With the first frost of the season just weeks or even days away, urban farmers were busy Sept. 11 gathering up some of their final harvests of 2021.
While community gardens still brimmed with bright green leaves and plump vegetables, gardeners said the approaching cold will kill off most leafy plants in a week or two.
“Carrots will still be good even if the ground is frozen,” said Katherine Ades, as she dug up a set of red carrots at her community garden plot by Woolgar Avenue.
She was busy harvesting beets, potatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, kale and Swiss chard.
“Some potatoes have died from the cold already but others like my Yukon Gold are good for now,” she said. She also grows pink Warba potatoes and red Kennebec spuds.
Ades estimates her root vegetables will be harvestable until the last weekend of September.
At the 43 Street community garden, April Hayward helped her friend Anneli Jokela with her beets and peas harvest.
They pulled all of her remaining beets and some leftover peas and potatoes.
“I’ll pickle a lot of the beets and make a borscht,” Jokela said.
After one more harvest in September her plot will be done for 2021.
Down at the Old Town Community Garden, Julie Ward and her daughters Arya and Lila Townson picked all of their remaining carrots, cabbage, beets, kale, potatoes, broccoli, zucchini, peas, beans and cilantro.
They even picked and nibbled on edible borage (star) flowers, which taste like cucumber.
Ward has tended her plot on School Draw for 10 years.
At the Weledeh Community Garden, Cindy Wood picked huge cauliflower heads that she’ll later blanch (fast boil) and then freeze.
“They have huge heads! I can barely get them into my pail,” she said.
Sept. 11 was her second- or third-last harvest of the year.
“This season has been exceptionally good for keeping the plants alive. I feel like since I came here in 2005 the fall seems to come later,” she said.
A few feet away, Bob Reid and Suzanne Carriere were digging up their potatoes and carrots, their second last harvest. Their remaining onions will be part of their final haul.
“Over the season we’ve also had chard, spinach, lettuce and peas. My experiment growing squash didn’t work out this season. It flowered but it’s too small,” Reid said.
He added that Weledeh Catholic School students can tend 20 per cent of the plot. Reid and Carriere harvest any produce the students don’t end up harvesting and donate the vegetables to the Salvation Army or women’s shelter.