Looking Back at the Garden Season That Was

We have come to an end of another great season of growing at the Table’s community gardens. Our year started with indoor seed propagating sessions which everyone really enjoyed. There is nothing better that seeing little seedlings growing while the snow is still all around. This was especially true this year with a spring taking it's time to arrive. Of course, later in the season there was more than enough warm weather to make up for the late start but this too brought some challenges.

In March we kicked off the monthly workshop series with a session on designing a vegetable garden for a season of seed saving. Growing crops for seed saving was a focus in the garden this year and we have now expanded our seed collection of tomato, beans, herbs, lettuce and some flowers. We'll be happy to share some of our seed with you if you stop by to see us at Seedy Sunday in March 2019. Other workshop topics included: 

This year we continued to improve our garden infrastructure thanks to a grant from Compass Group Canada, Bayer Inc. and  Food Banks Canada’s  + Fresh funding program. This grant allowed us to install much needed deer fencing at Last Duel Park, pilot  a container gardening program, purchase wheelchair accessible beds for the back garden at 190 Gore St.   Rick Quirouette, one of our most committed garden volunteers, was in charge of installing a polypropylene extra strength deer fence which we were pleased to construct with local wood from McGovern’s Custom Sawmill in Watson’s Corners.

Our new container garden program supplied participants with all essentials to grow vegetables on their decks, patios and balconies.  Participants received a set of 3 pots, soil, compost and plants to grow in their backyards. We had 15 people who participated in the program and despite the hot weather they all enjoyed having the opportunity to try growing food in this way. Basic gardening skills were taught and successes and challenges discussed during our monthly meetups.

The garden program was fortunate to benefit from Canada Summer Jobs program again this season. Our student Navin Wickramasuriya was a great addition to the garden team. He was able to help out with daily garden tasks and move the development of our permanent raised beds at Last Duel garden along. He was able to learn a lot about growing food and enjoyed seeing crops in our garden which he has never seen growing before. His enthusiasm and positive attitude was a great asset.

With the completion of the renovation to our entrance at 190 Gore St, we installed two new raised beds out  front of the Table along the sidewalk. These were a big hit. As people passed by they were able to snack on the cherry tomatoes growing in one bed while the second bed grew an abundance of cucumbers used in the kitchen.

At Last Duel Park, we grew some of our favourite varieties with great success once again.  In particular, Joanna’s favourite cabbage variety ‘Gunma’ grows a nice flat, large head suitable for cabbage rolls, veggie wraps or other classic dishes. If started in March and May, two crops can be harvested in a season. This year our ‘Idigo Rose’ tomatoes, purple in colour with a little bit of red, were a great addition to the garden and added a lot of interest to summer salads. Our ‘Emerite’ pole beans, another workhorse in the garden were producing till mid-October.  Lettuce was a big challenge to grow due to the heat we experienced this year but we were still able to harvest a good crop. Carrots can also be a challenge with the dry heat but with help of burlap, which helps keep moisture in the ground to aid germination, our carrots yielded well and kept one of our keen carrot picking volunteers very happy. Lots of newly added perennial and annual flowers added colour and kept the pollinators busy. We will continue developing our pollinator border next year and are happy to receive any perennial divisions available from the community.

Lastly, our Rogers Rd garden site continued to be used for growing garlic. We  supply the needs of The Table's kitchen for the coming year and also provide garlic to the Good Food Bank and for the gardeners to take home. This year we harvested 246 lb of garlic and planted 2,100 bulbs  for next year. 

Despite the challenge of heat and a late spring start, 2018 was a great season at the Table's community gardens.  With an informative and well attended run of workshops, improvements funded by Food Banks Canada, a great summer student and a garden full of bountiful harvest of almost 2000 lbs, we are ready to take a winter rest.  See you in the spring of 2019!!

Joanna
Community Garden Coordinator
joanna@thetablecfc.org