Urban Agriculture in action


Tereska and I had the chance to tour the city in the last weeks visiting inspiring and innovative projets around the city of Montreal. We wanted to share a few lines on these initiatives that are blossoming (pun intended). Urban Agriculture in Montreal carries a real spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation and these are just a  few of them we had the opportunity to discover.

La Ligne verte has been making headlines in the local Montreal news. This urban farm on the rooftop of the IGA is breathtaking. Having a farm on the rooftop of a food market is so logical (but not simple!) and makes you dream of a world filled with delicious heirloom tomatoes on every street corner.  This projet stands strong as the largest organic vegetable garden on a rooftop in Canada. Beyond the fact that this garden is on the roof, its present a unique situation where a small organic producer is working intimately with a big grocery chain - a situation offering tons of opportunity for future urban developments.

Nestled in the east-end of Montreal, is Paysage Solidaire. A organisation that is greening the neighbourhood by producing delicious organic vegetables that they sell at local markets and to restaurants in the area. They have number of gardens around the neighbourhood. Some are dedicated to production and some with an added educational twist. This organisations offer lots of volunteering and workshop opportunities if you are interested in getting your hands dirty!

Have you had the chance to visit the urban jungle on the roof of the Palais des Congrès. This urban agriculture site is researching a variety of urban agriculture methods. From vertical strawberry installations, to urban vineyards, to green rooftops, to balcony gardening solutions - they are testing it all. If you have not yet had the chance to explore this space created by the Laboratoire en agriculture urbaine it is a must.

Quartier nourricier is an urban greenhouse project that is much more than a simple greenhouse. A collaborative initiative between longstanding local organisation Carrefour alimentaire centre-sud and Sentier Urbain, a space that use to an old warehouse has been completely transformed into a beautiful greenhouse and community garden. This dynamic space radiates of the success of this collaborative projet. The greenhouse space is filled with busy bees hard at work  producing tasty microgreens.

Urban Seedling is now a member of Grand Potager a community organisation that has transformed the Verdun greenhouses into an Urban Agriculture and Food Security Ressource Centre that brings together local organisation to collaborate on creating creative and innovation lasting projects in food security and urban agriculture in Verdun. A organic garden centre, workshops, demonstrations gardens, aquaponic and innovative exemples of growing methods can all be found on site.

Visiting all the great projects leaves us inspired for what is to come. At a time when the international news has been challenging, it is great to remember our power and that localize actions can have rippling effects on our communities and natural surroundings. In this spirit, we invite you to the celebration being hosted by Grand Potager at the greenhouses on October 13th. Get to know and discover this young vibrant organisation. Check out the event by clicking here.

Keep on gardening!




Preparing for the fall garden

Fall Garden

Once you have harvested your beets, carrots and oignons, we encourage all of you to fill the empty squares in your garden with leafy-greens like lettuces and asian greens. This will help you maximize your garden space and the rest of the season.

These leafy greens need your love and attention. Cut back any branches from other plants that could be shading your new leafy-greens. They need lots of sunshine to grow. The well established plants in your garden and in the rest of your yard can create a lot of shade for your fresh new plants.

Slugs are also on the hunt for tender young things to eat. Your new leafy greens are especially susceptible. They can decimate your entire planting in one night. You can remove slugs manually from the garden, construct beer traps. If you have really voracious slugs in your garden, a ferrous sulfate product like Safer's Slug and Snail Bait sprinkled among your seedlings can be a great way to protect your new plants.

At this time of year fruiting vegetables will start to focus their energy into ripening their fruits. Leaves may start to turn yellow, or some may start to wilt. This has been a particularly difficult year for diseases like Septoria leaf spot in Tomatoes and Powdery Mildew in cucumber and squash. This a good time to do a garden clean up. Remove dead or diseased leaves and plants and dispose of them in the garbage - not the compost. Keeping the garden clean reduces pests and disease. Slugs love debris so keeping your yard and garden clean will help to control slug populations as well.

The gardening season is not over! The fall is an even better time to grow leafy greens than spring as they love the cool weather, and this cool weather keeps them from getting bitter and going to seed

Transform your harvest!

Preparing Fermented Vegetables

Click here to buy your tickets

In this hands-on workshop, you’ll learn the basics of home-made vegetable ferments. You’ll leave with your very own jar of kraut and master recipes to get you started fermenting at home!

What you will learn:
-A brief history of fermentation and culturing
-Tips on fermentation vessels and storage
-The food safety of fermented foods
-The health benefits of a healthy intestinal flora, microorganisms and pre-digestion
-Learn about Sauerkraut and Lacto-Fermented Vegetables

Please bring a small cutting board, knife, and your favorite spices.

