|Eggplants with their seed leaves.|
In winter, I hibernate. Hence the long silence from yours truly. In spring, my energy returns, and so does my enthusiasm for things domestic. Last week, it snowed. Nevertheless, now is the time when I begin to plan for outdoor activities later in the spring. Namely, beginning the garden, which starts with seeds.
Back in February, I made a trip to Tregunno Seed Co. on Catherine Street North to pick up potting soil and pots. I ordered my tomato and eggplant seeds online, from The Cottage Gardener and The Cook's Garden. The Cottage Gardener is a family owned nursery near Port Hope, Ontario, that specialises in rare heirloom varieties of tomato. They have a vast selection of tomatoes, but also grow many other heritage and unusual varieties of other vegetables. The Cook's Garden is an American seed company. They have a few varieties of tomato and eggplant that I like and have not found anywhere else.
Every year, I like to try a few new varieties of tomato, along with my favourites. I love tomatoes, and in summer time, I eat several tomatoes everyday. I also like to can whole and stewed tomatoes to eat plain and to cook with - San Marzano. Last year I also grew a variety called Principe Borghese, an Italian variety grown for sun-drying. These are repeat for this year. My ultimate standby is the powerhouse tomato Brandywine, a huge, beautiful, flavourful red fruit. Wonderful for eating fresh, cooking and preserving.
This year, I may have slightly lost my mind as I decided to grow 11 different varieties. 2 varieties will be for preserving - canning and drying. The rest will be for eating fresh, and canning as well.
This season's other players are a multi-hued cast ranging from white (White Queen) to yellow-orange (Jaune Flammee, Nebraska Wedding and Valencia), to multi-coloured (Big Rainbow), to red (Rose de Berne and Bloody Butcher) to purple (Black Krim).
|Seeds are amazing. An enormous tomato plant will grow from each of these dry little seeds!|
Once I have the seeds planted (3-5 seeds per pot), I water them, and place them inside these plastic domes in a sunny window until they have germinated. Once the plants start coming up, I will begin rotating the trays - the plants seek sunlight, so will lean toward the light - unless rotated daily, you will have spindly, crooked plants! Once the plants are about 1-2 cm tall I remove the domes. If the weather is warm, I will put the dome-covered trays outside. In the sun, the trays become like mini greenhouses.
|Tomatoes toasty and warm in their little greenhouses.|
Three weeks ago, I planted 5 varieties of eggplants, and I now have little seedlings. Soon, they will need thinning, but I am waiting until they start to get their second leaves. As soon as the snow melts, I will begin putting them outside in the cold frame during the day.
|My darling eggplants. Are they not adorable?|
After danger of frost, I will plant my babies out in the garden -by my Grandma Blanche's rule of thumb - after the May 24th holiday, or when the black walnut trees begin to leaf.