David Hinks

by David Hinks

I often think of gardening as a very individual pastime. I appreciate the solitude to commune with growing things and connect with the essential elements of life. In my pre-retirement days when I would spend eight hours or more in front of a computer screen or in meetings (which often seemed endless and pointless) getting into the garden after work and turning the soil and planting and harvesting vegetables was a way to reconnect with the physical component of life and maintain my sanity.

However humans (even gardeners) are social beings and often join with like-minded individuals to share their passion for gardening and to do good works together. In Almonte we have the Almonte and District Horticultural Society which will be having a Harvest Show this Saturday from 2 to 4pm at the MississippiValleyTextileMuseum in Almonte. This will be a great opportunity to talk to some of their members and find out what they are all about. We also have the Lanark Master Gardeners group who have a volunteer at the Almonte Farmers’ Market on the third Saturday of the month to answer gardening questions.

The garden beds at Augusta Park are an initial effort by the Neighbourhood Tomato to create a vegetable gardening community. Not only is it an opportunity to grow some incredibly tasty fresh produce, it is also an opportunity to share gardening knowledge and techniques. The following photo shows the great crops being harvested by one of the first gardeners.

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New families are moving into the neighbourhood, particularly into the new development bordering the park, and some have expressed an interest in growing vegetables in the park next year. If you would like to have a garden bed please let Jeff at Mills Community Support know that you’re interested. Jeff can be reached at jmills@themills.on.ca

The Neighbourhood Tomato Education Committee has been busy planning a series of four gardening workshops to be held in September. Keep posted for further details.

One of the odd-ball vegetables in the plots that have done really well this year is kohlrabi which is a member of the cabbage family. The part eaten is a turnip-like swelling partway up the stem. It looks like a little spaceship with leaves sticking out of its top. They have to be harvested young otherwise they become woody. The following photo shows a kohlrabi plant ready to be harvested. These were grown from seedlings that were transplanted into the garden July 3.

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Once the plant is pulled from the garden, the roots and top are cut off and the skin is peeled. The kohlrabi can be cut up into sticks and eaten with a dip, cooked like a summer turnip or sliced thin in a salad. This particular specimen had a wonderful taste and could be eaten like an apple (and in fact was). It has been a good year for them as they need to be kept moist through the growing season. Unfortunately by the time they make it to supermarkets they are usually tough and woody which I think has given them an undeserved bad reputation.

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While it has been a spectacular year for kohlrabi and its relatives, the same cannot be said for tomatoes. I have talked to many people who are frustrated at the lateness of the tomato crop this year. The hot temperatures forecast for this week should help to at least partially rectify this. About this time of year I start doing more pruning of my tomato plants pinching out any of the bunches of blossoms that have not yet set fruit. There is no way that these will eventually become even small green tomatoes big enough to harvest. I want my plants to put all of their energy into ripening the fruit that is already on the vine.

When thinking of gardening and community in Almonte it is hard not to think of Al Potvin on Carss Street. He provides an area on his property for residents to dump their leaves and garden waste. Once the plant material has composted he screens it and makes it available for residents to use in their gardens. As the following photo shows, all that he asks in return is for a donation for the Almonte Hospital. It leaves me speechless with gratitude.

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