Garden is CLOSED due to COVOID-19 – help us get it reopened

Yesterday the province of Ontario announced that all community gardens are closed due to COVOID-19. We are asking that Community Gardens be declared exempt as they are essential services for food production. Here is what you can do:

  1. Please DO NOT VISIT THE GARDEN, it is closed until further notice. 
  2. Sign the Open Letter asking the government to identify Community Gardens as essential community food services which must be exempt from the recently announced closure of recreational spaces by the Province of Ontario.
  3. Email, call, write or tweet your MP, MPP, City Councillor & Mayor (contact information included below). Just Food in Ottawa has a suggested template.

The Board met last night and we are still planning for the gardening season. In fact, we will be opening up 10 new permanent plots. We will be reaching out to people on the waiting list. 

Mark Gerretson, MP

Ian Arthur, MPP: 

Wayne Hill, City Councillor for Lakeside:  (if you’re in a different district, you can find your councillors contact information here)

Bryan Patterson, Mayor

Starting your own seeds

Seeds are living beings. When you buy seeds, you are not buying a thing. You are buying the services of the person who cared for, cleaned and packaged the seeds.

Cate Henderson, KASSI
Cathy, from the Kingston Area Seed System Initiative (KASSI) introduces the locally adapted, open-pollinated seeds in their living Seed Commons

We had a great turnout for Seeds, Soil, Supper – the first workshop in our Think Like a Forest workshop series.

The workshop was facilitated by Cate Henderson, who has been growing and saving seeds for many years. We learned how to buy seeds, how to successfully start seeds, how to care for them and how to make your own seed starting mix.

Starting your own seeds is a wonderful, rewarding experience and allows you to grow an incredible variety of vegetables, flowers and herbs you can’t buy at the garden centre or grocery store.

How to buy seeds

If possible, buy local seeds or buy from seed companies who lovingly grow, care for and package their own seeds. Most seed companies purchase their seeds from overseas and then simply repackage them, which means they aren’t adapted to our local growing conditions. For example, 90% of broccoli seeds come from a single farm in Mexico. You can get locally adapted seeds from:

  • KASSI (Kingston Area Seed System Initiative): With the cancellation of Seedy Saturday KASSI is exploring ways of making their seeds available to gardeners. Watch their website.
  • Bear Root Gardens: All seeds are $3.00, with free shipping on seed orders over $30. Potato seed is $5 a pound. Free pick up in Verona or West end Kingston. Check their website for their catalog. Message, email or call to order.
  • Kitchen Table Seed House: “We strongly believe that planting seeds is an act of hope, resistance and resilience. Growing plants, tending a garden and sharing food with neighbours and loved ones can be healing and is just one of the reasons we do this work and share these seeds.” Free seed delivery in Kingston Sunday March 22nd and Sunday March 29th. Pick-up between 10am-1pm, at the Kingston Memorial Market parking lot. Go to their website to place your order and enter the promo code Kingston Memorial Market to forgo shipping fees and choose the date you want to pick up your order in the notes section.

What to look for on a seed packet

open pollinated or OP: Seeds from open pollinated plants grow like their parents. Pollen flows freely between plants. They retain their genetic diversity, adapt to changing growing conditions and are the foundation of our seed system.

hybrids or F1: hybrid seeds are created from open pollinated varieties. There are some great hybrid varieties, but their seeds are unstable and won’t grow like their parents. You must buy seeds each year to grow hybrids.

patented (PVP/UP/bag tag): A patent grants exclusive rights to the patent owner. Four multinational chemical companies control 60% of the seed market and they use patents to restrict seed saving and sharing in order to increase profits. It’s illegal to save patented seeds.

How to start seeds

  • Wet the seedling mix well
  • Fill your tray with seedling pots made from sustainably harvested peat or coconut coir (reusable) or use a soil blocker that eliminates the need for pots
  • Plant seeds to the depth listed on the seed packet (good rule of thumb is twice as deep as the size of the seed)
  • Label the pots (popsicle sticks make great labels!)
  • Cover the tray
  • Place the tray in a warm place
  • Uncover the seedlings once they germinate

How to make seedling mix

Using a soil block mold eliminates the need for pots. You can buy soil block molds from Lee Valley.

