2013 Garden Seed List

I need an intervention.

You know how they say never go grocery shopping when you're hungry? Yeah, well never do your seed order in the middle of winter when you are craving salads, either!

Yes, I went a bit crazy on the lettuce selection this year, but everything else is within normal limits, right? RIGHT??

124 varieties, almost 1000 sq. ft. of planting space (I'm planting beds more than once), somewhere around 4000 separate plants.

It's going to be a busy summer!

Brassicas Broccoli Green Sprouting

Broccoli Spigariello

Broccoli Romanesco

Cauliflower Snowball

Kohlrabi Gigante

Turnip Purple Top White Globe

Rutabaga Laurentian

Napa Michilli

Cabbage Mammoth Red Rock

Cabbage Copenhagen Market

Cabbage Early Jersey

Kale Heirloom mix

Kale Russian

Collards Georgia Southern

Collards Variegated

Radish Bouquet Mix

Radish Specialty Mix

Radish French Breakfast

Radish Round Black Spanish

Radish China Rose
Greens Spinach Bloomsdale

Swiss Chard Five Colour Silverbeet

Swiss Chard Rainbow

Arugula Arugula

Mache Mache

Cress Curly

Lettuce Paris Island

Lettuce Red Romaine

Lettuce Oak Leaf

Lettuce Grand Rapids

Lettuce Bronze Arrow

Lettuce Amish Deer Tongue

Lettuce Yugoslavian Red

Lettuce Bunte Forellenschluss

Lettuce Black Seeded Simpson

Lettuce Drunken Woman

Lettuce Brune d'Hiver

Lettuce Merville Des Quarte Saison

Lettuce Forellenschluss

Lettuce Tennis Ball Lettuce

Lettuce Heirloom Romaine mix

Lettuce Heirloom Leaf Lettuce Mix

Greens Pac Choi

Greens Tah Tsai

Greens Mustard

Greens Red Komatsuna Mustard
Onions Onions Ailsa Craig

Onions Yellow Globe

Onions Red Wethersfield

Onions White Pickling

Scallions Southport White Globe

Garlic Garlic

Leeks Blue Solaise

Leeks Giant Musselburgh
Cucurbits Winter Squash Sibley

Winter Squash Chersonskaya

Winter Squash Table Queen Acorn

Winter Squash Spaghetti

Summer Squash Black Beauty

Summer Squash Bennings Green Tint Pattypan

Cucumber Straight Eight

Cucumber National Pickling
Carrots/Beets Carrots Chantenay Red Cored

Carrots Scarlet Nantes

Carrots Colourful Mix

Carrots Jaune du Doubs

Carrots Dragon

Beets 3 Root Grex

Beets Albino

Beets Golden Detroit

Beets Chioggia

Beets Mix

Beets Cylindra

Beets Detroit Dark Red
Toms/Peppers Paste Tomato San Marzano

Red Cherry Tomato Riesentraube

Yellow Salad Tomato AAA Sweet Solano

Tomato Oxheart

Tomato Canadian Heart

Tomato Brandywine

Tomato Stupice

Sweet Pepper Alma Paprika

Sweet Pepper Marconi Sweet Red

Sweet Pepper King of the North

Hot Pepper Ancho

Hot Pepper Hinkelhatz

Hot Pepper Fish

Hot Pepper Long Red Cayenne

Hot Pepper Hungarian Hot Wax

Hot Pepper Early Jalapeno
Legumes Dry Beans Ireland Creek Annie's

Dry Beans Black Calypso

Dry Beans Romano

Dry Beans Pinto

Dry Beans Soldier

Dry Beans Black Valentine

Dry Beans Blue Jay

Dry Beans Saskatchewan

Dry Beans Bird Egg

Dry Beans Black Turtle

Dry Beans Littlefield's Special

Dry Beans Canadian Wonder

Dry Beans Jacob's Cattle

Dry Beans Mrocumiere

Dry Beans Fall Speckled

Green Bush Blue Ribbon

Yellow Bush Beurre de Rocquencourt

Striped Bush Dragon Tongue

Green Bush Empress

Purple Bush Royalty Purple

Runner Bean Scarlet Emperor

Pole Bean Lazy Housewife

Pole Bean Rattlesnake

Pole Bean True Red Cranberry

Snow Pea Oregon Giant

Sugar Pea Dwarf Grey

Shell Pea Green Arrow

Shell Pea British Wonder

Shell Pea Sutton's Harbinger
Oddballs Okra Green

