Archive for February, 2012

Upcoming Toronto Seedy Saturday Events with Cubit’s

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

The momentum is building and we’re winding up for a busy few weeks.  Come and visit Cubit’s table at any of the Toronto Area Seedy Saturday events in March.  We love meeting everyone while talking seeds and vegetable gardens in person. I love these Seedy Saturday meet ups, it’s as if all the gardeners come out after the winter, briefly mingle and then retreat to their gardens.

So come and visit!

Toronto West, Scadding Court Community Centre, 707 Dundas St. West, Saturday March 3rd 12:00 – 5:00

Toronto East, Evergreen Brickworks, 550 Bayview Avenue, Saturday, March 10 11:00-4:00

Scarborough,  Heron Park Recreation Centre, 292 Manse Road, Saturday March 17 12:00 – 4:00

North York , Lawerence Heights Community Centre 5 Replin Avenue, Sunday March 25 1:00-5:00

 

UPDATE: See you tomorrow!

We Love Free Shipping

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

So excited to announce that Cubit’s will be offering free shipping on all orders of rare , heirloom and organics seeds from our etsy shop right through until the end of spring!  That’s free shipping in North America until June 20th, 2012. So swing on by and place your spring seed order while our stock levels are high.

Easy Instructions to Grow Organic Potatoes in Containers

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

I’ve talked about growing potatoes here before and recently was invited to write about the topic for Kaia magazine.  It’s the first time I’ve had anything I’ve written published in print so check out pages 40-43 as well as the other excellent gardening and eco-friendly articles.

Last year’s potato post was the most popular post ever but this article has clearer instructions than the ones I’ve published before. Planting is still a few weeks off here, but I’ve just placed a giant order with Eagle Creek Farms that we’ll plant here in the city in the garden bathtub and up at the farm this summer as well.  This year we’ll be growing a variety of different coloured and shaped potatoes as well as early, mid and late season varieties and I hope you’ll join me in growing spuds this spring.

Potatoes are not the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of container gardening but they really are the perfect candidate. Potatoes love growing vertically, can take up a great deal of space, and are susceptible to pests and soil contaminates. Simply planting them in a container rather than your garden beds helps maximize your yield while reducing potential problems.

Potatoes are really so easy and satisfying to grow that you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

 

1. Pick and Prepare a Container

Almost any vessel will do with the criteria being: well draining, non-toxic, with a preference for a tall rather than squat shape.

In our own garden we have tried a variety of containers.

For years we grew them in an old garbage can with extra holes drilled into the bottom, food grade buckets again with added holes, large terra cotta pots, repurposed wooden crates, in grow bags, and my favorite, an antique claw footbath tub with a layer of stones and brick at the bottom to ensure adequate drainage.

Once you have chosen your container give it a good scrub and add any extra holes it needs, as adequate drainage is probably the most important factor in a healthy harvest.

 2. Choose Seed Potatoes

The best part about growing your potatoes is the variety you can choose from. Potatoes come in a spectrum of colors including yellow, red, purple and blue and many different shapes such as fingerlings.

You may be able to find seed potatoes at your local nursery, gardening event, or organic co-op. It’s also very easy to order them online and some great sources of seed potato are listed at the end of this article.

If you’d rather just use potatoes from the grocery store you can with a few specifications. These tubers should be organic, as some grocery store potatoes have been treated so they won’t grow eyes. Look for potatoes that are showing signs of sprouting and chose new potatoes over ones from last fall that have been treated for long-term storage. Gently wash them; being careful not to scrub off those eyes, as that’s where the shoots are going to grow.

This year our selections include Russian Blue, Rose Finn Apple Fingerlings, Alaska Sweetheart and a bag of organic red potatoes that sprouted by accident.

3. Cut & Cure

Once you have your potatoes you’ll need to chit them, which is just getting them to sprout eyes. Putting them in a paper bag or egg carton for a few days should do the trick.

Potatoes can be planted whole or cut up. It’s a matter of personal preference.  I cut mine in half. Make sure there is at least one eye per piece and then leave them in a dark spot for the cut to heal over night.

4. Plant

Start by filling your container with just a few inches of soil and compost and place your potato pieces on top of the soil. Loosely cover them with another 6 inches of soil and then water.

Potatoes need at least 6 hours of sun per day and will thrive with more. I have normally tucked them away somewhere sort of cool and find they fill a less than perfect corner of the garden.

Potatoes are excellent companion plants to beans, cabbage and corn and are better off growing quite a distance from sunflowers, tomatoes, raspberries and squash.

5. Water & Add More Soil

As they grow, loosely add more soil around the plants. For every 6 inches or growth or every two weeks add a shovel full or so.

Be sure to keep the soil moist and not to allow the soil to dry out.

 

6. Harvest

After anywhere from 2-4 months, depending if you planted an early, mid or late season variety the leaves will turn brown and die. Nothing’s wrong, this is how you know its time to harvest! Use your hands if possible or a pitchfork. A trowel can really wreck the tender new potatoes, cutting into their skins. Feel free to dump the entire pot over on the patio.

Planting, growing and harvesting potatoes are all excellent activities for kids. It’s really hard to mess it up and digging for them at the end of the season is like a little treasury hunt making a great activity to show where our food comes from.

7. Eat!

Everyone loves potatoes, especially fresh from the garden. We especially like them on pizza with leeks; they’re excellent in soup, as a simple side dish or in a perfect summer potato salad.

So there you have it: a quick and dirty way to put delicious organic produce from the garden on your family’s table.

Scrappy Apple Cider Vinegar from Scratch

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Back in the fall when we were pressing cider we also starting another fermenting project and it might be my favourite project yet.

When you press 8 bushels of apples you are left with a ton of pulp.  While we composted about half of it we decided to turn the rest into apple cider vinegar.

After leaving the scraps in a closed tub for two days we transferred them to a carboy.

You can do this on a much smaller scale, one jar or crock at a time.  We just had so much waste so we went big. Probably too big.

Once your vessel is full of apple, add a little sugar.  The amount does not seem to be important, it’s just to kick start the fermentation.   Next fill the container with water to cover all the scraps.  If you are using a crock, you can weigh down the floating apples with a plate as seen here on 17aparts tutorial and here in a Somona Garden’s post.

Cover the opening with cheese cloth to keep dirt out but to allow wild yeasts to help out.

After a week or so, strain out the apple scraps.  We switched to a much smaller and more manageable container size at this point since we started out too big.   This picture shows how it immediately started forming a new yeast mother.

We added an airlock at this point, but you can keep using cheese cloth. I tucked it away in the basement  and then waited another 6 weeks.  Now we have the best vinegar I’ve ever tasted.  We bottled it up and have been using it for everything, marinades, salad dressing, cleaning the house, washing my hair.  It’s great and quite possibly the most useful stuff we’ve ever made.