In the Garden
Joyce S. purchased and her husband Brian installed the new sturdy hose reel in the middle by the library windows. Thank you so much!
Things to do in August
Herbs are available to all members! Collect only the quantity of herbs you will use or about 10% of the plant foliage from the herb garden. There’s lots of tarragon!
Garlic should be getting close to harvest. Bulbs can be harvested when the top half of the leaves have turned brown.
Dead head your seed producing plants so they don’t self seed where they are not wanted. Seed heads need to be put in the municipal compost at home or in the garbage as the Common Ground compost pile is not hot enough to kill the seeds. Bolted plants will no longer produce flavourful leaves and should be pulled and composted.
Keep weeding! Pulled weeds go into the municipal compost or the garbage, not the Common Ground compost pile. Do not pull weeds and discard them on the pathway mulch. Feel free to pull the weeds along the outside of your bed when you have time.
We do have a crew to weed the pathways and common areas. If you notice a lot of weeds in your area please contact us to let us know.
What to plant in August (yes really!)
As the gardening season continues and crops begin to mature and are harvested you might have some bare soil.
There are several late season crops that can be planted in Calgary. Our plant hardiness zone is listed as a 4a meaning we can grow plants ranging from a Canadian Zone 3 to a Zone 5, if you can get your microclimate to cooperate.
Canadian plant hardiness zones take several climatic factors into account including frost free period, amount of rain from June to November and mean daily temperatures for the warmest month (McKenney, D.W., Hutchinson, M.F., Kesteven, J.L., Venier, L.A. 2001. Canada´s plant hardiness zones revisited using modern climate interpolation techniques. Can. J. Plant Sci. 81: 129-143).
Calgary’s first frost is typically in mid-September so root vegetable crops and cool weather crops can be planted in early August. The use of row cover, frost cloth or even a portable cold frame can extend the growing season slightly longer (though the days are shorter). Crops to plant in August include plants with short growing times (30-55 days).
Below is a list from the Gardening at USask Facebook page:
– Jade Spring Choi Sum (a type of Chinese broccoli) (35 – 45 days)
– Mei Quing Pac Choi (40 days)
– Buckley red lettuce (35 days)
– Other lettuces (most mature in 35 – 60 days – harvest young)
– Astro argula (30 – 40 days)
– Beets (Early Wonder, Red Ace) (55 days)
– Corn salad (Granon -not corn but a European salad green) (35 days)
– Kale (Ethiopian) (48 days)
– Mizuna mustard greens (45 days)
– Green onions (Kincho) (50 days)
– Radish (French Breakfast) (25 – 30 days)
– Swiss chard (Bright lights) (55 days)
– Red orach (a type of green) (55 days)
Not recommended: spinach! Sadly, slow to germinate in hot weather and tends to bolt when days are long.
Ideal crops to plant in a small raised bed are ones that can be used in multiple ways – like beets and carrots. Young carrot greens taste like parsley and are a lovely addition to salads. Beet greens are a favourite in our house. If you have a lot of beet greens and are unsure of what to do with them (beyond steaming, sautéing, freezing for soups and stews or raw) you can use them to make beet green bread rolls (I know them as bread and leaves).
In a nut shell – bread dough is baked inside a wrapper of beet leaf and served with a delicious dill sauce. Check out this one if you’re feeling adventurous: https://www.thespruceeats.com/ukrainian-beet-leaf-rolls-recipe-1137479. There’s even fresh dill in the herb bed😊
Below is a write up supplied by Joan W, a former member of Common Ground. Joan was the driving force and primary planter for the Pollinator Bed located to the south of the garden.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ?
Did you know CGGS has a pollinator flowerbed? Take a break from weeding your carrots and walk south of the main garden to check it out! A patch of lawn by the spruce and bur oak trees was developed into a flowerbed in 2019, and finished this spring. The intent was to situate a Nanking cherry (CG’s first edible shrub!) among a pleasing setting of other perennials, and to attract native insects to the site, particularly pollinator species.
There are now over 150 shrubs and flowers in the ‘bee bed’, of which about 30% are native Alberta species. The latter include alumroot, blanket flower, gaillardia, bee-balm (bergamot), wild rose, and wolf willow, among others. Did you know that the common garden herb Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) is native to, and grows wild in the province?
Plants were chosen for continuous blooming throughout the growing season, to attract a variety of insects. Spring flowers include primrose and tulips, followed by lupine, columbine, rock cress, bumblebee sage, bachelor-button, and pin-cushion plant. In summer, tall delphiniums, daisies, veronica, salvias, and multicoloured yarrows are in bloom. Next, blazing-star, hollyhock, coneflower, and other late-flowering species will take centre stage.
Many insects feed on nectar or pollen, thus aiding in cross-pollination of plants, including your vegetable crops. I’ve already seen several types of bees, hover flies, beetles, spiders, admiral and fritillary butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and small native wasps this summer, to name a few. Butterflies are attracted to certain petal colours and umbrella-shaped flower heads that form ‘landing pads’ for them to sit on and fan their wings. Native bees prefer native plants where available…. after all, they evolved with them over 1000s of years! And native plants generally produce more nectar, and of a higher quality than their horticultural cousins. This is because plant breeders create traits that we humans want, like showier, bigger, or longer-lasting flowers. But that can be at the expense of calorie-rich nectaries or pollen production that native insects crave.
The introduced European honeybee is another visitor to the garden, and is likely flying in from nearby urban bee hives. They are attracted to many of the same flowers as our native bees, and will outcompete them if there is a large hive population. It’s good then, to plant flowers and provide habitat native to the Calgary region in gardens everywhere to keep our native bees thriving, some of which are becoming threatened or endangered. Enjoy the flowers, and look for the buzz, everyone!
Photos & text – Joan W.; photo of crab spider – Jan W.
Common Ground is a public space. We occasionally have vandalism in our garden. If you see vandalism, report it
If you find drug paraphernalia in the garden please contact police non-emergency line (403-266-1234) or DOAP team (403-234-7388). The DOAP Team has a trained crew that will come to collect used needles and other items.
Covid-19 continues to require that gardeners observe physical distancing, good hand hygiene on high touch areas and patience. There are signs posted around the garden with guidelines to follow for everyone’s safety. Due to limitations on group size, garden events are cancelled until further notice.
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