Our 2022 garden: Lindenburg seeds – snap peas and cylindra beets

I couldn’t resist.

This afternoon, I went to the post office, where I was able to get a money order made out and mail it off, along with an improved printout photo of myself, to the RCMP for my PAL application. Hopefully, that means I’ll have my PAL certificate soon.

Since I was there, I took the opportunity to pick up a few things and…

I couldn’t help it.

I got sucked in.

There was a new seeds display.

We don’t need more seeds.

I got some, anyhow.

The peas we have now are shelling peas. Which would have been enough, but I do like snap peas, so I went ahead and got some. We also have a variety of beets already, but I decided to try the cylindra variety, too. The elongated shape is apparently much easier for getting consistently sized pieces for canning.

At least they aren’t something that need to be started indoors!

I think this is the first time I’ve picked up seeds from Lindenberg. Unlike a lot of other seed companies, they don’t have all their products viewable at their website, but had a downloadable catalog you can scroll through, instead.

Oh, dear.

I might just have to spend a bit of time ogling their selections now.

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: seedling therapy!

After seeing my weather apps flashing warnings for the blizzard that, thankfully, missed us, now I’m seeing new alerts.

This time, for extreme cold.

Which is NOT missing us!

The -23C/-9F is one thing. The -36C/-34F wind chill is something else. And look at those overnight temperatures! Yikes. Thankfully, the wind is mostly from the north. One of my daughters and I were out there for an hour or so, shoveling out the paths, so we were mostly sheltered. Not so much when my daughter was clearing the paths to the compost pile, back of the garage, and the outhouse. I had to use the wheelbarrow to clear away snow closer to the house, since the surrounding piles are too high, and the snow just falls back into the paths in that area, but at least I was out of the wind!

The temperature has actually dropped in the short time since I took this screen cap, and I’m now seeing -25C/-13F with a wind chill of -37C/-34F.

Previous long range forecasts had us warming up again right now, which clearly isn’t happening… but then, they never included another blizzard, either. Now we’re seeing the cold staying for four more days, before things are supposed to start warming up, and keep slowly warming up into March.

We’ll see how accurate that turns out to be!

Having a bit of garden therapy after shoveling snow was nice, even if it was just a tiny bit. It’s not like the seedlings need much tending.

The onion trays are starting to look a bit hairy – and not just from all the cat hair all over the top of the soil (and everywhere else in the house… LOL). With this tank being a bit cooler, and not having a heat mat under it, today was the first time they needed a top up of the water in the aluminum tray underneath them.

As for the big aquarium greenhouse, I decided to switch things around.

The two rows of gourds had been next to the end of the tank. Yes, there’s insulation against the glass, but it still gets pretty cool, with that end of the tank next to an outside wall. The heat mat below was also a bit off centre, so the canteen gourds would have been getting ever so slightly less warmth from below. I decided to move the gourd end of the tray to the middle, away from the colder side of the tank, making sure they were completely over the heat mat as well.

There is still just the one luffa growing. There are more Cup of Moldova tomatoes coming up than expected! My daughter had issues with seeds sticking to each other, while she was trying to plant just 4 or 5 per pot. I’d like to simply transplant the extras, while they are still tiny, as demonstrated in this video.

The problem is, we don’t have any more cat-proof space for more pots. We could bring in the mini-greenhouse from the sun room; that would give us space for 3 trays of the size the current pots are in, but we still haven’t figured out how to keep the cats from clawing their way under the plastic cover again. At least not without making it just as impossible for us to get in, as needed. I hate the idea of “wasting” thinned seedlings, if we don’t have to! Especially since the Cup of Moldova tomatoes are the ones we want lots of, for preservation purposes.

Ah, well. We’ll figure it out! Thinking about such things is great garden therapy, when it’s so frickin’ cold outside. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: seedling progress, and I couldn’t resist

Wow! I was just checking something in my WordPress dashboard, and realized that this post is number 3,500 for this blog! What a chatterbox I am. 😉

This morning, I opened up the large aquarium greenhouse, to spray the pots and add more water to the tray on the heat mat.

There were more sprrrooots!

It is still only the Cup of Moldova tomatoes that are showing, and they are growing remarkably fast!

