Growin’ My Own (from seeds)

I get excited about a lot of things. I’m an excitable person. For example, I was super excited to go to Costco yesterday and buy unbelievable amounts of things. Saturday, I was excited to get the footprints off my dark hardwood floors. Last night, I was excited to fold the laundry and put it away (it had been sitting there for a week, so maybe I wasn’t THAT excited about it). Anyway, you get the point.

This past week, I have been excited to start planting a few seeds to get them ready for the garden! I picked up a couple of seed starting kits at Canadian Tire and couldn’t wait to get sowing. I have been collecting a number of seeds from Greta’s Organic Gardenseco-culture and The Cottage Gardener – Heirloom Seedhouse & Nursery over the past year in anticipation of planting in the backyard of our new home. I’ve grown many things in pots in past years and have been wildly successful, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity (and space!) to do it again.

Seed Starter Kit

This is perfect because you get the little seed cups to start with. No mess, just add water and seeds!

I purchased the following organic seeds:

  • Sub-Artic Cherry Tomato/pink
  • Mixed Radish
  • Evergreen Hardy Bunching Onions
  • Jaune Flammee Tomato
  • Black Seaman Tomato/Black
  • Golden Plum Dwarf Cherry Tomato
  • Spicy Greens Mix
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Sweet Basil
  • Thai Basil
  • Jalapeno
  • Habanero
  • Cilantro/Coriander
  • English Thyme
  • Salad Burnet
  • Garlic Chives, White
  • Lemon Balm

Seeds

As it’s still really chilly out and was snowing and freezing rain as of Friday, I am slowly starting to plant, fostering germination and then hardening off the plants in small batches. I’ll plan them in pots so I can bring them into the garage in a jiffy, JUST IN CASE Mother Nature decides to continue with this crazy weather.

I started with these four seeds for now, and as the seedlings are large and healthy enough to transplant into pots, I’ll start another batch of seeds.

  1. Garlic Chives

Sow seed 0.5” deep in pots or flats of soil mix. Germination is very slow.  Constant moisture, darkness and warm temperatures are required.  When seedlings are 4 weeks old, transplant in the garden.  Chives should be divided every 3 years.  Leaves can be snipped when plants are 6” tall.  You should not cut closer than 2” from the ground since the plants need some leaves to keep growing.

2. Red Russian Kale

Can be either direct-seeded or transplanted, and harvested either as baby leaf or in full-sized bunches.  For direct-seeding bunch kale, sow 3 seeds every 8-10” in rows 18-30” apart, thin to one plant per group.  For transplanting, start indoors four weeks before soil warms and transplant to same spacing.

3. Spicy Greens Mix

Sow every 3 weeks for a continuous supply.  For transplanting, 3-4 weeks prior to moving outdoors.  Sow in flats at 4 seeds/inch or in small –cell plug trays, barely covering seeds with fine vermiculite.    Shade if necessary to keep soil below 75 degrees F, on warm days.

4. Lemon Balm

Easily grown from seed, germination is best when seed is uncovered.  Ensure that the planting medium does not dry out while the seeds are germinating.  Enjoys well-drained soil in full sunlight.  Leaf growth may be slow the first year, and more vigorous thereafter.  Harvest before the plant flowers, for optimum fragrance.

And so the little seeds have started to germinate!

Germination!

And now the Spicy Greens Mix and Red Russian Kale are ready to move out of the germinator 🙂

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Left group of six: Red Russian Kale, Right group of six: Spicy Greens Mix

I don’t have these labeled, but because they are two completely different plants I won’t have a hard time telling what’s what.  If you look really closely, you’ll notice that the Red Russian Kale has a darker outline to the itty bitty leaves.

Red Russian Kale Seedlings

Look closely, do you see a purple-ish outline to the leaves? This is the Red Russian Kale.

Spicy Greens Mix

These guys are all bright green, soon to turn into lettuce!!!

And so it begins… my little herb and vegetable garden is underway.  I will be posting updates of these and everything else I plant.  I hope you enjoy this journey!

Have you planted anything yet? Are you planning on having a garden this summer? I’d love to hear about everyone else’s gardens. If you’re in the GTA I’d love to do some seed swapping too, so please get in touch!

Spring Rituals

So spring isn’t here yet…  but I am told it’s coming.  With all this wacky weather Mother Nature has thrust upon us, I think we are all wondering just when we will be able to do some of our spring routines!

Being a new home owner, I don’t have many house ‘routines’ as I’ve always lived in an apartment and had very little responsibility to where I lived.  This spring I’m going to start a list of things I can do when the May flowers finally start to peek out. Here are a few things I’m going to do… What spring routines do YOU have? Share with me!

1. Clean Windows:

Since moving in I’ve noticed how many windows we have and how DIRTY they all are! We’ve had some nice sun on a few days and it was very apparent how little light was actually able to come in due to the dirt. I mean I don’t have mud pies on my windows or anything, haha, but there’s definitely a cloudiness to them that I can’t wait to get rid of.  If you can afford it, I suggest hiring someone to come and do all your windows, cause I’m all about saving time these days. On the flip side I’m all about saving money, too. I only have two rooms that can’t be reached at the front of the house so I may hire someone to do those, but the rest I can totally handle myself.  You’ll be amazed how much more of your back and front yard you can see and how lovely the sun shines in when your windows are spic and span 🙂 Plus, don’t you want to be able to see all those pretty flowers blooming in your yard? (Ok, I don’t have any flowers even planted out there yet, I just moved in!)

Don’t want to spend money on a glass cleaner? Home recipes work just as well as commercial products for washing windows, and you’ll save money (yay!). Try this recipe for a homemade glass cleaner:

  • Use 2 tablespoons ammonia, 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, and 1/4 teaspoon dishwashing detergent.
  • Add all ingredients to a small spray bottle (that you get from the dollar store, of course), then fill the bottle with water and shake well. You can substitute 3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice for the ammonia. I personally LOVE using lemon juice instead of ammonia. The lemon juice is a really nice air freshener.
  • Use as you would any commercial window cleaner, which means a little elbow grease is in order!

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2. Windows, Screens & Duvets

Once I did live in a house, many moons ago and one thing I used to do on a beautiful spring day when the breeze is fresh and warm, was open the windows and remove the screens. I love fresh air flowing through the house. It’s perfect to refresh pretty much everything, letting air move through and bring fresh, clean air in. I also like to take my duvets and hang them out the window to let them air out. I don’t have anywhere in the backyard to hang them so the screen-less window is the next best thing!

 

Rug Dust?3. Swap Out Floor Rugs

It’s time to put away the heavy salt-catching rugs and swap ‘em out with thinner, brighter floor/area rugs. Not only will it brighten up a room but it’s a nice way to incorporate new/lighter colours into your room. If you don’t swap them out, don’t forget to vacuum under them. They hold a lot of dust we tend to forget about.

  

Daisy4. Plant Something!

Isn’t that what spring is all about, seeing plants thrive and bloom? Take a few minutes on the weekend to plant a little daisy in a single pot, or pick up a new herb from your local greenhouse. Adding some fresh greenery to your kitchen counter, bathroom or mantle can greatly increase the spring look in your home. Maybe pick something with a fresh and calming scent like lavender or lemon balm!

Need some help keeping track of everything? Here’s a site that has a whack of Spring Cleaning Checklists for you. Print ’em off and get started!

Cheers!