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



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.



Mid April 2018- Quick Garden Tour

I wanted to pop in a quick little tour of the garden as it is mostly covered in snow. It will be nice to look back at this in the summer when everything is growing and enjoying the sunshine. These photos are from April 11, around 6pm.


Willow Trees behind our house. These are typically the first to have leaves. Nothing yet.
Poplar (and Spruce) in our front yard. No leaves yet, but this thing will be dropping its horrible sticky bits all over our vehicles very soon.
Crab Apple
Raspberries are still under snow
My poppies are starting to “Spring” too! I hope I get some flowers from these this year!
This is where my tomatoes were (and their corpses are still) last year. Still at least a foot of snow. Old tools and bits of wood to help discourage the dogs from going in the garden bed over winter.
My ‘Iceberg’ Rose. My delphiniums are also here, and in the back you can also see my Sweet Williams poking out of the snow. This snow bank is beside the shed, and a few weeks ago, the snowbank was almost to the edge of the shed shingles. That tipped over vase i filled with leaves, grasses and pine cones and tucked it there for some lady bugs or other beneficials to over-winter in.
flooded pots, bricks thrown on the garden bed, and sawdust from button making chucked ontop of the snow to mix into the soil when possible.
This is the sunniest spot in the garden, and is currently flooded. A few more days of sun and it should dry right up. I think that I will be putting my eggplants in some pots here, but that may change a few times before it comes to the time of things going into their homes for the summer.

Tomatoes (2018)

April 2nd, I sowed my tomatoes. Late for me, but to be honest, It is probably perfect timing in terms of the weather around here.

I didn’t let myself buy any new varieties. However, last year I did manage to finally save some of my own seed. In the few cases where I had my own seed saved, I also sowed some of the original purchased seed as a bit of a fail-safe.

  • 2x ‘Sub Arctic Plenty’McKenzie Seeds from 2016
    • “Developed in Alberta for Prairie climates, this cultivator is an early, upright tomato. It will set fruit, even under cold conditions! Bountiful yeilds of 56-70g (2-2 1/2 oz) tomatoes. Keep well fed and watered. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom”
    • img_6508
  • 2x ‘Jubilee’McKenzie Seeds from 2016
    • “These glowing, golden-orange, mild flavoured fruits have been prized by gardeners for years. Plants produce bountiful harvest of 225g (8 oz) fruits throughout the season. Indeterminate. Staking may be required.”
    • img_6371
  • 2x ‘Cherokee Purple’McKenzie Seeds (from 2015) AND My own saved seed from last year (2017)
    • The description of this one on the packet is wrong, and is likely for the ‘Black Krim’ tomato. The plants I grew last year were fantastic, and had an excellent harvest, thus I was able to save a bunch of seed from it.
    • img_6373
  • 2x ‘Beefsteak’ McKenzie Seeds (from 2016) (I would have saved from of these seeds from last year, but we ate all the tomatoes before I thought to save the seeds.
    • “Large, meaty, solid fruit, slightly flattened and globe-shaped. Deep, well-drained moisture retaining soil is best. Mild and flavorful for salads and table use. Keep tomatoes away from all members of the brassica family: cabbage, cauliflower, etc. No staking required. Determinate. Heirloom.”
    • img_6375
  • 2x ‘Manitoba’McKenzie Seeds (from 2014)
    • “Very dependable early variety, excellent for the Prairies. Bright, red, juicy fruit. Deep well-drained soil is best. Eliminate blossom end rot problems by deep watering the plants so that the root system will be less affected by fluctuations in soil moisture. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.”
    • img_6505
  • 4 x ‘Tiny Tim’McKenzie Seeds (from 2016. I didn’t write the year on this pack, so I could be wrong)
    • “Extremely early scarlet red, miniature cherry tomato. Deep, well-drained soil is best. Perfect for decorating salads and vegetable trays. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.”
    • img_6507
  • 4x ‘San Marzano’McKenzie Seeds (from 2014) AND my own seed (2017). I had a decent harvest with these last year, and had decided to save seed.
    • “Italian tomato perfection! 10-12 ounce plum tomatoes grow on large and vigorous plants. Has excellent tomato flavor and is great to eat fresh, make sauces or for canning and drying. Inderterminate – staking required.”
    • img_6374
  • 3x ‘Black Cherry’
    • McKenzie Seeds (from 2016) AND my own.
      • This was probably my best performing tomato plant of last year. It thrived like I have never seen before, and I can’t wait to try to replicate that success this year.
    • “Early Russian variety. Tall 60cm (2′) plants, with oval/round shaved 2.5 cm (1″) fruit. Deep mahogany to brown color. Black color develops best when hot and sunny. Inderterminate. Requires staking”
      • As a note to this; My plant last year, was over 7 feet tall at the height of summer. I kept it well pruned to two main stems. As mentioned above, the only time I got close to a more black color was on the few really hot says in the summer. But these were an amazing producer, and I am excited to see how they do this year, especially from my own saved seed.
    • img_6372
  • 1x ‘Yellow Pear’
    • Burpee Seeds (from 2014)
    • “Clusters of pear-shaped, yellow fruits with mild, delicious flavour. Indeterminate”


