Seed Starting

Thanks to the beautiful weather, I’m sure everyone has now been bit by the gardening bug.  Admittedly, we are a little behind in our seed starting due to all the preparations we’ve been doing for the baby bean this spring.  But this weekend was a gentle reminder to get on it.  Having not ordered from any seed catalogues this year, we headed out to green haven to browse what we hoped was a more diverse selection of seeds.

Though there weren’t as many varieties as the seed catalogues, we came home pleased with our new stash.  This year, we’ve decided to not grow so many cherry and grape tomaotes; last year we ended up with far too many (and still have jars full of savory jam, freezer bags full of frozen whole, and packets of dehydrated.)  But really, there’s only so much you can do with little tomatoes.

This year, we picked out two bigger varieties; one coined a ‘mortgage lifter’, promising 2-4 lb tomatoes. the other, an heirloom beefsteak-type.  Me thinks these would be excellent sandwich tomatoes.  We also went with our old standby, roma, which I love to can and some ground cherries, which were really fun last year.  Those combined with a few other varieties and maybe a few of our leftover cherry & grape tomato seeds from last year, and we’re good to go.  We also picked up cucumber, eggplant and peppers to start.  We’re going to get some lettuce, chard and pea greens going in the cold frames soon.

What I was really excited about this year was my new seed pot maker:

This simple, yet genius little device transforms strips of newspaper into little pots for planting.  Its about as eco-friendly as you can get; as once the seedlings are ready for planting, you just stick the whole thing, newspaper and all into the ground.  This is my first year trying this so I’m hoping I like it.  Much smarter and cheaper than buying plastic, peat, coconut, etc pots.

Are you starting seeds this year?  what are you planting?


Locavores: Sprout Your Own

With all the problems around bean sprouts lately, especially in Germany & Europe, where many people have gotten sicked and died because of eating tainted sprouts, one must begin to look to the ultimate diy solution- sprout your own!  Not only is it easy, but it is super cheap.  And kind of addicting when you learn how many dried beans, seeds and legumes you can sprout!  It also adds a whole new dimension of nutrition as instead of eating a dormant food, you are now eating a live plant!  You can even sprout beans before cooking them for this added benefit.

Here are a couple of resources I’ve found on sprouting your own, enjoy!

Joy of Sprouting

Growing Sprouts, Avoid Ecoli

Update on Sprout Contamination in Germany

Have you ever grown your own sprouts?  What are your favorite types?  Share your stories below!

Edible Plants for Prairie Gardens

I have to share this article from the Lethbridge Herald about local horticulturalist June Flanagan’s new book Edible Plants for Prairie Gardens.  It’s so wonderful that a gardening book has been written with gardening information specifically for our area (zone 3/4 according to this map).   “Yes, our climate is very challenging, and it’s probably more challenging than many others, but you can still do a lot with the right varieties and the right information” Flanagan says in the article.

Written especially for gardeners in the Canadian Prairie Provinces and the Northern Great Plains of the United States, this book shows you how to grow fabulous fruits, vegetables and herbs. Discover how to design a growing space of any size, from planning your first vegetable patch or collection of potted herbs, to creating an urban landscape for all seasons entirely with edibles. More than one hundred edible plants are featured, including heirloom vegetables and new fruits bred especially for the prairies, illustrated with full-colour photographs. You will find detailed instructions on when, where and how to plant and care for each crop, as well as tips for harvesting, serving and preserving your homegrown produce. New and experienced gardeners will find plenty of solid information about the best plant varieties and environmentally sound gardening practices to be successful in a challenging climate and short growing season.

Starting Seeds

baby tomatoes

Aside from eating lots of vegetables, I also like to grow a lot too.  We have been starting our own tomato seeds for the past few years.  Last year we had such a great harvest and I was able to can about 25 jars of tomato sauce and salsa.  We just ran out about a month ago- I can’t wait to have more!   There really is nothing like a home grown tomato.

Rather than go with the mass produced “beefsteak” type tomatoes (and honestly, what kind of vegetarian would I be if I grew beefsteak!) we ordered some uncommon varieties from a seed catalogue this year:

Ildi: “Incredible masses of small Grape Tomatoes. This attractive yellow tomato has to be seen to be believed, up to 50tomatoes in a single cluster. Visitors to our trials were amazed with the yield of Ildi. Salad sized ½ oz tomatoes are borne in clusters on a vigourous Indeterminate vine which grows about 4-5 feet tall.”
chocolate cherry
Chocolate Cherry: A really unique Heirloom Tomato, with incredible flavour and colour. Chocolate Cherry produces very deep purple Cherry Tomatoes on a large Indeterminate plant. Very sweet with exceptional tomato flavour.

Duchess: Very early and productive Hybrid. Vigourous, dwarf plants produce 6 oz. fruit in clusters of 4-5. High quality, dark red tomatoes are smooth, firm and blemish free, with excellent vine storage. Good tolerance to cracking, viruses, late blight and powdery mildew. Suitable for processing and fresh market.
Roma: An excellent paste-type Open Pollinated Tomato. Popular for canning or for making your own tomato sauce, juice, soups or for dehydrating. Plants bear dozens of plum shaped fruit which ripen to a bright red with meaty interiors and very few seeds. Determinate growing habit does not require staking.

We started ours about 2-3 weeks ago.  We just recently transplanted them from their original biodegradable seed pots into some larger pots.

With all this snow lately, its been really nice to have somewhat of an indoor garden, providing some hope that spring & summer is just around the corner.  We are hoping to plant them outside sometime in late May.