Fall 2014 Community Garden

The scene over at the Cedarbrae Community Garden is a bit different from last time I wrote about it. At that time, every plot was exploding with color and fresh produce. Now there isn’t a lot left except a few strawberry plants. Let me back up a bit and talk about what a horrible community gardener I am (which will also be a recurring theme throughout this post). I think I could count the number of times I visited my plot this year on both hands. I didn’t water it, I weeded it maybe twice, and I didn’t volunteer to do anything. Except keep a blog specifically about the community garden, but proof of my delinquency can be found on this blog (I posted once back in July and now I am posting again in the middle of October). And what excuse do I have? None. I live a two minute walk away from this garden. Also, probably the worst thing was that I was actually supposed to have my plot cleaned out nearly a month ago and I did not actually finish cleaning it until about an hour ago. And as you can see in the photo below, I was the last person to clean their plot out. Yes, I am sometimes a terrible, neglectful gardener. Oh well.


Yes that one plot that is full of kale – that was mine.

I learned awhile ago that I should not plant anything in the community garden that is high maintenance or desirable to vegetable thieves and vandals. In September I received notification from our coordinator that there was an incident at the community garden and we should probably start cleaning up what was left of our plots. At this point, the only things I had remaining in my plot were some pathetic beets (so small), the old bean plants that had stopped producing (and that were slightly frost-bitten) and a whole lot of kale. No one wants to steal kale (I keep saying that, but some of my kale actually did disappear – not heart broken, because kale). The incident left our plot mostly untouched while other plots suffered some loss to vandalism – apparently throwing squash and tomatoes at the community centre is really fun. Actually, it does sound kind of fun. Anyway, at that time I pulled out the beets and bean plants and decided the kale could stay for a bit longer. And then it snowed and then I forgot about the garden and neglected to visit it for several weeks.


Skip to when I remembered a few days ago that I had kale left in the garden and that I was supposed to clean my garden weeks ago. We walked over this morning to see what was left and to clean up our plot. As you can see above, the purple kale was well enjoyed by dirty little cabbage loopers. We salvaged what we could and then threw the rest in the garbage bin. Our community garden currently does not have composting. It used to but it was an unmaintained mess – partly due to not being able to handle the capacity of 30+ plots but also because we volunteered one year to maintain it and did a really awful job at that and no one touched it again until it was dismantled this spring. Why do they keep renting to us?


But the curly blue kale did really well so we came home with a whole bunch of that to make into salads and delicious kale chips. You can find the best kale chips recipe ever here.

I’m already starting to think about next year’s community garden. I need to add some good compost first thing in the spring because the soil in this garden is not as good as the soil I have at home – I haven’t had great luck with root vegetables there for a few years so I don’t think those are meant to be – it doesn’t bother me too much since those things are readily available and cheap at our local farmer’s market. I will definitely continue to grow bush beans at this garden, as well as kale, because both do extremely well there with minimal care. I may also try some new things like fava beans and cowpeas which are supposed to be easy to grow.

This is all of course on the assumption that I will be rented a plot again.

The September 2014 Garden

I have tried to find a way to start this post that wasn’t “Oh for God’s sake, it’s snowing”. But I can’t. It’s September 8th and it’s snowing. What the hell.

Those little white specks – snow. My neighbor’s sunflowers look so lovely! And then an hour later…


Let’s start this story about a week ago. I knew that the nights were starting to cool down a lot so I kept my eye on the weather forecast for frost warnings. And by “kept my eye on”, I mean checked obsessively every five minutes. I’m ashamed to admit that I learned the hard lesson last year on screwing around with frost warnings (yes, I am human, I make mistakes) – actually, not frost warnings because there wasn’t actually a frost warning. I saw the temperature was going to be borderline and I didn’t do anything. I should have gone out and covered things, but I didn’t. Stupid. So this year, not wanting all of my months-long efforts to go to waste, I watched the forecast carefully. On Wednesday night I checked the forecast a million times before bed and saw that it was only supposed to dip down to about 7 degrees celsius. Safe. Thursday morning I woke up, got ready for work, stepped outside my front door and it was COLD. I quickly touched the foliage of the closest plant. Wet (it had rained the night before) and cold, but not frosty. I scanned the rest of the front yard and it appeared alright. I got into my car and the windshield was COVERED IN ICE. Oh god. What about the tomatoes in the back yard?! What if they are covered in frost and ice? Were they dead?!

