Our 2022 garden: last seed starts? Winter squash and cucumber

Today is 4 weeks from our average last frost date. We started some more seeds indoors, but I’m not sure if these will be our last ones or not.

But first, some re-arranging had to be done.

I moved more pots out of the mini-greenhouse and into the sun room. The mini-greenhouse is now about half empty.

The last of the tomatoes were moved out; these are almost all the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and, I think, one last Cup of Moldova paste tomato. There was room in the bin, so I added the peppers I’d brought over yesterday. The larger bin with the larger tomatoes and the Canteen gourds got moved so this one could be closer to the window and not get overshadowed by the larger bin.

The re-started luffa, and ozark nest egg gourds, were brought over, too. The plants in the cups are the ones I thinned out from the larger, stronger pepper plants, yesterday. It doesn’t look like they’ll make it, but you never know.

The Red Baron bunching onions got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse – and got a hair cut.

Then it was time to start planting.

We had only three seeds to start; two types of shorter season winter squash that we grew last year, and cucumber. For these, I used planting trays the same size that come with the Jiffy Pellets, but with 4 sets of 8 square Jiffy pots in them.

With the Little Gem (Red Kuri) seeds, we picked 8 seeds that looked the best, for 1 seed per square. We still have seeds left over, plus I also still have the seeds we saved from last year. The Teddy squash had only 10 seeds left, so we planted all of them, with a couple of squares having 2 seeds. The seeds got scarified and briefly soaked while the squares were filled with potting mix. With the cumber, we just planted 1 seed per pot, in half the tray, so we have plenty of those left over.

For all the re-arranging, we still couldn’t put the tray in the big aquarium greenhouse on the warming mat, because we still needed to use it for other things. With how warm the sun room is, though, the new tray went straight there!

I didn’t want them drying out too quickly, plus the overnight temperatures are still a bit of a concern. The tray didn’t come with a dome, so I improvised.

Two small bin lids cover the ends, while a small big is deep enough to fit over the labels. 😀

That done, the girls and I headed outside to check things out, and we were absolutely thrilled to find so many crocuses blooming!

Many of them are blooming in clusters like this. Each one of those clusters was a single flower, last year. I just love how they are already spreading!

There are more grape hyacinth coming up, though they are very hard to see. We also spotted wild strawberry leaves in the patch under a dead tree that we’ve framed with branches to make sure they don’t get accidentally mowed.

My younger daughter wanted to check her raspberries that had such a rough start last year. One of them has tiny new leaves coming up at the base! Hopefully, both will have survived the winter.

Once back inside, I fussed a bit more with the big aquarium greenhouse.

I’d already rotated the bin with the melons in it; the Zucca melon is now in the foreground and the watermelon in the back. The Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes were moved to the mini-greenhouse, while the larger pumpkins got moved to take their place. Some of them were getting too close to the light fixture, and this tray gives them more head room.

A few remained on the warming tray, but moving so many post out freed up just enough room…

… to move the other winter squash out of the small aquarium greenhouse and put them on the warming mat. Hopefully, that will help them germinate sooner.

I have refills of those square pots that fit in the trays like the one on the warming mat. I find myself waffling back and forth over starting the summer squash in them. We have 5 types. These have a short enough season that I could get away with direct sowing. I could leave them be, but I’ve never NOT started summer squash indoors, so I find myself really wanted to start some of them!

If I do start them, it would have to be very soon, and they’ll be going straight into the sun room, too.

What do you think? Should I try go for it, or leave them?

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: an explosion of seedlings!

We are just so incredibly excited right now! We’ve got an absolute explosion of seeds germinating!

There still aren’t any watermelons yet, but if you look at the back of the second picture, you can see our first Zucca melon has germinated!

Since taking these pictures this morning, the seedlings have gotten notably bigger, and are starting to lean inwards. We’re going to have to rotate the bin.

I’m just thrilled with how fast the hulless pumpkins are coming up. Since taking this photo, the ones in front are fully emerged.

It’s out of focus in the back, but you can see that there are roots coming through the pot with the Giant Pumpkin. I have larger biodegradable pots, still, so that will get potted up soon, with no root disruption.

I’m not sure what’s going on with these two dancing gourds. The leaves look almost as if they’ve been chewed on. They haven’t. That’s just how they emerged.

