Our 2022 garden: progress

With all the rain we’ve been having lately, the garden is loving it. Who would think, after all that flooding in the spring, that would even be an issue?

The Red Kuri winter squash is doing so well, and starting to turn colour. We have a little more than 3 weeks before our average first frost. We may just have enough time for these to fully ripen.

The other squash are blooming and growing like they should have, in the spring. I’m still holding out for a long, mild fall so we can at least get summer squash, if not more winter squash!

The variety of sweet corn we have is not particularly tall, but these are still quite a bit shorter than they should be – but they are putting out tassels, which means we should be seeing silks, soon too. Even the Tom Thumb popcorn is perking up. Those only grow to about 2 ft high, and some of them are almost there. They are sending out tassels, too. Their cobs only grow a few inches long.

We might actually have corn this year!

This is my big surprise. The tiny, barely making it, eggplants are blooming, too! Well. One of them is. I thought these ones were a complete loss. They probably still are, but one can hope!

The paste tomatoes are really starting to turn nice and red. We’re at the point where I’m wondering if I should start harvesting most of them and letting them finish ripening inside. Less chance of critters getting to them before we do, but then we’d have to find ways to keep the inside cats out of them.

I’ll be harvesting more tomorrow. It’s still mostly beans, but I should be able to pick a fair number of cucumbers, too. We don’t have enough to warrant trying to pickle them, but enough to make some cucumber salads! It’s the same with the beans. There’s more than we can eat in a day or two, but not enough to make it worthwhile to break out the canner. One of my daughters has just been blanching and freezing the excess for now. It’ll be when we do the tomatoes that we’ll finally get into some serious processing. 😊

What a mix of things doing well, things failing, and things struggling in the garden this year.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: mulching done! Mostly.

Here is the pile of grass clippings my daughters hauled over last night.

This is actually just what they raked up along the driveway, where it was thickest. There were other parts of the outer yard they hadn’t done, where the clippings were much thinner.

I didn’t even try using the bag on the lawn mower. I would have been stopping to empty it way too often. It is more efficient to just rake it up after.

It was enough to FINALLY finish mulching the squash patch! Just on the cardboard around the plants themselves, though. As I’m able, I will continue to mulch the paths in between, to keep the grass and weeds down.

There was enough left over to mulch all but one end of the summer squash bed. Since I had continued to mow around the main garden area yesterday evening, I didn’t have to go far to rake up more clippings to finish mulching the bed.

I was also able to thoroughly mulch around the Styrian hulless pumpkins, out by the trellises.

At this point, any other mulching that gets done is bonus. The Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins could use more mulch to fill in the spaces between the plants, and I also want to mulch more around the sweet corn and green beans, as well as the popcorn, if I can. I still have more scything to do, so I should have enough to get all of that done, too.

It has been a very rough year for most of the squash. They are a fraction of the size they should be. Finally getting them all mulched should help them at least a little bit! Whether or not there is enough growing season left for them – especially the winter squash – it still in the air. Some varieties should still have time but with others, I don’t expect anything at all anymore.

That’s not going to stop me from trying to help them along, though!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden

While most of our garden is behind, with a few outright fails, we do have a few things doing well.

So far, we have five Red Kuri squash developing, and I just pollinated a new female flower this morning. The plants themselves are doing well in this location, growing in the chimney block planters. I really hope we will have more of these, and that there it enough growing season left before first frost. We quite liked the ripe one we were able to taste test last year.

I’m really impressed with the ground cherries! I had my doubts that they would make it after transplanting, as this spot got so incredibly wet, but survive they did, and are now wonderfully robust. The first time we tried growing ground cherries, it was in a container on our balcony. It did well, but these are doing even better. There are so many fruits forming! While watering a couple of nights ago, I noticed something light coloured on the ground that turned out to be a fallen ground cherry that had ripened faster than all the others.

I ate it.

It was delicious.

My daughters are surprised I like these so much, as they are related to tomatoes. Whatever is in fresh tomatoes that makes me gag is not in ground cherries, I guess. I find they have such a wonderful sweet-tart flavour. I don’t think the rest of the family are big fans of them. That’s okay. More for me!

