Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer's in Full Swing

Hi garden enthusiasts!

It's hard to believe that August has already arrived, though the heat wave and hazy skies (from forest fires in interior British Columbia) have hit us as only mid-summer can.

The garden is also letting us know that it's summer. We cut our teeth on the early season crops - radishes, arugula, peas - and now the 'hot season' crops are starting to do their thing.

As organizers, we are starting to feel like we've hit our stride. Every Sunday we have a small but enthusiastic group of volunteers who clean, weed, build and water the garden and then go home with an ever-growing assortment of vegetables. Here are some of the hauls we've gotten so far:

May 21 - I think this was our first harvest! Kale, arugula, and some green garlic (our garlic was planted very closely together and we wanted to thin it out a bit!)

June 4 - Radishes, lavender, sage, arugula, and some nemophilia (also known as 'baby blue eyes', a delicious flower in a salad!) 
June 25 - this is where our berries went wild! Raspberries, strawberries, as well as kale, lots more edible flowers (more nemophilia as well as nasturtiums), more sage and peas!
Our first tomatoes are just starting to turn red, and we're eyeing tiny summer squash, knowing that one day we will arrive in the garden to find squash the size of our head ready to be picked. We even have a few cucumbers showing up!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cambie Square Communal Garden is back for spring!

Happy 2017 everyone! Despite being extremely shy this year, spring has finally arrived and that means it’s time to get back in the Cambie Square Communal Garden. We have lots of fresh faces and are excited to get our hands in the soil and start growing food for the Mount Pleasant Community!

We are running the garden this year basically as it’s been run in the past – everyone working together. We’re new, though, so a few things may change – bear with us. As a core group, we’ll establish the overall garden plan and make sure essential tasks are getting done – and for the rest, we need your help! We’ll be bringing back the Sunday morning work parties – starting this Sunday, May 7th – and welcome everyone from the community to come out, share the work, and then share some of the harvest (veggies permitting – give ‘em time to grow)!

To get ready for our work parties, last week we got our hands dirty prepping the soil and getting some early-season crops in the ground.

Greg digging, Kate planting - and some beautiful mesclun mix in a gardener's hand
Greg digging, Kate planting - and some beautiful mesclun mix in a gardener's hand

We learned that last year, the first two beds were getting overgrown with raspberries – stealing valuable water and nutrients from the plants that were trying to grow there. So, with a sieve and some muscle, we dug out as many roots as we could. While we were at it, we tried to clean up some of the mint that was starting to take over the herb bed. Both of these plants, while delicious and wonderful producers in the garden, can cause problems by taking over the space of other crops - so we have to make sure to control them!

Greg and Michelle clearing raspberry roots - and the long mint rhizomes pulled from the herb bed!
Greg and Michelle clearing raspberry roots - and the long mint rhizomes
pulled from the herb bed!

And with that, we’re excited to get going on this season!

If you’re interested to come out and help on Sunday, May 7th, please send us an email at! See you there!

Arugula bebes!PS. Here’s a little glimpse of arugula babies just peeking out of the soil 😊

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fruits of our Labour (June 28th)

The time has come to reap the fruits of our labour..... :D 

The peas leaves are turning yellow and the pods are full.


Over the past months, we had been slowly adding twine to our pea trellis - it's become a piece of artwork!!



The fava beans are also ready to be picked.

We decided to cut the plants just above the soil and leave the roots to hold the soil structure together.


After we harvested the peas, we prepared the bed for planting kale. While we were digging around, look what we found! 
These white nodules are the results of rhizobia bacteria that live symbiotically in the roots of legumes and fix nitrogen in the soil. We are happy to have a healthy bed!


As our summer progresses, our broccoli plants are finally coming up so much so that they are looming over the strawberries!

Here's a close up look at crown....Someone's going home with some broccoli today!

We now have young nasturtium seedlings. We planted the seeds back on May 31st along with some marigolds but there are no signs of the marigolds yet. The seeds may have been too old.

Our shasta daisies are bloomin! One of the ways to encourage more blooming daisies is to "deadhead" them. Cutting the flowers with shears or a sharp knife just as they're about to wilt or turning brown, will encourage new growth and hence, more flowers. You want to cut them back to the first set of leaves or to the point where the wilting/dying flowers meet healthy blooms or buds..

Our squash has been growing very quickly. Every time we think we can wait 'til next week to harvest, it's already too late. Ronde de Nice squash is supposed to be picked when they're baseball-sized. 

 Look at this! We got this just a week later!

The squash is also running all over the garden! 

You can see it creeping over the hedge and going onto the rain barrel here...

We decided to harvest the Napa cabbage before it got eaten further, plus it was starting to bolt.

The sweet peas are finally flowering, providing pollinators with more sources of nectar...

Tomatoes are drying out as these are our hottest beds (Beds 1, 2) but we are getting a few tomatoes (Green Zebra) now.

