The New Coop and Rabbit Home

We are almost done the new coop/rabbit house! We turned a little brown 70’s particle board 8×8 shed into an 18×8′ long outbuilding with electricity! We used mostly recycled, restore or auction materials (like our gorgeous $5 siding). It is fully insulated, with a 5×8′ storage room in the front entrance and a gable window on the South-west side.

shed-edited
The rabbit house is completely removable. I can take out everything & clean it. I can take the entire thing out in the spring and let it bleach in the sun! Each panel can be reconfigured to make separate cages for new bird quarantines, brooder areas or just to separate anyone misbehaving! The floor is reversible, removable linoleum. Edwing & Ezekial are very happy in their new home.  Now I get to make the fun stuff – stairs & tunnels & toys!
rabbit-run-edited
These are the new birds, fresh out of quarantine from the Mount Forest Fall sale. They have been in 2 separate cages in the garage until about a week ago, when I put the cages beside each other and then put them in the new coop together. So far, so good. Only a little bit of feather pulling. There is a Porcelain D’Uccle, Mille Fleur, Amauricana and a White Crested Black Polish. I can’t wait to see the egg colour from the Amauricana!
EDITED 4.JPG

Next week I will introduce the older hens, who are still out in the small coop, enjoying the last of the good weather. A black Silkie, a Partridge Silkie, a tiny Brahma, 2 Gold Laced Polish and a Mille Fleur roo.  They are the calmest hens that we have ever had, except for the black Silkie.  She is a bit of a nut. She races around every morning pecking everyone in site & then spends the rest of her day in a nest box.   I am going to break her broodiness when I get her in the new coop & hopefully that will relax her a bit!

old-hens-edited
 I love the storage room. It is fully insulated & has a big window. It should make feeding & care more convenient, especially in the winter.  Plus, I get to decorate it with some of Russ’s grandma GGs rooster collection!
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 Here are a couple of before photos! 70’s particle board🙂
shed-edited
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6th ANNUAL CANADIAN AUTUMN SEED EXCHANGE

image6th ANNUAL CANADIAN AUTUMN SEED EXCHANGE

Its that time of year again!

Welcome to the 6th Annual Exchange!  The format is the same as the previous years except that I am going to try to use a group email (rather than 50+ emails to do separately), so if you wish to be taken off of the group, just let me know.

Just a quick thank you to all of the participants from last year. There were a ton of bonuses – and some great new participants!

Here are the guidelines. Let me know if you wish to take part & I will email my address to you!   If you have any questions, shoot me a message and I will help you out!

6TH ANNUAL CANADIAN AUTUMN SEED SWAP GUIDELINES
(Partially paraphrased from Heather MacDonald’s annual pepper/tomato swap guidelines – with her permission)

ADDRESS  to be sent if you commit to participating.

This is my business address & the postman brings the mail straight to me! Seeds are due  November 17th, so please put your seeds in the mail on or before November 7th to ensure that they reach me on time. You are welcome to send your envelope earlier.

1. You can send in up to 40 seed packs for exchange & as many bonuses as you wish. If you send in 40 packages, you will get 40 packages back. If you send in 5 packages you will get 5 back. Bonuses will be divided between everyone, so you will end up with more than you send in. Occasionally I split seed packs in order to fill popular wishes. You can send in up to 2 packs of the same variety. If you send in more than 2 packs of the same variety I will contact you. I can either use the seeds as bonus or send them back to you in your return envelope.

2. This swap is for NAMED VARIETIES of seed only. Please mark the seed package with the type of seed (annual or perennial flower, herb, vegetable, etc.) & the cultivar name. If you know – mark whether they are heirloom or OP, or hybrid. If seeds are from a commercial source, please note that as well. Basically put as much info as you can on the packet. If there is anything that are unsure of, just ask! Do not include mixes or mystery seeds or unnamed (eg: Red Cherry Tomato or Orange Marigold) unless they are clearly marked as bonus seed. It isn`t fair to send mystery seed to people who sent in named varieties. Unknown varieties will be sent back to you, unless marked as bonuses.

If you are sending in hybrid seed, only F1 seed from a commercial source is acceptable. Please mark the source on the package. Do not send in seeds you have collected from a hybrid plant. They will not grow true to the parent plant. If you are unsure if the seed you have collected is from a hybrid, please research online or send me a message & I will try to find out.

