Gardening in Almonte: A return to more seasonable weather

David-Hinksby David Hinks

The weather has changed with a vengeance and we are facing over-night temperatures that can damage frost sensitive vegetables. As I mentioned last week, the Victoria Day rule for planting the garden is still an important rule for heat-loving and frost-sensitive plants such as such as peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, all of the vine crops such as pumpkin, squash and cucumbers and amongst the herbs rosemary and basil.

The perennial garden plants such as rhubarb and asparagus are continuing to grow quickly and certainly welcomed much-needed rain. The following photo shows a healthy clump of rhubarb.

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The hardy herbs are growing very rapidly and as show in the following photo of bloody dock and salad burnet (an old-time salad plant) are very attractive and decorative plants suitable for a flower border.

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I have also planted bunches of chives in combination with a clump of lovage (an old-fashioned extremely hardy herb that grows to a metre in height and has a strong celery taste), Together I think that they make a suitable accent for a front-yard garden.

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I am continuing to plant vegetables that prefer cooler growing conditions and that are relatively frost-hardy. This week I planted one bed of onions and leeks seedlings that we had started to harden-off last week. These had been grown indoors from seed that had been planted February 24. The following photos show the prepared bed, the onions and leeks laid out in the bed and the final product as the seedlings have been planted to the same depth as in the growing box..

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The mesclun mix that was planted two weeks is growing very happily as it prefers the cooler temperatures to the recent hotter days. The following photo shows a succulent mix of lettuces and other salad greens.

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Early weeding should be done on a regular basis probably once a week or every 10 days – a quick pass with a hoe or small cultivator will soon dispatch the weeds that are now germinating. Another technique that cuts down on the amount of hoeing and weeding required is the use of mulch particularly in the pathways between the growing beds. Hay or straw is most commonly used in this area. I generally use straw as I find that it has much fewer weed seeds than hay. Any seeds of oats, barley or wheat that germinate can be easily pulled by hand or dislodged with a cultivator as they are shallow rooted. I apply a layer of 10 to 15 cm which often approximates one ‘slice’ in a bale of straw. By the way I am talking about the old fashioned bales of straw weighing 15 to 20 kg – not the large round ones that can only be lifted by a tractor. The use of mulch also helps to reduce moisture loss. I find that if I’m using on the growing beds amongst the plants that it is best applied early for cool-loving plants, such as broccoli and later once the soil has warmed up for heat-lovers such as peppers. Plants such as tomatoes that require an even supply of moisture through the growing season especially benefit from mulch. The following photo shows a beautifully weeded and cultivated bed of garlic with mulched pathways on both sides of the bed. In a couple of weeks the straw in the pathways will be topped-up and brought up on the shoulders of the bed.

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Neighbourhood Tomato Gardens

The Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens in Augusta Park and behind the Library are again 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. The next work party is tentatively scheduled for Saturday morning at 10am – many gardeners already have made a great start on their gardens!

Every Plate Full May 2-8

A big thank you to everyone that supported the special series of events to help our Food Bank, and the people that depend on it for emergency food assistance. Every Plate Full ran from May 2nd to 8th, and a number of local events took place to help rally the residents of Beckwith, Carleton Place, and Mississippi Mills to help feed our communities. The first of these events was a Hike for Hunger, Saturday May 2nd at the Goodwood Marsh Nature Trail in Beckwith Township.

Many of your favourite restaurants partnered with us for the week – either through feature items or specials that indicated a portion of the price would be donated directly to the food bank or through donation jars.

A number of schools held spring food drives in response to our Every Plate Full call and encouraged conversations in the classrooms around food security issues to raise

awareness, and help eliminate the stigma that coming to a food bank represents. Many beautiful and very meaningful posters were created.

The week wrapped up with a Community Dinner at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church on Friday. Board members and volunteers prepared and served a delicious, satisfying, affordable meal – one that could be made using the ingredients in our food hampers. All in all it was deemed to be a very successful week and in all likelihood will be repeated next year!

Almonte Hort: Burnt Lands Presentation June 1

The next meeting of the Hort Society on June 1 at 7:30 at Cornerstone Church promises to be a ‘don’t miss’ occasion. Naturalist Brian Carson will be making a photographic presentation titled “the Beauties of the Burnt Lands”. Guests are always welcome!