Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


Leave a comment

Read On: Growing your own food

Plant basil herb

Growing your own food has many benefits. It’s easy to start fresh herbs like basil indoors in spring for transplanting outside in the summer. Photo by Julie Cheng

BY TONY WANLESS

Do you grow your own food?

Many people today have found that growing some of their own food – vegetables, herbs, perhaps eggs if they have a hen house –in a window box or garden plot has many benefits.

One benefit is that food you grow usually costs less than store-bought food. That is why during times of hardship, such as the Depression and the Second World War, when people had little money, they grew food in their backyard or in shared garden spaces.

Also, growing their own food was often the only way they could get the kind of food that kept them healthy. During the Second World War, home food gardens were often called “victory gardens” – because they helped countries at war divert their resources to the war effort to achieve victory.

Today, although we are not at war, most people still like to cut costs. While a household may not grow rich by growing their own food, they will be able to cut some part of their annual food spending.

Another benefit is that freshly picked food is usually more tasty than store-bought food (which must be sorted, stored and delivered to grocery stores) because it is often eaten within minutes of being picked.

Although commercial growers try to move their fresh food from store to supermarkets quickly, the process still takes time. This is important, because all food loses vitamins and nutrients during the time from harvest to market.

In Vancouver, you can grow your own herbs, vegetables and other food in many ways. Some people simply put some containers on a balcony or porch. Others plant full gardens in a yard or any plot of land that is available.

Some people without yards rent space from “shared plots” – pieces of land in neighbourhoods where people can grow plants for a small rental fee. Think of it as backyard farming done in a collective way.

In the Renfrew-Collingwood area there are several such growing areas, including two large community gardens: one in the Collingwood area east of the Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain station, and the other in the Norquay area that was formerly located on Kaslo Street across from the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station and now is being planned for Slocan Park. (The Kaslo site is being turned into a place for the homeless.)

The Collingwood Neighbourhood House also offers several food initiatives and has much advice for those wanting to grow their own food. For more information visit http://www.cnh.bc.ca/community/renfrew-collingwood-food-security-institute/ or the blog https://rcfood.wordpress.com/

Definitions

  • hardship: a condition that is difficult; suffering
  • victory: the act of defeating an enemy or opponent
  • divert: to cause something or someone to change direction
  • cut: lessen or reduce
  • collective: done by people acting as a group

Word search

Read-On-Word-Search-May-2018

Click on the image to download this word search.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

3 easy tips to get your lawn and garden going this spring

Topdress-lawn

The new soil from topdressing will integrate itself into the existing material in a matter of weeks, and your lawn will thank you for it. Photos by Julie Cheng

BY SOREN ELSAY

The long-awaited end to winter is finally upon us and with it comes a fresh start for your lawn and garden. Whether you loved your garden and lawn last year or would rather forget that aspect of 2017, spring is the ideal time to set yourself up for a successful green season.

While the warming weather might seem like enough to get your lawn and garden going, there are a handful of things you can do to set yourself up for a satisfying year in your own personal green space.

Topdress your lawn and garden

Topdressing is the act of adding fresh (preferably richly composted) soil to both your lawn and garden. The best part of topdressing is how easy it is to do.

For your lawn, simply apply a thin, roughly half-inch layer evenly on top of your grass. Once applied, simply let it slowly consolidate into the existing soil layer. It may be visually jarring when you first see your nice green lawn coated in composted soil, but fear not, the new soil will integrate itself into the existing material in a matter of weeks, and your lawn will thank you for it.

In your garden, apply the fresh soil by digging down  four to six inches into your existing garden bed and blend your old soil with the new, composted material.

For both the lawn and garden, the topsoil will give a much-needed nutrient boost after the long winter.

Aerate your lawn

Manual aerating tools

Manual aerating tools. The holes from aerating allow nutrients from both the air and from moisture to penetrate your lawn with more ease.

Filed into the landscaping category of “short-term hit in exchange for long-term gain,” aerating your lawn will do wonders for your grass later in the season.

While there are a number of techniques for aerating a lawn, the basic premise is the same: puncturing holes in the ground in order to improve circulation amongst the roots. By breaking up the ground, these holes allow nutrients from both the air and from moisture to penetrate your lawn with more ease.

The most common machine used for this procedure is an aerator, which resembles a snowblower but instead of spitting snow, pulls out four-to-six-inch plugs of lawn and leaves them behind. If you don’t want to rent an aerator, or are looking for a new workout fad, pitchforks have been known to work as well, though at a much less efficient pace.

If you are planning on topdressing your lawn as well, make sure to aerate first before laying on the topsoil layer. The aeration will allow for quicker and easier absorption of the new soil.

Plant new or transplant

Although Vancouver has the reputation as a wet city, the rainfall that we receive in the non-winter months is actually significantly less than your garden needs. That is why the spring is ideal for both planting new items as well as transplanting existing ones to another spot in your garden. Once the summer rolls around, keeping the ground moist enough for a freshly installed plant to thrive is very tough, so take advantage of still-wet conditions before it’s too late.

When it comes to transplanting, always make sure to fill the new hole fully with water and then let it drain before putting the plant in the ground. This will ensure that the roots will remain hydrated while they are disturbed and at their most vulnerable. Continued watering after a transplant is also key to ensure a smooth transition.

Soren Elsay is a Vancouver-based professional landscaper. He is an aspiring writer with a bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News