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Community garden: Highs and lows of 2018

I had two garden plots in 2018. A friend wanted to grow with me but backed out just before the start of the season. In the new smaller plot, I did mostly herbs (basil, dill, parsley), peppers, nasturtium, and flowers.  In the larger plot, I did the same along onions, garlic, a small strawberry bush my garden friend gave me, the lavender bush I planted in 2017 (I think), and the dill and calendula that self-seed every year.

I wanted a break (and to give the soil a break) from the more demanding fruit-bearing plants and to see what it would be like to just grow flowers, herbs and salad greens like a few of my fellow community gardeners. I didn’t miss dealing with tomato plants, but I did miss having zucchini. In the end, I think I prefer having a combination of vegetables, herbs and flowers.


Corner store peppers

The heat and humidity (feeling like 40 degrees) during the summer really helped the peppers to do well.

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Plump jalapeños!

I don’t usually buy convenience store plants, opting instead for heirloom and organic plants from Urban Harvest, but my friend shared some hot pepper plants she bought on the Danforth and they did well!

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I think these are Thai chili peppers. They were really hot!


My rosemary has never grown as large as it did last year. It was so beautiful! Roasted some with a whole chicken (yum!).

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It was practically the length of my forearm. I took it inside in hopes of keeping it alive over the winter. 

Giant zinnias

My garden friend offered me some extra giant zinnias so I agreed to take them. They did great, blooming well into the fall.

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This was taken in October!


Green leafy veggies didn’t do very well last year, probably because of the extra heat and humidity (and I probably didn’t water enough). I planted kale, collard greens and a few salad mixes. Nasturtiums didn’t do well either. I also planted some corner store leeks from my friend that didn’t make it to adulthood (they like cooler temperatures and I planted them late).

As for thefts inherent in having a public garden space, some of my onions got taken as well as heads of flowers that had gone to seed.

Although I saw swallowtail caterpillar eggs for the first time in 2018 and I saw many caterpillars in the first instar, I didn’t see them progress beyond that stage.

Best new find

Butterfly milkweed

Although I have other flowers that attract butterflies (cornflower, zinnia, and the asters that I saved from the community garden in 2017), I decided butterfly milkweed might be a nice addition to the flower garden.

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Different stages of bloom

Although I don’t remember seeing butterflies swarming around them, I would grow them again (I harvested lots of seeds). The blooms are really pretty.

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Making seeds

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End of spring means sweet deals

I was in Toronto when my uncle returned last week. He was upset that there were so many weeds in the garden and that my cousin hadn’t mowed the lawn. That was my fault. I’d accidentally locked the shed door. The key had gone missing so we couldn’t get at the necessary equipment (the garden claw and lawn mower). I’d felt bad that I hadn’t gotten around to planting his okra as the plants were starting to look yellow. He planted some since his return and told me today he`d plant the rest tomorrow. He`s realizing now that space is an issue in his area.

Look at all them weeds. Almost didn't notice the spicy salad mix on the left.

Look at all them weeds. Almost didn’t notice the small light green patch of  spicy salad mix on the left.

I haven`t been spending enough time in the garden to really get at what needs to be done. This is evidenced by the fact that the tomatoes were getting out of control. One plant had even fallen over, it was so top-heavy.  I swear, I was watching them closely; removing the suckers every time I visited. I thought I was doing a good job of maintaining one main stem, but each plant has bifurcated and continues to grow new shoots in any way it can. Some suckers are so big and have tiny flower heads on them that I couldn`t bring myself to remove them. I`m really bad at a tomato management.

The plant to the back left has fallen over

The plant to the back left has fallen over

Technically you`re supposed to insert the stake right when you plant the tomatoes in order to reduce the risk of damaging the roots, which is much more likely when the plant is full grown. I tied them gently but firmly to the stakes using twine.

Looks pretty good!

Looks pretty good!

Tomatoes forming!

Tomatoes forming!

I’ve noticed that one of the strawberry plants is starting to lose its leaves. I’m wondering if the weeds are strangling its roots.  Sure, it’s still forming and ripening berries, but for how long? I’m planning to do some weeding on the weekend now that the shed is accessible. Apparently they never found the key and had to cut the lock.

Strawberry plants in May

Strawberry plants in May, when they were first planted. The one on the right was the first one I planted. It was less mature than the one on the left.

You'll notice the weeds all around and the fact that the foilage is not as dense as it once was

The first strawberry plant I bought. You’ll notice the weeds all around and the fact that the foliage is not as dense as in the picture above (and no, it’s not the angle. It is much thinner).

On a positive note, Urban Harvest was having a plant sale as this is the last week their physical store would be open for the season. The sale started last weekend: 3 perennials or 4 annuals for $10. I didn’t make it on the weekend and my week was filled with after work activities. But what a deal! I couldn’t miss out…

I managed to get into union station in Toronto at 5pm on Monday. My aquafit class started at 6:30 so I took a chance and took the subway north to Dundas West station. I was in such a rush that I ended up getting 3 perennials: rosemary, lavender, and yarrow, and only 2 annuals: nasturtium and cilantro.

Left to right: yarrow, rosemary,  lavender, cillantro, nasturtium

Left to right: yarrow, rosemary, lavender, cillantro, nasturtium

The staff were nice enough to give me 2 annuals for $5 rather than $3.50 each. By the time I left, it was 6pm. As I ran to the subway, it briefly crossed my mind to go back and see if I could get the 5 for $10 deal because I wouldn’t make it all the way to the east end in 30 minutes.  I should’ve listened to that thought because I didn’t make it to class. I was kicking myself for a few days. But I suppose it was a blessing in disguise. I don’t really know where I’m going to plant what I bought…

Close up!  I can almost smell them...

Close up!
I can almost smell them…

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