Signs of spring – I’m so excited!

After checking on the road conditions, I continued checking areas of the inner yard we can now access again. I also checked on the old kitchen garden. It just happened that the sump pump was running, and I was quite amused by what I saw.

Along with the water coming out the end, there was water spraying like fountains out of the hose! There are three areas with holes in them. Once I saw the two smaller holes next to the rain barrel, I pulled up the slack a bit, so that they will hopefully spray on the paving slabs, instead. Once things dry up a bit, I’ll just patch it with some electric tape. We do have spare hose, but I’m still considering adding it to the end of this one, to send the water further away from the house. The ground does slope away from the house rather well, here, so I really don’t need to, but it does give us more options.

Walking through the old kitchen garden, I could see deep hoof prints in the garden beds from the deer. Which made a good indicator of how thawed out the ground is!

Going into the maple grove, I noticed an area was clearer of snow that I wanted to get a closer look at.

Between these two rows of trees is where we planted crocuses. About a quarter of it is still too covered with snow, but I wanted to see if there was any sign of them, where it was clear.

Yes!!! In one section, I found so many little crocuses coming up! Including the one you see here, that has pierced its way through a leaf. 😀

I am just thrilled that they survived the winter. I went to check the area we planted the grape hyacinth in, but it’s still too covered with snow.

With the crocuses coming up, I was curious. Was it possible? I had to check.

YESSSS!!!!!! We have tulips coming up! Just look at them all! I put arrows pointing to the ones I could find. It’s entirely possible there are more, camouflaged among the leaf litter.

There are even a few visible in a section my daughters planted fewer, more unique, tulips. Only a couple are visible in this photo, but there were more.

This is just so exciting! After the deer and other critters decimated the tulips last year, we thought they were done for. It was their first growing season, and we didn’t think they had the chance to establish themselves.

My daughter is so happy. She was heart broken when all her tulips were eaten! One of the things the girls had done was make sure the bulbs were buried extra deep, as recommended on the package to keep them as perennials. A lot of people buy and plant tulips and other bulbs every spring. If they’re buried closer to the surface, they can’t survive our winters. We didn’t want that, so my daughter made the extra effort. It looks like all their hard work paid off!

Now I’m wondering if my daughter’s irises and daffodils, planted along the edge of the old kitchen garden, will come up, too. One type did show some leaves last year, but never got to the point of sending up flowers. Another type didn’t come up at all, that we could see.

Aside from some leaf buds starting to show, this is the first major sign of spring growth we’ve had this year!

Oh, and we have more exciting growth, this time indoors. We’ve got melons sprouting! Two types; the Halona melon, plus one of the grocery store melons I lost the name for.

Flowers and food, there’s lots to look forward to in the gardens this summer!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: sprouting onions, and can spring get here already? Please?

First, to follow up on my previous post, I was able to get my mother’s car started. I left it to run for a bit before moving it to the other part of the garage – and plugging it back in again!

While it was running, I decided to use the time to dig out another cat path.

Because I’m a suck that way.

This is a path to a shed that’s slowly collapsing, and is in view of the security camera live feed. I constantly see the cats struggling through the snow to get through. I got about 3/4s of it dug out before moving the car, then finished it almost the rest of the way.

I left the shovel at the end for scale. There’s probably about 2 inches or so of snow on the ground.

I didn’t dig any further, because I know there are things buried underneath, and the snow level starts to drop there, anyhow. It was actually an easy dig. Once I broke through the harder packed top layer of snow, the snow under it was very loose and crystalline, making it light and easy to shovel.

I had closed up the doors to the garage, and the doors where my mother’s car normally gets parked have a old tire in front, to keep them from opening (I really hope we can replace those doors this summer!). The tire warms up nicely in the sun, so it’s a favourite spot for cats to hang out, out of the snow.

Potato Beetle was sitting on it as I started my way back, so I paused to pet him, immediately noticing what looked like fresh blood in the fur in an ear! It took me a while to find it, but he has what looks like a fresh wound on the side of his neck. All I could really see was a dark patch in his fur. It wasn’t actively bleeding, and I couldn’t look too closely, but I am concerned.

Potato Beetle seems to now be at the bottom of the pecking order, and a target. After talking about it with the family, I turned the power bar back on in the sun room, for the light, heat bulb and heated water bowl. There is still food in there, and I’d been letting cats in while doing my rounds, to nibble on it. Potato Beetle has been the one that tends to go in there the longest. He was born in there, so he’s very comfortable with the sun room.

One of my daughters has brought in a litter pan, and we’ve set the box nests up again. Now, we just have to find him again. We will bring him into the sun room for his own protection, and to hopefully get a better look at the wound.

Spring cannot come soon enough. Potato Beetle is on the adoption list, but the outside cats aren’t going to be done until the inside cats are adopted out.

As I am writing this, I can see cat after cat on the security camera live feed, using the path I dug out!

Let us now think of spring, and green and growing things.

Like onions!

This is the tray that first starting showing sprouts, but only now are they big enough to actually show in a photo. I got mixed up about which onions these were. These are the Red of Florence onions, not the yellow bulb onions I got in my head for some reason. I mean, it’s not like we forgot to label them or anything! LOL

Just this morning, we finally saw sprouts in the other two trays. Here, you can see a little clump of Oneida onions sprouting in the middle, and a couple more little sprouts in the bottom left corner.

It’s really hard to spot the sprouting Tropeana Lunga in this tray. Again, bottom left corner of the tray.

You can even see an Oneida sprout near the edge of the other tray.

I must say, having things sprouting right now is a huge psychological boost!

Having said that, I just got some messages from people I was going to meet at the grocery store this evening, and it’s just been cancelled, due to the blizzard conditions we are supposed to have by then.

So it looks like I’ll either be driving in now, or waiting until Sunday.

Can spring get here already??

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; new seedlings – plus critters

Today, with repeated warnings for thunderstorms, and even the sound of thunder in the distance, we got only a smattering of rain this afternoon. Barely enough to get the ground a bit wet. 😦 At least we’re a couple of degrees cooler than forecast. With the conditions we’ve had this year, our Rural Municipality officially declared an agricultural emergency. We had one last year, and I seem to remember there was an attempt by the province to declare one the year before, but it was rejected by the federal government. When I was growing up here, there were no such declarations. Whatever federal funding programs that are now available were brought in while we were living elsewhere, in cities.

It was during one of those times our skies were spitting a bit of moisture that I headed outside for a bit and made a point of checking the newly planted beds. Happily, we now have more seedlings appearing!

Yes, these pictures were all taken after there was some rain. :-/

Both types of chard are showing seedlings, though I only took a photo of the one type.

It would be awesome if we FINALLY got some kohlrabi! We will be taken extra steps to try to protect these beds, since what’s growing in them are favoured by all kinds of critters. The red flakes you see on the ground around the seedlings are hot pepper flakes, which we hope will deter critters better than the sprays and granules we’ve bought.

Which leads me to why I headed outside.

I saw the woodchuck out by the old compost pile again.

Yes, I sprinkled the new mystery squash seedlings growing in there with hot pepper flakes, too.

As I came out, the woodchuck watched me for a while before finally running off and into…

*sigh*

…the old burrow we thought had finally been abandoned. We’re still running water into it, and collapsing the entrance little by little. The entrance is not being cleared, but they’re still squeezing in.

After seeing the woodchuck go in, I went and raided my kitchen cupboards again and dragged out a package of whole, dehydrated hot peppers. After giving them a rough chop, I scattered them in and around the opening.

At some point, we will be sure enough of it being empty, that we can finally fill it in. :-/

While heading back inside, I did get a chance to play with some more pleasant critters. Butterscotch’s junk pile babies!

Three of them like to come out to play with the stick, though they still won’t come close enough to touch. There’s that one tabby, hidden in the background, that just will not come closer.

I saw Rozencrantz’s babies – the other junk pile babies! – today, too, though I couldn’t get any pictures. The one that looks like Nicky the Nose is a bit braver and doesn’t run off until it’s sure if I’m coming closer. They like to play in the soil the cucamelons and gourds are planted. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except that I’ve caught them actively digging into the edge of the bed! At least they’re not digging near the plants, themselves. :-/

While we are still getting thunderstorm warnings, when I look at the hourly forecast, the warnings disappear. Instead, we will have sun and clouds for a few hours, and then it switches to “smoke”, all night. There are quite a few wildfires in the province right now, including about 5 that are listed as out of control, but none are near our area. Fire risk, of course, remains high so we are still under a total burn ban. It looks like we won’t get to test out the firepit grill my brother and his wife got for us this year at all, nor the big BBQ that they passed on to us after getting a smaller one for themselves.

