Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

May 26th: Plant giveaway in the Sud-Ouest borough

This is just a quick note to announce that it’s tomorrow when the Sud-Ouest, and many other boroughs in Montreal, give away flowers and herbs in their annual Bellissement campaign. 

It begins at 9 and lineups are long, but sometimes, depending on where you go, coffee and snacks are graciously provided by a sponsor.

Bring a bin or box to carry home your plants, and a bucket for compost.

Check the above link for location details and search out whether your own borough (if not Sud-Ouest) is offering the same this weekend.

How cracks in my asphalt driveway revolutionized my life

If you’ve been to this blog or my Facebook page at least once before, you’ve probably seen photos of my green driveway. They’re all over the place, like in the video here. And yet every year, just like several years before I put it in, some contractor dude who’s thinking “that ain’t right!” drops by with a card to “fix” it. (I can’t blame him for pounding the pavement looking for clients, but still…).

Sometimes he even jots a quote on the back as to how much it would cost me to rip out my green driveway and put down some blacktop asphalt driveway. You know, my green driveway cost a little more than what he’s quoting, because it was kinda fancy underneath, but I won’t have to “repair” the crack every five years like he wants me to. No, thank you.

I used to have an asphalt driveway. About the only thing you can do on an asphalt or concrete driveway that you can’t do on mine is play basketball. And maybe make chalk drawings, but you know, the city sidewalk’s right there, so that’s no biggie.

See, for a long time I had cracks in the driveway where plants would grow. That’s why they’d wanna “repair” it. But why would I let that bother me? Water percolating into the soil and being taken up by plants actually cools the air through transpiration.

“But frost heaves!” – it’s a driveway, not a highway; a little bump from a crack is not a problem.

“But bigger cracks!” More plants!

Why would I want black top + hot sun make my driveway and home hotter, rather than something cooling it down? Besides, when the plants were growing in the cracks in my driveway, guess what the bunnies’ favourite outdoor snacks were?

That’s right – Continue reading

Visiting one of the last remaining urban wetlands – the Technoparc

Two weekends ago, I participated in the Good Friday Migration to save the Technoparc Wetlands. Read more about it – and see the French-language Pimento Report on YouTube (embedded) here.

With this post, I wanted to mention to readers that I’ve got a new pop-up to subscribe to my email list. See a similar box at the bottom of this post for more details.

I’ve been draggin’ my heels on writing this post ever since, for a false reason. I’ve been making it a bigger deal of writing a blog post than in than the writing actually is, because the issue is a bigger deal than most people realize. So I might say something controversial, but seems clear enough for someone to say.

Part of the game of development is “build it and they’ll come.” There’s no big influx (except if it’s downtown – proper brownfield building development!) but in the meantime, the first occupants will pay for servicing the building and the taxes. Though this is just kicking the can down the road, cities sees that new development, that new tax base as proof of … something usually vanity-related, and a revenue base for existing services. In time, because there’s no incentive for municipalities to forego development without a large NIMBY crowd, their services:tax base ratio will get skewed again. Development sure looks like a Ponzi scheme.

Situated in this tension, with no voice but for those who speak up in time, is nature, where the birds carry on with their nestlings like they always have, only the conditions are less and less optimal while development games are played to make them unwelcome. Continue reading

A clutter of resources to help you design your garden

Well, here we are, late March! Are you ready to get down to designing the layout of your garden? For those who have space – such as those who’ve not planted a garden before, or those who get to plan theirs anew every year – you need to have a rough plan. This’ll let you know how many seedlings you should start or have on hand of each kind of plant. Know first that we gardeners always get overambitious, and end up tending tonnes of seedlings we have to give away! What’s worse is planting seeds that never germinate, or else germinate and fail. Planning helps deal with this disappointment.

Continue reading

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