Our 2023 garden: potting up, and trying again

Today, I potted up most of our seedlings, among other things.

For the larger seedlings, I thinned by dividing, so the zucca melon and a couple of drum gourds are now in their own larger pots. The pots where nothing germinated now have new seeds in them, including the luffa on the side.

The four cells of peppers are now in 7 red solo cups. The thyme and lemongrass did not get thinned, just transplanted into deeper biodegradable pots.

I also got the strawberry kit done, and that little tray is in the aquarium greenhouse with the other seed starts. Every time I look at in there, the Black Beauty seedlings are bigger, and I can spot more of them breaking through the soil. They are practically exploding in growth! I even spotted a couple of Indigo Blue tomatoes breaking through, too!

In about a week, we’ll need to start the next batch of seeds, which will include all the remaining short season peppers and the paste tomatoes. I’m quite glad we have the living room cat proofed, so we can shift things around more freely. Yesterday, my daughter was using the room and Fenrir teleported in, as she tends to do. My daughter thought it might be okay, since she was in there to supervise. She turned her head for perhaps 30 seconds, and suddenly Fenrir had a mouth full of onion greens!

Onions are toxic to cats.

My daughter was able to catch her and get the greens before she actually ate them. Thankfully, there is no apparent damage to the onion seedlings!

So much for even one cat being allowed in, with supervision!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: spring is… here?

Yesterday was the first day of spring. Check out our spring garden!

πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

It’s going to be a while before we can start building the trellis tunnels (we will be starting closer to the high raised bed, and I hope to eventually have two or three, though maybe not this year), never mind planting anything!

BUT!!!

We do have other signs of spring.

When I shut the lights off for the night, I found two Black Beauty tomatoes had emerged! There had been no sign of them when I turned the lights on in the morning. I could just make out the “elbow” of a third one, and this morning I can see there is a second “elbow” emerging. These are in the cell just below the one with the visible sprouts.

Today, I plan to pot up some of the transplants, and try to start seeds for some losses. We are down to one luffa, two pots of zucca melon still have had no germination, along with one pot of drum gourds, so I’ll see if I can get new ones started, though I won’t bother putting them in the aquarium greenhouse. Their current location above a heat vent should be warm enough. I did remove the plastic cover on the mini greenhouse, as I think the lack of air circulation may be contributing to the losses, and even some of the bigger seedlings have started to look unhealthy.

I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some milk for my mother, and ended up picking up a seed kit. One of the things I wanted to do later on was get strawberry transplants – quite a few of them, depending on the budget – and plant them as a living ground cover around the silver buffalo berry. Last year, the transplants cost about $3 or $4 each. The kit was only $4. So I’m going to try growing strawberries from seed, which will hopefully give me more to transplant than I would be able to afford if buying transplants. And if they fail, it’s not an expensive fail. So that is something else I plan to work on today.

Oh, and I’d better call the plumber about our bathtub before I forget again! After that, I’ll know if I have to be making a trip to get a tub surround and the replacement taps I want.

We’ll see how that works out!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: last seed order has arrived

The last seed order I made, with Baker Creek, arrived this morning!

This was a last minute order that was not at all part of our garden plan for the year.

Interestingly, while the website warned that Canadian orders are now subject to duty, I did not have to pay anything when I picked up the package. There is a customs label on top of the original package label, and it says something about an exemption with a code on it, so I’ll assume that has something to do with it.

The Merlot lettuce we got as free seeds with our order are a variety we’ve grown before. We weren’t planning on growing lettuce in the garden this year, but still ended up with several packets of lettuce seeds! Now that we’ve got the cat barriers up, though, we might try growing some lettuce indoors, instead. That would probably be far more useful for us than trying to grow them in the garden and having to barricade them from critters.

The write up for the Mountain Morado corn now says these can be planted up to 2 weeks *before* last frost, so I might actually plant these this year, even though I have several other types of corn. It will depend on whether we can prepare a large enough plot for them, on top of all the other work we need to get done, like building trellis tunnels for the climbers. I intend to plant the popcorn in one of the low raised beds this year, and want to plant a variety of sweet corn, too, so this would make at least 3 varieties of corn we would need to make space for. We shall see.

