Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Forward.

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.

Seed Packets.

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.


  1. looks like your going to have a great garden Thea! i don't know much about gardening but Jeremy is growing seedlings inside this year, and its been really interesting seeing them grow and i can't wait to plant them outside.

  2. katie, it is so fun, and so rewarding to grow your own food. once you've tasted a tomato from your own backyard, you'll realise what you've been missing!