The tomatoes were fine. Everything else was fine too. Calm down woman.

Later that day, I got an email from the coordinator at our community garden saying the garden had been vandalized the night previous. Oh great, fantastic. As soon as I got home, I ventured across the street to survey the damage. Our plot was fine. I guess no one wants a bunch of crappy kale and beets. Our plot neighbor lost some squash though – I saw the evidence smashed against the nearby building wall. And some other people lost a few things as well, but gardeners have a pretty thick skin and are used to a bit of disappointment. My husband and I went ahead and harvested the last of the beans and beets. The bean harvest was great this summer, producing about 9 litres of beans from about 12 square feet of space, but the beet harvest was pathetic. Most beets were about golf ball sized, so we only really got about 4 litres of beets from that space. Luckily I’d also planted beets at home which turned out much nicer and significantly larger. We left the kale and leeks in place for now – we have more kale than we know what to do with, so if someone wants to help themselves I will not be sad. Go ahead hooligans, steal my kale.


And then our fridge decided to start dying. It hasn’t completely died, but it is happening soon. I’ve been feeling like it has been on its way out for awhile now but it has started randomly spilling out a lot of water ON MY NEW FLOOR. This isn’t the happiest news, especially at harvest time when one requires a fridge to store vegetables. We could get someone in to look at and repair the fridge, but frankly it is old and an energy suck and we’d just prefer to bite the bullet and purchase a new fridge. Now here’s the catch: Megan is extremely picky about everything that she buys, especially when it has a significant price tag attached. She does not want to go out and buy the cheapest replacement fridge and then have to look at it and secretly resent it for the next 20 years. Megan wants a really pretty and good quality fridge. Therefore we have come to the decision to purchase a mini-fridge as a placeholder until we can save up some money over the next couple of months and buy something really nice.  The cost of the mini fridge would be around the same as getting a professional to come in just to look at the dying fridge, plus we have a friend who is in the market for a mini-fridge and has offered to buy the mini-fridge from us when we are done with it. My brother is excited because he basically gets all the food that will not fit into the mini-fridge. Everyone wins. Except the old fridge – you lose. Oh and the microwave died too but we’re not too sad about that – we are going to try going microwave-less. If the oven dies I’m going to absolutely lose it.

Okay back to the tomatoes. After my little scare on Thursday morning and after the drama of the community garden, I went home and covered my tomatoes for the night. I wrapped them up in any spare sheets and fleece blankets that I could round up, then secured the covers with clothespins. It didn’t freeze that night, but at least I had peace of mind. Things started to warm up on Friday so the chance of frost was lifted and the forecast for the weekend was decent. But there was talk of snow early in the week. Seriously?! On Saturday I went out and picked all of the green indeterminate tomatoes. I didn’t really want to so early – I thought I had a few more weeks to allow ripening on the vines. And really, although I live in Alberta and know in the back of my mind that we could get snow any time, I still like to believe that we shouldn’t get snow until at least October. Sigh.


Now on to the rest of September. This afternoon I harvested the corn (we have corn!), one last zucchini, two green pumpkins and a handful of cherry tomatoes. And I brought some of the herb pots indoors just in case. I also had 3 pots of cherry tomatoes growing on my deck so I moved those pots into the greenhouse where it is a bit warmer.


Once the weather warms up again and it stops raining/snowing, we’ll clean up the yard a bit and harvest some of the other things like the remaining beets and carrots. The composts will be turned, rain barrels emptied, and raised beds and pots cleaned out and stored for winter. I can’t believe we’re at this time of year already – it honestly seems like yesterday that I was rushing around in a panic to get everything planted and now everything is covered in a layer of white snow.