My July Community Garden Seen from a Different Perspective.

Even if you don’t like vegetable gardening, you might like this new perspective on my community garden.

Overhead drone view of Karen Bertelsen's community garden.

Yup. It’s true. After debating about it for a couple of years I finally bought a really tall ladder.  Just kidding. I bought a supertall selfie stick.  Just kidding. I bought a drone.  That’s it. No more “just kiddings”, I really did buy a drone.

I’m basically exactly like Amazon.  

After being jealous of other gardeners’ drone shots I bought one myself. I do mean actually jealous – like the kind where you could stab someone’s eyes out with the closest knitting needle and not even the drone owner’s eyes, just whoever happens to have the misfortune of being near you.   More on the drone and all the eyeballs I saved by doing so, in an upcoming post.

Drip irrigation system positioned along the sides of the garden beds with chain-link fence in background.

But for now, back on firm ground, welcome to my mid July 2019 Community Garden.  There have been some early successes, failures and wtf’s.

Sweet potatoes growing in pots beside string-trained plants with composter in background.

I got a little overzealous with my cruciferous plantings this year ( as one does ) and by the time I’d planted all my kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts and more – I realized I didn’t have anywhere left to plant my sweet potatoes.  

So into these very large, very useful pots from Lee Valley they went. The pots are black which is perfect for sweet potatoes because they like the heat. I just covered up the soil with some thermal plastic and held it down with one of my most important garden tools – big, dirty rocks.

Big, dirty rocks are perfect for a) holding black thermal plastic down b) holding floating row cover down and c) playfully hurling at people in that carefree, fun, summertime way.

Staked zucchini plants showing signs of powdery mildew. Drip irrigation hoses on ground.

Powdery mildew has set in on the zucchini plants before a pickable zucchini has even arrived.  Zucchini can withstand a fair amount of powdery mildew before they finally croak luckily.

Also, note that I stake my zucchini plants and don’t let them sprawl all over.  Staking keeps them tidy, helps limit the powdery mildew and allows the zucchini to grow straight down. 

How to Stake Zucchini

You can read my full, in depth tutorial on how to stake zucchini here.

But in a nutshell:

  1. Stick a stake in the ground.
  2. As your zucchini grows, tie the stem to the stake.
  3. Continue tying the stem to the stake as the zucchini grows.
  4. Remove all the leaves below the lowest growing zucchini.  Just cut the leaves off right at the stem where it isn’t hollow anymore.
  5. Eat the first 25 zucchinis then start dropping them into open car windows.


Leek plants ready to be dug up and replanted in the garden.

My leeks are just about to the point where I’ll dig them up and replant them like I showed you here.

White poppies blooming in one of the flower beds in Karen Bertelsen's community garden.

The two flower beds I planted are just starting to show some action. Poppies are still going strong and I’m beginning to question my overall ability to make day to day choices in my life. Because if I’ve gone this long without growing poppies who knows what else I’ve been doing completely wrong.

Cut Bridal Silk poppies featuring white blooms with deep purple centers (some blooms open, some closed) in a jar with water sitting on a wooden table.

This is a variety called Bridal Silk from William Dam Seeds which I grew from seed indoors.  You aren’t supposed to start poppies indoors for the most part. They go into shock when you plant them out.  But I’ve never EVER had luck direct seeding poppies so this year I started them all indoors and they all did fine once I planted them outside.  They were a tiny bit shocked for a while but they got over it.

Like me when I see the price of celery, but really need to buy celery.


Karen Bertelsen's wheat field growing in her community garden.

What you’re looking at here is my wheat field. I will soon harvest my own wheat, thrash it, remove the chaff and grind it into flour that I will turn into exactly 4 buns.  If this works for me I’ll eat Laura Ingall’s bonnet.


String-trained tomato plants growing in Karen Bertelsen's community garden.

String training. You know it’s the only way to grow tomatoes and beans and cucumbers, right?


String-trained plants growing in Karen Bertelsen's community garden.

If you haven’t heard me blabber on and on about how great the string method is (especially if you like a tidy, in control garden) read this post. 

I even string trained Idris Elba once.


Overhead drone view of Karen Bertelsen working in the raised beds of her community garden.

I would like for you to take a look at the beds on the right.  Then count up two.  See those rocks?  This represents the 4th great use for big rocks in a garden.

There lies my cemetery of chick peas. Not a single one even broke the soil. Bless their hearts.

Drip irrigation system placed along beds with hinged-hoop house in background and garden fork in the foreground.

The drip irrigation system I installed in 2017 is still going strong as are all of the hinged hoop houses

Tam jalapeño plants, perfect for jalapeno poppers because of their less intense heat.

The Tam Jalapeños that almost weren’t.   I didn’t have an easy time starting these seeds that were probably about a decade past their germination prime.  

But I kept at it because they’re a less hot version of Jalapeño pepper which I need for making my 38 calorie Jalapeño Poppers.  Hot peppers are a crapshoot no matter what.  Their heat is partly due to their variety but also weather and water. So unless you’re growing them in a controlled environment of some sort you won’t know exactly how much heat the pepper is going to have. 

Danish cucumber plants growing.

I don’t know this cucumber by any name other than a Danish cucumber.  It’s HUGE and white inside and is used to make traditional Danish pickles called Asier.  I’ll need about one cucumber (kind of a gourd really) to make approximately 9,874,306 jars of pickles. So if you need a cucumber that could feed the entire crowd at Coachella, let me know. 

