Canada Unveils New Emissions Targets

Twice in April 2021, Canada has increased its level of commitment to fight climate change. First was with the Federal Budget, and immediately after at the Leaders Summit on Climate on Earth Day.

Federal Budget 2021

The new budget two weeks ago detailed additional measures so Canada has concrete plans in place to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to 36%  of 2005 levels by 2030. Prior to this budget the goal had been to reach a 30% reduction. This budget pledged $5B over 7 years to Net Zero Accelerator, 50% tax cut for manufacturers of net zero technologies, and $4.4B over 5 years as a loan for home retrofits. Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, committed these billions of dollars in new spending to help private sector companies, including those in emissions-intensive industries like steel and concrete, to develop and adopt cleaner technology. The government is also supporting measures to make natural gas less caron-intesnive.

2021 Earth Day Leaders Summit on Climate Hosted by Joe Biden

Here is a summary of what was reported on the CBC News Network with Suhana Meharchand April 21, 2021

On Earth Day last week, ‘climate warrior’ Joe Biden pledged to double the USA’s efforts and cut GHG emissions by 52% of its 2005 levels by 2030. As well, under the pressure of the global community at this virtual climate summit, Trudeau pledged Canada will slash carbon emissions by 40-45% of the 2005 levels by 2030.  For Canada this equates to lowering emissions from 732 megatons to 439. This will blow past the December targets for 30% reduction in emissions by 2030, and the recent federal budget of a 35% reduction. It means that 2021 would be the last year Canada sees an increase in emissions. As it stands now emissions are down 1.1% compared  to that of 2005 baseline.  

On Earth Day Environment Minister Wilkinson stated that over the next 9 years there is ambition to find 4-9% more reduction in green house gas emissions. This part is not mapped out yet, but will come thru working with the USA on vehicle efficiency and EV plans, thru building retrofits, as well as by reducing methane gas up to 75%.  Wilkinson said he has spoken to the co-chairs of the government’s new Net-zero Advisory Panel to review the Canadian economy, sector by sector, to determine where additional reductions can be made. He also says this plan will be put into a federal bill after it goes through a second reading. For the first time, when Canada goes to the UN Climate Change conference in November, it will arrive with a set plan in place.

Trudeau says “As a major energy producer, it is tough to cut so deeply in Canada but climate science tells us we face an existential threat. This new ambition is to keep the earth below a 1.5 degree increase, and to leave for our children a working and more sustainable world.”

The over 720 megatons of greenhouse gases we produced in 2015 (and still today) is a lot of gas. It is 1,587,600,000,000 pounds of it, or as much as 120,000 fully loaded freight trains.

These new emissions targets were announced at a virtual climate summit of 40 leaders hosted by the USA, Joe Biden. The goal  for most countries is to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. China still plans to  increase its emissions until 2030. Like Canada it is pricing carbon and renewables and promises to have net zero GHG emissions by 2060. If it is a competition, China is winning now in terms of jobs and volume with making wind turbines and solar panels and North America wants to compete in ‘saving the world’. In his 100 Day Speech Biden said “By addressing issues like green energy production, the US is staying competitive with the rest of the world.” Biden also said on Earth Day “There is a moral and economic imperative to act. It is a moment of peril and possibility. The USA is back. When I think of climate change I think of jobs”. His Build Back Better plan focuses on jobs especially in the hardest hit areas of the country.

Overseas Boris Johnson calls Biden’s plan ‘a game changer’. The UK itself is also promising 78% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035. The UK Prime Minister says ‘We are the Saudi Arabia of wind’. Johnson says the change he envisions includes eating differently, making air travel more expensive for frequent flyers, increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road and improving house insulation. He also states “This is not about what we are going to give up or about ‘bunny hugging’, this is about growth and jobs. We can build back better by building back greener”. The UN Climate Change Conference in 2026 will be in UK.

Japan, South Korea, India and Europe also pledged on Earth Day 2021 to set more ambitious targets.

Canada’s Progress Since Paris Accord 2015

Canada has great ambition and sees itself as a role model for climate action, but is still mostly in the planning phase of change. Canada is moving in the right direction in some sectors, but it needs to pick up speed.

Utilities Sector In Canada Making Progress

“Emissions in 2019 were lower than 2005 emissions, with a decrease of 8.5 Mt CO2 eq or 1.1%. Emissions from public electricity and heat production by utilities showed a large decrease in emissions, 56 Mt CO2 eq. or 45%, and was a contributor to the emissions reduction.” (Canadian government website –

Transportation Sector In Canada Needs Change

“While vehicles have become much more efficient, transportation GHG emissions have increased 27% from 2000 to 2018. Emissions from passenger light trucks and freight trucks have continued to rise due to an increased number of vehicles (especially light trucks and SUVs). Freight emissions have increased due to many factors including increasing trade and globalization, and online shopping.” So our transportation sector is moving in the wrong direction.

“To ensure continued uptake in EVs, the federal government is undertaking a series of measures. It includes a $300 million investment in the creation of a new federal purchase incentive to buy zero-emission vehicles, a $130 million investment in new zero-emission vehicle infrastructure deployment, and a $5 million fund to work with automakers to secure ZEV sale targets.” (NRC –

As individuals and a society we are driving the market for larger vehicles and online shopping. That means as individuals we can also can make different personal choices to affect this vehicle growth sector, even if it means driving the car you own less, and walking, riding a bike or using public transit. The growth in online shopping, especially during the pandemic has created greater freight emissions, and packaging, so we are also reminded to shop local as much as possible. It is disturbing that when ordering online from Lulu Lemon or Walmart or anywhere, that if you purchase more than one item they often arrive separately. Collectively, we can decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, it is not just the government’s responsibility.

One thing for sure the leaders of the world have decided this April-there will be significant changes in how the world operates over the next 8 1/2 years! It is wonderful that goals are being set for 2030, and not just for 2050. Time is of the essence. We love our planet. We want our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to see it thriving and green and blue with an abundance of fresh air, nature, trees, and wildlife.

Celebrating Earth Day 2021

Happy Earth Day to all! The theme for this 51st anniversary of Earth Day is, aptly we think, Restore Our Earth.

We dedicate this Blog to children everywhere.

It is children and youth who have motivated us to engage in our own learning and growth, including the creation of our Friends4Trees4Life Blog last year, as we both take personal climate action in order to be active contributors toward creating a healthy, resilient Planet Earth, for future generations to come.

Tree and Flowers by Charlie age 4

Welcome back to guest artists ranging in age from 4-12, Charlie, Hannah, Connor, Emily, Claire, Brady, Elizabeth, and Karis, who share their stunning Earth Day artwork with us once again. Thank you for inspiring us to take care of our beautiful earth.

Why Trees?

As we take a moment on this Earth Day to reflect on what we have learned in our past year as co-bloggers before turning thoughts to the future, we look back on our very first posts explaining our purpose and chosen focus on trees.

October 20, 2019 Why Trees? []

October 31, 2019 Why Trees? (continued) []

Hurry Up Clean Up by Emily age 7

This is Your Brain on Trees

It continues to be all about the trees for us!

To those earlier learnings about the importance of trees for carbon capture, we have become aware of the health benefits of spending time among trees. See for example, our recent post on Forest Therapy in Wishing Us All More Calm (April 8, 2021) –

Thank you to Reader Jim (Toronto) for putting this on our radar, a recent Globe and Mail article with the cool title of “This is Your Brain on Trees” (by Hannah Hoag, April 17, 2021) – (Globe and Mail –

Fish by Brady age 11

Earth Day 2021 – Official Website

As the official website for EarthDay states, “As the world returns to normal, we can’t go back to business-as-usual.”

