Tomatoes (2019)

This year, I have done something that I haven’t done for a few years…

I only started ONE of a couple varieties. One. Because last year, I had too many tomatoes, and not enough room for other things. So this will be the first year in a while that I won’t be completely overwhelmed with tomatoes in the fall.

img_8069

Without much more blabbering on, here are the varieties I have went with this year:

  • Silvery Fir Tree
    • Determinant
    • 55-60 Days
    • 1 peat pellet sowed
  • Czech’s Bush
    • Determinant
    • 75-85 days
    • 1 peat pellet sowed
  • Tasmanian Chocolate
    • Determinant
    • 80-85 days
    • 2 peat pellets sowed
  • Old German
    • Indeterminate
    • 80 days
    • Potato Leaf
    • 1 peat pellet sowed
  • Marvel Stripe
    • Indeterminate
    • 80 days
    • 1 peat pellet sowed
  • Green Zebra
    • Indeterminate
    • 75 days
    • F1 Hybrid
    • 1 peat pellet sowed
  • Oxheart
    • Indeterminate
    • 80-90 days
    • 2 peat pellets sowed
  • Black Cherry
    • Indeterminate
    • 65 days
    • From my own saved seed, but I linked to the West Coast Seeds Page if you are looking for the seed, or more info on it. It is one of my favourite and well producing tomatoes.
    • 2 peat pellets sowed
  • Cherokee Purple
    • Indeterminate
    • 80-90 days
    • From my own saved seed. Another favourite that I plant year after year
    • 1 peat pellet sowed
  • Tiny Tim (I haven’t started these just yet, but will around April 1)
    • Dwarf Determinant
    • From my own saved seed, but I linked to the Wildrose Heritage Seeds Page if you are looking for the seed, or more info on it. It is one of my favourite and well producing little cherry tomatoes. The tops of the plant is always so covered in tomatoes that without a little support it can bend over to the ground and snap the stem.

 

With the exception of the Tiny Tim, I sowed the above on March 15. There is always the possibility that I start a few other early season varieties as well, but for now, I am still determined to not be over-tomatoed this year.

I’m going to do my very best to try and document the whole summer of growing. I know I have been diligent early in the year documenting what I will be growing but a terrible job of actually documenting them growing. My instagram is probably the best for more up to date photos of what is going on. @thecraftycultivator

img_7958
I don’t remember what variety these were, but they were delicious

 

Advertisements

Potting up: Savory, Thyme, Marjoram, Greek Oregano and Anise (and some Hollyhock sowing)

The majority of the herbs I have started up to this point, were getting to the stage of needing more room. I pot them up into newspaper pots that I make from free newspaper. This way, the roots get disturbed as little as possible, because I can just plant the whole pot out in the soil once its safe to do so outside.

I did this March 10, and here is what I potted up:

  • 2x Winter Savory
  • 2x ‘Midget’ Summer Savory
  • 2x Summer Savory
  • 2x Greek Oregano
  • 2x Sweet Marjoram
  • 2x German Winter Thyme
  • 2x Anise

And I had one newspaper pot left over in my tray, so I sowed some ‘Black Watchman’ Hollyhocks. I also sowed some of these last year, so as long as they got through the winter (which they should) I should have some beautiful dark hollyhocks. This sowing would likely not bloom until next year, unless I get lucky. I also have some self-seeded hollyhocks. They were those butter-yellow ones that I had 2 years ago, and I’m interested to see what colour they will be this year.

I have a few more little peat pellets of herbs that aren’t quite ready to be potted up, but are growing nicely. They are growing slowly in the kitchen window, which is perfect for me. I don’t want them to be growing like wild yet because they will still be inside for at least 2 more months, possibly 3, depending on what kind of mood Mother Nature is in.

I’ll be sowing some new herbs very soon, and Tomatoes before the end of the month. Still have no idea where I am going to put everything, but I do this to myself every year, and somehow find a home for it all.

img_7631
Butter-Yellow Hollyhocks from a few years ago

 

Seed Sowing So-far (2019)

Its the middle of a Polar Vortex here… which is just internet-talk for “it’s winter and it’s cold.”