That’s okay. We have more. The seedling you can see just starting to break ground next to the dancing gourd already up is now fully emerged from the soil – as is the Giant Pumpkin next to it!

In the pots with the Baby Pam pumpkins, you can see the soil starting to lift and split. Since taking the photo this morning, seedlings have fully emerged, not only there, but in the Kakai pumpkin pot next to them! Even in the back corner, it looks like the Apple gourds are starting to germinate. Only the Yakteen gourds haven’t shown signs of germinating, but the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if I checked them this evening, and found something there. 😀

The tomatoes and bunching onions haven’t changed a lot, though. Which is not a problem. They just suddenly seem like they’re growing slowly, compared to everything else exploding around them! 😀

I don’t know why I’m so much more excited about these, than anything else we’ve started so far. I’m not even sure where we’ll be planting these, exactly. More of a vague notion of where we want them, since we’ll be taking advantage of the large leaves of many of our squash to shade out weeds and reclaim parts of the old garden area.

Speaking of the old garden area, here’s how it looked this morning.

This is the view from the fence line. I’m still not even trying to get to the sign cam through the garden. Quite a lot of the snow has melted away, and the area by the squash tunnel (which will be used for pole beans this year) is pretty clear.

I can’t say the same for the areas closer to the house. There’s still deep snow stretching from end to end. The low raised beds are starting to emerge from the snow, but we just can’t get at them yet, any more than I get get to the sign cam.

I checked on a few other things this morning, like the haskap bushes.

The male haskap, which is the largest of them, has been deer damaged, but you can see that leaf buds are emerging.

The female haskap that was planted at the same time as the male has been struggling. It never leafed out or bloomed at the same time as the male. I do see tiny leaf buds, though, so hopefully, it will do better this year – in spite of the deer damage it also has!

The new female haskap we planted is a lot smaller, and seems to have escaped the notice of the deer!

After I got back from town today, and my daughter helped me unload the van – I was finally able to drive right up to the house! – we went around to check on her flowers. There are more irises and daffodils emerging along the old kitchen garden, and more tulips coming up among the nearby trees. We were able to spot more grape hyacinth coming up, too. I had mentioned the snow crocus flower buds I saw yesterday, so we checked those out, too.

Some of them have actually opened, since this morning! There were a few more I couldn’t get good pictures of, completely in water, but still managing.

After things being such a disaster with the tulips, irises and daffodils last year – the first growing season for all the corms and bulbs – we all thought for sure they were a loss. It just didn’t seem they would have managed to store enough energy in their bulbs to survive the winter, never mind spread. Yet that’s exactly what it looks like they’re doing.

My younger daughter is just beyond thrilled. These were her babies! 😀

Spring has been slow in coming this year, but there are finally things growing – and blooming!

Soon, there should be more. The beds in the old kitchen garden are thawed out enough that we can start planting some cool weather crops right now! We’ll have to go through the seeds for direct sowing, and see what we should start first. Some say to plant “as soon as the ground can be worked” while others say things like “plant a week before last frost date”.

But first, we need to prep the sun room some more, so we have space to lay out the plants that are too tall to fit in the growing shelves.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden; new sprouts, indoors and out

While doing my morning rounds today, I made a point of visiting the old kitchen garden. The girls had gone out to see the sprouting crocuses and tulips yesterday, and checked out the side of the old kitchen garden, where they had planted irises and daffodils. We have some of both coming up!

They took some scrap boards and lay them on the ground outside where the seedlings are, to make sure no one accidentally walks too close to the new sprigs. These had done so poorly last year, only partly due to the drought, so we’re really amazing to find they survived.

Also in the old kitchen garden, I checked the rhubarb. One patch is next to where the irises and daffodils are planted.

It looks like something has been eating them! Rhubarb leaves are toxic, but is that true of emerging leaf buds? I don’t know, but these have been chewed on.

The other patch is on the opposite side of the garden.

I moved some snow to uncover the emerging rhubarb on the right. Some of the ones on the left were chewed on, too.

Very strange.

More snow had melted away in the area we planted grape hyacinth, so I checked there, too.

Yes! There are some grape hyacinths sprouting! I’m so excited about these. I just love grape hyacinths. 🙂

More of the area the crocuses were planted is snow free, too, so I checked that out.

