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Ontario/Quebec/Great Lakes gardeners- have you started planting?

I realize it's still early for some of us.

I decided to plant my first round of radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, collards, arugula and some herbs from seed, outside today, after hearing Frankie Flowers on CityTV mention it was possible to plant greens and non-potato root vegetables this week. Usually I plant on Victoria Day weekend. Will be interesting to see how this turns out.

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  1. I've got my tomatoes going indoors - even they seem to be behind, since we had so little sunshine in April. Today, my radishes, lettuces, and arugula will be going in - I usually do that around this time, and so far that has always worked for me. Of course, all of my stuff is in containers, so I can always rescue them and bring them indoors if a late frost looms. :)

    1. The 14 day forecast shows no frost for SW Ontario up to May 21, so I'll be planting most everything this week. The seedlings have been hardening for a few days, and that covers most vegetables. except for corn and potatoes. They have to be planted pronto.
      I found an old variety of corn, Golden Bantam, at a discount place, Giant Tiger, and that will be planted weekly until June as I have the luxury of space and virgin soil now.

      I'm interested in knowing if any Great Lakes area gardeners had wilting problems with nightshades last year. It was warm and moist and I didn't get good results from tomatoes, peppers, or potatoes, but I did not choose fungus resistant varieties. I'm being more selective this year, but really, last year was a fluke!

      3 Replies
      1. re: jayt90

        I didn't have any wilting problems with tomatoes or potatoes last year. My peppers didn't work out that well, but I planted the padron peppers too late, and one of the other peppers had issues due to a persistant vole, afaik. I didn't have any problems with fungi or blights.

        I had good luck with Bintje and banana potatoes last year, both turning out potatoes with good flavour that kept well, although neither variety had the yields we get from Norlands, Kennebec, Chieftains, etc. I'm trying a French fingerling I picked up at Van Horik's in London, ON this year, and will stop by Heeman's in London to check out their selection of seed potatoes in a couple weeks.

        Good luck this year, jayt90 and Wahooty!

        Please mention any shops or nurseries where you've had good luck. I've been a regular customer at Van Horik's, Heeman's, Klomp's in Stratford, Bill's Garden Centre on Pape in Toronto, and the garden centre behind Lady York on Dufferin (for Italian veg plants) in Toronto.

        1. re: prima

          I can recommend a general purpose place, Zimmerman's in Strathroy, and for a highly specialized Alpine nursery, my brother in the same area, www.wrightmanalpines.com

          1. re: jayt90

            Thanks, jayt90. I'll have to drive out to Strathroy one of these days and check both places out.

      2. I just checked a revised long term weather forecast, and there will likely be a cold snap close to frost level May 13, Sunday night-Monday morning. Predicted lows range from 0 C in Ottawa to 4 C in Windsor. I'm transplanting tomato and pepper seedlings to containers today, so they'll be safe. I'm hoping my potatoes in the ground will be OK. Corn will be safe to start, as the farmers are already seeding it. Rows of lettuce, collards, spinach,chard, sorrel, arugula, and radishes should be ideal seeding this week.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jayt90

          Guess I'll throw in a few more rows of seeds next week.

          1. re: prima

            My arugula sprouted nicely this week - may have to throw a sheet over the seedlings to get them through the weekend's cold snap. Lettuces and radishes haven't come up yet...I'm hoping they're working on it, but insulated well enough to pop after it warms back up.

            <sigh> Tomatoes are still in their peat pots...true leaves are just starting to come out, so they're not even ready for bigger pots yet. I think I'm going to move them back and forth across the apartment to get them more sun. April sucked for seed-starting.

        2. The Weather Network is saying to be prepared to cover your plants this weekend.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Davwud

            Thanks for the heads up, Davwud!

          2. Anyone harvesting their first plantings yet? I just started picking my arugula and radishes this week. Peas are blossoming, and I have a few green tomatoes on the first tomato plant I planted.

            Today, I planted some Old German tomatoes, Valencia tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, some more Padron peppers from seed, some Shepherd pepper plants.

            5 Replies
            1. re: prima

              Old German's are incredible. Almost melon like.


              1. re: prima

                I have lettuce (New York) from seed, also fenugreek and fennel. A few things popped up from last year: thyme, sorrel, arugula, tarragon, and savory, so I am set for salads and greens. I'll do a late planting of collards, more lettuce, more corn and radishes in the next week or two.

                Potatoes are coming along well, but the real surprise is Kennebec in a 5 gallon bucket. Growing like gangbusters, and should provide a bucketful of small thin skinned ovals. The bottom of the bucket was covered with seed potatoes, and soil added as the shoots came up. Seems to be working well.

                What are Padron and Shepherd like? I am trying Caballero, Ancho, Habanero, Atris and Maya; seeds I got from Park in S.C. Very experimental for me, and most in containers so I can extend the season.

                1. re: jayt90

                  The padron is a little bite-sized green pepper- quite similar to a shishito. Some are a little spicy, some aren't. Fried padron peppers are popular in Spain as tapas. I found some seeds in Mtl at the Spanish bookstore last year, but planted them a little late (I didn't get the seeds until June), so I only got 3 peppers before the frost. I transplanted some I started indoors in midMay, but the cold snap seems to have stalled them. My friend brought me some organic padron seeds, so I also tried planting them, but so far, the plants don't seem to be thriving.

