Friends of the Challenge greenhouse...
We have started our new program!! Our 10 participants from the last program successfully completed the program and many have moved on to new jobs! How exciting!
Last week was our prep week for this current program where we facilitated connections between employers and previous participants, interviewing applicants for the program, purchasing new materials for our new group of participants, cleaning our classroom setting and watering the greenhouse all along the way. It was a bit more work in the greenhouse recently as we are in between participants so we're looking forward to getting the next groups established.
This week, aka yesterday, started out our new recruits in their first day. We have 10 wonderful applicants, with possibly an 11th, who are likely to make this program exciting. One of our job coaches has stated that he would like to be the main person to organize work in the winterized greenhouse as we plan to extend this agreement for another winter (did I mention this already??). We always enjoy getting new folks and learning new skills, as comes with getting new applicants. I wonder if any of them will want to be involved in the postings for this blog...?!
The photos below: up until the sunflowers is many of our vegetables in our greenhouse at the Yukon College greenhouse. We currently one billion tomato plants, some green beans, celery, green peppers, cucumbers and that funky little yellow tube-thing is a yellow zucchini. The photos of flowers are the progress of our lovely boxes in front of the building. Then we jump back in to photos of our garden boxes up at the greenhouse at Yukon College. The photos of the building are the outside views of our Yukon College greenhouse! So fancy!! There is also a photo, mixed in there somewhere, of one of our fully grown planter boxes. SO FUN!!!! I LOVE FLOWERS! Our team has done a great job at keeping everything alive and well.
And to you little flowers, I bid you farewell. This will be my last blog post as I am passing the torch to the lovely group of job coaches in the EAS program. All the best to you and stay tuned cause the winter is going to bring all kinds of fun and exciting winter growing projects. I'll give you a hint... there might be something to do with commercial level composting. There might also be something to do with winterized planting (for real this time). Keep your ears to the ground little pumpkins.
Where did you come from Cotton Eyed Joe - I hope that has now gotten the song stuck in your head. It's not totally accurate though as you guys didn't go anywhere, we did! I am back from holidays now and the last two weeks have been spent training our new job coach. We also don't report as often as our participants are well versed in their regular watering, pruning, dead heading and
Regarding the first photos, I would have loved to post pictures of our hanging baskets but the board they were hanging from ended up coming off of the building and landing on the sidewalk. We tried to save the plants but did have to plant some new ones and have not yet had time to reinstall the hanging beam. Projects for the next program!
Not forever... just for a week or so. But never fear! Our greenhouse guys know what they're doing and so do the awesome job coaches and program coordinator here. Everyone is awesome.
Check out our finished greenhouse!! The benefit of having everything planted is that we now have a) room for activities and b) time to do individual or less production focused tasks. I had mentioned recently that our mystery greenhouse worker had wanted to do some planting so now will be the time! We have posted photos below of the awesome greenery all square-foot-gardened and in the planter boxes.
As a refresher, we used about 6-7 bags of compost (roughly 9kg), reused a bunch of old soil to help clean our garden and act as filler, 5 bags of Sunshine Mix (did I mention that we love Sunshine Mix #4!?!?!) and about 1/2 a large garbage can of perlite. Perlite is used to aerate the soil which is particularly beneficial if you're reusing old, heavy soil as it makes things fluffier (essentially) and easier to mix. Our creative greenhouse team also used some coconut coir in the bottom right box, the one with the cabbages, as an experiment. It is beneficial for hydroponics and growing systems and will likely work for us as, although coconut coir doesn't carry the nutrients that soil does, it can be beneficial in gardens. It is a bit expensive but we started trying it out in the winter for some of our sustainable experiments. There are different types of coco coir while we used the Beats Peat bricks which are light and easy to store, then expand when you add water. Good for our smaller space.
For more information about the use of perlite, check out this site: www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/perlite-potting-soil.htm
For more info about coconut coir, check it out: www.epicgardening.com/coconut-coir/ or www.groworganic.com/beats-peat-3-cu-ft-brick.html
Our team also got certified in WHMIS this week! What an amazing group of people we have! I will be excited to see all of the changes when I return from my trip.
That's all for this week folks. TTFN - Ta ta for now!!
Friends of the greenhouse.. the focus of this week has been the newfound (for Programs) moves of our greenhouse guy. He was holding out on us but select songs bring out the funk in all of us.
