Our 2022 garden progress: As the saying goes…

“Make hay while the sun shines.”

Except the sun isn’t shining, and we’re raining again, but I did get to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity.

This morning was mild enough that I was able to get our transplants outside to harden off. I also took advantage of the lack of rain to work on the old kitchen garden some more, trying to get as many roots as I could out of the L shaped bed, then in a couple of tiny little plots we may or may not plant in. In one of them, I noticed asparagus coming up! There’s just the one plant there, but I knew there were more on the opposite side of the garden, so I went looking. Sure enough, there were some spears coming up there, too. These are asparagus that have been there since before my parents bought the property, in the early 1950’s! I weeded around them as best I could, then checked under the straw much of the purple asparagus bed we planted last year. Still nothing there, that I could see.

After the transplants were brought back indoors, I started to settle in with “breakfast” (it was past noon. LOL) and check my computer, when I got a message telling me about someone who was offering up some carboard for mulch. There is a food waste reduction program that collects food that cannot be sold for human consumption for one reason or another, and distributes it to people to feed to their animals, thereby keeping it out of the landfills. Much of this is in cardboard boxes, which can pile up pretty fast! I was able to get in touch with this person and, before I knew it, I was heading out to pick up some cardboard!

That muddy spot on the road near our intersection is getting worse. With the upcoming expected rain, I’m not sure we’ll be able to get through for much longer. We shall see.

The person I met up with was absolutely awesome, and we ended up chatting for quite a while about the things they’re doing on their farm. I was really interested to see some of their fencing; particularly their buck and pole fence. No post holes required! That would be ideal for the temporary fencing we want to make. I just showed the girls pictures and talked about it, and they thought it was a good style of fencing to use, too. Over the next while, as we work on cleaning up dead trees and collapsed sheds, we’ll set aside the materials we’ll need to make them.

The town I went to, to pick up the cardboard, is a town I’ve never been to before. One of many places we drive past on the highway, see the signs and think “gee, we ought to go there one of these days”, and never manage it! While there, I drove past an antique store and flea market that happened to be open today (they are open only 3 days a week), so I had to stop by on the way home.

One of my favourite things about visiting antique stores is seeing all the stuff that I grew up using. Like this.

We used a saw like this to cut our firewood. We had an old tractor with a wheel on it that the belt attached to, to power the saw. That thing made short work of a big job!

There were so many things in there that I either used as a child, or that we have here at the farm, including a couple of pink glass antique oil lamps, like one we’ve had here at the farm for as long as I can remember. It’s still tucked away in a storage space near the ceiling in the kitchen, though we’ve had to block it off to keep the cats out of it. Ours is missing the chimney, though. I asked about it, and was told they are VERY hard to come by. They are a very different size and shape. There were a lot of other really awesome things there. I definitely want to come back with the girls.

Once at home, I backed the van up near the garden – unfortunately tearing up some of the lawn in the process, because parts of it are so muddy! At first, we were thinking of leaving the van there,, with the cardboard stored inside, but I knew it was going to start raining soon. So, while the girls started supper, I went ahead and started going through the boxes to take off any pieces of tape or labels that would come off.

I was able to set up the rolling seat and a garbage bag under the lift gate, and mostly stayed out of the rain once it started. 😀

Yeesh. Laying that black tarp down really doesn’t do much to kill off the grass and weeds. Normally, I would have taken the weed trimmer to the ground, first, not our weed trimmer is corded. This far from the outlet on the house, I’d have had to use at least a couple of cords, and there’s a puddle of water in the way. Not going to happen! The tarp I took off is now pegged down on top of the second tarp. The two of them together will do a better job in killing off the grass, until we can start laying cardboard down under there, too.

I was able to lay down such a nice, thick layer of cardboard! When we were laying cardboard down under previous beds last year, we had to be rather parsimonious about it, because we just didn’t have all that much cardboard. It was better than nothing, but not enough to make a really good weed barrier. Some of these boxes are made out of a really thick cardboard, and I was able to overlap the edges really well, too.

It has been left like this to be rained on. Normally, we’d be taking a hose to it, to saturate the cardboard before laying the straw on it. It can take a really long time for the cardboard to get wet all the way through. It would take even longer, with such thick cardboard and so many layers. These boxes had been stored outside, though, so some of them were already damp, which helps.

This is all the cardboard that’s left!

I’ve already been offered more, if I want it. Which I will happily accept! We’re still supposed to get rain all night, with a mix of rain and snow by tomorrow morning. At least now the forecasters are saying the rain will stop tomorrow morning, and we aren’t expected to get more for the next 5 days. That should give the road enough time to dry up and be more accessible, I hope. The municipality might even have a chance to fix it before we get another expected 4 days of rain! At least it’ll be warmer by then, and we won’t have to worry about snow.

Speaking of which…

The high raised bed now has its plastic cover, to hopefully keep things a bit warmer if it snows. Both the onions and spinach under there should be able to handle the cooler temperatures, but I’d rather give them what protection I can.

After taking the picture, I noticed the plastic already has a hole in it! It’s a pretty thin plastic. Or perhaps the hole was already there, right off the roll. This was the last of a roll, so the very end of it was a bit mashed up.

This should be the only time we’ll want to cover the high raised bed with plastic. After this, if we ever need to cover it again, it’ll be with netting or something like that, to keep the critters or the insects out.

As you can see in the back on the left, the garlic here is doing really well! The other two beds are still barely showing, and very few of them. I’m starting to wonder if I’d planted them too deep or something, though these ones were planted at the same depth, so… I don’t know. We’ll see how they do as things warm up.

This was not the only step ahead we got in our garden and growing plans. While I was out, my daughter started digging holes for planting trees in. Holes that are now half full of water, but that’s to be expected right now. Hopefully, that won’t be an issue once the trees actually get here and we start transplanting them.