The aquarium greenhouse set up is working quite well. Even the little one is working out. The cats had repeatedly knocked the screen window being used as a cover off the top, by jumping on the overhang. A couple of days ago, I discovered where the cats had been getting into the space in the basement that was supposed to be a dry bar, but never got finished. We’ve got all kinds of breakable things stored in there. Somehow, a cat managed to create an opening in the blocked off rafters above. While picking things back up again, I noticed a smaller screen window. It turned out to be exactly as long as the small tank, though a bit wider, so there it still an overhang. Just not much of one. It hasn’t been knocked off since.

The larger tank has my daughter’s remaining orchids in it, and they are really liking the space!

One of them is blooming with the strongest looking flowers I’ve ever seen on it!

Since I was spritzing the seed starting trays, I sprayed the orchids, too.

The second orchid is a lot smaller, and my daughter is not quite sure how it’s doing. It was an unexpected surprise to find that hanging them in front of the living room window, while safe from the cats, turned out to be too cold for them once winter hit. If I remember correctly, she lost one while it was still at the window, and another died shortly after they were transferred into the tank. These are the only two left.

I think I might get her another orchid for her birthday this spring. 🙂

While on the subject of seedlings and growing things, I made an unplanned order last night. It was through someone on a hardy fruit and nut tree group that I’m on.

I got tree seeds.

The person I got them from is in Ontario. Most of his seeds are zone 4 and above, and he was sharing about his paw paw seeds, which are a zone 4 tree, though some places rate it as a zone 6. I talked to him for a bit about growing them in zone 3. Previously, I did find one tree nursery that advertised having zone 3 paw paws, but when I asked people on the group about the company, I got an overwhelmingly negative response. One of those negative responses is that they get their zones all wrong (and also had a habit of shipping dead trees!). So while it would be time saving to buy saplings from a nursery, we were going to wait on that. However, we might have better luck growing them from seed, ourselves.

The other seeds I got were tulip trees. They are another zone 4 tree, but that might just mean they grow more slowly in our zone 3, like with black walnut. I looked them up, and tulip trees can get quite huge.

The seeds we get will already be cold stratified, so when they arrive, we can go straight to germinating them. Both will be grown in containers for the first year or two, and we can overwinter them in the sun room or the old kitchen, until they are ready to be transplanted permanently.

Because of their large size at maturity – potentially 70-130 ft/21-40m tall (for comparison, the spruces in the grove near our house are about 65ft/20m tall), with 30-60 ft/9-18m wide canopy – if we get any surviving tulip trees, they can be planted either along the north property line, or well to the south of the outer yard, to be part of our shelter belt. These would be a tree for the pollinators and wildlife and, potentially, for a valuable wood.

The paw paws are a much smaller tree, and I can see these being planted in the old garden area, further from the house, where we are planning to plant berry bushes, fruit and nut trees already. They can reach 15-25 ft/4-7m in height, and 15ft/4m wide. Growing from seed, we’re looking at about 6 years, before we can expect any fruit.

Buying trees as saplings may shorten the time, but buying the seeds are a lot cheaper. We’ll be getting a dozen paw paw seeds and twenty tulip tree seeds, all for less than $20 – and that includes shipping. Even if we have an only 50% germination rate, that’s potentially 16 trees. The only thing I’d want to buy special is extra deep pots to start them in, to have room for their tap root. I already have the instructions for how to get them started, care for them in their containers, and transplant them.

As for growing in our zone, the person I’m buying them from can only guarantee them to zone 4. He’s never had anyone try the tulip tree in zone 3, however he’s had someone successfully grow their paw paws in zone 2b, getting hit with temperatures as low as -40C/-40F without extra protection, and surviving. Even in the group, when I’d asked in the comments about zone 3 for the paw paws, I had someone share that they’re growing them successfully in zone 3, though their seedlings are still too young to be producing fruit, yet.

I do hope this works out. If not, however, we’ll only be about a few bucks for a total of 32 tree seeds. Unlike the mulberry tree we got, which cost over $60 for the one sapling, got killed by an unusual, out of season, cold night, then even the remaining stem got eaten by deer.

I figure it’s worth taking the chance.

And if we’re going to be growing food trees, with how long they take before they mature enough to produce, we need to be starting as soon as we can.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: first seeds started

Though it is very early in the year, we have our first seeds started indoors today. A lot of people in our zone have already got seedlings, while still others are saying, it’s way too early.

