Garden progress: setting up for sunflowers

The winds finally died down today, and we were able to prep for the giant sunflowers we will be planting.

To recap, these are being planted for several reasons. One is to have seeds for the birds over the winter (and for ourselves, if we want). Another is to create a wind break and privacy screen at the far end of the old garden area. A potential bonus is that sunflowers are supposed to be good for improving soil, and the area can use all the improvement it can get!

Normally, like anything else grown from seed, the sunflowers would be planted closer together, then thinned out after they germinate. For these giant varieties, they would be thinned out to 2 feet apart.

We’re not going to do that.

I counted the seeds in the packets, and they each have exactly 25 seeds in them.

We will be planting one seed every two feet. If they don’t all germinate and we end up with gaps… well… we’ll just end up with gaps.

I also decided to plant them in a gradual curve rather than in straight lines. To do that, I used these.

The bundle of flags I picked up had 25 in it, so that worked out perfectly. I decided on where I wanted to have the ends and pounded a stake into the ground, with another stake to help guide the paracord, (which my husband had ordered a spool of that just happened to come in the mail today) and a tape measure to place a flag every two feet.

I attached the paracord to the two stakes in the ground, with about 3 feet of slack.

For the first flag, I eye-balled where I wanted it to be in relation to the first stake. The extra stake was used to hold the paracord taut.

I then slid the stake along the cord and used the tape measure to determine where to put the next flag. I continued to do this for each flag.

The hard part was making sure the cord wasn’t getting hung up on grass and weeds, which would mess up the arc! 😀

The end result was a long, gentle curve.

One of the things I realized as I was placing the flags was, there was no way I was going to be able to use my new soil auger. I kept hitting rocks, and even bent the wire of one of the flags!

My daughters were sweet enough to take over and dig the holes while I had to do something else. Then after supper, I got back at it. The first thing was to move the stakes in the ground over about 2 feet. For the second row, I started at the opposite end.

This will give us two overlapping rows that will stretch across the entire end of the old garden area.

Digging the wholes was certainly a challenge. Not using the soil auger was definitely the right decision.

This is an example of how many little rocks we had to deal with, at each flag, just on the surface. The holes ended up being somewhat varying in widths and depths, from having to dig out more rocks, as well as pulling out rhizomes. The riding seat we found in the basement and brought out last summer came in very handy, though the terrain was rather rough to roll around on, thanks to whomever botched the plow job however many years before we moved out here. Still better than bending and stretching!

Digging out the holes was made extra interesting by another battle.

Cartoon Mosquito Clip Art Clipart Free Clipart

Squadrons of mosquitoes were dive bombing me the whole time. Mosquitoes that seemed to treat bug repellent as nothing more than a condiment that was tasty and delicious!

(image source)

The two rows overlapped for 10 holes, at about 2 feet apart.

Tomorrow, weather willing, we will add a very damp soil mix into each hole, and get those sunflowers planted. 🙂

Since the kitty pool didn’t work out, I’m thinking of taking it outside and using it to mix the bags of soil, compost and peat together. It’s big enough to fit all the bags we’ve got, and it will be much easier to mix it all together at once, than doing it in batches in a wheelbarrow. We should have enough left over to use elsewhere, too.

I’m really hoping planting the sunflowers like this works. We’re basically breaking all the “rules” doing it like this. 😀 But then, pretty much everything we’re doing for gardening this year is an experiment.

As for the kitties, they are now settled with Mom in the basement. Lots of places were set up for them to cozy up into, and the girls were diligent in making sure everything set up for them was either elevated a bit, or at least not directly touching the concrete.

This would be why.

This was the corner my older brother found full of water and starting to mold, the summer before we moved here. A rain barrel outside this corner had been allowed to overflow right against the basement wall, through most of a very wet summer. He cleaned it up and bleached it (then we bleached it again a couple of months ago), and for our past two summers here, it was so dry, we never had an issue. Now, for the first time, water is starting to seep through the concrete – and we’ve had very little rain! Which means it is as we feared; the weeping tile is probably filled with soil and no longer doing their job, thanks to the overflowing rain barrel.


Another thing that will be a big, expensive, fix.

As for the corner, we already made sure the things we put there were raised off the floor. The only exceptions were the pieces of light figures, and the legs for a folding table. The plastic light cover is not a problem, but the metal piece is now raised off the floor, and the metal table legs were move out completely.

This would explain why, when we did a temperature and humidity check in the root cellar yesterday, the humidity was almost up to 80%! The temperature had gone up to about 13C. With a potential cheese cave in mind, the humidity would be good, but the temperature is now a bit too warm. It should be interesting to see if it gets any higher over the summer.

Meanwhile, we’ve now got a fan on the corner to help try it out. The old part basement already has had the blower for a while, to try and keep things drier there, too. We still need to rebuild the mesh cover for the window on that side, so we can open it up for the summer and not have to worry about critters getting in.

Little by little, it’ll get done. 🙂

At least we were finally able to get prepping for the sunflowers checked off the to-do list!

The Re-Farmer

One thought on “Garden progress: setting up for sunflowers

  1. Pingback: First year gardens: what worked, what didn’t | The Re-Farmer

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