Our 2022 garden: sad garlic

I’m mentioned in previous posts, that two of our garlic beds are not doing well. We planted all three beds at the same time, last year.

While doing my rounds this morning, I caught one of the yard cats being… inappropriate… in one of the low raised bed and chased it off. On checking the damage, I saw it had dug up one of the cloves we planted last year.

That is most definitely a dead clove. You can see that it had started to sprout, which would have been the fall growth before the snow fell. It does seem like cold killed a lot of these off.

This garlic is from the bed planted with Rocambole garlic.

There were 90 cloves planted in this bed. This morning, I counted maybe 7, including what looked like a tip just barely breaking through.

The bed with Purple Stripe in it is doing a bit better, in that there are more emerging, but it still looks like less than half have survived the winter, and they are all so very tiny.

I am curious as to why these beds did so poorly over the winter, while the Porcelain Music planted in the low raised bed in the main garden are doing to very well right now. Could it be, that the slightly higher boxes offered less protection than the lower, log framed bed?

Well, whatever the reason, I hope what few have survived manage to do well, even if they are quite a bit behind in growth. It may just mean we’ll be harvesting them later in the summer.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: recovery! and “potting up”

I am just so very thrilled!

I popped through the sun room to chase a skunk out of the kibble house, which gave me a chance to check on the seedlings (and give Potato Beetle some cuddles.

As I write this, it’s 3C/37F outside, but 20C/68F in the sun room.

Here are before and after photos. Look at what a difference the temperature has made!

The Cup of Moldova tomatoes were all drooping in their bin – or held up by the protective sheet of insulation on the side (I’m glad I put that there, as Potato Beetle has been sitting on the other side of it!), but now they’re all standing tall again!

I honestly didn’t think the three Cup of Moldova tomatoes in between the Crespo squash and Canteen gourds would make it, they looked so shriveled, but they too are standing at attention once again!

Perhaps the most dramatic difference is in the smaller Wonderberry. They’re looking just fine right now!

It’s supposed to start snowing again tonight, but the low is supposed to be just 0C/32F. Even if we end up a few degrees colder, that should still be warm enough that the sun room will be much better tonight, compared to last night. If they survived last night, they should have no problem with tonight! In a way, this is hardening off the seedlings, I suppose. Just in a very brutal way!

I am so happy now!

Meanwhile, I decided to check on the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes. The remaining ones from the second planting are still quite small, but getting tall enough that they could be “potted up” by adding more soil to their Red Solo cup pots.

There were four cups, each with two seedlings in them. Three of them were thinned down to one, but in one of the cups, both where equally strong, so I transplanted one of them to its own cup. They are now back in the mini-greenhouse, safe from leaf eating, dirt digging, pot crushing kitties.

Most of the other remaining seedlings in the mini-greenhouse are tomatoes – the squash and gourds we repotted after the Great Cat Crush did not survive, so we have only those from the second seeding, in the big aquarium greenhouse. Of the other survivors of the Great Cat Crush are three cups with eggplants (one has two strong seedlings in it that I’m considering dividing), and two peppers, one of which is very weak and spindly. We do have the new seed starts of those in the big aquarium greenhouse, and their true leaves are just beginning to show. We shall see how many we finally end up with, by the time we’re ready to transplant them outside.

Today, we are also finally seeing the tiniest seedlings among the ground cherries. Of the six pots, two of them has a single seedling showing up. I hope more germinate. I really like ground cherries, and would love to have quite a few plants of those.

One of our planned projects is to build a wire mesh barrier, with a wire mesh door, in the opening between the living room and dining rooms. We’ll be able to keep the cats out entirely, and the living room can be our plant haven, so we don’t have to struggle so much to protect them anymore!

Gosh, I feel so encouraged now.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: did I kill them?

Okay, so yesterday, I moved a number of our seedlings into the sun room. These were the largest seedlings that had out grown their spaces in the living room set ups. The overnight temperatures were supposed to go below freezing again, but the sun room is usually about 10 degrees Celsius warmer than outside.

The problem is, the overnight temperatures were lower than forecast, which means even at 10 degrees warmer than outside, it still would have gotten pretty cold in there. We currently have no safe way to set up the ceramic heat bulb, but we at least had the warm light fixture in the plant shelf, as much for Potato Beetle as for the seedlings!

When I went through the sun room to do my rounds this morning, I checked the seedlings and everything was looking pretty good. A little bit droopy, perhaps, but just a few leaves here and there. I was quite encouraged.

I didn’t see a lot of outside cats this morning, though I did find a lot of orange fur on the ground in front of the sun room! Clearly, there had been a fight, but of the three orange cats that were at the kibble house, none looked injured.

Rosencrantz is looking very, very round.

With the morning rounds done, I made a quick run into town to pick up a prescription refill for my husband that we couldn’t get delivered last week, due to the storm.

Since the pharmacy is across the street from where I found the bins we’re using for the seedlings, I swung by to see if I could find some more of the large size I got. They were still out of stock, but I took advantage of some good prices and picked up some canned meats and clam chowder for the pantry. On the way home, I swung by the dump to get rid of our garbage and recycling that was still in the van to keep it away from the critters, then headed home.

In the length of time it took me to do that, this happened.

Everything I brought out yesterday was drooping.

The tomatoes seemed to be hit the hardest, which I’m a bit surprised about. I thought the gourds and squash would have a harder time. Then there’s those two Wonderberries.

The first Wonderberry is just fine. It’s been there long enough to have acclimated to the room, I guess.

So… what do you think? Did I kill them? Or do you think they might recover? I think at least some of the tomatoes might recover, but… *sigh* I don’t know. We’ll find out over the next couple of days.

I am just so frustrated right now. It’s been such a struggle to start these in the first place. We have more than enough space to start seeds, but having to protect them all from the cats – and they still managed to get at and damage a bunch – means they’re basically crowded into a few small areas and poor air circulation. If we didn’t have to do that, we wouldn’t have to rely on the run room at all. We could turn our entire living room into a growing space.

As for the sun room, it still should have been fine, if the temperatures had only dropped as low as forecast. Before bed, I was seeing lows of -7/19F. The sun room, with the warming lamp, should have been just fine at that temperature. Looking at the records for the past 24 hours, we actually hit -11C/12F. Which means the sun room, without the warming lamp, would have dipped below freezing. The lamp can only add a few degrees of warm in a very small area, though we’ve got the added protection of the sheets of rigid insulation, and the reflector would help, too. Not enough to help the Wonderberry on the window shelf, on the other side of the doors, but it should have been enough to protect the seedlings on the plant shelf.

I just feel so… defeated. Having to fight the cats is one thing, but the forecasts have been so off lately, and not in our favour. It would bother me less if this wasn’t stuff we are trying to grow to feed ourselves.

Well, there are still some smaller Cup of Moldova tomatoes in the mini-greenhouse, and none of the Sophie’s Choice were large enough that they had to be moved. We still have some seeds for the canteen gourds and Crespo squash that we can try starting, though it’s getting late for those.

At least most of the seeds we need to start indoors won’t actually be started for a couple more weeks, along with the varieties we will be starting this week.

It just feels like such a battle, and it’s a battle we shouldn’t be having.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: almost frost

When I woke up this morning, we were at 2C/36F

We had not gotten any frost warnings the night before, but when it gets that cold, it’s going to be too much for some things, with our without frost.

The last few days, morning and evening, we have been hearing a cacophony of geese in the surrounding fields. Something must have disturbed them this morning, because they were not only louder than usual, but I even got to see them flying overhead.

Going north, for some reason! 😀

Last night, my daughters had picked more tomatoes and a few summer squash, and this morning I was going to pick beans.

It looks like we’re now done for beans.

They may not have gotten an actual frost, but the foliage was clearly damaged. The purple beans have a lot more foliage, which protected the pods, but I could see cold damage on the green and yellow beans.

I had taken some photos yesterday, which ended up giving me comparison photos with today. Here is the Crespo squash.

This was taken yesterday afternoon.

This is the smaller of the two squash in the previous photo.

This is the larger one, yesterday (on the left) and this morning (on the right). 😦

This is one of our biggest squash. Yesterday’s photo is on the left, and this morning is on the right. This squash is shaded for longer in the morning, and you can see there is actual frost on it!

These next ones are photos from yesterday and, from what I could see, they were okay this morning.

The one that’s hanging is in a spot where it gets hit with morning sun earlier than others. The large one on the ground has foliage around it that may have protected it. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see, so I can’t actually say for sure if it was damaged or not. It’ll take a bit more time before we’ll know if they got cold damaged or not.

Then there are the Ozark Nest Egg gourds. I took these photos last night, but didn’t bother to take more this morning.

We will have a better idea as the day goes on, but as of this morning, they seemed to have no real damage at all. There are still so many little gourds all over, there are still flowers that look like they are opening, and there was no signs of cold damage, like on the Crespo squash. These gourds are in the south yard and get that morning sunlight nice and early, which may have made the difference.

The tomatoes on the south fence also looked untouched by the cold, but the one that had seeded itself in the lettuce bed looked like it was hit by frost. That bed gets shaded more, longer, this time of year. If we’d gotten a frost warning, I would have put the wire mesh cover back on and covered the bed with cloth. The lettuce is fine; it can handle temperatures even colder than this. The chard was also just fine.

It will be good when these beds all get converted to high raised beds. They get full sun in the summer, but when the sun is lower in the sky, several of them get more shade from the trees to the south. Once they are higher, they will be out of the shade, just a little bit sooner. Still, it is something to keep in mind for when we garden here in the future. It’s also another reason why I want to build permanent garden beds on the south side of the house, in the outer yard, where we don’t have so many tall trees to deal with.

As it is, we’re in the middle of October, and these have lasted far longer than we normally would have expected in our climate zone! So really, I can’t complain!

The Re-Farmer