Peas and beans and lettuce – oh my!

A beautiful summer has finally broken through and our rooftop community garden in

Toronto is thriving with life! Everything has exploded over the past couple of weeks and you would hardly recognize it from when we officially launched in June. As the garden curator, I’m thrilled to report that our harvest is underway.

The different varieties of peas we planted greeted us with beautiful purple flowers at the beginning of the month.

We’ve also harvested our garlic scapes – delicious fried with a little sea salt and butter. Generally, they should be harvested once they make a complete turn on themselves which ensures that the plant will not go to flower and instead focus its energy on developing the garlic bulb. Meanwhile, we get to enjoy the delicious greens!

Speaking of greens – they all look amazing. We’ve grown a beautiful variety of arugula, really red deer tongue lettuce, rouge d’hiver lettuce, giant red mustard and endive frisée to create a spicy salad mix. We are also having excellent success with our kale.

And the radishes, each variety planted a week apart from each other, continue to impress. We’ve had a steady yield of fantastic spicy crisp flavors from all the varieties including Easter Egg, White Beauties and Cherrybelles — the last of the season.

The purple plum radishes were the first to come up but they’ve now gone to seed and blossomed into pretty flowers. We also let our arugula bloom its cream-colored flowers and planted some Blue Boy cornflower to compliment; adding attraction to the garden for both visitors and pollinators.  Did you know that our neighbours at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto produce 450lbs of honey per year? We’ve seen many of their bees coming by for a visit.

Team members also drop by regularly to ask me questions pertinent to their gardens at home. We had a great moment a couple weeks ago where two employees came by and ended up helping harvest the radishes. The excitement on their faces when pulling these greens out of the ground and discovering these beautiful multicolored radishes underneath was priceless!

It has been so exciting to see TELUS employees drop by and get enthusiastic about harvesting, watering and maintaining our rooftop community garden. And naturally, the excitement quickly turns into inquiries about how to obtain the produce. Thanks to Mother Nature and a lot of hard work, this month we harvested enough to launch our weekly garden market every Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We look forward to the weeks ahead. This has been such an exciting project for me and I’m impressed with the level of engagement from all the employees. Thanks for checking in to see what’s happening at our York Street garden, stay tuned for more.

Renée Nadeau is an urban farmer and community gardener invested in creating connections between land usage, urban space and sustainability on a social and environmental level.