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

Our 2021 garden: little surprises

I am happy to say that whatever had been eating our Teddy winter squash seems to have gone away!

These little guys are still around, and getting “big”. I found a 4th one of them, too.

I love how fuzzy they are at this stage!

While looking at the other beds, I had a few little surprises.

I am not only finding more of King Tut purple pea pods, but there are more flowers, too! This just amazes me. These should have been done long ago, even under ideal growing conditions, but they’re still chugging along!

I am leaving any pods that develop to go to seed, for next year. I figure something that could not only survive our drought, but is still managing to produce, is well worth planting again!

Then there are the green peas that were planted among the corn.

Some are starting to bloom! This one is among the sweet corn in the northernmost block. These are the tiniest of the corn. The peas are a real mix in their progress. Some are barely more than seedlings, while others are growing more enthusiastically.

This is one of the biggest pea plants I found, growing among the Dorinny corn that I’m leaving for seed. I’m even finding some among the purple corn that is also being left for seed at this point.

If things stay mild, we might actually have green peas to pick. The ones we planted in the spring did not handle the drought well, and hardly any pods developed. These late planted ones are getting much better temperatures right now.

This has been such a difficult year for gardening, I’m happy with anything we get!

The Re-Farmer

After the rain

Oh, what an amazing rainfall we have had!!!

During a break in the rain, yesterday, we were able to bring in the onions that were still on screens under the canopy. They at least were dry enough to brush off the remaining soil, before their roots were trimmed and I strung them on twine, the same way I did the garlic.

The strings of garlic are cured and now in a cardboard box, while the braid of onions are now in the kitchen, making room for these to continue curing. It’s cool enough, but unfortunately, the humidity was at 77% at the time we hung these up. Which is still better than outside! With the fan going, I hope they will cure okay. I kept the tops on, so that they could later be braided.

While doing my rounds, I found several clusters of mushrooms had sprung up in front of the cucamelons and gourds, over night. An encouraging sign of soil health improving. 🙂

There were a lot of hungry kitties! Junk Pile’s kittens are showing up at the kibble house more often, but I only see them because they heard me coming out of the house and ran off. One has been running under the cat house, whiel the others dash out of the yard. Our chances of socializing these ones seems rather low, unfortunately.

We are still leaving kibble further out for Butterscotch’s and Rosencrantz’s babies. There seems to be a bit of territorial disputes happening, and this ensures everyone still gets some food.

We didn’t get the predicted thunderstorms, but we did have high winds along with the driving rain, resulting in this wind damage to some of the sweet corn. This is the middle block, which has the tallest of the sweet corn.

I think some of those cobs may actually be ready to pick!

With so much rain overnight, I decided to go and check the gravel pit dugout. This is how it looked yesterday morning.

This is how it looked about 24 hours later.

That is so amazing!!!!

For a bit of perspective, though, look at the green parts to the right of where I’m standing to take the photo, then at the top left, where there is an opening in the trees.

The green part on my right is part of the original gravel pit. While it wasn’t as deep as where the dugout is now, it would normally have been part of the pond that had developed in here. The area in the background on the left is basically mash, and would at least have been muddy. Which means, when we get an more average year of moisture, that entire pit should be full of water, with water extending into the low area on the right, and the marsh in the background. Where I am standing to take the photo would be a few feet from the water’s edge.

With so much water here, I just had to go and check the pond, too.

Yes!!! There is even water at the bottom, here!

That is just so awesome to see!

Okay, it took me a while to find, but I knew I’d posted photos of the gravel pit. Here is a photo of the old gravel pit, taken in June of 2019.

All that area of water that’s furthest away is where the new dugout was made. The area to the left is the shallower area that was left alone.

What a huge difference!

So appreciating the rain we got. For the cows and the wildlife, too!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: yesterday and today

Yesterday ended up being even hotter than was forecast.

We also didn’t get the thunderstorms that were predicted. 😦

I still ended up outside to take care of a few things. One of them was to check on our curing onions, shallots and garlic.

They are not cured yet, but they’ve dried enough that I took the time to brush off the soil from the shallots, then kept right on going, doing all the onions and hanging garlic, too.

Quite the difference!!

They will probably need at least a few more days, probably a week, to cure, but I might be able to trim and re-string them and hang them in the root cellar to finish curing. We shall see what the conditions are like. They really shouldn’t be hanging outside in the heat like this, though they are at least dry. I found out from my SIL that my mother would braid her garlic and hang them in trees, so I guess this should work out fine, too.

Though we did not get the predicted thunderstorms, we did have high winds from the south all day.

High enough to break a heavily laden tomato branch that didn’t have enough support. 😦 I spent some time adding supports to the tomatoes, and found others that were bent, but not broken like this one. This one was still attached, so I tied it upright, but by this morning it was wilting. It’s likely a lost cause, but I went ahead and took it off completely, then stuck the end into the ground.

After adding support to the tomatoes, I picked the ripe ones – there are three different types of tomatoes in this photo – and picked the largest cucamelons, too. We’re still getting just enough for snacking on. 🙂

Speaking of cucamelons, check this out.

This morning, their vines were reaching even higher past the top of the fence. How these are not falling over, I don’t know! The vines are clearly much stronger than they appear!

For the past while, I’ve been watching the sweet corn grow, wondering that there were so may tassels forming, but no cobs. When I went to water them yesterday evening, it was a relief to finally see silks emerging on several stalks. We might have corn to eat, after all!

This morning, I was able to pick some more beans, too.

The yellow beans seem to be getting into the height of their production, and I even found green beans large enough to harvest, but only one purple bean large enough to pick!

With how many we planted, I had hope to have more, but with our drought conditions, I’m happy that we have enough to eat fresh with our meals.

Also, do you see the drops of moisture on the colander in the photo?

That’s not from rinsing the beans.

Those are rain drops.

Yes! We have rain! It started to rain lightly just as I was finishing up with my rounds, and has been raining off and on ever since.

So exciting!

Even my older brother is getting rain at their place. They’ve had even less rain than we have. They get the same weird weather phenomenon that we do. As the systems move over us, something seems to just push them to go around, or even cause them to dissipate. Our theory was that it has something to do with being between such large lakes, but my brother’s place is well past the southernmost tip of the lake. So it can’t be that

We are just so happy for the rain we are getting right now. I can’t wait to check on the gravel pit this evening, to see if there’s any water at the bottom of the new dig!

The Re-Farmer

Corny curiosity

While doing my rounds this morning and checking for deer damage in the garden beds, I noticed something odd about our sweet corn.

The middle corn block is the one that’s growing the tallest and developing the most tassels.

But there is only one corn cob developing.

Once it sunk in what I was seeing – and not seeing – I walked around through the corn block, looking for developing cobs, and there just aren’t any. Not a sign. Usually, I can at least tell where cobs are going to start growing, but there is nothing.

How very curious.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning damage

I have a bit of time before I head off to pick up our meat pack, and just had to make a quick post.

It was a bad morning in the garden.

While heading over to switch out the memory card on the garden cam, the very first thing that I saw was this.

Of the surviving Dorinny corn, there was one plant on its own at the very end of a row. It is now in two rows.

The critter didn’t even eat the whole thing. It just chomped on half a corn cob.

Another Dorinny corn got it’s developing cob torn off and nibbled on.

This one got to me. These are the transplanted Hopi Black Dye sunflowers. The ones we started indoors months ago, but didn’t actually germinate until all the others were direct sown or transplanted. While small, they had been doing well. Now, all but one have their heads chopped off, and the one that didn’t, is broken.

You can see the single surviving pink celery transplant, near it. That got ignored, at least.

Then there’s this. You can even see the hoof print in the ground!

This is the purple corn, way on the other side of the garden. The last two corn in this row had already been partially eaten and were growing back, only to be eaten again. A third one has it’s tall stalk broken right off, and you can see it lying on the ground. Thankfully, that was as far as the damage went, with the purple corn.

And here we have our culprit! At least for the Dorinny corn and sunflowers. The tracks in the purple corn head in the opposite direction, so it was either another deer, or this deer took the scenic route.

In the trail cam files, I did see a woodchuck in the sweet corn during the day, but there was no damage to that corn. It looked like it was eating the grass or weeds in the path.

The woodchuck – or another of them – is likely the cause of this damage, in one of the summer squash. It’s definitely not a deer that did this.


Later today, I’ll be moving some of the things we put around the tulips to keep critters away. The tulips have died back and they are no longer needed there. The bells and spinners would probably be useful in startling critters. Clearly, the flapping grocery bags, motion activated light and aluminum tart pans are no longer enough.

I suppose the damage is pretty minimal, given how much we’ve got planted overall, but even a little bit adds up after a while. It’s so frustrating.

When we plant trees where the temporary garden beds are now, we at least know we’ll have to take extra steps to protect the saplings from critter damage.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: getting better

Like for so many others this year, it has been a real challenge to keep things alive and growing in the garden. With our furthest beds, even having enough hoses to be able to reach the furthest beds, the corn and sunflower blocks were the hardest to keep watered, until we started using the sprinkler.

The corn is nowhere near as tall as they would have been, if we weren’t in drought conditions, but they have really grown a lot in a very short time, and are starting to develop their tassels. Because of how long the area of corn and sunflowers is, the sprinkler we have can’t cover it all. To be able to water it all, we set it up in the middle of one of the sunflower blocks, set it to “full”, and it can water most of the blocks. After a while, we move it to the end and set it to spray just on one side, and we get the rest of it. The corn block in the middle tends to get water from both settings, and it really shows. The corn in the photo in that middle block.

The sunflowers are also not anywhere near as tall or robust as they would be. Especially the Mongolian Giant sunflowers. They and the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers, pictured above, are basically the same size. Only the ones that got started indoors and transplanted are slightly taller. All of them have very thin stems, still. As you can see in the photo, however, they are starting to grow their flowers! I don’t expect them to reach full size, but I do hope we at least get some of the Black Dye sunflowers reach maturity.

We planted sunflowers, and chose the location for them, for a number of reasons. One of those reasons, for both the corn and the sunflowers, was to have a privacy screen. Unfortunately, this year’s drought has prevented that particular goal from happening.

If all goes to plan, however, we will be planting shrubs that will do that particular job, on a permanent basis!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning finds

While doing my rounds this morning, I topped up the small bird feeder. As I took it down from its hanger, I heard something fly out from the plants below. It turned out to be a goldfinch. It flew onto a nearby lilac branch, and just stayed there, watching me.

As I went by again, on my way to the garden, I saw it again.

I came withing a few feet of it, and it just stayed there. Like it was trying to sleep and wondering what this idiot human was doing at 5:30 in the morning!

A few days ago, I noticed we’d lost a few sunflowers, among the Hopi Black Dye rows, and a couple of sweet corn. Off hand, I would have thought “deer”, but it was odd. There were just a few nipped plants, and they were in the middle of the rows, in roughly the middle of blocks, not along the edges as I would expect from a deer going around the roped off blocks.

Nothing showed up in the garden cam, which told me that whatever it was, it was too small to trigger the motion sensor where the camera was set up. So I repositioned the camera (mounting in on that flag stand was the best rig ever!) to hopefully catch something.

When checking the beds before watering them, I was disappointed to find this.

The second Crespo squash find has had its end nibbled off, too. Only as far as the hoop barrier, but then, the only vine had been nibbled about the same amount, and there was no barrier at all at the time.

Unfortunately, we don’t have another camera for this end of the garden.

As for the sweet corn…

Three corn plants were nibbled on. In the middle of a row, and in the middle block of the 3 corn blocks!

Just those three. Nothing else in the area was nibbled on.

It was a gorgeous 18C/64 when I first came out, but by the time I finished using the new action hoe to finish weeding a second row, it was already getting too hot for manual labour. So I headed indoors and checked the trail cam files, to see if whatever did this was captured.

Well, waddaya know. Do you see those two “lights” on the left?

Those are the eyes of two big, fluffy raccoons!!! And the far one could be seen coming out of the roped off area, while the nearer one was on the outside of the roped area.


So it is likely these guys that have been nibbling our sweet corn and sunflowers. We have not been seeing deer on the trail cams lately, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been going elsewhere in the yard. The water level in the kiddie pool is down, but not by much, so I don’t think anything as big as a deer has been using it.

The more stuff like this I see, the more I am thinking we are going to have to invest in a guard dog. A large breed that loves our cold winters. Which is a weird thing to think of, in our current heat.

As I write this, we’re at 33C/91F with a humidex of 36C/97F, and our high is predicted to be 34C/93F… oh, wait. My weather app icon on my desktop just changed. We’ve just hit 34C. The humidex is supposed to reach 37F/99F. Which is actually a bit lower than was forecast, a few days ago. But then, the weather forecasts have been unusually off this spring and summer. It’s one thing to be off by a couple of degrees, or even the continual calling for rain and thunderstorms that never happen. It’s when they say things like “rain will stop in X minutes”, and there’s no rain at all, anywhere in the region. Or “rain will start in X minutes”, but if I look at the weather radar, there isn’t any rain showing in the entire province, nor even in provinces on either side of us, nor the states to the north of us. Frustrating!

Still, over the next two weeks, the temperatures are expected to hover just above or below 30C/86F. One of my apps has a 25 day forecast, so it’s running into August, where, we’re expected to hover around the 25C/77F range. The average temperatures for both July and August in our area is 25C/77F, so I guess that’s about right. I was planning to plant spinach and lettuce in late July. I guess we’ll find out if it’s too hot for them or not!

One thing about our expanded gardening this year. We are continually looking at things and saying, “okay, so next year we’ll do this” or “next year, we’ll not to that.” 😀 It would all be a waste, if we didn’t learn anything from it! 😀


What to do about the raccoons…

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: first pea pods!

We managed to get a few things taken care of in the garden, once things started cooling down.

But first, kittens!

I wasn’t able to get pictures of all four of them, but these two seem to be a bit braver. 🙂 I also saw Rosencrantz and her two babies. It looks like they are actually living in that junk pile now.

I also saw the woodchuck again, this time diving under the garden shed. I don’t know if it was just trying to hide from me, or if that’s where it’s new den is.

One of the things that finally got done today was transplanting of the Hopi Black Dye sunflower seedlings that we’d tried starting indoors so long ago. There was a total of 8 to transplant. I also transplanted the few pink celery seedlings. I don’t expect them to grow, but I figured I’d give them a chance.

While I was refilling the watering can for the transplants, something caught my eye among the green peas.

Our first pea pods are developing!

The green pea pods are surprisingly large, for the size of the plants. There turned out to be quite a few of them we found as we watered. I didn’t see them this morning, but I may have missed them.

There was no missing these ones, though!

These pods are SO purple! I love them! 😀 Among the purple peas, we only found two pods, so far.

Oh, I am so excited. 😀

Before I transplanted the sunflowers, which you can see in the row in the foreground, I hoed around the remaining Dorinny corn. Of the 7 rows we planted in this block, there are 4 rows left, and all of them have gaps. I did transplant about 5 corn plants from the other three rows into the larger gaps. They seem to have handled the disturbance well. Even the corn plants that got munched on seem to be recovering!

It’s hard to see, but after the watering was done, the girls put up the wire mesh on the last section of the squash tunnel. My younger daughter has been diligent in getting the winter squash, gourds, melons and peas trained to climb their various structures.

While they were putting up the wire mesh, I got another corn block hoed.

Even though we had already watered everything, I was finding the soil so dry, I watered all the sweet corn and sunflower beds, over again. Little by little, I’ll be hoeing all the blocks. Since these rows were just new garden soil placed directly on the ground, with no cardboard layer, nor any sort of organic matter underneath, what few plants that were growing here are working their way through. As this corner gets so baked in the sun, what little had been growing here can handle drought conditions. Their roots are incredibly tough and hard to pull. Now that the area is being watered for the first time, these plants are growing like I’ve never seen them before. I don’t want them choking out our corn and sunflowers, but my goodness, they are hard to dig up!

With these beds being so far from the house, we’re doing a lot of dragging of hoses around. Today, a pair of hoses gave out. The joined connectors both started to break, spraying water with remarkable pressure. So tomorrow, I’ll have to head into town to find both male and female connectors to replace the broken ones. Both of these hoses were purchased last year, but considering what we’re putting them through, I am not at all surprised that they would break where they did.

Oh, my daughter tells me that the potatoes are blooming now, too. When I watered them this morning, they still just had buds.

So much growth is happening right now!! 🙂

On a completely different note, my husband got a notification email. Our StarLink kit is on its way. Our area should get coverage by mid to late this year – and we’re already midway through the year. I’m really hoping this new service works out, even though we would still be in Beta. Our satellite internet bill keeps going up, while the quality of our connection keeps going down. That is annoying enough in general, but I’m finding the WordPress editor seems to need higher connectivity than pretty much anything else. The editor simply won’t finish loading in any browser but Chrome and Tor. While everything loads much faster in Tor than on any other browser, the block editor does not work well if I have to go back and edit or adjust things, because blocks end up overlapping each other. Today, Chrome stopped working, too. Nothing will load except the tool bar across the top, and the question more icon in the bottom corner. The rest is blank. And sometimes, I don’t even get that much. Instead, WordPress just keeps timing out and I get error messages, instead.

So I’m using Tor right now, and am hoping that I can eventually load WordPress in one of my other browsers enough to open the draft and fix any weird formatting that might happen.

Hopefully, once we’re on StarLink, we’ll have a more stable connection. We’ll also have unlimited data, so we won’t need to have two accounts anymore. Switching could save us a couple hundred dollars a month, possibly more. Well worth the initial expense of setting up, which is pretty high, but doesn’t get billed all at once. For now, we’ll just be charged for the kit that’s being mailed out to us, which includes the dish, router, tripod and all the cables, parts and pieces needed to install it. My brother knows quite a few people already on the service, and they are really, really happy with it.

For now, though, I have to keep juggling browsers, just to be able to keep posting on this blog. I suppose I could use my phone, but I really need the big monitor and full size, ergonomic keyboard! That and the editing software I use to resize any photos I include, so they take up less storage space in WordPress.

So we’re getting a little bit of technical progress to go with our garden progress. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: direct sown corn and sunflowers, done!

The crab apple trees near the old garden area are starting to bloom. Not all of them yet, but this one was looking gorgeous, today. 🙂

This morning, after all the garden beds were watered, my older daughter and I got to work on the corn and sunflower blocks. She started by making furrows for the seeds and watering them, then I followed behind to plant.

We managed to get 2 corn blocks done, with radishes planted in between, when we stopped for lunch. It started raining, and for a while I thought we wouldn’t have a chance to finish, but it did get done! Mind you, I was getting rained on while planting the last seeds, but not enough for it to be an issue. 🙂

These are the three types of corn that got planted today. At the far end in the photo, is the Sweetness, then Early Eh, and finally the Montauk, in the foreground.

Because the soil is hardest packed the further north we go, we planted the April Cross Chinese Radish, a Daikon type radish, in the northernmost corn block. The packet had much fewer seeds than I expected, so we were able to include them in only 3 of the 5 rows. There was enough Red Meat Watermelon Radish to interplant with the remaining two blocks of corn. Hopefully, both varieties will help with breaking up the hard soil and, once harvested, will give the corn’s roots more room to grow into. This is really late for radishes to be planted; they can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked, however with their short growing season, it should still work out.

The blocks of 3 rows were for the sunflowers. The Mongolian Giant got planted in the block to the north; with how big they are supposed to get, I figured that would work out better. There aren’t a lot of seeds in the packets, but at 2 ft apart, I did end up filling two rows. There will still be the transplants to include, about a week from now. The 3 row block that’s to the south got the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers. The flags mark the block with the Hopi Black Dye and, not being a giant variety, they were planted 18 inches apart. That filled 2 rows as well. Not a single one of the packet we started indoors has germinated, so there is nothing to transplant. We will have more Mongolian Giant transplants than will fill in the one row left in that block, so we might end up splitting them between the two blocks. I didn’t think ahead, and planted seeds on the northern rows. Any Mongolian Giant transplants could end up shading the Hopi Black Dye – though with zero germination from the first packet, I wouldn’t be surprised if none of these germinated, either. I am at a loss as to why the ones we started indoors completely failed to germinate.

Now that these beds are done, we have some time before we can start transplanting, which should be enough time to get the squash tunnel built, and create more beds for them and the other transplants that need them.

Two weeks from now, if all goes well, all the planting (not counting successive sowing) should be done!

The Re-Farmer