Last Saturday we joined some friends at Dufferin School community garden to continue our lessons with Traditional gardener Audrey Logan. It was bean week in accordance to our moon cycle schedule but still to early to plant seeds. Audrey uses the night-time temperatures to gauge planting times. In the oral tradition, these are refered to as old or young woman. Morning temperatures must be like the old woman (double digits) for a week to ten days in a row before it’s safe for seedlings. Upon inspecting the condition of the soil and doing a worm count in the mound and raised bed gardens, it was decided that conditions were not yet right for planting. We learned a little about actual Beans; when left on the vine they can plant themselves.
The Bean seed pod hardens with the end forming a sharp point, if left alone the pods force themselves into the ground where they soften and release the seeds. The softening process takes enough time to ensure the seeds don’t germinate to early. We then turned to the important topic of insect life in the garden, specifically pollinators. Insects need a reliable habitat to flourish this is why traditional methods employ year round mulching and stalks from last years plants are left in place. Thus providing food and shelter to over wintering eggs and pupa. Spring can be a time of hardship for emerging insect populations especially in a world with unpredictable weather due to climate change. First nation gardeners would traditionally leave some fallen fruit for early pollinators to live on until flowering plants begin blooming. With the neat and tidy yards found in most urban centers, these early risers often suffer. Audrey recreated the fallen fruit by freezing bits of fruit waste over the winter, now in spring they are thawed and laid on mats made of available green leaf growth right in the garden. This will provide nourishment for valuable pollinators such as moths and butterflies and encourage them to stay around the garden. Birds are also strongly affected by a sort of “famine” during early spring, as birds migrate to nesting grounds and forests, where they may have found food in the past, the city habitat doesn’t provide it. We hung suet seed balls to support any feathered visitors who may drop by.
Next we turned our hand to re-mulching, by transferring leaf material using Antler tools, which turned out to be quite effective. Audrey also discussed which plants make insect repellents and why, but we’ll save that for next post. As always feel free to question or comment on any of our posts and please tune in again.