Tag Archives: urban gardening

Soil Building workshop, Wed September 26th, 6-8 pm

Image by rcferdin, used under Creative Commons license

A productive garden starts with healthy soil.  Learn how to build your soil naturally (and cheaply!) to increase your food yields as well as the nutrition of the veggies you’re growing.

Topics covered will include:  an overview of organic soil building strategies, physical analysis (soil types and structures), organic matter, composting basics, soil nutrients and pH, sheet mulching (aka lasagna gardening) and green manures.  The wonderful Jill Dalton of Lifecycles will be teaching, and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from her, you’ll know that her workshops are packed with information but also extremely fun and encouraging/empowering.   Don’t miss this event!

Email slugs.coordinator@gmail.com to register

Location:  The straw bale building at the Compost Education Centre, 1216 North Park St, Victoria, BC

Suggested donation:  $5-10 (no one turned away)

Haultain Common: The Season in Photos

Photo by Mike Large

As you may know, SLUGS has been partnering with the Haultain Common for 2012 and holding monthly workshops/work parties at the Common.  We’re stoked to have the chance to work with the Commoners because it gives us a chance to put all our gardening learning into practice while helping to build an amazing community food resource.

We’ve been snapping photos when we have a chance throughout the year, and I wanted to put them together in one place so you could see the evolution of what we’ve been working on.  From a dormant winter garden on a drafty February afternoon to a riotous food forest in the August heat, here is the season at the Common! Continue reading

Haultain Common Tour and Work Party, Monday August 13th, 7-9 pm

Another great opportunity to tour this amazing community boulevard garden and food resource and lend a hand with a few tasks here and there.

The Common-ers and youth from the SLUGS program have been spending the season planning, building, weeding and harvesting at this rad communal garden space!  From a mostly bare boulevard in February to the bountiful food forest that exists now, it’s been a lot of work, but with really satisfying (and delicious) results.

Stop by on Monday August 13th to tour the Common, learn more about permaculture food forests and boulevard gardens, and help us do a bit of weeding.  We’ll be meeting at 7pm — the day’s heat will have mellowed by then, but we’ll still have plenty of light to work and talk and learn by.  Hope to see you there!

Location:  The Haultain Common, 1420 Haultain (at Asquith)

Cost:  free!

Urban Homesteading Book Reviews

I tend to spend a lot of time reading about urban agriculture projects (both because I have a rad job that allows me to do so and because I am a nerd who would do so anyway) and recommending resources to folks looking to get started on an apartment balcony garden or amp up their sustainable urban ways.  I’ve put together reviews of four urban homesteading books I’ve read recently (all of which are available at the Victoria Public Library), and would love to hear about what books or online resources you’ve read and enjoyed as well. Continue reading

Seasonal recipe round-up: Peas!

One of my favourite parts of summer is eating fresh pod and sugar snap peas right from the garden.  Honestly, I don’t usually plant enough to actually have any left over to cook with after my snacking frenzy has abated (with the exception of my year farming when I was drowning in peas but lacking in time to cook them), but I made an effort to plant more this year and am hoping to try out some recipes.  I’ve collected some delicious looking options below — hope you dig them!

Minty Pea Pesto:  If you’re still only making the standard basil/parmesan/pine nut pesto, it’s time to start branching out.  Not just because pine nuts are now approximately the same price as gold, but because because there are so many other tasty flavour combinations to check out.  This minty pea pesto from The Cozy Herbivore is vegan (miso subs for parmesan to create a similar depth of flavour while cutting out the dairy) and looks incredibly flavourful.  Pesto freezes well, also, so this could be a good way to stock away your excess pea harvest.

Pickled Sugar Snap Peas:  This recipe for hot water bath canned pickled snap peas from Blazing Hot Wok would be pretty fast to make, and looks amazing (of course, that statement is coming from someone whose judgement is altered by a fairly serious pickle addiction, so keep that in mind).   The author suggests the pickles as a good companion to charcuterie, but I suspect they would be pretty totally great just fished out of the jar and eaten on their own as well.

Fresh Pea Salad:  Heidi of 101 Cookbooks describes this dish as a “jazzed up pea salad with a spicy mint-date dressing [with] some shredded romaine lettuce and a few toasted pumpkin seeds for added crunch and texture.”  I’ve long been a fan of Heidi’s simple but original recipes, and this one is no exception.  The mint-date dressing sounds like it could be pretty versatile as well — you could always make a double batch and try tossing it with grains or pasta as well.

Chilled Pea Pod Soup:  This soup recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini is most excellently frugal, as it makes use of your pea pods after you have already shelled and devoured their contents.  The author describes it as “the nose-to-tail philosophy applied to the vegetable kingdom,” which is a pretty fantastic idea.  I had never realized that I could do much of anything with my pea pods besides toss them into the compost, so I’m stoked to try this simple but delicious looking chilled soup.

Fresh Green Peas and Sugar Snap Peas in Sesame Dressing:  You can’t get much simpler and faster than this double-pea recipe from Epicurious — the peas are just-cooked and tossed with an easy but flavourful looking dressing.  It looks like a great summer side dish, and you could easily adapt the idea to any flavourful dressing or sauce.

