Monday, April 28, 2014

More Sowing, Potting Up & Waiting

Last week I sowed a couple of cell packs of Swiss chard.  I am growing the same kind as last year – “Fordhook Giant”.

So let me backtrack a little to my Swiss chard fiasco of 2013.  In the spring, I sowed a couple of cell packs with Swiss chard and everything was going well until I transplanted the seedlings outside where they were ALL promptly eaten by rabbits.  But I was determined to have Swiss chard so I started again (after putting up a make-shift chicken wire fence around all 4 beds).

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Few Flowers

So it's been super busy around here lately – busier than usual, that is.  Each day it seems as if there is always something going on in my other life (you know – the one that has nothing to do with the garden) & this has been throwing me off my gardening game.  Ok, who am I kidding…I don’t think I have ever been on top of things when it comes to the garden.  There’s always something that needs doing and, usually, I’m behind.  Sometimes, waaaay behind.  Case in point – I am growing marigolds from seed this year & I just noticed that I should have sown them at the end of March.  Oh well – better late than never!  At the very least, it will be a learning experience so that I know what to do (or not do) next year.  And the 1st mistake I corrected was to update my garden calendar with the sowing date.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Borage & Basil

Last year I had pollination issues with my summer squash & cucumber plants.  A lot of female cucumber & squash blossoms dropped off the plants and I also had some incomplete pollination that resulted in oddly shaped cucumbers.  Borage is apparently great at attracting pollinators, so I have decided to include a few plants in my squash & cucumber beds.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lots of Lettuce

Last year I relied on a sunny window in our spare bedroom to germinate seedlings (this room has since been taken over by my husband as his office so my seed starting is now relegated to the basement).  The window faces exactly due south and it gets plenty of sun creating a nice warm environment for newly sown seeds.

That spot by the window got a lot of action when it came to starting all my seeds last year.  And everything was going pretty well.  Until I tried to grow lettuce.  I sowed 5 or 6 varieties and out of those, only 1 variety actually germinated.  The rest did nothing.  So off to the computer I went trying to figure out what went wrong.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Plant These to Help Save the Bees

This poster popped up on my Facebook page, courtesy of GMO Free US.  It was created by illustrator Hannah Rosengren.

I loved it so much that I contacted Hannah who kindly gave me permission to add it to my sidebar as an ever present reminder.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some Like It Hot.....And Some Don't

I decided to do a post today about the heat mat that I purchased a couple of months ago.  I have never had one before so I am just figuring out how to use it effectively.  But before I continue, let me just show you what I woke up to this morning:
Snowstorm in April - Just lovely (can you hear my sarcastic tone?)
We basically had a blizzard.  In April.  Are You Kidding Me??
Yesterday, we had temperatures in the 20’s (68°F+); this evening, it’s supposed to go down to -5°C (23°F) with a wind chill of – hold onto your parka – minus 16°C (3°F)!!  Enough already!
Ok – rant is over.  Back to our regularly scheduled program.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

It's ALL in the Timing

My garden is (relatively) new and I’m still struggling with timing.  It seems that in almost every case I either start seeds too early (last year’s squash plants were way too big by the time I could transplant them outside) or, more often than not, I start them too late.  Sometimes it’s a case of seeds not germinating or taking a looooooong time to germinate (like my struggle with Peppers that I wrote about HERE).  Other times, I simply go based on what I have read in books or the internet about when to sow seeds but then later realize that the timing simply doesn’t work for my growing conditions.  Regardless of the reason, it's almost always a learning experience.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Playing Catchup

I thought today I would backtrack & go over some of the seeds that I started back in February, pre-blog.  This way, when you see me planting, say, my parsley, you won’t be asking yourself – “hey…where did that come from?”

The first seeds that I sowed were my hot pepper seeds in mid-February.  Peppers are a vegetable that I had no luck with in my first garden many years ago and have not grown since.  So, in terms of experience, I am starting from scratch on this one and I knew the learning curve would be huge – and I was right.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Finally - A Nice Day!! Well, sort of...

