Water, water everywhere

It’s rained pretty steadily all last night and this morning. Then, when the rain sort of stopped, it was wind we had to deal with. I must say, watching those 60′ plus spruce trees swaying so much and not snapping always amazes me!

Also, the “road closed, local access only” sign is back.

Water is accumulating everywhere in both the inner and outer yards. Even with all the snow melt this spring, I’ve never seen this much water accumulated here. The water extends the length of the spruce grove, though not as deep.

This is one of the highbush cranberry my daughters transplanted yesterday. In the back, you can see one of the holes dug for the silver bison berry, full of water.

Those are expected to arrive by Friday, but I just checked the tracking number, and they have arrived in the city, so they may be here by tomorrow! It’s going to be interesting, transplanting them all, with the ground so saturated.

We certainly won’t need to water them!

Even the paths between the garden bed are puddles, which we’ve never seen since moving here.

Another benefit to raised bed gardens, even if they are low raised beds. Just a few inches higher is enough to protect the newly seeded beds from being drowned out.

I checked the high raised beds, with their sprouting spinach, as well as the onions, shallots and purple peas. Everything seems to be handling the heavy rainfalls just fine. There are even new lettuce sprouts! Just the section of Buttercrunch in the L shaped bed. There’s also the spot next to the rose bush where I just scattered the last of the lettuce seeds, all mixed together, and there are sprouts there, too.

Most of the inner yard is so very wet. I’m seeing standing water where I don’t remember ever seeing standing water before. The storage house has a moat around it again, but the spot between the storage house and the corner of the old kitchen garden just keeps growing. When cats or skunks get startled, they still run through it, so I get a good idea of just how deep it is!

I’m also seeing a lot of people in the area posting photos of roads that are flooded over, both on highways and on gravel roads. Some of the gravel roads have been washed out, just like with the earlier flooding when the snow melted. One person shared a photo of a section on the side of the highway that collapsed.

As you can imagine, we didn’t do the second half of our city shopping today! I’m very glad I was able to help my mother do her shopping yesterday, because I doubt I could have done it today.

There is also a lot more water in the basements right now. Both of them. The old basement has its usual accumulation that we sweep into either the floor drain to the septic tank, or into the sump pump reservoir. There’s also water seeping through in the new basement, in spite of the new basement having weeping tile. It’s mostly in that corner my brother found flooded out and molding, when a rain barrel outside that corner was left to overflow for possibly months, before we moved here. It’s not in big puddles, like we get in the old basement, but water does accumulated in the one corner. Right now, that whole side of the basement looks wet. All we can do about that basement is put a fan on it. The only drain is in the old basement.

There were a few times when the power kept flickering on and off. I’m glad I shut down my computer. I was preheating the oven, and had the range hood light on, and I was seeing both of them flickering on and off. Of course, our internet went out a few times; according to the app, it wasn’t anything at our end that caused it.

As I write this, we are at only 8C/46F, but the RealFeel is 3C/37F. The cool weather crops we planted will be fine, though. Looking at the 5 day forecast, it’s hard to judge when we’ll be able to start transplanting our warm weather crops. They are starting to really need to be transplanted, though.

As we plant things out, and thinking of how to protect our garden beds, wind is something we’re going to need to think about, too. I find myself wondering if we might make use of the rolls of snow fence we’ve found in a couple of places. They would help cut the wind, as well as discouraging critters.

Something to consider, for sure!

The Re-Farmer

Look what we found!

Last night, my daughters heard the sounds of a kitten meowing outside. It was dark and raining, so we went out to check.

What we found, barely visible in the shadows, was a kitten on the patio blocks in front of the shelf shelter. It appeared that a cat was moving her kittens into the shelf! By the time I got out, there was no sign of the mother, but I saw the kibble trays were all empty. After topping those up, I quickly scooped up the cold, wet kitten – it was even smaller than the last kitten we found in the lawn! – and tucked it into the bottom shelf shelter. I just wanted to get it out of the rain, and it would be easy for the mama to find.

When I came out of the sun room to do my morning rounds, one of the ‘iccuses exploded out of the shelf shelter. I came prepared, though. I grabbed a scoop of kibble, along with my usual container full, and quickly poured some into both shelves that are insulated and enclosed, then filled the rest of the kibble trays. Potato Beetle emerged from the cats’ house while I did, but he preferred to follow me into the sun room to eat there. Aside from him, I saw only 3 other yard cats, and I think they were all mamas.

While going past the shelf after setting out some bird seed (we have no feeders out right now, because of the racoons, so it’s a daily toss onto the ground), I quickly stuck my phone into the openings and got pictures.

There were kittens in the higher shelf. It was terribly out of focus, but I could see three kittens.

Just a little while ago, I went out to chase a pair of skunks out of the kibble house. The mama ran out of the shelter shelf and hid around the back of the kibble house, so I quickly tried to take another picture.

