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May 2022 Field Notes – Zone 3 Homestead

by on May 31, 2022
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Welcome back to my monthly field note series. May is here! Wait…May is here? And already gone? Damn..May is the month that feels perpetually long while also feeling like there just isn’t enough time to get everything done. But get things done we did! Here’s a look at some of what went down on our Zone 3 homestead this May. 

And for a real trip, go check out last month’s field notes. Yes…just a little over 30 days ago the garden was covered in snow. Just Manitoba weather, my friends.

May 2022 Field Notes

Gardener raking soil in zone 3 garden

As a Canadian gardener, you must say each May “I’m so behind schedule” regardless whether there’s any truth to it or not. Right? 

Well I do each May! And stress myself out until I realize there’s really no rush. My personal last frost date in our yard typically isn’t until June 1st or so anyway.

And as I write this on May 31, it’s currently 6°C and pouring rain. So needless to say, I’m glad most of the garden isn’t planted yet.

We have however been busy in the garden, adding a fresh layer of compost to our beds and cleaning up mulch/perennial plants.

We’ve also been building new “unraised” raised beds. Let me explain!

Building a DIY raised bed

Lumber is so damn expensive these days that the idea of building “real” raised beds was out of the question. But I really needed some more structure and organization in our garden.

So we decided to instead just build raised bed frames that we could move around as needed each season. They are 12×4 and built with pressure treated lumber that we sealed with a plant-safe wood sealer (found at Home Hardware). The frame is just one board tall so didn’t require a ton of lumber.

For six beds, we spent about $500. So not necessarily a really inexpensive project, but definitely a cheaper solution than building permanent raised beds.

Kubota tractor filling raised beds with soil

We filled the beds with a 4-way soil mix (top soil, peat moss, sand, compost) then topped them up with more of our own compost, which is about a year old now and full of worms. So proud!

May In The Zone 3 Greenhouse

Zone 3 greenhouse
Inside zone 3 backyard greenhouse

I spent most of this month prepping your seedling pre-orders and plant sets purchased over the last few weeks!

It was really a joy and feels like such a honour to help you grow your organic gardens. 

As always, some plants did extremely well (like our peppers that have been flowering since March!) while it just wasn’t the year for others.

Our ginger and turmeric had a tough go, resulting in several orders having to be refunded. As I spoke with other local greenhouses and garden centres it seems most of us had the same issue. Several greenhouse owners suggested it might have been the rhizomes freezing in transport over from Asia and just not being viable.

It’s a real heartbreaker for me when something doesn’t work out, but part of the process. A reminder too that Mother Nature is always the one in control.

With May always comes the first harvest of the season and this year was definitely one of the earliest we’ve ever had thanks to our greenhouse.

Woven basket of fresh organic spinach harvest

This spinach was harvested on May 12!

I believe that’s a record for us. It really gets me pumped to push our zone and experiment with how early we can start harvesting our own food.

Loving this variety called Giant Winter Organic from West Coast Seeds.

*When you purchase seeds with West Coast Seeds via any of the links in this post or across my site, I earn a small commission. So thanks in advance!*

May In The Zone 3 Garden

Zone 3 garden in May

A place of true transformation. It looks different out here every day during the month of May (*spot the gnome*).

Since the start of the month we’ve been harvesting tons of chives, which I have to say have officially become my fav perennial herb. They’re so resilient no matter how cold Winter is!

We’ve also been enjoying the first harvest of baby lettuce greens and kale.

Harvest of lettuce, kale and chives

While it hasn’t really been a hot and sunny May, I have gotten about 40-50% of the garden planted.

I’m holding off on planting most of our tender seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, annual flowers, etc..) until probably the second week of June. Sounds so late! But I’d rather wait than have to replant.

Here’s what is planted though!
Kale and cabbage growing under a row cover outside

An assortment of cold-tolerant brassicas, like kale, broccoli and cabbage.

A row cover is a must in our Zone 3 rural garden as we tend to get swarmed with flea beetles and cabbage moths mid-summer. Growing all my brassicas under this light weight row cover is the only way I can guarantee they don’t get eaten.

It actually works incredibly well and is worth the investment. I recommend getting a full set-up with the hoop included, but you an also purchase the cloth on its own.

Seed potatoes planted with dog

3 rows of Yukon Gold potatoes.

Pepper is my most frequent garden helper but tends to get the least done…

Radish growing in garden

Direct sow’d most of our cold tolerant veggies, like radishes, peas, beets, carrots, onion sets.

The immense amount of rain we’ve been getting this May (I think it might be even record breaking) has actually been really helpful for germinating these crops. I don’t think I’ve watered once yet! And the radishes are just days away from being ready to harvest.

Cucumbers being planted in zone 3 garden

I did decided to do a few trials with some of my more tender annuals, like these cucumbers.

I always like to do this just to do see what happens. Why not, right? Chances are it will be too cold for these cukes and they might have transplant shock. But if they don’t…we’ll have an early harvest of cucumbers!

More Of May On The Homestead

Here’s a few other highlights/big moments from the month. Cataloguing mostly for myself, because life feels really special these days and I don’t want to forget.

Man and dog on kubota tractor

Did I ever think I’d be the owner of a tractor? No. Has it made gardening/homesteading 10x better. Yes.

  • Said goodbye to our entire flock of hens. Devastating but true. We’re still unsure who the predator was, thinking likely a fox or coyote, but we’ve come to terms with this just being part of it. We plan to welcome some 1-year-old rescue hens to our homestead in June!
  • Created a new pumpkin/squash patch on the south side of our house using a cardboard sheet mulch method to prep the beds. 
  • Started the plans on our new orchard! Early stages, but so very excited for backyard fruit.
And there you have it!

That’s it for this month’s Field Notes, I hope you enjoyed this inside look at our Zone 3 homestead.

If you have any questions, be sure to comment below. I love hearing from you and answer all comments.

You can follow @fromsoiltosoul on Instagram and Pinterest for more gardening content too.

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