So which is it?

I happened on a video today, talking about planting peppers and eggplants, which we are doing for the first time this year. Both are plants we never grew when I was a kid, so I have zero familiarity with them.

This particular video mentioned something I’ve never heard before, yet had wondered about.

When reading the seed packets, they say things like “start indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost date”.

Last year, we had a lot of issues with some things not germinating. Some took forever to germinate. Others never did at all. This was particularly true of various squash, plus all the Hope Black Dye sunflowers – with did finally all germinate, when I started taking the trays outside, while hardening off other seedlings.

What got mentioned in this video, is that when they say “4-6 weeks before last frost,” it’s actually from germination, not from planting the seeds. So if you have something that needs to be started, say, 6 weeks before last frost, but the packet says the seeds take 7-10 days to terminated, then the time to start them indoors is 6 weeks, plus 7-10 days.

That actually makes so much more sense to me.

I’d already made a list of which seeds needed to be started when, and these were the ones that needed at least 8 weeks.

The gourds were started first, as they needed extra steps. Among the things recommended that I wanted to try was scarification and pre-soaking.

So that’s what I started this morning.

Of the gourds we will be trying to grow this year, I chose the Canteen gourd to start early, as the gourds are supposed to get quite large. The other gourds I want to grow are smaller at full maturity.

Which lead me to another thing. With the luffa, we’re not after “days to maturity”, which is 110 days, if I remember correctly. We’re after the sponges, so we need for those mature gourds to dry out. That puts them at 200 days. Even starting now, we might not have that long for them. It will depend on whether or not we get another really long summer again. Of course, in the end, everything depends on the weather.

I chose 6 of the plumpest, healthiest looking seeds from each, then carefully snipped their outer shells with a nail clipper, before putting them inside the folds of a paper towel.

Then they went into sandwich baggies, and the insides were sprayed with water, before being sealed and left to sit. Most places recommended leaving them overnight, but I left them “overday” instead. 😉

Then they went into planting pots filled with pre-moistened seed starting soil. My daughter used a chopstick to push them the inch into the soil they needed to go. Once covered, the tops of the soil got sprayed with water.

Then it was time to take a look at the rest of the seeds and see what we had to work with. None of the packets have a lot of seeds in them, but we are not after a lot of individual plants.

The Sophie’s Choice tomato was a conundrum for me. Everything I read about them said they needed to be started very early; a couple of weeks earlier than other tomatoes. Yet they are an early tomato, with only 55 days to maturity. At only 55 days, we could start them outdoors and they’d have plenty of time to mature. Odd.

For all but the Wonderberry, we decided to plant about 5 seeds per pot, and three pots each. With the gourds, that filled an entire tray.

The Wonderberry got planted using the double cup method. I reused some of the Red Solo cups we used last year, with the inner cups having drainage holes in the bottom, so they can be watered from below, using the outer cup.

We still had seeds left over, even with how little was in each packet, so that’s nice.

We used more boxes to bring the tray and cups closer to the lights, inside the big aquarium greenhouse. The heat mat fits under the tray. I’m hoping that just being near the mat as well as close to the light fixtures, one of which does warm up, will be good enough to adequately warm the Wonderberry in their cups.

The double cups got water in their bottoms before they were put in place, and water was added to the tray once it was settled on the heat mat. We do still have a little fan blowing into the tank, though it’s over the orchids and aloe in the other corner. We won’t be able to cover these with a plastic dome, as typically recommended, so I’ll be making sure to use a spray bottle to keep the tops moistened, since the smaller seeds are so much closer to the surface. There’s quite a bit of water in the tray so, with the heat mat, that should help increase the humidity levels, with the fan hopefully keeping things from starting to mold.

The heat mat doesn’t have a thermometer, nor do we have a soil thermometer, so we’ll have to monitor these fairly closely. Everything is plugged into a power bar, which gets shut off every night, so there will at least be that break. If it seems to be getting too warm – unlikely, for what we’ve got planted in there – we can put something under the tray to elevate it. Once the seeds germinate, we can probably take the mat out entirely.

