Our 2023 garden: onions update

Not a lot of garden related stuff going on, but I thought it was time to post another picture of how our onion seedlings are going.

They are really coming up well! So many, they’re actually lifting up the surface soil on one of the trays.

If anyone is wondering why I’m starting onions so densely like this, it’s based on how MI Gardener now does it.

We did this last year, and they did just fine!

I’m looking at the trays, though, and thinking…

We don’t have enough onions! 😄

As for the luffa, no sign of germination, yet. It might be a while for those, still.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: That was fast!!! and planning ahead

We had a light snowfall last night, making everything all white and fluffy this morning.

The outside cats didn’t mind it at all!

I counted 21 this morning.

Meanwhile, indoors, we have our first signs of spring.

When I checked the trays this morning, three out of four of them had onions sprouting. When I came back about an hour later, there were sprouts in the fourth tray!

I’m absolutely amazed by two things. One is, how quickly they started to germinate.

The other is, how much cat hair there is, all over the soil surface. These trays had lids on them. Where did all that cat hair come from? I mean, Beep Beep practically lives on top of the lights. She naps on them, rolls around on them, and even hugs them, so yeah… I can see some of her fur drifting down… but getting under the lids?

Yesterday, I marked on our communal calendar, two sets of dates. One was the number of weeks counted back from our last average frost date, June 2. This way, we can see at a glance that something that needs to be started 10 weeks before last frost, needs to be started around March 24, while something that needs only 4 weeks can wait until May 5th.

The other dates I marked was number of days counted back from our average first frost date, which is Sept. 10. We have exactly 100 days between our average last spring and first fall frosts. That’s the growing season we can mostly count on for frost sensitive plants.

For things that have really long days to maturity, it’s that “days before first frost” that we need to consider. If, for example, I have a gourd that requires 110 days to maturity, that’s May 23. If it needs 7-10 days to germinate, I would start them at least a week before that.

If I have something than need 90 days to maturity, that falls on June 12 and, by then, I could get away with direct sowing, instead.

One of the really useful tools I’ve found is the Farmer’s Almanac planting calendar. Most planting calendars just give number of weeks before first frost, because they’re meant to be generic. I can get that information from the seed packet. Farmer’s Almanac, however, lets you input your area code (or zip code, if you’re in the US). You can even put in your city (ha!) and province/state. It will find the climate station nearest you, then give you the calendar dates for starting indoors and transplanting, or seeding outdoors. It even gives you the choice of dates based on frost date, or on moon dates. Oh, and I discovered something very handy when I hit the print button on the web page. It allows you to remove things from the list that you aren’t growing, which greatly reduced the number of pages that got printed out!

It’s still a bit generic, of course, but the date range is pretty wide. For example, it tells me bell peppers should be started between March 24 and April 7. We have five varieties of bell peppers, and four of them are early varieties, so we could use the information on the seed packet to figure out which ones need to be started in March, and which can wait until April.

Of course, they can’t cover everything, so we still need to make adjustments. For example, their calendar says to start winter squash outdoors between June 16 and July 14. With some varieties, we could do that, but we’ve got some large varieties of winter squash that need more time to fully mature, so we would be better off starting them indoors. If we use the biodegradable pots that can be buried, that would reduce transplant shock.

We have always started summer squash indoors. I think, this year, we might direct seed them. The calendar says zucchini can be planted anywhere between June 16 and July 14, which is when we can expect the soil to finally be warm enough.

As for the things we’ll need to start the earliest, the herbs (except dill, which is direct sown) will need to be started at the same time as bell peppers; in March. The eggplants and tomatoes can be started in early April, melons can be started in early May, while pumpkins and watermelon can be started in mid May.

The direct sowing dates are pretty interesting for some things. If we decide to try growing radishes again, they can be direct seeded in early April – at the same time we’d be starting eggplant and tomatoes indoors. Carrots can be planted in late April, early May, which would be about the same time we’d be starting melons indoors.

