You're Invited to the Urban Learning Garden's Grand Opening

A new Urban Learning Garden is opening at the Central Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library and community members are invited to attend the Grand Opening celebration September 28th from 1-4 pm.

The event will be a free, family-friendly event with live music, food & drink and plenty of activities for kids. Mayor Helps will officially open the garden by planting the last plant at 2:15 pm.  

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CONTACT:

Holly Dumbarton, Project Coordinator
Building a downtown district that celebrates food & sustainability.

Phone number: (778) 584-7423 *please note this number has recently changed 

www.get-fed.com 

@foodecodistrict

Yellow Stripey Things

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Too small?  Click here for A Comprehensive Guide To Yellow Stripey Things 

"Bumblebee, honey bee, yellow jacket, paper wasp…what’s the difference? I don’t know if this comprehensive guide to Yellow Stripey Things is entirely truthful or not — a bumblebee is “actually a flying panda” and a yellow jacket “is just an asshole” — but it is pretty entertaining.

Carpenter bees are mostly harmless:

Male carpenter bees are quite aggressive, often hovering in front of people who are around the nests. The males are quite harmless, however, since they lack stingers. Female carpenter bees can inflict a painful sting but seldom will unless they are handled or molested.

Honey bees don’t always sting just once:

A honey bee that is away from the hive foraging for nectar or pollen will rarely sting, except when stepped on or roughly handled. Honey bees will actively seek out and sting when they perceive the hive to be threatened, often being alerted to this by the release of attack pheromones.

Although it is widely believed that a worker honey bee can sting only once, this is a partial misconception: although the stinger is in fact barbed so that it lodges in the victim’s skin, tearing loose from the bee’s abdomen and leading to its death in minutes, this only happens if the skin of the victim is sufficiently thick, such as a mammal’s.

Bumblebees:

Queen and worker bumblebees can sting. Unlike in honeybees, a bumblebee’s sting lacks barbs, so the bee can sting repeatedly without injuring itself; by the same token, the sting is not left in the wound. Bumblebee species are not normally aggressive, but may sting in defence of their nest, or if harmed.

And yes, you can actually pet a bumblebee:

Hoverflies don’t sting. But paper wasps do and their sting can be deadly:

Unlike yellowjackets and hornets, which can be very aggressive, polistine paper wasps will generally only attack if they themselves or their nest are threatened. Since their territoriality can lead to attacks on people, and because their stings are quite painful and can produce a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction in some individuals, nests in human-inhabited areas may present an unacceptable hazard.  By all accounts, they are aggressive and easily agitated.

The cicada killer wasp look fierce but are generally only dangerous to cicadas:

Solitary wasps (such as the eastern cicada killer) are very different in their behavior from the social wasps such as hornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps. Cicada killer females use their sting to paralyze their prey (cicadas) rather than to defend their nests; unlike most social wasps and bees, they do not attempt to sting unless handled roughly.

Mud daubers don’t sting people that often and prey on spiders:

Black and yellow mud daubers primarily prey on relatively small, colorful spiders, such as crab spiders (and related groups), orb weavers and some jumping spiders. They usually find them in and around vegetation. Blue mud daubers are the main predator of the black and brown widow spiders.

Bonus stinging insect fact: There’s a sting pain index that entomologist Justin Schmidt first came up with in the 80s. Schmidt has been stung by almost everything with a stinger and rated the stings on a scale of 1 to 4 (least to most painful). He has also described the stings of individual insects more colorfully:

Western honey bee (level 2) — “Burning, corrosive, but you can handle it. A flaming match head lands on your arm and is quenched first with lye then with sulfuric acid.”

Giant paper wasp (level 3) — “There are gods, and they do throw thunderbolts. Poseidon has rammed his trident into your breast.”

 

 

Trees Can Form Bonds Like An Old Couple & Look After Each Other - Tree Hugger

Article by Melissa Breyer --- Twitter-MelissaBreyer --- Treehugger

A forester and scientist have been studying communication between trees for decades; their incredible observations can be seen in the new documentary, 'Intelligent Trees.'

Trees have feelings. They can feel pain, but can also have emotions, such as fear.

Trees like to stand close together and cuddle.

There is in fact friendship among trees.

These are just a few of the wonderful observations made by tree whisperer, Peter Wohlleben, the German forester extraordinaire and best-selling author of "The Hidden Life of Trees."

Read the full article here.

Little Library Installation In The Spirit Garden

Teale Phelps Bondaroff of Greater Victoria Placemaking Network has written a post about the installation of the Little Free Library in the Spirit Garden.

"Over the past few months, we have been very happy to support our friends who run the Spirit Garden In North Jubilee to help them install Victoria’s newest LFL. This post celebrates this new LFL and is also intended to shed some light on the esoteric practice of LFL installation."

Read the full post here. 

Lots of photos !

