Cultivating Quality Foods

Row by row, gonna make this garden grow GREGG CHAMBERLAIN— T he Farmer’s Almanac says it is planting time now for many favourite items in the home veg- etable garden. That tallies with the advice that a couple local experts on growing vegetables have for home garden- ers. wintry change in the weather. The same goes for peas and carrots. Home gardeners with a little greenhouse setup can get an early start on some of their planting, if they’re extra careful when it comes time to transfer their seedlings to the main garden for replanting. Desjardins himself is experimenting with growing kale in a greenhouse environment at his own farm. get out and start prepping his 1250-square-foot garden plot. are buried into the soil to serve as nutrients for this year’s crop. He also mixes in some horse or cow manure collected from a neighbour across the road from his Concession 6 home.

“I like to have a small garden” Blaney said. “A vegetable garden, just your basics. Green onion, potatoes, corn, some tomatoes and car- rots, cabbage, and green and yellow pepper.” He offered a suggestion for home gardeners thinking about putting in some corn. Stagger the planting times if there is more than one row of corn going in. He himself plants four rows of corn, each one planted a week apart from the others. “That way they’re not all com- ing up ripe at the same time,” he said. “You’ve corn ready to eat one week and then again the a week later.” Blaney agrees that mid-May is best for most of the vegetables he grows in his garden. But that leaves April clear to prep the site for plant- ing. He prefers using a small tractor with a plow attachment to make the first cuts into the ground, then run over the entire plot after- wards with the rototiller and make sure all the cornstalks and remains from last year’s garden

A little electric fence surrounds his garden, low enough for him to step over, but high enough to ensure that any visiting raccoons or other animals get a mild shock to change their minds about helping themselves to his vegetables. He used to have a bit of a problem with skunks getting into the corn rows and amusing themselves by pulling the leaves off of the stalks. Harvest time is from July to early August. Between planting time and then, there’s a bit of weeding to do. But most of the time, Blaney enjoys one extra blessing from his little home garden. “It’s kind of relaxing,” he said. “You go out- side, look at your garden, and see all the things growing. And there’s nothing like going out in August, picking a ripe tomato, and having it for supper.”

Before he got involved in local politics, Guy Desjardins was and still is a full-time farmer. Now the mayor of Clarence-Rockland has to balance his hours between plans for this year’s harvest and also plans for dealing with the city’s business. But he had a few words of advice about planting schedules for homeown- ers thinking about starting their own little veg- etable patch this year. “Not until at least mid-May,” Desjardins said. “Mid-May or end of May for some things. Though leaf lettuce can take a late frost.” For spring salad staples like tomatoes and cucumbers, Desjardins noted, it is best to wait until after April when the weather gets a bit warmer to avoid the chance of a last-minute

Manure pump SPECIALIST But April andMay are the time of the year for most vegetable garden items like beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, peas and pota- toes. For Lowell Blaney, an 84-year-old retiree living in rural Plantagenet, the warm spring weather cannot come soon enough for him to According to the Canadian Farmer’s Alma- nac, a greenhouse is a good way to raise veg- etables like kale, and also brussels sprouts and leeks during the late winter and early spring, to be sure to have some fresh greens for the din- ner table. Leeks and the more familiar onion are also traditional vegetables for planting in the early spring, if the ground is soft and warm enough.


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