We’ll be planting at least a few of the Spoon tomatoes, for sure; they did well for us when we grew them a couple years ago and, this time, we will be sure to keep seeds.

We’re still figuring out where we want to plant the two varieties of bread seed poppies we have; the only caveat is to plant them well away from each other, to reduce the chances of cross pollination, as we intend to treat them as perennials.

The salsify, we will definitely be planting this year, though they will be planted in deep containers – likely garbage cans we will be salvaging from the barn and garage, or in feed bags – so we can compare this variety with the others we have. With these, we won’t need to be concerned about having garden beds ready for them. Our top soil is way too shallow for salsify.

The sunflowers are still a “maybe”. If we do plant them, they will be direct sown. In the past, we grew giant sunflowers to act as wind breaks and privacy barriers, but we are starting to plant trees and bushes in those areas now, so we may not plant these this year at all. We shall see how our spaces work out. Plus, the deer really like sunflowers, so they need extra protection, too.

We’ve been expanding our gardens every years since we started – this will be only our 4th year of gardening since our move – but this year, we’re going to be building a lot more permanent structures, now that we have a better idea of what has been working, and what hasn’t. Most of that work has to be done by the middle of May, since the earliest direct sown seeds will go in at about that time or shortly after.

Here’s hoping the weather cooperates this year!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: new seedling set up

After a bit of adjusting, our new set up for the seedlings rotated out of the aquarium greenhouses is figured out.

The seedlings that need more warmth are inside the mini greenhouse, which is set up over a heat vent. The plastic cover is there to help trap a bit more heat, and protect them from the cold window.

It looks like we’ve lost one luffa, likely due to the chill, and one drum gourd, but there are still 2 luffa left, and 3 drum gourds. There are also several pots that had nothing germinate in them, but I’m leaving them for now, because who knows? Now that it’s over here, maybe something will happen.

The rolled up door in the cover is hiding them, but the thyme is looking like it could be potted up already!

The onions and shallots get to be on one of the shelves, as they can handle the cooler temperatures better. They look ready for a hair cut!

We were able to use some paracord to bring the lights down lower, and their heights can easily be adjusted. With just the two areas with seedlings, only one light is needed for the space right now. The shelves are closer to the window than the lights, so the seedlings are getting lit up from both sides. That was a major problem with our seedlings last year, and I was using aluminum foil to try and reflect light back to the shadowed side of the trays.

Also, you can see the trays of gourds from last year, in the mini greenhouse. They’re one shelf level above the heat vent; the bottom level won’t be used at all, since it’s right over the heat vent and very dark. If, for some reason, we need the space, we’d have to elevate the entire greenhouse frame somehow. The Tennessee dancing gourds are drying up nicely, but it looks like the Ozark nest egg gourds may still have been a bit too green when harvested. There wasn’t much choice about harvesting when we did, since we were starting to get frost, and that would have wrecked them completely. I still have seeds, though, and we will likely be starting them with the batches we’ll be planting before the end of this month.

With the cat barriers in place, and the living room rearranged for the seedlings, it’s actually made the room more useable. The girls have taken to actually having their meals in there, and even watching shows on Tubi. At the moment, they are enjoying some birthday cake in there! I’ve actually allowed myself one exception to my Lenten fast from sugar/starchy foods, to have a piece of birthday cake. It’s been long enough since I’ve eaten any sugar or starch, it’s actually making me fill a bit dizzy!

Anyhow. That’s our garden progress for the day! πŸƒπŸŒΏπŸŒ±

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: two more, and who’s next?

We have two more luffa babies!

The second seeds in two of the pots are actually germinating!

When it comes time to thin them out, I think I’ll try transplanting the smaller ones. I know squash and gourds don’t like being transplanted, but the more seedlings there are, the more survivors we’ll have once they finally go outside. We’ll see.

In the next few days, we’re going to have to shift things around again. The small aquarium greenhouse will get set up and the onions will get transferred over. The luffa will be moved off the warming mat and set where the onions are now. The warming mat will then get the next batch of seeds.

While peppers and eggplant are often started this early in our climate zone, the varieties we have can actually wait a bit longer. What needs to be started next are the zucca melon and drum gourds, since they need at least a month longer to mature than we have between average frost dates. I’ll have to go through all the varieties of seeds that need to be started indoors and sort them by days to maturity to see what else we need to start this early.

