David Hinks

by David Hinks

It is now September and the vegetable gardening focus is on harvesting and storing the bounty that a growing season with lots of moisture has produced. Not that the growing season was without its challenges and disappointments. Lots of overcast weather and a shortage of really hot weather has meant that crops that like a lot of heat, such as tomatoes and melons, have been slow to ripen this year. This is the reason that I have repeatedly urged readers to plant a diversity of crops – while this year was not perfect for heat loving plants, many other crops such as garlic, onions, carrots and most members of the cabbage family (cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts) seem to have done exceedingly well,

This Thursday September 5 at 7pm at the Mills Community Support Office on Industrial Ave will be the first workshop in the series of four gardening workshops organized by the Neighbourhood Tomato Education Committee. Workshop details are as follows.  Mark the dates on your calendar, come and share your experience and meet other enthusiastic vegetable gardeners.

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September 5 – 7 to 8:30pm at the Mills Community Support Office

LEARN– Starting a root cellar; how to store food for the winter

DO– Try out harvesting and learn when to harvest, steps, schedule

Bob Argue (Executive Director of EcoPerth)

David Hinks (Master Gardener, Millstone Gardening Columnist)

Bring locally grown produce to share if you have it

 

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

LEARN-Learning to compost & planning next year’s garden/buying seeds

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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Our first workshop will feature a presentation on creating a root cellar and how to store food for the winter. We will also be getting our hands dirty! We will be checking out the growing boxes in the ‘back 40’ and harvesting many of the vegetables. As shown in the following photo some of the potato vines are completely dead and others are starting to die back. I have always felt that harvesting potatoes is a bit like digging for buried treasure – the dead/dying vines don’t really give us much of a clue as to what has been developing underground so it is often a surprise (I know, I know, I need to get a life!).

We will also be harvesting cabbages and a few other surprises. The fruits of our labour will be going to the food bank as well as any other surplus produce that you bring with you.

IMG_8265 Many of our front yard vegetables are doing very well. The Thai Basil is in spectacular bloom rivalling the most beautiful annual flowers (and to think that the first year that I grew it that I thought that I had to pinch out the flower heads to promote greater growth of leaves). 

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The regular sweet basil has grown very large. It is not at all obvious where some early picking of leaves has taken place. Here again I have not pinched out the flower heads. It is time consuming and I don’t feel that it will make a significant difference to the amount I harvest. Warning: Basil is extremely sensitive to cold weather. It doesn’t even need frost for the leaves to turn brown and fall off so as soon as nights drop to 5 or less think about harvesting your plants.

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The Swiss chard is really growing prolifically – I need to keep harvesting the lower leaves to keep it from crowding out its neighbours.

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The heritage kale has also done extremely well. I have harvested large branches already. The general rule of thumb when harvesting leafy vegetables such as chard and kale is to harvest no more than one-third of the plant at any one time and then give it a chance to recover before the next picking (assuming that you want a continuous harvest through the growing season).

IMG_8276I have mentioned before that at this time of year that I’m picking the flowering branches off my tomato plants in the hope that they will put their energy into ripening the green tomatoes that have already formed. I follow a similar strategy with other vegetables as well, for example, the Brussels sprouts have formed many sprouts along their main stem. I want these to keep increasing in size so I break off the top cluster of leaves so that the plant does not keep forming new small sprouts.

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