Our 2022 garden: gourds, ground cherries, and one. Just one!

While doing my rounds this morning, checking the remaining garden beds, I found myself giving the ground cherries a closer look.

They do have frost damage, but a lot of the leaves are still looking just fine. The entire patch is all leaning over, making it hard to reach to pick anything. I’ve found that the plants, as strong as they appear to be, are actually quite fragile, and branches break off easily. There are still so many green berries on there! I’m not too worried about missing any ripe ones that have fallen off, though. Part of the reason we chose this location, was so they could self seed and hopefully come back every year on their own.

With how big they got, and how easily they fall over, though, I’m thinking we will want to add a support structure of horizontal wire mesh. Maybe two horizontal layers of them, with a mesh of about 4 inches square. That way, the plants can grow through the wire mesh, and still be supported during high winds, or when the weight of their own branches start pulling them down.

Oh! I just remembered. I’d dug out a roll of fence wire from a shed last year. It has 4 inch square mesh. It would be perfect for the job! I’ll just have to figure out what to use for vertical supports.

But that can wait until spring.

I finally remembered to get a picture of this crab apple tree this morning.

It has SO many apples on it, and they’ve turned such an incredible red colour. They are like beautiful ruby ornaments! The apples on this tree are not really edible – at least not for humans. The birds and the deer like them, though. The apples will be left on the tree to freeze. Every now and then, in the winter, I hope to be able to get to the tree to knock some of the apples down for the deer. Otherwise, they stand up on their hind legs to reach, and end up breaking branches.

This tree still looks pretty healthy, so we will be able to keep it while we cut away the dead and diseased trees. It may not produce apples we can eat, but it will serve as a cross pollinator. We plan to eventually plant apple trees that are not crab apples, and they often need a tree like this nearby, to help with pollination. Of course, there is the one big crab apple tree that produces some tasty apples, still. We will be down to only two apple trees in this area, from the dozen or so that used to be here. They were planted way too close together, which certainly didn’t help. We just need to get rid of the diseased tree in particular, and hopefully will be able to keep the remaining trees nice and healthy.

After covering the eggplants and apple gourds last night, I went over to the trellis to check on the Ozark nest egg gourds. Having confirmed the vines were completely killed off by the frost, I decided to go ahead and pick them, this morning.

I am just so happy with how these gourds turned out! Like everything else, they had a rough start, and yet they still produces so many little gourds! A few are still more on the green side. Imagine how many we could have had if it had been a good growing year? We will definitely be growing these again, and I hope to have some seeds I can save from these.

I’d brought pruning shears to harvest them. Those vines are pretty spiny! I also harvested the Tennessee Dancing gourds. They snapped off their stems quite easily; no sheers needed. As I went around to the inside of the tunnel trellis to pick more, I spotted what at first looked like a little snake, hanging in the air!

There we have it. Our one and only Red Noodle bean. Just one! It’s about half the size it could have been.

I now have to decide if these are something I want to get seeds for and try growing again. Under better growing conditions, they should have done just fine in our area. I’d like to at least know if they are something we enjoy eating.

Here are all the gourds I gathered – and my little buddy, who kept me company the entire time! She is such a little sweetie.

I rearranged the chocolate cherry tomatoes to make room for the gourds to cure for a while. Eventually, they will be brought indoors, given a wipe down with a bleach solution, then set up somewhere to continue curing all winter. Probably in the old basement, where the cats aren’t allowed. It may get damp in there during the summer, but in the winter, it is incredibly dry, so that should work out.

The onions my daughter braided yesterday are so heavy, with such thick necks, they started falling out of their braid. I remembered the hooks I put up that held our lights for the seedlings we had set up over the swing bench, so after the gourds were laid out, I strung the onions on some sisal cord to hang them. Once they were hung up, I ended up adding two more cords to help hold the weight! These are definitely the heaviest of all the onions we grew this year!

I absolutely love those nest egg gourds. They are beautiful, and even a pleasure to hold. I have some ideas of what I can do with them. What I do end up doing will depend on how many fully cure properly. The greenest ones probably won’t, but I think most of them did get a chance to become fully ripe. This is from two or three plants. We planted four, one died, and one never fully recovered. They’re so intertwined, it’s hard to tell them apart, but I don’t think that one smaller plant ever produced any gourds. Eighteen gourds from two (possibly three) plants during a bad growing year is pretty awesome! I want to plant more next year. The Tennessee dancing gourds also did really well under the circumstances, and I hope to plant more of them next year, too!

