Common Ground Landscape Design

Seedy Saturdays

When I had a CSA a number of years ago, I remember (with great anticipation), receiving my Canadian Gardening magazine in the mail. (Now in pdf) It was the "LIST" edition I used to call it,  with an endless menu of plant and seed distributors from Canada, the US and England. Nestled into the menu of growers were articles on how to harden off your seedings and ways to prevent dampening off. The list also provided growers for water gardens, Dahlias, perennials and Gladiolas. As well, it included a fantastic chart on when to sow seeds indoors and out, days to germination, how to treat the seeds before planting, and optimum ambient temperatures needed for germination.

As an example:  Snapdragon  8 weeks 24 C (75F) grow in light, cold tolerant, self seeds. And Coleus  8 weeks 21C (70d F) grow in light, use warm water, pinch back when 8 inches tall. The biggest question for me was, how do I decide which company to order from? My philosophy balances between, we should all be supporting the little guy, and, the larger company having a known reputation for success. Do I buy from the seed company who's flyer is still hand written? or because it has stories in it about their daily lives as seed collectors? ( I believe now a days they call that a blog?) Or do you buy from the more established company with the glossy or on-line catalogue? Cause lets face it, we want a good rate of germination! For me a rate of 80% or better, is my comfort zone in the gambling world of plant that seed! With the Internet or 1-800 numbers why not give them a call? "Hey, your Lima beans? do they need a lot of water? because I grew some a few years ago and they needed more water than any other plant in the garden? (This is actually a question I once asked) After all why not take a $3.85 chance?

Be on the look out at this time of year, when all kinds of journals, magazines and newspapers start writing articles on how to start your seeds. When I go through my files on seeds, there are articles in it, from The Toronto Star, Garden Ideas, Outdoor living, Country gardens, and Country Living Gardener. And for those of you who read my bio, know that I surfed the web for the first time January 1st 2007! So I am about to do research on the web for good suggestions on seed starting! There is also and they have a "garden watchdog", which gives you the chance to look up other people's experiences dealing with a particular company.

If I had to recommend one book on the topic it would definitely be The Seed Starter's Handbook by Nancy Bubel. It is the most down to earth and practical book on seed starting that I have seen. I love the illustrations and the whole 1978 aesthetic. Although it focuses mainly on vegetables, the advice is relevant for many varieties of plant seeds. When I was a member of the Civic Garden Center, I had access to their impressive gardening resource library.

The New Seed Starters HandbookI signed out The Seed-Starter's Handbook , and promptly dropped into my bath while reading it. I sent $25.00 in the mail to pay for it. Funny, I trust gardeners. I thought about sending a cheque, but sent cash instead! A few weeks later, I got a great reply letter and thank you from the staff member who received it!

Saving Seeds For seed saving I would recommend Marc Rogers book Saving Seeds :The Gardener's Guide to Growing and Storing vegetable and Flower seeds.

I am kind of close to signing off, but not without letting you all know about some wonderful events that are coming up in Toronto and it's environs. All of these events will put you into a Spring time seedy kind of mood. Look for seedy Saturdays near you!

Seedy Saturdays

Saturday March 17, 2007

    10am - 3pm

    Scadding Court Community Center

    707 Dundas St. W (southeast corner of Dundas West & Bathurst)

    Seed exchange & vendors, displays and information from environmental groups, great food from local vendors, raffle, workshops and hands-on demonstrations. Wheelchair accessible. Info: or 416-652-7867x222.

The description abovef is truly an understatement of how much fun this day is. This is an event that puts the culture back into Agriculture. (kid friendly) is the sponsor for this event and they have an amazing roster of programs and activities especially for the urban gardener. 

Although this event is near Guelph, if you have kids (or often feel like one) this is a great day out. This is a gardening training center extrodinaire. Every aspect of organic farming and environmental sustainability can be found here. Don't be shy go and say hi to Lynn Bishop. She is one great gardener, event planner and mom.  

Hillsburgh, ON

    Saturday April 28, 2007

    10am - 3pm

 FEE: General Admission to Everdale

At Everdale Farm. Come out and find all those wonderful hard to get heritage seeds, and organic vegetable transplants. Trade, buy and sell. Mini workshops on organic gardening, and other experts will be there to inform, and inspire you for the coming season. Kid's activities, fun for the whole family. Go to for more info

    Lynn Bishop

    Program Coordinator

    Sustainable Living Workshops

Toronto Botanical Garden play day. I am planning on going to this event, mainly because it looks like it is going to be a lot fun. I can't wait to see all of the renovations they made to the building "formerly known as Civic Garden Center!"

I would be remiss in my duties as an information giver if I neglected to mention Canada Blooms. This is the largest flower and garden show in Canada. I know this, because one year I volunteered, and ended up managing the coach/bus area for drop off and pick up! Visit the website is all I can say. I wouldn't do it justice by my description. But I will say, bring your own water, and be prepared for some claustrophobia. The speakers are going to be amazing, and if you want some feed back on who is worth listening to, I can give you some suggestions. If you have the time, look through the speakers list and their topics, and if any interest you, copy the person's name and Google them.

Well, I think this is it for Blog # 1. I am right now looking at Blog # 2. It still needs some tweaking, so I am going to send it out in a few days.