Saturday, April 20, 2013

Heirloom, Organic, Non-GMO Seeds

April 20, 2013
2 degrees C
Ottawa City, Ontario, Canada

I have been ask to recommend heirloom, organic and NON-GMO seeds, and here is my top 3. Probably, not the same as yours, but we all do have diffent experiences.

1. Seed Savers Exchange - from Decorah Iowa USA - I bought heirloom tomatoes, and the miniature white cucumber that was very successful was from this company. I believe they have been around as old as I am (1975), and their main mission is keep heirloom seeds in circulation. I started with the miniature cucumbers and few tomato varieties. Each year, I keep saving the seeds, pass them on to Ottawa gardeners, and mail them to GFS - gardening friends in the USA. I tested the seeds with high germination rate, so I would highly recommend them. I support their mission of saving heirloom seeds.

They also have a seed outlet here in Ottawa at : I think it is seasonal, so call them first before heading out.

Herb & Spice Shop

375 Bank St.

Ottawa, ON K2P1Y2

(613) 317-3951

Seed Savers Exchange website:

"Our mission is to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants. 

Our Work
Seed Savers Exchange offers an alternative model to big agriculture through our work, encouraging participatory preservation among our members, and by signing the safe seed pledge. Seed Savers Exchange knows that the future of our planet depends on a genetically diverse food supply and carries out our important work by:

- Maintaining thousands of varieties of different plant types—from amaranth to watermelon—in one of the largest seed banks of its kind in North America.
- Regenerating seed in isolation gardens and storing them in ideal conditions.
- Documenting valuable cultural information on varieties and their histories.
- Distributing heirloom varieties to members and the public through the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook and the Seed Savers Exchange Catalog
- Storing varieties in back-up locations at the USDA Seed Bank in Fort Collins, CO and at Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. These off-site deposits remain the property of SSE."

2. Greta Seeds - locally known in Ottawa City, ON, Canada. I have not meet her personally, but I believe I acquired some of her seeds through local seed/and plant exchanges. Many gardeners I met in the exchanges rave about good germination rate, so that is all I can say. I would one day visit her store, and buy some amaranthus and Basella rubra.

Greta's Organic Gardens
399 River Road
Gloucester, Ontario
Canada K1V 1C9

Tel: 613-521-8648
Fax: 613-521-5792



3. Yuko Seeds - - Looking for unique seeds, and a gardener who is passionate about heirloom and NON-GMO seeds? You got a jackpot!
I wish to meet Yuko one day, because  she comes to local Seedy Saturdies in spring, but my schedule did not give me the luxury. Home grown seeds in Carleton Place, happy with the chickens? What more can you ask for?
What I will buy from Yuko? "Amaranth/Red Cathedral, $1.50
Bronze leaves and stems with red flowers. This 1–1.5 m (40–60 in) tall, extremely handsome plant is a hardy and self-seeding annual. Similar to Tunisian amaranth. Will come up every spring. Edible. Add young leaves to your salad for a lovely colour."

Below is a facebook poster, from Growing Organic, Eating Organic: ( thought this is a good explanation)

So, what is your top 3 recommendation?
What have you tried?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Peas and more Peas be with you

Ottawa City, Ontario, Canada
April 16, 2012

Temp: 8 Degrees C

Today is a rainy day, but not raining cats and dogs. Just enough to keep melting the snow in my backyard. My front yard is clear of snow, Kieren and I worked so hard to crush the ice, and stomp the last of it.

I decided to plant some peas - the Little Marvel variety from last year. I do something different, I germinate my peas outdoors in cardboard cups, and just bury these cups when the soil can be work. The soil is still frozen here.

Around spring, if you walk around your neighborhood, cups are littered all over the place. So, what about spring cleaning?
Punch holes - easily using a knife.
Buy seeds - like peas. I put like 3 seeds per cup, and let nature take care of it. The rain will scarify the seeds, and hopefully wake it up.

Why i germinate outdoors? I cannot be bothered with hardening - well, eventually I have to with the other seedlings, but the hassle of bringing plant in and out of my house everyday is such a chore.

So, later on, I was thinking of having a hanging planter, which I can grab the peas for my salad. Ain't that cool?
2012 white hanging planter with beans (repeat for 2013)

yes, yes, I know the flowers are more beautiful, once the pease starts dying off, a colorful blend of spinach seeds will be planted in the same white hanging pot.

The variety of peas that I have these year are : homesteader, little marvel, and sugar snap peas from Mary Sue H.

UPDATE: today, May 13th ...most of these seeds in a cup are up and ready to be planted. I am excited.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Seeds, Seedlings for Trade, or Donation

Ottawa City, Ontario Canada
April 8, 2013

I would give you seeds anyways if you want some. Probably any gardener would. But that comes with a cost: money or time, or both.

