Weekend Gardening Highlights

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

It was an insanely busy working weekend. Come Monday morning and I was desperate to unwind from the weekend, not the other way around. I still managed to get some time in most of the gardens, with the exception of the street garden, which is taking care of itself these days. Thankfully we got some much needed rain.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

First up, the community plot and a confession: I am not always efficient about sacrificing invasive plants to the compost pile. Intellectually, I know what has to go for the betterment of other crops and the overall design of the garden, but I find it hard to let some plants go. As a result, the plot was turning into Giant Borage Land — I spent a good hour scratching my arms to hell culling the plants that were no longer holding themselves up. I brought a bunch of the flowers and foliage home for eating.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Davin harvested some gooseberries from his bush in our community garden plot. I planted the bush in 2007 and it’s really starting to produce a good crop. That said, I’ve referred to it as his bush because while I like the idea of gooseberries, and I certainly enjoy photographing them, I don’t love eating them. Currants I am all over. Gooseberries… meh.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

I dug up a baker’s dozen of garlic from my community garden plot. It’s a pretty good haul considering I don’t remember planting it. Chances are I planted at least half of it and the rest is accidental. There are certain gardening activities I have done so many times, I don’t always recall specific instances. Planting bulbs is the best example of this since you do it so many months before the plants make an appearance. It’s either that or the early onset Alzheimer’s, which believe me is no joke. This is one of the things that keeps me up at night. I can be incomprehensibly forgetful at times and I’d swear it’s only getting worse.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved
Blackberries are coming.

And over at the yardshare garden…. Because I’ve neglected to properly introduce it, the yardshare is quite literally a portion of a large backyard that a neighbour has generously offered up to a few locals to grow a collective garden in. They’ve been growing there for a few years now, and I was invited to join this spring. It came just in time since I was pining for a larger garden space but have been unable to get a plot at the High Park allotments. Waiting lists for community gardens and allotments are getting longer by the year, and yardshares are a new way to find garden space in densely populated urban centres like Toronto.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

We have a lot of tomatoes growing there, which is another saving grace since I decided to give the soil a rest at the community garden, and had to pull back on the roof to make space for plants and projects needed for my next book. So between the extras I started at the greenhouse, and another friend who was a bit heavy-handed while sowing tomatoes seeds back in February, we are coming into quite a crop. This is ‘Black Krim’ developing on a vine. I can’t wait! ‘Black Krim’ is still in my top 10, if not my top 5, but I haven’t had a chance to grow it in a few years.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

With more available growing space, I decided to grow some larger ornamental edibles. This is ‘Joseph’s Coat’ amaranth. I’ve grown it on the roof but never in the ground. It’s shape kind of reminds me of older poinsettia plants growing in the Caribbean. It develops more into that look as it matures.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Another plant I am growing for the first time this year is Spigarello, an heirloom broccoli rabe that produces edible leaves and few florets. This plant wasn’t in my plan for the year but when I saw the seedlings for sale at Urban Harvest this spring, I knew I had to make space for one, or as it turns out, four. I put one in at the yardshare, one into the community garden plot, and there are two plants in pots on the roof. I bought so many because of the marked variation in the leaves. The plant you see here has very thick foliage and looks more like a typical broccoli, but I have two others that are very thin-leaved and fern-like. I will post some pictures for comparison soon. The young leaves are tender enough to munch on raw. As you can see here the plant is doing very well at the yardshare — between this and the monster kale also growing there, we’re covered for cooking greens. And a friend just gave us a big bag full of Swiss chard. Thankfully I did not plant any of THAT this year.

p.s. The image at the top of the page is roasted elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum).

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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15 thoughts on “Weekend Gardening Highlights

  1. First of all — great post, love keeping up with all your garden activities and reading the hints of future projects…

    Second, and sorry to put it here (will not be offended if you do not make my post publicly seen): I wanted to let you know that for the past few weeks my IE freezes almost every time I try to access a post from RRS feed. This is the error message I get: szAppName : iexplore.exe szAppVer : 7.0.5730.11 szModName : hungapp
    szModVer : offset : 00000000. Does not happen with other blogs I follow…

  2. I’m in love with that ‘Joseph’s Coat’ amaranth! Just added it to my “to grow” list for next year.

  3. beautiful and inspiring! I love borage so much, and I’m pretty sure I started growing it b/c of your books. So invasive… or shall we say just exuberant.

  4. Ciao Gayla-

    I forwarded the photo of the amaranth to Duane, who has fallen in love with all things amaranth and coleus over the last couple of years. I can see him growing it and then getting a used grain mill and making his own bread flour out of it.

    Anyone who’s keen to grow the white variety of borage, I’m growing a small white borage forest under one of our apricot trees so I should have plenty of seeds to share come winter.

  5. I never tried gooseberries before. It’s on my list of things I have to taste. I just planted a blackberry plant! I can’t wait until it gets way bigger.

  6. I am really really envious of your garlic. Mine crapped out this season. I put it in a bad place and it does’nt care for being tromped upon….I mean, who does? But I only have 3 rather anemic looking bulbs.

  7. I LOVE the Joseph’s Coat amaranth! Do you know if I can grow it from seed? Our nursery selection here is very limited.

  8. Please tell me how you prepare borage? I have planted it for the first time in my garden. It is doing well, and when it was younger I sauteed it with spinach. I also heard it may be a perennial? I don’t know much about it or its hardiness but the flowers are stunning.

  9. Borage is really pretty. Its too bad it self seeds so readily. Like Jackie in the previous comment, I’d like to know more about how to use it.

  10. Super excellent blog I wish most people would understand the beauty of going food-They taste great and organic- The plants are so healthy and 100% delish. Bravo! I just wish my garden was like yours.

  11. Kate: Yes, but I’m not sure who sells it. A close similarity is the ‘Cinco de Mayo’ seed pack from Renee’s Garden.

    Jackie: I eat the flowers and I cook the leaves. Eat the young sprouts fresh in salads. I can’t say more as my recipe will be in the next book.

  12. Interesting plants! I am growing ‘Intense Purple’ amaranth this year. We’ve had lots of greens for salad from it!

    I planted some baby gooseberry bushes this year and am planting garlic for the first time in october. I’m looking forward to next year’s new harvest!

  13. Sheryl: That’s a nice variety. You’ll find the garlic very satisfying… so many little harvests along the way.

    Sorellina: I emailed you but thought I’d also say here that your comment was so timely because I had JUST announced that i was going to make getting some white borage seeds a priority for next spring.

  14. I planted a Pixwell gooseberry bush this spring due to nostalgic thoughts of my Oma who used to grow them. The thorns can be painful but the first cupful of berries I got this July and made into the world’s smallest Gooseberry Crumble were delicious! Can’t wait for it to grow so I can get more next year.

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