Out of order, but it’s getting done

It had been my intention to work on clearing out that last low raised bed in the main garden area, at the very least, but once I got outside I changed my mind. There was less standing water in the yard, and the grass was getting out of control, so I decided to try mowing.

We have a large yard.

I was also using the collection bag to save those wonderful grass clippings to use as mulch. It doesn’t hold much, so there was a lot of stopping and starting to empty the bag.

After several hours, pretty much the entire inner yard was done. There was just one place that still had so much water that, even with the mower set higher than usual, it was just too deep. I even opened up the gate in the fence near the fire pit and mowed into the outer yard. I like keeping a lane in the grass to the back gate mowed, as an extension of the driveway. There’s too much water do to it in the usual areas, but I was able to clear a lane from the fire pit area, to where the lane would be. If we absolutely had to use the back gate, we would be able to drive through the inner yard to access it. We certainly wouldn’t be able to get through, the usual way!

Another of the goals will be to trim away some small trees taking over a corner, then mowing the areas where we will be planting the Korean Pine.

But not today!

Did I mention we have a large yard? 😀

The rest of the main garden area should get a once over with the mower, before going over it again with the weed trimmer, as close to the ground as possible, but I was just too exhausted to work on that today.

The ornamental apple trees are starting to bloom. So are the sour cherry trees, and all the lilacs are developing buds. Finally! That shows me that things have finally really warmed up, hopefully enough. I don’t know that we ever got frost last night, but the sweet potato slips are fine. I’m leaving the covers on them for one more night, though. Tonight is supposed to be the last cooler night, though I’ve noticed the forecasted overnight low has changed to quite a bit warmer than before.

Tomorrow, we start transplanting everything. The sun room is turning into quite the jungle!

We’ve had a very high germination rate this year – a huge improvement from last year! Even the Yakteen gourds, which I restarted, have a few seedlings. Some things had seeds germinate weeks apart, but they still made it. We even have a second tulip tree sprouting! We’d pretty much lost all expectation of any more tulip trees, or any paw paws, germinating, so that was quite a nice surprise.

Another nice surprise is that all the turnips have started sprouting already! My goodness, that was fast.

Today, the girls finished transplanting the silver buffalo berry, and prepped to plant the sea buckthorn tomorrow. After that, it’s just the Korean Pine for this year’s food forest additions.

My priority tomorrow will be to get the newest low raised bed next to the compost pile topped up and ready for planting. The Kulli corn will be going in there, and I want to get that done as quickly as possible. They really need to be transplanted soon. If we start them indoors again, I won’t do the toilet tube pots. It worked well enough, and it certainly saved space, but the seedlings quickly needed more room to thrive. Even if they were in just the red Solo cups, they would have fared well longer. Once the corn is transplanted, we’ll have to make sure to put a net around it right away, so they don’t get eaten!

The girls will start transplanting tomatoes along the chain link fence in the south yard. We have more tomatoes than will fit there, though, so others will be planted in the low raised bed that I finished prepping yesterday. There are so many, we might have to the last one that still needs to be weeded, too.

It’s going to be a flurry of transplanting over the next few days. The sun room is going to look so empty when we are done! 😀 We will also be direct sowing the pole beans at the squash tunnel, along with the 2 canteen gourds that are trying to claim their way out of their pots right now. Then there are the two types of corn to direct sow, and I honestly don’t know where we’ll be planting those. We’re really behind in preparing beds, but once those trees came in, they became the priority. Mowing and using the weed trimmer is also going to higher on the priority list, since the winter squash is going to be planted throughout the old garden area, not in prepared beds. Basically, we’re going to dig holes, add some garden soil and the transplants, and mulch around them. The grass is so tall right now, though, we couldn’t possibly get that done until it’s cleared.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: remaining T&T Seeds order is in

Before I get into how the rest of the day has been going – aside from “wet” – the rest of our order from T&T Seeds came in! You can read about the whole order, and why we chose what we did, here.

