The overwintered kale is sprouting!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Late to the Party!! My Tardy Seed Starting

Green heirloom cotton seeds! 
For the first time - probably since I was a teenager - I am late in starting my seeds.. My tardiness stems from a combination of factors that includes early spring travel and a lingering head cold, but I finally got started last week.. a dozen varieties of tomatoes, herbs, kales, annual flowers, salad greens galore and much more.. and I have to say, it felt great! Don't you just love the act of planting seeds.. checking them day by day to monitor their progress? It's such a wonderful way to celebrate the spring garden. And it's not too late to start seeds if you haven't yet done so. 

In The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, I wrote a 2 page piece called 'A Year in the Life of my Grow Lights', which details how I use my grow lights in spring, summer and even early autumn to get a jump on the garden. Using my grow lights - even after the initial spring garden planting - allows me to enjoy a constant supply of top quality, diverse varieties of vegetable seedlings for succession planting. 

Here is a peek under my grow lights this morning - I'm also so surprised how fast the seedlings grow! My zinnias and kale germinated after just 2 days! And in case you're curious, my basement temperature (where my grow lights are located) is just 15 C. Not very warm, but the lights do generate some heat. The cooler temp's help encourage stronger, sturdier seedlings.

Wondering how close your plants should be to the bulbs - close!
I keep my seedlings about 2 to 3 inches below the light. Any
further and they stretch to reach the light, weakening the

I LOVE this veggie - it's Peppermint Swiss Chard,
if you look very close you'll see that pink and white
streaked stems. So pretty!

Every seed germinated too - most offer 2 seedlings per 'seed'.
Like beets, Swiss Chard 'seeds' are dried fruits and often
produce seedlings in clumps. Just tease them apart
when transplanting.

In case you needed a reminder about how
dazzling Peppermint chard is - last
summer's chard! It also makes a stunning
container plant.

Here's a new kale for me - 'Black Magik', a variety of
dinosaur/Tuscan kale but with wider, longer leaves and
less tendancy to curl. I'm looking forward to testing it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rooftop Gardening - an excerpt from Groundbreaking Food Gardens

HGTV Gardens just published an excerpt from Groundbreaking Food Gardens, which details a rooftop garden by the Seattle Urban Farm Company. Read all about it here

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The launch of Groundbreaking Food Gardens!

Can you see me?? I'm at the front of the crowd in front of
the screen giving a 5 min talk about the book.
What a week! Last Saturday, April 5th was the official launch party for Groundbreaking Food Gardens and it was a fabulous afternoon. It was a busy 2 hours of chatting, book signing and talking to fellow gardeners. My heartfelt thanks to Halifax Seed for hosting the launch - it was so great to see so many familiar faces.. as well as plenty of new ones! I thought I'd share a few photos of the party as well as a few snaps taken by my Toronto based cousin Mary Lynn who spied my books at her local Chapters Indigo store. Chapters was kind enough to include it in their spring garden book section!

My and my wonderful friend Edie!! :)

Elizabeth Peirce and I at the launch. Elizabeth is
the author of Grow Organic, a fabulous book
on veggie gardening in Nova Scotia. Her latest
is You Can Too - all about pickling & preserving
the harvest. So happy she found time to drop in
to the launch!

A school reunion with some friends from the former
Nova Scotia Agricultural College - Patsy and Sherry.

So much fun! 

Thanks to Chapters Indigo for including the book along
with their spring picks! 

And in the foodie section (I have that kale
book in my kitchen - fantastic!)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Launch for Groundbreaking Food Gardens

One of the designs from Groundbreaking Food Gardens - my
plan/techniques and ideas for a year round veggie
garden that offers a bounty of veggies, herbs & fruits. 
We're just over a week away from the official launch party for Groundbreaking Food Gardens. It's being held at Halifax Seed in Halifax on Saturday April 5th from 2 to 4 pm.

Please drop in if you can - there will be plenty of shiny new books, as well as seeds with every book purchased, some much-needed spring inspiration, garden chat and also cake - if you need to bribe your kids or significant other. Oh yes, and door prizes like a subscription to Gardens East magazine or a gift card to Halifax Seed!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Canada Blooms 2014 - Part 2, Fabulous Folks!

One of the best bits of going to Canada Blooms is seeing old friends - and meeting new ones! As well, I had the opportunity to meet some avid gardeners that I only knew through social media. It's always great to put a face to the twitter handle or Facebook commenter.

Today, I'm off to a talk at Blomidon Nurseries, but just wanted to share some of these fine folks before I head out.. Hope you're enjoying spring so far! I'm looking out my window with a hot cup of tea and enjoying the view of a handful of chickadees playing in my ornamental grasses.. a nice way to start the day.

One half of the Savvy Gardening crew - Tara and I
at Canada Blooms!! The four of us are pretty
scattered and there is just NEVER enough time together
to catch up. 

Hi Tara - enjoying the kids garden at Canada Blooms!

Paul Zammit, the Horticultural Director of the Toronto
Botanical Gardens

It's Hilary! So great to meet my twitter friend. She's an
avid gardener who inspires me with every tweet. 