Fermenting foods is a fun and simple process. It's much more than just a way of preserving food: it's a method of self-sufficiency, a crucial historical component to all agricultural movements, and utterly delicious. Taster samples included.

Summer living

Summer gardening

Hot peppers make a delicious fermented treat! Come learn how to make these pickled delights at our fermentation workshop.

To harvest peppers, hot or sweet, wait until they have turned colour and harvest by snipping the the stem with a pair of garden shears or scissors. Did you know that there is no such thing as a green pepper? You can harvest them green if you prefer, but all peppers will change colour if you let them ripen. Harvest eggplants the same way, once they have reached the desired size, and become slightly less hard, snip the stem.  Your peppers and eggplants are sun loving crops so make sure to clear around them and cut back any tomato vines that may be shading them.

We have been seeing lots of powdery mildew in the gardens. Remember to remove any diseased leaves from cucumbers, zucchini and tomato plants. As needed spray your affected plants with a baking soda solution every 2 or 3 days to keep disease under control. Powdery mildew  is present in many gardens and it is important to act quickly to keep it under control.

Tomatoes will start ripening soon. Cut off any extra branches to focus energy onto the ripening of the fruit. Make sure to support plants with extra watering and weekly applications of fertilizer. Chicken manure is great for the extra calcium content. We also like to use Kelp fertilizer at this time of year.

Harvest onions, garlic, beets and carrots. We will fill those extra spaces in the gardens at the beginning of September with leafy-greens seedlings. Beans and peas are ready to harvest as well. The more you pick, the more the plant will produce. If your pea plants are producing less or starting to yellow, you can remove them from the garden.

Root vegetables are ready

Root vegetables - onions and potatoes

The persistent rain and cooler weather are behind us, so it is very important to be watering your garden daily. A good long soak in the early morning is best. If that is not possible, water later in the day. Watering at high noon means that much of the water will be lost to evaporation.

Slugs have started to become problematic as well. Hunt them down in the evening by looking on the underside of leaves and remove them from the garden. You can also dig a small yogurt container into the garden in a couple of key locations and fill with beer to drown the slugs. Empty regularly. If your slug population is out of control, you may have to resort to a product like Safer's Slug and Snail Bait. These ferric sodium granules are very effective are approved for organic gardening.

The time has come to start harvesting beets and carrots. To know if they are ready start by investigating the size of the root with your finger in the soil, if they large enough to your taste, pull them up. Continue to harvest them as needed. Don't forget that the green tops of beets, carrots and onion are all edible and delicious.

Onions and garlic are ready to harvest when the leaves start to yellow and fall over. Pull them up, brush off the soil and lie them out in the sun for 1 to 2 weeks to let them cure for storage. Store in a cool, dark place or eat them right away. Potatoes are also ready for harvest. Dig up the tubers to make space for some more leafy greens to plant in a couple of weeks.

Carrot tops have a taste reminiscent of parsley and can be eaten raw in salads, sautéd with garlic, olive oil along with your beet tops, kale and Swiss chard. You can also or cook carrot greens into a soup or a stock now that the weather seems to be cooling off.

Beets greens taste a bit like beets and Swiss chard. Harvest them as you need them, and remember that beet greens are absolutely delicious in a sauté, in a quiche, or raw in a salad.

The very rainy and mostly cold weather has been hard on the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants.

Come and learn how to transform those tasty vegetables into delicious fermented treats. Join us on August 25 for a fermentation workshop at the Verdun Greenhouses. Make your first jar of sauerkraut and lean master recipes to get you started on your home fermentation journey! Sign up by clicking here and learn more about this great workshop.

Cucumber spotlight!

Organic blueberries

And other fruiting veggies

Cucumbers require hot weather and lots of water! Once they take off cucumbers grow quickly. They are vining crops and require a trellis, stake or rope on which to grow. At Urban Seedling, we grow three varieties: lebanese cucumber, field cucumber and dragon egg cucumber. Cucumber are planted one per square foot. Make sure that there are no leaves or weeds shading your plants.

Inconsistent watering is a problem for cucumbers and will develop bitter or weirdly shaped fruit. Cucumbers have very shallow roots so keep soil moist. Avoid watering the leaves of the plant to keep leaf disease such as powdery mildew at bay. Remember to remove any diseased leaves from cucumbers. As needed spray your affected plants with a baking soda solution for control.

