Our 2022 garden: morning harvest, curing onions, and a garden tour video

I did recordings for a garden tour video on Sept. 10 – the date for our average first frost – and meant to post the finished video yesterday. I ended up leaving my computer on all night while the video uploaded to YouTube, only for it to not process. Which meant I had to close it and start over.

It really irritates me that YouTube will let you upload something for hours, but if the processing fails, there’s nothing there. All that time, lost!

But it’s done, and here it is! Our September garden tour video – and it’s much shorter than my last one!

This morning, I got a small harvest.

It seemed strange to pick those tiny, misshapen Purple Beauty peppers, but they are ripe, so leaving them isn’t going to help anything.

I picked the largest G-star patty pan and could have picked more, but decided to let them get bigger. I’m so glad those are finally producing.

There was just one cucumber to pick and I didn’t even try to pick any pole beans. What little is left can be left to dry on the vine. I was able to pick a decent number of Cup of Moldova tomatoes, but the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes seem to have just stagnated. They’re not really ripening. I suppose when the time come, and we pick the remaining green ones to finish ripening indoors, they will still be fine.

The onions that had been left on the netting overnight are now set out to cure out of direct sunlight. We are supposed to get rain in a few days, so if they still need time to cure, they will be protected under the canopy tent. We’ll be able to braid the Red of Florence onions, but will have to use a mesh bag to store the yellow onions, and even the ones that still have greens on them, the greens aren’t strong enough to handle being braided.

The next big job in the garden is to harvest the Brigit potatoes. I’m not looking forward to it, after how difficult it was to harvest the small bed of Caribe potatoes, and how few potatoes there were. It’s going to be a lot of work for little return.

Not today, though. I’m rather sore from digging this morning. I seem to have pulled something in my neck while wresting with that rock, and it’s starting to hurt pretty bad. 😕

Time to pain killer up and work on something more sedentary for now.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: some growth, a first harvest, tree status, and no, that is not a funeral pyre

It was a very early morning for me today. The cats got active at about 4am and wouldn’t stop! I finally gave up and did my morning rounds while the girls were still cooking down the crab apple sauce for me to can later.

Parts of the province got frost warnings last night. We did not, thankfully, though the temperatures did go down to 5C/41F. It was still only 6C/43F while I was outside. I actually had to wear a jacket!

Today is our average first frost date and, while it was chilly last night, it is expected to warm up again over the next few days, and stay mild for the next couple of weeks, at least.

The garden is on borrowed time right now!

We actually have a few tiny little Purple Beauty peppers ripening! They are much, much smaller than they should be. These should look much like your typical grocery store bell pepper, in size and shape. That we got any at all still amazes me, though.

The one Little Finger Eggplant that is producing fruit is growing so fast!

No, I’m not pointing to anything there. I’m just moving a leaf while not blocking the view of an eggplant at the same time. 😁

The other plant sharing it’s space is blooming, but still no eggplants, while the plants in the low raised bed aren’t even blooming, yet.

As for this morning’s harvest, we got a first today!

We actually had grapes ripe enough to pick! There are still come clusters that are not ripe, yet. There isn’t a lot in total, but last year we basically had nothing, so that is no complaint at all. I’m not sure what to do with such a small quantity, though.

I finally remembered to go into the outer yard and get a picture of the Korean pine. Here, you can see three of the four surviving pines.

You can just see a mowed path going off to the left. That leads to the fourth surviving pine. The six pine had been planted in pairs on either side of the lane we want to keep open to the secondary gate that I normally would have kept mowed.

The chicken wire covers painted high-viz orange seem to be working out so far. My only concern is that chicken wire isn’t very strong. If the renter does let his cows through to graze in the outer yard, it couldn’t take much for a cow to crush one of them. I’m counting on them simply avoiding the cages, instead. Or deer, for that matter. We’re more likely to have deer going through here than cows.

You can see the other big branch pile on the right of the photo, with some fresh branches on top. Now that the other piles are chipped, any new prunings will be added to this one. Today, I pruned a bit around the stone cross, opening things up and even giving a bit more sun to the Wonderberry. I also started to break down one of the dead crab apple trees near the one that we harvested from. The dead branches are well entangled in the other trees, so it will be done piecemeal at first.

