Tour my community garden with me.

 Welcome to my Community Garden, year 2015.



Also welcome to my picture post.  The garden is so big and there’s so much to show and explain about it that I’m breaking it up into two posts. This first post which is a HEY look at the garden post, and then another post next week which will be a HEY look at the garden post. With more words and different pictures. It’ll explaining why I did certain things, how I did certain things and how much certain things cost.

But for now it’s just a show and tell.  Actually that’s not true at all, it’s just a show.  Tell will be next week. Well, there’s a little bit of tell right now but it won’t be funny or entertaining. It will be the kind of words you’d find in a regular blogger’s post where they actually do things efficiently and get right to the point.



Left side of the garden

(carrots, red onions, bunching onions, red and yellow shallots, potatoes, broccoli, red peppers, jalapeno peppers, flowers)



Centre of the garden

(swiss chard, fennell, Kelsae onions, cauliflower, rutabaga, dinosaur kale, sweet potatoes, potatoes)



 Right side of the garden

(beets, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, radish, peas, green beans, pickling cucumbers, corn, flowers)


 I tell everyone who wants a neat tidy garden to grow cabbage.  They fill out quickly so no weeds grow underneath them and they always look perfectly round and … perfect.


Rainbow swiss chard.  Slightly more tender than the traditional white stemmed variety.




 And way nicer to look at.  I mean seriously, LOOK at that. That’s a pageant vegetable if I’ve ever seen one.


The sweet potato bed. As you can see the near end has bigger, fuller plants.  The far end the plants are about 1/4 the size.  The near ones are slips I started myself, the far ones are slips I ordered online.



Cutting broccoli.



 The broccoli.  It had cabbage worm.  If you can still stomach the thought of eating a vegetable that may or may not be infested with caterpillars that are the exact same colour as the thing you’re eating … just soak the vegetable in cold water with a handful of salt for at least 20 minutes.  The worms will come away from the broccoli.

That’s in theory anyway.  I did it to my broccoli when I got it home and the bottom of my sink had about 6 cabbage worms when I was done soaking.  Yet … the head of broccoli still remains in my fridge where it will probably die a slow death due to my dreaded worm fear.


I’ve already picked jalapeño peppers and I’ll keep doing that until the fall at which point I’ll pick ALLLL the jalapeño peppers and then make these to keep in the freezer over winter.



One of 3 potato beds in my community plot.  I. Heart. Potatoes.

This is the russet bed.  There are also Kennebecs, Chiefton reds, Banana fingerlings and Peruvian Purple potatoes planted prior to picking the peck of peppers.



Zucchini.  Zucchini plants always croak, so I planted 4 to help make sure I get more than 5 zucchinis. They’re susceptible to wilt, rot, and vine borer to name a few.




At the back of my garden on both the left and right side, I have raised bed cutting gardens. I grew all the flower varieties from seed so I could have control over the colours and types I grew.  This is the first pink/purple Zinnia.



 And this weedy looking thing is the flower I’ve been meaning to grow for a few years now.

Big Hairy Balls.





Lime green zinnias.



 A place to work.


Bulb Fennel from Cubits.  For making Apple/Fennel salad.



Tomatoes.  Hmm. Smaller than a field, larger than a patch.  My tomato fatch.

16 San Marzanos for making sauce in the fall and  5 heirloom varieties for eating tomatoes.



San Marzano is the “in” tomato right now.  The reason I’m growing it is I’m a sucker for testing whether something that’s “in” is actually worthy of being “in”.  What probably makes a true Italian San Marzano tomato great is the fact that it’s grow in Italian soil and climate.  Growing it here probably produces a tomato pretty much like any other tomato. Although it is an heirloom which a Roma is not and it is supposed to be less acidic … both things that I like.



 Now get the hell out of my garden.  I have work to do before you come back next week.

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  1. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    You just amaze me girl…seriously…One question…What does one do with Big Hairy Balls???..which is not the same as What does one with Big Hairy Balls do???…

  2. Lisa says:

    any tips you have for leaf spot on tomatoes would be appreciated. we got so much rain, it’s defoliated about half of each plant. since they should start to mature in about 2 weeks, I haven’t sprayed anything….

