Our 2022 garden: winter sowing, and transplants organized

During the winter, we tried a winter sowing experiment. We sowed seeds in 4 different styles of containers to see which would do better come springtime.

The answer is…

… none of them.

Not a single thing has germinated.

I think they froze. Our extended winter was probably a bit too much for them. People in some of my zone 3 gardening groups have had good success with their winter sowing, so I know the technique works. It just didn’t work for us, this year!

Will be try again next year?

Maybe. We’ll decide in the fall, I think.

When bringing the transplants in last night, I took the time to go through them all, organize them and get labels ready for today.

This morning, while taking them back outside, I gave them another once over, trying to figure out how I wanted to get them in. This is what we’ve got left to transplant.

This year, we have 3 surviving Crespo squash – and one of them was thinned out from another pot. These guys REALLY want to go into flower!

We did all right with the Styrian hulless pumpkins, with 4 surviving transplants.

The Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins did even better. There are 5 pots in there, but some of them have two or three plants – seeds started germinating later, after we started hardening off the plants!

The Kakai hulless pumpkin did not fare as well. There are only 2 of those.

The Baby Pam pumpkin did amazing. We’ve got 6 of them – a 100% germination rate! These are last year’s seeds, and last year, none of them germinated!

In the other bin are the two Little Finger eggplants I found among the squash and pumpkins, plus the two giant pumpkins started from free seeds given out at the grocery store near my mother’s place. We won’t be doing any of the pruning or special care to grow a competition sized pumpkin, but it should still be interesting to see how big they do get!

Here we have 3 pots each of winter squash, but some of the pots have 2 or 3 seedlings in them! We’ll decide what to do with them, as we are ready to transplant. I don’t like to “waste” strong, healthy seedlings, so they might all get transplanted. We shall see.

We’ve got 2 Apple gourds, for sure – these were from a second start, due to the Great Cat Crush. There are two others that are either more Apple gourds, or Ozark nest egg gourds. The writing faded on the labels.

We have quite a lot of ground cherries, and still have no idea where we are going to plant them!

Here are the last of the seedlings that were started at 4 weeks before last frost date. There are 4 green zucchini (the yellow zucchini and the Magda have already been planted), and 8 of the G-star patty pans, which we got through a happy mistake. The Teddy squash are from last year’s seeds, and these ones grow in a bush habit, rather than vining.

Then there are the three pots that have Yakteen gourds planted in them, but only one pot has seedlings – and a new one germinating again! That was one of the pots that got re-planted, because none germinated. The other round pot that has a label stuck in it was also replanted, but nothing has germinated. The middle round pot had Kakai pumpkins sown in it, which did not germinate, so I used the same pot for more Yakteen gourd seeds. Nothing. Very strange!

When it’s time to plant these, we’ll be trying to work them in groups or clusters, placing like away from like, as much as possible. At the same time, we want the summer squash to be easily accessible, which means not letting them get crowded by the sprawling winter squash! We’ll see how many we can fit into the area my daughter dug a grid of holes into.

It’s a littler over a weeks since our last average frost date, so hopefully, it’s not too late to be transplanting these. As you can tell by the yellowing leaves, they really need to be out of those pots and into the ground!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: eggplants, peppers, Wonderberry, and what a long day

It’s shortly before 8pm as I start this, and it’s all I can do not to just go to bed right now!

My day started a bit earlier, as I wanted to get my morning rounds taken care of before making some calls, then heading to the city. My husband and I now have medical appointments for the end of the week. We are both way overdue. Especially my husband.

Once that was done, I headed to the city, stopping to get gas at the town my mother lives in, first. Too early for their fried chicken to be available, so breakfast was a bag of beef jerky. 😀 Usually, I just get $20 or $30 in gas, but decided to fill. At 197.9/L $20 wasn’t going to get me much. It cost almost $55 for about a quarter tank.

Then I got to the city and the first gas stations I saw were at 207.9/L

That’s USD$6.24/US gallon.

As I got further into the city, I saw stations that were still at 196.9/L but it likely is just a matter of time before all the stations jump up in price.

It’s insane.

I’m sure glad I filled my tank earlier!