Part of the reason we chose this location is because I’ve read they self seed easily. I’ve even seen it on lists other gardeners have made for “things I regret growing” because they can almost be invasive.

I just don’t see that as being a problem. I would love it if we had more! And if they fill in this area, that’s okay, too.

In the background, you can see the kulli corn and the yellow bush beans. Both are doing very well in that new bed. The corn took quite a while to recover from being transplanted, so I’m very happy to see how well they are growing. No sign of silks or tassels yet, though.

The Yellow Pear tomatoes, on the other side of the corn, are also doing well. The plants are much taller and fuller than the ones in the main garden. Their fruiting is not as far along, though. Which makes sense, since they were started indoors at 4 weeks before last frost, while the ones in the main garden area were started 10 weeks before last frost.

Speaking of which…

While checking to see if any suckers needs to be pruned away, I noticed one of the Cup of Moldova plants seem to be falling over, even though it was staked. Looking closer, I found the clip had come loose – and had a tomato trying to grow into it! I tried to be careful about removing the clip, but the tomato fell off in the process. The plant is now once again secured to its stake.

As for the tomato, slightly wounded and deformed by the clip, I brought it inside. It should continue ripening.

The Cup of Moldova and Sophie’s Choice tomatoes are looking quite prolific! The Sophie’s Choice plants are much shorter and stockier. One of them is so short, there is no way for me to clip it to its stake. The stake is basically just there for the plant to lean on, but the bigger the tomatoes are getting, the more it’s leaning in the other direction.

Ah, well.

We are greatly anticipating being able to start processing tomatoes. Mostly, I want to make tomato paste, which takes a long time to cook down, so we will probably do crushed tomatoes, too. Pretty much the only thing we use other than tomato paste is crushed tomatoes in chili.

I’ll have to go over how to save tomato seeds again. It’s more complicated than with other seeds. My mother had always saved seeds from her tomatoes, but she just dried them. None of that letting them ferment in water, thing! 😄 It worked for her, but my mother always did have two green thumbs!

With our average first frost date being Sept. 10, we have just over a month of growing season left. There is still time for productivity! In the end, it all comes down to the weather.

The Re-Farmer

Change in plans, morning in the garden

This morning was our date with the vet, to get Potato Beetle, Big Rig and Tissue spayed and neutered, as arranged by the Cat Lady.

I had a chance to text with her last night, as she reminded me to have them fasting. She herself was going back to the hospital today. The poor thing has been in and out of hospital all summer, and yet she still manages to help with cats. She just brought home a couple more because they were sick, and no one else was willing/able to take care of them. She is so awesome!

She did warn me that there is a shortage of vets, and there was a possibility of cancellation. So when my phone started ringing while I was driving with the three cats, I had a sinking feeling. Of course, I couldn’t answer while driving. It started ringing again, then I suddenly started getting notification noises, one after another. *sigh*

The calls were from one of the staff from the clinic – but she was calling from home! When she couldn’t get through to me, she called the Cat Lady, and both of them were trying to text me at the same time, letting me know that the vet wasn’t coming in today. All surgeries were being cancelled.

I got all these when I parked in front of the clinic.

After responding to both of them, the lady from the clinic said she would call me when she got into the office to reschedule, then I headed home.

The cats were not happy with all this. I was concerned about Potato Beetle. He’s already been stuck in the sun room for over a week. Yes, he has cool places to lie down, and we make sure there’s a frozen water bottle in his water bowl, the ceiling fan is going, and the small box fan I found the the garage is set up. Still, it gets quite warm in there and, as much as we try to go over and pay attention to him, he’s mostly all on his own.

Thankfully, the clinic was able to reschedule us for this Friday, so tomorrow night, we do the fasting again.

Since we no longer to dash to and from town to deal with the cats, I took advantage of the change in plans and decided to do our Costco trip today, instead of next week.

But first, I had to do my morning rounds, switch out the memory cards in the trail cams, and check the garden beds.

The Carminat pole beans finally have pods forming!

