Monday, March 2, 2009

Meeting a gardening hero

Last Saturday's Eco Farm Day 2009 was great fun. I went to see a gardening hero of mine: Eliot Coleman, author of many books including the Four Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long , which inspired me to first experiment with season extension as well as allow me to redefine the length of our outdoor growing season from a mere 120 days to a much more exciting 210 days or more.

Coleman kindly agreed to take a picture with one of his big fans: me. Check it out, I'm hanging (briefly) with the man - the Coleman.

During his entertaining and inspiring plenary speech, he mentioned many authors that were influential to his way of gardening and I wondered if he realized how to a generation of us organic growers, he is on par as an inspirational figure.

I ate lunch with two of members of the Homegrown Goodness crew who I shall call 'The Seed Man' and '100 acres.' The latter doesn't have a blog presence yet but I have an inkling she will soon. We really enjoyed listening to one of Seed Man's buddies, northern permaculture expert Ken Taylor. His experience with growing disease resistant, useful nut and fruit trees for cold climates is impressive. I recommend his nursery - Windmill Point Farm (it seems that some of the links aren't working, use top menu bar)- if you are setting up the woody backbone of your permaculture system.

HG Friends with my code names: The Seed Man and 100 Acres

I also quite enjoyed Hida Manns talk on the benefits of the weedy vegetable garden called H. Ecological equilibrium: balancing weeds, insects and economics. She uses a no-till method where instead of weeding or mulching between the rows, she manages the weeds by keeping them about six inches high but otherwise lets them grow. She finds that this improves the ecological health of the system and prevents disease and pests in her vegetable crop.

This fascinates me as I have been playing with strips of perennials and self seeding annuals in my more formal no-till vegetable patch that act to as a diverse habitat for all sorts of critters, as well as leaving some of the more useful weeds such as dandelion grow. She noted that there was a weed progression in her garden away from the kind of annuals that thrive in disturbed - tilled - settings to more perennial weeds. Her method brought up lots of interesting questions but another post would be needed to cover them properly.

I also met lots of great people like Lynda Hall of Growing Up Organic. An initiative to bring kids and food production back together, and the members of Rare Breeds Canada who I bump into on a regular basis.

Lastly, after all that fun, I thought I should remind people of another exciting event on the Ottawa Horizon:

Seedy Saturday

I love this event where local organic small seed growers get together along with other 'eco' trades people to sell there wares. There are also talks, activities for kids and a seed trade table.

My Seedy Saturday review 2008

My Seedy Saturday review 2007


Dan and Val said...

Wished we could have joined you, there. Sounds so exciting.

Dan said...

How exciting that you meet Eliot Coleman! I have read two of his books, very informative individual.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Okay, now I am kicking myself for not reading the Four Season Harvest. I've picked up that book I don't know how many times... and confess that I put it back down again, always, thinking: "Really, what kind of tips can he really offer to help me grow more veggies? I haven't even built a cold frame yet..." But I love Eliot Coleman. Used to watch him on TV with Barbara Damrosch.

Oh, and THANK YOU for mentioning your "cabbagettes" on your comment yesterday! I would probably have yanked out the cabbage plant in another week or two, even though it looks like it's still alive... now I'll wait and see whether I have any cabbagettes this spring, instead. :)