The well-drained sandy loam in the raised beds in my vegetable garden in Clayton is drying out very nicely and is ready for me to plant early vegetables that thrive in cool conditions. The paucity of rainfall so far this spring has led some gardeners to wonder if we will face extended periods of drought as we did in 2012. Speculation about the weather provides endless conversational fodder but I hesitate to proffer a forecast. As a former practitioner of the dark arcane art of economics I know only too well the true value of forecasts.
Nevertheless, being a glass half-full type of guy I am bravely going forth and planting. The soil in the raised beds was dry enough to plant a couple of bags of onion sets and after checking that the soil was workable (take a handful and squeeze – if it stays together in a ball it is still too wet, if it crumbles it is ready) I got down and dirty on Saturday. After working up the bed with a spading fork and levelling it a bit I pushed the sets into the soil far enough that they would be covered with a couple of cm of soil when I did a final levelling of the bed with the back side of a steel rake. The sets are spaced about 10 cm apart and I plant three parallel rows on my raised beds that are about a metre wide. They join the beds of garlic – the garlic cloves were planted in October of last year and are now happily growing – they love cool weather.
In the relatively short growing season that we have for plants that prefer cooler growing temperatures I always try to plant as soon as I possibly can. This week, if the soil in more raised beds dries up enough, I will be planting spinach, radish, spring turnips, lettuce, a mesclun mix and possibly some early potatoes.
Last week the sweet potatoes that I laid in trays of peat about a month ago were starting to produce slips – now some of them are a foot high and need to be potted up. I am putting some in eight cm square pots and others in five cm square pots. These latter are deeper pots that are used for tree seedlings. With these I am hoping to get longer straight roots. The problem with potting sweet potatoes too early is that the roots will start to circle around inside the pot – and as the root is shaped so is the tuber shaped. I have harvested some really gnarly looking tubers in the past when I left the slip growing too long in the pot. The plan this year for slips that have been potted up too early is to snip off a 15 cm piece of the vine and root it just a week or ten days before transplanting to the garden. Sweet potatoes root very readily from any piece of the vine
Neighbourhood Tomato Work Party April 30
The heavy lifting will start on Saturday April 30 at Augusta Park from 9am till 3pm. We need people with rakes, shovels, and wheelbarrows to help get the beds ready for planting. We need to mount a major campaign to eliminate as much of perennial grasses as well so will be renting a sod cutter to make this work a bit easier.
Come one, come all – bring drinks and snacks if you can’t shovel. Come for an hour, come for the morning, or come all day. All help will be appreciated.
Great Veggie Grow-Off May 1
Join the Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens and board members of the Lanark County Food Bank, “The Hunger Stop,” at 5 Allan Street in Carleton Place on May 1st. The launch of the Lanark County Great Veggie Grow-off starts at 12:30 pm followed by a tour and open house at The Hunger Stop’s newly expanded and renovated premises.
The Great Veggie Grow-off Community Challenge, now in its third year, is expanding 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 are challenging 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 at Thanksgiving. 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 community’s food banks.