In between dance sessions this week, we've finished the planting in the planter boxes!! How exciting! And the plants which were recently transplanted have been flourishing in their new, expanded homes. We ended up having so many tomato plants that, while doing square-feet-gardening planning, we just dedicated an entire box to tomatoes. This box is the one with all of the crazy looking, zombie killing metal spikes coming out of the soil. This way, our tomatoes are able to extend their limbs and we have a first point of attack for the eventual zombie-pocalyps. Win win, really.
If you are interested in learning more about square-foot gardening concepts, check out the link we used: https://www.growveg.com/guides/planning-a-square-foot-vegetable-garden/
Alongside doing lots of planning for square footage, after measuring out the boxes, we also (as mentioned last week) did some research on companion planting to avoid unnecessary plant failings. If you want to know a bit more about companion planting, as in what goes well with what (or not), I have included an image based sheet below. We use the complex graph looking thing because we like to think we're really smart.
Our team has been in practicum week - we like doing that thing where people get comfortable in greenhouse and then we disrupt their schedules. Our greenhouse folk took a break with one going to the Ledge to try out kitchen work and one going to North End Gallery to help promote local artists. Also a win-win as she is a local artists herself (I'm referring to our mystery greenhouse lady). Therefore, our greenhouse guy has been holding the fort and keeping everything alive. We've also paired up with our residential services program for weekend watering to share the load and provide some opportunities for other Challenge folks to get to relax in the tropical greenhouse setting.
The rest of the photos below are of the progress of our plants! Enjoy the greenery! I mean scenery.... no, no. I did mean greenery. Happy Thursday!! And make sure to take some time to dance (or wiggle if that's all you're in to) tonight :)
Hello loyal lupins!
It is Friday and I am posting as our greenhouse gals are puttering away at the Yukon College greenhouse getting everything planted for the weekend so watering is nice and easy for our new watering crew. We have contracted out our apartment building staff to help us with the watering.
This week was entirely dedicated to planter boxes!! Our planter boxes, which are pictured in the post from last week, are all full with lovely dirt and soil. And now they have plants in them too!! Our hearty plants which were previously on the left hand shelving unit are now safely nestled in their beds. The girls in the greenhouse did an amazing amount of work this week researching companion planting and making it work with our box dimensions. We will have almost an entire planter box for tomatoes as we have SO MANY plants!!!
We also built resumes this week to have updated resumes for the end of the program.
Oh ya! We also moisturized the worms today! They were super dry and needed something to wake them up. They are back to eating healthily and hopefully they have a great weekend.
As for this weekend - Whitehorse has an awesome Canada's 150 day arranged for tomorrow and it is also the start of the Adaka Cultural Festival which runs from tomorrow until July 6. We have a few participants already planning to attend the events and hope everyone takes advantage of the awesome opportunity. We will leave it here for now - for this week - and let everyone enjoy their weekends!
Until next week....
Happy Aboriginal Day (yesterday) everyone! Thank goodness this is now a recognized holiday! It also meant we got a fun little mid-week break to go see all of the amazing First Nations activities and projects going on right now. There is a voyageur canoe being carved, which is now outside and being steamed, that has been a project for this summer and is occurring just around the corner from us. One of our program participants helped move it outside yesterday - good thing we had the day off to help!
We are thoughtful today as we want to recognize all of the awesome efforts of the local First Nations groups in the Yukon as they have had many conferences, projects for building and activities throughout the summer (already!). It is wonderful to share in the growth of our community.
Last week the team, even though they were incredibly busy last week already, spruced up our OWN building too!! The photos below show our beautiful front boxes - they're even fuller now - and some hanging boxes. The hanging boxes are a new addition to our team and we've already gotten some compliments on them. Ah, so fun!!
For our guys here in programs, they were certified in FoodSafe at the beginning of this week. So proud. So exciting! Much of the work done by our own guy who didn't do FoodSafe was transplanting our larger marigolds, the ones which were donated by Springtime Gardens, and some other vegetables which were getting cramped in their pots. We were so busy with the move that some of our plants could have used transplanting even last week. We also did a large amount of pruning as the move was a bit taxing on some of our plants and, again with the move, many of the maintenance tasks typical in a greenhouse had to be put on hold. It's nice to be back in regular operations. One of our gals will also be starting some seeds either this week or next as she has an interest in learning how to grow plants for tinctures. It is the first time in a while that we've had a participant interested in using the greenhouse for her own projects and we always welcome these ideas. It will also help build some skills which she can take with her after programs.
