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As our harvest season gradually draws to an end (not quite there yet) we recognize the sterling work done by Fritz the Fox and his friends and relations to keep the rabbits in their place.
Despite the unseasonal, record breaking heat and humidity the produce at the garden is growing well (with a little help from the volunteers). At the moment tomatoes are ripening fast, the courgettes and cucumber seasonal is almost over and the pole beans are coming to end. meanwhile aubergines and peppers are about to start to fill the baskets and later there will be a lot of winter squash.
We harvest twice a week on Monday and Thursday mornings starting at about 8am to try to beat the heat.
By the end of last week (19 August) we had picked and delivered:
|Weight (lbs)||Retail Value ($$)|
The garden has now switched into harvest mode and things are swinging along.
To date we have picked and delivered just shy of 600lbs of produce to West Island Mission, West Island Assistance Fund and On Rock food banks. At this stage there is a preponderance of courgettes supplemented by cucumbers, pole beans, purslane and early tomatoes and aubergines. Peppers are formed and ripening and the main tomato ripening is not far away.
Everyone is smiling.
This morning Robert, Richard, Patricia and Françoise harvested 88 lbs of assorted zuchinni/courgettes, a token first pound bag of tomatoes and 6 full bags of purslane which is now on its way to the West Island Mission de l’Ouest de l’Île – we got to try out for the first time the amazing produce washing station built for us by Oliver and Ron using the donated sink unit from a ‘Buy Nothing’ group member. We should be picking again on Thursday morning.
Recent rain and warm weather, aided by careful husbandry by the garden volunteers, is now really bearing fruit … as you can see from these photographs the squash/cucumber/courgettes patch is filling up with leaves and runners and flowers, peppers and aubergines and climbing beans are flowering and the tomatoes, aided by a modified growing technique, are shorter than usual (thus far) but weighed down with really large fruits.
The first produce -courgettes and purslane has already been delivered.
To say nothing of peaches fattening in the orchard.
This season is coming along well. We have a few courgettes already (early) and this weekend we noticed the first flowers on the young aubergines and pepper plants. The beans are starting to scramble up the poles and there are green tomatoes.
The orchard was checked over and the apple trees that had been ring-barked by the rabbits in winter have, all but one, started to put out new shots from below the damage which seem to be growing strongly. Accordingly, the dead wood above the scars was cut off and with luck we will still have apples from those trees in future years though they will be apple bushes rather than standard trees … which is fine.
The produce washing station has now been linked to the garden water supply ready for use once harvest begins.
After yesterday’s rain much of this morning’s gardening was devoted to group bonding and chatting alongside the basics of a bit of weeding and tomato side-shoot removal etc. This gave time to have a good look at the state of the orchard which is standing up very well. Back in the spring we had found that rabbits had been busy in the winter ring-barking several apple trees above the guards we had put in place – they were able to do this by sitting on the top of the deep snow that gave access to the trunks. Only Apple trees were affected. Today is was evident that we have lost only two trees with most of the rest managing to start putting out new branches from the infected trunk that was underneath the rabbit guards – later in the season the dead wood above will be removed.
Fortunately, the ring-barking was not total on the other apple trees and where there is continuous bark un and down the trunk the trees are doing fine and putting on some early fruit in some cases.
Pears, plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and Amelanchier trees were ignored by the rabbits – for the most part.
Around a dozen worker-volunteers arrived this morning ahead of the heatwave and possible thunderstorms to plant out several hundred tomato, pepper, aubergine, cucumber and courgettes plants at the garden.
The irrigation system is almost all up and working. There just remains now some weeks of careful maintenance, weeding, pinching out, watering and waiting for the pests that will inevitably arrive.
26 May – we had a good morning doing general maintenance tasks at the garden today with eight volunteers weeding, planting more onions and mulching fruit trees while other worked at spreading wood chips on the access paths.
The next two work parties (Saturday 29 May and Wednesday 2 June) will mostly be more of the same sort of jobs – hopefully this afternoon’s forecast storms won’t damage anything. Fingers crossed firmly everyone please.
And then …
Weather permitting we expect to be doing the BIG planting session on Saturday 5 June when the seedlings of tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, assorted squash etc will be brought from the glasshouse on the Mac campus and be ready for setting out.
We could really uses all the help we can get then. If you can spare a couple of hours please come along and bring hand tools such as a trowel.
**Note: Covid-19 … although things may be relaxed on Montreal after 23 June, until then masks are mandatory at the garden.
This morning 16+ volunteers of all ages descended on the garden (all fully masked by the way) and continued getting things under way. We planted 30 beautiful tomato plants kindly grown for us and donated by a couple of town youngsters – Elrik and Egan Armas – and a long row of onions went in as well. Pole bean seeds have been sown at the foot of the pole towers.
Irrigation is working also. Our next work party will be on Wednesday morning starting around 9am.