Our 2022 garden: tomatoes, squash onions, and food forest additions

While I spent most of my time with the kulli corn, my daughters took care of other things.

My younger daughter got the sea buckthorn planted. These saplings are quite a bit larger than the silver buffalo berry! This will eventually close the gap of the hedge along the north fence line, where the deer jump through. Hopefully, we have both male and female plants, and will have berries. We do plant to get more, over time, but it will probably be another year or two before we know for sure.

The only trees left to plant now are the Korean Pine.

My other daughter started on the tomatoes.

Along the chain link fence, she planted the dozen Chocolate Cherry tomatoes. That’s a variety I got specifically as a gift for her. 🙂

Last year, tomatoes did REALLY well in this location. This year, we’ll see how they do in other locations!

The next tomatoes she and her sister transplanted here were the Cup of Moldova and Sophie’s Choice tomatoes.

The row on the left, and in the centre, are all Cup of Moldova, while the Sophie’s Choice are the row on the right.

There are still two Cup of Moldova waiting to be transplanted, but they ran out of space.

While they worked on that, I transplanted into the blocks we finished adding along the chain link fence this spring.

The Red Kuri/Little Gem squash went into these. I hope they do well here. Last year, we had only 2 plants, but they produced quite a lot of squash. Unfortunately, with the drought, the squash developed so late, we only really got 3 that were mature enough to be edible. The girls and I found them delicious (my husband is finding that he’s not a fan of winter squash), and we look forward to having enough to store for the winter.

While one daughter worked on the bed of tomatoes in the main garden area, adding more support posts and winding bale twine back and forth to help support the tomatoes as they grow, my other daughter and I made use of the newly available bed next to the kulli corn.

There was a total of 13 Yellow Pear tomatoes to transplant. Once they were in, we got the box of red onion sets and planted them all along the outside of the bed in a single row, then fit the rest into the middle, in 2 rows.

The last thing we needed to do before heading inside was putting netting on the kulli corn and the Red Kuri squash. Those were the only two things that were most at risk of betting eaten overnight!

The net is hard to see. I used pipes hammered into the ground to hold the net away from the squash. The blue bits of pool noodle shoved into the tops of the pipes are there to protect the net, as there are some sharper edges on some of the pipes. Last year, we had chicken wire at an angle over cucamelons and gourds, and the vines kept wanting to attach to the chick wire, instead of the chain link. There’s no way the net could hold the weight of squash climbing it, so I wanted to keep it away from the plants as they start growing large enough to reach the fence and start climbing. On the inside, the edge of the net is held in place with ground staples. The excess net went over the fence, and my daughter rolled it up and zip tied it down. We still want to be able to access and tend the plants as needed, which will mostly be done from the inside.

The last thing the girls did was lace up the ends, so keep the critters out. A determined critter could still tear through the net, but hopefully, they won’t want to be bothered.

In the background, you can see some wire “fencing” has been added to the outside of where the Chocolate Cherry tomatoes were planted. It will get netting as well, but the only thing in there that is in danger of critters are the carrots, and they aren’t even germinating yet, so there it no hurry, there.

We have a lot more to transplant, but work needs to be done to prepare for them, first. The supports for A frame trellises need to be added, and beds need to be weeded. The rows we used for the bush beans last year, as well as the straw mulched mounds we grew summer squash in, are completely hidden by the crab grass that has taken them over. The squash tunnel, which will be a pole bean tunnel this year, needs minimal work at least, and the summer squash can be planted in the deep mulch near the potatoes. After we’ve transplanted the squash, gourds, melons and cucumbers, and planted the pole beans, we’ll have a better idea of where we can plant the yellow corn, and the popcorn. We have more bush beans and peas we can interplant with the two types of corn, too.

We also have another variety of baking poppies and dill to plant, but I think we’ll have to skip those for this year. I know where we will plant the Wonderberry, but have still not figured out where to plant the ground cherries. All of these will be treated as perennials, as they will reseed themselves year after year, so they need permanent locations.

We’ll figure it out.

As for tomorrow, I’m finally going to make our second stocking up trip to the city. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to do any work in the garden, but we shall see. It’s hard for me to stay out of the garden, now that the weather has finally turned nice, and we can catch up! 😀

It feels so good to finally get things into the ground!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: potting up, and new sprouts!

