Late Season Gardening — Party Time, Excellent.

Despite the cold — and the fact that we experienced a brief and light snowfall this afternoon — outdoor gardening is still happening here in Toronto. I am yet to put any of my gardens to bed. The side garden is fine really. Doing a last clean-up is pretty much my choice. I choose to be lazy until such time when and if I am struck with the spirit of Martha.

Hardneck Garlic
    Hardneck garlic before planting. I bought these cloves at the Organic Farmer’s Market… specifically from The Dufferin Grove Market and the Plan B Farm. They were still selling cloves today if you’re looking in Toronto.

The rooftop container garden is another thing entirely. I have really got to get on that action. Dead annuals need to be composted, soil collected, pots scrubbed clean and brought indoors, and everything put away — it’s a crucifixion! Things are starting to freeze up there. I should be out there right now, not inside in the warmth, heating my body by the warm monitor glow. I’ll get on that tomorrow.

Planting Thyme in the Cold
    Planting Thyme in the cold, wet dirt. Sure is fun!

Thankfully I have been slowly working on the community garden since the first signs of fall back in September. I planted hardneck garlic last week, and Egyptian clumping onions at least a month prior. I pulled up or cut back most of the dead calendula and borage, pulled up a zucchini plant, harvested everything that wasn’t going to see another day, and laid straw down. Rather than overwintering potted perennial herbs as I often do, I elected to plant the marjoram and various thyme varieties in a section of the new community plot. All of the still-green tomatoes were picked and are sat on top of the warm fridge ripening. I’ve got a single precious ‘Black Pear’ tomato left that I am saving until the absolute perfect moment to enjoy on a fried egg sandwich with pesto.

    Bye, bye Zucchini

As things get colder I am finding myself longing for the days of summer when I was out in the garden sweating in a t-shirt. Sweat and heat exhaustion sound good right now. I was at the community garden on Saturday wearing several layers to protect against both the cold and the rain. When I got home my hands were frozen and went through that terrible dethawing process that is a mix of both itchiness and pain. I love gardening and even those those wet days can be some of the best for things like planting perennials even I can’t sell it. Digging in cold wet dirt just sucks!

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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3 thoughts on “Late Season Gardening — Party Time, Excellent.

  1. I agree it does kind of suck. I’ve been planning on posting about the sad state of my garden these days, but need to be home when there is light out to take photos… damn winter. Everything has kind of just turned ugly in one quick hurry since we dropped below freezing at night this week.

    And while I hear you on the painfully cold hands and all that, I do find that my mood ends up a bit brighter if I spend time actually out in the weather rather than just hiding from it. Not all the time of course, that’s what tea and blankets were made for afterall.

  2. I have been in total winter denial. I have been planting my cold crops, but haven’t had the motivation to pull up my now-ugly spring plants. . . until I realized the peppers and basil were suffering from the below freezing temps. Then it was a matter of saving them from a terribly cold death, i opted for the mercy killings. When all was said and done, though, I felt better being able to see my favas and cabbages happily and neatly in little rows.

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