I was wrong! There are four kittens. πŸ™‚

I hope the mama is willing to let her litter stay here. We will try to avoid using the sun room door as much as we can, since it’s right next to the shelf. Good thing my brother did a quick fix on the main entry door! It’s still a high traffic area, though. Not only is the kibble and bird seed store in there, so are many of our yard and garden tools and supplies and, of course, the transplants in the sun room, with the outside platform we put them next to it, too. The fact that she actually brought her kittens so this shelf anyway suggests maybe her previous location got rained out or something.

I believe this is now the third litter we’ve seen kittens from, though the other two have been moved twice now. Broccoli has her litter around somewhere, too, and I’m sure Ghost Baby must have a litter. How many will survive long enough to start coming to the kibble house with their moms, we won’t know for probably at least another month, maybe two. The shyer mothers tend to keep their babies away longer, but after a while, they start coming over on their own.

Hopefully, these ones will do well in their new home.

The Re-Farmer

Interference

Just a quick note from my phone.

There has been much rain for the past day, but now it is the wind that is causing the most problems. The electricity has been flickering frequently.

Not good while on my desktop.

So once my computer finishes restarting itself after the last flicker that happened while I was prepping to do a blog post, I will be doing a proper shut down and leaving it off!

Hopefully, this will “blow over” soon.

Yeah. My sense of humour sucks. πŸ˜†πŸ˜†

The Re-Farmer

A few surprises today, and wet, wet, wet!

Since I was wanting to go to my mother’s early, my morning rounds were cut a bit short.

That and the ground was just too wet for all of my usual checks.

It wasn’t raining quite yet, but I decided to NOT put our transplants out. With all the pots in bins and trays to water them from below, the bins already had more water in them than they probably should have, just from what rain we got yesterday. Some of them are on baking trays, which are easier to tip and drain at least some of the water out. With the bins, we’d have to remove all the pots to be able to drain it, and I would rather we didn’t knock them about too much. Especially the pots that are made to be planted directly into the soil. When they get wet, they are a lot more fragile and basically fall apart.

So today, they stay indoors.

I did remember to grab the bag with what’s left of our wood shavings to put a light mulch where the peas were planted yesterday. After switching out the memory card on the corner cam, I popped through the barbed wire fence to check on things.

The most obvious was that the “road closed, local traffic only” sign is gone.

The stand is still there. Just the sign has been removed. The stand had already been blown to the side of the road by wind, heavy as it is. I guess they’ll come back for it later. I don’t think the road has been repaired, though. I think the water levels have just finally dropped low enough.

The area in front of where the corner cam is, is where I’d sown a western wildflower mix in the fall, and I was hoping to see if anything was coming up.

I’m still not sure, but…

… we have strawberries! There are quite a few, all around. We don’t mow this area often, but I’m sure I’d have noticed strawberries if I’d seen them before, and deliberately not mown there. There were a few other things growing that didn’t look familiar, but it’s hard to say. With last year’s drought and heat waves, following even more years with lack of spring rains going back well before we moved here, it’s entirely possible that our current wet conditions mean that things that had been dormant are now finally sprouting. When I had the chance, I looked up the description for the seeds I got. It has 16 varieties native to Western Canada, but only 7 are listed.

Well, we’ll find out eventually! I’m just happy to see strawberries growing there.

I then checked out that really bad spot on the road that’s close to us. It was very muddy, and it’s getting longer, but it still looked like I could drive around it on one side. It did convince me to use our van instead of my mother’s car. Her car is lower to the ground, and I didn’t want to drag her undercarriage on some of the muddy ruts left behind by heavy trucks.

The funny thing is, I got a call from my brother later this morning. He was at work but, he knew I planned to go to my mother’s. Having driven through that spot himself just a couple of days ago, he called to recommend I take the van instead of my mother’s car, because it’s so much lower and we wouldn’t want to catch anything in the undercarriage on those ruts…

I love my brother. πŸ˜€

I also wanted to leave early enough to hit the post office first. While at the store, I picked up another bale of wood shavings and some black oil seed for the birds. Then I remembered to ask about bale twine. We’ve been using some light sisal cord for most things, but I wanted something more durable. There wasn’t any bale twine in the store, but the owner went to check in the house behind the store (I guess inventory is stored there now; the previous owner used to live there), which gave me time to load the big stuff into the van. While I did that, a Canada Post van arrived. As I went back to the counter to wait, the post master brought a package to me that had just come in, even though she hadn’t had a chance to process all the deliveries yet! That was very sweet of her.

It was also sweet of the owner to go check for me, as she came back with a pair of bale twine rolls. I hadn’t realize that size came in pairs. I’d always seen the larger ones. I asked for the smallest size; only 2800 yards. πŸ˜€

We’ll be set for a while!

The package I got was our perishable stock order from T&T Seeds, including two highbush cranberry trees. As I was writing the above, my younger daughter came by to talk about them, and now she’s outside in the rain, transplanting them!

What a sweetheart!

Once I had everything bought and paid for, it was off to my mother’s, picking up some fried pierogi for lunch (it was too early for the usual fried chicken I get as our lunch treat) on the way. My mother was already waiting for her telephone doctor’s appointment! The appointment was at 11:50. She thought it was at 10:50. When she realized we still had about an hour for the call, she dove right into those pierogi – all the while telling me she should probably stop eating pierogi, because the last time she did, that night she had severe stomach pains. Which as never happened before, but every time she has some sort of physical discomfort, she blames it on whatever food she most recently ate. :-/

Then the phone rang. The doctor called almost an hour early!

