Our 2022 garden: potting up, moving things – and good news!

First, I’ll start with the good news.

While I was working on the transplants, we got a call from the pharmacy delivery driver. I headed out to meet him at the washed out road, opening the gate before starting the van and heading out.

I was backing out of the garage, when a car pulled into our driveway!

He not only got through, he had no issues at all. The washed out road has been repaired! That means we can now reach the highway and go wherever we need.

I was very happy to hear this. Tomorrow, I’m going to go get the mail! LOL

Oh, the things that are exciting when you’re old and boring. 😉

My main goal for today was to pot up the newest tomatoes, and move things to the sun room.

I started with the Yellow Pear tomatoes, which are in the image on the left. Of those, there was one seedling that I pulled out, as it was not suitable for transplanting. The Chocolate Cherry (on the right) got all seedlings potted up.

By the time it was done, we had 13 Yellow Pear tomatoes, and 12 Chocolate Cherry, ready to go to the sun room.

Before that could be done, though, the rest of the pots in the mini-greenhouse had to be taken out, and the mini-greenhouse prepped to be moved. The vinyl cover finally got removed, as did the aluminum foil lining it on three sides, to reflect as much light as possible. The foil has been saved for some other future use.

One of the sawhorses supporting the platform holding plants had to be carefully shifted over to make room for the mini-greenhouse frame.

Things got shifted around in the sun room, too. The older tomatoes were getting too tall for the plant shelf, so they got moved to the platform, as did the large bin with the kulli corn. The tomatoes were so tall, I had to adjust the shop light higher, to fit.

Once the newly transplanted tomatoes and seedlings that were in the mini-greenhouse in the living room got oved over, I filled another bin with the seedlings from the large aquarium greenhouse and brought those over, too. Everything fit, with room to spare!

I did change a couple of things after this photo was taken. That terracotta pot was put by the lamp on the bottom shelf, just to get it out of the way. It got moved out, as did the lamp, and the bin at the bottom of the mini-greenhouse was moved to where the lamp had been, so it could get more light.

The seed trays on the bottom right of the above picture are starting to explode. More cucumbers are coming up, and all four of the King Tut Purple Pea seeds that we managed to save are germinating. There is even a Red Kuri/Little Gem squash making an appearance.

These are now the only things left in the big aquarium greenhouse.

There’s still no sign of any Yakteen gourds. As for the Kakai pumpkin that looks like there is a seedling popping up, that’s actually a stem. I was watching it for a few days before I finally took a closer look. It seems it started to germinate – but then the leaves broke off the stem. The stem end is what you’re seeing in that pot! There were more planted in the pot, so I’m hoping that a bit more time on the warming mat will result in germination.

The LED shop light that was used at the mini-greenhouse is now available to be moved to the sun room, but I haven’t figure out how I want it set up yet.

Funny. The living room suddenly feels much bigger, without the mini-greenhouse tied to a chair in front of the couch, anymore. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: starting shallots and transplanting tomatoes

Okay, for better or for worse, we now have stuff in the mini-greenhouse! Let’s see if we’ve succeeded in making it cat proof. 😀

The first thing today was to get the shallots started.

There are a lot less seeds than I remember from last year. I’ll have to look back at last year’s photos and double check.

The container is a mixed greens salad container from the grocery story. It has drainage holes in the bottom, and the seed starting mix is pre-moistened.

With such easy to see seeds, after scattering them I used a chopstick to separate any that were right up against each other, and spread them out more evenly. Then they got a spritz with water, a light layer of more soil mix, then spritzed again.

The container’s lid is recessed, and I didn’t want it too close to the soil surface, so I just plopped it on upside down. I then left it in a tray with water under it, to be absorbed from below. While it was sitting, it was time to work on the aquarium greenhouses.

The red and yellow onions are doing quite well. I rotated the trays after adding more water below them. The reflective light from the aluminum foil at the back, which is closest to the trays themselves, is clearly making a difference. All the sprouts were leaning towards the back of the tank! 😀

We have our first Wonderberry sprout! These were taken out and got more water added to the outer cups, as well as a spritz, then set aside for later, so they wouldn’t get knocked over while the seedling tray was being moved around.

