Our 2022 garden: morning transplants

Well, I got some of the transplants in this morning! I’m just taking a break for hydration and sustenance, before I get back at it.

The first priority of the morning was to fill the remaining “instant raised bed” I got from The Dollar Tree that had a split seam, so my daughter sewed it up for me.

The one with the sweet potato slips in it got some straw on the bottom to act as a sponge, and to hold up the sides while I added soil, then stove pellets to create the sawdust mulch. For the eggplant, I had grass clippings, so some was added to the bottom, then it was filled almost to the top with sifted garden soil, with more grass clippings to mulch the top. Then the two eggplants were transplanted. It should be interesting to see how these do, compared to the ones that were transplanted earlier, in one of the low raised beds.

The next job was to reclaim the squash hill the Crespo squash was in last year. The old straw mulch was pulled back, the soil broken up and weeds pulled up. I ended up using our makeshift soil sifter on quite a bit of the soil, to get out more of the weed roots. After I sifted enough to fill the wheelbarrow, I broke up the soil in the hill some more, pulled out as many roots as I could, then returned the sifted soil. After re-burying the watering container (to fill with water for deep root watering, rather than spraying the entire hill), the hill got mulched with grass clippings, then straw. Once that was all ready, the two giant pumpkins were finally transplanted. If the critters don’t eat it first, these should get quite large and spread out quite a distance.

Then it was time to start planting into the holes my daughter had already dug. I did use the space to loosen the soil a bit more (it’s so incredibly hard!) and ended up pulling out quite a few rocks. The smaller ones got tossed into the trees. The larger ones, I set aside. We might actually find a use for them.

After loosening the soil, the holes were filled with water, then they got a couple of spade full’s of sifted garden soil. We still have some left of the dump truck load we had dropped off here, but it is so full of roots now, most of my time was spent sifting it out. At least the pile is close to where we are currently working!

The first thing that went in were the two Kakai hulless pumpkins. Once in place, they each got a light spade full of soil places around them. Then they got another watering.

Along the same row went the three Crespo squash.

For all of these, any flower buds got removed. Hopefully, they will now expend their energy towards establishing their roots and growing, rather than making flowers.

With the squash hill and the eggplant planter done, the rest of the transplanting should go faster. Except for all the soil sifting! Once everything is in place, the whole area will get a layer of straw mulch. I had intended to use the weed trimmer, first, but the sheer amount of time that will take is a bit much. All the grass and weeds would eventually make their way through the straw, but I hope that the plants will be big enough for the leaves to start acting like a mulch.

Well, I’m done eating lunch. Time to use more bug spray and get back at it before the hottest part of the day! We’re almost there now. On the plus side, we’re expecting overnight showers, so that will be quite nice for the transplants. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

To bloom or not to bloom

We have SO many flowers blooming all over right now! The combination of lilac and crab apple flowers is heavenly!

In the tulip patch, a single black tulip has managed to bloom! I believe there was 5 of each type of tulip in the collection my daughter got. It’s hard to say how many of these would have bloomed, if they hadn’t been eaten by something. Now that the tulip patch is surrounded by chicken wire, which we’ll likely leave there until we need to work in the area to clear out the dead apple tree stump, etc., we have a better chance of finding out, next spring!

While putting the plants out this morning, we had another flower blooming.

This is a Crespo squash, and it shouldn’t be blooming yet! A lot of the remaining squash waiting for transplanting have flower buds on them, but they’re more like the other tiny ones you can see in the photo. There was just this one large one!

We’ll have to pinch off the buds when we plant them, so their energy will go towards growing and establishing themselves, rather than into flowers. These would be the early, all male flowers. The female flowers should start showing up later.

With my husband and I heading to the doctor today, then needing to make an unexpected trip into town, there was no point in getting back to the garden today. Especially with the hordes of mosquitoes out there. Tomorrow will be a day to cover ourselves with bug spray and get back at it. It’s supposed to be another hot day, then the day after, we might be getting thunderstorms, showers, and more thunderstorms over the next three days. So if I’m going to go at what will be the squash patch with the weed trimmer, tomorrow is the day to get it done!

