Our 2022 garden: first corn!

I just had to start out with this bit of gardening excitement.

When checking the plants in the sun room this morning, I spotted our very first Kulli corn seeds germinating!

When I took the picture, I could only see a couple in this larger bin in the plant shelf. After uploading the photo, I spotted several more and … oh! I just spotted one more that I missed when putting the arrows in! It’s two pots to the left of the single arrow in the middle.

These are in the smaller bin that recently got moved to the platform we made over the swing bench, at the west facing window.

I am just so thrilled! For the new folks who just started following this blog (welcome! I’m happy to see you!), Kulli is a Peruvian purple-black corn, also called maiz morado, that I’m trying to grow in our zone. I thought I was trying them last year, but the information from where I bought them kept changing, and it turned out they were developed for cold hardiness in the US, but were not actually acclimated Kulli corn, as I originally thought. I found some Kulli seeds at Mary’s Heirloom Seeds, in Texas. They are supposed to be good both as a fresh eating corn, and as a flour corn. They are also used to make a drink called chicha morado, and as a dye. I have not been able to learn much about their native growing conditions, since Peru is so mountainous, and it’s hard to compare to our Canadian growing zones. This is why I am starting them indoors – not typically recommended for corn – to transplant. Plus, they take 120 days to maturity. Our growing season, from last frost in the spring to first frost in the fall, averages 100 days.

This is a pet project of mine, in that I would like to acclimate the variety to our growing zone (if that’s even needed). These will be kept well away from other varieties of corn. Starting them indoors also means they will pollinate earlier than the other varieties we’ll be growing this year. Between those two factors, there should be no cross pollination.

We’ll have to take extra care when transplanting these, to protect them from the critters.

I saw my first ground hog running around, when I did my rounds this morning. I also saw a racoon in the kibble house about a week ago and, of course, the deer area always around. I’m not sure which critter destroyed our black corn last year, that had been doing so well.

Must protect the corn babies! 🙂

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.


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

Our 2022 garden: Mary’s Heirloom Seeds – they’re finally here!

After spending a strangely long time in Illinois, our seed order from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds arrived today!

Yes!!! I now have the maize morado corn I thought I was getting from Baker Creek, based on the description and video they had at the time. Their name for the corn even changed at some point. It took quite a bit of searching, and I was very happy to find a source for these seeds. Since there were only 25 seeds per pack, I ordered four of them. For our purposes, planting only 25 seeds seems almost pointless. 😉 Plus, it was the only thing I was ordering from them, and with the cost of shipping, adding a few extra packets made it more worthwhile. Especially with ordering from the US and the dollar difference. I’m trying to focus more on Canadian sources, but none of them carry these seeds.

Last year, we started the Montana Morado/Mountain Morado corn indoors, then transplanting, and that ended up working very well. We will be doing that again. This year, however, we will work in making sure they are protected from critters, as much as we can, right from the start! I hope to be able to save seeds and, over time, acclimate them to our growing zone. This might take a few years, but I am determined! 😀

The corn was not the only thing in the package, though.

They also included some free seeds! 🙂 Dill Dukat. It’s not a variety I’ve heard of before. We’ve got dill seeds from plants my SIL gave us, but I’m more than happy to have another variety! From the description, these look like a good variety for harvesting more greens than the flowers or seeds, and I love dill greens!

I also really appreciate that they included the information insert for starting seeds. That was going the extra mile. 🙂

While I am working towards ordering seeds from within Canada more, if I do need to order from the US for something, this company is definitely staying at the top of my list. I’m quite happy with them!

The US postal service, on the other hand, seemed to be having difficulties. 😀

The Re-Farmer