How does the garden(s) grow?

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

Here are our two potato beds.

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

This next photo is the second squash bed.

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

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

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

Here is the first bed that got planted.

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

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

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

Then there are the pumpkins.

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

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

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

It is also the Northernmost mound.

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

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

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

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

This is the layout of what we planted here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actually, there had been four.

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

In case you are wondering about the plastic containers…

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

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

Until the deer ate the two littlest ones.

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

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

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

The Re-Farmer

Gardening progress

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

I couldn’t resist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am now thinking a cat decided to go exploring.

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

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

Most disappointing.

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

This is where we focused on today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a bit more about square foot gardening.

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

Or maybe more like this…

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

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

The Re-Farmer