I’m so glad I was able to head out to get this cardboard today! Having a flexible schedule, and the girls to take care of things while I’m gone, is something I really appreciate. That and people like Wolfsong, who let me know about the cardboard being offered up. Thank you so much! You’re awesome!

The Re-Farmer

We caught a break!

Early this evening, the rain finally stopped, the sun came out, and the temperature warmed up several degrees higher than forecast. We took advantage of the break and quickly put the transplants outside to harden off for a couple of hours. Normally, I would have added an extra hour, but it was getting too late in the day for that. (I’m trying something different again with my photos; please let me know if you have any problems viewing them.)

There is SO much water all over the yard. Even areas that don’t seem to have puddles in them have standing water, hidden by whatever green growth is managing to emerge.

One of the things I wanted to get done was reinforce the hoops on the high raised bed. The problem was, I didn’t have anything long enough. So I made do.

We have some bamboo stakes that are getting pretty old and fragile, including some broken ones, so I was able to tie one full length one together with a shorter one, then attached it to the hoops. It’s now ready to have some plastic put over it, tomorrow evening, before the temperatures drop low enough for possible snow.

I also had a chance to clean up one side of last year’s squash tunnel. We’d only managed to do the other side in the fall, before the snow arrived. This year, we will be planting pole beans to climb the tunnel.

Here we’ve marked the future sea buckthorn locations. You can see the gaps in the lilac hedge, where the deer are getting through. It’ll take a few years, but the sea buckthorn should fill that in nicely.

Here, where the corn and sunflower beds were last year, we’ve marked where the silver bison berry will go. (At some point, we’ll even take out the old sunflower stems the deer didn’t finish off. :-D) Each will be about 3 feet apart in their rows. We are still debating how far apart to make the rows – certainly not the 16 feet recommended! We were thinking 4 ft apart at first, but might go with 5 feet apart. We also changed our minds about the 2 highbush cranberry, and will be adding those to the far end of the the bison berry. One of the reasons these are being planted here is for a privacy screen, which will eventually extend as far as the row of crab apple trees. The saw horse you can see in the distance is next to the last one of them in the row. The cranberry bushes will help extend the privacy screen a bit, and we will plant other things over the next few years to keep extending it.

The branch pile in the distance is completely surrounded by water right now.

Where I’m standing to take the above photo is roughly where the phone line is buried, so we will be leaving an open lane, wide enough for a large vehicle or heavy equipment to drive through, as we plant more trees and shrubs.

As the berry bushes we plant fill out and start creating that privacy screen we want, we’ll start doing more to clean up the fence line, which is in serious need of repair. It has trees growing on either side of it, some of which will be taken out completely, while others will have their lower branches pruned back. There are a few dead trees in there, too. In one area, there are wild Saskatoon bushes. I want to clean up around them so that they are not as crowded, and have better growing conditions.

Gosh, it felt so good to be able to get at least a couple of hours of work done outside! I’m just loving being able to finally do some decent manual labour again!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: first spinach sown, and onions transplanted

It was a bit cooler and overcast this morning, but still pleasant enough to get the plants outside for a couple of hours.

I am really happy with the newest seedlings. This tray has the cucumbers in the left half, with the Teddy and Red Kuri winter squash on the right. It took so long for the winter squash to germinate, I wasn’t sure they’d make it, but we have 100% gemination!

The purple peas in this tray are getting nice and big. The summer squash in the other cells took a long time to germinate, too, but they seemed to get a boost after I put the warming mat under them. It’s hard to see, but even the green zucchini is finally germinating, next to the peas. I thought the Magda squash had started to germinate, but not quite yet. We had less success with those the last 2 years we planted them, too. Our first year, we had only 2 surviving plants. Last year, there was just the one. Magda squash just seems to have a harder time of it.

So far, only 2 of the yellow zucchini have germinated. Last year, we had some germinate, but when they started producing fruit, they were green, and we no yellow zucchini at all. I’m hoping that won’t happen again, this year!

The transplants seem to be quite liking their time outdoors, and even the newest little tomatoes in the foreground are looking generally robust.

We have 3 Crespo squash – and they are budding! Would you look at that!

I considered pinching them off, but these first flowers would be all male flowers. The next batch of buds should be both male and female. So I’m thinking to just leave them? I don’t know. There is very little information out there on how to grow Crespo squash. They do seem to be very enthusiastic growers!

While moving the blooming Wonderberry in and out of the sun room, we have been brushing the 3 plants against each other, in hopes to pollinate them, just in case. I don’t know how if they are self pollinating or not. Nowhere I’ve looked about them even mentions pollinating.

The transplants were left out for 2 hours today, which gave me time to work on our very first direct sowing – and transplanting – in the high raised bed.

The first thing to do was dig trenches through the wood chip mulch, so that things could be seeded/planted into the soil beneath. We have three varieties of spinach seeds from last year, and for this bed, I chose Lakeside, which is the fastest maturing variety of the three. The tray of onions I grabbed are the red onions, Tropeana Lunga, which should look like this when they mature…

This image belongs to Heritage Harvest Seed. You can see what else we ordered with these, here.

By planting the onions around the spinach, they should help with keeping away harmful insects, and maybe even keep hungry critters away. The high raised bed is buffet height for deer, though, so we will be covering them later.

There is space to do a second planting of spinach in two weeks, which will also finish off the seeds we’ve got left of this variety.

The largest Tropeana Lunga seedlings filled the two outside rows, but there were still a few tiny seedlings left. The size that would be considered not worth planting. I hate to just toss seedlings, though, so I ended up sticking them in the soil at the base of the raised bed on the north end. When this was a low raised bed, it was quite a bit longer, so the soil is softer on that end. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. We don’t have a lot of this variety, so I’m hoping to be able to overwinter a couple of bulbs to go to seed next year.

