Our 2023 garden: Heritage Harvest seed order in

It may be the end of November, and I may still be sick, but I can still do at least some garden things!

I got two seed orders in today. This first one is from Heritage Harvest Seed. We ordered from them last year, and I was very happy with them. Plus, they grow their own seeds, and are located even further north than we are, so we can be assured that, barring unusual circumstances (like the flooding we got in 2022!), anything we order there should be able to grow where we are.

Though we do still have seeds leftover for some things, I went ahead and ordered a number of things we ordered last year. Among the things I have re-ordered are: Tom Thumb popcorn seeds (we got none last summer, due to flooding, so for 2023, these will be planted in a completely different location, in a raised bed), Little Finger Eggplant, Canteen, Apple and Yakteen gourds, and Zucca melon (because I’m a sucker for punishment and determined to grow more gourds), Styrian hulless pumpkins and Boston Marrow. I am also getting Georgia Candy Roaster. Last year, we ordered those from Veseys, but I want to try Heritage Harvest’s seeds this time.

New for 2023 are:

Red Warty Thing.

Gotta love that name! I wanted to order these last year, but they were out of stock when I was placing my orders. I wanted to make sure I had some seeds for this year. According to the description, they are great for soups and roasting.

Pink Banana Squash.

This is another one that I had wanted to order last year, but they were out of stock.

Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify.

My older daughter requested we try salsify, because it apparently tastes like seafood. More specifically, according to the description, this variety tastes like oysters. Apparently, they can be very difficult to harvest and break easily, so she plans to grow them in something deep, like garbage cans (we have a remarkable number of garbage cans around here), so they can be just dumped out to harvest.

Red Wethersfield Onion.

Last year, I was torn between ordering these or another type, so I’m trying these ones for 2023. They are noted as being a good storage variety. There are only 50 seeds per packet, so I ordered two.

We’ll be ordering a lot of different onions for 2023. We just can’t seem to grow enough of them!

Chamomile.

Lawn chamomile grows wild where we are, but this is the larger type that is what you would find in the chamomile teas you buy in stores. Over time, we will be planting a tea garden, and this is our first start!

I’ll be doing an assessment of our 2022 garden later, but we had a lot of failures, especially with the squash. It is unlikely we will have the level of spring flooding we had this past spring again next year, so I hope things will have a better chance of surviving. I was really looking forward to trying the different varieties of winter squash we’d planted, but we’ll just have to try again!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: yellow pear tomatoes

First!!

While doing my evening rounds, I checked on the ripening yellow pear tomatoes to see how ready they were. I touched one, and it fell off!

Checking on the other brightest tomatoes, and they all easily came off the vines.

I gave them to my daughters, asking them to let me know how they tasted. 😊

It’s rather funny how excited I get about ripe tomatoes, when I can’t even eat them myself, without processing the heck out of them first. 😂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: things are trying to grow

My daughters were sweethearts and took care of feeding the cats outside for me, as I’m still feeling pretty unstable, so the cats weren’t out and about by the time I headed outside. I did get to briefly pet a kitten, though! 😀

While checking out the garden, there was some new progress – and a bit of deer damage – to find.

The Carminat beans are reaching the top of the trellis, and you can see their flower buds. At my fingers, however, you can see the stem of a missing leaf! There was a vertical row of missing leaves, a few feet along the trellis. Right about deer height! Time to find more noise makers and flashy things to set up.

On this side of the trellis are the Seychelles beans, which are starting to get pretty tall, too. None of them show deer damage, which is good, since less of them germinated. In the foreground are the self seeded (or should I say, bird-seeded) sunflowers that I left to grow. The beans can climb them, too! With the flooding this spring, we did not plant any of the Hopi black dye or Mongolian Giant sunflower seeds we’d collected from last year, so I don’t mind letting these one grow. These would be the black oil seed that we put out for the birds in the summer. We’re finding them all over the place, thanks to being spread by birds!

The first sowing of shelling peas may be about half the size they should be, but they are loaded with pods. At least on the north end of the pea trellis. Towards the south end, the sugar snap peas are barely surviving, and the shelling peas on the other side of the trellis are much weaker, too. The entire trellis gets an equal amount of sunlight, so this would be a reflection of soil conditions.

This should be the last year we use this spot for growing vegetables. Next year, they’ll be moved closer to the house, and this area will be made available for planting fruit or nut trees. We haven’t decided what to get next, yet.

