Gardening guru Ed Lawrence visits neighbourhood tomato boxes

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 by Hannah Larkin

On Friday, August 5th, CBC Radio gardening guru Ed Lawrence stopped by the Neighbourhood Tomato boxes at Mills Community Support to offer some guidance and gardening tips.  Jeff Mills, Hannah Larkin and Katelyn Woods from The Mills contacted Ed when they noticed small black dots lining the underside of some of their tomato plants.  Ed enthusiastically let the trio know that he would like to check out the boxes and visited The Mills Friday morning.

Once the black-spot problem was solved, Ed toured the garden boxes and said that they were thriving and were very healthy and that the group had a very good crop of tomato plants.  Some potato bugs were found on the eggplants and Ed suggested that bluebird stands or boxes could be installed near the gardens to help eliminate the pesky bugs.  The Mills’ boxes are located next to a field with  few trees, so bluebird boxes would entice more birds to move in closer to the garden.  Ed then assisted the group to harvest the first radishes of the year – quite spicy due to the richness of the soil.  Planting radishes and carrots together are a good combination as the radishes grow more quickly and provide shade over the slow germinating carrot seeds.  After the radishes are harvested, the carrots remain and are available for a later harvest.

Before heading out, Ed took a minute to offer some advice on composting.  To make the best compost, one should use 80% brown sources (carbon source) and 20% green vegetation (nitrogen).  Dried grass, food scraps, and coffee filters and grains are good examples of brown sources of compost, while leaves and garden cuttings are good sources of green compost.  Occasionally mixing the vegetation, adding a small amount of sawdust and alfalfa pellets and gently watering dry vegetation will help the composting process.  Composting wet coffee grinds and filters are also a great way of increasing compost production.

Jeff, Hannah, and Katelyn were very happy with their garden tour and were very thankful for the pro tips.  The tips were passed on to the other four Neighbourhood Tomato hosts; Almonte Country Haven, Almonte General Hospital Day Hospital, Community Living Association’s Edward Street group home, and Lanark Community Support Services.