Our 2022 garden: first spinach sown, and onions transplanted

It was a bit cooler and overcast this morning, but still pleasant enough to get the plants outside for a couple of hours.

I am really happy with the newest seedlings. This tray has the cucumbers in the left half, with the Teddy and Red Kuri winter squash on the right. It took so long for the winter squash to germinate, I wasn’t sure they’d make it, but we have 100% gemination!

The purple peas in this tray are getting nice and big. The summer squash in the other cells took a long time to germinate, too, but they seemed to get a boost after I put the warming mat under them. It’s hard to see, but even the green zucchini is finally germinating, next to the peas. I thought the Magda squash had started to germinate, but not quite yet. We had less success with those the last 2 years we planted them, too. Our first year, we had only 2 surviving plants. Last year, there was just the one. Magda squash just seems to have a harder time of it.

So far, only 2 of the yellow zucchini have germinated. Last year, we had some germinate, but when they started producing fruit, they were green, and we no yellow zucchini at all. I’m hoping that won’t happen again, this year!

The transplants seem to be quite liking their time outdoors, and even the newest little tomatoes in the foreground are looking generally robust.

We have 3 Crespo squash – and they are budding! Would you look at that!

I considered pinching them off, but these first flowers would be all male flowers. The next batch of buds should be both male and female. So I’m thinking to just leave them? I don’t know. There is very little information out there on how to grow Crespo squash. They do seem to be very enthusiastic growers!

While moving the blooming Wonderberry in and out of the sun room, we have been brushing the 3 plants against each other, in hopes to pollinate them, just in case. I don’t know how if they are self pollinating or not. Nowhere I’ve looked about them even mentions pollinating.

The transplants were left out for 2 hours today, which gave me time to work on our very first direct sowing – and transplanting – in the high raised bed.

The first thing to do was dig trenches through the wood chip mulch, so that things could be seeded/planted into the soil beneath. We have three varieties of spinach seeds from last year, and for this bed, I chose Lakeside, which is the fastest maturing variety of the three. The tray of onions I grabbed are the red onions, Tropeana Lunga, which should look like this when they mature…

This image belongs to Heritage Harvest Seed. You can see what else we ordered with these, here.

By planting the onions around the spinach, they should help with keeping away harmful insects, and maybe even keep hungry critters away. The high raised bed is buffet height for deer, though, so we will be covering them later.

There is space to do a second planting of spinach in two weeks, which will also finish off the seeds we’ve got left of this variety.

The largest Tropeana Lunga seedlings filled the two outside rows, but there were still a few tiny seedlings left. The size that would be considered not worth planting. I hate to just toss seedlings, though, so I ended up sticking them in the soil at the base of the raised bed on the north end. When this was a low raised bed, it was quite a bit longer, so the soil is softer on that end. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. We don’t have a lot of this variety, so I’m hoping to be able to overwinter a couple of bulbs to go to seed next year.

I was left with nice, soft potting soil in the tray the onions seedlings were growing in, so I used that to gently top the spinach seeds, and put just a little around each onion plant, more to keep the wood chips from falling onto them than anything else.

I have to say, I LOVE the high raised bed to plant in! It was completely pain free, with no strain on my joints. Well. I suppose that doesn’t include my arthritic fingers, but I didn’t even notice pain in my hands, either. It took me less than half an hour to plant into this bed

I didn’t bother watering these, since it was already starting to rain by the time I was finishing up. It’s been raining off an on, ever since. My daughter and I got a bit damp when we headed out later on, to figure out exactly where to plant our tree order when it comes in. With 30 silver bison berry to plant, those were the ones we need to figure out the most. They should be planted 3-4 ft apart. Since we are doing these as a privacy hedge, we will planting them 3 feet apart, with most of them along the east end of the garden area, leaving a lane just wide enough to drive through, if necessary, between them and the fence line. Taking into account where the phone line is buried, we’ll be able to plant two staggered rows of 10, though as we get closer to the spruce grove, we many need to jump the rows closer to the fence itself, to keep that driving lane open. There is a branch pile that will be in the way of any lane we leave open, but we’ll still be able to plant around it.

We’ve got 5 sea buckthorn that will be planted nearer the north fence line, to close a gap in the lilac hedge. Any remaining bison berry can also be planted along the lilac hedge, and still keep the lane over the telephone wire clear. This will leave a gap in the privacy hedge, once they’ve grown to full size, that will need fencing or a gate to close it off from deer.

