You’d think a city shopping trip would be more tiring than running errands with my mother, but nooooo…
We are having another beautiful sunny day, though the wind has certainly picked up. I counted 23 yard cats while doing their kibble and warm water this morning.
I was just coming back to the house would I saw these two, finishing off the kibble on the cat house roof. I tried to get a good picture of Brussel, but she moved around and sat with her back to me.
I swear, that fuzzy butt of hers is bigger than the little guy beside her!
She won’t let me anywhere near her – I had to zoom in quite a bit to get this shot – but she’s less shy than her sister, Sprout, who runs off as soon as she sees me and doesn’t come back to eat until I’m back inside.
When planning today’s outing with my mother, I brought up getting Chinese food for lunch again. She said no, made a big deal of the cost, and that she could make lunch for us, etc. Well, I didn’t listen to her. I left early enough to pick up some parcels at the post office before they closed for 2 hours over the lunch period, so when I got to her town, I picked up lunch anyhow and showed up early. She laughed and nattered a bit about my not listening to her, so I told her that I wanted a treat. Only later, while we were eating, did she say that I must have heard her thoughts. She had been poking around her fridge for something to make for lunch, didn’t find anything she wanted, and wasn’t up to cooking, anyhow. She’d been regretting telling me not to bring food! The next thing she knew, there I was with lunch for both of us! So that worked out.
After lunch and a bit of a visit, we headed out to do her errands, getting groceries last of all. I stayed long enough to put everything away, then started getting ready to head home. My mother was all ready to make tea, but I told her I had to go. As usual, she started going on about how, if we visit her, we should plan on staying for a long time. I told her I do – that’s why I come over so early! So we can get a visit in, first. I must say, I was pretty tired by then, anyhow. My mother is 91 yrs old, has a bum knee and uses a walker, but that hardly slows her down at all! It takes quite a bit to keep up with her, that’s for sure. She didn’t push for me to stay, though. I know she was tired, too, and would probably go for a nap as soon as I was gone!
Once at home, I found one of our backordered seeds from Veseys was in the mail.
I’m looking forward to these. I keep hearing about how great Delicata squash is, but it’s not a good storage variety. This new Honeyboat variety is described as good for storage, so I figured it was worth trying. At 100 days to maturity, it’s going to be one of the earlier ones to start indoors.
This leaves one more packet of seeds on back order to come in from Veseys.
While at the grocery store with my mother, I noticed they had a couple of seed displays up. I was so tempted to get more, but we already have so much, and in varieties better suited to our needs.
Okay, it’s that time! I’ll be working on a serious of posts, going over how our 2022 garden went, what worked, what didn’t, and what didn’t even happen at all. This is help give us an idea of what we want to do in the future, what we don’t want to do in the future, and what changes need to be made.
I had such high hopes for our squash and gourds for 2022. We planted SO many varieties of squash! We especially worked towards growing winter squash, with a focus on varieties that stored well for the winter. This is part of our working towards being as self sufficient as possible, and to have a good supply of food during the winter months when we can expect to be unable to get out, either due to being snowed in, or vehicles freezing, or whatever, for at least two months. Something we’ve already had to deal with, somewhat.
We also planted a variety of pumpkins, including 3 hulless varieties for their seeds, and summer squash, plus had both new and old varieties of gourds.
Almost everything was a loss, and what wasn’t a loss was still nowhere near fully successful.
We’ll start with our “fun” plants: the gourds.
I am wanting to grow gourds to cure them, then use them for crafting or to make useful objects out of them. Three that we had grown before were:
Tennessee Dancing Gourd, which did very well in 2021, even in drought conditions.
Ozark Nest Egg, which was set back in growth for quite time time, but when they did start to grow, looked to be incredibly prolific and would have done amazing, if they had not been killed off by frost.
Luffa, which had not done well before, but I really want to grow them for their sponges.
These were grown from seeds left over from the previous year. They germinated well, though there were issues with the cats getting into the mini-greenhouse they were in and destroying many seedlings. I used the last of our seeds to try again, and we did manage to have a few survive.
