100 foot diet

Starting Tomatoes From Seed

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Growing your own food is right up there with riding your bike when it comes to green acts. It doesn’t get more earth-friendly than the hundred foot diet.

With our short growing season, the tomatoes that we put in the ground in late May can’t be in seed form. Traditionally, Edmontonians head to their local nurseries when the time comes to buy tomato seedlings. With a bit of foresight, though, you can save yourself a bunch of money and reduce the impact of your tomatoes even further.

Seeds

A couple of weeks ago I bought some open-pollinated tomato seeds from the good people of A’bunadh Seeds (from Cherhill Alberta – they had a booth at Seedy Sunday this year). I’m no seed expert, but I believe that open-pollinated means that I can harvest my own seeds from the resulting tomatoes (as opposed to hybrid seeds).  Earth’s General Store sells some great seeds too.

Any old tomato seeds will do in a pinch though. I chose a yellow, cherry, paste and beefsteak varieties.

Soil

The way to start your own tomatoes from seed is to get a bunch of small containers, they could be anything from actual seedling containers to Tim Horton’s cups, and fill them with soil. The soil should come from your backyard. Conventional sources will always tell you to buy potting soil from your local Home Depot or nursery, but I’ve never done so.

Potting soil ranks up there with bottled water on the list of useless items that companies have manufactured demand for. One website claims “garden soil is not a good choice, as it compacts too easily and can harbour organisms that cause diseases.” So how exactly will your tomatoes grow in this disease-infested soil once you plant them in said garden? For large greenhouses that have disease problems, sterilized potting soil makes sense. For the backyard gardener, it’s just another example of diminishing returns on investment.

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(fill some containers with backyard soil)

Once you have soil in containers, plant the tomato seeds about 1/8” deep. I labelled the containers with strips from an old Venetian blind that I found in the alley.

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(pieces cut from old blinds make great signs to label plants with)  read more... »

Alberta Home Gardening Blog

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An article in the Edmonton Journal yesterday led me to a website by a local gardener. There is no greener activity than producing food in your own backyard, and there is much room for innovation in our northern corner of the world. I’m constantly delighted by what you can grow here, and how many different types of wonderful food can be produced in a few short months of summer.

Of note is the post “17 Hardy Fruits That You Can Grow On The Prairies”.  I’ve put a link to www.albertahomegardening.com under “100 foot diet” to the left of your screen.

Burdock

Today’s weedgeek post is a bit of a cheat because I didn’t make this product, but if I ever adopt brewing as one of my hobbies, this is definitely something I’d attempt as two of its main ingredients are prized crops in the Vacant Lot of Eden.

While riding home from a downtown meeting late last summer, I noticed a burdock growing at the southern approach of the Highlevel Bridge  read more... »

Raspberries

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Raspberries growing in Edmonton, Alberta

It’s been quite a dry year, much to the relief of TV weather people all over the city. They’ve barely had to complain at all about their waterskiing getting interrupted just so the pesky ecosystem can get some water.

The dryness is one reason that I’m impressed by the raspberry harvest. The iconic prairie canes are chock full of fruit at my community garden. With little maintenance or water, no fertilizer, and no pesticides, raspberries are as close to a zero-carbon food as there is.  read more... »