Our 2023 garden: taking a chance with transplants!

I really hope I didn’t screw up by transplanting these so early. They all need really long growing seasons, though. It was either transplant them, or pot them up, and I really didn’t think they’d benefit from being potted up.

So here it is: today’s transplanting of Zucca melon, African Drum gourd, Caveman’s Club gourd and Crespo squash.

I actually thought I had two Zucca melons to transplant, but when I looked at the label, I saw that the smaller one was a drum gourd. It’s a good thing I labeled them or I would have been in for one heck of a surprise at the end of the growing season.

Assuming these survive getting transplanted. Also, assuming they don’t get eaten by something along the way!

The Re-Farmer

A garden preview, and kitty video

Much of today has been a total waste. I got almost no sleep last night, and it was basically all because of the cats! First, there was the constant stream of cats wanting in and out. I swear, even the cats that are outside the door have a sense of when I’m finally lying down and comfortable in bed, because that’s when they start scratching at the door again! As the ladies have been able to tolerate more of the other cats, that means more scratching at the door to be let in or out.

All that, because we’ve got two cats that always go after Nosencrantz, forcing me to keep the door closed to keep them out!

The other cause of interruption was Nosencrantz.

I have one small window I can open – a window with a deep sill the cats like to sit on. The screens on all the new windows are high quality, but the cats have still managed to damage all of them. With mine, I tried to have most of it blocked off with a window fan, a salvaged metal mesh window screen and a hunk of Styrofoam insulation, to protect the screen, but even when the fan was put away for the winter and the window kept closed, the screen would get clawed at. I finally removed it completely – then had to hide it behind the metal mesh screen – because Nozencratnz still wanted claw at it!

We ended up getting what is supposed to be cat proof window screen, and have replaced the screens on several windows, mine included.

Yes. It’s supposed to be cat proof. However, I don’t think even cat proof window screen can withstand a cat sitting up on its hind end and going at it with both front paws! Even if the screen managed to survive the attack without getting holes, chances are it would get yanked right out of the frame, eventually.

That’s what I was trying to stop all night. Nosencrantz is fixated on clawing on that screen! I even jammed the salvaged screen in front of it. It’s narrower than the window, and Nosencrantz would just reach around the metal mesh screen, to claw at the window’s screen! There aren’t even any bugs or blown in fluff that she’s after. She’s just after the screen!

So that was another thing that had me getting up repeatedly. Oh, and also the sound of cats using the carpet as a scratching post, instead of the scratching post… 😕

I’ve now stolen my husband’s box fan, which fills the window almost completely. I just had to stick some cardboard between the wall and a shelf to cover a gap on one side. Hopefully, at least that problem is solved.

The whole thing left me feeling awful by morning. A sleep repeatedly interrupted is far worse than simply being up all night. It’s not even feeling physically sleepy that’s the problem, though I was so physically tired, I felt ill. It’s the affect on mental acuity that really knocks me out.

The girls took care of feeding the outside cats and taking the transplants out so I could sleep in, but I still found myself constantly awakened and having to open and close my door. I finally gave up and tried to leave it open, cat fight or no, only to have the breeze from my open window slam it shut, over and over!

Yeah. I was pretty miserable this morning, and finally gave up.

The afternoon, at least, was better after indulging in my last energy drink. 🙄 I finally went outside to see how much work I could manage to get done.

Which turned out to be far more than I expected.

I took a significant risk today.

I did some transplanting of squash and gourds!

Normally, these would not go in until about the middle of June, but some of them were getting quite large. I didn’t want to keep potting them up, and they were getting so big that taking them in and out of the sun room to harden off was damaging them.

I took photos of the progress and will put together a small video later, but here is a preview.

Four of the transplants were climbers, so I cleaned up the blocks and transplanted them here. Because they all can potentially get quite large, I put them in every other block. In the foreground is the Zucca melon. I put it there so it has room to expand away from the others.

I thought the next one was also a Zucca melon, but when I took out the label, it said African Drum gourd. We have extra, much smaller, seedlings of both. The next two are the Caveman’s Club gourds.

All of them are long enough that I was able to get their tendrils wrapped around the chain link fence and start training them up it or, with the Zucca melon, away down the side. These all are supposed to have fairly large fruit, though with the Caveman’s Club, they are more about length than girth. If any of these reach the point of developing fruit, we’ll figure out how best to support them.

The next thing that had to go in were the Crespo squash.

Then went into the bed we had a hulless pumpkin variety in last year, near the old squash/bean tunnel. This will likely be the last year we use this spot for gardening, and hopefully we’ll be able to plant something for our food forest here, next year. We shall see.

