Monday, July 30, 2012

Our First Food Bank Harvest

It was a perfect morning for our first food bank harvest. Thanks to our volunteers, the harvesting only took a couple of hours. 

 It was time to harvest the potatoes. The grade three class had planted a mix of Russian Banana Fingerlings, Sieglinde, Russian Blue and Red Chieftain potatoes. The plants had done very well this year and we were amazed at the yields.

Once the potatoes were done it was over to the carrot patch. I had planted a few different kinds of carrots.  They all did pretty good and had lots of healthy greens and great looking carrots.

This is one funky potato. Not sure what causes this as most of the others were round with no bumps. Now if only there was a weird and wacky vegetable contest. It could be a winner.

The carrots were grouped into bunches of ten. Yes, that's a lot of carrots, about 280 altogether.

Next they were washed and banded to keep them together.

 The potatoes were given a light wash and left to dry. What an array of colour they made on the table.

One of the local grocers donated bags so we place three pounds in each bag to make the delivery easier.

We also harvested onions. So funny as I couldn't get multiplier onions in the spring so I grabbed what I think was Dutch onion sets and this is what we got. I have never grown them before but I will certainly grow them again.

We gave the onions a bit of a brushing to get some of the soil off and they were set to go.

All the vegetables were loaded into Lynn's truck and are ready to be dropped off at the South Delta Food Bank. We donated two flats of onions, sixty pounds of potatoes and twenty eight bunches of carrots.
Thanks to the wonderful helpers I had today, Lynn, Joan and Janice were such a big help.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Harvest Time for the Needy

I am pretty excited to see how well the food bank garden has grown. Our Three Sisters Garden is growing gangbusters and it's all I can do to control the squash from jumping over the neighbours garden. I am thinking of pegging down the rambling squash to keep it in bounds.

The cabbage is coming along and won't be ready for awhile yet.

The onions are huge and we will be harvesting early next week to get them to the South Delta Food Bank in time for the Wednesday sharing for those who need help.

We will also harvest some potatoes and carrots. The carrots are getting to a pretty good size now so its time to pull some.
This has been a amazing month at the community garden. I have never seen so many peas! What a great group of allotment gardeners we have.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Harvesting Time is Here

Harvesting time is a busy time for gardeners. All the spring sown vegetables are ready to harvest. I was in the community garden this week and I see lots of peas waiting to be harvested. I have already harvested my peas twice. You can't wait until all the peas are large or you will end up with tough woody tasting peas and thats not a good thing. Pick your pods as they mature but don't leave them too long. Split one open and eat them raw to test them out. 

Shell them by splitting the pods open and use your thumb to send the peas into a small bowl. Add the pods to your compost or to the composters at the community garden.

Peas can be frozen on cookie sheets and then placed into a freezer bags for longer storage. From my little patch in the children's garden I have already frozen a kilogram of peas.

I think I am the only person growing broad beans this year. I would give them a try. They are planted early in March and are so easy to grow. Above is a photo of my broad beans just cooked. What I do is cook the broad beans for five minutes in boiling water, then I place them in ice water to cool. I add them to salads but they can be used in many dishes. They never last long enough for me to do anything fancy with them. They are a good source of protein as well.

Have you harvested your lettuce yet? If it looks like its getting taller its because its starting to bolt. Bolting happens when vegetables react to the longer days and warmer temperatures. The plant tells itself it needs to produce seed to reproduce and then it dies. The warm weather will make lettuce taste bitter so harvest as soon as you can. If you planted lettuce that was open pollinated, you could collect seed from your plants. Check your seed package to see if you can do this. If it is a hybrid, you will not get seed that grows the same as your parent plant.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Composting Area is Built!

Our community garden is getting a new look. The messiness of the existing composting site was driving me crazy. Not only was it unlevel, often the composters were full to the brim. There is nothing worse than overflowing composters to attract visitors that we don't want to see. We also couldn't maintain the grass around the composters easily enough. That has all changed.

 Last month, Jim built a base for the east composters. This base was necessary to ensure that the composters would not be sitting in water this winter. Yes, the drainage is horrid here so he added some fill and built it up.

 Now Jim is working on the west side to do the same thing. All we need now is some more fill.

