by Lee Gates, Food Security and Educational Outreach Coordinator
Fall is here, along with the abundance of all OUR summer crops. The food storage and OUR bellies are overflowing with apples & pears, and squash of all colours, shapes, and sizes!! Still producing loads of beautiful salad greens on a daily.
Awakened is the creative minds to create magic in OUR kitchen direct to 3X daily festivals and finding innovative ways to preserve for inevitable cooler months ahead. As the daylight becomes less so does the energy of the plants for new growth. I’m documenting my observations and interactions of my first ever West Coast winter gardening! Growing up in the middle prairies this was never even a thought as snow flurries as I write these words.
Letting the plants be thy teachers (along with the brilliant minds of current community land stewards). We make use of a few caterpillar tunnels in the upper garden as well as a greenhouse one to extend OUR season as long as we can. The microclimates will hold some heat for an extended few hours each day. The real opportunity here is to plant frost hardy and heirloom varieties for the demographic. Even better is keeping OUR favourite varieties we genetically preserve through seed saving (sometimes even ones who’s volunteered with the spread of compost, what a surprise!!) With the planting of annuals, trees, and shrubs in OUR Polyculture beds offers an inviting environment for many species of birds who also release seed throughout the land, increasing Biodiversity.
As the harvests pile in, we are chopping and dropping the finished plants in the beds while leaving roots to breakdown to feed the worms and maintaining soil structure. Next up we have salvaged cardboard donated from every store I drive past while on route to my destinations, stacking functions! We would gladly re-use the cardboard and store the carbon back into the soil rather than letting it go to using more valuable resources to recycle into new boxes. After removing all the tape the cardboard acts as a barrier of protection to the soil and smothering out any unwanted weeds. After all, weeds are just pioneers providing a service, like a band-aid, filling a niche for exposed soil on OUR mother earth until a more mature ecosystem can settle in. We then gratefully gather a resting pile of digesting grass (chicken, duck, cow, sheep, and goat poo) kitchen scraps, Char, wood chips, and just about any organic matter we can safely breakdown. OUR Hot Compost process provides rich soil in a few weeks and is ready to spread 2-3” on top of the cardboard. OUR giant maples provide the final protective and macrobiotic layer to the sheet mulching process and the beds will have everything they need for restful winter sleep. This time of the year all the plants, animals, and even the worms need the bountiful and much-deserved rewards of the summer! The more you give, the more nature provides.