David Hinks

by David Hinks

Last Thursday was the first workshop in the series of four gardening workshops organized by the Neighbourhood Tomato Education Committee. A small group met at the Mills Community Support Office on Industrial Ave. and as promised we headed out to the growing boxes in the ‘back 40’ and harvested many of the vegetables. Harvesting the potatoes was indeed a bit like digging for buried treasure – the dead/dying vines didn’t really give us much of a clue as to what has been developing underground so it was a very pleasant surprise as we pulled huge (well, very large) potatoes out of the soil. We also harvested summer squash and cabbages and were able to fill two large boxes that were destined for the food bank and for local group homes. The following photos show the enthusiastic gardeners at work.

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After our efforts we feasted on sliced kohlrabi (very fresh) and were treated to a very informative presentation on creating a root cellar and how to store food for the winter. Bob Argue, the Executive Director of EcoPerth, led us through the storage requirements of many vegetables and gave us an illustrated presentation of how he built a 100 square foot root cellar in Perth which is large enough to meet the needs of several families. Made from a prefabricated concrete structure and covered with a meter of soil the root cellar stores roots such as carrots and potatoes for six months with virtually no use of energy. The ensuing discussion focused on whether the model could be applicable to other communities.

Details on the remaining workshops are as follows.  Mark the dates on your calendar, come and share your experience and meet other enthusiastic vegetable gardeners. This Thursday we will be mucking around with compost – if you do it right it won’t stink! We will also be looking at the timeline for next year’s garden, what can be planted early, what goes in later and what the schedule is for starting seedlings indoors.

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September 12 – 7 to 8:30pm at the Mills Community Support Office

LEARN-Learning to compost & the timeline for next year’s garden

DO-Compost demo

David Hinks (Master Gardener, Millstone Gardening Columnist)

September 19 – 7 to 8:30pm at the Mill of Kintail Gatehouse

LEARN-Putting your garden to bed for the winter; learn about local garlic

DO-taste test garlic appetizer

Free local organic garlic to the first 100 attendees

Ed Lawrence (CBC’s Gardening Expert)

Glennis Harwig (Garlic Grower)

September 28 – 10am to noon at TYPS Almonte

LEARN-Canning and food safety

DO-Practice preserving

Teresa Clow (Senior Public Health Inspector, Market Farmer)

To find out more, or if you would like to get involved contact Simone Norman at (613)256-8428, alpacapug@gmail.com  or Danielle Shewfelt at (613) 256 1203 (3104), Danielle.shewfelt@healthunit.org

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Globe artichoke is one of the front yard vegetables that add to the overall effect of the garden with its size and its beautiful jagged leaves as the following photo shows. While I planted it late in the garden and it will not produce any fruit, it works very well as an ornamental plant. So, a failure as a vegetable garden plant this year, but far from an overall failure.

IMG_8433This past weekend I was planting a cover crop or a green manure – in this case it was oats. The following photo shows two growing beds that previously had garlic in them. The bed on the right shows freshly planted oats; the bed on the left shows the growth on a bed that was planted only one week before. The bed was raked, the oat seeds broadcast and then lightly tamped into the soil with the back of a garden rake.

So, why plant a cover crop/green manure?

One reason for me is that nature abhors a vacuum (I’m not referring to a Hoover here). An empty growing bed where garlic has just been harvested is an open invitation for buried weed seeds to start growing or for seeds borne on the wind (dandelions) to land and cause havoc. My hope is that the thickly planted oats will crowd out the undesired plants.

Other reasons for a cover crop/green manure are to increase the level of humus in the soil that improves soil structure and drainage, encourages the growth of soil organisms, and balances soil nutrients.

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