Microclimates in the garden can protect plants from fluctuating weather.
Pea and bean trellises create a microclimate that protects these vegetable plants from the wind.
Climate change is bringing a new challenge of weather extremes to gardeners and farmers across North America. The predictable weather patterns we knew and counted on are becoming more unpredictable. One week the weather is hot and sunny—perfect for tomato transplants. The next week a cold wind pushes over young plants and chills their roots. It’s confusing to the plants, and to the growers too.
Adapting your growing area to protect young plants from heat, drought, wind, rain, and cold is a key to growing successfully. You can do this by creating microclimates that offer protection to vulnerable plants.
Microclimates are small areas that have different growing conditions from the surrounding region. Sun traps, wind buffers, and radiant heat producers create microclimates that shelter plants from cold. In drought conditions, a cool microclimate affords shade and water retention to minimize heat stress.
How to Use Microclimates to Protect Plants from Changing Weather
Setting an example in renewable energy, Portugal ran its lights solely on alternative power for four days. A view of Portugal (foreground) and the Iberian Peninsula as seen from the space station.
Last month the small European state of Portugal set an example for the rest of the world by running its electrical grid entirely on alternative power for four days (May 7–May 10). This country of ten million people, which occupies about a fifth of the Iberian Peninsula, kept the lights on with renewable energy, and produced zero carbon emissions.
This landmark accomplishment came after a series of renewable energy milestones, which included providing 70 percent of nation’s electricity consumption from wind, solar and hydroelectric power during the entire first quarter of 2013. read more…
The 100-mile diet on Vancouver Island has just become more accessible. The online Vancouver Island Farms & Food Map offers a way to find over 300 farms and hundreds of fresh local foods in Victoria, Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island.
Video: The Vancouver Island Farms & Food Map
Local Food on Vancouver Island
A lot has changed in the decade since Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, authors of The 100 Mile Diet, first tried their one-year experiment in eating foods produced within a 100-mile radius of their Vancouver home. Their eat-local challenge galvanized the Canadian local food movement. In the past ten years, “sustainability” and “local foods” have become household words.
Nowhere has the 100-mile diet been taken more to heart than on Vancouver Island, where farmers have used the mild maritime climate to push the boundaries of what will grow locally. New crops like citrus fruits, olives, regionally-adapted wheat, gluten-free grains, lentils and green tea now thrive on the Island. Products such as hand-harvested sea salt, edible oils, and fresh milled flour are extending the range of locally-sourced foods.
Residents and visitors can find these regional foods on the online Vancouver Island Farms & Food Map, along with more typical local farm fare like u-pick berries, vegetables, nuts, meats, dairy, mushrooms and herbs. The map also includes an extensive list of local farm-produced specialty items such as honey, pickles, syrups, fermented foods, baked goods, juice, wine, distilled spirits and cider.
The Victoria region of the Vancouver Island Farms & Food Map. Users can search for hundreds of local farm products.
With it users can find farm stands, u-picks, and CSA farm box programs. The map also guides visitors to farms that offer tours, workshops, wine tasting, earth-to-table restaurants, events and overnight farm stays.
The Vancouver Island Farms & Food Map is a resource for residents and tourists who want to locate Island farms and enjoy fresh local food. By pointing the way to explore the dynamic local food movement on the Islands, the Vancouver Island Farms & Food Map demonstrates that sustainable farming is not only a dream, but an achievable reality. read more…
It’s the International Year of Pulses, and a new book, The Power of Pulses: Saving the World with Peas, Beans, Chickpeas, Favas & Lentils, is here to guide the way. If saving the world sounds like hyperbole, it’s because pulses may be one of nature’s most perfect foods. Nutrient-dense and packed with protein and fiber, these superfoods are seeds and edible foods at the same time. They are also important for sustainable agriculture. Peas, beans and lentils are easy to grow, require little water, and improve the fertility of the soil wherever they take root.
The Power of Pulses brings together organic seed grower Dan Jason, and culinary sisters, Hilary Malone and Alison Malone Eathorne, to provide everything you need to know about planting, harvesting and cooking peas, beans, chickpeas, favas and lentils. Accompanying this practical advice is Jason’s wisdom on why pulses are important for sustainable agriculture, and how they can help renew the health of the planet. read more…
With the increasing interest in heirloom beans, we’ve developed this delicious recipe for Beka Brown Maple Baked Beans. Plump, hearty, golden-brown Beka Brown beans add an extra edge of flavour to this traditional side dish. If you can’t find Beka Browns, you can substitute navy beans.
This recipe makes a lot so you can save and freeze the leftovers for future dinners. Also great as a large pot of beans for barbecues and parties.
This winter, as you pore over the seed catalogs and dream of next season’s garden, think about including seed saving in the harvest. By selecting seeds from plants with the best flavour, size or other desired characteristics, you can create a garden most suited your tastes and microclimate.
Starting a seed-saving garden is easy and depends on two things: 1) willingness to let your plants go to seed, rather than tidy up as soon as they bear fruit, and 2) choosing heirloom and open pollinated varieties. Open-pollinated plants grow true to type, which means that (unlike hybrids) their seeds can produce the same kind of plant as the parent. read more…
Homemade biscotti are nothing like the dried-out versions you find in coffee shops. These twice-baked Italian cookies are crisp, nutty, and eminently delectable. Make these biscotti with local hazelnuts or use pecans for even richer flavour.
Strawberries and lettuce are interplanted with ornamental flowers and plants in this edible patio garden.
Edible gardens are changing the landscape of modern cities. A desire to save money on food and to eat local, fresh healthy produce is motivating people to grow food in urban spaces. The edible city gardening movement is transforming front and back yards, curbside medians and community spaces into active food growing areas. It is also spurring small businesses such as SPIN farmers—who “farm” in multiple backyards throughout a city—and edible garden landscapers who design, install and maintain urban food gardens. read more…
Handcrafted sausages at the Village Butcher in Victoria.
Traditional sausage making is an art that dates back thousands of years. About 500 BC, the Greek playwright Epicharmus wrote a comedy entitled, The Sausage. It is one of the earliest references to the ground spiced meat in casings we love to sizzle on the barbecue or fry up for breakfast with eggs. read more…
If you love vegetable chips, why not make your own? The trick is to slice the vegetables seriously thin so that they crisp up nicely in the oven. This beet chip recipe is easy to adapt to other root vegetables, such as carrots or parsnips.