Our 2023 garden: Heritage Harvest seeds have arrived!

These came in really fast!

The top row is all stuff we tried to grow in 2022. The only change is that the Candy Roaster seeds we got for last summer was from Veseys. We should still have some of those left, so if we wanted to, we could try both and see which does better here.

The middle row is also all stuff we tried growing last summer, except for the Chamomile, which is new for 2023.

In the bottom row, the Little Finger Eggplant is a repeat, while the Red Wethersfield onion and Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify are new.

The Lemon Cucumber are our free package of seeds with this order. (Image belongs to Heritage Harvest) I had actually been eyeballing these as something new to try, but had decided against them for now. In fact, I wasn’t sure if we’d try growing cucumbers again at all this year. We did actually get cucumbers, and they would have been enough for our own use – but then my sister gave us massive amounts of cucumbers from her own garden, and we were overwhelmed.

We like cucumbers, but not that much!

Anyhow, if we were to order more cucumbers, it would be another dual purpose type, good for both fresh eating and canning. Now we have these, so we will at least have a fresh eating type! Plus, it’s something we’ve never tried before. I’m looking forward to it!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: first Veseys seeds are in

There were two seed orders waiting for me in the mail today. The first had the seeds I’d ordered with some trees from Veseys, earlier.

I don’t know if we’ll plant the Caveman’s Club gourd this year – it depends on how well we manage with building trellises in the spring – but we will definitely start a few of each variety of peppers. We’ll have so many varieties this year, we won’t need to start many of each, and should still have a lot.

Assuming we have a good growing year in 2023!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 Garden: Veseys seed order is in

One more order of seeds is now done! This is actually our second order with Veseys for next year’s garden.

We had intended to order our potatoes from here, as they have varieties we tried two years ago we really liked. Unfortunately, all their potatoes are currently listed as sold out. There were issues with this last year, when no potatoes were allowed to be sold out of PEI. I’d hope that wouldn’t be an issue, this year! This order ended up being just seeds. No trees or other such things that would be shipped in the spring.

One thing I noticed with their new inventory for 2023 is that their seed prices have increased substantially. I’ve seen increased prices across the board and was expecting it, but the increase seems quite a bit higher here. High enough that it actually affected some of our purchasing decisions.

As with our other seed orders, we have purchased a few things we’ve bought before. This includes the Pixie melon that we enjoyed so much the first year we grew melons, but weren’t able to save seed for, Lakeside spinach, one of three varieties we’d purchased as a collection, Lewis green beans and Merlin beets.

These are the new items and varieties we’ve ordered this time. All images belong to Veseys.

Purple Queen Improved Bean

The first variety of purple bush bean we’d ordered before did very well, even under drought conditions. In fact, all the purple items we ordered did better. I didn’t see it listed anymore, so I decided to try this similar one. The description notes that it has “amazing flavour”.

Red Swan Bush Bean.

These are noted for their exceptionally high yields, and long production season. It can be used as a fresh bean or a cooking (shelling) bean. I will have to remember to leave some of them specifically for shelling, while harvesting others fresh, so we can try it both ways.

Custard Bean

A new variety of yellow bush bean to try that’s noted for being prolific.

Yeah, we’ve got a LOT of beans on order this year. I like to have the different colours, and a mix of types to try. With how prolific these and the other varieties are supposed to be, we don’t have to plant a lot of each. There tends to be quite a lot of seeds in each packet, so we can likely have enough to last us 2 or 3 years, at least.

Dalvay Peas.

This variety of shelling pea is noted for its long pods, well filled with at least 10 peas per pod, and sweet flavour. We’ve had poor results with peas for the past two years, due to weather conditions, and I’d really, really love to finally have more than a snack’s worth of fresh peas! 😁

Sarah’s Choice melon.

This variety is described as the most flavourful in Vesey’s trials, and matures in only 76 days. Our first year growing melons was better than expected, while the second year’s melons were flooded out, so I’m really hoping we have cooperative weather for 2023. We really like melons in this household!

Honeyboat Delicata Squash

I’ve been hearing rave reviews for Delicata squash, but I also saw warnings that they were not a good storage squash. So when I saw this variety was noted as high yielding and a great storage variety, I figured it was worth a try!

Talon Onion

I was planning to get the Oneida onion again, but choked at the price increase, so I picked these, instead. They are described as a great storage onion that does well in dry conditions, and matures 85 days after transplant.

Ambition Shallot

I was going to try the Conservor shallots again, but the price increase was even higher than the Oneida onions. There was another variety that interested me, but it was already sold out. We’ve had no luck growing shallots from seed so far. Our first attempts were destroyed by cats, and the second by flooding that even killed off the shallots we planted from sets. This variety is supposed to be easy to grow, and store extremely well. Here’s hoping we succeed this time!

