Gardening in Mississippi Mills: What a glorious weekend!

David-Hinksby David Hinks

There are signs of new life all about. Some plants that we grow in the vegetable garden are very hardy perennials. In particular both rhubarb and asparagus will thrive in the garden for 20 or 30 years or more if the planting bed is well prepared, if the plants are given some time to get established (with asparagus this may take three years), if some compost is worked in around the plants in the spring and if you are able to keep perennial weeds such as grasses and thistles from getting established in their patch. In the photo the rhubarb is up and growing rapidly in the cooler temperatures. Some of the earliest shoots were nibbled on by a critter (yet to be identified) but have recovered very nicely.

IMG_1032IMost herbs can be treated as hardy vegetables – such as oregano, mint, lovage, dill, chives, sage, tarragon and thyme. The exceptions are rosemary which is a perennial but must be brought indoors in winter and sweet basil which is extremely sensitive to cold and is best started indoors from seed in April or grown from seedlings purchased from a garden centre. At the least hint of cold weather in September basil leaves turn black and start to fall off.

All the hardy herbs are showing signs of life. In the following photo are lovage and chives – off to a great start!

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In order to be ready to start planting I bought a couple of packages of onion sets yesterday. These are one-year old onions that have been grown under controlled conditions. They will grow into sizable onions for harvest towards the end of August. While it is possible to grow onions from seed they would have to have been planted indoors in February. In the case of my main onion crop for storage onions I usually opt for the ease of sets – these are the simplest and most dependable method.

As soon as one of the raised beds is dry enough the onion sets will be planted. For their early growth onions prefer cool weather conditions and plenty of moisture. But as I stressed last week don’t try to work the soil too early. In order to determine if soil is workable, take a handful and squeeze – if it stays together in a ball it is still too wet, if it crumbles it is ready.

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Rubber-boot tour of Augusta Park

The Friends of Augusta Street Park held a fantastic get together on Friday April 10th bringing together many of the folk that are committed to bringing many of the proposed projects within the park such as the bridge, the walking path and the basketball court to completion this spring. Coffee and goodies were provided by the fine folks at the new Ultramar who also announced that their foundation will be donating a $5,000 grant towards the projects in the park.

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, 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. We have recently learned that our application for funding to Tree Canada has been successful. We will be receiving $1,200 for the edible shrub project!

The Augusta Street Park Community Garden 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 several 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 hoping that gardeners with individual beds will also join in and help with the collaborative community gardens.

Transplanting Workshop

Currently the Almonte Library in partnership with the Neighbourhood Tomato is offering a series of organic vegetable growing workshops. We have had a very successful trio of workshops with the forth scheduled for this Saturday April 18 (note the change in date from April 11). This will be a hands-on transplanting workshop – you don’t need to bring anything but be prepared to get dirty! Space is limited so if you wish to attend please register first with Library staff – the first three workshops have been sell-outs. The library will be scheduling further workshops through the summer and fall including seed saving workshops.