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: moving into the sun room

You know how it gets, when you start one thing, then end up doing more, or go to check on something only to find yourself doing a bunch of other things, just because you’re there, anyway?

Yeah. That was most of my day. 😀

One of those things happened while preparing to write my previous post, and I noticed some deer on the security camera, running up the driveway. I went to check on where they were going and, sure enough, one headed for the kibble house.

The sun was blinding me while trying to take the photo, so it wasn’t until I went out to chase off the deer from eating the kibble, that I finally saw the skunk!

The skunk quickly ran off and, within moments, the cats were back in the kibble house, eating.

Then Potato Beetle politely asked for cuddles, so I stayed in the sun room holding him, which is why I was there to see the deer try and return, several times!

This deer was going for the kibble house because it had been chased away from the feeding station by the three deer I’d seen running up the driveway!

Then, since I was in the sun room anyhow, I started working on the shelf we’ll be moving seedlings onto. With Potato Beetle still being kept in there, I moved the warming lamp to the bottom shelf, which we will leave clear for him, then emptied and set up a higher shelf. That shelf doesn’t get as much light, so the little bins with the tulip tree and paw paw seeds in them got moved up (still no idea if those will ever germinate).

Once that was ready, it was time to go through the big aquarium greenhouse and the mini-greenhouse to collect the largest seedlings and transfer them to the sun room, using some of the bins I picked up.

The two Wonderberries turned out to be too tall for the shelf!! so they got put into buckets and joined the first one on the shelf. They are in biodegradable pots, and I didn’t feel like fussing with aluminum foil, like we did for the first one.

I also had to prune flower buds off the little Wonderberry plants!

It’s not in the photo, but while clearing the extra shelf, I brought down the pot that my daughter buried the cucamelon tubers in. I set it up in the window with the Wonderberry and watered it. Who knows. We might have some cucamelons this year, after all!

Here, the Canteen gourds, two of the Crespo squash, and three of the Cup of Moldova tomatoes got set up next to the trays with the onion seedlings.

A bin with all Cup of Moldova tomatoes got set up on the next shelf down. If they look all bent over, that’s because they were starting to get crowded in their shelves in the mini-greenhouse! A piece of rigid insulation that had been laying on the shelf next to where the bin was placed, got set up to create a wall.

Just in case Potato Beetle manages to get onto the other half of the shelf and decides to do a Susan on the seedlings, and try to eat them.

Hopefully, Potato Beetle won’t be in the sun room for much longer, and we’ll be able to use that bottom shelf, too.

This afternoon, however, he was quite content to watch the activity from the comfort of my husband’s walker!

Once everything was set up, the bins and trays got watered, the reflector was put back in position, and I turned on the shop light that’s hanging on the inside of the shelf, where things are in shadow. It was 20C/68F in there, so I left the warming lamp off. It’ll get turned on again when things start cooling down.

Hopefully, the seedlings will do well in the sun room. I’m still concerned about those overnight temperatures. There’s only so much that little light we’re using for its warmth (as is Potato Beetle!) can do, and there’s no safe way to set up the ceramic heat bulb without some sort of metal frame, since the frame of the mini-greenhouse we used before is being actively used as… you know… a greenhouse.

The mini-greenhouse now has two completely empty shelves and, after re-arranging things, there’s even room in one of the trays for more pots. There will be room for the next seeds we will be starting this week, though I think the Kulli corn, which will be in bins, will be going straight into the sun room. We’ll see how whether the bins can fit in the big aquarium greenhouse or not. There is also still the small aquarium greenhouse. Seedlings don’t thrive in it, but it should still be suitable to keep pots until their seeds germinate and, hopefully, we’ll be able to move any seedlings out to a better spot soon after.

