Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I have to say that our garden is looking fabulous this season!Thank you to everyone that has removed the grass and weeds on our walkways and added wood chips between the plots. If you haven't had the chance, please do this around your plot.  The ground is nice and soft after all the rain last weeks so it's a great time to pull out weeds!
Soon the soil will be warm enough for us to start MULCHING with those wood chips.  Remember that these wood chips are fresh, not like the expensive dark ones you would buy at a garden store.  This means that they have not had any time to decompose yet.  If you put these wood chips directly onto your soil, they will bind nitrogen from the soil- this is definitely not good for all your plants which that need nitrogen!  The solution is 4-5 sheets of newspaper between the soil and the wood chips. In the fall, once the wood chips have baked in the sun all summer, they can be safely mixed into the soil (along with the newspaper) to make great planting bed for next season. 


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Planting Calendar

Early April: Peas, spinach

Mid-April: Peas, spinach, lettuce, brassicas (seed), onions

Late-April: Peas, spinach, lettuce, brassicas (seed), beets, onions, possibly carrots

Early May: Peas, spinach, lettuce, brassicas (transplants), beets, carrots, chard

Mid-May: Peas, lettuce, brassicas (transplants), beets, carrots, chard

Late-May: Lettuce, brassicas (transplants), beets, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, chard (melons, cucumbers, squash)

Early June: Beans

Mid-June: Fall brassicas (kale, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, etc.)

Early July: Winter carrots, beets

August: Fall/winter greens (spinach, brassicas, lettuce, chicory, etc.), fall peas (hard to germinate in the heat)

September: Fall/winter greens

Monday, March 5, 2012

February Meeting

1. Water barrels

A new downspout has been installed on the parking lot side of the church and the large water tank has been moved to this location. The Garden Network is giving us 4 more barrels. We will have twice the water capacity compared to last year. Alan has agreed to hook up the water barrels. A date needs to be set for this.

2. Volunteer Committees

Cheryl reviewed the volunteer interests expressed on the registration forms from the Harvest Party and was able to group 4-5 members into each committee. The donation plot only has two members at this time. Ideally 4 people are needed.
Cheryl will e-mail members to inform them of their groups and include volunteer position details. Committees will have a chance to meet at the AGM.

3. Family Plots

There are a total of 26 family plots this year and all but three are spoken for. These members have yet to confirm that they are giving up their spots. Cheryl suggested that plot numbers 21 and 22 (which are smaller in size from the rest) could be combined and turned into a communal asparagus patch. Nancy recommended starting asparagus from the roots rather than seeds.
There are six people waiting to be given a plot which could come from the old communal garden area close to the composters. Cheryl has also sent an e-mail to two teachers (Liz from St. Thomas More and Scott from Centennial) asking them to send information about the CPCG home to parents in the next school newsletter. Several people have contacted Cheryl through our flyer distribution in the fall, and two have joined our group so far.

4. Transformation of the Communal Plot

The communal bed will be divided up into family plots similar in size to the existing family plots. Cheryl will go to the garden on Friday and step it out to determine how many plots will fit in this space. One section, closest to the tool shed, is designated as a donation bed.

5. Financial Report

We finished last season with $50 remaining and have received $520 since the Harvest Party for family plots. $105 was spent on a recent seed order, but the money will be recouped through sales of the seeds at the AGM. The insurance fee (due in late April) is $385. That will leave us with $185. No other major expenses are anticipated. The City of Kingston is currently reviewing its policy with regards to community gardens. There may be more money available to us in the future. There is also the possibility that the Community Garden Network will be able to negotiate a lower insurance rate for us.

6. Signage

Cheryl showed us a beautiful professional sign for our garden! The cost of $300 was covered through a grant. Cheryl's husband, Mike, has volunteered to make a wooden frame for the sign. The final task will be to install it. Smaller signs will also be placed around the garden indicating: Tasting Plot, Family Plots, Little Fingers Garden, as well as a sign on the side of the tool shed.

7. Spring Jobs

• Beginning of April: set a date (weather dependent) for members to access a rototiller (on loan from a member or Cheryl's mom) to rototill their own plots
• Before April rains: redig ditches to divert rain water (site maintenance committee)
• Order and deliver compost from Norterra. Cheryl will look into the price. (Last year it was free.) Members could sign-up and pay for a certain number of wheelbarrels of compost.
• April?: arrange for delivery of free tree mulch. All members are encouraged to mulch at the end of May (except for bean patches)
Mulch will be dumped in the corner of the parking lot
• June: complete mulching around sprouted beans and other plants

8. Raised Bed

Nancy will contact Accessibility Kingston to see if anyone is interested in gardening in the raised bed. If there is no interest, Cheryl suggested using it as a communal herb garden.