We got our forage radish seeds a while ago, and it was the perishable stock that had to wait to be shipped in time for planting in our zone. I never got a shipping notification. I’d actually gone to the website a few days ago to look up my order and see if there was anything to tell me when it would be shipped, so we could be ready for it. There was nothing. Not even anything to say that the seeds got shipped already. So I tried their live chat function. I ended up getting an automated reply, apologizing for being really busy, and giving me the option of leaving my email with my question, and they’d respond later. I did that, but the only thing I got in my email was a transcript of the chat that didn’t happen.

Well, something must have happened, because suddenly, here they are!

We have decided the highbush cranberry will be added to one end of the rows of silver buffalo berry, where we’d grown corn and sunflowers last year. The sweet potato slips will be split between a grow bag and a bed where we’d grown potatoes last year. The sunchokes are still not 100% decided, but I think there’s really just one spot for them; in an unused bed near the garage. We’d tried to grow strawberry spinach there last year, but that didn’t work. There are invasive that keep trying to take it over, but sunchokes have a reputation for being somewhat invasive, too, and I think they’d win out on that battle. 😉

I also got a shipping notification for our TreeTime order. You can read about what we ordered and why, here. We’re expecting a total of 41 trees and shrubs that will need to be planted right away.

Which is going to be difficult. What came in today needs to be planted as quickly as possible, but it’s been very rainy off and on, all day today, and it’s expected to continue through tomorrow. In fact, we have started to get weather alerts.

There’s another Colorado Low on the way.

At least it’s bringing rain and not snow, though we’ve have a rather cool May, and it’s looking like June will be, too.

The warnings for our area is for heavy rain falls. Once again, the south end of the several provinces are expected to get the worst of it, as the system swirls its way east and west. There are even tornado warnings!

The transplants did not get taken outside today. They are probably okay with the temperatures by now, but being in pots, and the pots in trays and bins where they get watered from below, it doesn’t take much for rain to accumulate too much in their containers.

For the stuff that can’t be planted until after last frost, it’s looking like we won’t be able to get them out until after June 5, because of the overnight temperatures. Once they’re in and established, if temperatures dip again, we can try protecting them with row covers, but not while they are still undergoing transplant shock.

One good think about everything being in at least low raised beds: the paths may be full of mud and water, the the beds are still good.

Somewhere in there, we need a break in the rain – or at least the heavy rain – and get our T&T Seeds order into the ground!

The Re-Farmer

Assessing the damage – and it’s not too bad

We still have high winds this morning, though it’s changed directions and not as severe.

The cats clearly appreciated the shelter the kibble house provided! Aside from when they were eating, almost every time I saw a cat, it was running, full tilt. Potato Beetle had spent the day in the sun room and when I was there last night to set up the second shop light, he asked to go outside. Silly thing. This morning, he wanted back in, and is now curled up on the swing bench, having a warm and cozy nap.

I found our BBQ cover in the maple grove, blown past the grape hyacinth patch. Do you see the bright blue picnic table in the background? The BBQ is just to the left of that. The cover had been pegged to the ground.

I found all the pegs, still in the ground!

I ended up moving the BBQ completely around the fire pit – the long way around, because the ground was too soft to go the short way. It’s now on slightly less muddy ground, though I also found a scrap piece of plywood that was big enough, and put that under the wheels, before putting the cover back and pegging it down again. Hopefully, the wind won’t be able to blow it away again. I’m a bit concerned that a branch might fall on it, but there’s really nowhere where that wouldn’t be a risk.

The sheets of metal roofing material we’d put over the old garden shed were blown off and are now stuck between the shed and a tree. The shed being placed in between trees is probably the only reason the shed itself has never blown over. The metal sheets had been strapped into place, to cover a hole in the roof. When we put it back, we’ll finally get the chance to nail it down.

We lost another spruce tree – this one was still green, too. It also fell over the top of another tree that had fallen.

