local food

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... »

Guerrilla Gardening

Edmonton has a new movement: guerrilla gardening. A group of Edmontonians has started organizing and enacting gardening events that aim to promote "issues of community ownership, food security, native habitat, biodiversity, and the direct replenishing the environment in which we live our daily lives". Awesome.  read more... »

Potato And Fava Bean Soup

It's harvest time in Edmonton, and that means fresh, delicious food from our gardens at virtually no cost to the environment. Last night I made some soup, with 90% of the ingredients coming from my garden or the farmer's market. If I had a bigger/better garden, it could have been a 100-foot diet soup.

Ingredients:  read more... »

Lamb's Quarters

While weeds have been a part of my diet for over thirteen years now, and I've had many occasions to speak about eating them, it's been a long time since I've actually served them to anyone. In fact, apart from my wife, I can only recollect that reporter from the St. Albert Gazette, and my room-mates from just before I was married. And with my roomies, it was only dandelion root coffee.

Dandelion root coffee and chickweed omelets were part of a strategy to introduce weed-eating to people using the least foreign tasting species. Something like prickly lettuce isn't a friendly starting point. "Just that picture of prickly lettuce in your blog looked menacing," [info]amandi_khera said. "I don't think I'd ever put something like that in my mouth."

Today though, I'd start with lamb's quarters. It's not just "least foreign tasting". It really tastes good.

This was my supper tonight:

 read more... »