Friday, 26 December 2014

Garden Trends 2015

Organically grown, heirloom zukes at the Nitty Gritty Potager
As always, this is my favourite post of the year. What's happening, what's new, and what's trending?

Here are my thoughts, reflections and ideas regarding what gardening looks like as we head into the new year of 2015.

1. Buying Local - This is my favourite trend of the year! Consumers are supporting their own peeps while spending less time and money at the big, box stores. Realising that the big box stores make a huge eco-foot print with the growing, shipping, spraying of plants, their use of neonics (a systemic pesticide hazardous to our bee population), buying local and organic really is the only way to go.
It seems that more than ever, we are buying from local growers, small biz, mom and pop businesses, farms and farmers markets, putting local people and small businesses first, keeping the money in our own communities!

Buying locally grown foods from local community members
2. A Safer, Better World - Buying and growing environmentally friendly and safe foods for our kids and grand kids. Planting fruit trees and shrubs and growing our own foods. Buying our seeds from Safe Seed Pledged companies, thus taking a stance against genetic engineering. Buying our plants, veggie starts, trees and shrubs from local suppliers that grow both organically, sustainably, and ethically.

Organically grown potatoes at the Nitty Gritty Greenhouse

3. The New Gardeners - The Millennials (those aged 18 to 35) are totally embracing gardening in a big way. This is very, very exciting news. Wanting the world to be a better place, they are contributing to making that happen. They connect with their kids through gardening, teaching them how to be good stewards of the planet. Growing food, enticing pollinators, attracting birds and beneficial bugs to the yard, restoring bio-diversity. The Millenials grow, weed, can/de-dydrate, bake, grow chickens, homestead on urban plots... They are making ethical choices to make the world a better place. Go Millenials go!    

Poster from
A millennials gardening poster for the 'Victory Gardens of Tomorrow.'  

4. Keeping It Simple - Easy to care for pots, planters and small beds containing just one or two plant varieties for huge visual impact. Staggered pots with the soft blue-grey hues of lavender, brilliantly hued calibrachoa's, or bright and happy African Daisies (Osteospermums). Colourful beds of cutting zinnias, bachelor's buttons, asters, or dahlias. 
Simple to care for pots, planters and beds that provide a big pop of colour and style!
Pots of Raspberry Lemonade Zinnias. 
Simple, easy, no-fuss plants, with big impact.  

5. Curves are in! - In a big way! Spiral gardens, keyhole gardens, wavy meandering pathways ... Geometric shapes of all kinds are really in, but most especially the circles and curves.  

Curves from

6. Fighting Back - Pushing back and fighting municipality rules for the right to grow our own organic foods, to house chickens, and keep bees on our own property. Rather than growing lush yet useless lawns and landscapes that community by-laws seem to demand and protect, we are fighting back for the right to feed our families from our own land.

Fighting back by growing food!
7. Portable Gardening -  This trend is big with everyone, but most especially with renters and non-home-owners. Growing perennial foods in all types of portable vessels, for gardens that move when you do!  The Brazelberries fruiting shrubs are great examples of this trend. They have made it so easy to grow both raspberries and blueberries in pots; portable, eco-friendly, super fruits on your front stoop! 

Brazelberries Raspberry Shortcake pic from
A raspberry that is compact, thrives in a pot, and is thornless.   

 Jelly Bean Blueberry from Brazelberries.
Pic from

8. The casual -unstyle... Gardens that work with the landscape to be casual, wild and natural looking.

 Un-style gardening... pic from

9. Colour of the year for 2015!
Of course, as always, the colour of the year. This post just wouldn't be the same without Pantone's colour pick for the year ahead ..

Introducing Marsala, a yummy, deep, chocolate-y red hue. Is earthy and warm, just like the wine it is named after... Yum.

 Marsala coloured blooms in bouquets from

Another Marsala colour pic from

Friday, 12 December 2014

Growing Great Peppers, Eggplants & Tomatoes

Always wanted to grow your own really nice, big, juicy peppers? Looking forward to heading out to your own potager to pick some Jalapenos for your famous, homemade fresh salsa? Or canning up a storm of tomato sauces, pasta sauces and jarred salsa, made with your homegrown ingredients?

 Chinese Five Colour Hot Peppers
Maybe you want to grow your own hottest peppers of the world, like the Bhut Jololia (Ghost Pepper) or the Carolina Reaper?The super hots can be kind of tricky to germinate, join us for some tips and tricks on how to have a successful crop and stun all your friends ; )

This workshop is for you!

