Gardening in Mississippi Mills: Putting community in community gardening

David-Hinksby David Hinks

Transplanting Workshop

The fourth in a series of very successful organic vegetable growing workshops took place on Saturday. This was a hands-on transplanting workshop –attendees were prepared to get dirty as shown in the following photos! This sold-out gardening series was organized by the Almonte Library in partnership with the Neighbourhood Tomato. The library will be scheduling further workshops through the summer and fall including seed saving workshops.

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Allotment Gardens in Almonte

The Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens in Augusta Park and behind the Library will again be a mix of individual allotment plots and collaborative community plots (where we will be growing food primarily for our Food Bank). While we have many gardeners looking for individual allotment gardens this spring, there are still a few available and there is absolutely no charge. If you would like to have an allotment please let Jeff at Mills Community Support know that you’re interested. Jeff can be reached at jmills@themills.on.ca . We are expecting that gardeners with individual beds will also join in and help with the collaborative community gardens. As an allotment community gardener in either Augusta Street Park or at the Almonte Library you will be invited to a `get to know your garden neighbours meeting` at Augusta Street Park this coming week. At this gathering we will assign allotments, talk about collaborative improvements to the whole garden, and gather consensus on `ground rules` on how we can ensure a successful growing season in 2015.

Neighbourhood Tomato Work Party April 29

The heavy lifting will start on Wednesday April 29 at Augusta Park from 9am till dusk. Come for as long or as little as you can. We’ve been awarded a $1200 grant from Trees Canada this year and need to prepare a berm for some fruit bushes as part of their Edible Trees program. There will also be changes made regarding the configuring of some allotments. What we are hoping to achieve in the Augusta Street Park Community Garden by the end of May includes a shed, water barrels connected to the shed roof, a path through the garden that connects with the bridge and the street, water service to the garden, completion of the raised wooden beds to 24 inch height, a fence around the garden, beds planted and pathways mulched, soil and compost added to some of the beds, berms augmented and planted with edible shrubs, signage posted and a teaching area with decking and a couple of tables.

Great Veggie Grow-Off May 1

This year the kick-off is May 1st at 12:30 in Carleton Place at the Farmers Market location on Beckwith Street. Join us for the kick-off of the `Great Veggie Grow-Off` – a community challenge between the towns who use and support the Lanark County Food Bank. Again this year, the communities of Beckwith, Carleton Place and Mississippi Mills will square off to see which community can grow the most produce for the food bank. Last year the three communities donated 2830 lbs of healthy fresh food to the Food Bank. Join us for the launch on May 1st.

Hike for Hunger May 2

And speaking of the Food Bank, this year Food Banks Canada has announced an exciting new national campaign to raise awareness about food security issues in our country and to help fill the plates of every hungry Canadian this summer. Every Plate Full will run from May 2nd to 8th, and a number of local events are planned to help rally the residents of Beckwith, Carleton Place, and Mississippi Mills to help feed our communities. The first of these events is a Hike for Hunger, Saturday May 2nd at the Goodwood Marsh Nature Trail in Beckwith Township, behind the soccer arena and sports field at 1319 9th Line, just south of Carleton Place. Participants will be able to register and solicit sponsorships The Goodwood Trail is a new offering in Beckwith – what a perfect opportunity to check it out! Join us for registration between 1:00 and 2:00 before embarking on your jaunt, and then stay for a BBQ afterwards with all proceeds going to our local Food Bank.

Last Indoor Planting

We are now less than five weeks away from the magic May 24 weekend when we will be planting most of our frost-sensitive heat-loving vegetables outdoors. This week I have started my last trays of seeds and bulbs that I will be growing indoors under lights so that they can get a real head-start when it is time to put them in the garden.

Many of the seeds that I am planting do not like to have their roots disturbed when they are transplanted into the garden. I am using pots that I can put the plant and its pot directly in the garden. I use a pot that is biodegradable and will break down over time as it lets the plant’s roots grow through the pot wall. There are three possibilities for pots that I am familiar with – peat pots, coir pots and CowPots. I have used peat pots very successfully in the past but some gardeners are opposed to them as they use a non-renewable resource. Coir pots are made of Coconut husks – I have used them in the past but found that they did not break as much as I had hoped in the soil. The last couple of years I have used CowPots – they are made from the composted solids of cow manure and are marketed as breaking down very easily – my experience confirms this. I am using the five inch pot for vine plants that will grow large very quickly including bitter melon, cucumber, cantaloupes, squash and pumpkin.

I am also planting some tubers – dahlias and cannas – in 5-inch pots– for these I am using plastic pots as these will transplant very easily into the garden or into containers as they will have developed a healthy root mass in four weeks.