All of which needs to be taken with a grain of salt. For example, the calendar says to start onion seeds outdoors in early May. Sets, sure, but seeds? Nope. There’s a reason people out here start their onion seeds indoors in January! Also, it has dates to start lettuce and chard indoors, but none for direct seeding. Who starts lettuce and chard indoors? I mean, sure, you can grow them indoors, but for transplant?

As it stands now, though, we won’t need to start anything else indoors until March 24, at the earliest.

That gives us February and most of March to get the materials we need and build a removeable door and frame, to keep the cats out of the living room, and out of the seedlings!

We’ll also need to build a barrier to block an opening in the shelf to the left of the door in the image.

Our 2023 garden: getting started (video)

Yesterday, after many delays, I finally sorted through all our seeds, old and new. I was happy to find I still had luffa seeds left, so I got those started, along with our onions.

Since I’m running out of media storage space on my WordPress account (the down side of having such a photo heavy blog!), I took my photos and made them into a video, instead. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to let me know what you think of it, either here or in the comments under the video at YouTube. If you watch the video on YouTube, you can subscribe to my channel there. I’ll be uploading it to my Rumble account, too.

I will probably be doing a lot more of these, since I’m not about to spend over $300 a year to upgrade my account, when all I want is more storage space! It takes a lot more time, and I borrow my daughter’s microphone for the voice overs, but it does allow me to use higher quality images, and more of them, than I would here. I’d call it an experiment, but it’s not like I have much choice!

On another note, I’m quite enjoying the Movavi Video Suite to make these videos. I’m just barely skimming the surface of what the software allows me to do, since my needs are really basic, but if I wanted to, I could create some pretty professional looking videos. The only complaint I have is how it keeps wanting me to buy into subscriptions to get more choices in media and effects, etc. But that’s pretty typical of most media software these days, I think.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the video!

The Re-Farmer

Analysing our 2022 garden: starting seeds indoors, and other physical challenges

Okay, it’s that time! I’ll be working on a serious of posts, going over how our 2022 garden went, what worked, what didn’t, and what didn’t even happen at all. This is help give us an idea of what we want to do in the future, what we don’t want to do in the future, and what changes need to be made.

Our 2022 garden had a lot of challenges, and a lot of failures. Some of challenges and failures started well before we planted a single thing outdoors.

With our short growing season, we need to start a lot of things indoors. That, in itself, is expected and not a big deal. Our circumstances, however, have thrown in some major difficulties.

Fourteen of them, in fact.

Well. Sixteen, when we were trying to get them going this year.

Our indoor cats.

The other challenge is a combination of space and light. This house is oriented to the East. Our largest windows face the sunrise – with a grove of 60’+ spruces not far away. Our south facing windows are smaller and inaccessible for the purpose. The exception to that is the sun room, however the sun room is not warm enough to start seeds in when we need to. Plus, during colder weather, we allow the outside cats to use it for shelter.

Which means we need to figure out how to start seeds indoors, provide adequate artificial light, and protect the seedlings from cats that are determined to either roll on them, or eat them!

The first solution was one that we started doing last year. We have two aquariums that we have been able to convert into greenhouses, of a sort. When we moved out here, we brought our big tank, with a second light fixture to replace the kit light. Both work just fine, and provide adequate light for starting seeds.

The corner of the living room the tank sits in gets cold, so we added rigid insulation against two walls for extra protection. We were also able to get a warming mat to place under seed trays of things that needed extra heat. Since the lights can’t be raised or lowered, we used cardboard boxes under the seed trays to adjust the height, with new plantings closer to the lights, and larger ones lower down, rotating and adjusting as needed. We built frames with hardware cloth to cover the top of the tank, which both protected the seedlings from the cats, but also allowed more air flow.

This above picture was taken with the hardware cloth covers removed for access. As you can see from the bedraggled seedlings, we didn’t quite manage to protect them from the cats. More on that later.

The other tank is much smaller; just a 20 gallon tank. It, too, tended to get chilly, plus the light it came with was not as bright as having two lights, as with the large tank. It has insulation on three sides to protect from the chill walls, which also got covered in aluminum foil to reflect the light.

When we first started using this tank the previous year, we used the original lid it came with. The cats were incredibly determined to get at the trays below, and were able to reach through the opening for the filter, no matter what we used to block it, completely destroying the trays below. This year, we found some window screens in a shed, and used one of those as a lid, weighted down with hand weights. We removed the light from the bottom of the original lid and attached it to a foil lined piece of rigid insulation, and simply set it on top of the window screen. The cats still sometimes managed to knock the weights around and displace the screen but, over all, it did keep them out.

The problem with both tanks, but especially the little one, was air circulation. For that, we used a tiny fan we found in one of the basements while doing clean up. We could put it right into the big tank, or on top of the hardware cloth covers, aimed downwards. For the small tank, we could just set it on the screen, also aimed downwards. Ultimately, though, we used the small tank as little as possible.

We had an awful lot of seeds to start indoors, however. Way too many to fit in the tanks. Since the seeds needed to be started at different times, we could start the earliest ones in the tanks, then rotate them out when the next seeds needed to be started.

The question was, rotate them out where?

One of my daughters had bought a mini greenhouse for me the year before, so we brought that into the living room. We also bought a long, narrow, LED shop light to illuminate it better. That worked out well enough that we later bought a second one.

We set it up as close to the window as we could, on a chair to catch more light. The only way we could use the light, however, was to hang it from a plant hook in the ceiling above, so that it rested on the chair as well, oriented vertically.

The cats were absolutely determined to get into it!

They managed to squeeze in from under the chair, so we tried taping the plastic cover to the chair.

That wasn’t enough.

We added pieces of cardboard to block the spaces they were squeezing through.

It… mostly worked.

In the end, it was a combination of taping the bottom, the cardboard, and covering the back and sides of the frame with aluminum foil – which also helped reflect light onto the seedling better.

They still managed to get in.

I came out one morning and found cats had somehow squeezed through one of the zippers, pushing it open more, and rolled all over a couple of the trays.

It was such a disaster!

We did managed to save some of the seedlings, but not all. Thankfully, we had seeds left for some of them and were able to start over.

We were eventually able to keep the mini greenhouse sealed up well enough to keep the cats out, but it meant keeping the plastic cover on and closed up at a time when the seedlings didn’t need a cover. This meant no air circulation in there at all. Even so, there were times when a cat or two managed to get in, and try to eat some of the seedlings!

I was able to rig the little fan up inside the mini greenhouse, aimed at the walls in such a way that the air flow would be pushed upwards and around the whole space.

That little fan got one heck of a work out!

So we finally got that working, but there’s not a lot of space in between the shelves. Before long, some of the seedlings began to outgrow the mini greenhouse. They needed to be moved out, and the only place we could move them to was the sun room – but we had to wait until it was warm enough!

Eventually, we were able to move the largest seedlings onto shelves in the sun room, while other seedlings got rotated into the mini greenhouse, and newly sown trays were set up in the aquarium greenhouses. We had our seeds organized by when they needed to be started, with the earliest started 10 weeks before our average last frost date, then 8 weeks, 6 weeks and finally 4 weeks.

We still ran out of space.

In the end, we set up a surface to hold seedlings over the swing bench, and eventually we could move the mini greenhouse to the sun room – and finally take the cover off! The second shop light was hung above the plants over the swing bench, and we eventually hung the one from the living room on the inside of the shelf.

For a sun room, the sunlight doesn’t actually reach far into the room.

There were so many things that needed to be started indoors! In fact, most of what we were growing needed to be started indoors, with only a few things that needed to be direct sown.

That’s not really going to be changing, so we need to figure something better out. How do we provide the seed trays and seedlings with the light, air flow and space they need, while also protecting them from the cats?