9. Social Committee

This year the social committee will organize a group gardening evening once a week. The day of the week will vary to accommodate members with other commitments. A "Lead Gardener" will be on hand to answer questions and give advice. Members can take turns bringing snacks and drinks, and games will be available for children (eg. badminton).

10. Blog

Kim has stepped down from the Steering Committee. Nancy has agreed to post items on the blog until a new Communications Officer is recruited.

11. AGM

Cheryl will confirm a date with Mike from Cooke's Portsmouth United Church. Steering Committee members suggested the evening of Sunday April 1st. Date of AGM will be sent by e-mail to members as well as posted on our blog.

Items for the AGM:

1) Steering Committee open positions: Treasurer, Communications Officer
Cheryl will bring descriptions of these positions and encourage members
to consider joining the Steering Committee

2) Compost: Once a price is determined, a sign up sheet will be posted for
members to sign up and pay for a certain amount of compost

3) Volunteer committees: groups will meet to discuss their role and
upcoming jobs. Members will be informed that they are welcome to assist
on more than one committee if they like. The donation bed committee
needs a few more members to tend to the plot and take the donated
vegetables to a designated site.

4) Communal Asparagus Bed: Members will be asked if there is interest in a
communal asparagus bed

5) Mulching and Trench Digging: Nancy will discuss these jobs

Monday, January 23, 2012

Seedling workshop

Despite the stormy conditions, a good-sized crowd gathered in Nancy’s comfortable basement to learn how to start their vegetables from seed. Nancy, an avid vegetable gardener for 20 years, provided scientific information as well as personal advice on how to successfully grow seedlings. Photographs clearly depicted healthy seedlings as well as those exhibiting warning signs of trouble. We learned the basics of what seeds to buy, where to buy them, when and how to plant them, how to care for them, and when to plant them outside in the garden. Nancy also gave us specific information on various popular vegetables. The following notes were submitted by Nancy to provide a summary of the workshop. Thank you very much to Nancy for a professional and informative session!

Seedling Workshop Notes

·         Buy untreated seeds wherever possible. The pink antifungal treatment is poisonous.
·         If you’re planning on saving seeds for next year, choose heritage, heirloom, or open-pollinated varieties. Hybrid varieties don’t produce true seeds, but they often have extra disease resistance. Make sure your plants are far enough away from similar plants to avoid cross-pollination.  [Check the Botanical Classification of Vegetables chart – Isolation distance]
·         Write the date on the packet as soon as you get it so that later you’ll know how old the seeds are.   [Check the chart – Seed viability. Some seeds last for years!]
·         Buy soilless peat mix. It’s sterile and light and holds a lot of water. It’s possible to grow seedlings in regular soil, but there’s more risk of fungal diseases like damping off.
·         Label your pots. Use masking tape and marker, rather than wooden popsicle sticks.
·         Keep a record of your planting dates so that you can improve your plans for the next year.
·         Avoid turning your entire house into a greenhouse. The only plants that must be grown indoors are tomatoes and peppers (and in 2013: cucumbers and melons). A family plot needs only a few of each.

