Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Expert tips to save your lawn from the chafer beetle

Give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem. Photos by Julie Cheng

Give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem. Photos by Julie Cheng

BY SOREN ELSAY

If there is one thing that homeowners love as much as their home, it’s their lawn. It’s often the most noticeable part of someone’s landscape and often functions as a convenient spot for mini soccer matches or picnics.

Lawns are also under attack in Vancouver. Thanks to the notorious chafer beetle, people across the Lower Mmainland are seeing their beloved grass shredded, seemingly overnight. While it may seem inevitable, there are a few tactics that you can take to reduce the chances that your lawn faces the same fate that so many others have fallen to.

The chafer beetle is not in fact the animal responsible for tearing up your lawn; rather, the chafer beetle is the catalyst for the destruction of people’s green pride and joy.

Crows and raccoons dig up your lawn to get at the delicious little white grubs.

Crows and raccoons dig up your lawn to get at the delicious little white grubs.

The beetle lays its larva roughly two to four inches under the grass, unnoticeable to the naked eye. What is noticeable is when the local wildlife comes searching for the delicious little white grubs, and your lawn is the only thing standing in their way. Mostly through crows, which shred lawns small chunk by small chunk, and racoons, which peel back the grass in large patches, this wildlife is virtually unstoppable once they decide that your lawn in the source of their next meal.

If you are looking for a way to ensure your lawn stays flawless then artificial turf is the only sure bet in this day and age. For those who want to keep the natural look but don’t want to go down without a fight, there are a couple of things that can be done to mitigate the chance of the chafer beetle battle playing out in your yard.

Keep your lawn healthy

The best protective measures are the preemptive ones, which is to say, give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem.

This means maintaining a healthy lawn and keeping your grass slightly longer than you normally would. Healthy, thick, longish grass is the best defence against the beetle getting into the soil, as the healthier and longer the grass, the heartier the root system and the harder it is for the beetle to penetrate the outer layer.

Proper aeration and topsoil applied early in the season, as well as continued watering and fertilization are factors that can lead to a thick, healthy lawn. While many people love the golf-green-style short grass, I would recommend keeping your grass at least three inches long. It may not offer the crisp look of super-short grass, but it beats witnessing the slow destruction of your lawn.

Superbugs to the rescue

Nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of chafer beetles.

Nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of chafer beetles.

If your lawn does fall victim to the local wildlife, not all hope is lost. Nematodes are microscopic living organisms that feed on other living organisms (like the chafer beetle larva) and are easily applied. Available at most large lawn and garden care centres, nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of pests.

Applied by mixing into water that gets sprayed evenly across the lawn, nematodes are biological warfare at its most basic level. It is important to note that once applied, nematodes require constant watering, often more than summer water restrictions allow. A City of Vancouver permit will allow you to get an exemption from these bylaws.

Soren Elsay has worked as a 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

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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


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March 2018 issue of RCC News is here

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News March 2018

Happy spring! This issue of the RCC News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Small is beautiful! Neighbourhood Small Grants projects are back
  • Celebrating 20 years of RCC News: Cathy Folkard: The light shines on
  • Connections and Resilience Lab
  • Local youth Maggie Fong wins City of Vancouver Awards of Excellence
  • MLA Adrian Dix addresses resident concerns about homeless housing
  • Nutrition Month 2018 — Unlock the Potential of Food
  • Expert tips to get your lawn and garden going this spring

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the April 2018 issue is March 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.


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The girl who ran away to join the circus … And stayed

Tuedon Ariri’s amazing journey from Collingwood to École Nationale de Cirque

BY SOREN ELSAY

Tuedon Ariri practising contorsion straps

Tuedon Ariri practising contorsion straps at the Ecole. Photo by Mathieu Doyon

For most people, running away to join the circus is merely a pipe dream or an empty threat aimed at one’s parents. However, for one Collingwood resident, this fantasy has become a reality. Tuedon Ariri is currently attending École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal, one of the most prestigious circus schools in the world, where the 17 year old has just entered the first year of the Diploma of Collegial Studies in Circus Arts program.

Ariri got her start in gymnastics in the Collingwood area at a very young age. “When I was really young, about four or five [years old], my mom decided to put me in a [gymnastics] class in the Collingwood area just for fun,” Ariri recalls.

After a couple of years of participating on a recreational level with rhythmic gymnastics, Ariri was ready for a new challenge. In the years following her first competition at the age of seven, Ariri began dedicating herself to her new-found passion, training with former Olympic gold medalist Lori Fung.

“We would train 24 hours a week, every morning from six until 10, head to school and then occasionally train again after from four until eight at night,” explains Ariri. All of this hard work paid off as Ariri had success in tournaments on provincial, national and international levels all before her 16th birthday.

As part of her year-round training, Ariri would attend the École Nationale de Cirque summer camp in Montreal in the summers leading up to grades 8, 9 and 10. This is where Ariri’s life took a drastic turn.

“In my third year [the school] decided to hold auditions at the summer camp,” explains Ariri. “I decided to try out just for fun and to see what it was like in case I ever wanted to attend the school.” It turned out that Ariri passed the audition with flying colours and was offered an opportunity to finish the last three years of high school at the National Circus School on the opposite side of the country in Montreal.

With only four days to make a decision, Ariri faced a huge decision, on whether to give up rhythmic gymnastics and the life she knew in favour of joining the Circus. “It was a hard decision but in the end I decided to go because it was such a good opportunity and it’s also something that you could have a career in.”