Maybe we’ll get a chance to use them in the winter!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: new sprouts, and… I must not compare!

While the girls were doing the evening watering, I headed out to check some of the beds they hadn’t got to, yet. I thought I saw something this morning, and I wanted to check.

I did see something – and by evening, I saw more somethings!

The radishes are starting to sprout already!

Here’s hoping these ones don’t disappear, like the ones we interplanted with our sweet corn!

I have been keeping a close eye on our summer squash, too.

This sunburst squash is of a size I would normally pick, but there is only one this big, so I will leave it until there are others to pick with it. We also have more of the green zucchini that is almost big enough to pick.

While watering the beans, my daughter noticed this…

Some of the purple bean flowers are starting to open! When I checked, some of the green ones were also starting to open, but they’re harder to see than the purple beans, with their amazing, bright colours.

While I’m excited to see them starting to bloom, I have to remind myself not to compare. I’m on several gardening groups for cold climate gardening, zone 3 gardening, and local gardeners. Today, someone posted pictures of their huge pea plants, and the basket of peas they had picked, just today.

These are our peas.

The purple peas are doing a bit better than the green peas. They are flowering and growing pods. But they are also struggling. They started out doing well, but have basically just stopped growing. By this time, they should be well up the trellises, much larger, and much closer to having pods that can be harvested.

It’s similar with the bush beans. The purple ones are doing better than the others, as they have from pretty much the start, but they are all a lot smaller than they should be. The sweet corn is also a lot smaller than I am seeing in other people’s gardens, which have corn the size of our purple corn, that was started much earlier and transplanted, or the Dorinny corn, which was seeded before last frost. Even the renter’s corn in our field is about waist high now.

I have to admit; seeing how well other people’s gardens are doing, in spite of the heat we’ve been getting right now, is sometimes rather discouraging. These are gardens in the same climate zone we are in, and many of them planted even later than we did.

I have to remind myself that these are completely different gardens, many of them established years ago. Even the new gardens are in very different situations. There are many reasons why our peas, corn and beans are looking stunted. The heat, certainly. Perhaps we’re not watering them as much as they need under current conditions. Maybe it’s because their roots have made their way through the thin layer of nutrient rich soil and into the nutrient poor soil, below, and even our fertilizing them isn’t enough to make up for it. Maybe it’s all the weeds and plants that were there before we planted. We don’t have access to good compost, we ran out of mulch and can’t get more, etc. The critter damage adds to the problems, but that’s a different issue altogether.

Plus, of course, we’re gardening in temporary locations. Even the beds that are where we will be gardening permanently will have high raised beds built in them, so the current beds are going to be completely redone.

From the start, as we planned where to plant different things, we knew that if we got anything at all from the farthest beds in particular, that would be a win.

But, my goodness, it sure would be nice to have a big basket of freshly picked peas right now! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: more firsts, and silly kitties!

Before I headed out to do my morning rounds, we had already hit 25C/77F. By the time I was done, it was already 30C/86F! Thankfully, there was still a breeze and some shade, so it didn’t feel too bad.

I made a couple of discoveries in the garden this morning, but before I get to those, I’ll back track to yesterday evening.

I used the cut off strip of mosquito netting left over from covering our lettuces and beets, some dollar store hula hoops, and lengths of old hose to cover part of the third spinach bed. This is just until we can make a wire mesh cover for it. I also took the trail cam from the tulips and moved it to overlook most of the garden. The only critter I saw in the files this morning was Nutmeg. 😀

After setting the netting up, I moved on to the far beds and blocks to water them. The water in the rain barrel is usually cool, but it was quite warm by the end of yesterday’s heat! On the plus side, it meant being able to use the watering can instead of the hose, and not shocking everything with cold well water, for almost everything. As the water level dropped below half, I started to refill it while still using the watering can, so it would be just cooler water instead of having to switch to the cold hose to finish watering.

I had company.

Rolando Moon has a thing about drinking from puddles! Once the water was absorbed by the soil, she decided to roll on the damp soil, then just hung out. I guess it’s nice and cool. At least she tended to stay in the middle, which is more of a trench for water, as the beans are planted on the sides. No beans are coming up yet.