Today was our day to do the rest of our monthly stocking up, and I went to The Wholesale Club again for this trip. Ended up spending just over $400 there, and the only things that could be considered splurges were super long metal tongs, and a super long wooden spoon, for cooking over the firepit. Oh, and more 500ml, wide mouth canning jars for the stash. 😀

There were a couple of things they didn’t have in types and sizes that I wanted, so I went to a nearby Walmart. My splurges there were a heavy duty garden hose, and a fan for my window, to replace the box fan that broke last year. The garden hose was actually a bit cheaper than the medium duty garden hose I was looking at. Normally I’d say, you get what you pay for, but the last time I paid a more premium price for a heavy duty hose, it suddenly burst apart at the tap, the first summer we used it. We’ll see how well this one lasts.

Between the drive and the shopping, the whole thing took about 4-5 hours, but I got pretty much everything on my list – including the highest SPF sunscreen I could find, an more bug spray! After this, we’ll only need to pick up fresh stuff locally, as needed.

I’m glad I remembered to stop at the post office on the way home. Several packages were in, including a birthday gift for my younger daughter. We also finally got the credit from our previous internet provider, which we should have gotten back in February. Since I was there, I also picked up another bag of wood shavings to use as mulch.

Once at home and the girls unloaded the van and put everything away, I headed back outside. We hit more than 20C/68F today, and I wanted to make sure all the transplants – both the ones still in pots, and the ones in the gardens – got a good misting. Happily, there is no sign of transplant shock in anything we transplanted. In fact, one tomato plant that got all droopy right after being planted, has already perked up.

My younger daughter was able to get the Wonderberry transplanted.

We decided to put them around the stone cross. I’ve read that these are good at self seeding, so they can be treated as perennials, and we thought this might be a nice place for them. They are so full of flowers and berries! I would certainly prefer these spreading around the area, instead of those green leafed plants that are taking over everything. They do have pretty flowers but, wow, do they ever invade! Almost every area we’ve managed to clean up among the trees is now covered with these!

Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t get much more done outdoors after this. She was driven inside by the clouds of mosquitoes. I had bug spray on, and it barely kept them at bay. I ended up mowing the main garden area, instead of working on more transplanting or bed prep as I’d intended, because the tall, damp grass is just a haven for mosquitoes. Huge clouds of them would rise up as we walked through! They’re just nasty.

Before I started mowing, my daughter helped me move the row covers we made last year. From the droppings left behind, the deer walked all over them during the winter. They are completely falling apart. When we can, we’ll take them apart and salvage what we can to reuse in other ways in the garden.

I didn’t get all of what needed to be mowed – some areas are still too wet – but the main garden area, and the spaces between beds and trellises we used last year, are now mowed. I also set up the old, patched up rain barrel and filled it with water (which I could now reach without having to steal a length of hose from the front tap, thanks to the new hose I got today) while I mowed, so we can use it to water the silver buffalo berry and sea buckthorn with ambient temperature water. Plus I could reach to use the hose to water the peas.

Once a bare minimum of mowing was done, I went ahead and did some more transplanting.

We had 5 surviving Little Finger eggplants, and they just fit into the middle of the half-bed that had space. They are encircled by spinach and onions. Now that the eggplants are in, we can finish setting up the hoops – they just need cross pieces joining them in the middles – so we can cover them with net. I don’t know of the critters would eat eggplant, but I’d rather not give them the opportunity to find out!

There were 7 surviving Purple Beauty bell peppers. Most were from the second seed start. Only two survived the Great Cat Crush. 😀 Once they were in, there was still some space in the middle of this bed. Just enough for the last two Cup of Moldova that didn’t fit in the bed that has just tomatoes in it.

This bed is encircled with onions on the outside, while the inside has turnips on one side, spinach on the other. The turnips – all three varieties – germinated a couple days ago, and today I could just see little spinach coming up, too.

With the peppers now planted, we’ll add twine to the supports, and then will be able to put net around the bed.

Tomorrow, we’re going to need to put a priority on transplanting the melons. They are starting to suffer in their too-small toilet tube pots. So they will go into the deep mulch space left over, after the potatoes were planted. I was going to plant the summer squash in there, though to be honest, between the two beds, we might have room for both. Well. Not all the summer squash. We do have a lot of patty pans!

We’re expected to get as warm tomorrow as we did today, so I think an early bed and early rise will be in order again. I want to get more work done in the garden, while it is still cool.

After I pain killer up and slather my dried up hands with lotion! I am in such pain right now. It’s fine if I’m sitting down, except for the joints in my fingers making it hard to type, but every time I get up, I find my joints have completely stiffened up and I can barely walk.

*sigh*

I’m too young to be feeling this old!

😀

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: 10 week seed starts

Today is 10 weeks from our average last day of frost, and we had a few seeds to start.

But first, we needed to make space. These would be going into the big aquarium greenhouse, on the heat mat, which meant the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes had to be moved. All the pots have seeds germinating in them, so it’s okay to take them off the heat mat now.

Space was made for them to fit onto the tray in the small aquarium greenhouse, which is where we have a few rescues. At the bottom left is the only luffa we’ve got so far. The seed leaves have wilted away, but the true leaves are still holding out. In the top left corner is the rescued Canteen gourd. It had seemed to be doing well, then suddenly it started wilting and the seed leaves started wilting away, but it has actually perked up again. If it can manage to develop some true leaves, there’s hope for it. With the Canteen gourd, however, the replacement seeds we planted are doing much better. The two plants with the largest leaves in the photo are Canteen gourds, as are the not quite as robust pair in between the luffa and the original Canteen gourd.

There’s also one surviving tomato plant in there; I can’t remember which type is it. There are a few others in the mini-greenhouse, too.

The one Wonderberry that sprouted from the first planting has gotten big enough that it was too tall for the lower shelves in the mini-greenhouse, so I couldn’t put it in one of the trays with other pots. So it got double cupped and tucked in with the bulb onions at the very top, where the mini-greenhouse has a peak. It didn’t like my attempt to put it in a lower shelf, but it should be standing tall again, soon.

Here we have the pots that my daughter and I started today, joining the luffa pots that we planted a couple of weeks ago. Still no sprouts. 😦

Everything got two pots each. Two types of gourds got started today; the Tennessee Dancing Gourd, and the Ozark Nest Egg gourd. Both did surprisingly well last year, in spite of the drought.

The Crespo Squash was also started. Then, we decided to plant extra eggplants and peppers. We do have surviving ones from the first planting that seem to be recovering all right from being flattened by a cat, but we’ve decided to play it safe and plant extra. The last of the Little Finger eggplant seed were planted, but we still have a few left of the Purple Beauty pepper.

The next batch of seeds should be started about 2 weeks from now. Hopefully, we’ll be able to move at least the onions to the sun room. They can handle cool weather better than anything else we’ve got started right now.

One more step forward in our gardening, done! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: reboot and new set up

Quite a few seedlings, pots and trays got moved around today. The only things that didn’t need to be moved where the onion seedlings, inside the small aquarium greenhouse. That tank doesn’t fit a lot, so they get to be undisturbed for now.

These are the survivors of the Great Cat Crush.

They are still struggling, but it looks like most of them will make it.

Also, the second seed in the cup with the Canteen gourd sprouted! That makes for a 100% germination rate on those!

As for the luffa, there were two peat pots, with nothing coming up, so more luffa seeds were set to soak, this morning.

Last time, the seed coats were scarified by carefully snipping them with nail clippers. In the off chance that they were damaged by this, I used sandpaper on an edge of each seed, instead.

When it was time to plant them, I used the tip of a chopstick to loosen the seed starting soil – and see if I could find the old seeds. I found only one (there should have been 2 in each pot), and it was just the shell, completely empty.

Hopefully, we will have better luck with the new seeds.

I also decided to do more Wonderberry. We started seeds in two Red Solo cups, and one of them now has a second seedling in it. The other, nothing. So a few more seeds were used to try again. We do still have some left over.

Next to do were the Sophie’s Choice and Cup of Moldova tomatoes. There were barely even stems left with the Sophie’s Choice, and all the leaves on the Cup of Moldova were withered away. These were the ones we transplanted to thin out of the original pots. While a cat destroyed the Sophie’s Choice seedlings, I still don’t know what happened with the Cup of Moldova seedlings. They had been doing so very well, after transplant. 😦

We reseeded the Sophie’s Choice minimally, and still have some seeds left. I managed to get a couple of seeds into each Cup of Moldova pot (though I noticed some seeds were stuck together, so a few have more), and finished off the packet. If these don’t work, then all we’ll have is anything that survived the Great Cat Crush.

