Gardening in Almonte: Building Community!

David-Hinksby David Hinks

Back in early July we harvested early cabbages in the Augusta Park garden by cutting the head so as to keep the lower part of the plant intact, including the lower leaves. Many of the cabbages did respond by producing smaller, yet quite respectable secondary heads as shown in the following photos.

 

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Friday, October 10 was a big day for Neighbourhood Tomato volunteers! The morning was scheduled as a clean-up of the Augusta Park community garden. Plants were pulled from beds that had been used for broccoli, tomatoes and beans; beds of potatoes were re-dug to make sure that none had been missed and stakes and plant supports were removed. Beds of kale, collards and chard that are still producing were left for more harvests until winter truly arrives.

A bed of garlic cloves was planted – it will be the first bed to show signs of life in the spring. I first prepared the growing bed by adding some very well rotted horse manure from my secret source and then worked it up with a spading fork. I then broke apart the garlic bulbs into the individual cloves. The variety I planted is called Music – I have found that it is the most versatile garlic for my purposes – it is reliable and easy to grow, it is very winter hardy, it produces large cloves, stores relatively well and has a very pleasant pungent garlic flavour and is readily available at local Farmers’ Markets. I planted with the pointed end up 15 cm apart in rows 20 to 25 cm apart on a raised bed about a metre wide and four metres long. I pushed the cloves into the soil with my fingers until they were covered with about four cm of soil. Once we’ve had a couple of hard frosts I will cover the beds with about ten cm of straw as a mulch to protect the garlic from winter thaws.

And of course the plants that were pulled were carefully composted – when building the compost pile remember to layer the plants with 2 parts dry to one part wet. Save a few shovelfuls of compost from the old pile to add to the new, thus introducing all the bacteria that you will need to feed the composting process. We were greatly helped by having an experienced composter supervise the building of the compost piles. The following photos show volunteers hard at work! The next clean-up date is scheduled for 10 am on Friday October 24.

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The work for Neighbourhood Tomato volunteers was not over – the word came that potatoes would be available for donation to the Food Bank and that our help to harvest them would be appreciated. Agricultural research scientist, Dr. James Coupland, was harvesting organic potatoes he had planted just outside of Almonte on the farm of Jimmy Pratt. His plan was to donate some to the Lanark County Food Bank through the Great Veggie Grow-Off as well as some to the Ottawa Mission. The field was turned by tractor so picking was relatively easy. Neighbourhood Tomato volunteers worked for a couple of hours and were extremely pleased when James appeared at the Veggie Grow-off on Saturday with over 600 pounds of organic heritage potatoes Green Mountain. The following photos show James as well as volunteers in action harvesting potatoes.

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The end of the Great Veggie Grow-off was celebrated in grand style on a beautiful fall day. The final weigh-in and crowning of the victor took place Saturday at the Carleton Place Farmers’ Market. Local dignitaries (Carleton Place mayor Wendy LeBlanc and Mississippi Mills Councillor Shaun Mc Laughlin) and media joined representatives from the Lanark County Food Bank and community gardeners from Mississippi Mills and Carleton place for the presentation of the winning bowl, specially commissioned with local potter Ian Paige. It was the final day of the market and it corresponded with World Food Day. The grand total for the growing season was over 2,500 pounds – over a ton of fresh produce donated through this growing season. The winner was declared to be Mississippi Mills by Food Bank Chair, Karen Lomas – the trophy will be on display at the Food Bank. But in a much more important way we were all winners – the clients of the Food Bank, the community gardeners and the whole community from a competition that builds community by growing food. The following photos show a few faces from Saturday.

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As you may recall the launch of the Veggie Grow-off took place May 1 in Augusta Park in Almonte. The Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens in Mississippi Mills, and the Community Gardens at St.Gregory’s Next Door in Carleton Place, challenged the towns of Beckwith, Carleton Place, and Mississippi Mills to see which town could grow the most local produce for the Lanark County Food Bank in 2014 (The name of the food bank is somewhat misleading – it does not serve all of Lanark County but does serve Carleton Place, Mississippi Mills and Beckwith from a storefront operation in Carleton Place and a satellite operation at the HUB in Almonte.)

If you missed the Carleton Place market on Saturday it is not too late to donate surplus produce from your garden – it is always appreciated by the Food Bank and our clients. Every month we supply three to five days worth of food to over 500 people, of which more than a third are children. Please drop your produce at the Food Bank at 5 Allan Street in Carleton Place. The Food Bank is open Tuesday 9am to noon, Wednesday 7 to 9 in the evening, Thursday 9am to noon and Friday 9am to noon. Try to drop it off first thing in the morning if possible.