The Garden Calendar - theHumm May 2021

The Garden Calendar - theHumm May 2021

By David Hinks

During the second week of April, daily high temperatures were averaging 20 degrees and more — folks on Facebook were clamouring to get out in their gardens and plant — I even saw questions about planting tomatoes in the garden. Fast forward to snow on April 21 and folks were asking if they need to cover up their spring bulbs. Certainly one hallmark of spring weather is its volatility.

It seems to me that this year is an indicator that the timing of many of the things that we observe in our gardens is changing. Phenology (not to be confused with phrenology) is the study of periodic events in biological life cycles and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate. Examples include the date of emergence of leaves and flowers, the first flight of butterflies, the first appearance of migratory birds, the date of leaf colouring and fall in deciduous trees, and the dates of egg-laying of birds. Observations by citizen scientists help track these changes and relate them to climate change — your observations are important particularly if they have been made over many years.

Much as we gardeners would like to think that climate change will bring more benign growing conditions, the reality is much more likely to be more extreme temperature swings and volatility, and a higher probability of drought. Facing these challenges, it is almost impossible to overstate the importance of trying to match the growing requirements of plants with the expected weather conditions in the growing season.

The first concept to master is that some vegetables prefer cool conditions and have resistance to frost while others need hot conditions and are very vulnerable to frost. For cool-loving plants think greens, the onion family, and cabbage and its many relatives. For heat-loving think tomatoes, peppers, and vine crops such as squash and cucumbers.

Another very important consideration is soil moisture. Virtually all vegetables require a minimum of an inch of moisture a week. I may well be proven wrong, but I like to think that root crops in particular planted early in spring are better able to capitalize on spring melt and not be as vulnerable to mid-summer droughts.

For all you Royalists, I regret to report that Victoria Day is not sacred and you should not hold off and plant all of your garden on the May 2–4 weekend! In fact, long before Victoria Day over half of my vegetable garden is planted. By then I am even harvesting and eating some of the early crops such as lettuce, radish and spinach.

The Victoria Day rule for planting the garden in our area is still an important one for heat-loving and frost-sensitive plants such as peppers, eggplant, basil, pumpkins, melons and cucumbers. However, there are a large number of vegetables that can be planted in the garden as early as the first week of April. Some years I have planted peas, onions, lettuce and spinach as early as the last week of March. This year I planted carrots April 13, onion sets April 14, and potatoes April 17.

An early start is essential for plants that do not tolerate heat. Our Ottawa Valley spring can be incredibly short, with snow still on the ground at the end of April and 30-degree temperatures by late May. Some plants such as peas, broccoli, cabbage and turnip grow quickly in cool temperatures and practically stop growing in the heat of the summer. Lettuce and spinach will “bolt” — that is, produce flowers — when temperatures climb above 20°C, resulting in bitter unpalatable leaves.

Onions and garlic are a special case. They need cool weather to produce the foliage which will provide energy for the bulbs that start forming when day length begins to shorten in late June. Garlic is very hardy, and I plant it in mid-to-late October for the next year’s crop — it emerges in mid-April and grows rapidly in cooler weather. For their early growth, onions prefer cool weather conditions and plenty of moisture.

Frost-hardy vegetables such as lettuce, onions, peas and spinach can be planted outdoors as soon as the ground can be worked, often by mid-April in the Ottawa Valley. Semi-frost-hardy vegetables such as beets, carrots, chard and potatoes are best planted in late April or early May as they germinate slowly in cold soil. This year I am taking a chance with carrots and potatoes as the very warm weather in early April warmed the soil considerably. An extremely early crop of carrots and potatoes is of much more value to me than a late crop when commercial growers are practically giving them away.

So, what happens if the weather turns really nasty? Onions, peas and spinach take frost and snow in their stride as do our spring blooms — no need to cover them.

Within our yards the spot where the snow melts first may well be a favourable micro-climate and a great spot for a super-early start. Raised beds and well-drained soil assist an early start by warming up much faster. In order to determine if soil is workable, take a handful and squeeze — if it stays together in a ball it is still too wet; if it crumbles it is ready. Time to get out and get planting!


Jennifer Anne Kelly — The Glass is Way More than Half-Full - theHumm May 2021

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

Last month our featured artist was Inuk jeweller and sculptor Kaajuk Kablalik, and our April cover featured a stunning glass qajaq in addition to his distinctive jewellery. The two-year qajaq project was the result of a fortuitous series of coincidences facilitated by Mississippi Mills glass artist Jennifer Anne Kelly, whom we first featured in October of 2012. When we learned that Kelly will soon be relocating to Ottawa — the “Big City” — we wanted to cele......


Tickets PleaseKeeps on Humming! - theHumm May 2021

Rob and Kris Riendeau (publishers of theHumm), along with Ann Hawthorne (former owner of Tickets Please), are delighted to announce that Tickets Please — the Ottawa Valley’s favourite local ticketing platform — will emerge from the pandemic ready to promote the heck out of our soon-to-be-vibrant arts and entertainment scene!

After successfully running the Perth-based business for the past ten years, Ann decided that she was ready to step back. When Rob and Kris approached her about t......