The Korean pine are a whole other issue. Originally, I wanted to plant them in the space between the north side of the spruce grove, and the crab apple trees. These, however, have an 18 foot spread. At their mature size, they would completely fill that space, and we need at least some of it to be kept open to drive through. The alternative was along the north side, which would make an excellent wind break, but with that 18 foot spread and the lilac hedge, we’d be planting them on top of the phone line. Not going to happen.

Which means we’ll have to plant them in the outer yard.

Just past the fence on west side, which has a gate that leads into the garden, there is a space where we can plant 2 of them. Then there is the gate to the secondary driveway – our “emergency exit”, if you will. It was through here that one of our truck loads of garden soil was delivered.

The remaining 7 seedlings will need to be planted on the other side of that back gate, along where there is already a couple of rows of spruces, with some willows at the south end. If we plant them 18 feet apart (we might go with 16 feet), we will have a row of seedlings matching the length of the existing shelter belt trees.

The only problem with this is that the south end is currently under water.

Still, knowing that this is a low spot will help. We can make sure to basically build things up a bit, so that the seedlings will stay above water during spring melt.

Then we’ll have to make sure to put something over them to protect them from being eaten. I don’t know that deer would eat Korean pine, but they could certainly damage them, just by walking over them.

We have not yet received a shipping notice for the trees, but with so many holes to dig, the earlier we get started, the better. Hopefully, by the time they do arrive, we’ll be ready and can plant them right away.

Oh, I just double checked my order! We’re not getting 9 Korean pine. We’re getting 6.

Which means we won’t be digging holes in water, after all. 😀

It’s going to feel weird getting our little 2 yr old plugs and planting them so far apart. Especially since they will grow very slowly for the next 3 years. Which is exactly how my mother ended up planting so many trees way too close together! 😀

Oh, my goodness. I just checked the short range weather forecast, and it’s changed yet again. We’re supposed to get more rain over the next couple of days, then for the two days after that, we’re supposed to get a mix of rain and snow!

What I planted in the high raised bed should be cold hardy enough to handle that, but we might cover it anywhere, just in case, at least for the night.

Last year, May was a very warm month. On this exact day last year, we had a new record high of 30C/86F. The record low for today, -4C/24F, was set in 2002.

After a long, cold winter, it seems we’re getting a wet cold spring.

Still, there are things we can plant. I just hope things warm up decently in June, so we can get the warm weather transplants in!

The Re-Farmer

Road status, and first cucumbers!

What a difference a few hours makes!

It’s been a beautifully warm day. At 19C/66F, even the relatively high winds aren’t cooling things down much. The standing water in and around the yard has reduced significantly since this morning.

I decided to take the walk over to where the road is washed out to the south of us, and see what the status was – this time without Rolando Moon following me!

The waters have gone down a LOT, but the two washed out areas are not in good shape. The flow of water going across is very fast, aided by the wind coming from the northwest.

The wider, shallower area has eroded across even more. Where you can see a darker line is a ridge of clay that hasn’t been washed out yet; everything to the left of that would be very soft. As you can see by the rut on the far left, it’s not going to support the weight of a vehicle much. Still, if we had to, I think we could drive through this part.

The other part, however…

I wasn’t wearing my rubber boots, so I wasn’t going to cross to take a closer look. That further area looks quite a bit deeper than the last time I checked it out. This is where the road was already washed out down to the foundation rocks. There is no why our van can handle driving over that.

I haven’t checked out any of the other washed out areas. If this is still flowing as fast as it is, the others wouldn’t be much different.

Which means we still aren’t going anywhere for a while. :-/

While I was out, I checked a few other areas, including the tulip patch. I swear, they great at least 2 inches since I saw them this morning.

Something new that wasn’t there this morning, though, were these…

The very first cucumbers are sprouting! Seeing these, I took the “dome” off the tray. The transplants we’ve got in the sun room are doing quite well. Even the tomato that was broken at the stem, which got buried back into the pot, looks like it’s recovering.

I think that tomorrow will be the day to move the mini-greenhouse into the sun room, along with most, if not all, the seedlings still in the living room. The Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes are still tiny, but they can be divided and potted up before being moved to the sun room. The Yakteen gourd have not sprouted yet, but at this point, the sun room is warmer than the living room. Even with them being on the warming mat now, they would probably do better in the sun room. Everything will do better in than in the enclosed spaces they are in right now, I think. We’ll also be able to move the second LED shop light and set it up in the sun room, too, if necessary.

It’ll be good to not have to worry about the cats getting at the seedlings anymore!

The Re-Farmer

Things that make us smile

I had a few pleasant surprises this morning. Such as some new crocuses that exploded into bloom overnight!

When I checked them this morning, there was only this one cluster of purple crocuses. I just got back from walking around the yard with my daughters, and a second cluster was blooming, next to it!

There may be only a couple of clusters of purple crocuses, but the yellow ones burst into bloom all through the area we planted them – and there are more spikes of leaves that we can see that haven’t developed flower buds yet. It’s going to be so beautiful, once they all start blooming!

There was another wonderful surprise this morning, in the sun room.

The very first Tulip tree has emerged! I was really wondering how these would do, as there is so much mold on the soil and pots.

Meanwhile, in the big aquarium greenhouse, there are now 4 out of 8 watermelons germinated, and another Apple gourd is breaking through.

Oh, and I have to make a correction about those peppers in the sun room.

I really out to read my labels. They’re eggplant. The peppers are still in the mini-greenhouse in the living room! 😀

I’m seeing a lot fewer cats around when I put the food out in the morning.

Only 3 came to the kibble house.

The Distinguished Guest is still limping, but he is putting weight on that injured leg again. He’s pretty skittish right now and I wasn’t able to come near him.

Speaking of skittish, there were 4 at the tray under the shrine, and I had to zoom in from quite a distance to not scare them off from the food.

After doing my morning rounds, I headed into the city to finally do our second shop that we normally would have done a week ago. We’re able to pull the van into the yard to unload now, which is much nicer!

After things were put away, the I joined the girls to look at things outside. They wanted to see the new seedlings (there are SO many Kulli corn coming up, too!), and we found a potato.

Or should I say, a Potato Beetle.

This is partly why I wanted to put a platform for the transplants above the swing bench. Last year, we had bins right on the bench. The platform is high enough that any cats in the sun room can still use the swing bench as a bed.

He’s really liking that roll of mosquito netting!

It’s 20C/68F right now, and tomorrow is supposed to hit 22C/72F. The sun room gets warm enough, we leave the inner door open with the screen window in the outer door open all the way, the ceiling fan on, and even the inner door of the old kitchen open, and the screen window of the outer door open, too. It’s a lot cooler in the the old kitchen, so it should help cool the sun room down, while the sun room should help warm the old kitchen up a bit. We wouldn’t want things to get too hot in the sun room for the plants – or for Potato Beetle!

Gosh, he’s adorable.

While checking things out, the girls and I went into the main garden area, where there is another garlic bed mulched with straw. They helped me remove the straw just over to the bale nearby, and we had a very pleasant surprise.

Almost all the garlic is coming up already! They’re mostly yellow from lack of light, and uncovering them will help with that. This bed warmed up much faster than the other ones. These are the Porcelain Music garlic.

We checked the other beds and, with their straw mulch gone, they are no longer frozen in the middle. We should be seeing garlic coming up there soon, too.

Before heading inside, I checked one more thing – the cat’s house! I’ve looked through the windows a few times today, and usually saw two adult faces looking back at me. The adults happened to be out this time, though.

It is very hard to see through the smudged up window, but I am positive there are now two litters in here.

That tuxedo in the back is one of the first kittens I saw. The grey tabby and the grey and white it’s using as a pillow are its siblings. I could never tell how many more there were, but thought there could be 4, or even as many as 6, but we just couldn’t see them well enough. I was pretty sure there was at least one more dark, possibly black, kitten.

Looking at the photo above, it looks like there are two much smaller kittens! And possibly that 4th dark, possibly black, kitten I can never be sure I’m seeing.

If it wouldn’t result in the mamas moving the kittens and hiding them somewhere else, I’d be popping up the roof to check on them, and start socializing them.

And clean the inside of the windows, so we can see them better! 😀

At it is, I’m concerned just looking through the windows might scare the mamas away with their babies. After I checked in them, I started heading to the sun room and found a matched set of cats – Junk Pile and the ‘iccus that’s been hanging out with her – coming around the corner of the cat house. They froze in matched poses, with matching expressions of alarm, staring at me. Even when they finally moved, it was like they were synchronized! Too funny.