It should be interesting, once everything is in and we can do an assessment of what we got, and use that to help decide what to do next year.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning harvest and deer damage

I checked my weather app last night, and read that we were to get rain and thunderstorms this morning.

This morning, I checked the app and it told me “rain will end in 45 minutes”.

There was no rain.

We’re going to have to water the garden today.

Which is not a complaint. We have a garden to water, still! Though the evenings have been chillier than forecast, we’re still frost free.

While checking all the garden beds, I spotted some deer damage in the sweet corn.

The silks were nibbled off!

It looks like a deer ducked under the rope fence (so much for the bells and whirligigs to startle them!), walked along one side of the corn, nibbling the silks all along the way.

I did find one cob that had been pulled off and left on the ground.

I’d been able to check the other nibbled ones, but with this one I could peel it entirely. They are still not ripe. I think the cool evenings are slowing things down.

We’re supposed to have highs between 17C/63F (today) and 14C/57F (in a couple days) over the next while, before temperatures rise above 20C/68F again. We’re supposed to stay above 20C for several days before dropping to the mid teens again. One of my apps has a 28 day long range forecast, and according to that, we won’t hit overnight temperatures low enough for a frost risk until almost a week into October.

Every mild day is bonus right now, and allowing our garden to continue to produce.

I love those G Star patty pans!

The onions are from the curing table for today’s cooking, but the rest is fresh picked. The Yellow Pear are filled with ripening tomatoes – much more than the Chocolate cherry. We have to figure out what to do with them all.

A couple of Sophie’s Choice tomatoes were ripe enough to pick. I will use those to save seeds. The paste tomatoes went into the freezer for later processing.

As I write this, my older daughter is in the kitchen, trying to use up a whole lot of vegetables for lunch, to go with the short ribs that were in the slow cooker all night. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with! 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden, and morning harvest

I am so enjoying today’s cooler temperatures! Yesterday, we reached at least 31C/88F, though I’m sure we got hotter than that. I headed out to top up the kitty kibble and was actually feeling nauseous from the heat by the time I got back inside. Of course, the upstairs is much hotter, and it really hit one of my daughters hard, and she was quite ill for a few hours.

Today’s high is supposed to be only 19C/66F or 21C/36F, depending on the source. Quite enjoyable! By the time I got out this morning (having been kept up most of the night by a naughty Nosencrantz constantly making noise and getting into things!), it was only about 18C/64F. Which is about perfect, as far as I’m concerned! 😁

The current conditions are keeping things going in the garden quite nicely. I got a decent harvest of green and purple pole beans. The Red Noodle beans are still not even blooming, but the shelling beans… well, take a look.

They are still so very small and delicate – but they are LOADED with pods, and starting to dry out. I suspect they are smaller than they should be, but I do hope the beans we get will still be tasty.

I was surprised by how many ground cherries I found on the ground this morning, though some greener ones fell off while I was trying to reach to pick them up. They are related to tomatoes, so I’m hoping if we just leave them, they’ll continue to ripen.

I picked our first G-Star patty pan squash! One of the plants seems to have suddenly become limp, though. Odd.

I don’t usually let the sunburst squash get that big before picking them, but they seemed to have quite the overnight growth spurt!

I’m quite happy to have a nice little variety to harvest.

Well, the vet clinic hasn’t called back yet, but I need to get outside and take advantage of today’s lovely temperatures, since we’re supposed to heat up again over the next week. I’ll just have to let the answering machine take it. I’m sure if there were any problems with Leyendecker, we would have heard from them earlier, so no news is good news. 😊

Time to get to work!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: wind damage repair, and an unexpected harvest

This evening, I headed out to see what I could to about fixing the wind damage in the garden. Particularly with the corn. I ended up stealing some bamboo stakes running across the hoops in a couple of other beds, but that still only gave me four. I did have one more, plus a stick, already in the sweet corn, supporting a couple of stalks that had fallen over previously. They were still standing, while the corn around them was flattened!

I ran twine between the poles from end to end of each row, wrapping the twine once around each stalk in that row to hold it up. Even as I was working, I had the wind pushing the stalks, so I scrounged up another pair of sticks. I set them up on either side of the middle, then ran twine between them, catching the support twine in between. This way, whichever direction the wind blows, there will be some support.

Some of the stalks where still trying to fall over, but I could only find one more stick. It was enough to add extra support to the twine in the rows.

