DIY – seed starting by Re-using

I love yogurt (or for non North Americans, Yoghurt) – have some every morning, sometimes as a topping for melons, berries or nuts, sometime right from the little plastic container. Of course, all these containers go into the recycling bin, and I can only hope some intrepid company is melting them down to make new plastic thingamjigs somewhere in the world.

I also love the three “R’s” – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and it struck me a few weeks ago that I can possibly Reuse before Recycling, and save a few pennies as well. So I started collecting the yogurt containers, large and small, to use for seed starting.

I’m not sure if it will work. The wonderful thing abut using Jiffy® pots is you don’t need to disturb seedling roots when planting out. With the yogurt containers, I’ll have to carefully slide the root mass into the planting hole. So I’ll be conducting a quasi-scientific study — half of my new tomato seedlings in Jiffy, half in yogurt. All else will be the same (starting medium, heat and light while in front of the window, and side by side in the garden). I’m looking forward to the results!

Seed starting DIY 1 March 18 2018

Here are some of my seeds this year. There’s a grape tomato from Stokes® called Chocolate Sprinkles and an All American Selection cocktail tomato from Earthworks Seeds called Red Racer. I love cocktail tomatoes – they’re the perfect size for salads. I’m also trying to start my chard this way – this variety is Scarlet Charlotte from Renee’s Garden. They recommend starting them outside when there is no danger of a hard frost, but in my experience the rabbits think chard seedlings are an appetizer so I’m hoping that by planting a lot of larger plants I may get a harvest.

Seed starting DIY 2 March 18 2018

I wasn’t sure how to put drainage holes in the bottom of the yogurt cups so I tried with secateurs and a knife before realizing plain ol’ kitchen scissors work best.

Seed starting DIY 3 March 18 2018

I wanted three triangle holes – the scissors provided the cleanest and easiest cut.

Seed starting DIY 4 March 18 2018

I’ve never done this before but the Stokes seed pack suggested soaking the Jiffy pot in warm water before adding growing medium. It makes sense – otherwise the sphagnum peat moss would pull moisture from the medium, causing it to dry our faster and making watering a bit trickier.

Seed starting DIY 5 March 18 2018

The final result – four pots for each tomato variety, two started in a yogurt container and two in the Jiffy pot, and a whole lot of chard! The tray is now covered and on top of the freezer where it’s a titch warmer than my windowsill (if I had an electric heating mat I’d use it – maybe next year!)

Prince Edward County Seedy Saturday Report

It must be a sign that folks in the County are tired of winter and itching to get their hands dirty and digging in the garden – the Picton Seedy Saturday was packed right from the get go.  Dozens of vendors were there selling seeds and other garden related do-dads; local horticulture related societies were there providing information; presentations were made and everyone, I’m sure, left the school gym feeling inspired, loaded with seeds and making plans for spring planting.  Next seedy stop for me will be March 24 at the Quinte West Seedy Saturday in Trenton.

The busiest spot was the seed exchange tables:

Seed Exchange table at Picton Seedy Saturday - 1006 a.m.

Seed Exchange table just after opening…

Seed Exchange table at Picton Seedy Saturday - 1017 a.m.

Seed Exchange table 10 minutes later…

Fuller Native Plant Nursery was there – I’ve written about this great Belleville nursery before; it’s where I purchased my first Echinacea pallida and Silphium perfoliatum seeds two years ago.

There were lots and lots of heritage, hard to find and unusual seeds available, and a number of booths with seed and gardening related stuff.

Thyme Again at Picton Seedy Saturday

Lorraine from Thyme Again Gardens had seeds, condiments and spices from their organic farm in Carrying Place.

Hawthorn Herbals at Picton Seedy Saturday

Registered herbalist Tamara from Hawthorn Herbals  had a variety of herb related products and was talking about some of the really interesting workshops she’ll be running this year.

Green Wheel Farm with sunfloweer sprouts at Pictin Seedy Saturday

Green Wheel Farms and a tray of sunflower sprouts.  They had a variety of micro greens including cabbage, mustard and pea and are keen to share the story of their Belleville off-grid (ie bicycle powered), sustainable farming operation that uses reclaimed urban land to help educate and provide micro greens to local schools.

Pruning Time!

Mid winter is often considered the best time to prune fruit trees:

  • the tree is dormant so sap isn’t running;
  • the cold means insects and fungal diseases aren’t going to enter the cutting wound;
  • there’s no leaves so you can clearly see the branching structure

I only have three fruit trees: dwarf sour cherry (Romeo, Juliette and Crimson Passion, all from the ‘Romance’ series developed by the University of Saskatchewan),  now entering their fourth growing season after planting.  The first year there wasn’t much growth – I figure roots were getting established.  The next year there were a few blossoms and some growth – I cut off two or three small branches last winter.  Last year there was a lot of vegetative growth – branches going every which way (maybe that’s why these particular trees are called ‘bush’ cherries) plus a lot of flower blossoms.  No cherries though – some started to form but then fell off while still green; I think it was just too wet last spring.

I needed to prune though and Sunday was the perfect day — not too cold and the snow depth had gone down enough to see where I wanted to cut.  Plus, I wanted to spend as much time outdoors in the sun as possible.  My goal was to leave branches  that grow up, not down, sideways and diagonally.  Here is the results for one of them – I hope I didn’t cut off too much.

 

Sour Cherry before pruning January 21 2018

Dwarf Sour Cherry before pruning

 

 

Sour Cherry after pruning January 21 2018

Dwarf Sour Cherry after pruning

Elegant Edible Enclosure

I know – the title of this post is a stretch – but I do love a catchy tautogram!

 

LO Congress January 9 2018 011 formal garden of edibles

Kohlrabi, greens and Thyme growing in a raised bed

I’m always jealous of gardeners who can maintain a perfectly weed and disease free veggie bed beyond the end of June.  You’ve seen pictures of them in glossy magazines (paper or virtual…) – lovely potagers or kitchen gardens, colourful, bountiful and beautiful.  Something most of us, I suspect, fail to achieve beyond mid summer.

While at the Landscape Ontario trade show last week I spotted this raised bed.  Raised beds aren’t new, I know, but it caught my eye because its  shape is sophisticated yet it’s being used to grow edibles.  If the walls here were made with natural stone instead of the more affordable decorative concrete block, this would be at home in a backyard in the toniest neighbourhood in town.  If this was my raised bed, I’d likely have added Nasturtiums for colour (still edible though) and to soften the edges – but that would change the whole look, wouldn’t it?  More to the point, a veggie bed like this just begs to be regularly weeded, harvested, watered, pinched back – all the things that can often get overlooked or ‘put off ’til tomorrow’  when the plants are far below eye level.

Kudos to the students at the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture for building this, demonstrating that  ‘formal’ can also be useful – and for bringing your mini Monarch house to the show.