Ginger, Nutmeg and chives

I had some spicy company this morning!

Ginger was quite enjoying his morning stretches. 🙂

He had been rolling and stretching next to me so enthusiastically, he rolled right off the edge of the bed. Whereupon he looked up at me, as if to say, “I meant to do that!”

His brother was also keen for attention this morning, even to the point of demanding face pets instead of scarfing down breakfast! He followed me around a bit while I was doing my rounds.

He decided to roll in the dirt next to the chives. 😀

If you look past him, you can see rhubarb coming up, too.

When we plant in this garden, we know not to plant around this particular tree. It’s one of their rolling spots. They don’t roll around under the other one, likely because this spot gets more sun. 🙂

The brothers are very much alike in personalities! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: marking spaces

After working things out and making some decisions on where we want to plant things, we are ready to mark out beds in preparation for planting. We have seeds than need to be direct sown before our first frost, and those are the areas we want to focus on.

We’d decided to mark off blocks at 20′ x 20′ (about 6m x 6m) for the corn and 20′ x15′ (about 6m x 4.5m) for the sunflowers, and then make 3′ x 8′ (about 1m x 2.5m) beds for most of the rest.

With that in mind, I figured the easiest way to mark off blocks would be with knotted cord. I used 2 lengths of paracord with a loop at one end. From the loop, I tied knots at 3′, 8′, 15′ and 20′ We have a bundle of small marker flags, and I grabbed those to mark the corners of the plots.

The first thing I did was mark off a 20′ x 20′ block in the furthest corner, from which everything else would be lined up.

I decided to start the rectangular plots roughly 4′ (just over 1m) away from where the corn will be. Once I started marking off the first one, though, I quickly threw away the idea of making them only 8 ft long. For this space, that is just minuscule!

I made them 20′ long, instead.

In the above photo, there are 4 plots marked off, with 3′ paths between them.

I added 1 more and ran out of flags, so I used a stick from the pile of branched I’d pruned a few weeks back.

Then I went back and made more marker sticks. We’ve got the bright orange marking paint, so I used that on one end of the sticks so they would be more visible.

Using the two knotted ropes to find where to place the markers worked really, really well. With the looped ends at markers or flags, lining up the knots to find the next spot to mark also made it easy to keep straight lines and right angles at the corners. It’s not perfect, of course. The rough ground alone made that impossible. They don’t need to be perfect. All of this is just temporary, anyhow, until we plant trees here.

I took the time to make more markers from sticks, spraying one end with the bright orange paint, then made another row of plots.

This is how it looked when I was done.

Yeah. I know. Hard to see!

So I edited it to as close as I could match the lines.

The big block by itself is where the corn will start. It’s hard to know how much space we’ll actually need, but at least we have the general area worked out.

With just the rectangular plots, this is an area that’s 15′ wide and 66′ long (about 4.5m x 20m), including the paths in between.

We will be marking more of the rectangular plots, as well as another corn block at this end.

Our three varieties of bush beans will be planted in the plots nearest the corn, though I’m already rethinking that. The peas, which need to be planted right away, will need to be trellised, so they need to be to the north, so they don’t shade other plants. We have only 2 varieties, but one of them is a bag of 200 seeds, while the other is a typical seed envelope, so having two sections of the green peas and one of the purple should work out. The three varieties of beans can take the next three sections.

The actual dimensions of the area, compared to what we thought we had on the satellite image, means we’ve got three plots at the end that does not have anything specific planned for them. It’s hard to see in the photo, but even the furthest plots are still far enough away from the apple trees that they will still get full sun.

We’re out of cardboard, and we’ll be running out of straw very quickly. It’s going to be a challenge with all that grass, until the plants fully mature. By planting densely, they should shade out and choke out the grass and weeds. When we do add the soil, we will have to be careful in how we use it, or we’ll run out very quickly! One of the things to keep in mind, as always, is that this is meant to be temporary. When it comes to food trees, they take so long to reach productions stage, we really need to get those planted quickly. If we can swing it next year, that would be amazing, but even if we can only afford to do a few a year, rather than a whole nut orchard, all at once, that will be a good start.

