I hate to be so Toronto-centric but there are a number of local and very good plant sales coming up that ya’ll should know about. They’re more bang for your buck, the experience is fun, and often times the haul is of better quality than your typical garden super centre.
FoodShare’s Plant Sale
When: Saturday, May 13th 10 am to 1 pm (plant sale); noon to 1 pm (Annual General Meeting) 1 to 2 pm (Lunch by the Field to Table Kitchen)
Where: FoodShare’s Field to Table Centre 200 Eastern Ave.
What: ORGANIC seedlings grown by FoodShare in their rooftop greenhouse.
Parkdale Horticultural Society Plant Sale
When: Saturday, May 13th 11 am to 3 pm
Where: Community Centre at the corner of Lansdowne and Seaforth
What: Annuals, herbs, perennials, bushes, etc starting at $1 and going up to about $10. You can also purchase tickets to their Garden Tour or praying mantis egg cases for your garden. They also have a second room of local vendors.
Swansea Horticultural Society Plant Sale
When:Saturday, May 13th 9 am to 1 pm
Where:Swansea Town Hall 95 Lavinia Avenue
What: No idea. I’ve never been to this one.
Note that all three events are happening on the same day. You may be able to hit them all with the right strategy in place. That said, I leave you with a few Plant Sale Tips young grasshopper:
- Arrive on time – In fact, arrive BEFORE the start time. A gym or church basement filled with plants can clean out within an hour. Tardy people are left with chives, catnip, and orange daylilies if they’re lucky.
- Do Not Hesitate – Hesitation is for losers. Choose now, decide later. You can always put something back, but you can’t get something that is gone.
- Get Crazy – Follow the example of hoards of screaming mothers during the height of the Cabbage Patch Kid mania. I’m kidding. I just wanted to make that Cabbage Patch Kids comparison. Did I mention how some of us didn’t get one and how all the popular kids brought theirs to school the first day after the holidays and sat them on their desks and swung them on the swings at recess, and how some of us were completely left out from that right-of-passage because they didn’t have mothers willing to go all the way and do what it took to acquire that stupid, ugly doll? Until their understanding aunts stepped up to the plate and ordered one sight-unseen but it was the ugliest kind with the most bizarro name and how the whole ordeal haunts them to this day? Think of the children.
- Bring a Cart – One flat is the most an average person can hold while still leaving one hand free to pick and choose plants. Get yourself a wagon or a cart and be hands free.
- Bring an Assistant – Girlfriends, boyfriends, and siblings are easily guilted into this role. They can hold extra plants, a water bottle, and a towel with which to dab your sweaty forehead. You think I’m kidding.
- Bring Enough Money – These events are cash only. Estimate the amount you will need and then double it. You don’t want to regret putting that $2 raspberry bush back.
- Make a List – And then burn it because frankly there is no way to know what they will have and that list will be thrown out the window five seconds into the sale. These sales are about adaptability. Rise to the challenge. People who stick to rigid plans and lists tend to come out empty-handed.
Feel free to add your favourite, local up and coming plant sale to the comments.
Guest post by Ariane Khachatourians
I know this isn’t exactly about gardening, but it is about a fellow avid gardener who passed away earlier this week. I don’t know how many people know of Jane Jacobs, myself having studied human geography and urban planning in university, she is one of my idols. If you haven’t heard of her, just google her name and start reading…maybe you will be swept away too.
Jacobs grew up in the States, but has lived in Toronto since 1969, when her family left the States to escape the chance of her sons being drafted to fight during the Vietnam War. She has been one of the most vocal and influential critics of urban planning throughout the years, fighting against the building of major expressways that have destroyed neighbourhoods and promoted the povery of inner-city neighbourhoods in cities like New York and Toronto. She has fought for planning centred around neighbourhoods and citizens, and against planning catering only to the automobile. She has championed the organic, complex, and disorganized nature of urban neighbourhoods, and criticized the suburbs for their isolation, poor economics, and automobile-centredness.
She has been one of the biggest proponents of mixed-use planning (complete communities where shops, residences, and recreational areas are all within close proximity to each other, often with shops along the street level and residences above them), which has been regaining popularity in North America over the past decade and a half or so.
Her books are timeless, and perhaps her most famous one, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, was first published in 1961, and is still an inspiring read to anyone who is interested in progressive urban planning.
If you want the readers digest version of her work, Wikipedia has a great overview. And for a more personal mini-biography of her life, the CBC has a great tribute up on their site.
Guest post by Renee Garner
Words like hyperaccumulator and phytoremediation sound like something straight out of a 1960s Sci-Fi movie and hardly verbs describing gardens. But when the conceptual, and socially minded artist Mel Chin creates a garden, you get these lengthy words among others.