Insects are key to pollinate your cucumbers. If your plant blooms and does not produce fruits you may not have enough insect activity and need to pollinate your cucumbers by hand using a soft paint brush. Move pollen from male to female flowers with the tip of your paintbrush.

Cucumber beetles love to feed on young cucumbers plants and carry bacteria and disease in their mouths. The beetle spreads this bacteria by chewing on the plant. Once infected, plants die quickly.You can prevent the beetle by hunting them and removing them from the garden, installing yellow sticky traps or using a floating row to protect your young cucumber plants.

As soon as your fruiting veggies are big enough to your taste harvest them! The more you pick, the more the plant will produce. Young tender veggies taste better too. Fruiting vegetables need the most heat and sun, so make sure to give each plant enough space by keeping your garden well weeded, and cutting or tying up any large leaves or branches that are overshadowing your plants.

There is no such thing as a green pepper! You can pick them green, but all peppers will change colour to red, orange, yellow or brown once they are ripe. Sweet peppers are sweeter, and hot pepper hotter if you wait.

Root vegetables are going to be ready to harvest over the next few weeks. To figure out if they are ready, simply investigate the size of the root with your finger. If it is large enough to your taste, pull it out! Harvest them as you need them, vegetables are always best when they are eaten fresh-picked.

Roquette, Brassicas, Kraut and Vingears

Organic Flowers

The most important thing to remember at this time of year is to make space for each plant in your garden. Any leafy greens or brassicas that have gone to seed (really tall and making flowers and seed pods) need to come out of the garden. Remove any large leaves that are overshadowing other plants. Any radish needs to come out of the garden. Most lettuces have gone to seed and need to come out as well.

If you have brocoli in your garden it is likely going to flower. Harvest now! Cabbages are also ready to harvest at this time. Harvest before they start to split. Splitting usually happens after a big rain fall. Harvest heads as soon as possible. Make a delicious kraut to enjoy this summer and fall with all your barbecued veggies and meats. All you need is salt and cabbage! Check out our fermentation workshop this fall.

If you  have peas in your garden, harvest time is here. Harvest your peas early and often! The more you pick, the more you will get. Enjoy them while the harvest lasts. Remember peas shoots also make a delicious addition to a salad. Continue helping your tomatoes onto the trellis as they grow, gently twining them onto your trellis netting. It is important to remove any suckersthat you cannot find space for on the trellis.

The roquette (arugula and sylveltta) is flowering white and yellow flowers. Make sure to cut back flowers to keep your plants producing. Cut back the flowering stocks at the base and do not forget to enjoy the flowers in your next salad!

If you have not harvested your garlic scapes do so now! It is important to remove them all from the garlic plant so that the plant's energy goes into producing bulbs instead of flowers. The scape is the curled end above the top leaves. Simply snip off. You can chop it up to add to any dish, throw them on the bbq or blend all of them together to add to a pesto. They are a delicious delicacy - so be sure to enjoy!

The herbs are growing nice and big now. Use them to prepare aromatic and savoury vinegars. Harvest on a dry day, chop herbs and cover with apple cider vinegar, white or red wine vinegar. Let it infuse for 6 weeks, stain and pour it into a nice bottle. Great for marinades, salad dressings and they make a wonderful gift! This glowing nasturtium vinegar has a bit of a kick but delicious for those who like it spicy!

Nasturtium Vinigar

Organic Herbs

Tomato tangles, herbs and leafy greens 

Leafy Greens

Lots of herbs are ready for harvest. Cut back flowers to keep them on producing. Eat your herbs fresh or pick them on dry day (if we ever get one!) for drying to keep in your pantry. Harvest the tops of your basil to keep your basil plants bushy. Remove an entire section of leaves at a time. You will see two sets of smaller leaves on the stem - those will become entire branches post harvest. This will make your entire plant much bushier. To see how, check out my video.

Save your peppers and eggplants from the tomato tangles to come.  As they grow get your tomato plants  up on the trellis to free up space in your vegetable garden. To get the tomatoes on to the trellis, you gently wrap the growing end of the vine around the trellis netting. Any branches that do not fit on the trellis need to be cut off so they don't crowd the other plants in your garden. Make sure to also remove suckers to focus the energy of the plant. Suckers are the small branches that grows in the crotch of the other tomato branches.  Watch my video to identify suckers.

Most lettuces will have started to bolt. Bolting means that they start to produce a long spike that is a bit alien looking. The lettuce then turns bitter and is less tasty. Harvest them and clear up that space for your peppers and eggplants. Continue to harvest kale and Swiss chard by cutting outer leaves and leaving inner leaves. Bok choy can be harvest as a whole head. For tatsoi you can remove the outer leaves and leave inner ones or harvest the whole head for a stir fry. Add those greens to your salads, stir frys, eat them as a side dish or add them to soups.