It also means that I (and everyone else too) am itching for it to be spring. So I had to sow some seeds and kind of get my fingers in the dirt. I also wanted to keep up the momentum of actually writing on this little ol’ blog of mine. I’m aiming for 2 posts per week. But I’m warning you that if life starts to get busy and crazy again, this might be the first thing I drop off the priority list.

But enough blabbering.. Here is what I’ve sown so far this year.

In mid- January, I sowed some Red Beard Onions in a red solo cup. I’ll let them grow together in a clump and then plant them out. This is mostly to hedge my bets in the case that the ones I planted last year, don’t make it through this winter (although I have been diligent in making sure my beds have been covered in snow for some insulation from the wind)

At the same time, I also sowed some Silverskin Pickling onions. The seed packet was from 2014, so I figured I would finally try and grow them again. I’m growing them the same as the ‘Red Beard’ onions, but once it comes to planting them out, I will probably separate them (gently) and plant them in some organised fashion, rather than a clump.

I also have a handful of baby trees I’ve started, but that is a whole ‘nother post, that I’ll get to writing eventually.

On January 30th, I finally pulled out my little peat pellet trays, and I sowed some herbs. I still have many herbs to start, but this was a start. Herbs are a good way to quench your thirst of planting something. They will grow pretty slow, so won’t get out of hand when you start them this early. Here is what I filled my 12 pellet tray with on Jan. 30:

  • 2x Greek Oregano
  • 2x German Winter Thyme
  • 2x Sweet Marjoram
  • 2x Summer Savory
  • 2x Midget Summer Savory
  • 2x Winter Savory

On February 6, the above herbs had all sprouted, so I planted some more variety for my herb garden this summer:

  • 2x Oregano
  • 2x Lemon Balm
  • 2x Anise
  • 2x Munstead English Lavendar
  • 2x Heirloom Pineapple Alpine Strawberries
  • 2x Habanero Peppers

The Lavendar and the Strawberries are both some more hedging-bet plants. I grew them later last year, and they are planted out in the garden. I just wanted a little back-up.

The Anise is an old seed packet, and more of a “hey lets try this” rather than something I am really excited about. If it makes it, then it will be fun to try something new. This is a good way to discover new things when you are new to gardening. I’ve found a bunch of new things I like growing by doing this.

The Lemon Balm is one of those things that I’ve found I love by just trying it. I don’t necessarily do anything with the plant, but Its great aroma therapy just to touch the leaves. If you are looking for something easy to grow, this is one of them. It grows easy, with hardly any work and the leaves smell amazing.

Habanero… The Habanero was a bit of a whim. I didn’t have any other herb seeds that I was ready to start yet, and then I found my pepper seeds, and figured I would give the habaneros a go again. Last time I grew them, I did get a few peppers, but I remember wishing I had started them a bit earlier. This will let the plants be a little more mature in the comfort of my warm house before I make them go outside. This is one of the things I am excited to grow again, but also won’t be super sad if they don’t make it.

Next up in my sowing will be the rest of the peppers that I want to grow. This will probably be near the end of the month, and into March. Between Mid March and Mid-April I will be doing tomatoes and near the end of April, I will start any squash or cucumbers. I will also be going through my flower seeds and sowing whatever catches my eye. Likely some more hollyhocks, lavatera, cosmos and maybe some sunflowers.

 

Any suggestions or hints & tips or anything you’d like to share, put it in the comments below

My Etsy Shop: Back 40 Woodcraft

 

Savory – Winter & Summer – What is the difference?

Over the years, I have become especially fond of growing herbs. Especially herbs that are a little harder to find in stores. Like savory for example.

Savory is one that is a little harder to find in the store. And its not typically differentiated on which one you are buying, its just labelled as ‘Savory’. I have also had a hard time finding “winter savory’ as seed from the big available-in-most-stores, or as started plants from garden centres.

