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psles asked: garbage bags are far from being food-safe, as they can leach chemicals into the soil,

I didn’t even look in to that- what an oversight on my part. What would you suggest to line it with instead?

Edit: I gave a quick search of peer reviewed journals and couldn’t find anything that suggested not to use garbage bags within garden beds. I found many sources which talked about toxins in fragranced bags or those used for meat/poultry transport, but nothing outright suggesting a not to use plastic bags as a liner.  In fact, I found many (non-peer reviewed) how-to cites on growing potatoes inside a black garbage bag. The “food-safe” you mentioned also surfaced, but it was meant in the context of food storage- food in direct contact with the plastic. Can you cite the source which shows which toxins are leaching and at what rate? I’m interested to read it.

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Aloha, Vancouver!

Hi Everyone- I’m home from my vacation and ready to garden!

First off, Hawaii was beautiful. Here are a couple photos from the Big Island: 



Dat Foliage: Waipi’o Valley

Back to Business!

While I was gone, my boyfriend was kind enough to take care of my plants and keep everything alive! Everything grew beautifully and nothing died, so I’m very impressed. Upon my return, the boyfriend had even built planters for our patio! You can see them here:



Flowers & Kale: Just look at that planter box! They’re built out of some leftover wood from another project, so the cost to us was minimal (~$30). We used Cedar, but you could probably use Pine or another cheaper wood, too. We stained the planters with Linseed Oil and lined them with garbage bags (my inner trailer park surfaces), which we scored on the bottom to allow for some drainage. I’ve transplanted my Kale and Flowers into the long planter, and plan to transplant the Tomatoes into the bigger planter tomorrow. 

Materials for Building Your Own Planter Box:

  • Wood- like I mentioned, we used some wood we had laying around, so our costs weren’t too high. Using a cheaper wood (like Pine) is an option to keep costs down. A quick browse of Craigslist seemed to reveal hidden gems like old wooden wine crates and containers of various sizes. 
  • Saw- we used our power saw to make the cuts we needed. Some Home Depots and Lowe’s will cut the wood for you, so if you don’t have a saw available, you still have options. Disclaimer: Don’t forget dust masks and goggles if you’re using your own saw. Sawdust is the glitter of woodworking. It. Goes. Everywhere.
  • Sander- prep the wood for stain by sanding it down and taking off the dirt on the outermost layer. 
  • Stain/Oil- We bought Linseed Oil because it is non-toxic. I figured if I’m eating stuff out of this garden, I probably shouldn’t cover it in chemicals.
  • Screws/Nails 

How to build it: 

  1. Ask someone else to do it.
  2. If they say no, have a drink. When you’re about to work with power tools, the first thing you want to do is involve alcohol.
  3. Once you’re liquored up, measure the pieces of wood to length. Cut. 
  4. Realize you miscalculated a cut and now you need to go back to Home Depot to get another piece of wood. 
  5. Realize you’ve been drinking and can’t drive there. 
  6. Walk to Home Depot. Buy a 10 ft piece of wood and stumble home with it, uttering hushed swears at the people who give you a double take because it’s 10 AM on a Tuesday and you’re clearly drunk in public wielding a 10 foot weapon down the sidewalk.
  7. Return home. Ensure your cuts are correct.
  8. Screw pieces together.
  9. Box is now built. Sand Sides down.
  10. Get an old t-shirt, dip it in the oil and wipe it on the wood.
  11. Ta-DA! You’ve built yourself a planter box.

If these directions are unclear, you can YouTube how-to videos which can help you along.

Here are a few more pictures of the garden:

Basil: ready to transplantimage

Oregano: round three?image

Tomatoes: flourishing and ready to transplant image

And there you have it. Perhaps I’ll post a how-to on transplanting when I move my Tomatoes over tomorrow. It’s also time to plant my peas!

Thanks guys, Happy Planting! 

Filed under vancouver backyardening hawaii tomatoes basil yvr oregano kale hipsters homedepot building howto planters

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And Away We Go!

Greetings, all! Happy Earth Day!

I come with photo updates of my plants so far. We’re looking good!

Tomatoes: They’re so big, I’m starting to worry they’ll fall right over. Reinforcements with BBQ skewers and twist ties?image

Tomatoes (again): such nice, deep leaves!


Basil: Wonderful! Can’t articulate how easy this one was. It’s growing well, and staying nice and low.image

Flower mix: Growing wild! I have no clue what these things are, but  each variety is hearty and having no trouble at all. 


