More garden surprises

If you’re on Facebook, you know how they pop things into your news feed that you posted, X number of years ago today?

Yesterday, I saw one of those, with a photo I posted, three years ago.

After a snowfall.

Not only have we blown past our average first frost date of Sept. 10, but we are at a point where it is not at all unusual to have snow on the ground. Nothing that lasts, really, but usually at least one storm.

I am so loving our extended summer. Especially with how it’s giving our garden so much more time to recover from the extreme heat and drought conditions of the summer.

This morning, I found new Ozark Nest Egg flowers, both male and female! I hand pollinated some other ones, but it’s too early to tell if it works. I went ahead and hand pollinated the female flower here, too.

While looking through the Ozark Nest Egg plants, I found a single flower from the Thai Bottle Gourd that has made its way up the fence, mixed in with the Nest Egg gourds! I’ve only seen male flowers on this one, though.

Remember that carrot bed the groundhogs kept decimating, over and over? The one we finally gave up on, other than watering it now and again? Half of it, where the Kyoto Reds are planted, has carrots gone to see, pushing their way up through the weeds. The other variety, Napoli, have fronds visible among the weeds, but none are going to seed.

I watered the gardens this morning and, out of curiosity, pulled up some Napoli carrots. I was really surprised by how big they were! After having their greens eaten away several times, It’s amazing that there are any at all, never mind anything of a decent size! That had me looking around among the Kyoto Reds for carrots that had not gone to seed, and I found a surprisingly large one there, too!

The squash tunnel thermometer is definitely whack. We might be at 30C/86F as I write this, but it was only about 22C/72F at the time I took this photo.

While watering the peas among the corn, I couldn’t help but notice the corn block that is the furthest south.

We actually have corn. This block as lots of cobs developing!

They are very small – the husks make them look like there is more than there really is – and poorly pollinated, but we actually have corn. I went ahead and ate the one I picked, right after taking this photo, and it was tender, sweet and delicious. I will have to go back later today, with a container of some kind, and pick more!

I didn’t get a photo, but I picked 4 more of the largest Tennessee Dancing Gourds, too.

Once back inside, I started up a big chili in the crock pot. It’s got our own onions, garlic, carrots and bush beans in it, as well as both ground beef and the ground pork we got from our neighbour. Oh, and I also tossed in some Spoon tomatoes we’d tucked into the freezer. In the future, I plan to grow beans for drying, so some day we will be making chili with our own dry beans, too, along with the paste tomatoes we plant to grow and can. 🙂

With a goal of being as self sufficient as possible when it comes to growing our own food, this year has shown just how touch and go that can be. We had a very warm May that had all sorts of things starting to bloom, only to get a single cold night that killed all the flowers off. Because of that one night, we have no crab apples, no saskatoons, no chokecherries, and it killed off the (expensive!) mulberry bush we’d transplanted. Even the lilacs and roses got damaged by that one night. Then we had the drought conditions that had us watering every day, twice a day, for so long. And now we’ve got an extended summer, and instead of frost and snow, parts of our garden are able to recover and start or continue producing! It’s been a crazy gardening year, but as much as I shake my head over how extreme conditions have been, the reality is, this isn’t actually all that unusual. As every farmer, gardener or homesteader knows, you could have the best year of all, only to have all your hard work wiped out by a single storm, or one unusually cold night. Or you could get a terrible spring and summer, but then get a great fall and winter. Some years, you might not get any real summer at all, and in others, the winter will be as mild as any fall or spring. As fantastic as it can be, to be able to grow your own food and preserve it for use in the off season, I’m just as thankful that we have grocery stores and imported food. I think both are good! As my brother and his wife have both said, if they had to rely on their garden, they’d starve!

The Re-Farmer

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