Seed doesn`t need to be collected from bagged or separated varieties – accidental crosses occasionally happen. When you grow out the seeds that you receive please try not to be upset if an occasional plant isn`t true. Sometimes crosses are better than the original … That being said, please don`t send in seed that you know is crossed & will not grow true.

3. Please include a list of the seeds that you are sending in. Also include a wish list or preferences & if there are any seeds you do not want to receive. I will try my best to accommodate wish lists, but there are no guarantees. The returned seeds will be completely dependent upon what is sent in. The easiest wishlists to fill include some specifics, but also some general wishes. Don’t be shy. It is easier if your wishlist has 1000 things on it! (: Please feel free to email your wishlist earlier. It  is easier for me to fill more of your wishes. If you receive something on your wishlist or find something that you wish to add to your list at any time before I send back your envelope, let me know.

4. Please mail your seeds inside of a bubble envelope with your return address label inside. It is important that you send a regular bubble envelope & not the heavy cardboard  type to keep within the weight restriction. Please send $2.95 return postage. If your package uses less postage I will send you back the difference. Please do not assume that your postage will be the same as your package that you send in. There may be lots of bonus seeds or heavy seeds. I will reuse your original bubble envelope to send your seeds back to you. If you go to Canada Post & they try to charge you more, be sure to tell them that is Lettermail, non-standard and oversize – just make sure that is the correct width to fit through the slot!

The weight category (usually) is:
$2.95. 100-200 grams
https://www.canadapost.ca/web/en/pages/lettersdocs/default.page” This has been the correct weight category for almost every package that I have sent out in previous years.

5. Please include both your real name (for mailing) and your screen name & your email – so I know who has sent in their seeds!

WHAT TO SEND:
Inside your bubble wrap envelope you should have;
1. Whatever seed you are contributing to the swap
2. A list of whatever seed you have put in your envelope
3. Stamps totaling $2.95 (you will need another $2.95 in stamps to
send your seeds to me)
4. An address label with your address on it.
5. A wish list or do not want list (:
6. Your name & Screen name along with an email address.

Remember, you can email your wish list as soon as it is ready, making it easier to fill. You can also change your wish list after you have sent it. Just let me know of any additions or changes.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. Happy trading !!!
Cheers,

Nicky

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

2016 In the Garden

image

This year in Southern Ontario it has been HOT!  No rain, but SO HOT.  I wish that it would stay like this forever.

The garden is doing very well.  The Brussels, broccoli and cauliflower are the only plants not enjoying the weather.  Everything else is fantastic.  Right now we are harvesting zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, kale, cabbage, rhubarb, all of the herbs, beans, artichoke, peas…

imageArtichoke plants are growing well this year.  Tonight’s dinner is grilled artichoke & zucchini with bruschetta! Planting nasturtium & calendula around the plant has increased the bee activity & I have never had as many artichokes on the plants.  Spreading straw around the plants keeps the moisture in the soil during the dry heat this year.

imagePeppers are ripening in bunches. Jalapenos, Hungarian Bananas, Joe’s Long Cayenne, Orange Habaneros and Mazitti peppers are all changing colour.  The greenhouse superhots aren’t ripe yet, but they are doing well. This year I emptied out a 2 yard bin of compost into the beds and the plants are loving it.  Everything is full and lush.

imageI like to plant sunflowers in the veggie beds.  They are beautiful & attract bees & butterflies.  Amaranth has spread through the garden.  I pulled out thousands of  volunteer plants & left a few plants scattered through the beds.  They are reaching 10′ high!  Tomato plants are bushy & healthy (middle 2 beds). They love compost.

imageI tried a new combination in the grape bed.  I planted potatoes in chicken wire cages along the bed.  Then planted kale around the cages.  I don’t know if it is the compost, the weather or the combo – but all 3 plants are the best ever.  I have over 300 bunches of grapes growing.  The potato plants are 5 feet tall & easy to hill.  There is NO WEEDING.  Love it!

imageimageimage

We had a chicken loss this week.  The boss of the flock, our 6 year Whitey the Silkie died in her sleep.  She had a great life with her baby Silkies, keeping everyone in line and foraging in the trees.  She was our roo, Napoleon’s favourite & he has been pretty quiet this week.  The other hens are doing well.  The little brown Silkie is the tamest bird that we have had.  She waits for me outside the door of the house every evening to pick her up & put her in, while everyone else is asleep on the roost!

