Our 2022 garden: peas, carrots, onions and more prep

One of things we started indoors were the four seeds we managed to save from the King Tut purple peas we tried to grow last year. All for successfully germinated, and were really needing to be either transplanted, or potted up.

Potting up didn’t make sense for these, so today, they got transplanted! Being peas, they are frost hardy, so we didn’t have to wait until after our last frost date.

I did change were they were meant to be planted. I was originally thinking of using the same pea trellis we used for them last year, but there’s just 4 of them, so we’ll save the trellises for the green peas we’ve got.

As the purple peas were already looking to climb, I decided to put them here.

This is where we grew tomatoes very successfully last year, and tomatoes will be grown here again this year. It got completely reworked in the fall.

This bed was going to get a mulch of wood shavings, too, but I also did the concrete blocks on the other side of the small gate, too.

We’ll be looking at planting some climbers in here, that can use the fence as a trellis.

The bag of wood shavings left over from last year got finished off in the long bed, and most of the new bag got used up, too! There was enough to mulch the haskaps (the male haskap is blooming!) and there’s still a bit left over.

All the mulch got watered as I laid it out, as the wind was picking up and threatening to blow it away. Once it was laid down, all the mulch got watered again, multiple times, as I worked.

Of course, the bed didn’t stay looking pretty like this for long!

This bed is going to be intensely and strategically planted! Along with the purple peas, there will be tomatoes planted all along the fence. Just inside where the tomatoes will go, there will be carrots, as they are good companion plants. On the outer edge, near the bricks, will be onions, as a critter deterrent.

In the bowl are the last of the pelleted Kyoto Red seeds from last year.

Clearing out a row to plant the carrots was a bit of a challenge, as there were sticks in with the leaf mulch that had to be removed. With pelleted seed, the carrots could be spaced as they were planted. I still got only half way down the row before running out of seeds. The other half is now planted with Napoli carrots; another pelleted variety from last year. With the Napoli, there are still a LOT of seeds left, so we have the option of tucking them around other things, too. We have 2 other new varieties that are not pelleted seed, so I will likely use cornstarch gel to help plant those.

There were not a lot of the Oneida yellow onions we started from seed to transplant, but it was still close to the half way mark. Of the onions we stared from seed, we have one tray or red onions left, but there’s quite a few of those, and I didn’t want to split them up. We also had a few shallots started from seed – a whole 7 of them survived – so I used those, and there’s still half the row left. We have shallot sets, too, so I’m thinking of using some of those to finish off the row. That will be another job for tomorrow!

As for the peas, I cut some of the plastic bottles from distilled water we have so many of, to put around the peas, to protect them from the wind. One of them blew away while I was transplanting onions. I’d tried to push it into the soil, but there turned out to be too many little sticks in the leaf litter. 😀 Once I got that fixed, I added the sticks to help keep them from blowing away. They are the sticks sold for toasting marshmallows, broken in half. We got a package for cookouts last year, but I’ve been using them as supports for some of the taller squash and gourd plants that were starting to flop around a bit. They work really well for that!

This bed now has only tomatoes to be transplanted into it, and that won’t be until after our June 2 last frost date, just to be on the safe side. We will be adding netting after the tomatoes are planted. The decorative wire garden fencing that you see in one of the photos above will be placed right up against the bricks, to hold the net away from the net, which will be attached to the top of the fence. The tomatoes and onions should be fine, but the carrots will need to be protected from critters. The net won’t stop a determined groundhog, but between that, the onions and the carrots, we hope the greedy buggers will decide they’re not worth the effort!

While I was working on this, my younger daughter was working on one of the low raised beds in the main garden area.

The girls cleaned up these beds last year, and this one was the worst for crab grass.

It still was. It took my poor daughter hours to get it done, diligently and carefully pulling up all the roots she could. Unlike me, she’s agile enough that she can kneel down on the ground to work, but she still knackered her back in the process. Once inside, she ended up having to put on her corset she made for herself, to use as a back brace just so she could sit upright at the table! She plans to continue with other beds tomorrow, and will likely just wear the darn thing from the start.

Her sister ended up helping me bring the transplants back inside after everything we done. She was up sick much of the night, but was finally feeling better. It was a bit of a juggle, since the chitting potatoes were sitting on the platform the seed trays and most of the bins sits on. Those had to go outside and onto the roof of the cats’ house until all the transplants were brought into the sun room, then we had to figure out how to fit the potatoes back in! Some ended up on the swing bench under the platform. Potato Beetle has lost his favourite bed for now. 😀

I fully expect we will expand our garden again, next year, which means starting more seeds indoors. Having at least a small, portable greenhouse is going to be increasingly a necessity! We almost got one this year, but the funds ended up being reallocated. Mind you, we still haven’t gone into the old hay loft, where my brother tells me there is the frame for a carport. If all the parts and pieces are there, we’d just need to get the plastic, and we’ll have a polytunnel. I can’t get up into the hayloft anymore – my body is too broken to clamber up there – so I’ll have to ask the girls to do it.

