A look at my late summer community garden.

A few days ago I was taking a walk around my neighbourhood in between writing scintillating blog posts and sanding my heel skin when I was stopped in my tracks by the most frightening noise I’ve ever heard outside of a 2 a.m. bar fight between 2 girls named “Britny”.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the classic horror movie scream. Shrill, loud, high pitched. Often accompanied by jiggling boobs. Well that’s the sound I heard. I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do in a case like that because the sound itself is so frightening to everyone around it that you’re kind of rendered useless. Like man nipples. Or the cap for a vodka bottle.

So I stood really still and tried to pinpoint where the screaming was coming from. And it was a never-ending scream might I add. Like one of those never-ending farts your husband thinks is so funny.

The source of the screams must have been close by because people were running in my direction. Straight at me as a matter of fact. If I didn’t do something quick I was gonna be trampled by a mass of flip flop wearing, pruner wielding neighbours, some of whom I suspected wouldn’t have particularly good aim judging by their weekly blue box contents and their funny wobble-run. Best to get out of the way before there was an accidental stabbing.

I quickly turned a corner and that’s when I saw it. As I looked down to make sure I didn’t trip, I saw the horror. It was my mouth. It was open. And it was SCREAMINGGGGGG. The scream was coming from ME.

Cut to 4.2 seconds later and I was covered in a writhing blob of neighbours each performing their own version of an emergency procedure. Someone was bashing at my chest, someone else screaming at me to count their fingers and another person was behind me giving me the sort of Heimlich maneuver normally reserved for things with tusks.

And that’s the story about how I let all my neighbours know I’m upset it’s almost fall.  Guess I saw a leaf or something and went into some sort of P.T.S.D.

The horror.  Fall.

The thought occurred to me  for the first time when I went to visit my community garden last week.  It seemed like for the longest time I was just standing up there waiting for stuff to grow.  There was a lot of work and no rewards other than the quiet, the solitude, the range of birds, butterflies and the smell of freshly cut grass. And who needs that shit?  Mama needs a new potato.

So I was in for quite a shock when I made my way up there and found a tomato patch that was so overflowing it had been pretty much decimated by raccoons, potato plants that were dying and an entire crop of squash that needed to be picked.  Not to mention the carrots, cabbage, and candy.  I did not grow candy. I needed another “C” sound to get more impact from my illiteration.  Sorry ’bout that.

A lot of stuff needed to be harvested.   Which means harvest season.  Which is fall.

I had brought my camera up to take a picture of my watermelon.  I have never brought my camera up to my BIG garden before because I want it to be a place for relaxing, forgetting about work and running through imaginary conversations with Idris Elba in my head.  I’m always very witty and charming by the way.

But since I had my camera, and since the season is ending and since people have asked about it … here are a few shots of my allotment.

Prepare to enter 20’x40′ of weeds, vegetables, fun and food.





Mosey on up to the Triple A garden plot.

My ranch away from home that has no horses or cows, but does have manure.



The quinoa I started wayyy too late is small, but full of quinoa so I will be able to harvest some.  Not a lot.  But enough to make it worthwhile and fun.




Cherry Vanilla Quinoa.





This is the first year I’ve grown Thelma (Saunders) Sanders squash. I got the heirloom seeds for it from  Tree & Twig.

It is BEAUTIFUL.  They range in colour, but mine ended up being almost pure white with no blemishes or skin problems.




Until I have tasted the Thelma Sanders squash I can still safely say that the Kabocha squash is my all time favourite.

It’s a dry, sweet squash which makes it perfect for cooking.



The Delicata squash, also known as the sweet potato squash.

Which is funny, because Thelma Sanders is also known as the sweet potato squash.

Delicata squash are delicious.  Really delicious. I’ll eat these first because they won’t last as long in storage as the thicker skinned Kabocha, which I’ve had last for close to a year in storage!


My squash haul for 2014.




January King Cabbage.




My cutting bed.




Green beans.