Seedling Basics
·         Peat pots: Peat pots prevent exposure to plastics, and you can plant them whole into the garden. However, they’re flimsy when wet, they wick moisture away from the plants roots, and they take up a lot of space.
·         Plastic pots: Plastic trays sturdier than peat pots and permit watering from beneath. The black colour holds the heat, which helps the seeds germinate. You can use plastic cups, yogurt cups, margarine tubs, etc. Poke holes in the bottom.
·         Gnats: Soiless seeding mix often contains fungus gnat eggs. To kill them, microwave the soil mix in a covered container, well moistened, for 10 minutes. Let it cool completely (outside – unless you don’t mind the smell) before you remove the lid. Fungus gnats are harmless, but they’re annoying. Keep the top of the soil dry to starve them.
·         Fertilizer: Seeding mix contains no nutrients at all. It simply holds water. You need to ensure that the growing seedlings get water-soluble fertilizer once per week after they’ve germinated. Otherwise, they’ll be spindly and sickly. Start fertilizing once the first true leaves appear.
·         An alternative to using fertilizer is to place a generous tablespoon of potting soil at the bottom of each pot. When you transplant to a larger pot, use real soil. But even so, be prepared to give the plant fertilizer if it’s not doing well.
·         Covers: Cover seedling trays with a plastic cover to prevent drying out. Remove the cover once the seeds have germinated to prevent fungal disease.
·         Damp: Some seedlings are susceptible to a fungus called damp (damping off). The tiny stem rots at the soil line. Stores sell an antifungal agent called No Damp. You soak the soil in No Damp before planting. Most commercial growers use No Damp.  A reasonably successful alternative to using No Damp is to add  5 mm of vermiculite at the top of the soil. Vermiculite is sterile, and it prevents the fungus from sitting at the soil line. Water your plants from the bottom to keep the soil line dry. Or just take your chances – some years you just don’t get damping off.
·         Heat: Peppers, tomatoes, melons, ground cherries, and cucumbers benefit from warmth (especially bottom heat) when germinating. Without heat, they germinate so slowly they often die before they break the soil. Place the covered seedling tray on top of the fridge or radiator or electric blanket, or in an oven with the light on till the seeds germinate. Check twice daily.
·         Light: Most seedlings need about 10 hours of sunlight per day. Fluorescent grow-lights (plant and aquarium tubes) can provide a lot of this light, but the seedlings have to be within an inch of the lights. Better: Use a south-facing window, or a combination of east- and west-facing windows. If the day is sunny and above freezing, you can place the seedling pot in a ziplock bag (the produce bag with tiny holes) outside in bright sunlight. The ziplock bag will act as a greenhouse. Bring them in at night.
·         Hardening off: All seedlings grown indoors need to get used to the sun’s direct UV rays before going in the garden. Otherwise, they’ll get leaf burn. If possible, put the seedlings outside uncovered for at least an hour a day every day. Spend a week gradually exposing the plant to sunlight just before transplanting outdoors.

Tomatoes and Ground Cherries
·         Plant in March Break for large seedlings (ready to fruit), or in early April for small seedlings. Soil needs to be warm. Remove all flower buds till you are ready to transplant outdoors.
·         Transplant your seedlings into larger pots as they grow to promote root growth. Transplant at least once – twice is better. In the larger pots, use real soil so that the roots have access to nutrients.
·         Signs of distress: The stem/leaves turns purplish or yellowish: give liquid fertilizer or compost tea. The branches lift upward: too-rapid changes in temperature. Seedlings flop over: The roots are waterlogged or the stem has rotted through. Sickly seedlings won’t do well in the garden.
·         Harden off and transplant outdoors mid to late May.
·         Transplant outside in mid to late May. Place a handful of organic fertilizer or good-quality compost at the bottom of the hole. After planting, give the seedlings a dose of liquid fertilizer to prevent transplant shock.
·         Determinate varieties grow about 3 ft tall, then stop growing. Indeterminate varieties continue to grow all summer.
·         Good cultivars for beginners: Celebrity Hybrid, Bonny Boy, Heinz, Rutgars, any cherry tomato

·         Similar to tomatoes.
·         Saving the seeds: Remove seeds from the ripe pepper and let them dry on a towel 2–3 days. Peppers must be red, yellow, orange, etc., not green.  Supermarket peppers are hybrids, so their seeds aren’t viable.
·         Peppers shouldn’t be fertilized until they’re flowering. If you fertilize them early, you’ll get all leaves and no fruit.  
·         Transplant into larger pots at least once. Use real soil.
·         Good cultivars for beginners: Lipstick, Marconi Rosso (tall), Sweet Bullnose, Quadrato d’Asti Giallo

Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kohlrabi)
·         Hybrid varieties are more reliable than open-pollinated and heritage varieties, especially for beginners.
·         If brassicas remain in the pot more than six weeks, they won’t ever form a head. If you buy brassica seedlings, somehow ensure that they’re less than six weeks old.
·         Brassicas don’t do well if they mature in the heat of the summer. They tend to rot. Plant brassicas to harvest in June or in September-November.
·         For broccoli, cabbage, pointy cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy: Start seeds in early March to transplant outside mid April. Brassicas like cool weather. You can grow the seedlings outside under clear plastic covers (two layers). If the weather is still cold in mid April, use plastic bottles or plastic sheets to provide protection. Harvest the broccoli and pointy cabbage as soon as it’s ready (usually June or early July). Leave the broccoli to form side shoots over the summer.
·         For kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage; and fall bok choy, broccoli, pointy cabbage:  Plant directly with seed in June and July to harvest in September-November and to overwinter.
·         Good cultivars: Hybrids. Also consider early jersey wakefield cabbage (short season, small, pointy, sweet).

