Wall Flower Studio Garden

  (Algonquin Highlands, Ontario)
Organically Grown ~ From The Garden
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Dandelions - Embrace Them - They're Not the Enemy!

Call me crazy, but I like Dandelions.

 That's right. And, I couldn't help but think of them lately. Here's why: .

As I watch the news pertaining to events surrounding the ongoing tragedy happening to our Japanese friends, like many, I watch in horror.

The newscasters keep offering horrible news. Radiation levels in some parts of Japan has affected their food and water supply, milk and vegetables, and it's now spiked to dangerous and deadly levels.

While watching the news on comes a commercial break... I was about to get up and make a coffee, however... one commercial came on that caught my attention.

 It was a commercial for Roundup®. You know that stuff. It's a poisonous chemical herbicide, created by that giant chemical conglomerate, Monsanto. .

You've heard of Monsanto. They were the co-creators of Agent Orange.

 Wasn't that nice of them? . A real tribute to mankind. 

So, back to the Roundup. You know the stuff. It's the chemical you have to actually pay for, so that it can be sprayed in the garden, perhaps on food being grown, Food that you might feed to kids, friends and family members.

So, picture this... A cowering little Dandelion. A big bottle of Roundup®, aimed & ready to open fire on that Dandelion. . Talk about playing up to an old Wild West Mentality! I actually laughed at the absurdity of it all. Absurdity mixed with a heaping helping of disgust. .

This chemical company is telling me that a useful little yellow flower is my enemy!! .

What does Monsanto have against dandelions? What did a dandelion ever do to deserve such a powerful enemy? Why do they want to instil such hatred into my head for this little flower? . Dandelions have never done anything to me. Have they ever done anything to anyone? Not that I know of... .

So, I'll tell you why... It all comes down to corporate profit. . If Monsanto can't promote the dandelion as an enemy to you and me, no more profits for them or their shareholders.

. Well, I don't give a damn about Monsanto or their shareholders.

 There is cause and affect for everything we do. Perhaps people don’t realize that the chemicals sprayed in the garden has to go somewhere. It doesn't just miraculously go away..

It leaches down into the soil. . The earth we live on. . Right into our water supply. .

Hmm, I have a well on my property. I don't want to drink this poison, or have my children drink it either. .

That, my friends, would be asinine. It makes no sense. . Who in their right minds would want to choose to poison their own water hole?

. A 2008 scientific study has shown that Roundup formulations and metabolic products cause the death of human embryonic, placental, and umbilical cells in vitro, even at low concentrations. .

 So, my point is that there’s no need for Monsanto's poisons if Dandelions aren't really our enemy. Hmmm. That sounds pretty good!

 I mean, come on.... Is one plant, growing between the cracks in our patio's so hideous, and such a blight to our sensibilities as human beings, that we're ready to spray deadly and harmful poisons on our own property that in the end will only poison us, and which may subject us and our children to ill effects down the road? It makes no sense...  

. Consider this, a main active ingredient of Roundup is the surfactant POEA (polyethoxylated tallow amine), known for its toxicity in wildlife. It increases herbicide penetration in plant and animal cells.

 . Consider also the fact that several weed species, known as superweeds, have developed resistance to Monsanto's herbicides, largely because of repeated exposure.

. Superweeds?? This sounds like sci-fi thriller. But it's actually happening now. And, it's part of the reason our food costs are higher. . Monsanto now has to create more powerful herbicide chemicals to combat those superweeds they've created.

. Sounds like the lady who swallowed the fly... More absurdity. . Is a dandelion really worth all of this?

. If a weed really bothers a person, I ask them to please consider boiling kettle full of water and pouring that boiling water on the crack that contains that little dandelion.

. That'll do the trick. Really. It's that simple.

. Consider our children, our future, our planet.

. Consider the fact that using chemicals to spray a few weeds is overkill on so many levels.

. Consider the fact that our Japanese friends now have poisons on their food supply, through no choice of their own, and it will likely be there for a hundred years. It will make them sick if they eat it.

 Why would we, as intelligent as we think we are, fork out money and pay for a toxic product to willingly do this to ourselves??

Things to make with Dandelions:

Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Jelly .

Dandelion chains ( Remember doing this as a child?)

Dandelion leaves in salad. They're tasty and nutritious, too!

Dandelion Tea .

Thanks for visiting! Happy Organic Gardening!

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Creating Eco-friendly, Recycled Newspaper Seed Starting Pots @ Wall Flower Studio

Well, I finally broke down and purchased a pot maker.

 I'm really glad that I did!

It's "sow" easy to use, and, the pots are the perfect seed starting size every time!

