Swap meet, canning style!

Yes, you read that correctly - I went to my first ever canning swap Sunday afternoon. It was organized by Tiffany, the writer behind "Eating Niagara", a great blog for anyone interested in our local food resources.

It was held at a local restaurant (who stayed open at a time they are normally closed, just for the event - thanks, Rise Above Bakery!), and set up so that you got one ticket for every item you brought, and could exchange the tickets for items you wanted. I think that's a good set up, since items that are normally canned in small lots (like jellies) can be a lot more expensive to make, as compared to things like tomato sauce or other items traditionally canned in quarts. For me, I'm quite happy with what I ended up with!

I traded 2 jars each of my bread & butter pickles, chili sauce and hot salsa for tomato and basil pasta sauce, mulberry jelly, cranberry ketchup, red eye hot sauce, Rosewood's Wildflower honey, and four rolls, still warm from the oven. One roll didn't make it past supper, and oooh, was it good!

I was really surprised at the variety of canned goods there, in addition to other items: home made soap, the fresh baked bread (in addition to the rolls, there were 4-5 other loaves), herbs and perennial plants (Egyptian onions and Jerusalem artichokes), knitted washcloths, and I'm sure some things I'm forgetting.

I was also surprised at the variety of people. Attended by around 30 people, there was a range of ages, from the very young to, well, older than me, and a surprising number of men - and some of whom came on their own, and weren't dragged along by their wives. I know it sounds sexist, but so often things like this tend to attract mainly women, so it's a nice change to see the other side actively involved!

I am so glad I went - and thanks again to Tiffany, for having the initiative to organize this event! Now, to start thinking about what to make for next year...

Monday Morning Music - February 27, 2012

A weekly post, featuring a song that has had some influence on me in the past week.

All this talk about onions has, of course, reminded me of this song.

Which is also happens to be my favourite instrumental ever.

"Green onions", by Booker T & the MGs.

2012 Seed Choices, Part 4

The main list is here, Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here

And now, the cucurbits: cucumbers, melons and squash. Oh, squash - my favourite thing to grow (other than tomatoes, of course!). And yet, it remains my number one crop failure: a handful of zuchinni zucchinni zucchini each for the last two year, and a few spaghetti squash the first year.

That's it.

But, I am determined to try, try again. This year, I'll resort to row covers, even though that means excluding the pollinators along with the pests. Which means hand pollinating - oh, joy! Of course, that also means I can attempt to save seeds...

Squash is one of those crops which makes me long for a larger yard. I really do get carried away with the number of varieties I plant, considering the limited space I have. Of course, trellising helps, and this year, I might try some summer squash and cucumbers in planters, leaving more room for the larger winter squash in the actual garden.

I have a few seeds left from two years ago, but I didn't get great germination last year, so I bought a few new varieties this year. And I actually limited myself to one zuchinni zucchinni zucchini. As much as I like zuchinni zucchinni zucchini, I really don't eat enough of it to justify more than one plant, and it's one of the rare vegetables I do NOT like preserved in any manner - like asparagus. Eat it fresh, or don't eat it.

So, one variety of zuchinni zucchinni zucchini, two of cucumbers (one pickling, one eating), one spaghetti squash, and three winter squash.

But I still have those old seeds, and can't bring myself to just throw them out. So, I'll see if they germinate, and if so, I'll find room for them somewhere!

The final cucurbit tally:  7 new varieties, 7 old, which may or may not grow, for a total of 14. Yikes! But not too bad, considering how much squash I'd grow if I had more room....


2012 Seed Choices, Part 3

The main list is here, Part 1 here, Part 2 here.

Brassicas! I don't think any other family can match the cabbage family for it's diverse selection of edible plants.

And it's that diversity that makes it hard to narrow down one's seed selections to just a few. At least that's what I tell myself ;)

Some brassicas I'm growing this year are new to me - like collards and cauliflower. I've never actually eaten collards before, but I tend to like all others members of this family, and I like eating greens, so odds are I'll like collards as well. And it's worth the $3.00 for seeds and a few square feet of the garden to try collards this year, and see how they grow.