imageEdwin & Ezekial, named after Blue Jays players are doing well.  Thankfully, they are both boys – there was some question…  They enjoy kale & cabbage, hanging out with the hens & the chipmunk that has moved into their pen!  Edwin (the blonde) likes to be pet & Ezekial (grey) is a little more skittish, but always the first to race to new food!

imageimage Wound Morning Glories around tomato plants & tied them over a trellis. The plants are HUGE in this bed.  I will continue this combination next year. Pole beans may work, but morning glories tendril the tomatoes with more strength.  Plus it looks fabulous in the garden in the morning. I need some new varieties for next year!

 

imageimageimage

 

Posted in 2016 garden, bean, chickens, flowers, hens, Potatoes, rabbit, tomatoes, Uncategorized, Veggie Garden | 7 Comments

GO JAYS GO!!!

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

5th Annual Canadian Autumn Seed Exchange

canning

5TH ANNUAL CANADIAN AUTUMN SEED SWAP GUIDELINES

(Partially paraphrased from Heather MacDonald’s annual pepper/tomato swap guidelines – with her permission)…

ADDRESS  to be send by email when you sign up!

This is my business address & the postman brings the mail straight to me! Seeds are due in on November 16th, so please put your seeds in the mail on or before November 6th to ensure that they reach me on time. Of course, you are welcome to send your envelope earlier.

1. You can send in up to 40 seed packs. If you are sending in extra seeds as a bonus please mark them clearly as a bonus. If you send in 40 packages, you will get 40 packages back. If you send in 5 packages you will get 5 back. Bonuses will be divided between everyone, so you will end up with more than you send in. Occasionally I split seed packs in order to fill difficult wish lists.

You can send in up to 2 packs of the same variety. If you send in more than 2 packs of the same variety I will contact you. I can either use the seeds as bonus or send them back to you in your return envelope.

2. This swap is for NAMED VARIETIES of any open pollinated seed only. Please mark the seed package with the type of seed (annual or perennial flower, herb, vegetable, etc.) & the cultivar name. If you know – mark whether they are heirloom or OP, or hybrid. If seeds are from a commercial source, please note that as well. Basically put as much info as you can on the packet. If there is anything that are unsure of, just ask! Do not include mixes or mystery seeds or unnamed (eg: Purple Cosmos or Orange Cherry Tomato or Marigold) unless they are clearly marked as bonus seed. It isn`t fair to send mystery seed to people who followed instructions & sent in named varieties. Unknown varieties will be sent back to you, unless marked as bonuses.

If you are sending in hybrid seed, only F1 seed from a commercial source is acceptable. Please mark the source on the package. Do not send in seeds you have collected from a hybrid plant. They will not grow true to the original parent plant. If you are unsure if the seed you have collected is from a hybrid, please research online before mailing in your seeds or send me a message and I will try to find out.

Seed doesn`t need to be collected from bagged or separated varieties – accidental crosses occasionally happen. When you grow out the seeds that you receive please try not to be upset if an occasional plant isn`t true. Sometimes crosses are better than the original … That being said, please don`t send in seed that you know is crossed & will not grow true.

3. Please include a list of the seeds that you are sending in. Also include a wish list or preferences and if there are any seeds you do not want to receive. If you are only interested in heirloom or OP, please tell me. I will try my best to accommodate your wish list, but there are no guarantees. The returned seeds will be completely dependent on what is sent in. The easiest wishlists to fill include some specifics, but also some general wishes. Don’t be shy. It is easier, if your wishlist has 1000 things on it! (: If you wish to email your wishlist earlier, please feel free. Having your list early makes it easier for me to fill more of your wishes. If you have something on your wishlist & get it from another source, or find something that you wish to add to your list at any time before I send back your envelope, just let me know.

4. Please mail your seeds inside of a bubble envelope with your return address label inside. It is important that you send a regular bubble envelope & not the heavy cardboard insulated type to keep within the weight restriction. Please send $2.95 return postage. If your package uses less postage I will send you back the difference. Please do not assume that your postage will be the same as your package that you send in. There may be lots of bonus seeds or heavy seeds that will make a difference. I will reuse your original bubble envelope to send your surprise seeds back to you. If you go to Canada Post to mail your envelope & they try to charge you more, be sure to tell them that is Lettermail, non-standard and oversize.

