Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yes, the garden is in... mainly.

I have left a little space, thinking carrots, maybe something overwintering, maybe..... The boys however had definite plans, Tonka trucks. While it was nice of them to only dig in the unplanted bits with trucks and shovels... they weren't paying attention to their feet. There were a couple bean fatalities to the rear.

Final tally for planting


.:Yellow Brandywine:.
.:Black Krim:.
.:Sicilian Saucer:.
.:Joe's Portuguese:.
.:Speckled Roman:.
.:Purple Prince:.
.:Guido Petroboni:.
.:Gold Nugget:.
.:Tante Betta's Paste:.
.:Tante Betta's Black Russian:.
.:Heinz 1439:.
.:Roma VFN:.

There are a few other varieties of determinate tomatoes out at the farm. We will wait to see what is harvested of these...


.:Blushing Butter Oakleaf:.
.:Tom Thumb Mini Butterhead:.
.:Great Lakes 659:.
.:Black Seeded Simpson:.
.:Paris Island Cos (Romaine):.
.:Ralsie Lane:.
.:Hilde Neckarriesen:.
.:Red Buttersworth Butter:.


.:Taylor Horticultural Bush:.
.:Jacob's Cattle Bush:.
.:Fortex Fillet Pole:.
.:Blue Lake Pole:.
.:Pea Bean Pole:.
.:Cannelini Pole:.
.:Persian Lima Pole:.
.:Stokkeivits Pole:.
.:Dolloff Pole:.
.:Italian Steak Pole:.
.:Pencil Pod Black Wax Bush:.
.:Ireland Creek Annies Bush:.
.:Black Turtle Bush:.
.:Black Coco Bush:.
.:Ethiopian Lentils Bush:.
.:Orca Bush:.
.:Black Garbonzo Bush:.
.:Fin de Bagnols Bush:.
.:Calima Bush:.
.:Small White Bush:.
.:Contender Bush:.
.:Provider Bush:.
.:Ruckle Bush:.
.:Soep Boon Bush:.

Two other varieties are out at the farm being delicately dined on by deer. We may not be harvesting anything from them :o)

I am hoping that the tomatoes will manage to put forth fruit before frost even though they got into the ground so late. A couple of the lettuces are already starting to bolt ~ YEAH! On our way to seeds.

What I am quite concerned about are the rare varieties of beans that might not have time to mature, with such a cold set spring I held off planting, maybe too late. Others told me that waiting was good as their own beans rotted so at least these are up and my precious 4-10 seeds each of those varieties have a chance!

Most of the beans look like this:

And this:

Imagine my surprise at this:

And this:

WHAT THE!?!?!?!?

Turns out garbanzo beans and lentils don't put forth the usual 'bean' leaf; who knew?

(Some of the spellings for these varieties might change once I have the energy to look them up properly, also one bean variety will completely change its name now that I have tracked down its proper origin. Hang on. Individual listings coming eventually...)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ralsie Lane Lettuce

Developed in Creston
Very recommended for overwintering plantings
Seemed to bolt easily in the heat

Code L8

Iceberg Lettuce

Not in head yet

Code L7

Prizehead Lettuce

Code L6

Hilde Neckarriesen Lettuce

Code L9

Paris Island Cos Lettuce (Romaine)

Code L5

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce

Code L4

Great Lakes 659 Lettuce

Code L3

Tom Thumb Mini-Butterhead Lettuce

Code L2

Blushing Butter Oakleaf Lettuce

Code L1

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Garden Begins....

Dabbling in the garden, still afraid of a frost so I'm taking it slowly.

Today I set out the seedlings for 4 different lettuces, 9 plants of each. These are the start of the hopefully 10 lettuce varieties I'm growing out for seed. So far we have:

.:blushing butter oakleaf:.
.:tom thumb mini-butterhead:.
.:great lakes 659:.
.:black-seeded simpson:.

They aren't ready for a photo shoot yet, so no pictures :o) I'm having a bit of a panic trying to figure out a garden layout that respects isolation distances and the reality of our urban lot. I think the herb patch is going to have to go as it makes rototilling very difficult, we'll see...

Meanwhile dh is very busy out in the market garden, I hear tell of beets, radishes, and watering systems for the soon to be planted tomatoes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Creston Valley Food Action Coalition

Today I had the pleasure of presenting Itty Bitty Seeds at the May meeting of the Creston Valley Food Action Coalition. This is the group that organizes the Harvest Share program, Creston Farm Fresh Guide, and now the Farmer's Market. This is the place for information on the grain CSA's as well. Their website is new and already chockful of handy information. If you want to learn about the Community Greenhouse, Garden Club, or even the Herbal Society this is the site to see. It is great to see all of these producers and other stakeholders working together promoting local food and local agriculture.

I took the seeds that I had remaining as well as our extra tomato transplants to sell or barter with. Everyone was very supportive ~ Thanks guys!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I'm up to 14 different varieties of tomatoes seedlings! Two of these are heritage varieties that aren't available commercially that my MIL picked up at a seed exchange in Salmon Arm. Also a couple, three or so, heritage varieties that I got from Dan McMurray in Wynndel. We are quite looking forward to seeing how all these turn out! I did a head count, we have 144 tomato seedlings. Yikes! I just CAN'T not grow them once they have sprouted so we end up with way too many, way. Maybe we can offer the extras for sale? A buck a babied plant?? Don't know where though as the Farmers' Market doesn't start til mid-June. Hmmmm....