1. Grow Really Great Sweet & Hot Peppers (Eggplants, too) Workshop!

Choose from a great selection of all kinds of pepper and eggplant seeds, sow them here and go home with the potential for 24 plants!

Enough plants to give extras as gifts to friends! Or grow them all yourself and sell the peppers at market, roast and store for winter, dehydrate, give as gifts, can and process, or chop and freeze till needed later. 
Both peppers and eggplants can be tricky to grow from seed and take a long time to go from seed to transplant. Learn how to go from seed to harvest successfully, with full instructions for how to grow them on when you take them home. Will cover soil selection, germination, seedling care, transplanting and how to best grow them in summer, till harvest.

Firecracker Chili Peppers

Sweet Crimson Peppers
Pepper/Eggplant Workshop

Two dates to choose from ...

Saturday, January 31st          OR              Sunday, February 1st
From 1pm till 4 pm                                 From 1pm till 4 pm 

Break time with snacks and bevvies is included.........       $25

* Optional - An additional Seed Growing Kit with everything you need to start and grow your own seeds at home for $40. Seeding (heat) mat, seedling humidity dome, fertiliser, etc.. 

Sign up now to secure your spot at 

Growing Great Tomatoes Workshop

Love to eat fresh tomatoes off the vine? Wondering where to start and what to do?

From seed to harvest, how to grow lots and lots of really, great, tasty heirloom tomatoes.
Sow the seeds here, choosing from a huge selection of heirloom varieties for the potential of 24 plants! Share them with friends, sun dry or roast them, make into fabulous sauces, ketchup even! or maybe sell at market. 
We go over the best medium to use, watering, lighting, etc..  You take the seed trays home and grow them on at home, with how-to info for successfully taking them from start to finish.

Date: Sat, Mar 14                    OR                    Sun, Mar 15
Time : 1pm - 4pm                                           From 1pm till 4 pm

*Snacks and bevvies included............................. $25

* Plus, optional Seed Growing Supply Kit with everything you need to start and grow your own seeds at home for $40.        

Sign up for this workshop now at          

No space or place to grow your own seedlings at home? No problem! Pick up your pepper, tomato and eggplant transplants from me and attend this following workshop instead...

 Tomato and Pepper Growing Mastered!

Now that you have picked up your tomato, pepper and eggplant plants and are ready to go, here is a workshop on how to master growing them all summer long, from transplant to harvest, for the best results each and every year.

How to grow great organic tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers ... how to prune, feed, water, stake, harvest, and prevent both diseases and pests

When : Sun, June 14th
Time : 1pm till 4pm

*includes snacks and bevvies ..... $20                   

To sign up, please contact me   

See HERE for more workshops coming up in 2015! 

Please note the cancellation policy which can be found at the bottom of THIS PAGE.

Friday, 5 December 2014

December Garden and Greenhouse Ramblings

In the garden this month... 

The month of December has started off frosty, yet sunny, here on the west cost.

The garden beds all have a good thick crusty frost layer ... which means no fresh garden veggies till the rains return to thaw it out.

Though, if one were to get really desperate for a carrot or maybe a parsnip, my trusty garden fork easily lifts and breaks up the frost layer.

What to do in the garden ...

- Prune tree form roses to prevent breakage should we get some snow. The heavy snow will make your standard stem bow with the weight, and may snap it in half.

The rose in the picture above is a Hybrid Tea Standard called Double Delight. I cut it back quite severely once or even twice a year to promote a flush of new growth in spring with lots of gorgeous blooms on nice, long, stems.

Weeping tree form roses need just a trim ..snip off any criss-crossing branches, inward facing branches, and the 3d's - dead, damaged, or diseased wood.  

- Prune your shrub roses, too, to about 12" high. Spray them with horticultural oil and lime sulpher mix (Dormant Spray) to kill overwintering pests and diseases. This will help to prevent black spot in summer, too. Mulch up around any roses tender and 'iffy' for our area.

  This Dormant Spray Kit can be purchased at any garden centre or hardware shop.
Is super important to use this on your fruit trees and roses, as well as many other shrubs, 
 free of insects, fungal issues, and disease.  

Pic from

- Prune fruit trees when they have lost all their leaves. Spray with horticultural oil and lime sulpher mix (Dormant Spray) to kill overwintering pests and diseases.

Bare root fruit tree pic from

- Plant new fruit trees and fruiting shrubs.
This is on our agenda this Christmas time at the Nitty Gritty, as I just got word that our bare root fruit trees are in! Here come the fruits!

Looks like hubby and I are getting each other trees, good soil ..and more work for Christmas ; )

Garlic is up!
- The garlic is sprouting ...  and so are the weeds! Run a hoe through any weeds sprouting in your garden beds now. 

- Use frost blankets, make cold frames., low tunnels or hoop houses to cover your less hardy winter crops, like lettuce, and spinach ... though even your leeks, parsnips, broccoli raab, etc.. will all thrive better in a covered bed.

Start a trench in your garden for your compostables. Plant your peas and.beans in this trench in spring.

Our wee Penelope puppy amongst some of the Brussels sprouts.

- This is a great, time of year to test and amend your garden soil. The amendments, even hot manure, will have time to break down so that your garden is ready to plant up in spring, no waiting required.

- Top dress your beds with manure or compost. Dig in lightly or let the worms do the work for you.   

 Dianthus (Sweet William) 

- Plant cold tolerant perennial seeds, esp those that tend to need cold stratification, like dianthus, lupines, columbines...

- Many seed companies have sales on at this time of year, plus combo gift packs which combine all kinds of seeds for really great deals. Order now to save.  

- Rake, chop, and collect your leaves for making leaf mould. Will make for a fabulous mulch to put around your veggies, flowers, and strawberries, too.

In the greenhouse...

- Hang yellow sticky traps in the greenhouse to monitor pests. Spray with insecticidal soap once a week for at least 3 weeks in a row, if you suspect any problems.

- Ventilate... Open doors and windows to air out the greenhouse and clear up any condensation.

- Dead head all spent flowers and dead foliage to prevent fungal issues or disease. I remove anything that looks yellow, curling, or somehow suspect immediately!

-Water only when things are dry to prevent mould, stem rot, and root rot. Plants are not actively growing right now so require just the most minimum of watering. 

- Start some paperwhites to bring indoors for blooms and fragrance over the holidays. 

- Paperwhites may be started in jars or vases with a bit of stones or marbles at the bottom.
Add water to just below the top of the stones, place bulb on top of the stones. They can also be potted up into an indoor potting mix but I love the look of the roots in clear vases.

The paperwhite bulb (or hyacinth, or amaryllis) will send roots down into the rocks to access the water.

Wishing you all a really great December!

See you soon with my yard and garden predictions for 2015!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Workshops 2015 - Food for Body and Soul

Here at the Nitty Gritty Greenhouse and Potager, I grow all sorts of heirloom vegetables for family and friends in the greenhouse and raised bed potager.

Potager (Puh-ta-zhay) is a lovely French word for kitchen garden, but is way more than just a kitchen garden.
Is a word that is all-encompassing, that simply, in just one word, describes a wonderful blend of vegetables growing with herbs, and annuals, perennials, fruiting trees, and small fruiting shrubs. A word that means a bounty of food for both body and soul.

There is nothing more gratifying than growing ones own food, and nothing more delicious.

In the greenhouse, I grow peppers, eggplants and tomatoes, as they are lovers of heat.
In the long 40' raised beds, I grow all the rest.. herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, parsley ...  heirloom carrots, beets, corn, squash, peas, beans and more... plus flowers, both annual and perennial, to make a full complimentary potager.
Is a true blend of everything, a happy companion garden that is organic and healthy, abuzz with bees, beneficial bugs and critters of all kinds.

In spring of 2015, I will be sharing some of my ideas, thoughts and skills with you all in short, informative workshops, to help you create your own idyllic potager.

These workshops will be held in the garden shop, the greenhouse or in the potager, here at the Nitty Gritty.

Mastering skills kind of workshops!

 Grow Great Peppers and Eggplants Workshop

1.  Grow Great Peppers and Eggplants Workshop

This workshop is at the end of January and first of Feb. It is held early as one needs to start real early in the year in order for them to be garden ready by early June.

Learn how to start these persnickety veggies from seed and care for them through till harvest in late summer and fall.

Choose from a variety of fabulous heirloom seeds here at the greenhouse, plant them up, and take them home. Learn how to care for them from seed to seedling to plant to harvest. Go home with the potential for 24 plants of hot peppers, sweet peppers and/or eggplants.
The price for this workshop is only $25.
There is an optional supply package of items to help you with your growing for only $40.

Dates : Sat, Jan 31
            Sun, Feb 1st
Time : 1pm - 4 pm
*snacks and bevvies included

 Grow Great Tomatoes

2. Grow Great Tomatoes

From seed to harvest, how to grow great tomatoes.
Plant them here, choosing from  a huge selection of heirloom varieties for the potential of 24 plants!
We go over the best medium to use, watering, lighting, etc..  then you take the seed trays home and grow them on at home, with how-to info for successfully taking them from start to finish.

