They say that lightly brushing your hands against tomato leaves stimulates a growth hormone in the plant encouraging radial (aka stockier) growth. I’m still searching for a study that supports this but I chose to believe it regardless, which is why I spend some time each morning lightly touching my young tomato seedlings. I’m sure the extra attention helps them grow healthier too. Plus it just smells good.
Washing your hands before touching the plants is advised, especially if you are a smoker or come into contact with cigarette smoke since it is possible to transfer the tobacco mosaic virus to tomatoes through touch. Some people are mildly allergic to tomato leaves so its probably a good idea to wash your hands after contact too. And that concludes all the hand wash advising I am going to deliver for the next year. Because advisories freak people out and I am more interested in encouraging confidence than inspiring fear.
My little plants are all coming along well. I’ve got about 10 seedlings transplanted to larger pots and more waiting to be repotted. They’re not going to go outside for another month yet so they have lots of growing to do in the meantime. It’s interesting to note how differently each variety grows from the next right from the get-go. ‘Black Pear’ and ‘Purple Calabash’ are the leaders in height with ‘Czech’s Bush’ still reigning supreme as the stockiest plant I have ever grown.
I bought another box of pansies yesterday. This new batch falls primarily within a blacks, dark purples and reds colour palette. Some are frilly.
In case you are interested they are as follows: ‘Panola Fire,’ ‘Imperial Antique Shades,’ ‘Frizzle Sizzle Mix’ (for shizzle!), and ‘Accord Black Beauty.’
To catch you up, that makes my forth purchase within the span of a week. At the very least we should be enjoying an abundance of colourful salads this season.
And that is all I have to say about that. As you were.
The weather here in Toronto these past few days has been unreasonably beautiful prompting a flurry of gardening activity on my part. My gardens never seem large enough until I have to clean them up. I have spent the last few days rediscovering all over again that, yes, gardening is a physical activity, working muscle groups that have been ignored over the long winter.
On Thursday afternoon, I detoured over to a couple of seasonal garden centres to check out where they are at with spring stock and was delighted to discover pansies and violas in new and beautiful colourways. The one that excited me most was ‘Gem Antique Shades’ a viola mix in subtle gold, lavender, and pinkish tones with some deep reds thrown in (see photo above).
I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but stocking up on these old-fashioned flowers is one of my favourite spring-time activities. While they have a reputation for being old-school cheesy I find they are the best and cheapest way to insert instant colour into a bland early spring garden. Besides the very earliest bulbs and perennials, pansies and violas are one of the very first flowers to go in the soil when the weather is still chilly at night and prone to unpredictable, random acts of snow.
And they’re edible too! I start pansies alongside other early edibles like greens and radishes, throwing them all into a bowl for the first homegrown salads of the year. While the bubblegum flavoured pansy is not your best choice in a salad, most varieties tend to have a slightly sweet, hint-o’violet flavour.
I was forced to limit my purchases to one small box since I was walking and still had to make a stop at the farmers market for produce. However, I’ve already been strategizing ways to get back for another box or two before they sell out. The box I purchased was just enough for the roof but both my community garden plot and the street garden could use a colour splash.
I thought I had certain areas of the city thoroughly mapped out based on the flowers that live there and when they bloom, but yesterday I discovered a huge field of blooming violets that I had not been aware existed. Colour has returned to my city.
If you look closely you can see a little flying insect in the foreground. The world is alive again. I am soaking it all up, not taking anything for granted.
This is what it’s looking like around here these days. Although, in all honesty, I took this photo in April 2004 so technically this is what it was looking like at this time four years ago. Which looks very much like right now.