Panoramic of the Roof Garden July 21, 2007.
The following was found in my archives and is dated for July 14.
The rooftop garden is coming along beautifully this year. I do believe it is my best year yet. I was shocked to discover that on final count I am growing 14 tomato plants and 2 tomatillos. Most of the tomatoes are mid-sized determinants and 3 are indeterminants. I am growing the same number of tomatoes at my community garden plot with a grand total that far surpasses the total number of tomatoes I have ever been able to grow at one time. Thrilling! And yet it still doesn’t feel like enough. When I think of how hard it was to narrow things down to these varieties, I pine for all of the varieties I could grow at one time if given more space. Sigh. And yet I have so much more than most gardening, apartment-dwelling city-slickers. The more I garden, the more I want to garden and the grander my ideas grow. It is hard to be satiated with limitations. After all of these years there is still so much that the process of gardening is teaching me about patience and feeling satisfied with accomplishments within any given moment.
I had a TV crew here for about 2 hours one scorching hot and humid afternoon in August shooting a segment on heirloom vegetables for a show called “Living in Toronto.” There are other “Living ins” across Canada however the first is set to air tomorrow afternoon.
Details: CBC “Living in Toronto”, 1pm – 1:30pm.
My rooftop garden as seen from underneath the tent.
Here I am with the segment producer Myrocia preparing for a tomato-tasting bit. Did I mention the unbearable heat and humidity? By the time this picture was taken I had completely given up on any attempt to look TV-ready. I had to dab my face with a towel between takes. Good times!
Adorably teeny tiny Mexican Sour Gherkins (Melothria scabra) are starting to pop up all over the vines I’ve got growing at my community garden plot. The fruit in the picture is about half and inch or so and should be approximately 1-2″ when fully ripe however I am extremely impatient and picked a few for tasting. They taste very much like tiny, juicy cucumbers. Every description I have read says they have a surprisingly sour skin that makes them taste almost pre-pickled straight off the vine. Mine were very fresh flavored so I can only guess that the sourness will develop as the fruit matures.
The plant is a very ornamental and prolific vine with lots of pretty little leaves dotted by miniature yellow flowers. The tiny, ridiculously cute fruit are like Lilliputian watermelons, accounting for nicknames like “mouse melon” and Ã¢â‚¬Å“sandÃƒÂitaÃ¢â‚¬Â (Spanish for little watermelon).
I started mine this past spring from seeds purchased online via Seed Savers. I was a little bit concerned by the small size of the plants in comparison to other cucumbers at planting time but they took off immediately and quickly climbed up the trellis I made for my cucumbers using bamboo stakes and a plastic “chicken wire” leftover from another project. So far the plants are living up to their reputation as a pest and disease-resistant species — while some of the other curcubits are starting to show signs of powdery mildew the Mexican Sour Gherkins are entirely blemish and pest free. The plants are also much more drought tolerant than other cucumber-related plants making them a welcome addition to gardens like mine that can’t be tended to on a daily basis. I am not growing any on my rooftop garden this year but I would imagine that unlike many cucumber varieties that can be tricky in containers, their drought tolerant nature and small size would make this a good option in a medium-large sized container.
…Because I had to post something a little more optimistic. Both of these Polaroids were taken this morning on my rooftop. The ‘Miniature White‘ cucumber variety is a lot less yellow then as seen in this photo as the Polaroid film has a yellow cast. It is the largest of a bunch of cucumbers that are soon to be harvested from the rooftop garden. The plant is growing in a garbage bin and the zinnias are growing in an old flour canister.
You can see the photos larger here.
Quite simply, the Next Big Thing is going to be veggies. Lots and lots of veggies. Heirloom tomatoes, offbeat salad greens and stuff like that. All organically grown, of course. By us. – from Toronto Star “Urban Gardeners Are Growing Local” (July 7, 2007.)
Many of us have known it all along by I am excited and encouraged by how much the media is catching onto the fact that gardeners are growing food. Yes, with the seemingly limitless plant choices available to us in this day and age gardeners are choosing to grow vegetable crops. And as crazy as it sounds some of us actually value edible plants for their beauty, tucking them into perennial beds and artistically designing entire gardens around and with them. The days of sticking our noses up at veggie gardening is a snooty, short-sighted, old-school concept that most of us are more than happy to be rid of once and for all.
I’ve never been interested in announcing trends because my fear is that once you announce something as a fad its shelf-life decreases — I am much more interested in real, long-term change. However veggie gardening and urban agriculture aren’t just passing flavors-of-the-week but lifestyle choices many gardeners have been quietly going about their business with for a long time and I think I speak for many of us when I say that we are more than happy to see its popularity rise exponentially.
“Sales of vegetable seeds soared last year, outstripping those of flowers for the first time since the 1950s.” – from Toronto Star Article
Awesome! And incidentally the post WW2 era just happens to mark a cultural shift towards looking at food gardening as a low class activity. Could it be that we are FINALLY kicking that 50′s era conservatism to the curb?
Thanks to Sonia Day for this fantastic article.