Anyways, I have people ask me what they can do for me? I was about to say, how about donate $1 or $2?
But I never ask. But maybe I should. Truth is, I will be broke if I don't ask little donation.

When I shop for organic, heirloom seeds - I go gaga - literally spend allmost $100 of seeds 2 seasons ago. And well, I top up from time to time, trade with fellow gardeners.

Want to donate your seeds to me? Well, it will be given away to local Ottawa Plantcycle events, since I usually come and chat and chat more.

Well, if you want to donate $1 or $2 for me to keep my seed giving hobby, why not?
Send it in check, give it in person or send it via paypal for those international fans.
No, your donation will not probably make me rich, but it will help me collect more heirloom seeds, and spread it around. Give me seed, I will share it with my neighbors, I will share it with my global community.

If you want seeds, ask away. Chances are I have them. I might not be able to list them.
Sorry, I cannot mail is so expensive postage, I can't afford it.

Most of the seeds I have are heirloom, grown organically in Zone 5B, probably a season or two. My packets are about 10 seeds to 20 seeds. If you want more quantity, I can send more.

4 o' clock - alas kwatro, (Mirabilis jalapa). Popular in my childhood, blooms at 4 o clock in the afternoon. I have many variety of colors, red, yellow, hot pink, and some broken colors. \base on my observation - it does not come true from seed. Pictures from last year.


A - alugbati, malabar spinach (Basella rubra) - a climbing spinach which very common in the Philippines. I have the red stem variety and the green stem variety. Some pictures of the red variety that I cultivated last year.
Wikipedia entry:


M - Marigold (Tagetes patula) - I have grown them everywhere, excellent companion to your vegetables, and have an acrid taste to the pest. The marigold petals are edible, yes I added them to my stir fry. NOTE: just petals, the middle part tasted tart. I saved a lot of seeds. If you are looking for easy going flowers to color your vegetable garden, with added benefit of repelling garden pest.
here are my marigolds last year:

P - Pepper (Sweet) Medusa -ideal for container gardening. Labeled as ornamental pepper, this one taste sweet, and grow in small pots. My daughter love its sweet taste, and it is a must for kid container gardening. I harvested many seeds from last year and it was quite expensive as it was a new variety. I spend $4.99 /packet plus tax. I test germinated the seeds I harvested and it is 3/4 germination. Here are some pictures from last year. When it ripens, it has rainbow colors of yellow, orange  and red.


R - rose balsam, (Impatiens Balsamina) - an annual known as sulangga in Cebu philippines. I believe it is also called Kamantigi in Tagalog. I grown it here in Canada and it very beautiful towards end of July. I save many seeds of different colors. Here are the picture of them from last season.


S - sugar apple, atis,  (Annona squamosa) - atis is commonly growing in my farm in the Philippines. Here in Canada, last summer, these seeds germinated without care. Maybe around June, I put them in 4" pots and they germinated well. Under sun and rain, the germination rate is about 80%. It has to be put indoors in fall/winter, as it a tropical shrub.
Wikipedia entry:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Vegetables in Pots: Beans, Peppers, Tomatoes

April 7, 2013
ottawa city, ontario, canada

Last year has been very good for gardening for me, despite the water ban in the middle of summer. My beans were watered from the kitchen grey water, and they survive. Not only did survive, but well, great great harvest.
Here is the pictures, hope it inspires you. I am thinking of doing it again, and add more. These white pots are those from Loblaws with hanging flowers, and I re-used them.
beans in a hanging pot, and the 5 gallon pot is a tomato/basil tandem.

another tomato in a hanging white pot

the harvest: beans and mini cucumber

Harvest: the eggplant was planted on the ground, the herbs were in pot because it is easy to harvest.

The ladder on the left: 2 pots of tendergreen (BUSH) beans, easily harvested by my kid. the lower pot is coleus,and lemon balm.  The right structure is sort of layered metal from the library to sort books: tomatoes, okra, mini-peppers

Big pot: My black recycle bin is temporarily hosting the mini-cucumbers home for the summer.

Medusa: Sweet Pepper (mini pepper) with some green onions beside it. Another re-used white hanging pot.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Peas: Lincoln(Homesteader) US1908

April 4, 2013
 5 degrees C
Ottawa City, Ontario, Canada

Today, my front garden is still rock solid, piles of snow, but there was a small area where I can plant peas. Well, I did plant peas.
I found this packet in the bag - so, why not? What do |I lose? This area where I plant my seeds is home to my Orange Pixie Liliums. Once they come up, well...they are great trellis for my peas.

For now, just an over excitement as I feel spring did not come too soon.

Is this right time for peas? I really don't know, it says early spring. I hope it is now, or else..goodbye peas.

Basella rubra (Alugbati, Ceylon spinach)

April 4, 2013
Ottawa City, Ontario, Canada.

