While we had a light frost a week ago Sunday, most gardeners escaped with very little damage to their vegetable gardens. I find that October can be a great time to be in the garden. The mosquitoes are mostly gone, the fall greens are growing well and those reluctant tomatoes are finally turning red. It is also a great time to clear the beds and add your compost or well-rotted manure.
While we keep an eye on the forecast low temperatures and prepare to cover our tomatoes the cool-weather plants such as kale, Swiss chard, parsley and salad greens will continue happily for a few more weeks (hopefully). For me this underlines the importance of knowing the growing requirements of vegetables and how they fit with the realities of the Almonte climate. Plan to take some workshops with the Almonte Library and the Neighbourhood Tomato next spring as gardening experts share their experience with growing vegetables in our area.
I have written many times about the possibilities of planting cool weather vegetables for a fall harvest and the spectacular results that can be achieved. If you had planted vegetables such as radishes, mizuna, lettuce and arugula in mid-August they can now be harvested in a technique called cut-and-come-again harvesting. Leafy greens are sheared down almost to ground level and they will turn right around and re-grow additional leaves for your next harvest. It is possible to enjoy at least three or four harvests from each planting.
Many trees are now putting on a spectacular fall show and their leaves will soon be falling in large quantities. I will rake up some of them on a sunny day when they are dry and save them in old garbage pails (with a lid to keep them dry) and then add them to my composter as I dump kitchen scraps over the winter. Remember to add two parts dry to one part wet!
It is now time to start thinking about planting spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and crocus. The effort now will be hugely rewarded in the spring.
It is also time to start thinking about digging and storing the summer bulbs and tubers such as dahlias, gladiolus and cannas. I usually wait until after the first hard frost – the dahlias in particular seem to just be at the peak of their flowering.
And now is the time to trim and clean up those garlic bulbs that have been hanging patiently in the garden shed.
Only one more Market Day!
And for me one of the saddest signs of fall is the closing of the Almonte Farmers’ Market for the season. What a fantastic place to meet your neighbours on a Saturday morning! Besides catching up on local gossip, it is also a great spot to pick up fresh local vegetables and flowers, arts and crafts and gourmet food. The following photos show a few scenes from Saturday.
Great Veggie Grow-off Final Weigh-in
We are rapidly closing in on the final weigh-in of the Veggie Grow-off. Last year the final total was 4071 pounds as compared to 2830 pounds the previous year. The final weigh-in this year takes place at 11 am on Saturday October 8 at Smiths Falls Town Hall (77 Beckwith Street North). The last I have heard is that we are slightly over last year’s total. Will we exceed three tons this year?
The Great Veggie Grow-off Community Challenge, now in its third year, expanded this year to include gardeners in communities across Lanark supporting all four of the food banks in the County. It started in the municipalities of Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place and Beckwith, the towns supported by the Hunger Stop, and the results were amazing. We saw an increase in people in these towns growing food and sharing it with others. Over two tons of healthy local produce was donated to the food bank last year and the feedback from recipients was extremely positive.
This year we challenged all 9 Lanark communities to grow and donate to their local food bank. Presently all four food banks (Carleton Place, Lanark, Perth and Smiths Falls) take donations of freshly grown produce. They have been asked to weigh and record the community of origin of locally grown donations of food from May 1st until the final weigh-in. Bragging rights will be given to the community that donates the greatest amount of locally grown food as well as to the community with the highest amount of freshly grown food donated per person with the big winner always being our food banks.
Bring your veggies to Smiths Falls on Saturday! If you can’t make it to Smiths Falls you can still drop your surplus garden produce at the Hunger Stop (aka Lanark County Food Bank). Bring your 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. Or you can do as our mayor does – he drops off his extra produce at a cooler in the foyer of the Almonte library. We are very grateful to the library for making this service available as well as to the volunteers who pick up this produce and drive it down to the Food Bank.
The Food Bank is open:
Mon: 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Tue: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Wed: 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Thu-Fri: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Try to drop off your produce first thing in the morning if possible.