Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden, and first tomatoes!

My morning rounds are taking longer, as I am able to do more in the various garden beds as I go along.

I harvested the largest of the chive blossoms, before they go to seed. While I continued with my morning rounds, one of my daughters washed and de-bugged them, then laid them out on a cooling rack in a baking tray to dry. They are in the oven, with no heat at all, to protect them from the cats. Once the wash water is dried off, we’ll stick as much of them in a jar as we can, with olive oil. Any extras will go in the freezer. Or maybe I should split them into two jars and use them all. There are more chive blossoms to harvest later on, so we’ll have plenty to infuse in vinegar, too.

Speaking of drying things, during the night that cats did manage to get at the stacked screens of drying mint leaves. We’ve lost about 2 screen’s worth of mint leaves to the floor. 😦

When I moved on from the old kitchen garden to check on the squash patch, I noticed one of the giant pumpkins was no longer upright. I thought it might be because it had grown large enough to start leaning over, but I was wrong.

The stem is broken, right at ground level. Possibly from the high winds we’ve been having. Or…

Possibly weakened by the ant hill that has formed on that side of the pumpkin mound!

I built soil up around to support the stem again, in the off chance that it will survive, but with a break that large, I don’t expect it to. We are likely down to just one giant pumpkin plant.

Everything else in the squash patch seems to be surviving so far, and I’m seeing new growth in most. The squash that were started at 4 weeks are so very small, though. I kinda feel like maybe we should have started them at 6 weeks.

I had a very pleasant surprise in the tomato patch nearby, though!

Of course, the camera on my phone didn’t focus where I wanted it to. 😀

We have our first tomatoes forming!

These are on the Sophie’s Choice tomato plants. We got these seeds as a freebie with my order from Heritage Harvest, which was a very pleasant surprise. They have a much shorter growing season, and were started indoors at around 10 weeks or something (it’s a good thing I am using the blog as a gardening journal to record the details, because I’m already forgetting!). So I am not surprised that these are the first to start forming fruit.

We did get some rain last night, but it was light enough that much of the water in the garden was able to get absorbed by the soil, and the paths are just really wet, instead of big puddles of water. That meant I could finally do some much needed weeding in the summer squash bed, then pruning of tomatoes.

I took some of the strongest, healthiest looking branches that I pruned off the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and transplanted them in the open spaces between the summer squash. I don’t know if I’m breaching any companion planting rules here (do tomatoes and squash go well together?), but whatever. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. I specifically wanted to propagate more Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, as they are listed as extremely rare, so if I can save seed and help keep the variety going, that would be a good thing. Because they start producing so much faster than the other varieties we have, I’m not as concerned about cross pollination.

While I was weeding and tending different parts of the garden, I had Rolando Moon hanging out and keeping me company. Not wanting attention. Just being nearby.

I had to chase her out of one of the sweet potato bags, as she decided to start rolling in it! Then she jumped up into the high raised bed and lay down on some onions. THEN, she moved into the squash and corn patch, and sat on some corn seedlings!

That cat seems determined to be destructive!

Meanwhile…

The tomatoes are not the only things blooming. Two of the Styrian hulless pumpkins have suddenly burst into bloom, and they are all covered with buds again. Their first buds had been pruned away when they were transplanted. They look to still be all male flowers. I’m debating whether these flowers should be pruned away, too, so more energy can go to the plants establishing themselves more. It hasn’t been that long since they were transplanted, after all.

Anyone out there know if it would be helpful to prune the flowers off now or not?

The beans and peas at the trellises and bean tunnel are looking quite good. The cucumbers seem more touch and go. The first peas that were planted are getting quite large, and the snap peas are already large enough that some have latched onto the vertical trellis strings already. The snap peas are growing noticeably faster than the pod peas.

There is a single, out of place pea plant that showed up, right near the upright post at the start of the row. It seems to be a pea from last year that finally germinated! It germinated quite a bit earlier than the others, and I’m trying to train it up the support post, since it’s too far from the vertical lines to climb. Last year, we planted the King Tut purple peas here, so that’s what this one would be. It’s even almost as large as the purple peas we started indoors from saved seed, and transplanted against the chain link fence to climb. They are all tall enough that they’ve attached themselves to the fence and are making their way upwards, even though they are still looking kinda spindly.

The Wonderberries have been ripening, though the plants haven’t really gotten any bigger, and have what looks like weather damage. I’ve been able to taste them. They are lightly sweet, but don’t have any predominant flavour. This may be something we just leave for the birds. I’ll have to get the girls to try them, too, and see if they like them. I don’t mind them self seeding in this location, as I’d rather have the berry bushes that produce food, either for us or for the birds, than the invasive flowers.

