Congratulations to our Mississippi Valley Textile Museum on their incredibly well organised home and garden tour that took place on Saturday. Titled “Mills and Manors of Little Manchester” seven homes and three gardens were featured. While I was mainly focussed on the gardens, the aspect that struck me the most were the dozens of volunteers that made it function so smoothly – on the garden side there were lots of volunteers from the Almonte and Pakenham Horticultural Societies.
It is always possible to do so much more with partners than one can do alone. That is very much the case this year with a project that is called the ‘Potvin Potato Project’. This project is being led by our Food Bank and is possible only through the public-spirited generosity of Al Potvin (who has provided the land, truckloads of compost and mechanical tillage), the HUB (which provided ‘seed money’), members of the Hoop Housers (who provided labour) and the North Lanark Agricultural Society (which provided 60 bales of hay for mulch).
As the following photos show the potatoes are growing well but as of time of writing (Sunday afternoon) they are desperately in need of rain, as are everyone’s garden in the area. The high level of compost and the hay mulch do help retain moisture but there is a limit. By the way rows of potatoes 130 feet long do look impressive but also pretty daunting when you are hoeing and hilling them!
An art installation?
Hard to believe now but we had some very cool windy weather with low overnight temperatures just a week or so ago. The following photo shows the very innovative approach one Augusta Park gardener took to protect her tomato plants.
Still time to plant
Do not despair if you haven’t planted your vegetable garden yet. It is not at all too late to start a vegetable garden. Seeds of short season vegetables such as beans and zucchini can be planted now with a reasonable expectation of success. Vegetable seedlings such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers may still be planted as well – in all likelihood seasonal garden centres at box stores will have these plants on deep discount soon as they wrap up their operations for the season.
Even if you have your garden fully planted now, there are still opportunities for additional crops. While it seems like we are still a long way away from a meal of fresh beans from the garden, nonetheless it is time to think about planting another bed with beans and beets and maybe carrots (perhaps where the lettuce and spinach have gone to seed and been pulled out).
Many gardeners subscribe to succession planting. Rather than plant all of the beans at once, plant some every two or three weeks thus spreading out the harvest over an extended period. This can continue over the summer. The average bush bean takes about 50 days from seeding until harvest (beets 55 to 60 days). Given that the weather will likely start to cool off considerably by mid-September, I will want to plant my last crop of beans about mid-July. This also creates the opportunity to have more than one harvest from the same plot of land – I will be planting my later plantings of beans and beets in areas where I have harvested lettuce, spinach, peas and early onions and potatoes.
Mid-August will also be an opportunity to plant vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and other greens that will grow very well as the days get shorter and cooler in the fall. The trick is to get them to germinate in warm soil. Frequent watering may be necessary.