One of the other things I got done, though this was last night, was go through the pile of logs the chippers left next to the burn barrel. I’d already set aside a stack of pieces that are not rotten, quite straight, and useable. The rest of the pile of unsalvageable wood is now moved.

I laid it out around the pile of burnable junk we’d been stacking against the branch pile. Much of it is old newspapers and catalogs we’d cleared out of the sun room when we cleared and cleaned it out the first time. We intended to burn it in the burn barrel, but it’ll just be easier to do a bon fire! The straw is what was cleaned out of the cats’ house, so it’s not something we can use as mulch, or even for the compost.

Once we do have a day to start a burn, we’ll have to take turns keeping an eye on it. This will take a long time to burn through! This is something that could smolder for days. Plus, I plan to drag over branches from the pile next to the garage that the tree guys couldn’t chip, to clean that up, too.

When the girls saw this, the first thing they said was, “nice funeral pyre!” 😂

Yeah, it does kinda look like that! 😁

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: little vegetables, deer damage, more mulching – and Leyendecker update

My daughters were finally able to finish raking up grass clippings from a couple days ago and bring them to the squash and corn patch for me. My older daughter still isn’t feeling very well, but she is much improved, at least, and can be more active again.

While they did that, I did my morning rounds and checked on things. My first find was a disappointment.

The deer chomped this highbush cranberry. Again! It had been recovering so well from the last time they beheaded it. The other cranberry was ignored. The silver buffalo berry and sea buckthorn are being left alone. I don’t know why they keep going after this one.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in the garden this morning. I was awakened by a crashing, early this morning, and discovered Nosencrantz had tried to get at the window again. I’ve actually had to put other screens in front of the window to protect it, because as much as I don’t mind them sitting on the window sill, I DO mind them clawing at the screen and making holes. When I had the window fan set up, they kept trying to jump on top of it and knocking it off, so they could claim the space. I took a couple of the old window screens I found in the shed and barn that we’ve been using for various things. They’re different sizes, so it took two of them to fully cover my window. They’ve got cord running across to hold them in place, but I still need to be able to slide them aside to reach the window. Which means that, if she’s determined enough. Nosencrantz can knock the screens off entirely.

Which is what woke me up.

As I was putting the screen back up, I heard the furnace shut off.

I hadn’t even noticed the furnace was on. Why did the furnace turn on???

Well, it turns out that, instead of the overnight low of 11C/52F that was forecast, the actual temperature at the time was 5C/41F. The girls had their windows open – it was finally bearable up there for them! – but with the way air circulated in this house, that resulted in a cold wind blowing down the stairs.

I have since turned the thermostat down further.

This is where looking at the long range forecast frustrates me. According to those, we weren’t supposed to have overnight lows like that until the end of September. Our average first frost date is Sept. 10, which is Friday. Over the next while, we’re supposed to go up to 28C/82F with a low of 15C/59F on Thursday, then drop to 16C/61F with a low of 4C/36F on Friday, then warm back up again.

Which would be okay, if that actually happened, but if our overnight low was less than half of what was forecast, how can I trust we won’t get frost temperatures?

Well, we can just hope.

The baby eggplant is getting bigger, but looked like it was about to break off its stem, so I dug out the last of the tomato cages I bought this spring and set it up.

Remarkably, there are tiny little peppers forming! They are supposed to turn purple when fully ripe, but I doubt there is enough growing season left for that.

Oh, I forgot to mention. My daughters taste tested the Chocolate Cherry tomatoes, and just loved them. They are very flavourful. The red tomatoes are very mild flavoured. The yellow pear have more flavour, but not compared to the other cherry and grape tomatoes we grew last year. So we won’t grow the yellow pear tomatoes again, but will be saving seed from the Chocolate Cherry. We got the seeds from Veseys, but they don’t seem to carry them anymore. From what I can find, though, they are an open pollinated, heirloom variety, so saving the seeds should give us the same variety. I did find some sites listing them as a hybrid, though, so perhaps there are more varieties with the same name. No matter. We will give it a try!

The girls got a nice big pile of grass clippings gathered for me. This is just from the south yards, which I cut a couple of days ago, so the clippings had time to dry in the sun a bit.

It was enough to finish mulching either side of the sweet corn, around the green bush beans, and most of the space between the corn. I did have to rake up more grass clippings from the north yard where I mowed yesterday to finish the job. The grass in the west yard is so sparse, there are no clippings worth raking up.

At this point, the amending that’s being done here is more for next year. We will be moving the trellises closer to the house next year, and these might be good places to put them. I don’t know when I’ll be able to start taking down trees to build more high raised beds – there are only 2 that are unobstructed and can be taking down at any time. Others need to wait until the garden beds in the east yard are done, and those ones need to be cleared before yet others can be cut down.

So even if things just don’t work out and we’re not able to build any high raised beds this fall, we can still use the new beds we made for the potatoes and melons, and in this corn and squash bed, to build tunnel trellises – I’d want to build two, I think – and more basic trellises with other materials we have available. I think these might even be permanent or semi-permanent locations for trellises, so we can make the extra effort to ensure they are not wonky and wobbly, like the ones we’re using for one last year right now. Which means the more mulching and other amending we do this year, the better it will be for next year.

I’ve also been looking at the grape vines. I want to transplant them to a better location, and would love to build an arbour style trellis for them. It would be nice to make an arched style arbor over the people gate in the chain link fence, but not with those big elms above. Those are not as high on the priority list, though, so we have time to figure out what we want and where.

I’ve been eye balling some of the wood the tree guys set aside for me when they chipped our branch piles. We might be able to use some of them to make smaller, slightly raised beds in the old kitchen garden. Or even just a low wall along one side, to keep people from accidentally stepping where my daughter has planted her irises and daffodils! 😁

I’m quite looking forward to figuring things out.

Meanwhile…

I just called the vet clinic again, which saved them from needing to call us later on. Leyendecker is eating, which is a good sign. They plan to take the catheter out this afternoon, and will monitor him overnight to make sure he’s peeing properly without it. We will get a call tomorrow. I asked about the bill, as my daughter will most likely transfer funds to me – my debit card has a higher purchase limit than hers does – and I wanted to give her an idea of how much. So far, we’re at about $700. With the medications he’ll be coming home with, and tonight’s overnight stay, she said the total might reach a thousand. Of course, he will need to come back for blood work to check if there is permanent damage to his kidneys. At least with that, we have the list on the form I signed, so I know that after taxes, that’ll be another $150 or so.

The main thing is, he is recovering, eating and drinking, and should soon be coming home!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: eggplants, peppers, Wonderberry, and what a long day

It’s shortly before 8pm as I start this, and it’s all I can do not to just go to bed right now!

My day started a bit earlier, as I wanted to get my morning rounds taken care of before making some calls, then heading to the city. My husband and I now have medical appointments for the end of the week. We are both way overdue. Especially my husband.

Once that was done, I headed to the city, stopping to get gas at the town my mother lives in, first. Too early for their fried chicken to be available, so breakfast was a bag of beef jerky. 😀 Usually, I just get $20 or $30 in gas, but decided to fill. At 197.9/L $20 wasn’t going to get me much. It cost almost $55 for about a quarter tank.

Then I got to the city and the first gas stations I saw were at 207.9/L

That’s USD$6.24/US gallon.

As I got further into the city, I saw stations that were still at 196.9/L but it likely is just a matter of time before all the stations jump up in price.

It’s insane.

I’m sure glad I filled my tank earlier!

Today was our day to do the rest of our monthly stocking up, and I went to The Wholesale Club again for this trip. Ended up spending just over $400 there, and the only things that could be considered splurges were super long metal tongs, and a super long wooden spoon, for cooking over the firepit. Oh, and more 500ml, wide mouth canning jars for the stash. 😀

There were a couple of things they didn’t have in types and sizes that I wanted, so I went to a nearby Walmart. My splurges there were a heavy duty garden hose, and a fan for my window, to replace the box fan that broke last year. The garden hose was actually a bit cheaper than the medium duty garden hose I was looking at. Normally I’d say, you get what you pay for, but the last time I paid a more premium price for a heavy duty hose, it suddenly burst apart at the tap, the first summer we used it. We’ll see how well this one lasts.

Between the drive and the shopping, the whole thing took about 4-5 hours, but I got pretty much everything on my list – including the highest SPF sunscreen I could find, an more bug spray! After this, we’ll only need to pick up fresh stuff locally, as needed.

I’m glad I remembered to stop at the post office on the way home. Several packages were in, including a birthday gift for my younger daughter. We also finally got the credit from our previous internet provider, which we should have gotten back in February. Since I was there, I also picked up another bag of wood shavings to use as mulch.

Once at home and the girls unloaded the van and put everything away, I headed back outside. We hit more than 20C/68F today, and I wanted to make sure all the transplants – both the ones still in pots, and the ones in the gardens – got a good misting. Happily, there is no sign of transplant shock in anything we transplanted. In fact, one tomato plant that got all droopy right after being planted, has already perked up.

My younger daughter was able to get the Wonderberry transplanted.

We decided to put them around the stone cross. I’ve read that these are good at self seeding, so they can be treated as perennials, and we thought this might be a nice place for them. They are so full of flowers and berries! I would certainly prefer these spreading around the area, instead of those green leafed plants that are taking over everything. They do have pretty flowers but, wow, do they ever invade! Almost every area we’ve managed to clean up among the trees is now covered with these!

Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t get much more done outdoors after this. She was driven inside by the clouds of mosquitoes. I had bug spray on, and it barely kept them at bay. I ended up mowing the main garden area, instead of working on more transplanting or bed prep as I’d intended, because the tall, damp grass is just a haven for mosquitoes. Huge clouds of them would rise up as we walked through! They’re just nasty.

Before I started mowing, my daughter helped me move the row covers we made last year. From the droppings left behind, the deer walked all over them during the winter. They are completely falling apart. When we can, we’ll take them apart and salvage what we can to reuse in other ways in the garden.

I didn’t get all of what needed to be mowed – some areas are still too wet – but the main garden area, and the spaces between beds and trellises we used last year, are now mowed. I also set up the old, patched up rain barrel and filled it with water (which I could now reach without having to steal a length of hose from the front tap, thanks to the new hose I got today) while I mowed, so we can use it to water the silver buffalo berry and sea buckthorn with ambient temperature water. Plus I could reach to use the hose to water the peas.

Once a bare minimum of mowing was done, I went ahead and did some more transplanting.

We had 5 surviving Little Finger eggplants, and they just fit into the middle of the half-bed that had space. They are encircled by spinach and onions. Now that the eggplants are in, we can finish setting up the hoops – they just need cross pieces joining them in the middles – so we can cover them with net. I don’t know of the critters would eat eggplant, but I’d rather not give them the opportunity to find out!

There were 7 surviving Purple Beauty bell peppers. Most were from the second seed start. Only two survived the Great Cat Crush. 😀 Once they were in, there was still some space in the middle of this bed. Just enough for the last two Cup of Moldova that didn’t fit in the bed that has just tomatoes in it.

This bed is encircled with onions on the outside, while the inside has turnips on one side, spinach on the other. The turnips – all three varieties – germinated a couple days ago, and today I could just see little spinach coming up, too.

With the peppers now planted, we’ll add twine to the supports, and then will be able to put net around the bed.

Tomorrow, we’re going to need to put a priority on transplanting the melons. They are starting to suffer in their too-small toilet tube pots. So they will go into the deep mulch space left over, after the potatoes were planted. I was going to plant the summer squash in there, though to be honest, between the two beds, we might have room for both. Well. Not all the summer squash. We do have a lot of patty pans!

We’re expected to get as warm tomorrow as we did today, so I think an early bed and early rise will be in order again. I want to get more work done in the garden, while it is still cool.

After I pain killer up and slather my dried up hands with lotion! I am in such pain right now. It’s fine if I’m sitting down, except for the joints in my fingers making it hard to type, but every time I get up, I find my joints have completely stiffened up and I can barely walk.

*sigh*

I’m too young to be feeling this old!

😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: thinning and potting up

A lot of the squash in the big aquarium greenhouse were getting too big for their britches, so it was time to thin them out and pot them up!

The Giant Pumpkins were easy enough to do; there’s just one plant per biodegradable pot, so they just got put into bigger biodegradable pots with little issue.

With the others, we thinned by division. We had only a few of the larger biodegradable pots left, so the biggest ones were transplanted into those. After that, they went into the red Solo cups. Then they all went into the sun room.

Once those were done, we went through the mini-greenhouse and moved the remaining eggplants and peppers to the sun room as well. A couple of them got thinned by division, too.

These two bins are all winter squash, the giant pumpkins and hulless pumpkins, under the bright shop light.

The gourds that were already in the sun room joined more squash and Apple gourds in a bin.