French, Scarlett Runner, Lazy Housewife, Yardlong, Fringed.





Unripe watermelon.

Why is it picked?

Dunno.  Ask the raccoons.





One of only two watermelons I have left after the raccoons got in.

I’ve since covered it with chicken wire in the hopes of preserving it until it’s ripe.

Said the stupid girl who knew she wasn’t really smarter than a raccoon.

You’ll notice the scratch marks all over it.




One of three carrot beds.  In behind are rutabagas that I planted July 1st.








The dying potato patch.

Which is fine. When the plants start to look all wilty and withered it’s time to dig the potatoes.

Potato digging day is only surpassed in excitement by dumpster diving day.





A pea I have grown has never once made it into a pot.  I eat them raw in the garden.




This is a good example of succession planting.

The red leaves to the back are beets.

The smaller green leaves directly in front of the red leaves are a second, later planting of beets.

And the feathery fronds right in front are carrots I planted a few weeks ago.  No idea if they’ll achieve maturity.

My guess is the female ones will and the male ones won’t.



The foreground is my pepper patch.  I’ve had years where my peppers grow 5 feet high.

Not so much this year.




The pepper plants are stocky but short.

They look completely void of peppers. Is that a real sentence? That doesn’t feel like a real sentence.





But underneath there are tons of peppers.

I could either pick them green and give the flowers on top of the plant a chance to produce a second crop, or leave the peppers where they are, pinch off the flowers and let the peppers turn red.  Which is what I’m going to do.





Dill.  Which I’ll be putting on my baked potato tonight.



Sweet potato crop!

3 different types.




Instead of starting onions myself which are a pain because you have to start them in like January or something ridiculous, I bought my onion sets from a hardware store. They’re supposed to all be yellow onions.

And at least 4 or 5 of the hundreds of them are. The rest are white.




Red onions as started by a fellow gardener on the other hand …. are all red.



GIANT leeks.





I’m not saying it out loud again.

If you want to know what this flower is called click here.  You’ll understand why I won’t say it when you do.





In with the Quinoa I’m also growing Amaranthus. I’m growing it for the flowers, but you can also eat the cooked Amaranthus grains.

I might give it a shot.





Dum, dum, dum, dummmmmm.





 Brussels Sprouts



Now get outta my garden.



Sorry to be rude, but I have a lot to get done today not the least of which is drafting a stack of apology note to my neighbours.

Oh, it wasn’t the screaming fit.

It was for screaming at their kids for using bad words.   5 year olds running around screaming the f word.



  1. Ev Wilcox says:

    BRUSSELS SPROUTS???? I alway wonder who is a pod person and who isn’t! You can’t be our Karen. Is it too late? Is she really just a bunch of deflated gush? Nice veggies, btw. Whomever you are!

  2. Mary Werner says:

    I’ve never seen red blossoms on green beans – really pretty. I’m in Florida so maybe that is why. HOW did you manage to have so few holes in the brussels sprout leaves???? I also have a fantastic recipe for them that is loved by even those that don’t really like them and requested at pot luck dinners. Will send. Next, I’m in complete envy of your beautiful dill. It is fantastic dried in a F— arrangement, but most of all used in dill pickles. What I miss most in having a garden is making dill pickles and seeing those gorgeous bottles all lined up on the shelf. Finally, I found the secret to your beautiful garden and produce – magic coming from the gold flips you are wearing in the garden. Obviously you weren’t working in them so they must be magic!

  3. Mel says:

    Wow! Beautiful garden and harvest! I too get a tad unruly when I hear the F word.
    I would love to know how many hours you spend daily, weekly, monthly tending to your gardens. I have perennial gardens that I’ve grown and tended over the years that takes care of itself now mainly and a small veggie garden but I’m always thinking of expanding the veggies and wonder with a one year old and another on the way whether I should bother until they are older due to the time commitment. I would love an estimate on the time involved.
    As always I really love reading your blog :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mel – This major garden, (the 20′ x 40′) one takes a long time in the spring to prepare and plant. A few full days at least. Then tending to it isn’t too bad. An hour or so 3 nights a week. ~ karen!

