August 20th: Peter B. Janes – “Unusual Edibles”, TreeEater Farm and Nursery

Peter is the co-owner of Tree Eater Nursery on Denman Island, a small mixed permaculturally-oriented homestead farm. 

Peter is a man with many hats. Since 2003 he has been (learning in the process of) developing the farm, property and infrastructure.  His main area of focus now is the management of the edibles nursery, ongoing development of the orchard and animal systems, general maintenance and building.  

June 18th, 2018: Joan Wynden – ‘Practical Permaculture’

Permaculture means many different things to different folks. We’ll look at why such diversity thrives in this system of looking at the world, and glean a few nuggets that we can fit into our own gardening world. 
 
Biographical information:
Joan Wynden, a Master Gardener and Permaculture Designer, can’t seem stop helping new plants come into the world, and has earned the nickname of plant midwife. Her home-based nursery, Garden Lore, features deer resistant and drought tolerant perennials.
 
 

May 28, 2018: Connie Kuramoto – “Plan your winter garden now! 

May 28, 2018: Connie Kuramoto – “Plan your winter garden now!  (Eat yummy vegetables all winter long).” Gardens on the Go.
 
Although we have just barely begun our summer gardens, it is good to keep our winter gardens in mind. To eat from your garden year round is easy, but it does take a bit of planning, and now’s the time to do it! We can start preparing and amending the soil and building shelter for plants now, and we must start seeds for many of our winter vegetables very soon. 
 
This talk will include methods for improving soil and starting seeds in summer, and will introduce you to some ideas about shelters for your plants. Winter gardens are great, because you don’t have to water them, so let’s get on with growing our winter garden!   
 
BIO
Connie Kuramoto worked as an instructor and technician for Vancouver Island University’s Horticulture Program for twenty years and coordinated student activities in the program’s greenhouse and nursery. She retired to start her own Horticultural Training and Service company called Gardens on the Go, and contract teaches for both North Island College and Gaia College. She offers workshops throughout Vancouver Island, and also provides consulting services for homeowners, municipalities, and non-profit groups. Connie says she loves Horticulture because she learns something new each day about it. She always recommends the more sustainable options and has been an organic gardener since she was 4 years old. Her first Horticultural Job was selling flowers on the street corners of Albequeque New Mexico in 1970, and she has never looked back.
 
 

February 19th, 2018 – Chanchal Cabrera: “Ethnobotany of Tribal People in Southern India”

At the southern tip of the Nilgiri Mountain range in Southern western India, where the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka meet, where the misty mountains run down to the steamy jungle, there is a rich abundance of flora and fauna. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Preserve, this area is home to numerous distinct tribal groups who still harvest wild herbs for medicine and who still practice some of the old ways of healing. 

 In 2011 Chanchal spent a month acting as staff botanist for a documentary film crew as they recorded these ancient ways and vanishing medicines. This illustrated talk will discuss 5 different tribal groups, their clothes, and customs, their traditional medicines and healing ways, and the challenges these people face in the modern world. Showcasing the beauty and the magic of India, temples and palaces, mountains and valleys, and highlighting unusual or useful plants, many of them unknown in western herbal medicinal practice. 

Biographical Information:

Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (UK) since 1987. Awarded Fellowship 2009
MSc in herbal medicine at the University of Wales in 2003
Faculty chair in Botanical Medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster  2004 – 2016
Diplomas in Botanic Garden Management and in Botanic Garden Education from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 
Certified Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing) practitioner
Certified Master Gardener 
Certified Horticulture Therapist
 
Chanchal lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia where she and her husband run Innisfree Farm and Botanic Garden, a 7 acre registered botanic garden specializing in food and medicine plants, and run apprenticeschips in organic gardening and herbal medicine. They also host Gardens without Borders, a federally registered not-for-profit society established to run therapy garden programs for people with disabilities.

Zac Kregosky – Xeriscaping

On Monday, September 18 we welcome Zac Kregosky of Plants I Dig Landscaping and Consulting. Zac will talk about xeriscaping, the art of creating gardens and landscaping to minimize water use and maximize water efficiency. Xeri is the Greek word for dry.  It’s many benefits include reduced water use-by over 50%, depending on the design and plants used; saving time- less watering, trimming, weeding and mowing; saving money- less chemicals, fertilizer and replacement of dead plants. Plants whose natural requirements are appropriate to the local climate are emphasized, and care is taken to avoid losing water to evaporation and run-off.

If you want your garden to give you maximum enjoyment and value for your expenditure of time and money, xeriscaping is the answer! Garden with the natural environmental conditions we live in rather than fighting against them. What a timely topic for the Comox Valley!

June 19th, 2017: Lynda Smith ‘Preserving the Harvest’

On Monday June 19, CV Horticultural Society presents “Preserving the Harvest”.  In this colourful presentation, Lynda Smith from Lawn to Food, will share new ideas on how to use our garden bounty daily and food saving methods for future consumption. She thinks about the word preserving in a waste-not context. “We all spend time and money growing food, lets make sure that most of it ends up in our bellies not the compost pile”. Eating, freezing, canning, dehydrating, pickling and fermentation are some of the topics that will be covered. Including tips on how to NOT get overwhelmed with garden produce abundance during the busy summer months.

Come join us at the Courtenay Filberg. Doors open at 6:45 pm.  Annual memberships are still available for $20 ($30 family couple), but guests are welcomed for only $5.  Membership brings many, many benefits and more details can be found at:www.comoxvalleyhortsociety.ca

 Meet ‘n’ Greet begins at 6:45 p.m., unless otherwise noted due to a special event planned for a meeting. Announcements and Club business starts promptly at 7:30 p.m. The Guest Speaker presentation follows. The meeting wraps up at about 9:00 p.m. after the Guest Speaker question period.
 

May15th, 2017: Peggy Carswell & Kel Kelly “Back from the Brink”

At our May meeting we welcome Peggy Carswell and Kel Kelly with their presentation “Back from the Brink.” A trip to explore the northeast corner of India almost 20 years ago led these two Comox Valley residents on an amazing and challenging journey into the world of tea.

They will present images and stories about their work with farmers and small-scale tea growers in villages in rural Assam, and share some interesting and not well-known facts about tea. They will also have a selection of teas for purchase, as well as some textiles from the region. 

Meet ‘n’ Greet begins at 6:45 p.m., unless otherwise noted due to a special event planned for a meeting. Announcements and Club business starts promptly at 7:30 p.m. The Guest Speaker presentation follows. The meeting wraps up at about 9:00 p.m. after the Guest Speaker question period.

 

Powdery Mildew

A fungal disease which is found throughout North America, powdery mildew is easily recognizable by its white or greyish, talcum powder-like circles appearing on leaves, flowers and fruits of various vegetables, fruits, perennials and shrubs. The list includes roses, lilacs, dahlias, begonias, delphiniums, phlox, monarda (bee balm), euphorbias (spurge), catalpa (bean tree), zinnias…as well as squash, cucumbers, beans, peas, melons, apples, pears, strawberries, gooseberries, and grapes.

Zucchini ‘Dark Star’ with powdery mildew

Leaves covered by powdery mildew cannot manufacture enough food which can impact on plant growth and fruit development, depending on the rate of infection. But rarely does the mildew kill the plant. It just looks horrible.

There are a number of different fungi species responsible for powdery mildew. Some are species specific, others will attack a wider range of plant varieties. In regions of high humidity and moderate temperatures, the fungi produce mycelium and spores on the surface of affected foliage. The spores are then carried by wind currents to other plants.

Strangely enough, it is the wind which will reduce the risk of fungal infection. Providing adequate spacing between plants will increase air circulation and decrease the moisture retention on the leaves. Opening up shaded areas to more sunlight will also help.

Autumn is another trying time of year for protecting our plants and crops from powdery mildew. A lot of fungi spores repose in the soil and come fall, the rains splashing up onto the plants will often carry a few spores with the droplets.

No matter the time of year, once a plant has been infected, the mycelium will continue to spread on the leaf surface regardless of the moisture conditions.

And there is no known cure for powdery mildew…only prevention and a modicum of control once it appears. Best line of defence is to remove the affected leaves as soon as you spot them. Always put the infected plant parts in the garbage. Never put them in the compost unless you have a very hot pile.

To prevent powdery mildew on susceptible plants, mix up either of the following recipes. Both are reasonably effective.

Recipe #1:

One part cow’s milk
Nine parts water

Combine ingredients in a sprayer, if you have a lot of plants to treat…or a spray bottle if treating just one or two. Will have to be repeated after each rainfall.

 

Recipe #2:

1 gal water
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp dish soap

Combine all ingredients, in order as listed, in a sprayer or spray bottle. Preferably apply this mixture on cloudy days with no threat of rain. Applying on sunny days risks sunburn on the leaves.

Will protect the plant longer because of the addition of vegetable oil and soap in this recipe. However, it must be reapplied after a few rainfalls, or an especially hard downpour.

 

Submitted by Leslie Cox
CVHS member and writer as the “Duchess of Dirt”

How to Freeze Fresh Basil Leaves

Remove basil leaves from stems. Immerse them in a cool water bath and swish to remove debris and any bugs that may have hitch-hiked inside.

Fill your salad spinner with washed leaves and gently spin dry. (Doing this in smaller batches will help to remove the water droplets better.) Lay leaves out on clean, dry towels to finish drying. You can speed this up by gently patting the leaves with another clean, dry towel.

Once leaves are completely dry, fill a small or medium freezer bag about three quarters full. (A non-zip freezer bag works best for this.)

Gather up the neck of the bag tightly in the circle between thumb and forefinger. With finger from other hand, make a small opening in the neck of the bag. Blow air into the bag until it is fully extended to its limits. Quickly squeeze the neck of the bag shut to trap the air inside, and tie the bag shut securely with a twist tie.

Label the bag with the date, and type of basil species if you prefer. Place in the freezer.

Note: Be sure to keep all of your frozen basil at the top of your chest freezer. Piling anything on top of them risks expulsion of air from the bags, thus damaging your basil supply.

Frozen basil leaves will keep for a year, or more…but best to use up this year’s supply and replenish your stock with fresh leaves you freeze for the following winter’s use. (But good to know it will keep, just in case you do have a crop failure next year. Heaven forbid!)

Oh…and when you go to use your frozen basil leaves…open the bag and remove the amount needed for your recipe. Immediately, blow air into the bag following the method noted above, and secure the bag shut once again. Place the bag back in the freezer right away before the remaining leaves thaw.

 

Article submitted by Leslie Cox
CVHS member and writer as the “Duchess of Dirt”

Dealing with Green Tomatoes

October and it is high time all those tomatoes were picked off the vines in the greenhouse, regardless if they are still green. Tomatoes need a constant overnight temperature of 15.5 °C for proper growth and ripening. Lower temps sustained for longer than a week will cause growth problems, such as splitting, and delay ripening.

Green tomatoes can still be rescued and ripened indoors for fresh eating through the winter. One of the best methods is to place them in a single layer in newspaper-lined beer flats and cover them with a couple of layers of newspaper to keep them in the dark. (Tomatoes can be stacked two to three layers high if you are using deeper boxes, as long as you keep the heavier tomatoes on the bottom, and cover each layer with newspaper. However, for ease of regular checking for ripe tomatoes, the beer flats really work much better. And they stack wonderfully if you place each flat crosswise to the previous flat.)

Place the flats of green tomatoes in an unheated basement, or somewhere where it is relatively cool. Some people use their 2nd fridge but the tomatoes should really be kept at a slightly warmer temp than 4 °C.

Be sure to check through all of the flats on a weekly basis for ripened fruits. Such a treat in the middle of winter. So full of flavour.

 

Article submitted by Leslie Cox
CVHS member and writer as the “Duchess of Dirt”