The Garden Thymes

with Linda Willson

Here it is mid-May and in one month our gardening folks will be in the community garden working on their plots or raised beds, in the thick of planting and weeding. Imagine sun and warmth.

At the Western Manitoulin Community Garden things are already showing off. The rhubarb, horseradish and garlic are popping up, and the perennial herbs are coming along, chives are ready to harvest. The uncultivated area has been ploughed and once it is tilled, we are planting a cover crop of clover to get it in shape for next year. The following months will be busy.

Probably the most noticeable thing, even though they are hidden behind masks, are the smiles on our faces because we received our grant to hire two young people to work at the garden as our summer employees. We are incredibly grateful.

There has been a fair bit of rain, which is good as we did not have much snow this past winter. The wind must have thought we were in the mood for sailing when we were putting up netting up for peas, but it is so nice to be outdoors this time of year. No bugs yet and carefree enjoyment. Dandelions, beautiful and important as some of the first pollen producers for local bees, are making a show. Robins everywhere are auditioning for a musical production. I put out my hummingbird feeder the other day because I was sure that I had hard my first hum rushing by, however, I have not seen one so it must have been a wishful mistake.

Last year we grew amaranth as a wind break at the garden and it, as well as a sunflower area, grew well and tall providing shelter from the wind. This year we will plant the sunflowers and amaranth further west in the garden and hope to slow the wind on the garden plots as well. One of our summer workers made a small woven willow screen last year by our herb bed, dispersing the wind and adding a natural and rustic touch.

In the community food area, which is composted and ready, we have planted a first row of peas. We hope to provide lots of produce for the Good Food Box and other community food programs this season.

There are plans afoot to build a kids’ play area and an accessible pathway leading to it and around the raised beds. This pathway will provide access to people who are elderly or disabled to come and enjoy a visit to the garden. Two of our committee members are working hard on grants to get the funding to make this a reality.

That’s it for this month—get your peas planted and look for wild leeks in the forest. Wild leek and potato soup is a great spring tonic. Keep safe, enjoy the season, and as always, if you have any questions, suggestions or want to become part of the community garden contact Sarah at or 705-210-0422.