Our 2023 garden: potting up tomatoes is DONE!


I was able to pick up more potting soil after helping my mother with errands yesterday, which means that today I got to finish potting up our tomato seedlings.

I actually was able to “pot up” the Black Beauty and Indigo Blue Chocolate tomatoes by topping the cups up with soil, first. Then I potted up the last 18 Roma VF tomatoes, which used up my last two plastic bins. I had to move things around, and move the onions right out, to fit everything. The taller seedlings hat to go either to the top of the mini greenhouse frame, or to the shelf, where the onions were. The rest are still short enough to fit in the mini greenhouse frame, though I’ve run out of space in there.

Next was the Spoon tomatoes.

I planted two seeds per pellet, and I made sure to do the ones that had pairs of seedlings first – though one of them had three! For each one, I removed the outer covering on the Jiffy pellets, then separated the seedlings. They’re still quite small, so the cups got filled only about half way.

I noticed the outer covering on the Jiffy Pellets is different this year. It’s more paper like. I remember it being more net-like, before. Those didn’t really break down, and I would find them in the garden while cleaning up at the end of the year. I’m guessing that has sometime to do with the change. With one pair of seedlings, a tomato had actually grown through the outer covering. As I was trying to gently remove it, I ended up breaking the tomato stem clean through! It’s a tomato, though, so I went ahead and planted the tomato top, anyhow. Changes are pretty good it’ll send out new roots and survive.

These are all 35 Spoon tomatoes (I’d mistakenly counted 36, before). I was able to fit 19 onto an oven liner tray, which will allow for bottom watering. The tray the Roma tomatoes had been in, which now had only the spearmint and oregano in it, could fit another dozen. That left only 4 that needed to be double cupped. I’ve run out of both trays and bins.

Those done, I did some more rearranging and removed off the watering can and extra cups, which allowed me to bring the onions back closer to the light. With all those, plus the bin with the Zucca melon and African Drum gourds in it, this surface is now completely full. I don’t even have my work space anymore! The light isn’t as good during the day on here but, early in the morning, it does actually get direct sunlight for a few hours.

The peppers in the large aquarium greenhouse still have new seeds germinating, so I won’t be potting those up for a while. Not that I have the space for it anymore!

I will need to monitor the overnight temperatures in the sun room over the next while. We’re supposed to warm up, but the overnight temperatures are still dipping below freezing. If the sun room can manage to stay at 6C/43F or warmer during the night, I should be able to at least move the onions over. They are about the only thing we’ve started indoors that can handle cooler temperatures. I’d love to be able to move the biggest plants out, which is mostly the gourds and Zucca melon, but they are the most cold sensitive plants we’ve got right now. Daytime temperatures in the sun room have been reaching as high as 20C/68F, which would be great as long as it didn’t drop too far. The times I’ve checked it through the bathroom window at night, I’ve seen the thermometer at around 10C/50F, which would be acceptable, I think. Plus, we’d be closing the doors overnight to keep the yard cats out of the plants, which means it would stay warmer overnight, too.

The cats are not going to be happy, losing their favourite bed on the swing bench, and private dining areas! I’ll be happy to not have skunks and racoons going in there anymore!

All in good time, though. It’s still only April, and a lot of these can’t get transplanted until the middle of June!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: potting up Indigo Blue, and progress

It’s a chilly, damp and dreary day today. You know what that means?

Gotta do something gardening related!

Today, I potted up the Indigo Blue Chocolate tomatoes.

I’d started them in a peat tray with two rows of four square cells. One row for the tomatoes, one for the Little Finger Eggplant. I planted 4 seeds per cell, which got me 11 plants, which is quite a good germination rate.

I wish I could say the same for the eggplant! Only three germinated, so I replanted. As of today, I have finally seen one tiny, barely visible seedling, germinating. Hopefully, that means we’ll see more, soon.

In other things, yesterday I finally saw the tiniest, microscopic oregano seedling, and this afternoon, there was an equally tiny spearmint. The Roma tomatoes sharing the tray, however, are doing great. I’ll have to get more soil for potting up. Quite a bit more. The Roma and Spoon tomatoes will need to be potted up, and eventually the peppers sharing the tray with the Spoon tomatoes will need potting up, too – there are finally more and more of the peppers germinating!

