Veg Gardening, Red Flower Ideas and Old Growth Forests on the Bruce Trail

Veg Gardening – Season 3

At Friends4Trees4Life, we aim for a positive outlook and positive action on the climate crisis, in whatever ways are most meaningful and impactful, as determined by each individual.

Admittedly, some days are harder than others to keep a positive mindset as we enter day 883 and grow impatient to put this (seemingly neverending) COVID-19 pandemic behind us. That said, vegetable gardening season is back to our shared delight as newbie pandemic gardeners. Gardening is one of the few new positive experiences that we credit directly to the pandemic – were it not for the lockdowns prompting a search and openness to exploring new, safe activities to pursue – we both might have continued to miss out on the simple pleasures and joys of growing our own food that we now eagerly look forward to experiencing each year. So, here we are about to embark on the adventures of Veg Gardening Season 3!

We highlight a few tips from what we have learned in Seasons 1 and 2, through the generosity of more seasoned gardeners as well as our own trial and error, in hopes they might spark the joy of harvesting with some of our Readers who have yet to put trowel to earth.

The rewards of early harvests are highly satisfying and motivating we have found. This statement on seed packets is true and wondrous – “Plant as soon as the ground is workable.”  And, on the advice of Audrey, Catherine has now developed a taste for “quick win” radishes, keenly awaiting her first early harvest within the next few weeks!! This season, Audrey has also passed along these recipes for the “radiant radish”—helpful for a bumper crop – including one for zero waste radish leaf pesto – enjoy 😊!  

(Ricardo Cuisine –

In Toronto, Catherine began direct seed planting on May 19th. Within just one week she is joyfully witnessing new life emerge as her “crops” of radishes, beets, mixed lettuces, spinach and leeks begin to sprout up. Container pot pole beans and Yukon gold potatoes (a first) are also showing signs of life. Most satisfying and energizing as seen in the 3 photos above! So fun to start each day with “daily inspection” to see what else has emerged.

If your balcony, deck or yard space and budget permit, Catherine cannot say enough about her positive growing experience and the pleasures of planting seeds in a Veg Pod (or equivalent). The extra protection and warmth afforded to your seedlings translates into about a one-month head start on growing season in her experience. Gardening while standing up is a simple yet powerfully motivating pleasure in itself, especially if you have any back or joint issues to contend with. (To learn more about Veg Pod raised garden beds (not an endorsement) –

In Veg Gardening Season 3, Catherine is very proud to have germinated tomato plants from seeds for the second year. The new adventure this season, is that she found some cherry tomato and grape tomato seeds in a drawer, dating back to a wonderful 2013 trip to Paris! They evoked memories of tasting the most delicious tomatoes EVER at a local Paris farmers’ market. So, she was inspired to see if these 9-year old seeds might germinate. Miraculously they did!! This is where veg gardening can get a bit zen. How is it that tomato seeds (or any plant seed for that matter) store the ‘instructions’ for being a tomato plant, are able to lie dormant for nine years, and then “know to activate” and begin to grow when encountering the right conditions to promote life? Ah the humbling, inspiring mysteries of life.

Early seedlings – radishes, beets, lettuce, leeks. Photo by Catherine

Having successfully germinated her tomato plants from seed, step one, Catherine has applied what she learned from Season 2, putting her pots outside to acclimatize and “harden up” for a few days and nights, before planting them into their container pots and a few directly in the garden bed. Two lucky tomato plants are “allowed” into the coveted sunny east-facing front garden – interlopers in an otherwise shrub, cascading Japanese maple, rock and flower pollinator garden.

This coming week she will turn thoughts to planting in the two raised beds in the back garden.  Season 3 sees a doubling of growing possibilities, as the veg garden enterprise expands from one to now two raised beds. This will also be the first season that she puts into practice what she learned and started last year about crop rotation.

The idea is to divide your garden space into four planting beds (or sections), grouping like vegetables, based on their use of nutrients, in one bed. Intentionally, planting in a way that promotes soil health, and thus, hopefully, healthy plant growth and crop yields. Each year, each group moves to the next space. Every four years, the groups are back in their original spots.

The basic outline and plant grouping that Catherine is following is*:

Bed #1 (Leaf): uses nitrogen – lettuces and herbs

Bed #2 (Fruit): uses phosphorous – tomatoes, butternut squash

Bed #3 (Root): uses potassium – carrots, beets and leeks

Bed #4 (Legume): uses nitrogen – peas, potatoes and beans.

*Following the plant groupings identified on page 114 in “Tauton’s Complete Guide to Growing Vegetables and Herbs: Publishers of Fine Gardens and Kitchen Gardener: edited by Ruth Lively (2011: Newton, CT).