Okra Burgundy

Okra Pakistan

Celery Tall Utah

Celeriac Giant Prague

My Scruffy Valentines

It's February 14th again, and that can only mean one thing: Kip's birthday, and the anniversary of Katy's "Gotcha Day*".

Kip is 6 (!!!) this year, and Katy is probably a year or so older, so we'll say she's 7 today.

They are both fantastic dogs, my loves, who make me laugh every day. I've said it before - I can't imagine life without them, and the joy they bring into my life.

So Happy Birthday Kip, and Happy Gotcha Katy - there may just be an extra treat in store for you both today!

Since Katy was a stray, I don't know her birthday, but we "celebrate" the day she came to live with us, aka her "Gotcha Day". Her actual "Gotcha Day" is Feb. 11, but that's close enough to the 14th!

Grocery Spending - Update #5

It really isn't that bad. Honest. The only groceries I bought this week were for this month's family meal - I needed bread, milk and cream, and most expensively, maple syrup. Okay, I'll use the milk and cream for other things. And we only ate one loaf of the bread. And about half of the maple syrup. And... okay, okay. But still, really, if it wasn't for that meal, I wouldn't have had to do any shopping this week!

As for the stash, I've finally tallied up my seed purchases for this year.


How is it possible to spend this much money on seeds, year after year? I really have to get better at saving seed. This is ridiculous, and I still have to buy seed potatoes! Mind you, that tally includes some planting supplies, and shipping, and tax. Still - ouch!

Spending Feb. 4 - 10:

Milk: $4.23
Cream: $3.03
Bread: $3.94
Maple syrup: $11.49

Seeds & supplies: $225.98

Balance to date: -$42.37 for non-stash, -$455.93 for stash.

The balance keeps going in the wrong direction...

Seedy Saturday Recap

Seedy Saturday was this past weekend, and it was great! Although I had done most of my seed buying already, there are always a few last things I need to pick up. Like, for example, when I just assume I have enough beet and carrot seed, without actually looking.  Ooops!

Or when family members mention seed they want you to start for them - after you've done your buying for the year, of course.

So, I picked up some stevia seeds for my brother (I'll keep some for me too, just to play with), but I'm still looking for catnip seeds for Dad. Well, for Dad's cat, but you know what I mean. Anyone out there with catnip seeds?

I also picked up some curly garden cress, red garnet amaranth, Pakistan okra and true red cranberry pole beans from Rhizome Farms - things I didn't know I wanted, but you know how that goes! Well, except for the beans - I always want new bean varieties, but I had put a moratorium on buying any this year. Hrm.  Unfortunately, I didn't actually get to talk to Elva about the okra seeds, but I hope to get some more info about them. I'm intrigued :D

And speaking of my bean addiction, Kate from the USC booth gave me some Blue Ribbon bush beans, supplied by Greta's Organics. Enablers, all of them!

Linda from Tree & Twig was nice enough to bring my seed order with her, and "refunded" my shipping charges by throwing in a pack of arugula seeds. This will be the first time I've grown arugula - thanks Linda!!

I also bought some carrot and beet seeds from both Tree & Twig and Urban Harvest - I love being able to go to events like this and see all the varieties on offer!