The next things we’ll be starting are the onions, which won’t need the heat mat, but when it comes time to start the rest of the tomatoes, and all the squash, we’ll need both the heat mat and space – and space is going to be harder to come by! We do have a mini greenhouse, the frame of which we are currently using in the sun room to hold the heater bulb for Butterscotch and Nosencratnz, as they recover. We did try to use it in the living room last year, as it does have a zippered cover, but the cats still managed to get into it. If we could find some way to keep the cats out of it, it would go a long way to helping with our space issues!

We’ll figure something out.

The main thing is, we’ve got stuff started that need that extra time indoors.

Yay!!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: T&T Seeds order, forage radish in, and other supplies

Well, the van did start this morning, so I went ahead and did our city shop without even coming inside from doing my morning rounds, other than to grab my purse. No morning kitty pictures, because I was wearing mitts. It was viciously cold out there! I can usually get away with just wearing fingerless gloves, or using my pockets, but not this morning!

Before heading to the city, I made a side track to check the mail and found a package waiting for me.

I’d completely forgotten that we’d be getting something in from T&T Seeds!

Most of what we ordered will be shipped in the spring. We’ll be getting a lot of stuff shipped at about the same time! All the companies we ordered from ship their perishable stock based on what zones the addresses are in, timed to arrive ready to be planted almost immediately. Last frost dates can still vary quite a bit within zones, though, so there’s a possibility some might arrive and need to wait a bit before planting. We shall see.

The Forage Radish seeds are a lot bigger than I expected, but then does grow into a big… well… long, radish. As this is a cover crop, it will be planted strategically in areas we want the soil to be broken up for planting next year, or in between things that might need some “tilling” around them, this year. I don’t expect we’ll use even half of this seed, this year. Unless we decide to start sowing in the outer yard, to lure the deer away! 😀

While in the city, one of my stops was at Canadian Tire, where we pick up the wood pellets we use as kitty litter. I hadn’t been able to get through to our mechanic to reschedule our oil change, so I took a chance and asked if they could book me in at the Canadian Tire, right away. Sure enough, they could fit me in, so I had about an hour to spend in the store.

It is very dangerous for me to be in a place like Canadian Tire. Especially since the oil change was going to be under budget, which meant I had wiggle room!

Along with the wood pellets, I snagged a small folding saw horse. The saw horses we have now are home built and very old, so they’re awfully wibbly. The one I found was on clearance, so I was happy to be able to take advantage of that. I also found some vegetable grow bags on clearance. I was going to make grow bags for the sweet potatoes, using feed bags like we did with potatoes last year, but these bags were so cheap, I went ahead and bought two. It will at least give us something to compare.

I also picked up a couple more trays for seed pots, to allow watering from below, plus one that had square Jiffy Pot type cups in it, for those smaller things we want to start indoors, and will do better if they’re transplanted with their pots, to avoid root disruption. So the extra time I had to spend in the store was productive.

Once the van was ready (complete with a printout of little things they found that I’ll take to our local mechanic to check), I headed to Costco to do the main shopping.

It’s very weird to shop at Costco and buy no meat. I just picked up some fish for my daughters. I didn’t need anything else. I love having such a well stocked freezer!

While there, I picked up a couple more small, plain aluminum baking sheets. I got some last spring, and they came in very handy for moving seedlings in and out of the sun room to harden off.

They also come in very handy as kibble trays for the outside cats, so I was down a couple! 😀

When I got home, the girls made sure to put Butterscotch and Nosencrantz into the carriers while we hauled things through the sun room, into the old kitchen. They even set the carriers up, so the cats could see and watch us. 😀

Then, while the girls put away the groceries, I loaded the van back up with garage for the dump. It’s open this evening, but I was done with driving. It can stay frozen in the van until the dump is open next, two days from now. That’ll give us a chance to gather the recycling together, too.

I’m thinking that tomorrow, we should start getting the luffa, and at least some of the onion seeds, started. I’ve been researching and will try something different with the gourds this time, to help improve germination rates. Of all the gourds we have, the luffa needs the longest growing time.

From the zone 3 garden groups I’m on, we should be starting the eggplant and peppers now, too. Our last frost date is a lot later than the people posting that, though, so holding off at least a bit longer would probably be a good thing.

When it comes to planting our garden this year, we haven’t quite planned locations all out, yet. The existing beds will be easy enough to work with, but we will also be building new – mostly temporary – beds, too, as we slowly reclaim more and more of the old garden area, and work our way closer to the house.