The one giant pumpkin is growing so fast!

I looked around and finally saw another pumpkin forming. Just to be on the safe side, I hand pollinated it. The vines of the two plants are overlapping each other, but as far as I can tell, this one, plus another female flower I found that is still just a bud, is on the same plant as the pumpkin that’s growing so big. The second plant has lots of male flowers, but I can’t see any female flowers on it.

I’ll keep checking and, as I find them, I’ll hand pollinated them, just to be on the same side.

Which I am also doing with the Red Kuri (Little Gem) squash, in the south yard. These are doing really, really well here. I have hand pollinated several female flowers already, and I can see more budding. I’m happy that these are doing so well, because these may be the only winter squash we get this year!

The cherry tree by the house is doing well, too. This is the most we’ve seen on this tree since moving here. The other trees at the edge of the spruce grove have nothing. Being close to the house seems to be providing the microclimate it needs. I don’t know the name of this variety; only that the original tree was from Poland, which has a longer growing season than we do.

The cherries at the very top look ripe, or close to it. We’ll have to bring over the step ladder and start picking them!

Speaking of picking things…

This is this morning’s harvest. Along with the bush beans, there was a single pea pod from the row that was planted first. That row is almost done, but the ones that were planted later have quite a few pods that should be ready to pick in a few more days.

I also picked our very first two cucumbers! I picked this variety as it is supposed to be good for both fresh eating and pickling. Whether or not we’ll have enough to make pickles, I’m not sure yet, but we at least have these ones to taste test now!

There was also a few raspberries to pick. Maybe 3/4’s of a cup in total.

It’s not much, but it’s enough to enjoy with a meal. Certainly better than nothing at all!

That done, I was off to the city to do the last of our monthly stocking up, but that will get it’s own post. 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: tending the squash patch

Today is working out to be slightly cooler than yesterday; it’s coming up on 6pm as I start this, and we’ve been at 28C/82F for some hours. We’re not expected to start cooling down for at least another hour. Longer, if today is at all like yesterday.

It was getting pretty late last night before I finally headed outside, fogging myself in mosquito repellant, and started on the squash patch.

I did remember to take a before picture. Every pair of sticks shows where there is a summer or winter squash, a pumpkin or a gourd. The straw mulch we laid down may help keep the soil cool and moist, but it isn’t thick enough to choke out the weeds. It also makes weeding – or even using the weed trimmer – impossible.

One of the apple gourds is relatively robust. The hulless pumpkins, Baby Pam pumpkins and Crespo squash plants are also doing comparatively well. The green zucchini, Teddy, Georgia Candy Roaster and Winter Sweet winter squash, however, are all very tiny. They should all be much, much larger for this time of year.

I am hoping that using the cardboard to smother the crab grass and weeds around the squash plants will help. I did things a bit differently this time. Previously, when preparing an area with cardboard to be covered with a straw mulch, I laid down flattened boxes in overlapping layers, making everything at least 2 layers thick. The overlaps were 4 layers thick or even 6 layers, depending on how they ended up overlapping.

Obviously, I couldn’t do that, here.

Most of the boxes were roughly the same dimensions; there were a lot of banana boxes in the pile! When flattened, they made long rectangles. I cut each in half, so that I could lay each piece down as a single layer, positioning 4 such pieces at right angles around each plant. That meant two boxes for each plant – mostly. I barely had enough cardboard to finish the job, but some of the boxes were large enough that I could cut them down further, and use just one box around a plant. I got them all done, with no cardboard to spare at all.

It was a brutal job.

For all that I used mosquito repellant, I was still being swarmed. Any spot that didn’t get sprayed was attacked. It’s one thing to find myself being bitten in the butt because my shirt shifted as I bent over. It’s quite another when they would fly under the lenses of my glasses and go for my eye lids. Yes, I actually got mosquito bights on my eye lids! On top of that, because of the heat, it wasn’t long before I sweated off the repellant. At which point, I was just a mosquito buffet! By the time I was putting down the last pieces of cardboard, I was spending more time flapping my arms and doing the mosquito dance than anything else!

