by David HinksDavid Hinks

Coincident with the publication of my column last week, we had about a half-inch of rain but it was far from enough for my garden. It is still bone dry and it is impossible to keep everything watered – shades of the great drought of 2012! The following photo shows the rain barrels that have finally been set up in Augusta Park. It may be too late to save the cucumbers but the beans and tomatoes are responding well to a timely drink.

IMG_2911

As I mentioned last week, sufficient water is the single most important ingredient for growing a successful vegetable garden.  A minimum of at least an inch of water is required every week for most vegetables whereas average rainfall in this area is about 3 inches a month in the summer. As we saw in the great drought of 2012 there can be lengthy periods in mid-summer without rain – this stretched to eight or more weeks with virtually no rain. Be prepared to water if you want to grow vegetables successfully. Mulching helps to conserve moisture as does proper soil preparation with lots of organic matter (compost) added – this improves the structure of soil allowing it to hold much more water. Surface soil that is loose or friable will prevent run-off in a heavy rain and absorb more water.

It was certainly a frenetically busy weekend for most of our citizens and many visitors. It was a fantastic celebration of the tenth anniversary of Puppets Up! And I hope that you managed to squeeze in a visit to the Garlic Festivals in Carp and Perth this past weekend. If you plan to plant garlic this fall (I aim to plant mine in mid-October) 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 locally-grown stiff-necked varieties are not. Ask if the garlic has been cured. If it has been recently pulled and has not been properly cured it will not store well. The attached photos from the Carp Garlic Festival show the mayor of Ottawa searching for the perfect bunch of local garlic, some colourful heritage veggies and local garlic farmer and volunteer extraordinaire Dave McCreery explaining just how hot some garlic varieties can be. 

IMG_2981

IMG_2990

IMG_3000

The Neighbourhood Tomato hosts a weekly ‘weed and learn’ session every Thursday evening through the growing season 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Augusta Park as we share our knowledge, mentor new gardeners, weed our new garden and share some fellowship. 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.

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 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. Mississippi Mills has a commanding lead however that could turn around quickly as more and more vegetables are ready to harvest and we know that Carleton Place has planted a lot of ‘heavy’ potatoes. We continue to need your help – plan to donate to the Food Bank (especially heavy stuff – like cucumbers or zucchini!).

We want your thoughts on Food Security

It is hard for me to believe that in this land of wealth and abundance there are people that do not have enough to eat. The Lanark County Food Bank (that serves Carleton Place, Beckwith and Mississippi Mills) provided food to 379 adults and 239 children in July. The goal is to provide enough food for three days once each month for those in need.

Many food banks are reinventing themselves – for example the Table in Perth has a range of programs and activities that include hot meals, cooking classes, a community garden and advocacy for their clients.

The Lanark County Food Bank continues to follow a more traditional pattern but wants to talk to the community about whether this is good enough. As part of a strategic planning exercise the Food Bank invites you to attend a Town Hall meeting Wednesday August 20 from 1pm to 4pm at Almonte’s Agricultural Hall at the Fairgrounds on Water Street. This is an opportunity for all citizens to help us to explore new ways to combat food insecurity in our community.