By: Karen Lessard On: June 13, 2024 In: Community Comments: 0

JUNE 2024 – Simons Valley School & SMCA

Members of the Garden team & myself had the privilege of collaborating with the Grade 2 class at Simons Valley School. I had reached out to the schools to see if they wanted to grow plants for the community garden. Miss Corinne responded and committed to growing seedlings for the garden.

The class also participates in a program supported by NASA where they grow tomato seeds that have been in space, then they observe them and report on their findings.

I took delivery of those plants (May Long) and I am feeling very grateful to a class of young gardeners and a teacher who went above and beyond.

Thank you very much!



Update: 04/19 – All beds are now allocated for the 2024 season, thank you for your interest in signing up.

Are you looking for a plot to grow your own food? Do you want to connect with a supportive network of green thumbs? The 2024 garden plots are available to rent for the gardening season. Beds open May 1/23.

Location: In behind Salvation Army Berkshire Citadel Church. 222 Sandarac Drive

Fee: A valid community membership is required, along with $20/year for bed rental – you can sign up for a community membership by visiting https://sandstonemacewan.com/membership. By clicking on Pay Now below, you confirm that you will be asked to sign the garden agreement & garden rules before the garden season commences. An SMCA Garden Bed cannot be held without payment.

Please contact garden@sandstonemacewan.com to confirm bed availability before payment is sent. All payments are non-refundable. SMCA uses PayPal to process your payment – you can sign in as a PayPal user or pay as a guest using your credit or debit card.

APRIL 2024 – Gardening in a Drought

I grew up in Utah where it was an annual expectation that some portion of the state would have a bullet ricochet, fireworks go amiss, or lightning strike at just the wrong time igniting a wildfire that would displace wildlife and people. I often mourned for the burning earth. Then I moved to Canada, the land of lakes and rivers, and thought I’d left the drought lifestyle behind me. Silly me. 

In 2023 alone, Canada had a reported 18.5 million hectares burned. It was the worst fire year on record. After the dry winter we’ve just been through, 2024 is looking like it wants to compete for the title. 

Many of us are blessed to spend summer time in the forests and mountains. None of us want to see them burn. But what can we do?

Five ways to be more water wise in the garden.

1) Water the rootzone – Instead of using overhead spraying or sprinklers, invest in drip lines or bubblers that leave the water on the ground. This will prevent the majority of evaporation and you’ll be using less water. 

2) Use the rain – It’s free and full of nutrients city water doesn’t have, so why not use it? Investing in a rain catch system will save you on city water and leave you with a more beautiful garden. Green Calgary offers blue rain barrels for residences in the city. If the blue barrels are hideous to you, Pinterest has a wealth of ideas for hiding them. 

3) Mulch, Mulch, Mulch – If you’ve been to any of my gardening classes, you’ve heard me talk about mulch. Mulch is the answer to many gardening woes but is especially crucial when it comes to your water. Mulch will act as a reserve of water for the soil as well as cooling the garden so that less watering is needed. Any natural organic mulch is going to be your best friend. I promise.

4) Reduce your lawn – Every 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn requires 624 gallons of water to receive one inch of water. That’s A LOT of water. Shrinking your lawn is as easy as giving your flower beds an extra inch or two of space or opening up a new veggie bed. Food and flowers require much less water than turf does. Another option is to consider xeriscaping or switching to a grass alternative like clover. 

5) Commit to a watering schedule – The City of Calgary has already warned us that water restrictions are likely this year. Commit at the start of the season to watering only once a week as needed and using the water for your trees, food producers, and pollinators. 

Hopefully we’ll be blessed with a wet June and the province will begin to recover from the past few years. But, let take this year to adopt water wise gardening habits and make a difference. 

Deb Sabey


We are looking for Garden Volunteers!

