Posts Tagged ‘consultations’

On Saturday we created a water collection system that will hold a half -tonne of rainwater. (All we need now is the rain.)


So I knew that a garden needs water, and a good rain collection system would be a much loved resource in future. I got a hold of some perfect barrels by putting as WANTED: rain barrels posting up on hrm_freecycle. They were delivered by Steven Spinney of Acadia Seaplants, with a lovely note. They are big, blue, 200L, and had held Certified Organic seaweed fertilizer. There is downspout that comes down into the garden, making temporary puddles in the garden after a heavy rain.

One of the first folks to a garden workparty was Derek, and upon further inquiry, he is a plumbing apprentice. Naturally, I asked him about interconnecting rainbarrels. I know how important they are, and roughly how I saw them going together, but I do not really know the technicalities . In the emails and on the blog we invited input and suggestions, but none came. Derek asked some of the boys at work, we chatted about strategies, and he went out to the plumbing supply shop his company frequents and bought the gear we needed.

When we talked on Friday night, he sounded a bit nervous about having spent a bit more than we were aiming for, but he wanted to get it bought that day, and went with the system that he would do if it was his. He went with the system that he felt would not get clogged, was easy to switch barrels out (to clean them or whatever), and using the least amount of expensive fittings.

On Saturday morning, shortly after I had arrived with two bails of hay that I towed in one of the collective bike trailers (hella heavy, but really rewarding to tow through traffic), Derek showed up with all the gear. The one key part that I had overlooked was the necessary reciprocating saw needed to get into the barrel. I know no one in town, and apparently there are no tool rental places nearby (like there are in Vancouver)… and then Lance and Veronica showed up! Lance rolled in with a couple of brilliant ideas right off the get go, such as cutting the top in a semi-circle and attaching it with little hinges to form a lid. And then he went home to get the rest of the tools we needed.

At this point, my heart flickered with satisfaction. With generosity, resourcefulness, and collaboration as the fabric of our projects, surely there is grace.

In the meantime, Dalhousie biology prof whose articles I have read in Canadian Organic Growers, Dave Patriquin, came by the garden to share a conversation I greatly enjoyed.

Lance brought in the tools we needed, Derek went a grabbed a length of pipe, and the interconnection began. Two others came by to check it out, and both commented that they were disappointed to see that it looked was made from expensive materials as they were looking for more low-cost solutions.

For the interconnection of the next three barrels we extend the invitation for input as how to best do this. One guy who showed up, Geoff, is reported to be the genius of great low-cost solutions, so I am inviting him to guide the next three.

David Baldwin, the apple guy!, checked the scene out as we were starting, then left to do his other errands, and returned. He had suggested to check out boating shops for fittings, and went by a boat shop to see if his suggestion was valid. The Binnacle (card at the garden) is where he went, and came back with an appropriate garden-hose diameter fitting for $3.95. Prices range, but apparently there are some really interesting fittings there. And interestingly, when David looked at Derek’s receipt, he was surprised at the how comparable the prices were.

Another suggestion was Lee Valley, I had totally forgotten about them, but I bet they do have some moderately priced appropriate gear. Freecycle is of course another great place to look. And where else folks? Where would you or did you get your gear?

I am thrilled with the system that we set up this weekend. I believe it was and will be worth every penny. I think it represents the more ‘ideal’ system, especially for brewing herbal fertilizers in. And I think it will be really easy to maintain, last a while, and could be added to in future. I am stoked by the interactions that went on, (although I am working on being a better hostess).

A copy of the receipt is available if you want it. And, if you have input about putting together a tight system on the super cheap, then tell us your secrets, and hopefully Geoff will help lead us there.

For the next three we need to build some sort of stand for the next three barrels to get them a few feet off the ground so that we can fill watering cans and even run a short hose. We have some wood. Any building or design volunteers? Come on with your suggestions now, rather than laughing at the not-as-good-as-it-could-be design that may result otherwise!

Ah yes, and sweet thanks to the sweet one who brought gifts of nettle, yarrow, and plantain to the garden. What lovely allies to bring in. Thank you .

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I am in the planning stage of the garden.  According to the ideas of Permaculture, it is of primary importance to Observe a site before implementing big changes, especially permanent changes.  Permaculture is all about “careful and protracted thought rather than careless and protracted labour” (Quinney, 9).  Permaculture has a bunch of principles which are related to ethics in that they are “culturally evolved mechanisms for a more enlightened self-interest” (Holgrem, 1).  The first principle is Observe and Interact.  It is important to observe a site, carefully and without judgement, for a whole year, at least a year, before making big changes.  I have not even been in province for a month! But actually, I see that as an advantage in sharing the process of learning how to garden successfully here, as many of us barely know the place we live at all.   To suppliment a year of observation, permaculture suggests to talk to lots of neighbours to hear, carefully and without judgement, a diversity of ideas and opinions.  So, the first folks I managed to invite to the garden were, Brad, the cute market mushroom man, and Alex Denicola, beloved organic-permaculture-activist market gardener who sets up beside Brad at the market.  They came by the garden on Saturday.

