by David HinksDavid Hinks

Augusta Park is the place to be in July! Every Wednesday (and there are five this year!) from 6 to 8pm features music and food. Last week was a huge success with a pot-luck that featured more mac-and-cheese casseroles than I have ever had the good fortune to encounter. At least 200 people came to the park, some to tour the gardens and to share in the pot-luck, and many to hear Terry Tufts, long time legendary songwriter and singer living off-grid in North Frontenac who had graciously agreed to be our headliner (I remember first hearing him at Rasputin’s in Ottawa more decades ago than I would like to admit!).

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IMG_2638 Many of the visitors to the park also toured our greatly expanded garden. The Augusta garden includes a collaborative community garden as well as individual allotment gardens for which there is absolutely no charge. If you would like to be involved with the garden please let Jeff at Mills Community Support know that you’re interested. Jeff can be reached at jmills@themills.on.ca . We expect that gardeners with individual beds will also join in and help with the collaborative community gardens.

 Just a reminder about harvesting kale, collards and chard– the general rule of thumb for harvesting these greens is to take no more than a third of the leaves from the plants and then give the plant time to recover and generate new growth (the leaves are harvested from the bottom taking the oldest leaves – leave the newest leaves in the growing centre of the plant.) If properly managed over the growing season they can be producing really great leaves through the early frosts into the end of October.

 Several succulent heads of broccoli also went to the Food Bank this past week. If the stem of the primary head of broccoli is cut just below the head they will grow smaller secondary heads that will keep growing into the late fall. Cabbages as well will often grow smaller heads if cut just below the head so as to save the bottom part of the plant.

 The Neighbourhood Tomato hosts a weekly ‘weed and learn’ session every Thursday evening through the growing season 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Join us at Augusta Park for a collaborative community gardening session as we share our knowledge, mentor new gardeners, weed our new garden and share some fellowship. Come out this Thursday and help us set up the rain barrels, composters and storage structure.

 The Neighbourhood TomatoHeads are also partnering with TYPS to create intergenerational educational/hands-on gardening sessions Tuesday evenings at the TYPS garden behind the library from 6 to 8 pm. We have joined forces with several downtown gardeners to help develop additional garden space and are helping to provide gardening resources. This garden includes both individual and communal gardening opportunities.

As our gardens start to bear produce in abundance it is time to make sure that our community emerges triumphant in the “The Great Veggie Grow-Off”!!! The launch of the Veggie Grow-off took place May 1 in Augusta Park. The Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens in Mississippi Mills, and the Community Gardens at St.Gregory’s Next Door in Carleton Place, 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 2014. 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. I dropped off 12 pounds of fresh produce from Augusta Park to the Food Bank last Thursday morning – unfortunately the gardens in Carleton Place have been more productive! We need your help – plan to donate to the Food Bank (especially heavy stuff – like cucumbers!).