Saturday, 16 January 2016

Growing Peppers from Seeds

Here we are half way through the month of January... and my thoughts are already in far away August!

 Heirloom Italian bullshorn peppers

Why August? Well, January is prep time for sowing the fabulous pepper seeds that I just got in and August happens to be harvest time! 

Therefore, my thoughts drift to summer and what to do with all that bounty ... Pickled peppers, hot sauce, cowboy candy, chopped and frozen, dried and ground, my head is fairly spinning with ideas. 

Dried super hot peppers

Last year we de-hydrated a whole lot of peppers. They ranged from sweet and mild Alma Paprika peppers to super duper, stinkin' hot Bhut Jolokia aka Ghost Peppers.. and everything in between! We ground our own paprika, made our own pepper flakes, and ate loads of pepper filled salads, salsas, wraps and more.

Growing colourful, gorgeous, organic, heirloom hot peppers.

I have a love affair with growing edibles, just cannot help it! My heart tends to go pitter patter a wee bit faster whenever I see my plants producing food. 

Peppers just happen to be especially exciting to grow. Partially because they are so pretty, colourful jewels on compact dark green plants, but mostly because they can be tricky, a bit finicky to start and grow successfully. So when you have an abundant crop of peppers, you feel a tad special, proud even.

I can help you have this feeling! Show you how to sow and grow peppers for a very successful harvest. This years pepper and eggplant seeding workshop is just around the corner, just a few short weeks away.

 Growing happy, healthy, organic peppers.. 

To learn all the tips and tricks to growing great peppers (and eggplants), join me at the workshop on February 13th and become a pepper growing pro! See my website HERE for more information about this workshop, and many more.

Super cute little fingerling eggplants

Join me for some great growing! 

Monday, 4 January 2016

January Garden Ramblings - Happy 2016!

Happy 2016, ya'll!

So looking forward to this great, new gardening year ahead, a fresh start with so much potential...

Is shaping up to be a crazy fun and busy year, with lots of changes, and big goings on ... most exciting of all, I get to plan a wedding! 

My  inspiration colours for this year...
This pic from swoonedmagazine.com

My baby girl is getting married this summer, at my nursery! The pressure is really on, to have loads and loads of lovely colour, hanging baskets, roses, and flowers everywhere.

Her colour scheme is cream and silver with varying shades of purple, ranging from lilac to aubergine. Soft, faded dusty, kind of antique looking. This apple sure did not fall far from the tree, eh?

I'm really looking forward to all the planting and fussing, but a bit worried about the prospect of another dry and hot summer ahead and how to keep things looking fine while being water conscious.

 Lots of basket workshops this year...
or have your own fun DIY party with 5 to to 11 of your best friends. 

Be prepared to see lots of basket and planter workshops at the greenhouse this year, with lots of white and purple flowers to choose from ; ) No, no, no, just kidding! Though there will likely be a lot of purple around, there will also be lots of other colours to choose from, as always. Probably even more of a selection than ever, as I am seriously stoked about flowers this year!

To see this year's basket and planter workshops at the greenhouse, please see HERE! 


So, what's a gardener supposed to do in the month of January when just itching to get going? 

Garden tasks...

- Prune your fruit trees, gooseberries, and other fruiting shrubs. 
- Spray fruit trees (apples, pears, plums) and fruiting shrubs (grapes, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries) with dormant oil or a dormant oil/lime sulpher mix. This spray will kill off over-wintering pests and fungal diseases. While you are it, spray your roses and cotoneaster hedges, as well! Do this on a plus degree day when temps are not supposed to dip below zero for 24 hours.    
- Get out and remove those weeds on dry days. Get them now before they are out of hand in spring.
- Pinch back winter pansies.
- Put out birdseed wreaths, fill feeders, have water for the birds to drink, and clean out birdhouses in preparation for spring.
- If you have not already done so, prune your roses, taking out the 3 D's (dead, damaged or diseased) and cutting them back so that they will not get damaged by heavy, wet snowfalls.

Greenhouse tasks ... 

- Wash pots and seed starting equipment.
- Begin to tidy, clean, and organise the glass house, greenhouse, cold frame, garden shed, etc.. for the season ahead.
- Take cuttings of your geraniums, fuchsias ...

Indoor tasks... 

- Journal your thoughts and ideas for the gardening season ahead.
- Pick out a colour scheme for your planters, baskets, and annuals. Did you see the 2016 Pantone colours of the year? So very soft and pretty! Check them out HERE!
- Plan ahead. What do you want to grow this year? What do you like to eat? What do you want to 'put up' or can/process, what do you want to store or freeze?
- Check back on your notes last year to see what was successful and what was not. What to grow more of, less of, or not at all. 
- Then go through your seeds, do an inventory. Make a list of what you need. Take this list with you to the greenhouses and Seedy Saturdays!
- Order on-line, too.

Pic from awaytogarden.com

When ordering or buying seeds, keep in mind that the drought is supposed to continue this year. Pick drought tolerant and/or heat-resistant varieties for the garden.
Some heat tolerant varieties ... Slow-Bolt cilantro, Queen of Crunch lettuce, Matilda lettuce, Portuguese and Lacinato kale, Catalina spinach.

I also really like the thought of growing mini veggies in pots, things like lettuce, spinach or cilantro that easily bolts in the heat. Grow in pots and pull into the shade when the heat sky-rockets!
Some mini varieties ... Tennis Ball Lettuce, Tom Thumb lettuce,  Garden Babies lettuce, Tom Thumb peas, so many more...    
 

What to sow and grow this month ...  

Do NOT sow seeds too early! This newbie mistake causes stretched out plants and garden failures... here is a list of what you can start this month....
   
Out in the garden... 
Icelandic and Shirley poppies, larkspur, foxgloves.   

Under row covers or in your cold frames ...
Radishes, lettuce, mustard, rocket, mache, Swiss chard, broad/fava beans.

In the greenhouse from seed... 
Parsley, coriander, and chives (with bottom heat).
Cleome (finicky, do not cover seed, follow directions on packet), sweet peas, geraniums, petunias, coleus.
Leeks, onions, artichokes, cabbage, lettuce.
Hot peppers, eggplants, broccoli ... but no earlier than end month!


 Cat on a hot poly roof ; ) 

Happy garden planning!