The first ripe tomatoes – Sungold. These are a hybrid variety, so they will likely be taken off the list for next year since I want to focus on the heirloom varieties.
Here you can see three different plant types mixing together: watermelon (the really lobed ones), blue pumpkin (the largest ones), and cantaloupe (the in-betweenies).
A small watermelon! EEP! Can’t wait.
The beginnings of a blue pumpkin.
I found three cantaloupes under all those leaves! Crossing every possible digit that these babies make it ok. We love cantaloupe.
Volunteer plants are so much fun. I noticed a squash vine growing in my garden where none was planted, and thought I’d let it grow and see what it was. Looks like it will be a pumpkin! Also notice another volunteer in the background – this is purslane, an edible weed. Yum!
The zucchini has given up the ghost. Not a great year for zucchini. Too little rain.
My two tomatillo plants are sprawling and loaded with fruit. I can hardly believe it, after thinking when I planted them out that they were so small and wondering if they had enough time to catch up!
Another volunteer/edible weed: lamb’s quarters.
Chinese ornamental hot pepper. So many flowers! I can’t wait to see this when all the peppers are red.
Super chili hot peppers! They’re larger than I expected them to be.
Well. That’s it for now. How is your garden growing?
My girls had to start some seeds last week, when they saw that my kits were all ready!
They both started flowers. No flower seeds come with the kits, though – they raided my stash to choose their own seeds.
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.
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.
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
Organic Brandywine Tomatoes
Green Bunching Onions
Organic Genovese Basil
Organic Pie/Carving Pumpkin
And for seeding outdoors:
Sugar Snap Peas
I’ve been working like crazy to pull all the pieces of the seed starting kits together, and I’m happy to say that the instructions are written. At least the first good pass of them, anyway. I will probably edit them in a day or two.
Since last post I’ve also decided to include organic compost in the kits, for when the seedlings get transplanted to the outdoors. It balances the box a little better, and gives added value to the kit.
I’ve ordered boxes for the kits, and they’re arriving today sometime. Now I just need to bag soil and compost and seeds. Lots of little pieces and labour involved in putting these kits together, but I hope it will be worth it for me and for those who might be interested in them.
Starting yesterday, my time will become a more precious commodity due to all the seed starting that has happened and will be happening over the next month or two. It’s about to get pretty crazy around here! I’m also hoping to have a greenhouse open house in April, for those who might be interested in seeing the operation in action. I will be sending out that information in my email newsletter, so if you’d like to stay informed about that please sign up. There’s a link on the right ->
Since this post is a bit of a miscellaneous type, I thought I’d also let you know how my plants in the egg carton are doing. If you watched the seed starting video, you’ll know that one of the suggestions was to use these plastic egg cartons as a seed starting container, after poking holes for drainage.
As you can see, the Sage is quite happy. The plants are beginning to form true leaves, just tiny yet but they’re coming! Faster than I expected, actually.
The Rosemary that I planted in the other container is still ‘sleeping’. I checked the package, and it could take a month to germinate! I’m not worried yet. We’ll see how it goes.
I have some other baby seedlings to show you:
These are tomato seedlings that I planted in anticipation of the Organic Stone Soup event in Guelph that’s happening March 19. It’s a 3 hour event that emphasizes local organic food; there will be farmers and educators and people making ‘stone soup’. I will be there demonstrating how to grow your own food. It’s a family-friendly, hands-on event designed for kids and grownups both.
I’m hoping these seedlings will be sturdy enough to ‘transplant’ as part of the demonstrations! Cross your fingers.
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.
- starting seeds indoors (sarahskitchengardens.com)
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!
My 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!
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.
Living in the city, I often ask myself how much more I can grow. I have a large garden by most city standards, at around 25′x80′. Huge, I know. You’d think I’d be growing enough to feed a small village. Sadly, though, that is not the case. Long rows of plants leave lots of extra space around them, and this extra space needs to be weeded. Add to that the fact that all the nutrition I mixed into the soil is equally blended across good growing space and pathways. Not very efficient.
The reason I like this All New Square Foot Gardening book so much is that it deals with the inefficiencies and presents a better way. Sure, if you live in the country and you’ve got space to spare and want to grow food for all your neighbors, this may not make a whole lot of sense for you. But city folk, who are increasingly becoming more and more interested in growing their own food, do not have the luxury (or burden?) of space.
Mel Bartholomew, who wrote this book, suggests that 80% of the space in a traditional garden is wasted. He popularized 4′x4′ garden boxes that are marked with a square foot grid. Some plants will take a whole square foot, such as tomato or pepper plants. These each get their own square. Smaller plants like radishes don’t need that much space, so they get planted 16 to a square foot. Lettuce will grow 4 to a square foot. Essentially, in the whole garden box you are not wasting any space. And because it’s 4′x4′, you can reach to the middle of the garden without stepping in it.
This is key – don’t compact the soil. Start with amazing soil – not soil dug out of the ground, but a nice potting soil plus composted manure and other blends of compost. If it stays nice and fluffy, the roots of the plants will have the three things they need – air, water, and nutrition – and will grow very well. If you are not gardening in raised boxes but do have a garden, try to designate areas that are ‘no-walk zones’ – never ever step in them. When you add nutrition, add it only there, and not in the pathways.
Other reasons for gardening in smaller and more intensive space include saving water and growing what you can eat. Large gardens with long rows of cabbage just might produce more cabbage than an average city family can eat. And who needs 10-20 zucchini plants? One is usually more than enough, as those with gardening friends can tell you.
I like this idea so much that I’m basing my product line on this reasoning. I will have 4′x4′ garden kits for sale, as well as smaller 4′x1′ planters with bottoms for those growing food on balconies.
If you’d like to read more about Square Foot Gardening, you can check out the official website. I will also be posting more about this in the future.
Everybody should grow food in their backyard. Or on their balcony. Or in a window, like my brother and his wife did for a year or two. Even if it’s only enough for a snack. There are many reasons why I say this, and one of the most important has to do with our children. How will they know where their food comes from, unless we show them?
Here’s a story for you: picture my cute little nephew, one and a half years old. Says a few words, communicates well regardless of how many words he uses. Hefty boy, tough as nails – he has to be, he has an older brother – and very adventurous. My sister has a garden in her backyard – she has to, we have the same genes – and in it she has a chili pepper plant, pictured above. It’s a big beautiful plant, because her soil is good and so is the weather where she lives. Don’t those peppers look tasty? Bright red, they just call you to come and have a taste. So, that’s what my nephew does. Every time he gets into the garden. Takes a bite, spits it out, and says “hot”. Every time. He’s learning about chili peppers, hands-on!
So where does our food come from? Carrots don’t grow on trees and peppers don’t grow underground. Oranges don’t grow in our climate so they have to be shipped from somewhere warm, far away. Broccoli takes up way more space in the garden than the head you buy in the grocery store. Parsnips are not white carrots, apple trees take at least 5 years to produce fruit, lettuce likes growing in cool weather, and sugar snap peas are pure candy when eaten off the vine. If you sat and watched a pumpkin vine for a few hours, you would swear you saw it grow an inch. There are thousands of tomato varieties, but for some reason the ones you buy in a grocery store are tasteless. I think the next generation needs to know these things and more.
My children eat beans raw from the garden, but if I buy frozen ones they put up a big fight about eating them cooked. In the summer they snack on the cherry tomatoes and beans and peas and ground cherries in the garden, sometimes playing restaurant outside, or playing that they’re orphans (gasp) and need to scavenge for food. Such imagination, such healthy food entering their growing bodies, I love it.
It doesn’t matter the size of the garden, or what is grown, but everyone needs to grow something edible. At least once. And share it with someone younger.
Here’s my super-not-organized seed filing system – two shoe boxes. Oh, and add a few jars of bean seeds and plates of onion sets and date seeds and the dried lemon basil hanging from the ceiling in my office. I think it’s time to get organized. But how? I’m not sure the best way for keeping track of seeds, other than boxes. Some seeds are grouped according to type – the tomatoes are the best example – but others can get confusing, like the large ziplock bag of ‘herb seeds’, and another one that is ‘flower seeds’. The question is, do I keep the calendula and pansy seeds separate from other flower seeds, since they’re edible? Do they then become herbs, or vegetables?
It’s obvious I need some better way to handle this, before I start growing thousands of seedlings to sell! There’s so much to do these days; all the behind the scenes prep work for setting up this business. It’s been fun so far, figuring out the facebook page and twitter, and getting into this blogging groove. I’m getting some 1″ pins printed, as promo/sale items, which I’m really excited about. I still need a business card and possibly a print newsletter – I’m thinking of producing something in hard copy – and many other things that are swirling around in my consciousness.
What would you like to read about in a blog or newsletter?
Leave me a comment and I’ll send you some of the lemon basil seeds that are hanging from my ceiling.