Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My latest blog post for Proven Winners

Photo by Proven Winners
My newest blog post for Proven Winners has just been loaded onto their site. To read about some of my favourite picks for winter, click here!

The Hope Seeds catalogue has arrived!

Photo by Hope Seed
I really love seed catalogues.. a sentiment I think most gardeners share. I tend to collect piles of them around the house, leafing through them whenever a few spare moments can be found. In case you missed it, here's a recent post about some of my favourite seed companies.

Yesterday the 2012 Hope Seeds catalogue arrived - perfect timing, just as we were leaving for the kids music lessons! So, I spent the hour immersed in pages of this incredible Nova Scotia company owned by Andrea Berry. In fact, much of the seeds offered in the catalogue have been grown by Andrea, something that truly impresses me especially with the rise of the world's largest seed company, Monsanto. Yikes! And, if Andrea didn't grow her own seeds, she tells you who did. Like Wild Rose Farm in Gilbert's Cove, NS or Mapple Farm in Weldon, NB. Love it!

So, now that my seed form is filled out and ready to mail (isn't that a treasured annual ritual too?) I thought I'd share my order with you. Keep in mind that my seed boxes are still rather full and this is just a top-up.. if you're interested in learning more about any of these veggies, I'd recommend that you go to their website and sneak a peek or even better, order a catalogue of your own!

Pole Beans:
Purple Peacock with assorted other beans. Niki Jabbour photo

Purple Peacock - Early, relatively tolerant of cool late spring soil and a heavy producer of jewel-purple beans. Yum!
  • Mennonite Purple Stripe - A new one for me, it sounds fantastic! Vigorous vines, purple flowers, abundant pods that are green and purple streaked. I'm in!

  • Golden Grex - Another new one for me. Bright orange tapered roots, creamy white interiors, sweet flavour
  • Bull's Blood - great for deep green baby salad greens - even in the winter cold frames!

Jaune Carrot - Photo by Hope Seed
  • Atomic Red - A family favourite, this unique carrot produces deep red roots that actually get redder when cooked. 
  • Jaune du Doubs - A yellow carrot - inside and out. 

  • Giant Prague - I just dug up a few celeriac yesterday from under the winter mulch and they were so aromatic and delicious! I can't wait to try this one, which is said to grow larger then traditional varieties.

Crystal Apple cuke - Photo by Hope
  • Mideast Prolific - Another annual must-have in our garden. These are the baby cukes from the grocery store that are so expensive!! Very prolific (as the name suggests) and just divine!
  • Suyo Long - A Japanese cuke that is beyond delicious.
  • Crystal Apple - Just like our favourite lemon cukes, but the spines are white, not black.

  • Winter Greens Mix - Brassicas for the cold! Great for cold frames.. nice to try a pre-made mix, rather than me always mixing my own. 
  • Ruby Streaks Mustard - My first year for this frilly ruby coloured mustard!
  • Golden Frills Mustard - Another new intro for me, this will make a nice planting partner to Ruby Streaks. 

Photo by Hope Seed
  • Rossa di Milano - A barrel shaped, long storage Italian heirloom onion with red skin. 

  • Jimmy Nardello - Grew this last year for the first time. Is also on Slow Food USA's ark of taste!

  • Giant Winter - An open-pollinated spinach that is said to be very very cold tolerant. Can't wait!! 

Summer Squash:
Photo by Hope
  • Cocozelle - Yes. A must have. An Italian, bush variety that is simply amazing! Great for edible blossom production too. 
  • Costata Romanesca - Rich, nutty and wonderful. Said to be the only zucchini worth growing. 
  • Pattison Panache, Jaune et Verte - So excited about this one too. A scallop type with light green fruits that age to green and striped. 

Tomatoes (Andrea has a lot of lovely heirloom tomatoes, but I have so many seeds that I'm just getting one more this year):
  • Reisetomato - The first time I saw a photo of this tomato, I was astounded!! Click here to see a photo of ONE of these tomatoes. It's like a cluster of grapes and you just pick off each bump one by one. Fun! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

CTV Morning Live and other tidbits...

