During the winter, we tried a winter sowing experiment. We sowed seeds in 4 different styles of containers to see which would do better come springtime.
The answer is…
… none of them.
Not a single thing has germinated.
I think they froze. Our extended winter was probably a bit too much for them. People in some of my zone 3 gardening groups have had good success with their winter sowing, so I know the technique works. It just didn’t work for us, this year!
Will be try again next year?
Maybe. We’ll decide in the fall, I think.
When bringing the transplants in last night, I took the time to go through them all, organize them and get labels ready for today.
This morning, while taking them back outside, I gave them another once over, trying to figure out how I wanted to get them in. This is what we’ve got left to transplant.
This year, we have 3 surviving Crespo squash – and one of them was thinned out from another pot. These guys REALLY want to go into flower!
We did all right with the Styrian hulless pumpkins, with 4 surviving transplants.
The Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins did even better. There are 5 pots in there, but some of them have two or three plants – seeds started germinating later, after we started hardening off the plants!
The Kakai hulless pumpkin did not fare as well. There are only 2 of those.
The Baby Pam pumpkin did amazing. We’ve got 6 of them – a 100% germination rate! These are last year’s seeds, and last year, none of them germinated!
In the other bin are the two Little Finger eggplants I found among the squash and pumpkins, plus the two giant pumpkins started from free seeds given out at the grocery store near my mother’s place. We won’t be doing any of the pruning or special care to grow a competition sized pumpkin, but it should still be interesting to see how big they do get!
Here we have 3 pots each of winter squash, but some of the pots have 2 or 3 seedlings in them! We’ll decide what to do with them, as we are ready to transplant. I don’t like to “waste” strong, healthy seedlings, so they might all get transplanted. We shall see.
We’ve got 2 Apple gourds, for sure – these were from a second start, due to the Great Cat Crush. There are two others that are either more Apple gourds, or Ozark nest egg gourds. The writing faded on the labels.
We have quite a lot of ground cherries, and still have no idea where we are going to plant them!
Here are the last of the seedlings that were started at 4 weeks before last frost date. There are 4 green zucchini (the yellow zucchini and the Magda have already been planted), and 8 of the G-star patty pans, which we got through a happy mistake. The Teddy squash are from last year’s seeds, and these ones grow in a bush habit, rather than vining.
Then there are the three pots that have Yakteen gourds planted in them, but only one pot has seedlings – and a new one germinating again! That was one of the pots that got re-planted, because none germinated. The other round pot that has a label stuck in it was also replanted, but nothing has germinated. The middle round pot had Kakai pumpkins sown in it, which did not germinate, so I used the same pot for more Yakteen gourd seeds. Nothing. Very strange!
When it’s time to plant these, we’ll be trying to work them in groups or clusters, placing like away from like, as much as possible. At the same time, we want the summer squash to be easily accessible, which means not letting them get crowded by the sprawling winter squash! We’ll see how many we can fit into the area my daughter dug a grid of holes into.
It’s a littler over a weeks since our last average frost date, so hopefully, it’s not too late to be transplanting these. As you can tell by the yellowing leaves, they really need to be out of those pots and into the ground!
We have SO many flowers blooming all over right now! The combination of lilac and crab apple flowers is heavenly!
In the tulip patch, a single black tulip has managed to bloom! I believe there was 5 of each type of tulip in the collection my daughter got. It’s hard to say how many of these would have bloomed, if they hadn’t been eaten by something. Now that the tulip patch is surrounded by chicken wire, which we’ll likely leave there until we need to work in the area to clear out the dead apple tree stump, etc., we have a better chance of finding out, next spring!
While putting the plants out this morning, we had another flower blooming.
This is a Crespo squash, and it shouldn’t be blooming yet! A lot of the remaining squash waiting for transplanting have flower buds on them, but they’re more like the other tiny ones you can see in the photo. There was just this one large one!
We’ll have to pinch off the buds when we plant them, so their energy will go towards growing and establishing themselves, rather than into flowers. These would be the early, all male flowers. The female flowers should start showing up later.