Cucurbits (cucumber, melon, squash) – not recommended for 2012 due to infestation
·         Start the melon and cucumber seedlings at the beginning of April for a mid- May transplant. Most varieties need heat for good germination. Cucurbit seedlings grow large very fast.
·         Plant four seeds per large pot. Cucurbits like to grow together.
·         Winter squash and pumpkins tend to grow best from seed in the garden.
·         Cucurbits are heavy feeders. Provide some real soil at the bottom of the pot and give liquid fertilizer once per week. When transplanting to the garden, give a generous shovelful of compost or organic fertilizer at the bottom of the hole. 
·         The larger your seedling at transplant, the more quickly it will produce fruit, leading to a longer harvest. Melons need a longer growing season than other cucurbits and are slower to take off.
·         Good cultivars: Lebanese hybrid cucumbers, Halona Hybrid Melon, hybrid winter squashes

Onions  (leeks, green onions, shallots, garlic)
·         Onions: Not recommended, since good onions are hard to grow.
·         Green onions, shallots, multiplier onions: Plant as starter bulbs anytime in the spring. Green onions can be planted in August to overwinter.
·         Garlic: Plant in the fall from locally grown bulbs. Divide the bulbs, leaving the paper covering of each clove intact. Plant the cloves pointy-side up in late October. Mulch with leaves till the spring. Harvest the scapes in June and the bulbs in mid July.
·         Leeks: Start seedlings in February. Plant several seeds in a four-inch pot. As the seedlings grow, give them a “haircut” with scissors every couple of weeks (limit height to 4 inches). This encourages the seedling to focus on growing the roots. Transplant outside mid-April. Mulch with leaves if it’s still cold. Leeks are very cold-hardy.

Peas and beans
·         Peas and beans must be sown directly into the garden. Peas need cool soil and beans need very warm soil. Fava beans are more like peas: they prefer cool conditions.
·         If you decide to pre-soak your seeds, keep peas cold (in the fridge) and beans warm (on the counter). Soak just till the seeds are plump and smooth (about 8 hours). Plant immediately.
·         Plant peas from early April to mid May. They will be finished by early July. If you want fall peas, germinate the peas in the fridge using paper towels before planting them outside.
·         Plant beans in June and July for harvest about six to eight weeks later. Beans with purple pods or black seeds can be planted in early August for a fall harvest, but they may need a covering of plastic if the temperatures drop.
·         Many gardeners inoculate the seeds with legume inoculent to provide nitrogen-fixing bacteria for the roots. However, a generous shovelful of fresh compost at the time of planting will do the same thing.
·         Saving the seeds: Let a few pods mature and dry out. Examine the seeds to make sure they look right. Discard the odd-looking ones.
·         Good pea cultivars: Little Marvel, Lincoln Homesteader, Wando, Alaska, Green Arrow
·         Good snow pea cultivars: Dwarf Grey Sugar, any snow pea in the Oregon family
·         Good bean cultivars: Royal Burgundy, Jade, Slenderette, Tendergreen, Pencil Pod Black Wax

·         You cannot transplant a carrot. Seed directly in the garden. Try to space the seeds 2 inches apart in every direction. Mulch with burlap to keep the soil moist during germination (7 – 10 days).
·         Choose blunt carrots rather than pointy carrots for Kingston’s clay soils (e.g., Nantes, Berlicummer).
·         To overwinter carrots, plant again in July. Cover them for the winter. Carrots harvested in December are very sweet.

Spinach, chard, beets, and lettuce
·         Lettuce:  Seed directly into the garden from early April to late May. Lettuce needs cool temperatures. Harvest before the lettuce grows a stem or it will be bitter. Plant again in August and September for fall lettuce.
·         Spinach: Spinach does not transplant. Plant in March under plastic or in April. Harvest in May. Spinach bolts if the weather gets hot or if the roots dry out. Plant again in August and September for fall, winter, and spring harvest.
·         Beets and chard: Similar to spinach. Plant outside in April for late summer harvest or in August for fall/winter/spring harvest.
·         Saving lettuce and spinach seeds: Allow one or two spring plants to bolt. Spinach produces seed by early summer, lettuce in late summer. The plants will grow tall.
·         Good lettuce cultivars: Ice Queen, Great Lakes, Summertime (can grow over the summer), Parris Island, Cos, May Queen, Buttercrunch, Bibb, Red Sails, Marvel of Four Seasons, Oakleaf, Red Salad Bowl Oakleaf
·         Good spinach cultivars: Bloomsdale (grows best in fall-winter), Tyee Hybrid (spring), Space Hybrid (winter)
·         Good beet cultivars: Any with Detroit in the name have the traditional beet flavour and hardiness.

