves which were fuzzy and soft in today's sunshine.  Costmary is back ... costmary has doubled its area since last spring and is going to go to several new homes.   I ate a peppermint leaf, just a wee one at ground level.  Ate an oregano leaf, from one of the white-flowering oregano plants I propagated from the Cooper Street garden and brought into the nursery bed.  I also ate a catnip leaf.  Catnip leaves are quite sharp tasting anytime; I think in the spring they are double-filled with nip.  Don't eat catnip leaves when they are full of springtime.

I saw one tulip leaf in a vegetable bed (squirrel transfer).  The daffodils - 4 inches of green so far - have increased at the far end of a vegetable bed where I've said for at least ten years: "this year I'll move them to a flower bed once they've done blooming".  There are two clumps of snowdrops amidst the periwinkle at the end of the block (squirrel transfer). There are still Tulipa tarda in the herb garden; there are 6 green points coming up through the thyme.  And the orange balsam thyme came through the winter beautifully; perhaps because there was so much snow it was well insulated.

All the Attar of Roses geranium cuttings I took have new leaf growth, which means they are developing roots under the soil.  Only one of the 19 begonia cuttings has died off.  Tomato seedlings are at the first leaf stage, three Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) have germinated. 

The accumulation of compost in the one bin remains for the most part frozen (it's in a sheltered area) and we've hidden it by dumping two bags of leaves on top of it. 

I have not resisted the urge to rake up and cut back stalks of plants.  I'm trying to leave soft grass and leaves and small decomposable vegetation on all the beds.  No bare soil.

I need 10 bales of straw for mulch. 

We collected about 100 bags of leaves last fall; 40 were put in place immediately.  About ten of them went overtop of an area of light branches and vegetation.  The area was piled to about 3 feet.  It's at two feet now and when everything decomposes it'll make maybe 2 inches of soil.  But I can put soil on top later in the season and plant squash.

This is the year I regain control over the hops.  I understand why the customer who gave me the hops roots 5 years ago thought it was funny as anything hat I wanted hops.  I will never gain control over the hops, but I think that I can harvest the stems (which seem similar to grapevine) and weave about 6 Christmas wreaths for gifts this year. 

That's enough listing for now.

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

An urban forest strategy ... moving forward

Hello everyone,

Happy April Fool's Day!

I won't write a joke article.  I'm at my worst as far as humour goes when I try.

During March, I continued research into the topic of neonicotinoid pesticides and pollinators.  Basically, that class of insecticides kills 'em.  Of particular concern and media attention is that the Neonics (as they get shortformed) kill bees, the best known and most prevalent pollinators.  I made a presentation to the Advisory Committees on Environment at City Hall, and a subcommittee formed and just had its first meeting.  We hope to put together a succinct report that can make its way through City Hall and - ultimate goal - the city will make a statement that it will do all that it can to support and devise ways to make the city a sanctuary for pollinators.

Also in my city ...

... after much work over the last few years an Urban Forest Strategy document has been written. It's involved meetings of citizens, City staff from many departments, and work by members of  the Trees and Forests Advisory Committee.  An outside consultant did the final work and report so that a fresh eye could get an overall view of the work, which is sensible I think. (I find it hard to edit my own writing, for example, but can zero in on typos and structural problems in someone else'.)

The draft Urban Forest Strategy document was presented to the Trees and Forests Advisory Committee, for any last comments and approval to go on to the next level at City Hall.  Some last minute community support came forward to request that "produce food" be written in as one of the goals of the strategy, beyond its inclusion in the main body of text.  Two excellent presentations on the importance of food producing trees were made at the TFAC (and about 8 other letters came in) and after some conversation and excellent questions and answers (both) TFAC worked out the wording for their recommendations.

I came out of that meeting so happy.

And you all know how seldom I feel that after any meeting at city hall.

It'll take a month or two or three to get the report to the next level, but it is strong and it will get through to Council and be endorsed.  It'll be a way forward to protect and increase our urban forest, and include a wider variety of native trees and food-producing trees in naturalizing areas, environmentally sensitive areas, and in all sorts of community locales ... and encourage individuals to plant them too.

No fooling at all today.

Very best regards,

Why's Woman