Tag Archives: seeds

Growing date palms from seed

One of my colleagues, a beloved employee for near 30 years at our organization, retired last month. On his last day, he brought some dates to share.

We usually buy the pitted honey-coated dates at home. I find them too sweet to eat on their own, but I do enjoy them in healthy date balls. The dates my colleague brought had pits and no honey but they were quite tasty. And the bonus was I could plant the seeds!

I’ve been following this guide to start the seeds. I soaked 5 seeds for a week and now have them in a damp piece of paper towel in a zip-locked plastic bag on top of the fridge. It took about 3 to 4 weeks for the first seed to sprout a root.

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I love how chubby the roots are! I don’t think I’ve seen roots this thick coming out of a seed.

It is true that you should check them regularly for mold.

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Yuck! But don’t despair…

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I just rinse the remaining seeds and put them in a new damp piece of paper towel.

I plan to start them in one pot until they’re large enough to want their own space.

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Seedy Saturday 2014!

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Once again Seedy Saturday found me unprepared.

At the beginning of the year I was checking the Toronto Community Gardening Network‘s website religiously for word on dates and then I got busy with other things, as you do. I was hoping that one of the many gardening sites I follow on Facebook would have mentioned something. So I got lax with my garden planning and as a result there is no plan. This week I happened to check the TCGN  site and found out the first event of the season was at the Brickworks on Saturday. How convenient! I could go right after my yoga class.

After attending the 10am class at The Yoga Sanctuary Danforth, I walked over to Broadview station to take the shuttle. While I was waiting I was mobbed by a flock of pigeons residing in the area. First they flew around me, then a few actually landed on me! I remember cringing with my arms held up, looking at the one on my left arm out of the corner of my eye, noticing how fat and wrinkly his toes were as his claws gripped my coat, feeling a few others on my shoulders and one perched on my hat, thinking about how I could get my phone out of my purse to take a picture of this ‘cuz who would believe me… I was eating a banana at the time so I assumed that they jumped on me to get at it. I tossed the remains on the icy ground but none of them went for it. I’m not sure what caused them to suddenly fly off with their band of brothers, but I was very thankful that I came out of the affair poop-free.

This incident began a very interesting conversation with the lovely older gentleman also waiting for the shuttle (we were the only ones there at the time).  He commented on how aggressive pigeons in this city had become and that people must be feeding them. I responded that this had never happened to me before and that I would have preferred to have more interesting birds land on me than pigeons.

I asked if he was coming to the Brickworks for Seedy Saturday and he said yes. I admitted that I was not prepared to purchase anything today but I planned on browsing. He was coming to help man one of the booths but he also planned to browse the seed selection. He was looking rare things that caught his fancy.

As we waited for the shuttle, he told me that he belonged to a beekeeping cooperative which he had been involved in for about 8 years. He really caught my attention with his story about taking a beekeeping course at the Botanical Gardens  (gear provided) and said that being with the bees wasn’t scary and in fact for him being in the midst of the bees was like “zen.” He said there are quite a few colonies across the city, including one on the 14th floor of the Fairmount Royal on Front Street. It’s quite a commitment as “you are there for the bees, not when you want to be there.” I wondered what this zen experience would be like and if at the end of the course one got to leave with a jar of honey. He told me, “I think so. I did.”, and we laughed.

As we rode the shuttle down to the Brickworks, he told me about his experience growing an exotic tomato from Asia that had thorns and tasted a bit like guava (but the taste varied depending on how ripe it was when you picked it), how it was really great at keeping the “four and two-legged raccoons” out of his allotment plot in High Park. He also regaled his experience of attending the garlic festival at the Brickworks, the only place on earth where it was OK for men and women to have bad breath :).

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We parted ways inside the Marketplace and I set my sights on finding my favorite seed purveyors: Urban Harvest. There was a lot going on: seed exchanges, community workshops, and organizations concerned with food issues hoping to engage with and garner support from like-minded people, in addition to what I assumed was the usual Saturday fare at the Brickworks.

In case you were wondering, this batch had no smell and felt very fine

This sample had no smell and felt very fine and dry. Interesting!

I saw a few interesting books I’ll look for at the library:

I love the retro cover!

I love the retro cover!

Foodshare's cover looks so appetizing!

FoodShare‘s cover looks so appetizing!

I wonder what it would be like to raise animals, like chickens, in the city?

I wonder what it would be like to raise animals, like chickens, in the city?

Urban Harvest was crowded and I spent a good 45 minutes picking up and reading the back of seed packets and making a list of what seeds I might want to purchase. Although I hadn’t checked what seeds I needed before I showed up, in a frenzy of excitement I bought 10 seed packets and some kelp meal.

This was just one of five racks at Urban Harvest's table

This was the smallest of five racks at Urban Harvest’s table – so much to choose from!

I  still plan to go to the next event at Scadding Court next Saturday, which I was told by the owner of Urban Harvest, was the original site for the event when it began in Toronto.