I was left with nice, soft potting soil in the tray the onions seedlings were growing in, so I used that to gently top the spinach seeds, and put just a little around each onion plant, more to keep the wood chips from falling onto them than anything else.

I have to say, I LOVE the high raised bed to plant in! It was completely pain free, with no strain on my joints. Well. I suppose that doesn’t include my arthritic fingers, but I didn’t even notice pain in my hands, either. It took me less than half an hour to plant into this bed

I didn’t bother watering these, since it was already starting to rain by the time I was finishing up. It’s been raining off an on, ever since. My daughter and I got a bit damp when we headed out later on, to figure out exactly where to plant our tree order when it comes in. With 30 silver bison berry to plant, those were the ones we need to figure out the most. They should be planted 3-4 ft apart. Since we are doing these as a privacy hedge, we will planting them 3 feet apart, with most of them along the east end of the garden area, leaving a lane just wide enough to drive through, if necessary, between them and the fence line. Taking into account where the phone line is buried, we’ll be able to plant two staggered rows of 10, though as we get closer to the spruce grove, we many need to jump the rows closer to the fence itself, to keep that driving lane open. There is a branch pile that will be in the way of any lane we leave open, but we’ll still be able to plant around it.

We’ve got 5 sea buckthorn that will be planted nearer the north fence line, to close a gap in the lilac hedge. Any remaining bison berry can also be planted along the lilac hedge, and still keep the lane over the telephone wire clear. This will leave a gap in the privacy hedge, once they’ve grown to full size, that will need fencing or a gate to close it off from deer.

The Korean pine are a whole other issue. Originally, I wanted to plant them in the space between the north side of the spruce grove, and the crab apple trees. These, however, have an 18 foot spread. At their mature size, they would completely fill that space, and we need at least some of it to be kept open to drive through. The alternative was along the north side, which would make an excellent wind break, but with that 18 foot spread and the lilac hedge, we’d be planting them on top of the phone line. Not going to happen.

Which means we’ll have to plant them in the outer yard.

Just past the fence on west side, which has a gate that leads into the garden, there is a space where we can plant 2 of them. Then there is the gate to the secondary driveway – our “emergency exit”, if you will. It was through here that one of our truck loads of garden soil was delivered.

The remaining 7 seedlings will need to be planted on the other side of that back gate, along where there is already a couple of rows of spruces, with some willows at the south end. If we plant them 18 feet apart (we might go with 16 feet), we will have a row of seedlings matching the length of the existing shelter belt trees.

The only problem with this is that the south end is currently under water.

Still, knowing that this is a low spot will help. We can make sure to basically build things up a bit, so that the seedlings will stay above water during spring melt.

Then we’ll have to make sure to put something over them to protect them from being eaten. I don’t know that deer would eat Korean pine, but they could certainly damage them, just by walking over them.

We have not yet received a shipping notice for the trees, but with so many holes to dig, the earlier we get started, the better. Hopefully, by the time they do arrive, we’ll be ready and can plant them right away.

Oh, I just double checked my order! We’re not getting 9 Korean pine. We’re getting 6.

Which means we won’t be digging holes in water, after all. 😀

It’s going to feel weird getting our little 2 yr old plugs and planting them so far apart. Especially since they will grow very slowly for the next 3 years. Which is exactly how my mother ended up planting so many trees way too close together! 😀

Oh, my goodness. I just checked the short range weather forecast, and it’s changed yet again. We’re supposed to get more rain over the next couple of days, then for the two days after that, we’re supposed to get a mix of rain and snow!

What I planted in the high raised bed should be cold hardy enough to handle that, but we might cover it anywhere, just in case, at least for the night.

Last year, May was a very warm month. On this exact day last year, we had a new record high of 30C/86F. The record low for today, -4C/24F, was set in 2002.

After a long, cold winter, it seems we’re getting a wet cold spring.

Still, there are things we can plant. I just hope things warm up decently in June, so we can get the warm weather transplants in!

The Re-Farmer

Some progress today

I’m going to try something a bit different with my images today. I’m starting to run low on storage space on WordPress. The only way to increase it is to upgrade my legacy plan – at more than triple the price. Instead, I’ll try uploading them elsewhere and embedding them. Please let me know if you have any issues with them.

I actually got useable pictures of the outside cats while doing my rounds this morning!

I spotted a dozen of them, in total, this morning. There was about eight of them waiting at the door for me! It’s been a while since they’ve done that. 🙂

Today, I actually got ahead on a few things. I wasn’t sure if I would, since I was heading to my mother’s to help her with her shopping and didn’t know how long I’d be gone.

I picked up our usual lunch along the way, though she didn’t think she would be up to a larger meal. I figured if she wasn’t, we could just put it in the fridge for later. By the time I got there, though, she did have some of it, and was glad for the change. Plus, she still has some for later, so that worked out.

She is feeling better, though still says she hurts from top to bottom. My brother thinks she has the flu, though the way she describes it, it sounds like how I get when the barometric pressure changes drastically – and we do have thunderstorms on the forecast! To be honest, most of my joints are hurting, too. Stiff and sore finger joints are making it hard to type! So to me, that seems a likely cause, since she has no other symptoms other than a slight headache.

Still, she wasn’t going to go to the grocery store with me. She took her Tylenol, and was going to stay home to rest. She was feeling pretty sad about having to miss a dinner event tonight. One of the local colonies used to host annual dinners with entertainment for widows and widowers, and she looked forward to them every year. They weren’t allowed to host these for the past two years, and she really missed them. When they called to confirm if she were coming and she had to say no, they asked if they could bring her a care package! She happily said yes. That was sweet of them. 🙂

After going over her list to make sure I knew what she wanted, and in what quantities, etc., I headed to the grocery store. As I was unloading the items at the cash desk, the cashier asked about my mother! I didn’t recognize the cashier, though; it’s the first time I’ve seen all of her face, but she recognized me since I have never been able to wear a mask, and this is one of the few places where it was safe for me to go to. It was nice that she asked about my mother. She thinks my mom is funny. 😀

Once back at my mother’s place and putting stuff away in her fridge, there was a knock at the door. It was one of her neighbours, coming to check up on her! Then, as I was leaving, a passed another neighbour coming out of her apartment, and she asked how my mother was, too, telling me she’d checked on her last night.

I am glad that my mother has so many neighbours keeping an eye out for her! Now that the abusive caretakers have quit, things are really good in her building now. 🙂

It turned out to be a really nice day today, and the winds died down, so once I got home, I snagged a daughter and we set the platform up for hardening off the transplants, out of reach from critters that might eat them. There are now so many seedlings germinating in the flat trays of cucumbers and summer squash right now – only the green zucchini isn’t germinating yet – I even brought those out, too, setting them up on the roof of the cats’ house, along with the new strawberries. It’s been a few days since we brought the trays and bins out, so I only wanted to leave them for an hour. They really should have been in the shade, but that wasn’t an option, so I brought a hose out of storage and misted them all, and made sure the trays and bins all had water in their bottoms.

Then I took advantage of the lovely day and finished up the chimney block planters at the chain link fence.

The last four got a layer of shredded paper on the bottom, a layer of the soil from the new bed in this spot last year, a layer of straw, then topped with more soil. Between the space the blocks take up, and the layers of straw and shredded paper, there was extra soil, so that got used to top up the four blocks that were done in the fall and had settled. This is the garden soil we bought two truckloads of last year, so I didn’t want to waste any! Once these were filled and the soil in the path smoothed off, I used straw to cover the path along the blocks, so it wouldn’t be muddy to walk on. The blocks all got watered to help the soil settle in, too.

These are now ready for anything with a vining habit, or that can use the support of the fence.

That done, I decided to do a bit of work in a bed I’d already prepared in the old kitchen garden. I noticed some greenery coming through at one end, and wanted to pull those out so they wouldn’t cause problems for the food plants we’ll be planting there. A good excuse to use my new garden fork! 😀

Well, it didn’t turn out to be the quick job I thought it would be.

I’d already prepped the bed using a hoe, but once I started digging deep with the fork and pulling those plants up from the roots, I just kept finding more roots.

And more roots.

Then more roots!

Before I knew it, I was working my way across the entire bed.

Part way through, my timer went off. I got my daughters to help me bring the transplants back into the sun room, so I could get back to work faster! 😀

While working on the bed, I remembered that we still had an upper piece of spruce tree by the compost heap. Most of it had been used in the high raised bed, but the upper parts were too thin and wonky. I figured it would do very well in the old kitchen garden. When I was done pulling out as many roots as I could – there was no way I was going to get all of them! – my daughters helped me bring the log over and set it in place.

After leveling the soil, I hosed off the log and the blocks to clean things up a bit and settle in the soil. Later on, we’ll add more straw to the paths, and I’ll make sure to push some against the underside of the log as much as possible, to make sure no soil gets washed out under the bendy parts of the log.

I think this will work out rather well. As we find ourselves with other leftover pieces of log like this, we’ll probably border the L shaped bed with them, too, to help keep the soil from eroding into the paths.

You can see some of the roots I pulled out, in the lawn on the other side of the retaining wall blocks. While all the roots couldn’t be removed, it should still go a long way in reducing how many of these… whatever they were… from growing around whatever we end up planting here.

One thing is for sure; the soil here is SO much improved since we first started working on this garden! I could easily push the garden fork deep into the ground, and the soil was rich with earthworms. This bed would do well for any deep root vegetable – as long as we can keep the groundhogs and deer out!

Speaking of which…

The wire fencing we’ve managed to put around the tulip patch seems to be working. No new tulips have been eaten, and even among the ones that did get eaten, some look like they are growing again. They won’t be able to bloom, but should at least be able to store enough energy to be able to regrow next year.

One other thing that is growing well is the garlic in the main garden area.

They are getting so tall! The garlic in the other two beds, in the south east yard, are just barely breaking ground right now, but here, some of them at as much as 8 inches tall! What a difference. They were planted at the same time, and mulched the same way. The only major difference is location and, with that, sunlight. This particular bed, which is right next to our first high raised bed, would be getting light for more than 12 hours, this time of year. The other two beds get at least 8 hours of light this time of year, but are in shade for the morning hours.

This bodes well for when we build more of the permanent high raised beds in this area.

Gosh, it feels good to be working outside again! We’re supposed to get light rain tomorrow, with warmer temperatures. Weather willing, I’m looking forward to getting back at it! I especially want to prepare the areas the potatoes will be going in. I got an email with a tracking number from Canada Post today, and they should arrive by the 24th.

I can hardly wait to get those into the ground!

The Re-Farmer

It’s crazy windy out there!

After my successful outing yesterday, now that the main road has been repaired, my younger daughter and I headed out today, to do an early birthday shopping trip. Her birthday is actually next month, but we don’t pay too much attention to exact days. 😉

It rained most of last night, though the water levels around our yard did not increase too much. There were plenty of fallen branches already. Once again, feeling so thankful we were able to get those trees cut away from the house a few years back. We do still have dead trees we’ll hire someone to take down, as they could potentially fall onto the house, but they are far less of a risk than the ones that were right over the roof and into the power lines!

Our birthday gift to my younger daughter was going to be a clothes shopping trip at a particular local Thai clothing store. My daughter mentioned she really needed some jeans, so we decided to hit a Walmart, first.

The first surprise of the day was the first mile of gravel road. When I drove it yesterday, there was one really bad patch at the intersection nearest us, where the gravel trucks sunk keep into the saturated road. Even with the grader going by, it was still pretty bad.

