Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden, and FIRST ONE!!!!

You know, I think we actually got a bit of rain last night! I didn’t have to water the garden beds this morning.

To start, I found something really, really exciting this morning.

Our first ripe tomato!!!!

There it is, hiding under some leaves. 🙂

Our very first Spoon tomato!

From the photos on the seed packet, this is a really big Spoon tomato. 😀

I am saving it for my older daughter, for whom I’d bought the tomato seeds as a gift, to have first taste. The girls are still keeping reversed hours, so my older daughter can work in the cooler night hours without the computer overheating, or her drawing tablet glitching out, and sleeping during part of the day. I can’t wait to see their faces when they see this!

Other Spoon tomatoes are starting to turn colour, too, so we should be getting lots more over the next while. 🙂 The Mosaic Medley mix of cherry and grape tomatoes are still very green right now, but they should start ripening soon, too.

One of my favourite things to do during my morning rounds has become checking on the squash tunnel, training more vines to climb the mesh, and seeing what progress there is.

It looks like one of the luffa flower buds is starting to open. I actually expected this to do better in our current heat, since they are a warm climate plant. Or at least start flowering and growing fruit before any of the squash and melons, considering how much earlier it was started indoors.

One winter squash plant in particular is growing a lot more enthusiastically than the others, climbing the trellis on its own now, and producing fruit. I keep forgetting which is which, but the other winter squash seems to have a growing habit more like summer squash, and seems to have only male flowers and buds right now.

The Pixie melons are getting so “big”! They are a “single serving” sized melon, and really dense for their size, so I don’t expect them to get much bigger than this one, here.

This is the first Halona melon to develop, and you can see how it’s outer skin is starting to form that distinctive cantaloupe texture. These should get about double the size and weight of the Pixies, or more, when they are fully ripe.

I can hardly wait to try them!!

Yesterday, I found that I thought was, maybe, kinda, possibly, a pea sprout emerging from the soil next to one of the purple corn.

This morning, there is no doubt at all. There are peas sprouting all over the sweet corn beds! I’m actually quite impressed by the germination rate so far, considering the bag of seed peas had been in the storage bin by the water barrel through two heat waves.

Now, if we can just keep the woodchucks from eating them all, not only will they help fix nitrogen in the soil for the corn, but we might even get peas in quantities sufficient for harvesting. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: some growth, some critter damage, and WE GOT RAIN!!!!

I just have to start with the exciting part. We actually got rain today!

Okay, so it was maybe only for about 20 minutes, but it was a nice, gentle, steady rain, and enough that after several hours, the ground is still damp. Not only that, but we’ve got a 90% chance of more rain overnight and into tomorrow morning.

Thank God!

Hopefully, by then, the smoke will finally clear out of the air, and some of that rain will hit the areas that have fires right now.

It is not going to make up for months of drought and heat, but it will certainly help. Even the completely dry, crispy grass has started to wake up and show green already.

It was lovely and cool when I did my rounds this morning, then a daughter and I went and checked all the garden beds just a little while ago.

I’m really glad we set up the chicken wire over the gourds and cucamelons. I found this critter damage this morning. It looks like something, likely a woodchuck, leaned on the wire and managed to nibble on a leaf through the gaps. Just one leaf here, and another on the other side of the chain link fence. Without the wire, we probably would have had a lot more damage.

While I was checking on these, Nosencrantz was playing on the concrete block leaning on a tree nearby, so I paused to try and get her to come to my hand. I managed to boop Nosencrantz’s nose before she ran away. Toesencrantz, on the other hand, was far more interested in trying to get at a lump of dirt on the other side of the chicken wire! He could get his paws under the wire, but the tent pegs held and he couldn’t get the lump out. Not for lack of trying! So that confirmed for me that the kittens were doing the digging in the dirt. More reason to be glad for the wire! The dirt lump got broken up, so as to remove further temptation.

The cucamelon plants looks so tiny, but they are starting to develop fruit! The chain link fence gives an idea of just how tiny these are. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do in this location, which gets more sun than where we grew them last year. They produced quite well last year, for a plant that’s supposed to have full sun.