Tuedon Ariri at the Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal

Tuedon Ariri typically spends 12 hours a day training at the impressive facilities at the École Nationale de Cirque, including this three-storey gym seen in the background complete with cables and counterweights hanging from the ceiling and a trampoline built into the floor. Photo by Julie Cheng

Once enrolled at the school, Ariri’s high school experience became anything but normal. “It [consisted] of four hours of training a day, then five hours of regular school activities,” says Ariri.

After graduating from high school last spring, Ariri is now enrolled in the three-year post-graduate program offered by the school. She has chosen to specialize in contortion straps, where her gymnast background gives her a definite boost. Although her upper body strength is still improving, the creativity and freedom of it are what really drew Ariri to the contortion straps in the first place.

On a typical weekday, Ariri puts in about 12 hours of work. “On Wednesdays I start at 8:30 am but arrive around 8:00 to warm up and stretch, then an hour of hula-hoop class, an hour of straps which is my specialty, an hour of dance, an hour of acrobatics, after lunch I have an hour of juggling, then an hour of physical preparation (gym, weights ), two hours of acting, a break for dinner, and then two hours of English class,” Ariri explains.

Like most of the students, after graduation Ariri plans on pursuing a career in the circus. “There are many other circuses in Montreal that are very high quality and many over in Europe, but I would love to work for Cirque du Soleil personally.”

It is fair to say that Tuedon Ariri is not living your typical teenage life. While it may be a lot of long days full of hard work, Ariri is achieving a long-lost fantasy for many people, running off to join the circus, and loving every moment of it.

Soren Elsay is a second year student at the University of B.C. and an aspiring journalist.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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October 2013 issue of the RCC News is here

The new issue is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News October 2013

Read RCC News October 2013

Get your issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Medical marijuana coalition fights repeal
  • Your family tree – Tips for free research
  • My life in art by Janet Lee
  • The value of heritage: A vintage photo comes to life
  • Nasib Singh: A cup of chai on rainy days
  • Introducing intercultural connectors to get the community moving
  • The girl who ran away to the circus – And stayed: Tuedon Ariri’s journey from Collingwood to a famed circus school

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca. The deadline for the November issue is October 10, 2013.


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Former BC Lions running back recalls his journey from the Deep South to north of the border

BY SOREN ELSAY

You may know him as the quiet, soft-spoken guy helping you behind the counter at Renfrew Park Community Centre, but John Henry White was once a punishing force as a running back for the BC Lions.

Before he played over 120 games and racked up over 8,000 yards in the Canadian Football League as #20 for the Lions, John Henry White very nearly remained in the United States. After starring for Louisiana Tech University, the diminutive White, who stands at 5’9”, had an outside chance of playing in the National Football League. Originally drafted in the eighth and final round of the 1978 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, White nearly made the Chiefs’ opening day roster.

“I was the final player released by the Chiefs that year,” explains White. “I could have easily stayed [in the NFL], but I would have been on the inactive roster and [the inactive roster] wasn’t nearly the same as it is today.”

Instead, White entertained the idea of migrating north. Although the BC Lions coach at the time, Vic Rapp, had been in contact with him during his college career, White knew very little about the CFL.

“I hadn’t really looked at the CFL much, I’m from the deep south of Louisiana, and I knew certain things about the CFL but not a lot,” recalls White. “The first team that [approached] me was Saskatchewan … I had never even heard of that name!”

After signing with BC, White was forced to adjust to the many differences between the Canadian and American version football, such as a wider field, one fewer down and the ability for multiple players to be in motion before the ball is snapped. Although he gained much of his knowledge through team classroom sessions and one-on-one talks with teammates, White still had to personally alter his game.

“[In college] you would look to go wide, get to the sideline and then go [upfield],” explains White, “but in the CFL, [the field] was so wide that you could just keep going east and west and end up going nowhere. That was a big transition.”

“The biggest thing was the motion, though. In college you could only have one guy in motion [before the snap] at once, up here you would sometimes have five guys moving at once; it was crazy.”

Once he had gotten a handle on the new game, White became a steady contributor for the Lions with 35 touchdowns over the course of 10 seasons in the league from 1978 to1987. Among his fondest memories of his time in the CFL are winning the 1985 Grey Cup and an 84-yard catch-and-run touchdown against Hamilton during the ’79 season.

Following the end of his football career, John Henry White chose to stay permanently in the city of Vancouver.

“It’s a beautiful city, but it’s actually the people that made me want to stay, ever since I first came here I’ve felt at home.”

John Henry White is currently a staff member at the Renfrew Park Community Centre and once coached the local junior football team, the Trojans.

Soren Elsay is a Langara student and an aspiring journalist.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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May 2013 issue of the RCC News is here

The new issue is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

RCC News May 2013Get your May 2013 issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Collingwood Days, Saturday, May 25 and Talent Show
  • Former BC Lions running back John Henry White – where is he now?
  • Slow-grilled lamb souvla – traditional recipe for Greek Orthodox Easter, by Rania Hatzioannou
  • Hoops for Hope at St. Mary’s a huge success
  • Van Tech music teacher receives award from Canadian star Shania Twain
  • She prays and I cook, Marino and Librada, a Collingwood couple

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca. The deadline for the June issue is May 10, 2013.