by David Hinks
I had the privilege of attending two overwhelmingly successful gardening events this weekend. The first was March 1st in Ottawa at Britannia Park (Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre) – called Seedy Saturday it is a jam-packed auditorium full of vendors of heritage seeds, a seed exchange table, some yummy locally baked goods, presentations on gardening and booths by organizations such as the Ottawa Community Gardening Network and the Canadian Organic Growers. At 10 am there was a line-up of people at the doors waiting for them to open and by afternoon it was so crowded that it was almost impossible to move – clearly a larger venue is required!
There was also a similar event, on a smaller scale in Perth on March 2nd at the Royal Canadian Legion. Our own Ed Lawrence was one of the presenters – speaking on gardening without pesticides. One of his main messages was that a vigorous well tended plant has much greater resistance to disease and insects – he gave a powerful demonstration on pruning – a proper cut just above a node allows the plant to form a callous that will resist disease and insects.
The geraniums that I potted up three weeks ago continue to grow full speed ahead. The following photo shows very healthy plants with fully developed bushy leaves.
The vegetable seeds that were sown two weeks ago are starting to show more activity. The onion and globe artichoke seedlings are growing well. The celeriac and celery have finally emerged as shown in the following photo. For the parsley I will have to be patient – it can take forever to germinate.
The other things that need to be done at this time are thinning and transplanting
The onions and leeks are now 3 inches tall and getting floppy so I cut them with scissors to a height of about an inch and a half and will keep doing that every week or so – I find it results in a much more robust seedling and as a bonus the trimmings can be added to my salad. The following photos show before and after views of the opinions and leeks.
Last week I planted seeds of several perennial flowers and annuals that are slow to start that included Gaillardia, Helenium, Rudbeckia, Ascepias, Browallia, Snapdragons and Cotton. Only two show signs of life after a week as shown in the following photo – the Rudbeckia and the Gaillardia.
Some mixes are available as a Mesclun mixture (an interesting expression as Mesclun is a French word meaning mixture) – some versions are sweeter as they have more lettuces – others are hotter as they have more mustards and plants from the cabbage family. I have mixed up my own version using seed from left over seed packets and included various kinds of lettuce, arugula, kale, chervil, spinach, endive, mustard, mibuna, orach and amaranth. I’ve sprinkled the seeds on the surface of the soil covered the seeds with half a cm of soil and then pressed down lightly as shown in the following photos. With any luck these will germinate in a few days and we may have a small harvest in a month and a half.
The first Neighbourhood Tomato pot-luck was held last Thursday at TPYS. An enthusiastic crowd composed of TYPS staff and Board members, many of the teenagers served by TYPS and many ‘tomato-heads’ got together for sharing of incredible food and for exchanging information about gardening and how to reach teenagers that may be experiencing difficult times. Not surprisingly one of the topics discussed was the therapeutic benefits of gardening and the opportunities for the youth to become involved in gardening programs.
Let me remind you again of the Neighbourhood Tomato fund raising project. We have launched a sale of rain barrels in conjunction with the sale of trees by the Chamber of Commerce. We are now accepting pre-sale orders for a Fundraising Truckload Rain Barrel Sale scheduled for SATURDAY, APRIL 26 at the Town of Mississippi Mills Municipal Garage, 3131 Old Perth Road, Almonte, ON from 9am to noon. Rain barrels are being sold for $55 each or two for $110. Rain barrels may also be ordered at the March 18 Tree talk, “Branching Out With Ed Lawrence”, at the AlmonteOldTown Hall.
All orders must be placed online in advance at www.RainBarrel.ca/tomato or by calling Deanna at 613-256-7535 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
And for vegetable gardeners looking for more information on growing vegetables, there is a new resource created jointly by the Master Gardeners of LanarkCounty and the Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton. Called the EdibleGarden it can be found by visiting the web-site of either Master Gardener group.