Tag Archives: gardening

Becoming a Vegetable Locavore

We’re going local with our fruit and vegetable consumption. For the rest of the summer, Emily and I are trying not to buy any fruit or vegetables from the grocery store. We have an abundance of vegetables in our garden and we get a weekly CSA share. We’re also buying local fruit and vegetables from the farmers market, to add a bit more variety. The only downside is that we’ll be without pineapple, avocado, and bananas for a few months. On the bright side, we get to take eat amazing local produce grown in BC, and really take advantage of the short fruit seasons (strawberries are done, cherries are in season, blueberries are just starting, and peaches are coming up).

Garden Rows Garden Overfloweth Exploding Garden
May 17 June 8 July 13

Our garden is exploding right now. Our biggest challenge is eating the vegetables fast enough. We’re harvesting arugula, kale, basil, green onions, carrots, beets, and peas. Our tomato plants are starting to flower, and we should have tomatoes in a few weeks. The kale is our most prolific grower, and I’ve resorted to giving away bags of it at work.

Garden Fresh Vegetables

It’s a good problem to have. I love kale and I’m getting more creative with my recipes. Today I had a kale smoothie, a kale-blueberry salad, and soba noodles with a peanut-kale sauce. In the past few days, we’ve also made beet and sunflower raw pizza, raw zucchini pasta, beet and kale coleslaw, broccoli casserole, and pesto pasta.

Beet and Sunflower Pizza Beet Salad and Pesto Pasta
Continue reading Becoming a Vegetable Locavore

Vegetable Bounty

Garden Overfloweth
Salad JarOur garden is cranking out arugula, kale, and radishes as fast as we can eat them. The cool and drizzly weather (aka Junuary) isn’t great for the tomato and pepper plants, but the greens are loving it.

Emily found this great way to transport salads to work – layering them in mason jars. It’s perfect. We have lots of reused jars, they don’t leak, and as long as the the salad dressing stays at the bottom, it doesn’t get soggy.

Just Another Sunny Day in Vancouver

My Day in Collage
What a gorgeous sunny day in Vancouver.

While thousands of people were running the marathon, I through on my Vibrams and ran to the Vancouver Tool Library on Commercial. I picked up some gardening tools and through them in the passenger seat of a nearby car2go. Then, I spent the afternoon digging up grasses and plants in our rooftop garden getting it ready for a new community garden. It was a hard, tiring day, but it was great to be outside in the sun.

Kickstarter – Windowfarms, Bicycle Portraits, and OOPS

I’m addicted to kickstarter. I’ve funded three projects in the past few days. Check them out.

Two of the projects have 6 days left to get funding – until December 7, 2011. The Windowfarms project has already reached its minimum, but are promising not to offshore production if they can reach $200,000, and they’re 3/4 of the way there. The Bicycle Portraits project has only 2/3 of its funding minimum, so they need more support to make their project a reality. The third project, Order of Professional Sorcerers (OOPS), is a board game that is currently in beta testing. They still have 40 days to reach their funding goal.

Windowfarms – Vertical Food Gardens

Windowfarms let you grow fresh vegetables at home by taking advantage of natural light and climate control indoors. The roots are bathed in nutrients from the sea, preventing food plants from getting root bound (as they do in traditional soil filled containers). You get healthier roots, and fresher, more nutritious vegetables without dirt in small spaces.

Continue reading Kickstarter – Windowfarms, Bicycle Portraits, and OOPS

Successful Gardener, Failed Beekeeper

Balcony Garden

Now that we have a huge south-facing balcony, we thought it was time to expand our garden. Last year we grew peas, jalapenos, and herbs with limited success. This year we have 3 heirloom tomato plants, hot peppers, green peppers, pole beans, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, carrots, flowers, and a herb garden all planted on our balcony in pots and containers. There are also a few squash plants that are growing from seeds left in the compost that I don’t have the heart to pull out. So far, the plants are all looking green and healthy. The balcony has a large overhang, so the plants don’t get as much direct sunshine as I would like, but the balcony railing has glass which is protecting them from the wind.

Balcony Vegetables Flowering Green View

In addition to our balcony garden, we have a few other gardening experiments on the go. Inside the apartment we have a flowers planted in a Wally modular living wall system that we received as a house warming gift. We also have a hydroponic system with mint that I won in a silent auction. It’s made from a large recycled glass carboy that’s been cut in half and inserted into itself (they had smaller ones made from wine bottles that would be easy to make). I’m thinking of getting some fish to live in the bottom half.

Wally the Indoor Green Wall Hydroponics

The only gardening experiment that is failing is our urban bee keeping. When we won the farmer’s market raffle in March, we won mason bees from Balcony Bees. When I went to pick them up, I got suckered in to buying a home for them too, hoping to convince the bees to live on our balcony. The bees are mason bees that don’t produce honey, but pollinate flowers and are very docile.

The bees came in a box wrapped in toilet paper in a ziploc bag with ice in it. I was told to put them in the fridge until the beginning of April, when they would start emerging. Since we moved on April 22, we waited until then to let our bees out. We were a bit worried they would wake up in the fridge or die of hunger, but considering how cold the spring was it might have been better to wait even longer to let them out. A day after we put them on the balcony, I checked in the box to see how they were doing and one bee was emerging from his cocoon. Within the next 2 days, a bunch of the bees emerged (the males) and flew off. A week later the females emerged. None of them stuck around.

Bees in their Cocoons A Bee Emerges

We received a second bee house (this one is made by Bee Diverse) for our housewarming and have been hoping that some mason bees would take up residence in one our two homes, but none have. I’m not sure what we did wrong. From what I’ve read, mason bees need a lot of warm sun. When they emerged from their cocoons it was still cold and their house wasn’t facing east and didn’t get direct sunshine, so maybe that was the cause. I’m still hoping that some bees will relocate into our homes, but if we don’t get any this year I’m going to get more cocoons next year and see if I can’t convince some bees to stick around.

Bee House Bee Homes

We don’t have the outdoor space the Hirtle’s have for their garden, but it’s amazing what you can grow in an apartment with some pots, containers, and hydroponic systems. The real test will be later in the summer when our plants start producing food we can eat. Between our garden, the Fresh Roots Urban CSA we joined, and our weekly trips to the farmer’s markets, we’re going to be eating lots of fresh vegetables this summer.