The newly planted seeds went into the big aquarium greenhouse. My daughter has hung her orchids in front of the window, and I found a place for our aloe that will hopefully dissuade the cats from digging in their dirt. That allowed me to set up a surface for a second tray.

The Sophie’s Choice, luffa and Wonderberry are on the heat mat, and there was space enough for a metal tray to hold the Cup of Moldova on the other side. The Red Solo cups don’t fit in the black trays as well. If they weren’t the exact size for the mini-greenhouse, I’d be using nothing but those baking trays!

Speaking of the mini-greenhouse…

We emptied that out, removed the plastic cover, then lined the back and sides with heavy duty aluminum foil. The whole set up is now closer to the window for more natural light.

The remaining seedlings went back into the mini-greenhouse. The shallots are now in here, along with the two other Canteen gourds that sprouted while in the big aquarium greenhouse, as is the sprouted Wonderberry. The new location should mean more natural sunlight – especially first thing in the morning – and the aluminum should help reduce any stretching towards the light from the seedlings. They’ll still be checked and turned as needed, of course. Eventually, it’ll be moved even closer to the window, but it’s still too cold for that.

I had hoped to be able to block the front opening of the cover with the window screen we used to use on top of the small aquarium greenhouse, but it’s not big enough to keep the cats out. So, we have the little fan inside again. Since today is quite overcast, I’ve also added the light fixture that also provides a bit of heat. There’s another lamp we use, but it doesn’t fit inside the mini-greenhouse, and will sit in front, instead.

The tray with the baggies of paw paw and tulip tree seeds is back on the top shelf, where it has the least amount of light, but is also the warmest. It should still be a while before we start seeing anything happening with those.

You know, all of this would be a lot easier, if we didn’t have to protect everything from cats! 😀 One or two shelves in the living room window, and we’d be done.

Ah, well. It is what it is!

Hopefully, the newly planted seeds and the new set up for the mini-greenhouse will work out.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: lost?

Well, that “blowing snow advisory” has certainly been valid.

My husband noticed the piebald deer heading for the kibble house again, so I figured that was a good time to empty the kitchen compost bucket – and get her away from the kibble. When I opened the door from the sunroom, pausing to take this photo, she just stared at me until she saw me moving outside.

I don’t think she appreciated the interruption of her snack!

I topped up the kibble for the cats, while I was out.

Since it was a quick run to the compost pile, I hadn’t bothered putting on a coat. It was only -12C/10F, after all!

Of course, that didn’t take the wind chill into account. I don’t know what it was at the time, but we’re at -13C/9F right now, and the wind chill is -23C/-9F. Brrrr!!!!

But I’m thinking of spring as we tend the seedlings. I’d mentioned in my last post that the seedlings in the mini-greenhouse were not looking well, so I decided to get some photos to show what I meant.

At which point I discovered I’d forgotten to drop and zip closed the front of the plastic cover.

Much to my surprise, the cats have made no attempt to go into it! Perhaps they’ve satisfied their curiosity already. I decided to leave it open, for now.

These are the Cup of Moldova seedlings that got potted up as we thinned them out. They are actually looking worse now than this morning, and I don’t know why. They had been doing quite well after being transplanted, then suddenly… this.

Were they over watered? Too hot in the mini-greenhouse? Not enough light? Not enough air circulation? Any or all of the above? I have no idea. I’m hoping that leaving the front of the cover open will be helpful.

The Sophie’s Choice that got eaten are… well, the two that were down to just stems are dead, but the ones that still have leaves on them… I don’t know. They might still survive.

These are the ones that got repotted after a cat lay on and crushed the original pots they were in. They actually are doing better than anything else in the mini-greenhouse. The damage done to them is more visible now. Surprisingly, the peppers and eggplants that got the most shmooshed are doing pretty good! The remaining tomatoes are showing damaged leaves, but beyond that, they look like they will recover.

I guess we’ll see over the next few days, how many are complete losses, and how many will survive.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning disaster. Will they survive?

