Category: Gardening

Kat uses my bokashi in her own bokashi bucket.

By , 10 July 2012 15:12

Kat writes:

I read this post on Organic Gardening and was motivated to make my own bokashi bucket. It makes me pretty upset to be throwing the compostables in the garbage just because I live in an apartment building. I totally understand why there is no apartment composting yet – apartment dwellers use the anonymity to throw whatever they want in whatever recycling or garbage bin is the closest. I can’t imagine the nightmare of an apartment-sized compost bin.

Boyfriend went to the hardware store and got two lovely 5-gallon buckets and drilled the required holes in one. I got my bokashi bran from The Bokashi Man [my old blog/website – Al]. It’s that easy! When the bucket is full I will let it sit for a week then dump it in my sister’s compost.

There are many ways for people who live in apartments to compost in the city.  Compost Here is a way to connect people who want to compost with people who have compost bins.  Spread the word!

Walking my dog and beautifying the 'hood

By , 1 February 2010 13:38

Over the past four months since we started fostering Chloe, I’ve been noticing the damage to lawns caused by crows and other critters going after the grubs of the European Chafer Beetle when I take her out for a walk.

A video from City Farmer explains the problem:

Last week I decided to do something about it. I created a flyer that I am distributing only to houses that have lawn damage clearly attributable to the Chafer Beetle. It isn’t hard to figure out.

Flyer: [Click for full version]

Easy Care Lawn from West Coast Seeds

We don’t need more lawns. Ideally, as the City Farmer says above, we need more vegetable gardens in our front yards like this one,

Front Yard Veggie Garden

but if you are going have a lawn, use a grass seed that doesn’t require much mowing or watering. The product above meets that criteria.

So far, I’ve walked between Cambie and Main from 16th to 19th and plan to go all the way up to 24th. Then I’ll do the same route between Cambie and Oak. It takes me about an hour at a leisurely pace and Chloe loves it too.


100 flyers: $5.55

Exercise and improving the world: Priceless


Guest post: The hive mind

By , 8 June 2008 09:49

Tammy T was featured in a blog post last summer. Yesterday, she sent this email and I received permission to print it here.


I have officially entered the hive mind. It is what I had wanted to do so that I may understand her more succinctly. It is a bit creepy though, when the aging next door neighbor now appears to be a failing queen and the groups of teenagers at the skate park across the street are moving like a cluster of bees at the edge of the hive. I hear the buzz in everything, the tiny tapping of bee feet on wood is my new favorite sensation in my ears and having those same feet clinging to my skin as they walk along my fingers, hands and arms is by far my favorite skin sensation these days. I love being with them, I love learning from them.

The queen though has been a mysterious figure to me since the get go. I know her power and I know some of her challenges these days, but I had yet to meet her. It wasn’t until I met her absence that I began to understand a bit more of what it was that she possessed. And like I said, I have yet to truly meet her, but in time I suppose, in time.

When a hive loses its queen you know it right away, it sounds like a box full of mourning monks chanting the same sorrowful LOUD tone. ZZZZZZZOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH as opposed to the higher pitch of ZZZEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHH. I am working on understanding the frequencies of pitch and scent used by the bees. The subtleties are where the communication happens in the hive. When I first heard the sorrowful sound I had no idea what it was. My imagination saw the inside of the hive as a high domed cathedral and they were inside praying. I thought that this hive was a special hive, a different hive, that wasn’t so preoccupied with the hum drum of collecting nectar and instead geared her efforts in prayer. I prayed with them

A few days later a queen arrived in the mail from Pennsylvania. A queen breeder who does not use any chemicals sent her. He breeds bees that can live with the destructive varroa mite and survive (they are called survivor stock). As far as queen breeding goes he seems to have an ethical operation, but queen rearing is a whole other topic altogether!

As we put the queen cage in the hive we played a recording of a queen piping (a call a queen makes when she is being born and letting the hive know she is there). The ladies immediately settled down to a low hum. I continued praying with them.

Will they accept her or kill her? Will there be enough workers to tend the hundreds to thousands of eggs she will begin laying if they do accept her? Will she survive her mating flight or will she be eaten by a bird or grasshopper or spider? Who is to say? There are so many variables in this whole wide world of bees. Nature! So many variables! Makes me want to pack it up and go get a predictable office job so I can buy things to keep it all in control! 😉 For someone who is such a proponent of the wild nature of life, I must admit that sometimes I do get flustered with just how wild things really are and I crave some semblance of control. But aha, the bees have called me and I have heeded and so, and so, I humbly submit to the wild nature and ride the ebb and flow of the life and death of the Hive.

For there really is only one Hive. All bees feel it, all the backyard bees that are being loved and treated with such care can feel and are affected by the murder of the queen mother that happens every spring when the majority of beekeepers re-queen their hives to prevent a failing queen or swarming. I believe that we all have the ability to feel these subtleties. It is just that the bees don’t have a choice. Subtleties are how communication happens and if the entities in the wilderness were to tune off the subtleties they would die. Unlike humans who have been trained to tune them out so that we can survive. Imagine if we were in tune with all the subtleties of our world today? We would be completely bombarded with so many chemicals and loud sounds and strong vibrations of our modern industrialized, mechanical, technological era that we would be incapable of doing much else.

