tomato seed purity

covered tomato plants

Last week, it was time to take the mesh covers off of my selected tomato plants. As you can see in the photo, many plants were becoming cramped under the light fabric. I felt it was important to cover them, though, in order to prevent any accidental cross-pollination of the tomatoes I wanted to save for seed.

In reading more about tomato plants and saving their seeds, I discovered that the idea of tomatoes cross-pollinating is controversial. Or has been, at least. People’s experiences vary, depending on the type of tomatoes they grow. Basically, the likelihood of crossing has to do with the length of the style. The style is the female part of the plant: it accepts the pollen. If it’s long and extends out past the male parts of the same flower, then it’s more likely to be cross-pollinated. If it’s shorter than the male anthers, it’s not very likely that any pollen other than its own will do the job.

In order to determine whether your tomatoes are more or less likely to cross-pollinate, you’ll need a magnifying glass to investigate the physical properties of the flowers. Or, you could do as I did and just cover the plants to be sure. Or, grow only one kind of heirloom or open pollinated tomato. <gasp!>

I noticed last week that tomatoes were forming under the covers, so I took off the mesh and marked the tomatoes that were formed so I would know later which ones to save the seeds from.

marked tomato

I am so looking forward to harvesting these seeds. Almost as much as I’m looking forward to trying all 22 varieties of tomato in my garden!!!

When the time comes, you can expect another post about the various methods of saving tomato seeds – there’s some wonderful controversy about that, too.


scavenging seeds


I love seeds.

The more I have, the better I feel.

I collected seeds from my Grandma’s Lilac tree, just to have a piece of history. In the photo above, the Lilac seeds are second from the left. Next in line, third in, are seeds from her Clematis. I’ve never tried to grow either one of these, but I’m sure going to try. My sister let me swipe the seeds from her Lovage plant, which were actually about six feet in the air on really tall stalks. These are on the far right in the photo. Last but not least, the seeds on the far left are taken out of a bundle of sweetgrass, given to me by a CSA farmer when she was showing me her medicinal garden.

Seeds are so important. They carry the genetic blueprint to the next generation, and¬†provide us with the means to feed ourselves and our families. Not that all of us are growing all the food we need to survive nowadays. We’ve come a long way from the days of the early homesteading pioneers. I think seeds are just as important, though, and the preservation of unique and rare varieties will only happen so long as people are actually growing them. It’s a bit of a paradox: if we want to preserve heritage breeds, we need to eat them. And save a few seeds for next year.


Here are a few ways that you can be a seed scavenger:

– when you eat a pepper or tomato or any other fruit veggie, save some of the seeds to grow your own

– if you have herbs in your garden, let a few go to seed and save some seeds for next year

– you can also do the same with flowers!

– when you’re out, keep your eyes open around flowers or other plants that you like, and if you see a seed pod, bring it back with you if you can.


seed starting kits for sale

little gardener

My girls had to start some seeds last week, when they saw that my kits were all ready!

another little gardener

They both started flowers. No flower seeds come with the kits, though – they raided my stash to choose their own seeds.

flower seed choices

The morning glories have come up already! They were quick. They’re annuals, which is perhaps why they germinated so quickly. I’ve never tried them before, so I’m hoping they survive to see the real outside sunshine and grow tall along some twine or a trellis. Someone was telling me about growing morning glories mixed in with pole beans – beautiful and edible, growing together and looking pretty too.

stack of seed kits

If you want a Seed Starting Kit, let me know! $35 for 17 different kinds of seeds, plus a tray to start them in, and the potting soil, and compost to plant them out with, and little label tags, instructions, and dried chamomile flowers to make a disease-preventing potion for your wee seedlings. It’s a deal.

inside the box

Here’s the seed list. Those that are not indicated organic, are at the very least untreated and non-GMO.

Indoor-Starting Seed Types:

Organic Beefsteak Tomatoes

Green to Red Sweet Peppers

Cherry Tomatoes

Organic Brandywine Tomatoes

Jalapeno Peppers

Green Bunching Onions

Organic Parsley

Organic Chives

Organic Genovese Basil

Romaine Lettuce

Slicing Cucumber

Organic Pie/Carving Pumpkin

Organic Zucchini


And for seeding outdoors:

Sugar Snap Peas

Organic Radish

Organic Carrots

Bush Beans


not what i came for

italian seed packetsI am such a sucker for new seed varieties and interesting packaging (argh, marketing!).