  3. Beautiful. I’m very impressed. We’re growing our own vegetable garden for the first time this year, and we’re loving it. Any tips for peppers? We bought sweet red and jalapeno seedlings and none of them are doing very much. They still look basically like seedlings!

    • Oh, and tips for harvesting, storing and cooking rutabaga, please. I asked my husband what he wanted to plant in the garden, and he couldn’t think of anything so he jokingly said rutabaga. Of course, I bought a packet of seeds. And of course they’re growing the best of anything in the garden. We’re going to have lots and lot of rutabaga.

  4. Karin says:

    jeezum woman, you are insan- incredible i mean. holy molly, what a stunning garden.

  5. Junebug says:

    Just a wonderful garden! I’m enjoying you so much. Great information and such a way with words! You have to be good to make me “LOL”. Love it!

  6. Christie says:

    I am stressed – and a little envious. The stressed part – that’s a lot of work to reap what you’ve sown – and can and stew and pickle (and eat!!!) And envious – because I’ve always thought it would be cool to have a vegetable/cutting garden.

    Agree with you on the swiss chard – don’t particularly like eating it, but LOVE looking at it!!! Looking forward to next week’s explanation post!

  7. Karen, you are such a JOY and inspiration in God’s Gardens! I am going to imitate the raised beds with lumbar perimeters because I am now fed up with my “Earth womb” gardening technique, where I have battled beetles, aphids, etc, because of my stalwart decision to keep it straight on the soil…SO BEAUTIFUL is your work and your soul-spirit..THANK YOU!

  8. Ruth says:

    I like broccoli leaves a whole lot more than I like the florets… more worms for you. :D
    Your garden is beautiful!

  9. Liz says:

    seriously impressive. Ok, maybe I just don’t have a good grip on amounts, or produce shopping in general, but how much of what you grow would you say you actually personally eat/use/freeze/save all winter vs have to give away or trade?

  10. cbblue says:

    Oh to be a cabbage worm in your garden! If it weren’t so gorgeous they would not visit you. I know what the THING is. Nah nah nah boo boo. I am so envious Karen.

  11. brenda says:

    Your community garden is unbelievable. And to think you have a home garden also. Boggles my mind.
    Also, I’m so jealous of your Hairy Balls. I ordered the seeds (because i saw them on your blog), planted them, forgot where I planted them and assume they never sprouted.
    Maybe you’ll share some of your balls with me? I’ll pay for postage : )

  12. Safetydog says:

    Your garden is gorgeous! I had to resort to containers this year, as the raised bed had to make way for the new shed, to get the shed out of the flood zone. We’ll put another raised bed in next year. Until then, my plants are barely surviving. And after a big storm blew my tomato plants over yesterday, all of the tomatoes had fallen off the plants. So we start again. Even the jalapenos are struggling this year, and they usually flourish, producing well into the fall. If I were a homesteader, we would starve. :(

  13. Ella says:

    BEAUTIFUL! LOVE THIS! What is that cool peg board with leather straps, in the 2nd pic?

  14. Cred says:

    Serious envy!

  15. Linda says:

    I am so jealous of this beautiful garden plot.. my garden failed this year due to all the rain in Illinois. It’s the middle of July and I don’t have a single healthy plant. Next year with any luck, I will be able to can something. I love your raised beds.

  16. Mary W says:

    One short sentence – A Thing of Beauty. One question – does the outside fencing keep coons out? One wish – that I could smell this garden especially after a rain. One special picture that I want to watercolor? that most gorgeous “says it all about gardens” picture of the pageant goddess. One hard working, inspiring, wonderful blogger? – Karen

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Feel free to watercolor away. :) And thanks for the compliments. The fencing is technically supposed to keep raccoons out, but we’ll see. It didn’t last year! It’s dug into the ground by 3″ or so and is kind of flimsy so it’s harder for them to maneuver. If your fencing is super-tight it’s like a tightrope for them. Easy to climb. ~ karen!

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        Don’t hold your breath. I mean about the raccoons! They’ll climb anything . . . they’re little a$$holes!! They climb up the most delicate branches on my service berry trees which snap under their weight, then poop fruit all over my deck. My neighbours feed them corn . . . grrrrr . . . then they come over to our place for dessert.