I’m going to start running out of shelf space for the plant trays! It will be good when things warm up enough to start moving trays into the sun room – and start keeping the yard cats out! Last year, we set up a surface using a couple of saw horses and an old closet door I found when cleaning the outhouse over the swing bench, which worked out really well. We’ll have to work out something better to support the lights, though. We’ve got a few weeks to figure things out.

We’ll also have to figure out what to use to protect the plants when it’s time to harden them off. Last year, we used the frame of my daughter’s market tent, with an unused, home made bed frame made out of plywood on it. This kept the plants high enough that none of the cats went after them. The market tent is being use now, though, and the bed frame got painted and is now in the basement, keeping litter boxes raised off the concrete floor – just in case things get wet again. I think I saw a folding table in one of the sheds – it’ll take some doing to access it to confirm, and see if it’s big enough. The problem will be how to keep the cats off, since it would be about half the height of the frame we used before.

We’ll come up with something!

It just felt good to do at least a little big garden related, today!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: starting herbs and tomatoes, potting up and will it work?

For a while outside, the wind picked up and I could see the snow coming down horizontally out the window! From what I’m hearing the roads are in terrible condition, and quite a few people posted online that they started to go somewhere, only to turn around immediately. Everyone is being told to stay home. A number of roads have been closed, particularly in the South. For our area, it looks like the worst of it has passed by, and things should be getting better from now on, though there is a second system on the radar that might make it as far as us later. Maybe.

A good day to be inside and doing garden stuff!

The first thing I needed to do was start some new seeds.

There were only three things that need to be started in the 6-8 week range; spearmint, oregano and the Roma tomatoes.

The oregano and spearmint seeds are so miniscule! We don’t need a lot of either, so there was more than enough for our needs. There weren’t a lot of seed in the tomato packet, so I actually counted them to work out how to use the tray. There turned out to be 67 seeds in the packet. Usually, for “pots” the size of these toilet paper rolls, I would plant two seeds per pot, but with so few seeds, only one got two seeds and the other 65 got a single seed each. Romas are a tomato I want to have a lot of, so we can do tomato paste and sauces again at the end of the year.

The herbs each gone one row in the tray. Here, the tray is on the heat mat, and it now has a dome over it, too.

This is the tray that had been on the heat mat. There are some cayenne, Dragonfly and Early Sensation peppers sprouting. And look at all those spoon tomatoes!

The strawberries and Classic eggplant got moved out entirely, and are now in the small aquarium greenhouse, still on the little bin to lift them closer to the light. The hardware cloth cover for the tank is no longer needed to keep the cats out, but it is still needed to hold the light fixture. We couple put the light back under the tank’s lid and use that, but this way, there is still plenty of air flow.

This done, I decided to do some potting up. First, I thinned by dividing the Crespo squash…

They are on the aluminum sheet in the photo. Of the two pots, one had all three seeds in it germinate, and they all have their own pot now. The second pot, I left for now. You can see a second seed did start to germinate, but it seems to have just stopped growing.

In the baking tray, you can see the Zucca melon, at the bottom right of the picture, are doing well! Those tendrils are reaching out to climb, and I’ve already had to unwrap the biggest one from the mini greenhouse frame. The drum gourds in the back are doing okay, but I think it’s just too cold for them to grow much right now.

I’d reseeded more Zuccz melon and drum gourd, but none have germinated yet. There was a drum gourd seedling that died after I’d put more seed in the empty pots, and I was considering adding more drum gourd seeds to it. Not anymore! That pot has now been “potted up” into the stronger, lighter coloured pot, and contains an experiment.

Last year, we had purchased seeds for Tulip trees and pawpaws. We had a single Tulip tree germinate, only to die soon after. Nothing else germinated. Their containers had been moved between the sun room and the shelf just outside the sun room. No surprise that cats would eventually knock them around, and that was it for any chance of germination. They were planted in a seed starting mix, which I ended up adding in to the big bowl I use to moisten the starting mix before putting it into pots to start new seeds. I ended up finding one of the pawpaw seeds that actually looked robust, so I stuck it into the available pot. Who knows? Maybe it’ll sprout!

