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Posts Tagged ‘melons’

Yesterday was the first day that really felt like spring.  There have been several warm-ish days recently, but most of them were really gloomy and overcast, or even raining.  Yesterday, there was sun, and it was lovely.  We all spent the afternoon puttering outside, in our shirtsleeves, finally!

Splashing in Shirtsleeves!

M enjoying the warm weather and puddles.

 

Spring is the dingiest time here on the acreage, though.  Between the mud on the kids and the mud on the dogs, the house is never clean.  Melting snow reveals all sorts of garbage that has somehow collected over the winter, as well as all the fallen and broken branches taken down by wind and snow.  Things need picking up and organizing.

Spring!

The sandbox, and a lot of leaves that need cleaning up!

 

I dug out my pruning shears and cut back several shrubs, while the kids picked up garbage, and Trevor (Hubby) cleaned up old leaves that had collected in the strawberry beds and strung fence around the grapes to keep the dogs from digging them up.   Cherry the mastiff passed away last spring, and we got another rescue mastiff about a month later; Brutus is a great pet, but it turns out he likes to dig, especially around the foundation of the house, which is a bit of a pain, and we need to figure out ways to discourage that.

Brutus

Our ‘new’ mastiff

Dog holes

Brutus’ digging is a bit of a problem.

On the bright side, my chives are up already!  In the south bed, they are up several inches, and very green; in the east bed, they are shorter and yellow-er, but they are up there, too.  We got these plants from my Mom, when she was dividing her own clumps; all three of them have thrived, which is great, because there’s something special about fresh chives in your scrambled eggs, and with the increased daylight, the hens will be kicking it into high gear soon, and we’ll be eating egg everything shortly.

Chives

The chives on the east side of the house – less growth, but more photogenic, out of the afternoon sun!

It’s kind of exciting to be thinking about planting things again.  I spent my evening planting my seed starts – we’ll plant them out in the garden in the last week of May and first week of June.  I am trying something new this year – I desperately want to grow melons, but in zone 2, it has proven difficult (impossible, so far).  I know some people here are growing cantaloupes in high tunnels, but I haven’t had any luck with any melon so far.  Part of the issue is the short season, and melons don’t appreciate transplanting; it is not generally recommended to start the seeds at all, and especially not more than a couple of weeks before planting out.  However, I don’t think that gives them enough hot days to set and ripen fruit.  This year, I’ve planted half a dozen melons in 2 liter (2 quart) pots, in the hopes that they won’t get root bound in the 6-8 weeks before our last frost date.   We’ll see if it works or not!

 

Meanwhile, we’ve got tons more pruning to do.

Valiant grape in need of pruning

This Valiant grape (still dormant) is desperately in need of pruning!

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We started planting back before the May Long Weekend (May 23rd), and had started seeds much earlier than that, but our garden did not get off to an auspicious start.  While the May Long boasted gorgeous weather, the following week, and two weeks after, brought killing frosts, and temperatures several degrees below freezing.  Some areas got quite a bit of snow in mid-June, be we had no moisture at all, and only the onion sets and potatoes came up for the longest time.

 

Then it started to rain.  And rain.  And rain.  We began to wonder if we should build an Ark.  The barn sprang a leak right over the Chicken Mahal, and we could not keep up with emptying the buckets.  It rained some more.  The barn cats would not come out of the barn.  It became a challenge to get to work, as sloughs started filling up and threatening to spill over the roads.  The frogs loved it, at least.

 

There have been a couple of sunny days, but not enough to actually dry anything out – just enough to encourage the mosquito population to dramatic new highs.  The sunny days have been hot and muggy, punctuated by thunderstorms that roll in and knock the power out for an hour or two, terrify the dogs, and move on after dumping a couple more inches of rain.   I thought Saskatchewan was supposed to be an arid province, but I digress.

 

Today, after a couple of back-to-back days of sun, we finally got out into the garden to take a look around.  I’m sure it’s been almost two weeks since we were last able to even walk in there.

 

The potatoes are knee high, and the onions are up and looking great.  There are slightly-crooked rows of beans, beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips, all with their baby leaves pushed up through the dirt.  The peas have several leaves each, though the plants are a little smaller than I somehow think they ought to be.  The squash, melon, pepper, and tomato transplants look unhappy with all the mud, but seem to be hanging in there.  No asparagus, though, not one single plant out of fifty, and one of the rhubarb plants is definitely dead.  The corn is not up yet, and I wonder if the seed has rotted.   Hubby may have to re-plant, and hope we still have enough time for it to set any ears.   The sunflowers are…completely overgrown with thistles, lamb’s quarters, and canola.

 

In fact, the most impressive growth of anything in the garden at all, is the weeds.   We have a very lush field of them, 85 by 95 feet, plus another 15 or 20 feet around the edges of the garden where our very kind farmer neighbours were especially careful to not spray the garden with Roundup, or whatever herbicide they are using on the canola they have planted all around our acreage.  We’re going to have to take a lawnmower through there, just to find the garden!