The peppers that survived the Great Cat Crush, as well as replacement starts of peppers and eggplants, got moved into the window shelf.

Back in the big aquarium greenhouse, there is now more room to space things out. The melons were looking leggy, so I put something under the bin they’re in to raise them closer to the light. There’s still just one Zucca melon sprouted (the big one in the foreground).

There are still some smaller squash and gourds on the heat mat. The Yakteen gourds have not germinated yet. I tried to get a photo, but the camera decided to focus on the aquarium frame instead of the plants. LOL

In the mini-greenhouse, there are still the Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes, and the ground cherries. With more space available, they’re now all spread out to get maximum light and air flow.

It’s always a risk to pot up things like squash. Once the new bins were in the sun room, water was added to the bottoms to let them absorb more moisture from below; particularly the biodegradable pots, so the pots themselves wouldn’t wick moisture out of the soil and away from the roots. I left the shop light on all night, to hopefully give them the energy they needed to handle the changes.

As of this morning, everything looked pretty much as I left them. Nothing was drooping or otherwise showing signs of stress from being divided and potted up. So far so good!

In about a week or two, we will start hardening off the transplants. By then, everything that’s in the aquarium greenhouse and the mini-greenhouse should be moved to the sun room, with the tomatoes divided and potted up.

If all goes well, we should have most, if not all, or cold tolerant seeds direct sown outside by the end of the month, too.

It feels so good to finally be able to move ahead with the gardening!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: 10 week seed starts

Today is 10 weeks from our average last day of frost, and we had a few seeds to start.

But first, we needed to make space. These would be going into the big aquarium greenhouse, on the heat mat, which meant the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes had to be moved. All the pots have seeds germinating in them, so it’s okay to take them off the heat mat now.

Space was made for them to fit onto the tray in the small aquarium greenhouse, which is where we have a few rescues. At the bottom left is the only luffa we’ve got so far. The seed leaves have wilted away, but the true leaves are still holding out. In the top left corner is the rescued Canteen gourd. It had seemed to be doing well, then suddenly it started wilting and the seed leaves started wilting away, but it has actually perked up again. If it can manage to develop some true leaves, there’s hope for it. With the Canteen gourd, however, the replacement seeds we planted are doing much better. The two plants with the largest leaves in the photo are Canteen gourds, as are the not quite as robust pair in between the luffa and the original Canteen gourd.

There’s also one surviving tomato plant in there; I can’t remember which type is it. There are a few others in the mini-greenhouse, too.

The one Wonderberry that sprouted from the first planting has gotten big enough that it was too tall for the lower shelves in the mini-greenhouse, so I couldn’t put it in one of the trays with other pots. So it got double cupped and tucked in with the bulb onions at the very top, where the mini-greenhouse has a peak. It didn’t like my attempt to put it in a lower shelf, but it should be standing tall again, soon.

Here we have the pots that my daughter and I started today, joining the luffa pots that we planted a couple of weeks ago. Still no sprouts. 😦

Everything got two pots each. Two types of gourds got started today; the Tennessee Dancing Gourd, and the Ozark Nest Egg gourd. Both did surprisingly well last year, in spite of the drought.

The Crespo Squash was also started. Then, we decided to plant extra eggplants and peppers. We do have surviving ones from the first planting that seem to be recovering all right from being flattened by a cat, but we’ve decided to play it safe and plant extra. The last of the Little Finger eggplant seed were planted, but we still have a few left of the Purple Beauty pepper.

The next batch of seeds should be started about 2 weeks from now. Hopefully, we’ll be able to move at least the onions to the sun room. They can handle cool weather better than anything else we’ve got started right now.

One more step forward in our gardening, done! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: reboot and new set up

Quite a few seedlings, pots and trays got moved around today. The only things that didn’t need to be moved where the onion seedlings, inside the small aquarium greenhouse. That tank doesn’t fit a lot, so they get to be undisturbed for now.

These are the survivors of the Great Cat Crush.

They are still struggling, but it looks like most of them will make it.

Also, the second seed in the cup with the Canteen gourd sprouted! That makes for a 100% germination rate on those!

As for the luffa, there were two peat pots, with nothing coming up, so more luffa seeds were set to soak, this morning.

Last time, the seed coats were scarified by carefully snipping them with nail clippers. In the off chance that they were damaged by this, I used sandpaper on an edge of each seed, instead.

