Our 2023 garden: Veseys seeds, second order arrived

The rest of the seeds we ordered from Veseys arrived today. You can read about what we ordered and why, here.

It was difficult to get a photo of them all, because the cats immediately came over and tried to roll all over my little display on the bed! You can see Leyendecker in this photo, and then Ginger came in and threw himself bodily onto the Dalvay peas!

Speaking of which, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d ordered the Dalvay peas before, so I went looking at my old photos. Sure enough, we did order Dalvay peas back in 2020, for our 2021 garden. I knew we’d ordered green shelling peas before; it was the name I wasn’t sure of.

And this is why I take photos of everything, and use this blog as a gardening journal! 😄

The tomato packet felt so … empty… I double checked the site. It says there are approximately 50 seeds per packet in this size (they also have packets with 200, 1000 and 10,000 seeds available). Tomato seeds are so light and thin, I guess that would indeed feel pretty thin!

Now, there are just the seeds we ordered from the US to come in, and from the tracking number, they have not reached Canada, yet.

Next month we will order more, but I don’t know that we’ll be ordering more seeds. We’ll be ordering things like potatoes for sure, and probably berry bushes, all of which won’t get shipped until spring.

We’ll be planting another really huge garden for 2023. Hopefully, we’ll have better weather and growing conditions!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: Heritage Harvest seeds have arrived!

These came in really fast!

The top row is all stuff we tried to grow in 2022. The only change is that the Candy Roaster seeds we got for last summer was from Veseys. We should still have some of those left, so if we wanted to, we could try both and see which does better here.

The middle row is also all stuff we tried growing last summer, except for the Chamomile, which is new for 2023.

In the bottom row, the Little Finger Eggplant is a repeat, while the Red Wethersfield onion and Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify are new.

The Lemon Cucumber are our free package of seeds with this order. (Image belongs to Heritage Harvest) I had actually been eyeballing these as something new to try, but had decided against them for now. In fact, I wasn’t sure if we’d try growing cucumbers again at all this year. We did actually get cucumbers, and they would have been enough for our own use – but then my sister gave us massive amounts of cucumbers from her own garden, and we were overwhelmed.

We like cucumbers, but not that much!

Anyhow, if we were to order more cucumbers, it would be another dual purpose type, good for both fresh eating and canning. Now we have these, so we will at least have a fresh eating type! Plus, it’s something we’ve never tried before. I’m looking forward to it!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: first Veseys seeds are in

There were two seed orders waiting for me in the mail today. The first had the seeds I’d ordered with some trees from Veseys, earlier.

I don’t know if we’ll plant the Caveman’s Club gourd this year – it depends on how well we manage with building trellises in the spring – but we will definitely start a few of each variety of peppers. We’ll have so many varieties this year, we won’t need to start many of each, and should still have a lot.

Assuming we have a good growing year in 2023!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 Garden: Veseys seed order is in

One more order of seeds is now done! This is actually our second order with Veseys for next year’s garden.

We had intended to order our potatoes from here, as they have varieties we tried two years ago we really liked. Unfortunately, all their potatoes are currently listed as sold out. There were issues with this last year, when no potatoes were allowed to be sold out of PEI. I’d hope that wouldn’t be an issue, this year! This order ended up being just seeds. No trees or other such things that would be shipped in the spring.

One thing I noticed with their new inventory for 2023 is that their seed prices have increased substantially. I’ve seen increased prices across the board and was expecting it, but the increase seems quite a bit higher here. High enough that it actually affected some of our purchasing decisions.

As with our other seed orders, we have purchased a few things we’ve bought before. This includes the Pixie melon that we enjoyed so much the first year we grew melons, but weren’t able to save seed for, Lakeside spinach, one of three varieties we’d purchased as a collection, Lewis green beans and Merlin beets.

These are the new items and varieties we’ve ordered this time. All images belong to Veseys.

Purple Queen Improved Bean

The first variety of purple bush bean we’d ordered before did very well, even under drought conditions. In fact, all the purple items we ordered did better. I didn’t see it listed anymore, so I decided to try this similar one. The description notes that it has “amazing flavour”.

