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Spring Planting

If you live anywhere in Ontario, you’ll be experiencing this strange warm weather as I am.

Very odd.  I keep waiting for the chill to drop.

Regardless.

Time to order your vegetable starter plants! All seeds are heirloom, organic and are grown right here, at Pemberley Farm, organically. Orders should be placed by the end of March, as all plants need time to grow from their tiny seeds. And I don’t want to disappoint you.

 

 

Broccoli:

Waltham – 1954 – standard heads, green, easy to grow

Rapini – Italian, non-heading, grown for flavourful shoots and leaves in salads or fried

Cabbage:

Glory of Enkhuizen – 1899 – medium/large round heads, awesome for sauerkraut

Brunswick – 1924 – large drumhead, stores well, rare (note: mine were gigantic and yummy!)

Red Express – open-pollinated red cabbage, extra early production, perfect for Canada, solid, split-resistant head  (mine grew extremely well as I ignored them)

Cauliflower:

Purple of Sicily – beautiful, brilliant purple heads, sweet flavour, cook to bright green

Pusa Meghna – apparently super-early, tight white curds, heat and cold resistant (new one for me to try out)

Cucumber: 

Boston Pickling – 1880 – vigorous vine, great yields, excellent for pickles

Chicago Pickle – 1888 – thin skins, can reach to 7″ without ruining quality, prolific

Early Fortune – 1906 – sweet, slicing-type, never bitter, 8″ long, 2″ thick

Japanese Long – long, slim fruit, mild and easy to digest, few seeds

Mexican Sour Gherkin – small, cucumber-like fruit shaped like mini-watermelons, unique and fun (limited)

Melons:

Early Silver Line – Korean-type, oval-shaped, yellow fruit, white flesh, crisp and sweet (new)

Golden Jenny – short vines produce succulent, sweet 2lb melons

Collective Farm Woman – Ukraine, melons ripen to yellow-gold, white flesh with high sugar content

Squash: 

Galeux D’Eysines – beautiful heirloom squash, 10-15lbs, peach-coloured skin with large warts, can be baked or used in soups

Waltham Butternut – good yields, amazing flavour, you know you love it

Early Prolific Straight Neck Zucchini – AAS winner from 1938, lemon-yellow, club-shaped fruit, firm flesh

Cocozella Di Napoli Zucchini – unique Italian  Heirloom, long, green ribs

Jack Be Little – tiny, cute 8oz pumpkins, bright orange, sweet

Peppers – Hot

Craig’s Grande – big, fat, green jalapeno. (I love them. Third year growing)

Leutschauer Paprika – 1800, medium hot, drying pepper for making paprika

Purple Jalapeno – deep, gorgeous purple jalapeno (third year seeds)

Thai Pepper – hot heirloom from Thailand, easy to dry, bright red, pungent heat, prolific

Pasilla Bajio – mild-sweet-hot, starts dark green, turn deep brown-purple, used in Mexican mole sauces

Tabasco – 1848 in Louisiana, main ingredient of Tabasco sauce, can be grown in a pot

Estaceno Chile – genuine Northern New Mexico pepper, used in chili verde or salsa, can be dried to make chili powder

Peppers – Sweet

Canary Bell – superior sweet pepper, productive 2′ plants (2nd year)

Corbaci – long, slender, twisted, sweet. Rare heirloom from Turkey. Rich flavour. (2nd year)

Lipstick – thick red flesh, 4″ tapered end, pimento-type, super sweet (2nd year)

Albino Bullnose – blocky 4″ sweet pepper, begins soft cream, ripens to a reddish-orange, dwarf plant

Etiuda – thick walls, orange, sweet, large

Corno Di Toro – Italy, bull-horn shape, 8″ tapered, golden-green, sweet

Red Mini Bell – tiny, red peppers, 1″ wide, great for stuffing and super cute!

Habanada – a heatless habanero, fruity floral notes of a habanero without the heat

Oda – strong, compact plants, produce lilac purple fruit that ages to a soft brown.

