Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Potager, The Greenhouse, & Me.

Most of you readers know what the Nitty Gritty Potager is, but might not be familiar with the Nitty Gritty Greenhouse? While we're at it, who am I exactly and what am I all about?

The Nitty Gritty Potager- 

A potager is an Integrated kitchen garden with a blend of edibles and ornamentals.

This is my personal kitchen garden, where I sow and grow food for my family and extras to share with friends. Is a blend of edibles and ornamentals growing in harmony, providing us with a healthy, vibrant, and thriving organic garden. Fruit trees and ornamental ones, too, berries and vegetables blended with all kinds of flowers. The potager is located right beside the greenhouse, and is open for one and all to poke about and see how things are growing. 

The gardens and yard are completely organic, the veggies are heirlooms, the annuals and perennials chosen to attract pollinators and good bugs, repel bad bugs, house the frogs, bats, birds, and lizards. An organic garden is ecologically friendly, relying on the symbiotic relationships of the soil, the plants and the critters, to keep the yard and gardens healthy and thriving.

I have seven 40' long beds where I grow all the goodies to eat fresh foods daily, plus freeze, can, or dry the rest for healthy organic foods during the winter months. I also have two extra beds, 25' long, for garlic and winter gardening.

I am not so much concerned about how many pounds of food I can get from each plant as I am about growing a balance of foods that my family eats and enjoys, plus finding and growing the heirloom varieties that thrive best in our locale. 

My passion for potager growing came from our four year military posting to Lahr, Germany in the early 1990's (hubs is retired military). Small Potagers and Urban Homesteads are commonplace in the small towns in and around the Black Forest.

The Nitty Gritty Greenhouse

This is my very small, mom and pop specialty nursery in Nanaimo, BC, on the fabulous wet, west coast of Canada, where I am all about providing folks with the plants they need to successfully grow organic, healthy, happy and beautiful kitchen gardens/potagers.

     The nursery and greenhouse

Assortment of zucchini's. 

 Edibles!  Of all kinds!

Seeds, spuds, asparagus, shallots, horseradish and other bare root veggie stock start out the year in early spring, followed by heirloom veggie seedlings and starter plants of all kinds. You name it, I probably grow it!
Heirlooms are old heritage cultivars that have been saved for many generations, are open-pollinated and come true from saved seed each and every year.

I am absolutely in love with growing heirloom tomatoes. Love the stories behind them and the taste simply cannot be beat!
I sell 40 to 50 varieties annually of cherries, slicers, pastes, and beefsteaks in every hue imaginable. from red to yellow, orange, pink, purple, and black.
Each year I make a list of my top performers and tastiest types on my 'Tanja's Top 10 Tomatoes' list.
See here for the top ten heirloom tomatoes in  2014 and 2013 and 2012.

Fruits and Berries!
A fabulous assortment of fruiting shrubs ... gold, black and red raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, grapes, currants, tayberries, boysenberries, fig trees, and strawberry plants, too.
The recent addition of the Brazelberries dwarf container fruits makes it possible for even the smallest of property owners to access their own berries.

Soul Food aka Ornamentals!

I adore roses... growing them, smelling them, cutting them for vases, tucking them here and there in potagers and gardens ...
Roses that smell divine, are disease resistant, and look spectacular ... from David Austin English tea roses to hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras and mini's, too.   

Annual flowers!
Annuals, companion plants, planters, pots, and fabulous hanging baskets.
While I sell all kinds of ready made hanging baskets and planters, the diy workshops are very popular. Folks love to come hang out here, pick out their own colour combo's, and create their own fantastic masterpieces. 

We do tutorial workshops here in the Garden Shop, as well as lots of hands-on diy planting ones.
See HERE for the 2015 workshop list. 

The Nitty Gritty Greenhouse encourages you to try something new, step outside your comfort zone, by growing your own citrus fruits, figs, teas, or olives! 

  Fabulous array of fall garlic varieties for eating or growing!

Me, aka Tanja!  

There are no other employees, is just me sowing, seeding, cutting, growing and selling. 
I rope the mister in to help out with the heavy work.. building new raised beds, trellises, tunnels, digging, moving things around, and more. Occasionally my daughter, Baby Girl, helps out with workshops, baking and set up.

For the most part, however, is just me, with the help of our two slobbery English Mastiff greenhouse mascots and meeter-greeters, Penelope and Ruby Tuesday.

I truly enjoy getting to know the people who come here to my wee greenhouse. We chat gardening, share stories, and often even share the fruits of our labours. Don't let that intimidate you if you prefer to shop and look around in solitude, I won't chat your ear off unless you begin to ask me questions or start a great garden chat ; ) 
I am filthy from working in the gardens
hanging out with my best friend, Little 'Lilah.
My background!
I have been growing food and flowers near forever, but with a real purpose and passion for the past 25 years. Though I have taken all kinds of courses throughout the years, on pruning, grafting, growing, pest and disease identification, roses, annuals, perennials, fruits trees, mostly I have learned how to grow through doing. 

My life within the greenhouse industry began back in 2000, at Hole's Greenhouse and Garden Centre located in St Albert, Albert, where I was known as the 'Information Girl' as well as Nursery and Garden Centre Superviser. As 'Information Girl', you would find me at the Info Booth, in rain, snow, sleet, hail, or sun; talking your ears off, giving advice, helping folks grow, plant, learn, and most often, figuring out what had gone awry when plants/trees failed to thrive. Some of my hints and tips were even published in one of Mrs Lois Hole's gardening books! Even today, I can and will, given time and opportunity, talk your ear off!

From there I moved on to be both the Nursery and the Perennials Manager at Prairie Gardens and Greenhouses, in Bon Accord, Alberta. Still the Information Girl, as well as grower, trainer, mover and shaker, a woman with so many hats. During this time, I wrote a monthly blurb in the Morinville Gardening Club newsletter, organized guest speakers, was often a guest speaker myself, and taught learning programs at the greenhouse.       
During my last years at the greenhouse in Alberta, I developed a neurological issue which still affects my balance to this day. Therefore, upon moving to the paradise that is Nanaimo, BC, I decided to start my own wee greenhouse biz where I now sow, grow, sell and teach, with with the hopes of spreading the joy of organic, heirloom potager growing to everyone. No plot is too small!   

Look forward to seeing you all soon at the greenhouse and potager, and visiting with you here via the blog : )

Globe Artichokes

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