 The fact that I'm using recycling newspaper, which will quickly break down, and won't harm the environment played the biggest part in my decision to try this.

. Sure, peat pots are easy to use, but I'd found that peat seems to suck up moisture really quick, which means the soil they contain, and the seedlings in them, dry out much quicker than the newspaper cups do, which means more watering.

 Not to mention the cost of them! I start hundreds of seed pots each year. This can really add up. . Plus, since I'm trying my best to be ecologically aware and I try to do what I can for the environment, I'd like to share some information about why using peat pots to start seeds isn't such a great idea. .

The effects on the dwindling wetlands and peat bogs has me concerned. I don't want to take from nature what is not renewable, if given the choice. .

After much reading, I've discovered that Peat bogs are actually a finite, non-renewable resource. Since the 1960's, there has been a threat to these valuable bogs.

The bogs that produce the peat suitable for horticulture used to be cut out slowly by hand, but now the horticultrual industry extracts it so efficiently & thoroughly with huge machines.

The process of extraction is sausage extrusion and surface milling..

Just knowing this has openend my eyes and now my choice clear.. Newspaper!

 Happy Gardening!

 
 

Seed Balls From Wall Flower Studio - Throw and Grow!! It's That Easy.

Creating Seed Balls ~ Rural Sustainable Guerrilla Gardening : )

The first time I ever heard of the concept of making and using "Seed balls", I was enamoured with the whole idea, and was determined to make some. It took me a while to get my act together, but finally, I've gotten around to it and thought I'd share my experience on my blog.
Above is the mix. 2 parts soil and 2 parts dry powdered clay, plus a whole lot of seeds. I threw in a good mix of drought tolerant native species for my first go round, but will be making them with herbs and other seed varieties as well.

Next, I've added water, and just enough to make it feel like I'm making meatballs! You don't want it to be too dry or too wet. As Goldilocks would say, "Just right'! And just a hint, make sure to take of your jewellry first ; )
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Really, this is a ton of fun! I next took some in my hands, enough, like I said, to make meatball sized seed balls and rolled them into shape. Then they were placed on the trays, as you can see. Am fortunate enough to have a grow light stand, so I put them under there over night and they were almost completely dry the next day.
Now of course comes the packaging. Am not a big fan of overkill when it comes to packaging, especially due to my concerns for the environment and landfills,
so, trying to keep it simple, as you can tell!
* Now offering them in sets of 6, (click) ---> here on Local Harvest!
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So, why seedballs, you ask?? Where did it start, and what's the point?
It's more than just Guerrilla Gardening. It's all about sustainability, urban renewel, and a whole lot more...
Seed balls solve many of the problems that loose seeds face.
~wind blows them away
~ birds and rodents eat them
~the sun bakes their vitality out
~excessive rain carries them off
Seed balls protect them from all of that.
When the seed balls start to break down, the seeds emerge and are nurtured in that pile of clay and enriched with the nourishing soil.
In essence, the seed germination is very high!
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I hope that if you like the concept of seed balls, you'll try it too!
Great fun for kids!
Happy (Guerrilla) Gardening!
 
 

Basil - So versatile!

Basil  - Ocimum basilicum (a.k.a. Sweet Basil, Common Basil, Italian Basil) Probably the most popular herb in North America today. It's GREAT FOR COOKING!

A bit about growing Basil:
Height in inches: 24" - Spread: 12-15"
Germination: 7-10 days - Sowing depth: 1/8"
Planting Season: Sow outside in Spring 1-2 weeks after the last frost
Requirements: Likes full sun for best success. Plant in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. 
Out of the more than 150 varieties of Basil available, my personal favorites, Lemon Basil, Ocimum basilicum citrodorium, and the ever popular Italian Large Leaf Basil, aka: Genovese basil, are perfect for pesto and pasta sauces. I use it fresh and it tastes great with almost all dishes.
The Italian Large Leaf Basil has large dark green, shiny leaves that grow up to 3 inches long on a tall, upright plant. Thankfully, Basil has very few pests, and you can also use Basil as a companion plant to repel mites, and tomato worms. Tomatoes loves Basil!    

Basil loves to be pinched out the tips, which will encourage fuller plants, delaying flowers, and it going to seed. I suggest letting one plant go to seed so that you can grow them again in the garden next year, but of course Basil can be grown indoors on a sunny windowsill, so the seeds can be planted anytime!

Happy Gardening!

 
 

Cosmos - Wispy and Wonderful!

