Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gardening Terms Defined


Here is a handy reference guide that will help you master a wide array of gardening terminology.

Treated Seeds
Some varieties have better germination results if they have been treated with a coating of fungicide or insecticide to protect them from soil borne diseases in cool or moist conditions. Any treated varieties we sell are indicated as such in the item description.
Untreated Seeds
The majority of seeds we sell are untreated seeds. These seeds have not been treated with chemicals.
Pelleted Seed
Seed coated with clay to make handling easier. If kept too dry or too wet germination will be poor.
Certified Organic Seeds
These are seeds that have been harvested from plants that are grown organically, without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. National standards and an annual third-party audit and certification process ensure the integrity of this process.
Annual
Plants that grow for only one season and need to be replanted from seed or plants each spring.
Perennial
Plants that grow back year after year from the original roots or from self-seeding.
Tender Perennial
Perennial plants that are not hardy in cold climates, where they may be grown as an annual.
Hybrid
A variety produced by the crossing of two purebred parents. Increased vigor, size, etc are the major characteristics and so an F1 Hybrid is often a good buy despite the higher price.
Non-Hybrid
Seed that has not been altered or crossed. You can take the seed from a non-hybrid and plant the next year. Also known as Open-Pollinated seed.
Open Pollinated
These non-hybrid varieties will breed true to the parents from one generation to the next. However, due to uncontrolled pollination by wind or insects, they can be more variable than hybrids.
Heirloom
Heirloom seed is open pollinated varieties from cultivars which have been grown and passed down for generations.
Nick, Chip or Scarify Seed
When seeds have a hard outer covering such as morning glory, it is always best to nick, chip or scarify the seed coat. This means you take a file, sandpaper or nick with a knife on one side of the seed coat of each seed. This will allow for a quicker and more successful germination.
Soil pH
The pH scale runs from 0 – 14. The mid-point is 7.0 or neutral. The lower numbers are acidic, so you would need to add lime to reach a more desirable level. The higher numbers are alkaline; you would need to add sulfur to reach a more desirable level.
Maturity Dates
Are terms used to estimate the expected harvest period. These days are directly influenced by region, soil type, time of planting, etc. These influences can change the expected maturity of a crop from 2 days to 2 weeks or more. Maturity dates given in our catalogue are based on growing conditions on PEI and should be used for comparison only.
Bolting
When a plant starts to send up a flower stalk. Garden vegetables such as lettuce need to be harvested prior to bolting, which is brought on by warm temperatures.
Determinate or Indeterminate
Refers to growth habit and are generally seen in descriptions of tomatoes and squash. Determinate vines grow to a certain length and stop (non-staking), Indeterminate vines continue to grow in length through the season, so require more space (staking).
Naturalizing
Refers to plants or bulbs that can be planted and then left to grow naturally. It usually implies that the plants are self-reliant, needing no special cultivation or tending, and that they will come back year after year in increased numbers.
Own Root Roses
Own-root roses are exactly that, roses with their own roots. These roses tend to be hardier, more free flowering and can live up to 100 years or more. Growing own-root roses eliminates the need to remove unwanted suckers that can spring up from grafted root stock. They have a much better chance of survival during severe winters and are most commonly hardier varieties.
Grafted Roses
A grafted rose is when a tender variety is grafted onto a hardier rose root stock allowing it to survive in cooler climates.



Starting Vegetables from Seed

 

 

Starting vegetables from seed can be very daunting, if you are not properly prepared. The following article should help arm you, on your seed growing journey.

 

Soil

When starting seeds indoors, a soilless, pre-mixed growing medium is perhaps the most convenient to use. Soilless mixes are generally made up of peat, perlite (improves drainage) and vermiculite (aids in water retention) along with some nutrients. These mixes are for the most part free from disease, insects and weed seeds.

Sowing

Follow the instructions on the back of the package or in this Growing Guide under the particular variety heading. Some large seeds, such as watermelon or squash seeds can be seeded directly into the pot where they will grow until transplanting outdoors. For small seeds like carrots, it is best to simply scatter the seed thinly over the surface of the soil and then cover with an appropriate amount of soil. After germination the tiny seedlings can be separated and transplanted into larger containers. Most plants can be grown in fiber packs with 4-8 seedlings per pack, depending on the plant. Some vegetables, such as lettuce and those in the cabbage family, can be sown and grown directly in 1 inch cells with one plant per cell. Growing in cell packs helps to eliminate root disturbance at the time of transplanting.

Soil temperature refers to the ideal temperature of the soil required to initiate germination. Most seeds germinate at a soil temperature of 18-22°C. Keeping the temperature within this range can be hard, especially for seeds which take more than a week to germinate. Regular air temperature is generally warmer than the soil temperature, and is not sufficient enough to warm the soil. For best results, try using a propagation mat, heating cable or a hotbed. A really warm room, like a furnace room may be suitable, depending on the seed.

Cold-Moist Stratification (Pre-Chill) Some seeds germinate best after a period of cold and wet that stimulates the winter season. This is called cold-moist stratification. The easiest way to stratify seeds is to sow them into their pots, water them lightly, cover the pots with plastic, and place them in the fridge for the recommended amount of time. You can also place seeds in a ziplock bag and put it in the fridge. After the recommended amount of time, remove the seeds from the fridge and pot them up. You can also add peat moss in with the seeds that will provide them with just the right amount of moisture. After stratification, place the seed pots with the required temperatures and lighting.

