Mark Macdonald's blog

GARDEN WISDOM: Working in the Worm Factory

Worm bin -- Mark Macdonald

This is the story of how I came to be a worm farmer. It wasn’t a role I had ever envisioned myself in, but when we started selling the Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting kit last winter, I was intrigued. I was surprised how many we were selling, and so I began looking at reviews on Youtube and elsewhere. The buzz about the Worm Factory 360 seemed very positive. The manufacturer’s website had some persuasive video content on it, and they invite interested parties to request a booklet on how the system works.

Garden of Wisdom: The "Cabbage of Choice"

Red Jewel cabbage
I’m not sure if it’s just our growing area, but Ladner has what I would describe as an abundantly healthy population of Small White butterflies. So many so, that most years I don’t even bother growing Brassicas. The butterfly (Pieris rapae), lays a single tiny yellow egg on the underside of a Brassica leaf.

GARDEN WISDOM: All creatures, great and small, eat seedlings

Snails -- photo by Ralf Kunze

Organic gardeners share one challenge that has many faces – how to nurse newly emerged seedlings along to the point when they are strong enough to defend themselves. Because seedlings are so tender and tasty, and low to the ground, they are easy pickings for a host of animals, from the very tiny to the enormous. Everything from wireworms and millipedes up to racoons and deer are perfectly happy to chomp on your veggies, sometimes eradicating a whole bed of newly emerged plants.

GARDEN WISDOM: I love columbine!

Columbine

The second half of May heralds the blooms of Columbine here in south coastal BC. The flowers only appear for a couple of weeks, but it’s so worth the wait. Take a walk through the UBC Botanical Gardens at this time of year, and you’ll see many variations on the theme, although only a sampling of the 70 or so species that exist. The flowers have an aesthetic attraction for me, in terms of simple beauty and daintiness. But the academic side of my personality cannot see past the flowers as potent symbols of Darwinian evolution.

GARDEN WISDOM: Bean Counting

Last year’s packet – with the seeds I didn’t use!

Mid-May is an excellent time of year to plant drying bean seeds like red kidney beans, orca beans, or black turtle beans. These are all very productive crops, and the seeds are easy to extract and dry for use later in the year. Last year I planted an 8 foot row of kidney beans in one of the beds at Kirkland House in Ladner. I only used about half the package of seeds. I used, as I do with all my veggies, a small amount of Gaia Green’s All Purpose 4-4-4 organic fertilizer, but did not use a seed inoculant or any other method.

GARDEN WISDOM: Roses for Mother's Day

Select Roses – a rose lover’s paradise!

Okay, I confess to having made more or less the same post previously, but it is wholly warranted by the exquisite beauty to be found at Select Roses in Langley, BC. My friend Brad Jalbert has dedicated his life to raising and breeding roses. He has authored a book on keeping roses, and he’s traveled the world touring famous rose gardens. He is, in fact, one of the world authorities on the subject of everything rose. I admire his dedication absolutely.

GARDEN WISDOM: An Abstract Testimonial

Tiny white coffee flowers with a sweet smell like stocks or jasmine

I have written frequently about the results I get in my veggie beds from using the All Purpose Complete Organic 4-4-4 Fertilizer from Gaia Green. I love this product, and I use it with nearly all my vegetable plantings. The idea of a “complete” organic balanced fertilizer has been around for many moons – at least since Steve Solomon’s first edition of Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, published back in 1981, and probably long before that.

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