As some, like the rutabaga and turnips, are from seeds I've had for two years, but have yet to plant. Yeah, I suck ;)

Of course, they, along with the one variety of Brussel sprouts, don't make up the majority of varieties in this group. So, what's with all the kale, cabbage, broccoli and radishes?


Let's start with the broccoli. ANY geek worth the title grows romanesco, of course, since it is so freakin' cool in such a fractally, Fibonacci sorta way. As for the true broccoli: Captain is from my seed stash, and is a hybrid, and I want to compare it to an open-pollinated variety, hence the Green Goliath. And Spigiarello provides a main head, then a good number of shoots after the main head is harvested, prolonging the harvest. So I'll compare those three varieties directly to see which performs the best for me.

And kale. I never knew, before I started looking at seed porn catalogs, just how many types of kale there were! But which will grow best in my garden? Which will be the best for overwintering? Which will tolerate the summer heat the best? I have no idea. But I do have choices: buying packs of individual varieties, or opting for the small gardener's best friend: the seed mix. Which is, of course, what I did. For the price of one pack of seeds, I get to compare three varieties of kale, plus the Winterbor from my seed stash. Seed mixes are cheaper that buying the individual varieties, and I won't waste as much seed if I decide not to grow one or more varieties again.

The radishes are a similar story: I wanted to try a few different ones this year, so I bought two different seed mixes, plus the ones from my stash. And radishes are such a small, quick crop, planting that many varieties doesn't actually take up too much space.

The cabbage selections are a bit different though. Here, I'm selecting varieties for different harvest times: a quick-growing early cabbage as well as storage cabbages for fall harvest. Two of the varieties come from the seed stash, and three, including the early variety (Early Jersey Wakefield) are new this year. And of course, the napa cabbage. I might possibly add some other Asian greens, like bok choi, that also belong in this family. We'll wait and see what's available locally (I have one local garden center that sources seeds from one of my favourite of the "big" guys, the Ontario Seed Company, so I don't mind buying some seeds off the rack vs. ordering them from a catalog).

So, what do you get when you add a very diverse family, a couple variety trials and selecting for different harvest times?

28 different varieties, that's what!

Independence Days Challenge - Week 3

1. Plant Something.

Yes - four varieties of onions, leeks and celery!

2. Harvest Something.

Nada. It's still February!

3. Preserve Something.

Nothing this week.

4. Waste Not.

Just adding more scraps to the stock pot (ha!).

5. Want Not.

Nothing. The sales haven't been good enough for me to buy anything, and I don't really need much of anything (other than perishables, of course).

6. Eat the Food.

I made a big batch of vegetable soup, mostly from pantry or freezer items, this week. I ate more than that, of course, but for the life of me, I can't remember what. I think maybe I need to start tracking my meals, so I can assess how well I am at eating local foods?

7. Build Community Food Systems.

Nothing this week.

8. Skill Up.

Again with the books!

My local used book store is a treasure trove of old books. The "Putting Food By" is the 1975 edition, and I know I'll have to double check processing times, but the recipes and instructions were worth the $10 price tag, at least to me. And the sausage book - written in 1969, by an apparent comedian (quote: "When wurst comes to wurst"), it is a fantastic glimpse into the past as far as sausages go. It has both recipes for making different types of sausage and for cooking with sausage. The sausage making recipes are a bit vague, but the others are great, and at $3.50, it's the cheapest cookbook I've ever bought!

I've added a page with a list of other blogs participating in the challenge, so please, go check them out as well, and if I've missed any, please let me know!

2012 Seed Choices, Part 2

Part one is here

I realize that growing over 100 different varieties of annual garden plants is a bit... odd. Most (sane) people get by with one or two different varieties of each plant they grow, so why do I have so many?

Because you can take the woman out of the science lab, but you can't take the science lab out of the woman :)

In other words, I'm still trying to pick the varieties that do well here. This is the time to grow as many different things as I can, since I do not have to rely 100% on the garden to feed me. If I have a failure, as disappointing as it is (and yes, I am looking at you, squash crop that failed for the second year running!), it's not the end of the world. So I want to experiment now, in order to eventually narrow it down to the varieties that are suited to my garden and my tastes.