And we still need to pick up lumber to build a barrier to keep the cats out of the living room, so we can turn the whole thing into a greenhouse. I’ll have to talk to my daughter about that, since she’s the one paying for it.

Well… time for me to start heading to the city and do some stock up shopping!

The Re-Farmer

Oh, what a lovely day!

It’s almost 6pm as I start writing this, and not only have we reached our predicted high of -10C/14F (my app says there is a wind chill of -19C/-2F, but I just got back from topping up the outside kibble, with no jacket on, and there was no wind), but it’s supposed to keep getting warmer overnight!

The grey tabby that has suddenly become friendly – it’s the one between the black tabby and the white and grey at the top – managed to sneak into the old kitchen while I was coming out with kibble. He not only let me pet him, but I was able to confirm he is male.

Now why can’t any of the females suddenly become friendly? They still won’t let us anywhere near them! The calicos and torties are pretty much guaranteed to be female. Not sure about the rest of the tabby cattens, besides Judgement and the newly friendly one.

They are just loving the warmer temperatures, and so am I!

I’d made arrangements to get some farm fresh eggs this afternoon. Then I got a message saying they had to make a trip to the city to try and find a part, so that got postponed until they got back. With the warmer temperatures, I’ve been feeling so energetic and antsy, I ended up going into town to pick up a few things, even though we were planning a trip to the city soon. I was home long enough to get a chicken carcass in the slow cooker to make stock when I got the message that they were heading home, so I was back on the road soon after.

Aren’t they beautiful? I love the green ones!

I am always so inspired when I visit this place. This is the same person we’ve been getting our cardboard from, to use while making new garden beds. Today, I got to meet their new additions – a pair of fainting goats, and two emus!

Emus are flippin’ huge!

This is in addition to their alpaca, horses, donkeys, hens, Guinea hens, and probably other birds I don’t know about. Once we have our coop, I’m hoping to be able to buy chicks from them, too.

While I did a small trip today, I’ve decided to do a big city shopping trip tomorrow. We’re expected to have a high from 0C/32F to 2C/36F, depending on which app I look at. I figure I may as well take advantage of the warmth. This time, we’ll be going to a different wholesale place, where I know I can get things like the big buckets of ghee and restaurant size bags of pasta. It’s time to restock pantry supplies we’ve been using when we weren’t able to make our usual big trips. We didn’t have the extreme cold we usually do, other than the past week or so, but with the holidays, December and January are always the worst months for making these trips. I’m actually looking forward to the outing, even though I’m not at all looking forward to the shopping!

My younger daughter has different plans for tomorrow. Getting back to cleaning the basement! The cats have made a mess of the new basement, and she’s using that as an excuse to do a deep clean and organization of the space. That basement, however, isn’t much warmer than outside, even with the extra insulation added around the base of the house in the winter. During our recent deep freeze, it simply got too cold to work down there. It should get much better, and stay better, from now on. She wants to get it to the point that they can paint the basement. White paint on the ceiling (which is the exposed beams of the floor above) and special anti-mold and mildew paint for the walls. I don’t know if they want to do the walls white, too, but definitely a light colour. There are quite a few lights down there, but it’s still really dark.

We have a lot of big projects planned for when things warm up. Too many, really. The girls are focusing more on the inside, and are also talking about getting flooring for the kitchen and dining room, and refinishing the kitchen cupboards. Outside, I want to get that mobile coop built (and if that isn’t possible, we’re supposed to be getting a shed given to us that can be used until we can do the mobile one). Another project that will take probably quite a long time, as we acquire materials, is the outdoor kitchen. First priority is the timber frame roof. Once there’s a roof, we can be more leisurely about what we build inside. One side will have a smoker, clay oven, a “stove” opening to fit a large wok, and a grilling area. Two sides will have moveable work stations, and the fire pit will be added. The eaves of the roof will be longer past the wall of one side, where my daughter wants to have a forge.

