This coming Saturday is the first of two gardening seminars that have been arranged by the Almonte Public Library.
Workshop # 1: SOIL 101: learn how to compost, mulch, and enrich your garden soil
Saturday, March 5th 10-Noon at the Library
I will join Master Gardener Gerda Franssen for this first workshop of 2016. REGISTER at the front desk at the Almonte Library or call: 613- 256-1037or email:
firstname.lastname@example.org but hurry – space is limited!
Workshop #2: Healing Plants in Your Garden: Exploring the surprising culinary & health benefits of backyard weeds with Herbalist and wild food forager Amber Westfall.
Saturday, March 19: 10-Noon at the Almonte Library.
And more great news – the Almonte Seed Library returns! Look for its launch on Saturday March 19th, taking place at 12:30 following Amber’s workshop.
While putting together my part of the presentation I had the occasion to discuss the subject with my brother who lives in Elora and who is much more highly qualified than I to speak on the subject. His recommendations – try to inject a note of common sense and tell gardeners not to expect miracles!
Two insights from my brother:
Firstly, compost fixes everything! There is a theory that the limiting factor for plant growth is the nutrient that is the scarcest nutrient in your soil. Now one could do endless expensive soil tests to analyze the nutrients in your garden, determine which ones need to be added and then go out and buy those nutrients, figure out the application rate and then add it to your garden OR one could just add compost to the garden. This fixes everything because compost is derived from growing plants that, by definition, had everything that they needed for the growth that they achieved.
Secondly, learn what your soil pH is and grow plants that like this level of pH. It is very difficult to change the pH in soil requiring huge volumes of amendments. If your soil is alkaline and you have your heart set on growing blueberries that require acidic soil, his advice is to make a raised box, fill it with sandy soil and then add acidic amendments such as pine needles or sulphur. It is much easier to change the pH of sandy soil than that of clay soils (something about the cation exchange but he lost me at that point!!).
Memories of Seedy Saturday in Almonte
As you may recall, Seedy Saturday February 20th in Almonte was an unqualified success thanks to Johvi Leeck, a young entrepreneur and owner of gardening venture ‘Beyond the Garden Gate’ (along with a bit of help from mom and dad). The Almonte Civitan Club was a jam-packed auditorium full of vendors of heritage seeds, a seed exchange table, presentations on gardening and booths for the Neighbourhood Tomato, our Almonte Seed Library, Lanark Master Gardeners, Seeds of Diversity and Almonte Horticultural Society. By closing time over 500 visitors had come and viewed the treasures and purchased tiny grains of hope and left inspired for the rapidly approaching gardening season! Thanks to photographer Val Collins for providing a few photos of the event.
For more details on the great network of Seedy Saturday events taking place across the country, check out the Seeds of Diversity website. This year Seedy Saturday in Ottawa takes place March 5 at Britannia Park (Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre) and on a smaller scale there is a Seedy Sunday in Perth on March 6 at the Royal Canadian Legion.