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Wild Green Garden Consulting
Dear <<First Name>>,
I hope you find some useful tips and events in this newsletter.
 
Thursday, June 1 - Workshop - Garden Companions, Bugs and Weeds
Want to grow great food? Be prepared for the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ll hunt down some critters and discuss what action is appropriate. The session includes suggestions for helpful companions and how to deal with bugs and plants that are not as welcome.
Date: Thursday, June 1
Time and Location: 7-9 pm, St. Augustine's Anglican Church, 6110 Fulton Rd, Edmonton
Register
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Sunday, June 4 from 1:00 - 2:30 pm - Workshop - Make a Bucket Food Garden
Take home a self-watering bucket garden at the end of class! Learn how to grow delicious tomatoes in your affordable and easy to use container.
The workshop is demonstration and hands-on. You will make your own bucket garden and learn how to plant it.
More Info and Registration
Pre-registration and payment is required so that we'll have the materials ready.
Location: North end of Edmonton (exact address will be emailed with your registration confirmation)
Cost: $20
Maximum number of participants: To ensure everyone has a chance to take home a bucket garden, there is a limit of 10 participants. If possible, bring your own drill and/or jig saw for faster progress.

New Growing Zone and Challenges with Wind
I recently saw comments and an article that we are now in Zone 4a (slightly warmer than Zone 3b). I’ve been a bit envious of family members in BC growing a quince tree so the news is rather exciting. It means we have a better chance to get fruit from early blooming plums and apricots, and I’m hoping my Zone 4 Mount Royal Plum will not suffer from winter damage.
However, the recent windstorm is a reminder that our climate is capricious. While the night temperatures have been temptingly warm to plant out heat lovers like tomato, the wind is a real challenge. In my case, I kept the tomatoes in and I’m still hardening off a lot of plants that I’m hoping to plant out very soon.
Once they are ready to go out, I like to protect the plants with a tomato cage covered in a clear plastic bag. I buy the larger bags, drape them over the cage and rip a hole in the top for air exchange and rainwater to get in. I tie the bag to the cage at the bottom near the soil level. Once the soil warms up further, I mulch the plants with some straw to protect them from drying out too quickly.
Another idea is to pound stakes into the ground around a grouping of plants (i.e., corn) that need protection and then attaching large pieces of plastic or light fabric to create some walls, leaving the top open. Let’s hope the wind settles down very soon!

Reusing Your Potting Mix
I love growing food in containers as it allows for earlier growth. Also, you can take advantage of some sunny spots where you can’t have a garden bed, and some containers can be moved into the garage or house when an early fall frost threatens.
For containers, we can’t use garden soil because it’s heavy and hard. Potting mix is made from peat moss, vermiculite and perlite. While it’s light and holds water quite well, peat moss comes from our precious wetlands that are drained for harvest. Coconut choir is an option but it comes from very far away and has its own challenges. Therefore, I like to reuse my potting mix for as long as possible.
In the fall, I remove the plants, let the mix dry out and place the containers in a shed or under the waterproof deck. This is important for containers that might crack when the potting mix freezes.
In the spring, I dump all the containers out onto a tarp on the lawn (some grass is a useful work surface…). Then I usually mix in compost, up to about 20-30% of the total volume, and I re-moisten the dry mix.
This spring, I found that my potting mix seemed very dense and heavy. Since I also add compost, some worm castings and I use organic fertilizer, I think all kinds of microbes are happy in my containers. They are composting organic materials, which means that some good soil building is going on. This is a bit of speculation on my part as I don’t have the tools or skill to prove it.
I decided to purchase some perlite, a volcanic rock rich in silicon that is heated to expand the particles (see white perlite in photo). This creates important air spaces in the potting mix. Perlite also holds water, but less than vermiculite, another mineral that's part of most potting mixes. I used a shovel to mix the perlite thoroughly into the reused potting mix before watering and adding the growing medium back into my containers. Since the mix does not contain a lot of nutrients (other than what’s in the compost), I add a granular organic fertilizer to each planter at transplanting time.

Happy Planting!

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, claudia@wildgreen.ca.
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