Friday, September 17, 2010

Life Lessons from Dirt Girl

Get grubby!
My boyfriend may describe it as "demented and Australian", two words often found in close proximity to one another (ha!), but Dirt Girl World is a fantastic children's show airing on CBC television (schedule here), or watch online at ABC Australia:

Not only is the music adult-friendly, the programme encourages kids to get 'grubby' in the garden and grow their own food - suitable for both genders (note Scrap Boy in the above photo) and a wide range of age groups. The episode that really sold me was one on solar ovens and growing a pizza garden (episode 12, series 1) - I had heard of the pizza garden idea before (a kid-friendly garden scheme), but the solar oven was a new one. I suppose it would really lend itself best to the Aussie outback where the sun is mean, but I'm keen to give one a go! After all, we always had "Sun Showers" heating up on the deck of my grandparent's Spencer 31' - they're basically black plastic bags of water that absorb the heat from the sun and provide a warm shower on the deck of your boat at the end of a hot summer day.

If I had children, this programme would be the first DVD purchase! It's silly and yes, quite demented, but the eco-saavy, gardening propaganda is one I could definitely go for.
Dirt Girl World in HDTV

Growing a "pizza garden" with your kids is a fairly easy task. You can make a raised bed out of straw bales that won't be permanent and will compost nicely over time (how-to website here), or use an existing vegetable bed in full sun. A circular, pizza-shaped plot is probably the most appealing to children - divide the pizza into several 'slices' to grow various veggies and herbs. In Vancouver, the best bets are:
a sample pizza garden plot plan by moi

In the centre of your garden plot, you might consider planting giant sunflowers - children love growing these enormous flowers with edible seed heads that the birds will gladly share. From a little seed, a very large and impressive plant grows - sure to please any new gardener! They will also provide some shade to your pizza garden - work out where the shadow will fall (use a broom or rake to mimic the sunflower stalk) in the late afternoon (3pm or thereabouts), and consider planting veggies that don't need the heat in that area. Be advised that the sun will swing around as the summer wears on - check online to estimate where the sun will rise and set in July and August.
A homegrown tomato (Siletz organic) on my balcony

A balcony harvest from this August: tri-colour bush bean blend, Gold Nugget cherry tomatoes, borage flowers and a small Siletz tomato

If you aren't blessed with a yard (like myself), remember that you can grow the various component plants of a pizza garden in containers on your deck.The tomatoes and peppers love heat, so if you have a sun-soaked balcony in the middle of summer, you have all the right conditions!
Various types of seeds that would suit a pizza garden (West Coast Seeds & Stellar Seeds)

Around the outside, a happy ring of cheap Tagetes (Marigolds) will keep the nasty bugs at bay and will liven up your pizza garden providing a visual 'crust'. You can buy a flat pack of marigolds for practically nothing at Devan Greenhouses in Abbotsford (best nursery I've ever been to! 28904 Fraser Hwy).

If you're driving out to Abbotsford to visit Devan Greenhouses (which has very friendly goats for the kids to feed - $0.25 for a handful of grain), consider also stopping by the HoneyBee Centre in Surrey also on Fraser highway at 176th St or "Fry's Corner" for an education in apiaries and bee-keeping, and to buy some delicious local honey (I like their raspberry honey! Yum yum!).

I highly recommend tuning into Dirt Girl World to see what valuable environmentally-sound and sustainable living lesson she's teaching this time along with a daily dose of silly. You don't even have to be a kid to enjoy it. screenshot - a fun and interactive website you'll be happy to let your kiddies loose in!


  1. This is off topic but thought it was interesting info to pass on;

  2. Thanks, Eva! That's fantastic! Now if only I had a smart phone....! ;)
    I think everyone should be packing a refillable canteen of some sort these days. I can almost always remember to pack my water bottle, but for some reason the coffee travel mug is hard to remember! Does anyone have any tips on how to be sure you're packed for the day's beverage consumption? :)