I also grow different varieties to fill different roles  - and onions are a great example of this.

I'm growing seven different types of onions this year, plus leeks and three varieties of garlic. Yeah, I know, most people only grow one or two, but...

I need (want!) storage onions (both red and yellow), onions for canning (both small ones for pickling and large ones for use in things like salsa) and onions for fresh eating. I've only grown large onions from sets before, and while they are a good choice, the varieties available are limited, and cost can start creeping up, especially if you are ordering them from a catalog and have to pay for shipping. 

So this year I decided to try seeds. I picked Ailsa Craig for a large, white fresh eating onion, Rossa di Milano for a red storage onion, Australian Brown for a yellow storage onion, and White Pickling for a pickling onion (obviously!). I'm also going to compare the other varieties against the White Pickling, to see if I can't simply use one of them, at a smaller size, for pickling. And you can't forget green onions scallions (most people call them green onions, but they're really scallions). I still have seed from two years ago, which quite possibly won't grow (onion seeds don't last long) so I bought more this year, forgetting that I had also bought some last year. Oh well! So, I have Hardy White Bunching (old seed), Evergreen Bunching and Southport White Globe for green onions scallions. 

And that's how you very quickly get to seven varieties for one crop ;)

The first year I grew garlic, I simply grabbed a head from the grocery store, pulled apart the cloves and planted them in early spring. And it worked okay. I got a few heads - not enough to last the entire winter, but not bad. Last year, I did the same thing, but planted them at the traditional time, in fall. And every last one of them rotted in the ground. Sigh. This year, I grabbed three different heirloom varieties from a local farm stand, and I'm waiting until spring to plant them. Of course, it would have been nice if I had labelled the *$&@% things, but as it stands, I know one of the varieties but can't remember what the other two are. Kids, don't be like me: write things down!

Leeks are a new crop for me this year, and so just I have one variety (Blue Solaise), for a quick look-see to assess how they grow, how they keep, and whether or not it's worth growing them at all. If I decide to continue growing them, next year I'll add more varieties to see which is the best for me. And that's the general plan for new crops: a small trial the first year, with a large planting with different varieties in the following years, eventually leading to picking one (or more) to grow from then on.

So that sums up this year's allium crops, all 11 varieties. Yikes!

Katy says to get the dratted seeds packs off of her cushion, so she can have a nap. Lazy dog!

2012 Seed Choices, Part 1

The main list is here.

Before I explain my seed selection choices, I need to take a moment to explain how I lay out my garden. I'm a firm believer in crop rotation, so I tend to plant members of the same plant family in one bed. And then I'll plant something different in that bed in the following years. Crop rotation can help reduce pest levels by interrupting life cycles and can also help with soil nutrients. For example, legumes fix nitrogen, so planting brassicas in a bed that had beans or peas in it the past year will help the brassicas grow better, without having to add any fertilizers (assuming one leaves the legume roots in the soil, of course!)

These are the main plant families in my (and most) gardens:

Alliums - onion family, including garlic and leeks, and perennial plants like chives
Solanums - tomato family, including peppers, potatoes, tomatillos and ground cherries
Brassicas - cabbage family, including kale, broccoli, mustards, rutabaga, turnip and radish (among many others)
Cucurbits - squash family, including winter and summer squashes and cucumbers
Legumes - bean family, including peas and uncommon crops like peanuts, lentils and chickpeas
Asters - in addition to the flowers, this includes lettuces, sunflowers and perennials like Jerusalem artichokes.
Chenopods - beet family, including spinach, chard and quinoa.
Umbles - carrot family, including parsnips, celery and celeriac, and a lot of herbs like dill, chervil, coriander, fennel, lovage and parsley.
Malvas - okra, and flowers like hibiscus and mallow

There are other plant families which may be present, of course, but they tend to be either unusual choices for backyard gardens, or herbs or perennials that aren't included in rotations.

