Monday, May 25, 2009

Introducing....my babies

Announcing the first success of my square foot gardening experiment! Hard to believe the small seeds I planted in March and nurtured in my basement are almost ready for the big show! Don't they look good there, 'hardening' off in the sun?




But, I get ahead of myself here. Lets rewind a couple of months to February when I started my gardening plans. What to grow? My line-up included my favorites - tomato, swiss chard, zucchini, green onions, salad greens, spinach, beans and herbs like thyme, parsley and basil. In an effort to get my kids involved in the garden, I had them each pick out 2 vegetables-My son chose bell peppers and carrots, and my daughter broccoli and cucumbers. So with my list in hand, I placed an order for organic seeds from Hope Seeds, a small company located in New Brunswick that sells seed varieties that do well in the changing Maritime climate and who is certified by the Atlantic Certified Organic Co-op ( http://www.hopeseed.com/ ).


From Superstore, I purchased Nature Mix's seed starting mix http://www.modugno-hortibec.com/en/produits/mix09.html, which is OMRI certified. OMRI, I discovered, is the Organic Materials Review Institute who "provides organic certifiers, growers, manufacturers, and suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production, handling, and processing ( http://www.omri.org/ ). (Nature Mix not a 'local' product, but it is made by Modugno-Hortibec, a Canadian company, located in Montreal).


In order to start successfully from seed, you really need to have some sort of florescent grow light set up to provide enough light to get the seedlings off to a great start. Apparently, a basic shop light will do the trick. I asked my father in-law, who seems to have an endless supply of "stuff" in his house, if he happened to have a shop light that he wasn't using. No surprise..not only did he have a light, he had the real thing- a table top grow light, purchased at a yard sale a few years ago and tucked away (somewhere) for future use. Sweet!


With my grow light, my seeds and starter mix at the ready, I was ready to embark on the first 'hands on' stage of my vegetable gardening experiment. First, I had to find out when to plant my seeds, based on my average last frost date. For Halifax, this is apparently May 6, found on the farmers almanac site, which says it uses Environment Canada data http://www.almanac.com/garden/frostcanada.php. The same site also has a planting table to show when to grow what, in relation to the frost date. http://www.almanac.com/garden/plantingtable/index.php . I also found a handy little link on http://www.yougrowgirl.com/ . It allows you to plug in your frost date and voila planting dates are automatically populated http://www.yougrowgirl.com/grow/seedstartingchart_lazy.php .


So fast forward to today. The tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, parsley, thyme and Basil planted 6-8 weeks or more ago are thriving, if I do say so myself! Not so sure about my electric bill, which i'm afraid to look at. I've started to introduce my little plants to the great outdoors, a little bit each day, a process called "hardening off". According to my handy planting chart, I was late getting the broccoli, swiss chard, onions and salad greens into the ground. The tomatoes could have gone out last Sunday. Late again. But the gardening gods seem to be on my side as the weather report is warning of a risk of frost for tonight! Yikes! That's Nova Scotia for you!

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