Since we aren’t able to build the outdoor bathroom where we want to, until after a number of dead trees are removed, I want to do another, smaller, cordwood practise building. We need a new garden shed, so we can build a smaller shed – about 6’x8′ on the inside – in the maple grove, where a couple of trees had been removed while the power lines were being cleared. That is less of a priority, but since things will need to be built in stages, as we get materials, we might actually be able to get started on it this year.

Of course, there are also the high raised beds that need to be built. The outdoor kitchen actually solves something I was trying to figure out. The dead trees that we need to take down are quite large around. Too large to be practical for the high raised beds. I was considering cutting them in half, length wise, but now I’m thinking they’d be extremely strong upright supports for the outdoor kitchen frame. We can cut the lower, thickest, part of the trunks to the length we want, and then use the rest of the trunk for the high raised beds. It’ll mean more trees need to be cut down, but we need to do that, anyhow. With more than 20 dead trees that need to be removed, that’s more than enough to do both uprights for the outdoor kitchen, and the high raised beds.

Of course, there is the garden that needs to be worked on, including building new, permanent trellis tunnels, and other mobile trellises and supports. Plus trees and berry bushes to plant.

Oh, and on top of all these projects, we still need to dismantle that shed with the collapsed roof. We’ll be salvaging parts of it for building projects, such as the chicken coop I want to build. Plus, if we get that done first, I can use the space to build the outdoor kitchen, leaving more space available for the eventual garden beds we’ll be making nearby, where we get much better sunlight.

Feeling so energetic as the weather warms is kind of dangerous. I’m starting to plan way too many things! In the end, how much we actually end up accomplishing will depend on weather conditions. Last year, the flooding prevented a lot of the work I wanted to do, and the year before that it was the extreme heat. But if all we manage is to dismantle the shed, cut down some dead trees, and start setting aside the logs to use for the timber frame, that would be good.

I am so praying for good weather conditions this year, for the garden and for all the work we need to do outside! The last two years have been so brutal, we could really use the break!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: That was fast!!! and planning ahead

We had a light snowfall last night, making everything all white and fluffy this morning.

The outside cats didn’t mind it at all!

I counted 21 this morning.

Meanwhile, indoors, we have our first signs of spring.

When I checked the trays this morning, three out of four of them had onions sprouting. When I came back about an hour later, there were sprouts in the fourth tray!

I’m absolutely amazed by two things. One is, how quickly they started to germinate.

The other is, how much cat hair there is, all over the soil surface. These trays had lids on them. Where did all that cat hair come from? I mean, Beep Beep practically lives on top of the lights. She naps on them, rolls around on them, and even hugs them, so yeah… I can see some of her fur drifting down… but getting under the lids?

Yesterday, I marked on our communal calendar, two sets of dates. One was the number of weeks counted back from our last average frost date, June 2. This way, we can see at a glance that something that needs to be started 10 weeks before last frost, needs to be started around March 24, while something that needs only 4 weeks can wait until May 5th.

The other dates I marked was number of days counted back from our average first frost date, which is Sept. 10. We have exactly 100 days between our average last spring and first fall frosts. That’s the growing season we can mostly count on for frost sensitive plants.

For things that have really long days to maturity, it’s that “days before first frost” that we need to consider. If, for example, I have a gourd that requires 110 days to maturity, that’s May 23. If it needs 7-10 days to germinate, I would start them at least a week before that.

If I have something than need 90 days to maturity, that falls on June 12 and, by then, I could get away with direct sowing, instead.

One of the really useful tools I’ve found is the Farmer’s Almanac planting calendar. Most planting calendars just give number of weeks before first frost, because they’re meant to be generic. I can get that information from the seed packet. Farmer’s Almanac, however, lets you input your area code (or zip code, if you’re in the US). You can even put in your city (ha!) and province/state. It will find the climate station nearest you, then give you the calendar dates for starting indoors and transplanting, or seeding outdoors. It even gives you the choice of dates based on frost date, or on moon dates. Oh, and I discovered something very handy when I hit the print button on the web page. It allows you to remove things from the list that you aren’t growing, which greatly reduced the number of pages that got printed out!

It’s still a bit generic, of course, but the date range is pretty wide. For example, it tells me bell peppers should be started between March 24 and April 7. We have five varieties of bell peppers, and four of them are early varieties, so we could use the information on the seed packet to figure out which ones need to be started in March, and which can wait until April.

