Transition season

The end of August and the beginning of September are a time of transition for many – the start of the school year for students, teachers, parents… The only year I can remember where my life was not tied to the school year was in 2009 when I was working at Wooler Dale Farm from April to October. After that, with my work with school gardens, I jumped right back into a life where September is the start of a new year.

At the end of August, we wrap up our High Park EcoCamp. After eight weeks of camp, it’s a bittersweet end – it’s always a strange feeling how quickly eight fun weeks have gone, but we’re also all pretty exhausted by the end of the summer and looking forward to our fall activities. But enough about camp… you can read all about that in my EcoCamp post!

In September, I start getting back into my school garden programming. September is a bit of a crazy time at schools, with students and teachers settling into new routines and settings, so I usually get my programming started later on in September to give everyone a chance to settle into things. I have been to both schools and done some garden maintenance, though, which has been great. Nice to spend some time weeding, seeding some fall crops, mixing the compost, etc. Both of the gardens were looking pretty good at the end of the summer. Yes, things get weedy and dry, but I’m happy with how things went.

At Withrow this summer, we had a few parents/families doing a bit of watering and harvesting over the summer. The tomatoes looked good – lots of tiny yellow and red tomatoes! (White Currant and Hawaiian Currant are the names of the tomato varieties – the White Currant  are super sweet and delicious, the Hawaiian Currants are hilariously tiny and nice to pop in your mouth.) Salad greens had bolted (gone to seed), but that’s no great surprise at this time of year. And some of those seeds had already sprouted, so I’m hoping for a bit more salad throughout the fall. There are a few lovely looking kale plants, and some beautiful kohlrabi! There was also an amazing orange pumpkin that had started growing on it’s own from seeds in the compost. Alas, it has since disappeared from the garden… Oh well, you win some, you lose some… And, as usual, the herb bed looks great!

Withrow Spiderweb Garden after the summer. A bit weedy, but alive! Check out the new compost bins in the back!

Withrow Spiderweb Garden after the summer. Check out the new compost bins in the back!

Another great change that happened in the Withrow Garden this summer was that we got a new 3-bin compost system from a school that was no longer using it! Mike – our volunteer compost guru – and a couple of moms installed it over the summer! Thanks!!! I’m so excited to have the new bins that are not falling apart like the old ones were. So much safer!

 

 

 

When I first went to the Blake Garden, it felt a bit empty to me. There was some stuff still growing, but my initial reaction was that many of the plots looked pretty empty. But then I had a meeting a few days later and was reminded of some of the stuff that got harvested for the local food bank by the community centre summer kids’ programme that helped with the garden over the summer. There was a total of about one plot of onions which they’d harvested, as well as a whole plot of garlic. And then when I started weeding, I also discovered that our carrots seem to be doing pretty well… they’re just hiding under ground as carrots do… There are some beans that are past their prime for eating fresh, but we can dry those guys. And the potato plants are dried up on top, but when I reached under the soil there, I pulled out 3 potatoes with no effort. That’ll be a good treasure hunt for some kindergarten kids next week! So there is still some life in there, it’s just hiding a bit more!

The compost is starting to look like, well, compost!

The compost is starting to look like, well, compost!

And some exciting compost news at Blake as well! One thing is that classes are continuing their composting without any prompting from me. I’m not sure if they’ve all started up again, but some are for sure! Exciting! AND, the second bin is actually starting to have some stuff in it that’s starting to look like soil – the composting is working!

 

 

 

For me, transitioning from summer to fall also means getting back into a routine which is way less routine than my summers. In the summer, I go to the same place for the same time every morning. Heck, I even wear the same green staff shirt every day. (Ok ok, I have a few of the same shirt.) During the school year, there are no days where I go to the same job two days in a row… I do prep work at home, spend Tuesdays at the Withrow Garden, Wednesdays at the Blake Garden, Thursdays I’m finishing up some work at FoodShare and then selling Wooler Dale Farm veggies at Dufferin Grove Market in the afternoons, and then on some Fridays I’ll be doing school programmes at High Park. Phew. There are definitely mornings where I wake up and have to remember who I’m going to be that day…

I’m also transitioning into fall mode with freezing food for the winter. My freezer is quickly filling up. This winter’s menu will include lots of zucchini bread (I think I’ve got enough for 4 or 5 loaves), lots of tomato sauces and chili and soups (enough for at least 5 or 6 big pots), a good amount of green and yellow beans, some kale, some herbs (lots of basil!), lots of apple sauce, some tomatillo salsa… Yum!

Happy growing (and harvesting and preserving)!

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