Not a good way to start the day.

One of the first things I do when I get up in the mornings is turn on the lights for the aquarium greenhouses.

This morning, I was greeted by this.

This is the tray we had just recently transferred out of the big aquarium greenhouse. A cat had managed to get through the box blocking the gap at the back of the chair, and into the tray.

The damage in some of them was really, really bad. The pots just disintegrated. Granted, they are designed to do that, but not until they’ve been put into the ground!

Some weren’t too bad. The gourds, in particular, were mostly just jostled a bit. I was able to transfer them into the Solo cups without too much trouble. These cups already had drainage holes in their bottoms.

Note the leaves on the Canteen gourd, with the almost white tips. That’s from the seed casing that I ended up breaking free of the leaves.

The remainder required much more care.

We still had some pre-moistened seed starting soil left, and I used it to help re-pot the remaining squished seedlings.

I think a couple of labels got mixed up, but I’m not going to worry about that right now. As long as the two varieties of tomatoes are labelled, it’s fine.

Once the seedings were cleared and in cups, I moistened some more seed starting soil. While mixing the water in, the remains of the Jiffy pots got mashed into the soil as well. By the time the soil was thoroughly moistened, there was no sign of the pots!

For some with still intact pots, like the gourds, I gently removed them again, added soil to the bottom of the cups, then put them back in. For the tomatoes, I basically just potted them up, adding the fresh soil around the stems. Those should recover fine.

It’s the eggplants and peppers that might have difficulties. I tried to add soil around them while raising them higher in the cups as best I could. Some were quite squished, but none looked broken or damaged.

With the tomatoes, I’m not too concerned, since we do have two more trays of them in the mini-greenhouse, but these are the only eggplant and peppers we’ve got. Even with the gourds, there are other pots that haven’t germinated yet.

Speaking of which…

To give them the best chance as survival, the repotted seedlings went back into the large aquarium greenhouse, where they will be on the heat mat and under the two light fixtures.

Which, unfortunately, meant the other tray had to go into the mini-greenhouse.

Before they did, though, my daughter flattened a cereal box and put it in first, folded so that half the box covers the gap in the back, and the other half is under the tray.

Pure chance that we had the box. We almost never buy cereal, but when we were last the Superstore, we purchased enough to get their freebie of the week. That week, it was a variety pack of cereals and breakfast bars. This was the largest cereal box in the pack, and just the right size to completely cover the gap created by the back of the chair the mini-greenhouse is tied down to.

Unfortunately, this means the items in the tray aren’t getting the light and warmth they were, in the aquarium greenhouse. The best we could do was set up a light on one side, shining into the bottom of the mini-greenhouse from the TV stand next to it. For those in pots, they need the warmth of that incandescent bulb more than the light, since they haven’t germinated yet. You can see the shallots coming up in the tray next to the pots. They will need more light, but not the heat.

*sigh*

Well, there’s only so much we can do, until things warm up enough to start using the sun room. Hopefully, before then, we’ll be able to switch the trays again, and have the newly repotted seedlings back in the mini-greenhouse, and the tray with seeds that still need to germinate, back on the warming mat. The mini-greenhouse itself should be closer to the living room window, but the closer you get to the window, the colder the room is, so that won’t work for probably another few weeks.

We don’t know for sure which cat did this damage but, really, there’s just the one that keeps trying to get into the mini-greenhouse, still. The others are content to sit in the sun spot on the chair seat in front of it.

I love the cats. I really do. But I am getting so tired of cat damage.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: shifting things around

Last might, my daughter and I moved some seedlings around.

The tray from the big aquarium greenhouse is now on the bottom shelf of the mini-greenhouse. The Cup of Moldova tomatoes in particular, were getting so big, they were getting too close to the lights. Plus, they really needed to be off the heat mat.

The bottom three shelves of the mini-greenhouse get direct sunlight in the mornings, so the tray with the tree seeds got moved to the top shelf, which gets no direct sunlight at all. The downside with this set up is that we no longer have a way to provide artificial light, so we’ll have to keep an eye on them, and rotate the trays as needed.

