Our 2022 garden: winter sowing experiment

I was inspired by WolfSong to try something new – and help with that urge to be planting something already! Winter sowing.

Today, I finally got some seeds started.

We’ve been keeping a variety of plastic bottles and jugs for potential garden use. We’ve got mostly the blue water bottles. The distilled water we get for my husband’s CPAP used to come in the same type of jug as milk does, but suddenly all the brands seemed to switch to those blue bottles, all at once. Which was a problem, at first, because many of them no longer had handles of any kind. It made it very awkward for my husband to fill his CPAP humidifier, as the sides would collapse inwards as he poured. He ended up transferring the water to an empty jug with a handle, to keep from splashing water all over his CPAP!

People must have complained, because the next time I had to buy distilled water, the bottles had handles attached to their tops.

We have 4 different types of jugs, including two styles of juice bottles. I decided to try one of each.

I’ve been cutting plastic containers to use in the garden for some time, and it’s a real pain, so today, I took the easy route.

My wood burning kit includes a knife tip. The heated tip makes it SO much easier!

I started by cutting drainage holes in the bottoms, and air circulation holes at the tops, by inserting the knife through the plastic, then giving it a bit of a twist to widen the hole.

Then the jugs were cut most of the way around. With each jug having a different design, they each were cut at different spots.

How much was left uncut to create a hinge depended on how much of a flat area there was. Which, in the case of the blue jug, meant none at all, but that plastic was soft enough that it could still work. The juice jugs are a heavy plastic, making them the most difficult to cut, while the water jug that is the same as milk jugs is such a soft plastic, the melted plastic of the cut edges actually stuck together again in places, and they had to be recut!

I’m hoping the blue bottles work the best, because we’re going to have so many of them.

Just to be on the safe side, the hinges were reinforced with strips of duct tape. For the jugs with distinct handles, the hinge was placed just under them, while the one with indentations to create a handle had the hinge placed above, so the container wouldn’t squish into itself if grabbed by the handle.

The handle of the blue jug is at the cap, so it didn’t matter on that one. I just followed one of the lines, just above the middle.

That done, it was time to put some soil in them.

They all fit in one of the baking trays we got last year, to make it easier to carry seedlings around. Especially the ones in the red Solo cups. Those have come in very handy. I plan to get more They are very inexpensive at Costco.

I had the seedling mix potting soil recently picked up to use for this. Once the soil was in, it all got thoroughly watered.

The water almost immediately all drained into the tray.

I watered them more, drained the water out of the tray and used it to water the soil again. After doing that a few times, I used a spray bottle on the soil surface, while leaving the bottoms to sit in water.

Even then, only the surface became moist. The soil mix was still bone try below.

I spent a bit of time, working on moistening the soil before leaving it to sit while preparing the seeds.

I had already decided to try starting kohl rabi indoors, as our attempts to direct sow them outdoors last spring failed completely. It was the same with the kale. All I can think is that something ate the sprouts as soon as they emerged. It was the second year I’d tried kohl rabi, and the first year’s attempt also failed, with only a few plants surviving, only to be decimated by cabbage moths and flea beetles.

So this time, we’ll go with transplants and, if it works, we’ll be making sure to protect them from both critters and creepy crawlies!

Bahahahahahaha!!!!

Okay, I do remember, while going through our seed inventory, looking into the packet for Early White Vienna kohl rabi, seeing a few seeds, and deciding to keep them. Until today, I didn’t realize where was only five seeds left!

Once the seeds and their labels (strips of masking tape) were ready, I used a chopstick to make evenly spaced holes in the soil for the seeds.

Then I used the spray bottle to water into the holes, because it was still so dry under the top layer!

Because of the different shapes, they each fit a different number of holes in the soil for seeds. The jug with the indented sides for a handle meant it had space for only five holes, so that’s where I planted those five, lonely White Vienna Kohl rabi seeds. Being 2 years old, we may well have none at all germinate, but who knows? The white jug had room for the most seed holes, so that’s where the Russian Red kale went. The last two got the Early Purple kohl rabi seeds.

Once the seeds were in, covered, watered with a spray bottle, labels affixed, it was time to close the containers.