Nutmeg was also hanging around. I caught him lying across some pea plants, chewing on the trellis twine! The little bugger! 😀

When I checked everything this morning, things were still damp and didn’t need to be watered, but I also spotted a whole lot of these…

The radishes are sprouting! The one in the photo is of the daikon type radishes, but I was seeing sprouts for the watermelon radishes in all the rows they were planted in, too. I was aware that radishes sprout quickly, but I’ve never grown them before, so this was a very pleasant surprise. They most certainly were not there when I was watering last night. 🙂

Then I found another lovely sight.

The first potato leaves have emerged through their mulch! There are the purple fingerling potatoes. Sifting around in the mulch in the grow bags, I found other shoots coming through the soil, but these are the first ones to break through and leaf out. 🙂 I really look forward to seeing how these do in their grow bags.

We have a whole lot of squash transplants ready to go out, but I’m starting to rethink what to do with the summer squash. The plan was to make more beds like with the beans and peas. However, we have that long arc where we’d planted the sunflowers last year. In removing some of the old grass clipping mulch to use under some new beds, I couldn’t help but notice how much better the soil is, underneath. It’s still rocky, but we basically have a long row of soft soil, bordered by concrete hard soil. I’m thinking we should take advantage of this. It will need far less amending than starting new beds. I’m also planning to try staking the summer squash this year, but with our without stakes, deer don’t like those prickly squash plants, so it could act as a sort of fence for the rest.

I sorted through our transplants while hardening them off, and we have a lot of nice, strong melons. Between those and the winter squash, and the two types of gourds that successfully germinated, we might not actually have room for it all on the squash tunnel. So I’m thinking we can plant as much as we can fit of each type at the squash tunnel, then whatever is left over can be planted in other areas. Without trellising, these should spread out quite a bit over the ground, and we’ll be able to give them lots of space, and we would just need to haul soil over to make hills, rather than beds. This would allow us to compare how well they do, between left to grow on the ground, or up a trellis.

What I might end up doing is getting the Montana Morado corn done, first. They are doing very well, but will start outgrowing their cups soon. Since the toilet paper tube pots didn’t work out, I’m really hoping they won’t suffer from transplant shock too badly. In zone 3 gardening groups. I’ve read from people who warn against transplanting corn completely, because they don’t handle it well, to people who say they do it all the time, every year, and have never had issues. I suspect type of corn can make a difference, and I seem to be the first person in all of these groups to try and grow purple corn in our zone!

I’m really excited to see how they do!

The Re-Farmer

New baby sprrrooots, and soil testing status

We have gourd sprooots!!

Yesterday afternoon, I spotted these.

These are the Tennessee Dancing Gourds, and they are the first of the gourds to sprout!

This is how they looked this morning! So awesome, to see how much they grew in less than 24 hours!

I’m hoping this means we’ll start seeing some of the other gourds sprouting soon, too. 🙂

I also checked on the soil sample that was left overnight to settle.

Hmm.

It looks completely unchanged!

The instructions said that soil heavy with clay could take 24 hours to settle, but… I don’t think that’s clay. I think it may actually be organic material.

With how long this is taking, I think I’ll find another jar and test the next soil sample while this one continues to sit.

But not right away.

My older daughter got a call back from the tax preparer. They can’t log into her file at Canada Revenue. Like with her sister, it’s telling them there’s something wrong with her name. We have no idea what that could be. We’re going to have to call up Canada Revenue again. I’ve found a directory, and the numbers all have wait times listed. The number we need to call has a wait time of just over 2 hours.

So we’ll be taking turns monitoring the phone while on hold.

Again.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 Garden: luffa, Crespo squash, decisions made, and we have sproooooots!!!

My daughters and I regularly check the areas we planted things in the fall. Especially where we planted so many corms and bulbs.

For those new to this blog (welcome! I’m very happy you’re here!), last fall we planted 200 grape hyacinths in one area (day one, day two). In another, we planted about 100 snow crocuses. My daughters also planted some Iris, Bulls Eye Tulip, plus a variety pack of other tulips, in other areas. We also planted three varieties of hardneck garlic. (all links will open in new tabs, so you won’t lose your place. 🙂 )

Today, we actually found sprouts!!!