Mel Chin is a Texas born artist now living in North Carolina; and when he plants, he plants for good. In 1990 Chin began working with the United Stated Department of Agriculture’s senior scientist, Rufus Chaney, to plan, sculpt and garden Pig’s Eye Landfill in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Together they assessed hyperaccumulator plants, which absorb heavy metals through their root systems and store them during the growth process. The heavy metals in this case are zinc and cadmium, and the project is called “Revival Field”, not “Revive James Hetfield.” The ultimate transformation occurs through phytoremediation, or the transference of the metal laden dirt to ore quality metals (harvested through the plants for reuse) and revived, healthy soil.
The Minnesota test site lasted 3 years, and while the trial run was productive, the soil was still somewhat polluted, and not yet reusable. A second garden was planted in Palmerton, Pennsylvania and another has been installed in Stuttgart, Germany. Ongoing tests are run for productivity, as other plants are researched for affective levels of metal accumulation.
Apparently, Chin always knew the plants were up to something.
Guest post by Emira Mears
Try saying that three times fast. TrugTubLove. TrugTubLove… Anyway. Gayla’s post about Lee Valley got me to thinking about my last Lee Valley impulse purchase. I had stopped there on my way back from picking up a load of compost, and tried very hard to restrain myself from making too many luxury garden purchases. Afterall, while so much of what is there is truly wonderful, nifty and swell really: I don’t need it. I manage to get by in the garden with my second hand tools and bits and pieces borrowed and acquired from here and there just fine. Still, nice shiny new things are always alluring.
Somehow, in spite of my resolve, I managed to justify the purchase a red plastic tub. How? Well you see, ever since we bought our place and I got to work on the garden I’ve been scrounging the house/thrift stores/garage sales and the like for a good all-purpose garden bucket. Something that I could use for both a 30 minute weed session, or to transfer compost around with me while planting bulbs, etc. Growing up, my mom had a bucket that she called the “weed bucket” that was just such a multi-use item. It was made of galvanized steel and though I haven’t seen it lately I bet she still has it. I ended up sans bucket and making due with cardboard boxes for small jobs and the wheelbarrow for larger ones last year, but kept on the look-out all winter. As nothing had materialized and because no matter how much I try, my resolve at Lee Valley is really pretty minimal, I caved and bought one of these Trug Tubs. And I have to say: I kind of love it.
I’ve used it for all kinds of gardeny things, like:
- Repotting plants at the office (I brought down a load of potting soil from home to the office in the tub and voila!)
- Soaking my bulbs before planting them
- Carrying transplants from one part of the yard to the next
And I’m sure I’ll get up to much more with it over time. What I like about it is that it is a big enough size to hold a whole lot of weeds, a good amount of dirt, etc. but it is not so big that I overfill it to the point of not being able to carry it (the kind of thing I’ve very likely to do). The fact that it is flexible means that I can often carry it around with one hand while carrying tools, etc in my other hand and as a neurotic multi-tasker that makes me very happy.
So yes, it is plastic, it is undoubtedly not something you have to spend $40 on as other thing will do, but as my one big garden “tool” purchase for the year so far, it has been pretty darn satisfying.
The one-stop crack distribution depo of the Canadian gardening world recently opened a store in downtown Toronto, and… ummm… I have been there twice in two days. I want to state for the record that prior to this I have never purchased a Lee Valley product, somehow managing to walk past the booths at garden shows and peruse the catalogue with barely a gleam in my eye. But something about stepping into the store where catalogue shopping meets department store released a deep-rooted nostalgia for the long retired Canadian institution Consumers Distributing.
I need an intervention.
And it doesn’t stop with me. I went in on the first day for a peek and came home with almost $100 worth of miscellaneous gardening implements — this coming from the person who preaches gardening on a dime. Then I went home and glanced through the catalogue on my own time, realizing that it was necessary that I go back for at least one additional item. This time I brought Davin along with me who was immediately taken in by all the fancy wood turning blocks, safety goggles, various glues, and build-it kits. He can’t shut up about the massive selection of fancy door locks. Because really all our apartment requires are a few new/old skeleton key locks to launch it out of its current bad 80′s renovation pickle.
Here’s a few of the items I bought. I plan to review these when I finish testing them.
- Windowsill Seed Starter - I pay $20 for styrofoam so you don’t have to. The first problem I noticed was no tagging system. I fixed that by fashioning tiny tags that don’t interfer with the dome using toothpicks, sticker paper, and an indelible marker. So far I don’t mind it as it fits perfectly on my narrow windowsill and I haven’t had to even think about watering for days. However, seedlings are only just starting to emerge and my suspicion is that the real challenge will come as they near transplant size.
- Rootrainers – Interesting idea but I can’t test it since it did not come with a bottom tray and the sizing is awkward. I’ll have to wait until it warms up to try this one outside.
- Quick Row Covers – Right out of the box I can tell you these things stink. My community garden plot is too tiny for the traditionally-sized row covers so these are a lame compromise.
- Upside-Down Planter – I have attempted this feat on a few occassions with a found bucket but I can’t get it to work out. My last bucket broke and smashed to the ground only minutes after hanging it. I’ll let you know how the pre-fab product works out. I suspect it will be a success, but it makes me feel like a failure to cough up $20 for plastic, foam, and tenting material.