Nature always wins! – very wise advice from local gardening celebrity Ed Lawrence. In the final analysis we have to adapt to whatever Ma Nature is throwing at us; rather than the other way around. A perfect storm of adversity has been thrown at gardeners this spring – record rainfall, a very depressing paucity of sunlight, soil that is too wet to work, weeds such as quack grass rampaging through the garden and now – black flies!!
There are some silver linings – trees that suffered from drought last year are rebounding, many perennial flowers are bursting forth in grand style, the garlic planted in mid-October is over a foot high and perennial veggies such as rhubarb and asparagus are flourishing!
How can vegetable growers deal with everything that the weather gods are cooking up for us this summer? My usual advice is to plant a diversity of crops. Plant some that like cooler wet summers such as kale, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, beets and chard. And also plant veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes and squash that embrace a hot dry summer like the one we had last summer. And sadly we have pretty much slipped past the point where it is worthwhile planting vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and arugula that really hate hot temperatures (don’t despair – we can plant them in mid-August for a luscious fall crop).
New Garden Initiative – Carambeck Community Garden Carleton Place
I was proud to be part of a dozen volunteers that created a small garden oasis behind the Carambeck Community Centre in Carleton Place on Saturday. Surprisingly the majority of volunteers were from Mississippi Mills, which I feel, demonstrates the strength of the volunteer ethic in Mississippi Mills. We created six boxes and filled them with soil -thanks to the generosity of the fine folks at CP Nursery (which is actually located in Mississippi Mills). We also constructed a small Hoop House which is the home for four of the boxes. This kit was much more complicated than your average IKEA product and took the efforts of four very determined women to put all the pieces together. The hoop house (an unheated greenhouse) will enable gardeners to extend the gardening season to close to ten months versus the five or six months in an outdoor garden in the Ottawa Valley.
The project is being undertaken by the Hunger Stop with the assistance of a 2017 Scotts Miracle-Gro GRO1000 Grassroots Grant. We see this initiative as a very important one as it is a real partnership between the Town of Carleton Place, the food bank, the youth centre, TR Leger Alternative School, community volunteers and business sponsors. We believe that this project will have real results in addressing food security issues in our region, educating the population on related issues, and raising awareness of how individuals, businesses and communities can make a real difference in both the lives of those around us and in our own lives.
The location of the project at a busy community hub creates intergenerational learning and mentoring opportunities. The proximity of the youth centre and the school places them in the centre of the proposed garden. The gardening program will help meet key objectives of the youth centre and the school as well as serve food bank clients and the general public. Weekly gardening sessions with students from the youth group and TR Leger are scheduled for Thursdays and several students have already responded enthusiastically to this opportunity.
Augusta Park Community Garden – Could still be a bit greater!
There was just too many things going on in Almonte this weekend and once again the weather was the pits. The Saturday May 13 work party to get the Neighbourhood Tomato gardens in Almonte great again was unable to achieve all of its goals. Some potential volunteers were fully employed at the incredibly successful Almonte Hort Plant Sale and others were fully engaged at the project in Carleton Place – the ubiquitous Ed Lawrence managed to cover at least two events –we tip our rain hats to him for his encouragement of the volunteers at Carambeck! Stay tuned for news of future work parties at the Augusta Park Garden.
Oh no not again! Carleton Place Community Garden Rejuvenation re-re-re scheduled!
Our credibility is probably long gone by now but we have decided to postpone the garden project at the community garden in Carleton Place a couple of weeks due to our very wet spring – it is now scheduled for Saturday May 27 and Sunday May 28. Here’s another opportunity for Mississippi Mills gardeners to extend a helping hand (and shovel) to our neighbours in Carleton Place. A major project to rejuvenate the community garden next to St. Gregory School on Townline Road in Carleton Place is being spearheaded by the Lanark County Food Bank (aka the Hunger Stop) in partnership with existing gardeners at the site. It is being funded by a grant from Sysco Food and is supported by several local businesses. Circle the dates. Construction will be in full swing starting at 9 in the morning and will wrap up around noon each day. Come for an hour or two or for the whole morning. Bring your wheelbarrows, shovels and rakes!
A Tale of Two Mayors
It is not my intent to weigh-in on political issues; rather I just want to say a word or two about the gentlemen that happen to be mayors of our two municipalities of Mississippi Mills and Carleton Place. I make no judgement on whether all of their decisions have been wise or whether they have made mistakes – God knows that I have made enough mistakes and bad judgement calls in my life!
I can only speak from my own personal experience of the actions of these two men and they have both touched me deeply. In my work with food security issues and with community gardens they have both been incredibly supportive – participating at meetings and events and going way beyond ‘photo-op’ participation – to the extent of growing an extra row for the Food Bank, encouraging volunteers or dumping soil into garden boxes. These are people who really care about the health of our communities and all of our citizens.