This is a snow crocus. We found one other sprout a few feet away, too. We were so excited!!!

There’s still no sign of anything else, but it’s the crocuses that are supposed to be the earliest to emerge, so this is pretty awesome! We probably won’t see any of the others for some weeks, yet.

We also found…

… a garlic emerging through the mulch!

It wasn’t until I uploaded the photo and was resizing it that I realized there was a second one in the back, the tip just barely visible! I had been checking the garlic beds every now and then, since we took the plastic off, pulling the mulch back to see if there were any sprouts. I had done that earlier, but in a different spot and completely missed the bit of green poking through! Even when my daughter pointed it out, it took a while for me to see it.

These ones are Purple Stripe. After finding them, I checked in the Porcelain Music bed, pulling back the mulch, and I did find a sprout there, too. I put the mulch back. The overnight temperatures are still too cold to take the mulch off.

We are really, really excited to see these!! We have sprooooooots!

*doing the happy dance*

Meanwhile…

After putting some seeds to soak for 24 hours, we planted some Crespo squash seeds.

We planted only 2 seeds in each of 3 double cups. We’ll see how many germinate. They went into the small aquarium greenhouse, along with the more recently planted gourds (still no seedlings sprouting there, yet), and the light fixture that’s there to keep the tank warm.

I keep catching Saffron lying on the screen cover, directly over the light! The little bugger has discovered it’s even warmer than sitting on the light fixtures of the big tank. At least she’s tiny and light!

As you can see in this image from Baker Creek, Crespo squash can get quite large! The only information I can find about these is from the Baker Creek site, and it’s new for them, so there isn’t very much information, and there are no reviews at all. There isn’t even a “days to maturity” available. The package just says to harvest when the skin is very hard. ??

These are from Peru and Bolivia, which do have areas that are the equivalent of our Zone 3 climate, but I have no idea if these are from any of them. Probably not. 😀

Still, I couldn’t resist these amazing looking edibles!! It would be really something, if we could grow these to full maturity.

The luffa have joined the tomatoes and onions in the big aquarium greenhouse. They are big enough now that I’m not as concerned about keeping them extra warm.

I really hope these work out!

Thinking ahead, while the girls and I were walking around, we went by the other area we are considering to put our permanent garden beds and talked about it.

We have decided that this will be it. Our future permanent, accessible raised bed garden.

One of the hesitations about this spot is that it’s always been a high traffic area – that’s why it’s so flat that I’ve been able to mow it! There is a gate to the old hay yard next to the shack by the barn. On the other side of the shack is the ramp that was used to load cattle onto trucks. The gate, however, has had other wire placed across it and it can no longer be opened, and even if that old cattle ramp wasn’t rotting and falling apart, we don’t plan to have cattle. At least not so many that we’d be sending them off to auction. We still drive through parts of it, to access the garage, the barn, etc., but that still leaves a huge area that no one drives through anymore.

In our shorter term plans, we were talking about putting a temporary fence up in the old hay yard, where the remains of another fence still sits.

It’s marked in black in the above photos. This would allow us to remove part of the main fence (marked in orange) and still keep the renter’s cows from getting through.

But if we’re going to put permanent raised beds by the old hay yard, we will want to plant a wind break even sooner, and that was going to be along a permanent fence.

Which would be about where the black lines are in these photos.

If we do that, we can get rid of a lot more of the fence around the old hay yard, much of which is in terrible shape, anyhow. That, in turn, will open up more of the hay yard area to other options. Right now, with that gate blocked off, the only way we can get into the old hay yard that doesn’t involve clambering over a wire fence is either through the barn, or through the electric wire fence at the gate by the barn, then go around the back of the barn, and through the collapsed rails of an old corral.

We will have to do some work on the fence around the outer yard, though, to fill in any areas the renter’s cows can get through, if his electric fence fails again. It wasn’t an issue before, because we could close up the gates to the inner yard, but if we have a garden out there, the cows would make shorter work of it than the deer!

The advantages of this area compared to the others – mostly that it’s already nice and flat – also means that we will probably be able to build the permanent garden beds here sooner than in any of the other locations.

On top of everything else in favour of this area, it’s visible in live feed from the garage security camera. We will be able to see if there are any deer getting into the garden.

Well. Not when we’re asleep, of course, but it’s a start! 😀

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer