I like all sorts of gardens, no matter where they are made. Here are a few gardens, including a few edible plants, tucked into crumbling concrete crevices in a local alleyway (around Niagara St and Tecumseth in Toronto).
Photos taken by Davin Risk.
I know it’s been a slow week around here. I’ve been fighting off the worst cold/flu/virus I can remember in recent history and have been in bed all week feeling like utter crap. Today is the first day I have felt confident about sitting up for more than an hour-long stretch or forming complete sentences (sort of). Poor me.
Not the best picture but I am very proud of my little ‘Chinese Ornamental’ hot pepper this year. I grew it from seed in spring 2008 and brought it inside over the winter. This is its second year producing lots of tiny peppers and it won’t be long before I bring it back indoors again.
I grow mine in a very small pot (about 5″ tall) as a test to see how well it will thrive and produce when pushed. Grow yours in a bigger pot and you’ll turn out a bigger plant and a lot more peppers.
Don’t let the word ‘ornamental’ fool you. These diminutive peppers are fiery, but definitely edible. My hot pepper days are long behind me; however, I like to put a few of these in my pickles to give to friends who like theirs spicy.
Sunsugars are a farmers’ market staple, which is just one reason why I do not grow them. By policy and public decree. Never shall a ‘Sunsugar’ tomato germinate in my soil!
Don’t get me wrong. The variety is absolutely delicious. They are literally like little orange candies. But why bother growing the varieties you can get all over town when you could grow something surprising?
But this year is different. I have seen sunsugars at some markets, but only some, and on rare occasions.
“This is a very bad year for tomatoes.” How many times have I heard that phrase over the last month? Tens of times? One hundred?
And so it happens that I inadvertently grew ‘Sunsugar’ this year, by chance. I won’t go into the story, but there it was, a ‘Sunsugar’ in my soil (Why does that sound like a euphemism?). It was the first plant to produce a ripe fruit (BEFORE July 1!) and it is still kicking. Which is more than I can say for some of my plants.
Sunsugar, I will never speak ill of ye again.
It has come to my attention that I do this every year: fish around in the soil for potatoes before they are due. As I said last year, it’s the anticipation of not knowing what is going on underneath the soil. This aspect of my personality comes as no surprise. I’m the kind of person who skips to the end of a mystery novel. I try not to do it, but nearly always do.
I think I’m going to wait just a wee bit longer. The plants are still in the process of dying back and we could have had a slightly bigger harvest last year if I had just waited before digging it all up.
Minutes after taking this photo, I brought them inside, popped them whole into a pot of boiling water, and served them hot with a pat of butter and a sprinkling of salt. These are the best potatoes we will have all year.
In case you’re wondering: the purple is ‘Purple Peruvian’. I’m not sure about the reddish pink variety since they were given to me at a transplant trade back in the spring. To be honest, I can’t be 100% bout the ‘Purple Peruvian’ since they were originally purchased at an organic supermarket, but I’ve grown them 2 years in a row and am pretty certain based on the potatoes and the colour of the flowers (purple!).
Let us turn our minds back four months (almost to the day by coincidence) to April of this year. Way back then, in a season that felt not so much unlike this one in many ways, what with the rain and the fact that I was wearing rain boots and long sleeved shirts, and it wasn’t winter but it wasn’t exactly hot either (I spit on you Summer 2009), I happened to mention that for various reasons this would be a year of garlic experimentation.
- October 2008 – I did not plant any garlic. Boo. Hiss.
- April 2009 – I planted some sprouted garlic cloves purchased from a local garlic farmer. These are next up for harvest, but so far, so good from the surface. The seemed to reach maturity and definitely produced scapes.
- I happened to notice a few garlic leaves popping out of the soil, remnants of a bulb from the previous year’s crop that must have been missed during the harvest. Based on placement in the garden, I guessed that the variety is ‘Music.’
This brings us to today, or rather, yesterday to be precise. Most of the garlic growing at my community garden plot has died back and it’s time to start harvesting. I pulled up the “accidental” garlic and low and behold this is the result:
Despite growing very closing together, all of the cloves seem to have produced bulbs. It definitely looks like ‘Music’. If memory serves, they are smaller, but not much smaller than bulbs of the same variety I pulled up in late summer 2008. Now, if I were to leave one of these bulbs in the ground and come back at this time next year, I’d predict that they would be even smaller. And so on, and so on. However, for a completely accidental crop, I’m calling it a happy success.
Hooray for screwing up and missing a bulb while harvesting! Let’s do this again.