Our 2022 garden: seedling progress, and I couldn’t resist

Wow! I was just checking something in my WordPress dashboard, and realized that this post is number 3,500 for this blog! What a chatterbox I am. πŸ˜‰

This morning, I opened up the large aquarium greenhouse, to spray the pots and add more water to the tray on the heat mat.

There were more sprrrooots!

It is still only the Cup of Moldova tomatoes that are showing, and they are growing remarkably fast!

The aquarium greenhouse set up is working quite well. Even the little one is working out. The cats had repeatedly knocked the screen window being used as a cover off the top, by jumping on the overhang. A couple of days ago, I discovered where the cats had been getting into the space in the basement that was supposed to be a dry bar, but never got finished. We’ve got all kinds of breakable things stored in there. Somehow, a cat managed to create an opening in the blocked off rafters above. While picking things back up again, I noticed a smaller screen window. It turned out to be exactly as long as the small tank, though a bit wider, so there it still an overhang. Just not much of one. It hasn’t been knocked off since.

The larger tank has my daughter’s remaining orchids in it, and they are really liking the space!

One of them is blooming with the strongest looking flowers I’ve ever seen on it!

Since I was spritzing the seed starting trays, I sprayed the orchids, too.

The second orchid is a lot smaller, and my daughter is not quite sure how it’s doing. It was an unexpected surprise to find that hanging them in front of the living room window, while safe from the cats, turned out to be too cold for them once winter hit. If I remember correctly, she lost one while it was still at the window, and another died shortly after they were transferred into the tank. These are the only two left.

I think I might get her another orchid for her birthday this spring. πŸ™‚

While on the subject of seedlings and growing things, I made an unplanned order last night. It was through someone on a hardy fruit and nut tree group that I’m on.

I got tree seeds.

The person I got them from is in Ontario. Most of his seeds are zone 4 and above, and he was sharing about his paw paw seeds, which are a zone 4 tree, though some places rate it as a zone 6. I talked to him for a bit about growing them in zone 3. Previously, I did find one tree nursery that advertised having zone 3 paw paws, but when I asked people on the group about the company, I got an overwhelmingly negative response. One of those negative responses is that they get their zones all wrong (and also had a habit of shipping dead trees!). So while it would be time saving to buy saplings from a nursery, we were going to wait on that. However, we might have better luck growing them from seed, ourselves.

The other seeds I got were tulip trees. They are another zone 4 tree, but that might just mean they grow more slowly in our zone 3, like with black walnut. I looked them up, and tulip trees can get quite huge.

The seeds we get will already be cold stratified, so when they arrive, we can go straight to germinating them. Both will be grown in containers for the first year or two, and we can overwinter them in the sun room or the old kitchen, until they are ready to be transplanted permanently.

Because of their large size at maturity – potentially 70-130 ft/21-40m tall (for comparison, the spruces in the grove near our house are about 65ft/20m tall), with 30-60 ft/9-18m wide canopy – if we get any surviving tulip trees, they can be planted either along the north property line, or well to the south of the outer yard, to be part of our shelter belt. These would be a tree for the pollinators and wildlife and, potentially, for a valuable wood.

The paw paws are a much smaller tree, and I can see these being planted in the old garden area, further from the house, where we are planning to plant berry bushes, fruit and nut trees already. They can reach 15-25 ft/4-7m in height, and 15ft/4m wide. Growing from seed, we’re looking at about 6 years, before we can expect any fruit.

Buying trees as saplings may shorten the time, but buying the seeds are a lot cheaper. We’ll be getting a dozen paw paw seeds and twenty tulip tree seeds, all for less than $20 – and that includes shipping. Even if we have an only 50% germination rate, that’s potentially 16 trees. The only thing I’d want to buy special is extra deep pots to start them in, to have room for their tap root. I already have the instructions for how to get them started, care for them in their containers, and transplant them.

As for growing in our zone, the person I’m buying them from can only guarantee them to zone 4. He’s never had anyone try the tulip tree in zone 3, however he’s had someone successfully grow their paw paws in zone 2b, getting hit with temperatures as low as -40C/-40F without extra protection, and surviving. Even in the group, when I’d asked in the comments about zone 3 for the paw paws, I had someone share that they’re growing them successfully in zone 3, though their seedlings are still too young to be producing fruit, yet.

I do hope this works out. If not, however, we’ll only be about a few bucks for a total of 32 tree seeds. Unlike the mulberry tree we got, which cost over $60 for the one sapling, got killed by an unusual, out of season, cold night, then even the remaining stem got eaten by deer.

I figure it’s worth taking the chance.

And if we’re going to be growing food trees, with how long they take before they mature enough to produce, we need to be starting as soon as we can.

The Re-Farmer

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