Today, I had dumped our last bag of seed starting mix into the big bowl with what was left from before and was mixing water in with my hands when I found another pawpaw seed that looked like it was fresh out of the package we got them in. So I stuck that into the pot I’d put the first one in. The pot is damp, though, so it broke. I grabbed one of the new biodegradable pots I bought and the whole thing fit perfectly inside it. Cool! Now we have two pawpaw seeds to potentially sprout!

As I went back to mixing water into the seed starter mix, I found three more pawpaw seeds! None of them showed even the slighted bit of rot or damage!

They all went into the experiment pot.

I have no idea if they will germinate, but it would be awesome if they did!

Once the herbs and tomato seeds were planted and things were shifted around, I decided it was time to pot up the Black Beauty tomato seedlings. The germination rate for those was really high, and they were starting to get too big for the square potting cells they were in. I had a bag of potting soil ready for potting up, and went with Red Solo cups to transplant them up into.

I filled them about half way with soil, and buried the stems of the seedlings about half way when transplanting. As they get bigger, we can keep filling the cups with soil, allowing for more roots to develop along the stems. The baking tray holds 12 cups, while the bin can only hold 9, which left 5 more to go back into the tray they had been in before. The smaller Indigo Blue tomatoes don’t need potting up yet. Sadly, there are still only three Little Finger eggplants; the pots I reseeded show no signs of germination yet. Again, I think it might just be too cold by the window, even though the whole thing is over a heat vent.

Lower down, you can see the tray that has the first peppers we planted, in the red cups they were potted up into, next to the German thyme and lemon grass. The yellow plant pot below has one of the pots of German thyme transplanted into it, which we will be keeping indoors. In the blue mushroom tray is the luffa. We still have just one plant. The other 3 pots were reseeded, but still nothing.

And finally, here are the onions and shallots! It’s been a while since I showed how they were doing. I suppose we could give them hair cuts, but that may not be beneficial. Gardening in Canada did a video about it, and I trust what she says.

My daughter’s orchids got moved to the shelf beside the onions. I hope they do okay, there. They’re pretty far from the heat vent.

That is it for now! The next seeds we will need to start are the 4-6 week seeds, and I think I have only 1 or 2 things that needs to be started in that range. After that, it’s all stuff that needs 3-4 weeks before last frost date. There are a few seeds in that range that I plan to experiment with, starting some indoors and direct seeding others, to compare how they do.

Being able to work on gardening stuff while it’s snowing outside feels really good!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: starting peppers and Spoon tomatoes

Here is our next batch of seed starts!

The rest of the peppers got done today, along with the Spoon tomatoes. That bowl has all the Spoon tomato seeds left from last year, as well as the new seeds I got this year.

The tray has 6 long rows, and I considered also planting the remaining Purple Beauty pepper seeds from last year, but there weren’t enough seeds to fill a row, so I decided against it. There were not a lot of pepper seeds for any of the other varieties, but with just one seed per pellet, I still had some left over.

With the Spoon tomatoes, I used the last two rows, planting two seeds in each, and still had some seeds left over. (A wooden chopstick is really great for picking up individual seeds and planting them!) It’s potentially a lot more of these tomatoes than I was intending to plant of this variety, but they did go over very well the last time we planted them. If the germination rate is high and we have a lot of extras, I’m sure I can find someone who would like some transplants. 😉

As for the peppers, we’re not after a lot of each type, so if the germination rate is low, as long as we have a few plants of each to try, I’m good. I want to have an idea of which ones do well here, and which ones my family enjoys eating, and that will decide what we will grow again in the future.

After this photo was taken, I put the dome over this tray, and then switched out the tray on the warming mat in the aquarium greenhouse. I had thought I might be able to leave this tray, with the dome, by the window, but when I touched the Jiffy pellets, they were cold! These are heat loving plants, so onto the warming tray then went.