I was not surprised to discover the trunk had ant damage.

We also had some shingles blown up on the high angle parts of the roof above the sun room’s roof. Must look like they’ve been folded back but at least one looks like it’s gone completely. I’ll need to pick up a new caulking gun and a tube of roofing tar so it can be fixed. We had to throw out what we got a few years back, on discovering the cats hand knocked it down from the shelf it was on, then peed all over it. 😦 By the time we found and dug it out from behind the shelf, there was no salvaging it.

That was the worst of the wind damage – at least at our place. When checking the driveway cam, I noticed some trees had come down on my younger brother’s fence, across the road from us. It looks like a cluster of three spruces that were growing very close together, all came down at once. Their driveway that’s across from ours is not their main one, but is a bit like our own back driveway; there to access the field, but almost never used. I made sure to send an email to let them know about it, since their fence was damaged by the trees. I don’t think it’s something their horse could get through, but it still needs to be fixed.

When checking the driveway cam files, I didn’t see the trees actually falling. There is a slight delay between when the camera is triggers and when it starts recording video, and that split second was all it took to miss it – but I can still say exactly when the trees fell!

Even the “road closed” sign at the intersection got moved by the wind, spinning the whole stand almost 90 degrees.

The ground may still be wet and the winds still pretty high, but we’re going to have to get busy and clear up the fallen branches as best we can. There are just too many to leave lying around! I pick up some where doing my rounds, but we need to break out the wagon and the wheelbarrow to really get it done.

All in all, it’s not too bad for wind damage.

We won’t be setting up the platform for hardening off the transplants again, though. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get that set up again tomorrow, and start hardening things off all over again.

Oh, that reminds me. I got an email from the company we’d ordered potatoes from, with the opportunity to review. It was letting me know the order was packed and that, once shipped, we’ll be getting tracking information from the post office, once they’ve processed it.

There was also an apology for the delay. I completely forgot that this company let us choose what time frame to have the order shipped to us. I’d picked May 4 -10. It got packed on the 13th. They were delayed by weather, and were still catching up. When I responded to confirm I’d reviewed the order, mentioned I was actually glad there was a delay. If it had been shipped on schedule, we would not have been able to pick it up from the post office for a while.

I’m quite looking foreword to the varieties we picked.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: thinning and potting up

A lot of the squash in the big aquarium greenhouse were getting too big for their britches, so it was time to thin them out and pot them up!

The Giant Pumpkins were easy enough to do; there’s just one plant per biodegradable pot, so they just got put into bigger biodegradable pots with little issue.

With the others, we thinned by division. We had only a few of the larger biodegradable pots left, so the biggest ones were transplanted into those. After that, they went into the red Solo cups. Then they all went into the sun room.

Once those were done, we went through the mini-greenhouse and moved the remaining eggplants and peppers to the sun room as well. A couple of them got thinned by division, too.

These two bins are all winter squash, the giant pumpkins and hulless pumpkins, under the bright shop light.

The gourds that were already in the sun room joined more squash and Apple gourds in a bin.

The peppers that survived the Great Cat Crush, as well as replacement starts of peppers and eggplants, got moved into the window shelf.

Back in the big aquarium greenhouse, there is now more room to space things out. The melons were looking leggy, so I put something under the bin they’re in to raise them closer to the light. There’s still just one Zucca melon sprouted (the big one in the foreground).

There are still some smaller squash and gourds on the heat mat. The Yakteen gourds have not germinated yet. I tried to get a photo, but the camera decided to focus on the aquarium frame instead of the plants. LOL

In the mini-greenhouse, there are still the Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes, and the ground cherries. With more space available, they’re now all spread out to get maximum light and air flow.

It’s always a risk to pot up things like squash. Once the new bins were in the sun room, water was added to the bottoms to let them absorb more moisture from below; particularly the biodegradable pots, so the pots themselves wouldn’t wick moisture out of the soil and away from the roots. I left the shop light on all night, to hopefully give them the energy they needed to handle the changes.