Red Swan Bush Bean.

These are noted for their exceptionally high yields, and long production season. It can be used as a fresh bean or a cooking (shelling) bean. I will have to remember to leave some of them specifically for shelling, while harvesting others fresh, so we can try it both ways.

Custard Bean

A new variety of yellow bush bean to try that’s noted for being prolific.

Yeah, we’ve got a LOT of beans on order this year. I like to have the different colours, and a mix of types to try. With how prolific these and the other varieties are supposed to be, we don’t have to plant a lot of each. There tends to be quite a lot of seeds in each packet, so we can likely have enough to last us 2 or 3 years, at least.

Dalvay Peas.

This variety of shelling pea is noted for its long pods, well filled with at least 10 peas per pod, and sweet flavour. We’ve had poor results with peas for the past two years, due to weather conditions, and I’d really, really love to finally have more than a snack’s worth of fresh peas! 😁

Sarah’s Choice melon.

This variety is described as the most flavourful in Vesey’s trials, and matures in only 76 days. Our first year growing melons was better than expected, while the second year’s melons were flooded out, so I’m really hoping we have cooperative weather for 2023. We really like melons in this household!

Honeyboat Delicata Squash

I’ve been hearing rave reviews for Delicata squash, but I also saw warnings that they were not a good storage squash. So when I saw this variety was noted as high yielding and a great storage variety, I figured it was worth a try!

Talon Onion

I was planning to get the Oneida onion again, but choked at the price increase, so I picked these, instead. They are described as a great storage onion that does well in dry conditions, and matures 85 days after transplant.

Ambition Shallot

I was going to try the Conservor shallots again, but the price increase was even higher than the Oneida onions. There was another variety that interested me, but it was already sold out. We’ve had no luck growing shallots from seed so far. Our first attempts were destroyed by cats, and the second by flooding that even killed off the shallots we planted from sets. This variety is supposed to be easy to grow, and store extremely well. Here’s hoping we succeed this time!

Cheyenne Pepper

While we have quite a few varieties of sweet peppers, my daughter requested we get a hot variety, too. This is a high yielding variety of cayenne pepper that is ideal for growing in a pot.

Naval Carrot

I was happy with the Napoli carrots we’ve ordered before – I got two years out of the amount of pelleted seeds we got. However, their smallest size packets currently available was more than we needed, so I chose this variety, instead. It is described as keeping its sweet flavour even after months in storage, and as easy to harvest.

Espresso Corn

We actually discussed not doing corn again for 2023, and waiting until we had better soil conditions for such a nitrogen hungry plant, but I think I know where I want to grow these where they should do quite well – I hope! This variety matures in only 67 days, which solves another of our problems, too.

Classic Eggplant.

Yes, we have the Little Finger Eggplant, with their long, narrow shape, but I thought it would be good to have the more traditional type as well. It is described as having “tremendous yields”, and matures in only 75-80 days, so they should work out well.

Roma VF Tomato

Yes, we saved seed from the Cup of Moldova Paste tomato, and we do want to keep that rare variety growing, but they weren’t exactly a flavour power house. At least that’s what my daughter tells me (I can’t eat non-processed tomatoes). I still want a paste tomato, so I chose this Roma variety. I don’t know what the VF stands for, but they are supposed to be quite prolific, and mature about 75 days from transplant.

Lemon Grass

Another request from my daughters, for our culinary herb garden. It has a hardiness zone of 8-9, though, so this is going to be grown in a pot, and in a very sheltered area. I know just the micro climate spot to put it in!

German Winter Thyme

This culinary variety (they also had ground cover varieties) is a bit hardier, but still a zone 4 – 8, which means it will likely be in a pot, too.

And that’s it for this order – and for any other orders until next month’s budget! Those most of what’s left that we want to get is stuff like potatoes, and more sea buckthorn to replace the ones that died – stuff that won’t be shipped until spring. Still, we don’t want to wait to long to order them, as I expect things will be selling out quickly.