While checking things out with my daughter, I found new critter damage. When I checked the bed this morning, the damage wasn’t there. These are the Champion radish sprouts. Not all of them were eaten, and the purple kohlrabi sprouts next to them seem to have been untouched. Which would lead me to think it was grasshoppers, not a groundhog, except that after the rain, there were NO grasshoppers around. I didn’t see any in the morning, either, but I usually don’t, that early in the day. They tend to come out later.

Unfortunately, this bed has only the wire border fence pieces to hold up the shade cloth. We are out of the materials to make another wire mesh cover, so with the shade cloths not being used, this bed is unprotected, and there’s really nothing we can do about it right now. 😦 On the plus side, it wasn’t a total loss, and I’m thinking the woodchucks, at least, are preferring the easy pickings under the bird feeder.

At the squash tunnel, we found this lovely friend, resting on a Halona melon flower. The melons, winter squash and gourds are doing quite well right now, though all the garden beds are due for another feeding. The baby melons are getting nice and big, and we keep finding more. I was really excited when my daughter spotted this, hidden under a leaf.

These are the first flower buds on the luffa! I was really starting to wonder about them. They started out well, then went through a rough patch, but since I started using the soaker hose, they are already looking more robust again.

In checking the onion beds, my daughter spotted an onion that had lost its greens completely, so she picked it. It will need to be eaten very quickly. It is so adorable and round! This is from the onions we grew from seed. Though I’ve trimmed the greens of almost all the onions, we’re finding some of them with broken stems. Most likely, it’s from the cats rolling on them, as I’ve sometimes seen Creamsicle Baby doing.

We also found a green zucchini big enough to pick. I’ve checked all the plants, and while there should be at least one golden zucchini, I’m not finding any. Every plant is starting to produce fruit now, too, even if just tiny ones, and no golden zucchini. Odd. Perhaps the package was mislabeled and we got a different kind of green zucchini instead? There are differences in the leaves that suggest two different varieties, even if the fruit looks much the same.

Oh, in the background of the onion picture is the Montana Morado corn. We’re always checking them and the nearby Crespo squash for critter damage. There does seem to be some, but I am uncertain what to make of it. One corn plant, in the middle of the furthest row, lost its tassels and top leaves, but none of the others around it were damaged. It has a cob developing on the stalk, so I pollinated it by hand. Then I spotted another stalk, in the middle of the bed, that also lost its tassels. But what would have done that, while ignoring all the other plants around it? Very strange.

And finally, we have the poppies.

The Giant Rattle Breadseed poppies continue to bloom in the mornings, loosing their petals by the end of the day. Their pods are so tiny at that point, but in my hand, you can see the pod from the very first one that bloomed. It has gotten so much bigger!

We also found a couple of these.

My mother had ornamental poppies in here, and even with the mulching and digging we did, some still survived. This photo is of the bigger of two that showed up in an unexpected place: where my daughter had dug a trench to plant her iris bulbs. Somehow, they survived, and now we have two tiny little ornamental poppies. 😀

In hopes that we will get rain tonight, we will not be doing our evening watering. If we don’t get rain, we will water everything in the morning, instead.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: how things are looking

Just a few pictures of the garden beds that I took while doing my morning rounds.

This is the newest bed in the area where the old wood pile used to be, and these beets were the first ones planted, so they are larger than the others. Well. Some of them are. We are curious about the one end there they are smaller, and not as many came up. There is no sign that deer have been eating them – the onions seem to be working! I recall that we had issues with birds digging in the garlic beds. I wonder if they were digging in here, too? I don’t know.

The onions are yellow onions we bought as sets locally, when it looked like the ones we started from seed might not make it.

Luffa, actively climbing the mesh of the squash tunnel! So far, they are the only ones long enough to reach/climb the supports.

I was thrilled to see this, nearby.

Several Halona melons are starting to bloom! So awesome! Nothing on the Pixie melons or winter squash, yet.