Some snow crocuses are actually showing flower buds! They’re barely out of the ground, yet, and already trying to bloom! Awesome!

Things are sprouting like crazy in the big aquarium greenhouse, too.

Just look at all those melons sprouting! Only the Halona melons are from purchased seed. The rest are seeds saved from grocery store melons.

The toilet paper tube pots were supposed to get one seed each, but I see an extra Halona melon seed snuck in. 😀

Only the watermelon and the Zucca melon, which is a type of birdhouse gourd, have not had any seeds germinating yet.

Meanwhile…

We now have a second Tennessee Dancing Gourd sprouting, and two types of hulless pumpkins. Last night, there was one Kakai in the back) and one Lady Godiva (in the foreground), but this morning, another Lady Godiva sprout exploded out of the soil.

I am so looking forward to seeing how these turn out!

We have just a few more things to start indoors, and that should be done soon.

If all goes well, we’ll be direct sowing into the garden in a few weeks, with cold hardy seeds that can be sown before last frost.

I can hardly wait. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: gourds and pumpkins

Another batch of seeds were started today: the last of the gourds and pumpkins we will be planting this year.

We are trying three varieties of hulless pumpkins. I really love pumpkin seeds, but they are quite expensive, so hopefully we will get lots of seeds to eat from these. We’ve got Lady Godiva, Kakai and Styrian. We’ll see which variety grows and tastes best to save seeds from. Or we might just save seeds from all of them. The Styrian pumpkin seeds are a good oil seed, and getting an oil press is on our wish list. The Kakai are supposed to be really excellent, roasted, while the Lady Godiva are supposed to be really excellent eaten fresh out of the pumpkin, as well as roasted. Three varieties with three different ideal ways to use them.

The remaining gourds we will be planting this year are Apple and Yakteen. Both are edible when young, and apparently Apple gourds are very healthy. I’m growing the Apple gourds for crafting purposes. We’ll try them both. Then we’ll decide whether the Yakteen gourd will be used as an edible, as well as for crafting. The Yakteen gourd is listed as very rare, so we’ll be saving seeds for those, regardless. If we succeed in growing them! We do have two other varieties of gourd seeds from last year, but we’re skipping them this year.

The Baby Pam pumpkins are a small, short(ish) season variety that is supposed to be an excellent eating pumpkin, especially good for pies. Veseys doesn’t seem to carry them anymore, though, so I’m glad to still have these seeds from last year. We had none germinate last year, but I think that has more to do with the troubles we had with our starting medium, rather than the seeds themselves. This year, we’ve bought soilless seed starting mixes, and I think that’s working out much better.

I decided to just plant two pots with three seeds for each of these. The gourds and Baby Pam pumpkin seeds got scarified and soaked for a while before planting. Depending on how well they germinate and how strong they are, we might thin by dividing to get more to transplant in June. My daughter did the planting while I cut up and wrote out more labels.

The ground cherry seedlings got moved to the mini-greenhouse, and now the warming mat is under all pumpkins and gourds right now.

Yes, I added water to the tray after the photo was taken. LOL

Here’s what’s in the mini-greenhouse right now.

I’d rotated all the trays before taking photos. Here are the ground cherries, just added to the tray with second planting eggplants, peppers, luffa and Crespo squash, along with one Canteen gourd that was thinned out from one of the pots now in the sun room.

There is one empty shelf below, ready for when we need to move more things out of the big aquarium greenhouse to make room for more starts.

Here we have the second planting Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, plus the first planting eggplant and peppers that survived the Great Cat Crush.

Here we have the Cup of Moldova tomatoes that were smaller and didn’t need to get moved to the sun room yet. They’re getting quite tall, so we’ll likely have to move them to the sun room fairly soon.

For the next batch of starts, in a couple of days, we’ll be moving on to the winter squash. Particularly the larger varieties that need a longer growing season.

I’m really looking forward to those, and will be looking to start more of each, if we can find the space. These were selected to be a major part of our winter food storage, so I’m aiming to plant quite a lot of each variety, if possible.

We are starting so many seeds indoors this year, but I’d much rather be planting more. Partly because we just don’t know how many will actually make it. Even if they all germinate, the cats don’t manage to destroy any more of them, and we transplant them all, they could still die of transplant shock, a late frost, critters, insects… Gardening is really a touch and go endeavour. As the poem says, one for the rook, one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow. I’m also reminded of a “prepper” saying I’ve recently come across. Two is one, and one is none. Redundancy is a good thing, whether it’s how many bags of rice to store, how many can openers to have handy, or how many seeds to plant!

