Friday, March 24, 2017

Growing Microgreens



     Microgreens ...tiny, delicate salad greens that are full of flavour, easy to grow and economical way to enjoy your own vitamin packed freshness year round!
You would find these greens served with gourmet meals at high end restaurants as fancy toppings or garnishes. Just think...if you become a pro at growing these you could possibly supply these restaurants as a part time job!
    As mentioned, growing these greens is easy and doesn't require much equipment to get started either. The first successful tip in growing these seeds is to purchase them from Veseys!


For planting and growing Microgreens sow seeds in a shallow tray as shown below:
You will notice a cover on the tray above.  You can put a clear cover over the top of the tray until seeds germinate, however its not necessary. By using these covers, they will naturally enable a build up of condensation which is beneficial in creating an ideal effect and temperature similar to what it would be like growing in a greenhouse.  The positive side of this condensation is that watering may not even be necessary at least until the seeds start to germinate. That will eliminate the worry on whether they are watered too much or too little starting off. Be sure to remove this cover once the seeds have germinated to allow for air circulation. Before applying potting mix, be sure that there are small holes at the bottom of the tray to provide proper drainage if the tray doesn't already have them. You can simply make small holes if needed.

Add potting mix to the tray at least an inch to inch and half. It is recommended to wet the soil before adding to the tray.  This will ensure that there is an even amount of moisture throughout the trayThese seeds are so tiny and if they were planted in dry potting mix with any amount of water added at this stage, seeds could possibly get buried deep under the soil resulting in little to no germination.  




Sow seeds on top of moistened potting mix and lightly cover. Apply about 8 to 9 grams of seed per 11"x 21" tray. You can reduce this amount as well as the size of the tray in half if you can't consume that much all at once. Keep the soil moist but not too wet.  Seedlings should be grown in full light to keep them from becoming too leggy or stretched. Since these seedlings are harvested at a young age, applying fertilizer is not necessary.

Once seedlings have 1-2 true leaves they are ready for harvest.  This can range from 10-20 days depending on the growing conditions and the type of microgreen seed you choose. To harvest cut the seedlings off just above ground level with a sharp knife or scissors.  The plants will not regrow, so discard the left over soil and start a new batch. This will also prevent any risk of "dampening off" issues. Microgreens very rarely have any pest or disease issues. The only concern would be "dampening off" as I have mentioned above. Dampening off simply means that the stems of the tiny microgreens develop a fungus that can cause them to collapse very quickly. This is prevented by providing proper air circulation as well as overheard and over watering.

There are many types of micro green varieties that you can choose from: Bulls Blood Beet, Red Cabbage, Tatsoi, Mizuna, Blue Curled Kale, Purple Vienna Kohlrabi, Red Russian Kale, Radish, Nasturtium, Scarlet Frills Mustard, Deep Purple Mustard and our famous Veseys Micro Mix

You can check out our website for individual descriptions of each one of these varieties. We also have a growing microgreens You Tube video for those of you who are more "visual growers."

As mentioned, these types of greens can be harvested or continue to grow as needed.  The recommended harvest stage is when seedlings have produced at least one to two sets of true leaves as pictured below. This is the point at which they will be richest in nutrients as well as have the best flavour. Once harvested, left over micro greens store best if lightly sprinkled with cool water, and being sure they don't get too wet. Avoid wrapping them in plastic, instead wrap them lightly in paper towel and store in the fridge. 


 
So as you can see growing these fresh and tasty micro greens is so easy and inexpensive. Be creative, try them all or make your own mixes with your favourites!
 


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

T'is the season for Fall planting


Yes gardeners, it's that time of year again as we can start preparing our gardens for our fall bulb planting. Whether it's daffodils or hardneck garlic...'tis the season.  I'm sure you all have had lots of time since this past spring dreaming or designing what you may like to plant this fall, right...? Well,  if you haven't had time or given it a thought, then read on as these simple little tips, they may help and it really is just that simple to plant and end up with a beautiful display next spring. 
It could be a daunting task to visualize what might look good together, or the amounts to plant in certain areas...  that's where the selected themed gardens will come in handy.  If you want to try to make your own design then we have that covered as well.


Fall bulbs are so easy to plant and only require minimal care, just a little bit of patience as we make it through the winter months.  These types of bulbs are to be planted in the fall as they need at least 10-12 weeks of cold temperatures to stratify (otherwise known as cold treatment) which will result in a successful and beautiful display in the spring. For more detailed instructions on planting these bulbs, you can check these easy to follow steps.