This bed has the two types of carrots – Kyoto Red and Napoli – that came in pelleted seeds. This allowed us to plant them further apart, so no thinning will be needed. That also meant that, even though they started coming up quite a while ago, their thin, feathery leaves were hard to capture in a photograph! 😀

These are the Norstar onions we started from seed. Size wise, they are much the same as the ones started from sets, including the red onions that share this bed with them, however none of the others are starting to bulb as much as these ones are.

Looking ahead to next year, sets are definitely easier than starting from seed, and they don’t take up the space indoors that seeds do, but I think the ones started from see seem to be doing a bit better. We shall see when harvest time comes.

Speaking of harvest, the spinach is starting to bolt. The three varieties we have are all supposed to mature at different rates, but all three are ready for harvest, now! We’ll pull the biggest plants first, and leave the smaller ones a while longer, simply because there is so much. I dug out more window screens from the shed and washed them, so we can use them to dry spinach in the sun room. Doing it in the oven worked, but the trays are smaller, and we can only fit two in the oven at a time. We have four screens in total, and we’ll be able to fit a lot more leaves on them.

We finally have a decent amount of lettuces, though some blocks don’t seem to be doing as well as others. After the spinach is cleared out, we plan to do more lettuces in those beds. Just on one side, as we will be planting more spinach for a fall harvest, later on. The lettuce seed packets were in a Ziploc bag and spilled, so most of them are now mixed up, but that’s okay.

The greens to the left of the blocks, past the plastic, are 4 varieties of beets, that my daughters planted. Not visible is the larger L shaped bed, in which we planted all the remaining beet seeds, including from last year, all mixed up.

The potatoes are doing really well! If those bags weren’t twice the height they started off at, I would think they hadn’t been “hilled” at all!

I am really happy with how the garden is looking, though we do have some failures. None of the purple kale came up at all, and it looks like the purple kohlrabi is a total loss, too. There *might* be some white kohlrabi coming up in the old kitchen garden, but I’m honestly not sure if what I’m looking at are kohlrabi seedlings, or weeds. There’s only a couple of them.

The strawberry spinach seems to be a loss, too. We thought they had started to sprout, but now it looks like there’s nothing but weeds. If they did sprout, they didn’t survive. It looks much the same with the poppy seeds, except for one little patch. We’ll see how they survive! They’re still really small. Ah, well. Whether they make it or not, I plan to get more for next year. Possibly in another variety that I’ve found, too.

It’s only June, though. I’m quite looking forwards to seeing how things grow over the next couple of months!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: corn, gourds, squash and melon transplants DONE!!

Yes!!!!! We managed to finish transplanting tonight!

I thought we might have to move beyond the squash tunnel, but since these will be trained to climb, we were able to plant them closer together than we normally would, and they all fit. Also, I was sure we had the little pumpkins to transplant. I was wrong. None of them germinated. We didn’t plant many to begin with, but I’d hoped to have at least one!

At the far end of the squash tunnel, we have 4 luffa vines on one side, and 3 dancing gourd on the other. Next to them are the two varieties of winter squash, and the two varieties of melon.

There are a lot more melons than anything else (I REALLY love melon!), and that’s even with several cups that never germinated. There are some cups with summer squash in them that never germinated, either, which is why we have only 15 transplants. We all really love summer squash, so we would have enjoyed more, but it’s still a bit more than we had last year.

Now that the squash tunnel’s transplants are in, they, and the summer squash, will be getting a mulch of straw as soon as we are able to get back to it. Then I’ve got to get those bottom cross pieces in, so we can attach the mesh for them to climb.

That done, it was time to finish the new corn block. I’d put a fairly deep layer of grass clippings down, first, so I wanted to put a fairly deep layer of soil. Plus, the garden soil tested high in nitrogen, which corn uses a lot of, so I wanted to make sure it had at least that for the transplants to start in.

After the soil was in place, I made a trench in each row to plant into, then thoroughly watered the trench with water from the rain barrel.

Doing the actual transplanting was rather cringe worthy. I keep hearing from others that corn doesn’t handle being transplanted well, their roots don’t like to be disturbed, and so on. At the same time, I have heard from zone 3 gardeners that only start corn from transplants and never had an issue. Still, I really would have loved for the toilet paper tube plan to have worked. I don’t know of anyone who has tried to grow Montana Morado in Canada, never mind in our province, nor can I find anything online about it, so this is all completely experimental.

