Category: Seasonal chores

Composting – Emily Style

Composting – Emily Style

It’s Gold For The Gardener

IMGP0265 (2)Who would get excited about worms? Well, Emily does and by the end of our October Garden Club meeting, many members and guests were all talking about… you guessed it – worms. Not just any worms. Red Wigglers, that produce that gold for gardeners while using up our kitchen waste.

I found it difficult to remember to take pictures while Emily was enthusiastically describing the process she uses for general gardening composting and then moving on to her higher passion for the little wigglers.

She described composting as fun, good exercise, cheap and environmentally sound, a way to increase the organic content of the soil, invigorating the soils food web, providing nutrients, moisture and a habitat for a huge range of beneficial life forms.

Emily explained that in most soils you can achieve a fertile soil by adding 3” of compost annually by composting kitchen and yard waste (with a few exceptions like meat/fish, bones, milk)


Raised beds, a small greenhouse, a rotation of composting bins and a large pile of leaves can be seen waiting to be added where next needed.

A description of compost systems, principals and mixtures were reviewed.

IMGP0281 (2)It was easy to see the smile broaden across Emily’s face when she continued her presentation.

Vermicomposting holds a special place in her household. As with composting, the benefits are numerous. Emily explained that it is a great way to deal with some of our kitchen scraps and get rich soil conditioner for our plants. A vermicompost bin does not require a lot of space (ie: under the kitchen sink). Bedding is the medium the worms live in and also serves as part of their diet. It should be moist, but not soggy wet and light in texture. Shredded newspaper is a common choice. Emily added compost soil and a small amount of kitchen scraps. Feeding the worms one to three times a week is usually sufficient.

Outdoor vermicomposting is also possible. A well built large, lined bin serves this purpose producing three large wheelbarrow loads of “Gardener’s Gold” for use each spring.

Harvesting safety.

Joan was thrilled to take home the bin that Emily used while explaining the “under the sink” set up and members were happy to accept a take-home brown-bag treat of compost for use on indoor plants.

Thanks, Emily!

Due Diligence

Due Diligence

Contributed by Jocelyn Cameron 

We gardeners often pride ourselves in due diligence.  When spring arrives, we follow suit, springing into action—tilling the soil, designing a new bed, transplanting what we neglected in the fall. We judiciously decide to move those rocks we thought enhanced the garden edge.  Who knew they would attract so many weeds?  

In late spring, plant sales beckon.  “I’ll buy just a few more plants.  I can find some place to put them.”  Oh, dear, we muse weeks later, I didn’t think they would take up so much room. Time to get out the stakes and rein them in.

Due Diligence - Jocelyn C. small
50 Down – 100 to Go

Enter the heat and humidity—a true mid-summer night’s nightmare.  Why do weeds flourish in such a state? They need to be tamed, but…it’s too hot, it’s too buggy, it’s too overwhelming.  Besides, I have company coming. Ah, a happy thought emerges.  “They can help me.  After all, I’m feeding them.”  Alas, they’ve come to have fun.  You know—boating, parades, afternoon teas, garden parties etc.  It wouldn’t be fair to ask them to bend their knees to such a demeaning task. In the fall, things will settle down and I’ll have more time to weed.  Kids will be back in school and we’ll be back to normal.  Did I mention the energy it takes to get back to normal? Didn’t think so.

By this time, I can almost see winter poking its nose over the horizon. Now this could very well be an acquaintance about to be recognized as a friend. What weeds can survive its severity? All I need to do is settle down and watch their demise.  Ha, Ha!  Oh, oh, I guess that means my garden will succumb too. Oh well, all summer my heart was encouraged as I watched it grow and flourish–especially those newbies from the garden sales.  I was so pleased to hear the neighbours remarking on its beauty. The grandchildren had such fun chasing the butterflies and annoying the bees.  (No matter that they crushed a few hostas and daylilies in the process.) And what a treat it was to be on the garden-club tour this summer.  Who couldn’t take respite in all that?  Due diligence really did pay off, despite those pesky reminders to the contrary.