As of this morning, everything looked pretty much as I left them. Nothing was drooping or otherwise showing signs of stress from being divided and potted up. So far so good!

In about a week or two, we will start hardening off the transplants. By then, everything that’s in the aquarium greenhouse and the mini-greenhouse should be moved to the sun room, with the tomatoes divided and potted up.

If all goes well, we should have most, if not all, or cold tolerant seeds direct sown outside by the end of the month, too.

It feels so good to finally be able to move ahead with the gardening!

The Re-Farmer

Thawing out; main garden area

This morning, I was finally able to skirt around the edges with shallower snow, to get to where the main garden area is finally thawing out.

You can really tell how the shadows pass, by how much or how little snow there is! The bed that’s half planted with garlic is now fully clear of snow, and each bed further west has more and more snow on it.

I checked the soil under the wood chips mulching the high raised bed, and the soil there seems completely thawed. I also lifted up the straw mulch over the garlic, and immediately found an earthworm! Still, it’ll be a while before we can plant anywhere here.

In the fall, I hope to have enough of the dead trees in the spruce grove cut down and cut to size that we can build more high raised beds to replace the low ones.

Behind where I’m standing to take this photo is where we had a squash hill for the Crespo squash, and where we planted the Mountain Morado corn. The squash hill is surrounded by snow, and half the old corn block is still under snow.

It’s quite different at the other end.

The squash tunnel is looking a bit wonky! We should get one more year of of the tunnel and trellises, and then we’ll move things closer to the house. In the background is where we will be planting the berry shrubs that will be shipped in time for transplanting in our growing zone. The space between the tunnel and the trellises will be planted again, as will the rows that had bush beans last year. We will also start planting more in the wide open space on the right, which extends to the main garden area, as well as part of the area where I am standing. A lot of squash and melons were be planted in these wide open spaces. We’ll be putting temporary deer fencing around as much of the old garden area as we can, this year, along with other measures to try and protect our garden beds from various smaller critters.

Next year, if things go as planned, where the pea trellises are, and the rows we’d previously planted beans in, will have fruit or nut trees planted. We might get one more year out of the squash tunnel before that gets taken out, too. If all goes well, by then we’ll have enough permanent high and low raised beds and be able to build permanent tunnels and trellises on them.

Hopefully, we will have a good growing year, and fewer hungry critters to fight off!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: starting seeds, three winter squash

Our next batch of seeds have been started!

I chose the ones that grow the largest and need the longest growing season. They are all new to us. Boston Marrow was chosen because it was described as making the best pumpkin pie the grower ever tasted, and because it was described as extremely rare. We plan to save seeds from these. I’ve heard many good things about Georgia Candy Roaster and, most importantly for us, it’s listed as having great storage quality. Winter Sweet was also described as an excellent storage squash, that tastes better after being stored for several months, and for being a reliable producer.

Because the seeds – especially the Boston Marrow seeds – were so large, we went with the Solo cups as pots, using the double cup method for watering from below. Each variety got three seeds in three cups (after being scarified and soaked a bit). We’ll see how many germinate. If we had the space for it, I would probably have planted more.

Speaking of space, the small aquarium greenhouse has been brought back into service. Once they germinated, we should be able to move them to a better spot, to avoid the issues we’ve been having with the space. Depending on how well they germinate and grow, we might be able to thin by dividing.

In the large aquarium greenhouse, I’m happy to say I’m now seeing more tomato seedlings starting to push their way through the soil. More amazingly, I spotted a hint of green in one of the giant pumpkin pots! That was much quicker than I expected.

The next batch of seeds to start indoors will be two more varieties of winter squash – the Red Kuri/Little Gem and Teddy squash that we grew last year, and managed to have squash to taste in spite of the drought – and cucumbers. Since we saved seeds from the few Red Kuri we got (the Teddy never got to fully mature), I might try some of our own seeds as well.