With my husband and I heading to the doctor today, then needing to make an unexpected trip into town, there was no point in getting back to the garden today. Especially with the hordes of mosquitoes out there. Tomorrow will be a day to cover ourselves with bug spray and get back at it. It’s supposed to be another hot day, then the day after, we might be getting thunderstorms, showers, and more thunderstorms over the next three days. So if I’m going to go at what will be the squash patch with the weed trimmer, tomorrow is the day to get it done!
It had been my intention to work on clearing out that last low raised bed in the main garden area, at the very least, but once I got outside I changed my mind. There was less standing water in the yard, and the grass was getting out of control, so I decided to try mowing.
We have a large yard.
I was also using the collection bag to save those wonderful grass clippings to use as mulch. It doesn’t hold much, so there was a lot of stopping and starting to empty the bag.
After several hours, pretty much the entire inner yard was done. There was just one place that still had so much water that, even with the mower set higher than usual, it was just too deep. I even opened up the gate in the fence near the fire pit and mowed into the outer yard. I like keeping a lane in the grass to the back gate mowed, as an extension of the driveway. There’s too much water do to it in the usual areas, but I was able to clear a lane from the fire pit area, to where the lane would be. If we absolutely had to use the back gate, we would be able to drive through the inner yard to access it. We certainly wouldn’t be able to get through, the usual way!
Another of the goals will be to trim away some small trees taking over a corner, then mowing the areas where we will be planting the Korean Pine.
But not today!
Did I mention we have a large yard? 😀
The rest of the main garden area should get a once over with the mower, before going over it again with the weed trimmer, as close to the ground as possible, but I was just too exhausted to work on that today.
The ornamental apple trees are starting to bloom. So are the sour cherry trees, and all the lilacs are developing buds. Finally! That shows me that things have finally really warmed up, hopefully enough. I don’t know that we ever got frost last night, but the sweet potato slips are fine. I’m leaving the covers on them for one more night, though. Tonight is supposed to be the last cooler night, though I’ve noticed the forecasted overnight low has changed to quite a bit warmer than before.
Tomorrow, we start transplanting everything. The sun room is turning into quite the jungle!
We’ve had a very high germination rate this year – a huge improvement from last year! Even the Yakteen gourds, which I restarted, have a few seedlings. Some things had seeds germinate weeks apart, but they still made it. We even have a second tulip tree sprouting! We’d pretty much lost all expectation of any more tulip trees, or any paw paws, germinating, so that was quite a nice surprise.
Another nice surprise is that all the turnips have started sprouting already! My goodness, that was fast.
Today, the girls finished transplanting the silver buffalo berry, and prepped to plant the sea buckthorn tomorrow. After that, it’s just the Korean Pine for this year’s food forest additions.
My priority tomorrow will be to get the newest low raised bed next to the compost pile topped up and ready for planting. The Kulli corn will be going in there, and I want to get that done as quickly as possible. They really need to be transplanted soon. If we start them indoors again, I won’t do the toilet tube pots. It worked well enough, and it certainly saved space, but the seedlings quickly needed more room to thrive. Even if they were in just the red Solo cups, they would have fared well longer. Once the corn is transplanted, we’ll have to make sure to put a net around it right away, so they don’t get eaten!
The girls will start transplanting tomatoes along the chain link fence in the south yard. We have more tomatoes than will fit there, though, so others will be planted in the low raised bed that I finished prepping yesterday. There are so many, we might have to the last one that still needs to be weeded, too.
It’s going to be a flurry of transplanting over the next few days. The sun room is going to look so empty when we are done! 😀 We will also be direct sowing the pole beans at the squash tunnel, along with the 2 canteen gourds that are trying to claim their way out of their pots right now. Then there are the two types of corn to direct sow, and I honestly don’t know where we’ll be planting those. We’re really behind in preparing beds, but once those trees came in, they became the priority. Mowing and using the weed trimmer is also going to higher on the priority list, since the winter squash is going to be planted throughout the old garden area, not in prepared beds. Basically, we’re going to dig holes, add some garden soil and the transplants, and mulch around them. The grass is so tall right now, though, we couldn’t possibly get that done until it’s cleared.
