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GET SEEDY

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OUR VERY LOCAL SEEDY SATURDAY HAPPENS SATURDAY MARCH 16
WHERE:
Scadding Court Community Centre, 707 Dundas Street West, 11am – 5 pm. (Admission Charged).
This is an event that allows you to browse local vendors and find out the varieties they are offering. One term that you might come across when browing seed packs is “open pollinated” – meaning that the seeds have been pollinated naturally – thus increasing biodiversity versus controlled pollination  which is exactly as it sounds – seeds that can be traced back to a known “parent” .

CROPS THAT FLOURISH AND HERBS WE SHARE
At Fort York Community Garden crops that have tended to flourish are tomatoes, summer salad greens, zucchini, and of the brassica family, kale, chard, and newly fashionable sorrel.  We also have a communal herb garden featuring stock herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, as oregano, that allows all gardeners to pick what they need, fresh from the garden. Basil is also grown in this communal plot but , if you use it massively in salads or pesto you may want to plant on variety or several varieties of your own.
We garden so that we can savor the freshness of locally grown, straight-from-the-garden food.  Sure you can plant all tomatoes, or all lettuce, or all beans, but you can also look for inspiration in a recipe – say ratatouille. In French, ratatouille means “tossed together” so its no surprise that this tasty dish incorporates some key plot favorites: eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and bell pepper. Additional ingredients such as garlic, fresh thyme, and rosemary can be harvested from the communal garlic plot.  could have beans, squash, onions.

PLANTS THAT KEEP OUR HARVEST GOING AND THOSE ICONIC ONE-OFFS!
Gardeners like those plants that keep on giving from summer through to fall such as zucchini, kale, chard, summer greens like any kind of lettuce, arugula, etcl, basil, and chives. For the iconic and awe-inspiring, you may want to grow a pumpkin, or a jack-in the beanstalk that reaches sky-high!

STARTING SEEDLINGS INDOORS – A VERY CONCISE GUIDE                                                            

Many gardeners buy seedlings for ease or because they don’t have room to start seeds in the home.  But to experience the full range of a plant’s growth, and also to save some money, its fun to start at least some inside.

What’s needed:
Seed Starting Mix (not potting soil)
Propagating kit –  or whatever containers or soil blocks to hand – upcycling egg boxes are good too. (see here
http://www.ehow.com/how_7645126_grow-seeds-egg-carton.html) And, of course, your chosen seeds.