The weight category is:

$2.95. 100-200 grams

https://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/personal/productsservices/send/postagestamps.jsf”

This has been the correct weight category for almost every package that I have sent out in previous years.

5. Please include both your real name (for mailing) and your screen name & your email – so I know who has sent in their seeds!

WHAT TO SEND:

Inside your bubble wrap envelope you should have;

1. Whatever seed you are contributing to the swap

2. A list of whatever seed you have put in your envelope

3. Stamps totaling $2.95 (you will need another $2.95 in stamps to send your seeds to me)

4. An address label with your address on it.

5. A wish list or list of preferences or do not want list (:

6. Include your name & Screen name along with an email address.

Remember, you can send in your wish list as soon as it is ready, making it easier to fill. You can also change your wish list after you have sent it. Just let me know of any additions or changes.

to sign up, please send me your email address!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. Happy trading !!!

Cheers,

Nicky

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Lots of Bush Beans

 

I grew double my usual amount of bush beans this year. One day I will grow less varieties. But I can’t resist all of the pretty colours and shapes! Anyway….  One bed was much sunnier than the other and matured quicker, but overall it was a great season.

I planted several varieties that I have already reviewed.  If you are looking for more info on;

Black Valentine, Blue Jay, Dapple Grey, Jacob’s Cattle, Tsunetomi or Wood Mountain Crazy, shoot me a message or check out my previous blogs.  They all did well and grew true to form

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The new to me varieties:

imageCANADIAN WILD GOOSE

What a pretty bean. Green with purple stripes with unremarkable flavour as a snap. But dried…. The earliest to a mature, it pumped out hundreds of easy to shell tiny colourful beans. I left the plants in, hoping for a 2nd crop in the fall. No luck.  I think that I could fit an early snap in before winter in its spot. Will get a spot in next year’s garden.

imagePAINTED PONY

A tall plant that shoots out runners.  The beans dried fairly late. The long, thin pods were easy to shell. The seeds are gorgeous and kept their markings when cooked.  I was making refried beans, but couldn’t bear to mash them!  Not my favourite variety.  Average production, average maturity, average taste dressed in a pretty coat.

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APPALOOSA

i tried this as a snap and it was good.  I won’t bother next time.  The dried beans are so beautiful, why waste picking any early? It produced masses of long, thin pods. My only complaint is that I got the bean equivalent of paper cuts when shelling along the sharp pod edge. Fantastic in chili.  This is a grow every other year in my garden.

imageSPECKLED ALGONQUIN

This was the largest plant of all of the bush varieties. Strangely, the dry bean yield was a little less than average.  It was in a sunny spot, so I don’t think that I will grow it again, but – I haven’t tasted them yet!  This is a native Canadian bean said to be great baked or in soup.  I will update once I cook with it.

imageMROCUMIERE

I planted 5 seeds of this gorgeous purple seeded bean, hoping to increase my stock & share a few. I was very wrong.  The 5 beans that I planted produced as much as the 2 dozen seeds of the other varieties! The plants were covered in large rounded pods. And the dried bean – so striking. The purple colour is deepening with age.  I will taste some soon & update!

imageFLAGEOLET

Such a dainty little bean.  The pale green colour of the seed is eye-catching.  Stringy as a snap, this one shines in soup.  Rich & creamy tasting.  Although I have enjoyed cooking with this variety, it didn’t have a great yield for me.  It was in the shadiest part of the garden, so when I try it again it will get a sunny spot.

imageTIGER EYE

Tiger Eye is said to be a bush variety, but consistently throws runners.  I decided to plant the seed around the base of my peach tree. Good thing, as it would have strangled out the neighbouring bush beans had I left it in the main beds.  It grew right up the trunk of the tree.  What a crazy coloured bean!  A grow again for colour alone! I can’t wait to try it in chili!

PISRECKA ZLUTOLUSKE

The first fresh eating beans to mature in the absolute shadiest spot in my garden!  A terrific tasting wax bean. I ate masses of them fresh out of the garden, drowning them in butter & salt.  I froze enough for about a dozen meals for 4. Then I realized that the beans in the shady part of the garden weren’t drying. I left the rest for seed, but the frost got the seed first.  Bah! I will have to source these again, as I hope none left!

