The Latest Dirt Summer

Document Sample
The Latest Dirt Summer Powered By Docstoc
        THE LATEST DIRT                                                                                                      2009

                                            Dynamic Accumulators
         What are they and how can I use them? -                                                       by Richard Wilton

You’ve probably heard the saying: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”; meaning that what
one person throws out might be perfectly useful to someone else. This wise saying, which has saved
me thousands of dollars through the years, came to mind as I recently started working with the cate-
gory of plants called dynamic accumulators. These hardy and abundant plants are often the recipients
of slander and ill-will from the urban gardener, who too-often sees them as weeds that must be either
prevented at all costs, or else dug out at the earliest possible time. What are dynamic accumulators
and how can they be helpful to the gardener and backyard composter? Actually they are weeds,
meaning they are pioneering plants that, like grasses, aggressively colonize bare landscapes with their
far-flung seeds. One person’s open soil field (aka: garden), is a dynamic accumulator’s heaven.

As a kid I remember spending hours in the garden yanking stubborn portulaca and dandelions from
our yard and vegetable garden (I got paid by the shopping bag), which we sent to the curb to be
thrown out. Little did I know then, that these plants were specialists at drawing certain nutrients from
the soil for the very same reason that they were stubborn; their long taproots. These ire-inspiring root           i. Comfrey or knit-bone is an ideal
systems have the ability to mine deep down in the soil and bring up long lost nutrients that can then              dynamic accumulator with mu-
become available to the surface-rooting plants. While soil chemistry and nutrient uptake can be a com-             tual, medicinal and nutrient-
plicated and situation-specific process, dynamic accumulators can be of great general use to gardeners             unlocking benefits
in a number of ways, check it out:
                                                             COMPANION PLANTS: Grow dynamic accumulators like
                                                             wild strawberry and comfrey around fruiting trees to increase health
                                                             and resilience as well as fruit nutrition.
                                                             COMPOST COMPONENT: Instead of throwing out dande-
                                                             lion, stinging nettle and horse tail; chop them up in your compost bin
                                                             to boost iron and magnesium and other nutrients in the resulting soil.
                                                             COVER CROP:           Dynamic accumulators grow quickly and act to
                                                             aerate and enrich soils, so growing them as a cover crop before plant-
                                                             ing a garden bed will help prepare the soil for veggie goodness.

                                                             MULCH:        Beneficial mulches will slowly release nutrients as they
    ii. The first wave of succession is usually started by   rot and break down while preventing the soil from drying out.
    the deep-rooting weeds, many of which are dynamic
    accumulators. Our open-style yards continue to           COMPOST TEA:            Chop ’em down, drown ’em in a bucket and
    foster their growth . . . much to the chagrin of many    spread the ‘tea’ over your plants to boost specific nutrients. For a list
    gardeners!                                               of which plants draw out which specific elements from the soil, see
                                                             the following link:

Every time you cycle useful nutrients through your garden you increase bio-diversity, productivity and nutritional value in your har-
vests. Also, the flowers on plants like comfrey and dandelion help to attract and nourish beneficial pollinators like bees and butter-
flies. Soil fertility too is thought to be positively influenced by the deep soil-busting action of long taproots working with fungal hy-
phae (thin filaments).

Is there any doubt that our views of certain plants need to be revamped in light of the evolving gardening revolution known as per-
maculture; that is, gardening as nature intended. Bio-diversity has always been nature’s way of ensuring a solid foundation for great
harvests. Any way that we can mimic this process is a benefit to us who seek to benefit from the land.
                                                   Welcome to Richard - Our Summer Intern
                                           Richard is a hiking and biking nut; having spent the last several years exploring the Canadian Rockies
                                           and parts of the Patagonian Andes, he has reformulated his goals and focus around the simple and
                                           direct nature of mountain travel. Currently studying renewable energy systems in Southern Ontario,
                                           Richard hopes to start his own business in rural and urban home energy solutions sometime in the
                                           near future.
                                           Working at the compost education centre this summer is giving Richard a great opportunity to learn
                                           about sustainability in food crops, the many benefits of local farming as well as the full cycle of
               Staff                       waste renewal through various compost methods. In addition, moving to Victoria has allowed him to
                                           explore yet another part of Canada that holds endless opportunities for recreation, personal develop-
          Angela Moran
                                           ment and research towards existing renewable energy systems.
           Marika Smith
           Nashira Birch                   The energy and culture of Victoria has already won over Richard’s heart, so we’re not sure if he’ll
          Nadine Brodeur                   even be able to leave in the fall to go back to school!
           Marion Wylie
          Richard Wilton
                                            Newcomer Gets to Know Compost Ed. Centre
           Contact us at
1216 North Park Street (at Chambers)       Originally from Ukraine, Olga Minko arrived in Victoria with her
      Victoria BC V8T 1C9                  husband Robert Côté in November 2006. One of the first things she
                                           wanted to learn was how to sort the recycling. “I used to live in
        Hours of Operation                 Sweden and there, being environmentally conscious is a life skill –
     Wed. to Sat. 10 am to 4 pm            it’s one of the first things you learn when you move there, how to
                                           recycle,” says Minko. When they moved to Victoria, the couple
    Closed on statutory holidays,
                                           wanted to learn more about composting and keeping a garden, but
          long weekends,                   work, school and getting settled took up most of their time. Then,
    and the month of December              Olga heard about a contest with an opportunity to win eco-friendly
                                           prizes from the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society
  Phone: 386-WORM ( 386-9676)
                                           (VIRCS). When she learned that one of the prizes was a compost
          Fax: 386-9678                    starter kit courtesy of the Compost Education Centre, she jumped at
   E-mail:              the chance.                                                            Olga, her husband Robert
   Website:                                                                                    and their one-year-old dog.
                                           The contest was part of a unique partnership between VIRCS’ Mul-
        Board of Directors                 ticultural Environmental Education Program (MEEP) and The Great Rebate Eco-Challenge (GREC).
          Janet Hockin                     GREC was formed by a group of citizens in Victoria in the spring of 2008 when they decided to pool
           Gail Snider                     and donate their $100 Climate Action Dividends to families in the form of prizes that would give
           David Neate                     them a head start in reducing their personal greenhouse gas consumption.
         Natalie Cushing
           Wendy Dunn                      Olga and her husband were one of the seven lucky recipients of the eco-friendly prizes. Winners also
                                           receive a free workshop related to their prize. Olga found the workshop at the Compost Education
         Thomas Maguire
                                           Centre so useful that she believes these skills and services should be mandatory for each newcomer,
           Tim Taylor                      so that they are informed about sustainable practices right from their first day in Canada. “I am very
                                           appreciative and supportive of your program [MEEP] and the Compost Education Centre for giving
   Contributors to this issue of           me the opportunity to learn about how to live in a way that is kinder to the environment. I have
    THE LATEST DIRT                        started teaching friends and neighbours, as well. It’s very important and I hope you don’t stop this
         Nadine Brodeur                    service.”
          Marika Smith                        For more information about the Multicultural Environmental Education Program, please visit
         Richard Wilton                        or email
          Nashira Birch
         Angela Moran
           Terralicious                                                       AGM - Recap
                                           On April 19 we held our Annual General Meeting at the site in our Strawbale building. As
      Newsletter Formatting                with every AGM, we passed the 2008 AGM minutes, the 2008 financial statements and
         Nadine Brodeur                    2009 budget, and we elected officers. We also discussed and passed some additions to the
                                           membership structure: a 2-year option where the member will save an additional $5 for
                                           signing up for two years and a Organization membership for $100 which includes us going
We gratefully acknowledge the core
funding support that we receive from the   into the organization’s workplace annually to teach a Composting Basics course. We also
CRD and the City of Victoria. Addi-        passed a motion to revisit our membership numbers in 6 months time to determine if the
tional support is provided by the Fern-    changes in membership fees and entitlements made in 2008 have impacted our membership
wood Community Association and             numbers. We also presented a Mission Statement which we have never had in the past and
through the generosity of our Compost      will be posting it our website in the upcoming months. If you are interested in finding out
Club Members and the residents of          more about the AGM feel free to call or email Nadine at the office -
Greater Victoria.
                                               Volunteer Spotlight
Spring Volunteer Appreciation Night
We held our Spring Volunteer Appreciation Night, coinciding with National Volunteer Week, on April 24th with the focus on food, glorious food!
About 15 volunteers and staff enjoyed a cooking demonstration and organic veggie production talk from special guests Terralicious Gardening and
Cooking School. This dynamic duo promote a ‘seed to spoon’ learning experience and whipped up seasonal delights such as roasted radishes, spicy
arugula pesto, and chocolate beet cake. Not surprisingly there was not a single crumb left! Accompanying the delicious food prepared was of course
the usual mingling and great conversation! At the GVCEC our volunteers are integral to the success of the centre and contribute to the many educa-
tional programs, community outreach events and administrative duties of the office. Appreciation nights are a small token of our immense respect and
gratitude for the tremendous efforts they put forth. Thank you to all of our fabulous volunteers for all their hard word and wonderful attitudes!