New gourds included the canteen gourd, and apple gourd.
I am really, really happy with how the Ozark Nest Egg and Tennessee Dancing Gourds did!
The Ozark Nest Egg gourds are absolutely beautiful! I just love the size and shape of them. The Dancing Gourds managed to produce a decent amount that were larger than those we collected at the end of the previous, drought stricken year.
As I write this, they are both in a bin, curing. The Dancing gourds have mostly turned a tan colour. The Ozark Nest Egg gourds were already almost white, so there’s not a lot of change in their colour.
I look forward to seeing what we can do with them, after they are fully cured!
Then there was the luffa…
They took such a very long time to even start blooming, and when they did, it was all male flowers for quite a long time. When the female flowers started showing up, there were no male flowers to pollinate them! So when we finally got both blooming at the same time, I made sure to hand pollinate them.
By then, however, it was just too late in the season. There was no chance for them to fully mature. When the frost finally hit, that was the end of them.
I would definitely want to try all three again. Hopefully, I’ll have seeds from the Ozark Nest Egg we harvested, because I didn’t see them when I was ordering other things from the site I got them from originally. I may have just missed them.
As for the luffa, I think those will wait until we have a greenhouse or polytunnel before I try again. I really like them, and when the plants finally do start growing, they grow so incredibly fast!
Next, we have the canteen gourd and the apple gourd.
The canteen gourds ended up needing potting up a couple of times, and even then, by the time I could transplant them, they were getting way too big for their pots. I’d have transplanted them earlier, but had to wait until after our last average frost date (June 2). They were already showing flower buds when they were transplanted – which promptly died.
They never really did well after transplanting, staying long and gangly, and never filling out. They did bloom, but again, it was male flowers only. We did, eventually, get female flowers that I hand pollinated, but it was too late in the season.
The canteen gourds were planted at the tunnel trellis, which had been used the year before, but the apple gourds were grown in a completely new garden area. This squash patch had most of our winter squash and pumpkins. Each transplanted went into its own dug out hole that was filled with fresh garden soil before transplanting. Unfortunately, this area got heavily saturated during the flooding, and it was way too long before everything finally got well mulched.
Out of everything there, though, the apple gourds did the best.
It still took them a long time to get to the point of flowering and producing fruit – I would hand pollinated them, any time I saw new female flowers show up. The three surviving transplants began to produce quite a few gourds, but it was simply too late. Then, even with protection, they were pretty much killed off by our first frosts.
I know these grow in our climate zone. It was just a terrible growing year that set everything back so much.
I’ve already picked up more canteen and apple gourd seeds. In fact, I’ve also picked up some drum gourds to try, too! Plus some Caveman’s Club. I am just determined to make it work! I want to make stuff with these, and there are other varieties of gourds I will eventually be trying to grow, for different purposes.
Then there was the summer squash.
We accidentally bought three, instead of one, variety pack of summer squash seeds, so we’ll have green zucchini, yellow zucchini, Magda and sunburst patty pan seeds for years to come. Summer squash was one of the first things we grew, in our very first gardening year, and even though we lost half of them to frost because they were transplanted too early, we still had so much summer squash, we were able to harvest them daily for a while.
They didn’t do as well during the drought of 2021, but we were still able to harvest enough summer squash to be able to do refrigerator pickles. Mostly, though, we enjoy eating them fresh and raw!
For 2022, we were accidentally sent a packet of G-Star patty pans, a green variety, as well. When the mistake was pointed out, we were sent the seeds we were supposed to get, and told to keep the ones we were sent by mistake. We were quite happy to try a new variety of patty pans!
The Magda, yellow zucchini and sunburst patty pans were planted in a low raised bed together. Because we like them so much, we had twice as many sunburst as anything else. The green zucchini were planted into the new squash bed, right next to the low raised bed.
We planted as many of the G-star as we did the sunburst patty pans, but those got planted in another new bed, on the opposite side of the main garden area, along with corn, winter squash and hulless pumpkins.
All of these had been started indoors with an excellent germination rate.