The cucumber row is a mixed bag of plants that are growing nice and big, and filled with little cucumbers, and others that are barely bigger than when they were first transplanted!

I had an adorable find at the big trellis.

We have a first Tennessee Dancing gourd developing! It is so cute!

The beans on the same side as the dancing gourds are the red noodle beans. The plants are pretty large, but they are still not at the point of climbing. The shelling beans on the other side, however…

The are much smaller, but have tendrils climbing the trellis, and have even started to bloom!

The most adorable little pollinator showed up just as I was taking the picture.

I startled a bee when checking out this HUGE pumpkin flower.

Yes, it’s on a giant pumpkin plant. 😁

I’d seen some female flowers previously, but now I can’t find them, so there are no pumpkins starting to form, yet. While we are not shooting for super big pumpkins, and won’t be pruning them down to just one pumpkin per plant, it feels like it’s too late in the season for any giant pumpkins to mature. We’re near the end of July already, and none have formed, yet!

In the south yard, we finally have Chocolate cherry tomatoes! Just this one plant, yet. Of the 4 varieties we planted this year, the Chocolate cherry have been the most behind – and they are planted where tomatoes had done so well, last year. The plants themselves are getting nice and tall, and we’ve been adding supports and pruning them as needed, but there are much fewer flowers blooming, and only today do we finally have tomatoes forming. Thankfully, the other varieties are much further along.

I also spotted some ground cherry fruit forming! These plants are doing remarkably well, given how much water they had to deal with this spring. It took a while, but not they are quite robust plants, and I’m happy to see them setting fruit!

Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer before we start getting actual food from the garden. Everything is so, so behind, I am extra happy to see progress like this.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: planning ahead with spinach

With company coming tonight, I headed out this morning to do a couple of errands.

I’m glad I was able to do at least a bit of mowing around the driveway yesterday, so our guests will have someplace to park. Even if the grass had not gone to hay, I couldn’t have mowed all of it, as there is still open water along one side of the driveway.

Definitely a place to dig a drainage ditch.

As it was, just mowing along the edges took quite a bit of going back and forth, even though I had the mower set higher than I usually do. The rest will have to be done with the scythe.

Since all the dandelions have seeded and died back, we could actually keep the hay we scythe for mulch in the garden, now. As long as we cut it before the seeds are fully developed. Otherwise, we’d just be planting lots of grass in our garden!

My errand of the morning was to head to our little hamlet’s general store/post office/gas station/liquor store to pick up some booze for our guests. We’re all out of our home made hard cider (looking forward to making more!).

They have a small seed display from Lindenberg Seeds Ltd, and I ended up picking up a couple of packets.

The spinach we planted in the high raised bed is doing well. The spinach we planted in the low raised beds, not so well. In fact, they’re barely there. I can’t tell if they’ve been eaten by insects, or if it was just too wet for them. I know they haven’t been eaten by critters, because the beds have onions planted around them, and if anything had gone through, the onions would be flattened in places. They care completely undisturbed.

We do have seeds from one variety of spinach left, if I remember correctly, but I decided to pick up two more. Bloomsdale and Hybrid Olympia. It’s getting too for spinach now, though. These will be planted at the end of July/early August for a fall harvest. Hopefully, we will have generous quantities like we had last year, that we can dehydrate for later use. It was very handy to be able to add a spoonful of dry spinach to dishes every now and then. We’ve been out for a while, though, and I miss it!

Spinach is definitely one of our favourite greens, for all of us.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden, and first tomatoes!

My morning rounds are taking longer, as I am able to do more in the various garden beds as I go along.

I harvested the largest of the chive blossoms, before they go to seed. While I continued with my morning rounds, one of my daughters washed and de-bugged them, then laid them out on a cooling rack in a baking tray to dry. They are in the oven, with no heat at all, to protect them from the cats. Once the wash water is dried off, we’ll stick as much of them in a jar as we can, with olive oil. Any extras will go in the freezer. Or maybe I should split them into two jars and use them all. There are more chive blossoms to harvest later on, so we’ll have plenty to infuse in vinegar, too.

Speaking of drying things, during the night that cats did manage to get at the stacked screens of drying mint leaves. We’ve lost about 2 screen’s worth of mint leaves to the floor. 😦

When I moved on from the old kitchen garden to check on the squash patch, I noticed one of the giant pumpkins was no longer upright. I thought it might be because it had grown large enough to start leaning over, but I was wrong.

