Archives for posts with tag: gardening
 

egg cartons take a pause before hitting the recycling bin, to nurture my little green pals

 

I am a proud mama… not only to a cat, but to a vast number of tiny, green lives. This year I started my garden indoors. I was waiting to find out which plot I was allocated in the Community Garden, so I couldn’t plant outside.

baby oregano... awwwww!

I took a couple of egg cartons, a small bag of dirt, and a selection of organic seeds to start lavender, coriander, oregano, basil, tomatoes, arugula, parsley, and peppers. I will plant my carrots directly in the earth, as they require more root room!

widdle baybee tomatoes, hea-wooooah!

My plants are keening towards the sun… but I think the when they’re outdoors they’ll manage to straighten up. I am really looking forward to growing, tending, caring for, and harvesting these little guys. I’ll be careful to collect seeds, too!

 
Natasha Henderson, Montreal
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Ukrainian Easter eggs

Ukrainian Easter eggs

This Easter weekend we are taking it easy, reflecting on life and the new life that springs all around us. We take note that today is Earth Day, and a cause for another pause and reflection.

If you are so fortunate as to have both some time off and a garden, this seems like a good time to research seeds, plants, and garden ideas and set out what you would like to grow this year!

Or maybe you will take a day to Spring Clean. I know I am overdue…

If you are dying Easter eggs or decorating cupcakes, you could try some of the natural dyes that we used for Snow Painting With Plant Pigments. I would recommend Turmeric (for a bright gold) and beets (for a nice purple). The traditional method for eggs is to add some onion skins into the water, as you boil the eggs with the natural dyes. For icing colour, just add the colourful ingredients in the same way you would more toxic chemical “food colouring”.

Have a wonderful, verdant Easter weekend!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal



Punkwrr. Collage, photomorph, slogans. Copyright Greg Howes.

Greg Howes continues the story of his art, inspirations, innovations, and fearless creation. Please see yesterday’s post for the beginning of this story…

I moved to Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales in 1990, where fortunately I was able to continue my horticultural career. Shortly after that move I began to combine my love of plants and my passion to create something a bit different. I started to make pictures and designs from pressed flowers, leaves and grasses that I found growing locally. This medium allowed me to be creative whilst expressing my love of the plant world in all of its different shapes, forms, colours and textures. Moreover, I didn’t feel that I had to apply the more traditional methods to make interesting art.

Mantra. Photomorph, clematis. 2007. Copyright Greg Howes.

I spent many hours and days making pictures in this fashion. Looking back I used to spend hours and hours on a single card which was probably thrown away within a week of the recipient receiving it, but the main joy for me was in creating something new and out of something readily available, beautiful, and free. I still have one or two small pictures I made at that time, but how I wish I had photographed some of the designs that really worked well. One in particular I can remember had a background of pressed white poplar (Populus alba) topside up, this gave a mottled lake finish to it, a single passion-flower, (Passiflora caerulea) as a centre piece, surrounded by small blue flowers and a tiny amount of foliage from love in mist (Nigella damascena) plant.

Serenity. Photomorph. 2008. Copyright Greg Howes.

I bought my first computer in 1997. It had a very basic photo morphing facility which I never used because I did not have a digital camera at the time (nor, I suspect, did many others). Things changed about a year afterwards when I bought myself a scanner and started fiddling with old, already developed photographs of friends and family. Being an avid countryside walker, I then started picking bits of fungi and lichen up and scanning to see what they looked like morphed with my computer software. This did make for some interesting results; though I must confess I did not enjoy wiping off the squidgy mess from my scanner afterwards. It’s interesting that we can see beauty in sweeping landscapes and flower gardens, and even in singular blooms, but the beautiful intricacies of some of nature’s most useful foot soldiers go largely unnoticed.

JKL LM. Collage and photomorph. 2007. Copyright Greg Howes.

 

The real change for me artistically happened in around 2005 when I bought my first digital camera. Upon reflection, it seems much more like ten years ago rather that five as I have spent so much time with it ever since. I soon found that the ease to get a reasonable-quality picture, with a minimum amount of fiddling about, was very seductive. I then managed to get myself a copy of Microsoft “PhotoDraw V2” which was a rudimentary photographic design software which was produced some years earlier. However dated it was, it opened up new horizons for me and allowed me to create at will. This change fortunately coincided with my joining of the “Social Networking” site called Myspace. I found that this site gave me an ideal platform on which to display my work whilst also getting the opinion of friends and other artists alike.

 

Originally most of my photographic art work came from the natural world, which I would then morph and play around with colour and form. Trees were high on my list of subjects, but so were other more unlikely images like dew riddled sheep’s wool stuck on barbed wire fences and etc and etc. It soon began to be apparent that beauty and intrigue are often ringed, fenced by our own limited perception of where it can be found. If we all learned to alter our focus a little and live “outside of the box” from time to time, a whole new world can open up to us.