I'm sorry I've been a bit slack the past week.. Feb is going to be a crazy month for me and I'm working hard to make sure I'm prepared for it! Plus, with 'the book' now released, I've been busy with some media appearances. Coming up tomorrow (or Wed) morning, I'll be on CBC Information Morning talking about winter gardening with the lovely Margot Brunelle. I'll let you know when I have the date confirmation on that and will also post the online link after it airs.

Today, CTV Morning Live is coming over to tour our winter garden. Too bad there's no snow, but at least it's frosty outside! I'm not sure when that clip will air on tv, but will also post the info when I have it.

For now, you can also follow me on twitter at @NikiJabbour, but I promise a 'real' blog post soon.. and, if you want to check out  my upcoming events, please visit I'll be at the Keshen Goodman Library in Halifax Wed Feb 1st at 7 pm for a talk on Year Round Vegetable Gardening and then the book launch is this Sat, Feb 4th from 2 to 4 pm at Halifax Seed! Can't wait.. :)

UPDATE - Ok, the lovely Heidi Petracek from CTV Morning Live has just left after filming in the garden for the past 45 minutes.. The segment will air on Wednesday Feb 1st at 8:15 am on CTV television.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Win a Copy of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener

The lovely magazine, East Coast Living is offering a copy of my book to a lucky gardener! If you're not on facebook, go to their twitter page  for more details!!

Good luck!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Year Round Vegetable Gardener is now in Halifax!

Wish this was my potting shed! It's
the garden shed of a neighbour of mine,
Faye. Isn't it gorgeous!!
Thank goodness for independent bookstores that don't have to go through 20 stops to get books on their shelves.. The Bookmark bookstore on Spring Garden Road (and in Charlottetown, PEI) now has copies of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener on its shelves!

On a related note, here's another review that has just come out of the UK - Click here!

Now, must get busy today on book 2! I have some exciting experts from across North America (and beyond) that are contributing to this book.. but deadlines are approaching and I need to get down to work! I will ignore the Kitchen Garden Seeds catalogue that arrived in the mail yesterday too.. so.. hard.. to.. resist..

UPDATE - Bayers Lake Chapters and Mic Mac Chapters also now both have copies!!

UPDATED UPDATE - Plovers in both Mahone Bay and Halifax also now have copies in stock!! (Thanks for the support Plovers!!)

UPDATE #10,000,000! - Ok, final update for now. I may just list these in a widget to the side of this blog. Halifax Seed now has copies of the book too. They will also be selling them at my lecture on year-round gardening at the Keshen Goodman library on Feb 1st at 7 pm in Halifax and at the book launch at Halifax Seed on Sat Feb 4th from 2 to 4 pm.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mark Cullen's Top Online Gardening Sites

Wow, just heard that Mark Cullen, (aka 'Canada's Garden Guru') picked this blog as one of his top online gardening sites!! Click here to see!  (also, check out the photo of Mark and I from this past year.. love my red eyes!! yikes!) :) Mark has been very kind to me and helpful with advice in this industry, so it was an unexpected treat to see his list today.

Thanks so much Mark, it's very appreciated!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sprouting Shoots for Winter Greens

I have to admit that I'm not much of a sprouter - using jars, etc to sprout seeds.. I know it's quick - typically 1 to 3 days for the end result, but I always forget to rinse often with fresh water, which leaves the possibility of nasty organisms like e-coli.

So, I instead, I 'green up' our windowsills with shoots! Growing shoots like broccoli, mustard, radish, peas, sunflowers and more is extremely easy. It does take a bit more time than sprouting seeds - about 7 to 21 days, but I love the end result. We toss handfuls in wraps, salads, pasta and stir-fries. Plus, the kids love to scissor harvest them! We simply plant them in shallow containers with about an inch of moist potting soil and wait for our crunchy, super nutritious treat to grow!

A week ago, I seeded some broccoli shoots and tonight we're harvesting most of them for a Sunday night pasta. Here's the week in review:

Just planted! Sow thickly and cover with plastic until the
seeds sprout in a day or so.

Day 2 - germination!

Day 3 - Here they come!

Day 5 - Almost an inch tall!

Day 7 - Time to harvest.. 2 inches tall and ready to eat!

