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.

 

 

gate-lock

 

Mosey on up to the Triple A garden plot.

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

gate

 

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.

 

quinoa-plant

 

Cherry Vanilla Quinoa.

Cherry-vanilla-quinoa

cherry-vanilla-quinoa-2

 

 

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.

Thelma-Sanders-Squash

 

 

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.

kaboha-sqaush

 

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!

delicata-squash
squash-vines

My squash haul for 2014.

squash-haul

 

 

January King Cabbage.

January-King-cabbage

 

 

My cutting bed.

Cutting-garden

 

 

Green beans.

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

green-bean-tree

green-beans-french

 

 

Unripe watermelon.

Why is it picked?

Dunno.  Ask the raccoons.

black-watermelon-3

black-watermelon

 

 

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.

black-watermelon-2

 

 

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

carrots

 

 

Carrot.

(Idiot.)

carrot

 

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.

potatoes-ready-to-harvest

 

 

 

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

peas

 

 

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.

succession-planting

 

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

Not so much this year.

green-peppers

 

 

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.

 

pepper-plant

 

 

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.

green-peppers-2

 

 

 

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

dill

 

Sweet potato crop!

3 different types.

sweet-potatoes

 

 

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.

onions

 

 

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

red-onions

 

GIANT leeks.

 

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.

cockscomb

 

 

 

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.

amaranthus

amaranthus-2

 

 

Dum, dum, dum, dummmmmm.

brussells-sprouts-2

 

 

 

 Brussels Sprouts

brussells-sprouts

 

Now get outta my garden.

welcome-gate

 

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.

Fall.




89 Comments

  1. Lauren says:

    Hey there! Lots of folks trellis their melons. I see you let them stay on the ground. Any protection from the ground and from rot? Thanks for sharing all your tips! I’m going to try your tomato trellis with the string tie.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lauren! Once the melons get big enough I turn a can (like a vegetable can or soup can) upside down and place the melon on it. If I’m worried about racoons or other animals getting to the melon just before it’s ripe I put a plastic milk crate over it with a few big rocks on top. I”m going to trellis one of my melons this year just to try it, but I’m not entirely convinced it will actually save me a lot of space. We’ll see! ~ karen

  2. Nicole says:

    Ok, so I have been over every each of this site from the new posts to the earliest of posts. Since I love gardening and preserving what I grow I am always drawn back to your outdoor pieces. I came back to this post today because I am in the early stages of planning a community garden. I would love to know more about your plot, what you pay for it, how many plots are available to be rented and such. We are really hoping to make it a place that the community will want to come to. Guest teachers/demos, canning classes, potlucks and more. I would value any advise you may offer:)

  3. Barbie says:

    WOW! So impressed! It’s beautiful just beautiful! Seems like you have a LOT of space there karen!

  4. Toronto Boy says:

    Looks like you got a decent harvest this year Karen! This year I ripped out the small garden area in the backyard and replaced it with a small shed since the plants were not getting enough sun. Which left me wondering where I would grow my vegetable plants. So this year I tried container gardening and it worked out beautifully! Lots of green peppers, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, herbs, etc. Thanks for the information about the pepper plants. I had no idea that picking them green gives the flowers on top of the plant a chance to produce a second crop, or that pinching off the flowers and let the peppers turn red. I`ll have to keep this in mind for next year!

  5. Heather (mtl) says:

    LOVE your garden! I’m in charge of our teensy community garden (I’m in a Co-Op) and we’ve all had a miserable time. Squirrels have eaten the bud heads off roses & pea blossoms, bitten pepper plant stalks off at ground level, bitten into virtually every hot pepper in every garden (so much for being a repellant) attacked and eaten (and carried off ) tomatoes, but the final straw was when the it-shay dug up my not quite ready to harvest potatoes! The peas, beans and even beets were all miserable for everyone, as well as the ground cherries (japanese beetles there). Just saw 2 large raccoons this week, as well. My nasturtiums are growing, but if the rodents could read this, I bet they’d be out eating them, too.
    Really discouraging year for all, so, after seeing your garden I feel somewhat hopeful. Then again, maybe I should finally just leave this province and move next door ;)
    My mother gets CanLiv mag so I’ll ask to see your great reveal. Can’t wait!
    PS; happy to know Cuddles is well!!

  6. Leslie says:

    Tons of miracles there! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Eric H says:

    Karen,

    The sentence you were searching for is “They look completely DEVOID of peppers.”

    Beautiful harvest though!

  8. Jean says:

    I had to follow the link to that strange flower with the eve stranger name. Which led me to follow the link on frozen yogurt tampons. I feel like I’ve been on a tour that started in your garden and ended in your . . . um well . . never mind . . .

    Beautiful garden! Beautiful harvest!

  9. Laurinda says:

    Gorgeous garden & the cabbage looks gigantic! I’m hoping you’ll blog about the flavor of the quinoa eventually. I’m very curious about it!

  10. Ella says:

    That post was F-U-N. I think Fall is okay, just don’t say the “W” word.

  11. Mindy says:

    Holy crap, that is a shit ton of food!! Awesome.

  12. Nichole says:

    So…I have been following your blog for quite awhile but have never commented. Yeah I know its stalker like but I am okay with that. Tonight I finally got to sit down to eat dinner after a very, very long day ( I have 3 kids under 6) and I will admit I was not in a very good mood. I read your blog and your witty humor and garden porn seriously made my day and I felt SO much better. I just wanted to let you know you made my evening. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Aw. That’s great Nichole! Thanks for letting me know. There is something about a garden isn’t there? And insanity jokes of course. Welcome to commenting. Don’t be a stranger. ;) ~ karen!

  13. theresa says:

    so looking forward to your “how/what to do with the harvest so you can eat it longer than this week” post as it usually inspires me when I am next at the farmers market too.

    I got a mental picture of raccoons thumping watermelons to see if they were ripe

  14. Carole-Ann says:

    MMMMary MMMMMary quite contrary-how does your garden grow? Super Duper I’d say!
    Good for you!
    I have the smallest of small patch to grow things in and I’ve had a blast watching,waiting, picking and eating my few rewards. Cherry tomatoes, swiss chard, parsley, nasturiums,rosemary, chives and three kinds of green beans! Oh and this year I planted for the first time – Okra! And it grew! We had a small feast in a gumbo last week.
    Next year – more chard & green beans.

  15. “And who needs that shit? Mama needs a new potato.” rotflmao

    It looks great, Karen! I especially like that you are growing cutting flowers!! But it makes me wonder what you are growing in your front garden this year.

    I’m seriously considering your course, but I could be away part of that time. Will you be offering it again any time in the near future? The future that comes after this course time slot? :-D

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elen – LOVE my cutting garden. The course will only be offered once and part of the reason for that is because the recorded version of the course will be available to buy forever and eternity online. So if you wanted to you could buy the course now, and if you’re around for some of the live version, great. If not, you can watch it whenever you want. ~ karen!

  16. Mary says:

    I’ve driven by many a community garden plot while living in TO – yours seems quite large in comparison. Also, I think you are missing many of the community garden obligatory statutory and lawn chairs. You also appear to be missing a hammock. Sure wish I could find a community garden in Kawartha Lakes – I have so many trees I can bearly grow ferns.

  17. Jess says:

    Our peppers were the same, really small plants for most of the summer, they have gotten taller recently though. It’s been a weird year for gardening here.

  18. Feral Turtle says:

    Your green thumb must be huge! Awesome garden Karen! BTW…I love sweet potato squash and am definitely growing it next year. I can never find the seeds locally so I am just going to order them!

  19. Caroline says:

    Thanks for the garden tour! I am awed by how crazy talented you are! I am surprised that you don’t love fall – being a foodie and all – nothing better than cooking yummy soups and stews and roasts and being all cozy in your house! Yay Fall!

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