I recently became an official card-carrying member of Seeds of Diversity, a move that was a long time coming. Okay, to be honest there is no actual membership card but there really should be — I am a proud nerd who loves the idea of a special membership card to a club of similarly-minded nerds. A button or t-shirt would be nice too. A patch would be great. I might consider wearing a special pair of gardening gloves if they were available. A hat would be pushing it.
Last Friday I received my first official membership email. Inside was an invite to take part in a national garlic-growing project called the Great Canadian Garlic Collection. Here’s how it works: members choose 3 varieties of garlic to grow (one variety called ‘Music’ is the control and everyone must grow that variety). Members grow these varieties for two years documenting their progress by filling out forms and making careful observations. Eventually the data will be collected providing Canadians with information about which varieties grow best under varying conditions so that gardeners can choose the best varieties for their area. The best part — the garlic is FREE!
Free garlic just when I was starting to consider my garlic options for the year AND I get to fill out pseudo-scientific forms AND be a part of a special very important project in a very important special peoples’ club…. I was so all over the idea that I was literally racing to choose my varieties and get the request off via email within minutes of receiving the invite. My heart was racing a mile a minute as I yelled across the room at Davin, “Would you prefer a variety that roasts well or has nice pink stripes? Which should I choose, ‘Persian Star’ or ‘Inchelium Red’? What should I choose? Help!” What if I was too late to take part? What if they ran out of garlic before receiving my request? What if my email was in a long queue behind thousands of other eager participants? What if they don’t want an urban gardener? All week long I’ve been telling friends and anyone who will listen about the project. An email confirming my participation came as a sigh of relief. And then yesterday my garlic arrived in the mail!
‘Music’ is the control. Everyone has to grow it. I chose ‘Siberian’ because it is supposed to be a hardy purple variety and ‘Persian Star’ because it is good for roasting and so darn pretty with dark reddish/purple stripes and pointy cloves.
And now comes the hard part… something this official requires that I keep track of the varieties, documenting which varieties I grow and where. Some people are hyper garden planners, I am not. I make open-ended decisions about the plants I will grow, the methods I will explore, the changes I will make to each space, and then I throw it all out the window at the last minute and mostly wing it. Some things are set in stone ahead of time but I try to keep those to a minimum so I can be open to something better that comes along last-minute. I hate being locked down into anything and prefer to go with the flow when the season starts. Keeping track of three different garlic varieties that need to be planted NOW means that I’ve got to make some sort of plan for spring. In the past I have planted my garlic crop in the Fall, working with and around that haphazard planting come spring. I often keep my garlic to the perimeter of my community garden plot to make things easier. I do pretty much the same thing with the onions and always have the option of pulling anything out that gets in the way. This has never been an issue because I’m never growing either plant for a project like this and I’ve always got more in the ground than is necessary anyways.
So I’ve got some work ahead of me in the next few days. Some of it is fun and some of it is forcing me to push against my nature in a way that I don’t particularly like. I’d been toying with the idea of separating my plot into more obvious sections next year so I know it will be something along those lines. But I haven’t made definite plans about staking (I try new methods every year) or exactly how to divide those sections beyond working with the perennials that are already in place. Your suggestions are appreciated.
My favourite tool bag at my community garden plot, October 4, 2007. I forgot to bring a harvest bag and had to cram everything into the top of the tool bag. I’m currently harvesting lots of dandelion greens for boiling and herbs for drying but the weather has been so mild even the summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, and ‘Mexican sour gherkins’ are continuing to produce. It was so peaceful and fresh there yesterday evening — for a moment I wished I had a sleeping bag to curl up into.
I spotted this lovely gold and dark purple seasonally appropriate container combo at Fiesta Gardens recently. While I am generally not a fan of the traditional seasonal mixed container, this one is a simple concept with a limited colour palette incorporating unusual plants like the ‘Red Boar’ Kale centre piece that is edible and insanely inexpensive if you start it early in the year. Even still a plant that size at this time of year runs between $6 and $10. I would guess that the price of plants for a container like this (not including the price of the container) would total approximately $50-$100. It’s pricey, a little out of my league — I’d replace the Heuchera with something cheap like black or yellow pansies to lower the cost.