Soil moisture is equally as important as the temperature. The seed needs water to help soften the seed coat and stimulate the root development. Once the root has penetrated into the soil, the young seedling emerges from the soil towards the light. If the soil is allowed to dry during this process, the germination will be delayed or, in most cases, ended. To keep the soil moist, mix the growing medium with water, enough so that if a handful is squeezed, a small dribble of water will run out. After mixing, sow your seeds accordingly and then cover the containers with clear plastic, this can be anything from freezer bags, plastic wrap, or the clear domes which come with some of the large holding trays. Using the plastic covering will help to keep the moisture and humidity in the soil. If you find the soil drying out due to the constant heat, use a water bottle which will provide a fine mist or watering can with a gentle nozzle, so as to not disturb or bury the seed deeper. After germination, be sure to remove the plastic and place plants under grow lights in a bright, south facing window.

After Germination

Lighting is critical when starting plants indoors. Without sufficient light, your plants will become tall and leggy, which in turn will make them prone to bending and breaking. When growing plants indoors, make sure you have at least a bright south facing window along with an adjustable fluorescent light suspended from the ceiling, or use a table top or shelf style of lighting stand to hang over the seedlings. Young seedlings will require 16 hours of light and the plants must be 3-4" from the lights at all times for proper growth.

Feeding plants, whether they are in the garden or growing as transplants indoors, is important. You will need to start fertilizing young seedlings with a mild or small dose of a balanced fertilizer. Some fertilizers include fish emulsion, compost tea and blended fertilizers such as 20-20-20 or 15-30-15. Which ever fertilizer you use, be sure to dilute to half the strength for the first few feedings and then gradually work up to full strength. Feed plants weekly.

Watering: When watering new seedlings it is very important to follow some simple guidelines to avoid the spread of diseases that can attack and destroy newly emerging plants. The most common disease is known as "damping off" which can attack a seed before it germinates but is best recognized as rot at the base of the plant causing irreparable wilt. The following instructions will help you maintain a healthy crop by providing a disease resistant growing environment.

Do: Use sterile, well-draining soil and containers. Sterilize old containers in a very mild bleach solution. Use fresh, pH neutral soil. Use containers with proper drainage holes and water plants from the bottom. Provide good air circulation at all times. Sprinkle a thin layer of sand or perlite on surface to keep stems dry at the base by absorbing excess moisture.

Avoid: Acidic soil. Watering from the top Transplanting or taking cuttings when soil is wet. Excess watering. Letting the soil dry out completely. High humidity. Over crowding of seedlings. Crowns that are below soil level.

Other Great links on this topic can be found on our website:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Growing Banana Plants From Seed (Video)


http://www.veseys.com In this video, Vesey's Horticulturist - Natasha, describes how to germinate and grow banana plants for indoor or outdoor use. Your FREE subscription to the Vesey's family of gardening catalogues https://www.veseys.com/ca/en/catalogue

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Just A Little Farm - Bonshaw PEI

We recently visited 'Just a Little Farm' Market Garden in Bonshaw, Prince Edward Island to talk about seed selection, row covers, and the trials and tribulations of running a market garden. 



 


Thursday, September 11, 2014

The perfect way to cook your corn!



It's one of my favorite times of year. The air has changed, the leaves will soon begin to turn, and fresh vegetables are still plentiful. Before the winter hits and my complaints of not having enough fresh food begin I really like to take advantage of what is left. One of those things that I take advantage of is fresh corn on the cob. Corn is one of my absolute favourite things to have for dinner. It's quick, easy, healthy, and delicious. Luckily here at Veseys every year we harvest the corn that we sell in our catalog and the Simpson's are kind enough to give it to the employees to taste test!

My favorite way to prepare corn on the cob is to boil it, and then slather it with butter and some fresh pepper.

Directions

Prep:    Husk your corn. Rise corn under cold water.

             Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.

Cook:   Once boiling add corn, and cover your pot with the lid. Turn heat down to medium and let the corn cook for about 4-5 minutes.

Serve:  Serve with butter and pepper. Some people like to salt their corn as well. If I do use salt, I use pink Himalayan sea salt for a delicious taste.


Tips:

-To get the most out of your corn, husk right before cooking to maximize freshness.

-An easy way to husk your corn is to cut the ends, and then slide your knife down the length of the cob just enough to cut through the husk and peel back.

-Fresh mint is delicious with fresh corn and adds something a little different. If you do not have fresh mint to garnish the dish, then mint sauce can be drizzled over the corn for a fancier finished look. If you are serving the corn this way, serve some mint in the water or drink you are serving as well. It adds a nice touch.

Posted by:
Alyssa Johnston
Marketing Operations Coordinator
Veseys Seeds Ltd

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Different Varieties Of Beets - Veseys Comparisons


Join Seed Manager Angus Melish as he talks about and shows off different varieties of Beets varied by Veseys.





Here is some further information around Beets;

Beets

Beta vulgaris

Planting:

Sow seeds thinly ½-1" deep in rows spaced 8-12" apart. Soil temperature should be 18-24°C (65-75°F) for optimal germination. Thin seedlings 1" apart for greens and 3" apart for summer use of roots. Plant every two weeks, starting as early as soil can be worked until late June.

Growing:

Choose a full sun location. Beets require a light, well-drained, cool soil with a pH between 6.5 and 6.8. Compost or well-rotted manure along with pure wood ashes, as a supply of additional potassium, should be mixed well into the soil prior to planting. Applying Boron after 4-6 weeks of growth will prevent internal browning, particularly in dry seasons. Keep well-watered as drought will result in tough or woody roots.

Harvest:

Young and tender beet leaves can be used as greens. Dig or pull roots when 2-3" in diameter or desired size.

Pests & Diseases:

Generally beets are bug free with the possible exception of the Spinach Leaf Miner. Control leaf spots (Cercospora) with a sulphur or copper fungicide at the recommended rates.

Companions:

Bush bean, cabbage family, corn, leek, lettuce, onion, radish.

Sowing Rate:

Approximately 350-600 seeds/package will plant 25-30' row. 2000 seeds/25g, 3-4kg/acre.