The snow has almost all melted & we finally have a nice day with temps going up to 15°C (59°F) today.  Only one problem – it also happens to be the windiest day we’ve had in a while with winds in the 40-50 km (25-31 miles) per hour range.  Not exactly the best for starting my garden cleanup, but at this stage of the game I can’t afford to be too picky.  If I was to wait for the perfect day, I would probably be sitting here till June.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tomayto, Tomahto - Part 2

Last year I planted 4 different varieties of tomatoes – “Yellow Pear” (cherry), Brandywine (slicer), Glacier and Siberian (both salad tomatoes).  All were heirloom tomatoes & none did overly well in terms of production.

This year, my plan was to grow 6 or 7 varieties.  Well, that was the plan….hasn’t quite worked out that way.  As I was browsing the Tomatofest website, I noticed several tomatoes that piqued my interest.  I was able to curb my spending spree and settled on 5 different varieties.  When I received them in the mail, a bonus packet of cherry tomato seeds was included – Yeah!

I had placed an order with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (for other veggies) and when it arrived, I found another bonus packet of tomato seeds.  Then I realized that I had already forgotten the lessons that I had apparently learned last year, specifically to always include a couple of hybrid tomatoes in the mix just in case it turns out to be a particularly bad year for disease.  Whoops!  So I picked up 2 hybrid varieties when I went to William Dam.  Oh yes, and I still had the seeds leftover from last year.

When I started sorting through all of my seeds, I suddenly realized that I had 13 – THIRTEEN! – varieties of tomatoes.  Yikes!  That’s double what I had planned on.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tomayto, Tamahto - Part 1

It’s easy for me to get carried away when purchasing seeds – my eyes are too big for my garden, so to speak.  This applies to all seeds - but especially tomatoes.  There are so many different kinds – cherry, salad, slicing, paste; so many different colours – red (of course), yellow, orange, black(ish); so many different sizes, not to mention the range of tastes & textures.

How to to choose???

It’s overwhelming – especially as now some seed houses are devoted almost exclusively to tomatoes.  I want to say that this may actually be too much choice – But let’s be honest for a second - there's no such thing as too much choice when it comes to tomatoes....well, that's what I tell myself, anyway.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Starting Some Greens

So let’s get something out of the way before I go on to tell you about my seed sowing activities for today.  I have never grown spinach before – there – I said it.  I’ll just sit here quietly while all you veggie gardeners regain your composure.  I know it’s hard to believe – even I don’t believe it.  Spinach is one of those basic vegetables that everyone seems to include in their vegetable garden, even if they are just starting out.  Well not everyone, obviously.   And there is no point asking me why I haven’t planted it in the past because I have no idea – none.

Ok – now that True Confessions (for today) are over, let’s move forward….

Thursday, April 3, 2014

In the Beginning.....

I love gardening - specifically, I LOVE vegetable gardening.  Not to say that I don't like flowers, decorative plants, etc., because I do.  One of the things that drew me to our house when we purchased it was all of the beautiful plantings - mind you they were massively overgrown & I didn't know what most of them were but it had that abundant English cottage garden feel & I fell in love.  However, put a gorgeous flower beside a gorgeous heirloom tomato - well, there's no contest there - the tomato will always win!

When I was growing up in Toronto, I actually set up a little light stand in my room with a bunch of herbs underneath.  Not that I cooked or anything - I left that to my mom.  But I just wanted to grow something - anything - that could be put on a plate.  I can't recall how well these herbs did or how they tasted - I can only remember the thrill of watching them grow.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Tale of Why

I love reading about what is happening in other people’s gardens.  But even more so, I love when bloggers show us the nitty-gritty of their everyday gardening lives – sowing their seeds, transplanting their seedlings, amending their soil, experiments they are doing (different varieties, methods), etc.  I like to see what others are doing and compare that with what I am doing – Do they have a different technique?  How do they time their sowings?  How far along are their transplants? When do they transplant outdoors? How much did they harvest?

And it’s also comforting to know that you are not alone when problems do occur.  I’m not the only one whose seeds fail to germinate, who gets powdery mildew on her zucchini plant or goes to the veggie patch at night with a flashlight trying to catch the slugs that are devouring the collards.