Of course, they can’t cover everything, so we still need to make adjustments. For example, their calendar says to start winter squash outdoors between June 16 and July 14. With some varieties, we could do that, but we’ve got some large varieties of winter squash that need more time to fully mature, so we would be better off starting them indoors. If we use the biodegradable pots that can be buried, that would reduce transplant shock.

We have always started summer squash indoors. I think, this year, we might direct seed them. The calendar says zucchini can be planted anywhere between June 16 and July 14, which is when we can expect the soil to finally be warm enough.

As for the things we’ll need to start the earliest, the herbs (except dill, which is direct sown) will need to be started at the same time as bell peppers; in March. The eggplants and tomatoes can be started in early April, melons can be started in early May, while pumpkins and watermelon can be started in mid May.

The direct sowing dates are pretty interesting for some things. If we decide to try growing radishes again, they can be direct seeded in early April – at the same time we’d be starting eggplant and tomatoes indoors. Carrots can be planted in late April, early May, which would be about the same time we’d be starting melons indoors.

All of which needs to be taken with a grain of salt. For example, the calendar says to start onion seeds outdoors in early May. Sets, sure, but seeds? Nope. There’s a reason people out here start their onion seeds indoors in January! Also, it has dates to start lettuce and chard indoors, but none for direct seeding. Who starts lettuce and chard indoors? I mean, sure, you can grow them indoors, but for transplant?

As it stands now, though, we won’t need to start anything else indoors until March 24, at the earliest.

That gives us February and most of March to get the materials we need and build a removeable door and frame, to keep the cats out of the living room, and out of the seedlings!

We’ll also need to build a barrier to block an opening in the shelf to the left of the door in the image.

Frosty garden plans

We had fog roll in yesterday, so by morning, we were back to looking like a winter wonderland!

Nothing like seeing frost to get me thinking about the garden! πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

One of my goals for today is to mark out on our calendar, when we need to start different seeds indoors. We will also need to figure out how to build a barrier to keep the cats out of the living room, as we need to migrate trays out of the aquarium greenhouses and over to the rest of the room. Last year’s set up had serious issues when it came to protection from cats determined to get at the pots. The problem there comes down to funds. The “unallocated funds” of our budget we would use for projects like this are now allocated to make “car payments” into savings, so that we’ll have a down payment for a replacement vehicle before next winter. That’s not going to leave much wiggle room for other things.

Still, it will need to be done! We’ll figure it out.

With the ground still frozen and covered with snow, I’m thinking about where things will be planted, and when. The old kitchen garden is getting to the point where we can start making it into an actual “kitchen garden” – the place to plant those things that we would be wanting to harvest casually and continually, as needed for our cooking. It is also a good place to plant things that will need more protection and warmth.

The waffle weave bed is done and ready. The contents will, of course, sink as time goes by, but I deliberately filled it higher than I wanted it, so that won’t be too much of a problem. With the woven walls, I do want the top of the soil to be lower than the top of the bed by a fair bit, so it’s less likely to fall through the gaps. That bed gets full sun on the long, narrow side, while the short side that gets wider at the end gets quite a bit more shade.

The rectangular bed will be built up a bit higher on the sides, plus an even higher “wall” to hold back the pink rose bush, so that won’t take much to finish. The hard part on that one will be trying to pull up all those mint roots again!

The small raised bed along the south side of the garden is ready, and the strip in front of it has bulbs planted. The area right against the bed, covered with grass clippings in the photo, has bulbils from the single walking onion that keeps coming back, planted. Last year was the first time since we’ve been here that it didn’t get broken by something before the bulbils formed! We’ll see if they survived the winter. It would be nice to have perennial onions in here. This garden would be a good place to grow bunching onions, too, though those failed completely, last year.

There’s a section by the laundry platform that is overgrown with mint that needs to be cleaned up. That could be another bed for some flowers, perhaps – my younger daughter really wants to have a flower garden in here. There’s a bed along the retaining wall blocks that needs some work – it got very compacted last year, and I finally gave up trying to keep it weeded. That bed is where the bunching onions died. πŸ˜„

This garden would be a good place to start our herb garden. We transplanted mint into alternating blocks of the retaining wall, and they did survive and grow last summer. I don’t know what variety they are, but we now have spearmint seeds. We could plant the spearmint in the remaining blocks, so we can keep it under control.

