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

Our 2022 garden: gourds and pumpkins

Another batch of seeds were started today: the last of the gourds and pumpkins we will be planting this year.

We are trying three varieties of hulless pumpkins. I really love pumpkin seeds, but they are quite expensive, so hopefully we will get lots of seeds to eat from these. We’ve got Lady Godiva, Kakai and Styrian. We’ll see which variety grows and tastes best to save seeds from. Or we might just save seeds from all of them. The Styrian pumpkin seeds are a good oil seed, and getting an oil press is on our wish list. The Kakai are supposed to be really excellent, roasted, while the Lady Godiva are supposed to be really excellent eaten fresh out of the pumpkin, as well as roasted. Three varieties with three different ideal ways to use them.

The remaining gourds we will be planting this year are Apple and Yakteen. Both are edible when young, and apparently Apple gourds are very healthy. I’m growing the Apple gourds for crafting purposes. We’ll try them both. Then we’ll decide whether the Yakteen gourd will be used as an edible, as well as for crafting. The Yakteen gourd is listed as very rare, so we’ll be saving seeds for those, regardless. If we succeed in growing them! We do have two other varieties of gourd seeds from last year, but we’re skipping them this year.

The Baby Pam pumpkins are a small, short(ish) season variety that is supposed to be an excellent eating pumpkin, especially good for pies. Veseys doesn’t seem to carry them anymore, though, so I’m glad to still have these seeds from last year. We had none germinate last year, but I think that has more to do with the troubles we had with our starting medium, rather than the seeds themselves. This year, we’ve bought soilless seed starting mixes, and I think that’s working out much better.

I decided to just plant two pots with three seeds for each of these. The gourds and Baby Pam pumpkin seeds got scarified and soaked for a while before planting. Depending on how well they germinate and how strong they are, we might thin by dividing to get more to transplant in June. My daughter did the planting while I cut up and wrote out more labels.

The ground cherry seedlings got moved to the mini-greenhouse, and now the warming mat is under all pumpkins and gourds right now.

Yes, I added water to the tray after the photo was taken. LOL

Here’s what’s in the mini-greenhouse right now.

I’d rotated all the trays before taking photos. Here are the ground cherries, just added to the tray with second planting eggplants, peppers, luffa and Crespo squash, along with one Canteen gourd that was thinned out from one of the pots now in the sun room.

There is one empty shelf below, ready for when we need to move more things out of the big aquarium greenhouse to make room for more starts.

Here we have the second planting Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, plus the first planting eggplant and peppers that survived the Great Cat Crush.

Here we have the Cup of Moldova tomatoes that were smaller and didn’t need to get moved to the sun room yet. They’re getting quite tall, so we’ll likely have to move them to the sun room fairly soon.

For the next batch of starts, in a couple of days, we’ll be moving on to the winter squash. Particularly the larger varieties that need a longer growing season.

I’m really looking forward to those, and will be looking to start more of each, if we can find the space. These were selected to be a major part of our winter food storage, so I’m aiming to plant quite a lot of each variety, if possible.

We are starting so many seeds indoors this year, but I’d much rather be planting more. Partly because we just don’t know how many will actually make it. Even if they all germinate, the cats don’t manage to destroy any more of them, and we transplant them all, they could still die of transplant shock, a late frost, critters, insects… Gardening is really a touch and go endeavour. As the poem says, one for the rook, one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow. I’m also reminded of a “prepper” saying I’ve recently come across. Two is one, and one is none. Redundancy is a good thing, whether it’s how many bags of rice to store, how many can openers to have handy, or how many seeds to plant!

If we had the space, I would be planting double what we’re doing for our indoor starts.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: melons, melons and more… gourd?

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the weather, as the Colorado Low continues to push northwards. We’ve had a few short downpours and high winds from the north, with milder rain continuing throughout the day. The forecasts are still saying it will turn to snow in our area overnight, but that there will be almost no accumulation, as it’s expected to melt on contact.

Which means there’s water leaking from the sunroom ceiling, and there is water starting to seep through the concrete in the old basement. Oddly, it’s puddling on the north side, not the south, where it usually gets damp first. I’ve got the blower going to try and dry things a bit. So far, the water in the sump pump reservoir doesn’t seem to be increasing yet.

A perfect day to start more seeds!

