Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pruning Is So Cathartic...

It was a grey, dreary day but cool, breezy, and a good day to do yard work.  R went at the trees in the front yard and gave them a good pruning.

Earlier this week, I gave the current bush a LONG overdue pruning.  We bought and planted it knowing nothing about its growing habits or how to care for it.  It flourished, but the long branches have basically layed on the ground for the last few years.  When I looked up care for current bushes, not only did I discover that one needs to prune them, but they are supposed to be pruned in a specific pattern for the first three or four years to properly shape them.  Opps.

I also went at the lilac bush...

R made a new raised bed....

....and two new lettuce beds.

We also set the rain barrels up around the house as it had been threatening rain all day.  As it turned out, we didn't get rain, but did get a few sloppy snowflakes.

A few of the seeds I planted weeks ago didn't sprout, so today I planted two "Pineapple" tomato seeds in their place.  Because I need more tomato seedlings this season...?


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Potting Up

I spent part of this morning planting my seedlings in larger containers.  The plant room is starting to look a little crowded.  The best sunlight falls on the cat tree, so unfortunately, Saj and Karl are going to be periodically inconvenienced over the next month and a half.

New sprouts:  One jalapeno pepper, one Casper eggplant, and one Doe Hill pepper has sprouted in the last 24 hours.  The marigolds are also coming along.  :-)

Update April 22nd  
Another Casper eggplant sprout, as well as another Doe Hill pepper and a Great White tomato.  Slowly but surely...! 

Karl came in this afternoon, took one look at the cat tree filled with pots, and before I could clear a level for him, he hopped into a seedling tray for a nap.

Update April 24th

Another cloudy day.  Saj is missing her sunbeams.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Videos and Films

My Subversive Garden Plot

How to grow mushrooms

Making an herb spiral

Dehyrate2store video channel

How to dehydrate and store food

Back to Eden Gardening - Film Teaser

Back to Eden - link to the  Offical Film

Our Seeds (documentary)

How to make Greek Yogurt

SEED: The Untold Story - documentary trailer & scene

Gardens of Destiny trailer (filmed in Canada)

Gardens of Destiny - full length documentary

How to make Seed Bombs


Patrick Blanc, Vertical Garden Designer



Bordering on The Miraculous...

One of my eggplant seeds (Vittoria) has finally sprouted!

Let us sing....

Update: April 17, 2013

Arhg!  The Vittoria eggplant seedling (the 1 out of 3 that had sprouted) has croaked!
On the up side, one of my Ping Tung seeds has finally sprouted.
These eggplants are tough nuggets to get going. I think heat mats and grow lights are the way to go. Maybe next year…

A sunny, mild day. It was a strange feeling to walk up the driveway this morning and see almost all the snow has melted (knock wood). Heavy snow and cold temps hit before Hallowe’en last October, so we’ve had snow on the ground for the better part of 6 months. I am ready for Spring.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Was Going to Plant Swiss Chard Today...

We've had several days of mild temperatures and much of the snow on the ground has melted.  Blue skies and the sight of (albeit brown) grass along the walkway were enough for me to delude myself into thinking that I could sneak in some outdoor planting very early this year.  It's April 11th - surely Spring is here and nothing but warm, sunny days lie ahead.  Right?

My usual Swiss Chard planting spot.

At least the green onions are looking good...

...And Karl (our neighbour's cat) declares the composters in working order.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cool Links

Nice garden shed!

Food Not Lawns

Grow Food Not Lawns

Common Roots Urban Farm (Halifax, NS)

The Year Round Veggie Gardener

Herbs to Herbs

MyFolia -  track your garden's progress from seedlings to harvest.  Free site with optional paid features.  Upload photos, create a garden journal, connect with gardeners in your area, swap seeds, and research varieties of vegetables, flowers, & herbs of interest.

Guerrilla Gardening.Org

Heavy Petal - How to Make Seed Balls

A lane of dahlias

Sid's Dahlias - dahlia tubers from Nova Scotia

Seed (American) - their online downloadable catalog is sheer eye candy.

42 Flowers You Can Eat

Seeds of Diversity (Canadian) - subscribe to their free email newsletter.  

(from their site)   "Seeds of Diversity is a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to the conservation, documentation and use of public-domain, non-hybrid plants of Canadian significance. Our 1400 members from coast to coast are gardeners, farmers, teachers, scientists, agricultural historians, researchers and seed vendors. Together we grow, propagate and distribute over 2900 varieties of vegetables, fruit, grains, flowers and herbs. We are a living gene bank.

Creeping Thyme
Members receive our 40-page magazine Seeds of Diversity twice a year, plus our annual Member Seed Directory which allows members to obtain samples of over 2900 varieties of seeds and plants offered by other members in exchange for return postage."

Seedy Saturdays (Canada) - a list of "Seedy Saturday" events.  Join one to exchange or purchase heirloom seeds, attend workshops, film presentations, picnics, etc.  Each one is a little different!

Tatiana's TOMATObase -  detailed directory of heirloom tomato varieties.  You can also purchase seeds through this site.

Tomatoville - the largest online community of tomato growers. 

Still want more on tomatoes?  Try Tomatopalooza and the blog of Craig LeHoullier's (aka NCTomatoMan), From The Vine.

A Bean Collector's Window - Pictures and descriptions of over 260 varieties of beans collected over the years by bean enthusiast, Russ Crow.

