|Posted by Alana Lee on August 27, 2011 at 8:10 AM||comments (0)|
Saturday August 27 2011 is the annual Heirloom Tomato Tasting Day hosted by the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary at the Heathfield Providence Care Mother House in Kingston. We have been participating in the seed saving workshops and events at Heathfield for the past 4 years and they are an excellent way to promote heirloom varieties and learn how to save open pollinated seeds. Our daughter is featured on this years Seed Saving promotional posters.
|Posted by Alana Lee on August 26, 2011 at 9:00 PM||comments (0)|
We are often asked how we save our tomato seeds. The process is quite easy and uses fermentation to reduce the amount of disease that can be transferred to later plantings through the seed and also results in higher germination ratios. Select a tomato that is true to type and from a healthy, vigorous plant (or has other characteristics you wish to select for, such as disease tolerance or productivity during drought, for example). Slice the tomato in half and scoop out the gelatenous parts containing the seeds into a clean, labelled glass mason jar. Cover the seeds with a few tablespoons of water. Cover and place in a warm location. The mixture will begin to ferment within a couple of days. Gently mix daily and add a little more water if it seems thick. As fermentation occurs a white scum will form over the surface - allow this to occur. After several days you will notice that the clear coating around the seeds will break down and the viable seeds will separate from the pulp and sink to the bottom of the jar. When this happens drain off the liquid and rinse the seeds using a strainer with fresh water until the water runs clear. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a paper plate or flat paper bag and allow them to dry completely - a week or two is good. Place the dried seeds in a labelled packet and store in a cool dry location until you are ready to plant them.
|Posted by Alana Lee on July 16, 2011 at 8:45 PM||comments (0)|
Our local fair is on this weekend and for the first time we decided to enter some items into the exhibit competitions. I am most proud of my vegetable figure creation - a bride made completely out of veggies! She took first place, as did our cosmic purple carrots, gherkins, marigolds and display collection of vegetables (all heirloom varieties of course!). Second prize was won for purple coneflowers and garlic. Best of all, we had fun growing and preparing our entries and it was great to participate in such a wonderful community event.
|Posted by Alana Lee on June 19, 2011 at 7:47 PM||comments (0)|
The chamomile is in full bloom and ready to harvest and dry for making tea. Chamomile tea is naturally decaffeinated and know to have several benefits as a sleep aid, to calm nerves, and aid in digestion. It is also thought that it will boost immunity. Chamomile should not be consumed by those who are pregnant, have allergies to ragweed, or are taking blood thinners.
Infuse 1 tablespoon of fresh flower heads, or 1 tsp dried flower heads in hot water, steep for 5 minutes and enjoy!
Chamomile has small daisy like flowers and fine foliage that makes it an attractive plant in the garden. German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has the best flavor and readily self seeds to provide an ongoing crop in the garden. Chamomile likes a sunny spot with well drained soil.
|Posted by Alana Lee on May 25, 2011 at 7:02 PM||comments (0)|
Spring is well under way and the grounds at Leefield are full of blossoms - the scent of apple and lilac blossoms surrounds us, and is especially fragrant in the evening hours. This time marks the welcome arrival of the pollinators to the gardens, like bees gathering pollen and nectar from the blueberry blossoms. The flowering almond bushes are also quite spectacular this time of year.
|Posted by Alana Lee on April 3, 2011 at 9:48 AM||comments (8)|
Many items can be reused and repurposed for seed starting containers. Empty cardboard egg cartons, and even egg shells themselves make great little seed starting pots - and can be popped right into the garden at planting time!
|Posted by Alana Lee on April 2, 2011 at 12:29 PM||comments (0)|
Spring is here, and it's time to start seeds for the garden. I like to use a nice organic soiless starting mix and peat pots (set into plastic trays to catch water leaking out the bottoms). We start many vegetables indoors as our greenhouse is not heated, and use a metal shelving unit that has been fit with shop lights (hung from chains that make the lights adjustable as the seedlings grow). The shop lights can all be plugged into a power bar, along with a heated seed mat for plants like peppers that prefer warmer germination temperatures. Once the outdoor temperatures are a bit warmer, the seedlings can be hardened off in the greenhouse and then planted into the garden.
|Posted by Alana Lee on March 27, 2011 at 6:10 PM||comments (0)|
Last summer we planted and grew our own popcorn, then harvested it after it dried on the stalk in late fall. After drying indoors over the winter we recently gave it a taste test. We tried popping by two methods, first by shucking the kernals off the corn and popping in some oil in a pot on the stove, and second, by leaving the kernals on the cob, placing the entire cob in a paper bag and microwaving for a few minutes. Both methods resulted in great tasting popcorn that didn't require any additional seasoning.
|Posted by Alana Lee on March 22, 2011 at 7:43 PM||comments (0)|
Using our indoor seed rack, fitted with growing lights, it is possible to enjoy some homegrown fresh herbs and vegetables througout the winter. Mint, basil, thyme, organo, chives, rosemary are just some of the herbs that can be enjoyed year round. We even tried tomatoes (choose dwarf varieties that will do well in a small pot, like Red Robin or Sub Arctic Plenty) !
|Posted by Alana Lee on March 15, 2011 at 9:00 AM||comments (0)|
Growing your own fresh sprouts is easy and a great way to add homegrown goodness to salads, stir fries and sandwiches during the winter months. Sprouts provide a high amount of easily digestible vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes.
You can find a variety of sprouters at health food stores, but we use a simple screened top that is affixed to a wide mouth glass jar. If you haven't collected your own sprouting seeds from the garden, you can purchase them online, or at your local health food store. There are many sprout mixes available, but we like to use an organic sandwich mix. Be sure to select seeds intended for sprouting and not commercial garden seeds as the later may have been treated with chemicals and fungicides. Also, grow only what you can eat in a week and never eat any sprouts that smell off or have turned brown.
Place a few tablespoons of seed in the bottom of the jar and soak in water for about 12 hours. Some seeds may need darkness to germinate. Rinse well and drain. We place our sprouting jar upside down, angled, in another dish lined with a paper towl to ensure that the seeds are not sitting in water. Rinse and drain your seeds daily. Keep the sprouter where they will get indirect light, but not direct sun, and the seeds will begin growing in a few days. Once green leaves develop they are ready to eat!