You can just see that a new luffa gourd is starting to sprout! It’s right against the wall of the pot at the top of the photo.

I very carefully removed the seed covering from the leaves of the canteen gourd. Normally I would avoid doing that, but I’m glad I did this time. It was really solid, and had to be broken apart to get it off.

Here are the tomatoes, on either side of the eggplants and peppers.

The tray usually gets water on the bottom well before the pots dry out this much, but when the pots are damp, they are difficult to move. They feel like they’re about to fall apart. Which will be good when they get transplanted into the garden, but not so good when I need to move them around!

With the eggplants and peppers, they were thinned to 2 plants per pot. As they get larger, we will probably thin them to one plant per pot. We don’t need a lot of either of these. Three plants each should be fine to meet our needs.

The plan was to transplant all the strongest tomatoes to thin them – but there were a lot of them! Especially the Cup of Moldova. They’re doing really well in here. In the end, there was just one seedling that didn’t get transplanted because it was so tiny.

We half-filled red Solo cups with soil and used a chopstick to make holes for the transplants. Then I ended up using a steel poultry trussing needle (which never gets used to truss poultry; I’m not even sure why I originally bought them!) to loosen and tease out the transplants as carefully as I could. After they got tucked into their new pots, more soil was carefully spooned around them to about half way up their stems and gently pressed in, just enough to make sure there were no air spaces, before they all got a spritz of water.

Each of the original pots was left with one tomato plant. With the Cup of Moldova, we ended up with a dozen transplants, making 15 altogether. These cups were used last year, too, and already had drainage holes in the bottom. If we needed to, we could double cup them, but for now, they fit into the baking tray, in one of the higher shelves of the mini-greenhouse, above the back of the chair it is tied to. I’d rather it was lower down, but with the wider baking tray, that’s where it fits.

With the Sophie’s Choice, there were only 7 strong enough to transplant, and they fit in the tray with the shallots container.

When it’s daylight, we’ll assess whether or not we need to set up a light from the other side. There may be an issue of the high tray shading out the lower one.

Then the original tray went back into the big aquarium greenhouse, on the heat mat, and the tray got a generous amount of water added, to moisten the pots from below.

In doing the transplants, the tomatoes also got moved to one end of the tray, while the eggplants and peppers are now next to the gourds. That was just because it was easier to reach the tomatoes while transplanting them.

Hopefully, these will survive their transplanting well. It should be interesting to see the difference between how the tomatoes in the mini-greenhouse do, compared to the ones in the aquarium greenhouse. There is going to be a substantial difference in light and warmth.

But first, we’ll see just how tempting the trays in the mini-greenhouse are for the cats, or if they will be left alone!

There are still two more shelves open in there. The next time we need to start seeds, which should be in two or three weeks, we should be able to move things out of the aquarium greenhouses, into the mini-greenhouse, and have the new seed starts put into the aquariums. If the weather co-operates, by the time we’re ready to start more seeds in April, we should be able to transfer the biggest seedlings into the sun room. I’m sure these tomatoes will need to be potted up by then, too.

This is the first time we’ve had so many seeds to start indoors. It’s going to be a juggling act!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: seedling therapy!

After seeing my weather apps flashing warnings for the blizzard that, thankfully, missed us, now I’m seeing new alerts.

This time, for extreme cold.

Which is NOT missing us!

The -23C/-9F is one thing. The -36C/-34F wind chill is something else. And look at those overnight temperatures! Yikes. Thankfully, the wind is mostly from the north. One of my daughters and I were out there for an hour or so, shoveling out the paths, so we were mostly sheltered. Not so much when my daughter was clearing the paths to the compost pile, back of the garage, and the outhouse. I had to use the wheelbarrow to clear away snow closer to the house, since the surrounding piles are too high, and the snow just falls back into the paths in that area, but at least I was out of the wind!

The temperature has actually dropped in the short time since I took this screen cap, and I’m now seeing -25C/-13F with a wind chill of -37C/-34F.

Previous long range forecasts had us warming up again right now, which clearly isn’t happening… but then, they never included another blizzard, either. Now we’re seeing the cold staying for four more days, before things are supposed to start warming up, and keep slowly warming up into March.

