Better Late Than Never

The green onions we pre-started indoors never came up.  I suspect it was an kssue of too much water.  Eventually I direct seeded a bunch more, and here they are, three weeks later!  Next year I plan to direct seed them early and cover them to avoid such a mishap.

A little row of late green onions.

A little row of late green onions.

Germination Rates

Every year I overplant, to ensure that I get enough plants.  And every year, I end up with way more plants than I can squeeze into the garden.  So this year I decided to keep track of how many seeds I planted, and how many actually germinated.

Some of my seeds were a few years old, others were brand new; some are organic and others aren’t.  Some were purchased from seed companies, some were from seed swaps, and some were collected by myself from last year’s harvest.  Unfortunately, this year I was unable to keep track of how old the seeds were, so my data does not account for that.

Below is my germination chart of all pre-starts.  I did not keep track of things I direct-seed, such as salad greens, because the seeds are so small that I will continue to plant rows of uncountable seeds in-ground.  But I will be using this data to decide how much seed to purchase for next year.

Seed Planted Germinated Failed Germination Rate
Peppers, Gypsy Red 5 4 1 80.00%
Peppers, Golden Cali Wonder 7 6 1 85.71%
Peppers, Habanero 8 2 6 25.00%
Peppers, Romanian Sweet 10 6 4 60.00%
Peppers, Sweet Chocolate 5 4 1 80.00%
Tomato, Black Cherry 10 9 1 90.00%
Tomato, Matt’s Wild Cherry 10 7 3 70.00%
Tomatoes, Roma 10 4 6 40.00%
Tomatoes, Yellow Large 10 7 3 70.00%
Tomatoes, Yellow Mini 6 6 0 100.00%
Green Onions 25 5 20 20.00%
Impatiens 11 0 11 0.00%
Begonias 15 15 0 100.00%
Snap Peas 25 3 22 12.00%
Nasturtiums 12 6 6 50.00%
Zucchini 20 4 16 20.00%
Cucumbers 23 9 14 39.13%
Sunflowers 15 10 5 66.67%
Zinnias 26 13 13 50.00%
Kale 27 22 5 81.48%
Beans 27 16 11 59.26%
Chickpeas 10 0 10 0.00%
Parsley 6 3 3 50.00%

Postage Stamp Backyard

My Postage-Stamp Backyard

My Postage-Stamp Backyard

I planted the pre-starts out a few weeks ago, but I wanted to give them some time to settle in to their beds before I took pictures. It’s amazing what you can fit into a postage-stamp backyard!

Think VerticalWhen you have a small space to grow in, you must think vertically. We installed two towers made from plastic coated steel supports with jute twine wrapped around them. These will support our zucchini and cucumber plants. Between them we grow nasturtiums for our salads, and around the outside reside zinnias, sunflowers, and morning glories to attract pollinators.

Pole BeansOf course, there are plenty of vining plants to grow vertically in your garden. My absolute favourite are Blue Lake Pole Beans. Last year we grew 12 plants which produced enough beans to both eat and preserve (with hot peppers) through the summer. I was also able to collect about 300 seeds off the vines at the end of the harvest season. I have been growing these beans for three years now, and the yield is simply amazing!

The cedar hedge at the back of our property leaves us with a long, shady strip of garden, receiving approximately 3-4 hours of sun each day. It is sometimes difficult to decide what to put there. This year we settled on rainbow chard, kale, and green onions. Tasty!

Tomatoes / Hot PeppersLast year we planted only four tomato plants, each a different variety. This year I grew yellow, yellow mini, black cherry, Matt’s Wild cherry, and Roma. We had planned to only plant four again this year, but as usual, I started way too many plants, so we popped 16 of those suckers into the garden. This is going to require some maintenance throughout the summer, but the yield will be totally worth it when we’re eating homemade pasta sauce on cold winter days. Between the tomatoes I planted hot habanero peppers for pickling and marigolds for pest control.

Container GardensI never feel that there is enough space in-ground, so we do a little bit of container gardening as well. Our big bins contain our 12 sweet pepper plants and one box of carrots and radishes (interplanted). We also use window boxes for our salad greens – lettuce, chicory, spinach, and a mesclum mix.

GreensYou may be wondering about the strange blue things throughout my garden this year. We decided to try underground watering – we buried 2 litre apple juice containers with holes in them. So far they work great in the garden, but not so much in the bins. In the bins they release the water too fast and the excess just comes out of the overfill holes in the bottom. Next year we will try smaller bottles to release the water closer to the middle of the bins.