The cobs are actually filling out quite nicely! Some of the silks are even starting to dry up, and they should be ripe soon.

The hard part while doing all this was trying not to step on the poor little bean plants on either side of the corn. Since I was there, I checked them over and found a pretty decent little harvest!

I didn’t have a container with me, but I managed to shove them all in a pocket. 😄

There was have it. Our very first harvest of green bush beans, planted late to replace the ones that drowned out.

When watering this bed, I do try to make sure to water the beans more directly, but as I was harvesting, I could feel that they could really use more water. We’ll have to focus in them a bit more!

The next area I worked on was the group of ground cherries that had been flattened.

I managed to find a couple more sticks – I think my daughters intended them as walking sticks! – and grabbed a couple of short pieces left over from hula hoops we used to make row covers last year. The ground cherry plants are a lot more delicate than other plants, and I felt the twine might damage them more, so I threaded it through the pieces. As careful as I was, I could hear branches cracking as I lifted them. I’m not sure all of it will survive.

They are, however, still covered with many flowers, so we’ll still be getting more berries developing.

Once these were done, I started on the kulli corn. I completely forgot to take pictures, though.

One side was fairly easy to do. I lifted the netting up, then used the existing scavenged T posts to hold the twine, which I wrapped around stalks to hold them up. This was on the north side of the bed, and the gust of wind had come from the north, so it was pretty easy to reach things.

The other side was far more difficult. We did lose the top of one stalk completely, and the others were leaning onto the nearby bed of tomatoes. If the net wasn’t there to hold it, they would have fallen onto the other bed, but instead they created a sort of arch.

The tomatoes themselves were outgrowing their supports and falling over. I had to add more support to those, just so I could keep working on the corn without breaking tomato branches. Some of the stakes were leaning over from the weight of the tomato plants, so I just zig zagged some twine between them to pull them together, which gave me enough room to work on the corn.

With the corn, I ended up doing much the same thing; zig zagging twine bank and forth, wrapping it around the top line of twine that was already there, to support the netting. I was able to wrap twine around a couple of the bigger stalks in the middle of the bed to give them extra support, but there really wasn’t much I could do for them. I can’t even guess how well they will recover from this. 😔

Then I went back to the tomatoes and added higher support from end to end to catch the newer growth. They’re looking much better now. There were even a few ripe tomatoes to harvest!

That done, I checked the late garlic in the next bed and decided it was time to dig them up.

The two by themselves on the left are the only two survivors transplanted from the bed the tomatoes are now in. I didn’t bother keeping them separate when I moved the bundle to the canopy tent. We’ll let them dry a bit, then brush the biggest dirt off and either lay them out or hang them up to cure. I’m kind of impressed by them. They’re pretty big, considering what a rough time they had of things! It’s a shame. The bed where only two survived had 90 cloves planted in it. The other one had over 80 cloves planted in it. This is all that made it.

This fall, the garlic will be planted elsewhere. I kept the biggest bulbs from the one bed that did so well, but would really like to plant more. We shall see how it works out, when the time comes.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: evening harvest

At the time this scheduled post is published, I should be on the road, headed to court. Because I have to leave so early, I won’t be able to do my usual stuff in the garden until later, but I wanted to have something positive to start the day with!

So here is an evening harvest to share in the morning. 😊

I was checking on the ground cherries while doing my evening rounds when I noticed one that had ripened since I checked them this morning.

I ate it.

Then I started weeding and found several others that had ripened enough to fall to the ground.

I brought those in for the family to taste test. 😁 I know they’ve had them before, since we grew them in a container in the city, but when the first of my daughters tried one, she sounded really surprised when she commented on how good it was. Looks like I’ll be fighting over them, as they ripen! 😂

There were a couple of Magda squash I could have grabbed, but I left the smaller one to get a bit bigger.

I picked the red onions because they were starting to fall over. Though they look the same, the bigger one is a Red of Florence onion, while the other, smaller one, is a Tropeana Lunga.

The yellow onion is from sets. Somehow, a few Black Nebula carrot seeds ended up around the onion, so I pulled all of them. The carrots were just wisps, so I tried pulling the biggest one I could reach, and… well… that’s what you see in the picture. Really long, really skinny.

The pale yellow carrot is an Uzbek Golden carrot that we got as a freebie. The two orange ones are napoli carrots using seeds left over from last year. I tried pulling a Kyoto Red, too, but it turned out to be really tiny. There are so few of them, I didn’t want to try another.