Cheyenne Pepper

While we have quite a few varieties of sweet peppers, my daughter requested we get a hot variety, too. This is a high yielding variety of cayenne pepper that is ideal for growing in a pot.

Naval Carrot

I was happy with the Napoli carrots we’ve ordered before – I got two years out of the amount of pelleted seeds we got. However, their smallest size packets currently available was more than we needed, so I chose this variety, instead. It is described as keeping its sweet flavour even after months in storage, and as easy to harvest.

Espresso Corn

We actually discussed not doing corn again for 2023, and waiting until we had better soil conditions for such a nitrogen hungry plant, but I think I know where I want to grow these where they should do quite well – I hope! This variety matures in only 67 days, which solves another of our problems, too.

Classic Eggplant.

Yes, we have the Little Finger Eggplant, with their long, narrow shape, but I thought it would be good to have the more traditional type as well. It is described as having “tremendous yields”, and matures in only 75-80 days, so they should work out well.

Roma VF Tomato

Yes, we saved seed from the Cup of Moldova Paste tomato, and we do want to keep that rare variety growing, but they weren’t exactly a flavour power house. At least that’s what my daughter tells me (I can’t eat non-processed tomatoes). I still want a paste tomato, so I chose this Roma variety. I don’t know what the VF stands for, but they are supposed to be quite prolific, and mature about 75 days from transplant.

Lemon Grass

Another request from my daughters, for our culinary herb garden. It has a hardiness zone of 8-9, though, so this is going to be grown in a pot, and in a very sheltered area. I know just the micro climate spot to put it in!

German Winter Thyme

This culinary variety (they also had ground cover varieties) is a bit hardier, but still a zone 4 – 8, which means it will likely be in a pot, too.

And that’s it for this order – and for any other orders until next month’s budget! Those most of what’s left that we want to get is stuff like potatoes, and more sea buckthorn to replace the ones that died – stuff that won’t be shipped until spring. Still, we don’t want to wait to long to order them, as I expect things will be selling out quickly.

We’re ordering a lot more seeds than we actually need, but if there’s one thing we learned from our 2022 garden, it’s that it’s well worth planting more than we think will be enough. In fact, we planted with that in mind, and it still didn’t cut it!

Nature can be brutal.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: harvesting carrots and turnips.

It was a chilly night last night, with temperatures dipping below freezing. As I write this, we’re at 3C/37F – just under our predicted high of the day.

It was actually very pleasant out there!

With a few frosts already past, I decided it was time to harvest the carrots.

This is all of them.

Plus the Purple Prince turnips – the only turnip variety of the three we planted this spring, that survived. Barely. Their greens were constantly munched on by insects. I’m not sure why I even bothered to harvest them. They’re so small, a lot of them got left behind in the bed, then still more went into compost when I trimmed their greens. Not much of a harvest there.

I’m surprised by the Uzbek Golden carrots, which were from a free seed packet. A lot of them were much larger than I expected.

The Black Nebula carrots where more difficult to harvest. Even with several years of amendments, the soil still gets pretty compacted, and these guys get long. It took quite a bit to dig them out!

Well, that didn’t take long… 😅

We are expected to dip to -4C/25F tonight, so these needed to be set up indoors to cure – and the only place we had available in the sun room was covered with tomatoes, still.

Thankfully, they are all laid out on screens.

I was able to stack the screens with the tomatoes and gourds, then lay out the trimmed carrots. After a day or two, we’ll brush the dirt off and go over them. Several of the biggest Uzbek Golden carrots have split, but the Black Nebula look like they were a slug favorite. Quite a few had damage at their tops. The size variety among them is pretty surprising. Quite a few of them are really big around! From the photos, I expected long and narrow.

Once we’ve assessed their condition, we’ll decide how best to store or preserve them. I suspect blanching and freezing will be the best option for most of the Black Nebula carrots, while the Uzbeck golden will be kept in the kitchen for fresh eating first.

I haven’t actually tasted any of these yet! We did harvest a few Uzbeck golden for meals over the summer, but almost no Black Nebula, because even the little ones were hard to pull. I hope they taste as good!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: harvesting carrots and red onions and cleaning up

I took advantage of the lovely temperatures (and being in less pain) to do some more clean up in the garden. Earlier in the day, my daughter and I drove into town so she could get a new photo to renew her driver’s license, while I popped across the street to pick up a few things at the grocery store. I was thinking of making a cream of chicken soup and was about to buy some carrots, when I remembered…

We have carrots. They’re just still in the dirt.

So I went over to where the chocolate cherry tomatoes had been planted, and pulled up the Napoli (orange) and Kyoto Red (dark orange) carrots – and a single shallot! I also dug up the red onions from sets that were planted with the yellow pear tomatoes.