Red Flowers for Year of the Garden 2022

In our last blog we profiled 2022 as the Year of the Garden, with the colour red as the official colour. We promised to offer some ideas for red flowers and plants. Thanks to helpful tips found in the Leaside Garden Society June Newsletter, we offer these suggestions for planting RED:

Red Hanging Begonia

Fat Domino Mountain Fleece

Hollyhock – Brilliant Miniature

Fire King Crocosmia

Red Calla Lillies

Cherry Brandy Rudbeckia

Red Dahlia

Also, of note for Readers in the Toronto vicinity looking for an outdoor gardening experience, the annual Leaside Garden Society’s Garden Tour 2022 returns happily as an in-person event on June 18th (10:30 to 4:30 p.m., various locations), featuring eleven beautiful home gardens in the neighbourhood. If interested, see this article in the Leaside Life for more information on how to buy tickets –

Tree Trips

We welcome the return of gardening season, and soon, summer holiday season. The great Canadian outdoors beckons! For travellers to, and within Ontario, consider outdoor holiday plans that include hiking on the Bruce Trail.

Bruce Trail Conservancy

The Conservancy and Trail began as an idea in 1960 and became a reality in 1967, with the official opening of the Bruce Trail’s northern most terminus at Tobermory.

The Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Stretching 900 km from Niagara to Tobermory in southern Ontario, it provides the only continuous public access to the magnificent Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere.”

The Conservancy’s Mission and Vision resonate with Lucia and Catherine and our Friends4Trees4Life blog.

Mission:  “Preserving a ribbon of wilderness, for everyone, forever.”

Vision: “The Bruce Trail secured within a permanently protected natural corridor along the Niagara Escarpment.”

The Bruce Trail Conservancy “is both a trail association and one of Ontario’s largest land trusts, committed to caring for the Bruce Trail and to preserving land along its route. Each of the nine Bruce Trail Clubs manages a section of the Bruce Trail and is responsible for maintaining, stewarding and promoting that section.” Nine Bruce Trail Clubs  –

Visit their website for more information about hiking trails with fun names such as “Loops and Lattes” in the Hamilton area, to learn about just “Who is Bruce?” and perhaps to consider becoming a member and/or volunteer with this worthy charitable organization. (

Ontario’s Old Growth Forests

There are opportunities along the Trail and at its northern terminus, Tobermory, to see some of Ontario’s and Canada’s oldest living trees – some along the Tobermory shoreline are over 1300 years old.

Here is a Bruce Trail fact sheet on Old Growth Forests and the Bruce Trail Heritage Tree – the tenacious, cliff-dwelling ancient White Cedar – for more information (

For more information on Ontario’s old growth forests, including the fact that apparently most Ontarians live (unknowingly) within an hour’s drive to an old growth forest, here is the link to a Good Reads review on a recent book by forest ecologist Michael Henry and Peter Quinby – (GoodReads –

“Tripping the Bruce”

Finally, for your learning, viewing and relaxing pleasure, here is a link to TVO’s Immersive video documentary, “Tripping the Bruce,” with a sail along the north shore of the Bruce Peninsula that includes sightings of some ancient cliff-dwelling white cedars among its stunning imagery and coastal scenery.

Here is a one-minute videoclip preview of the three-hour sailing trip documentary –

“The stunning new documentary invites viewers onboard a sailboat for a 34-kilometre voyage along clear turquoise waters, framed by soaring limestone cliffs. Along the way, viewers will encounter some of the oldest cedar trees in Canada, white pebble beaches, the famous Grotto, the picturesque harbour town of Tobermory and some of the best-preserved shipwrecks in the world. It’s an adventure for the eyes and the spirit.”

“ ‘TRIPPING the Bruce offers an eye-popping journey filled with captivating stories of Ontario’s history,’ says John Ferri, VP of Programming and Content at TVO. ‘For anyone who is hungry for travel during this unpredictable time, this documentary inspires the thrill of exploring incredible landscapes of the Bruce Peninsula.’ ”

“…I never knew this area of Ontario was quite so beautiful and historic. It was like being in the Caribbean but with Canadian cedar trees and huge limestone cliffs,” says Mitch Azaria, Executive Producer at Good Earth Productions. “To be able to take viewers underwater to explore shipwrecks in the same smooth fashion we travel on the water was challenging and so rewarding. These wrecks are breathtaking, the water is so clear, and the wrecks are so complete. It’s very haunting to visit these nearly 200-year-old relics.”

Stream TVO Original Tripping the Bruce anytime via TVO.orgYouTube and TVO streaming services. 

Happy Gardening and Happy Trails!

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