Interested or want more information please email info@sandstonemacewan.com

JANUARY 2024 Butterfly Flower Plants

NOVEMBER 2023 Poisonous Plants and Why I Keep Them

By Deb Sabey

In 2014, my husband and I took a two week trip to the UK where we visited country castles and modern cities alike. The whole trip was full of great experiences and many memories I hold fondly still. One of the highlights of travelling to the castles of the UK is the many gardens that are tended around them. From Cardiff to Sterling and Belfast to Killarny, there are gardens that delighted my soul.

It was in Blarney, Ireland that I fulfilled a lifelong dream and gave first breath to a new one. I grew up hearing my mom’s stories of kissing the Blarney stone and thereby, getting the gift of gab. In my teen years and 20’s, I desperately wanted to follow in her footsteps. When it was finally my turn, I kissed it TWICE! Then, after descending the many flights of stairs that make Blarney Castle, I saw my first poison garden and my new dream was born.

The Poison Garden of Blarney Castle is reputed to be the world’s most dangerous place. Passing the skull and crossbones sign that says “Poison Garden, do not touch, smell, or eat any plant!” one then walks through a beautiful garden with flowers, textures, and colors that are simply breathtaking. With plants like nightshade, poppy, hellebore, castor bean, hemlock, monkshood, and even caged cannabis, the gardens are dedicated to teaching about the many uses, nefarious or medicinal, of the plants throughout history.

One of the questions I get regularly as a professional gardener is “should I pull out this plant? I heard it was poisonous” For most plants, the poisoning deaths attributed to them aren’t from their natural garden existence. The vast majority of problems come when we begin to make products or food from them. This is also where they become the medicines that save our lives. It all comes down to knowledge.

I would never remove a plant simply because it is “poisonous”. If I did, my garden would not have foxglove, lily of the valley, monkshood, daffodil, hyacinth, rhubarb, tomatoes or potatoes! What a sad garden I’d be left with.

Now, there are some plants that will irritate the skin or make us ill if ingested (think, nettle, thistle, or henbane) and others yet that can send a person into a coma. This is where knowledge and respect for our plants is key. ( if you know you have an allergy or sensitivity to a plant, happily get rid of it!
I would never keep something in my garden that I knew to be a bother to me or my loved ones.)

For example, Tomatoes are either a delicious food or the reigning member of the nightshade poison family (as the leaves, stems, and roots all carry the toxin). Potatoes are also a member of the nightshade family but have been manipulated over time so that we eat the root. We stay away from the green fruit of a potato plant because they carry the toxin in high concentration. When we know what’s safe, we can enjoy them for their beauty and medicinal benefits without worry.

Another reason I love “poisonous” plants is their tendency to not be eaten by moose, deer, rabbits, and squirrels, which is something we tend to deal with, especially on properties near green spaces. Perhaps you’ve noticed deer that let the hostas grow nice and lush before eating them to the ground come early June but The monkshood right next to them are always left untouched. If you have issues with wildlife eating your garden, consider adding more of the plants listed in this article as they may go undisturbed by deer and other animals and you’ll get to enjoy the blooms of your labors. (That said, in drought years where food is scarce, all bets are off!)

The number one rule with anything from the garden should probably be borrowed from one of the best canadian productions, 

“Don’t you put it in your mouth,
Don’t you stuff it in your face,
Though it might look good to eat,
And it might look good to taste!
You could get sick, (ICK!)
Real quick! (ICK!)
Real sick, real… ICK!”

All plants in your yard should be known and treated properly. There are apps aplenty to help identify any in question. If you have young children who love to eat everything or pets that can’t help themselves, you may not be comfortable with some. I’ve taught my kids what is ok to touch or eat and what isn’t and have never had a problem. Decide what works for you. 

If you decide that the threat from a plant is higher than you’re comfortable with, long sleeves and proper gardening gloves are your first defence when removing them. Some can be given to other gardeners who don’t mind them and some, if noxious weeds, should be black binned. 

Whatever you decide, I hope you’ll give “poisonous” plants an extra thought. With some care they can add so much. 

Asides that can go with the article:

To find a list of plants that may not be safe around your plants, visit: aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants

Plants commonly found in Calgary gardens that are “poisonous” that I would NOT take out because of their toxicity alone:
Lily of the valley
Cotoneaster berries
Mayday Tree berries

Holiday plants that are toxic:
Holly Berries
Yew (needles and berries)

OCTOBER 2023 Compost Workshop by Karen Lessard

With the garden season winding down this fall, the community garden ended our season by having the Calgary Compost Cooperative come to our garden on Sept 21/23 to start a hot compost pile. 

We had gardeners show up to learn about hot composting and the role of microbes on creating fertility naturally in the soil.

There is a very specific recipe that was  followed and there was lots of sorting of material and soaking of wood chips and spent brewing grains and coffee etc. After all the material was sorted into 50 buckets,  we dumped the material into a wire mesh ring that sits on a pallet covered with wire to allow for air flow but keep the critters out. Once full, the pile was covered with a tarp to keep moisture in. After that, all we do is wait for the microbes to start feasting and reproducing. 

Within a day or so the temperature rises. At first, the smell was bad and we needed to get it aired out. Once we turned it, to get some more air into the pile, the temperature increased. The pile hit a high temperature of 60 degrees C. At these high temperatures, the pile needs to be turned within 24 hours. But for the pile to kill any weed seeds, pathogens etc. it needs to hit these temperatures 3 times. Why three times? Because it is the core that hits the temps and it needs to be turned strategically to make sure all of the pile makes it into the centre.

The pile completed 2 of these cycles. We did not get it to heat up again before the weather changed and got cold. 

It was lots of work keeping it turned. We have had help from the members of Compost Club at Highfield Regenerative Farm, a couple of the community gardens members and one resident who was just curious about it. We also had help from a couple from the Calgary Permaculture Guild.

Although this compost did not complete three cycles. I am looking forward to spreading this great compost in all the beds in the spring. 

It has been a great science project to undertake.

SEPTEMBER 2023 Community Garden Recap by Karen Lessard

Fall is here, and with it we end the first year of our Sandstone MacEwan community garden. It was a wonderful year in terms of bringing people together, growing food, sharing ideas, and building community.

All our beds were rented! To kick off the growing season we held a garden cleanup. We also had some help from some students from Winston Churchill High School, who helped move around some dirt and mulch.

Last year we had built a pollinator bed; this year, we had Wild Outside and the 224 Scouts help us plant it. Wild Outside also donated all the plants that were used, and helped us with some gardening chores!

I had a community member approach me looking for volunteer opportunities within the garden. She was on maternity leave and wanted to help get the garden off the ground. She was a great help to our group by digging, watering, and weeding. She is a valuable addition to our garden and I will really miss her when the season is done.

In the spring we also noticed that we had an abundance of kale growing in the garden, so we had a kale-o-bration! Four kale-loving gardeners came together to create their favorite recipes and share these recipes and dishes with each other. We picked up some new ideas on how to incorporate this superfood into our diets.

One night, two visitors to the garden who had taken an interest in what we were growing offered plants. I had offered a space in some of the pots we had just filled with soil to let her plant in the garden too. She is a supporter of the garden, often coming to shares her knowledge and love of growing things with us. She has also shared her harvests! We hope she will join us next year. We are growing a pumpkin vine and ground cherries because of her.

Some of the progress in the garden we made this year include:

-adding more water barrels located throughout the garden.

-a new retractable hose and new garden hose.

-nine (wow!) new planting beds which include a strawberry patch. These beds will be used for potatoes and zucchini so there is more room in the large beds for other vegetables.

-some gallon pail stands were created for plants like potatoes and tomatoes. These stands show people who might not have the space or want to dig up a garden how they can still plant some veggies and have fresh grown produce at home

-two new four-by-eight beds have been set up in the garden, bringing the total number of beds to fourteen!

-three bay compost pile! This compost pile has been filling up this summer, with hopes to be able to replenish the beds with compost next spring.

-with some purchased and donated plants, we started a new raspberry patch.

-two strawberry patches.

-four haskap bushes, two donated, two purchased.

-a donated cherry tree and Josta berries, two kiwi vines, and rose bushes.

-donated blueberries, Nanking cherry bushes, and an obelisk.

-Sabey Landscaping donated flowers, a composter, soil, and grow bags.

I appreciate our community support so much. I was messaged many times with offers of free sunflowers, tomatoes, and raspberry plants for the garden and approached multiple times with queries of joining!

We also are hosting our first workshop with the Calgary Compost Cooperative out of the Highfield Regenerative Farm. I hope this will be the first of many collaborative events. We have opened this event up to the community and to the gardeners at Beddington Community Garden.

Overall, I am thrilled with the support and progress!

AUGUST 2023 – Preserving Pollinators: A Vital Task for a Sustainable Future

Pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other insects, play a crucial role in our ecosystems and food production. They facilitate the transfer of pollen from male to female flowers, enabling fertilization and the subsequent production of fruits, seeds, and nuts. Unfortunately, pollinators worldwide are facing numerous challenges that threaten their survival. It is our responsibility to protect these essential creatures and safeguard the delicate balance of our natural world.

Pollinators are indispensable to biodiversity and food security. They contribute to the reproduction of nearly 90% of flowering plants and are responsible for pollinating more than 75% of the world’s food crops, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Their role in maintaining healthy ecosystems cannot be overstated, as they support the growth of countless plant species and sustain the habitats of numerous animals.

Pollinators are confronted with a range of challenges that jeopardize their populations. Habitat loss due to urbanization, intensive agriculture, and deforestation is a significant threat. Pesticides, including neonicotinoids, can harm pollinators by affecting their navigation, feeding, and reproduction. Climate change disrupts natural patterns and alters flowering times, impacting the synchronization between pollinators and plants. Invasive species, diseases, and parasites also pose risks to pollinator populations.

Protecting Pollinators: Actions and Solutions:

1. Preserve and Create Habitat: Protecting and restoring natural habitats is crucial. Promote the establishment of pollinator-friendly spaces by planting native flowering plants, shrubs, and trees in gardens, parks, and urban areas. These areas serve as food sources and nesting sites for pollinators.

2. Reduce Pesticide Use: Implement integrated pest management practices that minimize the reliance on chemical pesticides. Encourage the use of natural alternatives and eco-friendly pest control methods to protect pollinators while maintaining agricultural productivity.

3. Support Organic Agriculture: Promote organic farming practices that avoid synthetic pesticides and prioritize ecological balance. Organic farms provide healthier habitats for pollinators, reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals.

4. Raise Awareness and Education: Educate communities, farmers, and gardeners about the importance of pollinators and the actions they can take to protect them. Encourage the public to create pollinator-friendly gardens, participate in citizen science projects, and support organizations working towards pollinator conservation.

5. Collaborate with Local Communities: Engage local communities, schools, and businesses in pollinator conservation efforts. Foster partnerships with farmers, landowners, and policymakers to implement pollinator-friendly policies and practices.

6. Research and Monitoring: Invest in research to better understand the challenges facing pollinators and develop innovative solutions. Monitor pollinator populations to identify trends, assess risks, and inform conservation strategies.

Protecting pollinators is vital for the health and sustainability of our ecosystems, agriculture, and overall well-being. By taking collective action to preserve habitats, reduce pesticide use, promote organic practices, and raise awareness, we can safeguard these invaluable creatures. Together, we can ensure a future where pollinators thrive, biodiversity flourishes, and our food systems remain resilient. Let us embrace our role as stewards of the natural world and prioritize the conservation of pollinators for generations to come.