The new soil sifter came in handy! 😁

I’m actually surprised that we got so many decent sized carrots. The Kyoto Red were pretty small – there were two I left behind because they’re blooming, and I hope to collect some seeds. I used up the last of the Kyoto Red seeds, but I think I still have some Napoli pelleted seeds left. Those really did far better than I expected.

Then there’s that single, solitary shallot!

There were actually two more, but they also bloomed, and I’m waiting for the seed heads to dry before collection.

As for the red onions…

Most of them aren’t any bigger than the sets we planted in the first place. Given how spindly the greens were, I thought they might be rotted out, or at least soft, but nope: they are quite firm. They’re just really tiny. I think they were simply too shaded by how massive the yellow pear tomatoes got.

I was going to take them in and was trying to figure out where I could lay them out to dry a bit, until I thought to check the weather again.

We’ll be having at least a couple relatively warm nights, and no rain is expected. I just spread them out on the soil sifter and will leave them out overnight. Tomorrow, I should be able to brush the dirt off more easily, before bringing them inside.

With that in mind, I think I’ll soak some of those blue grey speckled tepary beans overnight, to include with some our garden’s carrots and onions in my soup!

Once these were gathered, I worked on taking down the hoops in the main garden area, as well as the mesh and supports over the spinach in the old kitchen garden. The spinach is a loss. They germinated, and then got mostly yellow and stopped growing.

With the mesh and netting, I laid them out as straight as I could on the ground, then rolled them up around whatever straight sticks I had that were long enough.

You wouldn’t believe how difficult that is with a yard full of kittens!

The twine I used got salvaged, too, and the shorter pieces came in very handy to tie off bundles of netting, mesh, supports and hoops.

We have a few more warmer days, and my priority right now is to get the empty bed in the main garden area prepped, and then plant our fall garlic. When we go into the city next for our stock-up shopping, I hope to pick up more hardneck garlic to plant. It’s a bit too late to order them like we have for the past couple of years.

Once that is done, I plan to work on building up some of the beds in the old kitchen garden. I have ideas for those that I hope will work. If I get at least one of those done over the next few days, that will give us a prepared bed to plant any garlic I pick up later on. There’s still the beets to harvest from that garden, but I suspect those will be going straight to compost.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: harvesting dry beans, onions and tomatoes

Well, we decided to start bringing things in. Tonight and tomorrow night, we are supposed to reach lows of 1C/34F

While our one eggplant that is producing is small enough to give protective cover, that’s pretty much it. The rest is just too much or too large to be able to cover adequately.

The shelling beans were simply ready to be harvested, so I worked on those first.

These are the blue grey speckled tepary beans, and the are so tiny! I haven’t tried to open any pods yet. It was almost but not quite raining as I picked these, so once I got them inside, they went onto a screen and are laid out to dry thoroughly indoors before I start shelling them.

Then it was time to pull the Tropeana Lunga onions.

They are SO much easier to harvest from the high raised bed, than the onions in the low raised beds. I had to dig most of those out, because the soil is so compacted. Not here! These came out easily.

Check out that chard. Not a single leaf to harvest!

I had this wire mesh door on the picnic table under the canopy tent, where I was able to cure onions before, but with the cold temperatures, I set it up in the sun room. It is supported by a couple of saw horses over the swing bench, giving the kittens plenty of space to go underneath and have their warm and cozy naps!

These onions are a very thick onion, in the stem and the greens. They are very much like the Red of Florence onions we already harvested, but with even sturdier stems.

Next, I worked on the red tomatoes. A few of the ripe ones had been partially eaten, while others had holes like this.

Some of the holes were even still occupied!

Slugs are remarkably voracious!

This is all the red tomatoes. In the bin are the Cup of Moldova, and on the side are the Sophie’s Choice. There were very few Sophie’s choice, overall.

While I was working on these, I got a surprise visitor.

Rolando Moon showed up! I haven’t seen her in weeks! She let me pet her a bit, but mostly hung around and hissed and growled at the kittens. Except for when she suddenly showed up with a big mouse in her mouth. One of the kittens became VERY interested in her at that point. Rolando Moon can be aggressive, so I did step in, which allowed the kitten to make a jump for the tiny bit of mouse that was left. He promptly inhaled it and was sniffing for more, but with Rolando being the way she is, I carried him off.

Do you know that it’s really hard to harvest tomatoes while there is a kitten perched on your shoulders, and it refuses to leave? 😄

Next, I worked on the Chocolate Cherry and the Yellow Pear tomatoes.

There were SO many yellow pear tomatoes!

I also harvested the dry King Tut Purple Pea pods, though they were green instead of purple. I’m not sure why I’m keeping the seeds, to be honest. The last Red Kuri squash was also harvested, and now sit with the onions to cure.