A Tree by Claire age 8


To learn more about the Earth Day organizers’ Five Pillars of Restore Our Earth, follow the links to:

(It is all about trees!)
Flowers by Karis age 8

(New readers also may be interested to see what we had posted last March 2020 on this topic in our “Food Waste and Climate Action” Blog post, at

The Great Global Cleanup

Global Earth Challenge – A Citizen Science Initiative

Learn about how to contribute to an Earth Day Citizen Science Initiative at

To learn more about the history of Earth Day and reflect on how we marked last year’s 50th anniversary theme of Climate Action, Reader’s may want to review our 2020 blog post, at

A Moment of Gratitude

A Bird by Connor age 6

We invite ourselves and our Readers to take a moment today to reflect on what brings meaning and joy in our lives, what we are grateful for, and our aspirations and personal visions for doubling down to create a better world.

Some Other Earth Day Climate Action Ideas

If Readers feel inclined and inspired to do more, we offer these action ideas as possibilities for consideration:

Read the Official Earth Day Organizers’ Challenge

Learn more about and watch this short video clip on the History of Earth Day

Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

Learn about Canada’s Climate Plan,

Learn about the Paris Agreement (Paris Accord), including which countries are signatories currently, and about science research informing the UN’s global effort to slow global warming and dramatically reduce green house gas emissions, to save lives, species and the home we all share, called Planet Earth,

Check out CBC’s website dedicated to climate change information, science and news, at Listen to What on Earth with Laura Lynch, a CBC series of podcasts that explores Canadians’ experiences, challenges, questions and potential solutions for climate change –

Take a moment, perhaps together with a young person in your household, to watch Google’s Earth Day animation

Donate a Tree – For example, we have made donations with OneTreePlanted and Tree Canada

Refuse Plastic by Hannah age 5

Be inspired by Hannah’s art piece to watch the Earth Day episode on reducing plastics on tonight’s TVO’s The Agenda

Plant some seeds or bulbs

Participate in your Individual or Group Earth Day Cleanup Project (one of the 5 pillars of Restore our Earth identified earlier). For runners, we also learned about “Plogging” in last week’s Blog post, at

Watch an episode or two of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet Parts 1 and 2 Collections of videos on BBC at Always informative, thought provoking and inspiring we find

Take a walk outside and take a moment to wonder at the sights and sounds and bountiful gifts on offer from Nature – birdsong, soft breezes, warm sunshine, budding flowers and trees, earth worms aerating the earth, pollinators busily buzzing as they go about their essential work in bringing life to the crops we eat, forests (land based trees and ocean based kelp forests) capturing and sinking harmful carbon and offering life giving oxygen in return….perhaps encounter some of the estimated 8.7 million species of plants and animals on Earth, of which human beings are but one, all of us sharing this one and only planet Earth we call home….

Koala by Elizabeth age 12

Review of Documentary My Octopus Teacher

Want to watch a Netflix video that makes you want to do everything you can to keep our precious Earth vibrant and healthy while at the same time melting your heart? My Octopus Teacher is nominated for an Oscar in the documentary category. It has already won 2 awards, The BAFTA award for Best Documentary 2021, and the Producers Guild of America Awards -Outstanding Producer for a Documentary to Craig Foster who is also the main actor in the film. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 100. My Octopus Teacher teaches us about the extraordinary intelligence of an octopus, showcases the underwater beauty of the Kelp Forest in South Africa, and reveals the incredible healing powers for Craig Foster spending a year in this cold ocean water tracking the lifespan of this octopus. Lucy feels this is a film worth seeing over and over and you will want to recommend it to your friends. It is expected that more films produced by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed will come out of their observation and filming of the abundant animal life in this healthy kelp forest around South Africa. 

Next Week’s Earth Day Encourages Action

The 2021 Earth Day Plan: Three Days of Climate Action


“Earth Day 2021 begins with a global youth climate summit led by Earth Uprising, in collaboration with My Future My Voice, OneMillionOfUs and hundreds of youth climate activists.

