Some of you may know me as Shy-Anne Hovorka, the former singer/songwriter and now an educator. (Technically, I am now a Bartlett through marriage!) I spent over 10 years as a full-time musician touring all over the place. It was fun! Then, I wanted to settle down and be here for my family, thus jumping into education — I’m also a humanitarian, and avid environmentalist.
As a mother and wife, I wanted to grow the best, chemical-free, highly nutritious food I possibly could for my son, husband and me.
So, I decided to become a vegetable gardener! We have successfully been gardening for over a decade with the last 4 years eating only our own vegetables year-round. We do not use chemical fertilizer and grow our food as naturally as possible. I will be covering seeds, times to plant, what to plant, starting seeds indoors and/or in a greenhouse, organizing your garden, understanding your soil, composting, storing food, preserving, blanching and freezing, gathering seeds and obviously harvesting your crops over the next few months through weekly posts/videos.
In light of the Covid-19, I wanted to do something to help outside of just social distancing myself and family. I decided that sharing what I know about growing fresh food at home could be useful to some of you. I have also been asked many times over the last few weeks questions regarding gardening, so I thought I would just start sharing publicly in a place for all to see. In addition to this, growing your own food is rewarding, and a great activity to include your kids in if you are in the situation of home-schooling due to Covid-19 as I am! It is also a great way to get fresh air, exercise, grow to love your food, reconnect with the environment, reconnect with food, grow an appreciation for how food grows, it is a great stress reliever, and it is just nice to get your hands dirty sometimes (especially with kids).
I will include contact information below that you may use to contact me directly. I will respond as soon as I possibly can with each question. If I don’t have the answer, I will seek out the response from other professional gardeners that I know. If the same question pops up multiple times, I will focus on that topic the following week. I will create a new blog with pictures and video links (as available) once a week. Please, ask questions! I also have a video as well with basically the same info, but some people like to watch, and others like to read! Your choice! The video might show things a bit better as I only have a few pictures here. Would you believe that the picture above has over 100 little seedlings in it? You don’t need a ton of space to start, but a large window with south/west exposure or a good grow light is needed.
In the last few weeks, I have been asking when to start specific seeds. Here is a snapshot of what you should think about planting and when. OH! Also! I plant by following the moon cycle. I always try to plant my seeds 4-5 days before the full moon.
WAIT!!! Another disclaimer here!!! I live in Northern Ontario! So, this is a planting guide for short growing seasons! If you live further South, your ability to plant in the ground is earlier. However, plants usually take a specific amount of time to grow… so keep that in mind!
My best advice for the beginner is to Start Small!!! This can be overwhelming if you start too much too soon!
January: (ok, I know… long gone… but for the future)
Peppers – You can plant these in February, or even March, but you will be waiting until VERY late in the summer (possibly fall) until you get some.
Herbs – Everything but basil for the most part.
February:(Again, gone, but for next year.)
Tomatoes – You can plant these in March if you want, and even April will have success in getting fruit. However, I like to eat tomatoes in late June and July when my cucumbers and salads are at their best. If you plant tomatoes in February, you are eating yummy, ripe tomatoes off the vine in the summer, and are less likely to have multiple boxes of green tomatoes in the fall ripening under your bed to escape frost and slugs!
Basil (NOW you can start your basil…)
(You may want to start some lettuce, and keep planting a couple more every 2 weeks to have staggered lettuce instead of all at once.)
April (The month of the Gourds!)
Marigolds (to keep pests out of the garden!)
Green pole beans
Yellow pole beans
(You can pre-start bush beans too, but they do ok on their own planted by seed in June.)
Late May: (Sow directly in the garden)
So… by the end of May, your greenhouse or house windows are overloaded with plants!!! The following can be planted in the ground in early June.
June (Seed directly into the ground or into pots/containers. It’s fine if still frost forecasted.)
I also grow asparagus and garlic, but they are a different beast altogether. Garlic takes 2 years from seed, 1 year from the bulb, but must be planted in the fall. An asparagus bed takes work to make, and takes 4 years to mature to eat, but totally worth it if you have the space!
You can start your seeds in little 6-pack pots (as shown in the pictures below) or a bunch of seeds spread apart (plot seeding) in one pot if you prefer (except gourds! They don’t like that!) and separate them later. Or, you can try the Jiffy mini-greenhouse with the little pods. However, make SURE you use seed soil. Some soils are too rich and your seeds will have difficulty germinating. They are like babies… they only need essentials, nothing too fortified with a variety of things for the first bit, and like babies, they will need solid food soon enough… thus a different, more beefed up soil. This too will be a blog of its own later. There are also links to some of the products I have chatted about below.
I could make this blog/post VERY long as I can get carried away!!! So, I’ll end it here. If you would like homework, go through the list above and see what things you would like to start with. Get what you need!
-good starting seed-soil
Next week, I am going to talk about bumping up your plants. It’s night quite as fun as bumper cars!! If there are any other immediate concerns/questions, please send me an email 🙂 email@example.com
See you later!
Baaninmaa Miinawaa Kiwaapaamin!
www.shy-anne.com (If you wanna check out some of my tunes or learn about me as a musician!)
Get Started Today!
Links for start-up gardening! I know most places like Boles Feeds, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware, Dollar Store, and and and have most of this too, however, if you are social distancing/self-isolating, or unable to get them, here are links online!
Stokes Seeds (I like their huge variety)
Seed Starting Soil (Many brands, but this one is affordable and easy to find.)
Reusable Seed Pots (Or if you have any from previous years… we just keep reusing.. But you MUST wash them before reuse so you don’t spread disease that you don’t know is there!)
Grow-lights for indoor plants (If you don’t have enough natural light)
The first in a series of videos on gardening. This one is what seeds to start and when to start them. This series will be more for short growing seasons such as the one I live in — Northern Ontario, near Thunder Bay. We have about 3.5 months of outside growing for most plants, and 4.5 for cold/frost tolerant plants (June to Sept for most, a few plants into October, and asparagus in late May).
If you have any questions, please comment below and I will get back to you asap! You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have feedback, feel free to post in the comments.