Cosmos
These lovely and delicate looking flowers will grace your garden, especially if planted "en masse". With the delicate, yet showy flowers, as well as their whispy leaves, they make a great addition to the back of any floral border and Cottage Garden.
They can get quite tall, up to four feet, in fact. Mine, shown here, are about three feet tall.
Colors range from white to purple, and they are so easy to grow.
These flowers are not very fussy and do not require much additional care.
Picking Cosmos encourages more flowering so by all means add these flowers to your vintage vases.
Cosmos appreciate a moist, well-drained soil with plenty of nutrients.
When siting your Cosmos know they're happiest in full sun, though often will do fine in partially sunny spots.
Cosmos may be started indoors from seed or directly sown after danger of frost has passed.
Harvest Cosmos flowers as they bloom and just before. They do not keep long but add a graceful touch to arrangements.
These Seed Packets, (and more) are available 
Thank you & Happy Gardening!
 
 

Arikara Sunflower - An Heirloom Rich With Heritage!

The Arikara Sunflower
Pictured above is photo that snapped at the Stanhope Heritage Museum today, where I take maintain the gardens.
I'm so pleased that they grew this well and grateful I didn't forget to go at least once, armed with my camera!
The Arikara is more than just an rare heirloom. It's a sunflower rich in history.
It was originally collected from the Arikara First Nations in North Dakota, and amazingly, it grows in a range of flower head sizes and types due to it's diverse genetic origins.

The flowers here are growing with different shades of yellow, some heads are large single blooms, and some have smaller multiple-heads.
The single head, pictured here spans 1 foot across! Just marvelous!

The stalks can grow to 12 feet; Mine shown here are 7+ feet tall, and the flowers produce very tasty seeds. I can tell you that the bees were all over them!!
Everything I grow in the gardens, both at my studio and the Stanhope Museum is
done using organic methods only.
The Arikara seeds I originally purchased were certified organic.
Have since collected the seeds from these magnificent plants and offer them here on Local Harvest. Please check my farm listing. Thank you!
Happy Gardening : )
Links about the history of Arikara:
 
 

Grow A Victory Garden

[sowing_seeds.JPG]
A grass roots movement, or a renaissance toward Victory Gardening, is happening here in North America, and around the world.

Victory Gardening, which usually refers to small-scale farming, and a way of supporting community based agriculture, is where the past meets the present, and should be the way of the future.

Unfortunately, production of our food by corporate interests means that quality is ignored for quantity’s sake, and produce is bred for easy shipping across many miles, instead of taste.
These crops are sprayed with poisonous chemical pesticides and herbicides, and burning of fossil fuels is used to transport the food.In a time of global food shortages and high fuel costs it is becoming not only economical but also crucial to grow a large percentage of our own food at home or to at least, support the local farmers that do.

This resurgence of Victory Gardening happily means that people are starting to return to a more self-sufficient life style.
Growing and buying organic, and even heirloom, fruits and vegetables, frees us from the chain of oil that binds us to the corporations that are ruining our planet with toxic chemicals and the use of fossil fuels.During World War I and World War II, Canadian, American and British governments asked their citizens to plant gardens as a way to support the war effort, and literally, millions of people did just that.
It was a place of pride, a national duty, and a community effort that brought local people together to feed one another.

Today, Victory Gardens are being created on rural acreage, small city plots, apartment balconies, and suburban yards. Growing vegetable gardens is in vogue!

To witness a grass roots effort that gives the us the means to feed ourselves, is a feeling of control over our own destiny, especially during the economic times of today.

Article:"The Economist magazine - Victory Gardens - Digging their way out of recession”
In 1943 Eleanor Roosevelt encouraged a return to the "victory gardens" that had become popular during the first world war, when the country faced food shortages.
Mrs Roosevelt planted a garden at the White House; some 20 million Americans followed her lead, and by the end of the war grew 40% of the nation's vegetables.

Today, this grassroots movement has taken place at the White House in the form of an organic kitchen garden.
The First Lady, Mrs. Obama, has taken great steps to create a wonderful kitchen garden, (despite criticism from obvious malcontents who don't have a stake in it), that is serving as an educational platform showing millions around the world what can be done to grow food in a sustainable manner.

"The People's Garden", as touted by Tom Vilsack, the 30th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been created and is a huge success. Mr Vilsack wants there to be a "community garden at each of the department's offices around the world.” What a wonderful world that will be!
This is what I call progress! Kudo's to Mrs. Obama and her staff!
.
 
