Green gold

Today, one of my daughters and I headed out to do more of our monthly stock up that I wasn’t able to do when I did our Costco run. It was a good opportunity to also order and pick up my husband’s birthday pizza. 🙂 It’s not his birthday today, but we tend to spread out our celebrations over several days.

Before we got to indulge, though, we had some green gold to gather.

Today we hit 23C/73F with the humidex at 25C/77F, and full sun. That gave the grass clippings from yesterday’s mowing in the outer yard a chance to dry. My other daughter helped me rake it up and haul it over.

We now have a nice little haystack next to the compost pile, ready to be used in the low raised beds. This is from the two areas of the outer yard pictures, plus one more wheelbarrow full from the overgrown lane between them.

It would have been nice to have clippings like this throughout the summer; they would have been a huge help in keeping the garden beds mulched when it was needed most! Ah, well. Now that we have it, it will help us prepare our garden beds for next year! 🙂

I never thought I would get all excited about having and collecting grass clippings. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning surprises

While doing my rounds this morning and checking the gardens, I was pleased of fine a really big Madga squash ready to pick. After being seasoned with cayenne pepper, the groundhogs are leaving the summer squash alone and they are finally getting a chance to grow! There were even a few zucchini to gather.

The few sunflowers that are opening up are, of course, looking gorgeous!

So far, it’s still just the Mongolian Giant sunflowers with seed heads that are opening. Too bad it’s so late in the season, but we’re still enjoying them.

I had my first little surprise while checking out the squash tunnel.

A little, ripe Halona melon, just sitting on the ground! 😀 So of course I had to check the others that were turning colour, and found the biggest one was ripe, too. The only reason it hadn’t fallen of its vine was because it was already sitting on the ground. 😀

Then there was my second little surprise.

The Tennessee Dancing Gourd vines are starting to die back, revealing two “huge” gourds we had completely missed seeing before!

This is about what their full size would be, I believe. Gosh, they are adorable!!

Our morning harvest!

What a difference in size between the two ripe melons.

I am so happy with how these are doing. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Formal Dress

We had a brave little visitor while I was putting kibble out this morning.

Junk Pile’s kittens still run off when we come out, but a couple of them are getting a bit more brave about not going far, or coming back sooner. This handsome little tuxedo seems to be the more daring of them. Since they are still really nervous about going into the kibble house while we are outside, I have set up a more permanent food tray, sheltered under the shrine. When I come out with kibble in the mornings, Rosencrantz and, sometimes, Nosencrantz will be waiting at the sun room door for me, then they run over to the shrine and wait for me to bring their share. Being a regular place for food, I am now seeing Junk Pile’s kittens get over to it, rather than the kibble house or simply running away.

What a handsome fella this one is! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Got it done!

We’re having some pretty hot and humid days of late. Not heat like we’ve been having all summer, thankfully, but more “average for August” hot. Though it didn’t rain last night, when I came out to do my morning rounds, the dew was so heavy, I would have though we’d had some, had everything else not been completely dry.

The squash and gourds are certainly enjoying the moist heat!

The Ozark Nest Egg gourd plants are busily climbing the fence and blooming – and completely dwarfing the Thai Bottle gourd plants (on the left).

One of the flowers even made its way through the chicken wire critter barrier! 😀

So far, they all appear to be male flowers. No gourds forming, though it’s possible there are some hidden under the leaves. I won’t mess with the chicken wire to look.

Thanks to all the wonderful rain we’ve had, the grass is actually green and growing again, and in need of a mow. It took hours for the grass to dry enough for that to be an option, which meant mowing during the hottest part of the day.

Or it would have been, had the battery on the riding mower not been dead! It’s only been used once this year, and I had to charge it then, too.

With the time it took to charge the battery, it was actually starting to cool down, so I guess that was a good thing! I took advantage of it and was able to do both the inner and outer yards, including areas I did not more the one other time this year we mowed. I kept doing as long as the light held, and managed to get it done just before it was full dark, though the yard light had turned on well before I finished. I was even able to mow in front of the storage shed. Which means that, weather willing, in the next day or two, we’ll have lots of grass clippings to rake up and set aside for the garden.

By the time I finally came inside, it was 9pm, but it was worth it! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: progress and pruning

As always during my morning rounds, I checked on the various beds to see how things are growing.

This most mature of our Red Kuri squash has ceased growing in size, and is just beautifully deepening in colour as it ripens.

While it’s neighbour is getting bigger. We won’t have a lot of mature winter squash at the end of the season, but we might have at least the two of them before first frost hits. Which, I hope, will be very late this year!

The one Mongolian Giant with so many seed heads, now has more of them opening and blooming!