After a night of rain, that entire first mile of road was filled with saturated patches; none as bad as the one nearest us, but still enough that we had to carefully skirt around the worst parts – and I could still feel the van trying to sink into the road as we did! In fact, right now, the best part of the entire stretch to the highway is the spot that had been washed out and repaired!

Once on the highway, all was good, though. Since we were heading to a Walmart first, we make our usual stop at the town my mother lives in, to fill the tank and pick up some fried chicken for “breakfast”.

That was my other surprise of the day.

Gas prices went up 8 cents a litre, overnight.

My fuel gauge was just above 3/4 of a tank.

Apparently, my gas gauge isn’t accurate. The tank on our van hold 95L (25 US gallons, 20.8 Imperial gallons). That makes a quarter tank 23.75L According to my gas gauge, I needed less than a quarter tank. I have noticed, however, that the gauge stays at the full line for quite a long time, and that the needle seems to drop faster, the lower it goes. Especially if it dips below half a tank. I remember commenting about it with a mechanic at some point, because I was never quite sure how much fuel was actually in the tank. His answer? Just keep the tank full! 😀 Good thing that’s what we normally try to do.

While I was paying at the gas station, I remember to ask about the road we needed to cross to get to the next highway. The cashiers weren’t sure but, thankfully, the next customer in line was able to tell me that all was well. I’d heard the road had washed out at a new bridge, but all was fine, though plenty of fields were still full of water.

Once at the Walmart, I left my daughter to hunt down the clothes she needed, while I picked up a few things. More cat kibble, of course; that’s one thing we have the hardest time stocking up on. I also made sure to check out the garden centre, and made an unplanned purchase.

I picked up some strawberry plants. It’s something we were intending to do, eventually. These will be planted in the asparagus bed. I only got 4 plants, but strawberries are easy to propagate. At this size, they cost just under $4 each, though there were much larger plants in hanging baskets, with strawberries already ripening! Those were completely out of my budget, and we have nowhere to hang baskets, anyhow.

One thing I looked for but couldn’t find was lamp oil. The closest I found was citronella oil for those outdoor torches. I’m wanting oil for glass lamps we have; there are two we brought with us when we moved, and two others we found here at the farm while cleaning out my parents’ stuff. One of those actually looks like it had kerosene in it, though. It appears to have dried out, but the glass is stained dark. I haven’t tried to take the lamp down from the top of the shelf it’s on to find out; it’s safe from the cats up there! 😀

Anyhow, I used to be able to buy lamp oil at Walmart, but now I can’t find any. We considered trying Canadian Tire, but decided not to go there today. I’ve just looked online, and apparently they do carry scented lamp oil that can be used in indoor lamps. I had to read comments and reviews to find that out, since it wasn’t information included in the product description. Something to remember, the next time I’m there. It’s something to include in our stash.

My daughter was able to find a couple of pairs of pants that she needed, suitable for working outdoors, and was very happy. Once we were done there, we headed to the Thai place I originally wanted to take her to. She ended up getting two more pairs of pants that will be perfect for summer weather. While there, I found something for myself, too. I spotted what looked like swoopy folding bamboo and cloth fans. They turned out to be hats! Then, of all the things to find in a clothing store, I was very excited to find steak spice. This place has both a storefront and a restaurant. The building used to be a grocery store and butcher shop. The owner was a good friend of my in-laws. He had his own recipe for steak spice that is the best we’ve ever had. My FIL would mail us about 10 bags of it, once a year, so we could have fresh to use in our tourtierre filling. When the owner retired, I’d seen signs that the spice mix was still available, but I’d never actually seen it on the shelf before. As I was paying for my stuff, I commented on it and found out that when the Thai family bought the building, they also bought the spice mix recipe!

My husband was so thrilled when he saw the bag of spice mix. When we get a chance, we should pick some up for my FIL. He’ll love it!

That done, we headed home. During this entire trip, we were fighting the winds the entire way. We certainly weren’t going to be putting the transplants out for hardening off today, that’s for sure.

Then we got home and saw it wasn’t an option at all.

Pegging it down wasn’t enough for these winds!

Once everything was inside the sun room, my daughter and I straightened the platform out a bit, but didn’t try to put it back up. While my daughters finished taking things inside and putting them away, while I put the strawberry pots into a small bin to join the other plants in the sun room, I headed back outside and fussed with the tarp, pegging some corners down again to keep it from blowing away.

Then I switched to rubber boots and went to see what else needed to be dealt with.

The diverter on the rain barrel had been blown off. I tried to secure it, only to come back and find it blown off again; just not as far. Even the cover on the rain barrel, which is weighted down with the board and bricks that hold the diverter in place, was blowing off, and that thing is made of mesh! One of the containers with our winter sowing (which have not sprouted, yet) was blown right off the step it was on. Thankfully, the soil inside was undisturbed. I moved all 4 containers to a more sheltered (I hope!) spot.

The huge tarp covering my late father’s car gets blown around a lot, but it was really bad today, billowing like a parachute with a car inside. I ended up dragging out three old tires from behind the pump shack to weigh it down; one on the trunk, one on the hood and one on the roof.

While working on that, I noticed that the side door of the storage house was open! Thankfully, it’s quite high off the ground with no stairs, so no cats would be getting up into it. It made me think to check the back door of the barn. When the snow finally melted enough that I could get in there for the first time since fall, I found the top half of the split door in the back was open. I checked, and it had not been blown open again. So I went into the storage house – I don’t think we went into there even once, last year! – and got the door closed. The side door is next to the kitchen, which has exterior blinds in the windows. They tend to rattle in the wind a lot, so I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to reduce that. There wasn’t, but I found another surprise.

