Well it’s certainly time to publish a new post! It’s such a busy time of year……it takes significant effort to start the tomato seedlings and keep them going. We finally got about 300 planted at the farm last week but it was so wet it was like digging in mud. And we also sold about 300 excess tomato seedlings. I sent out an email to customers who had expressed an interest in buying seedlings and sold out in an hour. We’re also doing a few new things this year. We’ve plants enough shallots that I hope to be able to plant a couple of acres of them next year and sell them commercially. Have you seen how much these things cost! It should be a viable venture, but like everything else it’s all in the marketing. There’s also a company in the UK that had ordered tomato seeds in bulk in the past so this year I’m growing a special crop of the tomato varieties that sell they most of. And we’ve also planted a bunch of other veggies….carrots, beets, Swiss Chard, turnip, squash, pumpkins, green and yellow beans, rutabagas, shell peas and snow peas, spinach, cucumber, radish, etc. and have a deal with a local country inn that they’ll buy any excess produce we have. So there are lots of things going on! Have a great summer….I hope your gardens are off to a great start.
My apologies for taking so long to publish another post. For those of you who have sent me best wishes, thanks very much! My recovery is going very well and I’m pretty much 100% recovered. I’ve been able to keep up with all the seed orders and I’ve been able to get my seedlings started. Given the time of year, orders have fallen off (as they do every year at this time) which gives me time to look after the seedlings. I have about 700 under grow lights (and on heated growing mats which are well worth the cost) in the basement and they’re doing very well. I expect to have a couple of hundred available for sale at the end of May because I always start way more than I need for seed production. I did a germination test on some Camp Joy seeds last December because someone wanted to purchase a huge quantity and I had enough seeds but they were more than 4 years old so I wanted to make sure the germination rate was good. It was over 80% which is good (tomato seeds will stay viable for more than 10 years if you keep them dry, dark and cool….the fridge is an excellent storage place) and I’ve kept the resulting seedlings. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw them out so have tried to keep them over the winter. I had them under the grow lights for a couple of months and then moved them to the greenhouse during the day and moved them back into the laundry room at night. They’re now about 2 feet high and have blossoms. I had them into my unheated greenhouse yesterday morning when the temperature in the greenhouse was close to 70F when but we had a snowstorm (yes, a snowstorm!!) and in the early afternoon it dropped to 40F so I moved them back into the laundry room. The weather for the rest of week is supposed to be way below normal for this time of year so I don’t know when I’ll be able to get them back into the greenhouse. Anyway, it was a fun experiment. The seedlings I have under the grow lights now will be moved to individual 3 inch pots and moved to the greenhouse about the end of April. That’s assuming that spring weather will arrive sometime soon! Best of luck this season….I’ll update my blog more often.
Hi fellow gardeners! I haven’t put up a new post in a few weeks so thought one was due. I’ve been getting a lot of seed orders which have been keeping me busy. I think every second order I get has a request for Bush Beefsteak seeds….I don’t know why it is but every year there seems to be one variety that is really popular. I had some bad news on Jan. 20….I have cancer and will have surgery this Wednesday. Of course the bad news is that I have cancer….but the really good news is that I know I have it! It’s been caught early and is curable. The surgery was originally scheduled for the last week of March but I’ve taken advantage of a cancellation. I expect to be out of commission for a couple of months but will be back to normal by the end of April. In the meantime, it’ll be business as usual….my wife and kids will do whatever has to be done….I can just sit back and be the supervisor for a few weeks! I’m looking forward to spring….it’s not that far off!
Hi. Since it seems that I’m not able to stick to a regular Sunday routine for putting up new posts, I’ll just put them up with the title of the date when I’m able to get them up. We finally have our wood stove going again and it’s great to have natural heat in the kitchen. It’s a busy time of year for orders so I’ve been spending a lot of time filling orders and getting them to the post office. I like to give good turn around….I get them in the mail the next business day…sometime on the same day depending on when the mail man gets here. I haven’t been to the farm much at all…my older sister has moved in with my father so they kind of look after each other, and my tenant Ros at my farm looks after everything there so there’s no real reason to head down that way, especially on a cold day like today! And tomorrow night we’re supposed to get a lot of snow which I’m not looking forward to at all. I’ve had more requests to look for sources of new seeds…the latest are for Regina’s Yellow, Manyel, Russian 117 and Win’s All. I haven’t started looking yet but if anyone has heard of any of these please let me know. I’m making a sausage and pasta dish for dinner tonight and also have a batch of baked beans in the oven. I saw the recipe for the baked beans on a show on the food network and the beans are really good. They’re called bourbon baked beans and they have, of course, bourbon in them. I don’t know if they smell and taste so good because of the bourbon that’s in them, or because of the occasional nip you can sneak while you’re making them! Doesn’t really matter I guess…it’s the end result that counts! Have a great week folks.