Kale: I don’t know about this Kale. Perhaps I should have started it right outside? The stalks are looking very thin and the bottom leaves have begun to yellow and die. Suggestions for improvement? A quick google search tells me to take them out of direct sun if they’re kept inside, so I’ll be trying that.


Mystery Peas and Nasturtiums: I haven’t had a chance to plant them yet, so no photo updates on those badboys.

Tomorrow is my final-final-final exam at UBC, so I’ve been studying (err, procrastinating) hard. After that final, it’s Aloha UBC- I’m off to Hawaii! I’ll have my boyfriend take care of the backyarden while I’m gone, but it might mean a 10 day blog hiatus. Keep checking back for updates, and I’ll be sure to post as soon as I get back!



Filed under vancouver backyardening ubc finals hawaii yvr peas nasturtium kale tomatoes basil flowers

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Somebody Loves the Backyardening Blog!

Hey All,

It looks like I have a blog admirer! I’ve had a shipment of seeds sent my way from a follower in nearby Powell River. He sent me Peas and Nasturtium Seeds- take a look! 

Seeds: on the left, the woodbug-looking seeds are for the Nasturtiums (a beautiful orangey-yellow flower) and the other ones which look like peas, are peas. No description of the type of peas, so this should be interesting. Perhaps I should call them my “Mystery Peas”.

After a quick google image search of “Marijuana Seeds” (and probably being added to some NSA Watchlist somewhere), I have ruled out sabotage by a fellow gardener and determined that they are, in fact, peas. This suggestion came after I excitedly told my partner that a ‘stranger on the internet sent me seeds to grow!”. Shout out to B. in Powell River! Good luck with your garden! 

Quick picture of my garden thus far: 

  • Tomatoes: Check
  • Basil: hiding, but Check.
  • Kale: Check…and getting huge!
  • Flower Mix: Check
  • Arugula: ehhhhhhhh. Two small plants have somehow clung to life
  • Oregano: one small plant has emerged from the soil.


I’m so happy with the progress of my garden. I haven’t received my mark from UBC for this Biology course yet, so I’d like to highlight the hours of updates, photos and editing efforts put in to developing and maintaining this blog. I’m thankful for the many followers I have from all over North America and for the follower who has sent me seeds- WHAT A GREAT CONNECTION I’VE ESTABLISHED WITH THE COMMUNITY! WOW, IT’S LIKE I’VE EXCEEDED THE RUBRIC’S BREAKDOWN IN ALL AREAS OF THIS COMMUNITY PROJECT OR SOMETHING!

Sad Side note: After one last exam, I am officially finished my time a student at the University of British Columbia. I loved UBC and will totally miss it! If you’ve never been, Google Street View the campus- it is incredibly beautiful and massive! My garden and this blog will continue to be updated throughout the summer because I seem to have quite the fan base and I enjoy reflecting back on my work. 

Filed under vancouver backyardening patio gardening vegetables plants tomatoes Kale Basil Flowers Arugula oregano peas nasturtium ubc biology345

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ROADTRIP TO THE BACKYARD! We’ve had three days of uninterrupted, glorious sunshine this week! I took my healthy plants outside to get some fresh air. No idea if this does anything, but everything looked happy!

Filed under vancouver gardening patio Backyardening

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Beautiful Weather = Happy Plants!

Vancouver’s had wonderful weather lately and my plants are showing it! We’ve had at least sunny breaks each day for the last week or so, which is so refreshing! I’m not depressed about the weather anymore! Let’s look at my plant progress:

Tomatoes: LOOK AT THOSE LEAVES! HOT DAMN! The leaves seem to be multiplying rapidly, and the stems have turned from transparent and white to a deep red near the roots and a lush green near the leaves. They’ve also grown some fuzz on the stems which seem pretty characteristic of tomato plants. 

Kale: My Kale has grown a new type of leaf- it’s much more ‘kale’ looking, with spiky leaves. I can’t freaking wait for this to grow- and it grows into the fall and winter! I’m going to make Kale chips, Kale smoothies- this will be the summer of kale! (I think my Vancouver is showing). 

Flowers: I’ll be honest here, I have no idea what’s going on with these flowers. I water them, and the tall ones still look wilted. The low-laying ones seem to be doing well, though! I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and hope it works. 

Basil: My assistant has been maintaining the basil quite nicely, She noted that when you touch the basil, the leaves leave a scent on your fingers (or small claws). This basil seems to be low-laying and the leaves are flourishing! 