Among the things we found lots of while cleaning this place out, are old canning jars that use glass lids. We went through them, and I’ve got shelves full of them that have no nicks or chips in them at all. We also found lots of the glass lids. What we didn’t find were the metal rings. A couple of jars had them still on, and they are so corroded, they’re stuck to the glass. These rings are deeper, to accommodate the width of glass lids and rubber sealing rings. The rubber rings are still available, but no one makes these rings anymore. I wouldn’t want to use the jars for actual canning anymore, but they could still be used for dry storage – if I could find more of these rings. I’ve looked online and could find some on ebay and the like, but they were quite expensive, and looked to be in poor condition.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, there in the storage house was a bucket of canning rings, and was that a deeper ring that I was seeing? After rifling through the bucket, I found about 8 or 10 of these rings, mixed in with some more modern ones, and almost all of them looked nearly pristine! I made sure to take them all out and set them aside. Now that I know we have some, I’ll pick up some of the rubber rings, and we’ll match jars, rings and lids, clean them up and have them available for dry storage.

I was very happy to find these!

Once done in the storage house, I came out and found that the tarp on my late father’s car was billowing again.

The wind had actually blown a tire, right off the roof!

So I fought with that some more. The car happens to be next to a pile of rocks that were cleared up from around the yard. Most of the smaller ones were taken out and used for various thing, but there were some bigger ones that were not so big I couldn’t lift them. After wrestling the tire back onto the roof of the car, I used rocks to weight down the edges of the tarp on the sides. It still billows, but no longer turns into a parachute. Unfortunately, several years of winds has been tearing the tarp to shreds. We need to pick up an actual car cover one of these days. There are covers for the make and model of this car, but they are not something our budget has room for.

It’s been interesting watching out my window as I’ve been working on this post. At the moment, the winds have died down, and the branches on the maples are just wiggling a bit. Other times, the entire tree is swaying, including branches that are as thick as many tree trunks. This particular maple I see from my window needs to have some of those big branches removed, to take weight off the trunk, before they break off completely. With winds like today, I am often amazed that they haven’t broken already. Especially since there is ant damage visible in the trunk, where the biggest branches split off.

Once the winds die down – hopefully, tomorrow – we’re going to have to spend some time cleaning up. Aside from the broken branches, things have been blowing out of the junk pile, and even out by the barn, we’ve been hearing the sound of metal being blown around; there are leftover pieces of metal roofing material among a pile of stuff near the barn. They’re weighed down with things like car tires, cinder blocks and metal grates, but they’re still being lifted by these winds!

Hopefully, we’ll just lose branches, and not any more trees. Or pieces of trees. We still haven’t cut up the piece of tree that landed on the canopy tent. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: hardening off and first sowing

You know that surreal feeling, when you feel like it’s one time of the day, but then you look at a clock and realize it’s a completely different time of day?

I just finished my “morning rounds”, so it should be morning, right?

Never mind that I spent several hours working on things that aren’t part of my usual morning routine. 😀

While heading around to put bird feed out, I spotted our new “tenant” under the stairs.

It backed into the space under the stairs, but still hung around to watch me!

Knowing that the main road was fixed, as soon as I finished my usual morning routine, I headed to town, passing a grader on the way. Very happy to see it. There’s only so much a grader an do with the current road conditions, but at least it helps. The area that was washed out was beautifully fixed up. Not even the grader could fix that torn up part closer to our intersection, though.

I picked up just a few of the fresh things we were running low on at the grocery store, then hit the post office on the way home to pick up the mail and a new bag of bird seed. Once everything was put away, I decided to take advantage of the weather, while I could. We’re supposed to get rain later, but for now it’s overcast and decently warm. What we needed to do was start hardening off our transplants.

The girls and I had spent some time trying to figure out what to use to hold the transplants when hardening them off, that will keep the outside cats and other critters away, while also being big enough to hold all the bins and trays. What we used last year is just too small for all the plants we have this year. Then we remembered that we still have the home made, twin sized bed frame that was here when we moved in, sitting in the basement. So I got that out this morning. We also found a pair of folding table legs when we cleaned out the basement, so I figured we could add those to the underside of the frame. It has 8 short legs on the support frame and is topped with plywood. The frame supporting the plywood was too narrow for the plates on the table legs, so I was going to attach it directly to the underside of the plywood, until I realized the shortest screws I have are 3/4″, and it’s 1/2″ plywood.

Ah, well. It would have been a good idea.

That meant using the frame from my daughters canopy tent that she got for when she used to do the art markets. Part of the frame broke in high winds, but we’re still finding ways to use it. Two long pieces of the frame that had been attached to each other with a pivot had snapped. The metal pieces are hollow, so I found a way to rejoin them using a long nail wrapped with enough duct tape to make a snug fit, tucked inside the pieces, then taping them together on the outside. They still wiggle and it certainly won’t hold much, but at least we no longer have pieces flopping around when we move the frame.

The bed platform went on top of the tent frame, with the frame opened wide enough to fit against the inside of the bed’s support pieces snuggly. The ground isn’t level, though, but nothing a couple of bricks under 2 legs couldn’t solve. Then, because the wood is unfinished, I opened the 3 pack of sturdy tarps I picked up at Costco a few months back, and covered the whole set up. Using the cords salvaged from the canopy tent I’d recently disassembled, I was able to peg the corners to the ground, then use the excess cord to lace up the ends. The long sides were still flapping in the wind a bit, so those were tied together, under the platform.

Once everything was secure, it was time to bring the plants out!

It turned out to be the exact size needed for all the bins and trays!

Not quite all the plants fit, though.

The Wonderberry and a couple of trays of onions fit onto the shelf outside the sunroom.

Look at all those Wonderberry flowers!

Since this is the first day the transplants were being hardened off, I set a time for an hour, then started working in the old kitchen garden. We had beds that were ready for planting, but I decided to use the stirrup hoe to run through the bed framed with logs and get rid of any weeds.

