David Hinksby David Hinks

What a month it has been – it is hard to believe that it is already the end of July and the last concert in Augusta Park this year. This Wednesday is a Civitan BBQ. Come and meet your neighbours. Open mic is from six to seven (bring your guitar) and from seven to eight the featured musicians are Judge a Book

 Many attendees have been touring the newly expanded Augusta Park vegetable 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 .

 For many the beginning of August signals the end of the heat of summer and time to prepare for the fall. In the garden cooler nights and generally lower daytime highs mean that it is time to plan our fall crops. For plants that are frost tolerant and that prefer cooler growing conditions such as lettuce and spinach the growing season may well extent to the end of October. Mid-August is probably the best 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. The timing for the fall crops works well as some of our growing beds are becoming empty as some of the early crops such as peas, onions, garlic and early potatoes are being harvested.

 However the summer season is far from over. Many of our vegetable plants are in full production giving us succulent, juicy produce such as tomatoes (so far only cherry tomatoes), zucchini, peppers, beans, beets, early cabbage, Swiss chard, kale, cucumbers and kohlrabi. The following photos from Augusta Park show squash growing well, cherry tomatoes ready to pick, and bush and pole beans (make sure the pole beans have lots of support).

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I have been introduced this year to an innovative very strong and relatively cheap method of giving support to crops with heavy produce. The following photo shows a panel of mesh that is used to reinforce concrete floors being supported by steel posts.

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While I had anticipated last week that my garlic would not be ready to harvest for two or three weeks away, I was wrong! In fact the foliage has been dying rapidly and I had to scramble this past weekend to harvest it while the bulbs are still in prime condition. I dug the garlic with a spading fork as show in the following photo.

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I then shook off some of the loose earth and gathered them in bunches.

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I then tied them together and hung them in a garden shed to air-dry. I will generally leave the door open unless heavy rain is forecast so that they are sheltered but still have good air circulation. I will leave them here for two or three weeks, then trim off the roots and snip off the tops to about 2 cm.

Garlic is already available from producers at local Farmers’ Markets. If you buy it you should be aware that it has probably just been recently pulled and has not been properly cured. While it is great for short term it will not store well.

Stand by for the Garlic Festivals in Carp and Perth August 9 and 10 where garlic will be the main event. 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 and may not be hardy in the Canadian climate – many of the imported varieties are easy to braid whereas the hardy stiff-necked varieties are not.

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 working 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.

Don’t forget 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. Bring your bags and 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 9 am to noon, Wednesday 7 to 9 in the evening, Thursday 9 am to noon and Friday 9 am to noon. Try to drop it off first thing in the morning if possible. Mississippi Mills continues to be in the lead however that could turn around quickly as more and more vegetables are ready to harvest. We continue to need your help – plan to donate to the Food Bank (especially heavy stuff – like cucumbers or zucchini!).