The stem is broken, right at ground level. Possibly from the high winds we’ve been having. Or…

Possibly weakened by the ant hill that has formed on that side of the pumpkin mound!

I built soil up around to support the stem again, in the off chance that it will survive, but with a break that large, I don’t expect it to. We are likely down to just one giant pumpkin plant.

Everything else in the squash patch seems to be surviving so far, and I’m seeing new growth in most. The squash that were started at 4 weeks are so very small, though. I kinda feel like maybe we should have started them at 6 weeks.

I had a very pleasant surprise in the tomato patch nearby, though!

Of course, the camera on my phone didn’t focus where I wanted it to. 😀

We have our first tomatoes forming!

These are on the Sophie’s Choice tomato plants. We got these seeds as a freebie with my order from Heritage Harvest, which was a very pleasant surprise. They have a much shorter growing season, and were started indoors at around 10 weeks or something (it’s a good thing I am using the blog as a gardening journal to record the details, because I’m already forgetting!). So I am not surprised that these are the first to start forming fruit.

We did get some rain last night, but it was light enough that much of the water in the garden was able to get absorbed by the soil, and the paths are just really wet, instead of big puddles of water. That meant I could finally do some much needed weeding in the summer squash bed, then pruning of tomatoes.

I took some of the strongest, healthiest looking branches that I pruned off the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and transplanted them in the open spaces between the summer squash. I don’t know if I’m breaching any companion planting rules here (do tomatoes and squash go well together?), but whatever. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. I specifically wanted to propagate more Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, as they are listed as extremely rare, so if I can save seed and help keep the variety going, that would be a good thing. Because they start producing so much faster than the other varieties we have, I’m not as concerned about cross pollination.

While I was weeding and tending different parts of the garden, I had Rolando Moon hanging out and keeping me company. Not wanting attention. Just being nearby.

I had to chase her out of one of the sweet potato bags, as she decided to start rolling in it! Then she jumped up into the high raised bed and lay down on some onions. THEN, she moved into the squash and corn patch, and sat on some corn seedlings!

That cat seems determined to be destructive!

Meanwhile…

The tomatoes are not the only things blooming. Two of the Styrian hulless pumpkins have suddenly burst into bloom, and they are all covered with buds again. Their first buds had been pruned away when they were transplanted. They look to still be all male flowers. I’m debating whether these flowers should be pruned away, too, so more energy can go to the plants establishing themselves more. It hasn’t been that long since they were transplanted, after all.

Anyone out there know if it would be helpful to prune the flowers off now or not?

The beans and peas at the trellises and bean tunnel are looking quite good. The cucumbers seem more touch and go. The first peas that were planted are getting quite large, and the snap peas are already large enough that some have latched onto the vertical trellis strings already. The snap peas are growing noticeably faster than the pod peas.

There is a single, out of place pea plant that showed up, right near the upright post at the start of the row. It seems to be a pea from last year that finally germinated! It germinated quite a bit earlier than the others, and I’m trying to train it up the support post, since it’s too far from the vertical lines to climb. Last year, we planted the King Tut purple peas here, so that’s what this one would be. It’s even almost as large as the purple peas we started indoors from saved seed, and transplanted against the chain link fence to climb. They are all tall enough that they’ve attached themselves to the fence and are making their way upwards, even though they are still looking kinda spindly.

The Wonderberries have been ripening, though the plants haven’t really gotten any bigger, and have what looks like weather damage. I’ve been able to taste them. They are lightly sweet, but don’t have any predominant flavour. This may be something we just leave for the birds. I’ll have to get the girls to try them, too, and see if they like them. I don’t mind them self seeding in this location, as I’d rather have the berry bushes that produce food, either for us or for the birds, than the invasive flowers.

In other things, my plans for the day have had to change. My sister never made it out to my mother’s yesterday, because my mother told her it was “too soon” to start packing and bagging things in preparation for her apartment being sprayed for bed bugs. She has a shift today, so that’s out. My brother, meanwhile, is out of town for a funeral that had been delayed until now by the lockdowns. So it looks like I’ll likely have to go to my mother’s to help out. I’ll phone her, first, once I’m sure she is back from church. My sister will be able to come out tomorrow morning, and I hope to come out in the early afternoon for the last of the packing and bagging, and moving of larger items. Then she’s back the next morning to bring our mother to her place for the night. I’ll head over in the early evening to check on the place and make sure it’s locked up while my mother is gone.

