by David Hinks
We have had some dramatic weather events (did the wind-storm deposit all the neighbours’ leaves in your yard or did it relieve you of the need to rake? And while I’m in parentheses, what is the big deal with raking? Besides annoying the neighbours, does a leaf-blower really save that much effort???).
I am always in favour of doing as much clean-up as possible in the fall – we have had some reasonable days for spending some time in the garden – and our spring is such an incredibly short period of time to get all of the gardening chores done – especially if you hope to observe some of the spectacular migration of the returning birds in the spring.
The following photo shows a trash can full of freshly raked dry leaves. I will put a tightly fitting lid on this leave and place it, and two others, next to my black plastic composter. When I throw a bucket of kitchen scraps in the composter in the winter I will add a couple of handfuls of leaves. Remember that successful composting requires two parts of ‘dry’ (high carbon) materials to one part of ‘wet’ (high nitrogen) materials.
Don’t forget to dig and bring inside the dahlia and cannas tubers – they will not survive the winter in the ground! The following photo shows a dahlia tuber dug with a spading fork and with the stem snipped off. The tubers need to be dried and then stored in vermiculite in a cool and well-ventilated place.
The next photo shows cannas tubers pried out of an old barrel – they have really grown very vigorously this past summer. Cannas multiply very rapidly and you soon find that you are producing more surplus tubers than you can give away. Storage is very similar to dahlias except they need somewhat warmer temperatures.
Some of the perennial ornamental plants are best if they are cleaned up in the fall. The leaves of hostas become very mushy and are easier to clear in the fall. The following photo shows a clump of hostas with the stems cut to about two inches – just long enough so I can see where they are in the spring.
Other perennial flowering plants are worth leaving as they are over the winter. The following photo shows a clump of sedum that has strong erect stems that will show nicely against the snow (depending on how much snow we get of course…).
And of course there are some flowering plants that have strong stems with seeds that many birds are fond of. The following photo shows a coneflower seed-head that I will leave until spring. (And don’t forget to stock-up the bird feeders and put out suet!)
And it is hard to believe but some perennials are still blooming as if it were the middle of the summer. The following photo shows the bloom of a yarrow flower.
It is November already and it is amazing how many vegetables can still be harvested from the garden. They include Swiss chard, sorrel, kale, salad greens, spinach, Brussels sprouts, carrots and beets.
The same is true for many of our herbs such as parsley, sage and thyme – the following photo shows parsley still growing vigorously. In fact, parsley will generally over-winter and still be great for harvesting in the spring – however it is a bi-annual and will quickly produce a flower stem in the spring – it needs to be harvested before this develops too far.
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 Neighbourhood Tomato in the spring as we share our experience with starting seedlings indoors and getting our gardens ready for another year.
The third community potluck (actually the fifth if you count the two potlucks at Augusta Part in July) sponsored by the Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens took place Tuesday October 29 at 5:30pm at the Almonte Legion (actually most attendees seemed to believe that it started at 6pm – which was fine but it did have organizers wondering what was happening!). Great food and conversation (some of which involved gardening) contributed to a great evening for about 60 ‘neighbours’! Somehow the food came out just about right with a balanced menu of casseroles, salads and dessert. The Legion, as our host, gave a short presentation on their activities – which was very appropriate as we approach Remembrance Day.
Stay tuned for details on the next community potluck!!
In the meanwhile, please help those in need in our community as we ‘Build a Mountain of Food’ and donations for the Lanark County Food bank. Join me at Patrice’s Your Independent Grocer in Almonte on Saturday November 9th from 9am to 4pm and bring your food and financial contributions. This is one of the most important events of the year for the Food Bank to collect the resources to help the less fortunate in our community. Donations may also be made in Carleton Place at FreshCo, Giant Tiger and Steve’s Independent Grocer.
Please help those in need!