Well, the girls and I have been talking about it, and the only real solution we have is to find a way to keep the cats out of the living room completely, and turn the living room into a plant room.

The question is, how?

There are floor to ceiling cabinets between the living room and dining room. On one set, the living room side is completely covered. On the other, there is a “window” at one shelf that allows access from both sides. It’s a favourite lounging place for David! Between the cabinets is an open space somewhat wider than a standard sized door for access between the two rooms.

The only way to prevent the cats from getting into the living room is to build a barrier in that space, with a door in it, plus another barrier to cover the “window” in one of the cabinets.

Barriers which need to be strong enough to withstand cats trying to get through, yet still be easily removeable.

One of my daughters has drawn up plans for a barrier with a doorway, while the “window” will just need a simple rectangular frame to fit the space. It’s basically going to be all wooden frames and hardware cloth.

Unfortunately, we’ll need to actually buy the lumber for this, and lumber is extremely expensive right now. There is nothing in the piles of salvaged lumber in the sheds and barn suitable for what we have in mind.

It’s something we’ll have to figure out soon. Some things, like onion seeds, could be started as early as January. February at the latest. Honestly, I just don’t see how we can get the materials and build the barriers that quickly. We could start off using the large aquarium, which might give us until March to get it done, but… I’m not very hopeful.

It would be a lot easier, if the cats weren’t so absolutely determined to destroy the seed trays!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: light mulching

After finishing my morning rounds, I remembered to check the tracking information and saw that our potatoes were ready for pick up. After picking up the nice big, heavy bag, I made a spur of the moment purchase and got some more wood shavings. We still had a small amount left over from last year, but since we can’t quite use our wood chipper yet, I decided it was worth picking up another bag. I’m glad I did!

One of the issues we have with our soil is that, when it’s watered, it develops a hard crust at the time, which seedlings have difficulty breaking through. One way to reduce that is with mulching – and that’s something we don’t have in the old kitchen garden right now. A straw mulch would be too much for what we’ve got in there right now. We do have lots of the hardwood pellets we use for cat litter, but I decided to use the shavings, too.

For some things, I could use the shavings for a slightly thicker mulch, such as around the irises and daffodils, and that one onion that predates us and keeps coming back, no matter how many times something managed to crunch it. The onions along the retaining wall are super tiny still, so they just got a very light mulch, as did the area we planted poppy seeds in, and the tiny patch with lettuce seeds next to the rose bush. More can be added later, as things grow, if necessary.

I even mulched one of the retaining wall blocks. Last year, we found a mystery bulb lying on the grass. We weren’t sure which of the bulbs we’d planted had lost one, so I just stuck it into this cube to see what came up. Nothing did, so it was quite a surprise to see what looks like a tulip emerging this year!

For the beds that are covered with netting, I still used the hardwood pellets, since they can fit through the net. It was a bit difficult to get it to spread evenly, since they wanted to roll into the furrows seeds were planted in, but those are what we want to protect from crusting, anyhow.

All the mulch got watered, so they can help keep the soil moist, and for the hardwood pellets to break up into sawdust. The seedlings should be able to push through the sawdust just fine.

Over time, the crusting problem will lessen as more organic matter like this mulch, breaks down into the soil. Definitely a long term process, but that’s par for the course! This garden has already been 4 years in the works, since we started cleaning it up and prepping it, our first summer here!

Ah, but what about those potatoes we finally picked up?

That will be in my next post! 🙂 I am really happy with them!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: first Yakteen gourd!

We had started some Yakteen gourd seeds indoors a while back, but none germinated. There was also one pot with hulless pumpkin in it that didn’t germinate, so I took the last 6 seeds we had left and replanted them in the three pots.

One has finally germinated!

Since I took this photo this morning, the seedling has fully emerged from the soil.

So far, there’s just the one, but I moved all of them to the sun room. Hopefully, more will germinate. This is one of those rare varieties that I want to save seeds from, to keep it going. This is really late for starting indoors, but maybe we’ll have another long and mild fall – to make up for how long it took for winter to let go, only to have a cold, wet “spring”.

