Summer Potluck Dinner

Summer Potluck-2Vic West in the Summer

It’s summertime in Vic West. Gardens are growing, flowers are out, the days are long and warm.

Come out and have dinner with your friends and neighbours on Saturday, June 18th at the Victoria West Community Centre.  Bring a dish of food to share, some flowers for the tables, and your lovely selves. Invite a new neighbour to join you, or bring along your house guests. We look forward to sharing a delicious meal and delightful conversation with you.

 

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BIG Plant Sale Saturday

DSC_0391Saturday, May 14th, 11:00am to 3:00pm at Vic West Fest in Banfield Park.

Annual Plant Sale, hosted by the Vic West Food Security Collective. We sowed seeds in March, tended the wee shoots all spring, fed them organic compost, sang love songs to them and gently potted them up for you. They are ready for your garden. We have tomatoes, basil, squash, tomatillos, perilla, a large variety of herbs, raspberry and thornless blackberry bushes, cabbages, kale and more.

The Plant Sale is an annual fundraiser, supporting Banfield Park Orchard, Banfield Commons, Evan Street Orchard, and the Rayn or Shine Community Garden.

These are some of my starts in the greenhouse this morning. Tomorrow they’ll be yours.

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New Community Garden for Vic West

DSC_0074Vic West Park Community Garden

A new community garden is coming to Vic West and we’d love you to be part of it. Looking for people to form the “Garden Planning Team” to take this project from concept to celebratory completion.

 

Are you looking for a garden plot? Do you have time, energy, skills or interest to share? Dreamers, planners, artists, builders, gardeners, students and many more are all needed.

Come visit the Food Security Collective’s display at Vic West Fest in Banfield Park on Saturday, May 14 between 11am and 3pm for more information. Or see details below. Continue reading

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What’s growing on

What’s growing on … a look at what’s growing in the garden and a suggestion about what to do with it.

rhubarbIt’s rhubarb time. And if you think rhubarb is only for pies, think again. Try it in a sauce or salad, use it with meat, add it to your curry. Rhubarb is really versatile and can go sweet or savoury.  Here’s a really easy way to prepare it to add to any salad.

Wash a few stalks of rhubarb and saute them in a pat of butter for about 5 minutes or until tender but crisp. While still in the pan, add a drizzle of honey and balsamic vinegar. Tear a handful of arugula and spinach leaves into a bowl, add the rhubarb, some chopped basil leaves, a handful of sprouts – alfalfa, pea, sunflower – and crumble a bit of goat cheese over top. Toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds would make a nice crunchy addition. Dress simply with a good olive oil and lemon juice.

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Earth Day Community Potluck Dinner

EarthDay2016 potluck poster:pdfCome celebrate Earth Day over dinner with your neighbours. Feel free to invite a new neighbour, bring musical instruments or board games. This is a community event and you’re welcome to make it anything you want. Please bring a dish of food to share – sweet or savoury. Everyone Welcome.

5:00pm, April 23 at the VW Community Centre

If you can come early and help us set up and decorate, we’d sure appreciate it. Contact avapchristl54@gmail.com to volunteer.

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what’s growing on

What’s growing on …. a look at what’s growing around our neighbourhood with suggestions about how to use it.

bright lights chard bright lights chard 2I see an abundance of over-wintered chard in everyone’s gardens – both Swiss and Rainbow. The colours in the Rainbow are especially brilliant in the late afternoon sun.

Chard is great in pies, tarts and spanakopita. At the end of it’s season, chard may be a little tough or bitter, but cooked is still tasty and tender.

For a nice open tart, blanche the chard for a few minutes in boiling water, until tender, then rinse and chop and set aside while you get the rest of the ingredients together. Sautee a red onion and a few cloves of garlic, add salt, pepper and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or diced red pepper for a bit of kick and colour. Add the chard to this mix. In a separate bowl, whisk three eggs, then add 1/2 cup Parmesan or Asiago cheese. Add this mixture to the chard/onion mix. If the mix feels a bit too wet add breadcrumbs to absorb the moisture 1/4 cup at a time. Pour the mixture into a pie crust and bake 30-45 minutes until eggs have set. Serve with a green salad from your garden. Bon appetite.

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what’s growing on …

wild greens spring rolls

What’s growing on … a look at what’s currently growing around our neighbourhood, and an idea about how to prepare it.
There are a lot of spring greens available now – wild ones out in the meadows such as purslane, dandelions greens, mdandelion greensiner’s lettuce, miner's lettuceand plantain; and garden greens like arugula, chard, beet tops, sorrel and, of course, chick weed.