This is the tray that got switched out. The Crespo squash on the right will be potted up once the true leaves are more fully developed. We still have just the two Caveman’s Club gourds in the middle; I’m considering soaking a couple more seeds to add to the one pot where nothing germinated, just to have more transplants. I don’t expect everything that gets transplanted to survive, so having more just increases our chances of having at least one plant survive.

The Black Beauty tomatoes (middle) and the Indigo Blue Chocolate (left) are doing quite well. The Little Finger Eggplant (far left) are not. Of the few seeds that germinated, only two are growing, and one… I’m not quite sure if it’s going to make it. So I reseeded the pots. Hopefully, we’ll have a few more to transplant by June.

Oh, it looks like I’ll be heading out soon. A very excited daughter just came in to let me know her glasses ordered from Zinni have arrived. She has been absolutely miserable without glasses for so many weeks. I just have to wait for the post office to reopen for the afternoon. I’m really looking forward to seeing how these are for quality.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: newest sprouts!

I love it when seedlings suddenly burst out of the ground and grow so fast, things are different every time I check on them!

When I checked on them yesterday, I could just see one Crespo squash starting to shoulder its way through the soil. Near the end of the day, I could see two emerging and one more just visible. I also spotted one eggplant peaking through. By the time I shut down the lights for the night, the eggplant was up, with signs of more starting to emerge, plus signs of one Caveman’s club gourd.

This morning, two of the Crespo squash are fully up, with the third one almost there – and the soil in the other pot looks like something might be breaking through soon, too. There are still more tomatoes emerging, and more eggplant peeking through. Still just one Caveman’s club gourd visible, so far.

As for the older seedlings, it looks like all the ones that got potted up have survived, though one drum gourd that did not need potting up doesn’t look like it’s growing. There had been two in that pot and one died. I was hoping the second one would make it. We shall see. The other two that were thinned by division are growing, and the third pot was reseeded, so I hope there will be more to transplant once the garden is ready. The more there are to transplant, the better the chances that at least one will reach maturity!

I’m happy to see so many seedlings emerging now. Soon, these will be moved off the heat mat to make room for the next batch of seed starts.

So far, things are looking good!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: spring is… here?

Yesterday was the first day of spring. Check out our spring garden!


It’s going to be a while before we can start building the trellis tunnels (we will be starting closer to the high raised bed, and I hope to eventually have two or three, though maybe not this year), never mind planting anything!


We do have other signs of spring.

When I shut the lights off for the night, I found two Black Beauty tomatoes had emerged! There had been no sign of them when I turned the lights on in the morning. I could just make out the “elbow” of a third one, and this morning I can see there is a second “elbow” emerging. These are in the cell just below the one with the visible sprouts.

Today, I plan to pot up some of the transplants, and try to start seeds for some losses. We are down to one luffa, two pots of zucca melon still have had no germination, along with one pot of drum gourds, so I’ll see if I can get new ones started, though I won’t bother putting them in the aquarium greenhouse. Their current location above a heat vent should be warm enough. I did remove the plastic cover on the mini greenhouse, as I think the lack of air circulation may be contributing to the losses, and even some of the bigger seedlings have started to look unhealthy.

I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some milk for my mother, and ended up picking up a seed kit. One of the things I wanted to do later on was get strawberry transplants – quite a few of them, depending on the budget – and plant them as a living ground cover around the silver buffalo berry. Last year, the transplants cost about $3 or $4 each. The kit was only $4. So I’m going to try growing strawberries from seed, which will hopefully give me more to transplant than I would be able to afford if buying transplants. And if they fail, it’s not an expensive fail. So that is something else I plan to work on today.

Oh, and I’d better call the plumber about our bathtub before I forget again! After that, I’ll know if I have to be making a trip to get a tub surround and the replacement taps I want.

We’ll see how that works out!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: starting a variety of seeds

Today is another mild day – bright and sunny, with our high expected to reach -3C/27F, and we’re almost there as I right this. Unfortunately, we have insane winds today, and apparently for the next several days, too! My computers weather app is saying 32kmh/20mph winds, but to be honest, I think we’re getting higher than that. I’ve been eyeballing some of the trees in the spruce grove, wondering which one is coming down next, and I’ve already had to break trail through the main garden area to reclaim stuff that was being blown away. There was even a gust the blew the dining room door ajar! Not the storm door – that one stayed closed – but there was enough of a pressure change to force the inner door open. Thankfully, we have a bar latch on that door, too, so it couldn’t open very far.

