Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

It’s been cold and snowy in my neck of the woods lately. BUT – since it’s time to plan for my spring/summer garden, I’ve been having fun buying seeds and planning out what I’ll be growing and where, focusing on when the temps will be warm again. It’ll come quickly and I want to be prepared. 🙂

Without further ado, below is my square foot garden plan layout for this year – click on it to make it larger.

I will still do my usual plantings (albeit different kinds) of cherry tomatoes, basil, parsley, lettuce, beans and carrots. Oh, and french marigolds to repel the bugs. I’ll be trying some new crops this year: cucumbers, zucchini, garlic (already planted this past fall), snap peas and blueberries. Plus, to assist with my life list item to make my own tea, I’ll be planting chamomile, lemon balm and mint (the mint in its own pot because it can be invasive). I’ll be getting a dehydrator to help with that task as well.

I did all my research and bought all the seeds this morning. I’ll be picking up blueberry plants closer to planting time and I think I’ll plant a couple of other types of basil in 2 of the squares for variety. The purple basils have caught my eye – imagine what a pesto made with purple basil would look like – stunning!

My plan is to cover the entire blueberry 4×4 bed with netting to protect them from the birds. For the basil, I’ll keep some for pesto and dry the rest for cooking. Same for the parsley – I’ll use some fresh and dry the rest. I’ll dry the chamomile, lemon balm and some of the mint to make tea (my favorite tea has all of those elements in it :)). Plus, gotta save some mint for the mojitos.

I love growing my own food and walking out into the yard to pick ingredients for meals – nothing tastes better than tomatoes warmed by the sun or a fresh picked carrot – it’s incredible how different (and better!) things taste compared to the store. I also enjoy babysitting my plants and keeping an eye out for them, trimming here, watering there, picking off pests (Japanese beetles, I’m looking at you). It’s incredibly relaxing, fulfilling and the bigger jobs provide a good workout too. Weeds are few with the square foot garden method because the “good” plants take up all the space and don’t leave any room for the weeds. It’s fabulous.

Here is my list of seeds so far:

  • Red small tomato: Stupice (stoo-pee-chay)
  • Red cherry tomato: Matt’s Wild Red Cherry
  • Yellow cherry tomato: Lemon Drop
  • Yellow cherry tomato: Champagne (Loved these last year – so much sweet flavor in such a tiny package – they’re like a half inch in diameter)
  • Black cherry tomato: Black Cherry
  • Basil: Genovese  (gold standard in basil – amazing for pesto)
  • Basil: TBD – One of the purple varieties
  • Cucumbers: Muncher
  • Zucchini: Green Zucchini
  • Garlic: Red Russian
  • Beans: Yellow Golden Wax (Bush)
  • Peas: Patio Pride
  • Carrots: Nantes
  • Lettuce: Red Salad Bowl
  • Lettuce: Buttercrunch
  • Chamomile: Bodegold
  • Marigolds: French
  • Mint:: Menthol
  • Lemon Balm


I am doing my happy dance!!! 🙂

2016 Garden flashback:


Read Full Post »

Holy moly – I haven’t posted in months!!! So sorry. 🙂

What started out pretty slow in the garden due to all that rain we got this summer turned out pretty good nonetheless and we’re now having trouble keeping up with the tomatoes! Here are some pics I took between April and August showing how things went as well as some of the harvests along the way.

I started my seeds back in March/April. for the first time, I staggered them based on each plant’s growth rate compared to the local frost date, etc. Honestly, I can’t really tell if that made much of a difference…

I also direct-seeded some cool-weather tolerant ones (lettuce, radishes, onion sets).

Transplanted the tomato and parsley seedlings in May.

Tried growing carrots for the first time (amazing!!). Tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, onions and carrots doing well. Also plant marigolds (corners near the fence) to keep the bugs away.

First radish harvest! 🙂

Had to replace one of my parsleys with a transplant from the store (mine didn’t make it).

Bought basil transplants as well – they do better than when I try to grow them from seed for some reason. Tomatoes and marigolds doing OK. Stuck a pepper seedling in there too (middle) but nothing came of it this year – just a plant, no flowers, no peppers.

Mini harvest to add to salad – radishes, lettuce, basil and parsley.

Planted beans in 2 batches, one seeded in May and one to replace the radish planting when harvested. Tomatoes took forever to ripen – possibly due to all the rain. It seemed like everything was a month behind.

Basil, parsley and cherry tomatoes all doing well.

First harvest of carrots and green beans. I’ll be growing carrots going forward for sure – they were delicious. And green beans are so easy – love them.

Early August – I pulled up all the basil to make pesto and to make room for the fall crop plantings. 🙂

One tub for the fridge and 7 mini containers for the freezer. Love having fresh basil year round. I tried various combinations this time: pine nuts, walnuts, basil, parsley in various ratios. I blanch it first (stays greener that way), then prepare it in batches in the food processor, add it to the container then pour olive oil on top to cover.

We can’t keep up with the tomatoes. They seemed to all start ripening at once! The only ones not yet ripe are the Thai Pink Egg cherry tomatoes but there are lots of very pale yellow (almost ivory) tomatoes on the vine – can’t wait to try them once they turn pink. This is from the second batch of green beans.

And more! Loving the tomato salads we’ve been having. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ve planted seeds for fall crops: turnips, beets, carrots, spinach – all are sprouting nicely. Once the rest of my crops are done, I’ll plant radishes, kale and chard seeds. Can’t wait!!