We got a lot of garden related stuff done today, and I took lots of pictures, so I’ll be making several shorter posts rather than one huge one!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: last seeds starts – for real this time!

Okay, I went ahead and did it. I got one more tray of seeds started.

Most of them are summer squash.

I also decided to start the only 4 King Tut Purple Peas I was able to save last year. They did not do well at all in the drought, but they bravely tried!

The seed tray holds 32 square pots, and I wanted to plant just one seed per pot. I decided to start only 4 each of the Magda (a mottled light and dark green squash), yellow zucchini (Goldy)…

… and green zucchini (Endeavor). With these summer squash, I want to also try direct sowing more, and see if that makes any difference.

That left room to plant 8 each of the patty pans; Sunburst and G Star.

It occurred to me after I uploaded the pictures that I should have just planted each flat of 4 x 2 pots with one type, instead of two long rows of the patty pans. 😀 Ah, well, The flats will come apart easily when it’s time to transplant.

The tray then went straight into the sunroom, covered to keep them moist until they germinate. As you can see by the one that got pushed to the back, it’s working rather well.

There we are. Done. No more seeds will be started indoors.

Honest.

😉

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: last seed starts? Winter squash and cucumber

Today is 4 weeks from our average last frost date. We started some more seeds indoors, but I’m not sure if these will be our last ones or not.

But first, some re-arranging had to be done.

I moved more pots out of the mini-greenhouse and into the sun room. The mini-greenhouse is now about half empty.

The last of the tomatoes were moved out; these are almost all the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and, I think, one last Cup of Moldova paste tomato. There was room in the bin, so I added the peppers I’d brought over yesterday. The larger bin with the larger tomatoes and the Canteen gourds got moved so this one could be closer to the window and not get overshadowed by the larger bin.

The re-started luffa, and ozark nest egg gourds, were brought over, too. The plants in the cups are the ones I thinned out from the larger, stronger pepper plants, yesterday. It doesn’t look like they’ll make it, but you never know.

The Red Baron bunching onions got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse – and got a hair cut.

Then it was time to start planting.

We had only three seeds to start; two types of shorter season winter squash that we grew last year, and cucumber. For these, I used planting trays the same size that come with the Jiffy Pellets, but with 4 sets of 8 square Jiffy pots in them.

With the Little Gem (Red Kuri) seeds, we picked 8 seeds that looked the best, for 1 seed per square. We still have seeds left over, plus I also still have the seeds we saved from last year. The Teddy squash had only 10 seeds left, so we planted all of them, with a couple of squares having 2 seeds. The seeds got scarified and briefly soaked while the squares were filled with potting mix. With the cumber, we just planted 1 seed per pot, in half the tray, so we have plenty of those left over.

For all the re-arranging, we still couldn’t put the tray in the big aquarium greenhouse on the warming mat, because we still needed to use it for other things. With how warm the sun room is, though, the new tray went straight there!

I didn’t want them drying out too quickly, plus the overnight temperatures are still a bit of a concern. The tray didn’t come with a dome, so I improvised.

Two small bin lids cover the ends, while a small big is deep enough to fit over the labels. 😀

That done, the girls and I headed outside to check things out, and we were absolutely thrilled to find so many crocuses blooming!

Many of them are blooming in clusters like this. Each one of those clusters was a single flower, last year. I just love how they are already spreading!

There are more grape hyacinth coming up, though they are very hard to see. We also spotted wild strawberry leaves in the patch under a dead tree that we’ve framed with branches to make sure they don’t get accidentally mowed.

My younger daughter wanted to check her raspberries that had such a rough start last year. One of them has tiny new leaves coming up at the base! Hopefully, both will have survived the winter.

Once back inside, I fussed a bit more with the big aquarium greenhouse.