I managed to see a couple of the talks, but I had to leave early, which was too bad. It was nice to see just how popular the event was. There were a LOT of people there - it's great to see so many people interested in both gardening and in supporting some of the fantastic small seed suppliers we have in the area!

Two of Twelve, Part Two

Do you know how hard it is to both cook a meal and take pictures of it?

Yeah, sorry, once again, no photos. This month's meal was breakfast - easy, but a busy meal. Scrambled eggs (from my local supplier), toast, bacon and oatmeal pancakes. Along with real maple syrup for the pancakes (I do not do flavoured sugar water, sorry) and coffee, of course. Gotta have coffee!

I was going to do home-fries as well, but gave up after the fifth potato I pulled from the bag was rotten inside.  Grrr......

Oh well - it's not like we went hungry!

My niece leaves for the west this week, so she was able to come to one last meal - yeah!

Now, to start thinking about next month's meal...

Grocery Spending - Update #4

I didn't want to do two updates back-to-back, but this puts me back on weekly schedule - well, some sort of schedule, anyhow!

This week's purchases included items for the family supper, but it's not too bad, even though I made chicken alfredo with garlic bread. I had all the ingredients for the sauce on hand, including the chicken, so all I had to buy was the pasta (on sale), bread and croutons for the salad.

The brand of coffee I drink was on sale last week, for just under $12/pound, down from the regular $16. I started keeping track at the beginning of the year, and realized I go through about 3 pounds a month (!!), and I'm down to only 3 pounds in the stash, so I stocked up. I'm good until the end of May now, and hopefully, it will go on sale again sometime before then. Or, I'll stop drinking coffee. Bwahahahahahahahhaa!!!

Spending Jan. 28 - Feb. 3:

Pasta: $1.88
Croutons: $1.94
Bread: $3.94
Tea: $3.02
Coconut: $0.86 (I wanted unsweetened to try in a recipe)
Chips: $1.83 (I am bad - bulk food store fail)

Coffee: $107.91

Balance to date: -$29.68 for non-stash, -$289.63 for stash.


Grocery Spending - Update #3

And herein starts the justifications - and the revisions.

My main goal for tracking (and blogging about) my grocery spending was to make myself start eating the food in the house, not just add more to the stash.

And so I set a dollar amount, that I thought was reasonable.

But then I ran out of things. Like brown sugar. And cocoa. And spices. And salt. And so I spent more than I had budgeted for.

It's not all bad, though. Even though I've gone over my arbitrary dollar amount (by a lot), I've been really good about actually eating from my stash.

So it's not a complete loss.

Of course, I want to keep this going, and I still want to track my spending (accountability, it's a good thing), but I don't want to post here week after week about how much further in the hole I'm getting. And really, the dollar amount is somewhat arbitrary...

On to the numbers:

Spending Jan. 21-27:

Yeast: $3.79
Cocoa: $5.29
Coconut: $0.99 (For a recipe. Not a need, but hey - it was 99 cents!)
Brown Sugar: $2.17
Lemons: $3.00
Milk: $4.23
Sour Cream: $1.97
Cocoa: $6.99 (Mom knew I was out, saw a good price when she was out, and so, not knowing I had bought some, picked some up. It's all good - you can't have too much cocoa!)

Beef: $240

Balance to date: -$46.21 for non-stash, -$262.04 for stash.

Now for the revisions:

I've looked again at how much I spend on "stash" foods, like locally-raised meat and eggs, fair-trade coffee and garden seeds, and realized the total is close to $1500 a year. So, I'm increasing my stash budget from $10 to $30/week. And on the same vein, to account for items like flour and sugar and spices, as well as milk and bread, I'm doubling my non-stash budget to $10/week.

And yes, I'm doing so retroactively. My challenge, my rules ;)

New balances: -$26.21 for non-stash, -$182.04 for stash. Still in the red, so I do need to work on that, but not as bad as before!

And really, $40 a week for a diet that includes non-CAFO meat? Not bad, not bad at all. Now, let's see if I can do better here on out...

