Perhaps you are one of the lucky people to have had the great opportunity to take a walking tour through the Thistletown Collegiate schoolyard garden this month. There is definitely a lot to see and sample now that summer has arrived and the garden has exploded with life.
One of the greatly anticipated events of the summer is the ripening of the various fruits and berries growing at Thistletown. A great bounty of delicious fruits have been produced this year, including red and black raspberries, cultivated and wild strawberries, black and white mulberries, and red and black currants. The blackberries and pear and apple trees planted at Thistletown over the past two years are developing their first crops of fruits as well. The dwarf plum tree planted last year is still too young to start producing fruit, but we look forward to a crop of purple plums next summer. Earlier in the summer we posted about our attempts with germinating pawpaw tree seeds; unfortunately we are still waiting anxiously to see signs of activity.
|These currants have ripened to an amazing red colour and are ready for harvesting.|
|Black currants are still developing their dark colour, but it won't be long before they are ready for harvest too!|
|Wow! A bug's eye view of a crop of head lettuce growing up interplanted with shade-making sunflower plants.|
Wait...what???...Onions???...taking a walk???
Onions! That's right! Egyptian walking onions to be exact! These amazing plants walk from place to place by growing small onion bulbs at the top of a tall central stalk (called top sets), which with maturity topple over onto the ground, develop new roots, and establish new plants in new locations. At Thistletown the walking onions are just getting their summer 'walking legs' as the have quickly matured under the warm June sun, and are now drooping over and dropping their top sets back to the earth.
But onions are not the only unusual things walking around in TCI garden.
Actually quite a few plants at Thistletown have been enjoying taking a stretch, including the strawberry plants. From just a couple plants installed a few years ago, there are now two full beds of strawberries developed via above ground runners which set root and form new plants.
As with all of the PACT Grow to Learn gardens, the gardeners at Thistletown are committed to growing fruits and vegetables organically without the use of any non-organic pesticides or fertilizers, and therefore rely heavily on homemade compost to support the maintenance of healthy and productive vegetable plants by recycling nutrients and organic matter to improve soil health. It is now common to see walking compost heaps when out for a walk in the TCI garden. TCI gardeners are working with the walking composting technique, in which alternating layers of high ratio carbon materials (e.g. cardboard) and high ratio nitrogen materials (e.g. garden weeds) are built up directly on top of existing garden beds to take advantage of organic matter decomposed and subsequently deposited during the composting process. Then, in order to aerate and speed along the composting process, the compost heaps are flipped over from time to time, all along the garden bed from one location to another. The walking compost technique helps to make composting easier and more efficient because all of the decomposition happens directly in the garden bed, exactly in the location where the nutrient recycling is needed most to benefit the maturing fruit and vegetable crops.
Whether legged or not, there have been lots of amazing things to observe via a walking tour of Thistletown Collegiate this June. You can check out some of the sights below, but you really should pass by to take in the sights, sounds, and scents!
|Swiss Chard (above) and kale (below). These crops are excellent vegetables for backyard gardeners because they can easily be grown from direct seeding in spring and produce a harvestable crop all growing season.|
|Calendula flowering, with swiss chard and lemon balm in the background.|
|Chamomile provides habitat and food for diverse insect populations, and makes a soothing herbal tea.|
|In our May post, we included a photo of the beautiful foliage of common herb white yarrow. Here it is again in June, in it's gorgeous flowering stage.|
June was undoubtedly a great month to take a walk around the Thistletown schoolyard garden, but there is no doubt that July is going to be incredible!
If you are interested in checking out the garden or volunteering to help with weeding, watering, planting, and harvesting, please feel welcome to email email@example.com to arrange a time.
Hoping to see some of you soon!