Until then, we’ll be breaking up and amending the soil with vegetables. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Catching up on this morning

Things went in unplanned directions this morning!

But first, the fun stuff. 🙂

We have the handsome Ginger to greet us! He’s been quite the character, and a lot of fun. 🙂

The outside cats were happy for breakfast. 🙂

We finally took the tarp off the top of the kibble house. We got some rain yesterday; enough to soften the ground a bit. It should be fine until we get some paint.

My daughter wants to paint it yellow. !! Not a bright lemon yellow or anything like that, thankfully. 😀

The girls and I removed most of the mulch from the garlic beds the other day, and uncovered many more sprouting garlic. Most were a bit on the yellow side, since they hadn’t worked their way through the mulch to the light, yet, but they are already looking nice and green and strong.

We moved the mulch over to the new bed, then covered it with a sheet of metal we scrounged from the outer yard, so the wind wouldn’t blow it away. We will have to build a box around this bed. At this point, if I add soil to the top as planned, it’s high enough that it’ll just fall off on the sides. I think we have some scrap wood in the barn we can use for that. It’ll be temporary, so it doesn’t need to look fancy or anything! 🙂

After doing my morning rounds, I had some calls to make. One of them was to the court office about the restraining order I applied for against our vandal. The last time we had a court date, everything had been cancelled again, due to our province’s extended restrictions. I was told everything was deferred to after April 23rd, and to call around them. Well, that was on Friday, but I remembered too late in the day, so I called today.

The person I spoke to told me that they were holding court sessions now, and that I have a court date on May 21st. She wanted to check something, though, and said she would call me back.

Which is when I found out that the file had actually been in court on Friday. Our vandal was represented by a lawyer. The court offices informs the lawyers when things change, but people who don’t have representatives have to call themselves to keep updated. :-/

Nothing came of it, other than the new date, and it’s just on the morning docket. It will likely go to a trial date after that. One of the possibilities she said that might come out of it is a mutual restraining order. He stays away from us, we stay away from him. Before our move, I was in a situation where I agreed to one of those, and I regretted it. The type of restraining order I applied for would mean our vandal would have to stop drinking – and provide proof of that regularly – and have his guns removed. I believe his drinking has a lot to do with his behaviour. He often sounds drunk in those bizarre messages he’s been leaving with my mother. I would hope if he were at least sober, he might finally get the help he needs. It would, however, drag things on longer. His having a lawyer, and our not being able to afford one. I have LegalShield, which gives me free, unlimited phone consultations, among other things. If I need a lawyer to represent me in court, I would get a discounted price, but we don’t have the funds to spare to begin with, so that’s a moot point. I’m not going to let what he’s doing to us financially ruin my family, even if he’s willing to financially ruin himself, apparently. He has no defense, really. About the only thing a lawyer can do is drag it on. That’s just going to cost him more money – and he’s already said that he’s willing to sell his farm and be homeless, so he can sue me, my mother and my siblings.

I wonder what his wife thinks of that. :-/

Anyhow.

After that, there was an unplanned trip into town, and then a stop at the post office. We crossed paths with our vandal in the process, but only passing him on the road. I could see him well enough to tell that he recognized our vehicle, too. He lives near enough that, when I was working outside later one, I could hear him and his chainsaw, as he cut wood.

A part of me wonders how it would work out, if he really did follow through with his threats. He’s already got his silly suit against me, wanting me to pay him for things that aren’t his, and that I don’t claim to own in the first place. What can he do by going after me? We own nothing, so we have nothing to lose. He’s the one willing to bankrupt himself. And if he does end up selling his farm to pay for lawyers, well… we won’t have him living so close and creeping through the bushes from the road, and whatnot.

