88lbs of Courgettes

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.

Now things are moving …

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.

Promise of Produce

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.

Pepper flowers
Aubergine flower

The Fritz Orchard

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.

Planting Day!!

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.

Keep Saturday 5 June Free

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.

First Tomatoes and Onions

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.

Community Effort

This morning some 25 members of the community of all ages came together at the garden to make a start on opening it for the summer 2021 season. Huge THANKS to everyone who appeared – with your contributions we got much further ahead than we expected. Thye tomato stakes are in place and the ground cover laid, weeds were removed from the edges and compost spread. A start was made to setting out the irrigation system.

The next work party will be on Wednesday from 9am when further work will be done on the irrigation and our climbing bean towers will be erected.

The community at work
Socially distancing gardeners
Setting out the rows for tomatoes
Sun and rain shelter for the volunteers
Young members of the town community have been growing tomatoes which
they are donating to the Garden at Fritz. We hope to be able to plant them next weekend

“We Plough the Fields and Harrow … “

Mike from the Mac Farm came with his tractor this afternoon and tilled the garden. We don’t actually plough the land, that goes far too deep and brings up clay, but till the top few inches to give a good with for planting.

We also found that a sheet of “geotex”, the felted variety, on top of the stack from last fall had been used as the site for a cosy mouse nest over winter and in turn – as is commonly the case – a couple of gentle bumble bee queens had moved in and were converting it to their needs. The nest was gently moved and relocated leaving the bees a little confused but not at all aggressive. Rather a shame as bumble bees need all the help they can get but it’s early enough in the year for them to take up residence somewhere else.’

Season Start – Saturday 15 May

It looks like the gods are smiling and we will be able to open the garden on Saturday 15 May

First thing – we will be observing the basic covid health protocols.

  1. Bring a mask to wear if you cannot avoid getting too close to other volunteers.
  2. Try to observe the usual social distancing procedure we are all used to now.
  3. Consider having hand sanitiser just in case.

Now to the gardening. The garden is planted in three rotating strips – tomatoes to the east, beans, aubergines, peppers and onions in the middle and assorted squash and courgettes on the west. We will be concentrating on the following:

  1. Removing any weed roots that have escaped the earlier attempts to get them under control and the tilling.
  2. Setting out the main irrigation hoses and sprinklers
  3. Laying geotex sheets and strips for paths between planting rows and nailing them to the ground with anchor nails
  4. Setting up the support poles for the tomatoes.

You should bring –

  • Basic tools for any weeding that has to be done
  • A heavy hammer (if possible) for fixing the geotex nails
  • Stout footwear and gardening gloves, sunhat etc
  • Enthusiasm.

We will start work at 9am. Please park along Stafford. We will have a quick question and introduction session and then get down to work. We will finish round about noon or thereabouts though nobody is going to stop you working longer if you wish.

Anything we are unable to finish on Saturday morning we will try to complete on the following Wednesday – 9am start again. Planting will be done once the weather is warm enough and the seedlings stout enough.

Looking forward to seeing the community at work.

Some scenes from this time last year …