He has moved all the existing composters and added three new wooden ones. These new composters have all been built from repurposed fencing. Thanks to those who donated fence boards for our project.

 Jim also moved and turned all the compost that was inside the composters on the west side and filled up just a few of them. Notice how wonderful our green waste is looking. Not long before we have some gardeners gold. If the composters are screwed shut it is because they are in "work" mode. The composter is full and we want the microorganisms to be left to do their job.

Please note that you can use the wooden composters that are open but please leave the plastic ones empty for now. We will be moving some of them back to the west side when the base is completed.

 A few things to remember when composting: Do not put plastic tags in the compost! They will not decompose.

Do not put anything in the compost that will not break down. This is an example of what was found in the compost. Last night we found a large rag. If you have garbage please take it home. Our community garden is a pack it in, pack it out garden. The garbage can is to be used only for special events such a community meal.

Also remember not to compost diseased plant material. If you have garlic rust on your garlic leaves like mine above, place the leaves in a bag to be trashed at home. We don't need rust spores in our compost bins as it will ruin our compost.
I will be working on an information board to show you what can be composted and hope to have the board up soon. So far we have great compost and we look forward to much more so we can add it to our gardens.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Its Pea Harvest Time!

Wow, how things have grown at the Ladner Community Garden! I was at the garden this morning to get the children's garden watered before it got too warm out and to harvest some peas. The peas were planted back in March by the grade three class. We had lots of snacking of the pods when the class was there. Now the pods are full of peas and ready to be harvested.

Standard peas are harvested when the pods have filled out but before the peas become tough and lose sweetness. Be careful not to injure the vines when picking.

Just look how well the peas have produced this year! I hope to plant some more peas but they need to go in before July 15 for fall harvesting. I harvested approximately 4 1/2 pounds of peas. Mind you I still have yet to shell them.
Fresh peas in their pods will keep in the fridge for 7-10 days. Flavour is best when eaten soon after harvest.
So be sure to check your peas in your gardens. Harvest them as they mature. The peas along the bottom of the plant are well hidden and usually ready first. Leave any pods that are not ready to fill out for another harvest next week.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July in the Ladner Community Garden

Here it is July and our community garden is thriving. The gardens are all growing well with the combination of sun and rain, well,  a little too much rain but then who doesn't need a day off from watering?

Last month the volunteers completed the building of two pergolas in the center of the garden. We can't wait to get some gardens around the outside so we can grow plants over the top of the arbor. There is a purpose for all the reclaimed cement sitting at the front of the garden. We like to repurpose old driveways and make them into rock gardens. We even received some larger cement pieces to be used for a floor under the pergolas. Imagine creeping Thyme planted in between the slabs, what a vision!

The pergolas are looking pretty bare so we are anxious to pretty them up. So what's happening in July?

Check out this photo of an herb spiral that a couple of master gardeners built at Kirkland House. Our plans are to build one of these where we have the wet area on the east side of the garden. This is a form of permaculture in that an herb spiral uses less space than conventional planting and you can amend the soil to suit each plant. I know we can make one a lot larger with all the rocks we have had donated. Let one of the board members know if you are interested in participating in this project. By helping out you may want to create one in your own garden at home. I think that once planted with herbs we can use it communally as we only need to use a few leaves at a time usually. It will also help the allotment holders to free up space in their gardens.

Things to watch for in the garden. If you click on the above photo of my garlic you will see garlic rust has hit the garden. Look for tiny orange spots on the leaves of your garlic. I have written about what to do about garlic rust on my blog here.

I checked my garlic last night and it is fine. Check out how big this garlic bulb is! I will harvest the rest once the foliage dies back.

I can't say enough about how beautiful the West Coast Seeds trial gardens are. The colours are magnificent and Mark has placed signage on each bed so we know what seeds to buy if we would like to use this type of planting in our gardens. Thank you Mark!

Its time to harvest your crops before they bolt. With warmer weather coming your lettuce, spinach, radishes and other cool season crops may start to go to seed. I saw this broccoli starting to flower yesterday. Be sure to pick the top head so that your side shoots will start producing heads. There is nothing worse than wasted food. If you have too much harvest consider donating it to the local food bank. They will take donations of fresh vegetables anytime between 9-4 on Mondays and Tuesdays. The can be dropped of at the Ladner Christian Fellowship Church.