The global youth summit will consist of panels, speeches, discussions, and special messages with today’s youth climate activists including Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Villaseñor, and Licypriya Kangujam.

In the evening on April 20, the Hip Hop Caucus and its partners will present the “We Shall Breathe” virtual summit. This digital event will examine climate and environmental justice, connecting the climate crisis to issues of pollution, poverty, police brutality, and the pandemic, all within a racial justice framework.”

We love this emphasis on youth, and we invite any children’s art with an Earth Day theme for our blog next week, submitted to Lucy or Catherine by April 20, 2021.


“Education International will lead the “Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit.”

The multilingual virtual summit will span several time zones and feature prominent activists from every continent, focused on the crucial role that educators play in combating climate change and why we need transformative climate education now. ”


“Parallel to the Biden Administration’s global climate summit, EARTHDAY.ORG will have its second Earth Day Live digital event, right here. The global show begins at 12 PM Eastern Time.

Workshops, panel discussions, and special performances will focus on Restore Our Earth™ — we’ll cover natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.

More topics will include:

  • Climate and environmental literacy
  • Climate restoration technologies
  • Reforestation efforts
  • Regenerative agriculture
  • Equity and environmental justice
  • Citizen science
  • Cleanups, and more.

World climate leaders, grassroots activists, nonprofit innovators, thought leaders, industry leaders, artists, musicians, influencers, and the leaders of tomorrow will come to push us towards a better world.”

Go to to see what is happening in your neighbourhood or maybe try plogging (see below)

One Tree Planted Celebrates Earth Month

One Tree Planted emailed us The Ultimate List of 39 Things to Do Outside for Earth Month. The first suggestion on the list is consider planting a tree. We invite you to check out all their suggestions.

Ideas For Mobilizing Your Local Government

Maybe you might want to research what you can do on a local level. Check out David Suzuki’s recent article titled “What You Can Do-Your Voice at the Table Guide to Mobilizing Local Government Climate Action.”

Maybe writing a letter to your member of congress is something you might want to consider. We have drafted a letter in our blog A Letter to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change January 14, 2021. Another consideration is receiving regular emails from the David Suzuki Foundation as they frequently have letters drafted that simply need a signature. Suzuki states that having only 3.5% of the population supporting an action on climate change is enough to make a political difference.

Bill Gates Youtube Interview Virtually at University Of Toronto

Catherine and Lucy both learned a great deal listening to this hour long YouTube interview with Bill Gates about his book “How To Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need”. Here is the link.

14 People Mapping Canada’s Path to Net-Zero Emissions-Can They Do It?

“It’s a tall order, to say the least: take 14 people and ask them to figure out how Canada can meet its net-zero emissions targets by 2050. That’s the job of the new Net-Zero Advisory Body, which was established as part of Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. It includes leaders from environmental organizations, the Assembly of First Nations, cleantech, finance, climate science, industry, labour and more.”

“Some of the people on the body are Dan Wicklum, CEO of the Transition Accelerator; Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada; Assembly of First Nations Yukon regional Chief Kluane Adamek; and Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.”

“According to the Government of Canada website, the group “will provide advice to the government and consult with Canadians on the most efficient and effective ways to reach this goal.””

“But not everyone is confident the panel can succeed. That includes Corinne Le Quéré, a Canadian climate scientist and member of the U.K.’s Climate Change Committee, which has played a pivotal role in reducing Great Britain’s emissions by almost half since 1990 and now roughly three per cent a year. In an interview with CBC Radio’s WHAT ON EARTH, Le Quéré points out that Canada has repeatedly failed to meet its climate targets, and remains one of the few wealthy countries where emissions continue to rise.”

“Advisory committees are essential, she argues, because policymakers are so focused on the near term that more distant goals end up on the back burner. For example, if we want to decarbonize transport by 2030, she said, we need to immediately start producing cars differently, installing infrastructure and planning for the increased electric demand.”

