Clockwise from Top Left: 1. This is a view of half of one of the raised beds, situated about midway down the garden on the west side. This bed housed an assortment of crops last year, but this year it holds several determinate (bush) and dwarf tomato varieties that have quickly turned into a jungle of foliage, flowers, and now some fruit are on the way. The stake at the back is empty as that variety was mangled by the squirrels and has never recouped. I haven’t claimed the space for something else because I was so determined that it would bounce back. The poor thing is clinically dead and here I am still rooting it on.
There is a ‘Turkish Orange’ eggplant at the front of the bed (already full of adorable little fruit), and in front of the actual bed is peppermint and thyme. I have since planted a dwarf tomato variety in the open spot next to the thyme. It was floundering in its pot so I decided to give it some space in the ground. I’m completely out of pots now, and potting soil, too for that matter. I don’t suggest transplanting tomatoes once they’re making flowers (as mine was), but it can be done if you are careful not to disturb the roots.
Well, another Seedy Saturday has come and gone. And really, I could just cut and paste last year’s post, or the one before that, or the one before that, because frankly, it’s pretty much the same for me every year. I start out with good intentions. But it’s busy from the moment I arrive and there is no time for me to go about shopping at the other tables. I never have a list except the one that is in my head. The crowds are too thick. I give up.
This year’s event was in a new (and gorgeous) location and the crowds were bigger than ever! Growing your own food is taking off like gangbusters!
Unfortunately, I came back with some kind of virus and have been holed up since Saturday dying a slow death. Boo.
Fortunately, I managed to scavenge a few packs of this and that at the event although most were from Sorellina (the Queen of Tomatoes), and they are primarily determinate (bush) tomatoes. I am always looking to try as many determinates as I can in pots every season. I scored so many this year, it will be a struggle to find space for them all, but I will have fun trying. Some of the varieties sound really exciting!
- Tomato ‘Yellow Pygmy’ – A very small, yellow, determinate.
- Tomato ‘Pink Ping Pong’ – I got this from Sorellina because I thought it was on my list but it was actually just something I recently saw and not on my list.
- Tomato ‘Koralik’ – Red cherry, determinate.
- Tomato ‘Czech’s Bush’ – I’ve grown this one for a couple of years now. It’s one of my favourites in containers and very reliable. Short and stocky plants with mid-sized, red fruit.
- Tomato ‘Mountain Princess Dwarf’ – Pink salad tomatoes. I figure the name could work to get princess-crazed girls into gardening.
- Tomato ‘Dwarf Medium Ruffled Pink Oblate’ – Ruffled tomatoes on a dwarf plant — I’m in!
- Cucumber ‘Crystal Apple’ – This was a freebee from the woman who own the seed company, Cubit’s Organics. I have not grown this variety since it so closely resembles my beloved, ‘Lemon’. Now that I have these seeds I will give it a try.
- Carrot ‘Purple Haze’ – This was a trade. I’ve been growing this variety on and off for years and figured I can never have too many seeds.
- Radish ‘Red Meat/Watermelon’ – I tried these for the first time last year and they are fantastic! Dark on the outside, hot pink on the inside, and surprisingly tender and delicious.
- Radish ‘China Rose’ – A winter radish with an elongated shape and a bright rosy exterior.
- Spinach ‘Bloomsdale’ – I don’t often grow spinach but figured I might this year. ‘Bloomsdale’ is a good container option.
- Lettuce ‘Sierra’ – One of only two items that was actually on the original list. ‘Sierra’ is a beautiful, heat tolerant, Batavia (looseleaf meets crisphead) variety with green leaves and burgundy tips.
- Lettuce ‘Sunset’ – And this is the other original list item. It’s a slow-bolting looseleaf variety with gorgeous, deep red foliage.
See also: 2008, 2007, 2006…
Organic gardener Bob Easter shows off his harvest at the Sunshine Community Garden in Austin, Texas last week. They are already harvesting carrots! Meanwhile, back in Toronto, home of the never-ending winter, we are only dreaming about the carrots we will grow and harvest in a few months. Sigh.