In other things, my plans for the day have had to change. My sister never made it out to my mother’s yesterday, because my mother told her it was “too soon” to start packing and bagging things in preparation for her apartment being sprayed for bed bugs. She has a shift today, so that’s out. My brother, meanwhile, is out of town for a funeral that had been delayed until now by the lockdowns. So it looks like I’ll likely have to go to my mother’s to help out. I’ll phone her, first, once I’m sure she is back from church. My sister will be able to come out tomorrow morning, and I hope to come out in the early afternoon for the last of the packing and bagging, and moving of larger items. Then she’s back the next morning to bring our mother to her place for the night. I’ll head over in the early evening to check on the place and make sure it’s locked up while my mother is gone.

On Tuesday, I should be heading into the city for the first half of our monthly shopping, too. I will time it so I can check her place on my way home.

Which means I’ll be getting very little accomplished at home over the next few days!

The Re-Farmer

Blooming and growing

We had more rain last night and this morning, and while we have some sun as I’m writing this, we’re expected to have more rain and thunderstorms tonight.

The plants and trees are loving it!

The lilacs near the house are so heavy with clusters of flowers, the branches are bowing down with the weight, to the point that even short little me has to duck to go under them!

This is our fifth spring here, and I’ve never seen the white lilacs blooming and well as this year.

The double lilacs in the old kitchen garden had to recover from storm damage a couple of years ago, then the late May killer frost last year. It’s been a while since these have bloomed so heavily!

The nearby honeysuckle did all right last year, as they start budding later than things like the lilacs and did not get affected by the last frost as much, and it looks like this year they will do even better.

Even the hawthorn, which is thoroughly shaded, is blooming.

After uploading the photo, I could see that it has some sort of insect infestation under some of the leaves!

Also, just look at that thorn! Yikes!

Shrubs aren’t the only thing we’ve got blooming right now.

Yes! We have blooming tomatoes! These would be the Sophie’s Choice, which we started very early indoors, then restarted after the seedlings got eaten by cats. An early start was recommended for this variety, even though it is a short season variety, so I’m not too surprised to see flowers on these ones. To see them so soon after transplanting, though, is rather awesome!

While checking the various garden beds, I could finally see the purple carrots are starting to sprout. They’re still very hard to see, but they are making an appearance. The yellow Uzbek carrots are being much more enthusiastic about sprouting! I can’t tell about the Napoli and Kyoto Red planted near the south fence. They were pelleted seeds, so we could space them further apart, which makes it harder to see if those tiny leaflets are carrot, or some weed!

The peas that had already sprouted at the trellis are getting noticeably bigger. In the old kitchen garden, I’m finally seeing some beets, though for all my efforts to pull up and transplant the mint out from the bed last fall, they are still coming up strong, along with some other weeds. The beet seedlings are too tiny and delicate to risk disturbing them while trying to weed.

In the lettuce bed, the buttercrunch lettuce germinated a while back and it won’t be long before we are able to start harvesting baby leaves while thinning the rows. Another variety, Lunix, if I remember correctly, as also started to sprout, but like the beet bed, efforts to pull up the weed roots were not very successful. My mother had planted some very invasive flowers in this bed, and they are incredibly difficult to get under control!

The Kulli corn is still looking a weak, but the bush beans planted with them are starting to come up! I’ve got arrows pointing to the bean seedlings that are in this photo.

Meanwhile, all around the various beds, we’ve got onion sets coming up, and the onions started from seed seem to have all survived and are getting stronger. All of the transplants seem to have not only survived being transplanted, but are handling the heavy rains we’ve had, just fine. The first spinach that was planted are growing their true leaves now, and it won’t be long before we will be having fresh greens to eat!

I am so looking forward to when my morning rounds will start to include harvesting fresh leafy greens, beans, peas and summer squash, regularly again!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: tomatoes, squash onions, and food forest additions

While I spent most of my time with the kulli corn, my daughters took care of other things.

My younger daughter got the sea buckthorn planted. These saplings are quite a bit larger than the silver buffalo berry! This will eventually close the gap of the hedge along the north fence line, where the deer jump through. Hopefully, we have both male and female plants, and will have berries. We do plant to get more, over time, but it will probably be another year or two before we know for sure.

The only trees left to plant now are the Korean Pine.

My other daughter started on the tomatoes.

Along the chain link fence, she planted the dozen Chocolate Cherry tomatoes. That’s a variety I got specifically as a gift for her. 🙂

Last year, tomatoes did REALLY well in this location. This year, we’ll see how they do in other locations!