I’m glad I did. After a while, I gave up on the hoe and brought out the new garden fork. There were a LOT more roots than I thought.

There were SO many big, healthy worms in the soil!

When we planted here last year, we had a couple of mystery plants show up in the middle of the bed, where we’d planted kohlrabi. Once we were sure they weren’t kohlrabi, we had no idea what they were – but I found their root clusters! That’s the pile you can see at the middle, left. I hope I got all the roots out. Those things got quite large, and I wouldn’t want them choking out whatever we plant here this year.

Broken pieces from the disassembled canopy tent frame are now set up to support any row cover we use. The holes are all facing the same way, so they can be threaded with cord to keep the netting from sagging in between.

We’re still not 100% decided on what to plant here, but we do know what’s going next to it.

The poppies we planted last year really struggled in the drought and heat waves, but we were still able to harvest some dried pods for their seeds. I’d just put them into a Solo cup and left them in the sun room all winter. This morning, I broke open the pods, and these are all the seeds that were in them. Not a lot, but enough to sow. Watching the seeds as they came out of the different pods, I’ve no doubt that some of the seeds were immature and are probably not going to germinate, but there are some that look good. It should be interesting to see how they do!

This is where we’d sowed the poppies last year. Seeds had fallen and scattered there last year, but I couldn’t tell if anything was germinating. Just in case, I didn’t try to dig up the crab grass or do any weeding. I loosened the surface soil up with a rake, scattered all the seeds evenly, then used the rake again to cover them. I didn’t bother watering them, since we’re expecting rain. We did buy a different variety of bread poppy seeds for this year, which will be planted well away from this area, to avoid cross pollination.

Our very first direct sown seeds of the year! Not what I’d intended, but I’ll take it!

The timing was perfect for finishing this and putting things away, as that’s when my timer went off. All the transplants went back inside. Taking them out gave me a chance to re-arrange things, too. The seed trays that are just starting to germinate are now closest to the west window. The bins with the shortest plants all went into the plant shelf in the south window, and the mini-greenhouse frame by the other west window. As bins were being returned to the platform with the seed trays, they were arranged with the shortest plants by the seed trays, working up to the tallest at the opposite end. This way, the bin that has supports for the Canteen gourds to climb is now no longer behind the shop light!

There was one down side to all this outdoor work, though.

As I was putting the bins and trays back into the sun room, I saw Junk Pile cat going through the old kitchen garden, carrying a kitten. She was taking them away from the cats’ house, heading somewhere to the north side of the house.

When I went out for the next trays, I saw… Junk Pile cat… coming from the south. Which meant the cat I thought was Junk Pile was actually the other mamma using the cats’ house. Not long after, I saw Junk Pile carrying a kitten and taking it to the big branch pile in the outer yard. I was afraid of this. With all the traffic and commotion so close to the cats’ house, the kittens got moved to someplace quieter. *sigh* That’s going to make it much harder to socialize them! It’s too bad the mamas are separate now. They were always snuggled together with their babies in there. Ah, well. It is what it is.

Now that we’ve got the set up done, the transplants will go outside every day – weather willing – for about an hour longer, each time. By the time we pass our last frost date on June 2, they will be good and ready to be outside permanently.

Until then, we can keep working on getting the cool climate seeds direct sown.

It feels so good to finally be getting seeds in the ground!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: potting up, moving things – and good news!

First, I’ll start with the good news.

While I was working on the transplants, we got a call from the pharmacy delivery driver. I headed out to meet him at the washed out road, opening the gate before starting the van and heading out.

I was backing out of the garage, when a car pulled into our driveway!

He not only got through, he had no issues at all. The washed out road has been repaired! That means we can now reach the highway and go wherever we need.

I was very happy to hear this. Tomorrow, I’m going to go get the mail! LOL

Oh, the things that are exciting when you’re old and boring. 😉

My main goal for today was to pot up the newest tomatoes, and move things to the sun room.

I started with the Yellow Pear tomatoes, which are in the image on the left. Of those, there was one seedling that I pulled out, as it was not suitable for transplanting. The Chocolate Cherry (on the right) got all seedlings potted up.

By the time it was done, we had 13 Yellow Pear tomatoes, and 12 Chocolate Cherry, ready to go to the sun room.

Before that could be done, though, the rest of the pots in the mini-greenhouse had to be taken out, and the mini-greenhouse prepped to be moved. The vinyl cover finally got removed, as did the aluminum foil lining it on three sides, to reflect as much light as possible. The foil has been saved for some other future use.

One of the sawhorses supporting the platform holding plants had to be carefully shifted over to make room for the mini-greenhouse frame.

Things got shifted around in the sun room, too. The older tomatoes were getting too tall for the plant shelf, so they got moved to the platform, as did the large bin with the kulli corn. The tomatoes were so tall, I had to adjust the shop light higher, to fit.

Once the newly transplanted tomatoes and seedlings that were in the mini-greenhouse in the living room got oved over, I filled another bin with the seedlings from the large aquarium greenhouse and brought those over, too. Everything fit, with room to spare!

I did change a couple of things after this photo was taken. That terracotta pot was put by the lamp on the bottom shelf, just to get it out of the way. It got moved out, as did the lamp, and the bin at the bottom of the mini-greenhouse was moved to where the lamp had been, so it could get more light.

The seed trays on the bottom right of the above picture are starting to explode. More cucumbers are coming up, and all four of the King Tut Purple Pea seeds that we managed to save are germinating. There is even a Red Kuri/Little Gem squash making an appearance.

These are now the only things left in the big aquarium greenhouse.

