radicle beets

So Much Dirt! Season Update by radiclebeets


Holy muck, so much to learn! The Guerrilla Gardeners are in our 5th season of gardening, and we’re growing! This year we wanted to focus more on education and finding mentors, so we’ve had folks come in and facilitate workshops, we’ve sent folks out to learn about mushrooms and tree pruning, and along the way we ran into a few life jams! So far, this year’s jam themes seem to be how to better interact with our funny industrial community. We’ve come across challenge after challenge with folks vandalizing our gardens, whether it be bored folks breaking things, broke folks stealing trees, big business folk tearing down living walls, squatters idling by to power their hockey games, or urbanized humans dumping in our wetlands. Hit after hit, we recognize our battle to reclaim and regenerate life in an industrial wasteland is massive and long-term. Each blow hits us deep in our spirits, but we recognize each new situation is a symptom of a system that is founded on alienation and dislocation that is free-market capitalism. If we want to change that system, we have to get to the root of it. Take a machete to the Himalayan Blackberry, and it will grow back fast with aggression. We gotta dig down to the root and pull it out before we can plant something new. There is no better place, no more of an obviously painful place than where we and our gardens are. If we can grow good food here, if we can heal land here, if we can restore ecosystems and life here, where all there seems to be is dead cement, if we can heal ourselves HERE, we are soaring.

unicorniaUnicornia: Permaculture Design in case of Zombie Apocalypse. Natural border of defense? Blackberry bushes.

Past Workshops/Classes: 
Intro to Bioremediation:
Leila Darwish came from Victoria to facilitate a 2-day seminar on grassroots bioremediation. Fun, and intensely soul-squeezing, we came to realize how important it is to take care of the land we live on, as the land is our home, food, and medicine. We recognize how civilized humans got real good at making toxic soup out of it all, so some of the folks who attended the workshop felt inspired to put our new knowledge to use. The witches of east van teamed up with us, and with Leila’s help, we concocted some awesome compost tea to spray around Strathcona for their annual May Day fertility march.

Mushroom Food Forest Workshop


Our collective decided it would be a good idea to send a few folks to Portland, Oregon to boost our mushroom knowledge.  Ja Schindler and Maria Farinacci of Fungi for the People did an amazing job teaching us hands-on a few different ways to grow a few different mushrooms. Four of us drove an old VW hippy van (where subsequently we also learned a bit about engine maintenance) across the border where we inoculated logs with Turkey Tail, Chicken of the Woods, Reishi, and Lion’s Mane. We made stacks, poles, buried logs, drilled, and prepared for a time where we may not have electricity by hand-sawing wedges out of logs and stuffing them with spawn. Ja and Maria were amazing, and even taught us a bit about mushroom identification. One of the things that stuck out most was Ja’s idea that we should learn to describe the smells of different mushroom species without using the word “mushroom”. Try it! It ain’t easy!


Radical Mycology 101:


Radical Mycology co-founder Peter McCoy came to visit us from Olympia, WA to share some of his knowledge. We learned the basics of fungi life including their ever-expanding gender spectrum, different ways of cultivation, how we can use them as allies to remediate toxic land, and also how we can learn from them to form stronger communities with each other. More about Radical Mycology: radicalmycology.wordpress.com/ Thanks Peter for helping us inoculate coffee grounds with Oyster Mushroom spawn! You are right, mushrooms are sexy!radicalmycosmiles

Garden Camp:


From April to mid-May, we invited youth between 8-12 to come hang out with us in our gardens. Here we guerrilla planted Sunflowers, dug up Dandelion Root for tea, picked Stinging Nettle with our bare hands, played with red wriggling worms, brewed compost tea to help heal the land, hung out with the honey bees, designed a permaculture home base in case of a zombie apocalypse, transplanted squash, pulled out horsetail, harvested a giant conk mushroom, painted signs so folks will stop stealing our trees; we ate together, sang together, danced together, and had a huge blast!! We are so grateful for the opportunity to hang out with such rad kids.


Workshops coming up!

gardencampbees Honeybee Series with Brian Campbell:

 Saturday May 11, 2pm: Queen-rearing basics

 Sunday May 12, 10am: Starting work in hives—stimulating queen cell production

 Thursday May 16, afternoon: Removing started queen cells

 Sunday May 26, morning: Introducing queen cells into mating nucs

Since these are hands-on workshops and we don’t want to out stress the bees, there is limited space available. Please email Hannah for more info: hmjcarpendale@hotmail.com

Projects on the Go!
Natural Building with Cob – email Jenni to be part of the design team! Actual building of the cob shed will be taking place in July. jentigchelaar@yahoo.ca
Mushroom Enhanced Greenhouse – We just scavenged about 50 windows to use for our greenhouse. We’ll be using mushrooms to boost plant growth as the shrooms release heat and CO2. Help us design and build it for August! Email Phanh at abcwhatever@yahoo.ca or Kelsey ki2freedom@gmail.com

Look out for upcoming events and workshops that include Quinoa Sprouting, Food Forest Mushroom Cultivation, Herbal Medicine Making, and Permaculture 101. If you want to come help out, our garden parties are Sundays 11am-4pm, and Thursdays from 2-5pm. Also feel free to come eat with us at our Monthly Potluck Meetings every first Tuesday of the month. Invite your friends!

Mush Love and Peas!!