 

Tomatoes 

Martino’s Roma – perfect for your sauces, paste-type fruit, meaty with few seeds

Amish Paste – giant, blocky paste tomatoes, Amish community grown

Atomic Grape – elongated cherry-like clusters, lavender purple stripes, ripening to soft reds, cherry -size (limited)

Gypsy – medium-size, deep purple/maroon, great taste, good for soups

Black Cherry – large, dusky-brown grapes, rich flavour, sweet, perfect for popping (2nd year)

Gold Rush Currant – tiny tomatoes, golden-orange, 1/4″ diameter, snacking

Snow Fairy – dwarf tomato from Russia, produces early, small globes, perfect for pots, slightly tart

Accordion – large, pink, ruffled fruit, perfect for stuffing, sweet and mild

Minibel – determinate, bite-sized fruit, tiny and ornamental, sweet and pinky

Purple Bumblebee – slightly elongated little cherries, striped with purple and green, crack-resistant, complex and sweet flavour (2nd year)

Black Krim – Russia heirloom, deep dark red fruit, medium-size, very rich and sweet, a favourite

Yellow Pear – yellow, sweet 1 1/2″ fruit, pear-shaped, highly prolific, will crack if too wet, but so worth the planting.

Chocolate Pear – bronze-red pear-shaped fruit, slightly sweeter than yellow pear, highly prolific, rich flavour

Tomatillos – gorgeous, green, husk-covered fruit that tastes like a tomato and an apple. Used in salsa verde and the delicious tomatillo soup. You need to buy two for fruit. I highly recommend.

Herbs

Basil – lemon; lime; cinnamon; thai sweet; purple; blue spice

Cilantro

Parsley

 

I will update this again in a few days. Puppies need tending. If you would like any plants, you can reach me at:  loveandoregano@gmail.com

 

thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lately…

It’s been busy around here.  Getting ready for the Farmers’ Market…

getting ready for the market
getting ready for the market with a plethora of tomatoes…

 

Getting the vegetable garden ready with seeding and transplanting…

square foot gardening
square foot gardening

 

 

 

 

 

 

strawberry popcorn
Planting corn in the ground to see it sprout a week later…. strawberry popcorn
growing!!!
growing!!!

My gorgeous white wheat has sprouted…

non-gmo white sonoma wheat
non-gmo white sonoma wheat

 

Collecting large rocks to create borders for vegetables…this rock wall is outlining many tomatoes

little rock wall for tomatoes
little rock wall for tomatoes

 

Using minion to build brick walls around fragile asparagus…

brick wall for asparagus
brick wall for asparagus

 

Taking walks to see the farm change seasons…

Magda
Magda
a field of daisies
a field of daisies
milkweed!
milkweed!

 

And finding strange things…such as this large asparagus on the side of our driveway…hubby thinks a deer pooped out a seed? Sadly, we didn’t notice it until it was already too late to pick…

wild asparagus?
wild asparagus?

 

So I take these few rain days to plant more vegetables into the ground and see if I can encourage my basil to grow more quickly to sell this Saturday…

More Photos

early morning awesomeness
early morning awesomeness

 

night time awesomeness
night time awesomeness
lilies found in the creek
lilies found in the creek
totally safe
totally safe
Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

I’m very excited about the oriole because I have never seen one. They seem to prefer nesting in elm trees, and we just happen to have an elm tree out front. In front of a manitoba maple (Betty) and orioles loooove their seeds! Their song is beautiful.

IMG_4127

 

The cat brought me a mouse. Er…good girl.

 

 

Bit by Bit

I convinced hubby to let me buy two reel mowers. Those are push mowers. I’m not so much concerned about the environmental impact of gas (and I really should be) but it’s really good exercise for someone who is nowhere near a gym.  And they wouldn’t let me mow when we brought them home.

mowing only a bit
mowing only a bit

Then the tractor came to till our land!

IMG_4089

But his attachment tiller wouldn’t stay down in the ground. So he came two days later.

a trampoline AND a garden!
a trampoline AND a garden!

In the next week or so I will get to plant these:

only half
only half

 

There are more plants in cold frames outside, on the shelves in the laundry room and shelves in the pantry…and I’m seeding more basil.

 

Growing seedlings takes time. So much time. But here are some little rascals.