Today I went to buy seeds. The ones you see in the photo were not on my list, but I couldn’t resist. They were $1.99 each, and twice the size of the usual seed packet. Lots of seeds inside too. The little wee hot red peppers looked so cute I just had to buy them to try them out. And the ‘Sweet Horn’ (Corno De Toro Giallo)? OF COURSE!! Leeks, I didn’t have – but now I do! Same with the onions. I have lots of green bunching onion seeds, but none of the regular bulb style onion.

Since there’s a bit of a language barrier between me and the seed packets, I’m not sure if they’re untreated or not. I guess I’ll find out if there are any obvious treatments when I open them up, but because I’m not sure they won’t be for sale. At least not this year – if I save my own seeds then someday down the road it’s possible. For now I’ll enjoy them and keep you posted.



greenhouse shelvesAnd speaking of keeping you posted, I should say that I finished setting up the other half of the greenhouse shelves today in the scorching heat of the sun! Hubby had set everything up so I just needed to wedge the shelves into place. They set up and tear down fairly easily, and are braced on the sides of the greenhouse. Quite a nice piece of engineering, I have to say. He told me that if he was charging me what customers of his company usually pay for his engineering services, I would owe him $1,000 for the day.

I can’t wait to get them fully operational. I’m not sure how well you can tell in the photo, but the shelves have sides all the way around. This is to hold gravel/soil and a heating cable, so I can warm my seedlings from the bottom. I really want to get some seeds out there soon, as experiments, to see how well they grow. But we still need to purchase the cables, and possibly a thermostat of some sort (more engineering….).



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.


Here’s a list of seeds included:


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


-genovese basil




-pumpkin (2 seeds)

-zucchini (2 seeds)


Outdoor starting seeds:






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.


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.


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!


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.


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

It’s been fun but long.


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.


genetic and incurable

seed savingIt’s pretty hopeless. In my house there will always be various random plates of seeds drying out after being saved and washed. In the photo at left, there are spinach seeds, garlic bulbils and date seeds, squash seeds, apple seeds, and bean seeds.

Most of them are saved by me – all, in fact, except for the apple seeds. My daughter wants her own apple trees, despite the fact that we have two in the front yard that are doing their best to hurry up and produce fruit. Two more years, and hopefully we will have the best Gala apples ever from our own yard!

She’s also saved pepper seeds and grown her own peppers, and for a few years we faithfully saved seeds from the pumpkins we grew and planted them the next year. It can be risky, because there’s no guarantee that the seeds didn’t cross with something else, but it’s an adventure. We also like to save seeds from oranges and other random veggies and fruits – it’s fun!

I actually started some grapefruit seedlings one year, and had them growing in my house until they died from either a major accident or forgetfulness, I forget which. Sprouting grapefruit seeds was something I picked up from my grandma, who regularly finds seeds in her grapefruit that have already sprouted a bit. When she does, she puts them in soil. Her plants got much bigger than mine, and inspired me to do it myself.

The next time you’re preparing food and come across some seeds, save a few for spring or sprout them right now just to see what happens. It’s a free and fun adventure worth having. Especially if you have kids in your household.

If you don’t have soil, stuff a jar with paper towel and slide the seed between the paper towel and the glass. This way you can see the root develop too! Cover the outside of the jar with black or dark construction paper so the roots don’t get confused. You can take it off to check on the progress of the roots as your seedling develops. Keep it moist but not soaking – if it sits in water with no access to air, it can rot.

Have fun! If you try this let me know, I’d love to hear about it.

And if you take pics, post them on the SKG Facebook Page!


bug in your ear


A friend once commented, in response to my question about what people wanted to read about on this blog, that she would like to know what she can do now in preparation for spring. All these winter months – what are they good for?

Well, this is when I start thinking about what varieties of seeds I want to grow. So, I thought I would share some links to the companies where I’ll be buying seeds, so you can check them out for yourself.

I will be providing the option for people to choose what particular varieties of veggie seedlings they’d like me to grow into seedlings, so I thought maybe I should just mention that now instead of in January when you’d have less time to ponder the possibilities.

Here we go:

William Dam Veggies

William Dam Herbs

Seed Savers Veggies

Seed Savers Herbs

Ontario Seed Company Organic Veggies

Ontario Seed Company Organic Herbs

Let me know what you want and I’ll grow it for you. Within reason, of course. No banana trees here.

Please share this page with friends who garden and might be interested in choosing their own special seedlings without having to grow them from seed!