Much has been spoken about on the beauty of these plants, but really what is the trick in making them look so stunning? The following simple tips and ideas will hopefully spark your imagination and remember part of the fun of any type of gardening is experimenting and trying something new.

As I mentioned, tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths, to name a few, are only planted in the fall season as they need the cool temperatures of the winter and warm spring time temperatures to force them to bloom.  It's really very interesting to think that nature has them programed this way and sets them apart from many other types of flowers.


As you set out to plant your bulbs the most important rule when planting is to choose an area that is well-drained.  Most bulbs will rot or deteriorate quickly where soil is constantly damp. The majority of these bulbs will enjoy sunny locations as well and should receive at least 5-6 hours of sunlight daily. Have a shady area?...You can choose bulbs such as wood hyacinths, or frittillaria to grow in any shade garden.


Fritillaria meleagris- Checkered Lilies

Plant bulbs individually by digging a hole for each bulb with a trowel or bulb planter, or place several bulbs on the bottom surface of a larger hole, then cover with soil. As planting depths and spacing varies depending on the type of bulb, refer to the cultural information found in our Online growing guide


Whichever method you use, be sure to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole and at this time work in a handful of organic fertilizer or other types such as Veseys Bulb Fertilizer. There is no benefit to fertilizing fall planted bulbs while they are in flower or after flowering. Excess nutrients at this time can in fact lead to fusarium bulb rot, which is the number one cause of bulb loss. Press each bulb firmly into the soil, top pointing up and fill in the hole.

                     

     
     When in doubt as to which way is up on a bulb, plant it on its side as shown to the right and let 'Mother Nature' decide!
  




After planting, water the area well to settle the soil and to start the roots growing. If rainfall is sparse, you may need to water the bulbs once a week to help them become established.
 
For strongest visual impact, we suggest planting your bulbs closely in groups, drifts or clumps of a single kind and colour. With small bulbs like squill, snow crocus or grape hyacinths, it is essential to plant them in generous drifts if they are to be noticed. When planting bulbs, be sure to take colour into consideration. In general, groups of a single colour have the most impact.

 If you have left over bulbs and are wondering what you can do with them why not try a process called forcing. It's very easy to do and all you have to have is an area that won't allow the bulbs to freeze but kept very cool for at least 10-12 weeks. 






     Select a container with drainage holes and is at least twice as deep as the height of the bulbs. Shallow or heavy containers will not topple as readily as high containers. 
     Plant in well drained potting mix and be sure that there will be at least 2" for root growth.




      

      When bulbs are placed on this layer, their tops should be even with the rim of the pot. 
     You can use several in a pot for creating a stunning display. Cover with potting mix and water in to settle.








  
     As mentioned, store in a cool, dark and dry location for at least 10-12 weeks to allow for proper chill time. You can store in a cold room or unheated garage as examples, just be sure you check for moisture and any sign of sprouting.  Once the chill time has passed, you can bring them indoors gradually to warmer temperatures and within 3-4 weeks you should see a bloom.  For more information of forcing bulbs as well as other bulb topics, please check our website. It is an excellent resource full of many different gardening topics.

Once the spring arrives, you will be welcomed by many beautiful flowers that make a stunning display and will last for many years to come.  You will be so glad you took the time to either begin planting these bulbs in your garden or adding even more color to your existing bulb garden.


Please feel free to stop by and have a look at our display every spring or view our pictures on our Veseys facebook page.

Happy Fall Planting!  
 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Transitions to Fall Traditions


It's beginning to look a lot like...Fall! I know this almost sounds like a take from the ever popular Christmas song, but we are not quite there yet.  We are thankful enough to be able to have four seasons and with this being one of the first days of fall, I thought it would be fitting to do a quick little post of what is to come.
Lots of good things come with Fall or as some would refer to it as Autumn. This is the time when harvest is plentiful, hopefully...


So fall isn't just all about doing chores and putting your flower or vegetable gardens to rest, it's about getting out on garden tours and taking in different workshops to help us learn what will work better for our gardens in years to come. We can share our stories whether it be successes or challenges and help each other learn from them. Topics of preparing for seasons are usually our main focus as we transition into the changes, however there are always new and interesting ways of doing things and helpful hints and tips. Learning and becoming aware of new varieties to put our trust into trying or experimenting with, being able to use our own creativity with planting fall bulbs whether it be our first year planting them. Keep an eye out for all of our new varieties that we are offering this fall as introductions for our spring line up are in progress as we speak.


I had the honor of presenting at the PEI Garden club at the Farm Center here in Charlottetown just recently. The topic was of course on Fall Gardening and hopefully the avid gardeners that came were able to take home some new tips. New members were gladly welcomed and there was some new faces to the club at the most recent meeting. New memberships are welcome and encouraged to join at any time of the year. Just having an interest in gardening is all you have to bring with you.  This club meets every month and during the summer months they set up garden tours all across PEI. At these meetings you may even be surprised to win something! The picture that I posted below was one that I just recently took of two sisters, Edi and Karen.  They were very excited with their prizes from Veseys. As it turns out they won an assortment of bulbs that are planted in the fall that they can have fun with and be creative in their own garden.  Maybe they will even make a new garden this year.


I did ask them for permission if I could post their picture and they were very happy to oblige. So as you see, even when the outdoor part of gardening is starting to slowly wind down..we can look forward to activities like this that will keep our excitement, enthusiasm going as well as meet with fellow gardeners all year long.  And besides this is the start of the season when we don't have to feel as guilty when we take one of these...
Or drink too much of this...
In my opinion, you can never have too much of either of those things and to add to that, we can always make time to talk about gardening. Please feel free to talk to us about gardening. We love to hear from you and are ready to be your professional gardening resource at any time.  You can visit our online growing guide posted on our website. You will find that it has lots of gardening tips with current topics that can also be found on facebook, twitter and our instructional how to videos on our own Veseys youtube channel.

Until next time, enjoy the extended summer that the kind weather forecasters promised that mother nature will bless us with!




Monday, September 19, 2016

Favourite Sunflower Varieties

Every time I look at one of these...
                                                                                    ...I can't help but smile!

What is it about the Sunflower that cheers us instantly?  One of the many attributes that is so positive about this flower is that it seems like it's smiling at us and not to mention the bright and cheery colours that it displays. Just like snowflakes, there are no two alike. Times have really changed in the cultivation of sunflowers and they aren't just the ole' reliable yellow and black anymore.




While walking around the trial gardens here at Veseys, I just had to take some photos as the sunflowers are at their peak right now. Whether you want these types of plants to serve the purpose of displaying in your garden or as a cut flower, we have you covered. This variety displayed below makes an excellent late summer hedge when all other plants are starting to fade. To make your display last longer, simply snip off the spent blooms to encourage new ones to grow. For tips on dead heading these plants as well as other summer annuals you can visit our you tube channel to see how this rejuvination is done as well as any other gardening topics you would like to learn from.



Not only are the sunflowers beautiful but they "benefit" our beneficial friends as well.  We see many different types of pollinating insects that are attracted to the blooms and just when the  pollinating has completed and blooms are spent, the centre's dry up and serve as food for our flying feathery friends.

Growing sunflowers as a commercial cut flower has become quite popular. As well as growing sunflowers commercially they are also selected as one of the most popular flowers for fall weddings.  They are so easy to grow and there are now so many different types to choose from.  Sunflowers, when picked fresh, will last well in water, some varieties may even last up to 10 days when water has been changed on a daily basis.

It is so quick and easy to pick a bouquet of sunflowers that looks like you spent a lot of time arranging.  Some types are so well branched that when picked as a stand alone stalk it makes a very simple, yet tasteful bouquet just as is.  


With all of these interesting attributes of Sunflowers, why not add them to your list of things to grow next year. You can check our new varieties as well as our ever popular and reliable existing varieties here.

Until the next time...Have a Sunny Day! 
 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ideal Vegetables to plant late in the summer



Still have the gardening "bug" and would like to continue with more growing success?  It's still not too late to enjoy some late summer planting. The following veggies , Peas, Spinach, Radish, Leaf Lettuces, Carrots, Oriental Veggies, Swiss Chard will grow successfully when planted during this time, possibly even better, as they enjoy the combination of cooler air and warmed up soil from the summer months.


Consider these cool weather veggies for your garden for fresh harvests well into the fall! You can plant these veggies directly in your garden or even in containers if you are concerned with cooler temperatures. If they are planted in containers, they can be moved into a sheltered location to protect them until it is safe to put them back outside. In the pictures below you'll see bunching onions that I harvested from my own small apartment balcony. Gardening can be done any where!