IMG_3836
Transplanting while watching a Hallmark movie. Best way to do it.

 

IMG_3838
This is where they live now. In my living room, with grow-lights.

 

IMG_3841
Asparagus. Aren’t they adorable? Like little pine trees.

 

IMG_3794
Excited about this variety. A Grappoli D’Iverno

 

Seed Starting

There are a million and a half ways that people start their seeds. And this way is mine.

smells yummy

1-Go buy a big bag of Pro-mix.  I used to sell this stuff when I managed a garden center and it’s awesome. Yes, it costs about $36 for 3.6cuft, but there is sooo much of it! It’s a big black or white bag, all packed tightly into plastic. Pro-mix is a mixture of vermiculite, peat moss and perlite. Which means it’s very light soil. Rip the sucker open and dump half of it into a large plastic container with a lid.  I usually use Rubbermaid because they have tight lids. It’s very dusty, so don’t go crazy.

Why can’t I use regular top soil or black earth? Why can’t I use the generic stuff or miracle-gro?

The difference between top soil and black earth is based on their layers. In a ‘forest’ setting, when you start digging a hole, the first layer is humus. That’s the soft, airy, barky stuff on top, that is composed of plant material, and decomposed organisms. The next layer is the top soil, which has nutrients and usually higher in nitrogen (think grass). The layer below that is black earth, which is supposed to have phosphorus, phosphoric acid and ammonia – which is awesome for agricultural use, and planting shrubs.  As for the generic stuff…I like my Pro-mix. The end.

2- Grab a bowl.  Then start adding warm water and mix with your hands.  It takes a lot of water to get it very wet. But this is good. The mixture will absorb the water and help keep your seedlings wet for a longer time.

 

huge bowl, single sink.
Big bowl in the sink. Warm water is nice on your hands. Cold water is not. Add water and mix until nice and squishy and gets stuck underneath your fingernails. Now breathe in the smell. Mmmm…fresh earth. I love that smell. I bought perfume that was called, Dirt, once.

3- Add Myke’s. I was introduced to this stuff last year by Heather from Carleton Place Nursery. I was skeptical at first, but after reading that it was filled with mycorrhizae, I figured I’d try it. I bought the small container first for about $11, and my word, what a difference! The root system growth was incredibly substantial! Go buy it. It’s worth it. And it’s ORGANIC!

Inside container and how much to add. It does give you guidelines, but I’m cheap, so I cut back a bit. Like sugar in a recipe.

4- Fill containers! I’m using some old soy milk containers, and I’m uncapping the spout so that the water can leak out. Stuff your containers with the warm, wet soil.  You can use old milk containers (cleaned and soaped out, of course), old salad containers after you poke a few holes in them, berry containers, and even these grids below.Although to be honest, I made hubby take them back because they are so flimsy and not worth my time. I purchased some garden center ready ones that are much more sturdy.  Yes, you can use Jiffy-7‘s, but when you’re planting as much as I am, the easier, the better. And if the root system doesn’t break through the mesh when you go to plant outside, you have to tear them a bit.  I like my roots to breathe! NOTE: use bleach to clean your containers!!!


5- Plant your seeds according to package directions. I usually use a pencil to make the holes, drop them in, and cover them again. It is very important to cover your seed trays/containers with a plastic lid or store inside a small indoor greenhouse contraption because your seeds need the humidity and the warmth. And you won’t have to water as often.

6-  These are my plants about three weeks later. Tadah!!!  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeasy…

When Do I Start My Seeds?

Well.  Here’s the thing. It always depends on where you live.  There are so many books and links and advice books, that it’s really hard to decide.  They usually give you the dates going backwards from the last frost-date.

I have no idea when that is.

Usually the rule of thumb is, Victoria Day Weekend.

But…I like to push it a week. Because sometimes it’s the 24th of May, and sometimes it’s the 18th. I live nearish Ottawa, Ontario, so this year, Victoria Day is May 18th. So, I would use the 15th as the last frost date, because I like using Fridays. So if the label says, one week before last date, I’d choose May 8th. Got it?

Here is MY list of when I’m going to plant my seeds, indoors and out. This list includes herbs, vegetables and some annuals and perennials. To make it easier for you, I’ll choose the actual date (Friday, of course) so you don’t have to count backwards. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

February 20th: artichoke indoors Last year I grew artichoke and it definitely grew, BUT, they need 2-4 weeks of cold temperatures once they get 4 leaves.  So I planted their seeds and once they had 4 real leaves, I put them in the garage for a few weeks. Our garage didn’t go below 4C, due to heating, so I guess this year I will store them by the firewood in the basement?  And then we moved, so I never found out if they would fruit.

March 13th: jalapeno peppers, sweet peppers, hot peppers indoors.  All peppers, basically.  They are slow to start, and they’re a little fragile. Which makes me mad, because I don’t baby my plants.  I show them tough love.

March 20th: tomatoes, onion seeds (not green), lavender indoors. You could wait and plant your tomatoes at a later date, but I like my tomatoes to be at least 12″ high before I put them in the ground, because I plant them half-way into the ground. The onions are the white, sweet, red etc, but NOT the green onions that are tall and leafy. And why aren’t you planting lavender? It’s easy to grow, smells amazing, comes back every year and the flowers are incredible dried and added to shortbread cookies.

And two weeks to catch up on what you’ve missed.

April 3rd: petunias, lupins indoors. Petunias are cute, they smell cute and they draw in beneficial insects. And lupins….how can you not love lupins?

April 10th: onions (everygreen seeds) indoors.


April 17th: marigolds, broccoli, zinnia indoors.


April 24th: sunflowers, carrots, melons, romaine, lettuces, arugula indoors.  Note: I’ve been trying to grow lettuce inside for the past two weeks, attempting to get a production so I could start eating now instead of dropping 5$ a box.

NOTE: Last year we didn’t have any snow on the ground on the 24th, so I planted my peas and beans into the ground. I think I also planted some onion bulbs. The year before I planted the week of the 17th. So watch the forecast. Peas and beans grow well in the cold. Just make sure you can work the ground. And cover them up! Squirrels are bad!

May 1st: anise hyssop, cilantro, basil, pansies, yarrow, poppies, asparagus, amaranth, pumpkin, nasturtium, calendula, gourds, pampas grass, borage indoors.  Bees love borage, anise, poppies, calendula, nasturtium. And I love pansies. So friendly.

May 18th: OUTDOORS – all of your seedlings EXCEPT for basil. Go ahead and plant more carrot, lettuce, celery seeds into the garden.

When the forecast calls for cold weather or frost, cover your plants. I’m pretty sure you have an old bed sheet that you haven’t thrown out yet. Cover them up.

I realize I’m missing some produce, but I only plant what I know I will eat.  If you have a question though, I’d be happy to try and answer.

Happy Planting!

Backyard of our last house. Those are my babies enjoying the sun warmth on May 7th, 2014.

                                                 Hiding in cold frames.

 

Anew

And now a new year.

We have recently purchased a gigantic amount of land, and my mind runs amok when I think of all the possibilities. I have magazines galore, most of them from Mother Earth News and Urban Farm.  I’m researching permaculture, biblical planting, square-foot gardening (big shout out to Mel Bartholomew!), planting in rows…it’s exhausting. Especially when you know what you want to do, but aren’t too sure if it’ll actually  happen.

So here are the goals for Pemberley Farm this year:

1- vegetables

2- herbs. Many herbs.  Many which will bring in the honeybees.

3- apple trees. Not sure how many to buy, where to plant, or what to buy.

4- propagation.  I’m huge into propagating. We have black cherry trees that are getting to big. We need more black cherry trees = propagate! And some gorgeous yellow birch. And ironwood.

5- plant wheat and quinoa and amaranth

6- chickens. Layers and meat birds.

7- a greenhouse.  Maybe something off the third door. Or something you don’t heat. Not sure yet.

8- harvest food and sell, store, eat.

To be clear, Vesey’s is a great seed company and they’re Canadian. I have purchased bulbs, fruit trees and seeds from them and have yet to be disappointed.  I like Baker Creek because their more into non-GMO seeds, it’s run by a small, young family, and their selection is incredible.

Happy Seed Selecting!