 

chickweedFor a Spring treat, roll them all up together into a fresh and tasty Spring Roll.

Wash and sort through all your greens, follow the instructions for the rice paper sheets, and roll the greens up. Add a tangy sauce, something a sweet ‘n sour or a Thai peanut sauce. Lunch is served!

 

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What’s Growing On?

Purple Sprouting BroccoliMarch 5th

Spring veggies are coming up in the garden now. Purple Sprouting Broccoli is a cold-hardy biennial plant that produces sweet, purple flowering shoots in the late winter and early spring – in Victoria this means February and March. The plants grow crowns with multiple small side-shoots for many weeks. If you planted Purple Sprouting Broccoli last fall, it’ll be coming into season now. The lovely purple tips are a colourful addition to any salad and are tasty sauteed as a side dish. For an extra flavour boost to your sautee, add a splash of hazelnut oil and top with crushed and toasted hazelnuts.

“What’s Growing On” is a regular new feature to showcase the variety of veggies, herbs and fruit as they come into season with recipe ideas and/or tips on use. Get in touch if you have something in your garden you’d like to share.

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TOP TIPS FOR GARDEN PLANNING

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Ask yourself the question: What do you REALLY want to grow?

I sometimes get really carried away when buying seeds and I end up buying a whole bunch of exciting new varieties. Nothing is wrong with this in the slightest, and in fact, I heartily encourage experimentation! But the thing that irks me is when I fill up my garden space with all these cool new plants but forget to leave space for the more “regular” things that I eat the most: kale, tomatoes, salad greens, etc. Nothing bothers me more than having to buy kale at the store when I could’ve had it growing in my backyard!

Think about these main details:

Size: How big of a space do you really have to grow things? Draw a map of your garden space to help visualize. Seed buying season can be intoxicating, and sometimes it gets out of control. Having 100 plants to plant when you only have a tiny garden can be discouraging. However, if you do find yourself in this scenario, just give them to your neighbor. If you grow the tomatoes and they grow the squash, you can just trade with each other. Or you could always sell plant starts on your driveway.

Sun: Where is the sunniest part of your garden? Where is the shade? Remember that shady areas can still grow plants. I seed my salad greens in the height of summer in a shady area that receives ~4hrs of light per day, and they do really well! Think about how your pea trellis can be multifunctional as a shade structure for those shade loving plants.

Wind: Remember that plants need protection from wind. Not only is wind cooling and sometimes destructive, it is also very drying. However, on the other hand, sometimes I put a small fan in my greenhouse to ensure that seedlings are a slightly “wind blown” – this helps strengthen their cell walls in their stems, making them more resilient plants in the long term. A little “tough love” goes a long way.

Slope: Remember that plants usually love a south facing slope! And remember that at the bottom of that slope you may find water pooling, as well as cooler pockets. Even a small “divet” in the ground can be a type of microclimate, which will hold frost a little longer in early spring, and keep things cooler on a hot summer day.

Soil: Where is the best soil in your garden? Use a simple soil texture test to see if you soil is sandy, silty or rich in clay (see this site for details http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/214.html). Remember that the greatest thing about soil is that you can improve it pretty easily. If you are concerned about any toxins or heavy metals in your soil, be sure to get a professional soil test (Integrity Sales on Keating Cross rd. can help with this). Keep those kitchen scraps so you can make your own compost (a.k.a black gold) in your backyard.

Water: makes sure that your water is easily accessible, or else you will never water those seedlings! Use mulch (straw, cardboard, leaves, etc.) on your beds to help reduce evaporation and create a nice moist environment for the plants, as well as other microorganisms and critters that make up a healthy garden ecosystem.

Keep a Garden Journal:

This has got to be one of the harder things to do (for me at least), but it has culminated as one of the most significant learning tools. Keeping track of things that worked and things that didn’t has helped me understand various microclimates and other little details about soils and pests in this area. I highly recommend it.

Last but not least – have fun:)

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Planting Guide from West Coast Seeds

Yay it is time to seed things!  Not sure when to plant things? Here is a great guide letting you know when to plant what:

Vegetable Planting Guide, Coastal BC

The West Coast Seeds website has all sorts of helpful hints and tools to help you get started growing veggies, as well as trouble-shoot any problems in the garden.

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