Summer at the outdoor garden.
by Nicole Murray
June has been an amazing month! So much growth in the garden and a steady core group of volunteers to help with the workload has made me feel so grateful. One of our volunteers has returned from a 6-month long backpacking trip and we had to say farewell to a woman travelling back to her home country of Malaysia.
I thought this month I would elaborate and explain more about the companion planting we are doing. Come down during volunteer hours and get your hands dirty, I’d love to answer your questions.
The Nasturtiums are in bloom and crawling all through the gardens, their flowers are edible and the plant is beneficial to the garden. When planted with squash they keep away squash bugs and repel a number of other harmful insects from fruit and veggie crops. If aphids appear on the nasturtiums it is a sign there is a lime deficiency in the soil and a dusting of lime will help get things back on track. Planting nasturtiums within the garden will improve the growth and flavour of neighbouring crops. Some crops that benefit from this companion are potatoes, radish, cucurbits and any member of the cabbage family. (A cucurbit is a plant in the gourd family-melons, pumpkin, cucumber, squash.)
Our berries are ripening nicely, we will have red currants and raspberries soon enough! We had our first kindergarten class come in for a visit from the Hume School and they helped with adding comfrey to the potato patch and make some comfrey tea. We had to let the comfrey tea sit for a couple weeks, it was so stinky! We diluted it and applied to some of the veggie crops. It is high in calcium, potassium, and phosphorus and rich in vitamins A and C and when the leaves are added to the soil around potatoes it is said to increase the yield.
Potatoes do well when planted with beans, corn, cabbage and horseradish (which should be planted at the corners of the patch), marigold and eggplant (which acts as a trap plant for the Colorado potato beetle). Plants that are not good to have near the potato patch are pumpkin, tomato, raspberry, squash and cucumber, and sunflower stunt the growth. The presence of these plants is said to lower the potatoes’ resistance to blight. In our garden, we have squash growing next door to the potato patch and raspberries close by so we’ll see what happens! So far the potatoes are doing great!
We had to pull up all of the turnips because there were root maggots eating them (see the videos below). I noticed there were still some maggots in the soil when digging around so instead of planting another root crop we sowed some mixed salad greens. It’s interesting that the root maggots didn’t go near the carrots growing next to the turnips, maybe because of the leeks growing with them (Leeks help repel the carrot fly who’s larva attack the roots).
We got through screening 2 more of our worm bins! They are so easy to manage but screening and separating the worms does take time. It’s so worth it though as it adds much nutrition into the soil. Each bin gives us almost a full wheelbarrow of worm castings.
Since the weather has been so nice and hot we have taken the cover off of the tomato tunnel and put cages and supports on the tomatoes. They are getting so big! The ones that were donated by Paul have bounced back and are filling out. I’ve pruned them a little bit to help with air flow by removing the lower leaves and any that are bunching up in the middle, this will help prevent any mould or disease from forming.
Here are 3 short little videos that will quickly get you up to date on how things are growing at the SEEDS outdoor garden.
There are 7 videos beginning on June 18/17. Enjoy!
Summer Volunteer Hours
Monday - Wednesday - Friday
9:00 am – 12noon
Volunteers are always welcome and appreciated.