I’m so loving how the grape hyacinths are looking! Tiny little clusters of purple, in a sea of green. In a few years, we’re hoping there will be a lot more purple! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Let’s think of flowers and warmth!

After the damage to our tulips, plus our dropping temperatures, I thought it would be nice to post pictures of things that are actually blooming right now!

The ornamental apples in the old kitchen garden are blooming quite nicely right now! They always tend to start blooming before any of the other crab apple trees.

The double lilacs in the old kitchen garden are also starting to open up, quite a bit earlier than the other varieties. They all seem to bloom at different times, which leaves us with months of lovely scents around the yard.

Late this afternoon, one of my daughters and I headed to town for some errands and, as we came back and paused to lock the gate, I remembered to grab one of the trail cams facing the gate. It is now set up, low on a tree across from where the tulips are planted. Hopefully, low enough that even a short critter like a skunk will trigger the motion sensor.

The girls and I later went out to check on things and talk about our options. Of course, we also checked on other areas and were very excited to see some purple in a sea of green!

The flower stalks on the grape hyacinths have started to shoot up! They are all so very tiny! 😀 One of my daughters was kind enough to carefully step through the greenery to get a picture of one for me. Meanwhile, my other daughter spotted some more flowers.

The little patch of wild strawberries is starting to bloom, too!

Thankfully, everything we’ve got growing right now is quite hardy. As I write this, we are at 2C/36F, but feels like -5C/23F. Or -7C/19F. depending on which app I look at. My desktop app is showing frost advisories and possible snow tonight. My phone’s app thinks we are warmer, and is showing no frost warnings. Either way, it’s cold, wet and windy out there. Chilly enough that I just finished setting up the heater bulb in the sun room again, under the seed trays in the mini greenhouse. I’m still holding out home for the purple sunflowers and gourds.

This chill is supposed to continue through tomorrow, before things start warming up again. Current long range forecasts now show that the first couple of days of June – which is our average last frost date – are supposed to get as high as 27C/81F again! After that, it’s supposed to cool down a couple of degrees, but we’re supposed to get almost a week of rain. If the forecast stays the same, we’ll have about 4 hot days to put our transplants out. We haven’t been able to take the trays outside every day to harden them off, so I’m really hoping that leaving the inner door to the sun room open, and the ceiling fan running on high, will be enough to provide them with the conditions they need.

We shall see how things turn out!

The Re-Farmer

A tulip explosion!

The girls headed outside this afternoon, and were excited to ask me if I’d seen the tulips.

I had, when I did my rounds this morning, but clearly, something had changed.

The tulips have exploded with flower spikes!

Most of my daughter’s tulips were planted in this spot. Over 50 bulbs in 6 varieties were planted here. We haven’t tried to count how many have come up. I think, by now, any that haven’t come up were casualties of February’s polar vortex. 😦

While just to one side, another group of very different tulips were planted. These are Bull’s Eye tulips (which Veseys apparently no longer carries). Of the 8 bulbs that were planted, it looks like only 3 survived the winter.

I can’t believe how quickly these flower spikes shot up!!

They are not the only ones.

The flower spikes in the grape hyacinths are a bit harder to see, but they are certainly there! Pretty much all of them that we can see have these tiny spikes emerging. Once they start blooming, we’ll finally be able to get a better idea of how many of the 200 we planted survived the winter! 😀

Meanwhile, the winds have only gotten stronger – I had to fight just to open the door to go outside and get these photos! – and the temperatures are still rising. I look forward to the cooler weather and, hopefully, rain to come!

The Re-Farmer


The girls had gone out for a walk and excitedly told me I needed to go outside – with a camera!

You know those garlic in the snow I got a picture of this morning?

There’s more of them now!

The two on the left where not there this morning!

We also have a first appearance.

One of our muscari (grape hyacinth) has emerged! The first of (hopefully!) 200. 😀

Though today has stayed just below freezing, it was enough that a lot of areas warmed up and the snow melted. Including roofs.

Long before we moved out here, the storage house got a new roof, but the eaves troughs were never reattached. In fact, the other side has none at all. So most of the snow melting off the roof just drips straight down.

(Also, that wasp nest is a couple of years old and empty)

Which made for an interesting double layer of icicles on one of the step below. 😀

Unfortunately, ice has also formed directly on the grape vines at ground level.

If these have survived the winter, we really need to find a better spot to transplant them!

The nearby spirea can handle the ice just fine!

It’s like the cross bar on the grape vine support is exactly under the drip line! 😀

The cats, meanwhile, are wisely staying out of the wind! I was surprised and pleased to see Butterscotch in there, with her boy Nutmeg. 🙂

It’s so awesome to be seeing anything growing in the weather we’ve been having! Talk about resilient! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Fall planting grape hyacinth, day two, and planning ahead

The girls were sweethearts; by the time I got outside, they had already planted at least half of the second bag of grape hyacinths. One daughter was still using the broken trowel to dig the holes! It’s really unfortunate that the auger couldn’t be used. 😦 That would have made the job must faster and easier!

