Gardening in Almonte:  Don Maynard Park: A Modest Proposal


I finally took a walk around Don Maynard Park yesterday to check out what the fuss is all about. I discovered a hidden gem of a park that is obviously much loved by its neighbours. Trees that were planted for the town twenty years ago by landscaper Allan Goddard are flourishing and make the park a welcome oasis. An old-fashioned fence-row of shrubs and small trees is a haven for wildlife and is the kind of place, to my way of thinking, where kids can play, explore and discover nature.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I am not an expert on the fiscal plan of the town or on the official parks and recreation plan. However it seems to me that a golden opportunity is being missed. A quick glance at a map shows that the park is within a block of two primary schools and two seniors’ residences. What better location for a community garden that could include vegetable beds, pollinator plants, a sensory garden for seniors and collaborative gardens for education and sharing with clients of the Food Bank.

Readers may remember the proposal I made back in January suggesting that there should be a gardening program in every school. I believe that we can make a huge difference to our environment if people relearn respect for the world around us. I can think of no better way than to get our hands dirty and connect close-up with the mystery of how a tiny seed mixed with soil, oxygen and water is able to create a delectable vegetable that we can eat or a flowering plant that tantalizes our senses of small and sight.

There is already a robust program in place at Naismith School in Almonte. A garden in Don Maynard Park hits two schools with one program and creates many other opportunities for the community. To my way of thinking a community garden in a town park offers several advantages over a garden in a school yard. A park opens up the possibility for shared gardens with neighbours of all ages with sharing of intergenerational knowledge and experience.

Potvin Potato Project Progress

I wrote in June about a project called the ‘Potvin Potato Project’. This project is being led by our Food Bank and is possible only through the public-spirited generosity of Al Potvin (who has provided the land, truckloads of compost and mechanical tillage), the HUB (which provided ‘seed money’), members of the Hoop Housers (who provided labour) and the North Lanark Agricultural Society (which provided 60 bales of hay for mulch).

The potatoes have been growing well but continue to be desperately in need of rain, as are everyone’s garden in the area. The high level of compost and the hay mulch do help retain moisture but there is a limit. The tops of one of the early varieties of potatoes, a red one called Norland, are starting to die so I dug five hills to check them out. The potatoes are a nice size but only three or four potatoes per hill. The yield from five hills was about nine pounds and required about twenty square feet of real estate – not a spectacular yield but respectable given the challenging growing conditions and the lack of water for irrigation.

The one absolute great piece of good news this year has been the absence of potato beetles.

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Just how hot is it?

And speaking of the weather, 2016 is turning into one for the record books.

One indicator is the number of days when the temperature was thirty degrees or hotter. The total since the first of May in 2016 has been 22 with several more expected this week. By way of comparison 2015 saw only 13 for the four months May to August and 2014 only had seven.

Another indicator is the amount of rainfall. For the three months May, June and July we have received about 150 mm. (this amount is highly variable across our region – totals here are taken from Ottawa airport). In 2015 the total was over 200 and in 2014 over 300 (no need to water gardens in 2014).

Rainfall in 2016 to date is almost exactly equal to what we received in 2012, one of our worst drought years in recent memory.

Celebrating Garlic!

The Garlic Festivals in Carp and Perth are both coming up on August 13 and 14 where garlic will be the main event with 60 or more varieties for sale. If you plan to plant garlic this fall buy from a local producer – you know that what you are buying was produced locally and is suited for local conditions.

There are no stupid questions!

Hands-on educational opportunities are available weekly throughout the summer.

  • ‘Weed and learn’ sessions take place at Augusta Park Community Garden on Thursdays from 9 to 11 in the morning or from 4 to 8 in the evening
  • Gardening advice will also be available Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 at the garden in front of the Food Bank at 5 Allan Street in Carleton Place.

Master Gardeners will be there to help with your gardening concerns.

Great Veggie Grow-Off

Please remember to drop off surplus garden produce at the Hunger Stop (aka Lanark County Food Bank). All you have to do is bring your armfuls of produce to the Food Bank at 5 Allan Street in Carleton Place and make sure that it is weighed and credited to Mississippi Mills.

The Food Bank is open:

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

9:00 am – 1:00 pm

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Try to drop your produce off first thing in the morning if possible.