  17. Patty says:

    How are you keeping your garden pest free? I know you mentioned the worms on your broccoli but everything looks great. I’ve got bugs munching my kale and basil (not sure who is having the salad buffet yet), zucchini and summer squashes (damn squash bugs), etc.

    • Karen says:

      The kale is probably also being eaten by cabbage worms. I hand pick everything but really my only nemesis is the cabbage worm. And cucumber beetles, not because they eat everything but because they carry disease that’ll make anything like zucchini or cucumbers wilt and die overnight. :( ~ karen!

  18. Su says:

    I love and grow zinnia too! I usually take a few packets of them (and always include the lime green) and mix them together and throw them in a patch with cosmos…… :)

    your veggies look fabulous!

  19. Edith says:

    Karen….it’s so beautifully bountiful…..

    You did a great job!

  20. marilyn says:

    wowsa girl!! now that’s a garden

  21. Ev Wilcox says:

    Beautiful garden! I am now officially the laziest gardener I know. The shame of it….

  22. judy says:

    ErmaGawd! I have often wondered how humans like you get to be Humans like you. I am always reading Blogs and Books about being efficient, productive and still not looking like a crazed driven, anxious version of my former self which happily stumbled through my ADD riddled existence paying more attention to the unanswerable questions of Life while ignoring laundry piling up, dishes unwashed, and dinner begun when dinner should be on the table. Looking at that garden it has all become crystal clear to me that you are very smart, very organized and rarely distracted from the task at hand. Kudos to you and you have inspired me to the realization that I can never be you or achieve your level of efficiency so I am going to stop trying and just be content with what I can manage to get done. It would be disastrous if everybody was like me and kinda scary if everyone was like you- especially with the ominous Cleaver as your Emblem.

  23. Tara says:

    Just gorgeous. And your gate! Love it.

  24. Wendy says:

    First: you are a wonder!
    Second: I wouldn’t keep reading your blog happily if you wrote like other bloggers. I don’t do all the stuff you do, but I like your style of writing about all the stuff you do. That’s what keeps me in. That and the hairy balls. Love those. What are they really?

    • Karen says:

      They really are Big Hairy Balls Wendy, lol. No idea what their latin name is, but if you google Big Hairy Balls you’ll find them. OMG!!! Add the word flower to your Google search or you’ll be in for a real shitshow. ~ karen!

      • Pearl says:

        Aha! Those are some balls–we encountered other botanical balls a while ago.

        Some years ago my daughter and I kept seeing significantly smaller hairy balls on a kind of delicate flowering plant in my neighbourhood. We referred to them as Old Man Balls–they looked a bit dangly…

        When we found out the proper [English, not botanical] name of OMB, we were delighted–the plant is called “Love in a Mist.” Or, Old Man Balls.

      • IRS says:

        Yeah……Googled BHB. Forgot to add “flowers”. After I threw water on my eyeballs to put out the fire, I checked my browser history. Now I’m heading over to the lake, to throw my laptop in. Can I say “I hate Mindy” now? I thought that was a thing around here.

  25. Tigermom says:

    Wow! Amazing. The gate is perfect. And on to the questions (which you are probably going to answer in next weeks post).

    – What is the plant in the cabbage patch with the gigantic leaves with beautiful purple veining and leaf stems?
    – I’m guessing the board with the pegs and the leather handles is a contraption for making holes for planting seeds?

    And I have been (mistakenly, as I forgot about your post on it) taking credit for a recipe I’ve been using to make lower calorie jalapeno poppers. I don’t wrap them in bacon or do them on the grill though. I add finely shredded cheddar/jack cheese to softened cream cheese that I season with Chipotle chili powder and bake them at 425 for around 20-25 minutes. I truly thought I had come up with this solution for a healthier version of them myself, but now I know the seed for that idea was planted way back when, when I read about your version of them. You are a more prolific gardener than you know.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tigermom! Yup, I answer a lot of questions in the upcoming post. But that plant in the cabbage patch is … cabbage. :) Red cabbage. ~ karen!

  26. jainegayer says:

    Beautiful garden! And I’m intrigued as well as IRS about that board with the pegs and leather straps.

    • IRS says:

      Truth be told, I’m pretty sure I know what it is. It’s used to press into the soil, and the pegs make evenly spaced holes, all of a perfect depth, for planting seeds. But I would still rather use it as a weapon against trespassers. And people who just annoy me. Of which there are plenty.