The pots with gourd seeds that did not germinate yet (including the one with just leaf starting to show along the side) got transferred to a new tray and remain on the heat mat. There is still only one Wonderberry sprout, so I took the outer cups off and put them in with the remaining gourd pots. Hopefully, the added warmth will help with those. I also transferred the shallots tray under the lights. There are two tiny sprouts showing!

I’m a bit perplexed over the bulb onions, in the small tank. They all seem to have dried tips. Especially the ones in the larger tray, where one entire spot of seedlings seems to be drying up. In one tray, most of the tips still have their seed cases on them, but the ones that don’t, have the dried tips. I’ve lowered the whole thing, so they’re not as close to the light, though I don’t see how this light could be the problem.

Any onion growers that have experienced this? Last year, we did have the one type that survived to be transplanted, and I don’t remember having issues like this at all, though it was in the other tank. I’m making sure the soil is hydrated, but not too wet, and the light on this tank isn’t as bright as the others, nor does it get as warm as one of the light fixtures on the big tank, so they’re not getting “burned”. We also put a fan on the tank, for air circulation and to help keep the seedlings from getting too leggy. We have just the one little fan, so it gets alternated between the two tanks.

As long as they keep growing, I’m not too worried. Eventually, they’ll be getting hair cuts, anyhow. But if they all start shrivelling away, I’d like to know why! We used all the seeds in the packets in these trays, so it’s not like we can start over, either.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: starting shallots and transplanting tomatoes

Okay, for better or for worse, we now have stuff in the mini-greenhouse! Let’s see if we’ve succeeded in making it cat proof. 😀

The first thing today was to get the shallots started.

There are a lot less seeds than I remember from last year. I’ll have to look back at last year’s photos and double check.

The container is a mixed greens salad container from the grocery story. It has drainage holes in the bottom, and the seed starting mix is pre-moistened.

With such easy to see seeds, after scattering them I used a chopstick to separate any that were right up against each other, and spread them out more evenly. Then they got a spritz with water, a light layer of more soil mix, then spritzed again.

The container’s lid is recessed, and I didn’t want it too close to the soil surface, so I just plopped it on upside down. I then left it in a tray with water under it, to be absorbed from below. While it was sitting, it was time to work on the aquarium greenhouses.

The red and yellow onions are doing quite well. I rotated the trays after adding more water below them. The reflective light from the aluminum foil at the back, which is closest to the trays themselves, is clearly making a difference. All the sprouts were leaning towards the back of the tank! 😀

We have our first Wonderberry sprout! These were taken out and got more water added to the outer cups, as well as a spritz, then set aside for later, so they wouldn’t get knocked over while the seedling tray was being moved around.

You can just see that a new luffa gourd is starting to sprout! It’s right against the wall of the pot at the top of the photo.

I very carefully removed the seed covering from the leaves of the canteen gourd. Normally I would avoid doing that, but I’m glad I did this time. It was really solid, and had to be broken apart to get it off.

Here are the tomatoes, on either side of the eggplants and peppers.

The tray usually gets water on the bottom well before the pots dry out this much, but when the pots are damp, they are difficult to move. They feel like they’re about to fall apart. Which will be good when they get transplanted into the garden, but not so good when I need to move them around!

With the eggplants and peppers, they were thinned to 2 plants per pot. As they get larger, we will probably thin them to one plant per pot. We don’t need a lot of either of these. Three plants each should be fine to meet our needs.

The plan was to transplant all the strongest tomatoes to thin them – but there were a lot of them! Especially the Cup of Moldova. They’re doing really well in here. In the end, there was just one seedling that didn’t get transplanted because it was so tiny.

We half-filled red Solo cups with soil and used a chopstick to make holes for the transplants. Then I ended up using a steel poultry trussing needle (which never gets used to truss poultry; I’m not even sure why I originally bought them!) to loosen and tease out the transplants as carefully as I could. After they got tucked into their new pots, more soil was carefully spooned around them to about half way up their stems and gently pressed in, just enough to make sure there were no air spaces, before they all got a spritz of water.

Each of the original pots was left with one tomato plant. With the Cup of Moldova, we ended up with a dozen transplants, making 15 altogether. These cups were used last year, too, and already had drainage holes in the bottom. If we needed to, we could double cup them, but for now, they fit into the baking tray, in one of the higher shelves of the mini-greenhouse, above the back of the chair it is tied to. I’d rather it was lower down, but with the wider baking tray, that’s where it fits.