BCWF Covers the Thistle’s Wetland Restoration Project by radiclebeets

“Published on Mar 12, 2013
The Purple Thistle Youth Group has been busy restoring a small urban wetland in Vancouver. Even small wetlands like this can provide valuable habitat to a number of species.
To read more about this event visit: http://tinyurl.com/asc7vxf
To read more on BC wetland stewards and their projects, visit our blog at: http://www.bcwfbogblog.com

Swamp Thing Dispatches by radiclebeets
June 21, 2012, 4:56 am
Filed under: Pod updates | Tags: ,

Yesterday was a great day for our little wetland! Starting in the morning, a few of us rambled over to the north shore on a plant foraging mission. From a coastal flat near a small stream we carefully divided several cinquefoil plants, also called ‘silverweed’ (Potentilla anserina), the roots of which are a highly regarded food source (!)

We also got 2 plantain-like plants called ‘sea plantain’ (Plantago maritima), which is also considered an important food source. (Remember the wetland is contaminated and should not be eaten from)

We also got several unidentified rushes, and some cattail (Typha latifolia). After a quick stop at Quest and a fun food distribution mission, we got ready to work party in the Wetland.

Some of us started  by pulling out all the garbage, which seems to be layered in differed sediments and degrees of degradation throughout the wetland’s soil (as well as in hefty piles on top of it). Some of the soft plastics were really hard to separate from plant roots, which had literally grown right through the plastic. The hard plastics that had been around for a few years were difficult to handle, breaking into many small pieces at the slightest provocation. We also found: boots, radios, old umbrellas, many different rotted wires, an old metal plate from a diesel tank, and many other ‘treasures.’

Others went to gather cardboard, which we would use to sheet mulch an area around the standing water in the wetland. The idea with the cardboard is that it will make it harder for the Himalayan Blackberry and Canary Grass to grow back. We also actively attacked the blackberry roots to help with this.

As you can see, once we put the cardboard down, we covered it with a mixture of wood chips and city soil. Before laying all the cardboard, we worked to dig out a part of the wetland, in order to make part of it deeper. The hope here is that a deeper hole will hold water for longer, leaving our wetland wet for more months in the summer, when it tends to dry out. We also worked to make the slope of the wetland less severe. A slow, gradual slope means that there will be more wet area in the wetland. In essence, we brought high spots down slightly, in the hope of making a bit more wetland.

After covering all the cardboard with soil and wood chips, a few folks went foraging for some more plants that could be divided from nearby, and found 2 different rushes as well as a Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus serecia). Along with the plants we foraged in the morning, as well as the lovely Snow Berry Adam propagated, we planted everything into the wetland.

Finally, we installed the sweet new sign we made!

Wetland Update by radiclebeets
June 12, 2012, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Pod updates | Tags: , ,

We’ve been poking away at our little urban wetland, getting to know the site and developing strategies for its transformation. To date, we have: removed a section of chain link fencing containing it, cut many large Himalayan Blackberry canes to the ground, removed 250 kg of waste from the site, pulled even more waste out of the wetland and piled it on the side of the cul-de-sac, planted a few Hardhack and Snow Berry shrubs, and consulted with local bio-remediation firms and wetland restoration groups (notably Western Seed and Erosion and the BC Wetlands Institute).

We’ve come to realize that completely remediating the soil of all toxins is likely impossible. The proximity of many CN rails with their creosote soaked ties, and the position of our site at a low point directly adjacent, means that the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) common in creosote have likely seeped into our wetland. The guide Brownfields to Greenfields: A Field Guide to Phytoremediation says “PAHs are over 100 chemicals, formed during the incomplete burning of many organic substances.” PAHs have been shown to damage red blood cells, leading to anemia. They also suppress the immune system and are known to cause cancer.

There are, luckily, 3 easily grown native plants that will degrade PAHs in the soil. White Clover (Trifolium repens), Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea), and Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum) naturally take up and break down PAHs “through the release of enzymes and metabolic processes such as photosynthetic oxidation and reduction. In this process organic pollutants are degraded and incorporated into the plant or broken down in the soil.” Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) and Hybrid Poplar (Populus deltoides x P. Nigra) are also able to phyto-degrade PAHs. We have not received results from soil testing and so are not sure what other contaminants may be in our wetland.

The plan for now is to invigorate the wetland nature of this site, by planting a variety of native plants that like wet conditions. In the coming weeks, we will purchase some plants from local nurseries and acquire many more through respectful seed gathering and division from healthy local wetlands and riparian areas. We will also be laying down a permeable barrier of burlap in an attempt to control the invasive Himalayan Blackberry on site. We hope to cover this layer with an inoculated soil mixture, designed to introduce beneficial bacteria and fungi, to further bio-degrade soil contaminants. We are also going to excavate a small area at the center of the wetland, to expose water for more of the season. We’ve found that in the late spring, water slips just below the soil level. Digging down a foot or two will leave this water exposed to the surface and provide an important water source for native insects and birds.

Here is a partial list of local plants we hope to gather (along with the aforementioned phyto-degraders): Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum), Cattail (Typha latifolia), Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), Willow (Salix spp.), Hardhack (Spiraea douglasii), Sweet Gale (Myrica gale), Pacific Crab Apple (Malus fusca), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), Black Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera), Red Alder (Alnus rubra).

No Skunk Cabbage… Yet by radiclebeets
May 29, 2012, 2:22 am
Filed under: In the Media | Tags: , ,

An awesome article by Eryne Donahue of the BC Wetland Federation on our wetland and remediation project – more to come on that from us, soon…. but for now, check it out here.

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