Phase 1 Complete

Phase 1 of “Project Deck Garden 2006″ was enacted yesterday afternoon. It was inspired by a sunny day and a headache that wouldn’t quit, which not surprisingly, was abated after a few hours in the fresh air. I won’t bore you with the details as Phase 1 involves large helpings of gardening’s lesser joys; clean-up, pot shifting, and organization. Instead I will list the enjoyable activities:

    Not 99 Cents pansies
  • Planting the “fancy”, or as I like to call them, the ‘Not 99 Cent’ pansies I bought last week. You know you’re shopping at a chi-chi garden store when they give you a paper bag for a couple of pansies.
  • Chives and pansies
  • I then proceeded to cover the ‘Not 99 Cent’ pansies with several water bottle cloches (I’ve graduated to 4L bottles) as the flowers had all been snatched off. For years I’ve been blaming raccoons and squirrels but it turns out the thieves are my beloved starlings! WHY? Are the generous quantities of seed not enough? Can’t bargain with the birds. And incidentally the pansies do have a nice flavour.
  • 'Tom Thumb' peas
  • I planted two kinds of peas: a dwarf variety called ‘Tom Thumb’, and a sugar/snow variety I am trying for the first time called ‘Carouby de Maussane’. I decided on these instead of sweet peas as the flowers are purple and the peas are edible.
  • Greens Galore – Mizuna, red mustard, several different lettuces, orach, purslane, and mache. I planted up just about every container that is currently empty, including some that will hold hot weather veggies since I’ve got nearly six weeks before the transplants go in and I will just remove some of the lettuce at that time. I’ve got a lot of seeds to use up. However, I just realized I’m out of arugula seeds! Ack!
  • Radish Challenge 2006 – I can’t recall planting radishes this early in previous years which may say a lot about why I have rarely succeded in growing a decent, edible radish. The rooftop deck is windier than a ground floor garden, but it also gets very, very hot. The season is always a bit accelerated up there, resulting in lousy radishes (but early tomatoes!). This year I will grow a decent radish if it kills me. [Shakes fist in air]
  • Carrots – I planted just a couple of the ‘Purple Haze’ in the container where the beans will go as an experiment. It really is impossible to think about this variety without singing the song… or imagining dudes with tie-dyed head bands dropping liquid acid onto their eyeballs. Just saying.

And then Davin showed up to help and informed me that in the tradition of bizarre, unexplainable things that happen around the street garden, someone had left a plastic wrapped cauliflower in the garden as a gift. But it seems, in an even stranger twist, that in exchange, they took the large paper bags that were holding the compostables that were waiting to be put out for city collection. Yes, they left the plant bits sitting on the sidewalk, but took the completely dilapitated and unusable bags. Huh? I REALLY have to get on making those signs I’ve been meaning to make since 2000.

Another seed order arrived in the mail from Greta’s Organic Gardens. I need to get on these asap as time is ticking. The bulk of these are tomato varieties I am testing out on the rooftop this year.

  • Tomato ‘Golden Delight’
  • Tomato ‘Principe Borghese’ – A paste tomato
  • Tomato ‘Gold Nugget’
  • Tomato ‘Black Seaman’ – An early variety.
  • Red Pepper ‘Fatalii’ – I HAD to get them!
  • Purslane
  • Red lambsquarter
  • Shungiku – There was a problem with the order. They accidently sent me hot peppers (a chili) but the replacement is on its way. I won’t use these hot peppers as I have a few other varieties on the go. The first Canadian to ask is welcome to them.
  • Purple Millet ‘Purple Majestic’

Can you believe I have one more small order on its way? Yikes. And now I have to get some arugula! Yeah and did I mention the seeds I impulse-bought off a rack last week?