Price : $25
* Plus, optional supply package of items to help you with your growing $40 
Date: Sat, Mar 14
          Sun, Mar 15
Time : 1pm - 4pm
*Snacks and bevvies included

If you do not have the space or place to start your own seedlings at home, or do not want the muss and fuss and mess in the house, buy your peppers, tomatoes and eggplants from me and attend this following workshop instead...

Tomato and Pepper Growing Mastered!

3. Tomato and Pepper Growing Mastered!

Now that you have your tomatoes, peppers and eggplants planted, or are ready to pop them in the ground or pot, here is a workshop on how to master growing them all summer long, till harvest, for the best results each and every year.

How to grow, prune, feed, water, stake, harvest, prevent disease and pests.

Price : $20

When : Sun, June 14th
Time : 1pm till 4pm
*includes snacks and bevvies.
 Make Great Soil
4. Make Great Soil!

Great organic soil is all about feeding the soil to feed the plants. No need to ever use additional fertilisers if you have great soil. Not many of us here on the island are able to start with fabulous soil, but I'm going to teach you how all this is possible.
Save both time and money by investing in your soil, no further feeding needed during the growing season.

Learn how to test your soil, read the results and amend accordingly to make a happy, healthy, organic fruitful garden bed.
We'll go over the ideal pH level and the best N-P-K. Learn what the deficiencies look like, what they do to your crops, and how to fix the deficiency in an organic and healthy manner.

Price : $20
Price includes a 10 test Soil Tester Kit to take home with you  ($10 value).

When : Sun, April 12th
Time : 1pm - 3pm

How to create your own fabulous potager workshops...  

At the old location, the former Nitty Gritty Potager

1. Grow Your Own Food/Kitchen Garden Workshop 

How to plan and create a fabulous, organic potager of your own. Learn how to choose plants, have good soil and grow great, happy, healthy plants

Info on planning, making, watering and fertilising, composting and companion planting. 
Everything you need to know, suitable for everyone, from the beginner to the experienced gardener.

Food for thought, for body and for soul.
This is a comprehensive workshop, lots to go over for a how-to-do your own potager from start to finish. 

Price : $50
Includes organic heirloom veggie/flower seeds to get you started.

*light luncheon and bevvies included.

Date : Sun, Mar 29th
Time 11am till 4pm

 Pic from the Internet... Edible Landscaping!

2. Edible Landscaping 

Learn how to incorporate edibles in to your existing garden beds. Add great form, texture, colour and grow lots of food for the family, too.  

No need for that garden bed made especially for your veggies, incorporate them right in with your existing beds and pots and planters.

Price : $20

When :   Sun, Mar 22nd
              Sun, June 7th

Time : 1pm till 3 pm

The Perfect Kitchen Garden ... possible?

3. How to Have The Perfect, Organic, Kitchen Garden

Okay, so we all know there is no such thing as the perfect garden, as so many things are out of our hands, but here are some tips and tricks to minimise the possibility of problems arising and increase your success rate.

Learn how to grow really healthy happy plants, prevent disease and repel pests, and have a stupendously fertile, 100% organic veggie garden, using organic methods and companion planting practises.

Price : $20
*Includes snacks and bevvies

When : Sun, May 3rd
Time : 1pm - 4 pm

 Fabulously Fun Gardening Workshops!

 Container Veggies in the Nitty Gritty Greenhouse!  

1. Container Veggies! 
How to grow all kind of great edibles in pots and planters. Looks good and tastes even better!
Find out what veggies will work, starting from seed or transplant, soil blends to use, and how to care for everything from start to finish!

Price : $20
Take home two packages of organic, heirloom seeds to get you started.
*Includes snacks and bevvies
Date : Sun, April 19th
           Sun, May 17th

Time : 1pm to 4 pm

 Tomatillo's from
Make salsa either from tomatoes or tomatillo's

2. Grow your own salsa garden! 

Grow everything you need to make your own salsa this year! This is a super fun workshop and comes with a plan, a recipe and all the plants, too! 

With each jar of salsa costing $5 or more at the grocers, it is much thriftier and tastier to grow your own salsa fixings! Make either fresh salsas all summer long, or can your own for winter eating.. or both! 

Includes tasty recipe, garden plan idea, what you need to grow, and how to grow them. 

Price : $40 with all plants included.                                                                   

Date : Sun, May 24th
Time : 1pm till 3pm
 This great homemade veggie pizza pic from
Come out for the Grow Your Own Pizza Garden Workshop!

3.  Grow your own pizza garden!  (this can also be called 'Grow Your Own Spaghetti Sauce Garden')

This is another really fun gardening idea, a great fun workshop. You kids will love to get involved with planting and caring for this garden bed, growing all their own organic pizza fixings!