Read Full Post »

Early in the year, I start planning my garden and make preparations for planting season. I can’t wait to get outside. The plan this spring was to start some seeds indoors and sow the rest directly outside. In past years, I just waited to transplant everything outside until risk of frost had passed for my area (SW Ontario) but this time I did a bit more research, planned out a chart for each item and followed that instead. I was able to sow seeds as early as April for the cold-hardy ones (radishes, spinach, lettuce, carrots). We’ll see how things go!

This is what I’ll be growing this year:

  • 6 types of cherry tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • 2 types of leaf lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Beans (will direct sow as I harvest the radishes)
  • Marigolds (pest control)

This is my chart:

Local Frost Date (“FD”): May 1-10, 2017

Plant Sow date Growth Safe set out date Planting date Notes
 Lettuce Apr 15 Once ground is workable Apr 15 Direct Apr 9
 Onion sets Apr 22-29 2-3 wks before FD Apr 22-29 Direct Apr 22
 Radish Apr 15-22 3-4 wks before FD Apr 15-22 Direct Apr 14
 Tomato Mar 25-Apr 8 6-8 wks 1 week after FD May 13 Trans. May 13
 Basil Apr 8-22 5-7 wks 2 weeks after FD May 20 Trans. May 20
 Parsley Feb 18-Mar 4 8-10 wks 2 weeks before FD Apr 29 Trans. May 13
 Carrots Apr 8-22 3-5 weeks before FD Apr 8-22 Direct Apr 9
 Spinach Apr 8 5 weeks before FD Apr 8 Direct Apr 9

As of a week ago, everything is now outside in my 2 square foot garden beds (4×4, 2×8). The radishes, onions and lettuce are coming along nicely. I can see the tips of the carrots and spinach. I transplanted the tomatoes and parsley and they’re recovering a bit from transplant shock but they’re resilient buggers – they should bounce back. I bought basil from the garden centre (my seeds from last year didn’t take) – and I planted those on Saturday.

I keep a gardening journal to record when I do everything and track progress of how the seeds/plants are doing. It helps to look back on past season to see what worked / what didn’t. Last year, I had tomatoes, basil and parsley in one bed and the herbs were HUGE. I’d never seen basil bushes before but there they were in my backyard! I made pesto in September and it lasted us through the winter – I have 2 little containers left in the freezer. 🙂

So excited that garden season has officially begun!!!


Read Full Post »

I’ve decided to give square foot gardening a try this year. I have my raised bed frame and garden plan – a 4′ x 4′ grid with 16 squares. I started some seeds indoors a couple of weeks ago and am convinced I have magic beans…

I picked up a mini greenhouse for $30 at Lowes to store my seedlings indoors in a warm spot (my office) which will also work well when I harden them off later this spring out on the deck.

I decided to start some from seed and buy the rest as plants from the nursery. The seeds I started include basil, beets, green beans, spinach and marigolds. The plants I’ll be buying include cherry tomato, regular tomato, peppers and onion sets.

I started my seeds in early March which may be a bit early for the beans. This is them a week later. The beans sprouted really quickly. I’m a bit worried that they’ll grow too quickly before my outdoor garden is ready but I figure worst case scenario, I’ll transplant as needed in to bigger containers and I can always plan new seeds directly into the soil. I’ll play it by ear but they should be fine.



Below is the mini greenhouse and the potting soil I’m using:



And I transplanted some of the beans (top) and the beets (bottom):


These were taken today. I transplanted more of the beans and thinned out some of the beets.




These were the first beans transplanted. Magic beans. 🙂


Stay tuned for progress!

Read Full Post »

Well, I can really say it’s the *first* bounty since I’ve been snipping the basil and parsley for a few weeks now. That being said, this morning I picked the first veggies. Behold the bounty of our first mini pepper and mini cucumber. And they were delicious!!!  I thought I might have picked the cuke a bot early (I was testing it out to know when to pick the rest) but it was sweet and fresh and yummy. The pepper was crisp and fresh too. So excited to eat more!

Here are more pictures of my container garden. I originally had plants on either side of the patio door but noticed that the ones on the side that got more sun were getting a bit parched – you’ll see them in the pic of the entire garden – they’re lighter in color and smaller. I moved them all over to the far left this morning – hopefully they’ll be happier there.

Basil and parsley In their new home

The garden!

Pretty soon we’ll have too many veggies to know what to do with. 🙂 And I can’t wait!

Read Full Post »

This heat wave is really getting old. Yesterday was 38 (49 with the humidity). For the Farenheit folks out there, that’s 100 (120 with the humidity). Hello..??? We’re in Canada. That’s too hot. But – I’m still not craving ice and snowmen. So, I’ve been staying inside with the AC on, or in the pool. Life is hard. 🙂

I’ve been keeping an eye on my garden – for the past two days, I’ve come home from work to find them sad and wilted but a good watering perks them right up again. The basil and parsley are doing very well – used basil in some meals this week. And I’m finally seeing tomatoes and peppers! Not sure what’s up with the cukes though – lots of flowers, but nothing growing yet.

I see tomatoes!


More tomatoes

Parsley and basil (Thai basil and Cinnamon basil)

Read Full Post »

They’re aliiiive!

Although things started slowly, they’re finally getting there and starting to bloom.

The middle one with yellow flowers are mini cucumbers. The larger green one to the left is a tomato plant. The four other large ones are mini bell peppers – they just started to flower. The two white pots in th 2nd row are parsleys – they finally kicked in about a week ago. And the front row is all basil (three Thai basils and one cinnamon basil).

The other batch includes tomato plants (the large ones) just about to flower. The two in light green pots are more mini bell peppers.

I transplanted one tomato plant, the peppers and the basil into larger pots this morning, gave them a good watering and now they’re settling down in the sun. 🙂

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »