Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Proven Winners Blog Post!!

Just a quick link to my latest blog post for Proven Winners.. I had so much fun writing this one! :)

Click here!

The gourds are coming in..

It's begun - the gourd harvest.. many more photos to follow in the coming days, but here are the first two long handled dipper gourds.. That is a 1-foot ruler for a sense of scale.. Can't wait to share these with the local school kids.. The big snake gourd will next.. :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Visual Tour of the 3rd annual Mother Earth News Fair!

The legendary Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure
Seed Exchange - AWESOME to meet her and have
the opportunity to hear her speak. I went right after her and
she is a tough act to follow!
(Thanks to Kenny at for taking
the photo! But, he disappeared before I could get one with
him too!!)
I'm baaaaaack! And I had so much fun at the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA. The venue was amazing - tucked between the rolling mountains of Pennsylvania - and I met some amazing folks, as well as some of my favourite experts and authors over the course of the three day event. I had three talks during the fair on various elements of year round veggie gardening and the turnouts for each were great and the attendees asked such thoughtful, interesting questions. I thought I'd share some of my photos with you below..

The Storey Publishing booth - the ONLY time I was able to
wade through the people in it to take a few unobstructed photos!
(See my book - lower right corner - and my mini poster?)

My speaker 'goodie' bag had Happy Hen Treats.. where else
but at the Mother Earth News Fair!! So funny, loved it!

My 1st talk.. here is my view of about 1/3 of the audience, dozens turned
away due to lack of space.. 

The Mother Earth News Fair bookstore catalogue -
look at the book in the middle of the top row!

A quiet moment in the bookstore. Any time there were less than
50 people in this large area was a 'quiet time'. Everyone
was hungry for knowledge and the book selection was incredible.
(They sold out of mine after day 1 - good and bad!) :)

Some of the outside action at the fair.

Yum - maple cotton candy!

Yes please! I'll take 10! This model was about
$2500 and had interior reflectors to heat
water for irrigation. The roof was made from a
type of bubble wrap on steroids that lasts for up
to 20 years. This one had 78 sq feet of growing space.
I'd love a bigger one.. hmmmmmm...

A backyard bread oven! Again, 'yes please'!

Planted Garden Soxx. I was given one as a sample
to try. Interesting.

Animals at the fair!

Love the goats.. 

With our mayoral race in Halifax almost finished,
will we finally be allowed backyard chickens?
If so, I may just need this fella.

Heirloom veggie posters along
one of the hallways. 

Cool idea for indoor growing.

Hard to do a book signing when they are sold
out of your books! I had my hot tea and bookplates
to sign. The fair still sold backorders for my book which
they shipped for free! :) 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Off to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA!

If you're in the Pittsburgh area this weekend, I hope you'll pop over to the Mother Earth News Fair to say hi! I'll be speaking twice on Saturday and once on Sunday. For my schedule and that of other Storey Publishing authors, click  here! Can't wait, I hear such great things about the event.. I will be tweeting throughout the weekend, so feel free to follow my adventures on twitter - here! I plan on sharing photos and tidbits from the event.. I may even need to buy a second suitcase to bring home some awesome garden stuff!! That's the trouble with international travel, I need to limit myself.. sigh.. :)

Obviously, there will be NO weekend gardener radio show this weekend.. But, I'll be back on air next Sunday and then for our final show Thanksgiving weekend (Canadian).. so, I hope you'll tune back in for those last two shows of season 6! We'll take our winter break and be back in the spring of 2013..

On a completely unrelated note, check out my Hakeuri Japanese Turnips - they are AMAZING! Quick growing, cool weather tolerant (cold frame crop!) and super yummy.. I sowed about 50 seeds in mid-August and now we have about 50 lovely turnips - some are 2+ inches across, but not pithy at all.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My heirloom onions and my book in West Coast Seeds

I was just playing hooky from making notes for today's Weekend Gardener (11 to 1 pm Atlantic on and thought I'd wander up to check on my beloved gourds. As I passed the onion bed - I've been eagerly waiting for my heritage Italian onions to be harvestable - I noticed that most of the tops had (finally) fallen over and they were ready! So I grabbed my trusty garden fork and dug up these gorgeous onions. Most of these barrel-shaped beauties were about 3 to 4 inches long and I laid them on newspaper to begin the curing process.

The exact variety is Rossa Di Milano and I bought them from Hope Seed this past spring. The description on their website says that it "keeps just as hard as oak through winter." I don't think mine will last that long! Onion love!

Another happy surprise this past week was the arrival of the Fall/Winter seed catalogue from West Coast Seeds. As I gleefully flipped through the pages, I discovered my book was listed in the catalogue! Check out the photos below as well as the lovely description that accompanied a cover photo..

Ok, off to the radio station, but don't forget to seed more spinach. And arugula. And radishes. And mizuna. And tatsoi. And...

Onion love! (Sorry about the bad lighting)
Love the groovy barrel shape

Hello Fall/Winter seed catalogue!
Look Ma, it's me!! :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tomorrow on The Weekend Gardener - Just 4 shows left until our winter break!

Tomorrow on The Weekend Gardener I will talk to Beckie Fox, the editor of Garden Making magazine ( or about the new fall issue! (Spoiler alert - the featured garden is a Nova Scotia jewel!).