After checking on the plants last night, I ended up shifting things around earlier than expected. Some of the Cup of Moldova tomatoes at the top of the mini-greenhouse were getting too big! With not being able to remove the cover, it was actually a bit difficult to get them out. The door flap doesn’t open all the way to the top of the cover, so I only had a few inches to get them through.

I was going to just take them to the sun room, but they were so tall, I decided to pot them up, using some pots we found when cleaning up the old basement.

I had to commandeer a larger bin being used for something else, to fit them! The plants were potted with about 3 inches of their stems buries. If I’d had deeper pots, I could easily have buries another 3 inches.

There were also some new seedlings I finally was able to get pictures of.

These were taken last night. The Yellow Pear tomatoes had started to come up earlier, and there were finally some Chocolate Cherry sprouts showing. Among the squash and gourds, there was that one Giant Pumpkin pushing it’s way through – then a Tennessee Dancing Gourd suddenly popped up!

This is how they looked this morning. It’s always so exciting to see how fast they grow, once they germinate! That Giant Pumpkin looks like a tiny Audrey II, about to sing “Feed me, Seymore!”. 😀 Since this picture was taken, the leaves have already opened.

The tomatoes handled their first night in the sun room quite well. The only place there was room to put them and still get light was at the bottom shelf. The shop light we’re using to give light from the inside isn’t long enough to light up all the shelves we’re using. The highest shelf we’re using only gets light during the day, so that’s where we’ve got smaller bins of toilet paper tube pots seeded with the tulip trees, paw paws, and some of the kulli corn. Until they germinate, low light is not an issue for them.

These tomatoes are the same age as the ones we’d brought to the sun room earlier; they’d been left in the mini-greenhouse because they were smaller. Now, they’re bigger than the ones that have been in the sun room for a while, but the sun room ones looks sturdier, though they also still have a bit of cold damage on their leaves from their first night in the room. The greater temperature swings make for stronger plants plants, almost like hardening them off.

One of the things I did before coming in from my rounds was got into the garage and grab the folding closet doors we found in the outhouse when we cleaned it up. We’ll need more space for plant pots in the sun room, and we’re going to use it, probably with the new saw horses I bought, to set up a “table” over the swing bench. Depending on the height, there should still be room for Potato Beetle to curl up on the swing bench when he wants to be in the sun room again. 🙂 He, I’m happy to say, leaves the plants completely alone.

Unlike Susan, who desperately wants to eat them all.

Or Beep Beep, who wants to sleep on them.

Or Tissue, who wants to dig them all up.

They do make this whole “starting seeds indoors” thing much more difficult that it should be!

These tomatoes, however, are now safe in their new pots and new location. 🙂

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: 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 2022 garden: seed start update

We have new seedlings!

Yesterday morning, I spotted a Cup of Moldova seedling starting to break the surface. By the end of the day, it was up, and another had emerged. This morning, I found several more. They are tiny and barely visible in the above photo, but they’re there!

The Cup of Moldova are set up lower from the lights than the other tray, and no extra heat source.

This morning, single Sophie’s Choice showed up, too!

This tray is on a heat mat and slightly higher. With the heat mat, the water in the tray dried out a lot faster than the metal tray. At the moment, both need a top up, but the pots are still quite moist and could do with a little bit of drying out. The new luffa seeds still show no signs of germination. They are the ones that need the heat mat the most.

The seedlings in the corner pot are Wonderberry. They actually showed up really fast. After only 3 days, if I remember correctly. Much, much faster than our first seeding. I planted 5 seeds in that pot, so we’re looking at a 20% germination rate on the second seeding.

I keep forgetting to take photos of the onions in the small tank. They have stagnated. I think I will find a way to move them into the mini-greenhouse to see if that helps.

As for what’s in the mini-greenhouse…

As for the seedling that survive the Great Cat Crush, they are still struggling. A few pots that had been in the corner look like they got eaten, even though we had a screen in front of the open mini-greenhouse cover. We do still have a few surviving peppers and eggplant, and even a few tomatoes, but not very many. We didn’t plant many peppers or eggplant to begin with, so I’m thinking it might be a good idea to plant more when we start our next batch of seeds. Hopefully, the new tomato starts will survive the cats. While we’ve got a few Sophie’s Choice seeds left, plus a couple other varieties that will be started next, we have no Cup of Moldova seeds left, and those are the paste tomatoes I wanted to have a lot of.

