Friday, September 24, 2010

Horticultural Showdown Success!

Make no mistake about it: there's a competitive spirit among gardeners. This past weekend, I invited green thumbs on my street to show off the best, biggest, most beautiful and just plain weird fruits, veggies, or flowers growing in their garden. I dubbed the event a friendly "Horticultural Showdown." The only rule was that participants had to have grown their own entries. I placed a collection of zinnias and my entry, the beet to beat, on a table in front of our house and waited for the fun to begin. It wasn't long before the entries started rolling in and the table started getting crowded.

There were so many beautiful entries like this collection of leafy greens, celery and apples. Until the showdown, I don't think I had ever seen anyone grow celery successfully in the city.

These green beans were a foot long!

A beautiful basket of potatoes reminded me of how much fun it is to grow potatoes.

The chayote (pronounced chay-OH-teh) squash was easily the most memorable entry of the day. This was the first time I had ever seen one. This is a plant native to Mexico but apparently very easily grown by the lady down the street.

Neighbours were invited to cast a ballot for their favourite entry. In addition to all the fabulous edibles I've shown you, neighbours also entered roses, a berberry, a venus fly-trap, a collection of herbs, a collection of massive kale leaves, beets, carrots, and hot peppers. Third place went to this collection of tomatoes and peppers.

Second prize went to a beautiful berried branch of mahonia grape. Everyone wondered if the tightly clustered berries were blueberries. You can see the branch on the left side of the picture (click to enlarge). First prize went to the perfect pumpkin on the right. Not only was it a great size and vibrant orange colour but it was entirely unblemished. How did the squirrels and raccoons miss it? There was much hooting and hollering as the winners were announced. They each collected a modest prize of some seeds or spring bulbs that I scrounged up. It was an incredibly fun day even if the beet to beat never stood a chance.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Beet to Beat!

The neighbours on my street have been working together for the past few weeks to organize a street festival and car-free day. Our street will closed to traffic for an afternoon of fun including a bike parade and dog pageant, stilt walkers and street hockey. My contribution is our street's first ever horticultural showdown. I have invited neighbours to submit entries of the biggest, baddest, most beautiful or just plain weird fruits and veggies they have been growing in their yards. I'll be showcasing this giant chioggia beet.

The beet has quietly occupied a space in the raised veggie beds since about April. I've placed a fork and a quarter next to it to give you a sense of how large and hefty it is (I wish I had a scale.) I'm very pleased with this beet, especially since last year's beet crop was a total bust. Once the veggie competition is over, I'll be pickling this bad boy so it can be enjoyed for months to come. My neighbours are starting to come through with their entries. A lady down the street has entered a mammoth tomato and a hot pepper that's at least 1 foot long. And my mother has a collection of gargantuan beans that have to be seen to be believed. I'm hoping for lots more entries. It should be a lot of fun. So far the standard has been set high: this is the beet to beat.