I did find another trowel among the odds and ends we found while cleaning out the sun room, but it was so cheap, and the soil so hard, it kept bending. I used a weeding tool to loosen the soil, first, then I could gently dig a tiny little hole for each tiny little bulb. 🙂

Then, while one daughter watered both sections we planted the bulbs in, my other daughter and I used pieces from the trees that were cut away from the power lines to mark things off.

At the far end it where a walkway will be. Eventually, there will be a sort of V shaped pair of walkways leading from the fire pit area to the broad path that runs down the middle of the grove. At the dead tree, near where the rolling seat is, we marked around a spot where wild strawberries are growing. There are more of them near a tree to the left of that spot, but with the bulbs planted on either side, we didn’t bother going in to mark them. At some point, I’d like to transplant those strawberries to somewhere they won’t be choked out by grasses and wildfowers, but wild strawberries are not the sort of thing that takes to being handled well. It does make me wonder how they ended up here! I used to find them only deep in the bushes, during very damp years, when I was a kid.

This is the next section we will be working in.

We have 20 bulbs each of 5 different types of snow crocus. This area is very narrow, so it should be quite enough to plant the length of this. These were my daughter’s choice, so I will leave it to her, whether we will plant each type separately, or mix them all together.

The crocus bulbs are even smaller than the grape hyacinth! They need to be only 3 inches deep into the soil.

Weather willing, we should be able to get this done tomorrow. After that, we might be done in this section for this year. We still have a double tulip collection on back order, with a total of 58 bulbs, but I’m not sure where they will be planted. I think they will need more sunlight than they can get in this area. The product info says “partial sunlight”, while the further we go in this area, the more “full shade” it gets! They might do quite well in the old kitchen garden, as long as they are planted closer to the house and away from the ornamental apples.

Something we still have time to think about!

Meanwhile, we will work on keeping these well watered while it’s still warm out, to make sure they are established before winter sets in.

I do hope the back ordered items come in soon. I really want to get the garlic in!

The Re-Farmer

Fall planting grape hyacinth, day one

So a few things we’d talked about before have changed a bit, as we decided where to start planing the grape hyacinth (muscari).

This is the area we settled on, before clean up.

Two summers ago, this area was quite overgrown. Some of the lilacs and carigana I cut back have started to encroach again. I deliberately did not mow around here, because I wanted to see what would come up.

Not much, it turns out. Lots of crab grass, and a few of a type of wildflower we have all over the place.

In this area, there are rows of trees planted varying widths apart, with a path to the old garden that splits it into east and west sides (this is the west side we are working on). After clarifying where we wanted to keep walking paths, one of my daughters and I started raking, and I also cut away some of the encroaching lilacs, caragana and the maple suckers that were coming up.

The row of elm and maple on the left has a narrower space between them and another row of trees to the north. Then there is a wide space that will be kept open as a walking path, followed by several more rows of trees planted way too close together.

We will be planting a bag of bulbs on either side of the row of trees on the right of the photo, and not too close to the lilacs and caragana. We want to encourage them to spread outwards from that row of trees.

There was quite a lot of debris, so we ended up using the firepit to burn it. When my other daughter was able to come join us, they continued the hard physical labour, while I tended the fire. 🙂

This sort of stuff makes for a very smoky fire!

After the dry debris on the surface was raked away, they went over it with a thatching rake to get even more up, and try and loosen the soil. The piles from what were not appropriate for burning, so they’re going to be used as a sort of mulch, elsewhere.

The girls even kept going and raked up the next area we’ll be planting in.

Just not today!

They also remembered that auger I bought, intending to use in the old garden area. On realizing how much rockier it was than expected, we never did.

So I got it out, attached it to our drill and tested it.



That didn’t work. Too many roots! The auger would jam and stop turning, almost immediately! Those circles you see where as deep as I could go before it got hung up and starting making some very unfortunate noises.

Which may well have been a good thing, I guess.

After scattering a bag of bulbs fairly randomly in the prepared area, the girls got to work, digging 4 inch holes manually (the recommended depth for muscari) and planting them, while I continued to tend the fire.

We are now down a trowel.

There it is – with the rock that broke it!

We have another one, but no one can remember where it ended up, so they found another tool and continued.

Hitting a rock like that with the auger probably would not have broken the auger.

It would most likely have broken my drill, though!

Here is one section they worked in. It’s hard to tell where they planted the bulbs from the ground scuffed as they worked! It was a very difficult job, with many roots and rocks in the way. The soil is very hard. I know, however, that grape hyacinth can handle that, since I’ve seen them growing in much worse conditions!

The entire area has been watered and, tomorrow, we will work on the next section.

The crocuses will also be planted in this side of the maple grove (the east side still has piles of dead branches waiting to be chipped), but the iris and tulips will go someplace much more prominent and visible. They don’t have the spreading habit the grape hyacinth and crocuses do, so we’ll be more particular about bulb placement, too.

I’m so happy! When I was a kid, going through catalogs, grape hyacinth were among the things I always wanted to grow. When living in Victoria, BC, where they grew like weeds on the sides of roads (which is how I know they can handle the hard soil of this area just fine!) that only solidified my desire to have them. Now we finally do! And with a couple hundred bulbs planted, I think we can be assured of a decent number of them sprouting next spring.

As long as the skunks and squirrels don’t dig up and eat the bulbs!

The Re-Farmer