Overall my favourites this year were Canadian Wild Goose and Mrocumiere.  Both great production & gorgeous when shelled!

If anyone has a spare dozen Pisarecka Zlutoluske beans, let me know.  I think that they would have been a favourite too, in a sunnier part of the garden!

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2014 garden, bean | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Great Year For Pole Beans!

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My pole beans LOVED the weather this year.  I ran into one slight problem when a few varieties from trades failed to germinate.  After three weeks (an eternity in bean years) I replaced them with a few other varieties.  I thought that I could at least get some fresh eating beans, even if the replacements wouldn’t have time to mature into dried beans.  Strangely, the 3 replacements caught up and ended up  maturing just a touch later than the rest!

CHRISTMAS LIMA – no photo

I was very excited to try this one… They are so striking with their deep maroon splashed white coloured large flat seeds. But darn…  Mine did not do well at all.  Straggly vines, late to dry.  The colour seemed off as well, mainly white with maroon splotches.  Off to the soup pot with no picture!

 

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BOSNIAN  POLE

This was one of my last-minute additions to the trellis.  I grew it in 2013 and loved it.  A green Romano with 5-6″ pods.  I didn’t expect much from the ones that I froze last year, but they were great!  Tasty & not mushy.  They hold their shape well in soup. Bosnian has an unusual colouring.  The shades of the tri-coloured dry beans deepen over time.

imageROGER NEWSOME

this fall/October bean from Kentucky was another last-minute replacement.  I am SO glad that it was! What a gorgeous bean.  The pods change colour in the fall to a gorgeous bright pinkish red.  Striking in the midst of the greenery.  I didn’t try any fresh, but have a good stock to try cooking this winter!

imageBIRD EGG

I ended up with a very small yield of these huge beans!  They were the least productive in my garden, maturing far later than the others.  In spite of this, it was fun to try them out. I am hoping that the huge size will satisfy my meat-eating husband, who asks where the meat is whenever I make a bean dish.  I should just add bacon to everything.

imageKAHNAWAKE MOHAWK

This Ontario native bean was my favourite pole bean of the year. A HUGE climber, it produced a whopping amount of plump, beautifully coloured beans.  I tried them as snaps & they were very tasty.  I froze some – so I will see how they hold. As a dry bean they have a lovely creamy texture. They will be growing in my 2015 garden for sure!

imageDOLLOFF

This Vermont horticultural lima is on its 3rd year on my trellis. The earliest to dry, extremely prolific & just keeps going in all weather. A huge climber, it takes more than its fair share of my 8 foot high trellis & comes back down the other side by October. The dried beans are great in chili, baked, sautéed fresh…  Every way that I have tried them!

imageGOOD MOTHER STALLARD

A well-known & well-loved bean that I threw along my back fence just to try it out. It fought to grow in a tough spot & began the season eaten by rabbits.  It managed to come back & produce a respectable crop of plump maroon splashed white beans.  This will get a spot in the main garden next year.  I’m looking forward to trying it in soup.

This year I tried a new companion plant for my bean trellis.  It gets hard to weed the middle of the 4 foot wide bed without breaking vines.  I had extra seed potatoes, so I planted a row in the middle of the bed.  It worked out perfectly.  The potatoes grew great in the spring and then the beans took over.  The shelter of the vines kept the sun from drying out the bed, so the potatoes were more evenly watered.  The potato foliage kept weeds from growing in the middle of the vines! Perfect if you like less weeding!

Posted in 2014 garden, bean, Veggie Garden | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Here Are The Potatoes – with a cool growing idea!

imageEvery year I decide in the fall that I am going to pick a few favourites to grow and stop trialling so many varieties.  Then winter hits and I start rummaging through seed sites.  Eventually my 1 or 2 varieties become 5 or 10, then by spring it’s is up to 15.  I should not look at Eagle Creek Farms website. They have too many interesting potatoes.  I just can’t resist.  So, here I am posting about 10 varieties instead of 2!

image

DESIREE

Decent production of small 2.3-3cm oval red skinned potatoes with yellow flesh.  A main crop variety from the Netherlands. The potato was very hard to cut for the picture.  Thick and waxy hard flesh.  This variety Should be ideal for potato salad, but was forgettable fried.

image AGRIA

Large thick 4-5″ flattened ovals with light yellow skin and dark yellow flesh. Very dry & floury.  A main crop variety.  They were everyone’s favourite when the potatoes for this blog post were fried After the photo session!