It feels like we’re juggling pots and seedlings! Which I guess we are.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: potting up

Today, I went through the mini-greenhouse to see what might need to be potted up.

It turned out that there wasn’t anything that wasn’t already potted up. However, almost all the Cup of Moldova tomatoes are getting too big for the shelves! They are certainly doing well, after the thinning and addition of more soil along their stems. Over the next day or two, these need to be moved into the sun room, just for the space.

At the furthest end of the large aquarium greenhouse, you can see the two, out of three, Crespo squash that got potted up. The third smaller one in between the bigger ones had actually been thinned out of another pot, and is going quite well. In the foreground are a pair of Canteen gourds that had shared a small pot. For some reason, when I moved these out of the mini-greenhouse, because a tendril had started to wrap itself around the shelf above, I thought they were luffa. The writing on the labels had started to fade, so I fixed that.

It took some juggling to get the bigger pots to fit into the space. They definitely need to go into the sun room soon, too!

Meanwhile, on the heat mat…

The Red Baron bunching onions are coming up nicely. I’m looking forward to these. Still nothing among the ground cherry, though.

As I write this, we are at -2C/28F, which is warmer than forecast. Warm enough that any expose ground or concrete is thawing out and melting the snow around it in the sun. We’re still supposed to reach a low of -13C/9F overnight tonight, and tomorrow we’re supposed to warm up to -2C/28F, but get more snow. Depending on what app I look at, we’re either going to get isolated flurries, or snow all day for a total of 2-4cm, or about 1/2 – 1 1/2 inches. Either way, it won’t be enough to cause problems with driving my mother to my brother’s, to meet her new great grandson. 🙂

After that, we’re supposed to had daytime highs hovering a few degrees above freezing for the next while. One of my apps has a 28 day long range forecast and, according to that, we won’t start hitting 10C/50F until May. Our last frost date is June 2, so that fits. Last year, May was an incredibly warm month. May long weekend is when a lot of people put their gardens in, only for many of them to lose almost everything to one cold night, just days later. Hopefully, we will not have anything like that again!

I am really looking forward to getting to work on the garden!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: squash and gourd seedlings

It always amazing me just how fast some seedlings grow!

It’s like they’re bigger, every time I look in the tank. Just look at those Crespo squash!

These two pots each have 3 seeds in them. Two that were scarified, and one that was not. I think the scarification made the difference!

To the left is the Ozark Nest Egg gourd, and…

… you can see a Tennessee Dancing Gourd emerging, too. In the background, the luffa are starting to develop their true leaves.

What is interesting is that, while these squash and gourds are germinating, there is no sign of germination in the pots with eggplant and peppers seeded into them.

Last year, it took forever for the squash and gourds to germinate, and many pots never did. This is a huge improvement. I think there is a combination of reasons. One being the scarification of the seeds – except the dancing gourds, which were too small – and the other being the use of a heat mat.

I know we’re supposed to thin the seedlings down, but I’m thinking we’ll thin them by transplanting the extras. When it’s time to transplant outside, I want to have extra, just in case some don’t survive transplanting, or in case critters get to them. The more we plant, the better the chances of having at least one survive!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 Garden: latest seedling status

This morning, while tending our seedlings, I spotted a newcomer!

That is a Crespo squash seedling!

This tray, on the heat pad, needs to be watered about twice as often as the tray next to it.

Where the Cup of Moldova tomatoes are doing quite well! The big aquarium greenhouse has been working out the best among our three set ups.

The Sophie’s Choice tomatoes got moved from the small aquarium greenhouse to the mini-greenhouse, in hopes that they will start doing better. I’m not sure why things are not doing as well in that little greenhouse. I suspect it has to do with lack of air circulation. The mini-fan we had on the aquarium greenhouses, moving it back and forth between the two, is now set up in the mini-greenhouse. We can’t open up the cover because of the cats, so the fan is needed more in there, than with the aquariums. I hope we can figure it out, though, because that’s little tank is currently wasted space that could be growing things! We do have a pedestal fan, but it’s not tall enough to provide air circulation in through the screen covers on the tanks. We’ve looked at different ways to set it up, but so far, we haven’t been able to come up with anything suitably cat proof.