I used packing tape to close up the jubs. The tape is enough to hold them together while the jugs are being carried, but to also be easy to remove, later on.

At least I hope they’ll be easy to remove!

The tray was drained again, then it was time to take them outside.

There we have it. Four different jugs, sown with kale and kohl rabi.

I’m leaving the caps on, since they have air circulation holes, but if the holes turn out to be too small, I might still take them off. We shall see.

I had originally planned to leave the jugs somewhere else, but decided that first spot was not visible enough. I had to consider things like cat and deer traffic, as well as where we shovel the snow from the paths. Hopefully, this spot will be easy to monitor, and they won’t get knocked about by critters. They will also get lots of sunlight, too.

Not that you can tell in the above photos. It wasn’t even 6pm yet, but it was full dark when I set these out!

I still have kale and purple kohl rabi seeds left. I might try starting some indoors, when we start other seeds, then direct sowing the last of seeds. That would give us a chance to compare all three methods.

It should be interesting to see how these do!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; fall planting, and shallot surprise

Now that it’s “cooled off” again to 32C/90F (feels like 34C/93F), I headed back to the garden to remove the shade clothes and get those photos I promised.

Our surviving (barely) French Breakfast radishes, and rainbow chard.

Now that one of the beds has a window screen mesh covering it, I decided to take a chance.

I planted lettuces.

On the far left are the surviving purple kohlrabi, and in the middle are radishes. I forget which variety at the moment.

I had our four varieties of lettuce together in a slide lock bag, and they spilled a bit, so I planted the mixed up seeds at the bottom of the bag. So we are going to have lettuce surprise when they start to sprout!

Moving the cover on and off is still a two person job. The length of the cover makes it a bit too wobbly. We definitely need to make the permanent beds shorter, just for that!

A nice thing about the window screen mesh is that it slows down and breaks up the water, so it lands more gently. We don’t have the hose nozzle set on anything high pressure, but these surviving seedlings are still spindly and weak from being under those water bottle covers to protect them from insects and critters. With the mesh covering the ends, I have at least some hope that these lettuces will have a chance to survive. At this point, it’s the grasshoppers, more than the critters, that are an issue.

Once this was done, I decided to harvest the shallots. I’d been weeding the bed while watering this morning and accidentally pulled one up. I didn’t think they were doing well; many of the green parts had withered away completely, and I could no longer see where they were, while others just looked like they were struggling. The one I accidentally pulled up looked surprisingly large, so I left it there, to collect with the others this evening.

I was very pleasantly surprised!

As I started digging them up, I found they were much larger than expected. The one way at the far end in the photo is almost as big as an onion!

Then I accidentally dug up a shallot there there was no sign of any growing there anymore, and it was far larger than I expected, too. So I went back over the row and dug into each spot I knew I’d planted a shallot, and found several more! They are the smaller ones with no, or almost no, stems.

For now, they sit on a window screen, raised up on bricks for air circulation, to cure for a while. I’m quite pleased with what we got. Our original shallots, started from seed, were destroyed by the cats, so these ones are from sets I bought at the grocery store. There was only a dozen sets per bag, so I got two bags. A far cry from how many we would have had, if the ones from seed had survived, but way better than nothing at all! This is just awesome!

Tomorrow morning, I think I will start harvesting some of the onions. They are not all ready, but some of them definitely are. We have quite a lot of them, so I don’t mind harvesting and curing them in batches!

Being able to harvest things already, and even plant things for a fall harvest, kinda makes up for all the problems we’ve been having with the drought, critters and insects! We may not have as much as we hoped to in the spring, but we will still have food to harvest, and that’s the important part!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; new seedlings – plus critters

Today, with repeated warnings for thunderstorms, and even the sound of thunder in the distance, we got only a smattering of rain this afternoon. Barely enough to get the ground a bit wet. 😦 At least we’re a couple of degrees cooler than forecast. With the conditions we’ve had this year, our Rural Municipality officially declared an agricultural emergency. We had one last year, and I seem to remember there was an attempt by the province to declare one the year before, but it was rejected by the federal government. When I was growing up here, there were no such declarations. Whatever federal funding programs that are now available were brought in while we were living elsewhere, in cities.