  4. Sally says:

    So beautiful and soooo funny!

  5. Danni says:

    Dammit. I’m not ready for the F-word! It’s not time no, no, NO. And then right after its even worse the W-word :(

  6. Patti says:

    Hi What a wonderful walk thru your garden this morning…
    Brussell Sprouts …Pull the branches off the plant where the sprout are growing, then the plants energy will go to the sprouts and not the leaves. Start from the bottom and work up to the top.

  7. Erin says:

    Beautiful! I hope you’ll write when you harvest the quinoa! Something tells me hacking off the plant and throwing it into a pot won’t yield the desired result…

  8. Tigersmom says:

    Crap! I meant “Britny”

  9. Tigersmom says:

    One of your best today. The humour, the teaching us new words (illiteration) and the pics and the garden inspiration. All of it great. “Two girls named Brtiny…” hehehehehehehe

  10. Su says:

    HATE the ‘F’ word too… ok to be honest I don’t hate Fall it’s the ‘W’ word that follows I cannot abide and detest….
    Love the cutting garden… I turned my little veggie patch into one this year cause it didn’t really get enough sun for the veggies to do well…..the prettiness of it makes me smile every time I look at it…
    I moved the tomato plants to an area on a hill that runs down to a channel we live on that runs to the river… sounds pretty right? well you think the raccoon are a trip to deal with?? try muskrats…. BASTARDS ate my tomato plants and carried off the stalks, stems AND maters with them to feed their young ens… and they (the plants) were a thing of beauty… 5′ tall full of fruit and blossoms…..my heart is broken.. I can barely look at a garden now without feeling the loss…. yours is rocking tho!

  11. gogothrift@etsy.com says:

    I remember SOMEONE “smuggling” seeds back from Thailand. As I recall, it was for some long, prickly looking, green vegetable. Were they planted or confiscated?????

  12. Jody says:

    Carrots, cabbage and COCKSCOMB. A new and different illiteration.

  13. Sally A says:

    Beautiful harvest!! I love all the different squashes!

    I am the same way with the f word. My husband is in Texas and I’m in Wisconsin and last night on the phone my end of the conversation was lamenting over the fact that it was almost completely dark at 7:30pm. Rumor has it that this winter is going to be even more brutal than last year. Yippee.

  14. Louise says:

    BTW, loved the use of “illiteration” in the 10 paragraph. I thought, “Oh dear, Karen means “alliteration” but she’s made a mistake.” Just for kicks, I checked to see if this was some weird Canadian spelling, and I found this:
    Definition of illiteration :.
    1. (n.) Any scattering of similiar sounds in sentences which are nonsensical, hence making them seem illiterate.
    Origins: From illiterate. Somewhat related to the word alliteration.
    http://www.unwords.com/unword/illiteration.html Looks like a great site!
    You are just so damn witty! (Really!) :-O

  15. Dagmar says:

    I’m a little confused now. Is this a community garden that the neighborhood tends to and gets to enjoy? Or is this your personal extra garden that you have created beyond the limits of your own home? Either way, it reminds me of my childhood, and I can almost smell how fresh all the produce is. Yum! And as for your temporary loss for c words: corn, cilantro, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, cotton candy radishes, or even chives would have done. But since you had a mini-stroke with that F word and all, you are entitled to some brain malfunction.

    • Karen says:

      It’s an extra garden of my own that I house elsewhere. It’s a bit of land that various gardeners have plots in. :) ~ karen

  16. Louise says:

    My God, no wonder you are thin – you’re on the go every moment! You take care of your 100 yr. old house, you build a beautiful back yard oasis (plus a pizza oven!), you build an incredible chicken coop and take care of your flock, you have a beautiful front yard vegetable garden, you do all sorts of crafts and build all sorts of wonders, and now I find out you didn’t have enough to do at home, SO YOU HAD TO ADD AN OFF-SITE GARDEN SO YOU HAD MORE STUFF TO SHOW FOR YOUR HARD WORK!!! And you take great photos, keep up with a stupendous blog and keep us all amused! Really, it’s a wonder I don’t HATE you! (but i’m just toooo tired to . . . )

    • Louise says:

      Really, do you ever sit down and make a list of what you’ve accomplished in the last few years and gloat? I think you should submit the list to the Guiness Book of World Records.