There’s still no sign of any Yakteen gourds. As for the Kakai pumpkin that looks like there is a seedling popping up, that’s actually a stem. I was watching it for a few days before I finally took a closer look. It seems it started to germinate – but then the leaves broke off the stem. The stem end is what you’re seeing in that pot! There were more planted in the pot, so I’m hoping that a bit more time on the warming mat will result in germination.

The LED shop light that was used at the mini-greenhouse is now available to be moved to the sun room, but I haven’t figure out how I want it set up yet.

Funny. The living room suddenly feels much bigger, without the mini-greenhouse tied to a chair in front of the couch, anymore. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Road status, and first cucumbers!

What a difference a few hours makes!

It’s been a beautifully warm day. At 19C/66F, even the relatively high winds aren’t cooling things down much. The standing water in and around the yard has reduced significantly since this morning.

I decided to take the walk over to where the road is washed out to the south of us, and see what the status was – this time without Rolando Moon following me!

The waters have gone down a LOT, but the two washed out areas are not in good shape. The flow of water going across is very fast, aided by the wind coming from the northwest.

The wider, shallower area has eroded across even more. Where you can see a darker line is a ridge of clay that hasn’t been washed out yet; everything to the left of that would be very soft. As you can see by the rut on the far left, it’s not going to support the weight of a vehicle much. Still, if we had to, I think we could drive through this part.

The other part, however…

I wasn’t wearing my rubber boots, so I wasn’t going to cross to take a closer look. That further area looks quite a bit deeper than the last time I checked it out. This is where the road was already washed out down to the foundation rocks. There is no why our van can handle driving over that.

I haven’t checked out any of the other washed out areas. If this is still flowing as fast as it is, the others wouldn’t be much different.

Which means we still aren’t going anywhere for a while. :-/

While I was out, I checked a few other areas, including the tulip patch. I swear, they great at least 2 inches since I saw them this morning.

Something new that wasn’t there this morning, though, were these…

The very first cucumbers are sprouting! Seeing these, I took the “dome” off the tray. The transplants we’ve got in the sun room are doing quite well. Even the tomato that was broken at the stem, which got buried back into the pot, looks like it’s recovering.

I think that tomorrow will be the day to move the mini-greenhouse into the sun room, along with most, if not all, the seedlings still in the living room. The Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes are still tiny, but they can be divided and potted up before being moved to the sun room. The Yakteen gourd have not sprouted yet, but at this point, the sun room is warmer than the living room. Even with them being on the warming mat now, they would probably do better in the sun room. Everything will do better in than in the enclosed spaces they are in right now, I think. We’ll also be able to move the second LED shop light and set it up in the sun room, too, if necessary.

It’ll be good to not have to worry about the cats getting at the seedlings anymore!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: thinning and potting up

A lot of the squash in the big aquarium greenhouse were getting too big for their britches, so it was time to thin them out and pot them up!

The Giant Pumpkins were easy enough to do; there’s just one plant per biodegradable pot, so they just got put into bigger biodegradable pots with little issue.

With the others, we thinned by division. We had only a few of the larger biodegradable pots left, so the biggest ones were transplanted into those. After that, they went into the red Solo cups. Then they all went into the sun room.

Once those were done, we went through the mini-greenhouse and moved the remaining eggplants and peppers to the sun room as well. A couple of them got thinned by division, too.

These two bins are all winter squash, the giant pumpkins and hulless pumpkins, under the bright shop light.

The gourds that were already in the sun room joined more squash and Apple gourds in a bin.

The peppers that survived the Great Cat Crush, as well as replacement starts of peppers and eggplants, got moved into the window shelf.

Back in the big aquarium greenhouse, there is now more room to space things out. The melons were looking leggy, so I put something under the bin they’re in to raise them closer to the light. There’s still just one Zucca melon sprouted (the big one in the foreground).

There are still some smaller squash and gourds on the heat mat. The Yakteen gourds have not germinated yet. I tried to get a photo, but the camera decided to focus on the aquarium frame instead of the plants. LOL

In the mini-greenhouse, there are still the Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes, and the ground cherries. With more space available, they’re now all spread out to get maximum light and air flow.

It’s always a risk to pot up things like squash. Once the new bins were in the sun room, water was added to the bottoms to let them absorb more moisture from below; particularly the biodegradable pots, so the pots themselves wouldn’t wick moisture out of the soil and away from the roots. I left the shop light on all night, to hopefully give them the energy they needed to handle the changes.

As of this morning, everything looked pretty much as I left them. Nothing was drooping or otherwise showing signs of stress from being divided and potted up. So far so good!

In about a week or two, we will start hardening off the transplants. By then, everything that’s in the aquarium greenhouse and the mini-greenhouse should be moved to the sun room, with the tomatoes divided and potted up.

If all goes well, we should have most, if not all, or cold tolerant seeds direct sown outside by the end of the month, too.

It feels so good to finally be able to move ahead with the gardening!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: last seeds starts – for real this time!

Okay, I went ahead and did it. I got one more tray of seeds started.

Most of them are summer squash.

I also decided to start the only 4 King Tut Purple Peas I was able to save last year. They did not do well at all in the drought, but they bravely tried!

The seed tray holds 32 square pots, and I wanted to plant just one seed per pot. I decided to start only 4 each of the Magda (a mottled light and dark green squash), yellow zucchini (Goldy)…

… and green zucchini (Endeavor). With these summer squash, I want to also try direct sowing more, and see if that makes any difference.

That left room to plant 8 each of the patty pans; Sunburst and G Star.

It occurred to me after I uploaded the pictures that I should have just planted each flat of 4 x 2 pots with one type, instead of two long rows of the patty pans. 😀 Ah, well, The flats will come apart easily when it’s time to transplant.

The tray then went straight into the sunroom, covered to keep them moist until they germinate. As you can see by the one that got pushed to the back, it’s working rather well.

There we are. Done. No more seeds will be started indoors.

Honest.

😉

The Re-Farmer