Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Seedy Saturday

Master Gardeners, Kitchener, CanadaSeedy Saturday 2013, Kitchener, CanadaI spent the morning of Saturday, February 23rd at Seedy Saturday in Kitchener ( The main focus of these events is a seed exchange. You collect seeds from your garden and bring them in to exchange with other gardeners. In Kitchener, Seedy Saturday is organized by the local Master Gardeners and is done informally. You leave your seeds on a table and pick from it any seed you want. There are also gardening lectures and several businesses offering mostly seeds and plants, but also gardening books or tools. Groups such as Seed of Diversity are also represented. These groups and the seed companies usually put some of their seeds on the exchange table.

For me, the greatest attraction is the people. Having been a member of this Master Gardener group for over 15 years, it is a yearly opportunity to meet with old friends. I also enjoy chatting with other gardeners about successes and failures and our experience growing some of the plant varieties offered. You can get some useful tips. This year, Mary-Anne Weiler (the lady in a white top on the right), who set up the Kitchener Master Gardener group many years ago, strongly recommended to me "Tricolor Carrots" from Renee's Garden which I made sure to buy. My best gardening friend, Gwynned Brundrett (with the blue top), who was giving a lecture, has been with the group ever since it was created.
As usual, I got quite a few packages of seeds. This year, there was a very good selection of heirloom tomatoes. I got several varieties which I want to try.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Blind Labels

Plants labels made with Venetian blinds

I use a great many plant labels. First I use them in the flower beds to identify new plants (old favourites do not need a name tag). I use them with vegetables, for instance, to remind me where a row of carrots was seeded before they come up, and to list the variety. Most of my labels though identify the numerous plants I start from seed in the spring.
I have tried the various kinds of labels that are offered for sale. The wooden ones have the advantage that you can write on them with a pencil and as long as the written part is out of the ground, it will remain legible. However the end of the label that is stuck in the soil breaks down in one season and any writing in contact with wet soil disappears. The thin copper labels are very permanent but very hard to read after a few years. They come with a tie and they are too thin to stick in the ground. The zinc ones held on a wire stem are very good but too expensive to use extensively.
Plastic labels can last a few years in the shade. The more exposed to sunlight, the faster they get brittle. You can also write on them with a pencil (preferably a grease pencil). Usually, one side of the label is less shiny than the other and is easier to write on. The use of a pencil allows you to erase a mistake or even to re-use a label. A permanent marker is ideal when it is indeed permanent. The problem is that some are much less permanent than others, and it is only when the label has sat in the sun and rain for a year that you find out if the ink lived up to expectations.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Seeds Galore

Seed Packages from NARGS
For me, the milestones that mark the beginning and the end of the gardening year are the seed lists sent out by the North American Rock Garden Society and the Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society for their respective seed exchanges. Invariably, much of the seed I get through these exchanges end up not sprouting or if they germinate I can’t carry the plants to maturity. However, at the ordering stage, all is hope and expectations, every seed I select seems bound to do well and sending out my seed orders is fine way of ending the gardening year on a high note.