Then we have the summer squash. In the two years we’ve gardened here, we started them indoors. They did well, but they have a short enough growing season that we could direct seed them. For the sake of space, we may actually do that this year. Chatting with my mother on the phone today, she said the only things she started indoors were tomatoes and cabbages. She direct seeded everything else, including zucchini.

As we talked, she started telling me I should plant a big garden this year, because of how expensive food is getting. She was looking at the grocery store flyer and finally noticing. I’ve been saying this to her for months now! Then she started telling me what she would be doing if she were still living here – the first being, hiring the renter to plow the whole old garden area and then…

… planting trees.

Then she tried to offer me seeds she picked that fell from the trees lining the streets near her place. I declined! I told her that we were intending to plant trees, but these would be trees that feed us, and that we had a plan in mind. She planted most of the trees around the yard herself, or allowed trees that seeded themselves to grow. It’s taken a few years, but I think she’s starting to understand that this is now causing problems, as I try to explain that any trees we will be planting will be carefully chosen, and where we plant them will also be carefully decided. She was more interesting in things she got for free – or someone else paid for, like the shelterbelt trees my brother bought for my parents that were supposed to be planted in the outer yard, but that were instead crowded into the inner yard. I do find it funny that she gave me such a hard time for not immediately planting a garden our first summer here, and instantly having one just like she used to have, back when I was a kid, and now that we are going to be planting a large garden, she wants me to be planting trees!

Well, that’s part of our plans, too. Little by little, it’ll get done.

Today’s seed starts are one more little step in that direction.

The Re-Farmer

Morning finds

As I write this, we are still getting weather alerts for another Colorado Low that might sweep up our way. Maybe. For now, we’re at 4C/39F, with an expected high of 6C/43F, and a small amount of rain.

We’re checking the old basement regularly, sweeping the water collecting on the north side into the drain. The big blower fan makes a difference in keeping that under control, too. The south side of the basement is seeing more damps spots, as moisture is seeping through the concrete in patches. I noticed the water level in the sump pump reservoir had gone down quite a bit, so it looks like it got triggered during the night and actually worked this time. No blockages! We’ll have to keep that in mind next fall, and insulate the pipe where it comes out of the house for the winter. Meanwhile, I’ve set up a pedestal fan in the south side of the basement to help dry things out. Normally, we’d take the block of foam insulation out of the window, then switch from the winter window to the summer screen window we built, to help with air circulation, but it’s still too cold for that.

This sort of dampness in the old basement is normal; the dryness that we’ve had since moving out here is what was unusual. My brother had all sorts of things set up to help keep it under control, including having a box fan on a platform he built under the window. That fan is one of the things that disappeared before we moved in, but there is still an old dehumidifier. The reservoir for it disappeared, which is odd, because the girls had to use it upstairs when they painted. High humidity was causing the fresh paint to slough off. Somehow, when it got put back into the basement, the reservoir disappeared and we simply cannot find it. Thankfully, I discovered that the drip valve has standard threading on it. I could hook up a short hose and have it drain directly into the sump pump reservoir. Which is much more convenient than having to remember to empty the reservoir regularly! Now that it seems the sump pump is working fine, we know we can turn the dehumidifier on to help keep the basement drier, if we need to.

For now, the fans are still enough.

Then it was time to head outside and feed the critters.

There are the 11 in the photo, plus Rolando Moon was circling around for some breakfast. 🙂

While Junk Pile was busily eating, I refreshed the water bowls with warm water, then quickly shoved my phone right up against the window to try and get a photo of her babies.

There are at least 4 kittens, though I wouldn’t be surprised of there was actually 6. I’ve noticed that she moves them away from the window when she’s with them, and worried that she might move them somewhere else. However, I see that the timer is knocked down, which means the light sensor is always in shadow. The heat bulb, which you can partially see at the top, would be on all the time.

She left her babies in the warm spot while she went to get food!

