Growing More-erer Food


Because I am afflicted with the disease commonly known as “Can’t-Walk-Past-Plants, Most-Especially-Plants-on-Sale”-itis and because an entire kitchen garden that was non-existent a few days ago doesn’t seem to be enough today; I done went and bought me some pathetic-looking transplants. But wait, they were only fifty cents! Except the tuberous begonia — that was two bucks.

It went like something like this: I was walking past the Loblaws (Canadian supermarket chain) where I was lured by a sign hanging over the garden centre stating, “The Sales Have Begun!”, to which my mind responded, “I may be able to squeeze a few more plants in. This is last, last call. I can’t NOT see what they have. And I need more soil amender.”

In fact we’re so far into summer that this week is sort-of like last call in a city like Montreal where the bars stay open late followed by another round at a skeezy after hours bar where libations are surreptitiously purchased from some dude sitting on one side of the room and mixers are purchased legally from a station marked “Canteen” on the other side. And to be honest grubby is kind of how I felt buying fifty cent hybrid peppers from the garden centre of a popular chain supermarket when the remaining 99 percent of my plants are homegrown heirlooms or purchased from small, organic growers. But when that last call panic sets in I can be swayed to the dark side by just about any sad looking thing with a sale tag. Plus I am going to save these plants from the dumpster and grow more food! Right?

Here’s what I got:

  • Tuberous Begonia – I could have cared less about tuberous begonias until I learned that the petals of hybrid varieties have a sour, acidic taste that makes a juicy substitute for lemons. Now I’m a champion for tuberous begonias everywhere. I chose a variety with golden orange flowers.
  • Sweet Pepper ‘Orange Grande’ – This one had a fair-sized pepper on it. When buying sale plants try to avoid plants with flowers and fruit since the stress of living in a tiny pot results in plants that have put all of their resources into reproducing. I chose mine because it had the healthiest, lushest looking leaves of the bunch. The pots were fair-sized making peppers a good choice regardless. Peppers aren’t heavy feeders and can take a bit of abuse. Tomatoes on the other hand were just plain done. I had to pull myself away knowing that nothing was going to save them now.
  • Sweet Pepper ‘Sweetspot’ – Okay, how could I not buy a variety called ‘Sweetspot’? I am immature.
  • Zucchini ‘Goldrush’ – It didn’t look any worse than the plant I just transplanted from my shady plot so why not?
  • Columnar Basil and Genovese Basil – One can never grow enough basil. I am convinced this is true.

I picked the pepper off as soon as I got it home. Part of the strategy behind Project Save the Hybrids is to get them on the road to producing healthy leaves and establishing roots. Allowing the pepper to continue forming would be diverting energy into the wrong place.

And yes I did purchase bags of soil amender; mushroom compost to be exact. Unfortunately it was not on sale.

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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7 thoughts on “Growing More-erer Food

  1. Oh man, I’ve been avoiding garden stores for that particular reason: I get sucked in. But now I’m thinking I do have some room to tuck some more plants in. . .

  2. lol!!!

    I’ve been to the garden center at the lablaws near my place twice in the last 4 days! I saw the sign too! I can’t resist $.99 perennials! I got about 12 hardy cactus, some pearly everlastings and a bunch of other stuff! Then I went to the Fiesta garden center and nothing there is on sale…. so I didn’t buy anything! I’m a sale addict!

  3. Which one did you go to? I was at the dupont and christie one… I’ll probably go back if you want me to get you one I totally will! they were priced at $1.99 but then they are half price… Danger!

  4. That’s the one. I’ve been thinking they’d be good in the street garden — would keep people from walking into it to urinate! Is it wrong that I am strategizing ways to turn the plants back on the people who damage them? Thank you kindly for the offer. 5 should do it. That’s a great deal. They’re 10 bucks at Fiesta Farms

  5. LOL! i’ve been a lurker for now but reading Gayla’s email made me laugh!! i can’t resist the loblaws (st.clair/bathurst)…perennials and herbs for .99 and many for a quater!

    i just moved on june15th and finally have a balconly and i’ve been plant obsessed!!!

    i will go and check out the dupont loblaws today!

  6. Yes, you can never have too many basil plants. I should get more.

    I was never much of a fan of begonias either until this year. I love the leaves.

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