We’re ordering a lot more seeds than we actually need, but if there’s one thing we learned from our 2022 garden, it’s that it’s well worth planting more than we think will be enough. In fact, we planted with that in mind, and it still didn’t cut it!

Nature can be brutal.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: Baker Creek seed order is in

For most things, I try to order from Canadian seed companies. The chances of success is higher, for starters. Plus, there’s the dollar difference. Baker Creek has some pretty incredible stuff, though, so I’m ordering from them again this year. I don’t know if I’ll keep it up, though; orders higher than $20 will now get charged customs duty. I’ll see how much that turns out to be before I decide if it’s worth buying from the US again.

As with our Heritage Harvest order, there are some things I am ordering again. This includes the Red of Florence onion, Uzbeck Golden carrot (last time, these were the free seeds our order came with), plus both the Kakai and Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins.

New with this order, we will be getting:

Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify

Yes, you read that right. The same variety of salsify that I ordered from Heritage Harvest. And yet, they look quite different, as is the taste description. I figured we can try both and see if there really is a difference, and which one we like better.

Indigo Blue Chocolate Tomato

An indeterminate variety for my tomato loving husband and daughter, for fresh eating.

Black Beauty Tomato

Another variety for my husband and daughter for fresh eating. The description neglects to mention if it’s a determinate or indeterminate variety, but apparently they are extremely tasty, and only 80 days to maturity. The description even says the flavour even improves with room temperature storage.

Sweet Chocolate Pepper

We’re going to have a lot of varieties of peppers this year! These are supposed to mature in 75 days, which should not be a problem for our area. I figure if we grow a few of each variety, we’ll know which ones we like best to narrow it down to in the future.

Well. My husband and older daughter will know. My younger daughter and I don’t like peppers.

African Drum Gourd

Have I mentioned I’m a sucker for punishment? And that I’m determined to grow gourds?

They can reach maturity in 90-140 days, so there is a possibility that it will work here. We have a growing season of about 110 days, on average.

On top of these, our order qualified for 2 free packets of seeds. It should be interesting to see what we get!

So that’s it for our Baker Creek order. I’ll be placing at least one more order for our 2023 before the end of November, but that order will include things that won’t be shipped until spring.

I think these planning stages can be some of the most fun in gardening!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: Heritage Harvest seed order in

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

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

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

New for 2023 are:

Red Warty Thing.

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

Pink Banana Squash.

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

Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify.

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

Red Wethersfield Onion.

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

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

Chamomile.

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

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

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: first order in, with Veseys

We haven’t even done a thorough assessment of our 2022 garden, nor fully decided what we plan to grow next year, but I’ve gone ahead and made our first order for next year’s garden, today.

The main reason is, there are things I wanted to order before they have a chance to be out of stock. Particularly with trees for the food forest we are slowly developing. These will be shipped in the spring, and we won’t be billed until they are shipped. I ordered seeds as well, because I used a sponsor promo code from Maritime Gardening, which gives free shipping if there is at least one package of seeds in the order.

This is what I ordered today. All images belong to Veseys, and links will open in new tabs, so you don’t lose your place. 😊

The new Trader Everbearing Mulberry is the main reason I wanted to place an order right away. We tried a different variety before, that promptly got killed by an unusually cold night shortly after it was planted. Cold enough that even if we had this variety, it likely would not have survived, so soon after being planted.

Here is the description from the site (in case you’re reading this years later, and the link is dead).

Morus alba x rubra. There are so many things to love about ‘Trader’ Everbearing Mulberry! First, the tree itself is absolutely beautiful and can be grown as a single trunk or multi-stemmed shrub. Big, glossy black fruit are present throughout the summer and are an irresistible blend of sweet and tart. Even the leaves are starting to be considered a super-food and can be made into a powerfully healing tea. ‘Trader’ is winter hardy (Zone 3-4), vigorous, long-lived and disease and pest resistant.  We ship 8-12″ non-grafted tree.

Please note: Due to a crop shortage, we are not able to supply the Mulberry in a 3.5″ pot. We can supply in a 2.5″ pot. Since these are smaller, we will send 2 of the smaller size for spring 2023.

That last bit about pot sizes is another reason we wanted to order the mulberry right away. They may be smaller, but we’ll be getting two trees for the price of one. Which means chances are better for at least one of them to survive!

The other tree we ordered was Liberty Apple. From the website:

Malus. Superlative variety resistant to a host of diseases. This apple has outstanding flavour and is aromatic and juicy. The conical red fruit is among the very best and as an added bonus is excellent for cider. Crispy, juicy apples right in your back yard. Good Scab resistance, making them much easier to look after. For best results, two varieties should be planted. We are offering 1 yr. whips. approximately 18-24″ in height which have been grafted onto hardy rootstock. They should mature to about 15-18 ft. Hardy to zone 4.

Yes, it says zone 4 and we are zone 3, but we will just have to take extra care in where it’s planted, and to protect it while it’s small. We have crab apple trees, but no regular apples. One apple tree should be enough to provide for our needs, and the crab apples will be the second variety pollinator.

Then there are the seeds.

While we didn’t have much to show for peppers this past summer, that had more to do with our horrible growing year in general. My pepper loving daughter had thought we would be ordering several varieties for this past year, but I’d only ordered the one type. I think we learned enough about growing them to order more varieties, so I ordered a sweet bell pepper combo.

This is Vesey’s Sweet Pepper collection, and here is their description:

A few of our favourite sweet peppers! This collection contains 3 pkgs, 1 each of Early SunsationEarly Summer and Dragonfly sweet peppers.

Early Sunsation: Bright yellow and big. Very heavy yielding with thick, juicy walls. This variety stays nice and crisp even when fully yellow. 3 lobed fruit. Resistant to Bacterial Leaf Spot races 1-3. 65 days to green; 80 days to yellow from transplanting.

Early Summer: Elite, early and extra large! Early summer is an early maturing, yellow bell pepper. The fruit are large at 5″ and an elite disease resistance package gives Early Summer a winning combination.

Dragonfly: Sweet and colourful. Dragonfly’s early production was a standout for our trial staff. Fruit emerges green and turns deep purple when mature. Dragonfly continues to produce fruit into the fall even after temperatures have dropped.

The Early Summer is new to Veseys for the 2023 growing season.

There was another new for 2023 item I just had to order.

The Caveman’s Club Gourd! This is definitely something for the “just for fun” list. 😁

Truly different! This 12-16″ gourd produces a dark green, ridged, alien-like, bulbous fruit that are not like anything we have seen before! Growing them on a trellis ensures a straight neck. Plant early for best results. Matures in 120 days. Approx. 15 seeds/pkg.

I just couldn’t resist. This will be an ideal thing to try growing on the new trellis tunnels we will be building in the spring.

After we’ve taken the time to assess things from our 2022 garden, then gone through what seeds we still have, we’ll start making final decisions about what else we want to order for the 2023 growing season. One thing we will almost certainly be ordering are different raspberry bushes, that mature at different times. Any raspberries we order won’t start producing until their second year, so what we order to plant in 2023 will be to have raspberries in 2024. As we add to our perennial food producers, while still staying in budget, it’s a balancing act between ordering things that will take years before they start producing, like the apple and mulberry trees, and things that will start producing more quickly, like the raspberries.

Little by little, though, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: harvesting sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)

Yes, here we are, Oct. 9, and there’s still things to harvest!

Well… half a harvest.

I’d been leaving the sunchokes along, and this is how they look after being hit by frost, then rain, then more frost. This being Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, I decided to go ahead and harvest some of them to include in our meal. There were ten of them planted, and I decided to only harvest the nearer five.

I was a bit surprised by how they looked. A lot whiter than I expected, but that may be because they never got to reach their full size during this crazy growing year we had. This bed is right next to where some of the longest lasting flooded areas in the yard this spring. The bed was slightly raised, which was probably the only thing that saved them.