It was during one of those times our skies were spitting a bit of moisture that I headed outside for a bit and made a point of checking the newly planted beds. Happily, we now have more seedlings appearing!

Yes, these pictures were all taken after there was some rain. :-/

Both types of chard are showing seedlings, though I only took a photo of the one type.

It would be awesome if we FINALLY got some kohlrabi! We will be taken extra steps to try to protect these beds, since what’s growing in them are favoured by all kinds of critters. The red flakes you see on the ground around the seedlings are hot pepper flakes, which we hope will deter critters better than the sprays and granules we’ve bought.

Which leads me to why I headed outside.

I saw the woodchuck out by the old compost pile again.

Yes, I sprinkled the new mystery squash seedlings growing in there with hot pepper flakes, too.

As I came out, the woodchuck watched me for a while before finally running off and into…

*sigh*

…the old burrow we thought had finally been abandoned. We’re still running water into it, and collapsing the entrance little by little. The entrance is not being cleared, but they’re still squeezing in.

After seeing the woodchuck go in, I went and raided my kitchen cupboards again and dragged out a package of whole, dehydrated hot peppers. After giving them a rough chop, I scattered them in and around the opening.

At some point, we will be sure enough of it being empty, that we can finally fill it in. :-/

While heading back inside, I did get a chance to play with some more pleasant critters. Butterscotch’s junk pile babies!

Three of them like to come out to play with the stick, though they still won’t come close enough to touch. There’s that one tabby, hidden in the background, that just will not come closer.

I saw Rozencrantz’s babies – the other junk pile babies! – today, too, though I couldn’t get any pictures. The one that looks like Nicky the Nose is a bit braver and doesn’t run off until it’s sure if I’m coming closer. They like to play in the soil the cucamelons and gourds are planted. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except that I’ve caught them actively digging into the edge of the bed! At least they’re not digging near the plants, themselves. :-/

While we are still getting thunderstorm warnings, when I look at the hourly forecast, the warnings disappear. Instead, we will have sun and clouds for a few hours, and then it switches to “smoke”, all night. There are quite a few wildfires in the province right now, including about 5 that are listed as out of control, but none are near our area. Fire risk, of course, remains high so we are still under a total burn ban. It looks like we won’t get to test out the firepit grill my brother and his wife got for us this year at all, nor the big BBQ that they passed on to us after getting a smaller one for themselves.

Maybe we’ll get a chance to use them in the winter!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; summer sowing

Finally! I got the summer sowing done, in all three empty beds. 🙂

Before I started on that, though, I made another attempt at trying to keep the woodchuck out of our carrot beds.

I’d read the Epsom salts are a thing they don’t like, while also being good for the garden. We didn’t have a lot left, so one of the beds was a bit sparser. We shall see if it helps, any.

Then I got to work on the first empty bed. This is the one that’s slightly wider, and that I’d already started to prep, and sized the mesh cover for.

I laid the board down as something to walk on, when we tend it later. The piece of scrap wood in the middle is a divider. In the foreground, I planted the Bright Lights Swiss Chard, and on the other side of the divider are French Breakfast radishes, with two short rows of each.

The tool you see in the middle is what I’m using as a hoe. The metal is quite thin, compared to most garden tools. If anyone knows what that is called, I’d love to know!

The second bed got three things planted in it.

Towards the middle of the bed is one long row of Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard.

You know, I hope we actually like Chard. 😀

The row on the outside has Cherry Belle radish in the foreground, and on the far side of the brick is the Russian Red kale.

In the last bed, the Early Purple Vienna kohlrabi are planted on the outside, and Champion radish is planted on this inside.

Later in the month, these beds will have spinach and lettuces planted in them. The kale is a frost hardy plant and I’ve read it tastes better after being hit with a frost. I planted the radishes sparsely, as they can get quite big when allowed to go to pod. We can start harvesting the chard in less than a month, and they should be done before first frost. By putting the taller plants that will be there for the rest of the growing season on the west side, I hope that they will help provide shade for the lettuces and spinach, and we can maybe plant them a bit earlier, as long as the soil doesn’t get too warm for germination.

We will have to monitor all our beds frequently. In the last little while, we’ve seen quite an increase in grasshoppers. Some people in the local gardening groups I’m on have had major problems with them, and they seem to be slowly making their way north.

I admit, this one was rather cute. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this sort of colour before!! I find myself wondering if this is grasshopper albinism, or a species that happens to be almost white in colour!

With the seeds sown, I worked on weeding around one of the onion beds for a while, then dragged my aching butt over to the water barrel at the furthest garden bed to fill it. The spray plastic coating we’d used to seal cracks had started to come loose on the inside, so I went to pull it off while I was filling the watering can. A huge chunk peeled off, and the barrel promptly started to leak at one of the cracks. We still have a bit of the silicon sealant left, so last night, I patched the crack. It should be cured by now, and I wanted to refill the barrel with water. That was when my daughter came out to let me know she needed to pick up a parcel in the mail and go to the grocery store in town, so I set that aside and headed in. Not before I got her to help me position the adapted wire mesh cover.

I had deliberately planted everything in shorter rows, leaving a lot of empty space at the ends of the beds, because of the length of these covers. We set the cover as far to one side as we could, and I was happy to find the row lengths worked out just right. They are completely covered, and the cross pieces at each end are beyond the ends of the rows, so no seedlings will be squished.

Then it was off to town with my daughter, with a quick stop at the post office along the way. I took advantage of the trip to pick up a few things at the grocery store and, as I was wandering down the aisles with the shopping cart, I suddenly realized I was getting the shakes and feeling dizzy. Usually I have to use the shopping cart as a walker because my knees will suddenly dislocate or a hip will give out, but this time, I was using it to not fall over. It took me a while to realize what was going on.

I’d forgotten to eat again.

*sigh*

I did have breakfast, but it was a small meal, and after I finished my last blog post, I headed straight out to work on the garden. It was well past lunch time by then. Had my daughter not come out to get me, I would have been out there for quite a while longer before noticing anything was wrong. Thankfully, I was able to grab something I could eat in the car while my daughter drove home.

Sometimes I’m an idiot, but I enjoy the work so much, I didn’t notice the time or how long it had been since I’d had anything to eat or drink.

I had been planning to go out again and do some weeding, or dig through some sheds to see what I can salvage to make another row cover, but I think that will have to wait until tomorrow.

The Re-Farmer

Growing things

When we got that one really cold night in late May, most things survived (the new mulberry sapling, sadly, did not) just fine. However, anything that was budding lost their flowers. Including almost all of the lilacs.

This Korean lilac usually blooms after the common lilac, but with the warmth we’d had earlier in May, it was starting to bud, too. This morning, I found this single spray of flowers blooming on it. It does look like it may be putting out more buds, though. We won’t get the mass of tiny flowers that is usual for this lilac this year, but there will be some, at least.

Then there’s this poor mock orange, by the laundry platform. February’s deep freeze had already decimated it. More of it has died off since the May frost. Yet this thing is amazingly resilient, and it now blooming!

I want to transplant this to a more protected location, once we figure out where that is. There is another on the East side of the house that didn’t get as damaged by the May frost, however it isn’t thriving there, either. Too dry against the house, and sunlight only in the morning. It is also starting to bloom, but like its leaves, the flowers are much smaller. We can water it regularly, but there isn’t much we can do about the lack of sunlight, so I figure that one will get transplanted, too, at some point.

The little furry flowers are growing, too! (The fourth one was playing the the bushes, so I couldn’t get a photo of it.)

When I put food out in the mornings, Butterscotch is at the kibble house along with the other yard cats, but these guys are learning to come out to their own food and water in the mornings now, too.

At the squash tunnel, I found our first Pixie melon flower!

We definitively need to get more mesh soon for that last section of the tunnel. The Halona melons are getting tall enough that we’ll need to start training them up the tunnel walls, in a very short while.