I find the Hive mind is much different than the Human mind. It is all connected for sure, but I find that there are so many sections and segments…fragments, I suppose, in the Human state. The Hive mind is continuous and ever flowing. Life, death, pain, love, mystery, assuredness, community and conflict all exist at once. There is no separation between me and my enemy. I will kill you if you try and enter my domain. I will hurt you if you try to steal from me, AND you are me. We all exist as one. I suck on the nectar of your soul and you feed me. I am filled with love and you are love. We all exist as one. Blessed bee 😀


Guerilla Gardener news from Vancouver, the UK and in the land of Oz

By , 29 May 2008 15:50

This is a post about a news article about Guerilla gardeners that showed up in the Asian Pacific Post a few weeks ago. I mentioned it in some Twitter posts when I found that they had used some of my images without my permission. This has been corrected.

The same article appeared yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald. It is ephemera of the news cycle that I find interesting. The story is a filler that editors can add when they need more content. The Asian Pacific Post added a local angle which they were not required to do but I’m glad they did. I’m surprised the Sydney Morning Herald could not do the same [from their own publication!]


Sunday March 9th, 2008 – Bokashi composting demo [show and tell] @ MOBY

By , 4 March 2008 21:34

From an email by Tina D

MOBY has invited Al … to do a Bokashi Composting workshop. I have been using the system for a year now and love it ( no fruit-flies in the summer). Please RSVP if you would like to attend.

See below for more information.

Bokashi Composting Workshop

Check the craigslist link for info

Date: Sunday March 9th

Time: 11am
Location: MOBY Garden
Cost: $5 – can be used toward the kit which costs $45

Limited space – 12 people only. Please RSVP to

For more information please see these websites:

This is not an official guerrilla gardener meet-up so please to

To be clear, we will not be making bokashi. I am showing the process, how it works and the results bokashi compost dug into Tina D’s MOBY garden plot in January. In all, we’re looking at about 30 – 45 minutes.

Bucket Run

By , 29 February 2008 11:44

Bucket Run 29feb08

It costs me as much to get them myself as it does to have them delivered. When that happened a huge truck came to my street, made much noise, used a lift to get a shrink wrapped pallet of 50 buckets down to the ground. When I get home with this, they are in the door within five minutes.

A few minutes away was the West Coast Seeds store where I bought supplies for a seed ball making workshop happening on the weekend. Here’s the view of their front yard:

West Coast Seeds rooster 29feb08

Bee Hive Hosting

By , 12 August 2007 23:33

Update: 14 August 2007 – Bees gone! See comments.

T. who I met through the Guerrilla Gardening Meetup Group asked me if I could host a bee hive in my garden. My house neighbours said okay in exchange for some honey.

They arrived tonight….

A Boy Bee


T[apprentice] & S[teacher]


There are bees in both boxes. The cardboard box contains a swarm with a virgin queen. S wants the bees outside to go inside and to stop the established bees from killing the new ones, she sprays the swarm with a mixture of sugar water and vanilla.


The old bees will lick the vanilla mixture off the new bees because they taste good and be accepted as friends.

In just over a day the swarm started building a honeycomb


Here they are at the entrance of their new home


Eventually they will get inside

Another view of the honeycomb they made


Daylight pics to be added in a few days….

Red Clover seed balls across from Vancouver City Hall 2005 – 2007

By , 12 August 2007 20:10

Seed balls “are one half inch diameter models of the living world. They can contain all the seeds for a complete habitat, or a wild or domestic garden. In a holographic way, each ball can contain the whole plant potential of the entire ecosystem.” Source [archived]

I have written about them here and provided some links here as has Andrea Bellamy on Heavy Petal. [3 links]

Here is a seed ball planting I did a few years ago at 12th and Cambie across from Vancouver City Hall:

March 2005

The setup:

12th & Cambie - Seedballs1- 25Mar05

I scored the ground with a ski pole to rough it up a bit

The placement:

Seedballs at 12th & Cambie - 25Mar05

Now all I have to do is wait.

May 2005:
Seedballs at 12th & Cambie - 12May05

June 2005:

Seedballs at 12th & Cambie - 15jun05

I thought I took some picture in 2006 but apparently not.

April 2007:

Clover at 12th & Cambie - 14Apr07

August 2007 – In the middle of the RAV Line construction zone:

Clover at 12th and Cambie - 12Aug07

They take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. Nature is beautiful that way.

Sunflower in the city

By , 13 July 2007 21:11

This sure looks like a sunflower to me….

Sunflower - 13Jul07

Guerrilla gardening update #2

By , 3 July 2007 22:18

Back in February, I added some seeds to a new patch of dirt near Cambie Street

19th & Tupper West#2

March 17, 2007:
19th & Tupper West

They got smart later in the spring and added a huge stone, which prevented people from driving over it. Now look at the results:

19th & Tupper, West view - 03july07

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