When it was time to plant them, I used the tip of a chopstick to loosen the seed starting soil – and see if I could find the old seeds. I found only one (there should have been 2 in each pot), and it was just the shell, completely empty.

Hopefully, we will have better luck with the new seeds.

I also decided to do more Wonderberry. We started seeds in two Red Solo cups, and one of them now has a second seedling in it. The other, nothing. So a few more seeds were used to try again. We do still have some left over.

Next to do were the Sophie’s Choice and Cup of Moldova tomatoes. There were barely even stems left with the Sophie’s Choice, and all the leaves on the Cup of Moldova were withered away. These were the ones we transplanted to thin out of the original pots. While a cat destroyed the Sophie’s Choice seedlings, I still don’t know what happened with the Cup of Moldova seedlings. They had been doing so very well, after transplant. 😦

We reseeded the Sophie’s Choice minimally, and still have some seeds left. I managed to get a couple of seeds into each Cup of Moldova pot (though I noticed some seeds were stuck together, so a few have more), and finished off the packet. If these don’t work, then all we’ll have is anything that survived the Great Cat Crush.

The newly planted seeds went into the big aquarium greenhouse. My daughter has hung her orchids in front of the window, and I found a place for our aloe that will hopefully dissuade the cats from digging in their dirt. That allowed me to set up a surface for a second tray.

The Sophie’s Choice, luffa and Wonderberry are on the heat mat, and there was space enough for a metal tray to hold the Cup of Moldova on the other side. The Red Solo cups don’t fit in the black trays as well. If they weren’t the exact size for the mini-greenhouse, I’d be using nothing but those baking trays!

Speaking of the mini-greenhouse…

We emptied that out, removed the plastic cover, then lined the back and sides with heavy duty aluminum foil. The whole set up is now closer to the window for more natural light.

The remaining seedlings went back into the mini-greenhouse. The shallots are now in here, along with the two other Canteen gourds that sprouted while in the big aquarium greenhouse, as is the sprouted Wonderberry. The new location should mean more natural sunlight – especially first thing in the morning – and the aluminum should help reduce any stretching towards the light from the seedlings. They’ll still be checked and turned as needed, of course. Eventually, it’ll be moved even closer to the window, but it’s still too cold for that.

I had hoped to be able to block the front opening of the cover with the window screen we used to use on top of the small aquarium greenhouse, but it’s not big enough to keep the cats out. So, we have the little fan inside again. Since today is quite overcast, I’ve also added the light fixture that also provides a bit of heat. There’s another lamp we use, but it doesn’t fit inside the mini-greenhouse, and will sit in front, instead.

The tray with the baggies of paw paw and tulip tree seeds is back on the top shelf, where it has the least amount of light, but is also the warmest. It should still be a while before we start seeing anything happening with those.

You know, all of this would be a lot easier, if we didn’t have to protect everything from cats! 😀 One or two shelves in the living room window, and we’d be done.

Ah, well. It is what it is!

Hopefully, the newly planted seeds and the new set up for the mini-greenhouse will work out.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: lost?

Well, that “blowing snow advisory” has certainly been valid.

My husband noticed the piebald deer heading for the kibble house again, so I figured that was a good time to empty the kitchen compost bucket – and get her away from the kibble. When I opened the door from the sunroom, pausing to take this photo, she just stared at me until she saw me moving outside.

I don’t think she appreciated the interruption of her snack!

I topped up the kibble for the cats, while I was out.

Since it was a quick run to the compost pile, I hadn’t bothered putting on a coat. It was only -12C/10F, after all!

Of course, that didn’t take the wind chill into account. I don’t know what it was at the time, but we’re at -13C/9F right now, and the wind chill is -23C/-9F. Brrrr!!!!

But I’m thinking of spring as we tend the seedlings. I’d mentioned in my last post that the seedlings in the mini-greenhouse were not looking well, so I decided to get some photos to show what I meant.

At which point I discovered I’d forgotten to drop and zip closed the front of the plastic cover.

Much to my surprise, the cats have made no attempt to go into it! Perhaps they’ve satisfied their curiosity already. I decided to leave it open, for now.

These are the Cup of Moldova seedlings that got potted up as we thinned them out. They are actually looking worse now than this morning, and I don’t know why. They had been doing quite well after being transplanted, then suddenly… this.

