Monthly Archives: January 2011

on being certifiable

ecocert papersSome days I feel more certifiable than others – and yesterday was definitely one of those days! I spoke with a rep from the EcoCert group, and he told me that if I had everything in order I could be certified organic by May!

Wow.

After hearing from others about how many years they had to go through inspections and deal with soil issues, I was expecting that it would be a long and onerous process. What I didn’t realize is that being a greenhouse grower, using potting soil, makes the process a whole lot easier.

Still difficult and time-consuming, but quicker and comparatively easier.

So.

Here I go.

I need to rethink a bunch of my seed purchasing plans, because I’ve been told that some of my suppliers are not as reputable and may not be accepted by the certification body due to the potential for contamination. Even though the seeds are labelled untreated and GMO-free. Doesn’t that sound interesting.

I spent a lot of time last night searching through seed catalogues again and trying to find replacements. I haven’t yet updated my own online catalogue, but I’m hoping to get to that soon. In the meantime, if you’re looking through it and are particularly interested in a certain variety and wonder if it’s one of those that need to be swapped, just send me a quick email (or post it here so everyone else will know too) and I will let you know.

Thank you for your patience as I go through yet another set of growing pains in this wee business! I think it will be for the best, though.

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come to the show

skg displayThis weekend is the Guelph Organic Conference! The Expo and Tasting Fair is open to the general public, for FREE, so if you want to eat some yummy organic yogurt and chocolate and carrot juice, (among other things) please come check it out! While you’re there, come say hi – I’ll be downstairs near the book table. My display space will look something like the photo on the left. Possibly without the lights, depending on whether I get electricity or not. I’m pretty sure I requested it, but it was so long ago I can’t remember.

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I’m getting pretty excited for the show – I had a lot of fun last year as a member of the general public – and I hope you can come. There are also many opportunities to learn new things about growing food, and to purchase organic seeds without paying for shipping!!

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In other news, I made a savoury discovery this week:

I cooked some venison chops with smoked sausage and apple and shallots

venison chops, sausage, etc in the pan

Then, at the end of cooking, I took the 1/2 inch of juices, liquid pork fat, apples, and shallots, and blended them up using my stick blender.

awesomesauce

I call it – AWESOMESAUCE.

I’m not sure there are words in the English language to describe it. Basically the best gravy ever… but also reminded me a bit of the cheese sauce usually served with broccoli. Maybe because we were eating broccoli and cauliflower that night too? I ate the sauce with everything. It’s free of dairy and grains, so I am super happy with it.

I didn’t realize that the liquid would instantly turn into this thick, slow-moving sauce. I guess the fat basically emulsified into all the other ingredients. It still hasn’t separated, after being in the fridge overnight.

Plans are underway to try this with other food and fat combos and see what happens!

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p.s. Don’t forget to come to the Guelph Organic Conference if you can!

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new pin designs

veggie pin setMy children found the new pins this morning in the office, and both insisted on wearing the full set on their shirts to school today. I love it! The first question from one of them was “Can I wear this pin today, since I’m a Tomato Lover?” From there, it snowballed when the other one wanted to wear ALL THREE.

Things have to be equal, you know.

So this morning, in between using my brain for stuff, I’m also mounting them on cardstock so they look all pretty for the Guelph Organic Conference. The Expo/Tasting Fair is FREE to the public, so please come check it out on the Jan 29/30 weekend!! I’ll be downstairs near the books table, selling these pins and letting people know that Sarah’s Kitchen Gardens exists and wants to help them grow their own organic food.

Spread the word!

come to the organic tasting fair

guelph organic conferenceI’ve been pouring a lot of energy into getting ready for the Guelph Organic Conference. It will be happening Saturday and Sunday, January 29 and 30, at the Guelph University Centre. Please come and check it out – it’s free for the general public! There are lots of yummy food samples and opportunities for learning about organic gardening. A number of seed vendors make an appearance as well, so if you’re looking for certain organic varieties and don’t want to pay shipping, this is a great occasion to take advantage of.

I’ll be downstairs near the book table – come and say hello! Tomorrow I’ll show you one of the things I’ll be selling: the new pins that came in the mail today!! <happy dance>

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I had a meeting today with Amy at Cute Gecko. She helped me think a bit about the business, and we also talked about ebooks because that’s one of the things I have in mind…. and paper books too! It was good to get out of the house and chat with someone who has a depth of knowledge that I don’t have. So thanks Amy for the great visit!

One of the things she asked me was whether the business was local or national or global. Well. I wasn’t sure how to answer that. I feel like it’s a split personality, really…. seedlings are fairly local, unless I get into mail order seedlings – in which case I can’t ship outside of Canada, so… national? But if I write an ebook it has the potential to go global! My workshops, on the other hand, happen wherever I am. That’s very local, unless someone wants to fly me farther afield. See? I’m confused.

However. Confusion about my local/national/global identity will not keep me from growing seedlings, preparing patio pots, speaking at events and organizing workshops. It all comes down to making organic gardening easy for whoever wants to grow their own food.

