Leap Day

In case you hadn't noticed, February has an extra day this month.  Its one of those "and sometimes 29" years and instead of taking the time to research and then explain why to you I'll be showing you this handy infographic while I take a cue from Modern Family and play hooky from life! :)


Seed Sprouting

All the seeds that I planted last week are starting to sprout now!  At this point in their life they are very tender.  Bottom heat is still necessary regularly - In my house I have conveniently large Victorian air vents, so my seeds are spread out across the floor, but the tops of radiators, refrigerators, front loading dryers and any other warm appliances are good (if risky) spots!  I mist them with a spray bottle, ensuring everything is evenly damp but not wet - a watering can or direct stream of water pouring in would be far too much.  Sometimes I sit the containers into a thin layer of water in the bottom of a tray, but only if they have dried out too much by accident.  Closing up the lid of the containers acts like a miniature greenhouse, but the seedlings need air circulation as well so I leave it open sometimes. Once the sprouts hit the "roof" its time for transplanting into individual containers :)

What you see sprouting: Tree and Twig Heirloom SeedsPerpetual SpinachSuehlihungNasturtiumsCherrybelle RadishesSSE Lettuce Mixture & more self-saved tomatoes!



A few days ago I asked friends on my twitter and facebook for music suggestions and one of them delivered Bon Iver (which reminds me of one of my longtime favourites: Boards of Canada) right in time for this brand new video, posted today.  I love how Towers so well captures the wonderous but heartbreaking essence of living off the land, and even though I know its the Pacific Ocean / Washington State, it reminds me of Thunder Bay / Lake Superior.  Slightly fantastical, peaceful and uplifting but then also crushingly melancholy I think its an excellent video for a quiet midwinter day.


Dear Car: Happy Birthday!

I have a confession to make.  Even though I advocate for transit, and commuted 45min each way by bicycle while living in Toronto... having grown up in the suburbs and rural areas of Ontario... I. Love. Driving.  I mean, I do long for the day that I find a sufficiently green vehicle that this pastime of mine becomes something I can enjoy again instead of a guilty pleasure or semi-enjoyable commute, but either way I have to admit now that I'm living in a car based area again, I'm not terribly upset that I get to spend time behind the wheel.

Back to the story at hand - I was driving down the QEW from Hamilton to Niagara when I saw that the mileage (kilometerage?) was getting near the quarter million mark.  It isn't actually my car (it's my mum's) but I learned to drive in it and she very kindly lends it to me for great lengths of time when transit isn't practical or my dad is out of town.  So I felt special that I happened to be driving when it happened haha  Being easily excited I decided to pull off and drive slowly along the service roads so I could stop and take a picture at the precise moment it clicked over.

The car is a 2003? Acura 1.7EL, essentially a version of the 7th generation Honda Civic created specially for the Canadian market.  Now, I know because I live in Canada and drive by the metric system the 250k kilometers isn't as impressive as 250k miles would be in the U.S.  However, 250 000 anythings from a  vehicle these days is indeed a remarkable feat.  I have these crazy pipe dreams of getting this car up to the mind boggling milage marks quite a few Honda owners seem to have reached: I was entertained by Million Mile Joe's awkward but feelgood parade and this guy is catching up quickly, with 750k+ miles on a 2006 Honda Civic in just 5 years.

So, Dear Car:  Happy Birthday!
Even though its official & you're old, ♥ you!

Have some flowers...



Tonight I was out at Subspace an Alt, Body Mod & Fetish club in Toronto!


Feeling Revitalized

This stuff really is .. amazing!  I drink a wide range of black teas, green teas, white teas, herbal teas almost every day but I've never found one I like quite as much as this until the funny name caught my eye on the shelf recently.  The list of ingredients is basically the closest thing you can safely get to an energy drink, but its just plants, no other harmful additives.  I think when the package runs out I might try sourcing all the separate ingredients to make my own :)


Edible Interior Landscape

So.. it may be schoolwork.. but I'm pretty proud of this interiorscape design :)  Our Interior Landscaping assignment was to design the interiorscape for an office with instructions for the room dimensions, lighting, window exposure (roughly based on our Horticulture Dept Office) but free reign to change up the room use, plant material and design.  I, honestly, had way too much fun and spent a little bit too long doing this!  blush  Because I'm ultimately building a portfolio for organic urban agriculture I decided to make my design entirely out of edible plant material.  Given the light restrictions, I knew this would be a bold and challenging choice but I ended up pleasantly surprised how many dwarf fruits, edible flowers and herbs were possible!  I also went outside the box.. literally - not satisfied with round or square planters I used living walls, espaliered and dwarf trees, and combined the seating and planting area.  Check out my design below (click to enlarge and excuse the rough rendering, it was my first time working with the design program)


Its Summer ... In Winter!!

I'm just loving this whole summer in the winter thing .. greenhouse school certainly has its perks! Today the hibiscus started flowering all throughout the conservatory and I have my mid-winter tomatoes on hand.  Life really can't get much better than that :) Niagara's winter is turning out to be mostly rain, sleet and bone-chilling dampness, so I think I'll just hibernate in the humid warmth of the tropicals and indoor trees.


Winter Tomatoes

Remember that crazy adventure I told you about a few weeks ago where I fit unreasonably large, full grown tomato plants into small cars and an exposed snowy pickup truck bed?  Well.. its the middle of February and I've got RIPE TOMATOES at home! Woo!  The very first one went straight in my mouth, and it tasted wonderful but the next one was cut up for seed.  Must.. be.. research.. purist.. !

In other news: The seed starting waiting game... !! Patience is a virtue I DO NOT possess LoL


Seed Starting

For some reason, unbeknownst to me, people seem to be scared to start their vegetable gardens from seed! Many of my friends purchase these same seedlings from me a few weeks or months down the road, when for the cost of a packet of seeds and a fish through the recycling bin they could do it themselves.

Its not that scary!  Here's how:

First off, get organized.  There's no point in starting seeds you won't use, and why start some early if you end up having to do more later?  Make sure you know approximately how much of what you want to grow in a season, then start a few extra.  Once you know what you're going to grow, make a plan when you're going to grow it.  Use this awesome seed starting chart from YouGrowGirl together with the Farmers Almanac chart for last frost dates for when to start each type of seed.

I always spread out a shower curtain first to protect my work surface from soil or mess, ideally near the windowsill I plan to grow in.  Very few supplies are necessary other than the seeds themselves.  If you want to get fancy, Dollarama has some great seed starting kits, but honestly - I find recycling the clamshell takeout containers I get at the market to be just as effective.  Poke holes in the bottom of them with a pushpin or nail.  Wash everything in hot soapy water and rinse in cool water with a splash of bleach.  Seed starting soil mix is a must, potting soil is simply too heavy.  I use BM2 which I get through my school's greenhouse, but most garden centers should carry a seed starting mix, or you could otherwise make your own from a mixture of peat, perlite and lots of vermiculite.

Dampen the soil and spread it into just the bottom half of the takeout containers.  Sow seeds evenly across the surface of the soil mix.  Larger plants like tomatoes, peppers, vegetables need more space between seeds while herbs, lettuces, basil etc can be seeded quite closely together.  Cover the seeds with a thin layer of the seeding mixture or a layer of pure vermiculite.  Closing up the lid of the containers acts like a miniature greenhouse!  Place all of the containers into a tray and place the tray on a warm spot.  In my house I have conveniently large Victorian air vents, so my seeds are spread out across the floor, but the tops of radiators, refrigerators, front loading dryers and any other warm appliances are good if risky spots!  Continue to mist regularly with a spray bottle and ensure all layers are evenly damp but not wet.  If the containers dry out too much, pour a thin layer of water into the bottom of the tray.  Open the lids for air circulation occasionally, more often if they don't have very large holes.  Keep an eye for sprouts because they grow quickly and hit the "roof" before you know it!

What I planted today: Tree and Twig Heirloom Seeds: Perpetual Spinach, Suehlihung, Nasturtiums, Cherrybelle RadishesSSE Lettuce Mixture & more self-saved tomatoes!


Daydreams of Paris

What's that one thing you have always dreamed of doing before you die?
          Answer: Going back to Paris


Seedy Saturday

Last week, with all the snow I only barely made it to the last hour of Niagara's Seedy Saturday so I didn't bother writing about that one.  This week however I'm spending ALLLLLLL day at the Hamilton Seedy Saturday!

Seedy Saturdays started in 1990 as a BC community event to promote seed sharing of open pollinated seeds and development of locality-specific community seed banks.  Seedy Saturday events have spread throughout North America and Europe in the following years and have evolved into social, cultural and even culinary events promoting food security, growth of organic or low input plants and exchange of genetically biodiverse heirloom / family heritage seed varieties.

The seed swap table is still the heart of these events, and I've brought 25 envelopes of my Stupice greenhouse tomato seeds along with many seeds to be passed along from Niagara's swap table.  Then for the rest of the day I will be representing Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetables as a seed vendor, selling seeds and answering questions :)

Seedy Saturday has more to offer than just the seed swap - so far I've seen a number of interesting vendors and HGCN are setting up activities and attractions for gardeners of all abilities.  I have a feeling I'll be stuck at my table most of the day, which is unfortunate because some of the speakers look really interesting!

Workshop Schedule:

12:30 – Hamilton Community Gardening: Join Clare Wagner of the HCGN and Sara Collyer of Neighbour 2 Neighbour Centre to learn about community gardening and community kitchens and how to get involved in Hamilton!

1:00 – Eating Locally by Extending the Season: Chris Krucker of ManoRun Organic Farm will help us celebrate February is Farm Month by talking about how you can eat locally throughout the year with the help of season extension.

1:30 – Planning Your Veggie Garden: RBG’s Nancy Lee-Colibaba will help you plan out your garden.

2:00 – Worm Composting: Robin Tench of Earthworks and her red wigglers will teach you how to turn your kitchen scraps into amazing compost year round.

2:30 – Starting Seeds: Join Kyla Dixon-Muir of Riverdale Meadow Community Garden to learn how to get your new seeds growing.


Terrarium How-To

I love vintage manuals for "boys" they have such fun ideas!


Reconsidering my value as an introvert...

Recently, I've been reconsidering how I live and re-evaluating myself as an introvert.  Its not a category I would previously have placed myself in, but I'm starting to realize that my social skills are more of a learned adaptation than an innate behaviour.

Now that I've realized this about myself I've been taking a proactive approach to the list on the left.  Asking my friends and teachers things like:
          "Could I come in early to observe this first on my own?"

          "Could I please have a minute to think
               before I give you an answer?"

          "Could we please discuss this in private?"

So far, this has been working out quite well :)


Gardening is...


Happy Valentines Day


Deer Valentine

Karen, over at TheArtOfDoingStuff is one of my favourite bloggers!  She has shared a very cute vintage printable valentines, that does get the warm fuzzy nostalgic part of me.  I'm reminded of paper bag mailboxes taped to the front of our desks at school and bowls of sticky cinnamon hearts.  But this woman is also a bit twisted with a hilarious sick sense of humour, you'll just have to head over to her original post to find out the hilarious adult twist to this seemingly innocent valentine :P

I've also included a few more printable vintage valentines that I've found myself:



A local (Toronto, Ryerson-educated) artist Ben Stirling has me grinning, his series of witty fetish posters based on Soviet era propaganda art are right up my alley.  These two sum up my school & social life so well haha!



Snow Day

It snowed, and snowed, and snowed, and snowed and SNOWED last night!  But just when everything looked white upon grey upon monotone I spied this bright yellow VW Bug and it was such a snapshot into the past that I had to edit it like this :)  Now I'm off to stomp around in the white fluffy stuff some more!


Winter Tomatoes? At Home?

Being a horticulture student, I have taken any number of oddly shaped, oversized plants on transit, in my car, on an aeroplane, even in bicycle baskets.  But this.. this has to be a first.  Yesterday I brought home a full size greenhouse production tomato plant in the front seat of a car, and three more in the back of a pickup truck in February.  Why did I do this?  Because I'm a little bit nuts?  You should have seen the faces of the people we pulled up beside at spotlights... I had no other choice, I don't have access to sophisticated insulated trucking!  And yes that's yesterday's floral arrangement tucked in my lap

We had too many tomato plants in our trial at the school's greenhouse, and I want to try my hand at home/urban agriculture so I brought four of them home!  I've situated them in front of a huge south facing window, to take advantage of what winter sun I can glean.  I do know I'll need supplemental lighting, but I'm trying to limit having to turn it on.  Its like a spaceship has landed in my office when I turn it on!

Overhead I have an externally ballasted 250W HID fixture/reflector with alternate bulbs: metal halide & high pressure sodium, then lighting the side of the plants I have a bank of 4 T5HO 6400k self ballasting lamps.

I have absolutely no idea how this home grown indoor winter tomatoes thing is going to go, but I'll keep you posted! :)


Pre-Valentines Day Floral Class

One thing I'm learning in this Floral Design Class is that florists make a huge portion of their income around certain key 'holidays' - one being Valentines Day.  I'm not a huge fan of this commercially driven pseudo-holiday so I'm going to let you in on a few of the tips, tricks and secrets we learned today and hopefully you can save a few pennies next week while still surprising your significant other with flowers :)

#1 - unless you're really spending up, there's not much difference between this week's non-valentines floral arrangements and next week's other than colour.  Leading into Valentines day on Tuesday the daily colourful arrangements will often be discounted or less expensive than their red/pink/white counterparts.  Buy one of these and dress it up with one or two specially selected roses.  As long as the central flower in the arrangement is pink or red, you can get away with many other coloured flowers around the sides.  In fact, I think the contrasting lime and blue give it a bit of punch.  Red can get soooo boring!

#2 - florists stick a few decorations that they get in bulk for cheap and suddenly the arrangement is a few dollars more!  Again, just buy an ordinary arrangement and decorate it yourself.  The styrafoam heart spikes (front) were 5/$1 at the dollarstore, the red chenille heart (back) was even cheaper, made from a single piece of red pipecleaner I had around the house, bent into a heart shape!


Native Ontario Plants for Green Roofs

I'm headed up to Guelph today, where I'll be presenting NiagaraResearch updates to the Landscape Ontario Growers Group Short course.  I'm nervous!  Its my first time speaking in public to such an official group of people in a field that I actually want to enter but I'm proud to be chosen to represent the project.  The topic is two subjects I enjoy, and feel passionate about though: native Ontario plants and green roofs, so hopefully that'll make it easier.  My photographs are featured in Greenhouse Canada magazine along with the article that accompanies the presentation (which you can see below), so I think its a great little package demonstrating my preliminary experience in the Green Roof industry :)


Lost In Motion (National Ballet of Canada)

When I was very young I wore a tutu everywhere, at 12 years old I danced in a version of Prokofiev's Cinderella with ballerina Kimberly Glasco, choreographed by Vanessa Harwood (both prestigious members of the Toronto dance community via the National Ballet of Canada).  I was convinced that's what I'd grow up to be!  [laughs]  While I haven't quite become the prima ballerina I thought I would, I've always stayed passionate about ballet, especially in Toronto & Canada.

This video makes my hairs stand on end, makes my spine tingle.  In this I see everything that I adore about ballet: artistry, physics, discipline, joy, motion, stillness ..

(I would highly suggest watching in HD)


plant-nerd friends

One of the most important things to me in life is meaningful friendships.  I know I've done well when I want to laugh out loud and shed a tear within a few minutes of getting the day started, these two status updates were at the top of my feed this morning & just made my morning :)  Having gone to horticultural/greenhouse school together we share a similar sense of humour and outlook on life.  You guys rock!

If I fall asleep in direct sunlight, let me be.  I am photosynthesising.
-- Cassiopeia

If humans were like plants, I could take a cutting of myself and start all over. Or maybe I could just graft the good parts of my brain onto fresh brain-stock. How about prune out the dead and re-pot myself into fresh soil. Just give me a selective humanicide so I can get rid of the the unwanted parts of me and be heathy and happy. 
-- Nathan


Simple Organic Liquid Fertilizer

I first wrote about Moo Poo Tea in December, when we started using it as the fertilizer component in our Organic Food Production research project:

I met Annie on #gardenchat a few months ago, and as I've been seeking advice regarding organic inputs for my heirloom tomato research project her product Moo Poo Tea has been mentioned again and again.  Her family has been using this manure tea on their historic Haven Seed Co farm since 1853 and selling it as an all-natural soil conditioner since 1924.  Authentic Haven Brand’s Moo Poo Tea was originally sold to mid-size agricultural farms, but when the area around their own farm started to develop into housing and neighbourhoods, they started packaging in the cute little reusable "teabags" you see below and have been helping gardeners, landscapers as well farmers (and now greenhouse growers) ever since.  Annie very kindly sent me a sample package which arrived today, it actually smelled pretty good -- like rich, earthy fields.  We've started brewing them in a @CompostTeaGSI system provided by the research greenhouse and we'll keep you all posted how it goes! :)

But I had a few sachets left over from the project, so I took them home.  Since many people have been asking me what to use as an organic fertilizer on their houseplants it seems only fitting to suggest Moo Poo Tea since I first discovered the stuff when searching blogs for organic home fertilizer suggestions! Fern's blog LifeOnTheBalcony always has answers for me, she was reccomending it as one option in her post: how to make your own organic liquid fertilizer.  She's right, when you're already watering the plants on a regular basis, simply adding a fertilizer to your watering can is a great way to feed your plants!  Moo Poo Tea makes this really easy, simply place a 5 gallon bucket of water in a sunny location, add one of the sachet and wait 1-3 days until the water turns a golden-brown colour.  Water your plants with this mixture as often as once a week and enjoy the results :)


Vinyl-Love Photoshoot

When my bestie and I get together one thing that we love to do, even if just for impromptu fun, is photoshoots.
I may not have the best camera in the world and I do love to play around with editing, so they're not always up to the stringent standards of other online photographers.. ah well :)  I've 
always loved shooting Cassi, her eyes just light up when she gets in front of the camera and we have a blast!  This time it was inspired by listening to a vintage record player and a bunch of vinyl, sprawled on the carpeted floor of a basement recroom.  


Whimsical Niagara Greenhouses

Yesterday my class went on a field trip, and I promised more pictures!