Plants: ‘Red Boar’ Kale [centre], Chrysanthemum [middle ring], Heuchera ‘Black Beauty’ [edging].
We went out on Saturday night to explore the art and art events taking place across Toronto as a part of Nuit Blanche. While we left the house by choice, I will add that should we have preferred to stay in and nap, watch a movie, or simply try to have a conversation these options would have been out since a full band stage was erected directly across the street. If the sound check was any indication, life at home would not have been pleasant. We live in a high-traffic zone for loud, seasonal events including the zoom zoom of the Indy and the sonic boom of the Air Show. It’s things like this that make city living at once both surprisingly awesome and horrific depending on which way you’re looking at it. On the one hand we can watch beautiful fireworks from our bedroom window! But have you ever lived with dancing jets flying overhead every few minutes?
But I’m not writing about this on a garden site to complain about loud noises or tell you about good art, bad art, crowds of people, taking night time Polaroids, the gluttony of eating Vietnamese food at midnight and then bad Chinese at 1:30, the headache I had the next day, or how I have concluded through the pain of experience that I am too old to stay out until 4am… Instead I want to tell you about some of my favourite parts of Nuit Blanche and how they had nothing to do with art at all but were, of course, about plants. One of the highlights of our jaunt around town was a visit to 401 Richmond where I finally got the opportunity to go onto the roof and experience the magnificent rooftop garden. Countless people have been telling me for years that I have got to go and check out the rooftop garden. I don’t know what’s been stopping me but now that I’ve seen it at night I am thoroughly convinced that I have got to go see it during the day. I probably only saw half of the roof. The side I saw was lined with lots of really large planter boxes, each one containing trees and bushes. Pergolas were constructed for shade in some areas with lush, over-filled baskets of greenery dripping down from above. What an inspiration! Now that I’ve got proof that Dogwood will survive in a large planter box there is nothing stopping me from growing one in my own large box.
Here I am sitting beside a large, variegated Dogwood with a Fuchsia hanging above my head. I am sorry that the flash makes me look wide-eyed and crazy. Do not be afraid.
It was really dark (the flash on my camera could pick up more detail than I could with my eyes) but this undecked portion of the roof seems to have been covered with some kind of grass.
Later in the evening, while walking north to China Town we happened upon the Living Wall built just inside the foyer of the Centre for Social Innovation at 215 Spadina Ave. Apparently the building also houses a rooftop container garden and a green roof.
This city has got so much going on as far as green roofs and gardens, I have got to get out more!
I received the following update on the Scotts Miracle-Gro versus TerraCycle lawsuit from Scotts over a week ago but was a little freaked that the Scotts PR team would be so eager to get the facts of the settlement out into the world as soon as the verdict came through. Regardless, I figure I may as well mention the outcome given I wrote about the initial lawsuit. The following is a copy of the letter in their own words:
“With your previous interest and coverage of The Scotts Company and TerraCycle litigation, I wanted to bring to your attention todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s settlement announcement, which is detailed in the following news release.
TerraCycle has agreed that it no longer will make advertising claims of product superiority to Miracle-Gro products to ensure accuracy in its advertising. More specifically, TerraCycle has agreed that it will not claim that its products are better than, or more effective than, or as good as Miracle-Gro products. In addition, TerraCycle may not claim that any independent tests or university studies were conducted to support any such claims.
TerraCycle has also agreed to change its packaging so it will not use a green and yellow color combination, for which Miracle-Gro owns a trademark registration. This change will be made to avoid any possible confusion with Miracle-GroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s trade dress.
The court order and the settlement agreement will be posted on TerraCycleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s www.suedbyscotts.com Web page. TerraCycle also agreed to phase out this site after three months.”
The email sent to me also included this statement from Scotts spokesperson, Jim King:
“Scotts is pleased to resolve this case and believes that the settlement serves the public’s interest in ensuring the accuracy of advertising claims, as well as protection of the valuable Miracle-Gro brand.“
Phew. [Wiping tears of relief from eyes] Thankfully the public’s interest has been served. Oh how I do enjoy the delightful spinning.
The website has indeed been updated including the details of the 29-page settlement agreement. Why not brew yourself up a cup of relaxing chamomile tea and settle under the covers tonight with a copy of that little ditty for an evening of good reading? You do not have to thank me.