Butterfly Girl. Collage, paint, photomorph. 2008. Copyright Greg Howes.

 Greg Howes will share the third installment of his fascinating story tomorrow.

Yesterday we picked up our vegetables from our very own farm. What do I mean when I say “our own farm”? Our farm is located just outside the City. The farmers from this farm come into town once every couple of weeks in the winter, and once a week in the summer to deliver quantities of foods produced on the farm. Ok, so it’s not really “our” farm, but it feels like it is.  It is an awesome way to add more vegetables to your life!

Légumes

Image via Wikipedia

Here are ten reasons to love Community-supported Agriculture!

1.  Eating with the seasons, the vegetables are always optimally fresh.

2.  You don’t have to enter a drab grocery store and look at dozens of irradiated, sad little vegetables and scan prices, calculating the best value to find your food. The farmer does the choosing for you and the CSA partnerships are a good deal for both the farmer and the city partner.  I find this to be a convenient system that reduces stress.

3.  Speaking of convenience, if you are lucky like us, your farmer drops off the vegetables 2 short blocks from your home.

4.  It’s more than veg.  Sometimes farmers will partner with other producers who deliver eggs, cheese, breads, honey, maple syrup and more to the pick-up site.

5.  Encounter vegetables you have never eaten before in your life.  CSA partnerships have introduced me to celeriac, kohlrabi, sunflower sprouts, paddy pan squash, other unidentified squashes and more.

6.  The farmer often sends you a newsletter with new recipes, especially for the lesser-known vegetables.

7.  Speaking of surprises, you get a range of vegetables that need to be used soon, as well as ones that can be stored for weeks. For those with short attention spans, or who find it difficult to plan menus days ahead, this is a wonderful way to always have “something for dinner”.

8.  Are you on the “Hundred Mile Diet”?  It’s a cinch with this partnership!

9. The people at the drop-off place are really friendly. There are smiles all around. It feels like “Community”.

10. The vegetables are all organic. They all come from the same farm. This adds biodiversity, which strengthens the land. This empowers our farmer to grow what she wants, and allows her to respond in an intuitive way to what her land needs and requires.

If you are in Quebec, check out the equiterre website.   Summer is a great time to join a CSA partnership, but there are also many winter partnerships available.

http://www.equiterre.org/solution/fermier-de-famille

written by: Tammy Schmidt and Natasha Henderson!

by Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Community Garden. Plot. Allotment. A piece of earth, a bit of land. One can tend plants, care for the soil and those plants, and harvest the spoils as they happen. For several years I’ve known people who have had these little bits of land to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs. Beets, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes (oh so many tomatoes) zucchini, squash, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, garlic, chives, basil… asperagus, raspberries, eggplant, peas. All types and varieties. So when I was offered the chance to get in on one of these plots earlier this summer, I jumped right on board.

Calendula, Nasturtium... Cosmos... my little green babies

I live in the heart of Montreal. My home is more than adequate in most regards… except that I have no outdoor space. I don’t have even a balcony. I have a cat, and he loves to eat plants, so home gardening was never really an option for me. I did try a basil plant once, but it didn’t last long between the efforts of the cat and myself.

To gain entrance into the Community Garden right away, rather than go through the processes of a waiting-list, I took on a contaminated plot.

I will make a long story short as to WHY this plot (and a few others) had been contaminated. The neighbouring parking-lot for a large building had hired snow-removal to clear snow off their parking lot. Unfortunately, they managed to push all the oily, salted, gritty, chemical-laden parking-lot-snow right onto the Community Gardens. The tainted snow created tainted earth. The City came to test this earth, and lo and behold found it too toxic to allow edibles to grow in it. The land was not fit for human consumption.

The city did allow, however, that people could grow flowers in this land. That’s when, where, why and how I got my plot. I went about buying my three packets of seeds pronto.

Cosmos In My Garden

The good thing about this experience (besides getting my hands nice and dirty again; I come from a smaller town, originally, and have always had a bit of land to call my own) was in seeing the reactions of my fellow gardeners to the flower-plots.

We Flower-People were treated a little differently. The rules of the garden were slackened for us… if our flowers were to drape over into the pathways in between the plots, no one put up any signs requesting that we tidy our garden. If the flowers were to go to seed before being picked, no-one was there to tsk-tsk and shake their fingers at us, to gossip about us behind our backs.

I would chat with people in the garden, and when they realised I was one of the Flower-People, they would break into a smile, and remark on how happier those plots of flowers made the place feel. Several months had gone by with the land laying covered in straw, nothing was allowed to grow in it. There were bitter feelings and anger surrounding this loss of about a quarter to a third of this precious garden, due to a distasteful combination of pollution and negligence.

Once the jardins du fleurs were established, people stopped looking away, and started to look. It felt very good to have been a part of this. I do look forward to having a real vegetable garden next year, though!

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