Good healthy food for all!

Good healthy food for all!

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Fall on the horizon

Quickly ran by the garden before meeting up with a friend for dinner at Guu Sakabar. I had about 15 minutes to assess what was happening and  harvest whatever was ready for eating and for storing (ie. seeds).

The zucchini was putting out a few blossoms but not making any fruit. It’s starting to go down to  single digit temperatures overnight so I’d be surprised if any fruit actually produces. I hope more blossoms continue to bloom so I can try making a stuffed zucchini blossom recipe.

Blossoms only : (

The tomato plants continue their natural decline but I’m happy to say that energy is being put into ripening the fruit.

Fruit is still ripening

Parsley and dill are getting stronger. I’m not sure what the oblong-shaped leaf near the parsley and dill is. It doesn’t look like the collards near the back of the photo.

Parsley and dill

This chive flowers were closing up and starting to make seeds.

Chive seeds in the making

I was tempted to pick the buds but decided to leave them. A post on saving garlic chive seeds on the Garden web forum told me that, much like with other seeds, it was best to wait for the  seeds dry on the plant before picking them for storage. I wonder if they taste any good like this?

I’ve noticed for a while that the basil were going to seed and recently discovered that the  seed pods are actually underneath the flowers. I had to turn the plant upside down to find them.

Green seed pods under Dark Opal basil flowers

Basil seeds

I gently picked off the dried flowers and managed to separate some seeds from the pod.

Basil seeds

I’d soon run out of time so I quickly picked a few more dried basil, calendula and cornflower flower heads so I could remove the seeds at home.

Seeds and dried seed pods

Calendula and cornflower

Guu had an interesting atmosphere and the food was delicious. After dinner, we sat on the patio outside  Starbucks. I felt a little chilly in my short sleeved sweater. What was I thinking coming out without a jacket? Fall is just around the corner…

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Adios verano…

On Labour Day, my brother and I headed up to Mel Lastman Square for the Hispanic Fiesta. It was our first time attending the festival. We were going to see Imbayakunas, who are always entertaining (we went to the Beaches Jazz Fest just to see them), but we were delighted to find that the entire show was amazing.  My brother really enjoyed the Mariachi Viva Mexico band, in particular. We had such a good time. It was a great way to end off the summer on a high note. It was quite clear though that summer was over. Somewhere during the performances we realized that it had become pitch black all around us. I looked at my watch, expecting to see that it was at least 10 o’clock, and was surprised to find that it was only 8:30! The days are becoming shorter. Adios verano (bye bye summer).

I’ve been passing by the gardens for short periods of time these days, really to collect seeds. I planted some beets, carrots, kale, spinach and collard greens at the end of August. We’ve had a few downpours so we haven’t had to water as much. I noticed that a week after I planted the beets, they were already starting to come up.

Beet seedlings

This time my brother picked up Early wonder tall tops from Urban Harvest at Dufferin Grove Farmers Market. According to the description, these are the type you’re supposed to buy if you like to eat the greens. I’m really looking forward to trying them. Too bad they take a month and a half to two months to reach maturity. The carrots are coming up too but they take just as long.

I continue to enjoy the chive blossoms and it seems I’m not the only one:

Yellow jacket wasp enjoying the chive flowers

A bee takes his turn

I’m not sure which I enjoy better – the gustatorial delights of the closed blossoms sprinkled on my meals (oh man, so good!) or the visual delight of the flowers in full bloom. I personally don’t think they taste as good when they’re in full bloom. I’m interested in seeing what it will be like to collect the seeds.

Chive blossoms, almost all in full bloom

Last weekend I managed to collect some nasturtium seeds:

Some nasturtium seeds can be found on the plants but you have to look carefully

I haven’t been successful in finding nice looking seeds under the plant itself. The green ones I found on the plant. I wasn’t sure about the viability of the white, wrinkled looking ones (or if they were even seeds at all) so I squished one between my fingers and it disintegrated with some pressure. I left the rest. They really didn’t look like the ones in nasturtium video I found on YouTube.The green ones are drying well at home.

Are the white ones seeds? I have no idea

The cornflower seeds are really easy to identify and to harvest. I’ve just been running my thumb inside the dry seed head and the seeds just pop out.

The seeds are really easy to identify – they have fringes at the end

Seeds separated from the chaff

I was doing this in the garden until I found I was losing a lot of them so now I’ve been taking the flower heads and separating the seeds at home. I’ve become more than a little obsessed with the cornflower seeds in particular.

Last week I spent some time searching the ground around the calendula flowers for seeds. I found some this way last month. I inspected the flowers and realized that some of them were pretty dry and I could recognize the seeds!

Calendula seeds

Another view

I was too impatient to take the dried flowers home and hang them upside down in a paper bag so I picked off the seeds and took them home in a baggie to fully dry before I store them.

Bag ’em and head for home!

The end of summer is not such a bad thing after all!

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