I have left it to the girls to work out what to do with all the tomatoes, except for the ones that I will be keeping to save seeds from. The Chocolate Cherry, for sure. I’m told those were the tastiest. Not the yellow pear, though. I’m glad we tried them, but they weren’t enjoyed enough to bother saving seeds from. Both the Cup of Moldova and Sophie’s Choice are rare varieties, so I will be keeping seeds just to help keep them going. We will decide later if we want to stick with them next year, of we want to try other varieties as well. My daughter described both of them as good, but very mild in flavour. I think she and my husband would prefer something more intensely flavoured. We’ll see.

This bed that had the paste tomatoes is now completely empty. That means I can prep it to plant the best of the hardneck garlic I’d saved from this year’s harvest. We will need to get more, though.

This bed had the yellow pear tomatoes. There are still the red onions from sets in there, but I don’t think we’ll get anything out of them. Once those are out, this bed, and the one to the right of it, can be prepped for next year.

The kulli corn in the bed to the left still has no cobs forming, at all.

This is where the chocolate cherry were. It’s the second year we grew tomatoes here, so we will do something else here next year. I’m thinking peas.

There are still carrots in this bed. I don’t know that there are any shallots or onions left. There are two shallots that went to seed, but the seed heads seems to have stalled in development. It seems the same with the lettuce I left to go to seed. I think it’s just been too chilly for them to progress properly.

That’s it for now. Later on, I’ll head out again and look over the pumpkins, and see about harvesting the biggest ones. Pumpkins can continue to ripen after picking, if we can keep them warm, dry and in sunlight. That is a difficult combination to achieve in our household, though!

I also want to put bottles with warm water in them around the eggplant that’s fruiting, and then cover it. I may as well harvest what summer squash there is, too. We won’t be able to protect them from the cold, so chances are, they will get killed off tonight. I might be able to cover the apple gourds. They are the only ones that are immature enough to make the effort. After these 2 expected cold nights, the overnight lows are expected to be much warmer, so if they can survive those two nights, they still have a chance.

Oh, the weather can be a harsh mistress!

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: morning harvest and deer damage

I checked my weather app last night, and read that we were to get rain and thunderstorms this morning.

This morning, I checked the app and it told me “rain will end in 45 minutes”.

There was no rain.

We’re going to have to water the garden today.

Which is not a complaint. We have a garden to water, still! Though the evenings have been chillier than forecast, we’re still frost free.

While checking all the garden beds, I spotted some deer damage in the sweet corn.

The silks were nibbled off!

It looks like a deer ducked under the rope fence (so much for the bells and whirligigs to startle them!), walked along one side of the corn, nibbling the silks all along the way.

I did find one cob that had been pulled off and left on the ground.

I’d been able to check the other nibbled ones, but with this one I could peel it entirely. They are still not ripe. I think the cool evenings are slowing things down.

We’re supposed to have highs between 17C/63F (today) and 14C/57F (in a couple days) over the next while, before temperatures rise above 20C/68F again. We’re supposed to stay above 20C for several days before dropping to the mid teens again. One of my apps has a 28 day long range forecast, and according to that, we won’t hit overnight temperatures low enough for a frost risk until almost a week into October.

Every mild day is bonus right now, and allowing our garden to continue to produce.

I love those G Star patty pans!

The onions are from the curing table for today’s cooking, but the rest is fresh picked. The Yellow Pear are filled with ripening tomatoes – much more than the Chocolate cherry. We have to figure out what to do with them all.

A couple of Sophie’s Choice tomatoes were ripe enough to pick. I will use those to save seeds. The paste tomatoes went into the freezer for later processing.

As I write this, my older daughter is in the kitchen, trying to use up a whole lot of vegetables for lunch, to go with the short ribs that were in the slow cooker all night. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with! 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning harvest and first corn!

Okay, I probably should have waited a bit longer…

… but I picked our first corn!

It’s hard to judge ripeness. This variety doesn’t get large cobs but, at the same time, with everything struggling so much, they may still be smaller than typical. We did take a peek, and the kernels seem a bit on the small side, but whatever. It can still be eaten!

The pole beans are certainly winding down. Except the Red Noodle beans, which haven’t even started blooming yet, even though there are buds. The golden zucchini is looking wonky – but at least there is something to pick.

Last night, as far as I know, we never dipped lower than 20C/68F. Which is warmer than forecast, and just wonderful. The night before, the temperatures dipped to 7C/45F, which was lower than forecast. If the forecast is close to accurate, we shouldn’t have frost until possibly the beginning of October, but… well, the forecast hasn’t been very accurate for the overnight temperatures, that’s for sure. Which means it’ll be hard to know if we would need to cover some of the temperature sensitive vegetables for the night. Not that we’d be able to at all for the squash beds – they’re just too large – but we’d be able to protect some of the others.

I’d rather just have mild overnight temperatures!

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