Dear <<First Name>>,
All the best for 2017 – health, abundance and joy in your home and garden!
After the indulgences of the holidays and plenty of sick friends and family around, it feels good to have some snow for cross-country skiing. I’ve also launched into a bit of a sprouting frenzy because I’m craving clean, green food to balance the sugar and carbs of the last couple of weeks. See how you can get started below.
Microgreens and Sprouts - 'How to and Let's do' Workshop
Kick start the year with sprouts and microgreens you can grow yourself with minimal time, effort and cost. Seeds are packed with nutrients and vitamins that give you energy and keep you healthy during winter. Take home a starter crop, and learn all about the materials and methods required for success, from super simple (and dirt cheap!) to more involved. This workshop is hands-on, informative and fun!
Date: Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Location: St. Albert Grain Elevator Park, 4 Meadowview Lane, St. Albert
Bring: Please bring a recycled container, such as a 250 mL hummus or sour cream container, an aluminum pie plate, a used salad greens container, etc. Also, please bring a plastic bag to fit this container. Soil and enough seeds for a starter crop will be provided.
Cost: $25 early bird until January 8; regular registration fee is $30
Optional Starter Kit to kick-start and diversify your indoor sprout garden:
3 litres of seedling starter mix, 1 glass jar with cheesecloth cover, 1 package of seeds, 1 clay saucer; Cost: $12 (must be ordered by January 27)
Indoor Growing – Options and Opinions
Outdoor growing is still a few months away and so the idea of indoor gardening is very appealing. I have the privilege of coordinating Little Green Thumbs, an indoor gardening program for school children. With sufficient wattage and the right spectrum for plant growth, the children grow veggies from seed to harvest in the middle of our long winter. However, the power consumption and ecological footprint compared to the amount of food produced is not favorable for home use. That will likely change with further advances in LED technology. The good news is that leafy greens such as kale, arugula, chard and spinach need less light and don’t mind cooler temperatures. They can grow under a set of fluorescent tubes or a seedling starter light (see “Should you invest in a Grow Light?”).
This winter, I started some kale from West Coast Seeds (“Kale Storm”, pellets with 4 varieties of kale in each pellet) because our Little Green Thumbs schools are growing it. I planted it on November 5 and so after two months, a few leaves can be harvested, along with the remnants of arugula I started in an Earthbox at the end of August. Often, when moving containers indoors, you end up with aphids, but this box seems fine, other than some fungus gnats.
While indoor gardening is fun and encouraged (see Seeds of Diversity newsletter), it’s a lot of effort and space for relatively small crops. Some folks seem to have fun with a Tower Garden, if you don’t mind growing hydroponically, the cost of the equipment and space requirement.
In my opinion, your best “bang for your buck” in our winter season is growing some herbs, and focusing your energy into growing sprouts and microgreens. I hope you have the opportunity to join my workshop at the end of this month.
Workshop Survey – what do you want to learn in 2017?
If you haven’t filled out this very brief survey, please let me know your interests.
The Passing of Two Permaculture Greats – Bill Mollison and Toby Hemenway
In 2016, we’ve lost two very influential permaculture teachers. In fact, Bill Mollison is considered to be the father and co-founder of the permaculture movement. His reflections, observations and theories were first published in the book “Permaculture One” with David Holmgren in 1978. He founded the Permaculture Institute in Tasmania, and developed the curriculum and resources for the Permaculture Design Course and Certification (PDC). These courses are now taught in the fashion of “train the trainer” all over the world. I have participated in two Permaculture Design Courses and I draw on the ethics, principles and strategies on a daily basis.
Bill’s impact can’t be summed up, but I like this quote: “There is one and only one solution and we have almost no time to try it. We must turn all our resources to repairing the natural world and train all our young people to help. They want to. We need to give them the last chance to create forests, soils, clean waters, clean energies, secure communities, stable regions, and to know how to do it from hands-on experience.”
I never met Bill, but I had the pleasure to attend a workshop with another great permaculture teacher, Toby Hemenway, author of “Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture”. This book is very practical and well worth purchasing (or borrowing from the library).
Toby was a very dynamic speaker who provided a wealth of ideas for permaculture in cities and how we can live as horticultural societies. His website has lots of great resources and thought provoking lectures, such as “Redesigning Civilization with Permaculture”,
My efforts in self-sufficiency with veggies include experimenting with food storage, especially the storage of fresh produce. So in the fall, I try to leave veggies in the garden for as long as possible, then move them into the “root cellar” or fridge when space and temperature allows.
Here is what I did with two very large winter cabbages that I had to pull from my community garden plot by mid-October:
1. I gently pulled and dug up the entire plant, including the root. Cabbages have a fairly long stalk, so this is not all that difficult.
2. I buried the roots again in my home garden. I “planted” them under the cover of one of my cold frames and insulated them with some straw. This was only temporary and extra work, but I was in a hurry and not quite ready.
3. In early November I transferred them each into a plastic bucked with some potting mix, actually the buckets I had used to grow tomatoes. I watered them very lightly, then covered them with a plastic bag secured with string around the top of the bucket.
4. I kept the cabbages in the garage until the temps dipped below zero C. Then I moved them into my root cellar.
A few days ago, I ran out of some veggies and I have a bit more space in the fridge, so I pulled one of the cabbages out, cut off the stalk and removed the outer leaves (some were a bit moldy). The cabbage is beautiful and crunchy. Another fun experiment that has worked well! Let’s hope the second cabbage lasts another month or so.
Claudia Bolli, Wild Green Garden Consulting, www.wildgreen.ca
If you would like help with your plans, please contact me for a consultation or design, email@example.com.