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Let’s Talk Trash: Dirty fingernails

Green thumbs are waking alongside the tulips, scanning seed catalogues and sketching out garden bed plans

The last of winter winds are giving way to hopeful spring blossoms. Green thumbs are waking alongside the tulips, scanning seed catalogues and sketching out garden bed plans.

Perhaps you’ve joined the throngs of newbie gardeners out there, inspired to get more locally resilient, or you may be decades deep into growing roots. Regardless of your experience, reaping a summer harvest doesn’t need to involve sowing garbage in the landfill.

Access to locally grown seeds can seem challenging past last week’s Seedy Saturday event, but there are still plenty of opportunities to gift, request, barter, swap or sell locally produced seeds.

The Seed Traders of qathet social media group allows residents to post offers and requests for seeds directly to group members without any gatekeeper. Friends and neighbours are a great source of seeds and plant starts as well, once you put the word out that you’re on the hunt.

Garden shops can sell out of seeds when folks over purchase.  To avoid wasteful purchases, also known as having eyes bigger than your garden bed, bring a shopping list, or plan to share seed packets with friends and neighbours.

Seed trays from previous years can be reused and alternatives easily drummed up from your recycling bin. Effective mini greenhouses can be fashioned out of plastic clam-shell containers for salad and baked goods, and toilet paper rolls are great for plants with sensitive roots as you can transplant them directly into the soil.

Folded newspaper can also be a simple but durable temporary seeding pot until it’s time to place starts in the thawed soil.

To label seed trays, how about using bread bag tags, or cutting up a yogurt container into strips and staking it in the soil?

Now is a great time to look for plastic-free garden resources. Cardboard makes an excellent weed suppressant, once all tape and stickers have been removed.

You might still be able to get stashes of fall leaves from your lawn or a friend’s who might even have raked them into a tidy pile. When applied thickly, these insulate your early spring plants, suppress weeds and provide food for the soil as they break down.

Don’t have garden space? Support local growers at the coming farmers’ markets or buy market “bonds” from the various community supported agriculture programs available. These involve pre-purchasing produce before the growing season, investing alongside the farmers, and better understanding that each year favours different crops.

Ask around about community garden plots, or neighbours who would love to have you bring their fallow land back to a veggie patch. These organic relationships often manage to work on good will, clear communication and some vegetable trades.

Think you don’t have enough space to grow at home? Consider making the most of the spaces and microclimates you do have.

Many herbs will grow well on the steps up to a house or in kitchen window sills. Cold-hardy plants that are great producers even in small plots include kale, collards and chard.

There’s never been a better time to put down local roots. Happy planting!

Let’s Talk Trash is contracted by qathet Regional District to deliver its waste reduction education program. For more information, email or go to