These are in the carrot bed in the old kitchen garden. They are growing where the white kohlrabi was planted. I’m hoping that’s what they are, and not just some similar looking plant of my mother’s, pushing its way through! 😀 This little garden always had a variety of things growing in it, but mostly flowers. Very determined flowers! When we first cleaned out this garden, then laid down cardboard and layers of straw, leaf litter and grass clippings, many still managed to push their way through. In digging out by the house to make the path, then building the beds we planted in this year, during which I removed many, many roots, you’d think that would have set them back, but no. They’re pushing their way through soil paths, the straw paths, and even the deeper soil of the new beds. It would be rather impressive, if they were not so invasive, and crowding out our vegetables!

Still, it’s nice to see all the growing things. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: more beets and carrots

So my darling daughters did some planting, while I fell asleep in a bed full of cats. 😀

The plastic covered bed in the foreground is two types of carrots, plus the kohlrabi seeds from last year.

The plastic covered bed in the background is the beets, including seeds from last year, so there are 4 types of beets in there, all planted in short rows. They also planted the purple kohlrabi in between the yellow onions and shallots. I’m quite excited about those!

While the girls finished up watering the seeds and covering them, I filled the paths with the old flax straw and, when that ran out, the wheat straw we still hadn’t moved off the septic tank, right around the corner or the old kitchen. I tried to pile it more against the sides of the beds than the middles, for erosion control. I think it’ll do the job for this year.

The L shaped bed has nothing in it!

There are still beet seeds from last year. I think maybe I’ll mix them up and scatter them, and we’ll have beet surprise! My daughter didn’t want to plant beets in there because she’s thinking the deer will get at them. We can protect the ones by the retaining wall more easily, but I’m sure I can come up with something to help protect them from hungry deer. Especially right in the middle of the garden like that. We still have pelleted carrot seeds left. The deer don’t like carrots, so interplanting the two might help as well.

Hhmm. We even still have some Merlin beet seeds left over from planting by the garlic beds. I could mix those in, too. I know the girls really like beets, so having lots will not be a problem. 🙂

Speaking of the Merlin beets.

The plastic was blowing loose from the hoops over the Merlin beets, so we fixed those up a bit.

We cut about 1/3rd of the hoops off, then put them back on their sticks. The excess plastic on the sides were then wrapped around a couple of boards from the junk pile, to keep them from blowing around. Much better than the small rocks I was using before. It meant not needing the lengths of hose on the centre hoop, so those got added to secure the ends more.

This plastic is really, really thin – not at all the kind of plastic one would normally use as row covers – but it seems to be holding out okay. We’re even reusing pieces from last year, plus we still have quite a bit on the two rolls we found while cleaning up, if we need more.

After this, we prep a block for the corn that gets planted early, then I should be able to take a day or two off from hauling loads of soil. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Holy Kohlrabi!

One of the things we planted this spring was a couple of rows of kohl rabi (or is it kohlrabi? I have seen it both ways…).

They have not done well.

Of all that we planted, there were about 4 surviving plants that sprouted.

Of those, a couple got et by deer.

The last two, however, were getting quite big and leafy and looking to have some potential, though there was as yet no sign of a bulb forming.

Then, something got at them.

At first, it looked like the caterpillars from cabbage moths. I found a whole bunch on the underside of the leaves, wreaking havoc, and got rid of them.

Soon after, however, the leaves were looking even worse.

I took this picture yesterday. These are the culprits.

The leaves are absolutely infested with these teeny, tiny black beetles.

I hosed them off after taking the picture, but when I checked them today, they were back, and there’s hardly anything left of the leaves, but the veins and stems.

So… kohl rabi is a bust for our garden!

Darn. I was looking forward to having our own. It’s one of those “treat” vegetables that we buy only once in a while.

At least whatever those beetles are, they are completely uninterested in anything else we’re growing.

The Re-Farmer

How does the garden(s) grow?

I realized I’ve neglected to take progress photos of some of our garden beds, so I got a few this morning.

Here are our two potato beds.

I was shooting blind, because my phone’s screen went completely black in the sunlight. Still, you can see the potatoes among the mulch, separated by a path of grass. Some have bloomed and the plants are starting to die back. We could probably harvest baby potatoes now, if we felt like digging under the layer of straw. I’ve never grown potatoes this way, so it should be interesting to see how they did.

This next photo is the second squash bed.

I just happened to catch a locust flying by in the picture!