Clear as mud, right?



Most people, when first learning about plants and gardening, get hung up on the scientific names. In other words, why say solanum when you can say tomato? Because all tomatoes are solanums, but not all solanums are tomatoes, of course ;)

And also because I'm a total plant geek, and after umpteen botany courses and years of working in the field, I simply think in these terms. These are the terms I use for the families in my garden, and which work for me, even if they may not be 100% correct (example: the Umbels are more properly known as the Apiaceae, but I remember them as umbels, since that is the name for the flower type they produce, and the old name for the family).

You don't have to know, or remember, the correct names for everything you grow, but if you want to do crop rotation, you do have to know which plant belongs to which family*.

Up to a point.

Because it also depends on how your garden is set up and how much of each family you grow. I'm never going to grow an entire bed of lettuce, for example, or of okra. So I tend to have at least two beds of "mixed" plants, but by always keeping those mixes the same, it works into the crop rotation. I plant one bed with half beets and half carrots, and one bed includes lettuce, spinach, celery, celeriac, chard and any other oddball plant- like okra. The herbs, of course, are off in their own bed, so I don't worry about them for crop rotation.

Going forward, I'll be discussing my seed selections in more detail by group, so I thought I'd get this out of the way first.

Besides, everyone should be doing crop rotation, right? ;)

* I have recently seen a plan for grouping crops by "niche" instead of botanical family. So, all root crops would be grouped together, all leaf crops together and all fruit crops in a third group. While this is easier to remember, I do not recommend it, as it doesn't, in my opinion, adequately rotate crops. For example, "roots" can include members of the brassicas, cheopodes, umbles, alliums,  and if you stretch the definition of "root" far enough, solanums (potatoes), asters (Jerusalem artichoke) and legumes (peanuts). Leaf crops can include brassicas, asters, chenopodes and umbles. Fruit crops can include legumes, asters, solanums, cucurbits, and malvas. How do you properly rotate that?

Monday Morning Music - February 20, 2012

A weekly post, featuring a song that has had some influence on me in the past week.

For the first time in, well, the first time ever, I watched the Grammys this year. I'm not a big awards show fan. I might watch a bit of the Oscars, but that's about it.

So why the Grammys this year? Because a family member was fortunate enough to get to go see them live! Brat ;)

And one thing really hit home: how freakin' old I am. I was SO glad to see people and groups I actually knew, in amongst all the ones I had never heard of before :)

And, since this group was honoured at this year's ceremony, and since I actually know who they are and the songs they sing, I figured this song was a great choice for this week:

"Wouldn't it Be Nice", by The Beach Boys.

Things I don't buy: sausage

In keeping with the meat theme, sausage is another thing I won't be buying anymore. For the first time ever, I made my own sausage this year.

And it is good!

Remember that 25 pounds of pork I ground a while back? 20 pounds of it got turned into two types of sausage:  sage and mild Italian. As I don't have a sausage stuffer (yet!), I simply froze it in one pound packages, and I'll use it in sauces and casseroles and such. (The rest I kept as plain ground pork - tourtiere, anyone?)

I simply searched on the internet for recipes, and modified what I found to suit my own tastes. For example, I'm not a big fennel fan, so I halved the amount of fennel the Italian sausage called for. It's still a bit much for my taste, so next time, I'll either reduce the amount, or try grinding the seeds so the taste gets more evenly distributed. 

And that's the best thing about making your own sausage: getting to control the ingredients, from the meat you use, to the herbs and spices you add.

I used the first package of sage sausage to stuff the last of the CSA squashes - yum! As an aside - a hearty, yummy vegetable that lasts at room temperature for months without any special preservation needed? Who doesn't love squash??

So now, I'm on the lookout for a sausage stuffer so I can make linked sausage, and a good book of recipes for sausage making. Any recommendations?

I stopped counting at 100...