Were they over watered? Too hot in the mini-greenhouse? Not enough light? Not enough air circulation? Any or all of the above? I have no idea. I’m hoping that leaving the front of the cover open will be helpful.

The Sophie’s Choice that got eaten are… well, the two that were down to just stems are dead, but the ones that still have leaves on them… I don’t know. They might still survive.

These are the ones that got repotted after a cat lay on and crushed the original pots they were in. They actually are doing better than anything else in the mini-greenhouse. The damage done to them is more visible now. Surprisingly, the peppers and eggplants that got the most shmooshed are doing pretty good! The remaining tomatoes are showing damaged leaves, but beyond that, they look like they will recover.

I guess we’ll see over the next few days, how many are complete losses, and how many will survive.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning disaster. Will they survive?

Not a good way to start the day.

One of the first things I do when I get up in the mornings is turn on the lights for the aquarium greenhouses.

This morning, I was greeted by this.

This is the tray we had just recently transferred out of the big aquarium greenhouse. A cat had managed to get through the box blocking the gap at the back of the chair, and into the tray.

The damage in some of them was really, really bad. The pots just disintegrated. Granted, they are designed to do that, but not until they’ve been put into the ground!

Some weren’t too bad. The gourds, in particular, were mostly just jostled a bit. I was able to transfer them into the Solo cups without too much trouble. These cups already had drainage holes in their bottoms.

Note the leaves on the Canteen gourd, with the almost white tips. That’s from the seed casing that I ended up breaking free of the leaves.

The remainder required much more care.

We still had some pre-moistened seed starting soil left, and I used it to help re-pot the remaining squished seedlings.

I think a couple of labels got mixed up, but I’m not going to worry about that right now. As long as the two varieties of tomatoes are labelled, it’s fine.

Once the seedings were cleared and in cups, I moistened some more seed starting soil. While mixing the water in, the remains of the Jiffy pots got mashed into the soil as well. By the time the soil was thoroughly moistened, there was no sign of the pots!

For some with still intact pots, like the gourds, I gently removed them again, added soil to the bottom of the cups, then put them back in. For the tomatoes, I basically just potted them up, adding the fresh soil around the stems. Those should recover fine.

It’s the eggplants and peppers that might have difficulties. I tried to add soil around them while raising them higher in the cups as best I could. Some were quite squished, but none looked broken or damaged.

With the tomatoes, I’m not too concerned, since we do have two more trays of them in the mini-greenhouse, but these are the only eggplant and peppers we’ve got. Even with the gourds, there are other pots that haven’t germinated yet.

Speaking of which…

To give them the best chance as survival, the repotted seedlings went back into the large aquarium greenhouse, where they will be on the heat mat and under the two light fixtures.

Which, unfortunately, meant the other tray had to go into the mini-greenhouse.

Before they did, though, my daughter flattened a cereal box and put it in first, folded so that half the box covers the gap in the back, and the other half is under the tray.

Pure chance that we had the box. We almost never buy cereal, but when we were last the Superstore, we purchased enough to get their freebie of the week. That week, it was a variety pack of cereals and breakfast bars. This was the largest cereal box in the pack, and just the right size to completely cover the gap created by the back of the chair the mini-greenhouse is tied down to.

Unfortunately, this means the items in the tray aren’t getting the light and warmth they were, in the aquarium greenhouse. The best we could do was set up a light on one side, shining into the bottom of the mini-greenhouse from the TV stand next to it. For those in pots, they need the warmth of that incandescent bulb more than the light, since they haven’t germinated yet. You can see the shallots coming up in the tray next to the pots. They will need more light, but not the heat.

*sigh*

Well, there’s only so much we can do, until things warm up enough to start using the sun room. Hopefully, before then, we’ll be able to switch the trays again, and have the newly repotted seedlings back in the mini-greenhouse, and the tray with seeds that still need to germinate, back on the warming mat. The mini-greenhouse itself should be closer to the living room window, but the closer you get to the window, the colder the room is, so that won’t work for probably another few weeks.

We don’t know for sure which cat did this damage but, really, there’s just the one that keeps trying to get into the mini-greenhouse, still. The others are content to sit in the sun spot on the chair seat in front of it.

I love the cats. I really do. But I am getting so tired of cat damage.

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