Tag Archives: ladybugs

Spring in Calgary

by Chelsie Anderson

Ladybugs www.GrowFoodCalgary.com

I saw a ladybug crawling around my backyard yesterday. I enjoyed the sound of an intense bird yelling; yes, it sounded like it was yelling its song.  I smiled at the soft drip, drip sound of the snow converting into valuable moisture for my garden.

It’s official! Spring is here, both technically and physically!

I turned my compost and was amazed that it was loose enough and not still frozen in a heap. This is surely a sign of active biology in my pile, which is always my goal.

Chelsie Anderson, Garden Expert

I then emptied some bags of leaves onto my vegetable patch that I had saved from last fall for just this purpose. These leaves will keep the ladybugs snug until they move out in earnest. They will also feed and protect the microbes and worms I am so intent on protecting and growing in my soil.

I then tried to dig in, as the soil looked damp and loose. Spring in Calgary can be a slow process however, and I came up with a “thunk” sound and a sore wrist instead. The ground is still frozen. So, what to do when spring is in the air, but you can’t yet plant in your backyard bed?

Start some seeds indoors. If you have already started your tomatoes, they may even be ready for a pot upgrade.

Once seedlings get their “true” leaves they are ready to transplant. If you haven’t already started , now is the time to seed some leafy greens to give them a head start. By seeding them indoors now, you will be ready to eat them by May.

By stretching the season you certainly provide  yourself and those early spring critters, such as ladybugs, a boost until the soil is ready to dig.

Get that Pro Mix potting soil out of the garage, or go purchase some from the nearest garden centre and get that kale, chard, parsley or lettuce started!

If you’d like to learn more about starting seeds, sign up for Grow Food Calgary’s program. Register.

Natural vs Organic

Chelsie Anderson, Garden Expert

by Chelsie Anderson

In my last post I explained about the difference between natural and organic farming practises.



Here is more evidence. Here are two organically grown cabbages. Both seeded on the same day, both watered as needed, both pictures taken on the same day in August.



Can you guess which one was grown using a natural gardening approach?












Yes, the one that produced a head.  That cabbage had access to all of the beneficial “farm hands” from the soil and was well mulched, farm hands being the worms, microbes and ladybugs.

At Grow Food Calgary, a six-month Vegetable Gardening Immersion Program, we’ll teach you how to grow cabbage that looks like the first one.

Sign up today!


Why Natural and Why Not Organic?

Chelsie Anderson, Garden Expert

By Chelsie Anderson

I have learned everything that I know about gardens from gardens. Nature, itself is the best teacher, but you have to pay attention in order to learn the lessons.

People throw around the word “organic” a lot these days. It is certainly trendy these days to grow organic food, and to eat organic produce. It gives us warm feelings knowing about “organic” practices, and paying more for specially grown organic foods. In this article, however, I am going to talk about why not to practice necessarily organic gardening, but instead why to practice “natural” gardening, and what the difference is.

Why Natural?
Natural gardening means we are adhering to and are inspired by the wisdom of mother nature. We hold a deep respect for natural systems. Mother nature has worked out a fool-proof system over millennia that does not require human intervention in order to grow amazing, natural and (by default) organic foods. If we know what our gardens truly need, then they will grow in a way that limits the attention we need to give them. It turns out that natural gardening is also lazy gardening, a natural benefit to this approach.

Leave leaves to create healthy microcosm for your plants. www.GrowFoodCalgary.com

How to garden naturally?
Feed your soil, not your plants. Leave the leaves as a food source for microbes and worms, add in home made compost, which is full of humus. Humus sequesters carbon and greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere and stores it in the soil where it is harmless. Humus also stores water for plant roots and creates an amazing soil structure that enables roots to forage for space, water and nutrients. Feed the soil with biodegradable materials, and let nature take care of the rest.

Why Not Organic?

Ladybugs need food, too! www.GrowFoodCalgary.com

Organic doesn’t necessarily benefit the health of a garden. There are organic pesticides, for example, that destroy natural systems so that our ladybugs still starve. Ladybugs need to eat, so if you kill off their food supply, even through “organic” means, the lovely ladybug will also die, or move in to your neighbour’s yard, meaning bug control will be an ongoing problem in your garden. The war will continue, where you try to eradicate aphids year after year.

Furthermore, organic fertilizers might not have been designed specifically for your soil. This means the minerals being added may not benefit your garden, and you may be feeding your garden ingredients that cannot be put to good use. This practice may cause a tight soil structure, for example, which can suffocate plant roots. Too much magnesium in Calgary soils will create just this situation. It might be organic, but this doesn’t mean it will be beneficial, and create a sustainable environment.

Pay attention to natural systems. Watch what happens when humans don’t intervene and be amazed by the wisdom of mother nature. Practice gardening naturally, and enjoy more time on your patio sipping lemonade instead of battling with invading species as a result.

Learn more about Natural Gardening by signing up for GrowFoodCalgary today!