Our 2022 garden: harvesting squash and corn

Well, the last of the stuff that needed to come in before tonight is done – at least as much as possible. The girls and I put bottles with warm water under the eggplants in the grow bag (the only ones fruiting) and, since they were right there, with the sweet potatoes, too. The eggplant and one grow bag with sweet potato got covered, but the sheet wasn’t big enough to cover the other two grow bags. The apple gourd also got bottles of warm water placed beside them, but we could only cover two of the three plants, so we covered the two biggest ones. As I write this, we are down to 9C/48F, and it’s supposed to keep dropping until we reach 1C/34F at about 7am. Between 6 – 8 am tends to consistently be the coldest time of day.

While I was harvesting earlier, I went ahead and grabbed a bunch of the Latte sweet corn, too. I don’t think they are quite at their peak, but I think they’re about as good as we’re going to get. There are still cobs on the stalks that were pretty small, so I left them be.

With the summer squash, I grabbed all the little – but not too little – patty pans, and the last of the zucchini.

In the above photo, the six pumpkins across the top are the Baby Pam pumpkins. The others are all hulless seed pumpkins. On the far left are four Styrian, in the middle are six Lady Godiva, and on the right are two Kakai. Tucked in with the patty pans are two Boston Marrow. There are so many little Boston Marrow squash forming, but they are just too small and have no chance of ripening after being picked. I’m not even sure Boston Marrow does continue to ripen after being picked!

The pumpkins are now all set up in the sun room. We cleared a shelf in the window, and all but one of them fit in there. The last one joined the onions on the screen. I think it should still get enough light there.

The hulless seed pumpkins are grown just for their seed, not their flesh. The flesh is probably edible, but there would be less of it than for an eating pumpkin. I will give them time before we crack any open to see what the seeds are like. At least we do have the one tiny, fully ripe kakai pumpkin harvested earlier that we could try any time we feel like it.

We planted so many different winter squash, and it was such a horrible year, I’m thankful we have as much as we do. Hopefully, next year, we will have better growing conditions. I made the mistake of calling my mother before I started this post, and talking about our garden. I mentioned that our beets did not do well this year. She started lecturing me on how to grow beets, and how they need to have the soil loosened around them, etc. I told her I knew how to grow beets (this is not our first year growing them!); they just didn’t do well this year. We didn’t even get greens worth eating. My mother then launched into how she always had such big beets, and always had such a wonderful garden (this after she’d mentioned to be before, that some years things just didn’t work) and how she only grew the “basics” and everything was just so wonderful – and the reason my beets failed was because I don’t garden like she did, and that I shouldn’t be gardening “from a book”. Whatever that means. I reminded her that I tested the soil and it is depleted. We don’t have good soil here anymore. She got sarcastic about that, and basically made it like my not having a perfect garden like she did was because I’m not doing things her way. As she got increasingly cruel about it, I called her out on it. I told her that just because she can’t understand something like soil science – which she doesn’t need to – that didn’t make it okay for her to be cruel to me over something she knows nothing about. Nor would I put up with being treated like that. I even asked her, why couldn’t she try being kind for a change? Maybe say something like “I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems”, instead of basically saying “I’m better than you.” She went dead silent, so I changed the subject, and the rest of the conversation went okay. Then she cut the call short because she saw the time, and her program on TV was started, so she had to go.

My mother is pretty open on what her priorities are. 😕

Ah, well. It is what it is. I’m just so thankful she is no longer our “landlord”, and that my brother now owns the property. There was a point, before the title was transferred, that we briefly but seriously considered moving out because of her.

Funny how something as ordinary as gardening can bring out the worst in her, though.

The weird thing is, when I spoke to my brother after he’d visited her to talk about the roofing estimates, apparently my mother had lots of positive things to say about how well we’re taking care of things here.

I guess that doesn’t include the garden! 😄

Well, I guess I should go see what I can do about that corn! 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: having a whacky time!

After a few hours of waiting, things dried up enough that I could do some much needed weed whacking in the garden.

Most of the yard still squelches when we walk through the grass – grass that is getting so tall, it’s actually hard to walk through! Not only are all the dandelions gone to seed, but the grass is going to seed, too!

The first place to work on was the large squash patch.

I’m not happy with how much shade some of them are getting. They get full sun early in the morning, though, so with the total hours of sunlight, it should be okay. It’s a shame my parents planted more trees on the south side of the garden. I’ve since learned my brother got them those trees to add to the shelter belt in the outer yard, but my parents didn’t want to go out that far. Now, the shadows are covering more than half of the old garden area on this side. 😦

Some of the squash seedlings are still so small, they could not be easily seen through the overgrown grass and weeds. I used taller sticks and stakes to mark the corners, then smaller sticks to mark the smaller squash. Then I went ahead and added sticks to all of them, with pairs of sticks to support the larger squash so they’d be out of the grass. In the end, I added a pair of sticks to all but the gourds with the tall metal support stakes, as much to protect them from accidental weed whacking as to mark where they were. I trimmed right down to the ground as much as I could. I am glad to get this done before adding the straw mulch. I really didn’t want to add it on top of the overgrown crab grass and weeds.

Then, since I was there with the weed trimmer anyhow, I kept working around all the beds and the straw mulch where the potatoes and melons are planted. I didn’t need to trim around where the other squash, corn and beans are planted, since that area got done in preparation for planting.

I had grabbed the second 100 ft extension cord from the garage, so with about 250 ft of extension cord, and judicious placement of a spade to make sure the cord didn’t drag across the squash and corn patch, I was able to reach the bean tunnel.

The bean tunnel got a thorough trimming before I moved on to the hulless pumpkins. For these, I decided to give them three support poles each. These poles were used to support summer squash last year, and some still had the twist tie wire that was used to fix the stems to the poles. Those were used to go around the three poles and hold the vines off the ground and protect them from the weed trimmer. I also had some left over sifted garden soil in the wheelbarrow, so I added that around the bases of the support poles to help hold them in place, being careful not to go too close to the stems. I didn’t want to bury the stems, as that could cause the stems to rot.

These pumpkins are now ready for a mulch, too.

I stopped at this point, as I wanted to get to the post office before it closed, then go on into town. I want to use the weed trimmer around the trellises and, if I can reach, around the sea buckthorn and silver buffalo berry. That will be a job for after the squash patches are mulched.

The canteen gourds are blooming! I probably should have pinched off the flower buds when I transplanted them, as they haven’t really gotten any bigger, but I forgot. We shall see how they do. Their flowers are very pretty!

We are starting to get weather advisories and heat warnings for the weekend. Tomorrow, we’re supposed to approach 30C/86F, and the day after – Father’s Day – we’re supposed to reach the mid-30’s (35C is 85F). While I was working on the bean tunnel, the thermometer there was already reading 30C in the sun. Which means the best time to get the mulch down will be early tomorrow morning, while it is still cooler.

Going to bed early tonight would be a good idea! Hopefully, the cats will even let me sleep… :-/

The Re-Farmer

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