Finally, I found some seeds for Winter Savory. I actually found them from a few different Canadian seed companies, but chose to buy them from “Wildrose Heritage Seed Company” because they are a local Alberta company.

While this will be my first year growing Winter Savoy, I have grown Summer Savory a few years now. I wanted to take this time in the winter while I’m using all my will power to not start my seeds too early, to write down some differences between the two. We can all learn together, and I will try to be on-top of writing here this whole year, and I plan on documenting the differences.

  • Latin Names
    • Winter: “Satureja montana”
    • Summer: “Satureja hortensis”
  • Life Span
    • Winter: Perennial (I’ve read that it is perennial to zone 4, so I’m right on the cusp. It may not survive if we have a really long harsh winter here)
    • Summer: Annual

I can’t speak on the difference in growth or flavour of the different kinds yet, but I really hope to document my experience with them this year. If I’m on the ball, I’ll come back and link to the updates I do get done later this year. For now, all I have photo-wise is the one at the bottom of this post of the seed packets.

Here is the Winter savory I’ll be growing this year. They also sent me a free sample (with the rest of my seed order) of their Midget Summer Savory too, so I’ll be growing that as well. I also still have a pack of old Summer Savory seed from McKenzie seeds, that I bought in 2014. As I was going through my seed collection, I found a new pack of Summer Savory seed from West Coast Seed. I forgot I bought it last year, so that this year I would have some new seed… Thanks past self.

I’ll be starting these in the next few days. By the time the little seedlings need more room for their roots, it should be warm enough outside for them. If you have any experience with the difference between Winter and Summer Savory, share them in the comments below.

Annual Flowers from Seed (2018)

This year, as I was starting some herbs, I had a few extra peat pellets left, and I figured I would try to start a few annual flowers again. I’ve made a bit of an attempt over the years, and this will be no different. Depending on the money situation, I will likely buy any bedding plants, but these will hopefully add a bit of homegrown colour and interest to the garden.

 

Lavatera – My grandma grew this almost every year without fail. She would have this huge stand of these beautiful pink flowers along the back side (south facing) of her house. And every year she would save seed from them for the next year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2016.

  • ‘Silvercup’Lavatera
  • “Dense, bushy, mound-shaped plants are clad in attractive, dark green foliage and covered with 10cm (4″) flowers. The brightest of all mallow blooms! Ideal as a mixed border or a quick growing, compact summer hedge. Easily grown”

Cosmos – I grew these along with the veggies back when we had the greenhouse garden to use (before we realized JUST how bat-*&$% crazy the owners of the property were). The beneficial bugs loved them, and so did I, so I figured it was worth a shot again in my backyard this year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Early Sensation Mix’Cosmos
  • “So easy to grow they seem to thrive on neglect! Daisy-like 9cm (3 1/2″) blooms in crimson, rose, pink and white are enhanced by yellow centers, held high on graceful fern-like foliage. Exceptionally beautiful in beds, borders and background planting.”

Asters – These are new to me. I got them many years ago with the intent of growing them, but the seed packet sat there unopened until now.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Powder Puffs’ Aster
  • “Tremendous double flowers, 8-10cm (3-4″) in diameter, grow upright on long sturdy stems. Lovely bouquet-type habit makes it an excellent cut flower. Resists wilt. By picking off faded blooms, you will prolong the flowering season.”

I sowed these (4 of Lavatera, 4 of Cosmos, and 3 of Asters) on April 8, 2018. There may be more if this snow keeps up and I need a small bit of hope of  the summer to come.

Update before I make this post live (April 26):

  • The Aster’s still haven’t germinated. So I think the seeds were too old
  • The majority of the Cosmos have germinated and are currently working on their first true leaves.
  • The Lavatera had spotty germination. One is doing well, a few more germinated but didn’t manage to break their seed leaves through the hard seed shell. I think I have another packet of seeds that I may try to direct sow, but my lavatera dreams may have to wait until next year.