Reader’s Digest has quite a few articles about growing food this month! I was pleasantly surprised to see a page about edible flowers, one of my favourite things. It often comes as a surprise to people that they can eat the violets that grow in their lawn (if they are lucky enough to have such a thing). Pansies are also edible, and Johnny Jump-Ups, which is why I’m growing them, along with Nasturtiums and Sunflowers and Calendula and Bergamot.
Something I didn’t know, that the article taught me, is that the older rugosa varieties of roses are more tasty than the newer hybrids. I’ve been wondering about rosehips, too, and I have a feeling that if the older types are better tasting they probably also have better rosehips. So I’ll be checking out rugosa varieties, if it ever comes to the point where I’m planting a rosebush!
Because landscaping should be as edible as possible.
In another article Sara Alway writes about ‘Soil Mates’, beneficial pairings of veggies and herbs. I’d heard of growing Tomatoes and Basil together, but it wasn’t actually mentioned here. Some odder pairings were mentioned, like Spinach and Pepper, Brussels Sprouts and Thyme, and, in keeping with the edible flowers theme, Zucchini and Nasturtiums.
The article is actually condensed from her book, which looks like a fun and informative read. I might have to get me a copy, or see if the library has it.
It’s definitely starting to get way more exciting around here, with all the seedlings taking over the place and ruling my life! Today is moving day for quite a few of them. More peppers have sprouted, so I need to make space under the grow lights upstairs, so the seedlings that have finished germinating and are more hardy will be moved out to the greenhouse. I’m sure I’ll be taking photos, for those who love the baby pics.
Happy sunny day today!
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.
And 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….).
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.
The 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:
-green to red pepper (can harvest at green or red stage)
-green bunching onions
-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.
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.
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:
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!
Some 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!
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.
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.
Winter 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.
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.
Top Priorities for SKG
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!
How you can be part of the excitement:
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!
4. Buying products is cool too.
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).
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!!
Sarah’s Kitchen Gardens wants to help you grow your own local and organic food. Imagine a ripe, juicy tomato fresh from your very own garden, or snap beans that really snap, or any other fresh food that you love. Imagine the food traveling distance measured in feet, not miles. Imagine this food grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, by you.
If you need help……
Starting seeds: we have seedlings for sale in the spring.
On December 20, Sarah’s Kitchen Gardens will be at the Bailey’s Local Foods pickup, selling some gifty-type items for the holiday season. Here’s the list:
- bag of organic composted cow manure, for that special someone
- Grow Your Own Sprouts Kit
- handmade stained-glass beehive with dangling bee – for your window
- veggie earrings, because we all love our veggies
- pretty but tough garden aprons
- gift certificates
Hope to see you there!
Sarah’s Kitchen Gardens
Grow food. Eat fresh. Share the garden love.
I was hoping to have a salad photo to show you, but my lettuce was wilty this morning. Somehow I managed to ignore it for long enough that it was not very edible anymore. I’d say shame on me, but I’m trying to avoid shaming in my life…. myself or others. It is what it is. This is what happened. Moving on….
Another exciting thing that’s happened is a meeting with a good friend who has a really good handle on marketing and communication. She pointed out a few difficulties with the way I was presenting myself, and encouraged me to make changes to become more consistent and clear. She also pointed me in the direction of spreadsheets and product pricing, with the instruction to keep things simple. 7 products max. Yipes. Well, here we go!!
I’ll share with you what I’ve got cooking so far:
1. Seedlings for transplanting – many different kinds, but I count this as one ‘thing’.
2. Large Patio/Balcony planter – Basic Veggie – tomato, pepper, beans
3. Large Patio/Balcony planter – Climbing Veggie – peas, cukes, plus some tiny tomatoes
4. Hummingbird Haven – scarlet runner beans with a tall trellis. Bright red flowers turn into edible beans!
5. Salad Bowl – big pot of greens
6. Herbs – ‘Pesto Pot’ – yep, full of BASIL!!!! Different kinds too. mmmmm…..
7. Herbs – mixed planter
8. Patio Pots with individual veggies – all ready to put on your patio or balcony and stay there all summer.
9. Tomato and Basil planters. Because everybody loves them.
OOps. Well, 9 isn’t too much more than 7….
Can I ask you a question? Can you tell me which you’d like to see on your patio? You could win your choice by commenting here and letting me know. I’d also love to hear any other thoughts you may have related to these products. I’ll draw a name tomorrow. You’ll have to come pick it up in the spring though – I’ll send you a coupon.