JULY 2023 – Butterflyway

In 2022 we partnered with Beddington Heights Community Association (BHCA) to increase our Butterflyway!  Check out our 2022 map below.  THANK YOU to our 3 Butterflyway Rangers and our Jr. Ranger!  We couldn’t do it without you.  As always, please let us know if you’d like to be a Ranger this year and share your love of gardening.

Help us continue our Butterflyway this year!  We would love to locate more residents who tend gardens (even just plant pots!) with pollinators in mind. If you participated in 2020, 2021 and/or 2022, let us know if you are still actively gardening for pollinators so we can keep you on the map. You may already be pollinator-friendly without knowing it! It is our collective efforts as neighbours that can provide pollinators with plentiful food sources within their range. 

Not sure if you are helping pollinators, or want to get started? CLICK HERE

Learn more or to let us know you are helping pollinators! CONTACT US

MAY 2023 – Garden beds 100% reserved!

Great news for our community garden – all our SMCA garden beds have now been reserved!

On behalf of the board & garden team, thank you to everyone who inquired and/or signed up.

MARCH 2023 – Garden bed update – 50% reserved!

Our community has quite the set of green thumbs! In the short time since we announced that the reservations were open for the community garden, we’ve already seen about half our beds get reserved! If you’re looking for a bed, we recommend you sign up quickly – and it couldn’t be easier to sign up in three 3 easy steps:

  1. Make sure you have an active SMCA membership – $20 for 1 year, $50 for 3 years – signup at https://sandstonemacewan.com/membership if you don’t have one
  2. Click on the Pay Now button below to send $20 to SMCA to reserve your bed – Credit or Debit is accepted
  3. Wait to hear from our SMCA Garden team – alternatively, send them an email at garden@sandstonemacewan.com

[Pay now button removed due to all garden beds being reserved – May 3rd, 2023]

SMCA uses PayPal to process your payment – you can sign in as a PayPal user or pay as a guest using your credit or debit card. You will be asked to sign the garden agreement & rules before the season commences. SMCA Garden beds cannot be held without payment & all payments are non-refundable.

MARCH 2023

Are you looking for a plot to grow your own food? Do you want to connect with a supportive network of green thumbs? The 2023 garden plots are available to rent for the gardening season. Beds open May 1/23.

Location: In behind Salvation Army Berkshire Citadel Church. 222 Sandarac Drive

Fee: A valid community membership is required, along with $20/year for bed rental – you can sign up for a community membership by visiting https://sandstonemacewan.com/membership. By clicking on Pay Now below, you confirm that you will be asked to sign the garden agreement & garden rules before the garden season commences. An SMCA Garden Bed cannot be held without payment.

Please contact garden@sandstonemacewan.com to confirm bed availability before payment is sent. All payments are non-refundable.

[Pay now button removed due to all garden beds being reserved – May 3rd, 2023]

SMCA uses PayPal to process your payment – you can sign in as a PayPal user or pay as a guest using your credit or debit card.


The Butterflyway Project is a volunteer-led movement that is growing habitats for bees and butterflies in neighbourhoods throughout Canada.

The Sandstone Macewan Community Garden and the Beddington Community Garden have partnered to create a larger network of pollinator-friendly spaces. We have created pollinator beds in both gardens and throughout part of the neighbourhood.

Wild pollinators such as butterflies and bees are crucial to human survival. Climate change, land development and pesticide use threaten their survival and, therefore ours as well. The Butterflyway Project helps people create viable pollinator habitats in neighbourhoods across Canada.

How can you help?

Start small by adding native wildflowers to your garden, yard or balcony. Join forces with friends and neighbours to share seeds and plants. Next, encourage schools, businesses and institutions to add pollinator-friendly plants to their gardens and properties. Stitch this network of pollinator patches together and you’ve created your own Butterflyway!

Seven steps to creating a Butterflyway

  1. Grow native wildflowers
  2. Invest in a tree or shrub
  3. Create a woodpile bug hotel
  4. Leave sunny soil patches for bees
  5. Provide a water source
  6. Learn more about local bees and butterflies
  7. Create a neighbourhood Butterflyway!

If you would like to get involved and help create pollinator-friendly spaces or become a Butterfly way Ranger contact us at info@sandstonemacewan.com


We have completed our first year of building a community garden and I would say on the gardener’s behalf that we really enjoyed having the space to grow vegetables.

I have to thank the Salvation Army church for partnering with us and allowing us to create a garden in their yard! 

I would also like to acknowledge the Community Association, 224 Sandstone Scouts and the community volunteers that came to help in getting the galvanized beds put together and set in place and filled. We carried a lot of soil by hand but did have some help by a local contractor to fill the beds.

Once the beds were filled we still needed to get a shed and water station complete. 

Thanks to Tim, a volunteer who regularly donates his time to helping the Community Association, he built a stand for the water barrels.

Nicola and her husband helped in setting up the hose and hose reel.

Sue and Sharon from the Community Association, helped in getting a shed for the garden and Sharon’s husband Darcy and their son put it together. 

Pinky and Phil, who are longtime community volunteers donated a picnic table for the space.

There are 12 raised beds and all were planted by 7 different families. Most of us had met for the first time through this project. 

Thanks to Suzanne who grew tomatoes and peas and kale and donated the plants! 

There are many things yet to accomplish in creating this space. We are planning on expanding the planting area, and creating a pollinator bed as part of the Butterflyway Project, and

we are always looking for people to come and join us to create a place to visit and enjoy, educate and take pride in.

If you want to get involved in your community and can help in some way or are interested in renting a bed, contact info@sandstonemacewan.com

MARCH 2022

See the photo and imagine what it could be and help us create that vision!

It is with great excitement that we are able to announce the location of the Sandstone MacEwan Community Garden!  The Community Garden will be located behind the parking lot of the Berkshire Citadel (Salvation Army Church) in Sandstone.  It is with great thanks to the Salvation Army who have provided the site and the Sandstone MacEwan Community Association that provided the support for this to happen.

Now we have the site, the hard work is about to begin!

There is a great opportunity for members of the community to become involved and let this garden bloom.  We hope to start small and grow from there so this can be a place for the community to meet and enjoy the outdoors.  We hope to eventually have plots for rent and also put in benches and a place for butterflies and other native insects to thrive!  Eventually we hope to offer classes for youth and adults to learn about gardening in Calgary from beginners to those with more experience.  What does your vision include?

What do we need right now?  We need help with raising money for infrastructure.  If you know of anyone who can contribute, a business that would like to contribute, have expertise at raising funds or would like to help raise funds please email us at  info@sandstonemacewan.com..  If you would like to join the gardening committee (a committee attached to the Community Association) or volunteer in any way please email too.  Gardening experience is a plus, but not required.  We also need people with construction experience as well!  Also if you have any gardening supplies/tools that you would like to donate please also contact us.

Please join us and be a part of this wonderful growing part of the community.


Currently, we are working to collaborate with the Berkshire Citadel Salvation Army Church to have a community garden in the space where there used to be a playground. We feel this is a better fit to enhance the “community” part of the garden.

We are still in our planning stages and still need volunteers to help on the planning committee and building the garden. We are also in need of donations for supplies or if you have extra gardening items you no longer need feel free to get in touch with us as maybe we can use that item. To get involved, donate or have questions please contact us at info@sandstonemacewan.com.


Time to put your garden to rest. Decide now if your yard will be neat and tidy or if you’ll be a pollinator yard. Many of our crucial pollinators need plant stalks and piles of leaves to over winter. If cleaning up this fall, cut your plants to 8” and rake the leaves into your garden beds. Leaving plant debris to catch snow is also a great way to fight drought. 