Side note: I didn’t include photos of Oregano and the Arugula (although you can sort of see them both in the backgrounds of the photos above) because they haven’t changed significantly since the last photo was posted. The Oregano is still non-existent, and the Arugula is fighting to stay alive.

A Reflection: 

I’ve found through planting and growing these seedlings, they’re much like newborn human babies: They all look the same when they’re a few days old, then slowly start expressing their own characteristics. The Basil and Kale were indiscernible from one another until about day 4, and I worried I had mislabeled and planted either all Basil or all Kale. Turns out, they just look extremely similar in the beginning. 

Filed under vancouver backyardening gardening urban gardening Tomatoes Kale Arugula Basil Flowers guinea pig UBC biology biology345

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A Happy Little Update

Hi World,

Final submissions and papers are in full swing at UBC, so I haven’t been updating my blog as much as I’d like to. After three days of glorious sun, my plants are looking amazing! They’ve stayed in the big window and been watered each morning (except when they still looked moist). Here’s a plant-by-plant look at Gardening so far:

Kale: The Kale has come up really well. I’ve hardly done anything and it’s looking really healthy. It’s about an inch high now, with flat, broad leaves.

Sigh, Arugula: This Arugula is looking pretty sad. The Arugula and Oregano have looked very similar since I first planted in that they are both low-growing with tiny leaves. They are very delicate, so when I water them, I have to pour water on the edge of the square- if I pour it on top of the leaves, they don’t perk back up and they fall over and die. Even the Arugula that’s still growing isn’t looking too healthy. They look fatigued. The outlook for these guys: grim. 

Basil: Shit son, that basil’s sproutin’ mad seed up in this bizznatch. This basil is one of my favourites. It germinated and sprouted within 48 hours of planting, and has remained low-growing (which could be a sign of sufficient sunlight exposure).  It looks wicked healthy with dark green, broad leaves. This is one of my top picks for easy Zone 6 gardening (Vancouver, that means you!).



Here’s another shot of the Oregano from a different angle:

Flowers: The flowers are happy doing their own thing. So far, they need very little care. I’m excited to see what flowers I have- there were a dozen different types of seed in the one package, so hopefully I have some nice colourful flowers by late spring/summer.

Tomatoes: Hooray! Look at all of those leaves! Not only do I have secondary leaves, but I’m heading to third (tertiary?) leaves! I’m excited as well because when I brush my hands against the plants when watering, they leave my hands smelling like Tomato. Guys, I don’t want to freak you out or anything, but think I’m doing it right.

Anyone else out there starting a garden? I’d love to follow your tumblr if you’re documenting it, or hear any suggestions you might have for me. 

Filed under vancouver ubc gardening urban urban gardening backyardening biology345 tomatoes kale basil flowers oregano

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AWW YEAH, It’s sunny in Vancouver! We’re forecast to have three days of sun, which will totally help my plants! I can’t wait! I put my plants in the window this morning and angled them for maximum sun exposure. I made sure they had been watered. Now, I wait.

So that’s what Kale looks like! (Leaf shape is similar to my Basil) What’s not growing? Why it’s my new batch of Oregano, of course! I’m starting to think I’ll just buy my Oregano plant from the nursery. 

Guys, I think I might be becoming a gardener. 

Filed under vancouver gardening patio urban gardening ubc biology345 kale vegetables

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Another Rainy Day

Hi Tumblr,

Vancouver is depressing as usual: pouring rain and no chance of sun. Today was extra special because it is windy, too! This makes for an exciting game called “Can I make it to the library without my umbrella turning inside out?”- The answer is no. I cannot. I lost. Mother Nature, you’re a bitch sometimes. 

Because of this lack of sunlight (predicted for the next few days), I’m concerned about my plants. I’m worried they won’t get enough sun and they’ll all die. So far though, they’re looking pretty happy. I’m concerned mostly because the plants are growing tall rapidly- something I was told indicates a lack of sunlight (I guess because they’re desperately trying to find the sun).

Here’s my Kale: 


My Basil (side note: It’s pronounced BAY-Zil here. If you pronounce it like BAH-sul and claim some kind of English heritage despite being third generation Canadian, I will silently judge you.)image

My Flowers:


These Tomatoes seem to be growing even more of their secondary leaves! I hope this ends well!


Let’s hope for some sunny weather in the coming days. I can’t stand how depressing the rain is, especially when I stare out at my all grey patio, and up at the grey sky. 



Filed under vancouver hipsters garden urban gardening tomatoe kale flowers