Yes, the door was locked. We never use it except once in a rare while in the summer.

A daughter and I are going to be driving in this soon, as we head out to pick up some birthday pizza for her sister!

My main goal for today was to get some seeds going that need to be started much earlier. These were the ones that needed to be done.

I don’t have a “days to maturity” for the Crespo squash, which now seem to be gone from the Baker Creek website! Looks like I bought fresh seeds for this year, just in time. I still had 3 seeds left from last year, so I used those, plus three fresh ones, so there’s still some left for another year. We’ll see how the germination rate is.

I also chose only 6 Caveman’s Club gourd seeds. I took sandpaper to the large seeds to scarify them before setting them to soak. I had intended to start them soaking last night, but ended up on the phone with my brother and his wife for more than an hour, and it was quite late by the time I was done. It was worth it!

The other bowls are holding all the seeds from the packets, including both packets of Indigo Blue Chocolate tomatoes.

I had intended to use Jiffy pellets to start some of the seeds, thinking I had a full box of them, plus a partial box, from last year. I never found the full box, and the partial box had only one pellet in it, but I did have alternatives.

I was unable to find more of the larger biodegradable pots the last few times I’ve been shopping, so the 6 Crespo squash seeds were divided between my last two of those, while the smaller pots got two seeds each of the Caveman’s Club gourd.

These are my last two trays of biodegradable square cells. I decided to plant more of the Black Beauty tomatoes and give them a whole tray to themselves, while the Indigo Blue Chocolate and Little Finger Eggplant are in the second one. Each square cell has 4 seeds in it.

I made sure the soil was moist before planting the seeds, then once they were in the aquarium greenhouse, I spritzed their tops, then added water to the bottom of the tray. It’s awkward to get these long trays in, as there is a divider bar across the middle of the tank’s top. After this photo was taken, I put the covers and lights back, and plugged in the heat mat. The soil was feeling quite cold while I was working with it! “Room temperature” in our living room is definitely on the chill side.

It wasn’t until I settled down to write this post that I realized I didn’t need to put the covers back on the aquarium, since the cat barriers are now in place! Except when I came out this morning, I found Tissue sitting at the inside of the latched door, waiting to be let out. Yup. She managed to pull the bottom open and squeeze through! We’ve got it blocked in that corner for now, so hopefully, she won’t get in again.

As for the other seedlings, they’ve been moved to the shelves by the window. There’s a heat vent right there, so that will help, though now that I’m done with the new seeds, I’ll have to do some rearranging. The lights are too high, so we’ll have to find away to attach cords that will allow us to have them lower, and adjust the height as needed.

Hopefully, these will germinate within the next couple of weeks, because we’ve got another batch to start before the end of March, and they’re going to need that heat mat!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: going through the harvest

The sun room is starting to get too cold and night to leave our harvests in it anymore. This morning, I went through them and binned them up.

All of the carrots, both types, filled one bin enough that the lid can’t quite close. Those will need to be taken care of quickly. The Black Nebula carrots are already getting wimpy!

All the gourds will go someplace warm and dry to finish curing.

The Tropeana Lunga onions are growing rather than curing, so they will go to the kitchen for fresh eating and dehydrating.

The hulless seed pumpkins that have ripened the most will be moved inside to ripen some more, while the remaining ones were shifted around on their shelf to get more sunlight. We should be able to get away with leaving those there for a while longer.

The tomatoes that are ripening were laid out in a single layer on the bottom of a bin to go inside for further ripening. The green ones that have shown no signs of turning colour by now are not going to, so they all went into one small bin. I picked through them in the process of sorting through, and the more wizened ones went into compost. The rest will go to the kitchen as we decide what to do with them. The problem is, I’m not the tomato person in this household, so I’m not exactly inspired over them!

Now that these are clear of the sun room, we’ll be able to continue cleaning out and partially reorganizing the sun room for the winter.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: not much going on

We got a small harvest this morning.

