Gardening in Almonte: A bountiful beautiful berm

David-Hinksby David Hinks

The berm that was created in the Augusta Park garden the end of May is now fully planted with over 40 shrubs that bear fruit. I was very, very fortunate today to be able to purchase the last 25 fruiting shrubs from a local wholesaler at wholesale prices so we were able to fill the whole berm and stay within budget. I was at Augusta Park garden on Thursday morning to plant them in the berm and was very fortunate to have the assistance of a half-dozen keen TomatoHeads.

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Following consultations with Ed Lawrence, CBC gardening celebrity and Neighbourhood Tomato advisor, I decided to add blueberry shrubs to the berm along with gooseberry, several kinds of currents, Saskatoon berries and the previously planted Haskap. As per Ed’s advice, a heavy mulch of well-aged pine needles was spread around the blueberries.

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With all the rainfall in the last couple of weeks many vegetables are growing extremely well. The following photos were taken at the Neighbourhood Tomato garden behind the library. The tomatoes, broccoli and potatoes are looking particularly healthy and a careful eye is watching for potato beetles.

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I also checked out the vegetable gardens at Naismith School on the weekend. Kudos to the kids, the Principal and teachers and the volunteers from the Almonte Horticultural Society for the construction, maintenance, planting and care of healthy little vegetables. Peas and many other vegetables are in abundance as well as several herbs including a couple of seven foot tall lovage plants. I truly believe that there is hope for the future if children learn how to plant and nurture small growing things, particularly if these are things that can provide healthy food choices as well as help to feed the hungry. Some of the produce from the Naismith garden will be going to the Food Bank.

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Do not despair if you haven’t planted your vegetable garden yet. It is not at all too late to start a vegetable garden. Seeds of short season vegetables such as beans and zucchini can be planted now with a reasonable expectation of success. Vegetable seedlings such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers may still be planted as well – in all likelihood seasonal garden centres at box stores will have these plants on deep discount soon as they wrap up their operations for the season.

Even if you have your garden fully planted now, there are still opportunities for additional crops. While it seems like we are still a long way away from a meal of fresh beans from the garden, nonetheless it is time to think about planting another bed with beans and beets and maybe carrots (perhaps where the lettuce and spinach have gone to seed and been pulled out). A month or so ago we talked about the concept of succession planting.  Rather than plant all of the beans at once, plant some every two or three weeks thus spreading out the harvest over an extended period. This can continue over the summer. The average bush bean takes about 50 days from seeding until harvest (beets 55 to 60 days). Given that the weather will likely start to cool off considerably by mid-September, I will want to plant my last crop of beans about mid-July. This also creates the opportunity to have more than one harvest from the same plot of land – I will be planting my later plantings of beans and beets in areas where I have harvested lettuce, spinach, peas and early onions and potatoes.

Mid-August will also be an opportunity to plant vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and other greens that will grow very well as the days get shorter and cooler in the fall. The trick is to get them to germinate in warm soil. Frequent watering may be necessary.

Continuing Gardening Education

Hands-on educational opportunities are available weekly throughout the summer. ‘Weed and learn’ session began Thursday June 18 and will continue every Thursday through the growing season. Join us at Augusta Park from 10 to 12 in the morning or from 5 to 7 in the evening every Thursday for collaborative community gardening sessions as we share our knowledge, mentor new gardeners, weed our new garden and share fellowship. Master Gardeners will be there to help with your gardening concerns for both the Augusta gardeners as well as for any other gardeners in the community.

“The Great Veggie Grow-Off”

Please remember to drop off surplus garden produce at the Lanark County Food Bank. The Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens in Mississippi Mills, and in Carleton Place, have challenged the towns of Beckwith, Carleton Place, and Mississippi Mills to see which town can grow the most local produce for the Lanark County Food Bank in 2015. All you have to do is bring your armfuls of produce to the Food Bank at 5 Allan Street in Carleton Place and make sure that it is weighed and credited to Mississippi Mills. 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. Mississippi Mills continues to hold a commanding lead over Carleton Place and Beckwith!