The BUFCO Bulletin

The Gardener Takeover Edition
  February 2021

In this Issue...

BUFCO gardeners are taking over! Head Gardener Julia shows you how to get seed saavy In Your Garden, our sometimes-gardening Office Manager Debbie shares what we learned this winter, and Gardener Elena will pop in as our guest tipster with tips for how to embrace winter!

Also a reminder that it's never too early to book installations, gardening services, and consultations with us.
Elena (left) and Julia (right) BUFCO's Organic Master Gardeners, along with Debbie (also an Organic Master Gardener), take the helm this newsletter.

In Your Garden
Get Seed-Saavy!

Have you been considering trying your hand at growing fruit, veggies and flowers from seed, but don’t know where to begin? Look no further! I'm about to lay it out for you so when you take this leap, you will be able to do so confidently and responsibly.

Flowering shallot in Julia's garden

I will discuss some of the things BUFCO takes into consideration when ordering seeds. I’ll also cover a few topics, including how we choose our seed suppliers, how to identify the differences between various seed types, how to store and test germination of your own seed collection, and things to look for when choosing seeds for your unique growing conditions.

Elena's Tip in the Middle #1: Embracing winter

Every year I look forward to winter recreation like skating, cross-country skiing, and just walking in nature. Playing outside in winter has been studied and proven to boost mental health and help fight seasonal depression, not to mention being a great way to stay active. And of course, it's just plain fun. Now if we could just get a good snowfall here in Toronto!

Winter is for Learning

At BUFCO, we take every opportunity to refine both the art and the science of our practice so that we can design, plant and maintain your gardens with utmost respect for all the beings, human and nonhuman, who share it. And what better time is there than winter to learn? We love how nature's rhythms lend themselves to distinct seasons that swing from reflection to action, from theory to practice. Here is what the BUFCO team has been reflecting on this winter:

Gaia College Diploma in Organic Land Care

In the off-season, all of our gardening staff continue to work towards their diplomas in Organic Land Care through Gaia College. This fall, Arlene and I completed Ecological Landscape Design, and Julia completed Landscape Design with Sketchup Pro. This means you can look forward to our creating landscape designs for you using built structures and plants to enhance your lifestyle and the functional, aesthetic and ecological aspects of the landscape. We now have more tools than ever to visualize your dream yard!

Also this fall, Elena earned her Organic Master Gardener designation! (A highly recommended course for ANY gardener). The course made Elena even more conscious of the vital role that air has to play in our soil. All of our expert gardeners are available for virtual consultations and site visits in your garden. (Proper safety protocols observed as always.)
Top Left: Arlene's functional diagram of a hypothetical redesign of the BUFCO lab that considers life without air conditioning, a car and garage, replaced here with a cooling greenroof, a LeanTo and expanded garden footprint.
Top Right: Julia designed a homestead complete with goat and chicken enclosures, rainwater sequestration, rammed earth raised beds, and a green roof for their Sketchup Pro assignment.
Bottom left: I used designed plant communities to augment existing/requested hardscape features to make a client's front yard read as a forest landscape and their backyard read as a woodland landscape.
Bottom right: For one of her assignments, Elena did a soil texture test of her High Park allotment garden and discovered it is silt loam.

Landscape Ontario Congress Connect

Our peers at our association Landscape Ontario have always been a source of support and inspiration for us, so it's no surprise that the Designers and Connect conferences earlier this month got us all fired up and ready for spring.

As you entrust us to ever bigger projects, hearing Paul Brydges' experience on Collaboration between Trades could not have come at a better time for Marc and Arlene. I am thankful for Jonas Spring's talk on ecological references in Ontario and Stefan Weber's resources on ethically sourcing native plants, and excited to apply this knowledge to selecting and source plants for your perennial pollinator-friendly gardens.

Steven Bigg's talk inspired food for thought, as always (growing exotic edibles in Zone 5b? Straw bale gardening?). We also had a blast at Susan Poizner's workshop on pruning fruit trees--Arlene and Julia are eyeing her courses at The Orchard People! Our one of our Lead Landscape Hands, Grayson, has also registered for upcoming Professional Development Seminars hosted by Landscape Ontario as well!


We are also taking advantage of all the virtual conferences that we couldn't otherwise physically attend: BC Certified Organic Conference 2021 is being held as a podcast, and Living Soils Symposium has a fantastic lineup of speakers for their virtual symposium. 

Elena's Tip in the Middle #2: Nature's Light

Our energy can certainly flag when we don't get as many hours of sunlight in a day. Lately I'm trying to embrace the dark by taking a few minutes to watch the sun go down (I'm lucky to have a great west-facing view from my apartment window), and keeping the light in my home dim and soft in the evenings with lamps and candles. It's cozy and inviting, and I am getting better quality sleep.

Install, Gardening, and Consulting Services - It's never too early!

BUFCO's brand new online shop is under construction and we will have seedlings ready for pre-order in March! Take a look at our catalogue from last year to get a taste of what seedlings are available and when. Avoid disappointment and order early! We'll keep you posted as soon as we launch the new site!

That said, NOW is the perfect time to book our installation or gardening services, especially if you want to ensure the earliest start possible to your growing season. (Usually mid-April)
Contact Us

Elena's Tip in the Middle #3: Reading & Listening

The Toronto Public Library is always awesome, but it has truly been a lifeline during the pandemic. Reserving books online is easy, and their movie streaming access through Kanopy has shown me some hidden gems, especially documentaries. Reading aloud to friends over the phone has been a sweet and creative way to stay connected when we can't be together in person.

Give us a call!
Arlene at (647) 290-2572
Marc at (416) 450-3899

Email us at

Copyright © 2021 The Backyard Urban Farm Company (BUFCO), All rights reserved.
44 Columbus Ave., Toronto, ON, M6R 1S2  Canada

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