Includes a couple of really great recipes, a great garden plan, what plants to grow and how to grow them successfully!
Eat yummy, organic pizzas all summer long and can sauces for all winter long.

Price : $40 with all plants included

When : May 31st
Time : 1 till 3pm

The nitty gritty details... 

Hope you all can join us at the Nitty Gritty Greenhouse and Potager this spring for these great workshops. They are informal and fun, and very chatty, as you all know that's the kind of gal I am.

To make each workshop more fun and even more informative, please bring lots of questions and feel free to dive in with them at any time.

Want to get someone a workshop as a Christmas gift? Gift certificates are available!

Here is the link to my wee webpage for more information about all the workshops and all my contact information.

Questions? Please contact me anytime. I'd love to hear from you. There is nothing bloggers love more than feedback ; ) Let's us know that someone is actually out there!

Are you a love of hanging baskets? Planters, too?

The blog post with information about all the fabulous, hands-on, plant-up-your-own basket and planter workshops in 2015 is coming soon. Can't wait? See them all HERE!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

November Ramblings

What to do in the garden and greenhouse this month?

With any luck, you were able to finish your garden bed clean up? Top dressed the beds with compost or manure? Planted your spring flowering bulbs? ... and your garlic?

If not, these things can still be done, though is harder to get enough rain free days here on the coast.

What To Do This Month .... 

Garlic - if you can still find some to plant, do so today! Immediately, get it in the ground asap!

Citrus Trees-  Bring your potted up citrus fruits into the house, the greenhouse, or the cold frame.

Spray them down with insecticidal soap, let sit for 15 minutes and then rinse off really well with a strong jet of water, both tops and bottoms of the leaves.This gets rid of the soapy residue as well as any lingering bugs that may have escaped the soap. Give special attention the the undersides of the leaves as that is where scale will be. If you can get rid of scale while it is still soft, it will be much easier to eradicate than when it has made that hard shell.

If going indoors, place in a bright light area in front of a large window or slider door.  Preferably not in a room that you keep really warm. Likes to be around 10 to 12 C degrees.

If it is going into a cold frame or unheated greenhouse, wrap with a string of the old fashioned Christmas lights that put off heat (not the new LED). If we get a cold snap that will go lower than +1 C degrees, plug in the Christmas lights, and wrap the tree with burlap or remay cloth to keep the warmth in until the cold snap is over. Remove the remay cloth and unplug the lights till next time ; )
Or, if you have no string of lights, place a floor or table lamp into the greenhouse with enough wattage to keep the temps above zero during the cold snap.

If going into a heated greenhouse, keep temps between 5 and 10 C degrees. 
Spring flowering bulbs - Plant tulip bulbs now, in pots and in the garden, for great colour next spring.

Force some bulbs for indoors, too... paper whites and hyacinths for Christmas!

Garden clean up....

- Lift glads and dahlias after the frost blackens their foliage. For the how-to, see HERE!. 
They can also be left in the ground in a zone 5 and up, but mulch them up well to keep them warm.

- Clean your ceramic and clay pots, put them under cover of some kind..  the garage, shed or eaves, to keep them from breaking this winter.

- Clean up all the leaves and debris from your shrubs, roses, and perennials.

- Rake leaves into a pile and then run them over with the lawn mower to shred. Use this leaf mulch for your winter veggies, your perennial beds, to top dress your garden beds, to make a new lasagna bed, or add to your compost bin. 

 Double Delight
- Prune roses to about 12 inches high in order to prevent breakage should we get some snow.
Is especially important to prune back your limbs on the standard roses (aka tree form roses) so that any snow load does not weigh them down and either bow the stem, or snap it. 

In the Potager ... 
- Hill up the soil around your leeks to blanch them (helps make the white tender part longer!)
- Hill your celery, too! 
- Lift your beets

Plant the following now for all winter eating or earlier spring crops ..
- Broad beans
- Peas
- Shallots
- In coldframe, plant up some lettuce, spinach, greens, kale, radishes to enjoy all winter long...

- Sweet Peas
- Calendula

 For fun and decor...

Pot up some Yuletide planters and pots for your front stoop, to add colour and interest.
Keep it simple but be unique, think outside the box!No more drooping boughs stuck into pots with bits and bobs of Christmas decor, please!

Evergreens are super awesome for the winter or year round! Love this collection below...


Or this lovely chartreuse coloured long needled pine!


Or heather...


Happy November and happy Yuletide planning, shopping and decorating

Heather and pansies