It’s become such an issue, that we’re coming up with plans to build a “door” between the living and dining rooms, so that we can turn the living room into a safe zone for plants – all our plants – and not have to have all these barricades and shields around them. My older daughter has diagrammed a plan for a removeable frame to fit into the opening between the two sets of shelves between the living room and dining room, which would support a “door”. It would be made using hardware cloth, for maximum light and air to pass through. One of the shelves has an opening through it that we’ll have to frame a screen on, as well. We’ve really got to come up with something, because all the stuff we’re doing to try and protect the plants from the cats isn’t all that good for the plants! Especially since we are starting so many seeds indoors and, next year, will likely be starting even more. That will be a summer project, if we can get the materials we need to build it.

Last night was the first night we had the outside doors to the sunroom closed, so no cats – or skunks – could come in. It had reached temperatures of 20C/68F in there yesterday, yet this morning, it was just barely above 0C/32F, which means it was even colder, overnight. There is no way we can move any of our seedlings into there, without having to bring them back into the house overnight, which we won’t be able to do. Our overnight temperatures are going to be warming up, though, so we’ll have to keep monitoring the room. I might set the ceramic heater bulb up overnight, just to see what a difference it makes.

Some things will be started right in the sun room, but not for a while, yet. We’re still preparing, though, including getting the toilet paper tube “pots” set up in a bin.

This will be for the black Kulli corn. I’m not going to bother folding bottoms onto the tubes, so as to give the roots more depth. We have a total of 100 Kulli seeds (unless there are extras in the packets, which sometimes happens), and I thought I’d be able to put 100 tubes in this bin. If it had been square, it would have worked but, alas, it is a rectangle. Instead of the 10 rows of 10 I thought would fit, we could only fit 8 rows of 10. We do have more of the smaller bins we used to start the tulip tree and paw paw seeds in (still no signs of anything in those, but I’m not expecting it, yet). They can fit 4 rows of 8, so we’ll be able to work it out. The corn won’t be started until early May, though. The sun room’s overnight temperatures should be just fine by then.

I picked up more bins in this size; there was only 2 left in the store I found them in, so I now have 3 “spares”. I also got more of the smaller bins, and we now have 4 available to use for new starts. With their transparent lids, they can be used as little greenhouses, and they will make things much easier to move around when it’s time to harden off the seedlings. The toilet tube pots fit really well in these, so we’re going to continue collecting the tubes to use to start seeds in the bins.

Little by little, it’ll get done.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden, still going!

Last night, I heard from one of our neighbours, asking if we were missing some kittens. It seems that several kittens were sighted on the road by our place, and while one was caught, there were others around. They were not ours; by the age estimate, they were about 5 months younger than ours, plus they seem used to humans. Which means they were likely dumped. 😦 The person who caught the one said she would be coming back to try and find the others. Meanwhile, I made sure to be on the lookout for kittens while doing my rounds this morning. Especially in the furthest garden beds, which are the closest to where the kittens were spotted.

I think I did actually see a strange kitten at our house, yesterday, but it ran off, just like most of our yard cats still do. I found myself thinking the colour seeming off had to have been the light, but now I wonder! Well, if there are strange kitties around, they will find food and shelter here. So far, though, I have seen nothing today.

While I was on the lookout for strange kitties, I checked out the squash tunnel. The luffa and Tennessee Dancing Gourds seem to have finally succumbed to the chill overnight temperatures.

The luffa leaves turned really dark, but haven’t shriveled, like pretty much everything else. Take a click on the image of the developing gourds on the top of the squash tunnel! There are still flowers developing! They do look frost damaged, though.

It was much the same with the Tennessee Dancing Gourds. Most of the vines have died back, and cold damage can be seen on some of the little gourds… and yet, there are still flower buds!

