Newsletter

GLOUCESTER ALLOTMENT GARDEN ASSOCIATION

NEWSLETTER


Garden plot

STARTING ON THE RIGHT FOOT 


          A few hints to 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?

          By Monique Paré, Master Gardener

         

          Each spring, as 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!”

COMPOST SUPPLY


          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 considerable work.)

* * * Important rule * * *

Organic material, trash, garbage, etc, MUST NOT be left on pathways or 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


          Some years, 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


          The Association 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.


THE ASSOCIATION


          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


MEMBERSHIP

         

          We encourage 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


          The 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.


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