Stay on the look out for leaf miner and flea beetles in the garden. Reduce risk of pest and disease by keeping your garden clean remove and dead or yellowing leaves. And of course your presence is the best method of prevention so get out and brave the rain and enjoy your garden! 

Happy harvesting and  weeding! 😉
-Urban Seedling

Organic GardenOrganic Garden

The salad days

Salad Harvest

If you haven't planted your garden yet, we have an end of season seedling sale 2$ per plant at our Garden Centre. We will be closed for St. Jean, but open on Sunday the 25th.

For the early-May planters, you should be doing tons of harvesting every day! With all the hot weather and rain, even early-June gardens are producing lots and lots of leafy greens. Harvest leafy greens by cutting off larger outer leaves to leave the inner leaves to grow for a continual harvest. Keep leafy greens well harvested away from peppers and eggplants if your plants are sharing squares at this time of yearIf your peppers and eggplants do not have lots of clear space around them, they will not grow. 

The same thing goes for tomatoes and cucumbers. All plants need access to lots of sun. It is important to clear space in front of the plants that are along the trellis. Keep your garden well weeded and keep on harvesting everyday! Tomatoes have been planted in front of peas to share trellis space. Usually we would take the pea vines out before putting the tomato plants on the trellis, but because of our cold, wet spring the peas are not as far along as they need to be for this to work.

This year we will leave in the pea vines to share the trellis space with the tomato plants. You can also remove the pea vines and eat the leaves as pea shoots (delicious!) to make more room for the tomatoes on the trellis. Start gently wrapping the growing tip of the tomatoes around the trellis each week. It's important to start removing the suckers off of your tomato plants so that they don't take too much energy away from producing your tomatoes, and to keep control over your garden.

Garlic scapes are ready to harvest. It is important to remove them all from each garlic plant so that the plant's energy goes into producing bulbs instead of flowers. The scape is the curled end above the top leaves, see photo below. Remove and enjoy - they are delicious!

If you have broccoli, make sure to harvest the head before it opens into hundreds of little yellow flowers! The florets (small broccoli heads on the side of the main stalk) will be ready in 2 or 3 weeks. Bokchoy, mizuna, arugula and tatsoi are starting to flower in some sunnier gardens as well. Harvest the entire plant to eat while it is still tasty. The flowers are delicious too!

Did you remember to thin your beets and carrots? Make sure each one of these little seedlings has an inch or two between plants to form a nice root. Young shoots are a delicious addition to your daily garden salad.

It is important to keep on top of Slugs and leaf miner populations early in the season as well. The leaf miner can wipe out your chard or beet crops if left unchecked. Remove affected leaves and destroy. Check backs of healthy leaves for eggs and scrape off with your nail. It is important to get slugs out of the garden right away. They grow quickly and multiply! Use beer traps and hand picking to get out ahead of the population explosion. Watering in the morning instead of at night can helps to reduce slug populations.

It is important to water your garden deeply every day that it is not raining. Ideally it would be a morning watering so that the water has a chance to penetrate deeply instead of evaporating, and to avoid damaging the plants under a hot noon-day sun. Small, yellowing plants are almost always due to not enough water to support the rapid growth on the hot, sunny days.

You have the opportunity to get on top of your weeding while the weeds are still small. Weed early and often to avoid competition for your vegetables, and a lot of extra work. Small weeds are way easier to pull than huge ones. Weeding early and often makes maintaining your garden a lot easier, and it also helps to keep pests such as slugs and snails out of the garden.

We've seen some flea beetle damage (round small holes) in the bokchoy, mustard greens and other leafy greens. Applications of Diatomaceous Earth or Black Soap and installing Yellow Sticky Traps are effective ways of controlling these pests. The damage is cosmetic -- the affected plants are still edible and delicious!

Harvesting your garden

Garden harvesting

To beat the cool, overcast spring we've left 3 out of 4 leafy-greens per square foot, and replaced the 4th with a pepper or an eggplant. You will have to clear out the rest of the square to give your summer plants room to grow, but for now they can share to give you a little more spring harvest. Radishes are ready to pick around 25 days after you plant them. Harvest them now to enjoy them while they are at their best and to make room for your other veggies (cucumbers) to grow.

Important maintenance tasks right now: Water on days where it is not raining, water deeply ideally in the morning. Weed early and often to keep small weeds from getting big and taking over your vegetable garden. Also remove any diseased or damaged leaves from any of your plants to keep your garden clean producing well.