None of the summer squash did well, though we did get more Magda squash than in previous years, when fewer plants survived. We quite like the Magda squash. Still, there were very few of them overall, and the plants did not thrive.
We got almost nothing from the green zucchini, and not much more from the yellow. Most disappointing of all was how few sunburst squash we got. Even with hand pollinating.
The G-star had a rough start, but once they got well mulched, they really perked up and grew very quickly. We were even able to harvest some, though the biggest, healthiest plant suddenly died, its stem completely cut through by an insect.
Since we’ve had such success with summer squash in previous years, we know that 2022 was an exception for how bad our summer squash did. The question is, was it because of the flooding? Or where there other factors? I think lack of pollinators were part of the problem, but the plants also just didn’t bloom much at all.
We’ll be growing all these varieties again, and hopefully, 2023 will be a better growing year!
Now we go into what was one of the more disappointing things; our winter squash. I’m including the pumpkins with these, even though they actually did better.
Along with the three types of hulless pumpkins, which were transplanted well away from each other, we had a couple of free giant pumpkin seeds we grew in a hill we used for Crespo squash the year before, and some Baby Pam pumpkins from seeds left from the year before. Those had a zero germination rate the year before, but for 2022, we had a 100% germination rate!
In the new, big squash patch, we also had Teddy Squash, a tiny, short season variety we’d had seeds left over from the year before, Georgia Candy Roaster, and Winter Sweet. In the corn and squash patch, we had Boston Marrow, while Red Kuri was planted in a new bed by the chain link fence.
I feel like I’m forgetting another winter squash. Maybe I’ll remember later. Oh, right! We also tried Crespo Squash again. Those tried to do so well the year before, but kept getting eaten by deer and groundhogs!
Again, it was almost a total loss. Especially for the winter squash.
While the big squash patch didn’t have standing water during the flooding, the ground did get quite saturated. We lost some of our transplants completely. The squash and corn patch, on the other hand, so SO much more flooding!
Still, if we’d been able to well mulch the big squash patch better, I think it would have helped. Also, the south side of the patch got more shade than the north side, due to the tall trees between the garden and the house, which certainly didn’t help!
The Georgia Candy Roaster and Winter Sweet just didn’t grow. It’s like they never recovered from transplanting. The Teddy did a bit better, and even started to form tiny squash, but it was way too late for them to mature. The Baby Pam did surprisingly well, and we did get a few little pumkins (they only grow 5-6 inches in diameter). We got a couple of Kakai hulless pumpkins, too. The Crespo squash never even bloomed.
Probably the only really successful thing was the giant pumpkins. We made no attempt to get actual giants, but they still grew really big. We had two plants, and got two pumpkins out of it.
In the corn and squash bed, which got so much more flooding, I’m amazed we got any Boston Marrow at all. They took a long time to recover from flooding, but they did eventually start blooming and producing fruit. We did pick a few, but they were under ripe, and even the ripest one was much smaller than they should have been.
We did get some Lady Godiva and Styrian hulless pumpkins, though nowhere near as many as we should have, nor where they as big as they should have been.
The only real success was the Red Kuri (Little Gem) squash, that grew in the south yard up the chain link fence. They were still smaller than they should have been, but we did get an okay harvest.
Well, our reasons for growing so much squash haven’t changed, so we’ll definitely be trying to grow them all again. There’s nothing we could have done about the damage the flooding caused. When we try again, we will have to take extra care to make sure they are well mulched, as that made quite the difference, once we were finally able to do it. We’re going to be trying pretty much all the varieties again. My source for Baby Pam pumpkins and Teddy squash no longer carries, them, though. I don’t remember right now if we have any seeds left, but if we do, we will try them again, too.
Among the things we are slowly working on is building high raised beds in the main garden area. When we get to building them where the large squash patch was, the extra height will also help get away from the shade problem on the north side .
Now we reach one more disappointment.
A total and complete loss of our melons.
We had made two new large garden plots, using the Ruth Stout deep mulch method. The north half of both had potatoes planted in them, and the south half got melons.
