New Westminster Horticultural Society


June 2008

Carole's Compost
By Carole Forsythe

Every day there's a new initiative announced on the environmental front. Just in case you missed it, New Westminster introduced curbside collection of green waste this month in order to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill. Every second week until September 19, the City will pick up an unlimited amount of clean green waste along with your solid waste and recyclables.

  • Clean waste includes grass, leaves, flowers and plants free of soil as well as twigs and branches.
  • Twigs and branches cannot be more than four inches in diameter and three feet in length. They must be tied together with biodegradable twine.
  • Kitchen waste, soil, sod, rocks, stumps or plants with soil still attached to their roots are not clean waste.
  • Whether you use kraft paper bags or a standard 75 litre garbage can, receptacles can be no heavier than 45 pounds. Plastic bags are not acceptable.
  • Free labels are available at the City Works Yard at 901 First Street or at the Recycling Depot adjacent to Canada Games Pool.

Although there's no need to lug your yard trimmings down to the Recycling Depot this summer, you can recycle a long list of household goods, including batteries, computer equipment, used motor oil and filters, tires, empty propane tanks and paint. As you may know, the above items are no longer allowed in our garbage cans. Is there anything that can't be recycled? Call the Recycling Council of BC at 604-732-9253 and find out before you toss it.

For many years, the City has provided backyard composters to residents at a subsidized rate. If you haven't got one, pick one up at the City Works Yard for $30. For those members without a backyard, worm composting kits are available from the City for $35. The kit includes everything you need to successfully compost your kitchen scraps. Rain barrels are also subsidized by the City for $75. Collect and store rainwater for your garden and, thereby, conserve drinking water. Unfortunately, neither are in stock currently. Check with Engineering Operations at 604-526-4691 for availability. For more information on the City's environmental initiatives, visit it's website at

Pesticide use not only poses environmental concerns, it is also linked to cancer and other health problems. Tonight, the Canadian Cancer Society is holding a forum on restricting pesticides for cosmetic use in New Westminster. While many gardeners stopped using pesticides in favour of organic practices long ago, some of us still use them as a last resort. In the interest of the future health of our planet and children, we might ask ourselves if perfection really is in our interest. I can live with moss and dandelions in my lawn, can you? Contact Ashley Duyker at 604-215-5212 or with your thoughts on pesticide use in New Westminster.

At the Podium
On Tuesday, July 8, Gwen Odermatt of Petals and Butterflies Farm Nursery will speak on ponds, acquatic plants and the wildlife they attract.

Contributions to the Community

The Donations Committee, made up of Lorna Cloutier, Mary Davidson, Carole Forsythe, Aldina Isbister and Ann Paisely, reviewed the applications submitted and awarded three organizations in New Westminster funding.

For a second year, the 12th New Westminster Scout Group, nominated by David Upham, was given a grant of $300 to continue their work in removing the invasive species that have overtaken the pond system in Queen's Park. The funds will be used to purchase native plants and building materials to replace vandalized bird houses.

Nina Osanic nominated The Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary's gardening project. The award of $700 will be used to add annual and perennial colour to its new low maintenance evergreen garden by the hospital's Intensive Care Unit. The garden is visible to most and accessible to all seriously ill patients and their families.

One thousand dollars was granted to the The Biggest Little Garden in Town, one of many programs run by the Fraserside Community Services Society to improve the quality life of people overcoming challenging conditions. Each balcony gardener is provided with a three-tiered container, soil, vegetable plants and seeds, fertilizer, tools and information. Participants agree to share excess vegetables with their friends, neighbours or Plant A Row, Grow A Row. Thank you to Jacqueline Shephard for nominating this project.

Out & About

Last month's speaker, Brenda Faulk, will take us on a guided tour of Tanglebank Country Gardens in Abbotsford as will next month's speaker, Gwen Odermatt, the owner of Petals and Butterflies Farm Nursery in Langley. Each garden has a nursery attached to it so if you see a plant or two in their gardens that you must have, you can purchase it for your own. In between gardens, we'll stop for lunch. Carpooling is encouraged. We'll meet at Tanglebank Country Gardens at 11 a.m. and be back in New Westminster at approximately 5 p.m. Sign up tonight or contact Aldina.

Opening Soon

Plant a Row, Grow A Row opens this Sunday to receive rhubarb, beans, lettuce and any other excess produce you can't eat. Recipients of the Food Bank appreciate it. Drop it off between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. at St. Aidan's Presbyterian Church on 7th Avenue and 14th Street. If you'd like to volunteer packing the produce or delivering it to the Food Bank, contact Eileen Sparrow at 604-526-4914 or

The Royal City Farmers Market opens for the season on Thursday, June 26. Support local farmers, food producers, artists and artisans every Thursday between 3 and 7 p.m. We'll be there to share our knowledge with fellow enthusiasts and those new to gardening. We'll also be selling a variety of sunflowers, squash and gourds with proceeds being donated to Plant A Row, Grow A Row. Join us in Tipperary Park just off Royal Avenue on 4th Street beside City Hall. If you'd like to volunteer to staff our table at an upcoming market, contact Carole.

Plant Sale 2009


The date's confirmed. Next year's plant sale is Sunday, May 3. How will you contribute to its success? Here are a few ideas.

1. Identify perennials in your garden that need to be divided in fall. Keep them in mind for the sale.
2. Take photographs of your plants in bloom. Pictures sell plants.
3. Bring your pots to meetings or to Audrey's home.

We also need help seeding and caring for annuals. For many years, Patti and Ken Kemp, propagated a significant number of annuals for the sale. Now that they live in Courtney, we need members closer to home to continue where they left off. Contact Carole if you've got both the room in your basement or greenhouse and the desire to take on this responsibility.

Like painting? Outdoor signs are needed for the sale. Contact Audrey and she'll fill you in on the details.

In Your Veggie Patch
by Roy Pegler

At last, we can start planting and sowing our veggie gardens. If night temperatures hold above 10 degrees Celsius, the early maturing veggies will get a chance to flourish. By the end of the month, we should be able to harvest radishes, Swiss chard, lettuce, green onions and early potatoes. Continue harvesting rhubarb until the end of the month. And, keep on top of the weeds as they love this type of weather.

Undoubtedly, the main reason tomatoes are so widely grown is that homegrown ones taste so much better than their store bought counterparts. Now is the time to get tomato plants off to a healthy start. Like all plants, a tomato is a solar powered sugar factory. For the first month or so, all the sugar produced is directed towards new leaf growth. Consequently, they double their size every 12 to 15 days. Eventually, the plants make more sugar than the single growing tip can use which signals the plant to make new branches and to flower. The entire character of the plant then changes.

Maximize the efficiency of photosynthesis and minimize the risk of disease by ensuring the plant has plenty of room and is supported. If unsupported, the increasing weight of the fruit and multiple side branches force the plant to lie on the ground. Many of its leaves are then shaded, resulting in a reduction in the amount of sugar the plant produces. To prevent this, prune and support a single stemmed plant. Keep tomatoes free of side stems below the first fruit cluster. (Determinate tomatoes need no other pruning.) Most of the sugar is then directed to developing large fruit until frost. In general, more stems means more but smaller fruit produced later in the season. To encourage a strong stem, don't tie the plant to its support until the first flowers appear.

Pruning also improves plant health. Leaves dry off faster so bacterial and fungal pathogens have less opportunity to spread. Soil is less likely to splash up onto staked plants. The bottom line is that upright plants have fewer problems with leaf spot and fruit rot.

On The Bookshelf

Did you know that the books Monica brings to each meeting is only a selection of our library's collection? She's putting together a list of the collection by subject. Once it's completed, it will be available at our meetings and on our website. That way, if the book you're interested in isn't available, you can request for the next meeting. Books that aren't borrowed on a regular basis are culled annually and donated to the New Westminster Public Library.

Is there a book you think every gardener should read? Monica is open to suggestions for new titles and subjects to add to our library.

Garden Tour & Picnic

Our annual tour of members' gardens is on Saturday, July 19. If you've got a garden you're proud of and want to show it off, contact Carole. The tour is followed by a potluck picnic that once again is hosted by the charming Ellen and Nes Berg. Do you have a favourite dish you'd like to share? Add it to the potluck list tonight. Watch for details next month.

Mark Your Calendar

Saturday, June 21
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tours of Tanglebank Country Gardens and Petals and Butterflies Farm Nursery
Register with Aldina Isbister

Tuesday, June 24
7:30 p.m.
NWHS Regular Meeting of Executive Committee
Home of Sharon Seki
8707 Crest Drive, Burnaby
RSVP 604-525-1611

Thursday, June 26
3 to 7 p.m.
Royal City Farmers Market
Tipperary Park, New Westminster

Contacts for this Issue

Audrey Barnes

Carole Forsythe

Aldina Isbister

Monica Mowat


Do you have a question, comment or idea? Contact Carole.

Copyright © 2008 New Westminster Horticultural Society.
All Rights Reserved.