I’ve been meaning to tell you about Underground Organics since back in the spring when buckets of their beautiful flowers first started showing up at my local weekly market, the Dufferin Grove Farmers Market.
Underground Organics are a trio of farmers living just outside Toronto who are organically growing annual and perennial flowers and selling them locally at farmers markets and health food stores in the region. I had all but given up on buying cut flowers since learning about how bad the industry can be for both the environment and the people who work on big cut flower farms. My gardens aren’t big and are primarily dedicated to food so having flowers to cut and enjoy in my home is a rare treat reserved for the times when my flowers are blooming abundantly. Since this spring I’ve been enjoying a new bouquet every week.
Here’s what I bought last week.
Shane and the gang grow all kinds of interesting flowers and unique varieties, many of which I have never seen before. There’s a new selection of tempting colours every week making it difficult to choose. And they’re affordable too. Most bouquets run in he $4-8 range with bouquets of really fancy blooms at about 12 bucks. You can choose a ready-made bouquet from an assortment on display or choose your own blooms and have Shane, a gifted farmer and floral arranger, assemble it and wrap it up. They even use old-school butcher paper and beautiful hemp twine — none of that clear plastic or tacky floral nonsense used to package bouquets at your run-of-the-mill corner store florist.
If you’re in the Toronto area, Underground Organics sells every week at The Trinity Bellwood Farmers Market (Tuesdays), The Dufferin Grove Farmers Market (Thursdays) and other local stores (see the site for listings). If you’d like to learn more about the flower industry check out Amy Stewart’s eye-opening book Flower Confidential. And if you know an eco-conscious flower farmer or florist in your area please add it to the comments since many of us want to buy organic flowers but don’t often know where to find it.
In fact it was incredibly delicious.
I like the way these stems of Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) twisted together on the plant.
Above image is the July entry from the 2008 You Grow Girl Calendar
I LOVE tomatoes. If I had to give up growing all other crops and choose just one I would probably choose tomatoes although basil would follow as a close second. Who can imagine tomatoes without basil?
Don’t make me choose.
Tomatoes aren’t the easiest food plant to grow but they are the most rewarding. No homegrown vegetable tastes, looks, and feels more radically different to its grocery store counterpart. That watery, anemic thing isn’t a tomato, it’s an impostor, and a bad one at that.
I love the challenge in growing tomatoes. The learning about this single crop type is endless. Every variety is different from the 6 feet (plus plus) tall indeterminates to teeny little potted plants. The leaves and shapes are different, their wants and needs are varied, and their disease and pest resistance can shift radically from plant to plant. And then there’s the weather. What thrives and grows abundantly one year can melt into a pile the next. Finding more water during a drought is hard enough, but how exactly do you take it away during a flood year? My region has already far surpassed all the records for summer rainfall and the summer isn’t even over yet. If you’ve ever experienced frustration and loss as a tomato gardener do not give up. Who knows what next year will bring? That next variety might be the one that kicks ass in your growing conditions. The one thing a gardener can never control or really predict is the weather. How amazing would it be if we could? But then I wonder how interesting gardening would be if we knew exactly what was going to happen and what to do about it beforehand.
A clump of ‘Purple Calabash’ tomatoes harvested just yesterday!
A gardener could focus their entire life on just the tomato and still live a very full and varied experience. I constantly long for the space to toss in 100 varieties or more in one year and just immerse myself in it completely. Still, I try with my little roof garden and community plot, slowly inching my way through the lists of inspiring varieties one plant at a time. I had to cut back this year to give my soil a break. It’s a bummer but has made me all that much more appreciative of the plants I do have, most especially the few that have pushed on through the excess rain to bring me my first sweet, ripe lovelies.
Tomatoes are beginning to ripen in both of my food gardens which means I am indulging in all of my favourite tomato recipes. I prefer to make tomatoes the star of the show rather than hiding them in among other overpowering ingredients so as soon as the first tomatoes were ready I dove straight into the two dishes I crave most during the off months of the year: Roasted Tomato Soup and Fried Egg Sandwich. (I cooked and ate one for lunch midway through writing this post!) The egg sandwich is as simple as frying two eggs any way you like them with a light spread of mayo and a couple of leaves of fresh basil. Add a little salt to taste. My newest love is Caprese Salad. I took up cheese making last year just so I could have really fresh delicious cheese with it. When the plants really start producing I’ll be making Roasted Tomato Sauce and Blackened Ranchero Salsa and then canning for winter usage. Yum.
Amazing that this is where it all begins. This is the ‘Purple Calabash’ shortly after germinating.
This post is a part of Away to Garden and Dinner Tonight’s Tomato Week Fest 2008.
I am currently growing two similar calendula varieties. I believe the flowers in this photo are ‘Antares Flashback’ and the other variety is ‘Triangle Flashback.’
But seriously. This has become like a game of spot the difference.
I was sure I kept them correctly labeled throughout the growing and planting process but with multiple flashbacks simultaneously in play who can tell the difference? I’m barely holding my shit together as it is.*
*I know. That joke is cheese. Guffaw.