The luffa and Canteen gourd in this tray are struggling, too.

The new Canteen gourds are doing much better. The first Wonderberry is managing well, too. There had been a second on in there, but I thinned it out, as it was so tiny.

The shallots seem to be doing better than the onions in the small aquarium greenhouse – except that it looks like the tray got dug into in one corner by a cat.

Also, absolutely everything is covered in cat hair. *sigh*

I think we’ve finally got things worked out to keep the cats out while increasing air circulation in the mini-greenhouse. We really should at least be leaving the front open completely, if not removing the cover entirely, but we’d lose everything to the cats if we did that.

It will be good when we can finally transfer them to the sun room. Overnight temperatures are still too low, though; the thermometer in there read just below freezing when I headed out this morning. We could make use of the ceramic heat bulb in the corner the plants will be in to help, if necessary. I’m also thinking of making use of some of the larger sheets of rigid insulation we’ve got left, cover some pieces with foil, and set them up to reflect light for the seedlings. We’d still need to rotate the trays, but it would help keep them from getting too leggy, plus actually provide some warmth and insulation overnight. We’ll see if we can figure out a set up that will work.

As mild as things are right now, we are expecting things to dip a bit over the next few days, and there’s usually at least one more blizzard around our anniversary in April, before winter finally breaks. For parts of the province, that might actually happen today. It looks like we’ll be mostly clear where we are, but the south of the province is getting predictions of both rain and heavy snow.

Today may be the first day of spring, but winter isn’t ready to let go, quite yet!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: reboot and new set up

Quite a few seedlings, pots and trays got moved around today. The only things that didn’t need to be moved where the onion seedlings, inside the small aquarium greenhouse. That tank doesn’t fit a lot, so they get to be undisturbed for now.

These are the survivors of the Great Cat Crush.

They are still struggling, but it looks like most of them will make it.

Also, the second seed in the cup with the Canteen gourd sprouted! That makes for a 100% germination rate on those!

As for the luffa, there were two peat pots, with nothing coming up, so more luffa seeds were set to soak, this morning.

Last time, the seed coats were scarified by carefully snipping them with nail clippers. In the off chance that they were damaged by this, I used sandpaper on an edge of each seed, instead.

When it was time to plant them, I used the tip of a chopstick to loosen the seed starting soil – and see if I could find the old seeds. I found only one (there should have been 2 in each pot), and it was just the shell, completely empty.

Hopefully, we will have better luck with the new seeds.

I also decided to do more Wonderberry. We started seeds in two Red Solo cups, and one of them now has a second seedling in it. The other, nothing. So a few more seeds were used to try again. We do still have some left over.

Next to do were the Sophie’s Choice and Cup of Moldova tomatoes. There were barely even stems left with the Sophie’s Choice, and all the leaves on the Cup of Moldova were withered away. These were the ones we transplanted to thin out of the original pots. While a cat destroyed the Sophie’s Choice seedlings, I still don’t know what happened with the Cup of Moldova seedlings. They had been doing so very well, after transplant. 😦

We reseeded the Sophie’s Choice minimally, and still have some seeds left. I managed to get a couple of seeds into each Cup of Moldova pot (though I noticed some seeds were stuck together, so a few have more), and finished off the packet. If these don’t work, then all we’ll have is anything that survived the Great Cat Crush.

The newly planted seeds went into the big aquarium greenhouse. My daughter has hung her orchids in front of the window, and I found a place for our aloe that will hopefully dissuade the cats from digging in their dirt. That allowed me to set up a surface for a second tray.

The Sophie’s Choice, luffa and Wonderberry are on the heat mat, and there was space enough for a metal tray to hold the Cup of Moldova on the other side. The Red Solo cups don’t fit in the black trays as well. If they weren’t the exact size for the mini-greenhouse, I’d be using nothing but those baking trays!

Speaking of the mini-greenhouse…

We emptied that out, removed the plastic cover, then lined the back and sides with heavy duty aluminum foil. The whole set up is now closer to the window for more natural light.