“Cool” Gardener’s Sale

“Cool” Gardener’s Sale



The late spring and absence of the usual apple blossoms didn’t slow down members preparations for the annual Chester Gardener’s Sale held on May 25th at the old train station.




Our clubs annual fund-raising gardener’s sale, with proceeds going to Club activities and two garden parks in the village attracted the usual faithful group of full time residents and seasonal visitors alike who enjoy finding special treasures.


Jayne and artist Maria Kuttner (2)


On display, a raffle (the draw will be at the annual meeting in the fall) this year, was our gift from friend and artist Maria Kuttner. Maria has kindly donated her rendition of our annual event. Along with greeting cards this will help raise funds for our clubs annual commitments.





Featured again this year were a wide variety of perennials from members gardens along with many plants and accessories for the garden brought in by commercial vendors. Other surprise items, providing more variety were “gently used” garden tools ready for sharpening at “the Blade Runner” who was on site and a wide variety of gardening books.





Marion’s “coffee and muffins” were a warm-me-up addition on the sunny, cool day, a welcome change from the frequent wet weather during May.





Now that this once-a-year sale is over, the countdown is on for at home gardening, community gardening, garden tours, flowers shows and summer gatherings.

“Hanging of the Green”

“Hanging of the Green”

The Chester Garden Club’s traditional “hanging of the green” took place on a cold and windy November 24th when about 15 garden club friends gathered at the village bandstand.

New members were welcomed to the decoration crew who weathered the sudden drop in temperatures and enjoyed this years holiday decorating. With guidance from those more experienced, volunteers fastened evergreen boughs and strands of coloured lights to its railings, accomplishing the annual bandstand seasonal greening in record time.


Within an hour, tools were put away and the whole crowd retreated to Heather’s to warm up with mulled wine, homemade soup and goodies.

The following pictures show our collective achievement and enjoyment. 


All done…

20181124 Myra's

The Warm Up…



Robins having a meal in the Pyracantha ( Firethorne)


I have been distracted as I have been gardening this fall. Many of the familiar birds are heading to warmer places and stopping for nourishment along the way and the regular fall and winter residents are gathering in old familiar places.


As I ready the gardens for winter I am leaving the perennial seed heads standing, giving the birds the food they are searching for and me the pleasure of their company.

I am reminded that I can help our plants along by giving them a bit more of what they need to survive; water, nourished soil and the optimum placement .

Watering when it is dry, adding high nutrient compost when they are actively growing and pruning all but spring flowering shrubs during the winter when they are defoliated and dormant are good gardening practices.

Mulch, which can be spread at any time, is particularly timely for fall. The garden expects organic material, just like the forest expects fallen leaves. Leaves and debris settle as mulch during the fall rains and winter snowfalls, helping to retain moisture and inhibit weeds.

Our gardens can then do “What Comes Naturally”


Now, I just need to get back to fall gardening chores and stop being so distracted by the birds.



The more often we see the things around us, even the beautiful and wonderful things, the more they tend to become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the sunshine, the rain, the flowers & garden produce, the trees, the animals & birds, even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.

Several garden club members and gardening friends have shared pictures and thoughts of garden gifts in the fall; a reminder to all to STOP, LOOK, LISTEN, SMELL, TOUCH, TASTE AND SHARE.

Jayne: “Love this time of year”


Jane Campbell 8th generation family farm image2

The 8th generation Campbell property today with a bounty of freshness.


Sheila: “AJ researched for the  Flower Show Victory Garden and her design later produced these wonderful Cucamelons and Peppers”


Carol:“Yum! My first cantaloupe ever and some squash.”



Myra and a neighbours 20180915_135142

Myra: “Red from my neighbour’s garden and yellow from my garden.” 


Brenda:”A collection for our favourite fall variety of dishes: cucumbers and cream, relish, jams, soups and others. 


Sheila Soestmeyer

Sheila: “I was inspired to forage for mushrooms at our September meeting. Pizza tonight”


 Shirley: “You can’t eat these but they are lovely” – Jane “Yummy Bundle” – Myra: “My Pickerel Frog”

Lets remember to give thanks

For food in a world where many walk in hunger

For faith in a world where many walk in fear

For friends in a world where many walk alone


Click on any picture for a slide show

The Secret Life of Plants

The Secret Life of Plants


How Plants Work



At our 1st meeting of 2018, held Monday evening, March 19th, we were treated to an entertaining and very informative presentation by horticluturalist and member Dave Adams on the secret life of plants. 