They're almost too pretty to harvest...

Another photo that didn't make it to the book!

I'm super surprised that this little gem didn't make it into The Year Round Vegetable Gardener! Here's a photo of my extremely dedicated editor from Storey Publishing, Carleen Madigan and I celebrating the end of the last photo shoot for the book..

we take our jobs VERY seriously!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A photo from The Year Round Vegetable Gardener and Thinking about Seeds

My seed boxes are now organized and I now know what I need (and don't need!) for the upcoming year. I say year because I will order all that I need until next Jan. This means I have to think about what I want to plant for next winter's harvest.. takes a bit more thought, but will be worth it! :)

Since it's Friday and 10 C (50 F), I am thinking about spring. Therefore, I thought I'd post a summer photo that is included in The Year Round Vegetable Gardener to hopefully inspire you! My soil-covered hands with a small sample of some of our favourite tomatoes - Sungold, Black Cherry and Sweet Million.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Upcoming garden events.. and Bob Cervelli!

Bob, Carleen (my awesome editor from Storey Publishing)
and me in Bob's winter garden picking parsnips and beets!
I know that it's -15 C outside right now with the windchill and it feels mighty cold, but I have to admit that I'm kind of in a spring-like frame of mind. I've been busy working on presentations for numerous upcoming events (click here to check out the events which will be open to the public), reading advance copies of some fabulous soon-to-be-released gardening books (including Liz Primeau's In Pursuit of Garlic - LOVE it) and seeding shoots like broccoli, sunflower and radish.

I also just got an e-mail about another upcoming event that will be happening on Wed Jan 18th at 7 pm at the Tantallon Library. The wonderful Bob Cervelli, will be speaking on The Zero Mile Diet.. I'm hoping to attend, as he is a great speaker and an incredible gardener.

In fact, Bob is also featured in The Year Round Vegetable Gardener! We photographed his cold frames, unheated greenhouse and open garden beds in winter.. so much fun! Here's a photo from our winter shoot last Jan in Bob's garden. So much fun!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A photo that didn't make the cut for the book..
but I love the look of the snow and cold frame anyway!
(photo by Joseph DeSciose)
Are you coming?!

I hope you'll join me and some garden-loving friends on Saturday, Feb 4th from 2 to 4 pm at Halifax Seed on Kane Street in Halifax. There will be a fun 'behind the scenes' presentation and door prizes! Plus, there will be copies of the book for sale and I can attempt to write something witty in your copy! (Don't hold your breath for witty! In fact, comment with your suggestions of what I should be writing in people's books!!)

For more info, please go to the Halifax Seed website or give them a call at (902) 454-7456.

Or, you can pre-register at the facebook page for the event - here! 

Can't wait.. should be a blast!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Seed catalog time!!

Ok, the Christmas tree has been cut up for mulch (covering a bed of overwintering spinach!), the decorations are down and packed away, and I'm ready for seed season! It seems to me that the seed catalog's have begun to arrive earlier and earlier every year. I got my first one last November! And although I was thrilled (remember, I'm a crazy gardener), I really have no intention of putting any serious thought, much less an order into any seed company until early to mid January. And so it's now Jan 9th and my thoughts are finally beginning to turn to seeds..

Of course, I should begin by cleaning up and inventorying my existing seed boxes (4 shoe boxes full now). But, for now, I wanted to share some of my favourite sources with you to get you in a 'seedy frame of mind' as well..

Annapolis Seeds

Their new 2012 catalog will be online in just a few more days - I can't wait.. Owen Bridge, the 20 year old owner of this amazing Nova Scotian seed company has some really interesting new introductions for the coming season. His selection of heirloom tomatoes has grown dramatically, and it was already pretty extensive. Last year I grew Cole, OSU Blue, Chiapis Wild and Black Cherry.. Plus, look for more beans, greens and other vegetables..

Terra Edibles Heirloom Seeds

Located in Foxboro, Ontario, this lovely small company has been around for many years, providing their customers with a huge range of heirloom tomatoes, assorted veggies, herbs and antique flowers. So many tomatoes, so little garden space! This year, I'm leaning towards Jaune Flamme, Earl of Edgecombe and Japanese Black Trifele for tomatoes, as well as their unusual climbing zucchini, Tatume!