For those who may be wondering, you can see part of the protective aluminum heat shield on the side. It continues up and above the ceramic heat bulb. There is also a smoke detector installed inside.

I’ve been seeing Rosencrantz around a lot, lately. She is no longer meowing at me while trying to pull me places. I suspect she has lost her litter. Even if she had moved them somewhere else, I would expect her to quickly eat and go, like Junk Pile and Ghost Baby are doing. She just hangs around, and even followed me a bit, while I was doing my rounds. There is still no way we can get into the old freezer where I think she had her litter. It’ll take a few more days of thawing out, at least, before we can move some of the stuff out of the way.

The box nest set up I’d made showed no signs of use, so I moved it out. It probably won’t be used, but I set it up against the house by the sun room window, barricaded on one side with a garbage can to ensure it can’t be moved, and pieces of rigid insulation strategically placed around and over it, so ensure no water or wind can get in. If nothing else, some cats might use it as a safe and cozy spot to sleep.

I made sure to check the old kitchen garden.

Good to see at least some of the snow is melting away. The hose end if from the sump pump, and it does indeed look like water had been pumped here. I’ve got it aimed at the straw, so the water won’t erode the soil away or get too muddy.

It’s going to be a while before we plant in here. :-/

It looks like the honeysuckle got chewed on by the deer! Just the one big stem. We’ll see if that one survives, since it wasn’t chewed all the way around.

I was able to access the old garden shed and took a peek inside. Critters can get into it, and things look rather knocked about. The old scythe is no longer hanging where I’d put it. There’s too much in the way to bother trying to reach it. The blade looks quite rusted, but we might be able to restore it.

Once things melt away in the main garden area some more, I want to dig out the black plastic tarps/landscape fabric (not sure what it started out as, originally) that we salvaged when cleaning up the old wood pile. The plan is to lay it out on the ground where we will be making new, temporary garden beds for the potatoes. Those should arrive around the end of May. The black plastic will help warm the soil up faster, while also killing most of the grass and weeds. We’ll be using straw to grow potatoes using the Ruth Stout, heavy mulching method. This time, we have the wood chipper and can put the straw through the shredder chute, first. I think that will work better than using the straw as is.

While heading up the driveway to switch out the trail cam memory card, I saw something unexpected.

A sunk disappearing under a garage door.

Not the main roll up door, which we don’t close all the way because the latches on the sides get stuck. Not the doors to where my mother’s car is parked, which has a larger gap under one of them, created by critters continually squeezing their way in and out. No. It went under one of the doors to the side where the lawn mowers and chipper are kept.

Critters have never been able to get into that side with the door closed before.

That hole in the ground wasn’t there, yesterday.

I opened the door to look, but saw no sign of the skunk. The back of the room has a lot of stuff just shoved into it to make room for the equipment we use, so it was likely somewhere in that area.

I suspect there is a nest with baby skunks in there now! I certainly wasn’t going to dig around and find out, though. 😉

I was going to just change the memory card on the driveway cam, since access to the sign cam has too much snow and water to get to it right now. Then I remembered that I could access it from the road side of the fence. Having the camera right at the fence like that is a bit of a risk, since it would be easy for anyone to reach it and steal it, however it does mean I can still get to it. With trees all along the fence line, the snow didn’t get as deep, so there is a corridor all along the fence line that can be walked on, right next to the drifted snow, and the piles left by the snow plow in the ditch. This area doesn’t accumulate any water, like on the garden side of the fence.

I look forward to seeing if the wildflower seeds I broadcast there in the fall will grow. 🙂

Speaking of growing things, I got to spend some time tending the seedlings in the sun room, too; rotating trays, watering where needed, etc. They are handling being in there pretty well. I’m a bit concerned about the kulli corn we planted. The sun room can get very warm during the day – it was about 25C/77F in there, when I got back from the city! – but drops to just above freezing at night, even with finding a way to set up a bit of heat in that corner overnight. I’m able to have the warming lamp directly under where the larger bin of seeds are, but the smaller bin is on the highest shelf, which may not be getting much warmth.

