2024 Spring Fundraiser Plant Sales

This Saturday, May 25 is our 3rd and last big Spring weekend veggie plant sale for the 2024 spring season at BLG! (The next event will be a July 20 Fall/Winter Vegetable Extravaganza!) Come buy our gorgeous transplants and get great growing advice!

After Tuesdays rain the ground will be nice and hydrated for you to plant your transplants into! Now is a great time to be picking up summer vegetables like Tomatoes, Squash, Cucumbers, Melons and Eggplant.

We have a gorgeous Oaxaca Red Epazote for your Latin American bean recipes. And two varieties of Shiso/Perilla. One a non frilly red/purple Japanese variety, and a second new to us green Korean variety sourced from one of our volunteers. The Korean Kkaennip variety looks like the underside of the leaves will be pink/purple-ish. These are found pickled in some Korean (kimchi) recipes. https://mykoreankitchen.com/korean-pickled-perilla-leaves-kkaennip-jangajji/

If you’ve been following perennial plant popularity – we’ve a small number of hablitzia tammoides and Skirret starts.

And we’ve a lot more to check out! While you’re on site check out our gorgeous and super productive early greens beds. Most planted up just after Seedy Sunday! Some have already been transitioned to a second crop.

#beban park #nanaimogardening #growyourownfood #nanaimo

We have a great supply of gorgeous healthy tomatoes in 4” pots as well as a limited supply of Gallon tomatoes. Our tomato list linked below.

2024 tomatoes

Earth Day Celebrations

We’re going to be at the City of Nanaimo and RDN Earth Day event in Bowen Park this Saturday!

We’re talking about gardening and mulching and water saving in the garden at our table.
Of course we’re bringing a massive variety of gorgeous spring greens transplants to fill your garden with this weekend.

Connies Seed Saving workshop is being held at Bowen Park alongside this event. You can register for the workshop at:

https://cityofnanaimo.perfectmind.com/Contacts/BookMe4LandingPages/CoursesLandingPage?courseId=55046207-a7e6-4e33-a725-c0f39aa1e83e

We need pots!

We welcome returns and donations of:

4″ Square pots (sometimes called 3.5″)

Our waterproof plant labels.

Gallon pots are nice but we don’t use them as much.

These items can be dropped off at the Beban Learning Gardens entrance in front of the gate. Volunteers check daily for reusable pots.

We don’t use other plant pots in our production greenhouse. Any pots dropped off which we can’t use go into a free box outside our gates and they are typically picked up by passersby within a week. For a large donation of plant pots we don’t use, we will try to find another organization or grower who can.

We also re-use our labels when possible so return those too!

Below is a photo of the only items that we reuse – gallon pots, 3.5″ – 4″ pots, and our labels.

Upcoming workshops

In cooperation with the city of Nanaimo, our society offers horticultural workshops year round. Check out the city’s spring/summer 2024 Activity Guide for registering for the following workshops (find listed at Adult – special interest workshops – gardening and horticulture), Youth are also welcome.

 

Garden Planning Basics

Learn about how to choose from different varieties of vegetables to help you achieve the results that you want to achieve.  Learn how much to grow for your size of family, and considerations for infrastructure, like trellises and cold frames.  Learn how to plan for a rotation of crops that will keep you in vegetables all year round.  This is especially important with prices of food rising.  It is totally achievable to have at least some fresh food to eat all year round in our climate with the right planning.  This course goes well with the Crop Protection Class.

Cost: $20 per person

Location: Beban Learning Gardens, Beban Park, 2300 Bowen Rd (between the VIEx grounds and the golf course)

Date: Sun March 10, 1pm – 3pm

Instructor: Connie Kuramoto

 

 

Laugh at the Weather – Crop Protection for Gardeners (Learning Greenhouse and Cold Frame Basics)

Learn about different types of crop protection including protective cloth, cold frames, shading, and greenhouses.  Learning to control the environment is one of the most beneficial things you can do as a grower, especially with our changing and unpredictable climate, and the extremes of weather that can come with it.  We will talk about different types of materials to use, and some tips and tricks for good environmental control. This class goes well with the Garden Planning Class.

Cost: $20 per person

Location: Beban Learning Gardens, Beban Park, 2300 Bowen Rd (between the VIEx grounds and the golf course)

Date:  Sat March 23, 10am – noon

Instructor: Connie Kuramoto

 

Saving Seeds

Plan now to save seeds this summer and fall.  By knowing what varieties to grow, which plants to save seeds from, and which ones are more difficult you can set yourself up with an abundance of your own seeds for the following year that are locally adapted to your garden.  Learn about the difference between open pollinated, and hybrid seeds, and which seeds are best and easiest to save and grow on the following year.  Also covered will be seed viability and germination tests.