You can easily make your own seedling mix! Rideau 1000 Islands Master Gardeners shared recipes that work well for seedlings and transplants.

Kingston Food Forest Network’s Think Like a Forest workshop series explores our relationship with food, soil, and the wild beings with whom we share this land. If we learn from the wisdom of wild forests, from each other and from our experiences on the land, we can become wise Earth stewards.

Seeds, Soil, Supper: Think like a forest workshop series

Get ready for the 2020 gardening season & for Seedy Saturday by learning why seeds matter & how to be successful starting your own seeds.

Starting seeds using soil blocks. Image source: GrowJourney

Every garden, every wildscape, every forest starts with a seed. Starting your own plants from seed is a lot of fun and allows you to grow a wonderful variety of heirloom, unusual or locally adapted seedlings for your vegetable garden or wildscape. And it’s a great way to save money!

Learn how to:

  • Read a seed packet (and why it matters)
  • Start vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and fruit
  • Save and share seeds
  • Create your own soil mix
  • Start seeds in soil blocks

Hands on:

  • Making soil blocks


  • 5 quick takeaways on sourcing & starting seeds
  • Make your own soil recipe
  • Seeds from KASSI to plant and share

Facilitator: Cate Henderson from Kingston Area Seed System Initiative (KASSI)

Bring a supper dish to share!

Register on eventbrite to let us know you’re coming (we have a limited number of spots).

Think Like a Forest workshop series

“Sometimes, if you just look to the trees, you can see that there are also quiet ways of communicating, and of resisting.” ~Mari Keski-Korsu, Transdisciplinary arti

What does our food system taste like? Why should we empathize with earthworms? How does a forest think? Forests are dynamic, resilient living beings connected in community.

During this time of climate chaos, become part of the solution. Forests can become our teachers for new ways of seeing and interacting with the world. As we learn how to think like a forest, we can awaken our senses, reshape our food system and discover new ways of sustainable being and doing that support the long term flourishing of Earth.

This workshop series explores our relationship with food, soil, and the wild beings with whom we share this land. If we learn from the wisdom of wild forests, from each other and from our experiences on the land, we can become wise Earth stewards.

Think Like a Forest workshop series sponsored by Rideau 1000 Islands Master Gardeners and Kingston’s Food Forest Network, including:

Follow up this workshop by visiting our local seed growers and celebrating local seeds at Kingston’s Seedy Saturday. Saturday March 14 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at LCVI.

Planting a permaculture food forest at Lakeside

“I wanted to do something to benefit climate change. Everyone says the best thing you can do is vote, but I don’t think that’s enough. I want to do more. I figured, having something where you’re planting trees and things that are absorbing carbon is a great way to do it.”

Dan Robinson, Volunteer Food Forest Steward

On Saturday November 9th around 20 volunteers, Queen’s students and community members gathered at Lakeside to plant, mulch and water 11 new apple trees, 2 chestnuts, 1 shagbark hickory, 30 berry bushes and 2 grape vines. These joined the 3 sour cherry trees, 3 pear trees and 2 plum trees donated earlier this the fall.

Wondering why we planted in November? Trees and shrubs grow most of their new roots (some studies say 80%) in the fall. Because trees and shrubs no longer have to make leaves, berries, shoots or flowers, all their energy can go into developing their roots until the ground freezes. And in spring, once the soil thaws, they can also put their energy into roots before it’s time to leaf out at which time their energy shifts to developing their leaves.

Eight students from Queens, from Engineers Without Borders, came to help, bringing with them coffee grounds from the Tea Room, inner tubes from bicycles and milk cartons to help plant the forest.

Councillor Jim Neill helped plant

Councillor Jim Neill brought his own shovel to help dig holes

Councillor Jim Neill, who put forward the original motion that made community orchards possible, joined us with his shovel to dig holes. 