We are all coming from a similar perspective; we are all familiar with the ideas of permaculture, and passionately believe that we, meaning the collective we, are going to need to get serious about producing our food for ourselves, soon.   To do this we need to think carefully, act wisely, use what we have, and employ a diversity of tactics.  We need to maximize our use of space, which also means reconsidering our relationships to (non-productive) shade trees and (non-productive) lawns, pathways, and all other spaces.  We need to shift what and how we see.  If we imagine Superstore not being accessible, then this re-visioning takes on a sharp poignancy, perhaps something like a hunger pang.

First off, what is the vision for the space?  Who is getting educated and on what?  Is it a variety of ways to grow food, or is it to grow as much food as we can?

The vision that I have for SeeMore Green is that of a space that functions as a demonstration site, and training-learning ground, and a resource hub.  By demonstration site I mean a place to see successful urban food production;  by training-learning ground I mean a space for a diversity of people to learn a diversity of strategies and tactics; and by resource hub, (or urban ag. hub) I mean a place to get seeds, plant cuttings, ideas, compost innoculant, pots, etc, so that other garden projects are supported.

A couple really strong points that came out of our conversations were 1) we need to do some careful consideration about our use of space in Seymour green.  If we are going to be an inspirational demonstration of urban food production, we need show some good use of space.  I cannot help but agree.  My thinking on this had been to do a lot of creative container planting, vertical gardening – using vines and trellises as well as trying some of the suspended pipe beds that Solviva uses.  Alex challenged the garden’s primary layout and suggested we shift the wooden frames there now.  I have to admit, I don’t really like wood in the garden:  it can harbor insects, rob nitrogen and moisture, but mostly because it is an inefficient use of space.  And they encourage conventional thinking that plants belong in boxes.  But they look tidy, and we are on a university campus, and like to be liked by administration.  We also need to keep in mind wheelchair accessibility.

So, for sure, the grass in the pathways needs to get replaced with some more useful. And the whole area we are using to produce food needs to be critically looked at.
The second great point that Alex made very clear was that if you want to grow food in the Maritimes you need to use transplants.

Start seeds in flats in some sort of greenhouse, cloche, or other season-extender, and then transplant them out.  One can get a lot more food out of a small space, and waste a lot less time and energy that way.   (For more good info on this strategy, check into John Jeavon’s ideas on square foot gardening).

So next weekend we are going to build a cloche.  (A cloche is non-permanent greenhouse by my definition:  definitions vary, but that is how I use it.  PVC hose and plastic= cloche.  Glass and woodframe=greenhouse).  Alex has some re-useable plastics around and I have a screwdriver.  With a little cloche we can help the tomatoes and peppers grow enough to bear some fruit, start some veggies for fall crops and second successions, and hopefully demonstrate a successful strategy for growing food locally.

Brad had some great ideas about doing terracing with innoculated hardwood logs  to demonstrate how to increase surface area for small yards (because the folks with huge yards are most often wealthy enough for a while;  the majority have tiny yard and less cash).  By using hardwood logs innoculated with shitake or oyster mushrooms built up in the corner by the porch and stairs, we could possibly successfully harvest mushrooms from the cool, shady, moist area under the back deck, which is making productive use of a classicly unused space.  Pretty great ideas if you ask me: let’s hold this idea in mind and do some more observation and discussion before making such a big thing.

Jen Scott from the Food Action Committee and Heliotrust farm just gave us an elder tree and an mountain ash.  So there are two gorgeous trees to plant, and planting trees is a big beautiful decision.

And we have a load of compost coming early in the week, and a bunch of transplants and perennials coming next Saturday.  On Tuesday I go out to Acadia University to check out their native plant gardens with another super-sweet knowledgeable one, Ahktar.

Friends, we have some fun work to do.

–    get the bulletin boards up.
–   move raspberries and rhubarb away from where the compost is coming in
–    think about garden space: reframe a bed?
–     connect existing rain barrels, add spigot;  get more rain barrels for other downspout
– start sheet compost corner near house
– start getting rid of grass in walk areas and replace with lovely useables
– start sheet composting under the maple to prep for woodland garden
– flyer neighbourhood to bring us containers – and pathway plants: camomile, mints, lemonbalm, wooly thyme, hollyhocks, plantain!, calendula, even dandelions are better than grass!… I would like to learn more plants that could used – are there some appropriate natives? Hmmm…

SeeMore Green collective garden and urban ag hub. A thriving space with beautiful little gardens that inspire and provoke action, frequented by a diversity of cool folks to learn from, and a place to possibly get some plants, starts, seeds, cuttings, inoculants, and other shit you might need.  Always good for a nibble and a giggle.

If you share this vision, come add in to it.  It needs you to happen.  Yes, you.

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