The biggest, healthiest looking corn plants tended to be the ones were all 4 seeds in the cups germinated. Except for when they were taken outside to be hardened off, the cups with their drainage holes were all in a bin that had water on the bottom, so they could take up water from below. Which means that there were strong roots at the bottom of the cups, and with anything more than 2 plants in a cup, that meant having to tear the roots apart to separate them.

I am really, really hoping they survived this.

They are, however, all in! I even managed to get some in the little half row I wasn’t sure if I’d be using. I went ahead and planted the little ones, too. Considering they tended to be a single plant per cup, they might actually end up doing better!

Also, the flash makes it look darker than it actually was. I did still have enough light to see what I was doing.

After they were transplanted, I gave them a gentle watering with the hose. It was amusing to see a flashlight coming through the increasing darkness. My daughters hadn’t realized I’d stayed out to finish transplanting the corn, and one of them came out to check on me. 😀 Which was handy, because that meant I had help putting things away. The washing of the cups and trays, however, will wait until tomorrow!

The only thing left to do with the corn is put a mulch in the paths between the rows. More to keep the new soil in place while watering than anything else.

Now that this is done, the girls and I can head into the city tomorrow, and I won’t be angsting over getting the transplants in the whole time we’re out! 😀

I’m tired and in a world of hurt – and really, really appreciating having my husband’s bath chair to use in the shower! – but I am very happy. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden seedling shuffle, monthly shop, and man that’s bright!

Wow. It’s coming up on 10pm as I start this, and this is the first time I’ve had to sit down for most of the day!

Today was our monthly shop, so after doing my rounds, my younger daughter and I headed out to the city. We were going to do our usual shop when I remembered I wanted to pick up some wood pellets to try as a litter replacement, so we added a stop at Canadian Tire, first.

Canadian Tire is a dangerous place for me to be, on payday! 😉

While we were there, I got my daughter to choose a paint colour so we can finally paint the kibble house. We’ll be able to paint the cat house, too. This is the colour she chose.

She actually chose two colours, then asked me which one I preferred, and I chose the darker one. “Citrusy”, I think it’s called. The girls have declared we don’t have enough colour around the farm, and they would like to change that.

It’s going to be colourful, all right! 😀 The kibble house is going to be really bright!

One of the other things we picked up was a new axe. We’ve found a whole collection of them, mostly in the old basement, but the girls have examined every one, and they’re all in terrible shape. I suppose we could fix them, but we’d much rather have something new and higher quality. After we paid for our stuff and were heading for the van, my daughter suddenly asked, “where’s the axe?”

Yup. We’d forgotten it at the cash desk!

So off my daughter went with the receipt to get it. It was so hilarious to see her coming out again, long flowing hair, skirt swirling in the wind, and an axe over her shoulder. A woman happened to be getting out of her vehicle beside us and called out, “walk proud, and carry a big axe!” Too funny!

With our rather meager success with onion seeds, when I saw some onion sets at Canadian Tire, I did pick some up.

When we got home and I quickly checked my email, I found a shipping notification from Vesey’s. The onion sets we ordered from them have shipped, with an expected arrival of May 7. Those are a red variety, so between the two, we’ll have a couple hundred onion sets to plant, on top of the surviving seedlings. We shall see how they compare! I’d rather grow onions from seeds, if only because there are so many more choices in varieties, but I’m not too fussy about it! We use a lot of onions, so I’ll take whatever will grow.

After all the shopping was put way and we had supper, the girls and I then worked on planting the squash seeds. That required taking everything out of the big tank to make room for the new starts, so the tomatoes, luffa and the last onion seeds I started have all been moved to the sun room.

All of the onions have been moved to the new shelf we got for our transplants.

This photo was taken somewhere around 9pm. I love how bright it still is outside! It was an overcast and rainy day today, so not a lot of light, but the sun room was still quite warm.

Not warm enough for the new seedlings, though. I had to get creative.

