Hands On

Getting Started

Get Growing Guide – a general guide to get you started from Live Green Toronto

Worm Composting

Composting with worms is “a very convenient way of composting for apartment dwellers, school staff and students, persons with disabilities, office workers, elderly persons and anyone else who would have difficulty maintaining an outdoor compost pile.”

worm

Below are more relevant links:

Worm Composting – A Practical Guide by Young Urban Farmers covers all aspects of vermicomposting and is full of practical, field-tested advice for both the novice and expert worm composter.

Vermicasting (or Vermicomposting): Processing Organic Wastes Through Earthworms is a fact sheet hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.

An app by Urban Farms Organic to create a waste mix earthworms can safely eat. This safe-guards against high C(carbon) to N(nitrogen) ratios, the resulting fermentation, heat and flies, and repelling earthworms.

Canning & Preserving

Note: Public Health advises using current recipes for home canning rather than older recipes. While they might be family favorites, older recipes may not specify the correct times and processing methods for modern bacterial conditions.

Bernardin Screw-bands and SNAP Lids have been around for generations. For basic home canning procedures and techniques visit www.homecanning.ca

For exciting canned and preserved recipes like ‘Garlic Jam and The Laws of Sugar’ or ‘Quick Dill Pickles’ and ‘Pickles worth waiting for’ (…some recipes have even been developed here in Toronto) visit wellpreserved.ca/preserving/ Here you will find links to a very comprehensive, step-by-step guide on canning, recipes, and how to articles.

Easy Raised Beds

From the

EAST SCARBOROUGH COMMUNITY GARDEN ASSOCIATION

Semi raised, or raised beds with soil levels above the perimeter gardening paths allow loose soil beds within easy reach for weeding, mulching and harvest, and are usually 4 ft. wide by 8 ft. long.

  • Build your raised bed with untreated white cedar
  • Create your frame from boards that are 5/4″ or 1 ¼” thick, and about 6” as the nominal width, using selected deck boards
  • Choose strait boards 8 or10 ft. long, cutting one in half
  • Using longer deck screws into the corner stakes, to level the frame, is the way to go
  • To level the frame: Hold frame corners square with temporary braces across corners while setting the frame in place.
  • When you level the frames, supported by corner stakes, insert utility grade cedar shingles around the inside of the perimeter, sharp end down
  • Keep making new rows of wood, until the raised bed is able to hold the new soil up to a depth of 15 inches

All this is possible quickly, when new soil is sourced from the City of Toronto “Waste Transfer Station”, where they store the compost. This is free, If you don’t have a truck, then you can fill yard waste bags with this compost to carry it in a car. As well, local garden contractors sell top soil by the cubic yard. A double frame height, set on landscape fabric, can prevent growth of weeds.

The landscape fabric is cut out on the inside of the frame. For taller, deeper rooted crops, the existing is soil turned before the new garden soil is added.

Wood chips cover the landscape fabric in garden pathways between the beds, remaining weed free.

For Raised beds on sloping ground use a long carpenters level to set frame level, and stick tapered utility grade shingles, sharp end down, around the inside of the frame.

Seed Saving

Seed Saving Links

The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security offers support to ecological seed producers, including a seed facilitation fund, training and seed libraries.

Seeds of Diversity Canada offers seed saving manuals, seed exchange for members, listing of Seedy Saturdays across Canada. You can request a guide to organizing Seedy Saturday events.

Toronto Seed Library gives workshops promoting seed saving and operates branches where seeds can be taken out and returned
 
Toronto Community Garden Network lists the many seed exchanges that happen in Toronto.
 
USC Canada – seed saving campaigns and school resources

Seed Packing for Seed-swaps

As suggested by members of Seeds of Diversity

If you are packing seeds for yourself to trade at this event, here is a suggestion of what information is good to put on the label:

  • The year they were harvested
  • Where were they grown
  • Name of garden, neighbourhood, city, farm, etc.

You can also mention:

  • Number of seeds for the large seeds
  • Weight or tsp usually for small seeds
  • Botanical name, if you know them (botanical names are especially important for flowers, shrubs and trees not as much for vegetables.)
  • Vegetable variety or at least a description
  • Name of the person who collected the seeds
  • Name of person or community garden bringing the seeds to the table

We are always on the look-out for very rare seeds and want to make sure they don’t slip through the cracks! if you think that your seeds are rare or unusual – please make sure your contact information is left with the seeds exchange people.

Season Extension

1. Cold Frames

Are you looking for a way to extend the gardening season? Cold frames are structures that let you begin growing your plants earlier in the spring and keep growing into the early winter months. They can be made from repurposed materials such as old windows, or as simple as plastic sheets arranged over a wire frame.

Getting started

This article from Toronto Master Gardeners discusses the benefits of cold frames.

Canadian Gardening magazine tells you how to construct your own cold frame.

Watch a video on Toronto cold frame expert, Kyla Dixon-Muir, or visit her webpage

Instructables has a variety of build-it-yourself options

This article from the University of Missouri discusses hotbeds, a variant of cold frames, is a bit more complete.

 

2. Winter Storage

20 Crops that Keep and How to Store Them