We've also been finding that the soil is really sandy in Bed 1. This would be a good bed to plant some fava beans or winter field peas to add nitrogen back into the soil. 

The watermelon we transplanted is coming along. Hopefully we'll get some fruit soon!

The striped zucchinis we transplanted are doing well. We have one zucchini already forming. You can see it in the picture on the left below - it's towards the back of the plant.

We harvested the rest of our garlic this week as they were all bending over from the wind accident last week. In its place, we planted some beets, radishes and carrots. 

I think we'll have to replace the phlox. With the combination of being stepped on several times by people harvesting raspberries and not looking at where they're stepping, plus not getting enough water, I think it is now dead....  :(

The arugula is starting to go to seed so we harvested them. A lettuce head is also forming quite nicely.

Our very green harvest this week - garlic, Ronde de Nice squash, garlic, greens, mint, beans and peas.

Napa cabbage, Ronde de Nice squash, mint, shelling peas, snap peas and fava beans

Fava beans, lettuce, arugula, mseclun mix, curly cress and garlic.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Progress Report for the Garden (June 14th)

During the week, there was a crazy windstorm. When we came to the garden, we found that all our garlic was bending over! I think that the wind picked up some of our cold frames and deposited them onto our garlic, thus bending them over with the weight!

 We also had an accident with one of our tomato plants that was doing very well - to our horror, one of the main branches snapped in two!

But, not to fear....plants can be quite resilient so this is what we did to try and save the plant. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it works!

The squash in the tomato bed is producing flowers. The flowers are edible - You can stuff them with cream cheese, bread it and deep fry it! When picking squash flowers, you want to make sure you pick the male flowers only and leave the female ones alone. They're the ones that give you your squash!

How do you tell the difference? The female flowers tend to be closer to the middle and if you look at the base of the flower, there will be a swollen embryonic fruit if it has been pollinated. Male flowers tend to be more showy and are on long skinny stalks all along the plant.

Our cabbage is being eaten...but not by us!

The Napa cabbage is also a bit holey and they don't look as pretty as the ones we get at the store. That's because commercial farmers "blanch" their Napa cabbage - this process involves tying or wrapping up the cabbage heads with soft twine or some other soft material so that the heads are tighter and outer leaves are not so easily damaged. This produces whiter and more tender leaves, plus it deters pests from munching on the soft tender insides of the cabbage!

The 2 sisters are doing well. Another unidentifiable purple flowering plant has grown behind this bed. Anyone know what it is?

A nice surprise was finding some purple alyssum in amongst the white alyssum we planted. It's so pretty!

This is our arugula cut back. You can see the bush beans are coming up.

The bee balm we transplanted awhile back is doing good so long as it's been getting enough water. It has produced some flowers this season but hopefully there will be more next year.

The peppers are doing okay but no flowers yet....It would be great to get a few this season since we don't usually have this hot, hot weather.

The lettuce is happy (and so are we!) in the shaded area but there isn't any signs of  cauliflower heads yet....

That's all for this week....more to come.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Berries are ready! (June 7th)

We came to the garden today and found lots of strawberries and sun-ripened raspberries.

It's been getting hotter and hotter in the garden and Beds 1 and 2 are especially dry. We have been watering everyday and still, it doesn't seem quite enough.

The phlox that we transplanted a few weeks ago is not doing well. It was planted beside Bed 1 and I think it's been trampled several times by people who are not paying attention to where they're stepping because they are just reaching for raspberries!
The phlox is where the white tag is on the left side of the bed. 

The spinach is bolting (aka going to seed) because of the heat but the alyssum is providing a good ground cover for the bed. We decided to harvest all the spinach.

The bush beans we planted is coming up nicely. The arugula and mesclun mix have been doing really well. We have since harvested it several times over the past month. It's been cut right down and keeps growing back. It's planted in the shadier side of the garden so that decreases the chances of bolting.

The squash is also coming along nicely and providing ground cover for our "2 Sisters" Bed. The corn (you can see it on the right front corner of the bed) is not growing fast enough to make it 3 Sisters! Our pole beans are just starting to climb up.

We planted more carrots and beets this week. The pepper plants are surviving in this heat.

When we first got to the garden in early March, there was nothing much in the flower bed. Now it is in full bloom and these plants have been here for a few years. We sowed some calendula and marigold seeds in this bed but it looks like they didn't make it. We also transplanted the Verbena bonariensis and Phygelius "Cape Fuchsia" in this bed but they are probably buried at this point.

In the back left corner, we have Crocosmia (with the pointy leaves), dahlias are in the middle (not very obvious right now). In the front left corner, we have Berginia with the dark waxy green leaves (it will have smaller pink clusters of flowers), a type of stonecrop, in the middle, and Heuchera (dark magenta) on the front right corner.

I'm still trying to figure out this mystery plant that's starting to sprout all over our garden. Anyone know?

Our harvest for this week: lots of arugula, the spinach, lettuce and berries (I think we ate them all before we got home!).