One of the first things I did when I moved to Toronto was join the Karma Food Co-op. Along with being my favourite place to buy a wide variety of local, organic products, it has also introduced me to a wonderful community of people. Like Paul, who coordinates Slow Food Toronto. Frank, who shares my love for the Millennium Trilogy. And Derek, who runs my favourite bike shop, The Bike Joint.
Derek sold me Ring of Fire a few months back, and she’s been a wild ride ever since. When I pulled the “bike garden” suggestion from the hat last week, I decided that if the Ring was going to start growing food, it was only fair to tune her up a bit. So this morning, I went to work on her. After some loving lubrication, and careful brake adjustments, it was time to attach some brand new fenders (that’s where the sprouts were going to go). Being the ultimate-fixer-girl that I am, I figured this would be a cinch. Famous last words.
An hour later, with the help of my dear friend Emily and a bag of chocolate covered almonds, we had the front fender attached, but had given up on the back. Thus, the fender sprouting story will come later on in the week. Never fear though, Emily and I still got up to some serious bike garden action.
A quick shout-out before we get to the knitty-gritty though. Emily, my partner in bike-garden-growing-crime, is taking off on an amazing adventure that you should all keep an eye out for. Starting next week, she’s going to bike around Quebec, the Maritimes and the North Eastern US, learning about exciting farm and food-based projects, and writing about them as she goes. You can follow her adventure (and find out how her bike garden is doing) here.
So, the bike garden. Take One.
- Cheese Cloth
- Sprouting Seeds (we used Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds)
- Safety Pins
- A bike
1) Ideally, you should soak the seeds for a good 2-6 hours before starting this. We didn’t. But we did start soaking some for the fender version of this How-To, which will follow later on in the week. Stay tuned for the verdict on soaked vs. unsoaked!
2) Cut a piece of cheesecloth that is long enough to wrap around your crossbar about 8 times. Start by wrapping it around your crossbar 3-4 times, leaving the rest hanging down. You’ll want to make sure it’s pretty tight, but not so tight that it gets in the way of your brake or gear cables.
3) Sprinkle the seeds on the cheesecloth. You want the seeds to ultimately be on the top of the bar, which is easy if your cross bar has a groove in it like Emily’s (pictured right). But if your crossbar is round like mine, this is kind of hard. For my bike, we poured the seeds into the cheesecloth, and later twisted the cloth around so the seeds were on top. Not sure what I mean? Keep reading. It will make sense.
5) Once everything is in place, you can gently twist the cheesecloth around, so that the seeds are facing the sun. See — it makes more sense now. Right?
6) Moisten, moisten, moisten. For your seeds to sprout, they need to stay nice and moist. On hot, sunny days, you may want to water your cheese cloth up to 10 times. It’s especially important to keep them moist at the start (and given that we didn’t soak them first it’s especially especially important!). To make sure that we had lots of moisture, we soaked a tea towel and safety pinned it around our sprouts. The plan is to leave it there to trap the moisture in for the first 1-2 days to allow for optimal sprouting.
For those of you who are Stuart McLean fans, and have heard the story “Tree of Heaven”, you can take a page out of Dave’s book and carefully water your sprouts by mouth.
So there you have it. The first attempt at creating a bike garden. Stay tuned later in the week for instructions for starting a fender-based-bike-garden, the battle of soaked vs unsoaked seeds, my attempts at growing herbs and nasturtiums in a front basket, and oh so much more.
Thanks to the Ferocious Farm Tour for the inspiration and guidance!