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Sustainable Environment and Urban Agriculture 

By Larry Waters

Photo via Pexels

Maybe you dream about growing your own food, but you don’t know where to begin. Even if you have a small yard or balcony, you can start by cultivating an edible landscape full of tasty fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Getting involved with a program like the Dallington Pollinators Community Garden is a great way to learn the ropes. In this article, we’ll talk about how to select the right plants, establish your landscape layout including a seating area, keep pests away, and pass on your knowledge through YouTube.

1. Choose Your Plants

Kick off your edible landscaping project by deciding which plants you want to grow. Make sure to factor in your area’s climate and your available space. Plus, think about what you like to eat, and what will look aesthetically pleasing. Heavy Petal recommends growing rhubarb, shallots and onions, perennial herbs like lavender and thyme, and blueberry or blackberry bushes. Colorful leafy greens like rainbow chard can also be a great choice.

2. Design Your Garden Layout

Next, you’ll have to plan the layout of your landscape. Reader’s Digest recommends placing your plants in areas where they will receive several hours of sunlight per day. Don’t forget to test your soil to ensure it has the proper pH for your plants to enjoy healthy growth. You can also add tunnels and obelisks for vertical crops and use containers for containers for herbs and compact vegetables. It doesn’t hurt to add outdoor decor like small statues or fountains, either.

3. Designate an Outdoor Seating Area

Setting up an outdoor seating area in your yard will help you make the most of your garden. You’ll be able to dine outside while enjoying fresh produce that you grew! Plus, some outdoor renovations can even boost your home’s value. As you update your outdoor space, make sure to keep track of your specific improvements by taking before-and-after photos, and hold on to any receipts so that you illustrate the increase in your home’s value.

4. Address Garden Pests

If your garden attracts pests, you probably won’t get the bountiful harvest you were hoping for. Thankfully, you can often use eco-friendly solutions to address a pest problem. For instance, if you’ve noticed that Japanese beetles are munching on your fruits and vegetables, planting African marigolds or geraniums can help you get rid of the problem without using pesticides.

5. General Upkeep Tips

You’ll want to tend to your edible landscape daily. You can check for signs of pests, see if any of your plants seem to be struggling, take care of any necessary pruning, and monitor your fruits and vegetables to see when it’s time to harvest them. Additionally, you could consider introducing beneficial insects. While some insects are pests, some can actually benefit your garden. Attracting bees, flower bugs, and garden spiders is an easy way to pollinate your plants while reducing the presence of other pests.

6. Start an Educational YouTube Channel

Do you want to teach other people how to grow edible gardens? You may want to launch a YouTube channel dedicated to this topic. You can create videos on different gardening techniques and document your personal process. If you’d like to monetize your channel, make sure to register it with the proper business structure.

Edible gardening doesn’t have to be complicated! If you have outdoor space, you have the ability to start an edible garden, cook with homegrown produce, and share your harvest with your friends and neighbors. With these tips, you can nix garden pests, set up a relaxing outdoor dining space, and educate other people on your efforts through YouTube.

Want to learn more about growing an edible garden?

Written by Larry Water

Larry Waters is a a proud member of Dallington Pollinators. “Sow Sustainability” was created by Larry to connect home and community gardeners to horticulture experts. Larry hopes to grow the site into a forum where gardeners and horticulture experts can exchange information and form relationships that allow them to better serve their communities and make local gardening a regular way of life for all.


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In just a few steps, and sprinkled with a lot of patience, we make our own compost at Dallington Pollinators Community Garden. The process is not that complex. Not only do we produce our own fertilizer, we also contribute to waste recycling and climate change mitigation.

First of all, let's understand what composting is and why it is important.

What is composting?

Composting is basically nature's way of recycling.

It is a process that converts organic materials into a nutrient-rich soil through a natural decomposition process. The key players engaged in this conversion are the macro and microorganisms . The macro-organisms such as mites, centipedes, sow bugs, ants and earthworms are physical decomposers that grind, tear, and chew materials into smaller pieces. Micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi are chemical decomposers that break down organic matter. The organic materials simply refer to basic waste materials, such as food scraps and leaf litter that we throw away every day without use. The final product of composting is a nutrient rich soil that can be used as a natural fertilizer in agricultural fields and gardens.

Importance of composting

How does composting contribute to climate change mitigation?

  • When organic waste is deposited in landfills, it emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas and a major contributor to climate change. Composting reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, helping mitigate climate change while also providing numerous other benefits.

Other benefits:

  • Reduces the use of harmful chemical fertilizers by producing natural fertilizers

  • Reduces the cost of purchasing fertilizers

  • Reduces waste and encourages waste recycling

  • Improves soil quality

  • Increases the yields of agricultural crops

Now, let’s get back to how we do composting in our garden.

In our garden, we use a three-bin composting system, which consists of three composting bins arranged side by side as a unified system. This system is beneficial for managing large amounts of material in a garden setting. However, for a home garden, a single bin can also be sufficient.

Figure: 1 -Three-bin Composting System

Step 1: Prepare the ingredients.

  • Ingredients

There are two types of ingredients that are needed for composting. They are called green and brown material.

Greens are the nitrogen rich material while browns are the carbon rich material. In our garden we use vegetable and fruit scraps, crushed eggshells, and coffee grounds as the green material. You can also add material like paper tea bags, paper filters and yard trim.

For brown material, we use dry leaves, twigs, wood chips and shredded paper.

If you are going to do composting at home make sure to avoid material like meat, fish, bones, fats, oils and greases, glossy paper and cheese and dairy products as they will not provide the best conditions for the macro and microorganisms to do their work.

Also, if you are placing a new bin, ensure you have easy access to a water source, as moisture is a key element required for the process, along with good air circulation.

Step 2: Collecting, storing and layering.

After identifying the key ingredients, we pile up the compost bin with the right proportions of ingredients to provide correct levels of conditions for the organisms to break down the material into finished compost.

Here is what we do!

It is like layering a lasagna.

First, we chop the browns and greens and break them up into smaller pieces. Doing so will help the materials in the pile break down faster.

We start the pile with a four- to six-inch layer of'' browns” such as dry leaves, wood chips and twigs at the very bottom. This will help absorb extra moisture and improve air circulation at the base. Then we add a layer of greens. We make sure to maintain at least two to three times the volume of browns to the volume of greens when doing the layering . And the layering is continued until the bin is full. Always ensure your food scraps are covered by four to eight inches of dry leaves or other browns.

Step 3: Maintenance

Air and moisture are the other key components to maintain. The compost is turned at least once a week to improve air circulation.

Checking the moisture of the pile: It should look like a wrung-out sponge. Spray water as needed.

Step 3: Continuing

Once the pile is arranged and left for some time, it starts to heat up gradually and then starts to cool down. When the first bin is full and begins to cool down, we move the material to the next bin (BIN 2). With that, we start filling the first bin with fresh material. When the second bin is full and starts to cool down, we transfer the materials to the 3rd bin, and the process continues (Figure). BIN 3 is where the final product is made.

When the third bin is no longer heats up after mixing, and when there are no visible food scraps, we allow the pile to cure, or finish, for at least four weeks before using. The final product is dark, loose fresh soil.

This is how we do the composting. We use the produced compost to nurture the soil at Dallington Pollinators Community Garden and we get to enjoy fresh, chemical free and uncontaminated fruits and vegetables in our garden.

Remember, there are many other ways to do composting in your home garden. We hope this information helps you better understand our process and leads you to start off on your journey to composting and producing ‘black gold’!

The three-bin composting system at Dallington Polllinators Community Garden

Leave your comments below and refer to the resources below for more information.


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We often spot special butterflies like Monarch, Clouded Sulphur, Blue Gossamer, and Red Admiral at the Dallington Pollinators Community Garden. These amazing pollinators do an incredible job of nurturing the garden and making the environment more beautiful. In fact, the Pollinator Mural, by Nick Sweetman, on the nearby school wall is an ode to the strength and ephemeral beauty of the butterflies!

Get to know your butterflies and their host plants better, so you can plan and create a habitat for them in your garden.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

A monarch butterfly can be easily spotted by their distinct orange colour wings marked by black veins and a black border with two rows of spots. And the males have a distinguishing black dot near the centre of their hind wing.

Monarch butterflies are mainly found in North, Central, and South America. They can also be found in Australia, Hawaii and India. They feed on nectar from flowers. There are Several subspecies of monarchs. It is fascinating that the endangered subspecies of Monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus plexippus is a migratory butterfly.

Interesting fact:

Every fall, this subspecies travels 4,000 to 5,000 kilometers from southern Canada to their wintering sites in Mexico, California, Texas, and Florida. After arriving at their destination, they would gather and hibernate. This is recognized as one of the world’s longest insect migrations. After spending their winter in these locations, they begin to return to North America in the spring.

Did you know?

● The Monarch butterfly's scientific name, Danaus plexippus, means "sleepy transformation" in Greek. This name calls up the species' ability to hibernate and change their forms.

● Milkweed is the only plant on which monarchs will lay their eggs and the only source of food for baby caterpillars.

"The migratory subspecies is additionally categorized as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List. Therefore, it is important to note that planting the right species of milkweed in a given area can help these amazing butterflies thrive"

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

If you see a butterfly with bright lemon-yellow wings with black borders on the upper surface and a single black spot on the forewings that could probably be a Clouded Sulphur.

The Clouded Sulphur flies in all provinces and territories and therefore is one of the most widespread North American butterflies. They can be found in many different open areas including fields, lawns, road edges, and meadows. Clouded Sulphur feeds and hosts many different types of plants such as clovers, milkweeds, goldenrods, asters, dandelions, thistles, and sunflowers.

Interesting fact:

These butterflies are called Sulphurs because of their bright yellow coloration that is similar to the solid state of Sulphur.

Blue Gossamer (Blues)

Blues are a part of the large Gossamer-winged butterfly family. The sub-family Polyommatinae is where blues belong. Gossamers are known for their small size and very delicate looking body and brilliantly coloured wings. Blues have different subspecies such as Eastern-tailed blue, Western-tailed blue, Silver blue, Greenish blue, Arctic blue, etc.

If you spot a bluish, brightly coloured, metallic butterfly it could probably be a Blue Gossamer. The females are often darker than the males. You can also confirm the species by the pattern of spots on the underwings.

These butterflies live in a wide range of terrestrial habitats. And they are mostly found in association with their food plants Lupines, Gambel oak, California juniper, red cedar, Utah juniper, and horseshoe vetch.

Interesting fact

The members of the Gossamer-winged are considered as the second largest group of butterflies.

Did you know?

The name Gossamer means something delicate and shimmery just like the appearance of their wings.

The Red Admiral Butterfly - Vanessa atalanta

The easiest way to identify the red admiral is their distinct coloring. Their background colouring is black, with striking orange to red colored stripes creating marginal bands on the fore and hind wings. Their forewings also have white spots at the apex.

You could easily confuse a Red Admiral with a Monarch butterfly when you first see them, because of their similar orange, white, and black colours.

But, remember! Monarch butterflies are bigger than the Red Admirals.

The red admiral is one of the most commonly seen butterflies in North America. And they can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including clearings, woods, vacant lots, gardens, and even urban areas. Their distribution extends to Europe and Asia. They feed on a variety of foods including sap, nettle, hops, fermented fruit, and even bird droppings.

Did you know?

The French name of the butterfly Le Vulcain, means the Vulcan, the god of fire. This name paints a picture of volcanic fires, with orange-red flames on dark black rocks. It's a perfect way to describe the butterfly's striking colors!

Here you have it!

Use this as a guide to identify butterflies in your garden.

Tell us your thoughts. Leave a comment down below.

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