I quickly headed in so they could go in to the babies. If my guess is right, these two mamas are taking care of both litters together, as we would sometimes see Butterscotch and Beep Beep do. Well. Mostly Beep Beep. Butterscotch spent as little time with her kittens as she could!

So many things to make us smile today!

The Re-Farmer

Garden prep – getting work done outside

Oh, what a lovely, lovely day! I was able to get things done that have been waiting for a day like today.

Before I get to that, though, take a look and who I found.

Possibly the same grog (groundhog) I saw this morning. It was at a space under the fence critters use to get through the chain link, but there’s water there right now. Because I was so close, it wanted to run through, but didn’t want to go through the water! It ended up running down the fence towards the junk pile, and I didn’t see it again until I was back in the house. The girls told me it was at the feeding station outside our living room window! I could tell it was the same one because it’s got burrs or something it its fur.

Then, as I sat down at my computer to upload photos, I saw two grogs running across the driveway towards the inner yard.

*sigh*

We’re going to have our work cut out for us!

Anyhow. Back to business!

The first thing I wanted to get done was lay out the salvaged black tarps (or whatever they are) in the main garden area.

Click on the images to see them larger.

In the background, you can see sticks coming out of the ground where a groundhog’s den used to be. It took shoving those sticks into the hole and burying them to finally get it out of there. They will be trimmed, later.

The black plastic should help warm up the soil, while also killing off the grass and weeds. We will be growing potatoes here, using the Ruth Stout deep mulching method, to start reclaiming this area.

When we’ve used these tarps before, we’d weigh the edges down with rocks, bricks, fence posts – whatever we could find. Since then, I found a big bag of cheap metal tent pegs, so I used some of those to pin the tarps down. The ground is thawed enough that I had no problem pushing them through – except for the rocks.

So. Many. Rocks.

I think only one tent peg actually made it through with minimal problems, and even then, I could feel it pushing past more rocks.

We have three types of potatoes on the way. Two at 5kg/11 pounds and one at 1kg/2.2 pounds. We will likely break the spaces covered by the tarps into 4 beds with paths, if only to make things easier to reach. We may plant the two 5kg types of potatoes here, and find somewhere else of the 1kg of potatoes. Maybe use one of the two grow bags I picked up on sale, for such a small amount.

The next area I wanted to work on was the chimney block bed along the chain link fence. The last 4 blocks had been brought over and were waiting to be placed.

At this point, all I wanted to do was level off the soil with a hoe, then line the blocks up along the fence. The ground slopes downward along this area, and the gap under the chain link increases along the way. When we built the bed here last year, we had to add boards along the fence to keep the soil from washing away when we watered things. It didn’t work as well as in the other bed (the one now bordered with bricks, in the background) because of all that space under the fence. Having these blocks will solve the erosion problem.

The blocks won’t be filled quite yet. I want to put some more organic material at the bottoms before returning the soil, and adding more, if needed. The ones we filled last year look like they could use some topping up, too.

Next, it was the garlic and asparagus beds.

I’ve been reading up and watching videos about growing asparagus – which is not yet showing – and it seems they do well with deep mulching (as well as being planted together with strawberries, which we might do). The garlic beds have mulch on them that I have decided to take off, and move to the asparagus.

First, the garlic beds.

Click on the images to see them in a larger size.

Pulling back the mulch, I can feel that the soil has thawed around the edges, but the closer to the middle, the more frozen it is. In the photo on the right, you can see some of the ice crystals exposed as the mulch was pulled back.

Also, this is oat straw, and quite a lot of seeds got caught up with the straw. I was seeing quite few sprouting grains, like the one in that second photo! (click to enlarge)

Both beds are now uncovered. The bed that’s in the back was more frozen than the one in the foreground. I couldn’t pull off some of the mulch because it was stuck in ice.

Now that there is no longer mulch insulating the ice, it should be melted by the end of the day. We’re at 18C/64F as I write this, so it won’t take long for the beds to thaw, and the garlic can start growing again.

As for the straw mulch…

The red lines mark there the asparagus is, plus there is a narrow band around it, where we shoved in some tiny onions that were really too small for transplanting, but we didn’t want to just toss. They didn’t do well, which is not a surprise, but what is a surprise is that the bulbs survived the winter and are starting to grow! So when the mulch from both garlic beds was added over the asparagus, I made sure it was not really covering where the onions are.