a Truss of my “Black Cherry” tomatoes from last year (2017)

I’ll try and keep up with the progress of everything this year, but as always… Life has a way of getting in the way of me being a good blogger. So…. now that I’ve kept your expectations low… Are you growing any tomatoes this year? What kinds? Any tips to share with anyone else reading this? Post it in the comments below.

Peppers and other Nightshades I am growing this year (2018)

What? How is it April 2nd already? Actually, its April 3rd for most of the world already. Typically by this point in the year, I have started all of my tomatoes and peppers and they are getting leggy and moving from the small light area to the one window I have available, and fighting for space with my houseplants. (hey look, I still write in run-on sentences)

Today, on my way home from work, I stopped at Canadian Tire and grabbed some new peat pellets and seed starting soil (and a few seed varieties that I’ll mention when I actually sow them… they weren’t tomatoes or peppers so we’ll get there eventually). I soaked some pellets and got to digging out my seed collection and finally deciding what to grow.

That was when I decided I should dust off this poor blog and write something.

So Peppers (chillies) and “others” is up today. Tomatoes will be up soon, because I also sowed them today too.

Given my small space, and desire to step away from having a ton of containers, I didn’t start any sweet peppers. Maybe next year.

Here is what I sowed this year:

  • 2x ‘Kung Pao Hybrid’
    •  Burpee Seeds (this pack is from 2015)
    • “Vigorous plants produce 11cm thin-walled, dark green fruits that ripen to a bright red”
  • 2x ‘Seranno’ 
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2015 or 2016)
    • “Serrano is a small, fiery hot Chilli pepper with a delayed fuse. It is one of the hottest peppers available. It is smaller and hotter than a jalapeno. The fruit measuring 5-7.5cm (2-3″ long) and 1.25cm (1/2″) in diameter are glossy green turning orange-red at maturity with medium thin walls. A favourite in sizzling hot salsas and sauces and Asian dishes.”
  • 4x ‘Long Red Cayenne Slim’
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2017)
      • Last year I sowed these from a 2016 pack and had zero germination, so I splurged on a new pack. However, by the time they really got going, the summer was over and I only got maybe one pepper from 6 plants. Here is hoping that I can make up for it this year, as I need some fresh Cayenne Pepper in my spice cupboard
    • ‘These 13-15 cm (5-6″) long hot peppers can be eaten while green or red. Plant in sunny location with adequate moisture.”
  • 2x ‘Purple Tomatillo’
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2014) {keep your fingers crossed these seeds are still viable}
    • “This uniquely coloured tomatillo is enjoyed for its sweet, yet tart flavor. The vigorous and highly productive plant provides a visual flare with its striking purple-veined leaves. The fruit forms inside papery husks that begin green then ripen to a deep rich purple. The fruits are great grilled, in salsa, or as a taco topping.”
  • 2x ‘Violetta Lunga di Napoli’ Eggplant
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2014)
    • “Dark violet, cylindrical and smooth 20cm (8″) long, rustic, fruits are grown all over Italy. Classic rich eggplant taste. A good, reliable producer.”

As you can see, some of the seeds are getting quite old. I was very generous in the amount of seeds I set to germinate in the peat pellets. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that they decide to spring to life, and also that we have a nice warm summer with plenty of rain to keep things nice and watered.

The “featured image” of this post are some of the Serrano peppers from last year which grew fantastic. I had a decent harvest from the 2 plants I grew. I dried all the chillies from last year and then ground them into a pepper blend that I gave to my father in law for Christmas. Here is the photo I am speaking of if you can’t see it in the header above.