GLOUCESTER ALLOTMENT GARDEN ASSOCIATION
STARTING ON THE RIGHT FOOT
beginners for growing record crops! First thing to do is make a
garden plan of what vegetables you want and where you wish them to
grow. Many garden books can help you with this, and if you know a
seasoned local gardener, he or she can be a wealth of
information. Many of our registered members are expert gardeners.
Another source is seed catalogues that specify germination time, number
of seeds per foot, soil temperature and composition, etc. When
planting seeds, always check seed packages for outdoors planting date
and seed depth.
Many people buy started plants at nurseries for some tender crops that
require a long growing season such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.
The plots should be tilled and staked out by May 20, although, if the
ground is wet it may be later; sooner if dry.
Make sure you are in the right garden plot before you start.
Start by facing your plot. The numbered stake should be near you
at the left corner of your plot with the number painted red on the side
of the stake facing your plot. Placement of the stake is shown in
the diagram on the first page of this Newsletter.
WHAT’S IN THE SOIL?
Monique Paré, Master Gardener
we prepare to plant our garden, we first work the soil to create good
growing conditions. Throughout the spring and summer, we will
dig, cultivate, rake, hoe, fertilize, water that soil, and mulch it in
some cases. Even though we rarely stop to think about it, soil is
a lot more than just a receptacle and a support for our plants.
In the ground
where plant roots push and wander to find food and water, there is a
secret world teeming with millions of very active organisms. We
know about the ones that are easily seen like the friendly earthworms
and the not so welcome slugs among others. However, if you were
to take just a few grams of soil and place it under a microscope, you
would discover thousands of different organisms that have their home in
that soil. What’s more, most of these tiny organisms (called
microorganisms) can benefit the garden in some ways.
Just like everyone plays a role in our society, every
organism in this
underground world contributes something to the soil environment and
indirectly to the garden growing in it. These organisms are
responsible for things like recycling plant material and making
nutrients ready to be absorbed by the roots, helping to aerate the soil
and maintaining a good soil structure (what makes a soil easy to
work). The more variety of organisms in your soil, the less
chances there are that your plants will suffer from diseases caused by
harmful ones – that’s because the good microbes and bugs can compete
and crowd out the bad ones.
How can we keep
the microbial world happy and helpful in the garden? Try imitating
nature by returning organic material to the soil (e.g. compost or
mulch), by limiting the use of synthetic products (pesticides, chemical
fertilizers) that may be harmful to many organisms, and by not
compacting the earth too much and aerating it if necessary. Just
like us, these critters need food, water and oxygen, and they also can
suffer when disturbed or exposed to harsh products. Think
“Healthy soils for healthy plants!”
To help you
condition the soil of your plot, the Association will have compost
delivered at staking time; a scoop load of the material will be dumped
on the front end of your plot. If you start seeding your plot
before compost delivery, leave three metres clear of seed at the front
end to avoid burying the seeds under a pile of compost. Please
note that a large amount of compost may increase scab on beets and
potatoes. Some varieties of potato such as Irish Cobler and all
red types are more susceptible to scab; Yukon Gold and Russet Burbank
are somewhat resistant.
RECYCLE ORGANIC WASTE
All crop waste
pulled from your plot in the Fall can be left on the surface to be
ploughed in and thus regenerate organic content. However, hard
material such as corn, sunflower, brussels sprout stalks, and vines,
should be chopped up in order to mix with the soil and
disintegrate. Otherwise, place this type of material at the front
of your plot one week before fall cleanup. (Please try to cut and
spread your material over your plot as this saves the fall cleanup gang
* * * Important rule * * *
Organic material, trash, garbage, etc, MUST NOT be left on
laneways. Organic compostable material, if not ploughed in by the
member, may be placed in the designated disposal area. But other
trash and garbage must be removed from the site by the member.
PREVENT PILFERING AND VANDALISM
pilfering and vandalism may increase. The way to stop it is to
prosecute the culprits. To accomplish this, we must team up
together. Get to know your gardening neighbours, their car(s) and
license number(s). If any unfamiliar car appears in the area,
take down the license number and vehicle description, date and time of
day, and description of the people in the car. Walk up to
unfamiliar people and ask them to identify themselves and justify their
presence. The Association will prosecute pilferers and vandals,
but it needs the memberships' help to trace them. Report your
findings to a Board member and fully identify yourself.
PROTECT TOMATOES FROM CUTWORMS
If cutworms are
giving you headaches when you're planting young tomato plants, here's a
hint on how to protect them. The larvae cut the base of the
plants to bring them down so as to have access to the foliage.
When you place the young plants in the soil, wrap a three-centimetre
band of aluminum foil around the stem just above and below soil
level. Cutworms will find it too hard to chew and will move on
DON'T WASTE YOUR SURPLUS CROP
urges its members not to waste surplus produce. At the end of the
gardening season, don’t let heavy frosts damage it. Whenever
possible, harvest your excess produce and take it to a food bank. There
are several food banks to choose from in the National Capital Region;
most are listed in the yellow pages under Social Service Organizations.
After the NCC
abandoned its Gloucester Allotment Garden Program in 1981, a group of
citizens, with support from the City, formed the Gloucester Allotment
Garden Association, a non-profit organisation to continue the allotment
garden program under voluntary management.
We, the members of the Association are responsible for the operation
and maintenance of the program. We must perform the registration,
till the plots, complete the staking, supply the compost, cut the grass
on pathways and perform the fall clean-up
family gardening and all family members are automatically
registered. Children should be involved along with moms, dads,
and friends of the family. Gardening is a great experience in
understanding nature and caring for the environment.
MASTER GARDENERS' HELP
Ottawa-Carleton Master Gardeners staff a helpline every Wednesday and
Thursday afternoon between 1 and 3pm. Give them a call if you
have any questions or problems. Hot line number: 236-0034.