The next tomatoes she and her sister transplanted here were the Cup of Moldova and Sophie’s Choice tomatoes.

The row on the left, and in the centre, are all Cup of Moldova, while the Sophie’s Choice are the row on the right.

There are still two Cup of Moldova waiting to be transplanted, but they ran out of space.

While they worked on that, I transplanted into the blocks we finished adding along the chain link fence this spring.

The Red Kuri/Little Gem squash went into these. I hope they do well here. Last year, we had only 2 plants, but they produced quite a lot of squash. Unfortunately, with the drought, the squash developed so late, we only really got 3 that were mature enough to be edible. The girls and I found them delicious (my husband is finding that he’s not a fan of winter squash), and we look forward to having enough to store for the winter.

While one daughter worked on the bed of tomatoes in the main garden area, adding more support posts and winding bale twine back and forth to help support the tomatoes as they grow, my other daughter and I made use of the newly available bed next to the kulli corn.

There was a total of 13 Yellow Pear tomatoes to transplant. Once they were in, we got the box of red onion sets and planted them all along the outside of the bed in a single row, then fit the rest into the middle, in 2 rows.

The last thing we needed to do before heading inside was putting netting on the kulli corn and the Red Kuri squash. Those were the only two things that were most at risk of betting eaten overnight!

The net is hard to see. I used pipes hammered into the ground to hold the net away from the squash. The blue bits of pool noodle shoved into the tops of the pipes are there to protect the net, as there are some sharper edges on some of the pipes. Last year, we had chicken wire at an angle over cucamelons and gourds, and the vines kept wanting to attach to the chick wire, instead of the chain link. There’s no way the net could hold the weight of squash climbing it, so I wanted to keep it away from the plants as they start growing large enough to reach the fence and start climbing. On the inside, the edge of the net is held in place with ground staples. The excess net went over the fence, and my daughter rolled it up and zip tied it down. We still want to be able to access and tend the plants as needed, which will mostly be done from the inside.

The last thing the girls did was lace up the ends, so keep the critters out. A determined critter could still tear through the net, but hopefully, they won’t want to be bothered.

In the background, you can see some wire “fencing” has been added to the outside of where the Chocolate Cherry tomatoes were planted. It will get netting as well, but the only thing in there that is in danger of critters are the carrots, and they aren’t even germinating yet, so there it no hurry, there.

We have a lot more to transplant, but work needs to be done to prepare for them, first. The supports for A frame trellises need to be added, and beds need to be weeded. The rows we used for the bush beans last year, as well as the straw mulched mounds we grew summer squash in, are completely hidden by the crab grass that has taken them over. The squash tunnel, which will be a pole bean tunnel this year, needs minimal work at least, and the summer squash can be planted in the deep mulch near the potatoes. After we’ve transplanted the squash, gourds, melons and cucumbers, and planted the pole beans, we’ll have a better idea of where we can plant the yellow corn, and the popcorn. We have more bush beans and peas we can interplant with the two types of corn, too.

We also have another variety of baking poppies and dill to plant, but I think we’ll have to skip those for this year. I know where we will plant the Wonderberry, but have still not figured out where to plant the ground cherries. All of these will be treated as perennials, as they will reseed themselves year after year, so they need permanent locations.

We’ll figure it out.

As for tomorrow, I’m finally going to make our second stocking up trip to the city. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to do any work in the garden, but we shall see. It’s hard for me to stay out of the garden, now that the weather has finally turned nice, and we can catch up! 😀

It feels so good to finally get things into the ground!

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: 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: seed start update

We have new seedlings!

Yesterday morning, I spotted a Cup of Moldova seedling starting to break the surface. By the end of the day, it was up, and another had emerged. This morning, I found several more. They are tiny and barely visible in the above photo, but they’re there!

The Cup of Moldova are set up lower from the lights than the other tray, and no extra heat source.

This morning, single Sophie’s Choice showed up, too!

This tray is on a heat mat and slightly higher. With the heat mat, the water in the tray dried out a lot faster than the metal tray. At the moment, both need a top up, but the pots are still quite moist and could do with a little bit of drying out. The new luffa seeds still show no signs of germination. They are the ones that need the heat mat the most.

The seedlings in the corner pot are Wonderberry. They actually showed up really fast. After only 3 days, if I remember correctly. Much, much faster than our first seeding. I planted 5 seeds in that pot, so we’re looking at a 20% germination rate on the second seeding.

I keep forgetting to take photos of the onions in the small tank. They have stagnated. I think I will find a way to move them into the mini-greenhouse to see if that helps.

As for what’s in the mini-greenhouse…

As for the seedling that survive the Great Cat Crush, they are still struggling. A few pots that had been in the corner look like they got eaten, even though we had a screen in front of the open mini-greenhouse cover. We do still have a few surviving peppers and eggplant, and even a few tomatoes, but not very many. We didn’t plant many peppers or eggplant to begin with, so I’m thinking it might be a good idea to plant more when we start our next batch of seeds. Hopefully, the new tomato starts will survive the cats. While we’ve got a few Sophie’s Choice seeds left, plus a couple other varieties that will be started next, we have no Cup of Moldova seeds left, and those are the paste tomatoes I wanted to have a lot of.

The luffa and Canteen gourd in this tray are struggling, too.

The new Canteen gourds are doing much better. The first Wonderberry is managing well, too. There had been a second on in there, but I thinned it out, as it was so tiny.

The shallots seem to be doing better than the onions in the small aquarium greenhouse – except that it looks like the tray got dug into in one corner by a cat.

Also, absolutely everything is covered in cat hair. *sigh*

I think we’ve finally got things worked out to keep the cats out while increasing air circulation in the mini-greenhouse. We really should at least be leaving the front open completely, if not removing the cover entirely, but we’d lose everything to the cats if we did that.

It will be good when we can finally transfer them to the sun room. Overnight temperatures are still too low, though; the thermometer in there read just below freezing when I headed out this morning. We could make use of the ceramic heat bulb in the corner the plants will be in to help, if necessary. I’m also thinking of making use of some of the larger sheets of rigid insulation we’ve got left, cover some pieces with foil, and set them up to reflect light for the seedlings. We’d still need to rotate the trays, but it would help keep them from getting too leggy, plus actually provide some warmth and insulation overnight. We’ll see if we can figure out a set up that will work.

As mild as things are right now, we are expecting things to dip a bit over the next few days, and there’s usually at least one more blizzard around our anniversary in April, before winter finally breaks. For parts of the province, that might actually happen today. It looks like we’ll be mostly clear where we are, but the south of the province is getting predictions of both rain and heavy snow.

Today may be the first day of spring, but winter isn’t ready to let go, quite yet!

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: NOOOooooo!!!!!

Argh!!!!

For all our efforts, a cat still managed to get into the mini-greenhouse. My daughter found Susan … SUSAN! … sitting on the second lowest shelf. I would have expected Tissue, or even Turmeric, but not Susan! My daughter got her out but Susan didn’t seem to be into anything, so she thought things were okay.

I went over to see where she got in and how to block it better, when I saw this terrible sight.

She ate the Sophie’s Choice tomato leaves! Two of them, right down to the stems! A couple others even looked like the soil was dug into.

I took the trays off the two bottom shelves, rearranged the box we put to block the back and used packing tape under the corners, taping the plastic cover to the bottom shelf. Hopefully, there are no more gaps a cat can squeeze into.

The tray with the eaten tomato seedlings then went onto the bottom, where the light is, and the tray with the gourd pots went up a level.

There is a Canteen gourd breaking soil, so there’s at least that to be happy about.

We still have some Sophie’s Choice seeds left, so we can start some again, but the instructions for these said to start them much earlier than other varieties. Hopefully, we still have time.

Hopefully, some of what we already have will survive, too.

Once that was all done, it was time to do some research and…

Yes. Tomato leaves ARE toxic to cats. However, it takes quite a bit to make them sick, and quite a bit more to endanger their lives. For the amount she ate, she might throw up or something, but nothing major.

This is just so, so frustrating! And potentially alarming.

We’ve had issues with cats going after our plants before. Usually to dig in the dirt, not to eat them, though there was that one succulent we had that they just couldn’t resist.

Notice I said “had”. 😦

We’ve got all sorts of barriers around our remaining house plants to keep them out. As much as the damage done to them bothered me, right now we’re trying to grow food, not decorations, so this is bothering me more.

Why are the cats so determined to destroy our seedlings? There are the barriers, the space around the trays is tight, the pots and trays are wet – we just refilled the bottoms of most of the trays to water from below – and you’d think something in the nightshade family would taste pretty gross.

I am not at all happy right now. 😦

I will, however, share a photo of some well behaved kitties I took earlier.

When I headed outside to get a meter reading, I spotted these two, cuddling together in the sun room. Agnoos is fine with us, but the ‘iccus he was cuddling with is one of the more feral cats. I had to move fast to get a picture before he (she?) ran away. I’m not sure which one this is, but from the facial markings, I’m guessing this is the one the girls named Sadiccus. He looks like he’s been crying!

Which is kinda what I feel like doing right now. Crying in frustration!!

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