Last week I had the pleasure of attending a container gardening workshop at SFU Burnaby hosted by the SFU Local Food Project. It was by donation and I walked away with a few lovely plants (tomato, mustard [which is very tasty] and something else that I can’t identify). It was a bit of an adventure getting there (I was in the wrong building oopse! You know you are a Surrey Student when… haha, but that explained why I room I was looking for didn’t exist).
It was hosted by Matthew Kemshaw of the Environmental Youth Alliance. He was very knowledgeable and answered many of my silly beginner questions (ie: what is a good starter plant that I would be likely to not kill?).
One thing that surprised me is that gardening can have the potential to be non-vegan. He had one soil enhancing product made from fish remains from a factory fish farm. Gross! The good news is you can avoid this product by using your own properly made compost. Much more fun.One thing that I found confusing was all the talk of “happy plants” and “sad plants”. As someone with little gardening background it can be confusing to tell the difference between the two. In my limited study of permarculture I have also had this issue. It can be difficult to partake in observation if you don’t know what to look for. I asked some people for their advice and made this list of thing that contribute to plant-itude (that’s plant + attitude).
- Colour: Happy plants look alive and bright with their leaves and growth
- Posture: Slouchy, droopy plants are often unhappy
- Decay: Are the leaves being nibbled at by bugs or are they full and lush?
- Odor: Bad, rotting smells can be signs of an unhappy plant
Insects: Do you see bugs attacking your plant?Some other resources that were recommended include pfaf.org and the books Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway and Growing vegetables west of the cascades : the complete guide to organic gardening by Steve Solomon.