And Ron! Another talented gardener from Ontario. Lovely
to see him again!

Me at the tail end of my book signing.. It was a great
turnout! Thanks to everyone who popped by to say hello
and pick up a copy!

I also joined the Pay Chen show while in TO. We had
a great chat about gardening in small spaces.

Go Helen go!! Helen Battersby and her sister Sarah offer
plenty of garden fun on their popular website - Toronto Gardens.
Helen is also a Canada Blooms tour guide and I was lucky
enough to tag along on part of her tour. Love how she
co-ordinates wardrobe with the gardens! :)

The Garden Writers lunch - a busy place! My seminar took place
at the same time, so I was in and out. But I did get a chance
to chat with some outstanding garden writers and re-connect
with old friends. 

Beckie Fox, the editor of Garden Making magazine and
Lorraine Flanigan of City Gardening. In 2013, Lorraine
traveled on VIA Rail across Canada visiting public gardens
from coast to coast on behalf of VIA Rail and Garden Making.

Regal in red - Veronica Sliva of A Gardener's World
was the belle of the ball! Veronica often
blogs about her global garden adventures - but she
never takes me with her - boo!! :)
Beckie Fox of Garden Making along with
her publisher - and charming - hubby, Michael. If you haven't
had a chance to check out the magazine, I
highly recommend it. Each volume reads like a book and is
packed full of info, photos and timely techniques.

I snapped these garden gurus on the way
into Canada Blooms - Sonia Day from
The Toronto Star, who is also a very popular
garden author. Also Kathy Wood whose blog
is called The Cottage Gardener.

Minna of Global Mornings in Toronto and I
talk fragrant spring herbs and timely garden
tasks for spring!

Finally, Tara and I hanging out with the firecracker Miriam
Goldberger, author of the new book, Taming Wildflowers

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An early spring at Canada Blooms - Part 1

Paul Zammit and me! Paul is the Nancy Eaton Director
of Horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Gardens - and
contributed a fabulous garden design for a pollinator
friendly veggie garden in Groundbreaking Food
I'm just back from a whirlwind trip to Toronto where a highlight of the visit was my day at Canada Blooms. Walking into the massive room at the Direct Energy Centre was like finally (finally!) enjoying a hint of spring. That day started with an early morning tour around the display gardens and various floral masterpieces with my Savvy Gardening buddy Tara Nolan.

While at Canada Blooms, I offered a seminar, followed by a book signing.. and I also had the chance to connect with the Canadian members of the Garden Writers Association. I will post photos of some of those folks in the coming days.

As always, there is so much to see at the show and I thought I could do one big post, but I just have to many photos.. so I'm going to divide it up over 2 or 3 posts.

Today, I want to focus on some of the edibles and new products I found at Canada Blooms.. I even returned home with more seeds (and seed potatoes) - can you imagine?! Now I need to pay a visit to Halifax Seed because I just realized that I need more trays and cell packs to start my seeds. Should have planned ahead.. ooops!

And speaking of Halifax Seed, they are hosting the official book launch for Groundbreaking Food Gardens on Saturday, April 5th from 2 to 4 pm. There will be plenty of books, seeds, garden goodies, door prizes and even cake! Hope you can pop in and say hi. The Facebook event page is here if you wanted to 'check in' beforehand or see more details.

While in TO, I also appeared on Global Mornings - Click HERE to watch that 4 min clip.

On Sat, March 15th, I joined Charlie Dobbin, host of The Garden Show for a one hour talk with her and her 'under gardener', Frank. They are a hoot - and so professional. Charlie, who also organizes Canada Blooms, had a terrible cold, but soldiered through. Listen to the podcast HERE.

And in tomorrow's (Thurs March 20th) Globe and Mail, there will be an article on my new book.. I'll post an online link if there is one.

More to come! :)

Hello Toronto!

Walking into the show I spy veggies!!

Is it summer? I see bush beans!

A view of some of the booth created by the Toronto
Botanical Gardens - a true edible paradise!

They used an assortment of trellises,
teepees, etc to support vining
crops likes cukes, noodle beans and more.

So colourful! This was a happening booth! This
photo was taken before the show opened.. during show
hours, it was wall to wall people!
See - I wasn't lying.. wall to wall! These four ladies work
for the TBG and were manning the cash registers.
So many tempting plants, tools and gardening goodies.

Oh look - it's m new book!! During my book signing, they
went through quite a pile! What a great place to
sign books. 

So beautiful! I filmed a short 2 min video here
to promote my upcoming June 5 and June 6
appearance at the TBG.
A pot of kale!
More raised planters and food crops.

A sprawling hanging tomato. The
pot was wrapped in burlap for
visual appeal.

A charming potting cart. I want one! (and
I love these topiaries)

A few new products - a pallet inspired
vertical garden. Great for edibles like
salad crops or herbs, as well as ornamentals
like succulents. 

A trough planter. Nice and deep for holding soil, with
a wide top to fit in as many plants as possible.

More vertical growing products. I
really want to start a living wall on my
back deck.

A closer peek. I want to grow herbs in mine.. anyone else?? :)