Garlic and potatoes from my garden.
This is my favourite time of year. From mid-August until the end of September I get so much pleasure from our vegetable garden as the plants we've tended all summer mature and we start to enjoy the food we harvest.
We grow the usual tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and peppers, and leafy crops such as lettuces, chard and kale, but what I find most exciting is harvesting the crops that grow under the earth: potatoes, beets, onions and garlic. Because we haven't been able to watch their progress, there's always an element of suspense. Until we dig up the plants, we don't know what to expect.
There have been some epic fails over the years - parsnips and brussels sprouts come to mind - but we've learned from our mistakes and figured out what works best in our garden.
The obvious reward is having delicious, fresh, organic vegetables, but I've found the less tangible benefits to be just as important.
I've learned to be patient as I've waited for crops to mature. I've learned humility as I've accepted setbacks and failures. And, most importantly, I've learned to be hopeful as I've tended to crops growing beneath the soil, trusting that there will be a healthy harvest at the end of the growing season.
You don't need a lot of space to grow food crops; many plants can be grown in containers on a small patio or balcony. Or you can look into renting a community garden plot. The City of Toronto runs eleven allotment gardens, with plots available to rent each season. Many other groups manage community gardens as well; you can get a list and information about how to start a community garden from the Toronto Community Garden Network.
And if gardening just isn't for you, you can still enjoy the harvest by visiting a farmers' market while so many local fruits and vegetables are in season.
If you're thinking about growing some food crops next year, it's not too early to start planning. You can save seeds now to plant in the spring, start to prepare the soil, reserve a garden plot or look into starting or joining a community garden.
Here are some resources for home vegetable gardeners: