Our 2022 garden: first spinach sown, and onions transplanted

It was a bit cooler and overcast this morning, but still pleasant enough to get the plants outside for a couple of hours.

I am really happy with the newest seedlings. This tray has the cucumbers in the left half, with the Teddy and Red Kuri winter squash on the right. It took so long for the winter squash to germinate, I wasn’t sure they’d make it, but we have 100% gemination!

The purple peas in this tray are getting nice and big. The summer squash in the other cells took a long time to germinate, too, but they seemed to get a boost after I put the warming mat under them. It’s hard to see, but even the green zucchini is finally germinating, next to the peas. I thought the Magda squash had started to germinate, but not quite yet. We had less success with those the last 2 years we planted them, too. Our first year, we had only 2 surviving plants. Last year, there was just the one. Magda squash just seems to have a harder time of it.

So far, only 2 of the yellow zucchini have germinated. Last year, we had some germinate, but when they started producing fruit, they were green, and we no yellow zucchini at all. I’m hoping that won’t happen again, this year!

The transplants seem to be quite liking their time outdoors, and even the newest little tomatoes in the foreground are looking generally robust.

We have 3 Crespo squash – and they are budding! Would you look at that!

I considered pinching them off, but these first flowers would be all male flowers. The next batch of buds should be both male and female. So I’m thinking to just leave them? I don’t know. There is very little information out there on how to grow Crespo squash. They do seem to be very enthusiastic growers!

While moving the blooming Wonderberry in and out of the sun room, we have been brushing the 3 plants against each other, in hopes to pollinate them, just in case. I don’t know how if they are self pollinating or not. Nowhere I’ve looked about them even mentions pollinating.

The transplants were left out for 2 hours today, which gave me time to work on our very first direct sowing – and transplanting – in the high raised bed.

The first thing to do was dig trenches through the wood chip mulch, so that things could be seeded/planted into the soil beneath. We have three varieties of spinach seeds from last year, and for this bed, I chose Lakeside, which is the fastest maturing variety of the three. The tray of onions I grabbed are the red onions, Tropeana Lunga, which should look like this when they mature…

This image belongs to Heritage Harvest Seed. You can see what else we ordered with these, here.

By planting the onions around the spinach, they should help with keeping away harmful insects, and maybe even keep hungry critters away. The high raised bed is buffet height for deer, though, so we will be covering them later.

There is space to do a second planting of spinach in two weeks, which will also finish off the seeds we’ve got left of this variety.

The largest Tropeana Lunga seedlings filled the two outside rows, but there were still a few tiny seedlings left. The size that would be considered not worth planting. I hate to just toss seedlings, though, so I ended up sticking them in the soil at the base of the raised bed on the north end. When this was a low raised bed, it was quite a bit longer, so the soil is softer on that end. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. We don’t have a lot of this variety, so I’m hoping to be able to overwinter a couple of bulbs to go to seed next year.

I was left with nice, soft potting soil in the tray the onions seedlings were growing in, so I used that to gently top the spinach seeds, and put just a little around each onion plant, more to keep the wood chips from falling onto them than anything else.

I have to say, I LOVE the high raised bed to plant in! It was completely pain free, with no strain on my joints. Well. I suppose that doesn’t include my arthritic fingers, but I didn’t even notice pain in my hands, either. It took me less than half an hour to plant into this bed

I didn’t bother watering these, since it was already starting to rain by the time I was finishing up. It’s been raining off an on, ever since. My daughter and I got a bit damp when we headed out later on, to figure out exactly where to plant our tree order when it comes in. With 30 silver bison berry to plant, those were the ones we need to figure out the most. They should be planted 3-4 ft apart. Since we are doing these as a privacy hedge, we will planting them 3 feet apart, with most of them along the east end of the garden area, leaving a lane just wide enough to drive through, if necessary, between them and the fence line. Taking into account where the phone line is buried, we’ll be able to plant two staggered rows of 10, though as we get closer to the spruce grove, we many need to jump the rows closer to the fence itself, to keep that driving lane open. There is a branch pile that will be in the way of any lane we leave open, but we’ll still be able to plant around it.

We’ve got 5 sea buckthorn that will be planted nearer the north fence line, to close a gap in the lilac hedge. Any remaining bison berry can also be planted along the lilac hedge, and still keep the lane over the telephone wire clear. This will leave a gap in the privacy hedge, once they’ve grown to full size, that will need fencing or a gate to close it off from deer.

The Korean pine are a whole other issue. Originally, I wanted to plant them in the space between the north side of the spruce grove, and the crab apple trees. These, however, have an 18 foot spread. At their mature size, they would completely fill that space, and we need at least some of it to be kept open to drive through. The alternative was along the north side, which would make an excellent wind break, but with that 18 foot spread and the lilac hedge, we’d be planting them on top of the phone line. Not going to happen.

Which means we’ll have to plant them in the outer yard.

Just past the fence on west side, which has a gate that leads into the garden, there is a space where we can plant 2 of them. Then there is the gate to the secondary driveway – our “emergency exit”, if you will. It was through here that one of our truck loads of garden soil was delivered.

The remaining 7 seedlings will need to be planted on the other side of that back gate, along where there is already a couple of rows of spruces, with some willows at the south end. If we plant them 18 feet apart (we might go with 16 feet), we will have a row of seedlings matching the length of the existing shelter belt trees.

The only problem with this is that the south end is currently under water.

Still, knowing that this is a low spot will help. We can make sure to basically build things up a bit, so that the seedlings will stay above water during spring melt.

Then we’ll have to make sure to put something over them to protect them from being eaten. I don’t know that deer would eat Korean pine, but they could certainly damage them, just by walking over them.

We have not yet received a shipping notice for the trees, but with so many holes to dig, the earlier we get started, the better. Hopefully, by the time they do arrive, we’ll be ready and can plant them right away.

Oh, I just double checked my order! We’re not getting 9 Korean pine. We’re getting 6.

Which means we won’t be digging holes in water, after all. 😀

It’s going to feel weird getting our little 2 yr old plugs and planting them so far apart. Especially since they will grow very slowly for the next 3 years. Which is exactly how my mother ended up planting so many trees way too close together! 😀

Oh, my goodness. I just checked the short range weather forecast, and it’s changed yet again. We’re supposed to get more rain over the next couple of days, then for the two days after that, we’re supposed to get a mix of rain and snow!

What I planted in the high raised bed should be cold hardy enough to handle that, but we might cover it anywhere, just in case, at least for the night.

Last year, May was a very warm month. On this exact day last year, we had a new record high of 30C/86F. The record low for today, -4C/24F, was set in 2002.

After a long, cold winter, it seems we’re getting a wet cold spring.

Still, there are things we can plant. I just hope things warm up decently in June, so we can get the warm weather transplants in!

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

Our 2022 garden: last seeds starts – for real this time!

Okay, I went ahead and did it. I got one more tray of seeds started.

Most of them are summer squash.

I also decided to start the only 4 King Tut Purple Peas I was able to save last year. They did not do well at all in the drought, but they bravely tried!

The seed tray holds 32 square pots, and I wanted to plant just one seed per pot. I decided to start only 4 each of the Magda (a mottled light and dark green squash), yellow zucchini (Goldy)…

… and green zucchini (Endeavor). With these summer squash, I want to also try direct sowing more, and see if that makes any difference.

That left room to plant 8 each of the patty pans; Sunburst and G Star.

It occurred to me after I uploaded the pictures that I should have just planted each flat of 4 x 2 pots with one type, instead of two long rows of the patty pans. 😀 Ah, well, The flats will come apart easily when it’s time to transplant.

The tray then went straight into the sunroom, covered to keep them moist until they germinate. As you can see by the one that got pushed to the back, it’s working rather well.

There we are. Done. No more seeds will be started indoors.

Honest.

😉

The Re-Farmer

Garden prep – getting work done outside

Oh, what a lovely, lovely day! I was able to get things done that have been waiting for a day like today.

Before I get to that, though, take a look and who I found.

Possibly the same grog (groundhog) I saw this morning. It was at a space under the fence critters use to get through the chain link, but there’s water there right now. Because I was so close, it wanted to run through, but didn’t want to go through the water! It ended up running down the fence towards the junk pile, and I didn’t see it again until I was back in the house. The girls told me it was at the feeding station outside our living room window! I could tell it was the same one because it’s got burrs or something it its fur.

Then, as I sat down at my computer to upload photos, I saw two grogs running across the driveway towards the inner yard.

*sigh*

We’re going to have our work cut out for us!

Anyhow. Back to business!

The first thing I wanted to get done was lay out the salvaged black tarps (or whatever they are) in the main garden area.

Click on the images to see them larger.

In the background, you can see sticks coming out of the ground where a groundhog’s den used to be. It took shoving those sticks into the hole and burying them to finally get it out of there. They will be trimmed, later.

The black plastic should help warm up the soil, while also killing off the grass and weeds. We will be growing potatoes here, using the Ruth Stout deep mulching method, to start reclaiming this area.

When we’ve used these tarps before, we’d weigh the edges down with rocks, bricks, fence posts – whatever we could find. Since then, I found a big bag of cheap metal tent pegs, so I used some of those to pin the tarps down. The ground is thawed enough that I had no problem pushing them through – except for the rocks.

So. Many. Rocks.

I think only one tent peg actually made it through with minimal problems, and even then, I could feel it pushing past more rocks.

We have three types of potatoes on the way. Two at 5kg/11 pounds and one at 1kg/2.2 pounds. We will likely break the spaces covered by the tarps into 4 beds with paths, if only to make things easier to reach. We may plant the two 5kg types of potatoes here, and find somewhere else of the 1kg of potatoes. Maybe use one of the two grow bags I picked up on sale, for such a small amount.

The next area I wanted to work on was the chimney block bed along the chain link fence. The last 4 blocks had been brought over and were waiting to be placed.

At this point, all I wanted to do was level off the soil with a hoe, then line the blocks up along the fence. The ground slopes downward along this area, and the gap under the chain link increases along the way. When we built the bed here last year, we had to add boards along the fence to keep the soil from washing away when we watered things. It didn’t work as well as in the other bed (the one now bordered with bricks, in the background) because of all that space under the fence. Having these blocks will solve the erosion problem.

The blocks won’t be filled quite yet. I want to put some more organic material at the bottoms before returning the soil, and adding more, if needed. The ones we filled last year look like they could use some topping up, too.

Next, it was the garlic and asparagus beds.

I’ve been reading up and watching videos about growing asparagus – which is not yet showing – and it seems they do well with deep mulching (as well as being planted together with strawberries, which we might do). The garlic beds have mulch on them that I have decided to take off, and move to the asparagus.

First, the garlic beds.

Click on the images to see them in a larger size.

Pulling back the mulch, I can feel that the soil has thawed around the edges, but the closer to the middle, the more frozen it is. In the photo on the right, you can see some of the ice crystals exposed as the mulch was pulled back.

Also, this is oat straw, and quite a lot of seeds got caught up with the straw. I was seeing quite few sprouting grains, like the one in that second photo! (click to enlarge)

Both beds are now uncovered. The bed that’s in the back was more frozen than the one in the foreground. I couldn’t pull off some of the mulch because it was stuck in ice.

Now that there is no longer mulch insulating the ice, it should be melted by the end of the day. We’re at 18C/64F as I write this, so it won’t take long for the beds to thaw, and the garlic can start growing again.

As for the straw mulch…

The red lines mark there the asparagus is, plus there is a narrow band around it, where we shoved in some tiny onions that were really too small for transplanting, but we didn’t want to just toss. They didn’t do well, which is not a surprise, but what is a surprise is that the bulbs survived the winter and are starting to grow! So when the mulch from both garlic beds was added over the asparagus, I made sure it was not really covering where the onions are.

Who knows. We might ended up being able to collect Norstar onion seeds this year!

The asparagus planted here is a purple variety, and this is its second year. Two years from now, we should be able to start harvesting them. We also plan to get green asparagus crowns, but we’ve got so many things to plant this year, it sort of went by the wayside. I’m still not sure where we’d want to plant them, since it would be permanent.

Maybe here?

When we first cleaned out there area, there was a tire planter that was a car tire cut in half around the circumference, the tire flipped inside out, and still attached to the rim, which raised it up a bit. I had dug it out and tipped the soil onto the ground, discovering it was covering the stumps of a maple – which promptly started to send up suckers! Then we discovered that the planter had been for a type of flower that spreads through rhizomes. Which means I inadvertently spread a weed.

When we built the bed here last spring, we used carboard to try and kill things off first, then layered straw and soil on top of the carboard, to make the new bed. We planted strawberry spinach. If any of them sprouted, we had no way to tell, and they didn’t last long. Instead, the bed was filled with all sorts of other things we didn’t want in it.

So today, I took my nice, new garden fork to it, broke it up and pulled out as many roots and rhizomes as I could find. I then scrounged in the garage and found a couple of pieces of panelling, which I placed on top of the space between the two beds, for something to stand on, and also to smother out more of those flowers!

The little stumps are something we’re going to need to get rid of, too.

I’m not sure what we’ll be planting here. Maybe some squash or gourds, which can be heavily mulched and has large leaves to further shade and kill off anything we don’t want to be growing here.

That was it for outside garden prep. I also adjusted some things in the sun room.

The bright LED shop light that had been used on the inside of the plant shelf got rigged to light the new growing platform over the swing bench. This may be a “sun” room, but it’s not a greenhouse, and this far back from the window doesn’t get much direct sunlight at all.

Also, I’m happy to say that it looks like the two little peppers I thinned out of the other pots have perked up and may actually survive!

Once these were all taken care of, I started to dismantle the broken canopy tent frame. I could only do part of it, because I only brought a Phillip’s screwdriver with me, and the rest of them need a hex tip. Which I have, but I’ll continue it another time.

I still can’t get that one leg out of the soil. I can move it around, and the ground is thawed out for at least a couple of feed, but I just can’t pull it out. We’ll have to dig it out! The amount of force from that falling piece of tree must have been amazing to push that leg, with the flat plate on the bottom, through frozen ground must have been something else! So glad it didn’t land on the BBQ, or it would have been destroyed!

While working on the frame, I noticed the window in the back of the storage house had its cover knocked off, so I went over to put it back. Before I did, though, I could see it was wet under there, so I put my phone on flash, stuck it through the window and took some blind shots.

Oh, dear.

With how the water had formed a moat around the storage house, not coming up to the house itself, I thought it might have been pretty dry. Talk about wrong! It’s a lake under there! The kitties have lost their largest shelter.

This is also the brightest I’ve ever seen it under there. I’m not usually there and taking pictures, this time of day!

Well, no surprise that the entire storage house has been slowly sinking if it gets like this during wet years!

In the 14 day forecast, there are a couple of days where we are expecting light showers, but beyond that, we’ve got all warm and sunny, or mostly sunny, days for a while. That is going to be a huge help in giving the soil a chance to absorb more water, and the high water levels to drop or drain away. That means more chances to prepare garden beds for planting!

I’m having so much fun right now… 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: last seed starts? Winter squash and cucumber

Today is 4 weeks from our average last frost date. We started some more seeds indoors, but I’m not sure if these will be our last ones or not.

But first, some re-arranging had to be done.

I moved more pots out of the mini-greenhouse and into the sun room. The mini-greenhouse is now about half empty.

The last of the tomatoes were moved out; these are almost all the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and, I think, one last Cup of Moldova paste tomato. There was room in the bin, so I added the peppers I’d brought over yesterday. The larger bin with the larger tomatoes and the Canteen gourds got moved so this one could be closer to the window and not get overshadowed by the larger bin.

The re-started luffa, and ozark nest egg gourds, were brought over, too. The plants in the cups are the ones I thinned out from the larger, stronger pepper plants, yesterday. It doesn’t look like they’ll make it, but you never know.

The Red Baron bunching onions got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse – and got a hair cut.

Then it was time to start planting.

We had only three seeds to start; two types of shorter season winter squash that we grew last year, and cucumber. For these, I used planting trays the same size that come with the Jiffy Pellets, but with 4 sets of 8 square Jiffy pots in them.

With the Little Gem (Red Kuri) seeds, we picked 8 seeds that looked the best, for 1 seed per square. We still have seeds left over, plus I also still have the seeds we saved from last year. The Teddy squash had only 10 seeds left, so we planted all of them, with a couple of squares having 2 seeds. The seeds got scarified and briefly soaked while the squares were filled with potting mix. With the cumber, we just planted 1 seed per pot, in half the tray, so we have plenty of those left over.

For all the re-arranging, we still couldn’t put the tray in the big aquarium greenhouse on the warming mat, because we still needed to use it for other things. With how warm the sun room is, though, the new tray went straight there!

I didn’t want them drying out too quickly, plus the overnight temperatures are still a bit of a concern. The tray didn’t come with a dome, so I improvised.

Two small bin lids cover the ends, while a small big is deep enough to fit over the labels. 😀

That done, the girls and I headed outside to check things out, and we were absolutely thrilled to find so many crocuses blooming!

Many of them are blooming in clusters like this. Each one of those clusters was a single flower, last year. I just love how they are already spreading!

There are more grape hyacinth coming up, though they are very hard to see. We also spotted wild strawberry leaves in the patch under a dead tree that we’ve framed with branches to make sure they don’t get accidentally mowed.

My younger daughter wanted to check her raspberries that had such a rough start last year. One of them has tiny new leaves coming up at the base! Hopefully, both will have survived the winter.

Once back inside, I fussed a bit more with the big aquarium greenhouse.

I’d already rotated the bin with the melons in it; the Zucca melon is now in the foreground and the watermelon in the back. The Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes were moved to the mini-greenhouse, while the larger pumpkins got moved to take their place. Some of them were getting too close to the light fixture, and this tray gives them more head room.

A few remained on the warming tray, but moving so many post out freed up just enough room…

… to move the other winter squash out of the small aquarium greenhouse and put them on the warming mat. Hopefully, that will help them germinate sooner.

I have refills of those square pots that fit in the trays like the one on the warming mat. I find myself waffling back and forth over starting the summer squash in them. We have 5 types. These have a short enough season that I could get away with direct sowing. I could leave them be, but I’ve never NOT started summer squash indoors, so I find myself really wanted to start some of them!

If I do start them, it would have to be very soon, and they’ll be going straight into the sun room, too.

What do you think? Should I try go for it, or leave them?

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: sun room follow up

This morning, as I headed out to do my rounds, the sun room thermometer was at about 10C/50F. During the night, I saw it dip as low as about 5C/41F.

I moved away the reflect to get some photos of the new bins with the kulli corn. The picture of the smaller bin didn’t turn out, though.

Here is the larger bin with 80 toilet tube pots in it. That white plastic is marking off the pots that are empty. When one daughter finished the smaller bin, she started helping her sister from the other side, so the empty pots ended up in a really weird place. 😀

They planted all the seeds, including the little, bitty extras. I don’t expect those to germinate, but who knows? Even without the extras, I don’t expect 100% germination. It should be interesting to see what we get.

The three trays of bulb onions are doing better in the sun room than they were in the mini-greenhouse, but that tray of shallots is really struggling. 😦

The Cup of Moldova tomatoes have recovered from their first night in the sun room rather well. You can see leaves with cold damage on them, but the remaining leaves are looking quite strong. Even the Crespo squash and Canteen gourds seem to be doing just fine.

Likewise with the Wonderberry.

There are some seedlings in the mini-greenhouse that are starting to look like they can be moved to the sun room, as does the tray of bunching onions. We’ll have to do a bit of re-arranging, since the sun room ended up being a feline recovery room again, to make space for everything.

It will be good when we finally have a small greenhouse or polytunnel. Hopefully, we’ll have something in time for next year.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: the 6 week batch

This week is 6 weeks away from our average last frost date, so we started our next batch of seeds.

We had the Kulli corn, the Chocolate Cherry tomato and Yellow Pear tomato to do. We were also still considering starting the last few Spoon tomato seeds, since they were so fun last year, but in the end, decided against it. Four types of tomatoes is enough!

Of course, I found extra to start.

Looking over our seedlings, I noticed that one pot with Tennessee Dancing gourds still has not germinated, while the other had a single sad looking little plant that was looking ever more wimpy…

… it turned out to be dead.

Well, then.

We still have seeds from last year, so I scarified a few and started them soaking before I headed out for errands.

Then, just because I’m curious…

… I scarified then set to soak the two giant pumpkin seeds that were given out for free at the grocery store near my mother’s place. Her town has a giant pumpkin contest every year and, in the spring, there’s always a big basket full of envelopes with just a few seeds in them, available for free (though they do request a limit of one packet per family).

Before filling the bins with toilet paper tube pots with soil, I decided to count how many corn seeds we actually got. Each package was supposed to have 25 seeds, but I know sometimes there are extras, and we were going to put one seed in each tube.

There turned out to be a total of 106. 😀 Granted, some of the extras were really tiny, but we intended to plant them anyway.

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture, so here’s an old one of the larger bin. It fits 8 rows of 10 tubes. I actually ended up changing the tubes in the picture out for different tubes. The tubes from some brands are longer than others, and I ended up switching to a brand – the Costco Kirkland brand – that had taller tubes.

The big bin held 80 tubes, while the smaller shoe-box size bin held 4 rows of 8, so we would have empties. We still filled them all with soil, so that the tubes could support each other.

Before we started filling the tubes with the growing medium, I set the corn to soak. My daughters did their best to fill the tubes without getting too much of the soil in between the tubes, while I potted up the gourds and pumpkin seeds, then started working on the tomatoes.

Which is when I got a phone call from my brother, to talk about the latest on our vandal’s court case against me that was supposed to be today, but got cancelled. I’d sent a message to the court clerk about the conflict in dates, saying that I’d been told on the phone our vandal had picked 2 dates, and some of the issues we have to deal with as to why we chose the November date. I added that the earlier December date would work better for us, but I didn’t think our vandal would agree to any date we selected and suggested the court simply assign a date and we’d all just work with it.

We got a response saying that, since we couldn’t agree on a date, we’d have a teleconference call in early May with the court clerk to set up a trail date. The response was to my email, with our vandal’s email added on, so he got to see what I wrote.

Well, he responded in a reply-all. One of the first things he said was that he had NOT selected the November date, just the May one, and said something about how he felt my comment on not agreeing on dates was inappropriate, and he just wanted to get the whole thing over with as soon as possible. I’m paraphrasing of course, but it was pretty brief.

Hhhmmm. Now that I think about it, his wife probably wrote it. He’s not typically that succinct.

Anyhow.

Basically, he tried to make it sound like I had lied, and that he was a victim.

Of course, I forwarded the emails to my brother, since he’s my witness and he’s the one that needs to book time off work to attend. He phoned me this evening and we talked about the situation.

Which is kind of funny, realy.

You see, our vandal goofed. I had written that I was told on the phone that he’d picked the two dates. He basically accused me of lying – however the court clerk (or whatever her official position is; I can’t remember right now) who wrote the email is the same person who phoned me, telling me she’d already called him and the two dates he’d picked. Which means that, in trying to imply that I was lying, he was actually implying that the person we’ve been corresponding with is the liar.

I don’t think he realizes that at all.

I’m guessing his attempt to play the victim backfired on him.

By the time I finished talking with my brother, the girls were done with the corn, putting the lids on the bins to protect the pots from the cats, and tucking the tomato seeds out of feline reach for me. So I finished those up.

A few things got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse and into the mini-greenhouse to make space. The ground cherries stayed. Those are the super tiny seedlings you can see on the left. This is on the warming mat, so that’s where the gourds and pumpkins went.

The tomatoes should also be getting extra warmth, but there isn’t room for them over the heat mat until we can move the ground cherries out. (The bunching onions just got moved over to the upcycled plastic stray you can see on the right.) I ended up putting 5 tomato seeds in each cup, with 3 cups per variety, half filling them so the seedlings can be “potted up” later, by just adding more soil. It should be interesting to see how many germinate, and if we’ll get enough strong seedlings to thin by transplanting.

We’re going to have an awful lot of tomatoes. Which is weird with just 2 out of 4 people liking tomatoes – at least for fresh eating. Still, I’d rather plant extra and have enough to afford losses.

The kulli corn went straight to the sun room.

Potato Beetle got out of the sun room while I was using the wagon to bring my earlier purchases through (yes! I was able to get big bags of cat kibble!!), slipping under the wagon and out the door before I could do anything. The sun room was over 25C/77F !!! at the time, so I left the outside doors slightly open as much to cool things down, as to give Potato Beetle a chance to come back in.

When I came in with the bins holding the corn, I found a skunk eating Potato Beetle’s kibble! I shooed it outside, and found a second one in the kibble house.

I shooed that one away, too, then topped up the kibble trays just enough to make noise and maybe get Potato Beetle’s attention. A bunch of cats came running, but no Potato. 😦

Well, now that the corn is in the sun room, he lost one of the spots he likes to sit in, anyhow. I do wish we’d been able to get him back in for the night, at least.

I’ll get pictures tomorrow, when it’s light out again. So far, the toilet paper tubes in these bins works out very well. The final word on it, though, will be when we have to get them out for transplanting!

Now that Lent is over, I’m back on social media and my gardening groups. Today, one of them posted a list of seeds to start indoors over the next week. Based on that list, we’re behind, but our June 2 frost date is quite late, even for a zone 3. Most of the people in the zone 3 gardening groups have last frost dates in the second half of May. Still, because we have so very many seeds to start indoors, I think I will slowly work on them over the next couple of weeks. The remaining gourds would probably do better with an earlier start, I think, and some of the winter squash probably would, too. As long as they are all done within the next 2 weeks, it should work out, and not be too overwhelming when it comes to finding space for all the pots before the older seedlings also get added to the sun room.

Meanwhile, we’re still getting weather alerts, and still being told we may get as much as 10cm/4in of snow, just on Sunday. We’re supposed to start getting snow tonight, and mixed precipitation tomorrow. But then, according to the weather apps, we’re snowing right now, and there isn’t a flake to be seen in the infrared flash of our security camera (though I’ve been seeing plenty of cats and skunks running around on the driveway! 😀 ).

It seems to strange to be starting seeds for relatively heat loving plants, when we’re possibly getting yet another snow storm!

The Re-Farmer

It’s a Wonder

Before coming back inside, I remembered to check out the flower I spotted on the Wonderberry.

Such a pretty, tiny little thing!

Then I killed it. 😦

I pinched off all the flower buds that I could find, so the plant will put more energy into growing foliage. With no insects to pollinate them this early anyhow, blooming is just wasted energy for the plant. Hopefully, it will continue to do just fine until we can plant it outside.

The sunroom was about 16C/61F at the time I did this! That’s over 20 degrees Celsius warmer than outside! If the temperatures didn’t drop down to about 3C/37F overnight in there, all our seedlings would be set up in the sun room right now. I’m hoping, as things warm up over the next few days, we’ll finally be able to start doing that. After Easter, we’ll be starting the seeds that need to be started at 6 weeks before last frost. That will be the Kulli corn and the remaining tomato varieties; yellow pear and Chocolate Cherry. We have a very few Spoon tomato seeds left. Maybe we’ll finish those off, too.

It’s the four week seed starts that are going to need the most space. These include:
– the remaining gourds we’ll be doing this year (Yakteen and Apple)
– all the summer squash (Endeavor green zucchini, Goldy yellow zucchini, Madga, Sunburst yellow pattypan and G Star green pattypan)
– and pumpkin, including three types of hulless seed pumpkins (Styrian, Kakai and Lady Godiva), the Baby Pam from last year that didn’t germinate at all, but I hope will work if we scarify the seeds first, plus some giant pumpkin seeds that were given away for free that I’d like to try.
– all the winter squash (Little Gem/Kuri and Teddy from last year, Georgia Candy Roaster, Winter Sweet and Boston Marrow)
– all the melons (Halona and Pixie, from saved seeds, Kaho watermelon and Zucca, plus some seeds saved from grocery store melons we liked)
– cucumber (Eureka)

These are all things we do want to plant quite a bit of each type, since they are being grown more for preserving than for fresh eating. Except the melon. We might freeze or pickle some, but mostly, we’ll be eating those fresh, and I can hardly wait!

We’re also going to be using many of the squash in particular to reclaim portions of the old garden area. Anything that is doesn’t need to be trellised, or their fruit is too big to trellis, we’ll take advantage of their spreading habits and large leaves to shade out the weeds beyond the hills and mulch we’ll be planting them in.

After that, we’ve got the stuff we’ll be direct sowing, some of which can be started before last frost. We’ve got 4 types of turnip (I ordered 2, but got 2 more as freebies), 2 types of bread poppies, strawberry spinach, I think 2 types of beets this year, 3 types of pole beans, including 1 shelling type, 2 types of bush beans left over from last year, 2 types of peas, 4 types of carrots, 2 more types of corn, including a popcorn, 3 types of radishes, which I still want to grow for their pods, not their roots, 3 types of spinach from last year, 4 types of lettuce from last year, and 2 types of chard from last year. Then there’s the stuff that will be shipped when it’s time to plant, including 3 types of potatoes, sunchokes and sweet potato slips.

I don’t know where we’re going to plant a lot of this. We do have a general sort of map set out. Quite a few things will be planted in temporary beds to help prepare the soil for future plans, and some things will be interplanted with others, so they’ll be sharing beds. We will likely need to build more temporary trellises, too. In the end, though, we’re still figuring things out, so we have no fixed plans. Almost everything is going to have to be flexible.

Getting this all in is going to be a wonder in itself!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: it’s a wonder!

One of the first things I do in the morning is check on the seedlings, turn on the lights, and do any tending they might need.

The newly transplanted and potted up plants seem to be doing very well – with one possible exception.

The Wonderberry we have left from the first planting is just too big for the top of the mini greenhouse.

I mean, look at this beast! It’s getting huge!

And what’s that I see???

Yup. Those are flower buds!!

I planted these really early, after doing some online research, but it seems it was too early.

So what do I do with the poor thing? We can’t leave it out, or the cats will destroy it.

The only safe place for it is in the sun room.

Except…

Yeah. It’s too big for the shelve space, too.

There was only one thing left to do.

I now have it sitting in the window on the other side of the door, which is a pair of smaller windows with a shelf in between. It’s actually a great spot for a plant like this. The problem is mostly the temperature, though it also gets less light. In the other shelf, there is at least the lights provide a bit of warmth. This spot is too far away for that to be any help.

I don’t think the sun room dipped below freezing last night. When I first looked in, in the morning, it was at about 8C/46F, but I expect it to get above 20C/68F in there as the day warms up. However, we’re supposed to start cooking down again, with a high of -5C/23F by Thursday – and more snow on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Southern parts of the province are even getting weather alerts, as a Colorado Low swoops in, potentially bringing as much as 20cm/8in of snow. That, in turn, is leading to flooding alerts in regions to the North.

None of which is anywhere near us, but we’ll still be affected by the system with cooler temperatures and more snow.

At least the current warm weather is reducing the amount of snow we have now, so if we do end up with more, it’s not going to be as much of an issue.

The receding snow is starting to reveal that we are going to be picking up quite a lot of fairly large branches, once we’re able to do the spring yard cleanup.

The new beds along the chain link fence are now clear of snow, including the asparagus bed. Which, unfortunately, has a lot of grass and weeds already starting to grow. There’s less than half an inch of thawed soil on the top, but that’s enough for the weeds.

There was a surprise, though.

There are onions growing!

We had transplanted the tiniest of seedlings around the asparagus bed last year, mostly because I didn’t want to toss them. They established themselves, but hardly grew at all, and we just left them. Even when cleaning up in the fall, we just let them be.

I found about 8 or 10 of them, starting to grow!

It should be interesting to see how they do. As this would be their second year, if we leave them, they should go to seed.

Speaking of onions and seeds, the seedlings we moved to the sun room seem to be doing rather well.

In fact, I think they’re actually perking up and getting stronger. Well. Maybe not the shallots. It’s really hard to tell with what’s left of those! But the red and yellow onions seem to be getting bigger and stronger.

We might have something to transplant, after all!

I might still get sets, though. In this household, we just can’t really have too many onions! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: starting seeds and potting up

With our average last frost date of June 2, today works out to be 8 weeks for seed starts. In addition to starting new seeds, our replanted Cup of Moldova seedlings were ready to be thinned and potted up.

We also needed to make space.

While the sun room’s daytime temperature neared 20C/68F, while the outside temperature reached a high of 4C/39F, the overnight temperatures dropped to just above freezing.