Cost: $20 per person

Location: Bowen Park

Date: Sat April 20th, 2024 1-3pm

Instructor: Connie Kuramoto

 

Feeding Your Soil, Feeding Your Garden

Sometimes takes a while to have good, built-up soil. When you are just starting your garden or under stressful environmental conditions, plants may benefit from some supplemental feeding.  Learn about the benefits of natural liquid fertilizers, and how to make some of your own, using compost, weeds, and other readily available materials.  We will talk about compost teas, inoculating your soil with beneficial microbes, and making herbal teas for your plants. Liquid teas and fertilizers are easy to use and can give your plants that boost they need to ripen sooner, produce bountifully and provide your family with lots more food.  If you ever watched your garden stall, or wondered what to do to get it to produce more food, this class is for you.

Cost: $20 per person

Location: Pine St Community Garden, 271 Pine St (behind the parking lot)

Date: Saturday May 4th 1-3pm

Instructor: Connie Kuramoto

 

 Basic Fruit Tree Pruning

 Our expert pruner will show you how to care for young and old fruit trees and grape vines in your yard. This is the workshop to attend to get hands-on learning in basic pruning techniques. Bring a camera or notebook and questions for this hands-on workshop.

Cost: $20 per person

Location: Beaufort Park Food Forest

Date: Sunday March 24, 2024 10am-noon

Instructor: Scott Wiskerke

 

Summer Pruning

If you thought pruning was just a winter activity, you have to try summer pruning!  Besides the beautiful weather, your trees can get many benefits from a summer shearing including less sucker growth and possibility of disease.  Be prepared to be outside for 2 hours. Bring your pruners and questions for this workshop.

Cost: $20 per person

Location: Beaufort Park Food Forest

Date: Sun July 7, 2024, 10am-noon

Instructor: Scott Wiskerke

 

 

Scott gets up in the tree to discuss the pros and cons of specific cuts and the resulting growth next year after pruning.

 

Sea Soil donation helps us grow!

In late fall, we received a donation of Sea Soil and it will be used in the transplant mix used to start seedlings. Volunteers in the greenhouse have been working all winter, saving  and ordering seeds, sorting and counting pots, making and cleaning labels and creating lists and timelines for what to seed and when.

Waterproof stickers applied to pieces of window blinds are used as plant labels. We can reuse these labels year after year so please return them to reduce waste.

 

Soon, the earliest seeds will be started and before long, the greenhouse will be full of flats of seedlings that need to be transplanted. Each pot is carefully planted by volunteers in a soil mix that has been perfected by volunteers and includes Sea Soil. This mix will nurture seedlings until they are sold or donated.

 

larger seedlings are gently separated before being planted deeply into a rich soil mix that includes Sea Soil

Seedlings are transferred into pots one at a time. This is obviously a time consuming task, especially for seedlings that are sold with multiple plants per pot.

 

The seedlings are weeded, watered and cared for by volunteers until they are ready for sale or donation in April and May. Lots of volunteer hours go into producing these seedlings and businesses like Sea Soil are crucial to our success.

 

Seedlings started in the greenhouse. All pots must be labeled to prevent misidentification.

 

Seedlings are sold at our plant sales in the spring. Some seedlings will be donated to local organizations and gardens to help people grow more food in Nanaimo.

 

 

Sea Soil has donated enough that we will be able to use some Sea Soil in the raised beds used to grow veggies for the Good Food Box. This year there are plans to expand the amount of food donated. THANK YOU SEA SOIL for helping us!

 

Photos – courtesy Sibylle Dorn, Zurich

2023 Gleaning Program was a great success!

Thank you to all tree owners and volunteers who made the 2023 Gleaning Program so successful. Great weather during spring pollination and clear summer skies with occasional rain allowed trees to ripen most of their fruit and the yield was above average. In the Program’s 21st year of operation, 12,045 lbs were picked from June to November. Fruit yield was quite good in the entire region, especially in comparison to 2022 which was a very low yield year on the Island, mainland and into Washington State. Since 2003 the program has harvested and distributed over 250,000 lbs of fruit and produce.

 

The fruit picking started with cherries then moved to plums, transparent apples, more plums, apples, figs, Asian pears, pears, prune plums, persimmons and kiwis. Local farmers also allowed picks of corn and squash from their fields.

 

At its height, the Gleaning Program had 79 gleaners which went on 111 picks throughout Nanaimo and region and contributed 358 hours of volunteerism to the Program.

The proportion of produce donated to agencies or left on the Harvest Exchange Table in 2023 was around 45% which is much than a normal year of around 30%. The Harvest Exchange Table was full with a variety of less perishable produce like apples, pears, grapes and squash from July to November.

 

If you are interested having your tree picked or becoming a volunteer in the 2024 Gleaning Program, check our Gleaning Page in April or email gleaning@ncgs.caand ask to be added to the mailing list. You will be send an email in April with orientation dates happening in May and June.

Gleaners harvest corn at a local farm in 2023. Thank you, McNab’s Corn Maze!

 

 

 

Thank you Cinnabar Valley Farms!