I rigged up the light we’ve been using to keep the small tank warm, so it hangs from the support bar holding the top points of the mini greenhouse in place. It has a full spectrum bulb in it, so they’ll get both good light and warmth from above, as well has warmth from below, where the ceramic heater bulb is set up. We still need to use that at night.

The small tank now has all the remaining gourds that have not sprouted yet. Without the light fixture that was helping to keep the tank warm, I added a couple of bottles filled with hot water help maintain the temperature.

We changed the level of the base in the big tank, so the cups would be closer to the lights. One of the fixtures does give off warmth, but the other does not, so I added bottles of hot water to this tank, too.

This tank now has the one cup with the Tennessee Dancing Gourds, and one cup with a single tomato seedling in it that isn’t doing well, but we just can’t bring ourselves to get rid of. Everything else is summer and winter squash. We planted fewer of the winter squash, pumpkin and zucchini, and lots of the melons and pattypan squash.

We are really looking forward to lots of summer squash in particular! The pattypans are our favourite vegetable, and we really miss being able to pick a bunch of summer squash every morning, for that day’s meals. 🙂

We now have a couple of weeks or so before we start the last of our seeds; the Montana Morado corn, cucamelons, and half of our sunflowers. The corn will be in toilet paper tubes, so they’ll be in their own bin to keep the tubes supported. By then, we should be able to use the sun room exclusively, instead of the aquarium greenhouses. The gourds might even have germinated by then! 😉

The next few days are going to be odd ones. Our days are going to warm up again, but check out those expected lows…

Tomorrow, we’re supposed to have a fairly decent 7C/45F, but then drop to -4C/25F with flurries overnight! Then, two days later, we’re supposed to reach a high of 19C/66F, only to drop to 4C/39F overnight. Then Sunday’s overnight low is back below freezing again! At least the long range forecast shows no lows below freezing after that, but… well, we do have a frost date of June 2, so there’s a good chance will dip below freezing a few times more. I just wish it wouldn’t lurch back and forth like that! Still, those daytime temperatures will give us plenty of opportunity to get garden beds prepped, and the early planting started. We have lots of work to do outside, and will need to take advantage of every good day we get!

It’s going to be fun! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 Garden: luffa, Crespo squash, decisions made, and we have sproooooots!!!

My daughters and I regularly check the areas we planted things in the fall. Especially where we planted so many corms and bulbs.

For those new to this blog (welcome! I’m very happy you’re here!), last fall we planted 200 grape hyacinths in one area (day one, day two). In another, we planted about 100 snow crocuses. My daughters also planted some Iris, Bulls Eye Tulip, plus a variety pack of other tulips, in other areas. We also planted three varieties of hardneck garlic. (all links will open in new tabs, so you won’t lose your place. 🙂 )

Today, we actually found sprouts!!!

This is a snow crocus. We found one other sprout a few feet away, too. We were so excited!!!

There’s still no sign of anything else, but it’s the crocuses that are supposed to be the earliest to emerge, so this is pretty awesome! We probably won’t see any of the others for some weeks, yet.

We also found…

… a garlic emerging through the mulch!

It wasn’t until I uploaded the photo and was resizing it that I realized there was a second one in the back, the tip just barely visible! I had been checking the garlic beds every now and then, since we took the plastic off, pulling the mulch back to see if there were any sprouts. I had done that earlier, but in a different spot and completely missed the bit of green poking through! Even when my daughter pointed it out, it took a while for me to see it.

These ones are Purple Stripe. After finding them, I checked in the Porcelain Music bed, pulling back the mulch, and I did find a sprout there, too. I put the mulch back. The overnight temperatures are still too cold to take the mulch off.

We are really, really excited to see these!! We have sprooooooots!

*doing the happy dance*


After putting some seeds to soak for 24 hours, we planted some Crespo squash seeds.

We planted only 2 seeds in each of 3 double cups. We’ll see how many germinate. They went into the small aquarium greenhouse, along with the more recently planted gourds (still no seedlings sprouting there, yet), and the light fixture that’s there to keep the tank warm.

