Jay's Blog

Getting down and dirty with Mother Nature!

     Well we have come a long way at Associated Labels here in Coquitlam. Year after year we have planted your typical office flowers, and this time around, we broke that cycle.

DSCN5119.jpg      I took on the new role of Environmental & Sustainability Manager here at our company in September 2008 with open arms; I was flooded by the opportunities the company had to offer. One of the classic ideas was to have a green roof; this proved to be quite expensive, and considering the economic situation, wasn't realistic. However with one disappointment brought along another opportunity...

Hmm what about having a garden in front of our building?... YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!

     Once the flowers of the old era died off, I happily pulled them from the garden, I then started to dig up the dirt in spring.


The soil was about 15 years old and was covered with years of old fertilizer. I had also done a soil test and found that it needed a lot of work to grow vegetables. I decided it was time to replace the worn out soil with some new organic soil! After many back breaking hours of digging out the old dirt...

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    it was time to reload them up with the new stuff! 

     The planters were now raring and ready to go! and the next step was finding organic vegetable plants to replace the flowers. This proved to be very difficult! It was a bit early in the season when I called every plant store in the lower mainland. Nothing, came out of it, I even called local farmers, and the BC Organic Association. I had a bit of luck when I stumbled upon the farmers market here in Coquitlam. I finally got a hold of local farmer that could get me some organic vegetable plants. This fell through since they were too busy, and so I was back to the drawing board. I finally went to well known nursery in Maple Ridge, and they had lots of organically grown vegetable plants. I was very happy to finally be finished my quest for organic vegetable plants!


111.JPG       However, the fun just started! Since this was my first attempt at gardening, I had to call a lot of the local nurseries for advice, multiple times. I had purchased some organic fertilizer from a different nursery and they told me that you can plant during anytime of the day... This is not true! I planted all my vegetables... yes, I know, not very smart... between 11-4, the hottest time of the day. I was feeling sick from the sun, and felt a definite heat stroke coming upon me.124.JPG 

     I had already planted my way down to the tomato section when I noticed that the sunflowers I had just planted were flopping over like a piece of licorice. I started to panic and ran to get the watering can! My little guys were sizzling in the sun right in front of my eyes! and to top it off they get double the sun with having windows behind them! I doused them in water and they all made the famous noise of being quenched like drinking a can of pop. ahhhhh I watered the rest of the plants and gave a sigh of relief that I had finished the planting. Now It was time to go home and tend to my burnt back and neck. I knew I should have grown some aloe vera!


Here is what I have planted at Associated Labels.

Sunflowers & Amaranth

Corn, Squash & Beans (The three sisters)

Sage, Oregano, Lavender, & Rosemary


Hot peppers, regular peppers

Potatoes, Green & Red onions

Cranberries, Blue Berries & Fennel

Mint & Lemon balm




Jay's To do list...


1)      Fix irrigation system that currently floods the blueberry and cranberry bushes.


2)      Go over the "Call before you dig" info (Being shocked is not fun!) and dig holes for Cherry and Plum trees...


3)   Trouble shoot hot compost system... hmmm not enough water?


4)   Try and get photos of our resident beaver... night vision?


5)   Start Mini garden at home?



Well, now that everything is nearly planted, all I can do now is wait and see!

I should be posting again very soon! Nothing stays perfect for very long...

Only time will tell what new creatures or Obstacles I'll have to deal with next





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Comments (6)

Thanks Bonnie!

I'll see what I can do!
Sorry about the vertigo... Spin in one direction and then the other, maybe that will even things out!


Jay replied to Bonnie | July 1, 2009 at 3:07 PM

Hey Jay!
I loved your "stuff"!!!! Put your pen to paper and enter the CBC literary contest...the beaver, the garden and Mother Nature is SOOOOO good - perfect for an entry in more than one category.
I have to lie down now...I have vertigo from your video!!

Bonnie | June 28, 2009 at 8:34 PM

Hey Shannon!
Thanks for your comment, I totally agree, It's all about communicating ideas and finding common ground where people can make those connections.
Lets hope these ideas and morals spread like some kind of really bad invasive plant, which I dont know the name of! haha Cheers!

Jay replied to Shannon | June 15, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Jay - This is a great project and I am so happy to see that it is leading towards an even greater success! (Not only a pesticide free garden at work, but building a community within the work place). Community has direct coorelation to a healthier and happier environment! WAY TO GO!!

Shannon | June 8, 2009 at 12:11 PM

That's a great idea!
I'll defiantly be doing that, as well as sending out some notices around the office.
Employees have already been coming up to me and voicing their interest...
It's amazing how much excitement a garden at work creates.
Thanks for your comment =)

Jay replied to Calvin | June 4, 2009 at 11:34 PM

That looks really great...very nicely done!!!

Could you stick some small information signs in key spots, just to highlight the basic story to passerby?
I saw a local zoo do that with their "amphibian friendly planters" right beside one of the lunch areas. Even if only 1 person reads them each day, it's a great chance to share the news.

What a great idea...congrats!

Calvin | June 4, 2009 at 7:01 PM
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