Monday, 30 September 2013

A Colourful September at WHCI and Elmbank JMA's Gardens

The remainder of August and all of September were full of colourful harvests at WHCI and Elmbank JMA!

At Elmbank JMA Children's Garden:

Colourful annual flowers and perennial pollinator plants bloom

 Peas and beans climbed and grew and produced pounds and pounds of food for the community!

 Some summer harvests from the Elmbank Garden

Although we planted late this year because we were busy building the garden's infrastructure, the garden still produced a whole lot of beautiful fresh food!

 Carrots sown by Grade 7's in late June grew extremely well

Come September, all of the students wanted a chance to pull a carrot from the ground, asking "Where are the carrots?" at every lunch break

 Endive has also grown very well and is providing a beautiful fall harvest

 Repairs have been made to the Elmbank composter, including new hardware cloth (mesh) securely attached to the back and side, and some wooden supports to ensure the composter can handle all of the material that will be put inside it. Composting is now in full swing!

 Curriculum Night at Elmbank JMA:

This year's curriculum night at Elmbank JMA had an environmental theme, with teachers setting up information tables for parents and the community on topics such as littlerless lunches, recycling, e-recycling, and seed saving. PACT helped represent the Elmbank garden by setting up a display table featuring some of the wonderful produce grown in the school's garden. We also put together three baskets full of the garden's harvest, which were raffled off to parents who bought tickets in support of the garden. Ms. Kapakos made 3 delicious dips using tomatillos, cherry tomatoes, cilantro and basil from the garden for everyone to try!

 The PACT Grow To Learn Elmbank Children's Garden table, featuring food harvested from the garden, and harvest baskets for raffle

 Lots of folks came out and had the opportunity to tour the garden space

 Ms. Kapakos and students give out samples of the 3 delicious dips made with Elmbank grown veggies and herbs!

 Salsa Verde, Fresh Tomato Salsa, and Basil Pesto -  recipes on how to make these were also given out. Check out the recipes here!

 Seed Saving poster and diagram, put together by students from Mr. Anderson's class

 At West Humber CI's Garden:

 Gorgeous Nasturtium flowers bloom

 Bees have been a constant presence, especially on the colourful sunflowers growing throughout the garden

 Black and Yellow Garden Spiders (aka Writing Spiders) have been spotted in their webs throughout the garden. We'd try to memorize their locations, so we wouldn't disturb them while we're doing our harvesting, but they move quite frequently!

 An interesting find: the light pink nodules on the roots of this uprooted bush bean plant indicate the presence of nitrogen fixing bacteria

 The two grape vines in the garden have produced lots of yummy grapes! Some students like them, some find them too sour and seedy.

WHCI Harvests!

 September has been a month of colourful harvests!

 Red Chili Peppers

 San Marzano Paste tomatoes - great for making sauces with

 Tomatoes and Ground Cherries

This is what a Ground cherry plant looks like. We have about 16 at WHCI, and they've been producing over 3 lbs a week

 Green and Red Sweet Peppers
and what a pepper plant looks like (below)




 Cooling bins in action

 Swiss Chard - a constant giver, we harvest from the same plants weekly for the Jamestown Community Foodbank. As long as you leave some small leaves on each plant, they'll continue to grow and give you food

Similarly, these curly kale plants have been giving great kale the whole season. Harvest from the bottom, always leaving the top few younger leaves to ensure continued harvests

Swiss Chard, Kale, and Endive - all ready to be delivered to the foodbank

We grew a variety of winter squashes this year: Blue Hubbard, Spaghetti, and Delicata (below)

Cover Cropping

Tis the season to start thinking about putting your gardens to bed. For us this means sowing cover crops in beds where we're no longer harvesting. Cover crops will make sure we don't lose valuable top soil from erosion in the winter months, they'll hold the nutrients in place in the soil, and will add lots of organic matter when they're incorporated into the soil in the spring. They will also help to out-compete weeds and grasses in our growing spaces.

 Buckwheat sown in mid August is thriving and attracting bees

 Rye starting to sprout in one of our beds

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be harvesting the last of our crops, including celery, and leeks, sowing cover crops in as many beds as possible, and planting our garlic for next year!

Leeks sizing up and will be ready for harvest in October

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