Peas and Lettuce:  I have always, perhaps unfairly, been slightly suspicious of cooked lettuce.  Maybe it’s just a lack of imagination on my part, but it kind of weirds me out, frankly.  With that said, this recipe for peas and lettuce with its allusions to simplicity and adaptations of traditional French cooking techniques makes a reasonable case for lightly cooked lettuce.  Plus, it’s a good candidate for an all-garden meal, with the main ingredients being peas, mint and lettuce, all of which many of us can pluck straight out of our yards.  I should probably at least give it a try in the interests of not narrowing my culinary options:  if cooked lettuce proves to be amazing, I will feel like a bit of a jerk for neglecting it all these years.

Book Review! Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen

This book is amazing!  I got it from the library, but am seriously considering buying my own copy:  such is the radness contained herein.  Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen also wrote The Urban Homestead, which I dug, and I think this book is even better, or at least a fantastic follow-up.  In the intro to Making It, the authors talk about how The Urban Homestead was basically a book of ideas, and they wanted to follow that up with a practical toolbox.  I’m all for this line of reasoning — we need broad and inspiring visions for the future every bit as much as we need the nuts-and-bolts skills for how to get from here to there.

Coyne and Knutzen have a pretty epic urban homestead from the sounds of things, but many of these projects will also be completely within reach for folks who live in apartments and are just starting to learn how to garden or compost or become do-it-yourself makers of stuff.  I like how approachable they make the process of learning:  the book is organised into five sections:  day to day, week to week, month to month, season to season and infrastructure.   Each individual project gives you a very clear idea of the time commitment you’re making by taking it on.  If you’re working from the day to day section, you can start with what the authors describe as “gateway projects that may addict you to a more homegrown lifestyle,” such as homemade oil lamps that take five minutes to make, simple homemade tooth powder, styling gel (just flaxseeds and water, amazingly enough!), and the like.  Week to week tackles anything from easy one-pot meals to old-fashioned vinegar-based sodas like the adorably named switchel to basic sewing skills.  Month to month will school you on indoor gardening, tinctures, cloth menstrual pads and many other handy things.  Season to season contains more ambitious projects like soap-making, saving seeds, and how to espalier.  Basically, this book will inspire you, but also give you the practical tools and instructions needed to turn that inspiration into concrete results.

If you’re feeling inspired already, but your copy of Making It hasn’t appeared o the library hold shelf, I would recommend checking out Coyne and Knutzen’s blog, Root Simple.  They are mega frequent bloggers, posting anything from cool random DIY links to more involved tutorials or descriptions of their projects.  Definitely worth adding to your list of places on the internet machine to check out from time to time.

My initial quick browse through Root Simple turned up some inspiring and varied projects that I wanted to share:  Our New Earth Oven and How We Built It, Ditching the “Flushie” for a Composting ToiletHow to Roast Your Own Coffee in a Stovetop Popcorn Maker, and 3 Things To Do With Citrus Peel are all pretty totally fascinating, clearly presented, and look really fun to work on.  

Seasonal Recipe Round-up: Radish Rampage Edition

I was thinking that I must be ridiculously behind on the gardening front since I’m still getting lots of radishes and not a ton of other produce from my garden, but my informal survey of pals tells me that due to the cold, wet spring, we’re all pretty much in the same boat.  As such, the theme of this month’s recipe round-up is a radish extravaganza.  As good as they are to eat straight out of the garden or sliced in salads, it can be good to switch it up once in awhile.  Hope you get a chance to try some of these recipes and that you dig them!

Quick Pickled Radishes:  Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars doesn’t really seem to be able to write a non-compelling recipe.  As such, this quick radish pickle looks great.  She suggests this recipe as a great way to deal with a glut of extra produce (it’s so easy to make that it would be easy to scale up), and notes that the recipe is a bit of a blank slate and is great to customize with whatever seasonings suit your fancy.

Zero-Waste Radish Green Pesto:  I’ve never really sorted out a good use for radish greens, so I was stoked to find this pesto recipe from The Cultivated Life.  The recipe itself looks delicious (Meyer lemon peel and pistachio = maximum tastiness), but I think you could also veganize it or sub radish greens into a favourite pesto recipe of yours if you’d like to switch it up.

Radish Butter:  Described as her “most favorite radish recipe ever” by the author at Grow It Can It Cook It, this radish butter recipe looks kind of totally amazing.  For one thing, you can use even your more ugly cracked, split radishes for it; for another, it is pretty much as easy as mixing it all together, and finally, c’mon, it’s a bunch of butter — you can’t go wrong.

Baked Radish Chips:  If kale chips are getting a little old and you’re trying to avoid cozying up with a bag of potato chips too often, these radish chips from Simple Comfort Food look like a great option.  They get bold colour and flavour from turmeric and curry powder, but you could likely tweak those seasonings to good effect, if you were so inclined.

Spicy Radish Relish:  This radish relish recipe from Milkweed Diaries would be mega fast if you had a food processor, but a good meditative process with just a hand grater as well.  The author says it makes a potent relish that can be used as a topping or palate cleanser, but she also suggests it as a great healing tonic for the winter months when your immune system is feeling less than peppy.

Radish Salsa:  This Mark Bittman recipe was a total essential for me the year I was farming.  We were essentially drowning in radishes all through the spring and I rapidly exhausted my existing repertoire for radish recipes.  This salsa is easy to make as well as shockingly delicious.  Give it a try!