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carrots and an education

sweet and savoury carrotsWinter is upon us; we’ve had a few snowfalls over the past little while, and I’m feeling like it’s really winter now. Temperature of -15 celsius helps too, but walking in the backyard in shin-deep snow really does it for me.

I had a bag of carrots and a bulb of fennel, and wanted to make something yummy and warming, and this recipe is the result. I hope you like it! As always, feel free to tweak it for your own tastes.

Sweet and Savoury Carrots SKG

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My recipe page is still in its infancy, but the Amazing Grain-Free Spice Cake listed there is also very warming, if you’re in the mood to curl up with a book and some cake. For me that’s, oh, only every day.

I’ve been working away at this business, though. Too much to do, no time to bake cake right now. I’ve been approved as a vendor at the St. Jacob’s Market in Waterloo, I’ve put together a Catalogue of Seedlings and Patio Pots for you so you can see what I’m planning to grow, and I’ve started creating a template for my Grow-Along email newsletters.

Plus, some major learning and brainstorming has been taking place. Exciting! To me, anyway. It’s mainly about business and marketing (so much to learn!). What I’m planning will affect my customers, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you.

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Top Priorities for SKG

1. Make growing food easy. ~ seedlingsGrow-Along email newsletter, patio pots, workshops

2. Foster a food-gardening community. ~ facebook group “Kitchen Garden Club – by SKG”

3. Be accessible. ~ through email, facebook, and this website

4. Have fun with gardening, and help others have fun too. ~ new pin designs coming soon!

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How you can be part of the excitement:

1. Join the gardening community. The facebook group, the Grow-Along.

2. Let me know your thoughts about this – am I on track? Am I out in left field? What would help make your food gardening easier? I want to know!

3. Tell friends about SKG; encourage them to sign up for the Grow-Along newsletter or join the facebook group “Kitchen Garden Club – by SKG”.

4. Buying products is cool too.

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what i’m growing for you this spring

black hungarian pepperIf you’d like to read about all the fun varieties of tomatoes I’ll be growing for you, along with peppers and cucumbers and herbs and more, please visit my google form: Seedlings and Custom Seedlings Pre-Order Form. Doesn’t that sound ominous. It’s not really, though, except that there is a lot of scrolling involved. It gives you the option to pre-order, like the name suggests, and to custom order as well.

The photo on the left is a favourite; the plant is a Black Hungarian Pepper plant. A woman who had bought a plant or two last spring told me recently that she wants to buy more this spring, because she really liked them. Not too hot, they look a bit like a black jalapeno. I think the leaves are beautiful with the purple variegation.

I thought I was doing something wrong, though, the first time I grew them! I didn’t know to expect the purple colour. Usually purple leaves are a sign of being too cold, or a phosphorus deficiency. I think I might have dosed them a bit of bonemeal just in case, but they didn’t really need it.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that these peppers are on the list. Along with a few other varieties of hot pepper. There are more hot pepper varieties than sweet pepper! There are just so many to choose from, it’s hard to whittle it down.

I’ll also be growing a few different types of edible flowers, as well as 5 different kinds of basil!

Please tell me what you’d like to grow!

I’ll draw a name randomly from those who leave a comment here about what they’d like to grow, and the winner will receive a seedling of their choice for free.

Comments close Friday at Noon.

ordering custom seedlings

seeds started.

If you like thumbing through seed catalogues or browsing through heirloom seed varieties online, but don’t like starting them from seeds yourself, I can help you! In this post I’ll provide a list of links – these are the seed companies I like – so you can pick and choose your own varieties of heirloom tomatoes and peppers and carrots, or whatever else your veggie-lovin’ heart fancies (within reason).

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The four companies below are the ones I will be ordering most, if not all, of my seeds from. Click on their names to be taken to the veggie sections for each. Once you know what you’d like, email me a link to the page where the seeds are. We’ll chat about it to confirm, and if all goes well and I have seedlings to sell you this spring, there will be a $5 custom seedling charge.

Order in the next week or two!!!

Here they are, in no particular order:

Veseys is a Canadian company found on Prince Edward Island. They have organic selection as well as conventional.

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit company in the United States. They are doing a great work, preserving heirloom seeds, and have a few unique things…. like vegetable caterpillars…. that you probably won’t find many other places.

William Dam Seeds Ltd is another Canadian company, located in Ontario, who sell only untreated seeds. And there’s usually an organic option for every type of seed as well.

Ontario Seed Company is most local to me, as they are found right here in Waterloo. They do have some organic selection, and all their seed is GMO-free.

I have also been discussing the idea of an online order form for seedlings, so you can pre-order all your plants, including the ones in my regular line-up. If you like this idea please let me know! I should have that up and running by next week. If you want to do custom seedlings AND you would also like to pre-order all your seedlings, you will be able to do that all in the same order form. Let me know!!

And thanks for reading. Happy New Year!!

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