We are currently inundated with grasshoppers and locusts right now. Hopefully, they won’t eat up too many of our vegetable plants.

This second bed is the one we planted the day after we were hit with one last frost. The sunburst squash are huge, with many flowers and many little squashes. The mixed summer squash has a couple of plants that are doing well. Interestingly, it seems that plants on the south end of the bed are struggling more than the ones at the north end, rather than any particular type of squash having a more difficult time.

Here is the first bed that got planted.

These are the ones that got frost damaged, even though we had covered them for the night. Some died completely, but a surprising number have managed to survive – with some downright thriving!

This picture is the same bed, from the other end.

The transplants had died at this end, so when some gourds in the seed tray actually germinated, I transplanted them here. Three of them are marked with bamboo poles. Much to my surprise, the one that got dug up by a skunk digging for grubs is surviving. Given how late they germinated and got transplanted, I’m not actually expecting much from them at all, but it will be interesting to see how much the manage to grow.

Then there are the pumpkins.

These were from seeds that were being given away for free at the grocery store near my mother. I had taken one (it even had a sign asking people to take only one), and then my mother gave me two more. Clearly, she didn’t read the sign, because she still had a pack she kept for herself and planted in her own little garden plot that she has this year!

The pumpkin in the above photo is the one from a pack that had 5 seeds in it (the others had 3 seeds). This is the only one of the 5 that germinated, and it came up much later than the ones that germinated in the other two mounds. One mound had 2 seeds germinate.

In spite of such late germination, this one is probably the biggest of the bunch.

It is also the Northernmost mound.

When we started planting here, I’d made a point of planting in the Northern 2/3rds of the area we had mulched. The south side of the area has a lot more shade from the spruces my parents had added to the north side of the maple grove. I didn’t even try planting at that end for that reason. The middle third of the area still gets a lot of sun, but the north third gets basically no shade at all, at any time of the day.

I think that might actually be why I’m seeing differences within the same beds of squash, and the pumpkin mounds.

Something to keep in mind for any future planting in here!

Then there are the beds we made where the old wood pile used to be.

This is the layout of what we planted here.

The beets we got were a collection with Merlin (a dark red), Boldor (golden yellow), and Chioggia (alternating rings of purple and white)

In the foreground, you can see the parsley bed in both photos. It is doing very well. To the left of the parsley bed are the deep purple carrots, with white satin carrots on the right. The carrots could be doing better, but overall, they’re okay.

In the midground of the photos, there is a bed of rainbow carrots above the parsley bed, and beets on either side . Another bed of beets is in the background, beyond the rainbow carrots.

I don’t know how well you can tell in the photos, but there are not a lot of beet greens. The deer have really done a number on them. 😦 We should still have some to harvest, though.

Of the two muskmelon we bought to transplant, one died. This is the survivor.

We planted a lot of kohl rabi, but this is all we have that came up and survived.

The large leaves that you are seeing are from 2 plants.

Yup. Out of all that we planted, only 2 survived.

Actually, there had been four.

It turns out that deer like kohl rabi, too. You can’t even see the second one that was nearby; it, too, was reduced to a spindly stem!

In case you are wondering about the plastic containers…

Those are what I used as cloches to cover the muskmelon overnight, to protect them from colder temperatures after transplanting. The containers used to hold Cheese Balls that we got at Costco. I just cut the tops off, then drilled holes around near the bases for air circulation.

I now have them set up near the surviving muskmelon and the kohl rabi. When watering the garden beds, I fill those with water. The water slowly drains out the holes I’d made for air circulation, giving a very thorough watering to the plants. The first time I’d tried this was with the muskmelon, which was pretty small and spindly. The next morning, it had grown noticeably bigger and stronger! So I put the second one by the struggling kohl rabi, and the difference the next day was just as dramatic.

Until the deer ate the two littlest ones.

This worked so well, I’m trying to think of ways to use other cloches we have, most made from 5 gallon water jugs I’d bought for the fish tank, to set up near some of the more struggling squashes.

This morning is the first time I’ve harvested some of the parsley, along with a few carrots. What I don’t use right away will be set up to dry. Which is what will happen with most of the parsley we planted, as we tend not to use fresh parsley all that much.