Well, my promise to myself to post a new comment on the blog every Sunday only lasted a week! I got so busy labelling seed envelopes yesterday I completely lost track of time. I have an update on the new varieties I mentioned in last week’s post. I can get Orange Banana and Magnum from members of the Seed Savers Exchange; Goliath is commercially available; Big Zac is a hybrid and therefore of no interest to me, and I haven’t been able to find any reference at all to Big Oakheart Red. I am very intrigued by the Rare Italian Tree Tomato. There seem to be lots of sources for it and I have to try it. It supposedly grows 25 feet high and each plant produces over 50 lbs. of large sized tomatoes. I know that’s probably all marketing hype but I have to give it a try anyway. It seems very strange that a tomato could be so fantastic but not even mentioned in the Seed Savers Exchange 2010 yearbook. Every year I have a bunch of extra seedlings to sell….soon I’ll be sending out an email to all my customers that live in or near the GTA or Prince Edward County asking if they want me to let them know what I have available around the end of April, to be picked around the end of May. Last year I put a notice on Craigslist and sold out in two days. Our woodstove hasn’t been working since Jan. 1 and the kitchen gets pretty cold in the evenings. The liner needs a good cleaning and I didn’t get proper instructions from the company that installed the stove last year….there’s no clean out and all the creosote falls into the stove on top of the baffle, which I can’t figure out how to remove. I have professional help coming this Friday….I plan to pay close attention and will be able to do it myself from now on because I’d really like to have to pay these guys only once. Those of us who can’t seem to earn a six figure income should maybe consider becoming a chimney sweep. Have a good week.
A couple of days ago I had a phone call from the granddaughter of a long time customer, informing me that her grandmother (my customer) has passed away. She lived in a remote part of Queen Charlotte Sound…I had spoken to her a couple of times and she sounded like a very independent and capable individual. She’ll be missed by all who knew her. I’ve had phone calls and emails from some folks who are trying to track down certain varieties of tomatoes. This happens on a regular basis and I’m always glad to try to track down a source of a tomato variety that sounds interesting. So far this year I’ve been asked about Orange Banana, Goliath, Big Zac (supposedly grows to 4 to 6 lbs.!), Big Oakheart Red, Magnum and Rare Italian Tree Tomato. I’ve found sources for Orange Banana and Magnum but am still searching for the others. If you have a variety you’d like help in tracking down let me know. I got an email from a customer who had her tomato crop (which she was growing in containers on a balcony) destroyed by whiteflies last year. I’ve never had too much of a problem with them so all I could do is pass along information that’s in an organic gardening book I have. Has anybody had real problems with whiteflies, and if so, were you able to control them? I have an order of 40,000 seeds ready to send to someone who’s doing some kind of ‘grow local’ campaign in Montreal. I hope she does well….we need more of that! I left home yesterday morning to head to a friend’s house just south of Barrie to make meat pies (an annual event) but the weather was so bad I came back home. Ever tried to make 10 full sized meat pies by yourself? My arm was sore from peeling potatoes and onions, and I think I used every pot in the house. I had to bake them in shifts. It sure seemed like a lot of work, but it was rather pleasant to work in the kitchen and watch the snow through the window. Anyway, I now have a freezer full of the things, and my arm’s back to normal, so it was worth it. Next year I hope the weather’s better though. Have a great week.
Happy new year everyone! We finally appear to have the Blog up and running with no major problems. Please feel free to make any comments that you feel are appropriate. I’m just going through the planning stages for next year’s crop….determining which varieties need growing out and how much space I need. We are in the process of getting our organic certification. Because we have never used chemicals of any sort on our gardens we don’t have to go through the 36 month transition phase….we should be certified by next spring. Although I’m not big on certification (certification bodies are getting to be pretty big business) it does open doors that otherwise would remain closed. We are looking at other potential crops to supplement the tomato seeds. I’m currently exploring shallots, dry beans and popcorn. I’ll let you know what we end up with next year. Have a good winter….and remember….you can’t start planning next year’s garden too early!
Welcome to the Upper Canada Seeds blog! Feel free to post comments to let everyone know how the gardening season was for you. I’ve mailed out the hard copies of the 2011 catalogue and will send out the electronic version as soon as I know the access to this blog is working properly. I’m still splitting firewood in preparation for the winter….our woodstove is on 24 hours a day so it takes a lot of wood but the comfort is worth it. There’s still a few things to get out of the garden….beets, carrots and rutabagas…then I’ll pull up the stakes and put it to bed for the winter.