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A Cactus Paradise In The Western Canadian Desert

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Our annual fieldtrip for 2023 took took us to the deserts of British Columbia, Canada. We had the invitation to view the private collection of Eva and Voytek Foik, up in 100 Mile House. Other societies joined the DPSV, including Cactus and Succulent Society of Alberta, and the Cascade Cactus and Succulent Society of Washington State (USA). For most of us, the trip started with a light picnic in Abbotsford, BC. We drove for about three hours northeast, leaving the rainforest climate of the greater Vancouver area into the Canadian desert (yes, Canada also has deserts) to our destination. From Lytton to Clinton, BC the scenery is mostly a desert landscape. But from Clinton to 100 Mile House, the landscape was full of lush greenery that mid August day. The temperature ranged from 24°C to 31°C with clear skies all day.

Honorary members, Eva and Voytek Foik, moved up from the Vancouver area to the Mile House region around 2005. There are about 2 main greenhouses on their property but the big one is for their cactus and succulent collection. The greenhouses were built by Voytek Foik himself, with the help with a couple of family members. The mezzanine to the C&S greenhouse was added in the summer of 2022 (a year ago from this trip).

The C&S greenhouse (the other greenhouse in the background is their fruits and vegetables)

Most of the plants in the collection of the Foik's are decades old. One was even a century old.

Eva Foik (use to sit as president of DPSV), Karen (former president of Cascade Cactus and Succulent Society of Washington State), Alex (DPSV member), and Voytek Foik smiling for the camera offscreen in the mezzanine.

Heat and Light

Being in Zone 3, and north of 50° latitude, supplement lighting and heating is required from anytime in August until June. The engineering of how this greenhouse is heated and lit with grow lights during the winter, and vented in spring and summer is quite interesting. The small, old fashioned furnace at the entrance not only heats the entire greenhouse, but by way of an underground pipe, residual heat is used to help heat the home as well. An extra layer of plastic sheeting covers the greenhouse to insulate the heat. Venting of the greenhouse is done through these sliding windows up on the mezzanine.

Asking the Expert

When asked about his soil mixes, Voytek uses pumice, worm castings, coconut coir husk pieces, and chicken grit. The fertilizer used is the Schultz Cactu

s Liquid Plant Food. Each potted plant gets a full submersion about once or twice a year. It takes at least 3 full days to fully water the whole greenhouse by submersion. When asked what Voytek uses for pest control, as the plants we saw were looking very healthy and seemingly low in pest damage, he points at the shelf where a bottle of Green Earth's Concentrate Horticultural Oil sits. "That and isopropyl alcohol works fine for me. And some yellow Sticky Stiks to catch the flying pests, including thrips." Voytek says. When asked if he ever used systemics, he answered that he had friends lost to leukemia from using systemics back in the days, -Cygon to be specific, so he doesn't touch them. He says he doesn't use anything stronger than Safer's insecticidal soap. But maintaining with alcohol and horticultural oil is all he does for the most part.

(plants in the mezzanine)

Each pot gets watered by full submersion. All plants are in clay or stone pots.

Staying In Touch

Most of the plants pots in the greenhouse are made by the Foik's own hands. Voytek has many interests and talents that Eva, -a talented photographer, documents on social media. You can follow them on Facebook.

Would you like to join our next fieldtrip? Become a paid member today.

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