Monday, March 30, 2015

Experimenting with Spinach

Spinach is one of those vegetables that I just couldn't seem to get right last year - I described all of my spinach troubles in my End of Year Review post.

So here we are, New Year, fresh start.  I don't expect to solve all of my issues in one go this year, although that certainly would be nice.  I'm hopeful, however, that I can at least resolve some of them.  My goal right now is not so much to grow a large quantity of spinach, but rather to nail down the methods and/or a few varieties that do well (or at least better) for me.

Spinach Selections for 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Leeks - A Last Minute Addition

I decided, as a last minute addition to the list this year, to try my hand at growing leeks.  I keep seeing such wonderful leeks emerging from gardens in the UK – it’s really inspired me to give them another go after my one attempt, many years ago, that resulted in plants that more closely resembled a green onion, and a small one at that!
Leek Selections for 2015
I chose both an early & later maturing variety and, since I was starting the seeds rather late, I decided to stick with varieties that would mature in less than 100 days.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Fruit Trees & Berry Bushes Ordered

I am SO excited...I finally ordered my fruit trees & berry bushes last week!  I’ve been meaning to do this since we moved here, so it’s been a long time coming.

I was planning on ordering two apple trees, but then couldn’t resist and ended up ordering 3.  It took a long time to settle on the varieties that I would be growing - a couple of months of umming and ahhing to be exact.  There are just so many factors to take into account including taste (of course!), hardiness, pollination & storage potential.  In the end I settled on Honeycrisp, Granny Smith & Haralson, all of which will be on semi-dwarfing root stock.

I purchased the trees from Mori Essex in the Niagara region.  In addition, I also purchased a nectarine tree from them - AC Harovin Rouge - a disease resistant, hardy, freestone variety.  My first choice was actually a variety called Fantasia, which this nursery also sells.  However, I'm already pushing the hardiness limit with the Granny Smith - it's a zone 6* apple and I'm in zone 5.  However, I'm only a few km away from what is technically zone 6 and many orchards in my area grow Granny Smith apples successfully, so I figured I would give it a try.  As I've mentioned before, hardiness zones don't follow a street map!  For now, however, having one borderline hardy tree to worry about is more than enough.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sowing Some Brassicas

There has been a lot of seed starting going on lately and if the weather continues to improve as it has been, it won't be too long before I'm working in the garden again - can't wait!

The kale & collards were next up on the seed starting schedule & I got them going a few days ago - March 15th to be exact.

Kale & Collard Seeds

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sweet Potatoes

This year I want to try growing sweet potatoes.  I don’t have a bed allocated to them so my plan is to grow them in pots and/or straw bales – I haven’t really worked out the details yet.

The first step when growing sweet potatoes is, of course, to get your hands on some slips (little shoots that sprout from mature sweet potatoes).  I looked into ordering named varieties, but they were either sold in large quantities or the shipping costs were too high for the small amount that I needed.  So my next thought was to get an organic sweet potato from the grocery store and grow my own slips.  Organic is usually suggested because non-organic sweets could have either a waxy coating or been sprayed with a sprout inhibitor.

Only thing was I couldn’t find organic sweet potatoes.  This is not necessarily a problem, however, as sweet potatoes are such a long storing veg, that many of the non-organic potatoes are neither sprayed nor waxed.  Both Daphne and Mark posted recently about successfully using regular, non-organic sweet potatoes from the grocer.

Friday, March 13, 2015

First of the Flowers – Petunias & Alyssum

I do enjoy beautiful flowers & ornamental plants but at this very early stage of my garden, I am concentrating mainly on the veggie side of things.  That doesn’t mean that I’m completely ignoring flowers, but simply that I’ll only be growing a few for specific purposes or because I happened to have the seeds lying around.

This year’s list includes alyssum (to help with pollination…hopefully), marigolds (for the tomato beds, just like last year), sunflowers (for their seeds), chamomile (for tea), and nasturtiums (just because I love them).  I also have several packets of “freebies” obtained from various sources over the past couple of years including love-in-a-mist, four o'clocks, daisies and a wildflower mix.  Some of these may be too old now, but I figure I’ll try some seeds from each, just to see what happens.

This past summer, I happened to be in St. Catharine’s with my daughter & took the opportunity to visit Stokes.  I had been meaning to buy a soil thermometer for a long time & they had a digital one that I had my eye on.  I don’t purchase their vegetable seeds as I find their offerings too commercial & their vegetable seed is often treated as well (although they are non-GMO).  I must say, however, that they have an incredible selection of ornamentals (none of which are treated).  In their store, they only had a small portion of their seeds on display (which was still quite a selection), so I told my daughter that she could take her pick.  This is what she chose:

Ultra Rose Star Petunia
Photo Source: Stokes

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Update - Beginning of March

March is the month when the pace of indoor seed starting really picks up, especially towards the 3rd & 4th week.  We had a bit of a thaw a few days ago, quickly followed by record lows (again!) which essentially created a frozen layer of ice over all of the accumulated snow.

Sunshine Reflecting on the Ice Covered Snow
Hopefully the beginning of the end of winter
The good news is that the dip in temperatures only lasted a few days and we are now slowly but surely heading into some seasonal weather with highs (finally) over the freezing mark and even a couple of days going up to 6C (43F) next week…time to break out the shorts & t-shirts ;)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Starting Peppers

I do love peppers – hot peppers, sweet peppers – Yum!  Last year I only grew two varieties, a hot (Hungarian Hot Wax) and a sweet (King of the North).   One thing is for sure – I grew FAR too few varieties.  I’ll be fixing that issue this year.

Pepper Seeds for 2015