·         Grocery store potatoes carry a virus that will reduce your harvest.
·         Buy certified virus-free seed potatoes. Split them so that there’s one eye per chunk.

Celery (celery leaf, celeriac, parsley)
·         Celery is hard to grow to good-tasting stalks because you have to blanch the stems. Celery leaf, celery root (celeriac), and parsley are easy to grow.
·         Start seedlings early to mid February. The seeds germinate very slowly. Transplant outside in mid-April for parsley and mid-May for the rest.
·         Plant parsley and celery leaf again in July to overwinter.
·         Saving the seeds: Parsley often goes to seed. You can easily collect the seeds in late summer.

Fall and winter vegetables
·         OCT–DEC: kale (planted in June); cauliflower, broccoli, parsley, and short-season cabbage (planted in June or July); lettuce, spinach, swiss chard (planted in August); celery leaf, leeks, parsnips, parsley root, rutabaga, squash, celeriac (planted in spring), peas and snow peas (planted in early August using the fridge to germinate)
·         DEC–SPRING: spinach, endive/escarole, chicory, (all planted in early September); winter carrots and parsley (planted in July); corn salad, mizuna, claytonia, tatsoi (planted in September). Cover with plastic for winter protection.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Preparing your bed for winter

Fall is here, and it is time to prepare your garden plot for the cold months ahead.  By following some of the tips below, your fall efforts will result in a better plot come spring!

Please clean up any dead plants in your plot. Chop thick plants like broccoli and tomato vines with a hatchet before putting them in the composter. Follow the composter instructions. 

Feel free to leave kale, spinach, lettuce, tatsoi, or other hardy vegetables in your bed.  This is also the time to plant garlic for harvesting next summer!   Local garlic is still available at the market, and also at the Pig and Olive butcher shop on Bath Road. Split the bulb and plant each clove individually, about four inches apart, in a dense square. Garlic is easy to grow and is ready by mid July, leaving space to grow something else.

We also recommend mulching your plot with shredded leaves.
The best amendment for clay soil is shredded leaves that have weathered for a few months. A 6- to 8-inch layer of shredded leaves rototilled into your plot in the spring will turn your clay into soft garden soil. 

Your neighbours are already starting to bag leaves and put them at the curb. You’re free to take them, leave them in the sun to dry, then crunch and shred the leaves. Spread them on your bed and leave them exposed for the winter. By spring, they’ll be semi-composted. We plan to rent a rototiller in April (on a non-rainy day, we promise!) so we can all have 10 minutes to dig our garden. Please note that leaves left whole will just blow away, and those that don’t will form a thick leathery mat rather than leaf mulch.

If collecting and shredding leaves seems like too much work, the next-best type of amendment is a large bale of peat moss. (Note that Canadian Tire never puts it on sale, so there’s no advantage to buying it early.) Peat moss blows away in the slightest wind, so don’t put it on your bed until you’re ready to dig it in. Don’t worry about the acidity—Kingston sits on limestone, which constantly neutralizes acid soil.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Harvest Party on Saturday!

If you haven't already, please RSVP for Saturday today.  Looking forward to seeing everyone, and don't forget to bring money to sign up for a plot for next year! 

Plans are underway for an awesome harvest party.  There will be games and activities for children outside (weather permitting) starting at four o'clock.  If you are itching to sing or play an instrument, there will be an open mic session before dinner so please bring your singing voice and any instruments you have at home!  

We are planning to sit down to dinner at 5:30.  If you could bring your own plate from home that would be helpful. Tea and coffee will be provided.  The annual general meeting will follow dinner.

Afterwards, extra hands would be appreciated with cleaning up the hall and church kitchen.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall clean-up

We're planning a trip to the City compost depot with all the sticks and heavy material which has accumulated in our compost piles.  Soon we will arrange for a truck or trailer to accomplish this task.  If you're willing to help load it up, please e-mail Cheryl and let her know your evening availability.  We'd like to get this done definitely before Thanksgiving. 

In the meantime, rotten produce can go into the black composters and extra plant matter can be piled beside the composters if you want to remove it from your plot already. 

All plots should be left in tidy, weed-free condition by the end of the growing season.  Crushed autumn leaves will make a great addition to our soil so if you're raking leaves at home, please bring them to the garden rather than sending them to the city compost!