TO START
Before planting moisten the soil about an hour before planting.
Follow directions on the seed packet. It will tell you about depths you need to sow the seeds, germination times and best growing temperatures.
Sow a many seeds as you feel you’ll need, and then add some more. If you have too many you can always share with other gardeners.
Once planted to the depth required, keep seeds MOIST, but don’t overwater – a daily fine spray should do it.
If your container doesn’t have a seek-through lid, wrap in plastic and you’ll help keep the moisture in.
When the seeds have germinated, and shoots are showing remove the plastic cover.
When seedlings have two sets of leaves (beyond the cotyledons which are the first leaves to show) you can start to use an organic fertilizer.
And then, before transplanting harden them off by exposing them to outside temperatures: shade, sun, wind…all will serve to strengthen the tender shoots.  Hardening off (on balcony or in your garden) should happen in small doses. 5 – 7 days before the seedlings are, taper off the watering and start to slowly expose them to the outdoors. 2-3 hours in a sheltered sunny spot is ideal for the first day, building up the times until you leave them out for 8 hours or so.
SAMPLE GERMINATING TIMES
Seeds thrive under different soil temperatures – an average temperature is around 75 degrees F.
Tomatoes – 7 – 14 days
Eggplant – 10 -12 days –
Cucumber – 7 – 10 days
Lima Bean – 7 – 10 days
Pea – 7 – 14 days
OUR VERY LOCAL SEEDY SATURDAY HAPPENS SATURDAY MARCH 16
WHERE: Scadding Court Community Centre, 707 Dundas Street West, 11am – 5 pm.
This is an event that allows you to browse local vendors and find out the varieties they are offering. One term that you might come across when browing seed packs is “open pollinated” – meaning that the seeds have been  pollinated naturally – thus increasing biodiversity versus controlled pollination  which is exactly as it sounds – seeds that can be traced back to a known “parent” .
CROPS THAT FLOURISH AND HERBS WE SHARE
At Fort York Community Garden crops that have tended to flourish are tomatoes, summer salad greens, zucchini, and of the brassica family, kale, chard, and newly fashionable sorrel.  We also have a communal herb garden featuring stock herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, as oregano, that allows all gardeners to pick what they need, fresh from the garden. Basil is also grown in this communal plot but , if you use it massively in salads or pesto you may want to plant your own.
We garden so that we Can savor the freshness of locally grown, straight-from-the-garden food.  Sure you can plant all tomatoes, or all lettuce, or all beans, but you can also look for inspiration in a recipe – say ratouille In French, ratatouille means “tossed together” so its no surprise that this tasty dish incorporates some key plot favorites: eggplant, zucchini, tomato and bell pepper. Additioanl ingredients such as garlic, fresh thyme, and rosemary can be harvested from the communal garlic plot.
Plants that keep on giving: for plants that keep on giving look to zucchini, kale, chard, summer greens, basil, chives. For the iconic: you may want to grow a pumpkin, or a jack-in the beanstalk that reaches sky-high!
STARTING SEEDLINGS INDOORS – A ROUGH GUIDE
Many gardeners buy seedlings for ease or because they don’t have room to start seeds in the home.  But to experience the full range of a plant’s growth, and also to save some money, its fun to start at least some inside.
What’s needed:
Seed Starting Mix (not potting soil)
Propagating kit –  or whatever containers or soil blocks to hand – upcycling egg boxes are good too. (see here
http://www.ehow.com/how_7645126_grow-seeds-egg-carton.html) And, of course, your chosen seeds.

TO START
Before planting moisten the soil about an hour before planting.
Follow directions on the seed packet. It will tell you about depths you need to sow the seeds, germination times and best growing temperatures.
Sow a many seeds as you feel you’ll need, and then add some more. If you have too many you can always share with other gardeners.
Once planted to the depth required, keep seeds MOIST, but don’t overwater – a daily fine spray should do it.
If your container doesn’t have a seek-through lid, wrap in plastic and you’ll help keep the moisture in.
When the seeds have germinated, and shoots are showing remove the plastic cover.
When seedlings have two sets of leaves (beyond the cotyledons which are the first leaves to show) you can start to use an organic fertilizer.
And then, before transplanting harden them off by exposing them to outside temperatures: shade, sun, wind…all will serve to strengthen the tender shoots.  Hardening off (on balcony or in your garden) should happen in small doses. 5 – 7 days before the seedlings are, taper off the watering and start to slowly expose them to the outdoors. 2-3 hours in a sheltered sunny spot is ideal for the first day, building up the times until you leave them out for 8 hours or so.
SAMPLE GERMINATING TIMES
Seeds thrive under different soil temperatures – an average temperature is around 75 degrees F.
Tomatoes – 7 – 14 days
Eggplant – 10 -12 days –
Cucumber – 7 – 10 days
Lima Bean – 7 – 10 days
Pea – 7 – 14 days

TO WINTER ADD A TOUCH OF SPRING (I.E. SEEDS!)

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Beneath this snowy white and icy sauce: kale!

It’s spring-like! It’s  full-on winter! The schizo-weather patterns of the season has had us – and nature – baffled. At FYCC in all plot inspired with a late season planting, kale, rapini, chard and sorrel sustained life through most of the late fall and milder aspects of winter only to be blanketed in late January’s snowy blizzards. And to a gardener that’s a relief. We like thinking of our garlic bed slowly maturing to the natural rhythms of the gardening season of yore, not popping up in late January with the danger of frost or worst in the air.  What will happen next weather-wise, who knows?  Perhaps the groundhog will tell us on February 2nd. One thing you will need to consider now is indoor planting. Yes! Seeds, indoors!  But before you go crazy consider what you want to grow (usually based on what worked last year), what you want to experiment with this coming season,  and how many plants your plot can sustain.

You may also want to investigate how best to enrich and bring your soil up to snuff.

So although our plots are still in hibernation mode, there’s every reason why you shouldn’t be! Get seeding soon!

Some seeds such as the broccoli and cauliflower (can be started indoors in late February with anticipated inground planting of early April! see farmer’s almanac http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates/ON/Toronto)

SEEDY SATURDAY AND SUNDAYS – SAVE THE DATES!

Seed inspiration can come from many places. From your last year’s successes, or the inspiration to grow something different. As a gardener, going to some of the “seed swap” events around town is always a blast. Not only do you meet other gardeners, but there’s advice and tips to forage too. Don’t miss them. Here are some local dates:

 Toronto Seed Exchange

U of T Hart House

Seedy Sunday – Feb. 13th – 12:30-6pm

See the Toronto Community Garden Network site or scroll down for more info!

Scadding Court Community Centre, 707 Dundas St W
Saturday March 16, 201311-5

Contact: Krista kristaf@scaddingcourt.org

 Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Av
Saturday March 9, 2013 

11 am – 4 pm

Contact: Aimee acarson@evergreen.ca

And some info on starting your seeds here:

http://urbantomato.blogspot.ca/p/starting-your-seeds.html

Looking for inspiration (and open pollinated seeds)

Urban Harvest’s online catalogue is available here:

http://www.uharvest.ca/

GARDEN/FOOD RELATED EVENTS

 Toronto Film Fest, ON

York University Nat Taylor Cinema
Friday March 1, 2013          9-4:30

Planet in Focus with York University Present: Focus on Sustainability Film Festival’ – the annual event with its sophomore theme on food! This entertaining and educating experience features domestic and foreign documentaries, a panel discussion with filmmakers, foodies and academics, as well as prizes provided by Fresh Restaurant, MamaEarth Organics and Front Door Organics and more!

$2$ for all day access.

The films include:
Bitter Seeds (9:00am)
Love Meat Ender (10:50am)
Urban Roots (12:10pm)
Sushi: The Global Catch (3:00pm)
See

Contact: http://www.irisyorku.ca/events/focus-on-sustainability-film-festival/food-film-festival/

FOR INFORMATION ON BEEKEEPING AND UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

http://www.torontobees.ca/

(Note the February 2nd workshop in partnership with Foodshare Toronto sold out)

EVERGREEN

Keep up to-date with Evergreen initiatives on gardening, food and greening the city at:   http://www.evergreen.ca

COMMUNITY GARDENING IN TORONTO

To find a community garden near you, please visit: http://www.tcgn.ca

To find  out about creating community gardens in parks, there’s this event: http://www.tcgn.ca/wiki/wiki.php?n=Events2013.CommunityGardensInParks-2013

Fort York Community Garden status: Currently there is a waiting list for 2013.  For more information contact: cathyord@sympatico.ca.

To lobby for a community garden in your area, please contact your local councillor.

Pick and Pickle: Plant & Reap (next Summer)

While it may seem like this is the time to clear your plot, and start knitting or at least carving pumpkins,  it is also the perfect time to plan ahead and plant – garlic. Many different varieties of garlic are available but the one most commonly found around town is “Music”. Go local and plant organic, Ontario-grown garlic only.  Some  garlic bulbs will be deposited in the garden shed this week for communal use. Look for the brown paper bag with “Garlic” label.  First come first served, but for a small plot one bulb should suffice. Also, if planting in a small plot, try planting around the garden. Garlic is a lovely bug as well as kiss repellent.

PREPPING AND PLANTING:

Prepare soil for planting making a spot 4 ft by ft  (or whatever available). Turn over the soil to 8”  – 12”  deep add black earth and composted sheep manure to

Use a stick or a screwdriver to make a hole.

Just before planting break bulbs apart into cloves.

Place garlic clove into the soil with tip 1” to 2” below the soil surface.

Plant 6” to 8” apart.

Rake the earth back over the plantings then  pat it down for a firm even surface.

Water liberally .

If you want to thoroughly frost proof the bed,  apply a layer of straw over it.

Note: garlic planted in the fall generally has larger bulbs than spring-planted garlic.

THOSE GREEN TOMATOES…

 If the tomatoes on your vines are still green and you want to tidy your plot or feel that the official day ripening temperature of 60 degrees F seems iffy, pick them, and in the spirit that food is a gift of nature, don’t toss ‘em, use them.

If tomatoes are still ripening and there are bloom on the vine, taking off the flowers will give the toms a better change to reach full tom fabulousness.

 If almost ripe, bring them inside, and allow them to ripen full on your window sill.

 Pull up entire plant from root and bring it indoors. Do this before it gets below 60 degrees. Hang in partial light and the fruit will continue to ripen on the vine, which will give you better taste

Make  tomato sauce with them by mixing with your normal red tomatoes.  Adding sugar helps cut the acid of the unripe tom.

Wrap them in newspaper, layer in a box, and ripen them indoors in a dry dark cupboard or basement. Check regularly. If all’s well they should ripen in 3 – 4 weeks.

Place the green tomatoes in a paper bag with a ripe apple. The apple gives off ethylene gas which speeds up the ripening process.  Daily checks recommended!

Make green tomato jam/chutney.

Fry them the southern way – by coating them evenly  in a salt/cornmeal mix.

Bake with them – see our seasonal recipes page!

 END OF SEASON GARDEN WASTE

When clearing the plot, please dispose of plant waste properly. Gone to seed or diseased plants and weeds in the “hot” compost, please. The rest can be chopped up and put in the normal compost (hopefully they will be unlocked!).  Please don’t dump waste by your plot, or chuck it over the banking unless utterly necessary – our garden plants are not natural habitat. Also if lifting plants by the roots, remember to knock the earth back into the plot. You’ll need it next year.  To protect your perennials throughout the winter season, cover the bed with straw. You can also help discourage weeds and encourage nutrients by doing some “green manuring” – planting clover!

 

August – the light changes – some harvests come to an end…And a Workshop!

All of a sudden the long nights of Midsummer are shrinking into the shorter nights of Late Summer. As the light has changed, so have our plots. Tomatoes are still out in force. Zucchini, too, although after the recent rains some gardeners may have found that their stalks are softening, or blooms or leaves or rotting. If so, remove, and put in the black composter  (the weed one). Don’t keep diseased leaves in our plot – they could contaminate others.  August saw potatoes and then  corn being harvested, their stalks removed, and the ground prepared for some late harvest crops. If ground has been cleared, start sowing!  Kale, chard, even rapini can still be sown, these hardier greens being able to withstand even a light frost.  (You can learn about late harvest planting  at the Evergreen workshop to be held this coming Thursday, August 23rd.  (see calendar).   A late crop just making its appearance:  eggplant and for all those with strawberry plants, with enough sun and maybe some rain, those blooms will turn into a luscious strawberry!

Summer Sun & Summer Squash..

At the garden on a searingly hot July afternoon, a couple FY gardeners carefully tending and staking their tomatoes. Watching them from behind some long grass, and hidden from the gaze (but not mine) a rabbit surely waiting for the day the carrots are ready.  As the summer progresses, and the heat rises, what’s most notably coming to fruition in most of the plots: tomatoes and those summer squashes – most prolifically zucchini.  Lighting up the plots with their brilliant yellow blooms against their crazy big umbrella leaves, they seem to epitomize what’s good about small scale gardening (i.e easy to grow and if all goes well, abundant).  And the summer has been good for them. Last year’s crops were blighted by rain and disease and the zucchinis too often rotted before they had much of a chance Not so this year. Edible in so many ways it’s a crop to enjoy every day and every way from savory fritters, to zucchini carpaccio (recipe on the seasonal recipe page), to a loaf or muffin, or a chilled creamy soup.

BEES, BUTTERFLIES AND A  GARDENER’S BEST FRIEND…THE APHID GUZZLING LADY BUG…

WHAT do Pink Pancakes and Yellow Six Week Beans have in common?  They are both mentioned on the Officer’s Mess Kitchen Garden page. Please check it out! FY Gardeners have been helping out this summer, and enjoying some of the tastes from this historic garden.

Summer Starts…And a Second Season Planting Planned.

you say potato, i say a beautiful bloom.

Summer starts officially at 7.09 pm tonight. But for the gardener June 20th represents half-way through the growing season.

The seeds you planted are now blooming, or bearing fruit.  There’s some harvesting of salad greens, strawberries, raspberries (a harvest of 10 or so on my new vine!).

For those who preserve, the kitchen is  preparing for days of jam-making and pickling – anything – beets, beans…Or the making of herb-infused vinegars and oils. (Some of that coming up in our seasonal recipes page).

Second sowings may be being planned (yes, its not too late for those second season plantings…you may want to start as seeds at home, and transplant into the plot in July.)

Broccoli, lettuce, spinach, kale, cilantro, arugula, swiss chard all are good for the second part of your growing season.

The trick is saying goodbye to those plants that have passed their prime,  or have bolted and starting again. And also to keep those new plants moist and  shaded from the intense summer sun.

The solstice also tends to be last call for the plant stores who sold you those first seedlings for your garden. Urban Harvest on Queen West closes for the season after Labour Day, and most nurseries have plants at 50% off – a great opportunity to replace any weaklings that have surfaced in your garden.

In the herb garden, the borage is in bloom. Seen and noted from the seed company: seed library based in the states. Lemon-borage cookies. The link is here: http://www.seedlibrary.org/wp/lemon-cookies-with-borage/

HAPPY SUMMER!

May the bees buzz, and our yields be high!

Growing & Blooming

June 3: The weekend’s shower brought growth galore and acted as a reminder that when watering a deep soak is more beneficial to the roots than a surface drizzle. (Also remember: its the roots that require the water, not the leaves.)  Gardeners who has sowed seeds and not yet visited their plot may be surprised but the spurt in growth while all gardeners will now be able to assess whether or not they have provided enough growing space for their plants.  Overplanted?  Go down to the garden Wednesday night and see if any other gardener has room for it in their patch. Peas and beans may also now require staking. To see a heritage staking tip, take a look at the Risser Sickle Peas in the Officers’ Mess Kitchen Garden Page.

Herbs: More herbs were planted in the communal herb garden – different basils – including Genovese as well as Holy Basil and more.  There is plenty of oregano to dry, freeze or use fresh. Lavender is coming into bloom. Tangy-tasting Sorrel has bolted and needs some pruning and harvesting.   Two Goji Berry bushes were planted, but alas their health-giving properties seem to be much appreciated by the local feral population which promptly devoured the leaves of at least one of them. (Update: June 4: Both Goji Berry plants have now been defoliated!)

Seen & Noted: A vertical growing spinach – Malabar Spinach or Baseller Alba. Seen at Urban Harvest, but on Saturday there was only one left which possibly means that I wasn’t the only one intrigued. A vine, it needs staked, and if you want a bit of colour in the garden, blooms and berries are promised  (I’ve been told these are also edible). A fun read on this plant here: http://www.growinggroceries.com/2008/08/malabar-spinach/

Seen and ready for some selective harvest: Garlic Scapes (add to salads or pesto). Rhubarb. Early Strawberries.

The To Do List: Tomatoes – Word has that only blooms appearing after July 4thshould be allowed to mature into fruit. Before that, pinch them off.  While you are at it, nip off the suckers that develop in the crotch join of two branches – all they will do is consume the plant’s energy leaving less for the fruit!  Once the tomato plant reaches about 3’, remove leaves from the bottom 1’ of stem. (Usually easy to detect, they are likely yellow and wilty). Also: Water deeply during the early part of the growth period. Once the fruit begins to ripen, reduce the water. This allows the fruit to concentrate its sugars.

Edible Flowers: To add colour to your garden why not add some edible flowers: pansies, nasturtiums and calendula look just as nice in a salad as in a posy. And calendulas are a great compatible plant with tomatoes (repels tomato worms and asparagus beetles).

Also, don’t miss the Encampment at Fort York. Part of Luminato. Visit the tents during the day and discover the “stories” of Toronto in 1812,  or take in a family-oriented evening event. Or if you like food, take part in the Toronto Carretilla Initiative. Info here: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/3542151671/eorg.  If you like to cook and/or eat it sounds like fun!

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