BasilsOh yes, and we can’t forget the herbs. We actually don’t use a lot of herbs in our house, but I do have chives and about 5 kinds of mint in my perennial garden out front, and some parsley in the garden with the tomatoes. Other than that, we grow basil and thai basil in containers which move around the yard.

I’m quite happy with how full our home garden is. We have a plot over at our local community garden which contains a large amount of carrots and beets for pickling as well. Now that all the work is done, we have time to relax and enjoy watching things grow!

Ottawa Frost Warning

There is a frost warning for Ottawa tonight.  Bring in any plants in pots, and cover anything that’s in-ground.  You can use anything to cover them – plant pots, garden cloches, even yard waste bags!  If you plant anything in bins, they may have come with lids you can pop back on for the night.

It’s also a good idea to water your plants before bedtime.  The water will keep the plants a slightly warmer temperature than the air around them.

Here are a few of the ways we covered our plants.  The window boxes at the bottom are next to the house to keep them warm. Good luck and stay warm tonight!


GMO In Your Garden

I had been drafting an entry in regards to myths about GMO seeds.  One of the primary focuses of the article was about how people worry so much about where they can find non-GMO seeds for their garden.

Then I came across this article.  It covers everything I wanted to say and more.  So instead of reinventing the wheel, I will be adding this article to the sidebar of this blog for easy access.

From the article:

“Unfortunately, some seed companies are trying to take advantage of some gardeners’ concern by advertising that they do not sell GMO seeds.

No seed companies sell GMO seeds to home gardeners — whether the company publicly states it or not.”

Tomato Transplanting Tip


I start all my seeds in little individual yogurt containers that I have washed out, removed the labels from, and poked holes in the bottom of.  I do this because of the space limitations of my little tabletop greenhouse.  The problem is, tomatoes tend to outgrow these containers very quickly, as their root base grows seemingly faster than the plant itself.

Usually by the time the tomatoes are big enough to transplant, the other plants are also big enough to move to a lower shelf (they don’t grow as quickly so they don’t need to be at the top near the lights to keep them short).

For the first phase of transplanting I use tall pots.  I transplant the tiny tomato cubes into tall plant pots – but near the bottom, not the top.  Then I only fill up half of the pots.

About 3 weeks later the plants are tall and well established, but the bottom leaves have usually fallen off.  This is where the awesomeness of tomato plants comes in.  When you bury more of the tomato stalk, the stalk grows more roots.  Yay science!  I fill the tomato pots to the top,  and a couple of weeks later they start to fill out and become bushier and healthier, and are ready to be transplanted in mid-May.

Oh hello, little Kale!


Welcome to the world!  I am going to take very good care of you.  You will get lots of sun, rain, and will be surrounded by happiness.  And then, when the time is right, I will cut off your heads, put you in the oven, and turn you into tasty, tasty chips.  Yum!

A New Perspective

They say that when you have kids, you get to experience everything all over again from their perspective.  My child’s JK class is doing a collection project, and she chose to collect seeds.  Her spelling is very unique, but hey, you try spelling nasturtium without looking at the seed packet!  :)


Upcoming: Spring Vendor and Craft Fair

The Suburban Garden Artisan Club is made up of a few local Ottawa crafters.

I am proud to announce that The Suburban Garden Artisan Club will be making our showcase debut at the Spring Vendor and Craft Fair, at the Carleton Place Arena on Saturday, April 25 2015, 10am – 3pm.  The Artisan Club is made up of a few local Ottawa crafters who specialize in handcrafted items such as crocheted bags, hats, purses, and hair accessories.  Hope to see you all there!

The Secret Seed Exchange

65 Secret Seed Exchange packets

65 Secret Seed Exchange packets

At least once a year I hold a Secret Seed Exchange.  It’s a bit like a Secret Santa – people send me their seeds and stamps, I sort them all and send back different seeds.  The seeds the participants receive are a mystery – they don’t know what they’re getting or who they came from.

This year we had 14 participants from Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.  I swapped 14 flower seeds and 51 vegetable seeds.  There was a tie for the most common vegetable seeds sent in – salad greens and squash (6 packets of each).  The most common flower was the sunflower (4 packets).  There were some interesting seeds too, such as Tibetan Barley, Arrowroot, and Kohl Rabi.

If you would like updates on the next swap, join our facebook group.  I’m already looking forward to it!