What a mess.

Whatever happens, happens. We’ll deal with things as they come.

Once at home, though it’s been a pretty chilly day, I did get to start on one project outside.

That, however, will get it’s own post!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: unplanned garden bed

My daughters and I have spent quite a bit of time, working out where to plant what, so we know where to build beds to plant in. Then I realized we completely forgot about the purple asparagus crowns that will be shipped later, to arrive at time of planting in our zone 3 region.

We’d talked about them before, but hadn’t made any decisions. Where my mother had asparagus was ruled out. She’d planted trees and bushes in that garden, so that area no longer gets enough hours of sun in a day. Asparagus will produce for up to 20 years, so we couldn’t include them in most of the areas we will be planting in this year.

After talking about it, we settled on a spot where we had not originally planned to have any garden beds at all this year.

This is the spot we settled on, after I’d raked it out.

Part way down is where there used to be one of my mother’s tire planters that I’d taken out. I’d dumped the soil out to remove it, and found it was on top of the remains of an old maple.

I know it was an old maple, because it immediately began sending up suckers.

I had covered it with the soil inside the planter as much as I could. The flowers that were in that planter have been showing up, which was nice to see at least. 🙂 Much of this area is difficult to maintain, though. So now we will be planting two things here. At the far end, on the other side of the remains of maple, is where we will be planting the Strawberry Spinach. In reviews on the Baker Creek website, where I bought the seeds, it was mentioned that these self seed easily, and it was recommended to plant them in a permanent location because of this. That was kept in mind when we chose this location.

In the foreground is where the asparagus will go. For that, we will need to dig a trench long enough for the 6 crowns we will be getting.

Digging a trench here is going to be a challenge.

So today, I set up the soaker hose directly on the ground to start. Saturating the soil will make it easier to dig the trench.

While that was soaking, I prepped as many cardboard boxes as I could find, removing any tape or stickers on them.

My daughters helped me to lay the cardboard under the soaker hose, and we left it running for a while as we checked other areas. The rain barrel was full, so we used it to fill our watering cans and wet down the cardboard more, and finally just left the soaker hose going for about an hour. The above photo is what it looked like when I turned off the water.

(We are now out of cardboard. :-/ We do still have some moving boxes left, but they’re in really good shape, so we’re saving them for something else.)

We were planning to put straw over the cardboard, too, but it was way too windy today. We have several weeks before the asparagus crowns will arrive, so covering the area now will help kill off the grass, as well as make it easier to dig a trench, later. We’ll just have to keep soaking it. Where the Strawberry Spinach will be planted can have mulch and soil added to it at any time.

I’ve been looking at instructions for planting asparagus, and some places say to dig a trench 15 inches/38cm.

That’s not going to happen!

Those articles, however, also say to fill the bottom third of the trench with compost. We don’t have compost left.

Other articles say to soak the crowns in compost tea for 30 minutes before planting.

Since we don’t have compost to make compost tea with, that’s not happening, either. Our new garden soil, however, has plenty of compost in it.

I’m reading that the crowns should be planted 1 1/2 – 2 ft/46-61cm apart. We will be getting 6 crowns. That space isn’t long enough to plant them in one long row, but it’s wide enough to plant them in 2 rows, so we’ll need to made a double wide trench – about 24-30 in/61-76cm wide. A depth of 8 inches/20cm should be good, but we will be building the area up, so we won’t need to go quite that deep. I don’t know if we even could go any deeper, with the trees being so close. I expect to find a lot of roots under there. By the time we’re done, this area should be about 4-6 inches/10-15cm higher than it is now, so all we really need to do is get rid of the top layer of grass roots.

Hopefully, we will be able to remove more of that tree stump and cover the remains over, in the process.

Once it’s done, we should be able to leave things here and just keep them maintained, for the next couple of decades.

The Re-Farmer

Window kitties!