    • Tracey says:

      That what I was thinking too Louise!
      Karen….you are amazing!!
      Seriously, do you ever get tired? I’m always tired….I just wish I could do 1/10th of what you do in a day.
      I think we are around the same age….maybe you are blessed with good genes, or maybe it’s all the really healthy food you grow and eat. There are so many things I want to do but by 3pm I need a nap. You still inspire me to try more.

      • Karen says:

        That’s what I’m here for. Seriously. You can do it. And I’m sure you’re just as busy as I am, just doing different things. ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      You know Louise, I’d hate me, so feel free. If it makes you feel better my cat vomited on my head in the middle of the night last night. So all is not as perfect as it seems, lol. ~ karen!

  17. Grammy says:

    Beautiful harvest. The only thing that thrived in mine this year was tomatoes. I’m so tired of making soup and sauce and paste and eating them raw — and that’s just nuts because I love them. But lots of tomatoes. Peppers, except for the Fresno Chiles were puny and very little production, and peppers are usually the thing I have the most of every year. Everything else was just scraggly and sad, with small yields. Severe drought and excessive heat are no good.

    You don’t love Brussels sprouts, therefore it is illegal for you to grow them. Hand them over. Throw in a couple of your gorgeous squash and we’ll forget this happened.

  18. caryl hodgdon says:

    Queen Midas-even your neglected? garden has turned to gold.

  19. Madhu Ramakrishnan says:

    awesome. seeing & reading saturates the mind with verdant green smell of the garden and vegetables. u have such a rich garden, new things to pluck everyday..

  20. Laura says:

    Man, raccoons are buttholes

  21. Linda Penrose says:

    I’m jealous. Your garden is a thing of beauty. This is year two of my veggie garden. Last year was good but this year the crabgrass invaded. All my time is spent battling it. Any advice for next year? Someone suggested digging in corn gluten in the spring but when googled, it doesn’t seem all that easy. Very expensive and success depends upon PERFECT timing for application–sounds like a bit of a crapshoot.

    • Karen says:

      I’m afraid I don’t have any advice for you Linda. But someone else on here is likely to. With weeds or invasive grasses all I do is dig them up and keep digging them up. (I don’t pull … I actually use a shovel and dig) Good luck! ~ karen

  22. victoria says:

    O.M.*&#^*.G……That is a lot of food! :)

  23. Amber says:

    brussel sprouts???
    you’re not Karen, who are you? I have a wonderful recipe for brussel sprouts cooked with maple syrup and bacon, let me flood your inbox!

  24. Cred says:

    Love it! I can’t believe you grow so much food. Curious about how you find managing an off-site garden. It didn’t look overgrown in weeds. Do you mulch, visit often, pay a shirtless man to tend it for you? What’s the secret? I found a huge difference in my garden this year because it’s just outside my patio door- I tend to it daily. At our previous house, the garden was at the back of our lots and it suffered neglect.
    I am envious- what a beautiful harvest!

    • Karen says:

      Oh brother! It’s FULL of weeds, lol. But thanks for not seeing them. I do a really big weed every month or so but because it’s a small garden in a large garden weeds and pests are rampant. It’s hard to keep on top of it. I mulch with straw in between the beds and that helps a lot for the paths. I grow a lot of crops I can store for the winter, that way I don’t let a lot of food that I’ve grown go to waste. A post on how to cure and store common garden vegetables coming up in a couple of weeks!
      ~ karen

  25. Auntiepatch says:

    Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing your garden with us today.

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