Speaking of planter boxes - our tasks this week are focused on filling them! We filled one, as you can see through the progress photos, on Tuesday and are planning to fill the rest this week or early next week. We are recruiting someone from the woodshop to help with the lining and drilling as each box will be lined with poly and have holes drilled in the bottom. The poly acts to protect the wood from rotting out and the holes allow for air to get in, to aerate the soil, and to allow water out if we accidentally get too much water in there although that is unlikely as these beds are HUGE! We used four large totes/plastic containers of old soil which has been sitting around in the greenhouse with this soil simply acting as filler to bring our levels up. We put about one small bag of propogation mix in to the one box although I was informed that this was not the right thing to do ;). I mistook propogation mix for compost - it's not compost mix. It's best for starting seeds at the beginning of the growing season - lessons learned! Hopefully sharing that here will prevent someone else from making this mistake. We will use around 8 small bags of mushroom compost to make everything nice and healthy and used two bags of Sunshine Mix #4 from Cliffside Greenhouse. We love Sunshine Mix!! As you can see in the photos, we have our awesome cucumber trellises which were built by our winter greenhouse carpentry program - thanks again guys! The idea is that the cucumbers, once we plant them in the planter box, will climb the trellis and the cucumbers will be able to hang down, through the mesh, and grow more plants. It is also nice for our plants which like a bit more shade as they can grow underneath the trellis so we don't waste good growing space.
The boxes will also allow us to clean up the greenhouse a bit by getting rid of large, old totes full of soil and plant some plants in there which will reduce the clustered shelves currently in there. My organizational brain is very excited to see the boxes full and the shelves a little more empty. This will also make watering much easier for our team as they can see whether they are watering everything.
Today the team harvested all of the plants out of the garden tower so we may start fresh, or move the tower, if we wish. Now that we have a bit more time and heat and sunlight it will be nice to start fresh and watch some healthy growth particularly for this program as I think the growth they observed has been underwhelming. Here's to new beginnings!
Hi everyone!! GUESS WHAT!!! WE DID IT!!!
What in the world are you talking about? - you might ask. All of the build up of me saying "we're soooo busy" has culminated to this week. Culminated - big fancy word for built up to the highest point. This week we not only finished all of the planting at the city yard, 55 BOXES IN TOTAL, we also moved our belongings from the greenhouse at Changing Gear to our greenhouse at the Yukon College. I believe I mentioned that we had started this move two weeks ago and we finished it during a very long moving day yesterday.
I tell ya, our greenhouse folk are AMAZING!
So, planter boxes. On Friday last week and Monday this week we asked for the help of our entire Employ Ability Skills team (all 9 of them) to help us finish the planting and we crushed it out in record time. Each box has about 30 plants which include marigolds, sunflowers, amaranth and pansies. All of the lovely little flowers we've been growing for the past few months. And now that they are in big soil they will also become bigger and heartier!! So exciting!! Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce for helping us complete another successful year for the city planter boxes.
Speaking of planter box flowers... a bonus is that Catheryne ran into some ladies from Springtime Garden in Fort Nelson, BC who had come up to sell some plants. Not only did they run in to each other, the lady from Springtime offered for us to come grab some of the flowers that didn't sell as a donation to the Challenge program. A huge thank you to the ladies there for helping us beautify our boxes! We also snagged some extra stuff that is further along than our own plants to spruce up our back fill for if plants don't survive in the planter boxes. The generosity of this community never cease to impress.
For greenhouse, we are ever so thankful to Changing Gear for letting us rent half of their greenhouse. We wouldn't have had such happy, healthy plants without their space and we greatly appreciate the owner's help in getting everything established. We are now officially out of the Changing Gear greenhouse and in to the Yukon College where it's a bit of a tighter fit but encouraging us to trim things and transplant things. We donated a few plants to the owner at Changing Gear, a couple of trays of marigolds and pansies, to help with his planter boxes.
A great big thanks to Victoria Faulkner Women's Center for being our watering team on the weekends. We shared the rented space with them at the Changing Gear greenhouse and in return they helped us with the watering requirements. Thanks for an awesome collaboration this year!
Phew! Planter box season is always our busiest and we have survived it. Work this week includes getting used to our new work environment at the College and getting our own Challenge planter boxes done, now that we have me our requirements for our work here. How exciting! One of our ladies is hoping to plant some things for tinctures to take home at the end of the program and I'm looking forward to reworking the garden tower to make it full and beautiful again. Cheers to what's coming!