The shallot is one of the “spare” sets we planted in the retaining wall blocks of the old kitchen garden. Sadly, we lost most of the shallots in the bed by the chain link fence. Though the bed was raised a few inches when we added the bricks around it, it wasn’t enough at one end. There was just too much flooding this spring, and they rotted out. The ones planted in the retaining wall blocks aren’t doing much better, but that probably has more to do with cats rolling on them. The one I picked had lost most of its greens, so I decided to pick it before it started going soft. The other that was planted with it had lost all its greens and had gone mushy.

A nice little variety of things to try! Still lots of growing to do, though. 🥕🧅

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden

While most of our garden is behind, with a few outright fails, we do have a few things doing well.

So far, we have five Red Kuri squash developing, and I just pollinated a new female flower this morning. The plants themselves are doing well in this location, growing in the chimney block planters. I really hope we will have more of these, and that there it enough growing season left before first frost. We quite liked the ripe one we were able to taste test last year.

I’m really impressed with the ground cherries! I had my doubts that they would make it after transplanting, as this spot got so incredibly wet, but survive they did, and are now wonderfully robust. The first time we tried growing ground cherries, it was in a container on our balcony. It did well, but these are doing even better. There are so many fruits forming! While watering a couple of nights ago, I noticed something light coloured on the ground that turned out to be a fallen ground cherry that had ripened faster than all the others.

I ate it.

It was delicious.

My daughters are surprised I like these so much, as they are related to tomatoes. Whatever is in fresh tomatoes that makes me gag is not in ground cherries, I guess. I find they have such a wonderful sweet-tart flavour. I don’t think the rest of the family are big fans of them. That’s okay. More for me!

Part of the reason we chose this location is because I’ve read they self seed easily. I’ve even seen it on lists other gardeners have made for “things I regret growing” because they can almost be invasive.

I just don’t see that as being a problem. I would love it if we had more! And if they fill in this area, that’s okay, too.

In the background, you can see the kulli corn and the yellow bush beans. Both are doing very well in that new bed. The corn took quite a while to recover from being transplanted, so I’m very happy to see how well they are growing. No sign of silks or tassels yet, though.

The Yellow Pear tomatoes, on the other side of the corn, are also doing well. The plants are much taller and fuller than the ones in the main garden. Their fruiting is not as far along, though. Which makes sense, since they were started indoors at 4 weeks before last frost, while the ones in the main garden area were started 10 weeks before last frost.

Speaking of which…

While checking to see if any suckers needs to be pruned away, I noticed one of the Cup of Moldova plants seem to be falling over, even though it was staked. Looking closer, I found the clip had come loose – and had a tomato trying to grow into it! I tried to be careful about removing the clip, but the tomato fell off in the process. The plant is now once again secured to its stake.

As for the tomato, slightly wounded and deformed by the clip, I brought it inside. It should continue ripening.

The Cup of Moldova and Sophie’s Choice tomatoes are looking quite prolific! The Sophie’s Choice plants are much shorter and stockier. One of them is so short, there is no way for me to clip it to its stake. The stake is basically just there for the plant to lean on, but the bigger the tomatoes are getting, the more it’s leaning in the other direction.

Ah, well.

We are greatly anticipating being able to start processing tomatoes. Mostly, I want to make tomato paste, which takes a long time to cook down, so we will probably do crushed tomatoes, too. Pretty much the only thing we use other than tomato paste is crushed tomatoes in chili.

I’ll have to go over how to save tomato seeds again. It’s more complicated than with other seeds. My mother had always saved seeds from her tomatoes, but she just dried them. None of that letting them ferment in water, thing! 😄 It worked for her, but my mother always did have two green thumbs!

With our average first frost date being Sept. 10, we have just over a month of growing season left. There is still time for productivity! In the end, it all comes down to the weather.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: new growth, weeding progress and sad harvest

While checking on the garden (and putting back cardboard mulch that was blown around), I spotted some new growth.

This is an apple gourd! I’m hoping it was pollinated and will continue growing. It looks like 3 of the 4 apple gourd plants are going to be productive, but this one is definitely the largest and strongest. The fourth one remains barely visible!

We have two more Baby Pam pumpkins developing! I hand pollinated these ones myself, just in case, and it seems to have taken. That makes a total of 3 of these pumpkins trying to grow. As these are a small, short season variety, we might actually have ripe pumpkins to harvest this fall.