Here we have the purchased seeds. The Zucca melon is actually a gourd. It can grow to prodigious size, with 130 days to maturity, but when they’re young they can be picked and eaten like zucchini. The Halona melon seeds are left over from last year. We do have some saved seeds, but I decided to use up seeds from last year, instead. The Kaho watermelon is a rare, yellow fleshed variety we wanted to try, and hopefully save seeds from.

Then there are the other seeds we saved from grocery store melons. One has the sticker from the melon itself, so I know the name of it; Crenshaw. With the other two, the stickers were lost, and I couldn’t remember what they were. I do remember the one on the right had a wonderful, crisp texture to it.

After deciding how many of each I would plant, I scarified the larger seeds, then set them all to soak while the pots were prepared.

I was originally going to put these in the little biodegradable Jiffy pots, with several seeds per pot, but decided against that. I decided to use more toilet paper tube pots, with one seed each, in one of the small bins.

The tubes I had left were a smaller size than the ones we used for the kulli corn, so they wobbled around more in the bin. After deciding how many of each type I would plant, I cut up a couple of disposable plates we happen to have. Several pieces were used as dividers between the different types, then leftover edge pieces were tucked along one side to hold all the tubes in place.

After shifting the Solo cup pots to make room, the bin fit quite nicely beside them. I decided to plant 8 each of the Kaho watermelon and the Halona melon, then 4 each of the others. Hopefully, we’ll have a good germination rate and have lots of melons this year, but honestly, I’ll be happy if we get only one of each. What was that poem again?

Four seeds
In a row
One for the rook
One for the crow
One to die and
One to grow

Thankfully, we don’t need to worry about rooks and crows when starting indoors. Just cats.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: the 6 week batch

This week is 6 weeks away from our average last frost date, so we started our next batch of seeds.

We had the Kulli corn, the Chocolate Cherry tomato and Yellow Pear tomato to do. We were also still considering starting the last few Spoon tomato seeds, since they were so fun last year, but in the end, decided against it. Four types of tomatoes is enough!

Of course, I found extra to start.

Looking over our seedlings, I noticed that one pot with Tennessee Dancing gourds still has not germinated, while the other had a single sad looking little plant that was looking ever more wimpy…

… it turned out to be dead.

Well, then.

We still have seeds from last year, so I scarified a few and started them soaking before I headed out for errands.

Then, just because I’m curious…

… I scarified then set to soak the two giant pumpkin seeds that were given out for free at the grocery store near my mother’s place. Her town has a giant pumpkin contest every year and, in the spring, there’s always a big basket full of envelopes with just a few seeds in them, available for free (though they do request a limit of one packet per family).

Before filling the bins with toilet paper tube pots with soil, I decided to count how many corn seeds we actually got. Each package was supposed to have 25 seeds, but I know sometimes there are extras, and we were going to put one seed in each tube.

There turned out to be a total of 106. 😀 Granted, some of the extras were really tiny, but we intended to plant them anyway.

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture, so here’s an old one of the larger bin. It fits 8 rows of 10 tubes. I actually ended up changing the tubes in the picture out for different tubes. The tubes from some brands are longer than others, and I ended up switching to a brand – the Costco Kirkland brand – that had taller tubes.

The big bin held 80 tubes, while the smaller shoe-box size bin held 4 rows of 8, so we would have empties. We still filled them all with soil, so that the tubes could support each other.

Before we started filling the tubes with the growing medium, I set the corn to soak. My daughters did their best to fill the tubes without getting too much of the soil in between the tubes, while I potted up the gourds and pumpkin seeds, then started working on the tomatoes.

Which is when I got a phone call from my brother, to talk about the latest on our vandal’s court case against me that was supposed to be today, but got cancelled. I’d sent a message to the court clerk about the conflict in dates, saying that I’d been told on the phone our vandal had picked 2 dates, and some of the issues we have to deal with as to why we chose the November date. I added that the earlier December date would work better for us, but I didn’t think our vandal would agree to any date we selected and suggested the court simply assign a date and we’d all just work with it.

We got a response saying that, since we couldn’t agree on a date, we’d have a teleconference call in early May with the court clerk to set up a trail date. The response was to my email, with our vandal’s email added on, so he got to see what I wrote.