I keep catching Saffron lying on the screen cover, directly over the light! The little bugger has discovered it’s even warmer than sitting on the light fixtures of the big tank. At least she’s tiny and light!

As you can see in this image from Baker Creek, Crespo squash can get quite large! The only information I can find about these is from the Baker Creek site, and it’s new for them, so there isn’t very much information, and there are no reviews at all. There isn’t even a “days to maturity” available. The package just says to harvest when the skin is very hard. ??

These are from Peru and Bolivia, which do have areas that are the equivalent of our Zone 3 climate, but I have no idea if these are from any of them. Probably not. 😀

Still, I couldn’t resist these amazing looking edibles!! It would be really something, if we could grow these to full maturity.

The luffa have joined the tomatoes and onions in the big aquarium greenhouse. They are big enough now that I’m not as concerned about keeping them extra warm.

I really hope these work out!

Thinking ahead, while the girls and I were walking around, we went by the other area we are considering to put our permanent garden beds and talked about it.

We have decided that this will be it. Our future permanent, accessible raised bed garden.

One of the hesitations about this spot is that it’s always been a high traffic area – that’s why it’s so flat that I’ve been able to mow it! There is a gate to the old hay yard next to the shack by the barn. On the other side of the shack is the ramp that was used to load cattle onto trucks. The gate, however, has had other wire placed across it and it can no longer be opened, and even if that old cattle ramp wasn’t rotting and falling apart, we don’t plan to have cattle. At least not so many that we’d be sending them off to auction. We still drive through parts of it, to access the garage, the barn, etc., but that still leaves a huge area that no one drives through anymore.

In our shorter term plans, we were talking about putting a temporary fence up in the old hay yard, where the remains of another fence still sits.

It’s marked in black in the above photos. This would allow us to remove part of the main fence (marked in orange) and still keep the renter’s cows from getting through.

But if we’re going to put permanent raised beds by the old hay yard, we will want to plant a wind break even sooner, and that was going to be along a permanent fence.

Which would be about where the black lines are in these photos.

If we do that, we can get rid of a lot more of the fence around the old hay yard, much of which is in terrible shape, anyhow. That, in turn, will open up more of the hay yard area to other options. Right now, with that gate blocked off, the only way we can get into the old hay yard that doesn’t involve clambering over a wire fence is either through the barn, or through the electric wire fence at the gate by the barn, then go around the back of the barn, and through the collapsed rails of an old corral.

We will have to do some work on the fence around the outer yard, though, to fill in any areas the renter’s cows can get through, if his electric fence fails again. It wasn’t an issue before, because we could close up the gates to the inner yard, but if we have a garden out there, the cows would make shorter work of it than the deer!

The advantages of this area compared to the others – mostly that it’s already nice and flat – also means that we will probably be able to build the permanent garden beds here sooner than in any of the other locations.

On top of everything else in favour of this area, it’s visible in live feed from the garage security camera. We will be able to see if there are any deer getting into the garden.

Well. Not when we’re asleep, of course, but it’s a start! 😀

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 Garden: just a little trim, and strong babies!

Thanks to some feedback from Kensho Homestead, I decided to go ahead and trim our bulb onion seedlings this morning.

Though our temperatures dipped below freezing lat night, the sun room remained nice and warm. I didn’t even bother putting the plastic cover over the mini greenhouse to keep more of the heat from the ceramic heater bulb in.

Now that they’re trimmed, you can really see the difference between those in the Jiffy pellets, and hose in the K-cups. They’re both peat, so the growing medium is not the reason.

This tray was designed for the pellets, and to water from below. The bottom of the tray has channels for the water, with a felted mat on top, then a molded tray that holds the pellets, while also keeping the bottoms in contact with the mat below. The K-cups have drainage holes, but they don’t seem to have enough contact at the bottom for watering from below to work well, and they dry out much faster. At first, the ones in the K-cups were doing better, but now it’s the ones in the Jiffy pellets that are noticeably stronger and healthier.

I did water them after this photo was taken, making sure to get the K-cups thoroughly wet. I’m trying to think if I have something I can transfer the K-cups to that will let me water them from blow. I think it’ll be the only way to keep them well watered, without over watering the rest.