There wasn’t a lot to harvest, and I also made sure to rebury at least one of the largest tubers under each plant, for next year.

As for the plants, I did a chop and drop. I’ll add more mulch to this bed before things freeze over, too.

To prepare them, since they were so fresh, I basically just scrubbed them. I’ve never tasted sunchokes before. These are supposed to be edible raw, so I made sure to try a piece. I don’t know how to describe the taste, other than “mild”. There’s nothing else I can compare it to in flavour.

I added them to the other vegetables that I tossed with olive oil and seasonings. I liked them better roasted. They take on other flavours very well. Roasted, they have a very smooth texture. All four of us liked them, which seems to be a rare thing!

If all goes well, we will have a larger harvest of them next year. 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: harvesting carrots and turnips.

It was a chilly night last night, with temperatures dipping below freezing. As I write this, we’re at 3C/37F – just under our predicted high of the day.

It was actually very pleasant out there!

With a few frosts already past, I decided it was time to harvest the carrots.

This is all of them.

Plus the Purple Prince turnips – the only turnip variety of the three we planted this spring, that survived. Barely. Their greens were constantly munched on by insects. I’m not sure why I even bothered to harvest them. They’re so small, a lot of them got left behind in the bed, then still more went into compost when I trimmed their greens. Not much of a harvest there.

I’m surprised by the Uzbek Golden carrots, which were from a free seed packet. A lot of them were much larger than I expected.

The Black Nebula carrots where more difficult to harvest. Even with several years of amendments, the soil still gets pretty compacted, and these guys get long. It took quite a bit to dig them out!

Well, that didn’t take long… 😅

We are expected to dip to -4C/25F tonight, so these needed to be set up indoors to cure – and the only place we had available in the sun room was covered with tomatoes, still.

Thankfully, they are all laid out on screens.

I was able to stack the screens with the tomatoes and gourds, then lay out the trimmed carrots. After a day or two, we’ll brush the dirt off and go over them. Several of the biggest Uzbek Golden carrots have split, but the Black Nebula look like they were a slug favorite. Quite a few had damage at their tops. The size variety among them is pretty surprising. Quite a few of them are really big around! From the photos, I expected long and narrow.

Once we’ve assessed their condition, we’ll decide how best to store or preserve them. I suspect blanching and freezing will be the best option for most of the Black Nebula carrots, while the Uzbeck golden will be kept in the kitchen for fresh eating first.

I haven’t actually tasted any of these yet! We did harvest a few Uzbeck golden for meals over the summer, but almost no Black Nebula, because even the little ones were hard to pull. I hope they taste as good!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: dehydrating tomatoes

Yes, we still have tomatoes!

A lot of the tomatoes we set up in the sun room are slowly ripening. There isn’t enough to bother cooking them into a sauce or whatever, but more than we can conveniently eat, so I’ve started dehydrating them in the oven.

It’s mostly Yellow Pear tomatoes that we have, and they are so small, I am dehydrating them on parchment paper. I had two baking sheets full, but when they were mostly dry and quite shrunken, I combined them into one.

That jar is all of them!

Once I’d combined the Yellow Pear tomatoes, I set up a cooling rack and started dehydrating some Cup of Moldova tomatoes. Once the Yellow Pear tomatoes were done, I filled the baking sheet again with more of them. That finished off what I’d picked earlier, but this morning I gathered more ripe tomatoes!

I am considering powdering the yellow tomatoes, and doing some of the red ones in olive oil. Or just powdering the whole lot of them. They’ll take up less space that way. It’ll be a while before they’re all dehydrated, so I have time to decide.

As I’m writing this, I am hearing the wind pick up outside, and the trees are starting to get whipped about. While today’s high is supposed to be 17C/63F, tomorrow is supposed to have a high of only 3C/37F. Tonight’s low is supposed to be 1C/34F, but tomorrow night we’re supposed to drop to -3C/27F.

And yet, we’re still getting fresh tomatoes! 😁

The Re-Farmer