With spring finally in the air and the winter snows receded, many a 100 Mile House resident is beginning to turn their attentions to their gardens.
This is also true with members of the South Cariboo Sustainability Society like Peter Jarvis who have both their own gardens and the community garden on First Street and Birch Avenue for the last five years.
“I’ve always kind of liked gardening and had a liking for sustainability type stuff and one of the big concerns up here is local food production,” Jarvis said. “I’m an ex-engineer and I kind of like the science behind stuff so I got interested in soil improvement, what grows and what doesn’t and all the features that help a plant grow.”
When it comes to the act of gardening itself, Jarvis really enjoys the silence and peace that comes with it. While it can be hard work something he enjoys how he never knows what he’s going to find from season to season, with new challenges begetting new solutions.
Jarvis said that at the community garden they try to mainly grow vegetables and a few flowers so that those who come to it as a park on their lunch breaks can enjoy it. The vegtables the garden produces is then donated to the community including places like the 100 Mile House Food Bank.
Picking plants to cultivate, however, is interesting Jarvis said as anyone can tell you that the climate of the South Cariboo is not the same as Vancouver. Root crops are some of the best vegetables to grow here, he said because of the relatively short growing season. Ideal crops include beets, radishes, potatoes, carrots, peas, beans, cabbage and cauliflower while plants such as tomatoes and melons would be better to start in a greenhouse or a hotbox.
“All of these grow fairly well, it varies from year to year as to which produce the most but in general all of these plants I mentioned grow well,” Jarvis said.
One of the tricks Jarvis and other members of the South Cariboo Sustainability Society do is starting their plants indoors in pots and then moving them outside to let them acclimate to the South Cariboo weather. This helps them avoid losing crops to a sudden frost, though Jarvis said currently the way the weather has been you’d have been safe to have them outside.
Soil cultivation is another important aspect of gardening and Jarvis said he always tries to provide the soil of a garden especially the community garden, with proper nourishment in the form of organic compost from kitchen waste, grass clippings and leaves.
“Start small. If you’re in an apartment you can really start small with potted plants but if you’ve got a garden and you really are just starting with something that’s sort of four foot by eight foot,” Jarvis said. “Pick easy things to do like potatoes, read the instructions and keep watering.”
Jarvis feels that 2020, in particular, has kind of illustrated, more than ever, the importance of food sustainability. COVID-19 has raised real questions about the potential for food shortages if disruptions to supply chains continue. As a result of this happening, which he thinks is unlikely, the more food you have being grown locally the better of you’ll be in the long-run.
Seeds and seedlings are available in a wide range of stores in the local area, Jarvis said from nurseries to pharmacies, grocery stores to garden centres. The South Cariboo Farmers Market also is a good place to source plants and seeds, which is still on every Friday. The Sustainability Society itself receives seed donations and has some spare seeds this year, if anyone is interested in acquiring the, they can contact the society via their Facebook page.