This is the month that the garden explodes with food—and lizards. Everywhere you look, there is food to harvest. We try to weigh everything to get an idea of the cash value in our garden, but sometimes you just have to eat things right off the vine.
Our tomatoes are ripening daily, with the Pineapple Cherry tomatoes at their delicious best now that we are nearing the end of August. Several of our tomatoes are not your typical variety: the Snow White ripens a pale cream-white colour, Black Prince are red-brown when ripe, and then we have the Green Zebra, which (as the name suggests) is striped green when ripe. They are all fantastic.
We have already started saving seeds for next year. The seeds are left in water for a few days to simulate the rotting fruit, then we drain and dry to store seeds over winter.
Zucchini, cucumbers, squash and melons are all producing fruit, though I don’t think the melons will amount to anything. Our pumpkin went nowhere. C’est la vie dans la grande ville. We will buy pumpkins to carve for Halloween and support a local grower in the process.
Cabbages are being converted to sauerkraut. Some cucumbers were grown specifically for pickles, others to eat straight up.
We have collected over 6 kg of blackberries, and our strawberries are still producing. The yellow raspberries produced just enough fruit for all three of us to enjoy a quick snack.
Apples are nearly ready. And if this wasn’t enough fruit, our neighbours have offered some pears—we just have to pop over and pick them.
A grey squirrel has figured out that our garden has loads of food and destroyed our mini-sunflowers. It also has been eating plums, leaving sticky scraps on our compost bins. That is part of gardening—sometimes you have to share. Wasps and house finches have nibbled on their fair share of the blackberries.
Even without our greenhouse—it got crushed by the snow last winter—we still grew some nice peppers, and the Italian parsley and New Zealand spinach are growing well. Carrots are our biggest failure; only a few grew.
Lizards have hatched—everywhere you look, a lizard the size of my pinkie finger darts off to hide in our rock walls and garden beds. The adults are still here too—but they seem to be less interested in basking in the midsummer’s sun. Perhaps the females don’t need to bask so much now since they are not carrying developing eggs.
Much of the work now shifts indoors. Berries and tomatoes are being frozen for winter use. Beans are being shelled and left to dry for winter chili, stews and soup. Onions are pulled and drying on the deck so they will store well. Only the Scarlet Runner Beans are still growing and will be picked later in the season.
The bean plants that are finished are now pulled and left on the ground to decay and add substance to the soil. We still need to harvest the potatoes in our front garden, and then in the next few weeks we will plant a cover crop. Once the cover crop has grown a few centimetres, we will cover it with a tarp to let worms and other recyclers enrich the soil.
And even while the harvest is in full swing, we are planting lettuce and kale starts for autumn and winter. It is amazing to be able to walk outside in winter and get fresh produce when you need it.
This has been a good summer for food production. We have hundreds of dollars in produce, with over $50 in blackberries alone at current market rates. We added oak-leaf mulch and some horse manure early in the season, watered when we needed to, and that is about it. Even a modest city garden can produce plenty of good clean food.