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Posts Tagged ‘Sustainability’

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Above Photo: Sea Kale (Crambe maritima), flowering in the Spring of 2017.

Sea Kale is a beautiful, hardy perennial which grows in poor soils, and is a commonly seen plant on the shingle beaches of southern England. On the coast of Kent (where my father’s family were market gardeners), it grows in the meager, sandy soil which lies underneath the “shingle”, or rocks, covering the beach. In our daughter’s front garden, the above plant provided an abundance of large, edible leaves all summer long. Similar in flavour to curly kale, the leaves are delicious and full of vitamins and minerals. Sea kale leaves can be torn up and added to soups and sauces,  gently stir fried with onion and garlic and a bit of added water, or simply steamed. Sea Kale is one of my very favourite plants!

In the garden beds, where the front lawn used to be, Nonno (Grandpa) grew a great variety of vegetables this past year. (see my previous blog post about the beginnings of this lawn conversion: “Urban Garden Harvest”, posted on October 6th, 2016):

https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/2016/10/06/urban-garden-harvest/

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Above photo: Spring 2017 Organic vegetable beds, where the front lawn used to be.

For all things produced in a garden, whether of salads or fruits, a poor man will eat better that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none.

–J.C. Loudon, 1783-1843, Scottish botanist and garden designer.

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Above: Snow Pea flower, Spring, 2017

This gardening adventure is taking place in our daughter’s front yard, and along the outer boulevard. She discovered the materials for this up-cycled greenhouse for free,  online and in the back lane. Our husbands designed and built it, with her input.

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Building this little greenhouse prevented the vintage windows from ending up in the landfill. Now that’s “sustainability”! Besides, I think it’s cute, and so original!

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Garlic Bed…we do use a lot of garlic in our family!

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Summer ’17 Vegetable Beds

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Raised veggie beds…no bending required here! Easier on the back.

During the summer of ’17, a neighbour walked by and asked, “Are you farming here?”

I laughed and replied, “Well yes we are, actually!” Organic farming all the way. No chemical fertilizers, no pesticides or herbicides, but lots of composted soil and good old-fashioned hand-watering, weeding and regular care by Nonno. What a bounty of delicious vegetables were harvested all summer long, and well into autumn as well.

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Veggies in afternoon shade.

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Tomatoes and Basil.

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Garden tomatoes & lettuce, (with dried cranberries added…:)

He who shares the joy in what he’s grown spreads joy abroad and doubles his own.

–Anonymous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When our daughter and her family moved to a new home last year, the front lawn had to be dug up in order to install an improved drainage system. They decided to replace the grass with a vegetable garden, and Nonno (Grandpa) dug right in!

Today’s quotation:  “Lawns, it seems to me, are against nature, barren and often threadbare–the enemy of a good garden. For the same trouble as mowing, you could have a year’s vegetables: runner beans, cauliflowers and cabbages, mixed with pinks and peonies, Shirley poppies and delphiniums; wouldn’t that beautify the land and save us from the garden terrorism that prevails?”

–Derek Jarman

from: Derek Jarman’s Garden

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“Before” photo of the lawn…

We are a (mostly) vegetarian family, and prefer organically-grown vegetables and fruits. No pesticides, no herbicides, no GMO’s, no chemical fertilizers, just lots of home-made compost and sea soil, and lots of tender loving care from Nonno.

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Where’s the lawn? Remay cloth covering Swiss chard and kale to protect from aphids.

Being totally hand-watered with an old-fashioned watering can and a “wand” attachment on the hose allows the gardener to get up-close and personal with each plant. It also saves water. Although Vancouver is on the edge of a rain forest, we still have watering restrictions for the entire summer, due to a lack of rainfall from spring to fall.

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A forest of kale! Pea-supports in background. Squashes to right.

Kale, Swiss chard, pole beans, radishes, peas,lettuce, parsley, basil, arugula, tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, winter squash, carrots, beets, cucumbers, hot peppers, green onions, leeks, garlic…so good!

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Most seeds were sown in pots, then transplanted into the garden. Feverfew plants helped to keep the aphids at bay, as did some nasturtiums and the remay cloth.

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Beautiful Swiss chard, sharing a bed with carrots and beets.

As an added bonus to working in the garden every day, the gardeners get to socialize with passers-by, creating a sense of neighbourliness and community. So many people who would usually just walk past a house will stop to chat, talking about everything from plant varieties to the weather.

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Easy Kale Recipe: (serve with rice or pasta)

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in large heavy pan on medium heat

Add 1 medium onion, sliced, 3 cloves garlic, chopped, 1/4 cup water and saute gently, lid on, until onion is limp.

Wash and tear off leaves of large bunch kale. Chop or tear into smaller pieces and add to pan. Mix it in. With lid on, cook gently 5 minutes or longer.

Add 1 medium tomato, chopped, and cook a few more minutes, lid on.

Tamari sauce with the rice, or parmesan cheese with the pasta….(unless you’re vegan, of course!)

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Pole beans beside the raised vegetable boxes.

We enjoyed lovely, healthy veggies all summer long, and also saved a lot of money!

This is “sustainable” gardening….and now that Autumn has arrived, it’s time to plant the crops for over-wintering, but that’s another story!

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Small is beautiful.

-E.F. Schumacher

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, here in Vancouver B.C., there was a brief burst of “Thin Houses” being built.

The lots which these thin houses were built on are usually 16.5 feet wide, and approximately 120 feet deep, but the depth can vary. They were created when wider lots, usually about 50 feet in width, were divided up, leaving the existing house on a 33 foot lot, and making room for the new, skinnier house to be added in.

The beauty of these houses lies in their simplicity. They are on a private lot, but with lower taxes, lower maintenance because of smaller size, and lower heating costs, among other advantages. There is room for a small garden, front and back. It’s like living in a townhouse or condo, minus the strata council!

Here in Vancouver land is at a premium, due in part to the city’s location, tucked in snugly beside the towering Coast Mountains and crisscrossed by waterways and bridges. It’s a popular place to live, and has become one of the most expensive cities in North America, making living here almost impossible for many people. So building “infill housing”, such as the thin houses, was a good idea, creating higher density in established neighbourhoods. But therein lay the problem! Thin houses were not universally popular, and building them went out of fashion soon after the trend had begun.

There are probably around fifty or fewer of these thin houses in Vancouver, scattered in amongst the “regular” homes. I’m always pleasantly surprised to come across thin houses on drives and walks in the city, and I’m including photos of six of them.

As far as densifying the city goes these days, “Laneway Houses” are now being built city-wide, and are a practical and attractive addition to our city. Not without their detractors, laneway houses nevertheless are enabling more people to share in living in this beautiful place.

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