On Tuesday, I should be heading into the city for the first half of our monthly shopping, too. I will time it so I can check her place on my way home.

Which means I’ll be getting very little accomplished at home over the next few days!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: having a whacky time!

After a few hours of waiting, things dried up enough that I could do some much needed weed whacking in the garden.

Most of the yard still squelches when we walk through the grass – grass that is getting so tall, it’s actually hard to walk through! Not only are all the dandelions gone to seed, but the grass is going to seed, too!

The first place to work on was the large squash patch.

I’m not happy with how much shade some of them are getting. They get full sun early in the morning, though, so with the total hours of sunlight, it should be okay. It’s a shame my parents planted more trees on the south side of the garden. I’ve since learned my brother got them those trees to add to the shelter belt in the outer yard, but my parents didn’t want to go out that far. Now, the shadows are covering more than half of the old garden area on this side. 😦

Some of the squash seedlings are still so small, they could not be easily seen through the overgrown grass and weeds. I used taller sticks and stakes to mark the corners, then smaller sticks to mark the smaller squash. Then I went ahead and added sticks to all of them, with pairs of sticks to support the larger squash so they’d be out of the grass. In the end, I added a pair of sticks to all but the gourds with the tall metal support stakes, as much to protect them from accidental weed whacking as to mark where they were. I trimmed right down to the ground as much as I could. I am glad to get this done before adding the straw mulch. I really didn’t want to add it on top of the overgrown crab grass and weeds.

Then, since I was there with the weed trimmer anyhow, I kept working around all the beds and the straw mulch where the potatoes and melons are planted. I didn’t need to trim around where the other squash, corn and beans are planted, since that area got done in preparation for planting.

I had grabbed the second 100 ft extension cord from the garage, so with about 250 ft of extension cord, and judicious placement of a spade to make sure the cord didn’t drag across the squash and corn patch, I was able to reach the bean tunnel.

The bean tunnel got a thorough trimming before I moved on to the hulless pumpkins. For these, I decided to give them three support poles each. These poles were used to support summer squash last year, and some still had the twist tie wire that was used to fix the stems to the poles. Those were used to go around the three poles and hold the vines off the ground and protect them from the weed trimmer. I also had some left over sifted garden soil in the wheelbarrow, so I added that around the bases of the support poles to help hold them in place, being careful not to go too close to the stems. I didn’t want to bury the stems, as that could cause the stems to rot.

These pumpkins are now ready for a mulch, too.

I stopped at this point, as I wanted to get to the post office before it closed, then go on into town. I want to use the weed trimmer around the trellises and, if I can reach, around the sea buckthorn and silver buffalo berry. That will be a job for after the squash patches are mulched.

The canteen gourds are blooming! I probably should have pinched off the flower buds when I transplanted them, as they haven’t really gotten any bigger, but I forgot. We shall see how they do. Their flowers are very pretty!

We are starting to get weather advisories and heat warnings for the weekend. Tomorrow, we’re supposed to approach 30C/86F, and the day after – Father’s Day – we’re supposed to reach the mid-30’s (35C is 85F). While I was working on the bean tunnel, the thermometer there was already reading 30C in the sun. Which means the best time to get the mulch down will be early tomorrow morning, while it is still cooler.

Going to bed early tonight would be a good idea! Hopefully, the cats will even let me sleep… :-/

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: Latte corn, green bush beans, Yakteen gourds – and we’re officially done!

Yes!! It’s done! I can now officially say, we have finished spring planting and transplanting everything! Whether we do a fall planting or not, we’ll decide on later, but right now, everything that will be growing this year is in.

Not that the work is done, but the focus gets to change, and the pressure to get it all in, in time, is gone.

The first thing to get done was finish the bed for the last of the corn and beans.

It took another 3 1/2 wheelbarrow loads of soil to top of the rest of the bed. You can really see the difference between what we laid down earlier, and got rained on. I’d taken out the rest of the sod divots, but we still need to gather the rocks.

The bowl in the photo is holding some of the inoculated Latte bi-colour corn seeds. It came as a pack of 200, but that’s less than half the pack, and some went back into the bag. The corn was planted in the three rows in the middle, that are marked off. The plan was to have bush beans on either side, but we only had enough of the Lewis green beans from last year to fill the one side.

The only other beans we had were pole beans, so we left the last row.