With the Sophie’s Choice, there were only 7 strong enough to transplant, and they fit in the tray with the shallots container.

When it’s daylight, we’ll assess whether or not we need to set up a light from the other side. There may be an issue of the high tray shading out the lower one.

Then the original tray went back into the big aquarium greenhouse, on the heat mat, and the tray got a generous amount of water added, to moisten the pots from below.

In doing the transplants, the tomatoes also got moved to one end of the tray, while the eggplants and peppers are now next to the gourds. That was just because it was easier to reach the tomatoes while transplanting them.

Hopefully, these will survive their transplanting well. It should be interesting to see the difference between how the tomatoes in the mini-greenhouse do, compared to the ones in the aquarium greenhouse. There is going to be a substantial difference in light and warmth.

But first, we’ll see just how tempting the trays in the mini-greenhouse are for the cats, or if they will be left alone!

There are still two more shelves open in there. The next time we need to start seeds, which should be in two or three weeks, we should be able to move things out of the aquarium greenhouses, into the mini-greenhouse, and have the new seed starts put into the aquariums. If the weather co-operates, by the time we’re ready to start more seeds in April, we should be able to transfer the biggest seedlings into the sun room. I’m sure these tomatoes will need to be potted up by then, too.

This is the first time we’ve had so many seeds to start indoors. It’s going to be a juggling act!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: seedling therapy!

After seeing my weather apps flashing warnings for the blizzard that, thankfully, missed us, now I’m seeing new alerts.

This time, for extreme cold.

Which is NOT missing us!

The -23C/-9F is one thing. The -36C/-34F wind chill is something else. And look at those overnight temperatures! Yikes. Thankfully, the wind is mostly from the north. One of my daughters and I were out there for an hour or so, shoveling out the paths, so we were mostly sheltered. Not so much when my daughter was clearing the paths to the compost pile, back of the garage, and the outhouse. I had to use the wheelbarrow to clear away snow closer to the house, since the surrounding piles are too high, and the snow just falls back into the paths in that area, but at least I was out of the wind!

The temperature has actually dropped in the short time since I took this screen cap, and I’m now seeing -25C/-13F with a wind chill of -37C/-34F.

Previous long range forecasts had us warming up again right now, which clearly isn’t happening… but then, they never included another blizzard, either. Now we’re seeing the cold staying for four more days, before things are supposed to start warming up, and keep slowly warming up into March.

We’ll see how accurate that turns out to be!

Having a bit of garden therapy after shoveling snow was nice, even if it was just a tiny bit. It’s not like the seedlings need much tending.

The onion trays are starting to look a bit hairy – and not just from all the cat hair all over the top of the soil (and everywhere else in the house… LOL). With this tank being a bit cooler, and not having a heat mat under it, today was the first time they needed a top up of the water in the aluminum tray underneath them.

As for the big aquarium greenhouse, I decided to switch things around.

The two rows of gourds had been next to the end of the tank. Yes, there’s insulation against the glass, but it still gets pretty cool, with that end of the tank next to an outside wall. The heat mat below was also a bit off centre, so the canteen gourds would have been getting ever so slightly less warmth from below. I decided to move the gourd end of the tray to the middle, away from the colder side of the tank, making sure they were completely over the heat mat as well.

There is still just the one luffa growing. There are more Cup of Moldova tomatoes coming up than expected! My daughter had issues with seeds sticking to each other, while she was trying to plant just 4 or 5 per pot. I’d like to simply transplant the extras, while they are still tiny, as demonstrated in this video.

The problem is, we don’t have any more cat-proof space for more pots. We could bring in the mini-greenhouse from the sun room; that would give us space for 3 trays of the size the current pots are in, but we still haven’t figured out how to keep the cats from clawing their way under the plastic cover again. At least not without making it just as impossible for us to get in, as needed. I hate the idea of “wasting” thinned seedlings, if we don’t have to! Especially since the Cup of Moldova tomatoes are the ones we want lots of, for preservation purposes.

Ah, well. We’ll figure it out! Thinking about such things is great garden therapy, when it’s so frickin’ cold outside. 😀

The Re-Farmer