Sunday, March 20, 2016

Seedy Sunday Edmonton, Alberta 2016


This Sunday, March 20, 2016, my husband and I attended the Seedy Sunday event in Edmonton, Alberta, the city where our son and family live, and where we are visiting while the grandchildren are on their Spring breaks.
I feel so blessed since this is my second opportunity to attend a Seedy Sunday this year, actually, this March!!  If you look back to the previous blog post, you will see that I posted about going to the Seedy Sunday on March 6th at Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.  What is really fun is introducing my daughter-in-law to the Seedy Sunday concept.  She has done a masterful job of gardening in her backyard to the point that her freezer is full of produce through the entire winter.  How many people can say that about their urban kitchen garden?  She really enjoyed herself and came home with some new ideas.

We attended a couple of the lectures: the last half of the Food Security panel (with encouragement to not only focus on Food Security, but to also encourage schools to teach children to grow food and to cook it); the Saving Seeds lecture by commercial gardener, Kathleen Van Ihinger of Harmonic Herbs of Barrhead, Alberta-- she passed around a seedy lettuce us to take some seeds home) and the last part of Extending the Growing Season by Travis Kennedy of Edmonton's Lactuca Urban Farm,  who detailed their 5-part rotation for the growing greens that they supply local restaurants.)

Then, of course, it was time to hit the marketplace! The massive gym space that housed all of the Seedy Sunday booths is quite likely one of the locations for ballroom dancing, or maybe Pickleball, in the titanic Central Lions' Seniors Recreation Centre. 

I had an enjoyable time visiting the various seeds booths and buying the following seeds:
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Orca Beets
  • Angelica
  • Purple Tomatillo
  • Midnight Lightening Zucchini
  • Holy Basil- Kapoor Tulsi
  • Bee's Friend Phacelia

I already have tomatoes (I think, or we did last year, in that very sweet friends give us starts). Our garden is an adequate source of various perennial herbs such as parsley, spring onions, various members of the mint family, sage, stinging nettles, and likely cilantro will pop up again this year.  We also have kale and other greens.  I have seeds for squash, scarlet runner beans, bush beans, and likely, lettuce.  While I love baby potatoes, our soil is originally layers of gravel with a deeper deposit of coal.  Yes, we live on a ridge on Central Vancouver Island, where a seam of coal runs deep through all the stories and ballads of the local country balladeers.  

I will likely put out another container of rainbow carrots.  

I picked up a card from a booth advertising Vegan Potlucks, Guest Speakers and Restaurant Nights.  The person organizing this is Mike Martin and you can contact him at martiel@telus.net if you are interested in any of those events.  

There were also people manning the Edmonton Horticultural Society Booth, and the Master Gardeners and Organic Master Gardener information tables.  Along with Seedy Sunday, there are so many opportunities in Edmonton and area to learn to grow stuff!

The following are books written by my current favourite gardening author, Carolyn Herriot. (You can read more about her at the page on here about this year's Nanaimo Seedy Sunday on March 6, 2016.)







Wednesday, March 9, 2016

SEEDY SUNDAY 2016 in Nanaimo, BC


This weekend, on Sunday, my husband, Zoe dog and I drove down Island to Nanaimo for the annual Seedy Sunday.

Seedy Sunday (or Seedy Saturday) is a gathering of gardeners, local small seed companies and nurseries, in a low-cost local venue where they can learn from one another, exchange ideas and seeds and plants in a comfortable, social setting-- a 'fair' would be another way to describe it.  Nanaimo is located midway up (down) Vancouver Island.  The first Seedy Saturday happened on Vancouver Island 23 years ago, in Victoria.  There are now over 140 Seedy Saturdays/Sundays across Canada.

You can find out more about Canadian Seedy Saturday and Sunday schedules by going HERE.  I am happy to see that we will be able to attend another Seedy Sunday this year when we visit our kids and grandkids in Edmonton.

Carolyn Herriot was one of this year's Seedy Sunday's speakers.  She has authored The Zero Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide To Growing Organic Food 

                             
Above is the promo video from this year's Seedy Sunday with Carolyn Herriot, 
who was one of the speakers I heard on the day


Carolyn Herriot is a "passionate organic gardener, photographer, lecturer and cook who loves to eat."* I can vouche for being an excellent lecturer in her area of passion.  She presented on Seed-Saving for an hour.  I was so enthused and inspired that I bought her gorgeous book, The Zero-Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food .  You will find everything in there that you need to know to grow organic food over the course of a year in the Pacific Northwest.  The book is arranged according to month and includes the usual scheduling around composting, seed sprouting, planting what when, pruning, and the like for those who appreciate having their gardening year organized.  But instead of just a schedule with a toss-in of notes about plants, this book includes a horn of plenty of up-to-the-moment information about making your organic food gardening both a soil-enriching and soul-enriching experience!