And I'm not counting the lettuce plants, no way. The extras are heading out to the farm so I don't need to worry :o) And the mass of cabbage, broccoli, spinach, and chard???? Well they were an experiment, I don't have to worry about them either, worse comes to worse, off to the farm with them all!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Comparison of various potting mediums

I've been experimenting with various potting soils, purchased top soils, seeding mediums, and good old homegrown compost to see which does the best job for starting seedlings. I started 3 trays with 1 being straight store bought topsoil, 1 tray 1/2 topsoil and 1/2 homemade compost, and the final tray pure homegrown goodness. Two weeks into growing this was the result:

Pure compost is on the far right. Huh. Take a good look at the tomatoes in the second photo, same seeding date. For the next seeding of tomatoes I started them in seed starting medium and once their true leaves appeared transplanted them into trays filled with 1/2 compost and 1/2 a different bagged soil. They are doing quite well, but no where near as well as the ones planted in the pure compost.

The results are even more apparent now a month later. The seeds started in the bagged topsoil have just stalled out completely. Thankfully these were the seeds I only grew for the trial, not the tomatoes I'm relying on for growing seeds ~ WHEW!

This has lead to lots of reading and research as you can imagine. It is VERY interesting, anything published lately that talks about starting seeds and 'making your own seed starting mix' all rely on purchased materials. Perlite, vermiculite, peat, blah blah blah. Even the most 'self-sufficient' focused books lead you to believe this is the path to take. Take a bag of this and a bag of that and mix them. Not locally produced to say the least!

Then I read Helen Nearing's book about their greenhouse back in the day. Her recipe for seed flat soil mixture??? Here it is .... Equal parts of sand, compost, rotted sod, garden soil and wood dirt (forest humus). This with a sprinkling of a nutrient mixture of soybean meal (or cottonseed or seaweed) phosphate rock powder, granite dust or dolomite lime. Her seed flats were wood trays they built themselves and lined with sphagnum moss. There were lots of photos of their extensive compost bins in their book!

I was talking to a friend while touring her greenhouse of how I preferred to read self sufficiency books and articles from the '70's as those being written now seems so superficial and dependent on purchasing instead of truly making your own.

So remember .... these are your seeds on store bought (left)

And these are your seeds on homemade (right)

And, yes, they were seeded on the same day and treated the same way, well until the compost-planted seeds needed to be transplanted into larger pots that is!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Bit busy starting seeds, 10 varieties of tomatoes, 4 trays of onions, and various brassicas are now in the greenhouse during the days.

We are trying a variety of different mediums in the seed trays; purchased topsoil, seed starting mix, plain ole homemade compost, and a blend of compost/topsoil. The thought is to lessen our dependence on purchased materials, can we start our seeds in something we can produce locally??? The straight compost gave us A LOT of weeds, it took a few days before I could tell the difference between what was wanted and what wasn't. Maybe we could 'cook' the compost prior to planting and kill the weed seeds? The growth has been good, even better than the straight purchased topsoil. Last year we tried a seed starting medium that was utterly worthless. It set us back considerably and won't be used again.

Working on the garden plan ... where am I going to stick 12+ tomato varieties, 17+ types of beans, various lettuces for seed saving AND enough vegetables to supply our eating needs for fresh, canning, freezing, not to mention cold storage??? Thank heavens for our extra land for the market garden, I plan on stealing a bit of space for seed growing and diverting some of the fresh veg to the kitchen.

Keeping records ... I am focused on maintaining good records showing the 'provenance' of our seeds, what varieties we are planning on growing out for seed, and developing seed descriptions for next year's packets. I LOVE spreadsheets.

Just put up a listing on for Itty Bitty Seeds, check it out!

Waiting impatiently for our order from the Seed Savers Exchange. Accidentally had it shipped to Canada instead of our US post box ... oops!! Could take awhile yet. All the rest of orders are in for new varieties we are trialing before saving seeds to share. I did get a few new varieties of tomatoes and beans at Seedy Saturday - Creston. Thanks Dan and Val McMurray!!

Wishing you happy growing!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2010 Seed Table

If you bought or bartered seeds from us you'll be interested in viewing our 2010 Seed Table. The descriptions for all the varieties as well as maturity dates are included.

Tips for a great gardening year:

Mulch well
Weed & water regularly
Always put your tomato cages in place the day you plant

As the year progresses we will be posting photos of our gardens, developing individual pages for each variety, and best of all sharing our favourite recipes!!!

Introducing Itty Bitty Seeds

Welcome to Itty Bitty Seeds! We're glad you are able to join us here.

About Us...

We started off as market gardeners sending off massive seed orders each year to supply our needs. We tried to find a local seed supplier, 100 mile seeds anyone?? We didn't find one so we took the plunge and started saving our own. We went from a linear year of purchase, grow, sell, and repeat to a more natural rhythm, from seed to seed and around again. Thus we are completing the natural growing cycle right at home.

We found that if you start growing enough seeds for a couple acres of market gardens it just snowballs until you are saving enough to supply others. It so very addicting!

Sustainability, genetic diversity, and natural growing practices are important to us. Gardening post-oil, skilling up for powering down, and just being self-sufficient within our community are some of our motivators. Enjoying what we do and meeting great people like you are our rewards.