And now I’m going to stop struggling with our nasty internet connection, which really doesn’t like inserting photos right now, and start on the scalloped potatoes I have planned for supper. I think I’ll find a way to layer some carrots in with the potatoes, too! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Gardening progress

We’re having another wild and windy day! Still, stuff needs to get planted. I made a quick trip into town and my errands included stopping at the hardware store. Their garden centre was open, so I checked it out.

I couldn’t resist.

I bought some muskmelon transplants. Muskmelon is a type of cantaloupe that I remember we grew here when I was a kid. I absolutely loved them. I only got 2 plants, and we shall see how they do.

In preparation for today, my daughter and I made a bunch of markers to label our plantings.

We made one for each variety of seeds or transplants we have, plus an extra. The cucamelon don’t need one, since they are going to be completely separate from everything else.

We… won’t need to use all of them anymore.

I’ve been hardening off our seedlings. Because of the high winds, I’ve been leaving the trays inside the mini-greenhouse with the flap completely open – that way, they’d get some wind, but still be protected from the worst of it. I also put the mini-greenhouse in front of the old basement window, where it is more sheltered from the wind, and still gets full sun. When I brought home the new melon transplants, I tucked them into an empty shelf in the mini-greenhouse.

When it was time to start planting in the garden, I came out and found this.

My initial thought was that the wind had done this, but now that I think about it, I have changed my mind. If there were a wind enough to knock those trays – and their shelves – down, the whole thing would have been blown over.

I am now thinking a cat decided to go exploring.

Unfortunately, the squash seedlings are now all mixed up. The gourds still haven’t emerged, so at least we can guess that if there is no seedling, it’s a gourd, but there were still some other squash that hadn’t germinated.

I think the few fennel seeds that germinated and promptly bolted are a lost cause. 😦

Most disappointing.

Still, I’ll transplant what I can, tomorrow. One of the seed packets I got was a “surprise” mix. Now, they’re all going to be a surprise! 😀

This is where we focused on today.

Even though this area is turning out to be pretty well sheltered from the wind, there is still enough to really dry out the soil. I watered it earlier in the day, then watered it again before planting.

I also re-arranged the pieces of wood to make different sized beds, taking into account that I now have kohl rabi seeds and muskmelon transplants.

This is how it looks after the girls and I finished.

We still have seeds from the 3 varieties of beets, and kohl rabi left.

One of the things I’ve been doing is keeping the large plastic containers from some treats we sometimes get at Costco; cheese balls and pork rinds. I took two old cheese ball containers, drilled holes all around the sides near the bottom, then cut off the tops. I have a wood burning kit that includes a knife, and I used that to cut the tops off. Much better than hacking away at it with a utility knife or scissors! 😀 These are now being used as cloches for the melons, which are surrounded by a mulch of straw. The cloches are tipped a bit sideways right now, but I will put them down for the night, when I do my evening rounds. In the morning, I will tip them over again.

Before the melons grow much bigger, I plan to add a trellis of some kind for them to climb.

Once the seedlings emerge, we’ll remove the plastic and the boards. The seeds were planted with square foot gardening in mind, and after the boards are removed, I will most likely add straw in between the beds for foot paths. An odd problem to have here, is that the soil is so soft, we sink when we walk on it. Our usual problem is the opposite. 😀

Here’s a bit more about square foot gardening.

When we do get do building raised beds, they will be quite a bit taller than the ones made in the video, for accessibility requirements. For those, we plan to use materials to fill the beds that turn out to have a name. Hugelkultur.

Or maybe more like this…

Basically, we’ll use whatever we’ve got to fill the bases, then topping with a soil mix. It might be a few years before we reach this point, though.

There is still one section of the new garden plot with nothing planted, and that may just stay empty. Tonight, I’ll be prepping the area in the old garden, where we will be planting our squashes, so we can start transplanting tomorrow. Then we’ll focus on the sunflowers next. Depending on how things go, we might plant some of our leftover seeds from the beets and kohl rabi, elsewhere. There is still the old kitchen garden area available, so we’ll see how things turn out.

The Re-Farmer