It was a bit cooler and overcast this morning, but still pleasant enough to get the plants outside for a couple of hours.
I am really happy with the newest seedlings. This tray has the cucumbers in the left half, with the Teddy and Red Kuri winter squash on the right. It took so long for the winter squash to germinate, I wasn’t sure they’d make it, but we have 100% gemination!
The purple peas in this tray are getting nice and big. The summer squash in the other cells took a long time to germinate, too, but they seemed to get a boost after I put the warming mat under them. It’s hard to see, but even the green zucchini is finally germinating, next to the peas. I thought the Magda squash had started to germinate, but not quite yet. We had less success with those the last 2 years we planted them, too. Our first year, we had only 2 surviving plants. Last year, there was just the one. Magda squash just seems to have a harder time of it.
So far, only 2 of the yellow zucchini have germinated. Last year, we had some germinate, but when they started producing fruit, they were green, and we no yellow zucchini at all. I’m hoping that won’t happen again, this year!
The transplants seem to be quite liking their time outdoors, and even the newest little tomatoes in the foreground are looking generally robust.
We have 3 Crespo squash – and they are budding! Would you look at that!
I considered pinching them off, but these first flowers would be all male flowers. The next batch of buds should be both male and female. So I’m thinking to just leave them? I don’t know. There is very little information out there on how to grow Crespo squash. They do seem to be very enthusiastic growers!
While moving the blooming Wonderberry in and out of the sun room, we have been brushing the 3 plants against each other, in hopes to pollinate them, just in case. I don’t know how if they are self pollinating or not. Nowhere I’ve looked about them even mentions pollinating.
The transplants were left out for 2 hours today, which gave me time to work on our very first direct sowing – and transplanting – in the high raised bed.
The first thing to do was dig trenches through the wood chip mulch, so that things could be seeded/planted into the soil beneath. We have three varieties of spinach seeds from last year, and for this bed, I chose Lakeside, which is the fastest maturing variety of the three. The tray of onions I grabbed are the red onions, Tropeana Lunga, which should look like this when they mature…
By planting the onions around the spinach, they should help with keeping away harmful insects, and maybe even keep hungry critters away. The high raised bed is buffet height for deer, though, so we will be covering them later.
There is space to do a second planting of spinach in two weeks, which will also finish off the seeds we’ve got left of this variety.
The largest Tropeana Lunga seedlings filled the two outside rows, but there were still a few tiny seedlings left. The size that would be considered not worth planting. I hate to just toss seedlings, though, so I ended up sticking them in the soil at the base of the raised bed on the north end. When this was a low raised bed, it was quite a bit longer, so the soil is softer on that end. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. We don’t have a lot of this variety, so I’m hoping to be able to overwinter a couple of bulbs to go to seed next year.
I was left with nice, soft potting soil in the tray the onions seedlings were growing in, so I used that to gently top the spinach seeds, and put just a little around each onion plant, more to keep the wood chips from falling onto them than anything else.
I have to say, I LOVE the high raised bed to plant in! It was completely pain free, with no strain on my joints. Well. I suppose that doesn’t include my arthritic fingers, but I didn’t even notice pain in my hands, either. It took me less than half an hour to plant into this bed
I didn’t bother watering these, since it was already starting to rain by the time I was finishing up. It’s been raining off an on, ever since. My daughter and I got a bit damp when we headed out later on, to figure out exactly where to plant our tree order when it comes in. With 30 silver bison berry to plant, those were the ones we need to figure out the most. They should be planted 3-4 ft apart. Since we are doing these as a privacy hedge, we will planting them 3 feet apart, with most of them along the east end of the garden area, leaving a lane just wide enough to drive through, if necessary, between them and the fence line. Taking into account where the phone line is buried, we’ll be able to plant two staggered rows of 10, though as we get closer to the spruce grove, we many need to jump the rows closer to the fence itself, to keep that driving lane open. There is a branch pile that will be in the way of any lane we leave open, but we’ll still be able to plant around it.
We’ve got 5 sea buckthorn that will be planted nearer the north fence line, to close a gap in the lilac hedge. Any remaining bison berry can also be planted along the lilac hedge, and still keep the lane over the telephone wire clear. This will leave a gap in the privacy hedge, once they’ve grown to full size, that will need fencing or a gate to close it off from deer.
The Korean pine are a whole other issue. Originally, I wanted to plant them in the space between the north side of the spruce grove, and the crab apple trees. These, however, have an 18 foot spread. At their mature size, they would completely fill that space, and we need at least some of it to be kept open to drive through. The alternative was along the north side, which would make an excellent wind break, but with that 18 foot spread and the lilac hedge, we’d be planting them on top of the phone line. Not going to happen.
Which means we’ll have to plant them in the outer yard.
Just past the fence on west side, which has a gate that leads into the garden, there is a space where we can plant 2 of them. Then there is the gate to the secondary driveway – our “emergency exit”, if you will. It was through here that one of our truck loads of garden soil was delivered.
The remaining 7 seedlings will need to be planted on the other side of that back gate, along where there is already a couple of rows of spruces, with some willows at the south end. If we plant them 18 feet apart (we might go with 16 feet), we will have a row of seedlings matching the length of the existing shelter belt trees.
The only problem with this is that the south end is currently under water.
Still, knowing that this is a low spot will help. We can make sure to basically build things up a bit, so that the seedlings will stay above water during spring melt.
Then we’ll have to make sure to put something over them to protect them from being eaten. I don’t know that deer would eat Korean pine, but they could certainly damage them, just by walking over them.
We have not yet received a shipping notice for the trees, but with so many holes to dig, the earlier we get started, the better. Hopefully, by the time they do arrive, we’ll be ready and can plant them right away.
Oh, I just double checked my order! We’re not getting 9 Korean pine. We’re getting 6.
Which means we won’t be digging holes in water, after all. 😀
It’s going to feel weird getting our little 2 yr old plugs and planting them so far apart. Especially since they will grow very slowly for the next 3 years. Which is exactly how my mother ended up planting so many trees way too close together! 😀
Oh, my goodness. I just checked the short range weather forecast, and it’s changed yet again. We’re supposed to get more rain over the next couple of days, then for the two days after that, we’re supposed to get a mix of rain and snow!
What I planted in the high raised bed should be cold hardy enough to handle that, but we might cover it anywhere, just in case, at least for the night.
Last year, May was a very warm month. On this exact day last year, we had a new record high of 30C/86F. The record low for today, -4C/24F, was set in 2002.
After a long, cold winter, it seems we’re getting a wet cold spring.
Still, there are things we can plant. I just hope things warm up decently in June, so we can get the warm weather transplants in!
You know that surreal feeling, when you feel like it’s one time of the day, but then you look at a clock and realize it’s a completely different time of day?
I just finished my “morning rounds”, so it should be morning, right?
Never mind that I spent several hours working on things that aren’t part of my usual morning routine. 😀
While heading around to put bird feed out, I spotted our new “tenant” under the stairs.
It backed into the space under the stairs, but still hung around to watch me!
Knowing that the main road was fixed, as soon as I finished my usual morning routine, I headed to town, passing a grader on the way. Very happy to see it. There’s only so much a grader an do with the current road conditions, but at least it helps. The area that was washed out was beautifully fixed up. Not even the grader could fix that torn up part closer to our intersection, though.
I picked up just a few of the fresh things we were running low on at the grocery store, then hit the post office on the way home to pick up the mail and a new bag of bird seed. Once everything was put away, I decided to take advantage of the weather, while I could. We’re supposed to get rain later, but for now it’s overcast and decently warm. What we needed to do was start hardening off our transplants.
The girls and I had spent some time trying to figure out what to use to hold the transplants when hardening them off, that will keep the outside cats and other critters away, while also being big enough to hold all the bins and trays. What we used last year is just too small for all the plants we have this year. Then we remembered that we still have the home made, twin sized bed frame that was here when we moved in, sitting in the basement. So I got that out this morning. We also found a pair of folding table legs when we cleaned out the basement, so I figured we could add those to the underside of the frame. It has 8 short legs on the support frame and is topped with plywood. The frame supporting the plywood was too narrow for the plates on the table legs, so I was going to attach it directly to the underside of the plywood, until I realized the shortest screws I have are 3/4″, and it’s 1/2″ plywood.
Ah, well. It would have been a good idea.
That meant using the frame from my daughters canopy tent that she got for when she used to do the art markets. Part of the frame broke in high winds, but we’re still finding ways to use it. Two long pieces of the frame that had been attached to each other with a pivot had snapped. The metal pieces are hollow, so I found a way to rejoin them using a long nail wrapped with enough duct tape to make a snug fit, tucked inside the pieces, then taping them together on the outside. They still wiggle and it certainly won’t hold much, but at least we no longer have pieces flopping around when we move the frame.
The bed platform went on top of the tent frame, with the frame opened wide enough to fit against the inside of the bed’s support pieces snuggly. The ground isn’t level, though, but nothing a couple of bricks under 2 legs couldn’t solve. Then, because the wood is unfinished, I opened the 3 pack of sturdy tarps I picked up at Costco a few months back, and covered the whole set up. Using the cords salvaged from the canopy tent I’d recently disassembled, I was able to peg the corners to the ground, then use the excess cord to lace up the ends. The long sides were still flapping in the wind a bit, so those were tied together, under the platform.
Once everything was secure, it was time to bring the plants out!
It turned out to be the exact size needed for all the bins and trays!
Not quite all the plants fit, though.
The Wonderberry and a couple of trays of onions fit onto the shelf outside the sunroom.
Look at all those Wonderberry flowers!
Since this is the first day the transplants were being hardened off, I set a time for an hour, then started working in the old kitchen garden. We had beds that were ready for planting, but I decided to use the stirrup hoe to run through the bed framed with logs and get rid of any weeds.
I’m glad I did. After a while, I gave up on the hoe and brought out the new garden fork. There were a LOT more roots than I thought.
There were SO many big, healthy worms in the soil!
When we planted here last year, we had a couple of mystery plants show up in the middle of the bed, where we’d planted kohlrabi. Once we were sure they weren’t kohlrabi, we had no idea what they were – but I found their root clusters! That’s the pile you can see at the middle, left. I hope I got all the roots out. Those things got quite large, and I wouldn’t want them choking out whatever we plant here this year.
Broken pieces from the disassembled canopy tent frame are now set up to support any row cover we use. The holes are all facing the same way, so they can be threaded with cord to keep the netting from sagging in between.
We’re still not 100% decided on what to plant here, but we do know what’s going next to it.
The poppies we planted last year really struggled in the drought and heat waves, but we were still able to harvest some dried pods for their seeds. I’d just put them into a Solo cup and left them in the sun room all winter. This morning, I broke open the pods, and these are all the seeds that were in them. Not a lot, but enough to sow. Watching the seeds as they came out of the different pods, I’ve no doubt that some of the seeds were immature and are probably not going to germinate, but there are some that look good. It should be interesting to see how they do!
This is where we’d sowed the poppies last year. Seeds had fallen and scattered there last year, but I couldn’t tell if anything was germinating. Just in case, I didn’t try to dig up the crab grass or do any weeding. I loosened the surface soil up with a rake, scattered all the seeds evenly, then used the rake again to cover them. I didn’t bother watering them, since we’re expecting rain. We did buy a different variety of bread poppy seeds for this year, which will be planted well away from this area, to avoid cross pollination.
Our very first direct sown seeds of the year! Not what I’d intended, but I’ll take it!
The timing was perfect for finishing this and putting things away, as that’s when my timer went off. All the transplants went back inside. Taking them out gave me a chance to re-arrange things, too. The seed trays that are just starting to germinate are now closest to the west window. The bins with the shortest plants all went into the plant shelf in the south window, and the mini-greenhouse frame by the other west window. As bins were being returned to the platform with the seed trays, they were arranged with the shortest plants by the seed trays, working up to the tallest at the opposite end. This way, the bin that has supports for the Canteen gourds to climb is now no longer behind the shop light!
There was one down side to all this outdoor work, though.
As I was putting the bins and trays back into the sun room, I saw Junk Pile cat going through the old kitchen garden, carrying a kitten. She was taking them away from the cats’ house, heading somewhere to the north side of the house.
When I went out for the next trays, I saw… Junk Pile cat… coming from the south. Which meant the cat I thought was Junk Pile was actually the other mamma using the cats’ house. Not long after, I saw Junk Pile carrying a kitten and taking it to the big branch pile in the outer yard. I was afraid of this. With all the traffic and commotion so close to the cats’ house, the kittens got moved to someplace quieter. *sigh* That’s going to make it much harder to socialize them! It’s too bad the mamas are separate now. They were always snuggled together with their babies in there. Ah, well. It is what it is.
Now that we’ve got the set up done, the transplants will go outside every day – weather willing – for about an hour longer, each time. By the time we pass our last frost date on June 2, they will be good and ready to be outside permanently.
Until then, we can keep working on getting the cool climate seeds direct sown.
It feels so good to finally be getting seeds in the ground!
A lot of the squash in the big aquarium greenhouse were getting too big for their britches, so it was time to thin them out and pot them up!
The Giant Pumpkins were easy enough to do; there’s just one plant per biodegradable pot, so they just got put into bigger biodegradable pots with little issue.
With the others, we thinned by division. We had only a few of the larger biodegradable pots left, so the biggest ones were transplanted into those. After that, they went into the red Solo cups. Then they all went into the sun room.
Once those were done, we went through the mini-greenhouse and moved the remaining eggplants and peppers to the sun room as well. A couple of them got thinned by division, too.
These two bins are all winter squash, the giant pumpkins and hulless pumpkins, under the bright shop light.
The gourds that were already in the sun room joined more squash and Apple gourds in a bin.
The peppers that survived the Great Cat Crush, as well as replacement starts of peppers and eggplants, got moved into the window shelf.
Back in the big aquarium greenhouse, there is now more room to space things out. The melons were looking leggy, so I put something under the bin they’re in to raise them closer to the light. There’s still just one Zucca melon sprouted (the big one in the foreground).
There are still some smaller squash and gourds on the heat mat. The Yakteen gourds have not germinated yet. I tried to get a photo, but the camera decided to focus on the aquarium frame instead of the plants. LOL
In the mini-greenhouse, there are still the Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes, and the ground cherries. With more space available, they’re now all spread out to get maximum light and air flow.
It’s always a risk to pot up things like squash. Once the new bins were in the sun room, water was added to the bottoms to let them absorb more moisture from below; particularly the biodegradable pots, so the pots themselves wouldn’t wick moisture out of the soil and away from the roots. I left the shop light on all night, to hopefully give them the energy they needed to handle the changes.
As of this morning, everything looked pretty much as I left them. Nothing was drooping or otherwise showing signs of stress from being divided and potted up. So far so good!
In about a week or two, we will start hardening off the transplants. By then, everything that’s in the aquarium greenhouse and the mini-greenhouse should be moved to the sun room, with the tomatoes divided and potted up.
If all goes well, we should have most, if not all, or cold tolerant seeds direct sown outside by the end of the month, too.
It feels so good to finally be able to move ahead with the gardening!
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?
I am really loving the longer days. I was able to get all sorts done this evening, while it was still light out!
The first job was to make some changes in the sun room.
A few things needed to be reorganized, which I worked on while the girls got the new metal sawhorses out of their packaging and set them up. There was no place to move the table saw, so one of them sticks out further than is convenient, but we can still get around it.
I suppose we could have laid out the closet door with the hinges down, but that happened to be the way my daughter and I grabbed it and laid it out. I don’t expect it to be a problem.
That done, I wanted to get those tall tomato plants out of the shelf, where they just barely fit.
Looks like Potato Beetle tried to jump into the bin that was in his favourite spot!
I do wish I’d caught this earlier. It’s pretty wilted. Still, tomatoes being how they are, I tried to salvage it.
I just buried the stem on the soil. Hopefully, those hair roots on the stem will do their job, and it will recover. If it doesn’t, we still have quite a lot of Cup of Moldova tomatoes.
That done, I brought the onions out of the shelf to give them a “haircut”, then switched them around when putting them back on the shelf.
The new set up is the perfect height to work at!
Next, I brought out the tallest plants that were in the mini-greenhouse.
I moved the two Canteen gourds out of the bin in the shelf and in with the larger tomatoes, then added laughably large poles for them to climb on. The poles look too big now, only in relation to the size of the plants, but those plants are going to get much, much larger!
More tomatoes went into the bin the gourds were removed from, another gourd that had still been in the mini-greenhouse joined the other two in the larger bin. The small bin of kulli corn got moved over. Hopefully, this will be a better spot for them. I also brought over a couple of pepper pots. They each had a pair of peppers in them, so I thinned out the smaller ones and repotted them. We’ll see if they will survive. Two more tomato plants joined them, as there wasn’t room for them in any of the bins in the window shelf. With the changes, though, there is now more room on the shelf for a couple more bins of seedlings, once we’re ready to move them over.
That done, I took advantage of the daylight, grabbed a hoe and went into the old kitchen garden.
I was able to prep three beds, including the one alongside the retaining wall blocks. There’s another bed on the left, in between where you can see stone and brick stepping stones. I won’t be touching that, as it was fall seeded with the bread seed poppies that grew there last year. We still have some of the seed pods, and I’ll be adding more seeds to that bed later on, just to make sure we get at least something. We did get another variety of bread seed poppies, but those will be planted in a completely different area, to avoid cross pollination.
The soil in these beds is not at all frozen – what a difference location makes! We’ll look through the seeds for direct sowing and make some decisions on what to plant here. We already sort of mapped things out, but things are flexible. This is a good location for root crops, be we already grew carrots and beets here last year.
Whatever we do, we’ll have to be prepared to cover the beds, so we don’t get a repeat of last year’s critter damage!
There are still the retaining wall blocks at the end. I transplanted mint that was growing where the log framed bed is, into alternating blocks. We’ll soon find out of they survived the winter. They’re mint, though, so it’s highly likely they did. We haven’t decided what to plant in the empty blocks. Perhaps some of the herb seeds we have.
There is another bed that should be quite workable now; the bed along the chain link fence where we planted tomatoes last year. We’re actually intending to put tomatoes there again this year, as they did so well in that location. The soil was very thoroughly reworked when a border of bricks was placed around it, so using it for the same type of plant again shouldn’t be a problem. Since it’s going to have things transplanted into it, and got well mulched in the fall with leaves, it’ll be left alone until planting time.
Gosh, it felt so good to be working in the dirt again! Though it was funny when I got my hands muddy, pulling out roots and weeds as I found them, and was able to go “wash” them off in snow.
So I was all concerned that the cats would somehow go after the mini-greenhouse and wreck our new transplants.
I was wrong.
This morning, I came into the living room to find our big Jade Tree on the floor.
That thing needs to be repotted into a bigger, wider pot, but right now the only thing keeping the cats from digging in the soil is a combination of how little space there is for them to get into, and cayenne pepper. The plant is too big to cage, the way we have with the others.
As for the mini-greenhouse. it was fine, but it wasn’t getting any real sunlight. It was getting light, certainly, but was too far back from the window to get full sunlight. Putting it by the window is not an option, because it’s too cold.
So things got rearranged.
After cleaning up and clearing out the spot the big Jade Tree was in (the replacement band for our vacuum is probably waiting to be picked up at the post office, so it was mostly a crevice tool job), I emptied the mini-greenhouse.
I was happy to see the transplants are looking nice and strong, still. The metal tray had no water left in it, so that’s working like it’s supposed to.
The mini-greenhouse then got moved, chair and all, to the spot the Jade Tree was in, where it does actually get some sunlight.
But only on the bottom shelf, so I set the light with the full spectrum bulb up above the higher tray. It’s the best we can do right now. There’s a mirror on the wall, so there’s at least some reflected light, too.
The cats, of course, were very curious, and “grandma” immediately claimed the sun spot.
The Jade Tree got set up where the mini-greenhouse was. Since there’s no need to access a zippered front, I could move it close enough to get some direct sunlight – then reapplied the cayenne pepper. I was messy about it, too, with pepper on the tray under the pot (I decided to use one of the oven liner trays I got for the aquarium greenhouses), and the little table it sits on, just to discourage them from coming anywhere near the pot!
After that, I was finally able to go the morning rounds.
It was only -25C/-13F, bright and sunny, and the cats were loving it! There’s 12 visible in the photo, with a couple in the sun room, and more running around. The only ones I didn’t see where Rosencrantz and Ghost Baby.
While out, I opened up the garage for when the tow truck came for my mother’s car. Just for a lark, I tried starting it again. Nothing. Only the electrical stuff turns on, so I get the console display and the fan turns on, but nothing else.
Then I came inside and found Tissue INSIDE the mini-greenhouse! There’s just enough of a gap at the bottom, from the cover being over the back of the chair, that she got in. The lamp and the shelf it was on were knocked askew, as was one Sophie’s Choice tomato, but not damage.
That gap is now filled.
That done, I called CAA to arrange the tow for my mother’s car. I was warned that it could take 48 hours! It was arranged, though. I don’t expect it to take that long. I’m still waiting for a call from the driver, though, and the online tracker still only says “received”, not “dispatched”. The ETA is still listed as an hour from the time I’m writing this, and I don’t expect that, either!
However, I did get a message from the garage. Our van is ready. The tow truck is my ride in, though, so I have to wait.
Though I’m seriously considering finding someone I can get a ride from. I really want our van back!!! We’re warming up enough for the next while that I’m not as worried about the van not being in the garage, as long as we can still plug it in. Especially since we don’t know when the tow truck will get here.
I wanted to share some photos from this morning’s rounds, but first, some photos from last night.
May I introduce you to, The Three Croissants.
Nicco, Beep Beep and Susan, all nestled together! Can they get any cuter? 😀
While putting things away for the evening, I noticed my mother’s lilies had started to bloom. Thye practically glow in the evening light!
If all goes to plan, we will be dividing these up this fall, and transplanting some in a new bed where the potatoes in their grow bags are now.
We had quite the crowd of hungry kitties this morning! Ghost Baby showed up not long after.
I expect the mamas will start bringing their babies over for food some time soon. I wish I knew where they were. I’d leave food out nearby for them, if I could. I’ve spotted mamas going by carrying various rodents, though, so the mamas are obviously taking care of that, themselves. It just makes less work for them if we can supplement with kibble! That, and there’s a better chance of the kittens getting used to humans.
Of course, I had to check the newest transplants. We got another heavy rain last night, that lasted for a couple of hours. They seem to have handled it quite well. I took this photo from the gourd end of the row. In the foreground are the 4 Ozark Nest Egg gourds (you can just barely see one of them, it’s so tiny!). By the fence post is the Thai Bottle gourd. You can’t see it in the photo, but hidden under one of the leaves is a second sprout!
This is what’s left of our straw! I’d taken so much from the bottom, where it was breaking down the most, that the whole thing finally just fell over. We should have enough to mulch the summer squash, and hopefully have some to add to the transplants at the squash tunnel, but I doubt there will be much left by then. I’ll have to contact the renter to see about getting another bale. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get hay next time. I’m deliberately asking for older bales that aren’t good for feed anymore, since it will be used only for mulching, but when I asked about it last time, they had none, as they spread them on their crop fields and plow them under to amend the soil.
Today, we’re looking at a high of 27C/81F, though we are already at 25C/77F as I write this, so I would not be surprised if we get hotter. The next couple of days should be just a degree or two cooler, then we’re looking at possible thunderstorms again. Hopefully, we’ll have the squash tunnel and pea trellises finished before then! We’ll see how things work out. One of my daughters has been feeling quite ill lately, and I’m pretty sure it’s the heat. 😦 Summer is their least favorite time of the year!
There is one other down side to this time of year that I was really noticing this morning. The horseflies are out in full force! I had a buzzing crowd of them, dive bombing my head, from the moment I stepped outside to the moment I stepped back into the house – and even then, it was only because I dashed in and closed the door fast enough. Having them bounce off my head is annoying enough (at least they weren’t biting!), but they were even getting caught up in my hair bun. They already seem to be unusually bad this year.