The kulli corn is getting nice and tall! It’s time to take the net off and see if we can wrap it around the side, leaving the top open, for the corn to reach its full height.

Those bean plants are huge! This bed was made with trench composting, and it seems to have made a difference.

Rearranging the net will give a chance for some weeding, too, but it doesn’t look like this bed is having weed problems! 😄

The nearby ground cherries are getting very robust!

This is what ground cherry flowers look like. 🙂 I’ve finding quite a few flowers, and developing fruit. I’m looking forward to these!

I was finally able to settle in and weed this overground bed. The netting around it may keep the groundhogs away from the carrots, but it prevents casual weeding, too.

Unfortunately, I did end up accidentally pulling a couple of purple carrots in the process. It’s really hard to pull up crab grass next to carrot greens!

There aren’t a lot of the one type of turnip, but at least there’s something. The Gold Ball turnip are simply gone. They were the first to germinate, and disappeared almost immediately. I’d hoped that, while weeding, I might find some survivors, but there’s nothing. I don’t know what ate them, any more than I know what is leaving so many holes in the other turnips. We planted 3 types of turnips, but only one has survived – so far.

I did manage to have a sad little harvest this morning. A handful of the shelling peas, and a few raspberries.

Which is better than no harvest at all!

While at my mother’s, yesterday, we went looking at the garden plots outside her apartment. She has one little corner with some low maintenance plants in it, but some of her neighbours have better mobility and are growing a remarkable amount of vegetables in those little plots. One person has peas. They are pretty much twice the size of our own peas even though, from the stage of the developing pods, they had to have been planted later than our own. Even so, they were smaller than pea plants should be.

It’s been a hard gardening year for so many people!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: ground cherry, popcorn and we surrender!

The rain held off this afternoon, so I headed out to where we finally decided to transplant the ground cherries.

After thoroughly dousing myself with mosquito repellant!!

This spot by the compost heap has been covered with that sheet of metal for about 2 years. The metal was placed there as something to put grass clippings on top of, so they’d be easier to collect and use later on.

Isn’t it amazing that, even while under metal, things were still trying to grow under there? !!

The soil was so soft under there, I could easily push the garden fork deeper than the length of the tines, and probably could have gone deeper if I’d wanted to. The ground was also pretty saturated, so it was muddy work to loosen the soil and pull out any roots – including some thoroughly rotted roots from the old tree stump under the compost pile nearby! No watering needed after they were planted, that’s for sure. In fact, I’m a bit concerned it might be too wet for them. We shall see.

The groundcherries got a good mulch with some of the grass clippings I had to move off the sheet of metal in order to move it. Here, they can be left to self seed, and hopefully we’ll get them year after year. We’ll just have to make sure they don’t spread too far and become invasive, which I’ve heard some people have had problems with.

The sheet of metal, meanwhile, is now sitting on top of the tall grass and weeds next to the ground cherries, weighted down with rocks to keep it from blowing away. Hopefully, it will help keep the crab grass and other weeds from invading the ground cherries.

When my daughter came out to help, we went looking through all the garden beds, talking about what needed to be done in each, before she started working on where we decided to plant our corn.

First, she dug a fairly narrow trench for the Tom Thumb popcorn, between the green patty pans and the Boston Marrow. These have a slightly longer growing season – 85-90 days – so we wanted to get them in first.

After she dug the small trench, she moved to the space between the Boston Marrow and the Lady Godiva pumpkins. There’s more space there, and it’s where we will be planting the Latte corn, which needs only 65 days to maturity, and bush beans.

While she worked on that trench, I used the hand cultivator to loosen up the smaller trench, pulled out the bigger rocks, and as many weed roots as I could. Then it got a layer of shredded paper, and finally a about 1 1/2 wheelbarrow loads of garden soil was added. I also removed the divots of sod and dumped them under some trees. They are so full of roots and rocks, it wasn’t worth the time to try and salvage any of the soil.

The Tom Thumb popcorn only grows to about 4 feet. The instructions said to plant them 5 or 6 inches apart, and in rows 36 inches apart, in blocks of at least 4 rows.

Obviously, we didn’t do that.

What we did do was plant two rows, with all the seeds about 6 inches apart. Once the soil was ready, my daughter had finished removing sod in the other area, so I just went down the prepared row, poking pairs of holes into the soil while my daughter went along behind me, dropping the little bitty corn seeds in! 🙂

I’m glad we got those planted, because the next job was a killer.