Bolero carrot plants growing in rows.

No joke. I am STILL eating these carrots from last summer’s harvest. I just stick them in a box of peat moss and put them in my mudroom.  Other varieties get mushy after a few months (purple carrots get mushy the fastest) but these last FOREVER.

Young luffa plants growing against chicken wire.

It’s not huge, but I’m trying to think only good thoughts for my Luffa plants. I have 5 or so growing along the back wall of my garden. Just in front of them I’ve stuck shallots.


Beige canvas director's chairs sitting on mulch path in vegetable garden.

This wall of chicken wire is where the luffas will be growing and hanging off of (hopefully). Those are my garden chairs that I never sit on.

Overhead drone shot of Karen Bertelsen's community garden. Also shows neighbour's plot to the left.

And if you think my plot is neat check out the plot to the left of me.  Mine is the double wide in the centre. The plot to the left of me is owned by a landscape designer and it’s like a park. I mean it is meticulous. People literally stop and gasp when they walk past it.  

Brassica plants showing signs of Swede Midge damage growing in garden.

Swede Midge damage

Here’s a possible wtf.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with Swede midge but they’re assholes. The Swede midge is a tiny flying insect that lays eggs in the growing point of brassicas. They then hatch and the larvae eat the growing tip which mutates your plant entirely. The growing tip dies off and your plant just doesn’t grow or if it does it looks like a horror show.  They overwinter in soil so even covering up your crops like I did with netting might not guarantee a clean crop. What I don’t understand is usually the entire crop is ruined.  For me half of my black kale has distorted, browning growing tips.

I don’t care all that much because kale – gross. But still, I do eat it in salad and like it that way.  Or completely covered in peanut sauce. 

Long overhead shot of Karen Bertelsen's community garden next to lush conservation area.

There you have it. Another perspective of my therapists office. Soon the garlic will be harvested and winter wheat planted in its place. Give it 2 or 3 more weeks of growing and all that brown will be full of green.

As will my belly.

Have a good weekend!


  1. Heather says:

    Thanks for this little blast of summer. I would love to see you vlog about your garden. Please!

  2. Jill M. says:

    You can run drip irrigation? Wonderful! How does the community garden afford and provide that? (Mine doesn’t).

    • Karen says:

      Our land is owned by the city (though run privately through the gardeners) and there’s city water right there because we’re beside various soccer fields. We have their water running through the garden (underground) with separate taps for every few gardeners. We pay for the water. ~ karen!

  3. Bonnie Cramond says:

    So, you not only eat Brussels sprouts, you also grow them? Oh, how far over to the dark side you have gone!

  4. Rosalind Moller says:

    Congratulations on your stupendous garden Karen. Do you have any extra help with it?
    You are an amazing inspiration to your appreciative readers on so many fronts. Thanks for sharing.

  5. PAT says:

    I see the different Lee Valley Tools’ products in your garden. Love that place. Bought myself a berry bucket from them this year to harvest my berries (Saskatoons, blueberries). Is life changing too strong of a description?

  6. Kari says:

    That is beautifull Karen! I’m so jeallous you dont seem to have any pests like alliul feel miners or so. At my yard the cabbage butterfly are everywhere again. I (mean i know but there are still a million in my yard alone) i hystericcly stomped my foot on one when it had the oudacity to go sunbathing next to my just planted (and i mean like two minutes before the stomping like a madwoman) savoy cabbage seedling…

  7. Linda in illinois says:

    ❤️ The garden. It’s beautiful.

  8. Jacquie Gariano says:

    Loved the great view of your garden. What a wonderful lot you have. My daughter got her’s in but it has dwindled as her work load increased a great deal. Nothing is really producing yet and this week and next the weather will be in the 100’s Sacramento area) I’m pulling lots of weeds very early in the AM. Hoping something starts to grow soon. LOL

    • Twyla says:

      I’m in the Sacramento area, too. I just joined a Community Garden, have no idea what I’m doing but I love it.

  9. Robin says:

    I grew TAM Jalapenos last winter in an Aerogarden…. plenty of light, plenty of water and consistent temperature and nutrients. I harvested enough to pickle. They were a hit, everybody loved them, but left with gaping holes in the back of their heads and smoke coming out of their ears. I’ve been afraid to try them again to see if they’ve mellowed. I hope yours are gentler.

  10. Nora Lee says:

    Boy, this makes me want a big garden plot to grow vegetables. I don’t know why this post does when so many others have only stirred a mild interest. You make it seem so doable! Thanks. I love your sense of humour. I don’t like kale either unless finely shredded in a salad and drenched in a good salad dressing.

  11. Jen says:

    Looks like you’ll have a good chair harvest this year; they look mighty healthy.
    I envy your garden. Our nearby community gardens are basically 4’x4′ plots, if you’re lucky. And the setup of our yard wouldn’t work for anything other than big garden boxes, which ain’t in the budget just yet. So I confuse the neighbors with a huge rhubarb patch and have a CSA share. Someday I’ll have a garden again. :)

  12. Bonnie Gutierrez says:

    A drone! Darn, I had this mental vision of you hanging from a crane, harnessed to a zip line by a carabiner to get that shot!
    I cannot wait to get a vegetable garden next year in the new (old) place. Your garden is super!

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