Food Gardening

Growing Thai Basil Indoors

Thai basil plants

Thai basil is a must have ingredient for many Thai/Vietnamese dishes and therefore it’s a must have in my kitchen! Thai basil tastes different from the more common Italian basil used in North America, a bit more peppery and some say with notes of licorice or anise. I’m not sure how to describe the taste,…

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How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed – Part 3

So, you’ve planted tomato seeds (Part 1) and are nurturing them along with appropriate levels of light and water (Part 2).  If you followed my advice and planted two or three seeds in each growing cell, you will likely have two or more seedlings coming up in each cell.   You may have to brace…

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How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed – Part 2

If you’ve followed all of the steps in part one of this tutorial, you will now have baby tomato plants, each with two little leaves:   Sometimes the seed will still be stuck on the leaf, but don’t worry about it. These aren’t true leaves, but cotyledons, and they help to feed the plant until…

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How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed – Part 1

I don’t believe that growing tomato plants from seeds is the best way for new gardeners to get into gardening (read my plea for new gardeners to buy seedlings for first year or two here). But, once you’ve mastered starting with sturdy seedlings and growing the plants on to full maturity, it’s a lot of…

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How to Harvest Rhubarb

One of the first edible things you can pick in the garden each year is rhubarb. I usually start harvesting mine in late May or early June and, if I keep picking so that the stems don’t get too big and woody, continue into August. I never pick all of the stalks–I’ve read that you…

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Dividing Alpine Strawberries

How to multiply your patch of Alpine Strawberries (Fragaria vesca)

Strawberries are a great plant to grow, as there’s nothing quite like a truly ripe (not picked sort of ripe so they ship well) strawberry from your own garden. When most people think of strawberry plants, they think of what I’ll call “regular” strawberries–they grow big berries and send out lots and lots of runners,…

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How to Grow Zucchini

How to Grow Zucchini and Fight Off Striped Cucumber Beetles

Zucchini, also known by its French name, courgette, is reputed to be an incredibly easy plant to grow, and a prolific producer as well. During zucchini season there are jokes made about people breaking into cars and leaving a bag of zucchinis, so desperate are gardeners to get rid of their excess. Fortunately, there are…

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Not So Ornamental Kale

How to keep cabbage worms from eating your kale

I don’t like the taste of kale very much, but I do like it as an ornamental plant in my garden. Some of my friends love eating kale (yet we’re still friends) so they help me keep the size of my plants in check.   I’ve never had a problem growing kale—it likes sun, tolerates…

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How to Plant Tomatoes

How to Plant Tomatoes

Tomatoes are often the very first vegetable most gardeners try to grow, and who can blame them—there’s nothing like the taste of a freshly grown, ripe tomato from your own garden. While there can be challenges, overall, tomatoes are a pretty easy plant to grow—they’re a good (and tasty!) choice for new gardeners of all…

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What we can learn from greenhouse tomato growers

Lessons for home gardeners from greenhouse tomato growers

Last fall, while visiting The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, I came across a very neat exhibit–it was a 38 foot mobile “greenhouse education centre“–sponsored by Naturefresh, a Leamington, Ontario based greenhouse grower of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. I love growing tomatoes, and have written about it on this blog quite a bit, including…

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Tomato problems. But are they really a problem?

Tomato leaf problems aren't cause for panic

In an ideal world, our plants would never have a blemish and would produce bumper crops continuously.   I do my best to practice good garden hygiene, taking any dying or diseased leaves and stems out of my garden throughout the season, and for tomatoes, being sure to remove the old plants at the end…

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Pruning tomatoes

I manage the growth of my tomato plants in order to keep them growing on one or two main stems. Left to their own devices, tomato plants will produce many branches, flop over, and become a tangled mess. This isn’t good for the condition of the fruit–it will rot more easily on the ground, and…

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Supporting heirloom tomatoes

I really enjoy growing tomatoes, especially somewhat unusual heirloom varieties. By nature, these tend to be very tall plants, growing 8 to 10’ tall in a season, so figuring out how to support them has been part of my learning on how to grow tomatoes well. One of the first things I figured out was…

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Dividing rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of the earliest foods you can harvest from the garden. Other than a spot to grow with full sun and an annual feeding of compost or manure, it’s not a demanding plant. But it is a big plant–a mature plant can be 1.5 metres (almost 5′) across.   It is good for…

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How to plant garlic

How to plant garlic - image of trowel and clove of garlic

Garlic is one of the easiest foods to grow. Just drop a clove in the ground, provide minimal care, and some time later—out comes a full head of garlic. In this post, I’ll take you step by step through the process. Or, for the quick version, watch this video: Still with me? Great–read on! Garlic…

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Dealing with lots of tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes with cracked skins and calyx

I grow a lot of tomatoes. A lot. In fact, some people might say I have a bit of a tomato growing problem. But you know, some people buy what might be considered excessive pairs of shoes, have closets full of handbags, or perhaps a dozen too many tech gadgets. I…grow tomatoes. And I’m pretty…

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How to harvest garlic

freshly picked head of garlic

A short while ago I shared the not so secret secret to growing great garlic.   Today I’m going to show you how to harvest garlic, and I’ve created a video so you can see exactly how I do it.   Once you watch the video you may be tempted to run out and dig…

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The (not so secret) secret to growing great garlic

garlic scapes

Garlic is really easy to grow—you plant it in the fall and then just keep it watered and weeded until harvest, except you do have one task to complete right about now. And that’s chopping off those curly things that have formed at the top of the garlic plants. Those are called scapes. Essentially, they’re…

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Which seeds should I plant right in the ground?

In a previous post I talked about how new vegetable gardeners can feel pressured to start their plants inside, from seeds, when really, they would be much better off buying baby plants (seedlings) from the nursery. This is true for plants that need to be started ahead of time, inside, in order to reach maturity…

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What new gardeners need to hear about starting seeds

Basil seedlings

I believe a lot of new gardeners are being set up for failure. They’re told from multiple sources that growing their own plants from seed is a great way, in fact, the only way, to really start gardening. When a new gardener tries to grow something and has a bad experience right off the bat,…

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I couldn’t find it so I created it–The Best Zucchini Bread Recipe

Close up of the best zucchini bread

My garden has entered that late summer stage where, as far as flowers go, it’s all about the dahlias and the black-eyed susans. Rudbeckia triloba (my favourite form of black-eyed susan) has self seeded in several places (not all of which are convenient, but I let it go anyway) and it certainly must be one…

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Canning for the first time

Close up of ripe peaches

I’ve been afraid to start canning. Not scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, but concerned that I wouldn’t be able to stop. Both my mother and father’s family canned every year, and my mother has lined her fruit-cellar shelves with jars and jars of fruit jam for as long as I’ve been…

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