The Crespo squash plants can get really huge, which is part of the reason they went in this far away bed. The old rain barrel I filled yesterday is nearby – but it was only about a quarter full when I got to it today! I couldn’t see if it developed a new crack, or if the seal on one of the old ones gave out.

We really need more rain barrles.

I’m quite glad I found that one last hose in the old garden shed, so I could give this area a thorough watering. I’ll have to keep that up for at least a few days to make sure it’s damp through the new mulch, all the way down through the layers we put here, least year.

I’m reeeeaaallllyyy hoping I didn’t jump the gun by transplanting these so early. There is no sign of frost in the long range forecasts. In fact, June is looking like it’s going to be quite hot, and rainy. If, however, we do find ourselves with a frost warning, I think we’d be able to add covers to protect things fairly well.

After I was done and putting things away, I fed the outside cats for the evening (and chased away a couple of skunks eating their kibble!). Judgement is still limping, and the foot seems to be bothering him more. He still won’t let me look at it, so I tried seeing if I could sneak a look through my phone’s camera.

It didn’t really work, but I did get this video!

I did not get a response to my email to the vet, asking about being able to bring him in as we are able to catch him, without an appointment. I’ll have to remember to phone them, tomorrow.

So I did get at least something useful done today. If the weather holds, this early planting will make a big positive difference for things like the drum gourds and Zucca melon.

I’m not sure what I will plant in the empty blocks. Ideally, it would be some other climber, but since I expect the fence to eventually get completely engulfed by what just got planted, perhaps it would be better to choose a shade loving plant, instead. We’ll see.

I’m just happy to have gotten at least a bit of productivity in today!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: newest sprouts!

I love it when seedlings suddenly burst out of the ground and grow so fast, things are different every time I check on them!

When I checked on them yesterday, I could just see one Crespo squash starting to shoulder its way through the soil. Near the end of the day, I could see two emerging and one more just visible. I also spotted one eggplant peaking through. By the time I shut down the lights for the night, the eggplant was up, with signs of more starting to emerge, plus signs of one Caveman’s club gourd.

This morning, two of the Crespo squash are fully up, with the third one almost there – and the soil in the other pot looks like something might be breaking through soon, too. There are still more tomatoes emerging, and more eggplant peeking through. Still just one Caveman’s club gourd visible, so far.

As for the older seedlings, it looks like all the ones that got potted up have survived, though one drum gourd that did not need potting up doesn’t look like it’s growing. There had been two in that pot and one died. I was hoping the second one would make it. We shall see. The other two that were thinned by division are growing, and the third pot was reseeded, so I hope there will be more to transplant once the garden is ready. The more there are to transplant, the better the chances that at least one will reach maturity!

I’m happy to see so many seedlings emerging now. Soon, these will be moved off the heat mat to make room for the next batch of seed starts.

So far, things are looking good!

The Re-Farmer

Analysing our 2022 garden: squash, gourds and melons

Okay, it’s that time! I’ll be working on a serious of posts, going over how our 2022 garden went, what worked, what didn’t, and what didn’t even happen at all. This is help give us an idea of what we want to do in the future, what we don’t want to do in the future, and what changes need to be made.

*sigh*

I had such high hopes for our squash and gourds for 2022. We planted SO many varieties of squash! We especially worked towards growing winter squash, with a focus on varieties that stored well for the winter. This is part of our working towards being as self sufficient as possible, and to have a good supply of food during the winter months when we can expect to be unable to get out, either due to being snowed in, or vehicles freezing, or whatever, for at least two months. Something we’ve already had to deal with, somewhat.

We also planted a variety of pumpkins, including 3 hulless varieties for their seeds, and summer squash, plus had both new and old varieties of gourds.

Almost everything was a loss, and what wasn’t a loss was still nowhere near fully successful.

We’ll start with our “fun” plants: the gourds.

I am wanting to grow gourds to cure them, then use them for crafting or to make useful objects out of them. Three that we had grown before were:

  • Tennessee Dancing Gourd, which did very well in 2021, even in drought conditions.
  • Ozark Nest Egg, which was set back in growth for quite time time, but when they did start to grow, looked to be incredibly prolific and would have done amazing, if they had not been killed off by frost.
  • Luffa, which had not done well before, but I really want to grow them for their sponges.

These were grown from seeds left over from the previous year. They germinated well, though there were issues with the cats getting into the mini-greenhouse they were in and destroying many seedlings. I used the last of our seeds to try again, and we did manage to have a few survive.

New gourds included the canteen gourd, and apple gourd.

The Results:

I am really, really happy with how the Ozark Nest Egg and Tennessee Dancing Gourds did!

The Ozark Nest Egg gourds are absolutely beautiful! I just love the size and shape of them. The Dancing Gourds managed to produce a decent amount that were larger than those we collected at the end of the previous, drought stricken year.

As I write this, they are both in a bin, curing. The Dancing gourds have mostly turned a tan colour. The Ozark Nest Egg gourds were already almost white, so there’s not a lot of change in their colour.

I look forward to seeing what we can do with them, after they are fully cured!

Then there was the luffa…

They took such a very long time to even start blooming, and when they did, it was all male flowers for quite a long time. When the female flowers started showing up, there were no male flowers to pollinate them! So when we finally got both blooming at the same time, I made sure to hand pollinate them.

By then, however, it was just too late in the season. There was no chance for them to fully mature. When the frost finally hit, that was the end of them.

Conclusion:

I would definitely want to try all three again. Hopefully, I’ll have seeds from the Ozark Nest Egg we harvested, because I didn’t see them when I was ordering other things from the site I got them from originally. I may have just missed them.

As for the luffa, I think those will wait until we have a greenhouse or polytunnel before I try again. I really like them, and when the plants finally do start growing, they grow so incredibly fast!


Next, we have the canteen gourd and the apple gourd.

The canteen gourds ended up needing potting up a couple of times, and even then, by the time I could transplant them, they were getting way too big for their pots. I’d have transplanted them earlier, but had to wait until after our last average frost date (June 2). They were already showing flower buds when they were transplanted – which promptly died.

They never really did well after transplanting, staying long and gangly, and never filling out. They did bloom, but again, it was male flowers only. We did, eventually, get female flowers that I hand pollinated, but it was too late in the season.

The canteen gourds were planted at the tunnel trellis, which had been used the year before, but the apple gourds were grown in a completely new garden area. This squash patch had most of our winter squash and pumpkins. Each transplanted went into its own dug out hole that was filled with fresh garden soil before transplanting. Unfortunately, this area got heavily saturated during the flooding, and it was way too long before everything finally got well mulched.

Out of everything there, though, the apple gourds did the best.

It still took them a long time to get to the point of flowering and producing fruit – I would hand pollinated them, any time I saw new female flowers show up. The three surviving transplants began to produce quite a few gourds, but it was simply too late. Then, even with protection, they were pretty much killed off by our first frosts.

I know these grow in our climate zone. It was just a terrible growing year that set everything back so much.

Conclusion:

I’ve already picked up more canteen and apple gourd seeds. In fact, I’ve also picked up some drum gourds to try, too! Plus some Caveman’s Club. I am just determined to make it work! I want to make stuff with these, and there are other varieties of gourds I will eventually be trying to grow, for different purposes.


Then there was the summer squash.

*sigh*

We accidentally bought three, instead of one, variety pack of summer squash seeds, so we’ll have green zucchini, yellow zucchini, Magda and sunburst patty pan seeds for years to come. Summer squash was one of the first things we grew, in our very first gardening year, and even though we lost half of them to frost because they were transplanted too early, we still had so much summer squash, we were able to harvest them daily for a while.

They didn’t do as well during the drought of 2021, but we were still able to harvest enough summer squash to be able to do refrigerator pickles. Mostly, though, we enjoy eating them fresh and raw!

For 2022, we were accidentally sent a packet of G-Star patty pans, a green variety, as well. When the mistake was pointed out, we were sent the seeds we were supposed to get, and told to keep the ones we were sent by mistake. We were quite happy to try a new variety of patty pans!

The Result:

*sigh*

The Magda, yellow zucchini and sunburst patty pans were planted in a low raised bed together. Because we like them so much, we had twice as many sunburst as anything else. The green zucchini were planted into the new squash bed, right next to the low raised bed.

We planted as many of the G-star as we did the sunburst patty pans, but those got planted in another new bed, on the opposite side of the main garden area, along with corn, winter squash and hulless pumpkins.

All of these had been started indoors with an excellent germination rate.

None of the summer squash did well, though we did get more Magda squash than in previous years, when fewer plants survived. We quite like the Magda squash. Still, there were very few of them overall, and the plants did not thrive.

We got almost nothing from the green zucchini, and not much more from the yellow. Most disappointing of all was how few sunburst squash we got. Even with hand pollinating.

The G-star had a rough start, but once they got well mulched, they really perked up and grew very quickly. We were even able to harvest some, though the biggest, healthiest plant suddenly died, its stem completely cut through by an insect.

Conclusion:

Since we’ve had such success with summer squash in previous years, we know that 2022 was an exception for how bad our summer squash did. The question is, was it because of the flooding? Or where there other factors? I think lack of pollinators were part of the problem, but the plants also just didn’t bloom much at all.

We’ll be growing all these varieties again, and hopefully, 2023 will be a better growing year!


