Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Oh no - sunburned tomatoes!

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Well, as Tanny reported yesterday we planted all our seedlings. After work tonight we checked their progress and, to our great dismay, the tomatoes are all limp and lifeless!! It appears we have not hardened our plants properly and they got sunburned under today’s blazing sun.

Hopefully they will recover - we’ve been dreaming of a tomato bounty for weeks.


Getting ready for more local eating

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Josh and I have just spent a lovely and productive Victoria Day weekend planting our newly expanded vegetable garden.  We’ve converted two of our flower beds to accommodate our 25 strawberry plants and 7 tomato plants, amongst other newcomers.  I’m very excited for our edible garden this year.  We actually started our seeds early enough this year and our tomato plants are over a foot tall already!  We also have a variety of herbs this year and our watermelon seedling is still alive!

Here’s a list of what’s in our garden this year:

  • tomatoes: black cherry, blanche beaute, new: yellow cherry, beefsteak and ruffled red
  • herbs: sweet basil, thyme, chives, cilantro and parsley
  • potatoes
  • garlic: five different varieties (one did not survive the fridge)
  • sweet red pepper
  • wax beans
  • sugar snap peas
  • carrots: scarlet nantes and Chanteny
  • veestar strawberries
  • blueberries: northland and northcountry
  • raspberries

not planted yet: golden midget watermelon

Our local CSA share starts up again in 3 weeks.  Soon, we’ll be back to eating all local, all the time.


Garden Update

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Our sprouts are taking off like crazy! Our tomato plants are huge now, especially our beefsteak tomatoes. Altogether we have ten tomato plants, two basil, a bunch of thyme and two peppers. My parents just brought us some seed potatoes and we have Veestar strawberries on order. I’m feeling like it’s going to be a good harvest this year. Last year we didn’t start our seeds soon enough and they were late blooming.

Speaking of late seedings, we probably need to get our watermelon seeds started this week. Tanny’s probably going to get more basil started as well.


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Suspended animation, garlic, Rip Van Winkle

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Our garlic, like Rip Van Winkle, is in suspended animation. Or so I hope. In fact, it’s just in paper bags in our fridge. Dormant; not dead.

What’s next? Good question! When we bought our garlic starts at Seedy Saturday, we were told to keep them in the fridge until final frost has passed, introduce them slowly to the outside and then plant them. Seems simple, but I think I need more details. Anyone have any experience with growing garlic from a start?


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Not Far From The Tree

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Not Far From The Tree BannerOne of the cool projects we heard about at EcoSuave was “Not Far From the Tree.” They are a non-profit organisation in Toronto that “help fruit tree owners make use of the abundance of fruit that their trees offer by dispatching teams of volunteers to harvest it for them. One third goes to the fruit tree owners, another third goes to the volunteers for their labour, and the final third is distributed (by bicycle or cart) to community organizations in the neighbourhood who can make good use of the fresh fruit.” Last year (2008) they picked 3003lb of fruit!

We thought this was a GREAT idea and will consider calling them if our lonely pear tree is as abundant as it was last year.

Here are some similar organisations in the rest of the province and Canada:


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Happy Spring - the sprouts have sprung!

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Thyme sprouts


Seeds are in!

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

seeds from Seedy Saturday

Tanny, Ella and I went down to Seedy Saturday and picked up this year’s crop of veggies. Seedy Saturday was held at the Wychwood Barns this year and it was PACKED!

Our haul for 2009:

  • Tomatoes: Yellow Cherry, Beefsteak, Ruffled Red
  • Pepper: Lipstick Sweet Red
  • Herbs: Italian Large Leaf Basil, Thyme, Italian Parsely, Cilantro
  • Misc: Sugar Snap peas, Brittle wax beans, Scarlet Nantes carrots
  • Garlic: six varieties!

Making a return to the garden from last year:

  • Tomatoes: Blanche Beauty, Black Cherry
  • Sweet Basil
  • Midget Golden Watermelon

This weekend we started all the tomatoes, the basils, the thyme and the peppers. In a couple of weeks we’ll start the melons. The rest we’ll plant directly outdoors.

I’ve already started getting the yard ready for spring. I cleaned up the leaves and debris from our East and South yards (sounds bigger than they are) and some green flowers shoots are already peeking through! We had a nasty infestation of Viburnum leaf beetle that stripped both our snowball trees last year so I’ve been painstakingly pruning all the infected branches.

This year we’re going to convert one of our flower gardens into a vegetable garden since our current vegetable garden is really shaded. We’re also hoping to plant a second fruit tree (to replace a fallen tree) and some Veestar strawberries. It absolutely breaks our hearts to know that we have to clip the flowers from the strawberry plants the first year and won’t get strawberries until 2010!

If anyone has a recommendation for a native fruit tree that doesn’t suffer from neglect and insects but has a plentiful yield - please let us know!


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Time to think about seeds again

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Even though we’re still in the middle of winter, last week’s (almost) spring-like weather is a gentle reminder that spring is coming. It’s time to head to your local Seedy Saturday/Sunday to swap and buy seeds, attend workshops and get inspired to grow your own food.  I am obsessed with the heirloom tomato varieties and can’t wait to buy more unusual tomato seeds.  After eating only Ontario garlic this past year (it tastes so much better, a milder taste, not pungent at all), I’m inspired to try growing my own. 

The Seedy Saturday in Toronto is on February 28 this year, at a new location – the Wychwood Barn. The theme this year is potatoes.

Here’s a list of Seedy events in the next month in Canada. 

Ontario

Date

City

Location

Saturday Feb 21

Port Burwell, ON

Trinity Church

 

Hamilton, ON

Royal Botanical Gardens

Saturday Feb 28

Mississauga, ON

Unitarian Congregation, S Service Rd

 

Sault Ste Marie, ON

Sault College-Native Centre-G Wing

 

Toronto, ON

Artscape Wychwood Barns

Saturday March 7

London, ON

Siloam United Church

 

Ottawa, ON

Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre

 

Peterborough, ON

St. James United Church, Romaine St

Sunday March 8

Pembroke, ON

Fellowes High School, 420 Bell Street

Saturday March 14

Kingston, ON

Kingston’s Central Branch Library

BC

Date

City

Location

Saturday Feb 21

Victoria, BC

Victoria Conference Centre

 

Prince George, BC

Exploration Place

Saturday Feb 28

Vancouver, BC

VanDusen Botanical Gardens

Sunday March 1

Nanaimo, BC

Bowen Park Auditorium

Saturday March 7

Courtenay, BC

Filberg Centre

 

Fernie, BC

Fernie Community Centre

 

Enderby, BC

A.L.Fortune Secondary School

 

Robert’s Creek, BC

Robert’s Creek Hall

 

Richmond, BC

Terra Nova Barn, 2631 Westminster Hwy

Saturday March 14

Kelowna, BC

Rutland Centennial Hall

 

Cobble Hill, BC

Cobble Hill Hall

 

Powell River, BC

Community Living Place, Artaban St

Manitoba

Date

City

Location

Saturday Feb 21

Garson, MB

 

Quebec

Date

City

Location

Sunday Feb 22

St. Appollinaire , QC

83 rue Boucher

Saturday Feb 28

St. Vallier de Bellechase, QC

école La Ruche de Lanaudière

Sunday March 8

Lanaudière, QC

Centre communautaire Le Rodriguais à Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez

Nova Scotia/New Brunswick

Date

City

Location

Saturday Feb 28

Truro, NS

Holiday Inn on Prince St.

Saturday March 7

Cocagne, NB

Ecole Blanche Bourgeouis

Saskatchewan

Date

City

Location

Saturday March 14

Saskatoon, SK

Princess Alexandra School


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Aphids!

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Despite our slow start to the garden this year, everything has been growing really well. We’ve been eating fresh peas almost everyday for about a month now, the tomatoes are looking really promising, the carrots are just about ready, we’ve been harvesting the basil and even our one cornstalk has defied all odds and is producing one corn! Yesterday, while I was checking the tomatoes, I found aphids on the flowering branches!!! The aphids nearly destroyed our snowball trees earlier this year and they are not getting my heirloom tomatoes. Luckily there were only a few clusters of them and I began picking them off with my hands. Then I felt weird squishing the bugs and so I blasted them off with the garden hose. When I checked today, there were a few left on the branches still so I blasted them again with the water. Hopefully that’s enough to keep them off. Does anyone know of any other organic ways to keep them off my tomatoes?

Aside from that, our local eating has been going really well in the summer. We go to Fresh from the Farm to stock up on meats every few weeks and we have our CSA from Plan B . We only got a half share and we find it challenging to finish all the veggies each week. We’re not salad people and we just can’t keep up with all the lettuce we’re getting! We tried purple beans for the first time last week. Did you know that they’re green inside and that they turn green when cooked?They taste similar to green beans with a stronger bean taste.

Since we were away for a few weeks in July, we traded those weeks for fruit shares. I decided to get the fruit shares in August thinking of all the peaches and plums that are in season. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I didn’t get any local fruits in the fruit share. There were bananas, oranges, grapes and plums, mostly from California. Apparently, it’s risky to grow peaches and plums organically in Southern Ontario, due the high risk of fungal disease in the fruit. Most farmers can’t afford a crop failure. Here’s an except from an email from Melanie ofPlan B Organics explaining the situation:

Why is there so little fruit being grown organically in Ontario?

While the climate in Southern Ontario is warm enough to grow tender fruit crops, the high humidity in summer leads to a high incidence and spreading of fungal diseases on tender fruit crops. To combat these fungal diseases on conventional farms tender fruit crops are sprayed with chemical fungicides as many as 15 times or more each season to keep these diseases at bay and ensure a crop for the farmer. These sprays are why we at Plan B feel the need to provide an organic alternative, but for that alternative to also be local is a bigger challenge. Most of the certified organic tender fruits you have been getting in your fruit share are grown in arid, semi-desert zones in California where disease pressures are much lower and it is more conducive to organic growing. The cooler and drier weather in more northern parts of the province where we get our organic apples from is also helps lower disease and pest pressures for the farmers there. We also feel that very few local growers are in the position to risk losing their crops as there is little or no financial security in making significant changes to the food system, unless people are guaranteeing their costs and a a living wage. Things most of us take for granted, but that’s not how it is for farmers in our society.

Why can’t we get more farmers in Ontario to grow their fruit organically?

We at Plan B Organic Farm began offering the fruit share with hopes that having a good market for local organic fruit would help convince some local growers to convert to organic production. So far we have only been able to find a few farmers who have taken this step, we hope to find more in the future. Our goal is to have everything we handle be local and organic, but this is a goal for us when it comes to fruit, not the reality of where organic agriculture is at right now in Ontario. We want to build this system for the future, if you know of anyone with a fruit farm that’s not being used or is retiring please let us know and we will contact them with info about organic production.

So, if you know of anyone interested in organic fruit production, drop them a line at info@planborganicfarms.ca.

p.s. We’ve been getting some local organic melons in our fruit shares in the past two weeks.  Yay for melons!

Sweet Corn Sweet Peas Carrot tops Black Cherry Tomatoes Blanche Beaute Tomatoes McMullen Tomatoes Red Zebra Tomatoes

 


Garden Update - July

Monday, July 28th, 2008

It’s been too long since I’ve written an update of our garden.  We were lucky to have lots of rain while we were away, the garden was just thriving when we got back.  Everything got huge!  Our peas, basil and tomatoes have grown so tall.  The carrots are looking more promising.  The parsnips are officially dead - well, I don’t think they sprouted.  We planted two corns for fun, and they’re about a foot and a half tall, I don’t think we’ll get any corn, though.  We were very happy to find the raspberries just about ready for picking.

We’ve been picking the sweet peas and raspberries daily, I don’t think any of them made their way back to the kitchen.  I’ve never had fresh sweet peas before - it’s fun to pick them and eat the peas right out of the pod.  I had plans to make some raspberry tarts, but we haven’t been able to save them from Ella yet.

Here are some pictures from our garden.

The tomatoes plants are looking wild.  They are starting to flower.  I can’t wait for fresh tomatoes.

Sweet Basil

We’ve harvested some basil for pesto already.  

The peas look so overgrown. 

Sweet Corn

Our two stalks of corn.

Carrots

The carrot patch.

Raspberries

Raspberries



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