Who knows. We might ended up being able to collect Norstar onion seeds this year!

The asparagus planted here is a purple variety, and this is its second year. Two years from now, we should be able to start harvesting them. We also plan to get green asparagus crowns, but we’ve got so many things to plant this year, it sort of went by the wayside. I’m still not sure where we’d want to plant them, since it would be permanent.

Maybe here?

When we first cleaned out there area, there was a tire planter that was a car tire cut in half around the circumference, the tire flipped inside out, and still attached to the rim, which raised it up a bit. I had dug it out and tipped the soil onto the ground, discovering it was covering the stumps of a maple – which promptly started to send up suckers! Then we discovered that the planter had been for a type of flower that spreads through rhizomes. Which means I inadvertently spread a weed.

When we built the bed here last spring, we used carboard to try and kill things off first, then layered straw and soil on top of the carboard, to make the new bed. We planted strawberry spinach. If any of them sprouted, we had no way to tell, and they didn’t last long. Instead, the bed was filled with all sorts of other things we didn’t want in it.

So today, I took my nice, new garden fork to it, broke it up and pulled out as many roots and rhizomes as I could find. I then scrounged in the garage and found a couple of pieces of panelling, which I placed on top of the space between the two beds, for something to stand on, and also to smother out more of those flowers!

The little stumps are something we’re going to need to get rid of, too.

I’m not sure what we’ll be planting here. Maybe some squash or gourds, which can be heavily mulched and has large leaves to further shade and kill off anything we don’t want to be growing here.

That was it for outside garden prep. I also adjusted some things in the sun room.

The bright LED shop light that had been used on the inside of the plant shelf got rigged to light the new growing platform over the swing bench. This may be a “sun” room, but it’s not a greenhouse, and this far back from the window doesn’t get much direct sunlight at all.

Also, I’m happy to say that it looks like the two little peppers I thinned out of the other pots have perked up and may actually survive!

Once these were all taken care of, I started to dismantle the broken canopy tent frame. I could only do part of it, because I only brought a Phillip’s screwdriver with me, and the rest of them need a hex tip. Which I have, but I’ll continue it another time.

I still can’t get that one leg out of the soil. I can move it around, and the ground is thawed out for at least a couple of feed, but I just can’t pull it out. We’ll have to dig it out! The amount of force from that falling piece of tree must have been amazing to push that leg, with the flat plate on the bottom, through frozen ground must have been something else! So glad it didn’t land on the BBQ, or it would have been destroyed!

While working on the frame, I noticed the window in the back of the storage house had its cover knocked off, so I went over to put it back. Before I did, though, I could see it was wet under there, so I put my phone on flash, stuck it through the window and took some blind shots.

Oh, dear.

With how the water had formed a moat around the storage house, not coming up to the house itself, I thought it might have been pretty dry. Talk about wrong! It’s a lake under there! The kitties have lost their largest shelter.

This is also the brightest I’ve ever seen it under there. I’m not usually there and taking pictures, this time of day!

Well, no surprise that the entire storage house has been slowly sinking if it gets like this during wet years!

In the 14 day forecast, there are a couple of days where we are expecting light showers, but beyond that, we’ve got all warm and sunny, or mostly sunny, days for a while. That is going to be a huge help in giving the soil a chance to absorb more water, and the high water levels to drop or drain away. That means more chances to prepare garden beds for planting!

I’m having so much fun right now… 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: sun room mods, and old kitchen garden prep

I am really loving the longer days. I was able to get all sorts done this evening, while it was still light out!

The first job was to make some changes in the sun room.

A few things needed to be reorganized, which I worked on while the girls got the new metal sawhorses out of their packaging and set them up. There was no place to move the table saw, so one of them sticks out further than is convenient, but we can still get around it.

I suppose we could have laid out the closet door with the hinges down, but that happened to be the way my daughter and I grabbed it and laid it out. I don’t expect it to be a problem.

That done, I wanted to get those tall tomato plants out of the shelf, where they just barely fit.

Oh, oh.

Looks like Potato Beetle tried to jump into the bin that was in his favourite spot!

I do wish I’d caught this earlier. It’s pretty wilted. Still, tomatoes being how they are, I tried to salvage it.

