Gardening in Almonte: Fruit Tree Workshop Bears Fruit

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David

I am happy to report that the workshop on fruit trees that took place on Saturday at the new Mississippi Mills Youth Centre in Almonte was a ‘standing room only’ success. Close to sixty enthusiastic gardeners spent three hours on a Saturday morning in rapt attention – whether it was the fascinating subject or Ed Lawrence’s mellifluous voice, I was delighted by the interest and enthusiastic questions from all the budding orchardists. We did not charge for the workshop, instead asking for a donation to the Youth Centre. I am very happy to report that $280 was raised to help build a garden in front of the Youth Centre!

The promotion of this event taught me a few things. As I am a bit of a Luddite I admit that I have been sceptical of the power of social media (Full disclosure – I have had a Face Book account for several years but basically just use it to see what my daughters-in-law are posting about my eight grandkids).

Due to the limited time and resources to promote this workshop I asked a half-dozen retail establishments in downtown Almonte to put up a poster in their window – and am happy to report that they did so very willingly. My other approach was to ask four different gardening-focused groups to post the notice on their social media platforms – before I knew it these posts were quickly picked up by many, many other groups. And at the risk of stating the obvious, these posts reached primarily those that are most likely to have an interest in the subject – the community of local gardeners!

The Power of the Hoop

Sunday noon the outside temperature was 1 C, sunny but with a chilly wind. Inside the Hoop House (basically an unheated greenhouse) it was a balmy 27 C. As readers may recall, I have written before about a Hoop House adventure that I was fortunate to join in 2015 as a group of local gardeners took over a 1500 square-foot Hoop House.

You have to be a mighty hardy vegetable to survive winter temperatures (after all the temperature in the Hoop House drops back down to outside temperatures overnight.) So I was really curious to see what was still alive. There were many pleasant surprises on Sunday. There was absolutely no frost in the ground and our bags of composted horse manure that we had put in the Hoop House in the fall were nicely thawed and ready to use and one of our most enthusiastic members had watered the growing beds. But the first order of business was to check out whether any of the plants from late last fall had survived. The mâche, spinach and arugula that we planted last fall are alive and well, and the turnips are looking particularly yummy! 

More Seedy Opportunities

If you happened to miss Seedy Saturday in Almonte, held a couple of weeks ago at the Civitan Club in Almonte do not despair, there are many other opportunities to join like-minded gardeners in jam-packed auditorium full of vendors of heritage seeds, a seed exchange table, presentations on gardening and tables with local gardening groups. One of the most important aspects of the event was the opportunity for networking with many gardening groups to learn of their latest accomplishments and their plans for 2017.

Seedy Saturdays/Sundays are a remarkable phenomenon. The Canadian charitable organization Seeds of Diversity has taken on a loose organizational role, providing some guidance and some publicity for these events. They are not one event, but a series of separate events, which have sprung up across the country, each individually and uniquely organized under the same general themes of encouraging the use of open-pollinated and heritage seeds, enabling a local seed exchange, and educating the public about seed saving and environmentally responsible gardening practices.

For more details on the great network of Seedy Saturday (and Sunday) events taking place across the country, check out the Seeds of Diversity website. This year Seedy Saturday in Ottawa takes place March 4 at Britannia Park (Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre) and Seedy Sunday is in Perth on March 5 at the Royal Canadian Legion.