 

Hubby has his work cut out for him, and there’s more rain forecast for tomorrow…

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Yesterday was just one of those days.

We went into town to drop the Corolla off for the out-of-province safety inspection, but could not get in until Tuesday. The insurance is only good until the end of the month, and we need to figure out if it is worth fixing up and re-insuring, or if we need to go looking for a different vehicle for me. It was a long, annoying ride to town on three cylinders, and I was a little frustrated that they could not get me in, though I really had no right to be, as I hadn’t thought to book ahead.

We went to the Co-op Agro Centre and Peavy Mart to price out how much it is going to cost us for heat lamps and feeders for the chickens. They don’t come until the last week of May, but I want to be ready for them long before that. It sure would suck to get 50 chicks and find everyone sold out of heat lamps. We did not purchase any equipment yesterday, but we are satisfied that it will not be overly expensive – heat lamps are around $25, and feeders and waterers are about $10. We plan to keep the chicks confined using 2×6 boards, or maybe a couple of plastic kiddie pools…we’ll see.

What we couldn’t find was bedding and/or a selection of feed. The one pallet of feed we did find, at Peavy Mart, Nutrena Starter / Grower Feed, does not have an ingredient list on the bag. This is a real problem for me, as I cannot eat commercially produced eggs. I am not allergic to eggs, but I AM allergic to something they feed commercial chickens, if you can believe that. Therefore, the contents of my chicken feed is going to be critical. The bag had a note that the ingredient list was available from the manufacturer. I checked the website when I got home, and still could not find any indication of what, exactly, was in the bag. I figure if you can’t find something on a website in 10 minutes of searching, it probably isn’t there. I emailed the company (and boy, do they want a lot of personal info before they’ll answer a simple question), and we’ll see if they get back to me. I kind of think they won’t – there must be something to hide.

Though we didn’t buy chicken stuff, we did buy a bunch more garden seed. Not that we probably needed it, but what the heck – we’ve got an acre or so we could plant if we wanted. As the snow has melted, it has become apparent that there is a strip of land along our laneway, which used to be farmer’s field, and is now part of our acreage. It looks to me to be about 60 x 400 feet, based on our survey map and google maps. Hubby and I went and walked the length and width of it (we finally found some survey stakes), and it’s HUGE! I don’t know if we’ll actually plant it all, but we have no reason to exercise restraint, and the seed buying spree is now officially on…

I also started a bunch more herbs in terra cotta pots, to keep in our south window through the winter, so we can still have the odd bit of fresh basil or parsley in January. I was going to set out some of the other stuff in seed starting flats, but got sidetracked with recording. Hubby and I created a database, like a spreadsheet almost, to record information about different plant varieties and seed suppliers and such, so we could compare in the fall and decide what worked well enough to plant again next year. It took a couple of hours to set up, and I had already entered a bunch of information on the varieties we had started in flats last weekend. I went to add some information about the new seeds I was going to plant, and somehow deleted several hours’ worth of work. By two hours past my bedtime last night, I still had not recovered any of the lost information, so I am resigned to having a couple of afternoons’ worth of typing to re-do. Bleh.

At least the started seeds are doing well. In the last few days, the squash, melons, tomatoes, and some of the herbs have come up. Yay! Nothing from any of the peppers, yet, but we planted a couple of terra cotta pots’ worth of hot pepper plants (jalapeno and cayenne), just for fun.

Today I am going to start some of the new stuff – some of it is completely frivolous, like Turk’s Turban, bushel, and birdhouse gourds, as well as a bunch of flowers, and I’m kind of looking forward to growing some ‘fun’ stuff, as well as the veggies…

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We woke up this morning to a sunny blue sky, and the drip-drip-drip of snow melting off the roof.  Cooked up a big ole feed of bacon and scrambled eggs, with toast and home-made jam.   Sat on the front step sipping coffee, and taking in the sun.  It was 5 degrees in the shade, sweater weather at this time of year.

 

In honor of the actual spring weather, this afternoon I sat out on the step and sowed a ton of seeds in seed-starting flats.  Hubby supervised the dogs playing in the snow, and had himself a beer and a cigar (left over from our trip to Cuba last November).  I brewed up a fancy coffee from fresh-ground beans, and used it to wash down a couple of brownies that Hubby baked earlier this week.  We put a Cuban CD in the stereo, and kicked back in lawn chairs on the bit of lawn that has melted through the snow.  It was fabulous!  I’m loving our acreage, today.

 

I have now started peppers (sweet and hot), tomatoes, squash, cukes, celery, melons, broccoli, cabbage, a bunch of herbs, and a few tobacco plants, just for fun.   Over 100 little peat containers of potential are now sitting on my kitchen counter, waiting to sprout!  Planting time is usually the last week of May or first week of June, so probably 6-8 weeks from now.   I may be getting a little ahead of myself, considering we don’t even know where the garden will go, but hey…a little optimism seems warranted, today.  We’re going to try to keep detailed gardening records, so that we can figure out which varieties work best in our climate, and what keeps well.  It’s exciting to finally get started…

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