Last year, I planted these alugbati (this is what we call it in my hometown -Cebu, Philippines), Malabar spinach, Philippine spinach. It did well, and probably I will do it again this year. The stir fries, the salad and the neighbors who love the fresh bite.

Here are the collections of photos of my Basella rubra at different stages of its growth.
basella rubra in peat pellets around june 2012

basella rubra moved to a 4 inch pots

september - the little fruit which will eventually turn purple, then dry out for seeds

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pinto Beans, Miniature White Cucumber

April 2, 2013
Ottawa City, Ontario, Canada

I was looking at the pictures of my beans last year, and I thought it looks pretty - if not chaotic, climbing up the backyard canopy, up to the roof. You can say it was an easy harvest, as I can see them dangling all the time when I sit on my chair. Many of them did not make it: the squirrels dug them, the earwigs have a fest, the slugs love the treat, and accidentally the cat dug a hole in the ground. However, those that make it were lovely.

I think that those I directly seeded to the ground were all doomed: those many that went to the backyard creatures. However, I was crazy waiting for winter to officially end, that around April, I started many bean seedlings in my basement. So, by May - you have a 3 feet bean, just about ready to jump out of the window. This was not an easy feat - as beans will show you if it needed something. I thought those malnourished beans under my grow light will just die naturally composted in my garden. To my surprise,they climb like crazy on some random ribbons, small string that I tied up to my canopy, held up by sticks --which was gathered by my toddlers around spring.
And they were productive too. I feed them naturally - which means that I got compost from the nearby NCC forest (okay, I brought the veggie peels there last season, so I dug em around spring to bring them back to my garden), mushroom compost courtesy of my neighbor who also garden, and epsom-salt water solution - ( if you tackle the yuck factor), that is technically grey water.  I soaked my tired feet in epsom-salt water solution at the end of the day, and pour the water in the garden after. Nobody's complaining, not even the drunk slugs.

So, I would do this again, but pre-germinate the beans indoors. Because those pesky ear wigs ate my beans as they come out for life. Who says that only humans love sprouts? I bet even those slugs did, and as for the cats --- I don't know if they just wanted to dig or the beans sprouts give them reason to dig that specific area.

While Pinto is considered dry beans, I actually picked mine young, and add them on stir fries or salads. I left few for seedlings - let the pods dry to brownish by fall, so I can save the seeds for next season.

And yeah, maybe I will start my beans soon, because i will bring out a tall beans, strong enough to withstand attack of the slugs and earwigs.

Pole beans

Miniature White  Cucumber in a big big pot

Miniature white cucumber matures at 2-3 inches, young bean harvest

a ripe miniature white cucumber turned yellow - this one was set aside for seed saving.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring: 2013 seedlings germinating in my basement

April 2 2013
Ottawa ON Canada

The ice blocks in the front yard is hard as rock. I tried to use shovel, and crew bar to pry it. Definitely more ice this year than 2012.

Nevermind my backyard, it is still at 3 ft snow. it is a miracle if it ever melt ever so fast.

1degree C still. definitely colder than last year which snow cleared around this time.

In my basement, the bitter melon is germinating nicely.

Bittermelon 2013 (Momordica charantia)

The Asian hot peppers showing signs of growth.
Asian Hot Pepper

The 4 ornamental -sweet peppers (MEDUSA) that I used for test germination is doing well. So hopefully, more sweet peppers in a pot for Karlina this year.

The miniature cucumber white from last year germinated too, showed some signs of progress and growth. 

The watermelon radish I got from Linda, seems to be very lanky. I don't know if it needs more light, but definitely, I need to practice my skills with radish. Looks like I need to do some tweaking in this one.

The coleus cuttings from Winn were marvelous. One pot grow big and this one was just started last week. Definitely a strong variety of coleus and worth propagating.

The coleus seeds from my garden surprisingly sprouted. I don't know if these will grow "true" from seed, but well.............they grow without an effort. This pot is an old pot, soil not sanitized, oil soil from coleus definitely interesting that these seeds did not die from fungus yet.

Coleus Seeds from my Garden in 2012 - germinating for the season

Before the seed exchange, I cleaned out my  seed bag and dumped some seeds in the pot. I have no clue what seeds are those, a mix of something that fall off in the packets. It seems they all germinated. Since, these are all unknown yet, I will label them seedling X, until they showed more true leaves. Anyone have a clue what these maybe???

Seedlings X

And, even if anyone tells me that I cannot start beans now,as they are better when directly sown in the soil, I cannot resist but propagate one of Karen's beans given away last seed exchange. These one is called Craneberry Beans - Bush beans. So, by May 25th, more than 1 month from now, this bean will be 3 feet high, trying to climb on my washing machine.

Craneberry Bean from Karen

And there is another bean pocket from Karen - this one is pole beans. What is the name again?