Local Libraries are Flourishing! - theHumm May 2021

By — Karen DeLuca is the CEO / Head Librarian at the Arnprior Library

A new international study on the impact of public libraries speaks to the current state of libraries in our region: we are flourishing!

Longstanding library card holders are getting their books, DVDs and magazines via curbside service in record numbers. Many residents are discovering, or re-discovering, the depth of resources available in their communities — whether digital or tangible.

Partnerships are key components of this success. Sometimes it’s the local service clubs that offer fin......


Farmers’ Markets: Open for the Season!
Carleton Place
- theHumm
May 2021

As you walk away from the farmers’ market with your canvas bags filled with fresh local produce, plants, organic meats and assorted other delicious goodies, you just can’t help feeling good. Supporting small-scale market farms means voting with your dollars for the option that is easier on the planet than large, mono-crop industrial farms. Having to plan the trip to the market means planning meals, which is a great way to reduce both wasted food and extra trips to the grocery store. Growers at the......


“Grow a Row” for Food Banks this Year - theHumm May 2021

The Great Veggie Grow-Off is an annual challenge between the nine communities of Lanark County and Smiths Falls to engage more citizens in growing healthy local food to donate to area Food Banks. The challenge starts each year on May 1st — “workers day” — to pay homage to the farmers in our community who grow food to feed us. Produce can be grown at home or in community garden beds, and local farmers and gardeners can “Grow a Row” as well! The Grow-Off ends with a final weigh-in on Thanksgiving Satu......


MVTM Wants to Exhibit Your Textile Crafts! - theHumm May 2021

During the pandemic, an unprecedented amount of crafting has occurred. From the first lockdown in March 2020, uncertainty, anxiety, and a whole lot more time at home has inspired many of us to turn to crafting as a soothing balm for our minds.

The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum wants to see the textile projects that you completed in 2020 or are working on in 2021. “Though it’s been a while since we’ve seen you, we know that you’re making loads of things at home,” says Melanie Gird......


Close to Home - theHumm May 2021

From May 12 to June 18, Sivarulrasa Gallery (34 Mill St, Almonte) is pleased to present Close to Home, a duo exhibition of new works by Toronto-based artist Gizem Candan and Montreal-based artist Jihane Mossalim. The exhibition can be viewed virtually until the current lockdown is lifted after May 19, at which time the gallery will open their doors again to in-person viewing.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, and now based in Toronto, Gizem Candan’s work is inspired by her surr......


Protecting Our Pollinators
CNL Youth Group for Climate Action Devises an Inspiring Community Project
- theHumm May 2021

By Chandler Swain

As our Ottawa Valley spring moves into high gear, May is the month for us to enthusiastically embrace our short, sweet growing season. When the pandemic began changing our world last year, we started realizing what was most essential, and found it around our homes and throughout our communities. All activities related to being out in nature took off wildly!

My first awakening to how widespread this trend was came when I couldn’t find so much as a package of lettuce seed to star......


Lockdown Scavenger Hunt:Food Foraging with Kids - theHumm May 2021

By Sarah Kerr

Lockdown has been an interesting experiment (that’s the nice way of saying it) for our family who travelled a lot pre-pandemic. Our kids collected a patchwork of stamps on their passports in their short lives — being toted along for work and leisure. But with that luxury screeching to a halt over 14 months ago, we’ve channelled this creative energy into our own backyard. Like many of our neighbours, our homesteading game is now strong — the kids are collecting eggs each morning and checking th......


One Magic Summer
The Academy for Musical Theatre’s Safe & Interactive Summer Camp Experience
- theHumm May 2021

Heidi Stepanek is a professional and experienced musician, stage director and drama educator who has built a career out of her love of working with children, and her passion for musical theatre. 24 years ago she founded the Perth Academy of Musical Theatre (PAMT), which has since transitioned into The Academy for Musical Theatre and now operates in both Perth and Ottawa. This summer, The Academy is offering a creati......


Free Editing Workshops - theHumm May 2021

After offering an Editing Workshop as part of theHumm’s Winterwords initiative, Sarah Reside is planning two mo......


Become a Better Bystander in One Hour Offers Free “Bystander Intervention” Anti-Harassment Training
- theHumm May 2021

By — Kris Riendeau

Have you ever found yourself witnessing some kind of harassment in public, but not knowing how — or even if — you should respond? Have you been the target of harassment and wondered why no one ca......


The LovelyLook of Spring - theHumm May 2021

By Glenda Jones

In the fall, when we were on the cusp of nothingness (much like we are again now), I decided to go through the closet, haul out all my “good clothes” that I would normally have worn to lectures, ......


Birdhouse Auction a Huge Success - theHumm May 2021

By — Glenda Jones

After months of diligent woodworking, crafting and painting, and two weeks of intense bidding, the 2021 Birdhouse Blowout Auction has raised over $6500 for the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist......


The Garden Calendar - theHumm May 2021

By David Hinks

During the second week of April, daily high temperatures were averaging 20 degrees and more — folks on Facebook were clamouring to get out in their gardens and plant — I even saw questions about ......


Masks and Art at MERA - theHumm May 2021

Spring is here, summer is coming, and MERA is optimistically planning another outdoor art show for May 22. This is a call for local artists and artisans to join the outdoor show.

A special ev......