I like having a retaining wall that doubles as planters!

Other herbs seeds we have now that can go in here are the thyme (two types), chamomile and oregano. I do not want to plant the dill here, as I want to plant that somewhere it can grow freely and self seed, without taking over a bed from everything else. The lemon grass, of course, will be going into a pot and set into a microclimate against the house.

I’m thinking this garden would be a good place for the Little Finger Eggplant, as well as at least some of the peppers. The free seeds for Jebousek lettuce we got would probably do well in the shadier beds, and I’d love to try the Hedou Tiny bok choy in here.

It sounds like a lot, but I think we’ll have enough space for all of this. For things like the peppers, we’re looking to have just a few plants of each variety, as we see how well they grow here, and which ones are enjoyed the most, so they shouldn’t take up excessive amounts of space. As for the herbs, we’ll only need a couple of plants each to meet our needs, so they won’t take up a lot of space, either.

Hopefully, with raising the beds higher, we’ll have less of a battle with all those invasive flowers my mother had in here, taking things over! The raised beds should also make it easier to have protective covers we can more easily move aside, to access underneath. That was one of the biggest problems I had with tending this garden last year. We had netting to protect the plants from critters, but it had to be fixed so thoroughly, it kept us out, too!

The corner around the honeysuckle and white roses really turned into a jungle of periwinkle and purple bellflower last year. I’d like to keep fighting those off as much as we can, so my daughter can start planting new – non invasive! – flowers to eventually out grow the invaders. The purple bellflower even buried other flowers – lilies, if I remember correctly – to the point that they never bloomed. That patch needs to be divided, so we could take advantage of that and perhaps use them to create a border. I am considering transplanting the rhubarb out of there completely. They are not doing as well as they could, right under the ornamental apple trees as they are. Though, to be honest, I’d like to get rid of those apple trees, They’re creating too much shade and preventing other things from thriving. They’re so beautiful, though, and they do provide food for the birds, so I’ve no plans to do that until we have something to replace them with – somewhere else!

It will be good to have more effective use of this garden. Having a small garden so close to the house should be very convenient, if we plan things right.

The Re-Farmer

Analysing our 2022 garden: the things that never happened (updated)

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

Okay, so now let’s look at the things that never happened – or the things that kinda, sorta happened.

I’ll start with a kinda-sorta happened, and didn’t happen, at the same time!

The bread seed poppies.

Last year, we’d planted some bread seed poppies in the old kitchen garden, which didn’t thrive, but we were still able to harvest dried pods and keep seed for. For 2022, we also bought two other varieties. The plan was to plant them well away from each other, to prevent cross pollination. Poppies self seed very easily, so wherever we planted them, they would be treated as a perennial.

In the spring, we scattered our collected seed over the same bed we’d grown them in before. They really were too densely sown, but at the same time, it was just such a terrible growing year. Lots of them germinated, but there were weeds growing among them that had leaves very similar to the poppy leaves. I had to wait until the got larger before I could tell for sure, what was a weed, and what was a poppy. They still didn’t do all that well, and I didn’t bother trying to collect any of the few dried pods that formed to collect seed. Instead, that bed was completely torn up, and there is now a low raised bed framed with small logs. Whatever we end up planting there should do a lot better.

As for the new varieties, we never found a place we felt was suitable to sow them. The flooding certainly didn’t help. Some of the places I was thinking of ended up under water, so I guess it’s a good thing we never tried planting there.

So bread seed poppies are something we will try again, once we figure out permanent locations to grow them that are in very different parts of the yard.


Then there were the wildflowers.

We got two types of wildflower seed mixes, specific for our region. Both were sown in the fall, when overnight temperatures were consistently below 6C/43F. One was an alternative lawn mix, so we sowed those between two rows of trees behind the storage house, where it’s very difficult to mow or tend. The other was sown outside the fence near the main garden area, where we later put the new sign to identify the property, after the old one disappeared. There is a broad and open strip of grass between the fence and the road, that I would eventually like to fill with wildflowers. To start, our first sowing was done near the corner, where we hoped they would attract pollinators that would also benefit our garden.