One of the first things I do in the morning is turn on the lights for the seedlings in the living room. Last night, I could just see a Yellow Pear tomato trying to sprout. 🙂 Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of those today.

We need to start more seeds today. It looks like we’ll have to start using the small aquarium greenhouse for those. There’s an open shelf in the mini-greenhouse, but there aren’t any seedlings in the big aquarium greenhouse ready to be moved into it yet. We’ll be having to move the larger tomato plants currently in the mini-greenhouse to the sun room before then.

We’ll figure it out.

We kind of have to! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: gourds and pumpkins

Another batch of seeds were started today: the last of the gourds and pumpkins we will be planting this year.

We are trying three varieties of hulless pumpkins. I really love pumpkin seeds, but they are quite expensive, so hopefully we will get lots of seeds to eat from these. We’ve got Lady Godiva, Kakai and Styrian. We’ll see which variety grows and tastes best to save seeds from. Or we might just save seeds from all of them. The Styrian pumpkin seeds are a good oil seed, and getting an oil press is on our wish list. The Kakai are supposed to be really excellent, roasted, while the Lady Godiva are supposed to be really excellent eaten fresh out of the pumpkin, as well as roasted. Three varieties with three different ideal ways to use them.

The remaining gourds we will be planting this year are Apple and Yakteen. Both are edible when young, and apparently Apple gourds are very healthy. I’m growing the Apple gourds for crafting purposes. We’ll try them both. Then we’ll decide whether the Yakteen gourd will be used as an edible, as well as for crafting. The Yakteen gourd is listed as very rare, so we’ll be saving seeds for those, regardless. If we succeed in growing them! We do have two other varieties of gourd seeds from last year, but we’re skipping them this year.

The Baby Pam pumpkins are a small, short(ish) season variety that is supposed to be an excellent eating pumpkin, especially good for pies. Veseys doesn’t seem to carry them anymore, though, so I’m glad to still have these seeds from last year. We had none germinate last year, but I think that has more to do with the troubles we had with our starting medium, rather than the seeds themselves. This year, we’ve bought soilless seed starting mixes, and I think that’s working out much better.

I decided to just plant two pots with three seeds for each of these. The gourds and Baby Pam pumpkin seeds got scarified and soaked for a while before planting. Depending on how well they germinate and how strong they are, we might thin by dividing to get more to transplant in June. My daughter did the planting while I cut up and wrote out more labels.

The ground cherry seedlings got moved to the mini-greenhouse, and now the warming mat is under all pumpkins and gourds right now.

Yes, I added water to the tray after the photo was taken. LOL

Here’s what’s in the mini-greenhouse right now.

I’d rotated all the trays before taking photos. Here are the ground cherries, just added to the tray with second planting eggplants, peppers, luffa and Crespo squash, along with one Canteen gourd that was thinned out from one of the pots now in the sun room.

There is one empty shelf below, ready for when we need to move more things out of the big aquarium greenhouse to make room for more starts.

Here we have the second planting Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, plus the first planting eggplant and peppers that survived the Great Cat Crush.

Here we have the Cup of Moldova tomatoes that were smaller and didn’t need to get moved to the sun room yet. They’re getting quite tall, so we’ll likely have to move them to the sun room fairly soon.

For the next batch of starts, in a couple of days, we’ll be moving on to the winter squash. Particularly the larger varieties that need a longer growing season.

I’m really looking forward to those, and will be looking to start more of each, if we can find the space. These were selected to be a major part of our winter food storage, so I’m aiming to plant quite a lot of each variety, if possible.