The previous year, we’d grown two types of melons. In spite of the drought, they did very well, and we got a surprisingly good harvest. We loved having fresh melons, so for 2022, we planted even more. Some were seeds harvested from grocery store melons. We also tried Zucca melon (a giant variety) and a short season watermelon, for six varieties altogether.
When some of the transplants died, we filled the gaps with Yakteen gourds (the ones with the red arrows pointing to them).
The watermelons died almost right away. Of the ones that didn’t die outright, they just didn’t grow. It wasn’t until the very end of the season that a couple of Zucca melons started to grow, and even bloom, but it was just way too late by then.
After the success of the previous year, this was such a huge disappointment. We all really love melons, but they are quite expensive to buy, so growing them would be well worth the effort.
For 2023, we’ve bought more Halona and Pixie melon seeds, which we had successfully grown the year before (we had saved Halona seeds, but not Pixie), plus we are trying a new cantaloupe type variety. We will also be trying the Zucca melon again, plus we still have saved seeds from other varieties.
The flooding we got last year was exceptional, so I don’t think we’ll have that happen again, but we will still need to work on improving the soil and planting them in, at the very least, low raised beds. The Pixie and Halon were planted at the trellis tunnel the first time, and are excellent climbers. We don’t plan to use that tunnel trellis again, but will be building new, permanent trellis tunnels closer to the house, with low raised beds at their bases. That should make a big difference in growing conditions – so long as the weather is cooperative!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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. 😊
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!
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!
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!
It was a bit cooler and overcast this morning, but still pleasant enough to get the plants outside for a couple of hours.
I am really happy with the newest seedlings. This tray has the cucumbers in the left half, with the Teddy and Red Kuri winter squash on the right. It took so long for the winter squash to germinate, I wasn’t sure they’d make it, but we have 100% gemination!
The purple peas in this tray are getting nice and big. The summer squash in the other cells took a long time to germinate, too, but they seemed to get a boost after I put the warming mat under them. It’s hard to see, but even the green zucchini is finally germinating, next to the peas. I thought the Magda squash had started to germinate, but not quite yet. We had less success with those the last 2 years we planted them, too. Our first year, we had only 2 surviving plants. Last year, there was just the one. Magda squash just seems to have a harder time of it.
So far, only 2 of the yellow zucchini have germinated. Last year, we had some germinate, but when they started producing fruit, they were green, and we no yellow zucchini at all. I’m hoping that won’t happen again, this year!
The transplants seem to be quite liking their time outdoors, and even the newest little tomatoes in the foreground are looking generally robust.
We have 3 Crespo squash – and they are budding! Would you look at that!
I considered pinching them off, but these first flowers would be all male flowers. The next batch of buds should be both male and female. So I’m thinking to just leave them? I don’t know. There is very little information out there on how to grow Crespo squash. They do seem to be very enthusiastic growers!
While moving the blooming Wonderberry in and out of the sun room, we have been brushing the 3 plants against each other, in hopes to pollinate them, just in case. I don’t know how if they are self pollinating or not. Nowhere I’ve looked about them even mentions pollinating.
The transplants were left out for 2 hours today, which gave me time to work on our very first direct sowing – and transplanting – in the high raised bed.
The first thing to do was dig trenches through the wood chip mulch, so that things could be seeded/planted into the soil beneath. We have three varieties of spinach seeds from last year, and for this bed, I chose Lakeside, which is the fastest maturing variety of the three. The tray of onions I grabbed are the red onions, Tropeana Lunga, which should look like this when they mature…
By planting the onions around the spinach, they should help with keeping away harmful insects, and maybe even keep hungry critters away. The high raised bed is buffet height for deer, though, so we will be covering them later.
There is space to do a second planting of spinach in two weeks, which will also finish off the seeds we’ve got left of this variety.
The largest Tropeana Lunga seedlings filled the two outside rows, but there were still a few tiny seedlings left. The size that would be considered not worth planting. I hate to just toss seedlings, though, so I ended up sticking them in the soil at the base of the raised bed on the north end. When this was a low raised bed, it was quite a bit longer, so the soil is softer on that end. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. We don’t have a lot of this variety, so I’m hoping to be able to overwinter a couple of bulbs to go to seed next year.