Fair warning - this is not the final list. Not everything has been ordered yet, and some seed is old and might not grow. But as of now, this is my seed list for this year:

Onions        Ailsa Craig       
                  Australian Brown       
                  Rossa di Milano       
                  White Pickling       
                  Hardy White Bunching       
                  Evergreen Bunching       
                  Southport White Globe       
Garlic          Khabar Purple       
                  Unknown variety 1       
                  Unknown variety 2       
Leek           Blue Solaise       
Carrots        Chantenay red cored       
                   Scarlet nantes       
Beets          3 Root Grex       
                  Golden Detroit
                  Bull's Bloog
                  Mona Lisa       
Collards       Georgia Southern       
Kale            Black Tuscan Palm Tree
                  Russian Red
                  True Siberian
Broccoli       Romanesco       
                  Green Goliath       
Cabbage      Early Jersey       
                  Mammoth Red Rock       
                  Copenhagen Market       
                  Red Dynasty       
Cauliflower   Snowball      
Rutabaga     Laurentain  
Turnip          Purple Top White Globe
Brussel sprouts       
Radish        Comet       
                 Pink Beauty
                 White Beauty
                 Plum Purple
                 China Rose
                 French Breakfast
                 White Icicle
                 Round Black Spanish       
Squash       Table Queen Acorn       
                 Cream of the Crop Acorn       
Zucchini      Black Beauty       
                 Golden Delight       
                 Sunny Delight patty pan       
Cucumber   Straight Eight       
                 National Pickling       
Watermelon Sugar Baby       
Dry Beans   Blue Jay       
                 Black Calypso       
                 Canadian Wonder       
                  Littlefield's Special       
                  Ireland Creek Annie's        
                  Black Turtle       
                  Black Valentine       
                  Jacob's Cattle       
                  Painted Pony       
Peas           Oregon Giant Snow       
                  Sutton's Harbinger       
Beans         Kentucky Wonder       
                  Blue Lake       
                  Lazy Housewife       
Other legumes        Lentils       
                  Winged Pea       
Tomatoes     Oxheart       
                  San Marzano       
                  Roma Plum       
                  Basket Vee       
                  Sweet 16       
                  Canadian Heart       
                  Jaune Coure de Pigeon        
Sweet peppers        King of the north       
                 Marconi Sweet Red       
                 Yellow Bell       
                 Super Shepherd       
Hot Peppers        Long Red Cayenne       
                   Hungarian Hot Wax       
                  Early Jalapeno       
Greens        Bloomsdale       
                  Tennis Ball Lettuce       
                  Cracoviensis Lettuce       
                  Paris Island Cos
                  Rouge d'hiver romaine
                 Red Romaine
                 Black Seeded Simpson
                 Red Oak Leaf
                  Australian Yellowleaf
                 Five Colour Silverbeet       
Okra          Green       
Celery        Tall Utah       
Celeriac      Giant Prague   

Independence Days Challenge - Week 2

1. Plant Something.

Not yet, but I did place two out of three of my remaining seed orders, and gathered up my seed starting stuff (tray and pots and soil, oh my!) to see what I had and what I needed to order - and placed that order as well.

2. Harvest Something.

Nada. It's still February!

3. Preserve Something.

Once again, it's only freezing, but I put a big batch of corn chowder in the freezer (see #6).

4. Waste Not.

I had a craving for pizza yesterday. I also had some bread that was going stale. So, instead of doing what I would normal do (which is pick up the phone and order pizza), I made something that resembled pizza from food I already had in the house. I brushed some slices of the stale bread with oil, and set them under the broiler to brown. I thinned down some tomato paste, and cooked it along with some oregano, basil and onion powder, then spread it on the bread, topped with some shredded mozzarella, and put it back under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese.

Was it pizza? No. But it satisfied my craving, was the perfect supper (I had a late lunch and wasn't that hungry), and saved me money. And it used up the stale bread. I know you can use stale bread for bread crumbs and croutons, but I don't tend to use either of those items a lot, so I end up with a freezer full of odd and ends of loaves, which then get tossed when I clean out the freezer.

I also added more scraps to the stock stash, and have almost filled the bag already!

5. Want Not.

Still mostly in the organizing phase.