I took this photo last week while in Austin photographing gardeners for The Green Mind’s Project.
Another Seedy Saturday Toronto has come and gone and like last year I managed, with great effort, to make it around to a few booths and pick up some seeds. The event was more packed than ever this year making it nearly impossible to leave my brother/assistant alone at the table for any length of time or push through the crowds lingering around some of the larger seed sellers. The sellers I did manage to get to were often sold out of items on my wanted list. And forget the Seeds of Diversity trading table. I had high hopes but only managed to snag a pack of red orach seeds. Next year I plan to employ the strategy of browsing during setup, BEFORE the crowds arrive. Next year.
Here’s what I managed to bring home with me:
- Red Orach – A trade pack harvested from Jackman Public School’s Learning Garden.
- ‘Early Yellow Crookneck’ Squash – A trade with a You Grow Girl forums member. I thought I needed squash but then got home and realized I have several varieties in my stash. This is why I should have brought a list.
- ‘Dragon’ Carrot – Another trade that I already have. ‘Dragon’ is a beautiful purple carrot. If I had to choose I suppose I favour it over ‘Purple Haze’ although ‘Dragon’ would crumble in a Best Name competition.
- Love Lies Bleeding – I’ve been trying to grow more amaranth over the last few years and ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ is a classic that never gets old.
- ‘Blue Spice’ Basil – Another trade. I don’t think I have grown this variety which is kind of amazing since I’d swear I have covered just about everything in the unusual basil category at least once.
- ‘Purple Calabash’ Tomato – I fell in love with its ugly beauty last year. I am planning to grow less tomatoes this year and have not finalized my list as-of-yet. Who gets cut will be the hardest decision I have to make this year.
- Painted Lady Sweet Pea – I just love the fragrant sweetness of sweet pea flowers but tend to steer clear of them due to their attractiveness to aphids. I decided to try my luck and grow a few varieties this year. I can always pull them out if things get nasty. This variety really does look like the runner beans of the same name. I know it seems redundant to grow them when I can just grow the beans later in the season but I can’t cut those flowers and I am really craving cut sweet peas for my desk.
- Persian Broad-Leaf Cress – I have grown a number of pepper cresses but like that this variety is described as milder than other cresses.
- Tendergreen Mustard Green – I’m on a personal mission to try growing just about every salad green under the sun.
- ‘Queen Anne’s Pocket Melon’ aka ‘Plum Granny’ – I’m planning to grow some melon this year but admittedly this one was an impulse buy and not on the list. ‘Plum Grannies’ are tiny melons known for their intoxicating fruity smell. I can not resist a good back story and the story for these citrus-sized melons is that Victorian women carried them in their pockets to fight street stench. The thought of two of these in a breast pocket has me thinking about another derivative of the colloquial use of ‘melons.”
- Swiss Chard ‘Ruby Red’ & ‘Golden Sunrise’ – I’ve grown the ‘Rainbow’ mix and other coloured varieties but these two are my favourites for their saturated colours that look so beautiful in containers of contrasting colour or as a burst of brightness tucked beside boring veggie varieties.
- ‘Selway’ Lettuce - Brightly coloured greens are another edible trick I employ to brighten dull corners and containers. Consequently I am always on the look out for a good red variety. We’ll see how these fair against ‘Lolla Rosa’ aka ‘Lollo Rosa’ which still reigns as my favourite red.
- ‘Cimmaron’ Romaine Lettuce – An unusual romaine with a deep, reddish purple hue.
- ‘Yugoslavian Red’ Butterhead Lettuce – A really beautiful butterhead variety with shades of green tinged by deep red.
- ‘Black Spanish’ Radish – I’m very curious about the flavour and how to eat this root vegetable.
- ‘Black Jet’ Soybean – I have to admit I bought these for the dark bean colour. I’ve had a lot of success with soybeans in containers on the roof but that dang groundhog just LOVES to eat the plants as they emerge from the soil at the community plot.
Don’t forget to enter the Haiku Contest!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.