Well, he responded in a reply-all. One of the first things he said was that he had NOT selected the November date, just the May one, and said something about how he felt my comment on not agreeing on dates was inappropriate, and he just wanted to get the whole thing over with as soon as possible. I’m paraphrasing of course, but it was pretty brief.

Hhhmmm. Now that I think about it, his wife probably wrote it. He’s not typically that succinct.

Anyhow.

Basically, he tried to make it sound like I had lied, and that he was a victim.

Of course, I forwarded the emails to my brother, since he’s my witness and he’s the one that needs to book time off work to attend. He phoned me this evening and we talked about the situation.

Which is kind of funny, realy.

You see, our vandal goofed. I had written that I was told on the phone that he’d picked the two dates. He basically accused me of lying – however the court clerk (or whatever her official position is; I can’t remember right now) who wrote the email is the same person who phoned me, telling me she’d already called him and the two dates he’d picked. Which means that, in trying to imply that I was lying, he was actually implying that the person we’ve been corresponding with is the liar.

I don’t think he realizes that at all.

I’m guessing his attempt to play the victim backfired on him.

By the time I finished talking with my brother, the girls were done with the corn, putting the lids on the bins to protect the pots from the cats, and tucking the tomato seeds out of feline reach for me. So I finished those up.

A few things got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse and into the mini-greenhouse to make space. The ground cherries stayed. Those are the super tiny seedlings you can see on the left. This is on the warming mat, so that’s where the gourds and pumpkins went.

The tomatoes should also be getting extra warmth, but there isn’t room for them over the heat mat until we can move the ground cherries out. (The bunching onions just got moved over to the upcycled plastic stray you can see on the right.) I ended up putting 5 tomato seeds in each cup, with 3 cups per variety, half filling them so the seedlings can be “potted up” later, by just adding more soil. It should be interesting to see how many germinate, and if we’ll get enough strong seedlings to thin by transplanting.

We’re going to have an awful lot of tomatoes. Which is weird with just 2 out of 4 people liking tomatoes – at least for fresh eating. Still, I’d rather plant extra and have enough to afford losses.

The kulli corn went straight to the sun room.

Potato Beetle got out of the sun room while I was using the wagon to bring my earlier purchases through (yes! I was able to get big bags of cat kibble!!), slipping under the wagon and out the door before I could do anything. The sun room was over 25C/77F !!! at the time, so I left the outside doors slightly open as much to cool things down, as to give Potato Beetle a chance to come back in.

When I came in with the bins holding the corn, I found a skunk eating Potato Beetle’s kibble! I shooed it outside, and found a second one in the kibble house.

I shooed that one away, too, then topped up the kibble trays just enough to make noise and maybe get Potato Beetle’s attention. A bunch of cats came running, but no Potato. 😦

Well, now that the corn is in the sun room, he lost one of the spots he likes to sit in, anyhow. I do wish we’d been able to get him back in for the night, at least.

I’ll get pictures tomorrow, when it’s light out again. So far, the toilet paper tubes in these bins works out very well. The final word on it, though, will be when we have to get them out for transplanting!

Now that Lent is over, I’m back on social media and my gardening groups. Today, one of them posted a list of seeds to start indoors over the next week. Based on that list, we’re behind, but our June 2 frost date is quite late, even for a zone 3. Most of the people in the zone 3 gardening groups have last frost dates in the second half of May. Still, because we have so very many seeds to start indoors, I think I will slowly work on them over the next couple of weeks. The remaining gourds would probably do better with an earlier start, I think, and some of the winter squash probably would, too. As long as they are all done within the next 2 weeks, it should work out, and not be too overwhelming when it comes to finding space for all the pots before the older seedlings also get added to the sun room.

Meanwhile, we’re still getting weather alerts, and still being told we may get as much as 10cm/4in of snow, just on Sunday. We’re supposed to start getting snow tonight, and mixed precipitation tomorrow. But then, according to the weather apps, we’re snowing right now, and there isn’t a flake to be seen in the infrared flash of our security camera (though I’ve been seeing plenty of cats and skunks running around on the driveway! 😀 ).

It seems to strange to be starting seeds for relatively heat loving plants, when we’re possibly getting yet another snow storm!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: did I kill them?

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

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

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

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

Rosencrantz is looking very, very round.

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

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

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

Everything I brought out yesterday was drooping.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Re-Farmer