Catie George

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since Oct 20, 2016
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Ontario - Currently in Zone 4b
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Recent posts by Catie George

Last year I grew way too many tomato starts from my saved seeds. So I shared them. I explained I didn't know what some of the varieties were, just that they tasted good so I saved them.

I gave some to the neighbours.

I gave some to relatives.

I gave some to some to very distant relatives who were going through some hard times.

I probably gave away 50+ plants. I thought I was just setting them up for a year of tomato growing.

This year, feedback is trickling back. The family that is still in hard times, normally buys tomato starts and grows a garden. They saved seeds from my plants, saying they grew better than anything they bought in the past. This year, they have already planted seeds and will share with their parents/family and maybe return one variety to me!  I will offer them some squash seed, I think.

Another relative lives in a low income housing development. She saved seeds from the plants I gave her last year, and bought seeds, has started plants, and is planning on giving dozens away to her neighbours. She wants some of our rhubarb and maybe some other things...

A friend I gave squash to (not at all a gardener)  saved the seeds and plans to plant them in some scrub land to see if they grow. He also grew his first tomatos from my starts last year.

Anyway - smiling this morning. It cost me next to nothing to grow and share tomato starts. But the ripples from doing so.... We will see.  

I will give more seeds and more starts away again this year. It will be interesting to see where they end up.

3 weeks ago
Welcome from a fellow Ontario-an!
4 weeks ago
That's the climate/growing season I grew up in. June 10 was our average last frost date. Now I am about 2 weeks earlier/later but still use some of the same techniques.

Everything I grow I pick out for 'short growing season'. If I am in the store or in a catalogue, looking at varieties, the first thing I do  is see which have the shortest days to maturity.

I plant out about 1/3 of my cold sensitive plants about 2 weeks before official average last frost date (if forecast is clear), then, on last frost day, I check the forecast again. I either plant all my remaining tomato/pepper starts then, or another 1/3, and another 1/3 in a week or two if the weather seems questionable. I start some squash/melons in large pots on the porch about a week or two before official last frost. They can easily be brought inside if necessary and it gives me a tiny headstart. The rest I start from seed a week or so after official last frost, I find them more sensitive than tomato's.

I start enough starts that even losing half isn't a big deal, and I can find homes for any extras easily.

We keep sheets and blankets and table clothes and plastic totes around to cover large swaths of plants to keep them warm, checking the forecast each night before bed.  Cloches are too finicky for my taste - I forget to take them off and tend to fry plants.

Some plants can handle frost - onions, brassicas, carrots, potatoes (somewhat) and don't need cover. I tend to group frost sensitive plants together so it is fast to cover them.

Last year and this year I have been experimenting with what things can be planted early. Our last frost here isn't until May 24th or 30th... I planted onions yesterday and carrot seeds and peas. I  will plant more in 3-4 weeks, and will probably plant lettuce soon. Seeds are cheap. I also planted daikon radishes in the fall last year and they did wonderfully even long after frost. Cabbages stayed good for weeks after fall frost. My garlic is up already. Last year I learned to presoak corn seed and bean seed to make it germinate faster, even in soil that is not warm enough.
Let there be PEPPERS!

One pepper is up ('Hot Salsa Blend')

Several more are pushing out from the soil and will be up tomorrow ('Hot Salsa Blend' and 'Purple Star Pepper')

Hot and sweet peppers! Yippee!
Thank you Anita!!!

I will try that with a few peppers. .

One of the sources for my grumbling is that I know my eastern European /former Soviet block relatives (who grow fantastic peppers) don't have heat mats. In fact, I think they may start their peppers outdoors under plastic. Obviously, here in Canada the growing season is much shorter, but I really grumble to be tied to a heat mat. I haven't visited them since I started really trying to start my own seeds, and my language skills aren't really up to asking what they do.
I am celiac  so eat gluten free. I have never gone all the way to grain free, but squash puree makes up more than half the volume of my gluten free muffins and gives great flavour and texture. If I were trying to make grain free bread I would likely rely heavily on squash and eggs. Apple sauce works in  things I don't want tasting of squash but squash is better textured.

Have you tried alternative flours? Bean flour, chickpea flour? They don't do well with me, but many people use them heavily.
1 month ago

John Weiland wrote:Catie, It's not clear to me.....are all of your seedling start attempts with these peppers being done in moistened paper towels or in potting mix?    As with yourself and several others here, we need to use a heating-mat-for-seedlings to get peppers to germinate and yes, they can take weeks to emerge.  We keep them in soil the whole time and keep the 'gro-lights' turned off until they do.  They should be moist, but not overwatered since in that warm environment, the mold issue may get worse.  And when you say 'warmest window in the house', this is still with the heating mat underneath it for when the sun is not warming the soil, yes?  Here's to good luck this year!

I have tried several methods - this year is in a covered dome seed starting tray in the warmest room of the house (top of stairs with a South facing window and a heating vent). No heating mat (dog warming bed) as i can't find it.

Last year we tried :
- random pots in side porch - some success
- damp paper towel on top of fridge - mold, mostly failed to germinate
-damp paper towel on heating mat - mold, mostly failed to germinate
- soil on heating mats - failed to germinate except chilis
- transplanting started seeds from paper towel into soil both on and off heating mat (mostly failed)

In the end, the only things that produced a seedling were method 1 (stripey bell) and chili peppers produced in any of the above methods. The Chilis just seemed very vigorous.

So I have bought a few more packages of fresh seed , and am trying many varieties (6, for now) and am hoping that a few will produce and then I can save seeds from them, selecting for 'actually will start for Catie'. I will start more in 3 weeks or so from some other saved seeds I have, if I don't get enough from this attempt.  I grumble about having to coddle something this much!
Well here it goes again....

Last year I basically got chili peppers and a few sweet peppers to start. More than three quarters of what I planted failed to start. Then something ate them out of the ground (vole?) and I ended up having to buy pepper starts and growing none of my own.

This year - as it's now 12 weeks to May 24th (traditional planting weekend) I planted 54 cells of peppers, 2 seeds per cell, 9 cells of each type. They are in the warmest window of the house.

In 4 weeks I will assess how many managed to start and potentially start another round with the seeds that did manage to start.

Anyone want to take bets on how many I start? I need about 12 plants, 6 hot, 6 mild.

Jenna - have you considered moving elsewhere in Canada?

I have lived and worked in many places in Canada and find each one has its own flavour and culture. Some I slip into easily, others I rail against.

I personally have found the culture of rural BC and a few places in Alberta suit me well, most parts of Ontario do not. I do well in Newfoundland. I do well in university towns and government towns but do not do well in major financial centres. I do well in places with a transient, diverse population and a lot of retirees or former hippies :) Places that prioritize quality of life over material wealth. I hated the small town I lived in as a teenager but would consider moving to a different town, with a very different culture only 45 min away!
1 month ago
We have daylilies and irises planted to break up the water flow and hold down the soil on our steep mulched slope.
1 month ago