Monthly Archives: February 2011

seed starting kit

chalkboard signI received a shipment yesterday! Lots and lots of seedling trays, and pots, and these really sweet chalkboard stands. My girls have been having fun drawing on them, as you can see.

The Seed Starting Kit is new, too. It will hopefully be ready in the next few weeks.

Here’s the general idea: I want to provide a great start to a backyard garden. Maybe I should call them “Garden Starting Kits”. So the kit has a seedling tray, soil, seeds, tags, some dried chamomile flowers, and an instruction manual.

seed kit contentsThe seedling tray is a smaller size, and the seed amounts are also small – only enough to plant the tray for this year. With a few extras just in case. Usually seed packets have way too many seeds for the average home gardener, so I thought I’d help solve the problem of excess seeds by reducing the amount in the packages.

The dried chamomile flowers are included so that you can brew your own disease preventative. There’s a fungal disease called ‘damping off’ that kills tiny seedlings very easily. Spraying with chamomile tea helps prevent this.

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Here’s a list of seeds included:

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Indoor-starting seeds:

-beefsteak tomato

-cherry tomato

-brandywine tomato

-green to red pepper (can harvest at green or red stage)

-jalapeno pepper

-green bunching onions

-parsley

-genovese basil

-lettuce

-chives

-cucumbers

-pumpkin (2 seeds)

-zucchini (2 seeds)

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Outdoor starting seeds:

-carrot

-peas

-radish

-beans

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The instruction manual will be fully loaded with clear instructions and information about the plants. I say ‘will be’ because I haven’t written it yet.

If anyone has any suggestions for this kit, please let me know! There’s still time to affect what the final product will offer.

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final official organic decision

oh snapWell. I’ve done a lot of thinking. Here are my reasons for not becoming officially organic certified THIS year.

First of all, it costs a lot of money and it will take a lot of my time to do all the paperwork and documentation. I didn’t take this into consideration when I set my prices for the seedlings, and I don’t feel right about increasing the prices now. I feel like it’s not fair to everyone who has looked at the catalogue and figured out what they wanted to buy.

Second, I want to make sure I do a good job of it, and I feel that having a ‘practice year’, where I follow all the rules to the best of my ability, will help me be better prepared for when I get certified for real.

So please consider me to be unofficially organic. I have gone far out of my way to ship certified organic potting soil to my yard, I use certified organic amendments like composted cow manure and fish emulsion fertilizer, and I use organic seeds wherever possible. I don’t use any synthetic chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

My plants will be labelled so you know which ones are 100% organic (non-certified, though) and which ones are started from conventional seeds. Where I use conventional seeds they are guaranteed untreated and non-GMO.

I hope this delay in certification sits well with everyone; I’m doing my best to be as certifiable as possible, and learn as much as I can this year, so when next year rolls around I will be ready for it.

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starting seeds indoors

wee seedlingI love growing from seed; it’s so rewarding and amazing. When you see a 5 foot sprawling tomato plant in the garden, it’s hard to believe it came from a teeny tiny seed.

I’ve put together a 5-minute video for anyone who would like a little help getting started in the world of indoor seed starting:

Watch It Here

It’s my first attempt at a how-to video, maybe a little rough around the edges, but hopefully it will convey the information you might be looking for.

And there’s more to come!

seedy saturday this weekend

pumpkin seedsThere’s a great event happening this Saturday, February 19, from 930 am to 230 pm. Seedy Saturday! There are many of these events all over the place, and this one happens right here in Kitchener at the Country Hills Library (at St. Mary’s High School).

I’m super excited to be giving a seminar too, titled “Organic Gardening Overview: Seed to Harvest”. It will be a very brief overview, since I only have 35 minutes to cover a very broad topic, but I am so looking forward to meeting new people.

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The workshops, mine and others, are all free. There will be seed vendors and other local business related to gardening. Master gardeners will be on hand to answer questions, and there’s a seed swap! You can bring along seeds to exchange with others if you have extra.

Please come, and spread the word about this event!

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i heart tomatoes

i heart tomatoesThere are literally thousands of tomato varieties. I’m not even kidding. It is so hard to look through pages and pages of them, online and offline, and choose only a few types.

But.

I did my best.

For you.

Because I know that it can be very overwhelming to choose between too many different kinds.

I thought I’d let you know about a few that I’m excited about this year.

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Here they are:

1. Silvery Fir Tree

This one will replace the ‘Patio’ variety I was planning to grow. According to Seed Savers Exchange, it’s compact, and grows well in hanging baskets or on patios. And it has pretty foliage, always a plus for those growing in small spaces and trying to also be decorative at the same time! I’ll be using this one in my patio pots, such as the ‘Grow Your Own Salsa’ pot, which will also have a pepper plant and some bunching onions. They’ll be available as seedlings, too, for those who want to fill their own pots.

2. Moonglow

This one replaces ‘Golden Queen’, a yellow slicing tomato. This plant is indeterminate, which means it will not stop growing until it gets too cold. So, think large sprawling plant that will probably need to be staked. Quite the opposite of the tomato above. It’s an heirloom variety, and the seeds are organic. And if that’s not enough to convince you, yellow tomatoes also have less acid than the red varieties, so tend to be easier on the digestive systems of those who are sensitive to tomatoes due to high acid levels. They’re not as good for canning, for this reason, but they taste so good you won’t have enough left to can anyway!

3. Elfin

Another new one for me, Elfin has been chosen for a patio-growing cherry tomato lover that I know. Generally I find Tiny Tim plants to be so…. tiny. But regular cherry tomato plants tend to be indeterminate, which means HUGE plants. Huge plants mean HUGE roots, which don’t do well in containers.

So.

After a bit of searching, I found these ones. They are determinate, which means they can handle living in pots, but tend to be a fairly well-sized plant and produce lots of cherry tomatoes. I’m really looking forward to growing them, and I hope the little cherry tomato lover will enjoy them too.

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seeds and more seeds

seed cataloguesI think I’m almost done figuring out what seeds I’m going to buy! What a process. A few weeks ago I thought I was almost done too, but then discovered that I needed to source a good chunk of the seeds from somewhere other than a certain seed store, in order to be certified organic.

So…..

Back to the seed planning spreadsheet. And the catalogues. And the online catalogues too!

It’s been fun but long.

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I’m almost ready to order….. I just want to be sure that I haven’t missed anything, so I’m going to sleep on it.

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