At the Community Garden

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Lately, I have been receiving emails asking me to talk more about the community garden. I will admit that I am so horribly behind in writing about progress there that it’s been difficult to know where to begin. So this morning I browsed through a few folders of photos and decided to begin with the above photo showing some of my plot (to the right) and a few other garden member’s plots around it.

I took this photo on August 9. This was before The Worst Drought in Toronto in 50 Years kicked in followed by the Worst Drought Plus Massive Humidity but NO Rain. That was the week many curcubits (the family that includes cucumbers, squash, and melons) died. I lost most of my cucumbers and most of my zucchini plants that week. I am posting this picture so you can see what that side of the garden looked like before the gapping hole. I’m still trying to figure out what to put there because the soil is great and it would be a shame to let even a small portion of the space go without producing something before the season comes to an end!

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I took the above photo on August 25. It was a wet Saturday morning, having finally rained after several days of intense humidity. It was a beautiful, quiet morning in the garden. I thoroughly enjoyed the solitude listening to the buzz of crickets and the soothing hum of the Beer Store refrigerators. By this time it is already too late for my zucchini plants. They have loads of fruit on them but the stems have rotted. You can see how yellow the leaves have turned — it was all within a matter of days! I picked all the fruit that morning and removed the plants a few days later once I’d had some time to come to terms with the loss. It was a good year and we harvested a lot of flowers and fruit earlier in the season but in past years I have managed to collect zucchinis into fall. I was wearing a winter jacket when I pulled out last year’s plants! The loss of all that potential harvest still bums me out a little.

Here it is, photographic proof that last year’s zucchini plants came out in October. Mind you those tiny little things in my other hand are the last of the “harvest.”

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On a positive note, scroll back up to that last shot of the garden and check out all of the ripe tomatoes! With 16 plants, I have had my best harvest ever. Their size and numbers have dwindled but tomatoes are still coming and I am harvesting at least 2 handfuls every few days. Of course it doesn’t FEEL like enough. I actually had surplus this year between the harvest on the roof and the harvest in the community garden allowing me to can up jars of tomatoes in addition to the purchased 50 lbs that were made into sauce and salsa. We can’t eat enough tomato sandwiches and salads to keep on top of the fresh tomatoes from the gardens and yet I am still wanting more. Last year’s 5 jars felt… okay. This year’s 35 jars… My god how will we make it through the winter?!! I may have a slight hoarding tendency.

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Here’s a photo of the first big cluster of ‘Zapotec Pink Pleated’ tomatoes. Aren’t they beautiful? I have a secret wish that tomatoes would just last a little longer. They are all so beautiful that I just love having bowls sitting around to look at and admire. Unfortunately the fruit flies also enjoy them but I do not enjoy the fruit flies. Of all the new varieties I tried this year, ‘Zapotec Pink Pleated’ has turned out to be a very prolific plant and a new favorite. This particular cluster held one additional tomato but I was impatient and plucked it off early for a taste.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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6 thoughts on “At the Community Garden

  1. Oh my my my, they do look delicious! These will have to go on my “to do” list for next year, hopefully I’ll be somewhere where I have a garden (as the exact location of my whereabouts next summer are unknown).

  2. I hear you on the weather this year. In MN we had a hottt dry droughty summer and then a TON of rain, just in time to split a bunch of my unripe tomatoes. Now with my peppers just starting to kick in the ripening action, temps drop down to highs in the 60′s and lows in the low 40′s! The worst part is, I know it will be 80′s again before the snows come. It happened last year, AFTER a killing frost.

    I still love it though, I guess one could chock it up to adventure huh?

  3. Thanks for the update. I’ve envied your tomato harvest for these last few months while fantasizing about growing my own in a community garden here that doesn’t (yet) exist. I love the photo of you with the parka on. Not a sight you’re likely to see here in Dallas.

    Please keep the community gardening posts coming. I love learning about others’ experiences in CGs and hope to put all your CG victories and defeats to good use when I’m able to start one here in my own town.

  4. Ciao Gayla-

    Oh my goodness, has Zapotec ever been prolific for us too! I gave D a Starbucks bag full of them to take to work with strict instructions that they only be used fresh to show off their pleats. We’ve enjoyed lots of BLTs and open-faced bruschetta sandwiches with them this year. It’s definitely a variety worth repeating. I love pinks for their creamy sweetness.

    The tomatoes are giving me a break to catch up on the canning. Once that oppressive, tedious heat and drought came to an end, the silly plants started growing and producing tomatoes again. Now, they’re all loaded with large green fruit, hoping to ripen before the glaciers arrive.

    Our cucurbits came out last week. I was overwhelmed by the production from the cucumbers, but once again disappointed by the zucchini. I just can’t seem to grow them here.

    I hear you about the fruit flies, boy do I ever.

  5. Your tomatoes are beautiful. I have never heard of pleated ones before. I was overwhelmed with tomatoes in our garden this year. And by the cucumbers.

    I agree with those who are urging you to keep the community gardening articles coming. I enjoy them too.

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