The photos below show warming our plants up to be put in to the boxes, hearty plant sin the greenhouse, the stages of filling the planter boxes, the final products and part of the process of moving out of the Changing Gear greenhouse. Look how empty it is now!!
Thank you, as always, for your ongoing support and please enjoy our planter boxes as they grow comfortable in their new homes on the city streets of Whitehorse!
I will split these posts today in to one for last week and one for this week as they've both been busy. I feel like I'm constantly saying we're busy... but we are!!
Last week the team got certified in First Aid!! Way to go guys!! Because of that, we had a little gap in production but mostly focused on transplanting and starting our plants outside so they would be used to the weather once being planted in the city planter boxes. As you will also notice, Gordon the Gourd is doing well. The photos below represent last week in the greenhouse where we were in full production and hadn't even started the city planter boxes yet.
If I haven't already explained this, the city planter boxes go out on to the corners of the city streets in the downtown area every year. The Chamber of Commerce connects with Challenge each year to design the layout for the boxes and grow the plants, as well as place the plants, which will be out for everyone's viewing pleasure during the summer. The date the boxes go on to the streets is June 14 so we have been bustling about getting things organized and ready for moving and transplanting.
The tower has been overrun by plants which are no longer growing. Unfortunately, we will be starting from scratch with these guys hopefully next week. As the city planters are time sensitive, they have been our focus.
Our in house plants have done well as we accidentally over watered them last week so they, although having many dead leaves, are surviving well without our attention.
Our worms have been less than happy with us for the lack of food over the last few weeks so we will also work on that next week. I wonder if we have live worms still in our garden tower.... things the future will tell us.
Until next week (aka today as this is a belated post).
Hello loyal fans!!
Welcome to week six of our program! It is flying by... no lie! I apologize as it has felt as though the blog posts are few and far between and appreciate your patience. The greenhouse folk have been steadily plucking away at the transplanting up at the greenhouse to ensure everything is ready for the big planting day at the city yard. Coming up quick! The team is in to volunteer week now where we offer our many hands to local organizations which also helps boost the resumes we build later in the program.
We don't usually get to go up to the greenhouse during volunteer week but we managed to set aside some time! We had our guys help get the planter boxes at the city yard all ready to go for planting, starting next week. They also helped with some transplanting, getting some soil ready and starting the moving process from Changing Gear greenhouse to the Yukon College greenhouse. It feels as though things never stop moving! That being said, pansies are done being transplanted! How exciting!
The garden tower is coming along well although we are uncertain as to whether the worms have survived our attention being elsewhere. The worms in the vermicomposting home are doing splendid but it is harder to tell in the garden tower as the area is not brightly lit and we have the additional rung at the top making it quite difficult to see inside. Stepladders are recommended, friends.
As for the greenhouse itself, it's a tropical jungle up there! I have posted a photo of our little plantses for your viewing pleasure.
Pip pip for now little doves!
Hello friends! I hope you're all enjoying this week's sunshine and warm weather as much as our little plantses!!
Not much posting and updating this week as we've been busy, busy, busy starting seeds, transplanting our ever growing amaranth and marigolds, and mixing more seeds to keep the planting process running. Full steam ahead!!
Some seeds that were planted this week, free sown to be specific, were some calendula (more than before) and shingiku which are our lovely edible chrysanthemums. We also started, last Friday, some solar power and Mexican torch sunflowers which have already started to break out of the soil! Amazing little growers. If you want to plant your own beautiful flowers I have included some growing instructions and pictures of the finished product in the gallery below. We are excited to see these ones start as the short blend sunflowers will be in the planter boxes around the city and some of the short blend will decorate our own Challenge planter spaces. Summers are busy here!
For the tower, we have brought in some back up worm castings to bolster production while we spend most of our days at the greenhouse. The dancing worms on the bag in the photos is an example of what we use. Work, work, work (refer to YouTube for songs along this line of thinking).
On Wednesday we all went up to Cliffside greenhouse to get an idea of what our little greenhouse will look like soon. Cool to see a full production greenhouse which is already selling plants and flowers. We're close behind!!
More photos to come next week and we'll be starting to work on the planter boxes soon so we'll do our best to keep your interest and you all updated! Thanks for checking in (33 visits this week!!) - you are all awesome!
We are part of the Employ Ability Skills Program with Challenge Disability Resource Group. We take part in a 12-week program that allows us to learn new skills and foster our interest in growing our own food organically.