If we had the space, I would be planting double what we’re doing for our indoor starts.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: the 6 week batch

This week is 6 weeks away from our average last frost date, so we started our next batch of seeds.

We had the Kulli corn, the Chocolate Cherry tomato and Yellow Pear tomato to do. We were also still considering starting the last few Spoon tomato seeds, since they were so fun last year, but in the end, decided against it. Four types of tomatoes is enough!

Of course, I found extra to start.

Looking over our seedlings, I noticed that one pot with Tennessee Dancing gourds still has not germinated, while the other had a single sad looking little plant that was looking ever more wimpy…

… it turned out to be dead.

Well, then.

We still have seeds from last year, so I scarified a few and started them soaking before I headed out for errands.

Then, just because I’m curious…

… I scarified then set to soak the two giant pumpkin seeds that were given out for free at the grocery store near my mother’s place. Her town has a giant pumpkin contest every year and, in the spring, there’s always a big basket full of envelopes with just a few seeds in them, available for free (though they do request a limit of one packet per family).

Before filling the bins with toilet paper tube pots with soil, I decided to count how many corn seeds we actually got. Each package was supposed to have 25 seeds, but I know sometimes there are extras, and we were going to put one seed in each tube.

There turned out to be a total of 106. 😀 Granted, some of the extras were really tiny, but we intended to plant them anyway.

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture, so here’s an old one of the larger bin. It fits 8 rows of 10 tubes. I actually ended up changing the tubes in the picture out for different tubes. The tubes from some brands are longer than others, and I ended up switching to a brand – the Costco Kirkland brand – that had taller tubes.

The big bin held 80 tubes, while the smaller shoe-box size bin held 4 rows of 8, so we would have empties. We still filled them all with soil, so that the tubes could support each other.

Before we started filling the tubes with the growing medium, I set the corn to soak. My daughters did their best to fill the tubes without getting too much of the soil in between the tubes, while I potted up the gourds and pumpkin seeds, then started working on the tomatoes.

Which is when I got a phone call from my brother, to talk about the latest on our vandal’s court case against me that was supposed to be today, but got cancelled. I’d sent a message to the court clerk about the conflict in dates, saying that I’d been told on the phone our vandal had picked 2 dates, and some of the issues we have to deal with as to why we chose the November date. I added that the earlier December date would work better for us, but I didn’t think our vandal would agree to any date we selected and suggested the court simply assign a date and we’d all just work with it.

We got a response saying that, since we couldn’t agree on a date, we’d have a teleconference call in early May with the court clerk to set up a trail date. The response was to my email, with our vandal’s email added on, so he got to see what I wrote.

Well, he responded in a reply-all. One of the first things he said was that he had NOT selected the November date, just the May one, and said something about how he felt my comment on not agreeing on dates was inappropriate, and he just wanted to get the whole thing over with as soon as possible. I’m paraphrasing of course, but it was pretty brief.

Hhhmmm. Now that I think about it, his wife probably wrote it. He’s not typically that succinct.

Anyhow.

Basically, he tried to make it sound like I had lied, and that he was a victim.

Of course, I forwarded the emails to my brother, since he’s my witness and he’s the one that needs to book time off work to attend. He phoned me this evening and we talked about the situation.

Which is kind of funny, realy.

You see, our vandal goofed. I had written that I was told on the phone that he’d picked the two dates. He basically accused me of lying – however the court clerk (or whatever her official position is; I can’t remember right now) who wrote the email is the same person who phoned me, telling me she’d already called him and the two dates he’d picked. Which means that, in trying to imply that I was lying, he was actually implying that the person we’ve been corresponding with is the liar.

I don’t think he realizes that at all.

I’m guessing his attempt to play the victim backfired on him.

By the time I finished talking with my brother, the girls were done with the corn, putting the lids on the bins to protect the pots from the cats, and tucking the tomato seeds out of feline reach for me. So I finished those up.

A few things got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse and into the mini-greenhouse to make space. The ground cherries stayed. Those are the super tiny seedlings you can see on the left. This is on the warming mat, so that’s where the gourds and pumpkins went.