I’d already rotated the bin with the melons in it; the Zucca melon is now in the foreground and the watermelon in the back. The Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes were moved to the mini-greenhouse, while the larger pumpkins got moved to take their place. Some of them were getting too close to the light fixture, and this tray gives them more head room.

A few remained on the warming tray, but moving so many post out freed up just enough room…

… to move the other winter squash out of the small aquarium greenhouse and put them on the warming mat. Hopefully, that will help them germinate sooner.

I have refills of those square pots that fit in the trays like the one on the warming mat. I find myself waffling back and forth over starting the summer squash in them. We have 5 types. These have a short enough season that I could get away with direct sowing. I could leave them be, but I’ve never NOT started summer squash indoors, so I find myself really wanted to start some of them!

If I do start them, it would have to be very soon, and they’ll be going straight into the sun room, too.

What do you think? Should I try go for it, or leave them?

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: an explosion of seedlings!

We are just so incredibly excited right now! We’ve got an absolute explosion of seeds germinating!

There still aren’t any watermelons yet, but if you look at the back of the second picture, you can see our first Zucca melon has germinated!

Since taking these pictures this morning, the seedlings have gotten notably bigger, and are starting to lean inwards. We’re going to have to rotate the bin.

I’m just thrilled with how fast the hulless pumpkins are coming up. Since taking this photo, the ones in front are fully emerged.

It’s out of focus in the back, but you can see that there are roots coming through the pot with the Giant Pumpkin. I have larger biodegradable pots, still, so that will get potted up soon, with no root disruption.

I’m not sure what’s going on with these two dancing gourds. The leaves look almost as if they’ve been chewed on. They haven’t. That’s just how they emerged.

That’s okay. We have more. The seedling you can see just starting to break ground next to the dancing gourd already up is now fully emerged from the soil – as is the Giant Pumpkin next to it!

In the pots with the Baby Pam pumpkins, you can see the soil starting to lift and split. Since taking the photo this morning, seedlings have fully emerged, not only there, but in the Kakai pumpkin pot next to them! Even in the back corner, it looks like the Apple gourds are starting to germinate. Only the Yakteen gourds haven’t shown signs of germinating, but the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if I checked them this evening, and found something there. 😀

The tomatoes and bunching onions haven’t changed a lot, though. Which is not a problem. They just suddenly seem like they’re growing slowly, compared to everything else exploding around them! 😀

I don’t know why I’m so much more excited about these, than anything else we’ve started so far. I’m not even sure where we’ll be planting these, exactly. More of a vague notion of where we want them, since we’ll be taking advantage of the large leaves of many of our squash to shade out weeds and reclaim parts of the old garden area.

Speaking of the old garden area, here’s how it looked this morning.

This is the view from the fence line. I’m still not even trying to get to the sign cam through the garden. Quite a lot of the snow has melted away, and the area by the squash tunnel (which will be used for pole beans this year) is pretty clear.

I can’t say the same for the areas closer to the house. There’s still deep snow stretching from end to end. The low raised beds are starting to emerge from the snow, but we just can’t get at them yet, any more than I get get to the sign cam.

I checked on a few other things this morning, like the haskap bushes.

The male haskap, which is the largest of them, has been deer damaged, but you can see that leaf buds are emerging.

The female haskap that was planted at the same time as the male has been struggling. It never leafed out or bloomed at the same time as the male. I do see tiny leaf buds, though, so hopefully, it will do better this year – in spite of the deer damage it also has!

The new female haskap we planted is a lot smaller, and seems to have escaped the notice of the deer!

After I got back from town today, and my daughter helped me unload the van – I was finally able to drive right up to the house! – we went around to check on her flowers. There are more irises and daffodils emerging along the old kitchen garden, and more tulips coming up among the nearby trees. We were able to spot more grape hyacinth coming up, too. I had mentioned the snow crocus flower buds I saw yesterday, so we checked those out, too.

Some of them have actually opened, since this morning! There were a few more I couldn’t get good pictures of, completely in water, but still managing.