I was left with nice, soft potting soil in the tray the onions seedlings were growing in, so I used that to gently top the spinach seeds, and put just a little around each onion plant, more to keep the wood chips from falling onto them than anything else.
I have to say, I LOVE the high raised bed to plant in! It was completely pain free, with no strain on my joints. Well. I suppose that doesn’t include my arthritic fingers, but I didn’t even notice pain in my hands, either. It took me less than half an hour to plant into this bed
I didn’t bother watering these, since it was already starting to rain by the time I was finishing up. It’s been raining off an on, ever since. My daughter and I got a bit damp when we headed out later on, to figure out exactly where to plant our tree order when it comes in. With 30 silver bison berry to plant, those were the ones we need to figure out the most. They should be planted 3-4 ft apart. Since we are doing these as a privacy hedge, we will planting them 3 feet apart, with most of them along the east end of the garden area, leaving a lane just wide enough to drive through, if necessary, between them and the fence line. Taking into account where the phone line is buried, we’ll be able to plant two staggered rows of 10, though as we get closer to the spruce grove, we many need to jump the rows closer to the fence itself, to keep that driving lane open. There is a branch pile that will be in the way of any lane we leave open, but we’ll still be able to plant around it.
We’ve got 5 sea buckthorn that will be planted nearer the north fence line, to close a gap in the lilac hedge. Any remaining bison berry can also be planted along the lilac hedge, and still keep the lane over the telephone wire clear. This will leave a gap in the privacy hedge, once they’ve grown to full size, that will need fencing or a gate to close it off from deer.
The Korean pine are a whole other issue. Originally, I wanted to plant them in the space between the north side of the spruce grove, and the crab apple trees. These, however, have an 18 foot spread. At their mature size, they would completely fill that space, and we need at least some of it to be kept open to drive through. The alternative was along the north side, which would make an excellent wind break, but with that 18 foot spread and the lilac hedge, we’d be planting them on top of the phone line. Not going to happen.
Which means we’ll have to plant them in the outer yard.
Just past the fence on west side, which has a gate that leads into the garden, there is a space where we can plant 2 of them. Then there is the gate to the secondary driveway – our “emergency exit”, if you will. It was through here that one of our truck loads of garden soil was delivered.
The remaining 7 seedlings will need to be planted on the other side of that back gate, along where there is already a couple of rows of spruces, with some willows at the south end. If we plant them 18 feet apart (we might go with 16 feet), we will have a row of seedlings matching the length of the existing shelter belt trees.
The only problem with this is that the south end is currently under water.
Still, knowing that this is a low spot will help. We can make sure to basically build things up a bit, so that the seedlings will stay above water during spring melt.
Then we’ll have to make sure to put something over them to protect them from being eaten. I don’t know that deer would eat Korean pine, but they could certainly damage them, just by walking over them.
We have not yet received a shipping notice for the trees, but with so many holes to dig, the earlier we get started, the better. Hopefully, by the time they do arrive, we’ll be ready and can plant them right away.
Oh, I just double checked my order! We’re not getting 9 Korean pine. We’re getting 6.
Which means we won’t be digging holes in water, after all. 😀
It’s going to feel weird getting our little 2 yr old plugs and planting them so far apart. Especially since they will grow very slowly for the next 3 years. Which is exactly how my mother ended up planting so many trees way too close together! 😀
Oh, my goodness. I just checked the short range weather forecast, and it’s changed yet again. We’re supposed to get more rain over the next couple of days, then for the two days after that, we’re supposed to get a mix of rain and snow!
What I planted in the high raised bed should be cold hardy enough to handle that, but we might cover it anywhere, just in case, at least for the night.
Last year, May was a very warm month. On this exact day last year, we had a new record high of 30C/86F. The record low for today, -4C/24F, was set in 2002.
After a long, cold winter, it seems we’re getting a wet cold spring.
Still, there are things we can plant. I just hope things warm up decently in June, so we can get the warm weather transplants in!