  • Nicotiana ‘Indian Peace Pipe’ – These are by far my favourite nicotiana. They are huge (5′ tall) with fragrant, elongated blossoms.
  • Marigold ‘Lemon/Tangerine Gem’ blend – I grew these last year and was so impressed, I’ve been promoting these like crazy since. They are incredibly prolific bloomers, the flowers are tiny with lacy foliage. And they really do taste like tangerines and lemons! They did really well in containers on my hot rooftop but keep in mind that the plants get to be quite large and rotund.
  • Quinoa ‘Brightest Brilliant Rainbow’ – 2006 seems to be the year of hippie plants. Pretty and edible. I can not resist.
  • Nasturtium ‘Mahogany’ – I have tasted enough nasturtiums to know that the red ones have the best flavour.
Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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15 thoughts on “Phase 1 Complete

  1. oooo can I trade you some arugula/brocolli cross seeds I got at seedy saturday for some of those Shungiku peppers?

    Nice work on the deck… I planted my pansies (orange and black) this past weeekend too… I hope my kitties protect them from the starlings!

    let me know!

  2. Oops. Should have been clear. Shungiku is a green. That’s what I ordered. But they sent the chili peppers instead. Do you still want the chilis? The arugula/brocolli cross sounds interesting if not odd.

    Yeah my cat doesn’t seem to care these days. She’s more interested in sunning herself.

  3. Oh what luck to have a rooftop to grow things on! So many tomatoes! Nicotania Indian Peace Pipe? Can you use the leaves as tobacco?

  4. Oddly enough this isn’t a variety for smoking. You can use the leaves like you would regular tobacco (don’t use the stuff from inside a cigarette though and don’t use it on tomato plants) to make a soft-bodied insect pest spray (aphids).

  5. I can attest to the tangerine gem marigold! I have some lemon gem seeds too. I’m really hoping the tangerine gem self-seeded itself. I keep looking hopefully in the dirt around the area for babies. I guess it’s a little soon, though.

    Radishes are sprouting at our place. Mmmm.

  6. Hee hee hee! My cats are still young and everything is new and exciting to them… I’m sure in a few years they will just go outside to lay in the sun!

    Yeah I’m up for some chili seeds… I’m growing some ornamental varieties, so some that are edible would be great! the goats head and poblano seeds I tried to start havent done anything…( but i havent given up yet!). I have no idea how the cross seeds will do but I have a big envelope of em so you are more than welcome to a bunch!

  7. gayla, so it’s not too late to start tomatoe plants by seed? i’m in toronto too. mom has been saying it’s too late and i should buy some seedlings, but i think i’ll give it a shot anyway.

    also, thoughts on where to buy seedlings downtown? i’d like to buy some pepper plants.

    last night i planted spinach, lettuce mix (the grassroots store on bloor has some nice packages of seeds), radishes, swiss chard, and peas… also some clumps of lemon balm, chives, egyptian onions, arugula, parsley and fever few. yay spring!


  8. Heidi: How late/or early you are depends, in part, on your environment. I’m growing these tomatoes on a very hot, exposed rooftop deck. Tomatoes grow at an accelerated rate up there so I can get away with starting them late. Some summers are also hotter than others which can increase or decrease the speed at which they grow and produce.

    It also depends on the tomato variety. Many of the seeds that just came in the mail are early-producers and they are all determinants which tend to be the first harvest in my garden.

    We’re only just marginally late so why not give it a shot?

    You should buy some seedlings too. It’s good to have plants at different stages to stagger your harvest… and just in case you discover it really is too late in your garden.

  9. thanks g. yeah, i think i’ll try both… it’s all an experiment anyway right ;)

    i’m in the annex – thoughts on where i could find pepper and tomato seedlings? perhaps there is already a list of toronto-garden-shops somewhere on the site?

  10. heidi,

    fiesta gardens just off christie (across from the fiesta farms grocery store) north of bloor has (or will have) a lot of plants, including some urban harvest seedlings.

    karma co-op also sells a few plants through the summer – definitely organic and funky, but probably a smaller selection, and you have to join. they’re just off palmerston north of bloor as well.

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