 

imageWARBA

This variety is supposed to have pink eyes, but mine didn’t do very well.  They grew close to the top of the bed and shot off so many tiny tubers that the larger ones didn’t seem to have enough energy to grow.  This is one of the larger. Waxy yellow inside.  Supposed to be great for mashing.

image

ALASKA SWEETHEART

Grown from a few saved for seed from last year.  Excellent yields of small roundish bright pink all the way through potatoes!  They keep their colour when fried, although they had a tendency to fall apart. Very tasty. I can’t wait to mash some!

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BLUE MAC

A small yield of small to medium sized round potatoes.  Very white flesh inside a dark purple skin.  Bred by Agriculture Canada.   These are supposed to be for boiling or baking.  They were forgettable fried, but the white flesh is striking and would make very pretty as a twice baked potato with chives & bacon!

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LINDZER DELIKATESS

An early season wax potato. When I cut into this one it was very tender & juicy.  They yielded quite a few long thin smallish whitish yellow potatoes, from just one seed potato.  I would imagine that this one will have to be a salad potato, given the size.

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CANDY CANE

This variety (along with Russian Blue) were part of my pole bean bed experiment. I hate weeding inside my pole been tepees, so I grew potatoes to smother out the weeds.  Perfect!  My yield from my 1 Candy Cane seed potato from previous year was fantastic and I didn’t have week my bean bed once! Plus – what a pretty potato!

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The other half of my pole bean bed experiment.  The yields were fabulous.  I have grown Russian Blue for years & it always produces well, but in the pole beans…. Wow!!!  My best guess is that the bit of shade thrown by the beans keeps the moisture in the bed better, allowing the potatoes to develop rapidly.   This how I will grow all of my beans next year.

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PINK FIR APPLE

Well, not quite sure what to say about this one.  Last year it was a huge producer. This year I planted one seed potato – the rest were accidentally eaten. It produced one potato.  Now that I have cut it in half for the blog post, I will have to order more. I’m never sure about the fingerlings.  I am more of a fry, mash or baked potato fan.

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GERMAN BUTTERBALL

Mmmmm.  That is all that I have to write!  ;). So very good.  This is my favourite.  Fabulous fried.  Toss em’ in sea salt & olive oil & bake them.  Even the kids eat them without ketchup, so that they can taste the flavour!  This years crop did well.  The skin was a bit rough, but the insides are the usual dark yellow and the yields were great.

overall winner: Butterball.  Just love the texture.

Plant next year: Butterball, Agria, Alaska Sweetheart, Candy Cane, Russian Blue all in the pole bean bed!

Now I have to narrow down my list and pick a few more when Eagle Creek puts up its seed potatoes for next spring!

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Posted in 2014 garden, Potatoes, Uncategorized, Veggie Garden | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4th Annual Canadian Autumn Seed Exchange

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I can’t believe that this is the 4th year of this swap already (:

Every fall I host a swap just for Canadians. Last year we had just over 40 gardeners join in. Feel free to message me if you are interested. Don’t be shy… You will be helping out genetic diversity😉 and you will end up with more seeds than you can plant!

This swap is for any kind of seed. Vegetable, herb, flower, fruit…. All Canadians are welcome! If it is your 1st swap or 50th, feel free to ask any questions.

4TH ANNUAL CANADIAN AUTUMN SEED SWAP GUIDELINES
(Partially paraphrased from Heather MacDonald’s annual pepper/tomato swap guidelines with her permission)

I will send my address privately when you either post in this thread or send me an email. Here are the guidelines:

This is my business address & the postman brings the mail straight to me! Seeds are due in on November 17th, so please put your seeds in the mail on or before November 7th to ensure that they reach me on time. Of course, you are welcome to send your envelope earlier.

1. You can send in up to 40 seed packs. If you are sending in extra seeds as a bonus please mark them clearly as a bonus. If you send in 40 packages, you will get 40 packages back. If you send in 5 packages you will get 5 back. Bonuses will be divided between everyone, so you will end up with more than you send in. Occasionally I split seed packs in order to fill difficult wish lists.

You can send in up to 2 packs of the same variety. If you send in more than 2 packs of the same variety I will contact you. I can either use the seeds as bonus or send them back to you in your return envelope.