We warmed up afterwards over a feast

The press came to see what we were up to

Read the Whig’s article here: Food forest project puts down new roots

Listen to Joyce Hostyn’s interview with Wei Chen on Ontario morning: Ontario Morning – Friday November 8, 2019 – Part 3 | Ontario Morning from CBC Radio with Wei Chen | Live Radio | CBC Listen starts at 3:45 minutes

Global News also covered planting day… they aired it on Saturday evening. I’ve heard it was a great piece, but didn’t see it.

Thank you so much to our wonderful sponsors

Our sponsors, with their incredible generosity and community spirit, made planting day possible. Thank you so much to each of you:

  • Burt’s Greenhouses for strawberries and herbs
  • Canadian Tire for 10 fruit trees (3 sour cherry, 3 pear, 2 plum, 2 sweet cherry) and 30 berry bushes (blackcurrant, haskap, goji berry, aronia berry and gooseberry)
  • Rideau 1000 Islands Master Gardeners for 11 heritage and disease resistant early, mid and late season apple trees (Redfield, Freedom, Greensleeves, Liberty, Norkent, Pristine, Rebella, Sweet Sixteen, September Ruby, Wolf River, Wynoochee Early
  • City of Kingston for a $250 donation
  • Riley’s Garden Centre for two grape vines (concord and muskat) and a red gooseberry
  • Ontario Hydro for keeping us supplied with load after load of soil healing wood chips
  • Bread & Butter Bakery for keeping our energy up with a delicious selection of baked treats

Food forest planting day Saturday November 9th

Planting day at Lakeside Food Forest

Join us Saturday November 9th at 10:00 am to help plant a food forest at Lakeside Community Garden.

If you’ll be joining us afterwards for a hot lunch, please fill in this poll so we know how much food to have on hand.

What we’re planting

  • 11 apple trees: Redfield, Freedom, Greensleeves, Liberty, Norkent, Pristine, Rebella, Sweet Sixteen, September Ruby, Wolf River, Wynoochee Early (we tried to choose a variety of heritage or disease resistant early, mid and late season apples)
  • 20-30 berry bushes: blackcurrant, haskap berry, goji berry, aronia berry and gooseberry
  • 2 grape vines: concord and muskat
  • 4 nut trees: chestnut, shagbark hickory and maybe a black walnut or bur oak

What else we’ll be doing

  • protecting our new apple trees (foam insulation or mounding sand to protect the graft then tree guards)
  • protecting the larger pear and sour cherry (bring wire snippers as I’ve salved some old wire hardware cloth)
  • staking our bare root trees
  • working a bit more on the paths into the nut orchard, fruit orchard and the south west welcome garden

Dress warm, the high is zero degrees!

Thank you to our supporters!

Thank you to our supporters:

  • Rideau 1000 Islands Master Gardeners for 11 apple trees
  • Canadian Tire for 10 fruit trees (pear, plum and sour cherry) and 30 berry bushes
  • City of Kingston
  • Riley’s Garden Centre for two grape vines and a gooseberry
  • Burt’s Greenhouses for strawberries and herbs
  • Ontario Hydro for keeping us supplied with soil healing wood chips

New insights into compost by Colette McKinnon

Harris Ivens, Plant Biologist of Grounded Business Solutions offers workshop participants new insights into compost

On a beautiful fall Saturday morning at Lakeside Community Gardens, Harris Ivens, from Grounded Business Solutions, a plant biologist and expert in the field, shared his approach to composting.

People with varying levels of gardening experience were on hand to listen, learn and begin a compost pile. As a novice gardener, I have done my best to summarize the key points below in a format familiar to many of us, and hopefully practical and covering the key points.

What is compost

Think of compost as free fertilizer! You take organic material such as kitchen scraps, garden debris, coffee grounds and leaves grass trimmings, build a pile and add a couple of magic ingredients that help beneficial bacteria, fungi, worms and other organisms to turn it into a nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Compost ingredients

  • 1 part green matter (chop up large pieces using shovel as you add). Greens include vegetable and food scraps, fresh grass clippings and yard waste, coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells (dry & grind eggshells).
  • 5 to 10 parts brown matter (chop up using shovel as you add). Browns include dried leaves, grass, mulch or hay, cardboard rolls, sawdust, shredded newspaper, hair, fur, clean paper and wool or cotton rags.
  • Magic ingredient: a generous sprinkling of soil (< 1 part). Soil has the microbes (soil fauna) that will do the work as well as the minerals your plants need to be healthy!!! Soil also helps ensure your compost pile stores carbon rather than releases it to the atmosphere.
  • Water: Generous supply of water. You can leave the hose running as you build the pile.