Then, I'll chat with Shannon from Broadfork Farms ( about Open Farm Day which is happening on Sept 16th across
 the Maritimes! (

Plus, Scott Croucher of Lee Valley in Halifax will talk tools - for bulb planting, fall clean up and pruning!

Finally, we'll close the show with an interview with John Gillespie, the co-author of the new book, Sow Simple: 100+ Green and Easy Projects to Make Your Garden Awesome.

Listen live at if you're not in the Maritime provinces.. If you are lucky enough to be here, tune in on News 95.7 FM (Halifax), News 91.9 FM (Moncton) or News 88.9 FM (Saint John). 11 to 1 pm Atlantic time (10-noon EST)

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's almost gourd season!

I must confess that I'm not super excited to see all the Halloween decorations in the stores.. it's only early Sept!! But, I am excited to follow the daily progress of my autumn gourds.. We grow both kinds - the ornamental (the ones you see at the farm markets with colourful rinds) and the hardshell (the ones that can actually be dried and used for crafts or decor). There are several reasons for this:

1) They grow so frickin fast that I can almost literally watch them grow!
2) The damn deer don't eat them!
3) The variety, shapes and colours are so much fun!

I'm sure there are more reasons, but that's all I can think of at this minute.. :)  I just ran up to the garden to snap a few photos.. I haven't photographed the snake gourd yet - it's just too big right now and in an awkward position under the A-frame trellis.. I will soon, promise, but I think it will be our biggest ever - looks about 4 feet right now! UPDATE - PHOTO OF THE SNAKE GOURD ADDED BELOW.

Also, I'm still seeding for fall/winter, so don't slack off yet.. Yesterday, I put in a bed of arugula, tatsoi and some mixed Asian greens that I have from Baker's Creek Heirloom Seed company. Plus, I have more lettuces, mache, spinach, radishes, mustards, mizuna and much more left to seed. Of course, I just noticed that a young deer walked through this new bed last night on it's nightly pilgrimage to eat my beloved beans. Bugger!! I really am getting that electric fence next year. No more worrying and trying to keep out the deer. I am done with that!
Caveman's Club?? Hope so, there are about 6 of these growing now.
Hard to tell the difference between these and the long
handled dipper gourds.
The flower of a hardshell gourd. The ornamental gourds
have the typical pumpkin-like yellow blooms.
(See the bee!)
Huh? Who are you.. thought this would be a cannonball
gourd, but it's not so round..?  Whatever it is, it is
8-inches from stem to blossom end.
A family favourite, the spinning top gourd!
Funny angle, great gourd. This is a long handled dipper
gourd. 2 feet long
Totally unrelated, but my first Armenian cucumber of
the year! Botanically a melon, this is a great 'cuke'!
I thought (hoped) this was a Caveman's Club, but
now realize it is a long handled dipper gourd.
Ok.. I went back out and tried to photograph
this - the snake gourd.. awkward, but so huge!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tomorrow - my talk at Mount Saint Vincent University

Just wanted to share that I will be heading to MSVU tomorrow afternoon from 4 to about 5:30 for a dynamic visual presentation on growing year round.. My talk will be about an hour and then (hopefully) plenty of Q and A!

Here's the link if you want more info!

Can't wait! I have a limited number of books to sell as well..

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My biggest tomato ever!!

Obviously yes, the tomatoes will be ending soon. Very soon unfortunately, but our slow and steady supply of sun-ripened fruits has been extremely welcome. For the past few weeks, we've all been watching the beauty and waiting impatiently for it to ripen. It's a Persimmon tomato (Renee's Garden Summer Feast Heirloom Tomato Mix) and although I've grown them for about 6 years, this is the biggest one we've ever had! It was 7 1/2 inches across and as for weight, we all had a guess and I won (woo woo!) - 1.75 LBS.. a true beast! Not a bit mealy, just divine..

As for our smallest tomatoes, I've posted about these here and there and it was Mexico Midget - see the size comparison below.. We like this tomato - meaty flavour from a teeny tiny fruit. But.. I don't think I'll be growing it again for a bit. It's a nice tomato, but the plants grow 6 feet in every direction and it's difficult to stake. Next year I really need to be much better organized in terms of staking, mulching, etc. I'm going to concentrate on growing about 40 plants and growing them well. I always take suggestions, so please let me know what you recommend for tomatoes!

On a related note, don't forget Tomato Fest 2012 is happening this Sunday at Annapolis Seeds in Middleton, Nova Scotia. Just click on that link for more info. It runs from noon to 5 pm (drop in anytime) and there will be music, farm tours (of the seed company) and about 80 varieties of heirloom tomatoes to sample! Bring a notepad (or your smartphone) for jotting down tasting notes.

A piece from a Reisetomate (see earlier post)
When I broke it off, it was a perfect heart.. 

I love my tomatoes and my tomatoes love me! :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

More book love - eight months on - and a harvest basket!

With the release of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, this has been a rather crazy - but awesome - year! Here we are, 8 months after the release of the book and it's still being reviewed or mentioned in the media. I can't tell you how much that means to me.. This long weekend, I've got a mention in the Toronto Star (thanks to the lovely Sonia Day) and a detailed review from Doug Oster in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (Love Doug, but did you HAVE to publish my age!?) :)

Taking some of the bounty to my in-laws!

My tomatoes and some eggplants.. 

Check it out! My book at the Village Emporium in Chester!!
They just got in a fresh shipment and I went in and signed them all
yesterday.. So grateful for the support! Find them on twitter

They even put a copy in their front window!