By the time I was done, it was quite dark, so an after photo had to wait until the morning. We did have a small thunderstorm during the night. As usual, the bulk of the system blew right by us.

None of the cardboard blew away, however! That was my big concern. Interlocking the pieces of cardboard seemed to have done the trick.

As we get more cardboard, I do want to fill in the spaces in between, but the squash and corn patch needs to be done, first. For now, this should help. I’ve picked up a slow release, granular fertilizer that will be applied soon. I just don’t want to be feeding the crab grass as well as the squash!

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get another van load of cardboard, soon. I did manage to get a few boxes today, when I stopped at the post office/general store. Possibly enough to do one row in the squash and corn patch. We shall see.

Another thunderstorm is being predicted for tonight. I do hope it actually happens, and gets swept northward. Not only to help cool things down here, but there are some major fires to the north of us. At least one of the reserves had to be evacuated yesterday. Rain would certainly help get those under control. For all the flooding we had this year, most of it affected the south of our province. The further north you go, the less affected it was, which means those areas will still be prone to fires.

Just out of curiosity, I checked our 30 year temperature records for today. We’re still at 28C/82F as I write this. Our average for today is 26C/79F. The record high was 33C/91F, set in 2011, while our record low was only 6C/43F, set in 2000. So we’re pretty normal for this time of year. If our spring hadn’t been so awful, this would have been a very productive gardening year.

It’s hitting the girls in their upstairs “apartment” the worst. My younger daughter just cut all her hair off, to help keep cooler. Their switching to sleeping during the day and being active during the night hasn’t been working that well this year; the nights are simply not cooling down much. As a surprise for them, I made a trip to a Canadian Tire this morning, and got one of those Arctic Air cooling fans. I’d much rather have picked up a portable AC unit for them, but not only are they ridiculously expensive, there aren’t any in stock in most places right now. The window AC units are much more affordable, but there is only one window it could possibly be installed in, and it won’t fit with the way that window opens. In fact, that’s true of all our windows. Best bet would be to actually have one installed through a wall, not in a window. Since we don’t actually own the house, that’s not something we’re going to start doing!

Ah, well. It is what is it. We’ll manage!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: filled in the squash bed

The squash bed prepared by my daughter has been filled!

Some things went in some odd configurations. It’s going to take some doing to remember everything, even with the labels.

In my previous post, I’d stopped for a break after getting the Kakai hulless pumpkins, and the Crespo squash, started in the squash bed. As expected, the rest went much faster.

I’m so tired right now, I’m not sure I’m going to remember everything I planted in here at all! 😀

At this corner, the four Endeavor green zucchini got transplanted, running parallel to the low raised bed. This way, they will be easily accessible for harvesting throughout the summer.

There was a bit of space at the end of the row the green zucchini was planted in, so a couple of Teddy winter squash were planted there, and the remaining 6 were planted in a block in the next couple of rows. The Teddy squash has a growing habit similar to zucchini, so I wanted to make sure they were near the path, so we shouldn’t have too much trouble getting by while tending the low raised bed, or the green zucchini.

Next to the Kakai hulless pumpkin, I planted the Baby Pam pumpkins. There was six of them, planted in a 3 x 2 block. These are a smaller pumpkin that are supposed to be excellent for pies.

The poles are with the Apple gourds. I can’t remember if they’re climbers or not, but they are the only gourds in this bed, so I wanted to make them easy to spot.

I know we had some Ozark Nest Egg gourd seedlings, but as I planted them, I got a closer look and it does seem the are all Apple gourds. I don’t remember the Ozark seedlings dying off; if I had noticed, I would have tried planting more! I have no idea what happened to them.

Fit into the remaining spaces are the Georgia Candy Roaster and Winter Sweet.

Of the 7 x 7 grid my daughter dug, I did not plant anything in the south row, as it was too far into the shade. So this squash bed has been planted in a 7 x 6 grid.

The next step will be to mulch this area with straw. There had been thunderstorms forecasted, but now they’re just saying showers – those storm predictions keep going away! Still, we want to make sure the mulch is down as soon as possible.