Where's the Beef? Right here!

That, my friends, is about 30 pounds of local, grass-fed, sustainable, rare-breed beef! Which now resides in my freezer. Yippee!!

I finally found a local farmer, and it ended up being someone I went to university with. Cue: "It's a Small World"....

Larry and Alison raise the Kerry breed of cattle. In their words:

"While maintaining a nucleus of pure-bred Kerry, we are also developing a premium product by bringing together best characteristics of small beef animals such as the Hereford, with the pasture efficiency of the Kerry.

The Kerry Cow is a heritage breed from Ireland kept for both beef and dairy purposes. They are a smaller breed, typically horned and solid black in color (solid red sometimes shows). They are hardy and long lived.
Originally developed in harsh conditions, we find the Kerry thrive on pasture and hay. 
Rare Breeds Canada classify the Kerry as ‘Critical’ (less than 25 annual registrations of breeding females). With only a few other breeders in Canada, we are attempting to increase the numbers of Kerry in Canada. Starting out with 4 pure-bred Kerry cows in 2004, we have raised our pure-bred herd to over 20."

Their farm is about 60 km away, so well within my "100 miles". It's far enough away that I don't want to be driving out there every week, but a few times a year is no big deal, especially since it also includes a visit! Hopefully, next time the weather will be a bit better and I can get a tour of the farm. And take pictures! And write another post about the cattle and farm.

You can find out more about their farm at their website: www.rosedeneacres.ca

I bought what they call a "box o'beef". It consisted of 3 roasts (~10 pounds total), 10 steaks (~7 pounds total), 3 packs of ribs (~2 pounds) and about 12 pounds of ground beef. The price, like most local, sustainable meat, is about twice what you'd pay for grocery store beef, but it's equivalent to what a local store charges for grass-fed beef.

Oh well - I love the fact that I can buy sustainable beef, that the money goes directly to the farmer, and who is also an old friend! Of course, the drawbacks are that I didn't get to pick the cuts (I'd have loved to have gotten some stewing beef, and less ground), and that I have to store that much beef in the freezer. And the price too - it would have been cheaper to buy a larger amount, but as much as I love beef, I can't justify buying a quarter, unless I was splitting it with someone. I'll see how long this lasts, and adjust accordingly for next year.

Oh, and the bonus? It's paper-wrapped!

I'll write more when I cook with the beef - I can't wait to taste it. Now, to find some good recipes...

Full disclosure: I received nothing for writing this review; Larry and Alison didn't even know I had a blog or was writing this until after I bought the beef. I did ask for, and receive, their permission to use their names and link to their website, but my review is entirely my own. Mind you, Larry did throw in a pack of pepperettes, but that was because we're friends, not to influence this article. They are really good pepperettes, by the way. Nom nom nom....

One of Twelve, Part Two

Once again, I'm doing monthly family dinners as my Christmas present to my adult family members.

And, once again I have no photos :(

Mainly because it was a quick meal to put together - chicken alfredo with garlic bread and caesar salad. 

My niece is leaving soon, moving west, so I let her pick the meal. This was her second choice - I merely laughed when she suggested steak and crab!

It was soooo good.

Low fat, not so much...

And, of course, I don't really have a recipe.

I cut up the chicken (four breasts) and tossed the pieces with a mixture of salt, pepper and dried basil, then pan fried (in small batches - don't crowd the pan!) until browned and cooked through. Meanwhile, I melted an insane amount of butter in a heavy bottomed pot over low heat, added some minced garlic (from the garden - yeah!!), and cooked until the garlic was soft. I added about twice as much cream as butter, then tossed in a couple of handfuls of freshly-grated parmesan cheese.

Please, do not use cheese from a can.


A block of parmesan lasts me about a year, costs around $20-25, and is so. much. better.


After heating the sauce through, I added the chicken, then the cooked fettucini.

