Planting Indoors

I mentioned a while ago that I started some seeds inside the house on a growing table. I thought it would be great to share a bit of the process of starting seeds indoors. 

I have fairly ambitious plans for gardening this summer. Our backyard will be the home of my flowers and potted herb garden and our vegetables will be planted across town in a second garden belonging to Rysio's parents. The herbs will be kept in pots to ensure that things we are eating are coming in contact with nasty pesticides or chemicals that might be contaminating the soil in our backyard. 

To start off the process I do a lot of research that I jot down in my gardening notebook. I've been keeping this little journal about my gardening adventures for two years so I can look back on what I've learned. I write lists about what plants I'd like to try and what seeds I will need to purchase. I research planting instructions and any additional information that will help me out. Other valuable information is which plants go well together, for example, planting tomato and marigold together will deter pests that destroy delicate tomato plants.

It's easy to lose track of where things are planted. I had some extra clothespins around so I decided to use them as my labels. They have worked alright so far but sometimes when they are bumped, when I am watering or rotating trays, they bounce off and I lose track of where they belong. 

I collected various "experimenting containers" like toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, milk cartons and coffee cups. I also went with two types of traditional seed starting containers, plastic ones and organic ones that you can plant directly in the ground once the seedling is ready. So far the egg cartons have been the most successful but I would only recommend them for plants that grow slowly and need only a small amount of root space. 

Filling the containers and planting all of the seeds took about three hours. Even though I had help from my roommates, this part took a lot longer than I expected. We put our seedling soil mix in our mop bucket and used the trowel to mix in the water so the soil would be damp. The soil soaked up a surprising amount of water. 

Once the containers were full of soil I placed the seed packets on top of the containers so I would have a rough idea of how many containers would be allotted to each plant. I really surprised myself with how organized and meticulous I was about the process. I'm usually a lot more casual about things but I figured since I would be putting so much effort into this endeavour that I should probably make sure I was doing things correctly. 

We planted on April 2nd and two weeks later we had quite the little garden growing. These photos were taken on April 15th and are a little out of focus. Things are a lot more lush these days, even after a small aphid attack which decimated the swiss chard and probably the parsley and dill. I have learned a lot of things. I wish I had listened to my friends who suggested bringing the lights closer to the plants, especially during their first few weeks. I didn't listen because this made watering the plants inconvenient but it would have made their stems (and the entire plant) stronger. This seemed to have the biggest effect on the brussel sprouts, dill, lettuce and carrots. To deal with the aphids I picked off the critters I could get to and sprayed all of the plants twice a day for a couple of days with a homemade solution of warm water, unscented castille soap and grapefruit essential oil. This worked well although I'm not sure if the leaves of the zucchini squash were thrilled with the misting as some of them have brown spots and have begun to shrivel. 

Some plants I have not started yet because they benefit from direct sowing outdoors, they are peas, beans, poppies and nasturtiums. Since our last frost date won't be until mid-May I am waiting until I return from Poland to take care of them. The flowers I have started indoors are mostly thriving, the most successful are Zinnias, Marigolds, Calendula and Lupins. It remains to be seen if the Forget-Me-Nots will grow any larger. I am going to start tomatoes and peppers that are started in a nursery so they will have the best chance of survival. I also might try to find some dill to supplement my weak looking plants because it smells so great when it is fresh and I'd love to go and clip some from the garden to cook with this summer. 

Will you be planting anything this year? Do you have any suggestions for me? 

Camera Retirement

I've used a few different point and shoot models (my own and Rysio's) since I stopped using a 35mm in high school. They've almost always treated me well and I'm usually impressed with the results you can achieve on such inexpensive models.

I've been interested in shooting with a DSLR for a long time now and I was lucky enough to receive the Canon Rebel T2I as a graduation present a few weeks ago. So it is with sadness that I retire the sony point and shoot camera. I think we can all look forward to some higher quality photos in the near future. I thought it would be nice to share some of the photos I shot this month with Rysio's camera.