Hope Seeds

Another Nova Scotian treasure, this heirloom seed company will also be launching their 2012 catalog shortly. Love their Drunken Woman lettuce, Giant Winter spinach, Costata Romanesca squash (the BEST!), Jaune et Verte zucchini (gorgeous!) and Pink Fir potatoes.. and Caribe potatoes.. and their excellent selection of Jerusalem Artichokes..

Halifax Seed

North America's oldest continually operating seed company is celebrating 146 years this year! They'll also be hosting my book launch on Saturday, Feb 4th from 2 to 4 pm - hope to see you there!! Happily, the 2012 Halifax Seed catalog also offers some excellent seeds - from Sungold tomatoes to Lemon cucumbers to Nero Di Toscanada kale to purple Mizuna to Napoli carrots!

Incredible Seeds

I haven't personally ordered from this new-ish company yet, but I thought I'd include them because they have a very good listing of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. Located just outside Halifax, their catalog includes Purple Peacock pole beans, Lazy Housewife pole beans, Mortgage Lifter tomato, Cherokee Purple tomato and Cimmaron red romaine lettuce.

Pumpkin Moon Seeds
This is another great local company, based in the Annapolis Valley. Michelle Fike is an herbalist who offers a wide range of natural and handmade products, but she also collects and saves seeds from her heirloom and open-pollinated plants. Her seed list is not excessively huge, but offers a good range of veggies, herbs and annual flowers. For those gardeners who want to try everything, but don't want to buy too many seed packets, Michelle offers a handful of mixed packets like her Runner bean mix, pumpkin mix, carrot mix, beet mix heirloom tomato mix and so on. Love it!

Greta's Organic Garden

I've loved this website for many years, but only recently met the gardener behind it at the ACORN Conference and Trade Show this past Nov. I may have accidently bought a few packets of seed from her table at the show.. I picked up Lacinato Rainbow kale (so exciting!), Ruby Streaks mustard (super frilly), Cocozelle zucchini, Mid-east prolific Lebanese cukes, Montreal melons and more!

Call me optimistic, but spring is coming... it will soon be time to brush the dust off my grow-lights and begin seeding the Imperial Star artichokes.. but for now, I'll content myself with harvesting from the winter garden, growing indoor shoots like sunflowers and broccoli and flipping through the pages of my favourite seed catalog's, dreaming of the coming season..

Friday, January 6, 2012

This Sunday I'll be a Guest on The Organic Gardeners!

Guess what? I'll be on The Organic Gardeners radio show this Sunday morning at approx 7:15 EST (8:15 Atlantic time)!! So excited! LOVE Doug Oster and Jessica Walliser Hope you will tune in live here!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm on Global Maritimes tonight!!

Catch me embarrassing myself tonight on the 6 o'clock broadcast (Atlantic time) of Global Maritimes!  They came by earlier today to film a 2 min piece on year round veggie gardening.. which took an hour in the -20 C weather.. I was so cold, that I was chattering during the interview! :) Not the coolest TV personality, I better stick to radio!

To find the link tomorrow or thereafter, click here!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read all about it.. My first blog post on the Proven Winners website has just gone online. Check it out here!

My first official book review (it's good!) and a few other programming notes..

Oh my gosh! I just discovered that there are reviews of my brand new book out there.. Here is the link to the one I just found - Foreword Reviews! I am so excited.. To spend 2 years working on a book (plus the many years of research - aka 'epic failures' and 'modest successes') and finally see it come out (still hasn't arrived in Canada yet though - mere days I think!!) and have such a wonderful review, makes me ecstatic!

Ok.. cleansing breath.. must get back to work on book #2 or I will be in big trouble come September..

As well, in today's Weekly News, there's an article about the book!

Also, I hope you'll tune in for my spot on The Organic Gardeners radio show this coming Sunday, Jan 8th at around 8:15 Atlantic time (7:15 EST)! To listen live online - click here. I love Doug and Jessica and can't wait to join them on their extremely popular show..

Here's to a great 2012!!