Monday, January 21, 2013

New - Gardens East Magazine Newsletter

As many of you may know, I write regularly for Gardens East magazine. It's a magazine that spun off from the extremely popular Gardens West about 3 years ago.. The company now has 4 titles they put out 9 times a year across Canada - Gardens West, Gardens West (for Prairie gardeners), Gardens Central and Gardens East. Now, they've added a monthly newsletter to their publications with articles and photos not included in their magazine! It's free and you can subscribe here! (I just did).

Their latest newsletter - click here to read it - features ME and my straw bale cold frame.. plus articles on making rhubarb leaf stepping stones and a rooftop veggie garden..

Just thought I'd share..

And since I'm tooting my own horn - the e-book version of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener is #1 on Amazon!! Thank you so much! My publisher make it their January special - now just $2.99 from $19.95 - and it's only going to be available at that price for 9 more days.. take advantage if you're a techie..

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Harvest time! Shoots = Fast Food!

Ok, my broccoli shoots are ready!! How's that for fast food?  I seeded last Tues.. and we started nibbling on the tiny plants on Friday.. Tonight I will use them to top a stir-fry, whose leftovers will be turned into wraps tomorrow (with more of the broccoli shoots added for crunch!) yum yum..

Some photos of their final hours..

If you're interested in learning more about growing shoots and even microgreens, check out this book by Fionna Hill. If you have a sunny windowsill or an unused grow-light, you can quickly and inexpensively grow more food.. Have fun!

Friday - they're just over an inch tall..

Cute, eh? 

Today - the shoots have reached the top of the container!

Dense planting.. 

I thought my hand would make a nice reference for how big
they've grown in the past few days.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 2 - Broccoli Shoots

Check it out.. day 2 and the seeds have sprouted! We're now just a couple of days from harvest..

I'm out of sunflower seeds for shoots/sprouts, so I think I'll pick up more from Halifax Seed this weekend.. I love the look of the fresh shoots growing in my kitchen and the sunflower shoots grow so big! Usually 2 to 4 inches when we clip them to eat.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Late Winter = Shoots!

Ready to plant - shoot/sprout seed, a container and an inch
of moistened potting soil.

One of my favourite indoor food projects for this time of the year is growing shoots - broccoli, sunflower, peas and such. Shoots are simply the immature seedlings of various edible plants and are packed with phytonutrients (and other good things that I can't pronounce) and are typically harvested when the first set of true leaves appears. Need more convincing? Shoots are super easy to grow, ready to harvest in a matter of days to weeks, depending on the type you're growing and they're tasty! I toss handfuls in roasted vegetable wraps, black bean burritos, on top of stir fries or munch as I do the dishes.. after all, most of my saucers of shoots are on the kitchen windowsill.

Unlike sprouts, which are grown in jars and need to be rinsed a few times a day, shoots are grown in a shallow amount of potting soil - usually about an inch - and require little care besides watering when the soil is dry. I do recommend buying seed specific for shoot/sprouts like the Mumm's in the above photo. (I get mine from Halifax Seed).

A thick layer of seeds..

This is also a fun winter project for kids. Once the tiny plants are ready to harvest, give the kids a pair of scissors (supervising them!) and let them scissor harvest - like mowing the lawn - and then (fingers crossed) see if they'll eat the tender shoots. Plant a fresh tray/pot every few days for a non-stop supply..

Scratch them in to ensure good soil-seed contact..

Wait!! In about 7 days, these will be ready to clip!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Curing gourds

During summer and autumn I post a lot of photos that chronicle the many gourds we grow.. This past year was an outstanding growing season and we ended up with PLENTY of gourds! I don't usually have a lot of luck curing them and they tend to rot, rather than dry. Over the years, I've managed to successfully cure only 3 gourds. Not such a great record, eh?

So, I did some reading.. and more reading and asked questions of gourd growers.. I got a lot of different answers - often conflicting - and so I decided to try things a few different ways. First, I left some of the gourds in the garden (buried under the snow now, so no photos yet sorry!), a few others I put in the basement to cure in a cool, dry spot (rotted quickly) and finally, I left the majority of them on an out-of-the-way corner of the front porch (see above photo). I gotta say, the front porch gourds are doing MUCH better than I expected. My huge cannon ball gourd has rotted, but the majority of the others - snake, long dipper, apple, speckled swan and so on, have actually maintained their shapes and although the outer skin has rotted (a natural process that give the finished gourds their lovely mottled appearances), I think they're going to successfully cure.

It's also seed catalogue season and I've been busy checking out the daily catalogues in my mailbox and scouring websites online trying to decide what to grow this year. I really want to experiment with the wide range of Asian vegetables, but I also want to trial many of the heirloom pole beans that I've yet to taste.. Of course, the deer fence comes first and I think this is the year we go electric. Yep, I've said that before, but this year I really mean it!

What are you going to grow this year..? I'd love to hear some of your must-have's and perhaps add them to my own growing list.. like I need any more seed! :)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Flowers in the snow

I always thought the Christmas-blooming hellebores were a myth—something that only happens in England or in much warmer zones.  But it’s early January and I have flowers in full bloom in the front yard. Not such a common occurrence in Buffalo. This must be one of the helleborus niger variety, which really does flower in the depths of winter. I guess it would have been flowering under the snow, if there were any.

Also up, if more expected: snowdrops.  I was never one to care much about "winter interest," which usually means evergreens, seedheads, and sculptural grasses. When it's cold outside, I'm inside. But 50 or better temps with flowers? That's interesting.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year - A January Gift!

My publisher Storey sends out a monthly e-newsletter to thousands of subscribers.. For their latest edition, which was just published today, not only did they interview me, but they also have placed the ebook edition of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener on special for January!! It is now JUST $2.99 for the e-book, a savings of $17! But, it's only for Jan.. To get details, click here.

And if you want to subscribe to the newsletter (I do, I love so many of their authors), just click here! It's free and awesome!

Ok, enough of that.. The good news is that I'm deep into sub-editing my next book, which should keep me rather busy for the next week.. and I will have an article in Fine Gardening magazine later this year and also one in Reader's Digest coming up in March. For that article, I wrote seed swaps. Did you know that Seedy Saturday originated in Canada?? BC to be precise, and soon, these seed sharing events will be popping up across North America. If you want to take part in one, check out the list at Seeds of Diversity - here. On the right side of the page is a constantly updated listing of where Seedy Saturdays and Sundays will be taking place from Jan through June. Hope to see you at one of these!!

Happy New Year!