We’ll see how accurate that turns out to be!

Having a bit of garden therapy after shoveling snow was nice, even if it was just a tiny bit. It’s not like the seedlings need much tending.

The onion trays are starting to look a bit hairy – and not just from all the cat hair all over the top of the soil (and everywhere else in the house… LOL). With this tank being a bit cooler, and not having a heat mat under it, today was the first time they needed a top up of the water in the aluminum tray underneath them.

As for the big aquarium greenhouse, I decided to switch things around.

The two rows of gourds had been next to the end of the tank. Yes, there’s insulation against the glass, but it still gets pretty cool, with that end of the tank next to an outside wall. The heat mat below was also a bit off centre, so the canteen gourds would have been getting ever so slightly less warmth from below. I decided to move the gourd end of the tray to the middle, away from the colder side of the tank, making sure they were completely over the heat mat as well.

There is still just the one luffa growing. There are more Cup of Moldova tomatoes coming up than expected! My daughter had issues with seeds sticking to each other, while she was trying to plant just 4 or 5 per pot. I’d like to simply transplant the extras, while they are still tiny, as demonstrated in this video.

The problem is, we don’t have any more cat-proof space for more pots. We could bring in the mini-greenhouse from the sun room; that would give us space for 3 trays of the size the current pots are in, but we still haven’t figured out how to keep the cats from clawing their way under the plastic cover again. At least not without making it just as impossible for us to get in, as needed. I hate the idea of “wasting” thinned seedlings, if we don’t have to! Especially since the Cup of Moldova tomatoes are the ones we want lots of, for preservation purposes.

Ah, well. We’ll figure it out! Thinking about such things is great garden therapy, when it’s so frickin’ cold outside. 😀

The Re-Farmer

So many kitties, and a garden surprise

I may have missed the kitties when my husband fed them this morning, but I got to see them this afternoon, when my daughter topped up the kibble containers! 🙂

Even Ghost Baby made an appearance!

My daughter was happy because, once they all came running to eat, she was able to pet a whole bunch of baby butts, and they didn’t run away! Too interested in the food to notice they were being pet. 🙂

My daughter had come out to take care of something for me. I had earlier been working on the high raised bed and, since I was right next to it, decided to dig up some carrots from the abandoned bed.

I am totally amazed that after the greens being munched down to the ground at least three times, then getting overgrown with weeds, we STILL have decent sized carrots! Certainly not their full potential, but far better than what I expected. Which was nothing! These are the Napoli carrots we ordered from Veseys, and I must say, I’m impressed by their resilience! I picked maybe 1/3rd of the bed’s carrots. It’s hard to judge, with it being so overgrown.

Then one of my daughters came out to hose them off (and feed kitties!) while I did other stuff outside. My other daughter then used them with a roast vegetable dish she made to do with supper. I finished up outside while she was working on it, and we decided to include our tiny winter squash.

The tiny halves in the background are the little Teddy squash. By the time I took out the pulp in the seed cavity, there wasn’t much flesh left! Like the immature Kuri squash in the foreground, their seeds were not at all developed.

I have no idea how edible they are at this immature stage, but we’ll find out!

The Re-Farmer

Morning harvest, and getting named

Check out what I was able to gather this morning!

There are quite a few more of the purple beans buried underneath. They have been, hands down, the most prolific bean producers, and if the weather keeps up the way it has been, we will be picking beans for at least another week or two! Even the yellow beans are putting out a second crop. With the drought conditions, none of the bean plants are as large and bushy as they should be, with the green and yellow beans particularly stunted, even as they continue to produce. With the green beans, that resulted in my finding bean pods that were almost as long as the plants were tall!

I had to get a bigger container to collect tomatoes with, instead of the red Solo cups we’ve been using until now. The vines are dying back, yet they still have so many ripening tomatoes!

Earlier today, I made a quick trip to the post office, before I gathered our morning harvest. The general store it is in always closes at noon on Wednesdays, so I had to do it early, but not too early; I knew the postmaster would need at least an hour from opening, to sort through the morning mail. We had some packages to pick up, but one of my daughters also had a package that was supposed to be delivered by courier, directly to our address, as it was from a place that does not deliver to box numbers.

Which has always been a problem, since our physical address doesn’t come up in searches. Like pretty much all of the roads around here, our road has two names; one is a numerical designation (part of the provincial system), and the other is our family name (a municipal thing). Many of the local roads are named after local families. It was only recently that I discovered that the road past our place has no name on the maps at all! Not even the road number. Which certainly explained why delivery companies had such a problem finding us!

My daughter was keeping an eye on the tracking number, however, and got a notification that her package was delivered to our door at about quarter to one. Of course, there was no such delivery, since the gate is locked. I could see nothing on the live feed of the security cameras, but my daughter went to see if it might have been left at the gate. Sure enough, I watched her on the camera as she got to the gate and picked up a white package. Which was on the gravel of the driveway, which also looks pretty white on the camera! No wonder I couldn’t see it!

I’m impressed that they found us, but it reminded me of something I wanted to try. Using the maps app on my phone, I found our road and took a closer look. It turned out that there is a 4 mile stretch of our road that is not labeled at all, however to the south of us, the road ends at another road, then restarts a short distance away. From where it restarts and continues south, it is labeled with the same numerical designation as the signs we have on our stop sign.

The four mile section that had no label is the only section that has our family name assigned to it. The offset part of the road with the numerical label probably has another family’s name assigned to it.

The app now has a function that allows the map to be edited. When I used that and started to select sections of the road, it simply said “unknown road”. I was able to select all 4 miles that had no label on it, then put in the name. It gave the option to add more information, so I added that it was also known by the numerical designation. I then sent the edit to Google Maps. I’ve already got a confirmation email saying “Thank you for your contribution. Your suggestion is being reviewed. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. We’ll let you know once the changes are published.”

Hopefully, that means or road will finally have a name attached to it on Google Maps, and people will be able to find us more easily! Plus, with the name rather than the number on the map, it will also match what is on not only my driver’s license, but on the licenses of several of my neighbours, too!

Speaking of which, I am hoping to get a chance to visit the one that sells pork products at the farmer’s market today. With our province’s latest draconian restrictions, organic humans are no longer allowed in “non-essential” places, even though such mandates are expressly forbidden in our laws, at both the federal and provincial levels. Vendors at markets aren’t required to be GMO though; just the customers. So I will just have to skip the market, and go right to the source! 😀

I’m quite okay with that. They are a homesteading family that are a few years ahead of where we want to be, as far as self-sufficiency goes, and I would love to see how they’ve been doing things! I may have grown up here on the farm, two sticks ahead of the stone ages, but I am more than happy to learn new, better and more efficient ways to go things! Especially since we’re only about one stick ahead of the stones ages now. 😉

The Re-Farmer

So much colour

The sunflowers are so cheerful looking!

This is the Hopi Black Dye sunflower that has the one seed head that I think will have time to fully mature – and it has four more bright and cheerful seed heads opening!

I don’t know why my phone’s camera blew out this shot, but you can still see what a deep, dark purple is developing as the seeds mature.

When my mother found out I was planting sunflowers, she immediately mocked me, telling me that the birds would eat them all. This is the first sign of birds eating them I’ve seen this year. 😀

Not too long ago, while working on supper, I decided to dig into the potato bags and see what I could find.

The Norland (red skin, white flesh) and Yukon Gem (light brown skin, yellow flesh), we have picked before, but this is the first time I tried to find any of the fingerling potatoes, Purple Chief (purple skin, white flesh) and Purple Peruvian (purple skin, purple flesh). I did not find a lot, but I’m hoping it’s because I just wasn’t digging around in the right places.

I currently have them roasting in the oven with our own onions, both red and yellow, three types of summer squash, and purple beans. The only thing in there we didn’t grow ourselves was celery. Oh, and the dill we got from my brother. 🙂 I’ve got three chickens roasting, too, so we shouldn’t need to cook for the next couple of days! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Morning harvest, and another one down

Well, so much for trying to support the sunflower in the old kitchen garden.

We had high winds again this morning, and the last of the three flower stalks on the remaining sunflower in the old kitchen garden finally broke. It was actually still upright when I came out this morning, but by the time I came back to the house, it was lying on the ground.