      • TucsonPatty says:

        That was the first question I had, and couldn’t quit looking at that photo! But why are the amazing leather handles on the same side as the hole punching side? Seems like there might be a surprise on the other side, also?

  27. Winegirl says:

    shared on our city’s community garden FB page:

  28. Winegirl says:

    Holy moley Karen! Your garden is beautiful! How many square feet total? How long have you had the plot? btw – if you add vinegar to your soaking water, the little bass-tards die and drop off your broccoli.
    Oh yeah… coming down to the states any time soon?

  29. Kim says:

    OMG Karen! Your garden rocks! I am so envious. Good for you…we know how you stay so slim tackling things like this. It is picture perfect and thanks for those pics!

  30. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    Is the covering on the sweet potatoes to intensify the heat of heat of the soil, or for keeping down invasive visitors?

    • Cred says:

      Yep, for heat. Put down early, it can pre-warm the soil before planting and then maintain warmth that sweet potatoes will thrive. It also keeps weeds down. We’ve used it for strawberries, too.

    • Karen says:

      It’s the heat the soil up Phyllis. Sweet Potatoes need HEAT to grow. The thermal plastic will heat the soil up by an additional 10-15 degrees F. ~ karen!

  31. Barbie says:

    Nice looking garden.
    I feel the same way about broccoli! I have grown it in my garden and it does quite well but always get those worms! YUCK…quite sure I have eaten a few as well! Double YUCK. Never heard of your salt trick but I must say I was so grossed out that I just never grew it again and still probably won’t LOL!
    I only plant 2 zucchini plants… one green and one yellow. We get so many from those two plants that I still have to many to use and can’t even “give” them all away! I BBQ them every night with olive oil, garlic and a little parmesan cheese. Yummm. Your garden is lovely Karen and I loved this post! Lots of pics!

  32. Ann says:

    You might have some cold assed winters. But girl, your climate is perfect for growing a picture perfect garden. So much of mine is wilted in the extreme heat we are having for the 2nd time this summer and we are only half way thru. We do get enough veggies to be worth the effort but no way would I ever want to take a picture of my garden to show on the internet. Up close and personal like you are.

    I have found that when I grow any cole crops, they must be grown under some sort of cover or the cabbage worms wouldn’t leave anything for me. I bought some greenhouse screening and built a simple frame around my raised bed and now I can grow truly organic and gorgeous broccoli spring and fall. The same goes for kohlrabi. I don’t grow cabbage as it doesn’t do well in the heat, even in our springs and cauliflower may be one of the most difficult veggies to grow for anyone, anywhere.

    • Karen says:

      Yes, I talk a bit about how I’ll change my plantings next year and what I’ll do because of the stupid cabbage worms. AND now Southern Ontario has Swede Midges which are even worse. They eat out the whole growing tip of your seedlings and you end up with nothing at all … your plant just never grows. ~ karen!

  33. Maggie says:

    I too have worm issues. Not good worms that help the soil, but even those are avoided whenever possible. It’s the disgusting ones like the cabbage worms. Hiding themselves until you are getting ready to eat a big bite of broccoli and then you see one laying in the bottom of the serving bowl. I once had an infestation of horn worms on my tomato plants and I never went back into the garden for the rest of the season. Made my husband take care of everything after that. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

  34. Kim says:

    Hi Karen,
    Absolutely Amazing work. Like others, I’m very jealous of your green thumb! This is only my second year doing an “urban garden” on my 12 X 6ft patio so I only have herbs and 2 tomato plants. I read all of your posts eagerly to learn from the best and for my daily dose of your wicked sense of humor! Keep it coming :-)

  35. Grammy says:

    Just wow. What a beautiful garden, and with so much variety! I look forward to next week’s post. The logo on the gate is just so, so cool.

    And I, too, am wondering if you still have all the things planted in your front yard.

  36. MaggieB says:

    Oops so overwhelmed with the veggiegardenfest forgot to add – definitely agree with the salt (or vinegar) soak and my grandmother had an old pair of sheer net curtains that she would put over the young broccoli plants, and now I am having memories of time with her in her vegetable garden. Thank you so much for that.

  37. I can’t believe one tiny person such as you will be able to eat all that. Will you be giving away or selling some of your produce??? What an accomplishment! Oh, and give that broccoli to the chickens if you can’t stomach it, they might enjoy it.

  38. IRS says:

    Hmm. Very nice garden, but why is there a giant, menacing looking cleaver cut into your gate? Is that a not- so-subtle threat to keep out out the riff raff? And what in the name of God is that terrifying thing in the bottom left corner of the second photo? Is that some medieval form of weaponry that you use to bash in the heads of those who ignore the cleaver and trespass? It’s got spikes, and huge leather handles and everything! No wonder you like growing large, hairy balls in your garden. Methinks you might have a set of your own.

    • IRS says:

      And come to think of it, why is there plastic on top of the sweet potatoes, and only the sweet potatoes? Did you finally off the boyfriend, and his body is concealed beneath the plastic, fertilizing those spuds?

    • Mary W says:

      I’m pretty sure I know what that “thing” is but waiting for next chapter to reveal. Your comment has me still smiling! Love it.

  39. MaggieB says:

    What a feast for the eyes ….. and for the tummy! It looks fabulous and lurve the gate! If you have this, out of curiosity, what have you done with the Front Garden this year? Looking forward to the telling post …

    • Karen says:

      I’m converting the front garden to an English cottage garden MaggieB, so it’ll be a year or so before it looks good. Still vegetables, but looser and mixed in with traditional English perennials like Foxglove, Delphinium, etc. ~ karen!

  40. Valerie says:

    Absolutely beyond impressive. You are a diligent farmer that accrues spectacular results from your efforts.
    It is evident to me that it is now time for you to move out of your current confines and seriously relocate outside the city to a rural location where you can have more acreage to play in the dirt.
    You could also get a small tractor and other garden machinery that will make the soil a breeze to work in.
    You would then be able to teach us how to maintain all of this equipment. This would be so welcome from those of us who reside rurally.
    I realize that would be a dislocation given your gorgeous kitchen etc. but don’t you think it really is time?
    p.s. You may find that baking soda is more effective than salt for the wormy things that invade broccoli.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Valerie! Nope. :) I like having neighbours close by and being able to walk to the store and things like that. I’d love a hobby farm, you’re right, but I can live the whole experience where I am. Also … a farm would cost a lot more than the $50 a year my community plot costs, lol. ~ karen!

  41. Stephanie says:

    Extreme jealously. Just beautiful.

  42. Madhu Ramakrishnan says:

    I don’t wanna get out of that garden. feeling like hoping from one plant to another…….

  43. Kathleen says:

    Lovely, Karen. Such an achievement. Well done.
    Makes me want to rush home and cook! (And I’ve only just arrived at work!)
    Looking forward to the next post.

    Have a fantastic day.

  44. gloria says:

    Who is going to eat all that? You must have a good size freezer, lots of friends and relatives, dozens of canning jars, or one heck of a digestive tract.

  45. Paula says:

    The growth in your garden is so much further ahead than mine. Great work!

  46. kate-v says:

    What Sarah (July 15, 2015 at 12:16 AM ) said.
    How much land is in your community garden.?!

  47. Tiredoldwoman says:

    I just love this ! I can smell this heaven ! What an amount of work you’ve done – it’s beautiful . And will be yummy , too !

  48. Ardith says:

    I’m so very envious of your large green thumb. Gorgeous garden. Cheers, Ardith

  49. Sarah says:

    “My community garden…” I’m confused. Is this your plot in a community garden? Or is this all your land? Do other people have plots?

    The main thing I’m confused about is how much “garden” you have. In Vancouver, I’m used to a plot in a community garden being about an 8’x4′ raised bed (or 3′ x 4′ or something). But you have so much space. Explain!

    (Please and thank you.)

    Also, what do you use for fertilizer? Nothing? Compost? 16-16-16 (my agronomist father-in-law just told me that’s what he uses…)

    • Karen says:

      All those questions will be answered in the “explanation” garden post next week, Sarah, but to answer one of your questions my particular plot in this community garden is 20 feet by 40 feet. ~ karen!

    • Seriously, that’s like a whole plot of land. Community gardens here in California are just a raised bed, like 3×10 bed.

  50. Nancy C says:

    A big WOW.. It grew so fast. Seems like yesterday you were plowing. Bravo!

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