Saturday, 30 March 2013

Greenhouse Ramblings in March

Lots going on in the greenhouse...

This year, I was asked if I would carry seeds or seed potatoes, etc... at my little greenhouse. Hmm, the more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it!

If I am promoting growing your own groceries, your own kitchen garden, then I needed to be able to provide more of the products grown in a typical kitchen garden, things like small fruits (blueberries, currants, grapes, etc..) seed potatoes, of course! and seeds for all the things best planted directly into the soil ...

I checked out several seed companies as I wanted to do something different than the norm. Why carry the same thing as everyone else? I wanted something new, something not carried at your regular hardware stores and large garden centres.

Therefore, after checking out several companies that only sell to small mom and pop or IOG's (Independently Owned Garden Centres), decided to go with Renee's Garden Seeds.
I love Renee's. Have personally been shopping with them for a long time and like that no one else in town really carries them.
Renee's has taken the Safe Seed Pledge so is not affiliated with any companies that support GMO's, etc... they test and trial everything they sell, not just one season, but many seasons. They also trial them in various areas of North America, including here on the west coast of Canada.

I am also carrying seed potatoes for the first time ever...

Early seed potato varieties - These spuds bulk up quickly which makes them great for early picking as baby potatoes. They can also be left in longer (as mid-season potatoes) to get a good skin on them so that they will store well, and are a medium-large size.

-Red Sangre's ... smooth red skin and very white flesh. Gorgeous. Is a great boiler and a baker.
-Carlita's are organically grown, with yellow skin and yummy yellow flesh. Drought resistant. Is also a yummy boiler and a baker.
-Gold Rush is a Yukon Gold type, organically grown seed potato. Is a russet with lovely very white flesh. Fabulous baked, boiled or fried.

Mid-Season seed potatoes

-Buttery flavoured German Butterball is extremely popular with golden flesh and skin. Makes super hash browns, and is super steamed or baked. Stores well, too.
-all the Early spuds listed above also belong in this grouping, if you do not want to eat them as newbies.

Late season seed potatoes

-Banana's (the family fave!) are yummy, pale skinned fingerlings with light yellow flesh. They are delicious, waxy and hold together well, so are perfect for salads! We roast, grill or boil them... makes a great 'squished' spud ;)  
-Red French Fingerlings, also waxy and one of the most popular fingerling varieties. Buttery flavour makes them amazing for roasting or grilling, hold together well so great for soups and stews.
-Orchestra is an organically grown seed potato with pale skin and light yellow flesh. It has a creamy buttery flavour, is waxy so makes a super potato salad. Is also drought tolerant and does well in adverse conditions.
-Super tasty Russian Blue's. These guys have dark blue skin and light blue flesh.. and taste like a normal potato! Is drought tolerant, great baked, mashed, steamed, boiled, or made into french fries or chips.

- I have done up some mixed variety packages, so folks with smaller gardens can trial the various types without having to buy over a pound of each potato type!

I love to grow potatoes so am happy to be carrying them at the shop this year.
Memories - We started growing our own potatoes when we moved into our second potager, while the kidlets were pretty little, about 6 and 8 years of age.
In spring, we would head off to the local nursery to choose a wee variety of  spuds. This nursery, no longer in operation, was an old family farm that ran as an apple u-pick in fall, selling fruiting trees and shrubs in spring and summer.
The seed potatoes were piled high in big bushel baskets, laid out in tidy rows, inside an old, musty, dusty, earthy smelling barn. This barn was not used to house animals but was instead filled to the brim with heaps and mounds of soil everywhere. Sticking out of the sides and tops were bare root trees and shrubs, of all ages and sizes, nicely heeled into the mounds. What an exciting place to go!
As we only had a small urban plot with four raised beds for veggies in the back corner, we would delegate one of the 4x8 beds to grow our potatoes in. The kids and I would pick out two or three potatoes of three or four varieties to grow each year. They would be placed in brown paper bags, weighed on the scale to be paid for by the pound, and off we would go with our pick of colours and shapes. We tried all kinds of spuds, never knowing which one we would be lifting for supper that day. The obvious favourite for the kids was the Russian Blue, while hubby, still to this day, adores the bananas.

On to the grower news... and in the greenhouse this month, this is what has gone on....

All roses, perennials and herbs have moved out to the hoop house to make room for tomatoes!
The roses are coming along very nicely and could potentially be ready to go ...  if you are able to harden them off yourself, in and out for several days. Also, knowing that if you plant them before the end of the month, you will likely get frost bite on some of the tender new foliage.
Otherwise, leave them with me to enjoy the hoop house, let me harden them off, water and feed them, get them to the bud and bloom stage, and then you pick them up at the end of April, when you no longer have to worry about them.

Oops, yes, that is a dog toy in the middle of the nursery...

Many plants from the hoop house were moved outdoors.

Tables were cleared and cleaned, in preparation for the tomatoes....

Yep, here we go! Lovely sight!
Over 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes are on their way, getting ready for planting out in May or June.
Best to wait till May long weekend, or even longer if you can, for planting ... however, best to buy the tomato plants early or the selection will be much reduced : )

My tomatoes are grown and sold in Eco pots that are made of rice. The pots are very fragile and will crack if dropped or manhandled but I have had no issues with them and simply adore them. They grow great tomatoes.

I love these pots! You can either crack them abit and then plant them as is, pot and all, covering the entire pot with soil to prevent drying out .... or crack and remove the pot, tossing it into your compost bin, as I do. Will decompose in 9 months or less!

This disgusting brew is Alfalfa Tea!
In addition to the liquid seaweed, I am also using this lovely (?) brew once a week on the tomatoes and peppers.

Stuff you can be starting in your greenhouse...
-Sweet peppers, if you hurry!
-Cabbage, lettuce, greens
-Sweet peas, garden peas
-Canna lilies, calla lilies, eucomis, dahlias, gladioli, all kinds of summer flowering bulbs.

Happy Easter and happy gardening!

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