Saturday was a perfect day for a drive in the country and a sojourn at three of my favourite Farmers’ Markets.
First stop was the Carp Farmers’ Market which bills itself as the largest Ontario producers market. The market was bustling with lots of tables groaning with artistically displayed fresh local vegetables.
The Carp Market runs a very tight ship. Rules and regulations ensure that produce and products travel no more then 100 kilometres, that the owner/producer is in the stall, and that there is a balance of different types of vendors. Applicants are evaluated by a jury made up of Board of Director members. The model has proven very successful and has been adopted by many other Farmers’ Markets.
The second stop was the Almonte Farmers Market. A much more intimate market, it is a great spot to stop and chat with vendors, friends and neighbours. Highlights on Saturday were the delightful musical ensemble and, not to be missed, the blindingly colourful shirt of potter Ian Paige flown in directly from Burkina Faso. As well many fresh veggies, crafts, baked goods and plants were available.
The third stop was Carleton Place at the beautiful Market Building. Again local musicians added much to the ambience along with the tantalizing aroma of fresh baking and bins of fresh produce. Saturday was also the Bridge Street Bazaar – the street was closed and large crowds thronged the many booths of the local merchants.
This summer has been a great year for globe artichokes. The following photo shows a bed with about 20 plants. Six large heads have already been harvested and many secondary heads are quickly developing.
The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) is a variety of a species of thistle cultivated as a food. The edible portion of the plant consists of the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom. The budding artichoke flower-head is a cluster of many budding small flowers together with many bracts on an edible base. It is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region.
Artichokes can be produced from seeds or from vegetative means. Though technically perennials that normally produce the edible flower only during the second and subsequent years, certain varieties of artichoke can be grown from seed as annuals, producing a limited harvest at the end of the first growing season, even in regions where the plants are not normally winter-hardy. The variety I am growing is called Green Globe Improved. It was planted from seed on February 19 and grown under lights until it was transplanted to the garden in late May. I have covered and mulched some plants in past years but have had absolutely no luck in overwintering them.
When harvested, the heads are cut from the plant so as to leave an inch or two of stem. Artichokes possess good keeping qualities, frequently remaining quite fresh for two weeks or longer under average retail conditions. Apart from food use, the globe artichoke is also an attractive plant for its bright floral display, sometimes grown in herbaceous borders for its bold foliage and large purple flower heads. Some years I have also grown Cardoon, a very closely related plant, which is also a spectacular large plant.
More on Garlic
While I have only harvested about one-quarter of my garlic, it is already available from producers at local Farmers’ Markets. If you buy it you should be aware that it has probably been recently pulled. While it is great for short term use it will not store well. If you want to store it longer term it needs to be properly cured.
Curing simply means to allow the garlic bulbs to air dry in a warm place for two or three weeks. This allows the skin to dry and harden thus protecting the inner flesh from outer contaminants. Shake off the loose earth (do not wash them as introducing moisture at harvest can invite rots and moulds) and dry in a sheltered but well-ventilated place – for example tie bunches together and hang in a garage or garden shed for two or three weeks, then trim off the roots and snip off tops to about 2 cm unless you want to braid it.
Garlic does not store well in the refrigerator – it is too damp and the garlic will rot. It is best stored at just above freezing to about 5 C with relative humidity levels of 50 to 60 per cent.
The Garlic Festivals in Carp and Perth are both coming up on August 13 and 14 where garlic will be the main event with 60 or more varieties for sale. If you plan to plant garlic this fall buy from a local producer – you know that what you are buying was produced locally and is suited for local conditions. Garlic that is sold in supermarkets may have been shipped in from southern producers or China. Much of the garlic varieties being sold in retail establishments, particularly those that are braided, are soft-necked variety that may not be hardy in the Canadian climate – the hardy stiff-necked varieties are not easy to braid and are more likely to be sold tied in a bunch by a ribbon.
There are no stupid questions!
Hands-on educational opportunities are available weekly throughout the summer. ‘Weed and learn’ sessions take place every Thursday through the growing season. Join us at Augusta Park Community Garden from 9 to 11 in the morning or from 4 to 8 in the evening every Thursday for collaborative community gardening sessions as we share our knowledge, mentor new gardeners, weed our garden and berm 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.
Gardening advice will also be available Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 at the garden in front of the Food Bank at 5 Allan Street in Carleton Place.
Great Veggie Grow-Off
Please remember to drop off surplus garden produce at the Hunger Stop (aka Lanark County Food Bank). 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:
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Try to drop your produce off first thing in the morning if possible.
The Great Veggie Grow-off Community Challenge, now in its third year, has expanded this year to include gardeners in communities across Lanark supporting all four of the food banks in the County. It started in the municipalities of Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place and Beckwith, the towns supported by the Hunger Stop, and the results were amazing. Over two tons of healthy local produce was donated to the food bank last year.
This year all Lanark communities plus Smiths Falls are being challenged to grow and donate to their local food bank. Presently all four food banks (Carleton Place, Lanark Highlands, Perth and Smiths Falls) take donations of freshly grown produce. They have been asked to weigh and record the community of origin of locally grown donations of food from May 1st until the final weigh-in at Thanksgiving. Bragging rights will be given to the community that donates the greatest amount of locally grown food as well as to the community with the highest amount of freshly grown food donated per person with the big winner always being our community food banks.