“The problem is, Canada’s new advisory body doesn’t have those kinds of near-term targets, she said. “It’s too slow. There are a lot of good mechanisms, but the urgency of the action is just not there,” said La Quéré. What’s more, she said, the panel is too closely tied to the government. “In order for these committees to have a real voice in society, they need to be far enough from government to not be enmeshed in the day-to-day decisions, but close enough to actually understand what can work in the Canadian policy process.””

“Dan Wicklum, co-chair of the Net-Zero Advisory Body, said its objectives are clear and that the transparency of the work they do will mean that Canadians can hold the government to account. “I think what we do want is to put in place strong, independent, transparent structures that are well resourced to give the best advice possible to the government so that they can make decisions,” he said. “And we feel we’ve got that body in place.””

“Le Quéré is calling on the government and Parliament to revisit the law that sparked the advisory panel in order to “strengthen the independence of this committee, give it resources, make sure it’s there for its expertise and inject a sense of urgency in it.” She said, “Unless you do that, we could wait another 10 years — and Canada’s track record is not very good.”” (See article by Rachel Sanders and Jennifer Van Evra at CBC –

Canadian Companies Pledging Net Zero Carbon Emissions and By When

  • Blackberry 2021
  • CIBC 2024
  • Canada Goose 2025
  • Stantec 2030
  • Telus 2030
  • Indigo Books and Music 2035
  • Air Canada 2030 (absolute targets of 20% GHG net reductions from flights and 30% from ground operations)
  • Cenovus Energy 2050
  • Enbridge 2050
  • Kirkland Lake Gold 2050
  • RBC 2050
  • TD 2050
  • BMO 2050
  • Scotia Bank 2050

(See Globe and Mail article at –

A recent article we read indicates that not all businesses use the same parameters to calculate how they will get to net zero carbon emissions, and this is a topic to be discussed at the next Global Climate conference in November. Also it will be interesting to see what happens to the Air Canada pledge now that it is owned 20% by the Canadian Government.

What is Plogging?

Lucy learned a new word this week. She came across it twice in her research- plogging. Plogging is the act of picking up garbage while jogging. It gives you a full workout while cleaning up Mother Earth. Maybe if you like to jog, or even walk, you might bring along a garbage bag and gloves and consider cleaning up the garbage along the way, even if just once on or around Earth Day. It seems that there is more garbage along the road this spring than usual! When Lucy was in elementary school in the 1960s she recalls two pollution concerns, garbage along the road and acid rain in the Great Lakes. It is encouraging to see that acid rain in the Great Lakes is not longer the issue it once was because we removed phosphorous from our laundry detergent, and as a result citizens are now swimming in Lake Ontario, proof that we can make lasting improvements to our world. We have to continue to closely monitor what happens around those lakes because there are a lot of industries and farms around them.

Wishing Us All More Calm…

Photo credit Jim MacQuarrie

We appreciate recent features in the CBC reminding us of the research evidence on the calming and healing benefits offered by Nature, in the form of Shinrin-yoku – ‘forest bathing’ / ‘forest therapy’. In these ongoing unsettling times, especially, we welcome having a wide range of strategies for buoying positive energy, spirits and health, for ourselves and for you, our Readers.

From CBC Sudbury we learn in the piece “Forest therapy viable option to deal with pandemic stress,” that “After a year of spending more time than usual cooped up indoors, some doctors are writing nature prescriptions.  They aim to get their patients to experience a range of mental and physical benefits that come from spending time outdoors.”

“Andrea Prazmowski, Ottawa’s first certified forest therapy guide, said that doctors are looking at evidence and seeing just how powerful an antidote a few hours in nature can be. The effects, Prazmowski said, can last for weeks.” Researchers “found that our stress hormones decrease, the levels of cortisol and our blood pressure drops, our heart rate functioning is supported, and even our immune systems gets a boost.” (CBC –

CBC PEI expands in the piece “How forest bathing can help you deal with pandemic stress,” adding re-assurance that the positive benefits are available to all, rural and urban, with and without the forest!

Photo credit Lucy

“A lot of the stress of the pandemic is in your head, and forest bathing can help you escape that.”

“And the best part, certified forest therapy guide Julietta Sorensen Kass told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier, is you don’t even need a forest to do it.”

” ‘Many of us can’t go there, and it’s not necessary, because as long as you’re engaging with green living things you’re going to get a benefit,’ said Kass.”

” ‘It doesn’t even have to be a natural space. You can experience healing and a lot of the positive responses subconsciously by spending time with a little jade plant in your office.’ “

Photo credit Lucy

“The ideas behind forest therapy are based on the Japanese practice of shinrin’yoku, which was developed by the Japanese government when it found the health of its people declining when they moved out of farm fields and into factories. The essential part, said Kass, is to get out of your head and use your senses to experience the moment you are living in right now.”

The purpose of forest therapy is to take time to escape your thoughts.”

” ‘Try to find things that you can connect with physically. Touch bark, touch the moss, feel the air on your skin, look for different scents that might be interesting. Listen, how far away can you hear things?’ said Kass.”

“Kass recommends taking just 10 minutes to connect with living things around you, whether that is in a forest, on a beach or with a house plant.”

“And if you find it hard to focus for 10 minutes, that’s a sign you really need it. But don’t worry, she said. It will get easier with practice.” (CBC –

World Expert in Forest Medicine

Intrigued and want to learn more? Dr. Qing Li is considered “the world’s foremost expert in forest medicine,” according to this description about his book, “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness,” published in 2018.  “The definitive guide to the therapeutic Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or the art and science of how trees can promote health and happiness.”  (Amazon –

Forest Therapists

Curious to learn more about what a Forest Therapist does and what training is required for certification?

We learned from this CBC piece ( that Ronna Schneberger, a Canmore-based forest therapy guide is certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (

Positive Energy From Nature

Thank you to Jim MacQuarrie for these beautiful photos to remind us of Nature’s bounteous offer of calming, positive experiences and energy….if we only make space to notice and take time to “escape our thoughts”.

Pre-Season Garden Planning and Sowing

Catherine and Lucy urge you to read the gentle piece in the Globe and Mail tilted -I’m Ready to Restart My Garden (and Escape the News of the World) by Angela Jouris Saxe. She journals about how she threw herself into the garden with gusto last year, sharing what she tackled by the month. She quotes Minnie Aumonier “When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden”. Angela says, “I am grateful for the lessons gardening continues to teach me: one must have patience and hope. We will be vaccinated when the time is right, and just like the forest’s gypsy-moth infestation, this pandemic will pass leaving us more resilient, wiser and hopefully better prepared”.

Gardening Successes

It is fun to reflect on the unexpected successes in the garden over the years. Lucy recalls her first house in Saskatoon and the old washing machine in the yard full of dirt where she planted her first tomatoes, and how amazingly successful they were. Little did she know they would still be her most successful tomatoes 40 years later. In her first home in Edmonton she had the most lovely bleeding heart bush and rich, abundant compost. The year she had a condo she grew a massive amount of basil on the balcony which her friend Liane turned into pesto. Then there were the hollyhocks and raspberries that naturally came up every year in her Aspen Gardens home, along with the Evans Cherry tree that could feed the neighbouhood. Last summer Lucy was thrilled with the bumper leafy greens of lettuce and arugula that produced all summer, with four harvests in her Riverbend home. Clearly being stuck at home all summer allowed her to keep it well watered. She loved the yellow and purple theme of flowers in her planters, mimicking the wild flowers seen all thru the desert of Joshua Tree National Park in California. Lucy always looks forward to the fragrant blossoms on the cherry, apple and lilac trees that bloom in her yard for the May long weekend, and the birds love these trees too. As winter leaves us we always feel hopeful for what sure and unexpected successes our planters and garden will bring.

