Farming in Colombia so near the equator sheds a whole new meaning on the cliché, “early to bed, early to rise.” The sun sets around 5:40 and rises 12 hours later, give or take a few minutes. I cannot recall the last time I was asleep by 7:30 p.m., let alone night after night. I’m here working as a volunteer.
While the warmth of summer unfolds, I invariably find myself repeating my French father’s wartime food scavenging habits. Family karma asserts itself, and I find myself eagerly eyeing the raspberry and rhubarb plants edging the laneways while imagining tasty concoctions.
Our summer is so short that it seems shameful not to enjoy the season to the utmost. A summer stroll takes on more dimensions when you stop to pick food and mentally savour the fresh taste of your harvest. Knowing I’m getting much-needed exercise makes me feel virtuous. This virtuous feeling is further enhanced when I think of the copious quantities of vitamin C contained in both rhubarb and raspberries.
Letter to the Editor:
On many walks through my neighbourhood (Alberta Avenue), I see an abundance of the creeping bellflower plant, either in clumps in back alleys, or displayed with pride in people’s front yard gardens.
The City of Edmonton has designated this plant as a noxious weed.
The West Nile virus worries me. Not because of the one in a million chance I might get infected, but because we don’t need another excuse to demonize the outdoors.
Ours is the first society that spends the majority of its time indoors. According to studies, the average North American spends less than two hours per day outside. Compared to our climate-controlled, sealed and sanitized homes, we have developed the attitude that nature is uncomfortable, disorderly, unsanitized and potentially dangerous. Possibly true.
Every spring, Andrea Ruelling reads Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life for inspiration.
Her garden is inspirational as well. The front yard is divided into raised beds, two of which are self-watering. Peas and squash plants climb lattices, ripe strawberries tempt passersby, lettuce and carrots flourish. That’s but a sampling of the front yard, never mind a backyard full of potatoes, dill, tomatoes, sunflowers, raspberries, rhubarb and more.
Himalayan Balsam is a beautiful flower, but its seeds launch six meters and quickly overtakes other plants.
“Invasive plants don’t grow naturally here, they’re brought in intentionally or unintentionally,” said Daniel Laubhann, environmental technician with the city. “In a natural environment, other factors keep the plants in check.”
Growing herbs, especially from seed, requires months of work before seeing results. By this time, you just want to let your plants grow, but then all at once they’ve gone to seed. Pruning and harvesting encourages fuller growth and a bigger yield.
Two important rules apply to harvesting most herbs. One: never pick more than one-third of a plant’s leaves at once. Two: let the plant recover before harvesting again. Beyond that, everyone has their own method, from selectively picking single leaves all over the plant to snapping off entire stems.
A few things in Edmonton seem to be irrefutable: the gardening season isn’t long enough and there aren’t enough adult-only neighbourhood events. The solution: a garden party.
On June 25, the Alberta Avenue Community League is holding its third annual Rubber Boots and Bow Ties Garden Party. The event is a way for people in Alberta Avenue to get to know each other, but all area residents are invited.
We all want glorious gardens where pests don’t pester. The unseasonably warm weather has meant our plants are starting to thrive. But healthy plants are attractive to insects and other pests, which can decimate a garden in no time.
Spring is here, and we want to see your bloomin’ great yards! The Front Yards in Bloom program is all about recognizing neighbours who make an effort to beautify their front yards.