He distributed tree cores and various leaves that added considerable punch to his presentation. To some of the 18 members present, he sparked memories reminiscent of happy high-school biology classes.



Dave taught or reminded us how plants work, reminding us that what we do makes a difference.

If we over fertilize there is a greater concentration of salts around the roots and we have x osmosis.

If we leave our plants root laying in the sun the root hairs die and the plant must replace them before the plant can provide food for growth.

If we ring bark a stem our plant can no longer feed itself.

If we want to move our plant in warm weather we can temporally block the stomatal pores with an anti transparent until the roots and stem are back in balance.

Cambium heals pruning wounds if we cut around the abscission layer.




In closing, we were reminded that our garden plants are wonderful structures that take these basic principles and adjust and modify them to help them tolerate all kinds of climates and conditions.


Thanks Dave…

Are you Winter-Weary ?

Are you Winter-Weary ?


In March the winter-weary world begins to awaken from its long rest. Now the remnants of winter are washed away by what is often to referred to as the “tides of March”.



In every pond, lake, river and stream, the water that was frozen a month ago begins to thaw and flow again. In our gardens frost rises to the surface and the earth ooses underfoot. In every tree and shrub, that vital fluid known as sap begins to rise, and as a result, buds begin to swell. We don’t see or hear sap rising but it’s there. In small plant growth or a towering tree, leaves, color and syrup are being produced.


It is a time of observation, preparation and anticipation as we look forward to another gardening season.

For our garden club, March is also a time to end our winter break and begin regular meetings. Watch for news under the categories: Current Activities, Annual Gardeners Sale, & Annual Flower Show and Tea. There will be many opportunities to learn, support and participate, enjoying varied garden club activities.



Spring Blossoms

Spring Blossoms

Do you want to force a branch?

Coincidentally, late winter is the best time to prune deciduous trees and large shrubs. We usually head out into the yard with pruners in hand starting in late February or early March. We get a jump-start on our pruning along with an early gift of spring color inside our house. We prune our trees and shrubs for shape and to remove crossing branches and old or diseased wood. From the wood we have cut off the plant we can select branches for forcing that are less than 1/2 inch in diameter and cut them to the desired length.

Many ornamental trees and shrubs set their flower buds during the previous growing season. These buds will usually come out of dormancy after two to three weeks of being exposed to warmth and moisture.



Forsythia, pussy willow, quince, cherry, apple, peach, magnolia, are all good candidates.


Choose branches that have lots of buds and put them in water as you work. After bringing the branches inside, fill a sink with very warm water—as hot as you can stand it without scalding your hands. Very warm water is important because it contains the least amount of oxygen. If oxygen gets into the stems it can block water from being taken up, thus preventing hydration.


041083045-02_xlgHold the stems underwater and recut them at a severe angle an inch or two above the original cut. The stems will quickly absorb the water. Arrange the branches in your vase, which should be filled with warm water so the ends are submerged. Place in a cool room or if you want the process to go more quickly in a warmer room. At this time of year, it may take only a few days for pussy willow to bloom and look their best. Forsythia takes a few days more and the other varieties can take up to several weeks.






It is very satisfying to sit and observe the daily progress of buds as they swell and burst open bringing a bit of spring blossom inside.


It’s November and …

It’s November and …

It’s November and, although we have had two heavy frosts and it is cool now, up until a few days ago gardeners have been amazed by the warm temperatures here in the Chester and surrounding area.

The following are few pictures that were taken during the last couple of weeks, some as late as the 10th of November.

Summer pots still showing off.

The last of the fragile produce, only greens left in the vegetable garden.

Winter arrangements in the near future.

11 Nov 2nd IMGP6222

We can now continue preparation for winter in our gardens, enjoy the birds as they make ready for winter and settle in with a good gardening resource for next springs plans. Fall temperatures have arrived.


Thanks to Kay B. and Brenda H. for the photo’s.