We got nothing.

The photo on the right doesn’t show the space between the trees the seeds were broadcast onto, but it was filled with water. The storage house didn’t just have a moat around it, like the garage. The space under it, where the yard cats often go for shelter, was completely full of water.

The photo on the right shows where the Western wildflower seed mix were broadcast and, while there was some standing water in places, it also got covered with sand and gravel from the road, as the ridges left behind by the blows melted away.

Yes, the snow got flung that far from the road!

Not a single wildflower germinated, in either location.

I suppose it’s possible that some seeds were hardy enough to survive the conditions and will germinate next spring. Who knows.

I’d intended to get more seed packets, which would have been sown in the fall, but completely forgot to even look for them. I might still get them and try broadcasting the seeds in the spring. We do still want to turn several areas that are difficult to maintain, over to wildflowers and groundcovers. Once we get them established, they should be virtually maintenance free. It’s getting them established that might take some time!


During our previous two years of gardening, we grew sunflowers. The first year, we grew some giant varieties. For 2021, we grew Mongolian giants and Hope Black Dye. These were to do double duty as privacy screens.

They did not thrive during the drought conditions we had last year, and deer were an issue, but we were able to harvest and cure some mature seed heads and intended to plant them in 2022.

That didn’t happen.

Basically, with the flooding, the spaces we would have planted them in were just not available. Plus, the bags with the seeds heads were moved into the sun room, after spending the winter in the old kitchen, with the intention of planting the seeds, they ended up in there all year. With how hot it can get in there, I don’t think the seeds are viable anymore.

Still, it might be worth trying them!

The reason we wanted to grow the varieties included using them as both privacy screens and wind breaks. We also want to grow them as food for ourselves and birds and, at some point, we’ll be getting an oil press, and will be able to press our own sunflower oil. So sunflowers are still part of our future plans.

We did have sunflowers growing in 2022, none of which we planted ourselves. They were all planted by birds, and were most likely black oil seed; the type of bird seed available at the general store. Only a couple of seed heads were able to mature enough to harvest, and we just gave them to the birds.

I do want to plant sunflowers again, but at this point, I’m not sure we will do them for 2023.


Several other things we got seeds for, some we intended to plant in 2022, but others for future use.

Of those we had intended to plant, one of them was Strawberry Spinach.

These are something we’ve grown before on our balcony, while still living in the city. The leaves can be eaten like a spinach, while also producing berries on their stems. We’d ordered and planted some in a new bed, where we could let them self-seed and treat them as a perennial, in 2020.

They were a complete fail. We don’t know why.

I ordered more seeds and we were thinking of a different location to plant them, but then the flooding hit, and we got busy with transplanting and direct seeding, and basically forgot about them.

I still want to grow them, but we still need to figure out a good, hopefully permanent, location for them.

We also found ourselves with a packet of free dill seeds (, plus we were given dill that we were able to harvest seeds from. Since cleaning up the old kitchen garden area, we did start to get dill growing – dill is notorious for spreading its see and coming back year after year! – but they never got very large. We have bulbs planted where they’ve been coming up, so we’re not exactly encouraging them in that location.

In the end, with the way things went, we never decided on a location to plant them, and with all the other issues we had with the garden this year, it just wasn’t a priority.

For 2023, however, we’re actively starting to order herb seeds and will be building up an herb garden, so hopefully we’ll be able to include dill in those plans, too.


One thing we ordered that we did not intend to plant right away was wheat.

These are a heritage variety of bread wheat, and we only got 100 seeds. Even if we had a good year, I doubt that would give us enough yield for even a loaf or two of bread. We do, however, plan to invest in a grinding mill in the future.

Meanwhile, when we do plant these, it will be for more seeds, not for use. In the longer term, we’d need to have a much larger area to grow enough wheat for our own use.

We’ll be starting slow!

Then there were the forage radishes.

Also called tillage radish. We got these to help amend our soil, and loosen it for future planting. These would be something we would use to break new ground in preparation for future garden plots. There are a whole lot of seeds – and that was the smallest size package! – so we’ll probably have a few years to use these to prepare new beds.


I think that’s it!

