The garden Siri built: straw bales lift vegie production to new heights

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by: 

Kate Aley

Those who love summer veggies know that raised gardens are easier to tend and that heavy mulching with straw helps to keep weeds down and hold precious moisture in the soil… but what happens when you build your raised beds with straw? This year Siri Ingebrigsten, of Avant-Garde Equestrian Farm in Luskville, found out. Pontiac 2020.ca asked her about her horticultural adventure.

Pontiac2020.ca: (P2020.ca): Where did you first see the idea for a straw bale garden?

Siri Ingebrigsten (SI): I saw it for the first time maybe four years ago when it popped up on my Facebook feed. I’m not sure what group was talking about it but it looked like such a brilliant idea, especially the fact that there was little weeding and bending involved with taking care of it. 

P2020.ca: Describe how the garden was put together.

SI: I have twelve bales placed in three rows of four. Each row is supported by T-posts on both ends and I ran hay-bale twine between the T-posts along the rows to support the plants. The centres of the bales are ‘conditioned’ using a natural fertilizer made of high nitrogen content solution made with plenty of water.

P2020.ca:  Is rotting down the center of the bales difficult?

SI: No, I don't believe it is. The original conditioning of the bales takes some time and, despite wanting to try this every summer, this was the first year I actually got around to it. The exact way and time frame will depend on weather and reaction within the bale. Basically, you start decomposition by adding the nitrogen and water. This causes high temperatures in the straw and you can only plant once the internal temperature has lowered to the temperature in the air. The directions said it should take two weeks, but it took me closer to four due to the cold, dry spring. 

P2020.ca: Were you impressed at how many plants you could get in such a small space?

SI: I was impressed and I have kept adding things on the sides of the bales. It’s really neat how many things you can squish in there. I planted root veggies between above-ground fruits and veggies. It's a learning experience, as some heavier and taller plants tend to 'slide', so the garden has required extra bracing.  

P2020.ca: Have there been drawbacks to gardening like this?

SI: The time and energy it took to get it going surprised me, plus it is pretty water intensive especially as the summer has been so dry and hot. But it has been lovely with the last days of rain…The bales keep the moisture quite well so, once they are soaked, they stay humid longer than the ground garden. Apparently you can also use hay bales and they are supposed to provide even more nutrients to the plants, but there is also more growth from the hay seeds so I’m not sure if it's worth the extra effort. I might try both types next year. 

P2020.ca: What happens to the bales at the end of the season?

SI: The bales go right on our compost pile and will be a super addition to the pile. They can also be left in a heap and allowed to break down further during the fall/winter and then used in the spring to nourish the ground garden or the next straw garden. I did end up adding some soil to the bales on top of them to create a better base for the seeds.  

 P2020.ca: Would you recommend trying a straw bale garden?

SI: For sure. It's relatively easy and would be great for any age group. Kids would love it and elderly would have an easier time maintaining this kind of garden. I will become braver with different types of plants as I gain experience. This year I have potatoes, carrots, sweet corn, three varieties of tomatoes, ornamental eggplant, green and purple basil, edible flowers, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, leeks, different types of lettuce and peas. I'm sure there are more things but can't remember off-hand!

Nos autres nouvelles / Our other News

The beginning of everything: "Origins" watercolour show opens

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by: 

Kate Aley

You are invited to an extraordinarily moving exhibition of new work by renowned Luskville painter, Ruby Ewen.

Entirely painted in watercolour, the pieces immerse the viewer into multiple magical realms of creationism, imagination and classic myth.

Show runs: Friday, June 22 (opening event, 6 -- 8 p.m.) to July 22, 2018

Site: Stone School Gallery, 28 Mill St., Portage du Fort.

Cooking meets trucking at new restaurant

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by: 

Kate Aley

After two years of extensive renovations, Au Coin du Camionneur, also known as Trucker's Corner, opened in Luskville on Sunday June 17. 

Owners Benoit Galipeau and Robert Bergeron have completely reconfigured the building at the corner of the Eardley-Masham Road and Highway 148. New lighting, comfortable seating and large windows that open onto a breezy patio create an inviting ambience.

Building a new future for Pontiac with slaughterhouse project

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by: 

Kate Aley

After five years of planning, construction has now started on the Les Abattoir les Viandes du Pontiac. Set on five acres on the outskirts of Shawville, the slaughterhouse is the brainchild of Quyon entrepreneur Alain Lauzon and three partners, Sofian Elktrousie, Ibrama Diagne and promoter Gilles Langlois.

“We are aiming to be open by end of October,” said Lauzon last week, as he watched forms being set for more concrete to be poured.

Turtle S.O.S.: Save Our Shells!

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Trouble in paradise.

It's June and that means those crazy turtles are once again roaming dirt side roads and busy highways alike; intent on finding mates, water and good nesting places as they have always done, paying no mind to the deadly wheels zooming past. I stop for a lot of turtles at this time of the year and so far we have all lived to fight another day. However I have never seen a turtle stuck in the bone-dry and baking-hot rink at the Luskville Community Centre before. Bad turtle terrain for sure.

Open letter to the Municipality of Pontiac recognizing the work of our municipal firefighters

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by: 

Sandra Barber

To whom it may concern:

Re: Recognition of volunteer Firefighters

While sitting at our dining table enjoying our first coffee of the day on Sunday, May 20 at 6 a.m., my husband and I both heard a very loud “thunk” and wondered what the heck it was. Curiosity motivated my husband to investigate further; he checked our basement, nothing amiss. Checked the living room located on a lower level, noticed a man sitting outside on the guard rail.

Kickin' it: Pontiac youth get into soccer

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by: 

Kate Aley

Some might say that young people are glued to their screens all day and all night. But that's harder to say when so many bright young people are running, kicking, playing and laughing in Luskville every Monday evening.
Community soccer classes started up on Tuesday, May 1st at the Luskville Recreational Park. The two- to four year-olds play in the softball field. The older group, aged five and up, play on the soccer field to the north.

How do rural communities comply with Quebec's Organic Strategy?

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by: 

Kevin Brady

Current Situation:

The Québec residual materials management strategy includes a progressive reduction and an eventual a 'ban' of organic material from municipal landfills by 2020. Municipalities that comply with the policy are eligible for funding to help offset the costs. As with the Municipality of Pontiac, many municipalities have chosen to pass resolutions to initiate door-to-door collection, with costs paid for by the residents.

Get ready, get set, get out: disaster preparedness in a bag

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by: 

Kate Aley

Remember this?

As the Pontiac watches epic levels of flooding in both New Brunswick and B.C. and considers our own possible return to inundation, it's time to let paranoia rear its helpful head and get ready to get out of the house. The concept behind having a so-called Go Bag is to have ready everything you might need to survive, out-of-doors, for about 72 hours... until help arrives or the zombies get you.

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