It was a bit funny when I was telling my mother about what we’ll be doing this year. She was having a hard time picturing where we are intending to plant the sea buckthorn and silver buffalo berry, as much as a living fence as for their berries, where we will be planting the Korean Pine, as well as how we haven’t quite decided on where to plant the Highbush Cranberry. She knows we plan to plant more fruit and nut trees, and made this surprising comment about how, if we plant all these trees, we won’t have any garden left. Not just because of the trees taking up the space, but their shade, as well.

There’s two reasons her comment was a surprise. The first is that she had already said to me before that, if it were up to her, she would have filled that entire area with trees by now. She did have a habit of sticking trees in, anywhere, without much thought to whether it would be a good place for them! The other reason is that my parents planted so many trees on the south side of the garden, closest to the house, that there’s not a lot that can grow there anymore. Too much shade! I know they planted these for protection from the wind, but if they’d planted them on the north side of the garden, it would have been just as effective, and wouldn’t have taken away so much prime garden location. It’s one of the main reasons we’re going to build permanent garden beds in the outer yard, where they will get full sun.

My mother and I talked a bit about our wanting to plant a southern shelter belt, because we have a gap that needs to be filled. I told her about the renter wanting to replace the fences (he’s responsible for the fencing, as part of the rental agreement), and that I’d suggested making a new, straight fence line from the barn to the road, rather than going around the old hay yard. It’ll mean a lot less fence to put in, though they’ll loose a small amount of pasture. If they do that, we’ll be able to plant shelter belt trees near it, and not have to worry about having to protect saplings from cows. My mother suggested planting lilacs as a hedge, but I told her that we need to start with something taller, first. Not too tall, though, or we’ll just end up with more shade problems. Many of the farms in the area are completely open, with just a block of shelter belt trees around the house and outbuildings – and their gardens are outside the shelterbelt, far from their houses. There just isn’t anywhere near their houses that gets enough sunlight for the size of gardens they are growing. Whatever trees w decide to plant on the south, I don’t want anything that will get as tall as the spruces we have by the house. They’re about 65ft high, and we’ve been watching how far their shadows are cast, at different times of the year. Since we will be planting permanent garden beds out that way, the last thing we want to do is plant trees that will get so tall, they’ll end up shading the garden beds. I figure we can plant trees that grow no taller than 30 feet and still get the shelter from the wind that we need. Especially if we also plant shrubs along the line, too.

But maybe not more lilacs. I’m thinking more along the lines of hazelnuts and berry bushes! 😀

No decisions can be made until there’s a fence, though!

So for now, we focus on the vegetable gardens!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: Mary’s Heirloom Seeds – they’re finally here!

After spending a strangely long time in Illinois, our seed order from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds arrived today!

Yes!!! I now have the maize morado corn I thought I was getting from Baker Creek, based on the description and video they had at the time. Their name for the corn even changed at some point. It took quite a bit of searching, and I was very happy to find a source for these seeds. Since there were only 25 seeds per pack, I ordered four of them. For our purposes, planting only 25 seeds seems almost pointless. 😉 Plus, it was the only thing I was ordering from them, and with the cost of shipping, adding a few extra packets made it more worthwhile. Especially with ordering from the US and the dollar difference. I’m trying to focus more on Canadian sources, but none of them carry these seeds.

Last year, we started the Montana Morado/Mountain Morado corn indoors, then transplanting, and that ended up working very well. We will be doing that again. This year, however, we will work in making sure they are protected from critters, as much as we can, right from the start! I hope to be able to save seeds and, over time, acclimate them to our growing zone. This might take a few years, but I am determined! 😀

The corn was not the only thing in the package, though.

They also included some free seeds! 🙂 Dill Dukat. It’s not a variety I’ve heard of before. We’ve got dill seeds from plants my SIL gave us, but I’m more than happy to have another variety! From the description, these look like a good variety for harvesting more greens than the flowers or seeds, and I love dill greens!

I also really appreciate that they included the information insert for starting seeds. That was going the extra mile. 🙂

While I am working towards ordering seeds from within Canada more, if I do need to order from the US for something, this company is definitely staying at the top of my list. I’m quite happy with them!

The US postal service, on the other hand, seemed to be having difficulties. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our seed inventory, and a feedback request

With all but one order of seeds having arrived, I decided to do an inventory of what we have, including what we have left over from this past year’s garden.

I was a bit surprised by some of them.

One surprise was the Spoon tomatoes. We had two packets of those, and while I thought we had planted all the seeds, I found a surprising number of seeds at the bottom of each packet. So I combined them into one. There isn’t a huge amount, but it does mean we could start some indoors, if we felt like it. I don’t think we will, since we have so many other tomatoes. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch showed up on their own in the bed we grew them in this past summer!

I didn’t think we had any kohl rabi left, either. One of my daughters had done a second planting of those, and I thought she’d used the last of the seeds. The White Vienna is actually from the year before. We got two free packets of the Early Purple Vienne, and both got opened for some reason; my daughter probably missed the one I’d opened to do an early planting. We had no luck at all with kohl rabi this year and I plan on starting them indoors instead of direct sowing.

For the gourds, I want to do the Tennessee Dancing Gourds again. They did really well. I want to try the Ozark Nest Egg again; were it not for the drought delaying their development, we would have had lots of those. I also want to try the luffa again, because I’m a sucker for punishment, but will probably skip the Birdhouse and Thai Bottle gourds.

Though we still have seeds left from the summer squash collection, we also still have the other two collections I’d ordered by accident. I like having a good variety, and this year we’ll have green patty pan squash, too, so we’ll start just a few seeds of each. The Baby Pam pumpkin never germinated at all, but I think that had more to do with growing conditions. We have so many others, I don’t know that we’ll try them again. There are still Halona melon seeds left, but I also saved seeds from both the Halona and the Pixie, both of which did very well, plus some other seeds I saved from other melons we enjoyed.

I will happily grow more of the Teddy and Red Kuri (Little Gem) winter squash again, along with the new varieties we ordered. They may have had a hard time with the drought, but they were quite good, and they are much smaller varieties that – in more ideal conditions – are supposed to be prolific producers.

Not in the photo are the varieties of spinach and lettuce we still have lots of. They, and the chard, are for spring and fall planting, so we’ll have to plan those out – if we try growing chard again. We didn’t really eat them much. As for the radishes, I want to plant a just a few of each, much earlier, and leave them, as it’s the pods I’m after, not the root.

The carrots here are pelleted seeds, and there are still quite a lot. It’s easier to space the pelleted seeds when planting. With thinning not as much of a concern, I don’t think I used even half of each variety this past year. I will happily plant them again, along with the new varieties we got.

I was surprised to find the Merlin beets. I thought I’d mixed all the remaining beet seeds together to plant into the L shaped bed, but I guess I missed these. We were planning to plant only one variety next year, but it won’t hurt to have two. 🙂

We have quite a bit of the green and gold bush beans left, but that packet of King Tut purple peas only has about 5 seeds in it, and those are seeds I’d saved myself. If I do plant those, they will be only for seed saving. I didn’t order any other peas this time, but those are something I can easily buy locally in the spring. As for the beans, we do have several varieties of pole beans, but bush beans tend to mature faster, so I might go ahead and do both.

These are all our new seeds, except for the Kulli corn that is still on the way. It seems like a lot, but for things like the squash and gourds in particular, we will only be starting a few seeds indoors for each. I would rather plant fewer of many varieties and see how they do, than have lots of one variety then discover it doesn’t like growing here. That, and it would get pretty boring eating the same variety of vegetable all year! For things like the onions… well, I’m finding we just can’t have too many of those!

The beginnings of our culinary herb garden is something I need to think about. We already have a mint that we found in the old kitchen garden, but I don’t know what kind they are. Not spearmint, is the most I can say for sure. Probably peppermint. I want to have permanent places for our culinary herbs, and the old kitchen garden makes the most sense, since it’s right at the house, but unless we start taking out the ornamental crab apple trees, and the double lilacs, roses and honeysuckles – which I have no intention of doing – there’s not a lot of well lit space left in there. I might try growing them in buried pots at first, so that as we build raised beds in there, they will be easy to transplant, and things like the mint will be contained.

One of the things about the squash is that, with their spreading habit, we can use them to reclaim more garden area. We’ll be growing potatoes using the Ruth Stout heavy mulching method again, for much the same reason. With so many climbers this year, we’ll need to build more trellises, too.