2. This swap is for NAMED VARIETIES of any open pollinated seed only. Please mark the seed package with the type of seed (annual or perennial flower, herb, vegetable, etc.) & the cultivar name. If you know, mark whether they are heirloom or OP, or hybrid. If seeds are from a commercial source, please note that as well. Basically put as much info as you can on the packet. If there is anything that are unsure of, just ask! Do not include mixes or mystery seeds or unnamed (eg: Purple Cosmos or Orange Cherry Tomato or mixed Marigold) unless they are clearly marked as bonus seed. It isn`t fair to send mystery seed to people who followed the instructions & sent in named varieties. Unknown varieties will be sent back to you, unless marked as bonuses.

If you are sending in hybrid seed to exchange, only F1 seed from a commercial source is acceptable. Please mark the source on the package. Do not send in seeds you have collected from a hybrid plant. They will not grow true to the original parent plant. If you are unsure if the seed you have collected is from a hybrid, please research online before mailing in your seeds or send me a message and I will try to find out.

Seed does not need to be collected from bagged or separated varieties accidental crosses occasionally happen. When you grow out the seeds that you receive please try not to be upset if an occasional plant isn`t true. Sometimes crosses are better than the original… That being said, please don`t send in seed that you know is crossed & will not grow true.

3. Please include a list of the seeds that you are sending in. Also include a wish list or preferences and if there are any seeds you do not want to receive. If you are only interested in heirloom or OP, please tell me. I will try my best to accommodate your wish list, but there are no guarantees. The returned seeds will be completely dependent on what is sent in. The easiest wishlists to fill include some specifics, but also some general wishes. Don�t be shy. It is easier, if your wishlist has 1000 things on it! (: If you wish to email your wishlist earlier, please feel free. Having your list early makes it easier for me to fill more of your wishes. If you have something on your wishlist & get it from another source, or find something that you wish to add to your list at any time before I send back your envelope, just let me know.

4. Please mail your seeds inside of a bubble envelope with your return address label inside. It is important that you send a regular bubble envelope & not the heavy cardboard insulated type to keep within the weight restriction. Please send $2.95 return postage. If your package uses less postage I will send you back the difference. Please do not assume that your postage will be the same as your package that you send in. There may be lots of bonus seeds or heavy seeds that will make a difference. I will reuse your original bubble envelope to send your surprise seeds back to you. If you go to Canada Post to mail your envelope & they try to charge you more, be sure to tell them that is non-standard lettermail.

The weight category is:
$2.95. 100-200 grams

This has been the correct weight category for almost every package that I have sent out in previous years.

5. Please include both your real name (for mailing) and your screen name & email, so I know who has sent in their seeds!

WHAT TO SEND:

Inside your bubble wrap envelope you should have;

1. Whatever seed you are contributing to the swap
2. A list of whatever seed you have put in your envelope
3. Stamps totaling $2.95 (you will need another $2.95 in stamps to send your seeds to me)
4. An address label with your address on it.
5. A wish list or list of preferences or do not want list (:
6. Include your name & Screen name along with an email address.

Remember, you can send in your wish list as soon as it is ready, making it easier to fill. You can also change your wish list after you have sent it. Just let me know of any additions or changes.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. Happy trading !!!!
Nicky

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Bush Beans and the shallow gardener!

A post from the middle of a HUGE snowstorm here in Southern Ontario….  It is hard to imagine that the garden beds, now covered in up to 7 feet or snow will ever be ready to plant again.  Since I haven’t started sowing quite yet & don’t have any seed swaps left to send out, I am feeling very non-gardeny…  So I decided to post reviews of my 2013 bush bean harvests!

I grew twice as many bush beans this year and will likely add to that total next year! A favourite summer activity involves grabbing the dried pods and mixing them together.  Later when I shell them, it is like a mini-Christmas, full of surprises.  The only problem is that I had a couple of crosses & had to check which plant that they came from with subsequent harvests!

On to the variety reviews and photos:

BLUE JAY

imageA bush snap bean discovered and named by Russ Crow in 1977.  Brought back from the brink of extinction by a few Canadian Seed Savers.  There is a great write-up on Mr.Crow’s site A Bean Collector’s Window.  The large, sturdy plant has beautiful blue/purple flowers with a fantastic yield of tasty snap beans.  The harvest started early and they stayed tender for a long time.   Bonus is that the dried seed is gorgeous!

BLACK VALENTINE

imageA hardy, productive variety grown for green snap or dried black beans.  It is fairly early for me.  The pods are great to process – long and straight. This year I planted these for their dried bean yield.  I have found them to be my most productive black bean, edging out Cherokee Trail of Tears (pole).  I only had a dozen plants and managed to get 3 cups of dried beans.  Not bad! Great for all recipes needing black beans.

DAPPLE GREY

imageThere is no known history for these beans.  All that I can say is that I loved growing these.  The unusual colouring was my favourite to shell.  They were early, foot high plants with a good yield.  The bean itself is great.  I ate them in an Italian peasant soup. That is just a tomato based soup with every leftover bit of veg in the kitchen!  The bean plumped up well and held its shape during cooking.  Another grow again!

JACOB’S CATTLE

imageI grew these for the 3rd year in a row.  I like them!  They are prolific, early and I love the shape and colour of the dried beans.  I use them in chili.  They don’t go mushy.  The bean has a long history in Maine, with many different stories of possible origin.  It is supposed to be a great baked bean.  I haven’t tried it that way yet.  Either way, I think that I will take a year off next year, but it will come back again in 2015.

ORCA

imageAnother return to the bean patch and another great soup bean. This was a last-minute fill in of a dozen plants when I couldn’t find where I stashed my seed for Mrocumiere, a rarer variety that I had planned on trying.  My missing seeds showed up at the end of summer, right where I thought that they were!  Anyway, Orca produces well for me.  It is a tasty, dependable variety in my garden!

PIROS FEHER

imageThis is a Hungarian variety.  It  grew a few short vines, but nothing to long.  I used it as a snap bean when very young, but I wish that I had left them on the vine to dry.  It was good as a snap, but the dried bean is excellent!  It is a plump odd-shaped bean that keeps its colour when cooked.  It is lovely in stew, chili and soup. A definite grow again.  I’m just not sure where I will fit all of my grow agains!

WOOD MOUNTAIN CRAZY

wood mountain crazy and rattlesnakeA ridiculously prolific green snap given to me by another crazy Canadian bean collector.  I got masses of tasty, thick green beans with purple stripes.  They are not as tender as some, but are very tasty.  I made a little mistake with my seed saving & these got mixed in with my Rattlesnake pole seeds. Argh!  So, next year I will have to grow them and thin out any that start to vine!

SHIN KINTOKI

imageThese are dark maroon Japanese dry beans.  They are used as dessert beans or simmered with soy, or dashi soup.  I actually threw them into a chili.  They took on the chili spices & were very good.  The next batch that I cooked to attempt dessert, I managed to burn beyond recognition.  The plant was the earliest in my garden & produced & died quickly. Even with our not long season, I think that I could have grown 2 sets of plants!

VERMONT CRANBERRY

imageA New England heirloom dried bush bean.  You can use them as shelly types too (although I didn’t).  I like them, but they did not produce in my garden at all.  Since everything else did well, I don’t think that they will get another shot.  Too bad, I love the dark pink colour of the seed and enjoyed shelling these ones!  They stayed firm when cooked and were very tasty.  Great texture for baked beans.

YELLOW EYE

imageAnother repeat crop.  My favourite variety for baked beans.  The texture is creamy and the taste is perfect for the sweetness of baked beans. Early, great yields, an all around excellent bean!  They shoot out a few runners & I try to save next year’s seed from the less vining plants, but occasionally forget in my hurry to pick the dried pods.  These are an easy bean to shell.  Another to grow in 2014.

INDIAN WOMAN YELLOW

imageThese extra small dried beans were an odd plant for me.  The plant was like a miniature.  It had smaller leaves, skinny pods, runner tendrils everywhere, but not great production.  Had I know that the plant was so small, I would have squished a few more in & put them on the outskirts of the bed. They ended up dwarfed by the Yellow Eye and Vermont Cranberry on either side.  I haven’t tasted them yet, but they are really cute!

In the end, I have more “grow every year” types and very few “don’t grow again” varieties.   At some point I will have to narrow down my grow agains and stop adding garden beds.  From the new to me plants, I recommend Piros Feher for dried beans, Wood Mountain Crazy for production of snaps, Blue Jay for its lovely history and Dapple Grey for its good looks!  I am a shallow gardener, picking beans by their cuteness when dried!

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