Archive for February 2012

This kid is our new hero!

If this eleven year-old represents the future then it is bright indeed. Sadly, and we hate to be pessimistic, our future is likely in the hands of people like the dope leaving the following comment on the video:

“em Wat the hell!! MORAN u hit ur head on a brick or something. coz u woke up talking bout food, and the reason the people are laughing is coz u put a fish in-side tomato. And u say things that people are going to laugh at, but there so lame

medal244 22 hours ago”

 

“I don’t support Monsanto!” … are you sure?

If you are the kind of gardener who buys vegetable seeds or seedlings (including tomato plants) from a local garden center, as I sometimes do, beware the varieties you select. Otherwise, you could very well be putting money into the hands of the wretched Monsanto Corporation. Forewarned is forearmed, right?

Here is the list of Seminis/Monsanto home-garden vegetable varieties, and yes, it even includes zucchini:

I’m going to print out this list, and keep a copy in my wallet. This way I won’t be caught off-guard the next time I decide to impulse-shop at a big-box garden center:

Beans: Aliconte, Brio, Bronco, Cadillac, Ebro, Etna, Eureka, Festina, Gina, Goldmine, Goldenchild, Labrador, Lynx, Magnum, Matador, Spartacus, Storm, Strike, Stringless Blue Lake 7, Tapia, Tema

Broccoli: Coronado Crown, Major, Packman

Cabbage: Atlantis, Golden Acre, Headstart, Platinum Dynasty, Red Dynasty

Carrot: Bilbo, Envy, Forto, Juliana, Karina, Koroda PS, Royal Chantenay, Sweetness III

Cauliflower: Cheddar, Minuteman

Cucumber: Babylon, Cool Breeze Imp., Dasher II, Emporator, Eureka, Fanfare HG, Marketmore 76*, Mathilde, Moctezuma, Orient Express II, Peal, Poinsett 76, Salad Bush, Sweet Slice, Sweet Success PS, Talladega

Eggplant: Black Beauty, Fairytale, Gretel, Hansel, Lavender Touch, Twinkle, White Lightening

Hot Pepper: Anaheim TMR 23, Ancho Saint Martin, Big Bomb, Big Chile brand of Sahuaro, Caribbean Red, Cayenne Large Red Thick, Chichen Itza, Chichimeca, Corcel, Garden Salsa SG, Habanero, Holy Mole brand of Salvatierro, Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot, Ixtapa X3R, Lapid, Mariachi brand of Rio de Oro, Mesilla, Milta, Mucho Nacho brand of Grande, Nainari, Serrano del Sol brand of Tuxtlas, Super Chile, Tam Vera Cruz

Lettuce: Braveheart, Conquistador

Melon: Early Dew, Sante Fe, Saturno

Onion: Candy, Cannonball, Century, Red Zeppelin, Savannah Sweet, Sierra Blanca, Sterling, Vision

Pumpkin: Applachian, Harvest Moon, Jamboree HG, Orange Smoothie, Phantom, Prize Winner, Rumbo, Snackface, Spirit, Spooktacular, Trickster

Spinach: Hellcat

Squash: Ambassador, Canesi, Clarita, Commander, Dixie, Early Butternut, Gold Rush, Grey Zucchini, Greyzini, Lolita, Papaya Pear, Peter Pan, Portofino, President, Richgreen Hybrid Zucchini, Storr’s Green, Sungreen, Sunny Delight, Taybelle PM

Sweet Corn: Devotion, Fantasia, Merit, Obession, Passion, Temptation

Sweet Pepper: Baron, Bell Boy, Big Bertha PS, Biscayne, Blushing Beauty, Bounty, California Wonder 300, Camelot, Capistrano, Cherry Pick, Chocolate Beauty, Corno Verde, Cubanelle W, Dumpling brand of Pritavit, Early Sunsation, Flexum, Fooled You brand of Dulce, Giant Marconi, Gypsy, Jumper, Key West, King Arthur, North Star, Orange Blaze, Pimiento Elite, Red Knight, Satsuma, Socrates, Super Heavyweight, Sweet Spot

Tomato: Amsterdam, Beefmaster, Betterboy, Big Beef, Burpee’s Big Boy, Caramba, Celebrity, Cupid, Early Girl, Granny Smith, Health Kick, Husky Cherry Red, Jetsetter brand of Jack, Lemon Boy, Margharita, Margo, Marmande VF PS, Marmara, Patio, Phoenix, Poseidon 43, Roma VF, Royesta, Sun Sugar, Super Marzano, Sweet Baby Girl, Tiffany, Tye-Dye, Viva Italia, Yaqui

Watermelon: Apollo, Charleston Grey, Crimson Glory, Crimson Sweet, Eureka, Jade Star, Mickylee, Olympia
* Marketmore 76 is a very old cucumber-variety. If you are ordering it from a seller of heirloom veggies, check with the dealer to make sure the seeds were not purchased from Seminis/Monsanto. If you buy the seeds from a big-box garden center, odds are they were purchased from the evil empire.

That’s quite a catalog, huh? No wonder Monsanto paid $1.4 billion in cash to acquire it. You can see the source of the list here.

Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve inadvertently planted some of these varieties in your garden. As you might recall, one summer I innocently planted ‘Early Girl’ tomatoes. Believe me, I won’t be casting that vote again.

New Format

We switched from Joomla to WordPress as it is so much easier to administer and update. We will recreate the forums once we have all the other ducks in a row :)

Seed Starting 101

You might think growing from seed is a practice only for advanced gardeners, but it isn’t difficult to get the basics down. Rule number one: Don’t sow too early or your plants will be leggy and overgrown long before you can transplant them into the garden.

In my experience, if the seed packet recommends sowing four to six weeks before the last frost date, it’s better to pick the four- rather than the six-week date. (To calculate the sowing date, count back from your region’s last frost date)

Choosing seeds

Annuals and vegetables are the easiest to grow. Perennials, however, are trickier because most need a period of cold to break dormancy and take a couple of seasons to reach flowering size.

Containers

Propagating kits (available at garden centres or hardware stores) include four or six cell packs, a tray to hold the packs and a plastic lid. If reusing containers, wash with soap, water and a little bleach, and make sure they have drainage holes. Newly sprouted seedlings may look alike, so label containers as you sow.

Sowing medium

Use fresh, sterile seed-starting mixture (available from garden centres). Moisten mixture about an hour before sowing; it shouldn’t be soggy, just as damp as a wrung-out sponge.

Follow directions

Seed packets contain information on timing, lighting requirements, sowing depth, and optimal germination and growing temperatures.

Keep moisture in

Lightly water freshly sown flats, then cover with plastic dome lid, or if reusing containers, place them inside a plastic zip-lock bag. At the first signs of germination, uncover or remove from plastic bag.

Watering

When the top of the soil looks dry, water carefully using a small watering can with a fine spray. Avoid overwatering: soggy soil and poor air circulation can lead to damping off, a fungal disease that can kill baby plants. Prevention is best, but the fungicide No Damp can also help.

Light

A bright window works, but grow lights or cool fluorescent tubes are better. Keep seedlings about eight to 10 centimetres from light source to prevent plants from becoming too spindly. Plug lights into an automatic timer set for 16 hours on, eight hours off.

Fertilizer

When seedlings have two sets of true leaves (the first leaves are called cotyledons—or seed leaves—so wait for the true ones), start feeding once a week with a balanced (20-20-20), water-soluble fertilizer at half-strength, working up to full strength after a few weeks. I prefer to use a compost tea or an organic fertilizer like a good seaweed extract. But they are your plants. Feed them how you wish.