Now we go into what was one of the more disappointing things; our winter squash. I’m including the pumpkins with these, even though they actually did better.

Along with the three types of hulless pumpkins, which were transplanted well away from each other, we had a couple of free giant pumpkin seeds we grew in a hill we used for Crespo squash the year before, and some Baby Pam pumpkins from seeds left from the year before. Those had a zero germination rate the year before, but for 2022, we had a 100% germination rate!

In the new, big squash patch, we also had Teddy Squash, a tiny, short season variety we’d had seeds left over from the year before, Georgia Candy Roaster, and Winter Sweet. In the corn and squash patch, we had Boston Marrow, while Red Kuri was planted in a new bed by the chain link fence.

I feel like I’m forgetting another winter squash. Maybe I’ll remember later. Oh, right! We also tried Crespo Squash again. Those tried to do so well the year before, but kept getting eaten by deer and groundhogs!

The Results:

Again, it was almost a total loss. Especially for the winter squash.

While the big squash patch didn’t have standing water during the flooding, the ground did get quite saturated. We lost some of our transplants completely. The squash and corn patch, on the other hand, so SO much more flooding!

Still, if we’d been able to well mulch the big squash patch better, I think it would have helped. Also, the south side of the patch got more shade than the north side, due to the tall trees between the garden and the house, which certainly didn’t help!

The Georgia Candy Roaster and Winter Sweet just didn’t grow. It’s like they never recovered from transplanting. The Teddy did a bit better, and even started to form tiny squash, but it was way too late for them to mature. The Baby Pam did surprisingly well, and we did get a few little pumkins (they only grow 5-6 inches in diameter). We got a couple of Kakai hulless pumpkins, too. The Crespo squash never even bloomed.

Probably the only really successful thing was the giant pumpkins. We made no attempt to get actual giants, but they still grew really big. We had two plants, and got two pumpkins out of it.

In the corn and squash bed, which got so much more flooding, I’m amazed we got any Boston Marrow at all. They took a long time to recover from flooding, but they did eventually start blooming and producing fruit. We did pick a few, but they were under ripe, and even the ripest one was much smaller than they should have been.

We did get some Lady Godiva and Styrian hulless pumpkins, though nowhere near as many as we should have, nor where they as big as they should have been.

The only real success was the Red Kuri (Little Gem) squash, that grew in the south yard up the chain link fence. They were still smaller than they should have been, but we did get an okay harvest.

Conclusion:

Well, our reasons for growing so much squash haven’t changed, so we’ll definitely be trying to grow them all again. There’s nothing we could have done about the damage the flooding caused. When we try again, we will have to take extra care to make sure they are well mulched, as that made quite the difference, once we were finally able to do it. We’re going to be trying pretty much all the varieties again. My source for Baby Pam pumpkins and Teddy squash no longer carries, them, though. I don’t remember right now if we have any seeds left, but if we do, we will try them again, too.

Among the things we are slowly working on is building high raised beds in the main garden area. When we get to building them where the large squash patch was, the extra height will also help get away from the shade problem on the north side .


Now we reach one more disappointment.

A total and complete loss of our melons.

We had made two new large garden plots, using the Ruth Stout deep mulch method. The north half of both had potatoes planted in them, and the south half got melons.

The previous year, we’d grown two types of melons. In spite of the drought, they did very well, and we got a surprisingly good harvest. We loved having fresh melons, so for 2022, we planted even more. Some were seeds harvested from grocery store melons. We also tried Zucca melon (a giant variety) and a short season watermelon, for six varieties altogether.

The Results:

When some of the transplants died, we filled the gaps with Yakteen gourds (the ones with the red arrows pointing to them).

The watermelons died almost right away. Of the ones that didn’t die outright, they just didn’t grow. It wasn’t until the very end of the season that a couple of Zucca melons started to grow, and even bloom, but it was just way too late by then.

Conclusion:

After the success of the previous year, this was such a huge disappointment. We all really love melons, but they are quite expensive to buy, so growing them would be well worth the effort.

For 2023, we’ve bought more Halona and Pixie melon seeds, which we had successfully grown the year before (we had saved Halona seeds, but not Pixie), plus we are trying a new cantaloupe type variety. We will also be trying the Zucca melon again, plus we still have saved seeds from other varieties.

The flooding we got last year was exceptional, so I don’t think we’ll have that happen again, but we will still need to work on improving the soil and planting them in, at the very least, low raised beds. The Pixie and Halon were planted at the trellis tunnel the first time, and are excellent climbers. We don’t plan to use that tunnel trellis again, but will be building new, permanent trellis tunnels closer to the house, with low raised beds at their bases. That should make a big difference in growing conditions – so long as the weather is cooperative!

The Re-Farmer

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