 

Garden And "Growing" Trends for 2010

Home & Community Edible Gardens:

Due to the previous downturn in the economy it's my belief that more and more people will see the benefits of growing their own food, or art at least growing some food to offset purchases from the grocery store. This also includes community gardening, which is a huge asset and benefit to any city, not just for the food that is grown, but for the social aspect of gardening as well.
And, with the growing concern of chemicals used by food manufacturers, there is resurgence or renaissance with edible gardens. Just look at the Whitehouse garden, and the impact that has had on many to follow in it's footsteps!
Gasoline prices continue to be a factor in higher food costs, so a greater reliance on domestic and local growers of food will become the norm. It's already happening, and the timing couldn't be better, really!
Gardening, for some time has been considered more of a hobby, but will become more important as people develop into a more cautious attitude about what food they eat and where it comes from.


Kitchen Herb Gardens:

Herb gardens can be created indoors on windowsills and of course, outdoors. Some may be small in size, ie. container herb gardens, but these flavourful and useful plots will continue to become popular as people learn how vast the choices are for herbs in which to grow and use in their food.
Heirlooms herbs and veggie's will also become more common as people start to realize that food products grown with gmo's are doing more harm than good for both our health and well being, and to the environment. Also, many are beginning to realize that so many of our older varieties of vegetables are being lost, due most in part to corporations only growing a few varieties of food, which means lack of diversity for the human race to feed upon. That's why the potato famine happened. We don't want that to ever occur again! Relying on only a few varieties of produce will surely lead to that.

Garden Rooms:

Rooms out of doors will continue to "grow" in popularity as people are spending more time entertaining friends and family at home. Partly due to the economy, but also because it is a popular trend enhancing our homes as a sanctuary for our own well being.
Enlarging gardens, replacing travel with new patios, barbecue areas, water features, as well as other landscaping options, has already becoming popular for a many.
Outdoor areas can be utilized to the enth degree as individuals continue to create their own version of paradise with the use of exciting new varieties of plant material, planters, and weatherproof decor and other architectural features.

Native, Organic & Heirloom Gardening:

One of the most positive gardening trends is the commitment of gardeners towards organic practices in their garden.
There is an increased awareness and interest to view the natural landscapes of woodlands, meadows, and wetlands for inspiration in their gardens.
There are many ecological and environmental reasons to use native plants in the garden. It makes for an increase in biodiversity, provides habitat for creatures such as butterflies, birds and other pollinators, and can become a refuge for the many native plants that are increasingly becoming rare in their natural habitats.
Using native plants helps to conserve water and eliminates the need for pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals that we are realizing are unhealthy practices on our planet.
The benefits of native plant gardening include less work and a beautiful garden.
Native plants evolved here and adapted to the environment in which they grow. That means the weather patterns and the other flora and fauna that have evolved with them are equally comfortable together. These variations of adaptability to the regional environment are what make native plants so effortless to raise.

Happy Gardening!

 
 

Three Sisters Garden ~ Historical Companion Planting

This year at the Stanhope Discovery Museum, where I'm the garden's coordinator, we once again, planted a "Three Sisters Garden".

Until I moved from Toronto, here to Haliburton County, I'd yet to hear about what a Three Sisters Garden actually was. It's an immensly interesting, yet simple way to participate in companion planting in your own garden, so I'm happy to share what I've learned.

Many people think of companion planting as a relativley new idea, but it's definatley not! This is a First Nation concept which goes back millenia. It's truly heirloom gardening in it's finest form; A beneficial co-existance and a sustainable practice, passed down from generation to generation, just as the seeds were. It's success was passed on as well, to other tribes and regions in North America.

Here's how it works...

The Three Sisters is a combination of three plants:
-corn (maize)
-beans (pole)
-squash
Each supports the growth of the other in one way or another. Corn supports the beans physically, and squash grows around them both. The original "design" concept was to plant it on a mound of soil, and in a circular method.

The beans naturally wind themselves up the corn stalks, which provides the support. The beans in turn, feed the corn by providing nitrogen to the soil. The squash, with its vines and trailing habit, winds it's way around the base of the corn and beans, hence becoming a barrier against weeds, as well as shading the soil, which helps retain moisture. Ingenious, really. : )

If you'd like to try planting in this method, I'd suggest first preparing the soil. Plenty of compost & organic matter should be used to offer the seeds a healthy beginning.

The wonderful thing about a Three Sisters Garden is that it can also be grown in a container.
If you don't have enough garden space, it's a fun way to garden, and children will love it too! Make sure however, that the container will have direct sunlight for at six hours or more, and of course, that the container has good drainage.

Start by planting the corn in the middle. Let the corn grow a few inches before sowing the beans directly around it. Then, plant the squash seed along the edge. Squash will trail, and can be trained to grow right around your container.
Keep the seeds moist and water well throughout the growing season. You'll likely have to water every day when growing anything, especially edibles, in containers, which will dry out much quicker than if planted directly in the ground.

Try planting heirloom varieties, enjoy your harvest, save the seeds, and have fun!
: )

 
 
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