Sadness.

While checking the garden beds, I did get a little bit of a harvest this morning.

It all could fit in my pocket! 😀

This is the largest I’ve ever let a pattypan squash get. Any bigger, and they start developing their seeds. One of these days, I should try letting some fully mature. At that point, when the seeds are removed, they leave a cavity that can be stuffed for roasting, which I do want to try. We just really like them at this stage, though. 🙂 For next year, I plan to try other varieties of pattypan squash, and hope to grow some to save seeds, too. Since I accidentally bought three summer squash collections for this year, instead of one, we don’t actually need to buy more squash seeds, but I like to try new varieties.

That is definitely one of the biggest benefits of having a garden. There are so many varieties that are just never in the stores!

The Re-Farmer

Unexpected harvest, and other things

We were having a lovely rain when I headed out to do my morning rounds. Though we have been getting the odd showers for the past while, things were still starting to dry out. With the high winds yesterday, I actually watered the old kitchen garden, when I noticed all the beet greens were wilted.

With the cooler temperatures and things in the garden winding down, we’re gathering things every few days or so, and the amount we harvest is getting smaller. Mostly, it’s just summer squash. My daughter had recently picked summer squash, so when I went through the garden beds this morning, I wasn’t expecting to actually pick anything.

I was rather surprised to find even a few larger summer squash! The Magda squash have been slow growing this year, so finding two of them large enough to pick is a treat. There are lots of little sunburst pattypans, and after my daughter had already picked the larger ones, I certainly didn’t expect to find more so soon. Yes, I know they can get much larger, but this is the stage we like them best. The only thing that wasn’t a surprise was the big zucchini. Usually, we pick the squash soon after the flowers fall off, but the flower on this one was solidly attached. Even though it was of a size we would normally pick it at, we left it. When I saw it this morning, I just had to pick it. Any bigger, and it’s going to start getting becoming a winter squash! 😀 Maybe some day we will let some zucchini reach that point, but not this year. 🙂

We are supposed to continue to get showers through the afternoon, but I’m hoping things will have a chance to dry up a bit. I really want to tackle that tree that came down in the wind. We really need to get started on any high raised beds for next year. If we can get even just one bed done, I will be happy. I also need to prepare three beds for the garlic we ordered. I were intending to order double what we got last year, but after talking about it with the girls – and looking at our budget – we got the same amount as before; a collection of racombole, purple stripe and porcelain music, 1 pound each. Though the beds they were planted in before are available, we want to rotate them into other beds that did not have alliums in it. Unfortunately, those beds are still being somewhat used right now! However, if I am able to get enough out of the tree to build a high raised bed, it will have fresh garden soil and amendments added to it, so it won’t matter if it’s in a location that had onions this year.

If it’s too wet to break down the tree today, I should still have tomorrow. The weekend is supposed to get quite hot, and we’ve got plans for Saturday. Next week, we’re supposed to get several days with rain, and then things start cooling down a fair bit. As long as I can get enough pieces cut, while it’s dry, we can get some progress on a bed.

Though our overnight temperatures have not been cold enough for frost, some of the more delicate plants were showing signs of what I would otherwise consider frost damage. Some of the cucamelon leaves are showing signs, and part of a Ozark Nest Egg plant had a vine that was growing the highest, suddenly start dropping this morning.

Everything is all winding down, which means things are getting busier. There’s a lot of work to prepare beds for next year, and getting it done often depends on the weather.

In other things, I’m happy to say that since we installed that shut off valve and, in the process, adjusted the pipe so it wasn’t touching another one, and padded it with vibration reducing material, that very disturbing noise we would sometimes hear seems to be gone. It’s hard to say for sure, since the noise didn’t happen every time the well pump turned on, but so far, it’s encouraging.

Something else seems to have gone away.

The woodchucks.

I haven’t seen any of them in almost a week, now. Usually, I’d at least see one peaking out of the entry to their den under the pile of wood, or eating the bird seeds near the living room window but, lately, nothing. I was wondering if they might have gone into hibernation, so I looked it up. They tend to hibernate from October to February, so it’s still too early for that. But then, the sites also said they mate after the come out of hibernation, and we so them going at it in the summer, so who knows.