If I can, though, I’ll see if I can get in with the weed trimmer first. It’ll be more difficult, now that the seedlings are planted, but it will make a big difference later in the season.

There were still seedlings to be transplanted, however. Which means a whole new section needed to be claimed. We were hitting 25C/77F, though, so I went back inside to take a hydration break, though I ended up making a dash to the store to pick up more bug spray. I’d just bought some, and we were already running out. They didn’t have a lot of options – normally we get something that will repel ticks, too, but there was none available. Still, with how fast we’ve been going through them, I got two.

For the rest of the transplants, I decided to start transplanting here.

In this area next to the potatoes, the grass I’d cut was growing back faster that the squash bed I’d just finished planting in, so I couldn’t make do without using the weed trimmer.

I worked in sections, starting out with an area large enough to include walking paths.

I had a couple of bins of transplants already at the garden, so I started on those, first.

These are the G-Star, green patty pan squash. The plants will be more compact compared to the winter squash, and they will be more easily accessed from the path between them and the potato and melon bed. I started by digging the row of holes then, using the jet setting on the hose, drilled into the soil and into the divots to blast as much soil back into the holes as I could, while leaving the roots and rocks behind. Then each hole got a spade full of sifted garden soil, and finally the squash were transplanted.

That process was then repeated for the next row, for the Boston Marrow. There were three pots, but so many of them germinated, I was able to plant eight. Which is probably quite crowded, even though I spaced them out more, as I think these will sprawl quite a bit as they grow.

Once those were in, I went to get more transplants – and found the only squash left were both hulless pumpkins!

Oops. I’d intended to plant them further apart. I would have put the Boston Marrow in between them, if I’d thought ahead. Ah, well.

I chose to plant the Lady Godiva variety here, because there was 5 seedlings, to the other variety’s four.

The last four, the Styrian hulless pumpkins, went next to the bean tunnel. I wasn’t able to use the weed trimmer here, though. I had to add another length of extension cord, but for some reason, it just wouldn’t run. I think there’s an issue with one of the extension cord plugs.

Oh, I almost forgot!

While watering the beds out here earlier, I noticed that we now have peas sprouting! The ones my daughter planted at the finished trellis. There are 2 varieties, and both have broken ground. 🙂

So here we have it! That last of the squash, gourds and pumpkins are now transplanted! As with the others, these will also need a straw mulch.

We might end up finishing off the bale, soon!

As of tonight, the only things left to transplant are the ground cherries and the Yakteen gourds. The Yakteen gourds will be filling in some gaps in other places. After talking about it with my daughter, she suggested a place for the ground cherries that I hadn’t thought of. Next to the compost ring, there’s a spot where we’ve got grass clippings sitting on top of a sheet of metal. That metal has been there for about a year now, so it should be just fine to plant into. We’ll just have to find ways to use up the grass clippings that are there! 🙂

I am so glad to finally have the transplanting done! Where we’re planting them is far from ideal, but they should be fine, I think.

We still have corn to direct seed. We’ll check the days to maturity and see if we still can, or if the seeds will just have to wait until next year. There are other seeds I’d hoped to plant this year, but they will have to wait until next year. They should have been sown back when everything was flooding. There is no longer enough of a growing season left for them.

While I was working on all this, my younger daughter took care of some other jobs, including doing a burn. We haven’t been able to get the burn barrel going for a while, and it was over full of the cat litter sawdust. That meant she had to stay and tend the fire for several hours.

She had just reached the point where she could put the cover on and finally let it smolder away on its own, when I came by to the pile of garden soil for one last wheel barrow load. Previously, I’d been sifting soil from the remains of the pile near the squash bed, but what’s left of that is so full of roots, it’s not worth the effort anymore. Later in the season, we’ll break up what’s left of it and use it to level off that area which, like so many other spots around the old garden area, is really rough, making it difficult to mow.

While sifting soil into the wheel barrow from the other pile – which went so much faster, as I was able to work from an area that hadn’t been taken over by weeds, yet – my daughter and I both heard a strange sound.

Coming from the branch pile.