I just buried the stem on the soil. Hopefully, those hair roots on the stem will do their job, and it will recover. If it doesn’t, we still have quite a lot of Cup of Moldova tomatoes.

That done, I brought the onions out of the shelf to give them a “haircut”, then switched them around when putting them back on the shelf.

The new set up is the perfect height to work at!

Next, I brought out the tallest plants that were in the mini-greenhouse.

I moved the two Canteen gourds out of the bin in the shelf and in with the larger tomatoes, then added laughably large poles for them to climb on. The poles look too big now, only in relation to the size of the plants, but those plants are going to get much, much larger!

More tomatoes went into the bin the gourds were removed from, another gourd that had still been in the mini-greenhouse joined the other two in the larger bin. The small bin of kulli corn got moved over. Hopefully, this will be a better spot for them. I also brought over a couple of pepper pots. They each had a pair of peppers in them, so I thinned out the smaller ones and repotted them. We’ll see if they will survive. Two more tomato plants joined them, as there wasn’t room for them in any of the bins in the window shelf. With the changes, though, there is now more room on the shelf for a couple more bins of seedlings, once we’re ready to move them over.

That done, I took advantage of the daylight, grabbed a hoe and went into the old kitchen garden.

I was able to prep three beds, including the one alongside the retaining wall blocks. There’s another bed on the left, in between where you can see stone and brick stepping stones. I won’t be touching that, as it was fall seeded with the bread seed poppies that grew there last year. We still have some of the seed pods, and I’ll be adding more seeds to that bed later on, just to make sure we get at least something. We did get another variety of bread seed poppies, but those will be planted in a completely different area, to avoid cross pollination.

The soil in these beds is not at all frozen – what a difference location makes! We’ll look through the seeds for direct sowing and make some decisions on what to plant here. We already sort of mapped things out, but things are flexible. This is a good location for root crops, be we already grew carrots and beets here last year.

Whatever we do, we’ll have to be prepared to cover the beds, so we don’t get a repeat of last year’s critter damage!

There are still the retaining wall blocks at the end. I transplanted mint that was growing where the log framed bed is, into alternating blocks. We’ll soon find out of they survived the winter. They’re mint, though, so it’s highly likely they did. We haven’t decided what to plant in the empty blocks. Perhaps some of the herb seeds we have.

There is another bed that should be quite workable now; the bed along the chain link fence where we planted tomatoes last year. We’re actually intending to put tomatoes there again this year, as they did so well in that location. The soil was very thoroughly reworked when a border of bricks was placed around it, so using it for the same type of plant again shouldn’t be a problem. Since it’s going to have things transplanted into it, and got well mulched in the fall with leaves, it’ll be left alone until planting time.

Gosh, it felt so good to be working in the dirt again! Though it was funny when I got my hands muddy, pulling out roots and weeds as I found them, and was able to go “wash” them off in snow.

😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: potting up, and new sprouts!

After checking on the plants last night, I ended up shifting things around earlier than expected. Some of the Cup of Moldova tomatoes at the top of the mini-greenhouse were getting too big! With not being able to remove the cover, it was actually a bit difficult to get them out. The door flap doesn’t open all the way to the top of the cover, so I only had a few inches to get them through.

I was going to just take them to the sun room, but they were so tall, I decided to pot them up, using some pots we found when cleaning up the old basement.

I had to commandeer a larger bin being used for something else, to fit them! The plants were potted with about 3 inches of their stems buries. If I’d had deeper pots, I could easily have buries another 3 inches.

There were also some new seedlings I finally was able to get pictures of.

These were taken last night. The Yellow Pear tomatoes had started to come up earlier, and there were finally some Chocolate Cherry sprouts showing. Among the squash and gourds, there was that one Giant Pumpkin pushing it’s way through – then a Tennessee Dancing Gourd suddenly popped up!

This is how they looked this morning. It’s always so exciting to see how fast they grow, once they germinate! That Giant Pumpkin looks like a tiny Audrey II, about to sing “Feed me, Seymore!”. 😀 Since this picture was taken, the leaves have already opened.

The tomatoes handled their first night in the sun room quite well. The only place there was room to put them and still get light was at the bottom shelf. The shop light we’re using to give light from the inside isn’t long enough to light up all the shelves we’re using. The highest shelf we’re using only gets light during the day, so that’s where we’ve got smaller bins of toilet paper tube pots seeded with the tulip trees, paw paws, and some of the kulli corn. Until they germinate, low light is not an issue for them.