This month we went for a little walk around the Dundurn Castle grounds. The sun was setting and spring was just beginning to rear its lovely head. I also got to spend some time watching the Around the Bay road race, as it passed right by my house. It was a great afternoon, quite warm and there were many spectators along the route because I live near the finish line. It was fun to eavesdrop on what racers were talking about. My favourite was when a woman said to her running partner "I don't need to finish first." It's true, it's about getting out there, finishing the race and having fun. 

This month has been all about green. Rysio and I made a visit to Harper's garden centre to pick up seeds and seed starting soil. We ended up buying more than we usually do but it was well worth it, considering we'll have fresh veggies and colourful flowers all summer long. Standing in the nursery always makes me feel cheerful, seeing all of the potential lined up and organized like that. I wish my little growing table was so neat and tidy!

The colourful photos above are a mural on the side of a church in my neighbourhood. I have dubbed the alley on the left "The Alice in Wonderland alley" because you feel like you've eaten some strange potion as you walk towards the end until it becomes so narrow that you can't exit to the street. The photo on the right is a funny sign between our house and the Asian market that we sometimes shop at. I always want to take a picture of it, I guess I think it is a bit strange. Are people playing billiards so much that they're going back day after day? It would seem so. 

That's the last of the Sony photos for now. On to bigger and better things, I have a lot of learning and experimenting to do!

Life According to my Blackberry

I've been so busy planning, working, planting and spring cleaning that I've neglected to share my life around these parts. This spring has been really exciting for me, full of lots of firsts. I spend a lot of my free time reading, doing yoga, tending to my sprouting garden and learning Polish for my upcoming trip. I refuse to look like a flippant tourist with no interest in local culture or language but that takes a lot of time and dedication. I do stop to take photos now and again, mostly at work and at home. Here's a little update of things that peaked my interest.


I took these photos from the MacNab St. S. underpass mural, painted by Laura Zajacz and Becky Katz along with 30 volunteers. During winter and early spring I often think of Hamilton as a grey and dingy city (albeit with a great spirit) but it just takes some walking around to find bursts of colour throughout the year. That feisty chipmunk is currently my phone's wallpaper. 

This cheerful message is on the side of a church in our neighbourhood. I always smile when I walk by.  


Have a nice day is something I say pretty frequently at work. I decided to take my day job to another level and teach myself some latte art skills. It is a lot harder than it looks. Hopefully one day I can present you with some nicer designs. The fern leaf and the heart have been hard to master, usually I just try my best with abstract designs. 

Here are some of the fancy tip questions I came up with at work. My answers: 1) Yes, aliens probably exist. 2) I was born to be wild. 3) Dr. Frankenstein's monster, while mostly misunderstood, is made of dead people stitched together. I can't think of anything scarier than that!

My roommate Jesse and I saw this in a shop one day, we thought it was pretty funny looking... or avant garde. We couldn't decide.

I got some colourful new shoes.


On the left is a photo of my "old garden" of potted plants. I've been holding on to some of these plants for 3 or 4 years. My "new garden" or grow-op as I more affectionately call it, is on the right. On Monday, Jesse, Rysio and I spent a couple of hours filling containers with seed starting mix and planting all sorts of flowers and vegetables. I'll keep you updated as things begin to sprout. I've already spotted a few marigolds and radishes rearing their delicate heads. It is so exciting to see the fruits of your labour begin to develop!

Finally, the above cookies are eight of the giant batch of sugar cookies I baked today. It was my first time testing out royal icing, it was fun but challenging. It's hard to get those super fine lines! I had a fleeting moment where I thought I could do this as a career but I'd prefer to keep on enjoying baking instead of seeing it as a tedious chore (the way work can sometimes seem). 

I'm off to wander around the city and take pictures in the glorious springtime light! 

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