Friday, November 06, 2009

A relapse of spring fever

It's November already. Winter. This isn't supposed to be growing out in the open:

Young green pepper, unprotected, and doing fine.

I was expecting, when I walked into the Strathcona Community Gardens this week, to find desolate plots of dead vegetable remains, rotting leaves, and silence. Instead, I found gardeners setting out new plants, bird song, and fresh flowers.

White dahlia

There must be a pocket of warmth, some quirk of the air currents, maybe, that postpones winter in this corner of the city. There were still some raspberries on the canes, even. A gardener gave me a chayote, a mid-summer squash, to take home for supper. I met another, on his knees in a freshly-planted bed of garlic; he was squeezing the last few lettuce seedlings around the edge. He expects to be harvesting until the snow comes.

Salad fixings; arugula, I think.

Fennel. A hand-written sign says, "90 days to maturity".

The brassicas will last right through the winter. I saw chard, kale, winter cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choi, and more.

Some kind of brassica. I don't recognize it.

Borage flower. A nice addition to a salad. It tastes somewhat like cucumber.

A willow-branch fence around a plot grows as happily as the veggies.

Yellow squash, waiting to be taken home for supper.

An allium head, tied to a stake for the seeds to dry.

The gardeners were busy, some planting, some cleaning. One man had tied up his bare grape vines, and was busy taking down the dried bean vines, leaving the stakes for the next season. A woman trundled a wheelbarrow of stalks for the compost along the path.

Each plot has its own style of fence (or no fence); some are tangles of sticks, others recycled metal grids. Rocks, bricks, logs, boards, even broken pots do the job. This neat rose garden has a new front.

At the back, beside the chain-link fence, a shiny new plastic compost bin is hard at work. I noticed many of these, all through the gardens. Several of the plots, the ones cleaned off for the season, have been dug over and covered with a fresh, black layer of compost.

The people aren't the only workers:

Dozens of crows picked over the recently-turned soil, breaking apart lumps to get at seeds and bugs.

The sentinel.

Following a spate of birdsong, I took the trail on the south-east corner, leading to the main composting area. It skirted a small remainder of the wetlands that formerly covered the whole lot.

Behind a tangle of vines and weeds, a small flock of birds were bathing. There were a pair of robins, at least one junco, and several others.

I think these two are juvenile redwing blackbirds. The little white lines on the photo (full size) are bathwater spray.

And the bees, wasps, and bee mimics are buzzing around the marigolds.

It's a hive of activity, even in November.



  1. Not much left in the gardens along the CN tracks behind our complexes. We found a pea plant pulled up and cost off with still a few peas on it. Mingus made short work of those, let me tell you. He loves pea pods. Now only if there were more ... says he ... as he snoops and snoops around.

  2. Hi S.
    I think that your brassica is commonly called Dinosaur Kale - we had some in our garden last year. We've got to get our garlic in soon as well. Nice to see so much gardening going on at this time of year!

  3. Eileen, Where are you? In Kits? They had a good community garden there, along the tracks.

    Thanks, Dave. Dinosaur kale sounds like a good name for it.


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