 

Edible Flowers - A List

Article by Melissa Breyer -  MelissaBreyer - July 28, 2017 - TreeHugger

The culinary use of flowers dates back thousands of years to the Chinese, Greek and Romans. Many cultures use flowers in their traditional cooking — think of squash blossoms in Italian food and rose petals in Indian food. Adding flowers to your food can be a nice way to add color, flavor and a little whimsy. Some are spicy, and some herbacious, while others are floral and fragrant. The range is surprising. 

It’s not uncommon to see flower petals used in salads, teas, and as garnish for desserts, but they inspire creative uses  as well — roll spicy ones (like chive blossoms) into handmade pasta dough, incorporate floral ones into homemade ice cream, pickle flower buds (like nasturtium) to make ersatz capers, use them to make a floral simple syrup for use in lemonade or cocktails. I once stuffed gladiolus following a recipe for stuffed squash blossoms — they were great. So many possibilities…

Eating flowers safely
So. As lovely as eating flowers can be, it can also be a little … deadly. Not to scare you off or anything, but follow these tips for eating flowers safely:

  • Eat flowers you know to be consumable — if you are uncertain, consult a reference book on edible flowers and plants.
  • Eat flowers you have grown yourself, or know to be safe for consumption. Flowers from the florist or nursery have probably been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.
  • Do not eat roadside flowers or those picked in public parks. Both may have been treated with pesticide or herbicide, and roadside flowers may be polluted by car exhaust.
  • Eat only the petals, and remove pistils and stamens before eating.
  • If you suffer from allergies, introduce edible flowers gradually, as they may exacerbate allergies.
  • To keep flowers fresh, place them on moist paper towels and refrigerate in an airtight container. Some will last up to 10 days this way. Ice water can revitalize limp flowers.

1. Allium All blossoms from the allium family (leeks, chives, garlic, garlic chives) are edible and flavorful! Flavors run the gamut from delicate leek to robust garlic. Every part of these plants is edible.

2. Angelica Depending on the variety, flowers range from pale lavender-blue to deep rose and have a licorice-like flavor.

3. Anise hyssop Both flowers and leaves have a subtle anise or licorice flavor.

4. Arugula Blossoms are small with dark centers and with a peppery flavor much like the leaves. They range in color from white to yellow with dark purple streaks.

5. Bachelor’s button Grassy in flavor, the petals are edible. Avoid the bitter calyx.

6. Basil Blossoms come in a variety of colors, from white to pink to lavender; flavor is similar to the leaves, but milder.

7. Bee balm The red flowers have a minty flavor.

8. Borage Blossoms are a lovely blue hue and taste like cucumber!

9. Calendula / marigold A great flower for eating, calendula blossoms are peppery, tangy, and spicy — and their vibrant golden color adds dash to any dish.

10. Carnations / dianthus Petals are sweet, once trimmed away from the base. The blossoms taste like their sweet, perfumed aroma.

11. Chamomile Small and daisy-like, the flowers have a sweet flavor and are often used in tea. Ragweed sufferers may be allergic to chamomile.

12. Chervil Delicate blossoms and flavor, which is anise-tinged.

13. Chicory Mildly bitter earthiness of chicory is evident in the petals and buds, which can be pickled.

14. Chrysanthemum A little bitter, mums come in a rainbow of colors and a range of flavors range from peppery to pungent. Use only the petals.

15. Cilantro Like the leaves, people either love the blossoms or hate them. The flowers share the grassy flavor of the herb. Use them fresh as they lose their charm when heated.

16. Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat) Citrus blossoms are sweet and highly scented. Use frugally or they will over-perfume a dish.

17. Clover Flowers are sweet with a hint of licorice.

18. Dandelion Read more about dandelions here: Backyard Forage for Dandelions.

19. Dill Yellow dill flowers taste much like the herb’s leaves.

20. English daisy These aren’t the best-tasting petals — they are somewhat bitter — but they look great!

21. Fennel Yellow fennel flowers are eye candy with a subtle licorice flavor, much like the herb itself.

22. Fuchsia Tangy fuchsia flowers make a beautiful garnish.

23. Gladiolus Who knew? Although gladioli are bland, they can be stuffed, or their petals removed for an interesting salad garnish.

24. Hibiscus Famously used in hibiscus tea, the vibrant cranberry flavor is tart and can be used sparingly.

25. Hollyhock Bland and vegetal in flavor, hollyhock blossoms make a showy, edible garnish.

26. Impatiens Flowers don’t have much flavor — best as a pretty garnish or for candying.

27. Jasmine These super-fragrant blooms are used in tea; you can also use them in sweet dishes, but sparingly.

28. Johnny Jump-Up Adorable and delicious, the flowers have a subtle mint flavor great for salads, pastas, fruit dishes and drinks.

29. Lavender Sweet, spicy, and perfumed, the flowers are a great addition to both savory and sweet dishes.

30. Lemon verbena The diminutive off-white blossoms are redolent of lemon — and great for teas and desserts.

31. Lilac The blooms are pungent, but the floral citrusy aroma translates to its flavor as well.

32. Mint The flowers are — surprise! — minty. Their intensity varies among varieties.

33. Nasturtium One of the most popular edible flowers, nasturtium blossoms are brilliantly colored with a sweet, floral flavor bursting with a spicy pepper finish. When the flowers go to seed, the seed pod is a marvel of sweet and spicy. You can stuff flowers, add leaves to salads, pickle buds like capers, and garnish to your heart’s content.

34. Oregano The flowers are a pretty, subtle version of the leaf.

35. Pansy The petals are somewhat nondescript, but if you eat the whole flower you get more taste.

36. Radish Varying in color, radish flowers have a distinctive, peppery bite.

37. Rose Remove the white, bitter base and the remaining petals have a strongly perfumed flavor perfect for floating in drinks or scattering across desserts, and for a variety of jams. All roses are edible, with flavor more pronounced in darker varieties.

38. Rosemary Flowers taste like a milder version of the herb; nice used as a garnish on dishes that incorporate rosemary.

39. Sage Blossoms have a subtle flavor similar to the leaves.

40. Squash and pumpkin Blossoms from both are wonderful vehicles for stuffing, each having a slight squash flavor. Remove stamens before using.

41. Sunflower Petals can be eaten, and the bud can be steamed like an artichoke.

42. Violets Another famous edible flower, violets are floral, sweet and beautiful as garnishes. Use the flowers in salads and to garnish desserts and drinks.

12 Ways Butterflyway Rangers Are Bringing Pollinators Back Across Canada - David Suzuki Foundation

This spring, the David Suzuki Foundation recruited more than 200 residents in six cities to become Butterflyway Rangers. These keen volunteers are now leading efforts to grow butterfly-friendly corridors through their neighbourhoods as part of the Butterflyway Project. Their aim is to establish at least a dozen pollinator-friendly patches — neighbourhood Butterflyways — in each city.

By adding habitat to parks, schools, boulevards and yards, the Rangers are helping to support the hundreds of species of wild bee and butterfly that pollinate fruits and flowers in our communities.

In celebration of Pollinator Week, below are 12 highlights from the first couple of months of this year’s Butterflyway Project.

Read the full article:

Two local projects are featured:

9. Victoria Butterflyway gardens bloom

Since becoming a Butterflyway Ranger in Victoria last year, Starr Munro has set up an ambitious program at her children’s school. Each class now has a garden bed that they are responsible for taking care of. She is in the process of creating a teacher resource kit with lesson plans and resources for protecting pollinator habitats on school grounds.

11. Fernwood butterflyway takes flight

Ranger Victoria Emberley received funding from the City of Victoria to create a network of pollinator homes and gardens throughout her Fernwood community. She’s combined homemade bee homes with educational pamphlets to support pollinator awareness in the community. This summer she’s hoping to engage more of the community to decorate and build her pollinator gardens!

Want to create a Butterflyway in your neighbourhood?

The simplest way to get started is to make your home yard, garden or balcony a haven for pollinators. Find out how to create your own wild bee sanctuary here.

If you’re interested in getting neighbours, businesses or city agencies together to create your own Butterflyway, check out the Butterflyway Project and read our Butterflyway Starter Guide to find out how to get started. Keep us posted by using the hashtag #Butterflyway on social media. Find out more by emailing us at contact@davidsuzuki.org.

Read the full article:

Tree Mothers Are A Lot Like Human Mothers

 -"A forest is much more than what you see."

These are the words of forest ecologist Suzanne Simard, whose recent talk at TEDSummit 2016 revealed some astounding discoveries from her 30 years of research in Canadian forests.

"You see, underground there is this other world. A world of infinite biological pathways that connect trees and allow them to communicate, and allow the forest to behave as if it's a single organism," Simard explains.

But their communication and comprehension skills go much deeper than that -- trees can also recognize their offspring, and nurture them both below and above the ground.

"Now, we know we all favor our own children, and I wondered, could Douglas fir recognize its own kin, like mama grizzly and her cub? So we set about an experiment, and we grew mother trees with kin and stranger's seedlings. And it turns out they do recognize their kin. Mother trees colonize their kin with bigger mycorrhizal networks. They send them more carbon below ground. They even reduce their own root competition to make elbow room for their kids. When mother trees are injured or dying, they also send messages of wisdom on to the next generation of seedlings. So we've used isotope tracing to trace carbon moving from an injured mother tree down her trunk into the mycorrhizal network and into her neighboring seedlings, not only carbon but also defense signals. And these two compounds have increased the resistance of those seedlings to future stresses. So trees talk."

Simard notes that the conversation between trees increases the resilience of the entire community -- similar to the way human social communities are stronger with increased communication.