Very strange.

Not that I’m complaining! 😀

Our 2021 garden: back at it

As I write this, in the early afternoon, we have reached 30C/86F, with a humidex of 35C/95F. Our high of the day is expected to reach 35C/95F with the humidex at 40C/104F. Thankfully, this is supposed to be the hottest day for the next while, but it means that we’re back at watering the garden at least once a day.

At least this time, I had a full rain barrel to use in the garden beds by the house, while the sprinkler was running in the furthest beds.

With the upstairs so hot during the day, the girls are still staying up all night, so my old daughter can work on her commissions. They still have to put ice packs around their electronics – and themselves – to keep things from overheating.

Since they were still up during the cool of the morning, they did a bit of harvesting, and this was waiting for me when I got up.

We actually have summer squash to pick! The cayenne pepper seems to be working and keeping the grogs (groundhogs) away. This is the most we’ve been able to gather all summer.

They also picked a single red crab apple for me. ❤

It was delicious.

The summer squash bed now has one of the sprinkler hoses I found by the grog den a while back, so they can be watered from below more easily. I set the other one up through two bean beds, but half of the hose seems to have clogged holes. I think they will clear as the hose is used more often.

I’m rather encouraged by these tomatoes. The wilted one is the branch that broke off in the wind, and that I just stuck into the ground. The leaves may be wilted, but the stem is still strong, and the tomatoes that are on it are ripening.

I found a surprise while watering the tomatoes.

This cluster of seedlings has emerged from the new garden soil we recently added!

My initial thought was more sunflowers from the bird feeder, but these actually look a bit like squash seedlings.

We’ll leave them to see what they turn out to be.

Unless the grogs eat them, first.

The sweet corn may be small, but they are maturing. The middle block is maturing the fastest, while the northernmost block the slowest. The southern block has one half maturing faster than the other. This area gets shade in the morning, but at least 8 hours of sunlight per day. The Eastern side, however, would still have shade longer than the rest, and that is likely why the plants are shorter on that side.

It does not seem to matter as much for the sunflowers.

The earliest Mongolian Giant flower heads are progressing nicely.

Even the ones that got chomped by deer are recovering. These are the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers, transplanted next to the Dorinny corn, where the entire row had lots their heads.

You can see the cayenne pepper on the sunflower leaves. Since we are using the sprinklers to water things, we’ll need to reapply it at the end of the day.

On the garden cam, I spotted a big raccoon headed towards the summer squash. It reached a plant, touched it with its nose, and pulled back its head like it got bitten, then ambled around the squash bed, avoiding the plants.

When setting up the sprinkler on the purple corn, I noticed a cob with husks that looked quite dried up. I took a chance and harveted it.

It’s ripe!! Small, not completely pollinated, but still pretty full, and the deep, dark purple it’s supposed to be. I found one other little one with dried husks and picked that, too.

With only two of them, I went to the Dorinny corn and picked what I could there, too.

It isn’t a lot for four people, but enough for part of a meal!

I’m thinking of moving the BBQ my brother gave us to the canopy, so we can grill in the shade. Corn on the grill would be awesome! We’ve got some sirloin steaks from the meat pack we got thawing out, and the summer squash are prepped for grilling. I don’t know if we’ll be up to grilling in this heat, but if not, the vegetables can be roasted.

Either way, I’m looking forward to an excellent Sunday dinner!

The Re-Farmer

Scene of the cat crime

There are areas around the house that we do and do not allow the cats. For example, they are not allowed on the kitchen counter the sink it in, nor where counters were food is prepared, but there is one small counter by the window they are allowed on, so they can sit and look out the window.

The dining table is another place the are not allowed.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to enforce this when we’re asleep.

This is what I found this morning.

The bowl of carrots and potatoes were scrubbed last night, to be cooked today. The cucamelons are kept out for snacking.

It turns out the cats like to drag off the carrots.

Shortly after I took this photo, I spotted Saffron running by behind me.

Then she dropped a pilfered cucamelon she had been carrying, and started batting it around.

Nasty cat criminals! 😀

The Re-Farmer