We decided to take the chance, and move the onions and shallots to the sun room. I’m not very encouraged by how they seem to be doing, and I figure we’re going to need to buy sets later on, anyhow. More on that, later.

We also had to pot up the Wonderberry. The only one that survived from the first planting is large enough that it can only fit into the top of the mini-greenhouse, where the frame comes to a peak. The second planting had two that were getting pretty big, so they got separated and repotted, too. There was also a whole lot of removing of pots where the seedlings did not survive, and re-arranging the big aquarium greenhouse so that the new seed starts could go on over the heat mat.

Eventually, we were able to start the new seeds!

There were only two things that needed to be started, as the others on the list were for 8-10 weeks, and we’d already started them at 10 weeks.

One was Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry. The seeds are so small and few, they came in a separate envelope in the packet. Still, my daughter divided them up, and planted 6 pots with them.

While she worked on those, I started on the Red Baron bunching onions.

They have such pretty seeds!

These were densely planted in a repurposed grocery store salad container.

These are now on the heat mat.

The pots that had been on the heat mat got shifted over, but are still in the big aquarium.

Here we have our squash and gourds, and the second planting of eggplants and purple peppers. There are a few survivors of the first planting, but the way things are going, I figure extras will always be a good idea!

This tray had the second planting of the Cup of Moldova paste tomatoes, planted in Red Solo cups. A couple of them had only one seedling in them. For the rest, I gently removed all but one from each cup. The cups were only half full of seed starting soil, so my daughter potted them up by simply adding more to fill the cup. While she worked on that, I filled more cups and transplanted the tomatoes that had been removed, burying the stems until they were much like the others. I ended up doing a dozen cups, on top of what my daughter filled.

Hopefully, most of these will survive to be transplanted!

We were able to fit them all into the mini-greenhouse, though a bit more re-arranging needed to be done. The Sophie’s Choice tomatoes are much smaller, and not ready to be thinned or potted up, yet.

The largest Wonderberry is now in one of those Jiffy pots that can be buried directly into the ground, as are the two smaller Wonderberry. The smaller ones are in the tray, where they can be watered from below, but the big one was on its own. To allow for watering and not making a mess, my daughter wrapped the pot with aluminum foil.

Since we have to keep the mini-greenhouse enclosed, I have the mini fan set up to blow are up one side, so it can circulate under the cover without blowing directly onto any plants. A salvaged window screen gets set across the bottom, then the flap is brought down, its bottom tucked under the screen, and the zippers pulled down as far as the screen, so hold it in place. It’s the best we can do to keep it from getting too hot in there and to allow fresh air in. For seedlings this big, the cover would be removed completely, but certain cats would simply destroy everything.

It will be good when all the plants can finally go into the sun room! These are, however, much more fragile than the onions.

I had a couple of spare oven liner trays that I picked up for inside the small aquarium greenhouse. We’re not using that right now, as anything that goes into it seems to struggle. That’s where these onions had started out. They should be quite a bit bigger, and there should be more of them.

That one tray that looks the sparsest is the shallots. The soil even looks dug into. I suspect one of the cats actually managed to reach through a gap in the cover flap over the screen we put in front of the mini-greenhouse.

Concerned for the overnight temperature drop, I remembered a small light that we’ve used in the sun room before. It has an incandescent, full spectrum bulb in it.

It also gets quite warm, and we’ve made use of that heat for everything from keeping plants warm, to keeping recovering cats warm!

So that got set up on the empty shelf under the onions. The shelves all have scrap pieces of rigid insulation on them. Most of the inside of the shelf is covered by the reflector we made using a larger piece of rigid insulation. So the space should hold warmth a fair bit. The light fixture would help, plus even the LED shop light does warm up, just a bit. Between all that, I’m hoping the shelf itself will hold a pocket of warm compared to the rest of the room.

We’ll see what difference it makes.

So this is where we are at, 8 weeks before last frost. We have a few more seeds to start at the 6 week mark, but it’s the 4 week mark that is going to be a doozy. The fast majority of our seeds, both in variety and in quantity, are supposed to be started by 4 weeks. This includes the winter and summer squash, pumpkins, remaining gourds, melons, watermelons, and the last of the tomato varieties. We don’t plan to start many of the tomatoes, but we do intend to plant quite a lot of the various squash and melons.

Finding the space for everything is going to be quite the challenge. It’ll be May by then, though, which means the overnight temperatures in the sun room should be warm enough that we could even start some seeds in there, and not just in the large aquarium greenhouse. Some of what we’ve started will be ready for hardening off, too.

Looking at the long range forecast, we’re going to have a rather chilly Easter weekend, and things aren’t going to warm up very much after, either. I’ve been looking at the 30 year averages, though, and these temperatures are pretty much bang on for the average.

It just feels like winter keeps dragging on.

And on and on and on.

The Re-Farmer