These tomatoes are the same age as the ones we’d brought to the sun room earlier; they’d been left in the mini-greenhouse because they were smaller. Now, they’re bigger than the ones that have been in the sun room for a while, but the sun room ones looks sturdier, though they also still have a bit of cold damage on their leaves from their first night in the room. The greater temperature swings make for stronger plants plants, almost like hardening them off.

One of the things I did before coming in from my rounds was got into the garage and grab the folding closet doors we found in the outhouse when we cleaned it up. We’ll need more space for plant pots in the sun room, and we’re going to use it, probably with the new saw horses I bought, to set up a “table” over the swing bench. Depending on the height, there should still be room for Potato Beetle to curl up on the swing bench when he wants to be in the sun room again. 🙂 He, I’m happy to say, leaves the plants completely alone.

Unlike Susan, who desperately wants to eat them all.

Or Beep Beep, who wants to sleep on them.

Or Tissue, who wants to dig them all up.

They do make this whole “starting seeds indoors” thing much more difficult that it should be!

These tomatoes, however, are now safe in their new pots and new location. 🙂

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: sun room follow up

This morning, as I headed out to do my rounds, the sun room thermometer was at about 10C/50F. During the night, I saw it dip as low as about 5C/41F.

I moved away the reflect to get some photos of the new bins with the kulli corn. The picture of the smaller bin didn’t turn out, though.

Here is the larger bin with 80 toilet tube pots in it. That white plastic is marking off the pots that are empty. When one daughter finished the smaller bin, she started helping her sister from the other side, so the empty pots ended up in a really weird place. 😀

They planted all the seeds, including the little, bitty extras. I don’t expect those to germinate, but who knows? Even without the extras, I don’t expect 100% germination. It should be interesting to see what we get.

The three trays of bulb onions are doing better in the sun room than they were in the mini-greenhouse, but that tray of shallots is really struggling. 😦

The Cup of Moldova tomatoes have recovered from their first night in the sun room rather well. You can see leaves with cold damage on them, but the remaining leaves are looking quite strong. Even the Crespo squash and Canteen gourds seem to be doing just fine.

Likewise with the Wonderberry.

There are some seedlings in the mini-greenhouse that are starting to look like they can be moved to the sun room, as does the tray of bunching onions. We’ll have to do a bit of re-arranging, since the sun room ended up being a feline recovery room again, to make space for everything.

It will be good when we finally have a small greenhouse or polytunnel. Hopefully, we’ll have something in time for next year.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: recovery! and “potting up”

I am just so very thrilled!

I popped through the sun room to chase a skunk out of the kibble house, which gave me a chance to check on the seedlings (and give Potato Beetle some cuddles.

As I write this, it’s 3C/37F outside, but 20C/68F in the sun room.

Here are before and after photos. Look at what a difference the temperature has made!

The Cup of Moldova tomatoes were all drooping in their bin – or held up by the protective sheet of insulation on the side (I’m glad I put that there, as Potato Beetle has been sitting on the other side of it!), but now they’re all standing tall again!

I honestly didn’t think the three Cup of Moldova tomatoes in between the Crespo squash and Canteen gourds would make it, they looked so shriveled, but they too are standing at attention once again!

Perhaps the most dramatic difference is in the smaller Wonderberry. They’re looking just fine right now!

It’s supposed to start snowing again tonight, but the low is supposed to be just 0C/32F. Even if we end up a few degrees colder, that should still be warm enough that the sun room will be much better tonight, compared to last night. If they survived last night, they should have no problem with tonight! In a way, this is hardening off the seedlings, I suppose. Just in a very brutal way!

I am so happy now!

Meanwhile, I decided to check on the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes. The remaining ones from the second planting are still quite small, but getting tall enough that they could be “potted up” by adding more soil to their Red Solo cup pots.

There were four cups, each with two seedlings in them. Three of them were thinned down to one, but in one of the cups, both where equally strong, so I transplanted one of them to its own cup. They are now back in the mini-greenhouse, safe from leaf eating, dirt digging, pot crushing kitties.

Most of the other remaining seedlings in the mini-greenhouse are tomatoes – the squash and gourds we repotted after the Great Cat Crush did not survive, so we have only those from the second seeding, in the big aquarium greenhouse. Of the other survivors of the Great Cat Crush are three cups with eggplants (one has two strong seedlings in it that I’m considering dividing), and two peppers, one of which is very weak and spindly. We do have the new seed starts of those in the big aquarium greenhouse, and their true leaves are just beginning to show. We shall see how many we finally end up with, by the time we’re ready to transplant them outside.

Today, we are also finally seeing the tiniest seedlings among the ground cherries. Of the six pots, two of them has a single seedling showing up. I hope more germinate. I really like ground cherries, and would love to have quite a few plants of those.

One of our planned projects is to build a wire mesh barrier, with a wire mesh door, in the opening between the living room and dining rooms. We’ll be able to keep the cats out entirely, and the living room can be our plant haven, so we don’t have to struggle so much to protect them anymore!

Gosh, I feel so encouraged now.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: did I kill them?

Okay, so yesterday, I moved a number of our seedlings into the sun room. These were the largest seedlings that had out grown their spaces in the living room set ups. The overnight temperatures were supposed to go below freezing again, but the sun room is usually about 10 degrees Celsius warmer than outside.

The problem is, the overnight temperatures were lower than forecast, which means even at 10 degrees warmer than outside, it still would have gotten pretty cold in there. We currently have no safe way to set up the ceramic heat bulb, but we at least had the warm light fixture in the plant shelf, as much for Potato Beetle as for the seedlings!

When I went through the sun room to do my rounds this morning, I checked the seedlings and everything was looking pretty good. A little bit droopy, perhaps, but just a few leaves here and there. I was quite encouraged.

I didn’t see a lot of outside cats this morning, though I did find a lot of orange fur on the ground in front of the sun room! Clearly, there had been a fight, but of the three orange cats that were at the kibble house, none looked injured.

Rosencrantz is looking very, very round.

With the morning rounds done, I made a quick run into town to pick up a prescription refill for my husband that we couldn’t get delivered last week, due to the storm.

Since the pharmacy is across the street from where I found the bins we’re using for the seedlings, I swung by to see if I could find some more of the large size I got. They were still out of stock, but I took advantage of some good prices and picked up some canned meats and clam chowder for the pantry. On the way home, I swung by the dump to get rid of our garbage and recycling that was still in the van to keep it away from the critters, then headed home.

In the length of time it took me to do that, this happened.

Everything I brought out yesterday was drooping.

The tomatoes seemed to be hit the hardest, which I’m a bit surprised about. I thought the gourds and squash would have a harder time. Then there’s those two Wonderberries.

The first Wonderberry is just fine. It’s been there long enough to have acclimated to the room, I guess.

So… what do you think? Did I kill them? Or do you think they might recover? I think at least some of the tomatoes might recover, but… *sigh* I don’t know. We’ll find out over the next couple of days.

I am just so frustrated right now. It’s been such a struggle to start these in the first place. We have more than enough space to start seeds, but having to protect them all from the cats – and they still managed to get at and damage a bunch – means they’re basically crowded into a few small areas and poor air circulation. If we didn’t have to do that, we wouldn’t have to rely on the run room at all. We could turn our entire living room into a growing space.

As for the sun room, it still should have been fine, if the temperatures had only dropped as low as forecast. Before bed, I was seeing lows of -7/19F. The sun room, with the warming lamp, should have been just fine at that temperature. Looking at the records for the past 24 hours, we actually hit -11C/12F. Which means the sun room, without the warming lamp, would have dipped below freezing. The lamp can only add a few degrees of warm in a very small area, though we’ve got the added protection of the sheets of rigid insulation, and the reflector would help, too. Not enough to help the Wonderberry on the window shelf, on the other side of the doors, but it should have been enough to protect the seedlings on the plant shelf.

I just feel so… defeated. Having to fight the cats is one thing, but the forecasts have been so off lately, and not in our favour. It would bother me less if this wasn’t stuff we are trying to grow to feed ourselves.

Well, there are still some smaller Cup of Moldova tomatoes in the mini-greenhouse, and none of the Sophie’s Choice were large enough that they had to be moved. We still have some seeds for the canteen gourds and Crespo squash that we can try starting, though it’s getting late for those.

At least most of the seeds we need to start indoors won’t actually be started for a couple more weeks, along with the varieties we will be starting this week.

It just feels like such a battle, and it’s a battle we shouldn’t be having.

The Re-Farmer