Mulch all of your garden before putting it to bed, especially any tender perennials like strawberries or roses. You can pick up straw, save your leaves, or even use grass clippings as mulching for winter. A decent dose of compost would also be appreciated by your soil and perennials, setting spring up for success.  If you’re planning on planting bulbs like tulips, daffodils, or hyacinth, do so before the end of the month. It’s been unusually warm so I’d recommend waiting until after thanksgiving. If squirrels are a problem, put some blood/bonemeal in the hole with the bulb or consider a netting over the top.


Now’s a great time to take stock of any perennials that may need to be divided or collect seeds from plants that have already had their hay day. Delphinium, columbine, poppies, and the like are great for collecting seeds to scatter where you would actually like them to grow next year or to trade with your fellow Sandstone-MacEwan gardeners. Most perennials will be slowing down for the winter and will be ready to be split soon. Reach out to that neighbor and see if they have some to share. 

It’s also time to start thinking about spring…bulbs, that is. Spring bloomers like tulips and daffodils, muscari and hyacinth, alliums and lilies, need to be planted before the ground freezes. They require a freeze-thaw cycle before they’ll bloom. They also need to be protected from squirrels and bunnies who will dig up your spring dreams before they even have a chance. Consider laying chicken wire with mulch on top (it’ll need removing in the spring but will hopefully save you some heartbreak).  


The Sandstone MacEwan Community Association president was asked to judge the front gardens at the Heritage Villas in MacEwan but due to her busy schedule the request came to me. I was thrilled to be able to view all the gardens. Judging was going to be tough but getting to see the creativity was worth it. After walking the complex, I had made my decision. Her garden was bursting with plants and she had a fairy garden in her driveway also. It was just begging for people to check it out.

The winner Angy Lajoie commenting on how her approach to gardening. The pictures of her garden are below.

“I just really enjoy playing around with whatever I have on hand or what I find mostly at garage sales.  Also many items are given to me from people that know I like to “play” around with. I just buy flowers as I see them and then throw them together….not always planned very well.

I saw the broken flower pot fairy garden on the net by accident and I knew then I wanted to make one of those.  The village is great in that everyone helps out.  I told a neighbor I needed a big pot and she found one for me on marketplace etc.”

Thanks to the social committee at Heritage Villas for including us in your event!


Karen L.

JULY 2021

While you’re enjoying your summer BBQ remember that your plants would love some too…Food that is! Add compost and fertilizer as needed keeping in mind some plants are heavy feeders. Mushroom compost from Highline Mushroom in Crossfield is free and is amazing at providing the food your plants need. You can also use well-aged manure or make your own compost tea by keeping a bucket of water and steeping your trimmed plant foliage in it. Comfrey or Nettle make especially nutrient-dense tea.  If you’re buying fertilizer for your annuals, grab something with a high middle number as the phosphorus number encourages blooms and use it every third or fourth watering.

Deadheading is another key to keeping your pots and baskets looking fantastic. Deadheading stops the plant from producing seeds and encourages it to try again by blooming more. Deadheading the proper way will get you bushier, more full plants with lots of blooms and wow factor. To deadhead properly you need to not only remove the spent bloom but follow to bloom stalk down an inch and pinch there (as pictured).

JUNE 2021

If there’s something you haven’t planted, now’s the time! If starting from seed, make sure it fruits in 60-90 days or you may not see fruit. Buy larger plants from local garden centers or see if a neighbor has something to share. Enjoy your cool-weather bedding plants and water them well to extend their season. 

As we head into summer temperatures, be water wise in your gardens. Weeding regularly plays a key part in water consumption in your yard. Mulch not only adds a finished look to your beds but also holds moisture and deters weeds. (Did you know the City of Calgary gives out free mulch? Pick up as much as you need from the SE landfill). Water in the mornings or in the evenings to make sure your plants get the best of it. 

Watch for bolting in your cool weather crops like brassicas and lettuces. if their season is over, it’s time to succession plant some more. 

We’re also due for some hail along the way. Get some Goodwill bedsheets ready to cover things if you can. If you can’t cover and your plants get beat up, don’t give up on them! You’ll be amazed at how quickly some things recover after being decimated by a storm. Hope is a gardeners best friend and constant companion. 

MAY 2021

Now’s the time to harden off your seedlings and divide your perennials. Hardening your seedlings is the most important thing you can do to have a successful garden. Rush it and all your work will have been for naught. It should take 4 days: Put your plants in a semi-shaded and sheltered area outside and bring them in at night. Increase their outside time until the risk of frost is past. Lift and divide your perennials before they really take off.

Plant your cold-hardy veg like peas, beets, and spinach early this month. After last frost, or around May long, plant out your veg and annuals. Be wary of nighttime temps and have a blanket handy. Did you know that water insulates against freezing? A nighttime watering has saved many a plant from a frosty death.

Start your watch for the red lily beetles and be vigilant! If you see one, there are more!

Plant Highlight: Delphinium is an old-time favourite perennial in the garden. Each year drifts of them will bloom and stun passersby. Loved by pollinators, you’ll often see a fuzzy behind sticking out of the blooms. These don’t bloom until high summer, now is the time to save them. The Delphinium Worm eggs overwinter in the stalk and they’ll deform or eat your plant if left untouched. They’re easy enough to be rid of: when your plant is 6’’ tall, cut it down. By cutting it to the ground, you’ll upset the worm’s life cycle and your plant will regrow quickly. You can also pick the worms as you see them or, if you’d like to use an insecticide, BTK works well. If you do have worms, make sure to cut it to the ground in the fall and you’ll reduce next year’s population too.

APRIL 2021

SMCA will be hosting its annual Compost Giveaway Event this year (weather permitting!) – May 1st, 10am at the Hockey Rink on Sandarac Drive. More information can be found here – http://sandstonemacewan.com/event/smca-feed-soil-free-compost

MARCH 2021

The community is looking for feedback through a Google Docs form to gauge interest in this opportunity – please click on the link below to the survey to register your interest or feedback



SMCA is exploring the interest from the community to start a community garden, if interested in volunteering on a committee to organize one please contact info@sandstonemacewan.com

Why explore a community garden?

Community gardens offer people and the community many benefits. They provide opportunities for both recreational gardening and food production, in underutilized spaces. Community gardens are also great for the environment. Food grown locally reduces green house gases produced by long distance transportation of food. Gardens also contribute to biodiversity of species and help to support populations of pollinators. Finally, community gardens bring people together and may reduce crime rates in the neighbourhood by increasing visibility and engaging citizens in positive initiatives

Community gardens contribute to a healthy lifestyle by:

  • providing fresh, safe, affordable herbs, fruits and vegetables
  • helping to relieve stress and increase sense of wellness
  • getting people active, which improves overall physical health
  • providing social opportunities that build a sense of community and belonging
  • giving people an opportunity to learn and share knowledge on gardening, nature, and cooking

Community gardens benefit the community as they help:

  • build welcoming, safer communities
  • improve the look of neighbourhoods
  • reduce pollution by sequestering carbon and reducing the shipping of food over long distances
  • support pollinator habitats that are necessary for community well-being
  • reduce food insecurity
  • connect people to nature
  • educate people on where food comes from and provide opportunity for people, especially in urban spaces, to engage with their food system
  • provide an inclusive meeting area where people of all ages and cultural backgrounds can come together to share experiences and knowledge

Help us get a community garden in the ground! Starting an effective community garden is not a simple task. But when passionate people come together with considerable organization, planning, cooperation, perseverance and resources, great success can be achieved. Interested in the benefits of a community garden for Sandstone MacEwan? Please contact info@sandstonemacewan.ca to volunteer or for more information.

Thank you.