I’ve been talking to quite a few people who are looking to start gardening for the first time, out of necessity. There is a lot to consider. Especially in our Zone 3 growing zone. So if it seems like I’m spending an inordinate amount of time talking about gardening of late, that is partly way. I’ll be writing a post specifically for those who are suddenly finding themselves having to grow their own food, so if you have something specific you’d like me to include on that, or experiences you’d like to share, please feel free to mention it in the comments.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: Baker Creek seed order is in!

Another seed order is in!

You can read about what we ordered from Baker Creek, and why, here.

The free seeds we got this time are an interesting addition! I was looking at them on the website, and had heard from people in local gardening groups that successfully grew them this past year. I decided against ordering them, since I was already ordering the Black Nebula carrots, and we still have seed left over from this year’s garden. However, now that we have them anyway, I’ll be happy to try them!

Here is the description for Uzbek Golden carrots from the Baker Creek site.

The delectable, lemon-yellow roots have a unique shape! These carrots have a fine-grained texture that is crispy and juicy with plenty of natural sugar. This variety hails from Uzbekistan and is popular across central Asia. Widely adaptable, this variety produced sweet roots even in the hot summer months during our Missouri greenhouse trials, but it is equally vigorous and tasty when grown in cool weather. Called “Mshak” in Uzbek, this variety is easy to grow in a range of soils and temperatures and the flavor is superb. We love this as a snacking or cooking carrot, and in Uzbekistan and Central Asia it is an essential ingredient in plov, or pilaf, a signature dish of that region.

https://www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/new-items-2020/uzbek-golden-carrot

Sounds like something that should grow all right in our region. The reviews for it are good, too.

At this point, we have only one more seed order still en route; the Kulli corn. Our next orders will be perishable stock, such as tubers, saplings and root stock. Those tend not to be shipped until ready for planting in our zone, but I still want to order them as early as I can!

It’s a good thing we’re planning to continually expand our garden over the years! We’re going to need more beds for everything we plan to grow this coming year, above taking into account the areas we grew in last summer will be used for planting berry hedges instead of vegetables next year. And we won’t even be planting everything I ordered this year! We still have a lot of work ahead of us before we reach our goal of growing sufficient vegetables and fruit to feed the four of us through the winter and spring, until the following year’s garden starts producing, with enough to share, too. I think we’re off to a pretty good start, though! As long as the weather co-operates. As much as I enjoy our relatively mild temperatures, we need more snow to help the water table recover in the spring, from this past summer’s drought!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: Heritage Seeds, second order in!

Brrrrr!!!

We dropped from 0C/32F yesterday, to -16C/3F today – with a wind chill of -27C/-16F! I did NOT want to do a dump run today, that’s for sure, but we weren’t able to get it done on Saturday, since that’s when my awesome brother came over to mount our Starlink dish on the roof. So today, it was!

Since we were out anyhow, we swung by the post office. I am expecting my Baker Creek order in tomorrow, but I still got seeds, today! My second order from Heritage Seeds was in! That was really fast. 😀 You can read about our first order, here, and our second order here.

There was an extra packet of seeds in there – and this time, I noticed the “free gift” sticker. I went back to our first order and, sure enough, the extra packet of seeds we’d found last time did have the sticker, too. I just missed it entirely!

Of course, I had to look up what it was they sent us! This is their description for “Gold Ball Turnip”.

Gold Ball Turnip (1854) (aka Orange Jelly)

Introduced around 1854, this wonderful heirloom turnip has yellow fine grained flesh and reaches peak flavor when harvested at 3” although the yellow globes will reach 4-5” at maturity. Great storage variety. One of the best tasting turnips. (45 days to maturity) 

https://heritageharvestseed.com/products/gold-ball-turnip-1854-aka-orange-jelly

I like the “orange jelly” name!

I had been considering turnips as a good storage vegetable. It’s not something we normally buy, but not because we don’t like it. We just like other things better, and I usually get rutabagas instead, because they tend to be smaller. However, no grocery store carries this turnip variety! I look forward to trying them. It certainly meets what we look for when deciding what to grow.

This order coming in was just the thing I needed to cheer me up on a chilly day!

The Re-Farmer