                 



They are very hardy and will take well to cooler temperatures, so planting in containers and moving them indoors may not be necessary. They will also keep growing past your first frost. If you are still concerned about cooler temperatures with an "in ground" planting, then you may  consider using row covers as a means of extending your harvest or protecting plants that are already established.


Late season planting has its benefits, it decreases weed competition, quick germination and reduces insect pressures. You should also be aware of the benefits YOU will  reap! Lowered grocery bill, knowing where your food is coming from, convenience of just walking out to your yard and the opportunity of an extended new or experienced hobby to name but a few.


On site here at Veseys we have displayed raised organic gardens for the public to view. These gardens have shown great results with all early, mid as well as late season plantings. It just "grows" to show that you don't need a lot of space or many plants to supply you with a great amount of fresh veggies to harvest.  These planter boxes would ideally suit a family of four all season as well as fresh picked veggies to use for preserves to enjoy during the winter months.



Veseys completely organic raised garden boxes, pictured above, were amended with natural compost, planted all organic seed varieties and as these crops continued to grow natural fish fertilizer was applied every ten days to ensure optimal health and harvest. The garden kept clean and free of pests, diseases and yes of course...weeds!


Pictured above also shows you a planter box that has hoops.  These hoops are ideal to drape row covers over to give plants room to grow and will also extend their harvest time




This type of gardening has given me great enjoyment as I was able to experiment with soil fertility, crop rotations, succession plantings and of course successful harvests which started with lettuce and radish early in the season.  In the picture below you'll see an example of succession planting at three different stages. These types of veggies are so delicious and don't take up much room.





As you can see, planting can still continue even now as well as further into the fall. Cooler weather can sometimes even bring certain veggies a tastier flavor. So bundle both yourself and your garden up and continue to enjoy what you love to do!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Raining Zucchini!!!



     You know how the saying goes..make hay on a sunny day, does this also apply for harvesting summer squash, a.k.a zucchini? One would almost think that it is raining zucchinis! 

Have you seen a lot of these in your garden lately?

 

    Summer Squash/Zucchini is one of the most abundant crops when it comes to harvesting. The huge blossoms as well as the big healthy plant allow it to develop many zucchini's that will have you picking from early/mid July until sometime into September. 


     The more you pick, the more you will harvest. As mentioned zucchini plants have huge blossoms that also will attract many beneficial insects.  The earliness of the blooms is timed perfectly to allow all other garden plants an opportunity to increase in pollination as well.

     The abundance of harvest may draw people away from growing this plant as they wonder what they would ever do with so many.  You can find many ideas on how to cook and serve them as well as all kinds of recipes for main dishes, salads as well as desserts online or in cookbooks. This vegetable is so versatile, so just use your imagination and come up with your own entree or snack of your preference.


     Zucchini makes a great light snack when eaten raw or blended in a smoothie instead of the ever popular ingredients like kale or spinach.  You may have heard of Spaghetti squash . This type of squash is a great alternative for people who have gluten or dietary restrictions.  Delicious and tasty vegetable is cooked up so easy and when hollowed out, it resembles noodles.  You can add whatever sauce or different topping on it or it is even great with just a little butter and brown sugar.  How could you not want to grow one of the most easiest vegetables going right now? and is this making you hungry...?


     Am I right in saying that many of you would also wonder, where would I ever fit a plant that size? If this is one aspect that may prevent you from growing this prolific producer then guess again. There are many compact varieties of zucchini including our Patio Star.


     Just the other day I had an abundance of zucchini AGAIN and so this time I decided that I would make some chips out of them.  You can find kale chips, apple chips and many other types of vegetables and fruit done this way, so why not try thinly slicing the zucchini.  I have found that the Zucchini variety named Magda was best for this as it has a tiny seed column and can be used at any stage big or small.  This variety is actually quite tasty when eaten raw as well or my favorite spread with a bit of pumpkin seed butter. It has its own bit of sweetness with a slightly salty after taste and really wouldn't require anything to be added to it.  This is a very healthy alternative and will leave you feeling great with the high nutritional value zucchini's have to offer.
     With all of these attributes in mind as well as being one of the easiest vegetables to grow, might you consider growing them in years to come and enjoy the many delicious ways they can be served.