Well… that last paragraph got quite the interruption. I hadn’t realized my mother had phoned and left a message while we were working outside. She called again. It seems the painkillers the doctor prescribed for her back pain are not helping at all, and she’s in a lot of pain. Can’t sit, can’t stand, can’t lie down… She’s convinced the doctor gave her the wrong medication. She called the pharmacist, and he assured her she got the right meds. I guess she now thinks the prescription was a mistake? So tomorrow morning, when the clinic is open, I’ll give them a call. Hopefully, either her doctor, or the doctor that saw her in the ER, will be available to call her today and talk to her about it.

My husband is feeling very sympathetic for her. She’s entering his world, and is completely unprepared for it.

My plans for tomorrow may be changing, if I find myself having to drive my mother somewhere!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: it’s a wonder!

One of the first things I do in the morning is check on the seedlings, turn on the lights, and do any tending they might need.

The newly transplanted and potted up plants seem to be doing very well – with one possible exception.

The Wonderberry we have left from the first planting is just too big for the top of the mini greenhouse.

I mean, look at this beast! It’s getting huge!

And what’s that I see???

Yup. Those are flower buds!!

I planted these really early, after doing some online research, but it seems it was too early.

So what do I do with the poor thing? We can’t leave it out, or the cats will destroy it.

The only safe place for it is in the sun room.

Except…

Yeah. It’s too big for the shelve space, too.

There was only one thing left to do.

I now have it sitting in the window on the other side of the door, which is a pair of smaller windows with a shelf in between. It’s actually a great spot for a plant like this. The problem is mostly the temperature, though it also gets less light. In the other shelf, there is at least the lights provide a bit of warmth. This spot is too far away for that to be any help.

I don’t think the sun room dipped below freezing last night. When I first looked in, in the morning, it was at about 8C/46F, but I expect it to get above 20C/68F in there as the day warms up. However, we’re supposed to start cooking down again, with a high of -5C/23F by Thursday – and more snow on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Southern parts of the province are even getting weather alerts, as a Colorado Low swoops in, potentially bringing as much as 20cm/8in of snow. That, in turn, is leading to flooding alerts in regions to the North.

None of which is anywhere near us, but we’ll still be affected by the system with cooler temperatures and more snow.

At least the current warm weather is reducing the amount of snow we have now, so if we do end up with more, it’s not going to be as much of an issue.

The receding snow is starting to reveal that we are going to be picking up quite a lot of fairly large branches, once we’re able to do the spring yard cleanup.

The new beds along the chain link fence are now clear of snow, including the asparagus bed. Which, unfortunately, has a lot of grass and weeds already starting to grow. There’s less than half an inch of thawed soil on the top, but that’s enough for the weeds.

There was a surprise, though.

There are onions growing!

We had transplanted the tiniest of seedlings around the asparagus bed last year, mostly because I didn’t want to toss them. They established themselves, but hardly grew at all, and we just left them. Even when cleaning up in the fall, we just let them be.

I found about 8 or 10 of them, starting to grow!

It should be interesting to see how they do. As this would be their second year, if we leave them, they should go to seed.

Speaking of onions and seeds, the seedlings we moved to the sun room seem to be doing rather well.

In fact, I think they’re actually perking up and getting stronger. Well. Maybe not the shallots. It’s really hard to tell with what’s left of those! But the red and yellow onions seem to be getting bigger and stronger.

We might have something to transplant, after all!

I might still get sets, though. In this household, we just can’t really have too many onions! 😀

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: sprouting onions, and can spring get here already? Please?

First, to follow up on my previous post, I was able to get my mother’s car started. I left it to run for a bit before moving it to the other part of the garage – and plugging it back in again!

While it was running, I decided to use the time to dig out another cat path.

Because I’m a suck that way.

This is a path to a shed that’s slowly collapsing, and is in view of the security camera live feed. I constantly see the cats struggling through the snow to get through. I got about 3/4s of it dug out before moving the car, then finished it almost the rest of the way.

I left the shovel at the end for scale. There’s probably about 2 inches or so of snow on the ground.

I didn’t dig any further, because I know there are things buried underneath, and the snow level starts to drop there, anyhow. It was actually an easy dig. Once I broke through the harder packed top layer of snow, the snow under it was very loose and crystalline, making it light and easy to shovel.

I had closed up the doors to the garage, and the doors where my mother’s car normally gets parked have a old tire in front, to keep them from opening (I really hope we can replace those doors this summer!). The tire warms up nicely in the sun, so it’s a favourite spot for cats to hang out, out of the snow.

Potato Beetle was sitting on it as I started my way back, so I paused to pet him, immediately noticing what looked like fresh blood in the fur in an ear! It took me a while to find it, but he has what looks like a fresh wound on the side of his neck. All I could really see was a dark patch in his fur. It wasn’t actively bleeding, and I couldn’t look too closely, but I am concerned.

Potato Beetle seems to now be at the bottom of the pecking order, and a target. After talking about it with the family, I turned the power bar back on in the sun room, for the light, heat bulb and heated water bowl. There is still food in there, and I’d been letting cats in while doing my rounds, to nibble on it. Potato Beetle has been the one that tends to go in there the longest. He was born in there, so he’s very comfortable with the sun room.

