I’m feeling a bit of garden envy looking at pictures of my Mom’s garden in Manitoba. Although harvesting all of those vegetables is a lot of work, never mind figuring out what to do with them. My mom’s been cranking out salsa and tomato sauce as fast as she can. You can read more about her garden and the off-the-grid home my parents are building on their blog.
Vancouver really comes alive when it is sunny out. There is so much going on in the city and in my neighbourhood. Within 5 minutes of my front door there is outdoor sports setup by my local community centre; thousands of cyclists cruising on the seawall, and musicians cranking out tunes on a public piano provided by Keys to the Streets.
Our garden is also thriving. The long hot days have caused our plants to explode. We picked the last of the arugula, which went to seed, but the lettuce, kale, carrots, green onions, beets, tomatoes, and cucumbers are thriving.
Next door to my work is an underused, 5-story parkade that is now home to a $2-million vertical farm. I’ve watched it being constructed over the past two months. Today it celebrated it’s first harvest, and it’s expected to produce 70,000 kg of vegetables every year – that’s a lot of kale and arugula.
It’s a fancy system built by Alterrus.
The facility will be 5,700 square feet, with 4,000 square feet devoted to growing the produce in trays, stacked 12 high and circulating on conveyer belts. The remaining 1,700 square feet will be used for picking and packaging. It will use less than 10 per cent of the water required for traditional field agriculture, while producing significantly higher yields compared to field-farmed produce. All of the excess water used will be recycled.
More details and some excellent photos are available at Vancouver Foodster.
This late surge of warm September weather is really helping our tomato and pepper plants. I was worried none of the green tomatoes would have a chance to ripen, but I picked the first 5 monster tomatoes yesterday and there’s dozens more just starting to turn orange. We even have a few jalapenos making a late push. Which can only mean one thing – it’s fresh salsa time!
I also found this mystery squash in our community garden. I transplanted it in the spring from our compost bin (often seeds from squash, pumpkins, and tomatoes will sprout). One of my neighbours thought it could be chayote (which we used to make pho), but it doesn’t look bumpy enough. After scanning pictures on google, I think it might be Lebanese White Bush Marrow, but I don’t where the seed would have come from, it’s not exactly a grocery store variety of squash.
Our community garden now consists of a mountain of kale, a jungle of tomato plants, one bush of cilantro, and a few beets and carrots. We’re doing our best to keep up with the kale and are preparing for the onslaught tomatoes which are just starting to ripen. I can’t wait to feast on fresh salsa. I found the first red tomato this morning.
We’re going local with our fruit and vegetable consumption. For the rest of the summer, Emily and I are trying not to buy any fruit or vegetables from the grocery store. We have an abundance of vegetables in our garden and we get a weekly CSA share. We’re also buying local fruit and vegetables from the farmers market, to add a bit more variety. The only downside is that we’ll be without pineapple, avocado, and bananas for a few months. On the bright side, we get to take eat amazing local produce grown in BC, and really take advantage of the short fruit seasons (strawberries are done, cherries are in season, blueberries are just starting, and peaches are coming up).
|May 17||June 8||July 13|
Our garden is exploding right now. Our biggest challenge is eating the vegetables fast enough. We’re harvesting arugula, kale, basil, green onions, carrots, beets, and peas. Our tomato plants are starting to flower, and we should have tomatoes in a few weeks. The kale is our most prolific grower, and I’ve resorted to giving away bags of it at work.
It’s a good problem to have. I love kale and I’m getting more creative with my recipes. Today I had a kale smoothie, a kale-blueberry salad, and soba noodles with a peanut-kale sauce. In the past few days, we’ve also made beet and sunflower raw pizza, raw zucchini pasta, beet and kale coleslaw, broccoli casserole, and pesto pasta.