Also, I’ve run out of labels that won’t fade in the sun. It’s a good thing I’m using this blog as a gardening journal! 😀

Now, all that’s left here is to mulch the area with straw.

I then decided to go ahead and transplant the Yakteen gourd. The were 4 sprouts in one pot, while the other two pots still had nothing!

The largest plant went into an empty spot in a row of cantaloupe type melons (one of the grocery store melons we saved seeds from), because one of the seedlings withered and died before we could transplant them.

The two smallest seedlings were planted together. Here, they are in a pair of empty spots in one of the rows of Kaho watermelon. The seeds in those spots never germinated, so the space is being used for the gourds.

It feels so good to be all done planting!

Which meant it was time to work on other things…

One of the low raised beds did not have supports of netting yet, so I dug out the rest of the bamboo stakes in the garden shed and use the unbroken ones. This bed has all summer squash, and it not something I expect we’ll need to cover for any reason, so we just need supports to put netting around it, if we need to. Last year, the groundhogs were enjoying themselves some squash, but nothing was bothering the plants, so if we need to put netting around them, it wont be until they are quite a bit larger.

In the low raised beds with the upright supports, it didn’t have the twine strung around yet. Because of the logs, the spacing was really off. I ended up grabbing a couple of sticks, which the arrows are pointing to, to fill in the gaps.

The hoops in the background got a couple of bamboo stakes tied across the tops.

Now, all of these beds have supports on them, whether for netting or shade cloth or whatever we need.

I think we’ll take a bit of a break and let things dry up a bit. I’d still like to take the weed washer into the larger squash bed before we lay the straw mulch down.

Then we need to put the A frame supports at the two trellises beyond the bean tunnel, for the cucumbers, peas and more pole beans, as well as mulch the hulless pumpkins that got planted out there, too.

I’d be excited for the progress, but I’m just too tired. I’ve been pushing my limits a lot, lately, and it’s catching up with me. A bit of a breather, and I should be back up to snuff in no time.

She says, optimistically… 😉

On top of this, it’s been a busy phone day. My husband had a phone appointment with the doctor to talk about his lab results, and a slight change to one of his medications because of it. Then my husband made another phone appointment… for me! I was outside, weeding, when the call came, so he sent me messages to let me know, but with muddy hands, even if I get the notifications, I can’t check my phone until I’ve washed my hands. It’s a good thing I came in when I did! The appointment was to talk about my own lab results, but first I got a call from home care to talk about my mother. The guy then called my mother and booked an appointment for and assessment next week, which he has asked me to be at. Then he called me back with the appointment time – and a concern. Because of her bed bugs, he’s going to have to be wearing the appropriate PPE, but they wouldn’t consider even doing an assessment if the potential client wasn’t going to do anything about their bed bugs. My mother told him she didn’t have an appointment, because when they asked (who? when?) in her building, who had noticed bed bugs in their units, she didn’t say anything – because she didn’t want to bother anybody!

*sigh*

I explained to him what my brother had done, and that it’s being arranged by schedule. I ended up getting the name of the site manager for her town, which I was able to pass on to my brother.

Then I had my telephone appointment with the clinic, which was basically to tell me nothing has changed. I consistently have one reading that is “on the high side”, but still within normal, so they want to keep an eye on it. All because, back in 2005 or 2006, I took a short term medication with a side effect the doctor wanted to monitor for the duration. Ever since then, everyone’s misunderstood why that was on my file.

One of the other things I did was send an email to the company I ordered the shed from. I asked a couple of questions about the amount charges and what shipping company would be used. Mostly, I’m feeling the waters to see what kind of response I get. Given the time frame for when we’re supposed to receive the boxes, if I don’t get a response soon, I will assume they are not legit and cancel the order and ask for my money back. The problem is that, in looking them up, I’ve found both that they are a scam site, and that they are not the best, but not fake, either.

Ah, well. We’ll find out soon enough.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: ground cherry, popcorn and we surrender!

The rain held off this afternoon, so I headed out to where we finally decided to transplant the ground cherries.

After thoroughly dousing myself with mosquito repellant!!

This spot by the compost heap has been covered with that sheet of metal for about 2 years. The metal was placed there as something to put grass clippings on top of, so they’d be easier to collect and use later on.

Isn’t it amazing that, even while under metal, things were still trying to grow under there? !!

The soil was so soft under there, I could easily push the garden fork deeper than the length of the tines, and probably could have gone deeper if I’d wanted to. The ground was also pretty saturated, so it was muddy work to loosen the soil and pull out any roots – including some thoroughly rotted roots from the old tree stump under the compost pile nearby! No watering needed after they were planted, that’s for sure. In fact, I’m a bit concerned it might be too wet for them. We shall see.

The groundcherries got a good mulch with some of the grass clippings I had to move off the sheet of metal in order to move it. Here, they can be left to self seed, and hopefully we’ll get them year after year. We’ll just have to make sure they don’t spread too far and become invasive, which I’ve heard some people have had problems with.

The sheet of metal, meanwhile, is now sitting on top of the tall grass and weeds next to the ground cherries, weighted down with rocks to keep it from blowing away. Hopefully, it will help keep the crab grass and other weeds from invading the ground cherries.

When my daughter came out to help, we went looking through all the garden beds, talking about what needed to be done in each, before she started working on where we decided to plant our corn.

First, she dug a fairly narrow trench for the Tom Thumb popcorn, between the green patty pans and the Boston Marrow. These have a slightly longer growing season – 85-90 days – so we wanted to get them in first.

After she dug the small trench, she moved to the space between the Boston Marrow and the Lady Godiva pumpkins. There’s more space there, and it’s where we will be planting the Latte corn, which needs only 65 days to maturity, and bush beans.

While she worked on that trench, I used the hand cultivator to loosen up the smaller trench, pulled out the bigger rocks, and as many weed roots as I could. Then it got a layer of shredded paper, and finally a about 1 1/2 wheelbarrow loads of garden soil was added. I also removed the divots of sod and dumped them under some trees. They are so full of roots and rocks, it wasn’t worth the time to try and salvage any of the soil.

The Tom Thumb popcorn only grows to about 4 feet. The instructions said to plant them 5 or 6 inches apart, and in rows 36 inches apart, in blocks of at least 4 rows.

Obviously, we didn’t do that.

What we did do was plant two rows, with all the seeds about 6 inches apart. Once the soil was ready, my daughter had finished removing sod in the other area, so I just went down the prepared row, poking pairs of holes into the soil while my daughter went along behind me, dropping the little bitty corn seeds in! 🙂

I’m glad we got those planted, because the next job was a killer.

In the second space, I went over it with the hand cultivator to get some of the bigger rocks out, and the more obvious roots. There’s just no way we could get rid of all the roots. While I worked on that, my daughter used one of the old, busted up wheelbarrows to get grass clippings. A full recycling bag of shredded paper went into the bottom, then grass clippings got scattered over the paper.

After dumping the remaining soil in the wheelbarrow in, my daughter went to get more soil with the good wheelbarrow, while I used the old one to remove the divots of sod.

I was reminded of just how badly broken up that old thing was! I’m amazed we got away with using it for as long as we did. In the end, I had to switch to the other old wheelbarrow. It’s smaller and also busted up, but at least it didn’t try to tip over every time I dropped a piece of sod in it, or roll away!

After a while, however, my daughter was waving the white flag. It was pretty hot, and very humid. For all the bug spray we used, we were just sweating it right off. The mosquitoes were after my daughter more than me (I reapplied bug spray, several times!), and after all the back breaking labour of removing sod, she was just done.

After she escaped the clouds of mosquitoes, I managed to move some more of the sod – using the good wheelbarrow! – before switching to getting a couple more loads of soil, and that was it. I surrendered, too! I think we did manage to get half of the area covered with fresh garden soil. The other half will probably need at least 4 – 6 more loads of soil, depending on how full the wheelbarrow is. It’s a fair distance to haul the soil from the pile in the outer yard, and we have to go around through the smaller person gate, rather than the closer vehicle gate, because there’s water there again, so we can’t get away with over filling it.

It’s a good thing the Latte corn and the bush beans we will be planting with them don’t need a lot of time to grow, because we probably won’t be able to work on this area tomorrow, and not just because I’m driving my mother to another medical appointment. We’re supposed to start raining again tonight, with thunderstorms over the next two days – complete with overland flow flooding alerts! I’ll be using my mother’s car to drive her. Hopefully, that one patch on the road near our place will stay solid enough by the time I am coming home, that her little car will get through. Anyhow; with the expected weather, we might not be able to finish this area and plant the Latte corn for several days.