After things being such a disaster with the tulips, irises and daffodils last year – the first growing season for all the corms and bulbs – we all thought for sure they were a loss. It just didn’t seem they would have managed to store enough energy in their bulbs to survive the winter, never mind spread. Yet that’s exactly what it looks like they’re doing.

My younger daughter is just beyond thrilled. These were her babies! 😀

Spring has been slow in coming this year, but there are finally things growing – and blooming!

Soon, there should be more. The beds in the old kitchen garden are thawed out enough that we can start planting some cool weather crops right now! We’ll have to go through the seeds for direct sowing, and see what we should start first. Some say to plant “as soon as the ground can be worked” while others say things like “plant a week before last frost date”.

But first, we need to prep the sun room some more, so we have space to lay out the plants that are too tall to fit in the growing shelves.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: starting seeds, three winter squash

Our next batch of seeds have been started!

I chose the ones that grow the largest and need the longest growing season. They are all new to us. Boston Marrow was chosen because it was described as making the best pumpkin pie the grower ever tasted, and because it was described as extremely rare. We plan to save seeds from these. I’ve heard many good things about Georgia Candy Roaster and, most importantly for us, it’s listed as having great storage quality. Winter Sweet was also described as an excellent storage squash, that tastes better after being stored for several months, and for being a reliable producer.

Because the seeds – especially the Boston Marrow seeds – were so large, we went with the Solo cups as pots, using the double cup method for watering from below. Each variety got three seeds in three cups (after being scarified and soaked a bit). We’ll see how many germinate. If we had the space for it, I would probably have planted more.

Speaking of space, the small aquarium greenhouse has been brought back into service. Once they germinated, we should be able to move them to a better spot, to avoid the issues we’ve been having with the space. Depending on how well they germinate and grow, we might be able to thin by dividing.

In the large aquarium greenhouse, I’m happy to say I’m now seeing more tomato seedlings starting to push their way through the soil. More amazingly, I spotted a hint of green in one of the giant pumpkin pots! That was much quicker than I expected.

The next batch of seeds to start indoors will be two more varieties of winter squash – the Red Kuri/Little Gem and Teddy squash that we grew last year, and managed to have squash to taste in spite of the drought – and cucumbers. Since we saved seeds from the few Red Kuri we got (the Teddy never got to fully mature), I might try some of our own seeds as well.

Then we have the summer squash. In the two years we’ve gardened here, we started them indoors. They did well, but they have a short enough growing season that we could direct seed them. For the sake of space, we may actually do that this year. Chatting with my mother on the phone today, she said the only things she started indoors were tomatoes and cabbages. She direct seeded everything else, including zucchini.

As we talked, she started telling me I should plant a big garden this year, because of how expensive food is getting. She was looking at the grocery store flyer and finally noticing. I’ve been saying this to her for months now! Then she started telling me what she would be doing if she were still living here – the first being, hiring the renter to plow the whole old garden area and then…

… planting trees.

Then she tried to offer me seeds she picked that fell from the trees lining the streets near her place. I declined! I told her that we were intending to plant trees, but these would be trees that feed us, and that we had a plan in mind. She planted most of the trees around the yard herself, or allowed trees that seeded themselves to grow. It’s taken a few years, but I think she’s starting to understand that this is now causing problems, as I try to explain that any trees we will be planting will be carefully chosen, and where we plant them will also be carefully decided. She was more interesting in things she got for free – or someone else paid for, like the shelterbelt trees my brother bought for my parents that were supposed to be planted in the outer yard, but that were instead crowded into the inner yard. I do find it funny that she gave me such a hard time for not immediately planting a garden our first summer here, and instantly having one just like she used to have, back when I was a kid, and now that we are going to be planting a large garden, she wants me to be planting trees!

Well, that’s part of our plans, too. Little by little, it’ll get done.

Today’s seed starts are one more little step in that direction.

The Re-Farmer