2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Exclusive Nominee Interview with Elaine of Greens & Berries

Elaine authors Greens & Berries, which has been nominated in the Gardening category of the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards.

Why blogging?

Over the past three years I've been writing a blog, I've used blogging as a tool:
1) To collect, organize & share information.
2) To connect with others who have similar interests.
3) To get things done (e.g., if I don't sow the seeds, I won't have anything to write about.)
4) To document my everyday discoveries and experiences.

Greens & Berries is both a gardener's and a dietician's journal with a noted lean toward vegetarianism. What is your food philosophy?

I'll quote Michael Pollan's new-classic, seven-word manifesto as a starting point: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." To this I'd add: "Grow your own. Organically." And, "Enjoy eating & the art of food."

Is gardening an activity that you manage to maintain year-round despite our Canadian winters? If so, how does your annual gardening schedule play out?

I garden in Vancouver, which is zone 8. Yes, twelve months of the year I'm working in the balcony garden, except on the chilliest, wettest, greyest days in winter. If I can feel the cold through three layers (hoodie, fleece & Gore-Tex®) I simply enjoy the violas, heuchera & rosemary from the warmer side of the sliding glass doors. This year, though, January and February have been unusually mild. Nearly every day of the past 8 weeks I've found another reason to neglect indoor chores in favour of outdoor pottering. I've also been more extravagant than usual with primulas & daffodils, which certainly aren't edible crops. Next weekend, I'm going to begin sowing cool-weather crops outdoors (kale, lettuce, Oriental greens and radishes) and herbs indoors.

What aspect of gardening keeps you inspired?

Certainly reading about gardening and connecting with fellow gardeners on their blogs and Twitter inspires me to keep growing. But I think above all, it's the activity itself. Many times I do get discouraged because I work in a small space. And I've lost more plants than I care to count. Yet, as soon as I begin mixing soil and compost, filling the pots and touching the plants, I enter a flow state and lose track of time and place. It's something I can't explain. It just feels right and good.

Being that I am an apartment dweller, do you have any specific tips for aspiring small-space gardeners?

To start, I would recommend reading Gayla Trail's blog, You Grow Girl and her new book, Grow Great Grub. Gayla is THE best at urban gardening in small spaces and is my gardening mentor/guru/sage.

Though I've been growing plants on my balcony for 20 years, I'm a relative novice at year-round (or at least, 3-season) edible gardening. A few tips I can share, based on personal successes & failures are:
1) Have fun, experiment, and try new things, but also,
2) To avoid disappointment, know your growing conditions (e.g., growing zone, hours of sunlight/shade during different seasons), and
3) Match plant with place.
4) Use high-quality organic soil and soil amendments.

What are your must-reads?

I'm regularly adding new books to the shelf & links to my blog, but if forced to limit myself to a handful of "must-read" resources for information and inspiration, it would be these four sites & three books:

You Grow Girl
The Balcony Gardener
Life on the Balcony
Heavy Petal

Gardening at the Dragon's Gate
Tending the Earth, Mending the Spirit: The Healing Gifts of Gardening
Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces

If you were to impart some knowledge to an aspiring blogger, what would you tell them?

Be true to yourself and truthful with your readers.

Elaine of Greens & Berries has been equal parts gardener and dietitian for more than 20 years. If she's not digging in the dirt, she's sifting through nutrition articles to separate fact from fiction and translate the science of nutrition into healthy food choices.


Elan Morgan

Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They have been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health, Woman's Day, and Flow magazines, TEDxRegina, and on CBC News and Radio. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.