Germinating Seeds

Lucy learned a lot about germinating seeds indoors from reading a gardening article “Growing Your Own” by Gerald Filipski, member of the Garden Writers Association of America. Gerald explains all the steps in great detail so there is no room for error. You can start sowing your seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost which in Edmonton and Toronto is May 15. 

The key take away about germinating the seed, is the soil must remain moist all through its growth indoors, so check the soil daily and mist it. To help keep it moist during germination make sure the container is covered with a lid or plastic bag (with an opening underneath to allow air in). If you are improvising, Gerald suggests using the kind of plastic clam containers that you get at the grocery store used for bakery goods such as cookies. Use sterilized soilless potting mix. Pack the moist soil hard enough so there are no air pockets, but not too hard! Put the container in a bright warm room but not in direct sunlight. Once the seeds have sprouted the cover can come off and a light source like a south or west facing window is required. Turn the plants daily. Again the plants should never dry out or be sopping wet. Once the plants have a second set of leaves it is time to carefully transplant them into individual containers. Loosen the soil around the plant before grabbing it. You can use cut down 15 cm paper milk containers with holes poked in the bottom for drainage. Once the danger of frost has passed you can begin hardening off the plants by exposing them to the sun outdoors for a few hours a day. Gradually expose them to more and more sun and eventually leave them outdoors all night as well. 

Milk Jug Winter Sowing

Lucy’s neighbour is trying out the milk jug sowing of seeds, and this week she sees some plants are already emerging. The semi transparent milk jug (or strawberry or rotisserie chicken containers) becomes a mini greenhouse that allows one to sow seeds outdoors earlier and, like all ways we sow our own seeds, it’s a great way to save money gardening. There is no need for grow lights or hardening of plants. One needs to rinse the jug well, punch 4 drainage holes in the bottom and cut the jug horizontally at the bottom of the handle leaving an inch or so attached to act as a hinge at the handle. Use soilless starting mix (potting mix that is well sifted to remove large chunks) and be sure it has no fertilizer which can burn the seedlings. Put in 2 inches of damp medium, plant the seeds according to the package instructions, replace the top of the jug and seal it with packing tape. Place the containers in an area of sun outdoors. If the temperature dips at night cover the jugs with a blanket, but this system seems to be forgiving and tolerates some frost. Water the seedlings lightly if they dry out. When the temperature reaches 10-16 degrees Celsius undo the tape and open the tops of the jugs so the seedlings won’t fry. Close up again in the evening. When the seedlings have 2 sets of true leaves it is time to transplant them into individual containers to allow the roots to grow. Don’t forget to label the jugs clearly with a waterproof ink, and find a second way to label them since even waterproof ink can come off. 

What to sow in Milk Jug Seed Pots?

Seeds that require cold stratification, hardy perennials, cold hardy annuals, many native plants, wild flowers that require short periods of stratification and many herbs can be started early in jugs. For more tender perennials and annuals, start the process a month later. You can experiment and try to plant the same seeds in jugs but a month apart to see what works best. Keep notes so you can tweek the process next year. Tomatoes and peppers and other heat loving vegetables will not do well with this method in cold winter temperatures as they need warm soil to germinate. ( –

Facebook Gardening Group

There is a very helpful Facebook group called “Winter Sowing and Planting, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba” for the zone Lucy lives in. From following this group my neighbour Eva planted 25 jugs and they have been outdoors all of March. She planted: poppies, hollyhocks, lupines, penstemon, delphinium, sweet william, malva, butterfly milkweed, foxglove, pansies, gaillardia, coneflower, bachelor buttons, sweet pea, dianthus, cornflower, zinnia, bergamot, columbine, datura, calendula, 2 kinds of lettuce and kale. We will likely be having more bees and butterflies and hopefully a few hummingbirds this year with all these colourful fragrant flowers in the yard!