One of my daughters has brought in a litter pan, and we’ve set the box nests up again. Now, we just have to find him again. We will bring him into the sun room for his own protection, and to hopefully get a better look at the wound.

Spring cannot come soon enough. Potato Beetle is on the adoption list, but the outside cats aren’t going to be done until the inside cats are adopted out.

As I am writing this, I can see cat after cat on the security camera live feed, using the path I dug out!

Let us now think of spring, and green and growing things.

Like onions!

This is the tray that first starting showing sprouts, but only now are they big enough to actually show in a photo. I got mixed up about which onions these were. These are the Red of Florence onions, not the yellow bulb onions I got in my head for some reason. I mean, it’s not like we forgot to label them or anything! LOL

Just this morning, we finally saw sprouts in the other two trays. Here, you can see a little clump of Oneida onions sprouting in the middle, and a couple more little sprouts in the bottom left corner.

It’s really hard to spot the sprouting Tropeana Lunga in this tray. Again, bottom left corner of the tray.

You can even see an Oneida sprout near the edge of the other tray.

I must say, having things sprouting right now is a huge psychological boost!

Having said that, I just got some messages from people I was going to meet at the grocery store this evening, and it’s just been cancelled, due to the blizzard conditions we are supposed to have by then.

So it looks like I’ll either be driving in now, or waiting until Sunday.

Can spring get here already??

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: starting bulb onion seeds

I needed some garden therapy today, so I got some onion seeds started.

We have seeds for 3 types of bulb onions, 1 of shallots and 1 of bunching onions. Today, I focused on the bulb onions.

Last year, we planted our alliums in Jiffy Pellets, repurposed K-cups and cardboard flats from eggs (don’t use those. They suck. Literally. The cardboard sucked all the moisture out of the growing medium!) before finally using doubled Red Solo cups to try and make up for losses.

This year, we’re doing things very differently. I’m going to try bulk sowing. Here are a couple of videos about that.

This next video shows the transplanting.

Obviously, we are in a much colder zone than he is, so I’m adjusting accordingly.

We already had our small aquarium greenhouse prepped. The first thing I needed to do was see how many seeds we had of each type.

The Red of Florence had the most seeds in its packet. The grey seeds from Veseys are Oneida, a yellow onion. The fewest are the rarer Tropeana Lunga which, like the Red of Florence, are an elongated red onion.

We are using re-purposed trays from the grocery store this year. The smaller ones were from mushrooms. I think the big one was from ground beef. We’ve had it for a while, so I can’t quite remember.

They got a good cleaning, and drainage holes were punched into the bottoms, then they were set into a baking pan.

They were filled with pre-moistened seed starting mix; I just dumped the remains of a bag into my largest mixing bowl and mixed in warmish water until it was evenly damp. Onions don’t need things as warm as other seeds, so no heat mat needed, but our house is on the cold side. I figured slightly warmer water would not go amiss.

The seed starting mix was pressed down just enough to make sure there would be no air pockets.

Then it was time to scatter the seeds.

Gosh, it feels so weird to sow them this densely!

I like that the grey seeds of the Oneida are so nice and visible. 🙂

The seeds got a very fine misting at this point.

Then they were topped with about a quarter inch of seed starting mix, again gently pressing to get rid of air gaps. The tops got another misting, and water was added to the baking tray and left to be absorbed, while I cleaned up.

Finally, they went into the small aquarium greenhouse. The three trays fit perfectly in the oven liner tray folded into the bottom. More water was added to the oven liner tray, to water from below.

This tank has aluminum foil around the sides because the light we have for the tank is not as bright as on the big tank, and all that reflective light will help keep them from getting leggy. At least, that’s the theory!

This leaves the shallots to start next. Their days to maturity is a bit shorter than for the bulb onions. The Red Baron bunching onions need only 60-65 days to maturity, so they can be started much later.

I’m not sure how we’re going to be able to work it with the shallots, as far as space in the aquarium greenhouses goes. We’ve got some time to figure it out before they need to be started, but not much.

As for the other seeds we have in the big aquarium greenhouse, they seem to be doing fine, so far. Nothing has germinated yet, of course, so it’s too early to tell if the heat mat is making a difference. We just keep checking and adding water to the tray and misting the tops, as needed. The tray over the mat has been needing refills regularly, but today is the first time I added more water to the outer cups of the Wonderberry.

We need to get the rest of those Cup of Moldova tomato seeds started, since we want to grow a lot more of the paste tomatoes. I’ll likely start those using the doubled Red Solo cups, though we’d have to find a cat safe place to move the aloe vera pots, to make room for more seed starts. Which is a shame, because they are doing so well under the lights of the tank! So are my daughter’s orchids, one of which is blooming very enthusiastically right now, but we should be able to leave those in the tank until it gets warm enough to safely hand them in front of a window again. The aloe, however… the cats just love digging them up! 😦

Ah, well. We’ll figure it out. The main thing is that the bulb onions are started.

Plus, garden therapy was done its job. I’m feeling much more positive, now. 🙂

The Re-Farmer