6. Eat the Food.

I used 2/3 of the remaining garden potatoes to make a double batch of potato soup. Half fed Dad and I for lunches for two days (with some still leftover for my lunch today), and half I used to make corn chowder by adding frozen corn, finely diced jalapeno peppers, and a bit of cumin and chili powder. One lunch this week was grilled cheese sandwiches, with chili sauce and bread and butter pickles on the side. Yum!

7. Build Community Food Systems.

Attended Seedy Saturday! And shared some local resources with someone new to the area. And arranged with my sister to start some tomatoes and peppers for her (she's going to help my with drywall seams, so I get the better end of the deal, imo) so my seed doesn't go to waste and she doesn't have to buy transplants.

8. Skill Up.

Deflated Dutch baby
The only thing I did here was try a new recipe: Dutch baby. It's basically a baked pancake, and works really well in a cast iron skillet. There are a ton of recipes on the net, but most call for a 10" skillet - which I don't have. So I halved the recipe and used my 8" skillet, and it's perfect - just enough for a big breakfast. I know it's not the healthiest breakfast, but it's a nice treat once a week, and it's easier than making pancakes. I also realized I need to start writing these things down - not just recipes, but my modifications of them, so I started a book which will contain the original recipe and my modifications. I think I'll limit this one to bread (and other bread-like foods), and start another for savory dishes. That way, I'm not dependent on either my memory or the internet - both of which are liable to fail at the worst possible time ;)

Bread book, with Katy's head. Because it is all about the dogs, of course.

Local blogs and garden clubs

A commenter asked the following on my Seedy Saturday Post:

"I moved to this area just under a year ago, so I was very happy to find your blog and also thrilled to see how much is going on in this area. Can I ask please, how you find out about these events? Finding that I had a CSA just a few blocks away from me made me very happy, but I'd love to find out if there are any other like-minded groups - in London I was part of a Post-Carbon group and it was a relief to be able to talk about Stuff."

So, instead of answering Jess (Hi Jess - thanks for commenting!!) in the comments, I thought I'd put the answer here, just in case anyone else found it helpful.

Most of my local information comes from two sources: Tiffany Mayer's Eating Niagara blog and Linda's Tree & Twig Farm blog.

I highly recommend both of those blogs for local readers.

I also belong to a local garden club, which has numerous benefits, including a plant sale every May and a great discount at local plant nurseries. The one I belong to is the Ridgeway & District Garden Club. Meetings are held the second Wednesday of most months (except January, February and August), and this year's annual meeting is March 14. There is always a great speaker, door prizes, food and more - all for a $10 annual membership. While the focus of the club tends to be more ornamentals, there is a lot of combined knowledge among the members - and we are always looking for more!

The meetings are all free for anyone to attend and are held at the Stevensville Memorial Hall starting at 6:30 (I think  - will verify later Coffee and snacks are served at 6:30, the meeting starts at 7 pm). Please, if you are all interested, come on out - I'm always looking for more like-minded people as well (we seem to be few and far between down here!), and I'd love to meet up with local readers!

And if anyone else has a local blog, please let me know :)

A 2nd anniversary and 5th birthday

Five years ago today, a little schnauzer puppy was born, and 9 weeks later he came home to live with me. And just over two years ago, another little schnauzer joined the fold.

Yep, it's that time of year again - the anniversary of Katy's adoption and Kip's birthday. Now, I may be a crazy dog lady, but I'm not so crazy as to actually do anything for the dogs on their "birthdays", but I do note the days every year.

Dog people "get" it, non-dog people never will, and I'm not going to waste my time trying to explain it to them. But these dogs enhance my life in more ways than I ever thought possible.

So happy birthday Kip, and happy anniversary Katy, and may we have many, many, many more!

And fine, maybe, just maybe, you'll both get an extra treat today :)

Monday Morning Music - February 13, 2012

A new weekly post, featuring a song that has had some influence on me in the past week.

Dad was over on Friday, working on the house. And as usual, I had the computer on, playing music.