                  The shepherd pepper is a sweet red pepper. I've had good luck with them in the past. They seem to be the most common red pepper in London nurseries lately.

                  I had very prolific habanero peppers last year, producing hundreds of bright orange peppers. I just don't end up using enough up in my own kitchen, and I don't like composting so many peppers. I don't can, and I don't like frozen peppers. I guess I could've made freezer salsa. Sometimes it's hard to find homes for hundreds of hot peppers!

                  I was hoping to find poblano pepper plants or seeds somewhere, but no luck as of yet. I might try growing from the seeds in a bought pepper if I get around to it.

                  I had tried growing shishitos from a supply given to me by a chef last year, but the seeds didn't seem to be fertile for whatever reason.

                  Good for you for getting your potatoes started. I didn't plant mine until this week. Trying French fingerlings and Sieglinde this year, as well as some of my own seed potatoes from last year's better potatoes.

                  I saw some jumbo eggplants, tomatoes and jalapeno plants at Van Horik's. For 13 bucks, you get a 3 foot tall plant- they've grafted the eggplant/tomato/pepper to a really strong rootstock. I can't imagine paying $13 for a single veg plant, when 4 perfectly good eggplant plants cost $1.49 at most nurseries.

                  I'm having trouble finding my Hansel or Sicilian eggplants in London this year. The only ones I've found at Heeman's and Van Horik's are Dusty and the supersized plants. Heading down to the Bill's on Pape in TO to look for the more European varieties of eggplants.

                  You're lucky you had so many volunteers. The only volunteers I've found are dill and a lone red onion.

                  1. re: prima

                    I heard via web that poblano plants are stocked in the Mexican stores in Kensington. That was 3 weeks ago, but worth a shot.
                    My ancho and Maya are poblano types, but from seed they are small so far so I don't know what I'll get.

                    1. re: jayt90

                      Thanks. I'm probably too late for poblanos this year (haven't had a chance to visit Kensington yet). I'll try next year!

                      My first planting of peas are now ready.

                      I planted around 50 Sieglinde potatoes last week, and will plant a couple more heirloom tomato plants (Cosmonaut Volkov! Love the name!) today.

              2. So, how did your gardens grow?

                I had a great year for buttercup squash, pumpkin, flat Romano green beans, Swiss chard, eggplant, Sieglinde potatoes and endive.

                Most of my pepper plants are doing well, but we haven't had enough heat units to turn my red peppers red, and only one of the many Padron peppers I planted survived long enough to produce peppers.

                My broccoli had a lot of bugs and slugs this year, as does my kale.

                My tomatoes, haricots verts, peas, beets, carrots, zucchini, spinach, cucumbers and arugula (the arugula has grown well, but the bugs this year love it) were much less successful than usual. This is the first year that I haven't had bushels of zucchini!

                4 Replies
                1. re: prima

                  I had good results from sorrel, chard, mustard and other leafy greens. I hardly had to do any watering, as rain came every few days. My orchard (20 trees) was heavy with apples, cherries, peaches and pears, but I couldn't give them away. The neighbors sent their kids for the early cherries, but couldn't cope with the sour variety, and never came back. Next year I'll invite a charity group to pick freely.

                  Tomatoes near a walnut tree failed, but containers of tomatoes, potatoes and Mexican peppers were all good. I'll try to keep peppers and tomatoes inside this winter, to get a few habeneros, and tomato rootstalks for grafting next year.

                  I'll harvest a row of perfect oval, thin skinned Kennebec potatoes this week. The container Kennebecs were small, and very accessible all summer.

                  Herbs did very well, and I have lots to freeze or dry. The basil can come inside, along with thyme, chives and a few others. Next year I'll move the fennel to an area away from dill, and collect pollen.

                  I'm going to try fall soil preparation with a cultivator behind the lawn tractor. Maybe I can expand the area, and have wide rows for easy mechanical weed control. Based on this year's successes, I can now plan better for next year.

                  Moving to S.W. Ontario has been a great success for a good garden and harvest. (Weeds are a success, too!)
                  I'll be looking for a few riesling vines, and try to find the old Slovak press that used to be in the village. All in good time.

                  1. re: jayt90

                    re: couldn't give them away
                    jayt90,I'm pretty sure the London Food Bank would still take produce at some farmers' markets, if you've still got apples on your trees, and have the time to pick them. I've seen the Food Bank stall at the Masonville Farmers' Market on Fridays.

                    1. re: prima

                      The apples were not sprayed, but I still have pears.
                      Last year was a wipe out because of frost, my first here, so I was unprepared for this year's bounty. The sour cherries were ripe for two weeks in mid July, peaches a month later, and pears in September.

                      Wahooty, Dave and prima, think about visiting next year for fruit. Cherries and peaches are worth a side trip.

                      I'll try to get my e mail into my profile here. I am 15 minutes south of 402 on 79.

                    2. re: jayt90

                      jayt, I will GLADLY come get your sour cherries next year! I was out of town for the season this year, and while I can always buy frozen pitted ones for pies and such, I am in desperate need of some with pits to make liqueur.