The tomatoes should also be getting extra warmth, but there isn’t room for them over the heat mat until we can move the ground cherries out. (The bunching onions just got moved over to the upcycled plastic stray you can see on the right.) I ended up putting 5 tomato seeds in each cup, with 3 cups per variety, half filling them so the seedlings can be “potted up” later, by just adding more soil. It should be interesting to see how many germinate, and if we’ll get enough strong seedlings to thin by transplanting.

We’re going to have an awful lot of tomatoes. Which is weird with just 2 out of 4 people liking tomatoes – at least for fresh eating. Still, I’d rather plant extra and have enough to afford losses.

The kulli corn went straight to the sun room.

Potato Beetle got out of the sun room while I was using the wagon to bring my earlier purchases through (yes! I was able to get big bags of cat kibble!!), slipping under the wagon and out the door before I could do anything. The sun room was over 25C/77F !!! at the time, so I left the outside doors slightly open as much to cool things down, as to give Potato Beetle a chance to come back in.

When I came in with the bins holding the corn, I found a skunk eating Potato Beetle’s kibble! I shooed it outside, and found a second one in the kibble house.

I shooed that one away, too, then topped up the kibble trays just enough to make noise and maybe get Potato Beetle’s attention. A bunch of cats came running, but no Potato. 😦

Well, now that the corn is in the sun room, he lost one of the spots he likes to sit in, anyhow. I do wish we’d been able to get him back in for the night, at least.

I’ll get pictures tomorrow, when it’s light out again. So far, the toilet paper tubes in these bins works out very well. The final word on it, though, will be when we have to get them out for transplanting!

Now that Lent is over, I’m back on social media and my gardening groups. Today, one of them posted a list of seeds to start indoors over the next week. Based on that list, we’re behind, but our June 2 frost date is quite late, even for a zone 3. Most of the people in the zone 3 gardening groups have last frost dates in the second half of May. Still, because we have so very many seeds to start indoors, I think I will slowly work on them over the next couple of weeks. The remaining gourds would probably do better with an earlier start, I think, and some of the winter squash probably would, too. As long as they are all done within the next 2 weeks, it should work out, and not be too overwhelming when it comes to finding space for all the pots before the older seedlings also get added to the sun room.

Meanwhile, we’re still getting weather alerts, and still being told we may get as much as 10cm/4in of snow, just on Sunday. We’re supposed to start getting snow tonight, and mixed precipitation tomorrow. But then, according to the weather apps, we’re snowing right now, and there isn’t a flake to be seen in the infrared flash of our security camera (though I’ve been seeing plenty of cats and skunks running around on the driveway! 😀 ).

It seems to strange to be starting seeds for relatively heat loving plants, when we’re possibly getting yet another snow storm!

The Re-Farmer

Our 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

Fur babies, and garden finds

Today was our day to head into the city for our monthly shop. We will be making another smaller trip, later in the month, but the big stuff is done. We normally would have done it a few days ago, but doing Costco on a weekend just didn’t appeal to us! 😀

So that took up the bulk of our day. Which made it one of those days were some plenty of stuff got accomplished, but it doesn’t feel like it, since much of the day was spent driving. 😀

While doing my rounds this evening, I was able to play with Butterscotch’s babies again. 🙂

The orange babies were quite eager to play, while the calico and the orange and white kitten (which was sitting in the broken barrel planter at the time this picture was taken) looked like they were falling asleep where they sat!

Later, I headed over to check on the sunflowers. There are still only 2 seed heads that are opening, but there’s at least one that looks like it may start opening tomorrow.

Then I noticed something… different… about one of the sunflowers.

Very different.

It is covered with developing seed heads.

I started counting them. I got to 21, and I’m sure I missed some. Along with the several at the very top, every single leaf on the stalk has a seed head developing in the “elbow”. Some of them were absolutely minuscule, but they were there!

I looked at every other sunflower in the rows, and there are no others like this. All the other plants (that aren’t too deer damaged) are developing just one seed head. Which, for these giant varieties, is to be expected. This one plant is among the many that tower above my head now, so it is definitely one of the giants, and not an ornamental type that found its way into a seed packet.

It looks amazing! I really look forward to seeing how it progresses!

Speaking of progress, I made sure to check the pumpkins, too.

The first pumpkin to develop is growing nicely, but it was the the next plant that had me smiling.

The pumpkin plant in the middle mound has finally developed a pumpkin! I made sure to put something under it, so it won’t develop rot from the damp ground.

The third pumpkin mound had a surprise for me, too.

There’s a new baby pumpkin developing!

Our squash beds had one last surprise for me tonight, too.

That, my friends, is the tiniest of birdhouse gourds! 😀

There’s just one that has started developing. I can see no sign of gourds on the others, but they are all so small, I honestly wasn’t expecting any to develop at all.

It should be interesting to see if this one gourd will survive. Especially as we start to get some actually chilly overnight temperatures.

Before it got too dark, the girls helped me with one last thing outside. We moved my daughter’s tent, then moved the picnic table under it.

September is a month filled with birthdays and anniversaries, so we have decided to celebrate them all at once. On the long weekend – weather willing – we will set up by the fire pit and have…

Chinese food.

And birthday/anniversary cake.

And maybe roast some hot dogs over a fire, too. 😀

The tent has one solid wall that we will add to the far side to act as a bit of a wind break, since that is the direction the wind usually comes from. We also have screen walls, in case bugs are a problem.

If the weather isn’t co-operative, we now have the sun room and old kitchen cleaned out and organized, so we can move into there. The old kitchen is downright pleasant to sit in now, plus it’s close to the bathroom. More importantly, there are no stairs, so my mom can get in and out more easily than into the new part of the house. Plus, there is also a door we can keep closed, and keep the cats out! 😀

This is planned for almost 2 weeks from now, so we have plenty of time to make sure everything is clear and accessible for my mother.

Hopefully, it will all work out. A lot can happen in 2 weeks! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Oh, sunny day!

Just check out these sunflowers!

We now have two seed heads on the originally planted giant varieties, opening up.

The first one to start opening is getting big enough, the stalk is starting to droop quite a bit – which means short little me can see it better! 😀

Nice to see the pollinators busy at work on the second one to start opening!

Speaking of pollinators, they are just loving our squash bed right now. So many new flowers. Including in the pumpkins.

Look out big this pumpkin is getting!

This pumpkin mound has two plants growing in it, lots of flowers but, so far, there is just this one pumpkin that seems to be growing. There is another on the second plant, but it doesn’t seem to be getting bigger.

This one is on the plant in the mound I’d planted 5 seeds in, and it took so long to come up, I thought none would germinate. Now, not only is the plant just big as the ones that sprouted earlier, but it has a pumpkin that’s almost as big as the other one!

I still don’t thing there is enough of a growing season left for the pumpkins to fully develop and ripen, but I’m still enjoying how they are doing now.

The Re-Farmer

Resilient

Last night, a massive storm system passed over us. In parts of the province, there were tornado warnings.

Here, we had rain.

Finally.

It started to rain somewhere around 2am, and didn’t stop until about 7am, and we might still get more, later.

For all the watering of the gardens we’ve been trying to keep up on, it couldn’t match last night’s deep soak, and it really showed!

We now have several of the self-sown, tiny sunflowers under the platform bird feeder with seed heads opening up.

The pumpkins had been starting to bloom for a while, but I was only seeing the odd male blossom here and there. This morning, there was an explosion of flowers and new buds, and…

Our very first baby pumpkin.

This is on one of the first pumpkin plants that sprouted. I found a second one, on the mound that took so long to sprout one of the 5 seeds planted in it, that I had begun to think none would come up there.

We’ll keep an eye on them to see how many more begin to develop, then select one or two on each plant to keep growing. It’s still highly unlikely they will have a chance to fully ripen, but who knows; we might have a long and mild fall this year.

The big sunflowers have been pretty remarkable.

More and more seed heads are developing, which I would expect with these ones that are well above my head.

There are others that are quite a surprise.

This is one of the deer damaged sunflowers. You can see the dark spot in the middle, where the original top of the plant had been eaten off. Two branches have now developed into stems, and have their own tiny seed heads starting to develop among the new leaves.

Which is impressive, but this next one shows resilience at a whole new level!

You can see, lower down, where the original top had been eaten off. Of the two new stems that developed has also lost it’s top, and basically all the leaves have been eaten off – and yet there it is! A seed head, developing among the tiny cluster of new leaves.

How absolutely remarkable!

The Re-Farmer

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