The sauce didn't thicken at all, but still coated the pasta nicely, and tasted fantastic.

I also made garlic bread by mixing more butter with more garlic, spreading on sliced Italian bread, topping with sliced provalone cheese, then broiling until the cheese was all warm and bubbly and good.

And Mom brought the salad - thanks Mom!

This isn't a recipe I make very often (butter and cream and cheese, oh my!), so it's not one I've perfected. I'd like the sauce to be a bit thicker, but I don't really want to use cream cheese or whipping cream. It's so easy to make though - I might have to make it more often, and work on my recipe!


It's that time of the year again - sausage making time! This is my second year for making my own sausage, and this year, I have a stuffer! I found the attachment for the KitchenAid at a reasonable price in the US - $10 vs. an insane $24 here in Canada. $24 for three small pieces of plastic - I don't think so! Eventually I'd like a metal meat grinder and sausage stuffer, but for now, the KitchenAid attachments work fine.

Pork was on sale, so I bought two shoulders, for a total of around 18 pounds. After skinning and deboning, I ended up with around 14 pounds of meat.
Pork shoulder

with skin removed...

cut off the bone...

and cut up for the grinder.
Of course, I tossed the bones into a stock pot for soup!  :)
Making stock from the bones - nothing goes to waste!
I decided on four different recipes this year - sage, Italian, chorizo and garlic-pepper. To make things easier, I made sure to prepare all of the seasoning ahead of time. As with anything to do with meat, it's important to work quickly and keep the meat from warming up, so making sure everything is ready to go means you don't have to stop in the middle of making your sausage to chop an onion or measure out a spice!
Pre-measured seasonings.
After grinding, I weighed out the portions I wanted (5 pounds each for the Italian and sage, 2 pounds each for the others), and mixed each well with the seasoning. After mixing, each bowl went into the fridge until I was ready to use it.
Final product, ground and mixed with the seasonings.

And of course, you have to do a taste test!

Taste test!
Last year, I saw casings for sale at a local grocery store, along with the large cuts of pork. This year, however, I couldn't find them. I know that store makes it's own sausage, so I decided to ask at the butcher counter.

I was told they didn't sell the casings anymore, due to health and safety concerns.

I was told this, standing directly in front of the case of store-made sausages for sale.

Made with the same casings they refused to sell me, due to health and safety concerns.

The clerk couldn't understand why I then asked if the sausages they were selling were safe to eat.

The logic, it hurts.

So, I drove around the corner to an actual butcher shop, that had no problem selling me a bundle of casings, for the low, low price of $4!
Intestines Casings

Soaking in water
The casing have to be soaked and rinsed well, as they are preserved with salt. I cut the casing into four lengths, to make it easier to work with. I greased the stuffer attachment with lard, then slipped the casing onto it, tied a knot, and started stuffing!

Length of casing on the stuffer.
Knot at the beginning

One length done!
Coil of Italian sausage

Italian sausage, all linked up!

Chorizo sausage

Finished coil of Sage sausage

Sage sausage in links
Garlic pepper sausage
I ran out of casing right at the very end, with about a half a pound of meat left. No problem - I simply left it as loose sausage. I probably could have stuffed the casings a bit more, but it's not bad for a first attempt. I did have one break, when I was making links. I need to work on my link-making skills, that's for sure! And this is definitely a job where two people would make it a LOT easier.

But, it's not a hard, long or expensive job, at all. From start to finish, it took me around 5 hours, which includes all the chopping, measuring and clean-ups along the way. I disassembled and washed the grinder/stuffer a few times during the process, both just to clear it (the grinder especially needs to be cleared after a bit) and to make sure everything was clean enough.

So, now that I've made "real" sausage, would I do it again? In a heartbeat. With the proper equipment, it's an easy, inexpensive way to get great sausages. And I need to practise my technique. And perfect my recipes. And really, one can't ever have too much sausage...


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