Harvest your leafy greens by removing the outer leaves. The small inner leaves will continue to grow for a continual harvest. Be sure to remove the entire leaf right down to the bottom. Step outside with your salad bowl and a leaf from all your greens: roquette, lettuce, bok choy, tatsoi, kale, swiss chard and rapini for your daily garden salad. Some of these greens are starting to go to seed. You can pick the flowers and eat them as well! Pinching out the flowers will help keep the greens tasting better longer.

Slugs are starting to come out. At this time of year they are still small. It is important to get them out of the garden right away. They grow quickly and multiply! Use beer traps and hand picking to get out ahead of the population explosion. Watering in the morning instead of at night can greatly reduce slug populations as it makes it harder for them to get around at dusk on the dry soil surface.

The leaf miners are back. They cause the burn-like damage on Swiss chard and beet greens. You can save your plants by removing any damaged leaves right away, and inspecting the underside of healthy leaves and remove any eggs.

The transition from Spring to Summer

Spring to Summer

Since this spring has been particularly cold and overcast, germination and growth of seed-planted crops like peas, carrots, beets and radish has been slow. We have some strategies to leave the time for your spring plants to grow longer, and also get the summer seedlings in right away. We will be in touch three days before to let Garden Replant clients know when we are coming. Sadly, we've had a crop failure on our Rosemary. We will be replacing any Rosemary in your garden plans with extra basil.

  • Remove one lettuce, spinach or bok choy per square to make space for the Pepper or Eggplant as per your garden plan.
  • If you don't care too much about radish, remove them and sauté leaves-and-all for a stir fry. If you love radishes, clear out a few to make space for the cucumbers and leave the rest to grow.
  • If you don't care too much about the peas, harvest the young shoots for your salads to make room for the tomatoes. If you love peas, let them grow up the trellis. We will be leaving them in all season this year, so they will be sharing trellis space with the tomatoes.

Fortunately all the rain has been great for the leafy greens. Please start harvesting the outer leaves. Simply step outside with your salad bowl and pick a couple of leaves from each plant for a continual harvest. Make sure to weed early and often to keep your garden clean and clear.

It's time to order your Trichogramma (parasitic wasps) to control Cabbage Moths and Nematodes to control Japanese Beetle and White Grub. Please respond to this email to order. We've started to see some of the white cabbage moths flying around some gardens.

When we plant our tomato plants, we take advantage of a super tomato trick. Tomatoes can grow roots all along the stem. We remove the bottom couple of leaves (so they don't rot underground) and plant the tomato super deep so that only 5 or 6 inches are sticking out the top. This will give the tomato plant a much bigger root structure and make for a more vigorous and productive plant.

Make sure to thin your carrots and beets. This means enough space around each plant for it to grow well. Carrots need 2 inches (5cm), beets need 3 inches (7cm). Choose the best seedling and remove the rest. It is possible to transplant if they are still small. Just make sure to do it quickly and carefully.

The Spring Garden

Spring Garden

The spring garden are starting to grow! You can remove your row cover now that the days are warmer. Keep it close by though - you should put it back on the garden if temperatures dip below 4 degrees at night.There are some key maintenance task and harvesting techniques that will help keep your garden healthy and happy.

If you radishes are not up yet, they should be coming up soon. Thin radishes to 16 in square foot with 2 inches between each radish seedling. Radishes should not be clumped together in like in the photo below. Watch my video on thinning and transplanting radishes here to help with you with this process.  Radishes are ready to harvest around 25 days after planting. To check if they are ready, investigate the size of the root with your finger.

Beet and carrots take longer to germinate but they will be coming up soon. Make sure to thin your carrots and beets. This means enough space around each plant for it to grow well. Carrots need 2 inches (5cm), beets need 3 inches (7cm). Choose the best seedling and remove the rest. It is possible to transplant if they are still small. Just make sure to do it quickly and carefully. For more details check out my video here.

Soon you can look forward to harvesting your leafy greens.  Once your leafy greens are big enough to your taste, you should start harvesting the outer leaves. Simply step outside with your salad bowl and pick a couple of leaves from each plant for a continual harvest.

Now that the sun is finally out and the days are warming up, it is really important to water, water, water. The most common reason vegetable gardens in a sunny location underperform is a lack of water. When you water make sure to water deeply - at least 20 min for a 10'x3' garden. If regular watering is an issue I suggest getting a simple irrigation system set up. It can be as easy as a weeping-hose or sprinkler on a timer. Set the timer for a good hour from 4:00 - 5:00am so that you don't loose water to evaporation in the hot sun.