The remaining seedlings went back into the mini-greenhouse. The shallots are now in here, along with the two other Canteen gourds that sprouted while in the big aquarium greenhouse, as is the sprouted Wonderberry. The new location should mean more natural sunlight – especially first thing in the morning – and the aluminum should help reduce any stretching towards the light from the seedlings. They’ll still be checked and turned as needed, of course. Eventually, it’ll be moved even closer to the window, but it’s still too cold for that.

I had hoped to be able to block the front opening of the cover with the window screen we used to use on top of the small aquarium greenhouse, but it’s not big enough to keep the cats out. So, we have the little fan inside again. Since today is quite overcast, I’ve also added the light fixture that also provides a bit of heat. There’s another lamp we use, but it doesn’t fit inside the mini-greenhouse, and will sit in front, instead.

The tray with the baggies of paw paw and tulip tree seeds is back on the top shelf, where it has the least amount of light, but is also the warmest. It should still be a while before we start seeing anything happening with those.

You know, all of this would be a lot easier, if we didn’t have to protect everything from cats! 😀 One or two shelves in the living room window, and we’d be done.

Ah, well. It is what it is!

Hopefully, the newly planted seeds and the new set up for the mini-greenhouse will work out.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: lost?

Well, that “blowing snow advisory” has certainly been valid.

My husband noticed the piebald deer heading for the kibble house again, so I figured that was a good time to empty the kitchen compost bucket – and get her away from the kibble. When I opened the door from the sunroom, pausing to take this photo, she just stared at me until she saw me moving outside.

I don’t think she appreciated the interruption of her snack!

I topped up the kibble for the cats, while I was out.

Since it was a quick run to the compost pile, I hadn’t bothered putting on a coat. It was only -12C/10F, after all!

Of course, that didn’t take the wind chill into account. I don’t know what it was at the time, but we’re at -13C/9F right now, and the wind chill is -23C/-9F. Brrrr!!!!

But I’m thinking of spring as we tend the seedlings. I’d mentioned in my last post that the seedlings in the mini-greenhouse were not looking well, so I decided to get some photos to show what I meant.

At which point I discovered I’d forgotten to drop and zip closed the front of the plastic cover.

Much to my surprise, the cats have made no attempt to go into it! Perhaps they’ve satisfied their curiosity already. I decided to leave it open, for now.

These are the Cup of Moldova seedlings that got potted up as we thinned them out. They are actually looking worse now than this morning, and I don’t know why. They had been doing quite well after being transplanted, then suddenly… this.

Were they over watered? Too hot in the mini-greenhouse? Not enough light? Not enough air circulation? Any or all of the above? I have no idea. I’m hoping that leaving the front of the cover open will be helpful.

The Sophie’s Choice that got eaten are… well, the two that were down to just stems are dead, but the ones that still have leaves on them… I don’t know. They might still survive.

These are the ones that got repotted after a cat lay on and crushed the original pots they were in. They actually are doing better than anything else in the mini-greenhouse. The damage done to them is more visible now. Surprisingly, the peppers and eggplants that got the most shmooshed are doing pretty good! The remaining tomatoes are showing damaged leaves, but beyond that, they look like they will recover.

I guess we’ll see over the next few days, how many are complete losses, and how many will survive.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning disaster. Will they survive?

Not a good way to start the day.

One of the first things I do when I get up in the mornings is turn on the lights for the aquarium greenhouses.

This morning, I was greeted by this.

This is the tray we had just recently transferred out of the big aquarium greenhouse. A cat had managed to get through the box blocking the gap at the back of the chair, and into the tray.

The damage in some of them was really, really bad. The pots just disintegrated. Granted, they are designed to do that, but not until they’ve been put into the ground!

Some weren’t too bad. The gourds, in particular, were mostly just jostled a bit. I was able to transfer them into the Solo cups without too much trouble. These cups already had drainage holes in their bottoms.

Note the leaves on the Canteen gourd, with the almost white tips. That’s from the seed casing that I ended up breaking free of the leaves.

The remainder required much more care.

We still had some pre-moistened seed starting soil left, and I used it to help re-pot the remaining squished seedlings.

I think a couple of labels got mixed up, but I’m not going to worry about that right now. As long as the two varieties of tomatoes are labelled, it’s fine.

Once the seedings were cleared and in cups, I moistened some more seed starting soil. While mixing the water in, the remains of the Jiffy pots got mashed into the soil as well. By the time the soil was thoroughly moistened, there was no sign of the pots!