Lesson learned: don’t mix two very different starter “pots” in the same tray. I used the K-cups because I only had enough Jiffy pellets to fill half the tray. I should have just used half the tray with the Jiffy pellets, and found something else to put the K-cups in. The K-cups do work well – as long as they can be adequately watered.


The luffa are coming in strong and healthy, and doing very well!

Perhaps too well!

I used these pots, so they can be buried directly into the ground when it’s time to transplant them, with no root disruption. Which means we’re going to have to reduce each pot to just one, strongest plant. It seems like such a waste to discard strong seedlings, but if we separate them out to plant more of them, that will create the root disruption we’re trying to avoid!

Three plants should be more than enough for our needs. Especially since we don’t even know if they’ll get the time they need to reach full maturity before first frost in September.

I bet they’d do great if we could find a way to grow them in pots in the sun room! LOL Pretty sure they’d overgrow that corner rather quickly, though. 😉

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: all gourds now started

Oh, my goodness, but our internet connection has been bad tonight! It’s taken me forever to finally be able to load the editor to start this post! It’s not done giving me grief yet, either!

Still, I wanted to get this posted before calling it a day, since I’m basically using this blog as a journal that I can reference later on, if I need to.

The last 4 varieties of gourds have been started!

The luffa are the three pots together on the right. The one sprout at the top got visibly bigger, just today! You can see a second one coming up at the bottom. The pot inside the red solo cup is the Tennessee Dancing gourd. On the left are the Ozark Nest Egg, Thai Edible and Birdhouse varieties. The light fixture inside the tank is, as before, just there for its warmth.

Next on the list to start indoors are the summer and winter squash.



starting too…



The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 Garden: first luffa, and sun room is ready

It was very exciting last night! We spotted our very first luffa seedling!

I am not surprised that it is closest to the light we’ve got in there for its heat!

There was just one this morning, but when I turned the tray so the others would get a bit more direct warmth, just before starting this post, I found a second one, in a different pot, had broken ground!

Tomorrow, I will start planting other gourd seeds.

Today, a daughter and I headed into the city for our monthly shop (except some things we needed were out of stock, so we’re going to have to make another trip). I made sure to pick up a shelf for the sun room. It’s time to transfer the tray of bulb onions to the sun room, to make room for more seed starts in the aquarium greenhouses. The tomatoes and the new batch of bunching onions to replace the ones that failed will stay in the aquarium a bit longer.

When we got home, we quickly unloaded the van, then I headed out again to the post office, where I could also pick up more deer feed and bird seed. My new monitor arrived in the mail, and I’m using it now. What a difference! Unfortunately, there are still some pages that do the weird colour thing that is why the monitor was replaced. It’s better, but not gone. Which means the monitor was only part of the problem.

I must say, though, I’m glad to have it. It’s quite a bit bigger than my old one! Meanwhile, my husband tested my old monitor, and it worked just fine while hooked up to his computer. My younger daughter has been wanting to have a second monitor for a while, so she’ll be able to use it.

Which all means it was a while before I could set up a corner of the sun room in preparation for our seedlings.

While Ginger was in isolation in here, we used the frame of the mini-greenhouse to hold the terrarium heater bulb above the bed we set up for him, since it still got pretty chilly in the sun room overnight. I didn’t realize until I put the plastic cover back on that the cats had torn it at the back. It will still work, though.

Some seed trays will be moved here after being started under the lights of the aquarium greenhouses, but later in the season, less delicate things can be started in the sun room. This room gets long hours of sunlight, so while I will probably have to rotate trays, I shouldn’t need to add supplementary light. The lights we have are designed to fit over fish tanks. I might be able to rig them up, if necessary, but it would hardly be ideal.

As for temperatures, the thermometer in the sun room has been reaching as high as 30C/86F during the day. Granted, the thermometer is hanging at the top of a pair of windows, so it would be hotter there than head height, but it’s still quite roasty toasty in there. If for some reason we feel the overnight temperatures would be a bit too low for the seedlings, we do have the ability to warm things up at least a little bit.