Insta-Pot Sowing of Vegetables Hurries Up Mother Nature

On CBC TV News was an item about an Ottawa scientist who used her one pot on the yogurt setting to get germination in 2-4 days of many vegetables including difficult to germinate vegetables like red peppers. She put seeds between damp paper towels inside a ziplock bag in the Insta-pot and now has more plants than she knows what to do with, all ready for outdoors, even though it it too early to plant. So if you want to give this a try you can likely wait until May to do it. Move over mushroom risotto!! Here is the link to learn more! (CBC –

Edmonton Pop-up Community Gardens to Return this Year

The pop up community gardens were so popular they had a wait list last year, so this year the City of Edmonton will continue with this venture with a slight change. “Considerations to social vulnerability in the proposed garden location and higher priority to those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 will be considered.” The deadline for application will be April 4. Last year the city delivered 350 pop up plots to 29 sites in a variety of locations from fields to parking lots to existing community gardens. Up to 30 gardens will be funded this year with the city providing containers, soil and in some cases, water. Applicants are to provide tools and seeds. The city started the project to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on food security.

(CBC –

Spring Flower Bulbs

From advice of last year’s guest blogger Shanthi, who wrote about Growing Cut Flowers on August 13, 2020, Lucy has bought some spring flower bulbs, dahlias and gladiolas. They have yet to arrive, but are much anticipated. She ordered them online from Victoria BC ‘Wildwood Outdoor Living Centre’, and wished she placed her order in early February because many of the color choices were already sold out by the end of February.

“Spring-planted bulbs produce some of the most dramatic garden color with minimal effort. Tuck them among your perennials to create a fuller looking bed, or create a special ‘patterned’ bulb garden to wow your neighbors. Many of these bulbs are ideal in containers; use them to liven up your porch or deck. And don’t forget to plant extras for cut-flower bouquets!”

Here is a list of spring bulbs to consider:

Lucy and Catherine’s Gardening Plans for 2021

It is so exciting to think about growing flowers and vegetables and watching the world green up in spring. Lucy plans to plant a large hydrangea bush out front in honour of her Mother, and a second small vegetable garden at the front side of the house, which means clearing the space of stones and building a 2 level planter. The new fountain she purchased last summer will be moved out front too. This and planting the flowers, vegetables and herbs should keep her busy until we all can get vaccinated for COVID-19. Right now she is just fixing up the mess in the lawn left by the voles over the winter….likely caused by the seeds falling from the bird feeders!

Like Lucy, Catherine is excited and impatient to “triple the fun” this gardening season, her second as a fledgling veg gardener. Plans include adding a second raised bed in the backyard, plus planting in her new Vegepod, received as a special surprise Valentine’s Day gift. The goal is to grow lettuces and asparagus in the Vegepod, protecting tender shoots under cover from uninvited nocturnal nibblers…that’s the theory anyway!

Learning from season one, she will let go of carrots and peas which were pretty limited-shows. Instead, she is taking guest blogger Audrey’s advice and looking to enjoy early rewards by planting radishes for the first time this season. Other first time additions and expeirments will include beets, leeks and onions. Returning “stars” (hopefully) will be the inspiring “squash-on-steroids” that brought so much joy, wonder and entertainment last season, plus plans for added rows of beans and garlic, building on last year’s successes, together with the odd pepper plant. There will also be container pot herbs to look forward to once again – such a joy to pick herbs fresh from the garden as part of meal prep. Herbs of choice include parsley, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, mint and chives. Exciting to see the chives already starting a new season of their own accord!

Catherine also is inspired by the passionate “tomato whisperer,” 15-year old Emma Biggs, who shared her tips and enthusiasm for all-things-tomato recently on a Leaside Garden Society Zoom lecture, and is keen to try her hand at germinating Emma’s recommended “best ever beefsteak tomato” – the Pantano Romanesco, and the beautiful Sunrise Bumblebee. (To learn more about Toronto’s Leaside Garden Society, founded in 1986 – ; to check out Emma Biggs’ website and podcast: or read about her in this recent Toronto Star profile

We hope you also have fun getting outdoors and getting your hands dirty even if you are just planning and planting some pots. Happy spring!