With the beans either done, or being left to dry – and the red noodle beans still don’t even have pods yet! – and the cucumbers and peas finished, there isn’t a lot to harvest on a regular basis. The carrots, turnips and beets are being left to get as big as they can before we pick them. Same with the potatoes. The peppers and eggplant could use quite a bit more time to mature. The sweet corn still isn’t ripe enough to pick. The Yellow Pear tomatoes have huge amounts of still green tomatoes on them, and are also ripening the fastest. The other tomatoes are ripening much more slowly. There are quite a few green patty pans growing, but not so much among the rest of the summer squash. The winter squash, of course, need to stay on the vines for as long as possible. What we have of it, anyhow!

These cucumber leaves show one of the reasons we want to focus on barrier hedges as we plant trees and bushes. This is all dust from the gravel road. Thank goodness my mother’s lilac hedge is there, or it would be so much worse!

The green zucchini is still having issues with the male and female flowers not blooming in sync, so pollination isn’t happening. The developing squash soon turn yellow and die off. This one has been chewed on by a mouse or some other small rodent. I suppose it’s good that the squash still feeds something!

We had a super light rain this morning, which is supposed to continue off and on throughout the day. Then we’re supposed to warm up again over the next few days. It should be interesting to see how much more things manage to ripen during our mild grace period!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: some progress, and a little harvest

It’s just past 10pm as I start this, and we’re still at 21C/70F, and the higher winds of earlier today have died down to a lovely calm. I found myself looking for reasons to get the fire going, but I really need to get some sleep tonight! Sleep has been frequently interrupted for the past while. 😕

Lack of sleep wiped me out enough that I was feeling quite ill this morning, to the girls took care of feeding the critters so I could try and get at least a couple of hours in. With Leyendecker still in recovery in my room (no, he wasn’t the one keeping me up at night!), and my daughters still having their days and nights reversed, my younger daughter has been taking her “night shift” and sleeping in my room, to keep and ear out on Leyendecker while I’m out. (He seems to be doing all right, though still having difficulties voiding, so we are monitoring him very closely) In the end, it was almost noon before I finally was able to head outside and do my rounds – minus the critter feeding.

Of course, a fair amount of that is spent checking things in the garden. Things like this.

Here we are, into September, and the Red Noodle beans are just starting to show flower buds!

This Kakai hulless squash was the first to develop and is looking like it’s ripe – but it’s about a quarter the size it should be. If the weather holds, there’s a chance we’ll have a couple more, larger ones. In fact, all the hulless pumpkins are going rather well, compared to the other winter squash. Only the Baby Pam pumpkins are managing as well. The Lady Godiva should give us at least 2 fully developed squash by the end of the growing season, with a few more little ones developing. Likewise, the Styrian variety has a couple large pumpkins that should be harvestable by the time growing season is done, with a couple more developing.

As for the Baby Pam, we have a little few bright orange pumpkins that could probably be harvested, that are smaller than they should be, but there are others that are still growing and turning colour that look like they will reach their full size – which isn’t very large to begin with.

This Georgia Candy Roaster is one of two stunted plants that were just covered in slug trails this morning!

While watering this evening, I was amazed to find female flowers among the Georgia Candy Roaster, and even one Winter Sweet. I hand pollinated them, just in case, but I think it was too late for one of the Georgia Candy Roasters.

While harvesting, I was surprised by how many Yellow Pear and Chocolate Cheery tomatoes were ready. I took the few G-Star patty pans that were on the plant killed off by a cut worm.

A few more of the Cup of Moldova tomatoes were ripe enough to pick, and into the freezer the went, with the others needing to be processed.

I keep saying I need to get those done, but the fact that they are in the freezer actually frees me up to work on other things. But that will be in my next post!

As for the garden, it’s a waiting game. So far, we’re not looking to have cold temperatures or frost for the rest of the month. With our first average frost date on Sept. 10, that is very encouraging. I plan to do recordings for another garden tour video on that date. Hopefully, thing weather will hold and things will have time to catch up.

I’d really like a chance to try those red noodle beans!

The Re-Farmer