Gord in deep snow…on his knees.

Well…it was a mostly a warm winter and then WHAM!  Way below zero with multiple blizzards, and then snow sticking around for weeks on end.  As I write this (March 7th). we still have snow in some areas and the soil is still frozen in the lower garden.  This morning…more flurries….

Leaves falling off – lemons frozen

Lower Greenhouse

Our lemons in the front of the house were thriving with more lemons than we could possibly use.  The leaves are all dropping and most of the lemons frozen when about 80% ripe.  So…I picked buckets of lemons, squeezed, and froze lemon concentrate for summer lemonade.  Looking forward to the sad looking lemons getting new leaves.  Meanwhile, Gord has cut them back to propagate more lemons.   I finally planted my peas in the upper garden, but still cannot plant my fava beans in the lower garden.  Veggie starts have begun to sprout in the upper greenhouse and Gord has loaded up the lower greenhouse with propagated perennials for the nursery.

Lucky to eat salads ALL winter.

A big surprise for me was to discover hundreds of sprouting SEA KALE right before the snow began to fly.  I gathered the little pods up and put them on soil in the upper greenhouse.  Sea Kale seeds are difficult to source and germinate so this is pretty special for plant nerds.  I will have tiny plants for sale this spring and fall in the nursery.  Sea Kale is my overall favourite perennial vegetable for steaming, stir fries, and eating raw.  It takes 2-3 years to mature but produces lots of big broccoli like shoots earlier and even tastier than broccoli.  Flowers are also a super yummy snack.  They are not heavy feeders and live for decades.

Spring Nursery Challenges:  We are moving our Eco-Sense perennial edible plant nursery to the lower garden and it is really starting to take shape.  This will solve our parking and plant loading challenges with the former nursery location at the pond.  No more carrying large trees uphill to vehicles.  However, due to the snow and frozen ground we are WAY behind getting everything moved and landscaped in the lower garden.

Perennial veggie bed (Sea Kale, hosta, perennial leeks, bamboo, skirret, sorrel, sweet sicily, stevia, nodding onion, walking onion, ground nut, OCA, sweet potatoes, Cinnamon yam (beautiful vine), and more.

Nursery Grand Opening: Our first opening in the new nursery will be two days…Saturday March 23rd and and Sunday March 24th from 10am-2pm.  After that, we will be open every Saturday from 10am-2pm for the rest of spring.

What’s in stock?  check out our online plant list. PLANT LIST  Remember our prices already include the GST.
CHESTNUTS: Of special note is our chestnuts in stock that we brought in from Washington.  These are simply amazing from so many perspectives.  Perennial food security, yummy, climate resilient, fire resistant, beautiful, draught tolerant, soil building, etc. The nuts are huge and easy to process, and these nuts can be used as a nutritious and flavourful flour substitute.  High in iron and B vitamins and so much more.  RECIPE ALERT:  Just made amazing local clafoutis with chestnut flour (1.5 cups), sweet potatoes (1 cup), 1 lemon, 3 eggs, big scoop butter, and 1.5 cups goat milk with blackberries, autumn olives, currents, and raspberries (2 cups fruit).  OMG it was good.  So simple. Mixed up batter in blender and added chestnut flour to as thick as it could be, poured into buttered pan and layered berries on top.  Baked at 350 until done.

What else have we been up to?  Rain water designs, lots of council work and climate activism.  Here’s a short list of the climate related items we have been working on with our municipal colleagues.

Climate Emergency Declaration:  Here’s what I wrote for the Highlands newsletter:  On Feb 13th, 2019, the Capital Regional District (CRD) voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency.  As part of this they committed to carbon neutrality by 2030. The CRD will be asking all 13 municipalities in our region to also consider making the same declaration including climate commitments in their own communities.  The impetus for this seemingly drastic move comes the Oct 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which sends a clear scientific message to the world that we have until 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 45% and 100% reduction by 2050 to avoid catastrophic impacts which we are already seeing.  We have a very short window of time to completely change how we live, work, and play to avoid the worst of the projected impacts.  Although this sounds dire, there are incredible opportunities to adapt and build community resilience while simultaneously creating a better world. The coming months and years will be intensely focused on building local resilience through mitigation and adaptation and learning together what does all this mean here in the Highlands, in the CRD, in BC, in Canada, and globally? 

Carbon Neutral by 2030:  Understandably, there seemed to be a great deal of confusion about what carbon neutrality means.  So I wrote a post about it called, “Carbon Neutrality, Offsets, & Counting Emissions” and shared it around.  Lisa Helps, the Mayor of Victoria really liked it, so she posted my article on her blog.  Here’s the link:

Municipal Survivor Climate Challenge:  Here’s what I wrote for Highlands newsletter:  Highlands council has just launched the Municipal Survivor Climate Challenge (MSCC), where our mayor and council have committed to reduce our average footprint. A footprint is a measurement of how many earths would be required if everyone on the planet lived like Highlands council. We also measured our ecological impact (in hectares) and our carbon emissions (in tonnes of CO2). These numbers are determined with the simple calculator found here:


Highlands Council average figures are:
2.4 earths

4.14 hectares
6.94 tonnes of CO2 

We know that our individual impact is small compared to the global issues, but by taking individual action we build resilience and show what is possible. We are choosing to walk our talk, it’s as simple as that. To have some fun with this, we have challenged all other mayors and councils (and elected officials) on Vancouver Island and coastal BC to accept our invitation for a friendly competition to see which council has the lowest footprint and which can improve the most over a one-year period set to begin this year on Earth Day (April 22, 2019).
What’s your footprint? Stay tuned for updates.

Vegetation Management Strategy:  Our trees are dying.  We have lost over 50 this year alone…and so have many of our neighbours in the Highlands and in our region.  Not only is this heart-wrenching to watch, but it also dramatically increases our fire risk and leads to hotter dryer conditions which further accelerates this process.  But what to do?  Gord has organized a joint application for multi-year funding with many CRD municipalities.  This research will help us understand what the best course of action is in different situations from the urban forest, to the forest interface, and for fully forested communities.  To learn more check out this original report written by Gord for Highlands Council.  The CRD and other municipalities are moving forward with this critical work.



2 responses to “Spring?

  1. We’ve had a wacky weather winter too. Global extreming at its finest! Super warm and believe average precip and then whamo! Storm after storm or wind, driving rain, and hail. February was a blur! We’re also experiencing die-off of several tree species, as they become susceptible to disease (drought stress?) and suffer from lack of water in the summers. I suspect their ranges are shifting to the north. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Skeeter Pilarski is organizing a Global Earth Repair Conference in Port Townsend in early May. Sounds like you might have lots to contribute!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. What a great and lovely post. Thank you very much for sharing and please keep it up 🙂

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