A quick aside: I can't determine if it's really cool or really sad that Dad and I listen to a lot of the same music.

Carrying on...

A Sam Cooke song was playing, which reminded Dad of a song with the line "scared of dying" in it. He couldn't remember the song or the singer, of course. I thought I knew the song he was talking about, but I couldn't remember the song or the singer, of course. This is another thing we have in common. After some humming and thinking, he realized the song he was thinking of was from the musical "Show Boat", and after a quick computer search, we realized it was "Ol' Man River".

But that wasn't the song I was thinking of. And for the life of me, I could not remember the song or any of the lyrics - just snatches of the tune and the certainty it had a line something like "afraid of dying".

I thought. And googled. And thought. And googled some more. Dad left, with a parting smirk about how long it would take me to remember. Nice guy ;)

Finally, I gave up - after spending way more than an hour searching and listening to snatches of songs. Yeah, I really do need to get a life...

I made supper, ate, cleaned up and decided to grab a book and have a nice, long, hot bath. Baths are perfect for allowing your mind to rest, I've found. And sure enough, once I stopped thinking about it, a lyric floated into my head.

"I can swear there ain't no heaven, and I pray there ain't no hell".

After a quick google search, I had the song. So, I give you Blood, Sweat and Tears with "And When I Die" - a song that took up way too much of my time this week ;)

Oh, and of course I told Dad right away. He and Mom were visiting some friends that night, so it's a good thing their phone number was easy to find...*

And proving that karma is truly a bitch, after mocking me and my frustration in not being able to remember the song, Dad had "Ol' Man River" stuck in his head all night. Ha!

*Yes, I really did call them at their friends' house. This couple has known our family for ages, and I knew they'd find the entire thing amusing. Besides, Mr. Friend really likes music (so much, he still has vinyl and two turntables!), so I knew he'd really understand!

Seedy Saturday!

Seedy Saturday (or Sunday), if you aren't familiar with it, is, at heart, a big seed-swap. I didn't have any seeds to swap, but went anyway :)

Even though it looked like this yesterday:

Luckily enough, I made it safely to the event, only having one little spin-out on the ice-covered roads. Yikes!

There were speakers and vendors, including a good selection of seed vendors: Tree & Twig, The Cottage Gardener, The Plant Lady* and Urban Harvest (I hope I didn't forget anyone!). I bought seeds from all of them - and in fact, The Cottage Gardener was nice enough to bring my seed order with them. Now that's customer service!

In addition to seed vendors, other organizations, such as Seeds of Diversity and Sustain Ontario had information booths set up. I've been thinking about joining Seeds of Diversity for a while, and may just do that this year.

The speakers were interesting.

The first talk was given by Susan from Start Me up Niagara, a local organization that, in their own words, "is about meeting basic needs for food, housing, income, healthcare, treatment, social contact which have positive impact on the quality of decision making and improved life condition." Last year they started their own garden, helping the people they work with develop skills while growing food used to in their meal program and given to those in need in the community. Talk about a win-win situation!

The second talk was given by author Steven Biggs, who gave an inspiring talk about expanding your garden by using containers. I used containers last year to grow my hot peppers, and they did REALLY well.  I'm going to use containers again this year, and possibly for more crops. Steven uses containers for a lot of different crops - from figs to chard to ornamentals to, well, just about everything he grows.

The third talk was given by local chef Mark Picone, and was a great overview of some local vendors for some unexpected foods - vinegar, nuts, cheese, flour and more. He gave me a couple of leads for some items I've been looking for, which is fantastic. He also made one comment, which will be explored in a future post...

I had to leave after the third talk, missing the last two, but I'm glad I went. I definitely recommend it for anyone interested in gardening, and will definitely go next year. Hopefully with my own seeds to add to the swap ;)

It may be too late this year, but if there is an event in your area, try to go next year. It's a great way to meet like-minded people, find local resources, and, of course, support your seed habit!
* I can't find a web site, but Ann is located in Dundas, Ontario, and includes her e-mail address on her seed packets. I don't want to publish it here, but if anyone wants it, send me an e-mail!


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