Monday, January 28, 2013

The Forming of an Edible Gardens Ottawa Group: Meeting 1

When I first announced I was going to grow some veggies in my backyard at my old house, my neighbour said, "The rabbits will enjoy that." When I tried to show off my baby tomato plants to visitors, they looked at me askance. For awhile, it seemed that my new hobby was going the same path as some of my older hobbies like an enthusiasm for rocks and bugs. Outside of specialists, these tend to fascinate five year olds more than the adults around me. But over the years, a change has happened. People thanked me for the bags of extra parsley and tomatoes left on their door knobs. They asked me questions about how to grow melons or peppers or potatoes. They expressed interest in growing food themselves.

Ha-ha! It was catching.

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The drought didn't rob the ribes of their vigour! A lovely harvest of white currants with a smattering of red gooseberries from a young bush.

Permaculture Ottawa announced that they were developing plans for a food forest. Hidden Harvest Ottawa began sharing around the underused fruits and nuts of the city. Just Food was consulting on how to make the city more food friendly. Everywhere I looked, schools were getting gardens, farmer's markets were spreading like weeds, foragers were extolling the virtues of dandelions, people were lamenting at the lack of space on their apartment balcony to grow tomatoes and others on the lack of sun for melons. I was getting the odd request to make an edible garden design and my blog post veggies for shade continues to get the highest number of hits.

Growing food was coming out of hiding. So in that light:

The Forming of an Edible Gardens Ottawa Group: Meeting 1

The purpose of the group will be to bring together the thriving community of back and front yard food growing enthusiasts for seasonal discussions and workshops. It will be open to anyone with an interest at any experience level. Love growing rare fruit, have an untamed apple tree, planning on sticking in some raised garden beds for veggies, a herb border, permaculture forest garden or just a couple tomato plants? This group is for you. Share your joy, love and curiosity about food plant culture with others.

When: Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Where: Hazeldean branch of the Ottawa Public Library at
50 Castlefrank Rd, Ottawa, ON K2L 2N5
What: Seed Starting and Special Techniques


Canadian Organic Growers - Gardening in the City Workshops
Society for Ontario Nut Growers
Ottawa Plantcycle
Just Foods Community Garden List
Seeds of Diversity: Seedy Saturday Ottawa
Lanark Wild Foods Club
Plant Walks: Herbs and Wild Food in the City
Dandelion Jam: Martha Webber
Hidden Harvest Ottawa
Community Urban Food Forest

Friday, January 18, 2013

Go seeds go

Finally posting something in 2013. I've been busy compiling a lengthy website for the biz that has been competing for time with seed cataloguing and starting.

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It's the mail heavy time of year! I have a bunch of stuff to send out, mainly leek seeds and seeds are coming back in return from orders and trades - thanks Gardens North and Stephen! I also got the ad for EcoFarm day whose focus this year is on water. Yay!

But finally I've begun indoor seed starting with an experiment in an early sowing of onion seeds. Normally I start them in February but this year I'm going to give them a couple more weeks head start which brings me to a question that I've often pondered. When the instructions say start 6-8 or whatever beforehand, are they calculating the amount of time for germination?

I'm guessing not really as, for example, pepper seeds can take many weeks to pop their cotyledons out of their seed coat depending on conditions. Sometimes it just takes time for seed to germinate as is often stated for the germination shy parsley (a great candidate for fall sowing in my experience). I often pre-sprout to speed up germination. That is, I place seeds on an absorbent medium like paper towels or coffee strainers, moisten and place in a plastic bag.* This way I can check on my precious seeds without digging through the dirt** and plant as soon as I see little roots growing. It also means that I can place baggies in germination helping conditions such as a warm spot or even the fridge whilst taking up less room.

For more on seed staring round these parts see The Irreverant Seed Primer. 

* Or check out Rob's Plants site. Sometimes there is an individual who just does a great job in compiling and sharing information. Rob has one of those sites. Here is his detailed look at the baggie method.
** When I first started gardening, I had been known to peel back the soil to check out the state of the seeds. Normally I don't have time to do this now nor do I think it is a good idea. It's just sometimes I get to wondering...