The chard and the lettuce are still going strong.

This is the biggest of the surviving radishes. You can see the older leaves that still have grasshopper damage. Something is nibbling the new growth, too, but not as much. I put the bricks around this radish plant, because something has been nibbling on the bulb. I’m guessing a mouse or something like that. Putting the bricks there seems to have stopped it, as there is no new damage.

Then there is that amazing Crespo squash. Is it still going, or is it done? The leaves seem to be completely killed off by the frost, yet the vines still seem strong, and while there is cold damage on most of the squash, some of them still seem to be getting bigger!

So, we will wait and see how they do.

Meanwhile, on the south side of the house…

The Ozark Nest Egg gourds have almost no cold damage on them, and still seem to be growing just fine. In fact, there is more fresh and new growth happening, and new male and female flowers developing!

The tomatoes continue to ripen, with no signs of cold damage to them, unlike the one self-seeded tomato that’s growing near the lettuces, which is pretty much dead.

Check out that wasp on the Spoon tomato vine! Even the pollinators are still out!

The fingerling potatoes are still going strong, too. There is one bag that looks like it has died back, but the others are still very green. Especially the Purple Peruvians.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of the carrots. Even the overgrown bed we abandoned to the groundhogs has carrot fronds overtaking the weeds. Especially the Kyoto Red, which have gone to seed. I’m keeping an eye on those, as I want to try and collect them before they self sow!

It’s hard to know how much longer the garden will keep on going. Today was forecast to be 18C/64F, then things were supposed to cool down again. As I write this, we are at 22C/72F !!! Tomorrow, we’re supposed to drop to 8C/46F, then go down to 5-6C/41-43F, with overnight lows dropping to -1C/30F a couple of nights from now, but who knows what we’ll actually get?

Looking at the data for our area, our average temperatures for October are 10C/50F for the high, and 1C/34F for the low – but our record high was 30C/86F in 1992, with a record low of -18C/0F in 1991, so while a bit unusual, the mild temperatures we’re having right now aren’t that uncommon. In fact, the record highs and lows seem to lurch from one extreme to the other, within just a few years of each other, if not one year after the other!

I’m looking forward to NOT hitting any record lows this fall and winter! 😀 Still, the way things are going, it may be a while before we finally harvest our carrots, potatoes and beets – I want to leave those in the ground as long as possible – and we’ll have lettuce and chard for quite some time, yet!

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

A Crespo surprise

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day, but we are having our big dinner today. My mother loves her turkey dinner, so I will be bringing her some tomorrow, while my brother visits with her today. Right now, the turkey is in the oven, as are most of the potatoes that were harvested yesterday, so I can take a break to post about our Thanksgiving garden surprise. 🙂

Last night, as we headed outside before the light faded completely, I took my daughters over to see how quickly the Crespo squash is growing. In the process, we discovered a hidden squash!

Hidden Crespo squash

It had been hidden by leaves until now!

I came back this morning to get a photo, but of course my phone’s camera decided to focus on everything but the squash itself! 😀

This is easily the biggest of all the Crespo squash we have developing. This is the only pumpkin type of squash we’ve got this year, so it seemed appropriate to find this on Thanksgiving weekend.

I didn’t get any photos, but the Ozark Nest Egg gourd is also showing us surprises. There are SO many female flowers showing up, with their little gourds at their bases, and it even looks like quite a lot of them got pollinated! A few have wizened away, but more seem to be making it.

If the weather can just hang in there! I’m now seeing overnight lows of 2C/36F by Friday, with rain at the same time. The squash and gourds seem to actually like these cooler temperatures, and are producing like crazy, but I doubt any of these will survive such lows, even without frost. We shall see. It would be so awesome if they managed to mature! For that, though, I think we’ll need mild temperatures through half of November, too. Which does happen. It’s whether or not we get frost that will make the difference.

That we haven’t had frost yet is something to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving weekend!

Just in case I’m not able to post tomorrow, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

The Re-Farmer