I’m sure I’m forgetting something. πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

Next, I’ll post my final thoughts on how everything went. With everything that went on this year, that’s going to need its own post!

The Re-Farmer


Update: I knew I was forgetting something! Two somethings.

The first is our winter sowing experiment. You can read about how that turned out, here. Basically, we got nothing, and I think it was due to our extended, cold winter. I know this is something that has worked for others in our climate zone. It just didn’t work for us this year. In the future, I will probably experiment with it more, but not for the 2023 growing season.

The other is our cucamelons. In 2021, the cucamelon vines grew well in a much more ideal spot, but we had almost no fruit. The previous year, we grew them in a spot that was too shady for them, but still managed to get more fruit. I believe it was a pollination problem.

While we do want to grow them again in the future, we decided not to get more seeds. However, in cleaning up and redoing the spot they were growing in, putting in chimney blocks to plant in and keep the soil from eroding under the chain link fence, we found lots of tubers. In theory, we could over winter the tubers and plant them again in the spring. So we buried them in a pot and set the pot into the sun room, where it doesn’t get as cold. The first year we tried that, there was pretty much no sign of the tubers by spring. I found only the desiccated skin of one. When I brought the pot out for 2022, I didn’t even bother digging for the tubers. I knew they wouldn’t have survived the extended cold, even in the sun room. We should have taken it into the house and maybe into the old basement, where the cats couldn’t get at it, but those stairs are difficult for to navigate, and we go down there as rarely as possible.

So winter sowing and cucamelon tubers were both things that just didn’t work for 2023.

Our 2023 garden: second Heritage Harvest order placed

Okay, I just couldn’t resist.

I ordered more seeds from Heritage Harvest today.

In truth, we might not actually plant these seeds. It will depend on the space and conditions we have. However, I do want to have them in my seed collection, just in case, or for future planting.

Here is what I ordered (all images belong to Heritage Harvest).

First, there is the Gold Ball turnip.

This is something we got as free seed last year and planted in our 2022 garden. They germinated quickly, then completely disappeared! It is described as one of the best tasting turnips, and a good storage variety, so I would like to try them again.

This time, making sure to use floating row covers to protect the seedlings from whatever has been eating them!

Here we have the Cream of Saskatchewan Watermelon.

The early season watermelon variety we tried last year died off almost immediately after transplanting. Whether that was due to transplant shock or the flooding, I’m not completely sure. Very likely, both. I couldn’t find it again, so I would like to try this one. This is not a storage variety, due to the very thin rinds, but it is described as extremely tasty, so storage likely won’t be an issue! With only 80-85 days to maturity, we might even be able to direct sow these, instead of starting them indoors.

This is Orchard Baby corn.

Yes, we already have two varieties of corn seeds, including a popcorn. These are a dwarf variety that matures in only 60 days. They are also described as being extremely rare. There’s only 50 seeds per packet, so I ordered two.

Yes. More corn. This time, Yukon Chief.

This variety matures in only 55 days. While not a dwarf variety, the stalks grow to only about 4 feet in height. This variety was introduced from the University of Alaska, so they should do all right here!

These also come with only 50 seeds per packet, but I decided to just get one.

Which variety or corn, or how many we end up planting, is a decision we will make once we have a better idea of what we have to work with in the spring. After the past couple of years, we know full well that whatever plans we make now can change very quickly. Hopefully, I will plant at least the popcorn, plus one sweet corn variety, but if we can manage more, that would be great.

I actually removed several things from my cart in order to get this book, and stay in budget. How to Save Your Own Seeds.

I do know how to save seeds for quite a few things, but there are some that I’m not as sure about. With availability of seeds, or specific varieties of seeds, fluctuating so much at the best of times – and these are not the best of times! – I figured this would be a valuable resource for our library.

I was so, so tempted to order more! I saw the Tropeana Lunga onions were in stock, but decided against them this time. They did really well, but their super thick necks prevented them from curing properly, so we’ll stick to other varieties that will hopefully not have that issue. I was looking at giant sunflowers and herbs, flowers, and even more tomatoes. It’s hard not to over indulge! Especially when they are things we do want to grow, like herbs that will also attract pollinators, or flowers that can be used as trap crops for insects.

All in good time. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, before we’re ready to grow many things we are planning for!

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer