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Gardening Bulletin 2012

This is just a midwinter message to say Happy New Year and to wish you all well! We are looking forward to the season starting up again with a meet and greet at the end of Feb/early March - we'll keep you posted as to the date. Though garden news is minimal at the moment, Leslie tells me she was still harvesting greens from our cold frames a couple of weeks ago...Talk about extending the season : )

Sat, Oct 27 session CANCELLED - Rain Date: Wed, Oct 31, 3-5

Hi all, the gardening session today is cancelled due to the weather. It will be postponed until this coming Wednesday, October 31, 3-5 pm. Our last gardening club picnic of the season will follow the session at 5 pm so please do come for that even if you can't make it for the gardening session part. We look forward to celebrating the end of another successful season together!


Last session of the season! Sat, Oct 27, 3-5 pm; Biochar Workshop, Sat, Nov 3, 3-5 pm

We have lots of news to share this week, not least of which is the sad fact that our gardening season has once again come to an end and we will be having our last official drop-in gardening session tomorrow! It's been a great journey with a great crew this year and we have learned and laughed and eaten a lot : ) Thanks everyone for all of the help and enthusiasm and just for making our gardening sessions so enjoyable.

Even though tomorrow is the last official session, the fun will not be over just yet : ) Next Saturday, November 3, 3-5 pm we will be hosting a very interesting workshop about the benefits of BIOCHAR that should be of interest to gardeners of all stripes (and environmentalists too). Biochar is a by-product of wood burning (which we happen to do in our wood burning ovens at the park) that provides excellent benefits when combined with compost and is added to garden soil. Harry Ha and Lloyd Helferty, representatives from Biochar Ontario, will be leading the workshop which will include presentations and hands-on demonstrations in the gardens.

Saturday October 20, 3 - 5 pm; Wednesday October 24, 3 - 5 pm.

This photo shows some of our last remaining plants in the vegetable gardens, which are now emptied of everything but our hardiest plants - kale, chard, some late-season salad greens in our cold frames and our perennial/biennial herbs. This week we have been adding compost to some of the gardens and wood chips to some of the pathways. We have also begun to organize our garden sheds as the end of the season is fast-approaching. Our garlic and daffodil planting sessions are still on tap and we will begin cutting back perennials in the flowerbeds soon as well.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday October 20, 3 - 5 pm; Wednesday October 24, 3 - 5 pm.
Saturday October 13, 3 - 5 pm; Wednesday October 17, 3 - 5 pm.

As you might suspect the cold weather has affected lots of our crops and has speeded up the process of putting the vegetable gardens to bed. This week the gardeners have pulled out the remaining tomato, eggplant and tomatillo plants..and most of the beans as well. Also, there has been more weeding in the savannah garden and another ladder has been built to create a stile over the vegetable garden fence that will give children easier access and (hopefully) reduce further damage to the fence wires... We shall see : )

Two student groups from St Mary's High School have started up volunteer sessions again, so they will help us tackle a lot of fall clean up projects which is a great help.

This week if the weather permits we'll get back to finishing painting the garden gate and the ladders before we install them. We also have garlic to plant (taken from our own garlic harvest this past season) and our daffodil donation from the Parks and Trees Foundation has arrived so we'll be doing lots of bulb planting too.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday October 13, 3 - 5 pm; Wednesday October 17, 3 - 5 pm.
Saturday October 6, 3 - 5 pm; Wednesday October 10, 3 - 5 pm.

Fall is now in full swing: the leaves are changing colour, Thanksgiving is days away, and most of the plants in the garden beds are starting to show signs of weariness...yet the asters, sedums and grasses are still at their best!

Last Saturday was another big workday involving many power tools - which is slightly unusual for us. We stripped paint, sanded, repaired and repainted the garden gate, painted the ladder, and fixed 2 more of our cold frames. This week we also tidied up the cedar and juniper grove and started dismantling some of our bean trellises and teepees, and harvested a wheelbarrow full of basil (pesto anyone?)

Coming up this week, we will be finishing the painting, and cleaning up more of the vegetable and perennial garden beds.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday October 6, 3 - 5 pm; Wednesday October 10, 3 - 5 pm.

Happy Thanksgiving...Rachel

Saturday September 29, 3 - 5 pm; Wednesday October 3, 3 - 5 pm.

Hello there. This past week we did some carpentry work - fixing the coldframe, and building a ladder to put on the vegetable garden fence. We also harvested kale, the last of the tomatillos, and some straggler tomatoes on our blight-ridden tomato bushes. Sadly, not the best crop this year as a result. Another trip was made to the children's garden for weeding as well.

Coming up this week we will have a ladder and gate painting session on Saturday as well as some more harvesting in the vegetable garden, staking in the savannah garden, and compost tea feeding to the most delicate plants in the park.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday September 29, 3 - 5 pm; Wednesday October 3, 3 - 5 pm.
Saturday September 22, 3 - 5 pm; Wednesday September 26, 3 - 5 pm.

If you take a close look at the strange contraption in the first photo above you'll see that it is actually an elaborate structure (aka a super-tall table) concocted by one of our volunteers to support some heavy squashes that are weighing down one of the branches on the cherry tree. The tree-support was an experiment we tried which worked well for awhile until the long squashes did their squashy thing and suddenly quadrupled in size overnight and got really heavy. No damage was done yet but we figured it was best to prevent anything bad from happening. The second picture shows two of our volunteers hammering stakes into the ground to support the many sunflowers growing in the front garden. Other activities that happened this week were planting asian and mustard salad mixes, harvesting purple-leaf basil, kale and tomatoes, and weeding the fountain and front gardens.


Up ahead this week we'll be weeding the savannah garden, fixing the coldframe, and planting chard. Leslie says she'll be harvesting tomatillos tomorrow for a pumpkin seed mole sauce for friday night supper...yum!

NEW TIME for Gardening sessions this week: Saturday September 22, 3 - 5 pm; Wednesday September 26, 3 - 5 pm.

Saturday September 15, 4 - 6 pm; Wednesday September 19, 4 - 6 pm.

Hello everyone. This past week the tree nursery and bing cherry gardens have been weeded and thinned, and the stone wall I mentioned last week has been fixed. More tomatoes, basil and beans have been harvested also. Coming up this week we have a few more seeds to sow in the vegetable garden for our last crop of the season. We'll also be feeding some of the trees with compost tea, and weeding the fountain garden and savannah garden.

The above photo shows the beautiful sign that Jessica Moore painted for us last year for our native tree grove, which finally went in the ground earlier this summer.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday September 15, 4 - 6 pm; Wednesday September 19, 4 - 6 pm.

See you in the garden...Rachel

Saturday September 8, 4 - 6 pm; Wednesday September 12, 4 - 6 pm.

I hope the long weekend was restful for everyone. This past Wednesday the gardeners harvested more tomatoes, basil, eggplant and green beans. They also harvested the last of the grapes, which Leslie assures me will be going into her famous grape pie for dessert at tomorrow's friday night supper - miss it at your own peril! The rose garden and the bing cherry bed were also thinned and weeded.

Sometimes gardening in public spaces can be an exercise in frustration. A few weeks ago some our conscientous volunteers painstakingly rebuilt parts of a stone planter/seatwall near the cob that had gotten some abuse. Now once again the stones have been tossed around by some inconsiderate park user and are again in need of repair. So that's one of the tasks we'll be taking on this Saturday and our fingers will be crossed that it won't be dismantled again. Not much we can do about it if it happens when we're not looking : (

Other tasks ahead this week include tidying up the front garden beds, more harvesting, and our annual cleanup of chokecherry and aspen suckers in the tree nursery.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday September 8, 4 - 6 pm; Wednesday September 12, 4 - 6 pm.
NO SESSION ON SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 1; Wednesday September 5, 4 - 6 pm.

I hope that you are all enjoying the heat again this week! Somehow it doesn't seem quite as unbearable at the end of the summer when it feels like each hot day could be the last. This week in the gardens we spent some time in the south end of the park weeding the green roof and the children's garden, watering, and staking floppy cupplants and asters. We also harvested lots of tomatillos, white eggplant, tomatoes and basil in the vegetable gardens, and the last of the edible elderberries in the native tree grove. Next Wednesday we'll have more harvesting and weeding to do - as usual : )

Don't forget that we will not be having a gardening session over Labour Day weekend, so I do hope everyone has a relaxing holiday!

Gardening sessions this week: NO SESSION ON SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 1; Wednesday September 5, 4 - 6 pm.
Gardening sessions this week: Saturday August 25, 4 - 6 pm; Wednesday August 29, 4 - 6 pm.

Vegetable gardening at this time of year is so rewarding. Our gardening sessions over the past week have involved a lot of harvesting - elderberries in the native tree grove, grapes on the rink face, tomatoes, eggplants, beets, chard, kale, beans, basil, and squash in the vegetable gardens. We've also been tackling weeds, pruning perennials, and enjoying our well-deserved post-gardening picnics - the best part of all : ) The coming week promises more of the same.

This coming Saturday we will be wishing Anna Bekerman (our illustrious co-coordinator and co-gardening update writer) a fond farewell as she will be moving away for awhile. Come on out and help us send her off in style : )

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday August 25, 4 - 6 pm; Wednesday August 29, 4 - 6 pm. Please note: there will NOT be a Gardening session on Labour Day Weekend (Sat, Sept 1).
Saturday August 18, 4 - 6pm; Wednesday August 22, 4 - 6 pm.

August rains are helping along our gardens at the park tremendously. We've been harvesting a-plenty and have also begun seeding again, in order to extend the season (and the harvest) as long as we can. This week we'll be doing more harvesting and seeding, and also weeding since the weeds in the gardens have been responding favourably to the rain as well.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday August 18, 4 - 6pm; Wednesday August 22, 4 - 6 pm.

See you in the garden...Rachel

PS I haven't been able to make it myself but for those of you who are interested, the Urban Agriculture Summit I mentioned a while back is happening as we speak, and runs until Saturday:

Saturday August 11, 4-6pm; Wednesday August 15, 4-6pm

Black zebra tomatoes (left) are deliciously sweet and productive, to our great delight -- and we're excited to see other vegetables coming along, like the little fingers eggplant (middle) and butternut and acorn squash. We picked the first snake squash (right) of the season on Wednesday, and more are on their way. Last week we also cleared the gardens along the Garrison creek path, rebuilt the stone wall there, tidied the beds around the small bake oven, and harvested, weeded and built more trellises in the vegetable gardens. Coming up this week, we will plant more carrots, radishes, beets, and greens. We'll also harvest more beans, tomatoes, patty pan squash, kale, swiss chard, beets, carrots, basil, and other herbs. Plans are also in the works for another workshop. More details coming soon!

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday August 11, 4-6pm; Wednesday August 15, 4-6pm
Saturday August 4, 4-6pm; Wednesday August 8, 4-6pm.

This year our vegetable gardens are more productive than they've ever been, and all of the gardens are looking great after the rain we've had recently. Last week we pruned and tidied the front gardens and tied up the tomato plants. This week, we'll be cleaning up the gardens down in the gulley and watering areas around the park that still need some extra help. We'll also be planting some new seeds in the vegetable garden in the hopes of keeping the harvesting late into the fall! In the photo this week is one of our very own oso blue tomato plants, ripening up nicely!

Garden sessions this week: Saturday August 4, 4-6pm; Wednesday August 8, 4-6pm.

As always, each session is followed by a garden picnic, and volunteers are welcome to take home some of the harvest.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday July 28, 4 - 6pm; Wednesday August 1, 4 - 6 pm.

Hooray for rain!! I couldn't help but smile last night when the downpour caught me on my bikeride home. By the time I got there I was completely drenched and had to wring my clothes out and hang them to dry but I have never enjoyed being damp and cold so much - so happy I was for all of our poor plants - not just in the park, but everywhere! - to finally get a good long drink.

This past week we've done a lot of harvesting in the vegetable gardens - kale, beets, beans, carrots, and garlic. A large part of the harvest was donated to Sistering, a local women's organization that among other things provides nutritious meals to homeless and low-income women. We also had a group of students who are on a work exchange from Quebec work alongside our volunteers seeding more greens, weeding and watering trees. The above photograph shows our new compost bin that Anna, Leslie and some of our multi-talented volunteer/carpenters lovingly built earlier in the summer. As of yesterday it has now been officially christened ; )

This coming week we'll be tidying up more of the garden beds and harvesting more goodies. With all this lovely rain we may not have to focus quite so much on watering, but we'll be doing some of that too.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday July 28, 4 - 6pm; Wednesday August 1, 4 - 6 pm.
Saturday July 21, 4 - 6pm; Wednesday July 25, 4 - 6 pm.

As the summer wears on the fruits of our labour are ripening one after the other. Our lettuce, radish, peas, cherries, strawberries and red currants have come and gone. We've begun harvesting beans and garlic and this weekend we'll be doing more of the same. We'll be harvesting some of our kale as well. Apart from that we'll be continuing along with our weeding and thinning tour as well as our heavy watering regimen in the perennial garden beds around the park (in fact, park staff have recently set up a series of hoses to water as many of the trees in the grove as possible - since we can't depend on the rain for that this summer).

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday July 21, 4 - 6pm; Wednesday July 25, 4 - 6 pm.

Kale and Beets
Saturday July 14, 4 - 6pm; Wednesday July 18, 4 - 6 pm

Our vegetable gardens are looking especially bountiful these days. The lacinato kale and bulls blood beets are visible in the first photo above and in the second you can see rainbow chard glowing in the sunlight with teepee'd bean plants behind, as well as 2 containers loaded with garlic and strawberry plants (not so visible). The strawberries are eaten already of course, and we have just begun harvesting garlic.


Swiss Chard

This week we will be continuing weeding the vegetable and perennial gardens, watering, and planting a few stalwart seedlings that are still patiently waiting to be planted.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday July 14, 4 - 6pm; Wednesday July 18, 4 - 6 pm.

Upcoming Events:

The Urban Agriculture Summit is happening in Toronto next month from August 15-18. There are tons of amazing talks and workshops happening. See details at

Saturday July 7, 4 - 6pm; Wednesday July 11, 4 - 6 pm.

Aren't blue podded peas lovely? Ours haven't proven to be the most prolific but their beauty and taste make up for it. Last Saturday we had our companion planting and bio-intensive gardening workshop - it went very well and with all of the donated plants from the garden centre in the Dufferin Mall parking lot, we ended up transforming some of the garden beds and piling in a bunch of exciting plants like callaloo and hot peppers. Those who braved the excruciating heat on Wednesday put the finishing touches on our new compost bin. Actually, the heat on Wednesday drove the point home that we should really be gardening even later in the day, hence the new gardening session time: 4 to 6 pm - should be a little bit cooler for everyone.

This week we'll be making the rounds of our various vegetable and perennial gardens to do some weeding, thinning and watering.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday July 7, 4 - 6pm; Wednesday July 11, 4 - 6 pm.
Saturday June 29, 3-5:30pm; Wednesday July 4, 3-5 pm

Above are some photos of the children's garden project that I have mentioned in the last couple of newsletters. The first is Clement Kent's Pollinator Talk to the Grove School Grade 2 Class; the second, pre-planting preparations; the third, the students planting native wildflowers; the fourth, artwork created by the students on wood cutouts made by one of our staff; the fifth, one of the pieces hanging in a tree, and lastly, the garden as it looks now.

Last Saturday's gardening session got us out of the vegetable gardens and into one of the nearby perennial gardens that had gotten quite overgrown and weedy of late. We thinned that out and planted a few things to diversify it a bit - beebalm, a butterfly bush, and, just for fun, artichokes. We finished things off just in time to join the queue for a delicious pre-show supper by the bake oven for the Cooking Fire Theatre Festival. Wednesday's session was focused on building the new composter bin, and it's nearly complete!


It's that time of year when so much is going on it boggles the mind. From Pride to the Jazz Festival, Canada Day Weekend festivities... and if anyone lives near Little Italy as I do, you'll also know that the Euro Cup is on. With all the excitement this weekend let's hope folks can squeeze in a visit to Dufferin Grove for our Companion Planting and Bio-Intensive Gardening Workshop tomorrow : ) It will run from 3 to 5:30, there will be a picnic at the end, and there is a $5 suggested donation if you can afford it. It's not too late to RSVP, just email us at

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday June 29, 3-5:30pm; Wednesday July 4, 3-5 pm
Saturday June 23, 3-5pm; Wednesday June 27, 2-6 pm.

It looks like the heat has not gotten the best of us or the gardens yet. Some of our volunteers did in fact venture out on Wednesday afternoon and lived to tell the tale : ) This Saturday's gardening session we are planning to give some TLC to some of the many community garden plots that have been neglected a little bit with so much necessary focus on the children's garden and vegetable gardens lately - although they will get some of our attention as well. There is (as usual) planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting to do.

Click to enlarge

Next week will be quite interesting. On Wednesday we will be constructing a new compost bin. It should be an interesting project, and may take longer than the usual time frame for the gardening club so it will be an extended drop-in session from 2 to 6 pm. Come for as little or as much of the time as you wish. There will be some regular gardening activities happening as well.

We are also very excited about the gardening session on Saturday, June 30 which will be our second workshop of the season - this time with a guest speaker! Sue Berman is a very knowledgeable and experienced gardener and community garden facilitator and we are thrilled to have her coming to give us a presentation on companion planting and bio-intensive gardening. It will be running from 3-5:30. Please take a look at the attached poster for details and RSVP to There is also a $5 suggested donation for this event.

Saturday June 16, 3-5pm; Wednesday June 20, 3-5pm.

This week has been a full one in the gardens. The above photo shows volunteers from St Mary's high school proudly showing off their tree mulching skills!

We have also been hard at work on the redesign of the children's garden. On Saturday we did a lot of prep work, pulling out a lot of invasive plants, moving other ones around, adding compost and installing mulched pathways.

Then on Tuesday morning an enthusiastic group of Grade 2 students from the Grove School came to do the crucial work of planting and creating artwork for the garden. Clement Kent, our pollinator garden mentor who has been such a great support to our gardening club, came and gave a wonderful talk to the kids about the connections between dinosaurs and pollinators (really!) and the value of pollinators and native plants. The session ended with a pizza day lunch by the bake oven with the kids harvesting berries, herbs and edible flowers to put on their pizzas. It was great! Photos from the project will be forthcoming.

Up ahead this week...planting more veggies and native plants, harvesting and seed saving, weeding, and, no doubt - lots of watering in this heat.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday June 16, 3-5pm; Wednesday June 20, 3-5pm.

Thanks for all your hard work this week!

See you in the garden,

Saturday June 9, 2-5pm; Wednesday June 13, 3-5pm.

This week's photos show what's to come and what's happening now in the garden. On the right we have our lovely new cucumber trellis for the tiny Mexican Gherkins which should sprout soon. In the middle, we have a curly garlic scape, and the gardens are full of them! Join us this week and make sure to take some home to experiment with. They're delicious chopped up and cooked with garden greens, or grilled and tossed into a salad for some zip. On the right, we have our compost -- and soon, one of our sesssions will include the construction of a new compost bin.


We're very excited about this week's project, which is the redesign of the children's garden near the cob courtyard. Over the next week, we will be carefully removing unwanted plants, dividing perennials, and laying paths. Then we'll start planting native shrubs, wildflowers and grasses which Rachel has selected for their ability to attract pollinators and birds, to produce edible berries, and/or to produce colourful leaves and flowers. Some of the planting will be done with a Grade 2 class from a local school this Tuesday morning.

Please note that this Saturday June 9, you are welcome to join us any time after 2pm, since we are eager to get as much as we can done in the children's garden.The garden is located in the southeast part of the park, near the cob structure.

Gardening sessions this week: Saturday June 9, 2-5pm; Wednesday June 13, 3-5pm.
Saturday June 2, 3-5pm and Wednesday June 6, 3-5pm

This week's pictures have a red theme to bring some warmth on this chilly, wet day. That's a red s

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