So the luffas are started already, which I now know should have been started back in January (we’ll see how those turn out!), which leaves the remaining gourds to start. I know they’re supposed to be started “late April”, but gourds have such long growing seasons, and our frost dates can be so early, I’m going to take the chance and start them a bit early.

Starting the summer and winter squash should be interesting. With the gourds, we’ll be planting just a few seeds of each, but with the squash, we intend to plant most, if not all, the seeds in their packages. We have two packages of the patty pan squash, which we enjoyed so much last year, and intend to plant all the seeds! 😀

If all goes well, we’re going to have squash coming out of our ears. 😉

By late May, if all goes well, we’ll have our garden soil in and will be able to direct sow those things that can be planted before our last frost date.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how the gardening goes this year! Right now, as we start things indoors, we’re also praying for some rain! Fire bans are already in effect (and likely were in effect before the grass fire that started near our place last week), and not a lot of farms were able to do controlled burns.

We are such a tinder box right now!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: starting luffa

It’s cold with blowing snow outside. What better time to prepare for this year’s garden!

I had been doing some research on how to grow luffa for some time, but it was just a few days ago that I found someone who had managed to grow luffa in zone 3.

After reading this post, written by someone in Saskatchewan, I certainly wished I’d found it earlier.

MUCH earlier!

Realistically, the chances of my being able to successfully grow luffa here are very, very low. They have a 150-200 day maturity range. All the resources I’d been looking at suggested starting the seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost date, but from this person’s experience, I should have started them in January! Ah, well. I’m going to try them, anyhow!

These required some advance preparations.

First, I set a few seeds to soak for 24 hours. Then tucked the bowl into a container I could seal, to protect them from cats. Like Susan, whom you can see at the bottom of the photo!

I was going to use the Jiffy pots in the red solo cups to collect drainage, but I found that three pots fit into a take-out container I’d saved. This will make watering from the bottom easier. I had some pre-soaked peat and filled the pots well in advance, so that the pots themselves would absorb some of the moisture.

I also prepared the small fish tank-greenhouse. I raised the level closer to the light, and added the light with the incandescent bulb to warm it up, since I don’t have a heat mat. The light has a full spectrum bulb in it, so it will be useful for the seedlings later, on, too, but for now, it’s the warmth that’s needed.

These are the seeds after soaking for 24 hours.

I was really surprised when I saw them, as every resources I’ve looked up showed black seeds!

I know there are different varieties, though, so if anyone knows anything about luffa aegyptiaca, please do leave a comment!!

I planted three seeds into each pot, pushing them into the peat to the required depth with a drinking straw. I am hoping to have 3 good transplants, but honestly, I’d be happy if I get just one!

Then, it was into their little greenhouse.

I think they need to be raised closer to the lights above!

The little light is staying in the tank for the warmth.

Yet another item repurposed from when we had fish; I’m keeping the aquarium thermometer in the tank, too. It’s reading about 24C/75F, which is impressive, considering the top is now just covered with a screen. The rigid insulation and aluminum foil definitely helps. We shall see how things go!

The other gourd seeds will be started after Easter, though I’m tempted to just go ahead and start them now. Which I might still do! 😉

On a completely different note, I have come to the realization that a problem I thought was with our crappy internet connection is actually my monitor giving up the ghost. Images not loading is a common problem, but I was having them only partially load, and the parts that didn’t finish loading tended to be bright, neon green. Or entire backgrounds of web pages would have blocks of this eye-blinding green. Then text started not loading completely, though I could still read it if I highlighted it, or it would sometimes work if I reloaded the page. When I started having this happen, or letters of text randomly showing as magenta or that green instead of the default colour, even when I wasn’t online, I figured I couldn’t blame shoddy internet anymore! My husband has already ordered me a new ergonomic keyboard (it’s a good thing I can touch type, because the letters are worn off most of the keyboard) that should have arrived weeks ago. Now he’s gone and bought me a monitor already! Now those are some sweet anniversary gifts. 😀

Hopefully, this monitor will last long enough for the new one to come in! 😀

The Re-Farmer