Carly England from Angels Roost Organic Spa outside Carleton Place posted some inside gardening photos she was doing on Facebook It was so interesting I asked her to tell me what she was doing. We will keep up with her garden from time to time.
Written and Photos by Carly England
I’m sending you some photos of my “babies”. I started all of them on March 20th, perhaps too early at the rate some of them are growing…but oh well, it’s all a fun experiment, really! And from what I hear, it’s going to be a very warm spring (here’s hoping!). I’ll be taking more photos this weekend of their progress.
I bought myself a small greenhouse from Home Depot for about $35, 3 bags of Organic seed starting soil, and 3 seed starting trays. Last year, I tried starting my seedlings in those little soil pellet things, and they didn’t do well. Most of them had mould within a couple of days. I also started them on my dining room table, where they didn’t seem too happy, especially when my cat Lily was attacking them (the new mini greenhouse happily eliminates this problem!). Nonetheless, I did have survivors. Tomatoes were the only thing that really succeeded last year, as well as some pansies and zinnia that I started. Also, the seeds I bought last year were from the grocery store, and although I did chose open pollinating varieties (bees like these, I like bees), I couldn’t be sure of the quality. I was also gifted several tomato plants from my employer, Kathy, which did EXTREMELY well.
This year, I purchased my seeds from Perth Seedy Sunday on March 5th (a truly wonderful event, I was able to speak directly with the people who grew the plants, harvested the seeds (I even took notes! Everyone there was so knowledgable, and super nice). I’m really optimistic that the quality of these seeds will result in better plants!
So far, I’ve planted:
Centennial (Determinate Variety – means the plants stay only a few feet tall and yield sometimes only one crop) good for sauces and pastes
Green Zebra (Indeterminate Variety – means the plants can take on a life of their own! Not kidding here! The pic below is an example of a typical days harvest of indeterminate cherry and larger tomatoes). Larger tomato, green with orange stripes!
Pink Boar (Ind. V) larger pink (!) striped type
Tasty Treat (Ind. V) little cherry tomato type
Lively Sweet Orange
Carnival Blend Sweet
Pink Pampas Grass (Fluffy, pink ornamental grass)
Nemophilia (little black and white flowers)
I also have sunflowers, squash, lemon cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, radish, peas, beans, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, beets, pumpkins and squash to sow outdoors once frost has past. We’re even going to try honey dew melon!
So, I understand if you think this sounds a tad ambitious, and maybe I’m a bit overzealous. However, each year I’ve gardened, I’ve grown my knowledge and harvests dramatically. I remember my vegetable garden when we first bought our home, it was only a couple of tomato and pepper plants, some beans, and a few pots of herbs on my deck – all store bought. Each year I’ve made mistakes, and gotten better! And I highly suggest the book “The Mini Farming Bible: The Complete Guide to Self-Sufficiency on ¼ Acre” by Brett L. Markham. It’s been so helpful to me this year in properly planning, which I’m learning is the most important part of maintaining a successful garden. It also helps that I grew up with parents who were avid gardeners, and that I work at an organic spa where we grow our own vegetables (knowledge by osmosis!).
I garden because it’s something that I genuinely enjoy. It’s the best form of stress relief I’ve ever encountered, and when done right, it can positively impact your whole family, and even community. Some of the plants I’m starting are to share with family and friends to grow. That means they’ll be eating healthy, homegrown vegetables, some of them from their gardens, some from potted plants on their decks (you can literally have a garden anywhere!). This also means that they’ll be making delicious food with these fruits and veggies, which they’ll then share with their families and friends! And best of all…you know where your food came from! 😀
I have plans in place for harvesting my “crops” at their peak freshness, then using them in sauces, salsas, soups, freezing, canning, pickling, pestos, dried herbs and tea, and of course for eating fresh! I’ve been saving my grocery receipts so that I can track the difference in our spending when we are more self sufficient.
So, that’s basically what I’m doing. I have a Garden Journal that I’ve been documenting everything in. I plan on keeping it updated, so I have a written record I can learn from and refer to in the future. As long as I continue to do better each year, that’s what counts! Eventually, I want chickens too, but Marc is not a fan of that idea (for now…).
I’ll be taking some pictures each week to track the plants’ progress. Most of them are doing pretty well at the moment, I had to transplant the tomatoes on Monday, April 3rd, as some of them were already getting their second set of leaves! I used red solo cups with a hole poked in the bottom of each one, filled with seedling mix, placed in a pyrex tray filled with about an inch of water for them to drink at their leisure (seeds like to be watered from the bottom, not the top). I also moved the basil and cilantro into clay pots or solo cups which I’m watering with the same method. Some of the herbs are slower, and the lavender and pampas grass are REALLY slow (I think I waited too long to plant them). I have the green house positioned near a vent, beside a south facing window. They seem to like it. 🙂