These ones just amaze me. These are the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers that were started indoors, but did not actually germinate until after the other ones were direct sown outside. They were much smaller when transplanted, then all but one got their heads chomped off by deer. And yet, not only are they recovering from the deer damage, they are producing seed heads! Meanwhile, the ones that were direct sown are looking a lot bigger, you can see where the seed heads are starting to develop, but so far, they still have not actually emerged as obvious seed heads.

I do want to try these sunflowers again, but I think we will have to invest in a seed tray heat mat to start them indoors, to help with germination.

Yesterday, we picked summer squash and beans. Today, it was tomatoes!

Because of their small size, I use one of the red Solo cups to collect the tomatoes, and this time I quite nearly filled it to the top! That’s the most we’ve gathered, yet. 🙂

You can see a few of the tomatoes have split, from all the rain we’ve had recently.

I also “topped” the tomatoes this morning. I had no idea this was a thing, but a couple of garden related channels I follow had talked about it. It is only needed for indeterminate tomatoes, as they just keep growing taller, putting out more blossoms and fruiting, until the first frost kills them. That leaves a lot of green tomatoes. For this time of year, pruning the tops off the plants will stop them from getting bigger, and the green tomatoes will start ripening faster, instead of staying green longer, so there will be more ready tomatoes before first frost hits.

If that is what starts happening, with how loaded the tomatoes are with green fruit, that should hopefully mean we will start harvesting enough at once to make it worth preserving them in some way. With their small size, I’m not entirely sure what method we’ll use, yet. Only my husband and one of my daughters eats tomatoes, so it’ll pretty much be up to them to decide that one. 🙂

Thinking ahead to next year, the Spoon tomatoes are fun, and they’re great for fresh eating – we’ll likely grow them again, though they are also likely to self seed. The Mosaic Mix tomatoes are doing well and being enjoyed, but we want to try others. There are several varieties of cherry and grape tomatoes my older daughter wants to try, and I want to grow paste tomatoes. I may not be able to eat tomatoes fresh, but I can eat them if they’ve been processed enough before being used as an ingredient. Plus, we have the Yellow Pear variety of tomato we already picked up seeds for to try.

We need to start going over our plans and wish lists for next year’s garden, so we can plan and prepare things this fall.

The Re-Farmer

First cookout!

Last night, for the first time in about two years, we actually used our fire pit and had a cookout!

We even used the new fire grill my brother and his wife bought for us, for the first time. ❤

It was spur of the moment, so all we had on hand was hot dogs – I missed getting a photo of toasting the half-frozen buns around the edge of the fire grill. I’d finally burned away the vines and whatnot that had been sitting in the pit for many months, then decided to go ahead and build up a cooking fire, using apple wood we’d pruned a couple of years ago.

I think we did actually light a fire once last year, to burn off the invasive weeds that could not go into the compost that were in there, but that was it. Even in previous years, when we used the fire pit, we had the hose going constantly spraying water around the pit, just to be on the safe side. The only time we didn’t need to do that was when we had a cookout in the winter, and there was two feet of snow. We’ve had enough rain in the last while, there was no need to do that. We just had the hose nearby for dousing the fire later.

It was an absolutely gorgeous evening for the fire pit. So very relaxing.

Gosh, I missed doing this!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: progress

The last few days have been cooler and damp. Thankfully, we have not needed to do any watering at all of late.

I think some of the plants in our garden have gotten confused! 😀

We are finally getting some “big” Tennessee Dancing Gourds. Most have been turning yellow, soft and falling off before reaching this size. Now, we have several that are getting bigger, like this one. The vines are still blooming and being prolific in growing new little gourds! Gosh, they are so adorable!

We still have just the one little luffa gourd. I suspect it is not going to live to get full size, but who knows?

Some of our Giant Rattle poppies have dried out, and when shaken, you can hear the seeds rattling inside. They are not even close to how big they should be, but that’s okay.

Remarkably, there was even one last poppy flower trying to bloom!

My big surprise is the Crespo squash.

These are remarkably resilient! I didn’t expect them to recover from the critter damage much at all, but now that it’s no longer getting eaten, it has started to shoot out new vines and leaves, and… !!!

It’s blooming again! Which just blows me away. Unfortunately, it is way too late in the season for fruit to develop. Particularly since these are supposed to get quite large.

I really look forward to trying these again next year. Even with the critters and drought, they seem to do very well in our climate!

Our 2021 garden: morning harvest and first potatoes, makes for an awesome breakfast!

I finished off my rounds this morning by doing some harvesting in the garden. The beans in particular had plenty to pick. 🙂

I found a yellow bean, growing on a green bean plant!

It didn’t get picked. It felt completely empty. Any beans it might have had did not develop. I did find one other yellow bean among the green beans, on another plant, that did have developing beans in it, but it was super soft for some reason.

There as a big enough haul this morning to need two containers! 🙂

Among the sunburst squash, we have the one plant that is producing green squash instead of yellow, though some of the developing squash have streaks of yellow in them. An interesting mutant plant! 😀

The yellow beans are pretty much done. We’ll still be picking them for the next while, but just a few here and there.

I found flowers on both green and purple bean plants! Just a few, but still a surprise, this late in the season. We’ll be having plenty of those to pick for a while, from the looks of it. Lots of little ones developing on the plants.

Our first potatoes! We could have picked potatoes earlier, but we’ve been leaving them for now. This morning, I decided to reach into a few bags and dug around until I felt a potato and pulled it up. These are the yellow Yukon Gem and red Norland potatoes. I did not try to pick any of the fingerlings, yet.

That’s a pretty good harvest for the day! There are enough beans there to do another bag for the freezer, if we want. 🙂

I used a bit of everything when I made breakfast this morning. 🙂

I made a hash using all three types of beans, a couple of sunburst squash, a zucchini, and one of each type of potato. I also used onion and garlic that we harvested earlier. Even the oil I used to cook with was infused with our chive blossoms, and the dried parsley on top is from last year’s garden.

It tasted great, too! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

But it’s a good tired…

Okay, I just have to start with the obligatory garden photos. 😀 I took these yesterday.

The largest seed head of the Mongolian Giant sunflowers is opening up beautifully. Still nowhere near the size a Mongolian Giant seed head should be, but we’ll see what happens in what’s left of our growing season.

What amazed me, though, was seeing several of these.

The King Tut purple peas are still growing and producing! The green peas next to them are basically gone; completely died off and dried out, barely visible among the weeds and wildflowers that are left. Peas do not usually last this long, so I’m quite impressed!

I didn’t get to posting yesterday for a happy reason. An old friend from high school is in the province and was able to come for a visit. Even my husband was able to join us for a while. Aside from running into her briefly at the grocery store, we haven’t seen each other since we graduated! We had 35 years of catching up to do, and it was awesome. 🙂 Then, she and I headed out to a local farmer’s market. I’ve driven past it many times, but had never stopped in. With the crazy going on these days, I wasn’t sure if it was even a safe place to go for someone who can’t wear a mask. The mandates were over, though, so we gave it a visit, and that was awesome, too. No issues at all. Best of all, I found a vendor that has a homestead and supplies pork, among other things – and they live only a few miles away from us! In the spring, we’ll be able to make arrangements for getting a half pig in the fall, so they know how many piglets to raise. So now we have local suppliers for both beef and pork!

The place has a little bistro during market hours, and we ended up enjoying some awesome food and just talking until they closed down. Wonderful people running the place. We definitely will be coming back before my friend heads home.

Today was our city shopping trip, so I headed out as soon as I was done my morning rounds. I actually made it to Costco this time. With restrictions relaxed, I didn’t have to worry about being able to stand in line outside. It was the most pleasant Costco trip I’ve had in a long time. Unfortunately, by the end of it, my hip was giving out, so that was the only stop I made before heading home. Which was okay. I was able to stock up on the main things. It was a bit disconcerting, though. I didn’t buy more than I usually did at Costco. In fact, I probably bought less than usual. And yet the final bill was about $200 more than the last time I was able to do a full stock-up trip there. Prices have really gone up in the past few months. 😦

While I was out, I got word about a freedom rally in town this evening. I had time to get home, unload, then head out again. I wanted to be early, because I wasn’t quite sure where it was happening. It’s not an area of town I usually go to. There were people already there and even my friend was eventually able to join us, so that was awesome. The rally was to protest the school board forcing children to wear masks all the time which is, at its most basic, illegal. The government and health department can make recommendations, but cannot force, anything that goes against the charter rights and freedoms, or the human rights code. That’s actually written into the health act and the charter. Anyhow, there was a really good turnout, and I ended up meeting people in person that I’d been getting to know online, and even a family that may become “neighbours” soon! It was funny to discover we had other personal connections, too.

The people from the school board were not particularly useful to talk to. Their stance was basically, they’re just following orders. Now where in history have we heard that line before?

While there, I learned our province has made another step backwards. While I was on the road home from the city, our government announced that the mask mandates start again tomorrow, even in many outdoor venues that had been exempt before. There is no actual reason to do this. We aren’t seeing any surge in hospitalizations or deaths. It’s all been so arbitrary, and like all the lockdowns and restrictions is just as illegal as the schools forcing kids to wear masks.

All the families there with school aged children were planning to homeschool, rather than engage in government enforced child abuse. The school is going to lose a lot of funding over this. Some of the parents I spoke to told me they were getting to many calls from the school to get them to register this year, it bordered on harassment. I’m hoping to keep in touch with some of these families, since we homeschooled the girls completely. I look forward to being able to help and encourage a new generation of families taking this route! There is the makings of a vibrant local community. Something that didn’t exist, when we last lived here and were homeschooling.

The whole event just happened to be next to the grocery store, so when it was all done, I stopped by to pick up a few things I wasn’t able to get in the city before heading home. Even with the the sale prices, I still spent way too much money. 😦

One of the things I want to do is get chickens, for eggs and meat, but we are not at all ready to have birds yet. I was hoping to get to that point in a year or two, but the way things are going, I think we need to prioritize that and make it so that we can get chicks in the spring.

So, along with building high raised garden beds for next year, we need to build/acquire a chicken coop. Preferably a mobile one. That way, the chickens will be playing a significant part in soil preparation for planting.

After all the running around over the past couple of days, and being around so many people, I am feeling quite tired. It is, however, a good tired!

It has been a wonderful couple of days. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: tending the old kitchen garden

As much as I love all the rain we’ve been having, I was happy to have a mild, sunny day to get some work done outside. I finally got around to tending the big L shaped beet bed in the old kitchen garden.

This bed has had almost no tending, since we put the floating row cover on it to keep the critters out. This is how the two sides looked before I started.

Here is how it looked after a good, solid weeding!

There actually wasn’t a lot of weeds in there. After fighting my way through all the beet greens, following strands of weeds to their bottoms so I could pull them out by the roots, I found that there wasn’t much to pull out. The beets were actually choking out the weeds! Most of them were long and leggy and spread out, trying to reach the light, so when I pulled something out by the roots, I found I was removing quite a lot more plant than expected. The exception were all the sprouting Chinese Elms. It’s remarkable how deep and solid the roots are for a sapling that’s just a couple of inches high.

The beets themselves did not need any thinning, though I did accidentally pull a few out with the weeds. I wasn’t seeing a lot of beet roots developing, though. Hopefully, all the rain we’ve been having will result in a growth spurt!

When it came time ot put the netting back on, I took advantage of the big package of tent pegs I found in the garage. The sides of the netting was pulled tight and snug to the ground, so nothing can casually push its way under the netting. No more rocks and bricks to try and keep it down. For the ends, I wrapped the netting around boards, then weighted those down. There is lots of slack in the netting for the leaves to grow, though I don’t expect them to get much taller than they are now.

That done, I worked on the carrot bed next. One of the inner hoops had come down, the doweling holding it in place breaking off completely. Another was well on its way down, too.

Which made for a good time to tend the carrots, too.

There are two types of carrots in this bed, and these ones have been going to seed. Carrots do to see in their second year, so it seems the grounhogs eating their greens has fooled the carrots into thinking they are in their second year.

Carrots gone to see do not produce much of a root!

These carrots got weeded, but did not need any thinning. The other variety did need thinning.

Check these out!!! This is a variety from Baker Creek called Lounge Rouge Sang.

The two orange ones at the top of from the other carrots that had gone to seed, but had enough root that I wanted to keep them.

I checked my records, and those are supposed to be the Deep Purple carrots, from Veseys!

Here you can see what the Longue Rouge Sang carrots should look like, when fully mature. I just love the colours in them, and am happy to see that even the little carrots that got thinned out are showing them.

I’m so excited to see carrots! After the groundhog devastation, I really didn’t know if they would recover enough for us to have any at all. It’s a shame we couldn’t cover the larger carrot bed in the main garden area, too!

Once the bed was cleaned up, and I found new sticks to use to hold the PVC pipe hoops in place, the sides were pegged down tighter to the ground. The only places I used rocks to weigh the netting down was at a couple of corners, where there was excess netting to gather.

I still don’t know what the big green thing in the middle of the bed is. I had hoped it was the White Vienna kohlrabi that was planted there, but I not longer think that’s what they are. I’ve seen them pop up in a few other places, too. They don’t look like a weed, is about all I can say! I’m leaving them, just to hopefully see what they are. I’ve also left quite a bit of the mint that has been making it’s way through. In time, I hope to transplant them somewhere contained. For now, I just try to keep it under control so it won’t take over the garden – and we will still have at least a bit of mint to harvest if we want! 🙂

There is still one more bed of beets by the retaining wall, covered in netting, that needs to be cleaned up, but that will have to wait for another day.

The Re-Farmer