A Gardener’s Diary: Students feast on fresh veggies

Gardening program at St. James School is a wonderful way for youngsters to learn where their food comes from, and then to enjoy it

Last week for Thanksgiving weekend, I went in the garden and had enough flowers to make a large bouquet. The California poppies lasted almost four days and after one week the white cosmos were still looking fresh. At the moment, the best show is from the dahlias. I didn’t have to go earwig hunting this year and they didn’t touch the dahlias. I only put them in the garden at the end of June. Five of them were in shade with less than three hours of sun a day and they grew very tall and strong just the same, with good stems. I will start them earlier next year and give them the spot they deserve.

I finally harvested all the eggplants and peppers. With the colder nights, it was time for them to come in. Peppers don’t need to be blanched before freezing so I just wash them, cut them and lay them on a cookie sheet. After a few hours in the freezer, they are firm enough to go in freezer bags.

I got the greenhouse ready for winter. I laid down a tarp on the floor and covered it with grass clippings. Some of the large pots are already in and for the first time, I can walk between plants. I even have enough room for a chair which I plan to use this winter when the sun shines and warms it up. When I get enough leaves later on, I will shred them and put them around the plants for insulation. Most of the time, it is not the cold that kills the plants but the wind, and it is why plants in pots should be protected and buried in the garden and covered with a mulch. I have lost only a few plants over the years and they were the very small ones, with a small root system.

We had the harvest feast Oct. 14 at St. James School. This is the end of the program for this year. After the summer heat and all the days of watering, we had a good harvest of potatoes, kale, squash, beets, carrots and a few bits and pieces. All the food we grow at the school is organic. On the menu was a coconut curry squash soup and a borscht served with fresh baked bread. Colourful kale was very appetizing with corn kernels and sweet red peppers, Swiss chard with raisins and sunflower seeds and baked squash with a touch of maple syrup. For dessert, apple crisp with organic ice cream. All this food was cooked under the supervision of Jan Hillis, retired dietitian. What we did not have in the garden was from Nature’s Fare Markets, a regular sponsor of this program.

I have peas growing in the garden and still blooming. I had seeded a whole bunch earlier when I found some of them damaged by pea weevils in my dried peas. They came up just the same and I have been harvesting and eating pea shoots. I went looking for recipes on the internet and people growing them use them in replacement of greens. Every time I go by, I take a few as a snack. They are just delicious. I had planned to grow them as green manure but I will eat more of them before turning them under when my lettuce is soon ready in the cold frame.

For more information: 250-558-4556 or plantlady1@shaw.ca