For some with still intact pots, like the gourds, I gently removed them again, added soil to the bottom of the cups, then put them back in. For the tomatoes, I basically just potted them up, adding the fresh soil around the stems. Those should recover fine.

It’s the eggplants and peppers that might have difficulties. I tried to add soil around them while raising them higher in the cups as best I could. Some were quite squished, but none looked broken or damaged.

With the tomatoes, I’m not too concerned, since we do have two more trays of them in the mini-greenhouse, but these are the only eggplant and peppers we’ve got. Even with the gourds, there are other pots that haven’t germinated yet.

Speaking of which…

To give them the best chance as survival, the repotted seedlings went back into the large aquarium greenhouse, where they will be on the heat mat and under the two light fixtures.

Which, unfortunately, meant the other tray had to go into the mini-greenhouse.

Before they did, though, my daughter flattened a cereal box and put it in first, folded so that half the box covers the gap in the back, and the other half is under the tray.

Pure chance that we had the box. We almost never buy cereal, but when we were last the Superstore, we purchased enough to get their freebie of the week. That week, it was a variety pack of cereals and breakfast bars. This was the largest cereal box in the pack, and just the right size to completely cover the gap created by the back of the chair the mini-greenhouse is tied down to.

Unfortunately, this means the items in the tray aren’t getting the light and warmth they were, in the aquarium greenhouse. The best we could do was set up a light on one side, shining into the bottom of the mini-greenhouse from the TV stand next to it. For those in pots, they need the warmth of that incandescent bulb more than the light, since they haven’t germinated yet. You can see the shallots coming up in the tray next to the pots. They will need more light, but not the heat.

*sigh*

Well, there’s only so much we can do, until things warm up enough to start using the sun room. Hopefully, before then, we’ll be able to switch the trays again, and have the newly repotted seedlings back in the mini-greenhouse, and the tray with seeds that still need to germinate, back on the warming mat. The mini-greenhouse itself should be closer to the living room window, but the closer you get to the window, the colder the room is, so that won’t work for probably another few weeks.

We don’t know for sure which cat did this damage but, really, there’s just the one that keeps trying to get into the mini-greenhouse, still. The others are content to sit in the sun spot on the chair seat in front of it.

I love the cats. I really do. But I am getting so tired of cat damage.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: shifting things around

Last might, my daughter and I moved some seedlings around.

The tray from the big aquarium greenhouse is now on the bottom shelf of the mini-greenhouse. The Cup of Moldova tomatoes in particular, were getting so big, they were getting too close to the lights. Plus, they really needed to be off the heat mat.

The bottom three shelves of the mini-greenhouse get direct sunlight in the mornings, so the tray with the tree seeds got moved to the top shelf, which gets no direct sunlight at all. The downside with this set up is that we no longer have a way to provide artificial light, so we’ll have to keep an eye on them, and rotate the trays as needed.

The pots with gourd seeds that did not germinate yet (including the one with just leaf starting to show along the side) got transferred to a new tray and remain on the heat mat. There is still only one Wonderberry sprout, so I took the outer cups off and put them in with the remaining gourd pots. Hopefully, the added warmth will help with those. I also transferred the shallots tray under the lights. There are two tiny sprouts showing!

I’m a bit perplexed over the bulb onions, in the small tank. They all seem to have dried tips. Especially the ones in the larger tray, where one entire spot of seedlings seems to be drying up. In one tray, most of the tips still have their seed cases on them, but the ones that don’t, have the dried tips. I’ve lowered the whole thing, so they’re not as close to the light, though I don’t see how this light could be the problem.

Any onion growers that have experienced this? Last year, we did have the one type that survived to be transplanted, and I don’t remember having issues like this at all, though it was in the other tank. I’m making sure the soil is hydrated, but not too wet, and the light on this tank isn’t as bright as the others, nor does it get as warm as one of the light fixtures on the big tank, so they’re not getting “burned”. We also put a fan on the tank, for air circulation and to help keep the seedlings from getting too leggy. We have just the one little fan, so it gets alternated between the two tanks.

As long as they keep growing, I’m not too worried. Eventually, they’ll be getting hair cuts, anyhow. But if they all start shrivelling away, I’d like to know why! We used all the seeds in the packets in these trays, so it’s not like we can start over, either.

The Re-Farmer