Here are some of the other interesting topics included in the book:

  • explanation of the Zero-Mile Diet
  • a 5-year Vision for Greater Food Security
  • Discovering your Soil Type
  • The 4 Secrets of Feeding the Soil
  • A 3-Bin Composting System
  • Liming the Garden
  • Comfrey
  • Good Garden Design
  • Top-10 Gardening Tools (of the author's)
  • Recycling Ideas for the Garden
  • Special Teas
  • Seeding the Greenhouse
  • Building a Lasagna Garden
  • Self-feeding Vegetables
  • Insect Pests
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Planting a Seed-Saving Garden
  • Keeping Roses Rosy Organically
  • The "Berry Walk"
  • Seeding Winter Vegetables
  • Establishing a Small Fruit Orchard
  • Native Bees
  • Canning 101
  • Seven Steps to a Winter Lasagna Garden
  • Saving Seeds Successfully
  • Pruning Stone-Fruit Trees
  • Growing Great Garlic (and How to Braid Garlic)
  • 10 Ideas for Green Tomatoes
  • The Final Seed Collection
  • Putting the Garden to Bed for Winter
  • Green Manures
  • How to Clean a Bee Box
  • How to Sprout Seeds in Five Days
  • Phytonutrients-- Another Reason to Grow Your Own Food
  • Secrets of Success
The above list is about a half of the exciting topics covered in the book.  I bought it based on her wonderful lecture on seed-saving and am thrilled that she tells how to save the alphabet of plant seeds, and when to save them and how to store them.  Now I am excited about the book's wide range of topics, in general.  Here is one thing I have learned already and done something about:

Under the heading "Wonderful Weeds", p. 38, Herriot writes: "Chickweed....[is a] shallow-rooted weed that grow[s] in fertile conditions-- ... indicates good fertility."  And, as I had intuited, she writes about Chickweed being an Edible Weed (along with other weeds like Bitter Cress, Dandelion, Henbit, Nettle, etc.).  Chickweed forms a dense mat in my garden every Spring, usually late February and early March.  I was feeling a little frustrated and got suggestions to do a thorough job of stripping it out to get rid of it for good from a gardening friend of mine, and suggestions from my gardening son to either dry it in the sun and then compost it, or put it in a pail of water and use it for compost tea.  Well, after reading about it being edible I did more research online and found that Chickweed is not only merely edible, but is a rich composite of tons of nutrients.  And apparently people want to plant this "weed" in their gardens now!  Well, off I went to my garden to pick some for a veggie stew I was making.  NOTE: Soak in apple cider vinegar to remove grit.  Chop (they're stringy otherwise) and add at the end of the stew.  Substitute for spinach in recipes! Yay!

This is going to be my favourite gardening book, I can tell already!  I plan to include little reviews of various other parts of it as I go about my gardening, so either hang in for that, or get yourself a copy!



*author's bio from the back book cover of The Zero-Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food .

Friday, March 4, 2016

Chunky Three Sisters Soup - Organic, Non-GMO, GlutenFree, Vegan, No Added Oils

Today is rainy and foggy.  We must eat a delicious, nurturing, nourishing, healthy hot soup to be revived!  I have innovated to create the following: Chunky Three Sisters Soup... the Three Sisters are, of course, the hearty indigenous fruits of our North America: Corn, Squash and Beans.  I have also added in Tomato Sauce, Onions, and fragrant Brown Basmati Rice.  This recipe will serve 6 people, or 2 people, if it is spread over a couple of meals for my husband and I.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. Brown Basmati Rice
  • Water to cook Rice in (according to your rice-cooking directions on your package)
  • 1 medium size Squash, your choice, split in half, and roasted in the oven
  • 2 medium Yellow Onions, roughly chopped and toasted in oven with squash
  • 14 oz/398 ml can of Organic Black Beans (or beans soaked and pre-cooked by you)
  • 1 C. Organic Tomato-Basil Pasta Sauce (or 1 C. of your preferred Tomato Sauce)
  • 1 C. Frozen or Fresh Organic Corn kernels
  • 4-8 C. Water or Vegetable Stock
  • 1/2 tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder, or to taste
  • Handful of Fresh Greens of your choice (I used Chard)
    Cooking the Squash and Onion

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and split squash in half and chop onions.  Line cooking pan to accommodate squash and onions, line with parchment paper (or spray with oil). Lay squash "face" down and fit onions around.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake in oven for about 45 minutes.  
  2. Meanwhile, wash, drain, and cook rice as per package instructions.
  3. When Squash and Onions are baked, cool, scoop out and dice the squash. 
  4. Add all items except Greens to a large soup pot and add in other ingredients.  Cook on Medium until boiling, and then reduce to Low heat.  Simmer for about 40 minutes or until it looks and tastes the way you like it. 
  5. Chop Greens and add to the top of the pot.  Steam them until they are tender (5+ minutes).
  6. Adjust seasonings to suit you, your family and guests.
  7. Serve with a sprinkling of Daiya vegetarian cheese shreds.