 

This year, Cinnabar Valley Farms gave Nanaimo Community Gardens Society a large donation of starter mix, soil, fish compost and composted steer manure. This will be blended into a mix used to start seedlings at the Beban Learning Gardens. Volunteers were on hand to help unload and move bags of soil and giant totes of material. These will be used throughout the season, mixed up in a precise ratio to provide the best nutrition for young seedlings until they are ready to be planted out into your garden.

 

When the soil blend is mixed, it is used for transplanting tiny seedlings from flats to individual 4 inch pots.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

This photo shows the  bags of soil under the table and a volunteer seeding into a flat with individual 4″ pots  in the background. See our post about plant sales to see what the seedlings look like close up.

Thank you, Cinnabar Valley Farms!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pruning Workshops at the Community Gardens

Each year many pruning workshops are held at the Community Garden sites. These workshops focus on fruit tree pruning to demonstrate practices to restore old trees and increase flower and fruit production. While these classes have been popular for over a decade, NCGS has recently been holding these classes at the Beaufort Park Food Forest where volunteers maintain a stand of young fruit trees. The trees provide fruit for local residents and require ongoing maintenance. NCGS and the City of Nanaimo are offering these pruning courses to all residents of Nanaimo. Here is the Activity Guide for more pruning workshops this summer in the Special Interests section. 2023SpringSunnerActivityGuide (nanaimo.ca)

 

If you are curious about Beaufort Park and want to visit, see the map and listing on the City’s website. Beaufort Park | City of Nanaimo

 

Here are photos from our latest pruning workshop in November. Amidst rainy fall days, this Saturday was clear and sunny. Beaufort Food Forest volunteers were present to show the group around and suggest trees that needed attention. Attendees came to learn about how to care for young fruit trees in their early years to prevent common problems and maximize both pickability and fruit production.

 

The tree with orange leaves in the background is the focus for this part of the pruning workshop. It is used to demonstrate general pruning techniques common to young fruit trees.

 

The instructor, Scott Wiskerke, owner of Roots and Shoots Horticulture gives practical demonstrations of cutting techniques and plant growth. Scott has been running NCGS pruning workshops for many years and before that has given workshops at VIU and Green Thumb Nursery.

 

Scott gets up in the tree to discuss the pros and cons of specific cuts and the resulting growth next year after pruning. Everyone has opinions about what branches to remove and can see immediately the results of the cuts. The hard part is taking this knowledge back to their own trees when they are the only ones making the decisions. Learning to prune is definitely something that takes practice over many years!

 

The finished pear tree! Note the pruned branches on the tarp. The reduced crowding of the remaining branches will promote quicker drying in the spring to reduce the spread of fungal diseases. This is a job that will result in better fruit and more natural growth in the years to come.

 

Thanks Scott! Keep an eye on the City of Nanaimo’s Activity Guide for future pruning workshops. Pruning topics include Basic Fruit Tree Pruning, Advanced Fruit Tree Pruning (for those who have some basic knowledge and need a refresher and information on how to deal with pests and diseases in our climate), Summer Pruning (an excellent time to prune for most stone fruits in our region), Restoring Old Fruit Trees (when you’ve inherited an old, overgrown fruit tree that needs pruning over a few years to bring it back into healthy production) and this course, Pruning Young Fruit Trees. Trees covered in the workshops include apples. pears, figs, plums, grape vines and other fruit trees that attendees are interested in. Classes are $20 and people often attend year after year as they gain knowledge and have new and interesting problems with their trees.

Donation from Coastal Community Credit Union

Nanaimo Community Gardens has received support from the Coastal Community Credit Union Relief and Resiliency Fund. This money is for our organization to re-engage the community in our programs. The pandemic was difficult for many organizations and it forced us to reduce our operations and keep our work parties closed to visitors. Now that safe, outdoor spaces have been created, it’s time to invite new community members to join us. We intend to liaise with other local organizations and groups to identify people who would benefit from engagement in our programs. If you are an individual or part of a group that wants to participate in work parties or otherwise join us in the garden, reach out to us at 250-816-4769.

 

Thank you Coastal Community Credit Union!

The BLG Covered Workspace is now a reality!

Beban Learning Gardens thanks Nanaimo Community Gardens, the Province of British Columbia, Home Depot, and the City of Nanaimo Parks and Trades Departments for their help in making our Covered Work Space a reality.

Almost exactly four years after officially opening, one of the last items from the original design plan has been built.  Volunteers on the Covered Workspace Committee had almost given up on ever getting this feature built as estimates came in so high.  Then they saw an ad picturing a sturdy, good-looking but inexpensive gazebo, got creative, and decided that four such gazebos (10’ x 10’) placed in a square might just do the trick.

A year and one pandemic later, our covered workspace has been erected and is already being put to good use, enabling volunteers to work in the open-air and yet have some shelter. The need for this facility has become more important during the pandemic to allow normal activities to take place at the Beban Learning Gardens.

Thanks to Home Depot  and the province of  British Columbia for their contribution towards the cost of the gazebos and their ongoing support of our community garden projects.  And, last but not least, to City workers who put it all together.