Our Gardens

It all starts here… Unfortunately our open door policy is closed due to the covid 19 pandemic.

February 3, the 1st Wave: There are 7 insulated, well lit shelves in our basement where Tammy seeds & sprouts all our plants.  Peppers & Eggplants are showing well, as are early varieties of tomatoes.  Sweet Potatoes are set to sprout.

Growing Tips #1: Make sure you have ample light. Do not over water, try to keep trays evenly moist. If possible, water from the bottom, not the top. This will reduce damping off.  Transplant into larger containers when they are 2-3″ tall.

February 24-28: We transplanted the first wave and moved them to the 3rd floor grow room, making space for the next wave of seeds.

Growing Tips #2: Re-circulating the air is as important as proper lighting to develop strong, healthy plants.

March 1-5: Now we seed Wave #2– all our indeterminate tomato varieties and an early crop of basil.  Indeterminate tomatoes grow like a vine and require staking. Ours grow to approx. 12 feet high, which is 1/2 the length they could grow given a longer growing season.

Growing Tips #3: If you are transplanting tomatoes, remove the two sprouted leaves, and transplant deeply into the next sized pot. Extra roots will form on the stocks that are covered by soil. A good root system is vital to a healthy plant.

March 11 & 12: All the shelves are full, and we have to babysit seedlings & plants, but still there is so much more. Now we expand into other spaces that are cooler…  Wave #3. It starts with cabbages. So many tiny seeds. 5 Types this year: Green & Purple ox-heart, Green & Purple round storage varieties, and the Large, flat Dutch. This is a cold weather crop and can be transplanted into the garden towards the end of April.

Egg plants
Egg Plants

March 25th: We started transplanting the first wave of “indeterminate” tomatoes to make room for the next wave of “determinate tomatoes” (Determinate tomatoes are low growing, bush varieties that can grow in our field, where the indeterminates climb the poles at the stand location)

April 5: Wave #4. Time to seed all the determinate (bush) tomato varieties so they are ready to transplant at the end of May. 1200 plants are required for this wave, and space inside the house, as you can see, is now at a premium. I can’t wait till wave #1 moves to the greenhouse to make space that should be Mid-April. 🙂

April 9: The gardens at the house are tilled and ready to go. Our first seeds were planted outdoors – Sugar Snap Peas. Time to mulch the rows and set up the garden structures…

April 14: Our seed potatoes and onion sets have arrived. Went down to our Moodie location to get a lay of the land. Garlic is up, and it looks to be dry enough to till the rows so we can plant Carrots, Beets, Parsnips & Turnips…

April 25: After all that unexpected snow and cold weather, we are back on track. Peas, carrots, beets, parsnips & turnips are planted. The structure for the gardens at the house will be completed tomorrow. Then compost has to be moved to our perma beds so the field can be prepped for the remainder of our crops. Potatoes & Onions are next.

April 27th: The first and second wave of plants were moved to the greenhouse to make space for the next two waves: Summer squash followed by all the winter squash varieties and more herbs.
Now we are off to the races in a game of catch up as we prepare the fields, plant the crops and get ready for the season to come…

April 28 & 29:
The secret to our tasty vegetables is all in the soil. We feed this field 88 cubic yards of compost. Healthy soil makes healthy plants which in turn reward us with nutritious & tasty food. It took 3 people, 2 tractors & 20 hours of hard labour to spread it into our rows. Next comes to mulch…

May 3-5: All those rows were tilled and mulched.

May 8th: First there is Covid, now Snow!!!!!? And -3 Tonight. Talk about putting a monkey wrench into a whirlwind. Geech… What’s next?

We take pride in our gardens

It is said that “We should eat vegetables of all colors to get the best nutritional value.” In keeping with this philosophy, we are proud to offer produce in all spectrum’s of the rainbow. It is also our choice not to use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, choosing instead to use a mixture of compost and elbow grease to nurture healthy, plants filled with vitality.

In 2019 we had a very tasty year with 170 varieties of Tomatoes (most of them heritage.) In 2020 we will have all the favorites back along with a few new ones. We have increased the number of determinate varieties substantially to meet the demand for fresh market and canning tomatoes.

Vegetables for 2020: Other than tomatoes we will have 8 types Egg Plants, 15 varieties of Sweet Peppers, 10 types of Hot Peppers, Peas & Beans, Kale, and 5 varieties of Cabbages. New additions are Cauliflower, Broccoli & mini versions of both, Okra & Celery. Summer & Winter squashes (too many to count) will make your eyes pop, and your tummy rumble for more. Root vegetables include: Onions, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots & Beets with the addition of Parsnips & Turnips. 6 Varieties of Garlic. lots of Herbs which includes Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Dill, Thyme, Winter Savory, Rosemary,  Mint, Chive, Lavage & Horseradish. Pulses: end of the season dried baking beans: Black, kidney, soldier & saddle

In fruit we have Rhubarb, Black Raspberries, Yellow Raspberries & Black Berries.

Yes, it’s a lot of produce, and it is a handful to manage.

For the vegetables not listed, we depend on a network of local farms to fill in the gaps. We bring in local Strawberries from the beginning of June all the way to October, Red Raspberries from July to September, as well as Wild & Domestic Blueberries from July to September. We also have a driver that goes to the Niagara Region 3 times per week to bring back tree-ripened fruits as they come into season: Cherries, Plums, Apricots, Peaches, Nectarines, and Pears. Corn starts the middle of July and is brought in fresh-picked each morning until the first hard frost. There is an organic grower who provides Carrots & Beets to back up our own, and a regular supply of Onions, Potatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower, and all the salad fixings you could imagine throughout the entire growing season.