We are starting so many seeds indoors this year, but I’d much rather be planting more. Partly because we just don’t know how many will actually make it. Even if they all germinate, the cats don’t manage to destroy any more of them, and we transplant them all, they could still die of transplant shock, a late frost, critters, insects… Gardening is really a touch and go endeavour. As the poem says, one for the rook, one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow. I’m also reminded of a “prepper” saying I’ve recently come across. Two is one, and one is none. Redundancy is a good thing, whether it’s how many bags of rice to store, how many can openers to have handy, or how many seeds to plant!

If we had the space, I would be planting double what we’re doing for our indoor starts.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: did I kill them?

Okay, so yesterday, I moved a number of our seedlings into the sun room. These were the largest seedlings that had out grown their spaces in the living room set ups. The overnight temperatures were supposed to go below freezing again, but the sun room is usually about 10 degrees Celsius warmer than outside.

The problem is, the overnight temperatures were lower than forecast, which means even at 10 degrees warmer than outside, it still would have gotten pretty cold in there. We currently have no safe way to set up the ceramic heat bulb, but we at least had the warm light fixture in the plant shelf, as much for Potato Beetle as for the seedlings!

When I went through the sun room to do my rounds this morning, I checked the seedlings and everything was looking pretty good. A little bit droopy, perhaps, but just a few leaves here and there. I was quite encouraged.

I didn’t see a lot of outside cats this morning, though I did find a lot of orange fur on the ground in front of the sun room! Clearly, there had been a fight, but of the three orange cats that were at the kibble house, none looked injured.

Rosencrantz is looking very, very round.

With the morning rounds done, I made a quick run into town to pick up a prescription refill for my husband that we couldn’t get delivered last week, due to the storm.

Since the pharmacy is across the street from where I found the bins we’re using for the seedlings, I swung by to see if I could find some more of the large size I got. They were still out of stock, but I took advantage of some good prices and picked up some canned meats and clam chowder for the pantry. On the way home, I swung by the dump to get rid of our garbage and recycling that was still in the van to keep it away from the critters, then headed home.

In the length of time it took me to do that, this happened.

Everything I brought out yesterday was drooping.

The tomatoes seemed to be hit the hardest, which I’m a bit surprised about. I thought the gourds and squash would have a harder time. Then there’s those two Wonderberries.

The first Wonderberry is just fine. It’s been there long enough to have acclimated to the room, I guess.

So… what do you think? Did I kill them? Or do you think they might recover? I think at least some of the tomatoes might recover, but… *sigh* I don’t know. We’ll find out over the next couple of days.

I am just so frustrated right now. It’s been such a struggle to start these in the first place. We have more than enough space to start seeds, but having to protect them all from the cats – and they still managed to get at and damage a bunch – means they’re basically crowded into a few small areas and poor air circulation. If we didn’t have to do that, we wouldn’t have to rely on the run room at all. We could turn our entire living room into a growing space.

As for the sun room, it still should have been fine, if the temperatures had only dropped as low as forecast. Before bed, I was seeing lows of -7/19F. The sun room, with the warming lamp, should have been just fine at that temperature. Looking at the records for the past 24 hours, we actually hit -11C/12F. Which means the sun room, without the warming lamp, would have dipped below freezing. The lamp can only add a few degrees of warm in a very small area, though we’ve got the added protection of the sheets of rigid insulation, and the reflector would help, too. Not enough to help the Wonderberry on the window shelf, on the other side of the doors, but it should have been enough to protect the seedlings on the plant shelf.

I just feel so… defeated. Having to fight the cats is one thing, but the forecasts have been so off lately, and not in our favour. It would bother me less if this wasn’t stuff we are trying to grow to feed ourselves.

Well, there are still some smaller Cup of Moldova tomatoes in the mini-greenhouse, and none of the Sophie’s Choice were large enough that they had to be moved. We still have some seeds for the canteen gourds and Crespo squash that we can try starting, though it’s getting late for those.

At least most of the seeds we need to start indoors won’t actually be started for a couple more weeks, along with the varieties we will be starting this week.

It just feels like such a battle, and it’s a battle we shouldn’t be having.

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