In the second space, I went over it with the hand cultivator to get some of the bigger rocks out, and the more obvious roots. There’s just no way we could get rid of all the roots. While I worked on that, my daughter used one of the old, busted up wheelbarrows to get grass clippings. A full recycling bag of shredded paper went into the bottom, then grass clippings got scattered over the paper.

After dumping the remaining soil in the wheelbarrow in, my daughter went to get more soil with the good wheelbarrow, while I used the old one to remove the divots of sod.

I was reminded of just how badly broken up that old thing was! I’m amazed we got away with using it for as long as we did. In the end, I had to switch to the other old wheelbarrow. It’s smaller and also busted up, but at least it didn’t try to tip over every time I dropped a piece of sod in it, or roll away!

After a while, however, my daughter was waving the white flag. It was pretty hot, and very humid. For all the bug spray we used, we were just sweating it right off. The mosquitoes were after my daughter more than me (I reapplied bug spray, several times!), and after all the back breaking labour of removing sod, she was just done.

After she escaped the clouds of mosquitoes, I managed to move some more of the sod – using the good wheelbarrow! – before switching to getting a couple more loads of soil, and that was it. I surrendered, too! I think we did manage to get half of the area covered with fresh garden soil. The other half will probably need at least 4 – 6 more loads of soil, depending on how full the wheelbarrow is. It’s a fair distance to haul the soil from the pile in the outer yard, and we have to go around through the smaller person gate, rather than the closer vehicle gate, because there’s water there again, so we can’t get away with over filling it.

It’s a good thing the Latte corn and the bush beans we will be planting with them don’t need a lot of time to grow, because we probably won’t be able to work on this area tomorrow, and not just because I’m driving my mother to another medical appointment. We’re supposed to start raining again tonight, with thunderstorms over the next two days – complete with overland flow flooding alerts! I’ll be using my mother’s car to drive her. Hopefully, that one patch on the road near our place will stay solid enough by the time I am coming home, that her little car will get through. Anyhow; with the expected weather, we might not be able to finish this area and plant the Latte corn for several days.

By the time we’re done in this area, it will be quite intensely planted. Between that and the straw mulch we intend to add, I’m hoping that should keep the weeds down. Before that gets done, we’ll have to remove the rest of the sod and the piles of rocks scattered about.

It would have been much easier if we could do the carboard and straw like we did for the potato beds, but we just don’t have the carboard for that. We could get more later on, but we really wanted to get these in as quickly as possible. This will be the last direct sown seeds, besides any successive sowing we might do for a fall harvest.

This is also about as close as we’re getting to the “three sisters” method of planting. Hopefully, doing it this way will have the same benefits as the more traditional way. The only real problem I foresee is being able to access the bush beans to harvest them, when everything is all grown in. If we focus on putting the corn in the middle and the beans on the outside, we should be able to reach them okay. It’ll be trying to walk around the Boston Marrow and hulless pumpkins that will be more of a challenge, I think! With the Tom Thumb corn, it will be less of an issue, since they won’t be harvested until the cobs are completely dry on the stalk. Once the mulch is down, there’s not going to be much more needed for them.

If nothing else, this will be a learning experience.

And an experience in humility, as we get driven away by hoards of mosquitoes, trying to eat us alive!

I’m now going to go borrow my husband’s bath chair and shower off the smell of insect repellant now!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: winter sowing, and transplants organized

During the winter, we tried a winter sowing experiment. We sowed seeds in 4 different styles of containers to see which would do better come springtime.

The answer is…

… none of them.

Not a single thing has germinated.

I think they froze. Our extended winter was probably a bit too much for them. People in some of my zone 3 gardening groups have had good success with their winter sowing, so I know the technique works. It just didn’t work for us, this year!

Will be try again next year?

Maybe. We’ll decide in the fall, I think.

When bringing the transplants in last night, I took the time to go through them all, organize them and get labels ready for today.

This morning, while taking them back outside, I gave them another once over, trying to figure out how I wanted to get them in. This is what we’ve got left to transplant.

This year, we have 3 surviving Crespo squash – and one of them was thinned out from another pot. These guys REALLY want to go into flower!

We did all right with the Styrian hulless pumpkins, with 4 surviving transplants.

The Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins did even better. There are 5 pots in there, but some of them have two or three plants – seeds started germinating later, after we started hardening off the plants!

The Kakai hulless pumpkin did not fare as well. There are only 2 of those.

The Baby Pam pumpkin did amazing. We’ve got 6 of them – a 100% germination rate! These are last year’s seeds, and last year, none of them germinated!

In the other bin are the two Little Finger eggplants I found among the squash and pumpkins, plus the two giant pumpkins started from free seeds given out at the grocery store near my mother’s place. We won’t be doing any of the pruning or special care to grow a competition sized pumpkin, but it should still be interesting to see how big they do get!

Here we have 3 pots each of winter squash, but some of the pots have 2 or 3 seedlings in them! We’ll decide what to do with them, as we are ready to transplant. I don’t like to “waste” strong, healthy seedlings, so they might all get transplanted. We shall see.

We’ve got 2 Apple gourds, for sure – these were from a second start, due to the Great Cat Crush. There are two others that are either more Apple gourds, or Ozark nest egg gourds. The writing faded on the labels.

We have quite a lot of ground cherries, and still have no idea where we are going to plant them!

Here are the last of the seedlings that were started at 4 weeks before last frost date. There are 4 green zucchini (the yellow zucchini and the Magda have already been planted), and 8 of the G-star patty pans, which we got through a happy mistake. The Teddy squash are from last year’s seeds, and these ones grow in a bush habit, rather than vining.

Then there are the three pots that have Yakteen gourds planted in them, but only one pot has seedlings – and a new one germinating again! That was one of the pots that got re-planted, because none germinated. The other round pot that has a label stuck in it was also replanted, but nothing has germinated. The middle round pot had Kakai pumpkins sown in it, which did not germinate, so I used the same pot for more Yakteen gourd seeds. Nothing. Very strange!

When it’s time to plant these, we’ll be trying to work them in groups or clusters, placing like away from like, as much as possible. At the same time, we want the summer squash to be easily accessible, which means not letting them get crowded by the sprawling winter squash! We’ll see how many we can fit into the area my daughter dug a grid of holes into.

It’s a littler over a weeks since our last average frost date, so hopefully, it’s not too late to be transplanting these. As you can tell by the yellowing leaves, they really need to be out of those pots and into the ground!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: the 6 week batch

This week is 6 weeks away from our average last frost date, so we started our next batch of seeds.

We had the Kulli corn, the Chocolate Cherry tomato and Yellow Pear tomato to do. We were also still considering starting the last few Spoon tomato seeds, since they were so fun last year, but in the end, decided against it. Four types of tomatoes is enough!

Of course, I found extra to start.

Looking over our seedlings, I noticed that one pot with Tennessee Dancing gourds still has not germinated, while the other had a single sad looking little plant that was looking ever more wimpy…

… it turned out to be dead.

Well, then.

We still have seeds from last year, so I scarified a few and started them soaking before I headed out for errands.

Then, just because I’m curious…

… I scarified then set to soak the two giant pumpkin seeds that were given out for free at the grocery store near my mother’s place. Her town has a giant pumpkin contest every year and, in the spring, there’s always a big basket full of envelopes with just a few seeds in them, available for free (though they do request a limit of one packet per family).

Before filling the bins with toilet paper tube pots with soil, I decided to count how many corn seeds we actually got. Each package was supposed to have 25 seeds, but I know sometimes there are extras, and we were going to put one seed in each tube.

There turned out to be a total of 106. 😀 Granted, some of the extras were really tiny, but we intended to plant them anyway.

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture, so here’s an old one of the larger bin. It fits 8 rows of 10 tubes. I actually ended up changing the tubes in the picture out for different tubes. The tubes from some brands are longer than others, and I ended up switching to a brand – the Costco Kirkland brand – that had taller tubes.

The big bin held 80 tubes, while the smaller shoe-box size bin held 4 rows of 8, so we would have empties. We still filled them all with soil, so that the tubes could support each other.

Before we started filling the tubes with the growing medium, I set the corn to soak. My daughters did their best to fill the tubes without getting too much of the soil in between the tubes, while I potted up the gourds and pumpkin seeds, then started working on the tomatoes.

Which is when I got a phone call from my brother, to talk about the latest on our vandal’s court case against me that was supposed to be today, but got cancelled. I’d sent a message to the court clerk about the conflict in dates, saying that I’d been told on the phone our vandal had picked 2 dates, and some of the issues we have to deal with as to why we chose the November date. I added that the earlier December date would work better for us, but I didn’t think our vandal would agree to any date we selected and suggested the court simply assign a date and we’d all just work with it.

We got a response saying that, since we couldn’t agree on a date, we’d have a teleconference call in early May with the court clerk to set up a trail date. The response was to my email, with our vandal’s email added on, so he got to see what I wrote.

Well, he responded in a reply-all. One of the first things he said was that he had NOT selected the November date, just the May one, and said something about how he felt my comment on not agreeing on dates was inappropriate, and he just wanted to get the whole thing over with as soon as possible. I’m paraphrasing of course, but it was pretty brief.

Hhhmmm. Now that I think about it, his wife probably wrote it. He’s not typically that succinct.

Anyhow.

Basically, he tried to make it sound like I had lied, and that he was a victim.

Of course, I forwarded the emails to my brother, since he’s my witness and he’s the one that needs to book time off work to attend. He phoned me this evening and we talked about the situation.

Which is kind of funny, realy.

You see, our vandal goofed. I had written that I was told on the phone that he’d picked the two dates. He basically accused me of lying – however the court clerk (or whatever her official position is; I can’t remember right now) who wrote the email is the same person who phoned me, telling me she’d already called him and the two dates he’d picked. Which means that, in trying to imply that I was lying, he was actually implying that the person we’ve been corresponding with is the liar.

I don’t think he realizes that at all.

I’m guessing his attempt to play the victim backfired on him.

By the time I finished talking with my brother, the girls were done with the corn, putting the lids on the bins to protect the pots from the cats, and tucking the tomato seeds out of feline reach for me. So I finished those up.

A few things got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse and into the mini-greenhouse to make space. The ground cherries stayed. Those are the super tiny seedlings you can see on the left. This is on the warming mat, so that’s where the gourds and pumpkins went.

The tomatoes should also be getting extra warmth, but there isn’t room for them over the heat mat until we can move the ground cherries out. (The bunching onions just got moved over to the upcycled plastic stray you can see on the right.) I ended up putting 5 tomato seeds in each cup, with 3 cups per variety, half filling them so the seedlings can be “potted up” later, by just adding more soil. It should be interesting to see how many germinate, and if we’ll get enough strong seedlings to thin by transplanting.

We’re going to have an awful lot of tomatoes. Which is weird with just 2 out of 4 people liking tomatoes – at least for fresh eating. Still, I’d rather plant extra and have enough to afford losses.

The kulli corn went straight to the sun room.

Potato Beetle got out of the sun room while I was using the wagon to bring my earlier purchases through (yes! I was able to get big bags of cat kibble!!), slipping under the wagon and out the door before I could do anything. The sun room was over 25C/77F !!! at the time, so I left the outside doors slightly open as much to cool things down, as to give Potato Beetle a chance to come back in.

When I came in with the bins holding the corn, I found a skunk eating Potato Beetle’s kibble! I shooed it outside, and found a second one in the kibble house.

I shooed that one away, too, then topped up the kibble trays just enough to make noise and maybe get Potato Beetle’s attention. A bunch of cats came running, but no Potato. 😦

Well, now that the corn is in the sun room, he lost one of the spots he likes to sit in, anyhow. I do wish we’d been able to get him back in for the night, at least.

I’ll get pictures tomorrow, when it’s light out again. So far, the toilet paper tubes in these bins works out very well. The final word on it, though, will be when we have to get them out for transplanting!

Now that Lent is over, I’m back on social media and my gardening groups. Today, one of them posted a list of seeds to start indoors over the next week. Based on that list, we’re behind, but our June 2 frost date is quite late, even for a zone 3. Most of the people in the zone 3 gardening groups have last frost dates in the second half of May. Still, because we have so very many seeds to start indoors, I think I will slowly work on them over the next couple of weeks. The remaining gourds would probably do better with an earlier start, I think, and some of the winter squash probably would, too. As long as they are all done within the next 2 weeks, it should work out, and not be too overwhelming when it comes to finding space for all the pots before the older seedlings also get added to the sun room.

Meanwhile, we’re still getting weather alerts, and still being told we may get as much as 10cm/4in of snow, just on Sunday. We’re supposed to start getting snow tonight, and mixed precipitation tomorrow. But then, according to the weather apps, we’re snowing right now, and there isn’t a flake to be seen in the infrared flash of our security camera (though I’ve been seeing plenty of cats and skunks running around on the driveway! 😀 ).

It seems to strange to be starting seeds for relatively heat loving plants, when we’re possibly getting yet another snow storm!

The Re-Farmer