How to build a compost pile

  1. Collect and store brown material to use as needed.
  2. Plan the location of your compost pile. Ideally it should be in a sheltered area, say under a tree or near a hedge, to retain moisture and so microbes can migrate over into the compost pile.
  3. There should be space to be able to turn the pile it at least once.
  4. Start the pile with a layer of sticks or woody plant stems like sunflower or corn stalks heavy-duty stems to allow continuous air-flow (oxygen is another magic composting ingredient)
  5. Begin to build your compost pile in the ratio described above
  6. Depending on the height of your pile, you can occasionally layer in additional woody material to keep oxygen flowing
  7. Ensure a good soaking of water. You should be able to pick up a handful of material from anywhere in the pile and when you squeeze it, get about one drop of water. (Water is a distribution highway for microbes in the compost).
  8. Monitor the pile: Continue to add water periodically as needed.- Conduct the “smell test”. Place a stick into the middle of your pile. If it stinks it should be turned. (Turning helps redistribute the microorganisms that are doing all the decomposing)
  9. Your compost is done when there are no more earthworms and your “smell test” come out sweet

Composting tips

  • To avoid attracting rodents make your compost pile unattractive to them by chopping up and spreading out any food that may entice them and keeping your compost pile in “good working order.” Encourage decomposition as described above.
  • To manage excessive flies, add more soil
  • To help retain moisture (the soil microbiology need moisture to do their work) cover with an old “ratty” tarp, that allows water and air flow
  • If your compost is high in carbon because of where, when and how it was built and you think it needs additional nitrogen, mix a nitrogen source like bone meal into the finished compost and then let it sit for a few days, making sure it’s well watered and covered with the “ratty tarp” mentioned above to let the soil biology go to town on them
  • To manage weeds which may remain viable in your compost, mulch after applying your compost with woodchips or straw.
Microbes hard at work

Note: If you are working with manure, weeds or other pathogens, heat will be important to creating a healthy compost. This process requires a more complex approach

And the most important tip of all

And one final tip from Harris:

“there are really no rules to composting except that it smells good and you are having fun!”

~Harris Ivens

Work bee, planting day & potluck

Workbee is Sunday October 27th

We’ll meet at Lakeside on Sunday October 27 from 10:00 am until approximately noon (or until we’re tired) to prepare the ground for planting day.

What’s we’ll be doing during the workbee

  • Preparing mounds & moats for our apple trees (we’ll give you the scoop on why we’re creating mounds during the workbee)
  • Wrapping hardware cloth around the 8 fruit trees already planted to protect them from critters over the winter
  • Creating a new path & second fruit tree circular planting area

Compost workshop

And remember we have a compost workshop on Saturday October 26 with compost expert Harris Ivens. Learn the secrete ingredient to creating amazing homemade fertilizer for home or garden.

Planting day Saturday November 9th

Saturday November 9, 10:00 am – noon (rain date, Sunday November 10, 10:00 am – noon)

What we’ll plant:

  • 11 apple trees (each a different variety)
  • 2 sweet chestnuts
  • 2 grape vines (which we’ll prune after we plant)
  • aronia berries, haskap berries, blackcurrants, goji berries and schisandra vine (5 flavour berry), gooseberry
  • nuts!
  • black & honey locusts (to feed our fruit trees)

Then we’ll eat:

After we’re done planting, we’ll celebrate over a meal at 764 Meadowood Road in Collins Bay. We’ll have enough vegetarian soup and spelt sourdough bread for everyone, but if you’re able to contribute a potluck dish, bring it with you.

Thank you to our supporters!

  • Canadian Tire on Princess Street for the 30 shrubs and the plums, cherries and pears
  • Rideau 1000 Island Master Gardeners for the 11 apple trees
  • Burt’s Greenhouse for the strawberries and herbs
  • Riley’s for the grapes and gooseberry