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Another Birthday, No-Dig, and Aid for Ukraine

pregnant mother in sunglasses digging with a shovel in organic garden on a sunny day

We had another birthday in the family this week. This time my daughter turned eight. I was thinking about where I was when I was pregnant with her and the gardening space I had there. I was growing in a very different climate then and so my main garden season was well under way she by the time she was born.

Like many yards in Southern California, most of ours was paved in concrete. I did claim the ground around our lemon tree and it was a highly productive vegetable garden for a time. Work there slowed down quite a bit in the year or so that followed my daughter's birth, as she cried the entire time, every time I attempted to garden. Watching my garden diminish was one of those sacrifices of motherhood!

Prior to my daughter's entrance into the world, my son and I spent a lot of time together gardening. He was quite an able gardener by the time his little sister was born. On the day of her birth, he was able to weed a space, turn the soil and plant bean seeds all on his own. Mid-March is not the time to plant pole beans in Northern Washington, but every year when that time does arrive, I think fondly of the younger versions of my children.

This week I started planting kale and broccoli seeds out in the garden. To prep my beds, I cut back the stalks of last year's dead crops, or I lifted out shallow roots and shook all the soil off of them back onto the bed. I made very small impressions in the soil, dropped in the seeds and patted some soil over top. Pretty quick and easy.

Back when my kids were young, I was already putting mulch to use and this was why my garden produced so beautifully. But I was also still turning the soil. These days I use the no-dig method, also called no-till. There are so many reasons why I choose to do so: less weeds, fertile soil, healthier plants and very importantly, less carbon emissions being released into the world from the small piece of land that I steward. I feel great about this contribution to creating a more sustainable way of being on this Earth.

To create new beds, I throw cardboard down on the ground and pile on top a blend of whatever I have on hand: compost, leaves stored from the autumn, aged horse manure, coffee grounds and ashes. It is best to do this part in the fall (and early winter in the Pacific Northwest). After I have planted, I keep piling these types of organic matter onto my soil around the growing plants. Sure, this takes time and effort, but not nearly as much as weeding does. Plus, it is really gratifying to see my soil grow better and richer with every year.

This weekend will be busy. In a good way! On Saturday, from 11am to 2pm at the Point Roberts Community Center, I will be at Your Local small Market, selling my wares alongside other local artisans. I will have my regular line-up of handmade goods alongside my new moisturizing Shampoo Bars, Shaving Bars (for a very close and moisturizing shave!), new Dried Flower Wreaths that I made this week from last summer's bounty, and new prints of Cloth Napkins that I sewed up this winter.

Sunday, I will have my first plant sale of the year at the Garden Stand. I will be putting out plants that are ready to go into the ground now with more to follow, as the planting season progresses, from now through May. I will have Iris bulbs for sale - the kind that you plant only on the surface of the soil, not burying the bulb. This makes them the easiest bulb of all to plant. There will be my three favourite varieties of strawberry plants: Sweet Sunrise, a newish cultivar of early, large, sweet, disease resistant berries; Shuksan, another PNW variety grown to be eaten fresh, but also known to be the best strawberry for freezing; Tristar everbearing, which keep making lots of berries all summer long - I grow this long season variety for the kids to snack on while they play outdoors in the summer. Saves me from running into the house to prepare a snack. There will be a small selection of perennials and a few pacs of pea plants. The pea plants in my garden are already tall! They love cool weather. As well, I will have a selection of my handmade, organic botanicals and cloth napkins out in the Garden Stand.

At the market on Saturday, I will have acollection jar at my table to collect monetary donations (cash or check) to be sent immediately to assist the people who remain in Ukraine. Taras Polataiko is a Ukrainian-Canadian artist who has returned to Ukraine to care for his aging parents. My husband knows Taras from the days when they were both living and making art in Vancouver, and they have been in touch again since the war began. We will be sending collected donations directly to Taras in Ukraine where he is arranging purchases and distribution of medications for those who remain in the country, and protective equipment for civilian soldiers who are fighting the Russian army without the protective clothing that they desperately need. Here is an interview of Taras on the CBC, sharing the experience of being in Ukraine right now and on Global News You can also visit Taras Polataiko's facebook page for more information on his purchases for his people who are also remaining in Ukraine and defending their country.

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Wishing you the best,


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