By the time we’re done in this area, it will be quite intensely planted. Between that and the straw mulch we intend to add, I’m hoping that should keep the weeds down. Before that gets done, we’ll have to remove the rest of the sod and the piles of rocks scattered about.

It would have been much easier if we could do the carboard and straw like we did for the potato beds, but we just don’t have the carboard for that. We could get more later on, but we really wanted to get these in as quickly as possible. This will be the last direct sown seeds, besides any successive sowing we might do for a fall harvest.

This is also about as close as we’re getting to the “three sisters” method of planting. Hopefully, doing it this way will have the same benefits as the more traditional way. The only real problem I foresee is being able to access the bush beans to harvest them, when everything is all grown in. If we focus on putting the corn in the middle and the beans on the outside, we should be able to reach them okay. It’ll be trying to walk around the Boston Marrow and hulless pumpkins that will be more of a challenge, I think! With the Tom Thumb corn, it will be less of an issue, since they won’t be harvested until the cobs are completely dry on the stalk. Once the mulch is down, there’s not going to be much more needed for them.

If nothing else, this will be a learning experience.

And an experience in humility, as we get driven away by hoards of mosquitoes, trying to eat us alive!

I’m now going to go borrow my husband’s bath chair and shower off the smell of insect repellant now!

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

Our 2022 garden: winter sowing, and transplants organized

During the winter, we tried a winter sowing experiment. We sowed seeds in 4 different styles of containers to see which would do better come springtime.

The answer is…

… none of them.

Not a single thing has germinated.

I think they froze. Our extended winter was probably a bit too much for them. People in some of my zone 3 gardening groups have had good success with their winter sowing, so I know the technique works. It just didn’t work for us, this year!

Will be try again next year?

Maybe. We’ll decide in the fall, I think.

When bringing the transplants in last night, I took the time to go through them all, organize them and get labels ready for today.

This morning, while taking them back outside, I gave them another once over, trying to figure out how I wanted to get them in. This is what we’ve got left to transplant.

This year, we have 3 surviving Crespo squash – and one of them was thinned out from another pot. These guys REALLY want to go into flower!

We did all right with the Styrian hulless pumpkins, with 4 surviving transplants.

The Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins did even better. There are 5 pots in there, but some of them have two or three plants – seeds started germinating later, after we started hardening off the plants!

The Kakai hulless pumpkin did not fare as well. There are only 2 of those.

The Baby Pam pumpkin did amazing. We’ve got 6 of them – a 100% germination rate! These are last year’s seeds, and last year, none of them germinated!

In the other bin are the two Little Finger eggplants I found among the squash and pumpkins, plus the two giant pumpkins started from free seeds given out at the grocery store near my mother’s place. We won’t be doing any of the pruning or special care to grow a competition sized pumpkin, but it should still be interesting to see how big they do get!

Here we have 3 pots each of winter squash, but some of the pots have 2 or 3 seedlings in them! We’ll decide what to do with them, as we are ready to transplant. I don’t like to “waste” strong, healthy seedlings, so they might all get transplanted. We shall see.

We’ve got 2 Apple gourds, for sure – these were from a second start, due to the Great Cat Crush. There are two others that are either more Apple gourds, or Ozark nest egg gourds. The writing faded on the labels.

We have quite a lot of ground cherries, and still have no idea where we are going to plant them!

Here are the last of the seedlings that were started at 4 weeks before last frost date. There are 4 green zucchini (the yellow zucchini and the Magda have already been planted), and 8 of the G-star patty pans, which we got through a happy mistake. The Teddy squash are from last year’s seeds, and these ones grow in a bush habit, rather than vining.

Then there are the three pots that have Yakteen gourds planted in them, but only one pot has seedlings – and a new one germinating again! That was one of the pots that got re-planted, because none germinated. The other round pot that has a label stuck in it was also replanted, but nothing has germinated. The middle round pot had Kakai pumpkins sown in it, which did not germinate, so I used the same pot for more Yakteen gourd seeds. Nothing. Very strange!

When it’s time to plant these, we’ll be trying to work them in groups or clusters, placing like away from like, as much as possible. At the same time, we want the summer squash to be easily accessible, which means not letting them get crowded by the sprawling winter squash! We’ll see how many we can fit into the area my daughter dug a grid of holes into.

It’s a littler over a weeks since our last average frost date, so hopefully, it’s not too late to be transplanting these. As you can tell by the yellowing leaves, they really need to be out of those pots and into the ground!

The Re-Farmer