A teeny, tiny mewing sound!

There are still kittens in there! Well. At least one. I’ve seen the mamas taking their kittens out of there, so this may be different litter? I have no idea. It’s going to still be a while before we start seeing the moms bringing their babies to the kibble house.

We’ll have to keep our eyes out for them. 🙂

So, there we are. The squash transplants are finally done!

Looking at the 14 day forecast, we’re looking at highs hovering around 20C/68F during the day, and the lows hovering around 15C/59F, which fairly regular showers throughout. Which should be just excellent for the garden! It would be so good to finally have a good growing year.

As for me, I am wiped out. A daughter has been kind enough to take care of my laundry for me, I’ve taken my pain killers, and am more than ready to go to bed!

And it’s not even midnight yet. 😉

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: winter sowing, and transplants organized

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!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: first spinach sown, and onions transplanted

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…

This image belongs to Heritage Harvest Seed. You can see what else we ordered with these, here.

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!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: thinning and potting up

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!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: starting seeds, three winter squash

Our next batch of seeds have been started!

I chose the ones that grow the largest and need the longest growing season. They are all new to us. Boston Marrow was chosen because it was described as making the best pumpkin pie the grower ever tasted, and because it was described as extremely rare. We plan to save seeds from these. I’ve heard many good things about Georgia Candy Roaster and, most importantly for us, it’s listed as having great storage quality. Winter Sweet was also described as an excellent storage squash, that tastes better after being stored for several months, and for being a reliable producer.

Because the seeds – especially the Boston Marrow seeds – were so large, we went with the Solo cups as pots, using the double cup method for watering from below. Each variety got three seeds in three cups (after being scarified and soaked a bit). We’ll see how many germinate. If we had the space for it, I would probably have planted more.

Speaking of space, the small aquarium greenhouse has been brought back into service. Once they germinated, we should be able to move them to a better spot, to avoid the issues we’ve been having with the space. Depending on how well they germinate and grow, we might be able to thin by dividing.

In the large aquarium greenhouse, I’m happy to say I’m now seeing more tomato seedlings starting to push their way through the soil. More amazingly, I spotted a hint of green in one of the giant pumpkin pots! That was much quicker than I expected.

The next batch of seeds to start indoors will be two more varieties of winter squash – the Red Kuri/Little Gem and Teddy squash that we grew last year, and managed to have squash to taste in spite of the drought – and cucumbers. Since we saved seeds from the few Red Kuri we got (the Teddy never got to fully mature), I might try some of our own seeds as well.

Then we have the summer squash. In the two years we’ve gardened here, we started them indoors. They did well, but they have a short enough growing season that we could direct seed them. For the sake of space, we may actually do that this year. Chatting with my mother on the phone today, she said the only things she started indoors were tomatoes and cabbages. She direct seeded everything else, including zucchini.

As we talked, she started telling me I should plant a big garden this year, because of how expensive food is getting. She was looking at the grocery store flyer and finally noticing. I’ve been saying this to her for months now! Then she started telling me what she would be doing if she were still living here – the first being, hiring the renter to plow the whole old garden area and then…

… planting trees.

Then she tried to offer me seeds she picked that fell from the trees lining the streets near her place. I declined! I told her that we were intending to plant trees, but these would be trees that feed us, and that we had a plan in mind. She planted most of the trees around the yard herself, or allowed trees that seeded themselves to grow. It’s taken a few years, but I think she’s starting to understand that this is now causing problems, as I try to explain that any trees we will be planting will be carefully chosen, and where we plant them will also be carefully decided. She was more interesting in things she got for free – or someone else paid for, like the shelterbelt trees my brother bought for my parents that were supposed to be planted in the outer yard, but that were instead crowded into the inner yard. I do find it funny that she gave me such a hard time for not immediately planting a garden our first summer here, and instantly having one just like she used to have, back when I was a kid, and now that we are going to be planting a large garden, she wants me to be planting trees!

Well, that’s part of our plans, too. Little by little, it’ll get done.

Today’s seed starts are one more little step in that direction.

The Re-Farmer