• Leah Ungstad

Harvest Time

Fall has arrived in our gardens! Days are getting shorter, a wind is rustling in the changing leaves of the trees, geese are flying back over us, heading south. As the thirsty earth drinks up the first rains of the season, the fog filled mornings will sometimes still lift off to sun.

It’s a delicious time of year as we harvest the food we have worked to grow. Tofino Community Food Initiative is putting together a free fun-filled afternoon to celebrate the harvest season! We hope to see you and welcome all to join us on Saturday October 15th 11am-2pm at the Wickaninnish school garden to celebrate the season with a free community lunch of squash soup. Tofino businesses are so generous in their support of the community, and when I asked Nick Nutting at Wolf in the Fog if he could cook the soup for us, he said ‘sure!’ So you know it’s going to be extremely tasty! Thanks Nick and Wolf in the Fog! There will be kids crafts, gardening activities, scarecrow making, and a pumpkin pie contest. Everything is free, thanks to the generosity of our supporters; the District of Tofino, Island Health, and many others. Stop by on your way to vote in the municipal election!

In late September in my garden tomatoes and grapes are having their day, and the strawberry patch is still producing the occasional handful of big red berries. In September I am often found in the greenhouse, under our grape vine, snacking right off the plant and also tidying it up, encouraging the dying leaves to fall, pruning and training the vines. We planted it 4 or 5 years ago, and it now it’s coming into abundance. I finally dug out the tag to see the variety I have is called “Vanessa”, a seedless sweet purple family feeder! Plant one today!

A great gardening concept for fall is the line of abscission. This is the place on a plant where dead or dying tissue detaches and falls away. Like a leaf that has fulfilled its destiny to photosynthesize and then releases from the tree at the right time. When it’s ready, it lets go. The line of abscission is where the plant has compartmentalized the part of itself that it will shed. In gardening it’s always a good idea to remove older leaves from annual veggies like say tomatoes, or brocolli, or squashes, as they grow. The new, young leaves are the ones that photosynthesize the most. Removing the old ones that are no longer functioning improves airflow and light reaching the plant, and prevents diseases like powdery mildew or tomato blight from establishing. If you prune away the old leaves, the tiny bit of the stem you pruned will still be attached to the plant, until it abscises. Allowing nature to decide when the stem or leaf or seed detaches is so simple, so perfect, and prevents damage to the main stem of the plant which could be caused by say ripping a leaf off that isn’t ready. So as we enter these quieter, shorter days of fall, let nature be your guide, and let go of anything that is not serving you. Just perfectly when it’s ready, it falls away.

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