Friday, 25 August 2017

Bananas and Leafcutter Bees in Vancouver

Musa Basjoo
     This week in the garden our mature banana plant is coming into bloom and will be producing bananas.  The bananas from this Asian textile banana (the stalk and leaves have been used in Japan and China for centuries to produce a fabric) are small and not edible but very cute.  Every year someone cuts off the bananas and one year they cut off the entire plant.  We may fence the banana plants to protect them this year.  The banana grove was burnt during our fire but has recovered very well.  We may be selling or raffling off some of our banana plants to raise money for our reconstruction.

Leafcutter bee cocoons
     Also this week in the garden about 40 native Leafcutter Bees (Megachile rotundata - Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee) emerged from their cocoons over a period of about 2 days in our garden native bee hotel (in the apiary).  This is late for them as they are normally an earlier, good summer pollinator.  They usually emerge after consistent daily temperatures of 24 C. (75 Fahrenheit).  Mally and Glen have had a leafcutter bee nesting (observed bringing in pieces of leaves) in a crack in one of their garden boxes for a few weeks earlier in August.
   
Leafcutter Bee
        Just a reminder this Sunday at 10 am will be our monthly work party.  One project we will be working on is rebuilding our greenhouse.  If anyone has a spare truck around let us know.  We need to transport some lumber.  Happy gardening.
   

Monday, 14 August 2017

Late Summer Crop Planting in Vancouver

   
A bee enjoying a Zuchini blossom at Cottonwood
     There is still time for late summer seed planting in Vancouver of crops like arugula, endive, radicchio, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, scallions, pac choi, choi sum, spinach, chard, turnips, garlic, radish, peas and carrots. With the hot, dry weather they will require regular watering.  The West Coast Seeds Planting Guide describes both winter gardening crops in Vancouver (harvesting food in winter) and overwintering of crops to harvest in spring. 
     The fund raiser for the garden is doing well having raised over $4,000 in just over a month.  We will need the construction, pruning and irrigation tools to maintain the garden.  Let's keep it going.
     This garden website is new and invites participation from all of the gardeners at Cottonwood Community Garden.  If you have a gardening story or an idea for a site page (i.e composting, medicinal plants, plant swap, Native garden, Asian garden, garden plant index...) please let us know. You can contact us at cottonwoodgardeningatgmaildotcom. 
     Below is the West Coast Seeds Planting Chart (You can download it from their website).  Happy gardening.  


Thursday, 3 August 2017

Cottonwood Community Garden Fire

Photo by Mary-Ann Charney

     On July 3rd we had a fire at our community garden (Cottonwood) in Vancouver.  Unfortunately the fire consumed our greenhouse and tool/beekeeping shed.  Arson is suspected.  We lost everything including ladders, pruners, construction tools, weed eater, irrigation supplies and all of our beekeeping equipment.  This includes our community honey extractor and honey harvesting equipment which we lent out to the public and the protective clothing we used for our free beekeeping classes.


Our honey extractor

     It is difficult to remain optimistic in the face of continuous vandalism and theft at the garden but it is a reality of gardening and beekeeping in a  public space.  It is important to remember that 99% of the folks that come to our garden love and appreciate it and we can't let the acts of a few dictate the future of our beautiful garden.  
Cottonwood Garden 25 years ago
Photo by Oliver Kellhammer

Cottonwood Garden today

     Built on a former dump site 25 years ago by a group of guerrilla gardeners this 4 acre oasis is a home to birds, bees, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, coyotes, frogs and over one hundred humans.  The city has proposed construction of a freeway through the middle of the garden (Cottonwood Community Garden: Oasis in Peril).  Friends of the garden have proposed alternative sites for the freeway (See - Save Cottonwood Community Garden).  The future of the garden is in jeopardy but we are hopeful.  This video was taken on the 20th anniversary.


Remembering the good times
Extracting honey in the bee shed

* We have started a fundraiser to rebuild and restock our greenhouse and tool/bee shed.  Any donation no matter how small is appreciated.  To donate go to "Cottonwood Fire".  You can receive a tax receipt with a donation of $25 or more.  Thanks.