It’s been warm enough (out of the wind) to open the kitchen window at times.

Cheddar and David, bird watching!

This is the one counter in the kitchen that the cats are allowed to be on. It’s a favorite spot at the best of times, but when the window is open, we’ve been seeing as many as 4 cats crowded onto here! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Filthy felines and seedling surprise

It was a gorgeous day to do our morning rounds, and the yard cats were taking full advantage of it. 😀

It’s a good thing we’re not trying to keep the grass alive around the cat’s shelter. 😀 This spot is where a smaller old dog house was, when we first moved here, and the cats roll around in the spot so much, no grass or weeds are growing into it. 😀

As you can see, the based of this linden tree is another favorite spot they like to roll in!

They get so, so filthy! Enough to turn and orange cat black! 😀

In other things, I found a nice little surprise this morning.

The third dancing gourd seed has sprouted!

I honestly forgot how many seeds I planted in there.

The main reason we used peat pots to start the gourds is so that we can just bury the pot into the garden and reduce transplant shock. Which means thinning out the seedlings. The problem is, most of the seedlings we’ve got so far are looking really strong and healthy! Among the luffa, there’s really just one sprout that is smaller and would be thinned out, but the rest are doing so very well! I want to plant them all! 😀

We’ve got over a month before we can transplant any gourds at all, so we’ll see how they are and make decisions then.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: Soil test on purchased soil and tending tomatoes

I finished testing samples of the new garden soil this afternoon.

I was interrupted by scrabbling sounds behind me.

Saffron looks so adorable!

She is also a vicious beast. 😉 Her favourite thing it to suddenly launch herself across the room, onto whichever human is passing by. She typically lands about half way up, and then starts sliding down.

Which can be very painful! She is very sharp, and rather clumsy. 😀

Anyhow.

Here are the test results from the purchased garden soil.

The nutrients are nice and high, all round – and so is the pH! Most of what we are growing recommends a pH of 6 – 6.5, so we’ll want to look into increasing the acidity a little, if we can.

Today, I decided to “pot up” the tomatoes. It feels strange to do that, since they are so tiny, but they are also tiny varieties of tomatoes! 😉

We planted 4 double cups of each variety, but I worked with only three each. Of the Spoon tomatoes, there’s one cup where nothing at all has germinated. Of the Mosaic Medley, one cup as a single seedling in it, and it’s quite small, so I left it.

I’ve never grown tomatoes before, so I looked at a lot of gardening resources before deciding to plant them in a small amount of growing medium in the larger cups, rather than Jiffy Pellets or tiny pots, so as to add more soil as they grew bigger, rather than transplanting them from small to larger pots.

After the soil was added, they got a careful, but large watering. I left them to drain for a while, emptied the lower cups and left them to drain some more. I wanted to ensure the added soil was completely dampened, through and through. I’m hoping this will give them a nice growth spurt. 🙂

The overnight temperatures in the sun room are getting much nicer, so we will be able to move things out of the aquarium soon. Over the next while, we will be starting all the summer and winter squash. We’re going to need the space! 😀

Something else on the to-do list:

Having worked out where we will be planting things (which is always subject to change until the seeds are in the ground!) and, more or less, what dimensions we’ll need, my daughters and I need to start measuring out, marking out and preparing garden beds. Some things, like our two varieties of peas, need to be direct sown well before the last frost date. They are going to be near the corn, which isn’t supposed to be planted until well after the last frost date. So we’ll need to mark out the plots and start prepping them. We’ve decided to make most beds at 3′ x 8′ (roughly 1m x 2 1/2m) for ease of access and denser planting. Ultimately, we have no idea how many of these we will need, until we actually start planting. Some varieties had packets with a LOT more seeds than others of the same vegetable type, and some were packed by weight, so we won’t know how many seeds there are until we open them.

We’re finally getting close to when we can plant things outside! Yay!!!

The Re-Farmer