Seed Snatcher - assorted articles

Jeepers Creepers - "Down Low and Fun to Grow".  Durable perennial plants with a spreading habit that makes them ideal for use as a groundcover, lawn substitute, pathway or edging plant.

Square Foot Gardening - site and forum 

How to Grow Giant Sunflowers

Vegetables that will grow in shade 

Neem insect spray recipe 

Sharing Backyards - connecting people who want to garden with the available land in their area to do so.

Covered Greenhouse Garden tutorial 

How to Make a Homemade Olla ("Oh-yah") - clay pot irrigation for the garden

The Best Canadian Seed Companies"Harrowsmith's 35th annual guide to the best Canadian seed companies and specialty nurseries"

Safe Seed Resouce List -  From the Council for Responsible Genetics, a list of businesses offering GM-free seeds.  International.


TreeHugger -  green living, technology, social, energy - great articles!
Fuzzibum in the snow

Spiritual Cinemainspiring films that rarely make it to the theatres. (Not religious)  Watch the short video to see what it's about.

Green Plant Stream - a unique site showcasing films with a focus on the environment, nature, agriculture, wildlife, etc.  You can stream the videos for a small fee or purchase the DVDs through this site.

Feline Diabetes Message Board - an invaluable resource if you have a diabetic cat.  Forum and main site

CBC - radio and podcasts  (My current favourites are Tapestry, Under the Influence, and Ideas)

Find A Spring - locate a freshwater spring in your area, or add to the database if you can!

The Rainbow Bridge - if you have lost a beloved pet...

True North Treasures -  featuring favourite Canadian products 

The World Needs More Love Letters - if you love good old fashioned "snail mail"...

IANDS - International Association for Near-Death Studies 


Let the Season Begin!


I decided to stave off winter shack-happiness by starting my leeks in early March.  They are doing well and are being regularly trimmed to keep them 2-3 inches tall so their roots will develop.  They smell great when given a "hair cut"!  I also planted Swiss Giant pansies early, as they can take a long time to germinate.

Between March 28th and now, I started the following seeds...

Great White tomato
Tomatoes: Yellow Cherry, Isis Candy (cherry), Black Krim, Opalka (paste), Great White (supposed to taste like a cross between melon and pineapple!), Emerald Evergreen, Cole - all new to me this year
Broccoli (we'll see how this goes, have never grown broccoli from seed)
Snowball cauliflower (ditto above)
Golden Acre cabbage
Mammoth Red cabbage
King of the North pepper
Jalapeno pepper (have not grown this before)
Doe Hill pepper (also new)

Vittoria eggplant (new - a hybrid - boo hiss - but it matures very early, which is what I might need for eggplants up here)Casper eggplant (new - heirloom - small, white eggplants!)
Ping Tung eggplant

King of the North Peppers
Ping Tung Eggplant
So far, the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, K.o.N. pepper, and the Yellow Cherry, Black Krim, Opalka, Cole, and Isis Candy tomatoes have sprouted.  The eggplants and other peppers refuse to budge.  Not enough sunshine and not enough heat.  I don't blame them.

Black Krim tomato

The rest - beans, parsnip & carrots, Swiss chard, kohlrabi (am going to try it this year, if I have room) will have to be sown directly in the garden.  I hope the Black Krim turn out as beautifully for me as some of the pictures I have seen.  It looks absolutely luscious!

Karl in the plant room

Our neighbour's cat, who likes to visit us every day, decided to take it upon himself to oversee the health and growth of my seedlings.  Very good of him, I thought!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Where Do You Get Your Seeds?

Where do you buy seeds for your garden? What are your favourite seed companies?

I frequently buy my seeds online. I love heirloom seeds!  Some of my favorite Canadian sources are listed below.  Click on the names to visit the websites.

Heritage Harvest Seeds
....check out this article about Heritage Harvest Seeds. 

Salt Spring Seeds
....also check out this article about Salt Spring Seeds.

The Cottage Gardener
...and another article, this one about The Cottage Gardener!

Annapolis Seeds
...based in Nova Scotia.

I have had great experiences ordering from all of these companies. Heritage Harvest stands because they have always included a free packet of seeds with my orders and they have a fantastic variety of rare heirloom beans varieties. Salt Spring Seeds stands out because of their genuinely friendly customer service, the excellent selection of medicinal herbs, and a page devoted to 1/2 price seeds.

And for sprouting seeds, I love Mumm's Seeds in Saskatchewan!  (More about Mumm's Seeds HERE).
Brew a pot of tea, make yourself comfortable, and browse through Cyndi's Catalog of Garden Catalogs, an extensive directory of American & Canadian seed and gardening catalogs, organized by catagories such as heirlooms, grasses, tropical, supplies and tools, etc.  Enjoy!

Favourite Pictures From 2012

Here are a few of my favourite snaps from our garden last year.

Dahlia, white sage, and butterscotch beans.
Saj incubating the butterscotch beans.

Corn, cucumber, rogue melon, lettuce, and marigolds.

North garden - Hopi Black dry beans, Beurre de Rocquencourt wax beans, Green Arrow peas, pansies, & petunias.

Flowering Purple Basil
Chocolate mint

"Rogue" melon.  We didn't plant this!

Celery harvest

Russian Mammoth Sunflower

Thinned the carrots!