Thursday, March 20, 2014

First day of Spring

It's officially the first day of Spring, but it's far from feeling like Spring.  We did have a few days of "warm up", and by warm up I mean just barely above zero.  Because it's been so cold for so long this Winter, even a degree of two above freezing actually feels "warm" in comparison.  I think we may have reached 4-degree Celsius yesterday and I was walking around without gloves and a winter hat!

Seedlings are coming along - more than half of the seeds have sprouted and I have transferred them to small containers of dirt.  Due to space constraints, I ended up putting two seedlings per pot, so when they get bigger in a month or so I will probably have to do another split and transfer.


The square planters I saved up from the annuals I bought last year actually comes in quite handy and they line up nicely in the cardboard box.  In the photo above, we have several kinds of tomatoes, along with some curly parsley and cilantro.


Last night I transferred a few more tomato seedlings to the circular pots.  Because we only have one South-facing window, I'm need to maximize the seedling placements as much as I can.  Here I'm trying out two-tiered placement (essentially taken over a good corner and door of our kitchen), hopefully the plants will like it.  I still have a few more seedlings to go (golden bell pepper and eggplants, those seeds takes soooo long to sprout!) so I'm going to have to work my magic and find a few more places to put those!

Happy Spring!    

~ Rebecca

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March



It's March and we are still in the midst of the deep freeze here in Toronto.  Snow, snow, and more snow.  I was reading through some of my old blog post from 2012 we were already seeing movements in yard with Spring bulbs and shoots peaking out of the ground by this time already (that was a rare/unusually mild Spring though).  


Seed starting began for me almost two weeks ago and the Cayenne pepper is beginning to sprout.  Added some eggplant seeds as well.  

 

This weekend is time to start the tomato seeds.  This year I am going to plant 5 types of tomatoes.  Technically I only need one seedling of each, but I always plant a few extras because there's always some seeds that don't start or the seedling doesn't survive.  And if I end up with more healthy seedlings than I can handle, my family and friends certainly doesn't mind :)  

~ Rebecca

Friday, February 14, 2014

Seed starting has begun!


Happy Valentine's Day!   And seed starting has begun!  

I might be jumping the gun with the seeds this year, but with this long cold Winter that just won't east up, I really needed to have some sense that Spring will (eventually) come by doing something gardening related.  And thus seed starting is the closest thing I can get to at this point.

According to the gardening book I read recently, peppers are the first on the list.  Here we have yellow bell pepper and cayenne pepper.  I haven't had a very good harvest with yellow bell peppers in the past few seasons and I think one of the main reasons is that I start the seeds too late.  And since our planting season is so short here in Toronto, the late starter pepper plant doesn't have enough time to fully develop and pump out a good crop of peppers.  So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that by starting these indoor a good month and a half earlier than I usually do, I will get a decent size plant by the time it's warm enough to transfer the plants outdoors.  

Keep your fingers crossed for me!  :)

~ Rebecca

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Preparation


Time to get planning!  After reading a few excellent gardening books by Gayla Trail and learning about some excellent gardening hints and tips, I'm all ready to think gardening!  First, let's do some organizing....


With the slightly disappointing planting season last year (not entirely my fault - the weather really did not cooperate), this time around I'm going to start specific seeds as early as possible - in this case it's peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes.  I've started my seed starting and planting chart (above) to get myself organized,  but also to review my seed inventory and figure out what seeds I need to replenish.


Speaking of seeds, do other gardeners have the same problems of buying / collecting too many seeds?  It takes me a few seasons to fully finish using a packet of seeds, but every year I still have the urge to buy more (seed hoarder?).  I buy almost all my seeds from Urban Harvest - they carry heirloom and organic seeds with varieties that are tried and tested for planting in our climate zones (on top of that it's a good way to support local businesses).

Summary for today:
- seed planting schedule:  check
- buy new seeds - done.
- collect and clean planting vessels (this weekend)....

Almost there! :)

~ Rebecca

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Today is winter solstice, the first day of Winter and the shortest day of the year.  From here on, the days are going to start getting longer again, which means in a few months it'll be time to get planting again!  Time to research and brain storm about next season's gardening ideas.... :)  Meanwhile, 

have a wonderful holiday and happy new year! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Root vegetables

The root vegetables in my garden were the big winners this year - in particular the Chioggia beets.  I enjoyed them quite a bit last year so this year I decided to plant a lot of more of them.  As usual, the Chioggia beets will grow in a variety of colours - candy stripe , red, or just pure white.  This year, we got mostly candy-striped and one white ones.    
  
They not only taste delicious, but they are also beautiful to look at.  Look at that colour!!  


I found a recipe from the New York Times for Chioggia beets, quinoa, and walnut salad: 


The beets were so successful that they grew well into November.  Here are the last few from the end of the season harvest.  I boiled them quickly and fried it up with some butter - they were delicious! 

This year I also planted two variety of carrots - Solar Yellow carrots and French carrots.  The French carrots had this very cute, round shape root.  However, I find carrot growing to be a bit less satisfying (compared to beets) because they take almost the entire season to grow and the final edible portion is quite small (again, at least compared to beets).   Still, they were incredibly delicious so I was still glad to have planted them.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pesto

Every year I regret not planting enough basil, so this year I went to the extreme and literally planted basil everywhere (where ever I could fit them) in the vegetable planters.  Most of them were planted near the tomato plants, apparently basils are great companion plants for tomato plants as it's supposed to enrich the flavours of the tomatoes.     

 
I was quite pleased with the amount of basil I got to harvest throughout the season.  Fresh herbs are just so wonderful and handy to have around - a little bit over here on the pasta, a little bit over there for sauce, and some just to garnish the plate.  All together we had plenty of basil share with friends and family this time around, even enough to make a batch of pesto at the end of the season ;) 
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