Terralicious Recipe for Roasted Radishes
Radishes are easy to grow and very nutritious. Plant them in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked and continue to plant at ten day intervals through
August for a continuous supply. The plants germinate quickly and are ready to harvest in just four to five weeks. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart,
thinning if necessary to prevent overcrowding. Enjoy your harvest raw or roasted – see below for a yummy recipe…

                                                            3 bunches radishes with their greens. Around 2 ¼ lbs.
                                                            2 ½ Tbs grapeseed oil
                                                                                                        For more info on Terralicious and
                                                            3 Tbs butter                                  their Gardening and Cooking
                                                                                                         School check out their website:
                                                            2 Tbs lemon juice
                                                            Salt and Pepper to taste
                                                            1. Place oven rack in roasting position (upper 1/3rd) and preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
                                                            2. In a heavy ovenproof fry pan (iron is good), heat the oil to shimmering. Add the radishes and
                                                            cook over high heat, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 15
                                                            3. Remove pan from the oven and return to burner. Stir in butter to coat. Add the radish greens
                                                            and cook over moderate heat just until wilted, about two minutes. Add the juice in a quick splash

This season’s issue is all about eating! Remember how a worm can eat its weight in food
every day? Well, here are some ideas to get you starting on your own summer munching!

  Worm Bin Dessert!                                                        Baby Potato Nursery!
  Ever wonder what it would be like to                                     Grow your own baby potatoes this
  eat the stuff in your worm bin that the                                  summer!
  worms are eating?? Maybe we should-                                      You will need some organic potatoes* ,
                                                                           some compost, and garden bed space.
  n’t eat that, but you could make one
                                                                           Cut the potatoes so there is an “eye” on each piece.
  that is edible for people….                                              Plant the pieces 6-8 inches deep, 4 inches apart.
                                                                           Cover with compost or leaf mulch. Keep your po-
   Materials                                                               tato plants well watered. Your baby potatoes will be ready for you to dig
       → Small box (the CRD has great miniature blue re-                   up and eat 2-3 wks after your plants flower.
                                                                           *Use seed potatoes if you plan on doing a large crop, otherwise grocery store ones will do.
         cycling bins) – for the bin
       → Fair Trade solid chocolate bar (cold) -- for the
         dead leaves                                                        Wriggling Riddles
       → Shaved coconut – for the shredded newspaper                        Q: What do you call it when worms take over the world?
       → Gummy worms -- for the worms!
                                                                            A: Global Worming!
  Put the worms in the bottom of the bin and shave the
  chocolate with a grater into the bin and mix it with the                  Worms on the Web: Learn the best compost rap ever with Wiggly
  coconut. You could also bury nuts or candies under                        Worm, Missy Millipede, and Sista Sow Bug:
  the “bedding” as if they were food scraps.                      
                                 Upcoming Events
  DATE                  EVENT                                              TIME                    COST
  July 11               Composting Basics                                  10-12pm                 FREE
  July 11               Green Roof Design                                  2-4pm                   $15 (Members refer to policy)
  July 18               Chickens in the City                               2-4pm                   $15 (Members refer to policy)
  Aug. 8                Composting Basics                                  10-12pm                 FREE
  Aug. 8                Organic Soil Health Management                     2-4pm                   $15 (Members refer to policy)
  Sept. 12              Composting Basics                                  10-12pm                 FREE
  Sept. 18-19           Compost Educator Volunteer Training                Fri eve, Sat.           $100, $85 refundable after practicum
  Sept. 26              Seed Saving                                        2-4pm                   $15 (Members refer to policy)
  Oct. 3                Composting Basics                                  10-12pm                 FREE
  Oct. 3                Backyard Food Forests                              2-4pm                   $15 (Members refer to policy)
  Oct. 17               Grow the Best Garlic                               2-4pm                   $15 (Members refer to policy)


           Skillful Site Renovations!                             Urban Homesteading Graduates
 Many of you may have noticed that the significant reno-
 vations done over the past few year including the renova-     As many of you know - this was the inaugural year for our Urban Homestead-
 tion of the office interior and, over this past winter, the   ing series. In the 8-part series local urban permaculture expert, Geoff Johnson,
 new wheelchair ramp for the washroom. These wonder-           led a group of keen students through the basics of transitioning urban spaces
 ful renovations were completed by local carpenter Ryan        into small-scale urban homesteads. Some of the topics included soil building,
 Murdoch, owner of Skillful Means Construction Ltd             urban farm animals, greywater and rainwater catchment, forest gardens, annual
 which serves Fernwood and Greater Victoria.                   vegetable production, and alternative energy systems. The course has been a
                                                               resounding success and we plan on offering it again in the spring of 2010!
 Skillful Means specializes in creating unique spaces big                                                   Congratulations to our 2009
 and small, inside and out. They also have the ability to                                                Urban Homesteading graduates:
 design and build with a variety of materials such as                                                           Tim Taylor, Kim Watt
 wood and stone. Ryan hopes to find more home and                                                             Geoff Orme, Anneka Plug
 business owners that are interested in making their pro-                                                    Jay Illingon, Nashira Birch
 ject an artistic and ecological one!                                                                       Marion Wylie, Anne Munier
                                                                                                              Lind Miller, Brenda Pillon
   Ryan and Skillful Means can be contacted at                                                               Al Shorting, Melissa Baron or 250-896-8472                                                                       Jordon Leighton, Ian Avery
                                                                                                                 Katherine Hutchins

        VCCES - Much of Board Stays On!                                                                                         Giving
We are pleased to announce that we once again have a full board! In                                                             Goes
April, we held our Annual General Meeting which saw the election of                                                            Green!
Tim Taylor as a new board member while we said goodbye to Madeline
Hargrave who served on our board as Member at Large in 2008. We also                    Giving to the Compost Ed. Centre is easy! Save
                                                                                        time and paper by offering your donations on-line
welcomed Bill McKechnie as a non-voting representative for the Fern-                    through Canada Simply surf over to
wood Community Association and welcomed back Janet Hockin, David               and type in “Compost”.
Neate, Gail Snider, Thomas Maguire, Wendy Dunn, and Natalie Cush-                       Our name is on the top of the search results. Or,
ing. Thank you to Neil Williams, who facilitated the election of the offi-              visit our website and click the Canada Helps link.
cers for the tenth consecutive year and to the Patisserie Daniel, the Soap              And of course, donations are still happily accepted
                                                                                        at our office.
Exchange, and Great Panes for donating door prizes!
                  Our Board of Directors for 2009 is:
                                                                                       THE LATEST DIRT is published quarterly.
                        Janet Hockin - President                                       The deadline for submissions for the summer issue is
                      Gail Snider - Vice President                                     June 20th, 2009. Submissions to the newsletter can be
                        David Neate - Treasurer                                        sent to the Compost Education Centre. Unless other-
                      Natalie Cushing - Secretary                                      wise noted, articles appearing in this newsletter may
                   Thomas Maguire - Member at Large                                    be reprinted only in other not-for-profit publications,
                                                                                       with the credit given to the author (when named) and
                     Tim Taylor - Member at Large
                   Wendy Dunn - CRD Representative                                     THE LATEST DIRT.
            Bill McKechnie - FCA Representative (non-voting)
                                                                                             Printed on-post consumer recycled paper