It turned out to be a fairly short call. My mother’s back is feeling much better now, though she insists the painkillers she was prescribed, have not been helping her at all. The doctor asked the expected questions about if she had twisted it, lifted something heavy, or done anything that might have triggered it. He was looking at her Xrays and couldn’t see anything that would explain the pain. The way he described it, she just has a 90 yr old back! He mentioned arthritis, but I don’t think she heard him.

Ultimately, though, he wants her to come in, in person, as it’s been a long time since she’s been to the doctor. My mother was already talking about doing exactly that. Normally, she would have to phone the clinic and talked to a receptionist to book that – though I would have been the one to actually make the call – and he did start to say that, but then changed track and simply named a date and time. It worked for us, so in a few days, I’ll be driving my mother in for that.

Hopefully, using her smaller car instead of my van, though!

Once that was booked, that was it. We were done, and much earlier than expected.

So we finished our lunch, then headed out to run errands. My mother had three places to go, and was a real trooper about climbing into our van! Especially since the van has no hand grips, like her car does. Getting out was a lot easier, but I had to insist, each time we stopped, that she wait until I brought the walker around before trying to climb out. The last stop was the grocery store, and for that I go in and get a shopping cart and bring it over for her to use as a walker, instead.

Having looked at the weather forecasts, I took advantage of being there to pick up a few little things, too, just in case I’m not able to make the rest of our stock up shopping in the city. That should be tomorrow, but we’ll see.

You know what I didn’t buy today?

Tinned meat.

Because, WOW the prices have gone up!

Cdn$4.49 is currently US$3.54 Those tins are 156 grams, or 5.5 ounces
Cdn$4.99 is $3.94 Those are 213 grams, or 7.5 ounces
Cdn$6.49 is US$5.12, for 340 grams, or 12 ounces

Small town grocery stores tend to be more expensive anyhow, but this is almost double what I last saw them at.

When my mother was almost done her own shopping, I quickly went through the till with my own stuff to get those put away in the van first. While chatting with the cashier, the increase in prices came up. He told me the prices have been going up daily! This store is affiliated with a larger franchise, so they don’t control the prices, but the whole point of being affiliated with a franchise is to be able to get inventory at lower wholesale prices, so retail prices can be lower.

Which means the wholesale prices have jumped significantly.

Thankfully, my mother only needs to buy enough for herself, and with me there to help out, she got extra in a lot of things, to stock up. She didn’t even look at the meat section, though. She’s convinced herself that meat, especially red meat, is bad, but she’ll buy deli meats or sausages instead of fresh meat. *sigh*

The main thing is that she is now stocked up for the next week or so. With her back giving her grief, she might supplement with Meals on Wheels every now and then, too.

It was raining every so slightly when I left my mother’s, but I found myself driving through several areas of heavy rain on the highway home. I’m so glad I didn’t take the transplants out this morning! The gravel roads were just soaked, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more sections degraded until they were like the bad patch near our place. I messaged the family before heading out, and the girls were waiting for me at the garage with the wagon to help bring things in, since it was too muddy to drive up to the house to unload.

Just a few minutes ago, the girls came in – soaking wet! – to let me know they finished transplanting the highbush cranberry, as per the instructions that came with the trees. They planted them at the opposite end of the rows originally planned, because it has somewhat less water there, though they still had to shovel out as much water from the holes as they could. The holes they dug were mostly gravel, so the wheelbarrow of garden soil I had ready for something else was used instead of putting all the gravel back in the hole. The last of the bag of wood shavings I’d used to mulch the peas was used to mulch the cranberries. Hopefully, they will take root well enough.

It may be a couple of days before we can plant the sun chokes and sweet potato slips. The forecast says “light rain”, but it’s also supposed to be chillier than today. The sunchokes could probably handle it, but I’m not sure the sweet potato slips will. These are supposed to be a variety suited to our climate zone, but they’re still not a cool weather crop.

And we still need to get those potatoes in, but the package said not to plant them until temperatures are above 10C/50F. Looking at the 14 day trend, we won’t have overnight temperatures above that until June 7 – over a week from now! They will be under deep mulch, though, so that should protect them. I hope.

So much to get done, in a very short time, and the weather is not cooperating!

Well, we’ll do what we can. Little by little, it’ll get done.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: remaining T&T Seeds order is in

Before I get into how the rest of the day has been going – aside from “wet” – the rest of our order from T&T Seeds came in! You can read about the whole order, and why we chose what we did, here.

We got our forage radish seeds a while ago, and it was the perishable stock that had to wait to be shipped in time for planting in our zone. I never got a shipping notification. I’d actually gone to the website a few days ago to look up my order and see if there was anything to tell me when it would be shipped, so we could be ready for it. There was nothing. Not even anything to say that the seeds got shipped already. So I tried their live chat function. I ended up getting an automated reply, apologizing for being really busy, and giving me the option of leaving my email with my question, and they’d respond later. I did that, but the only thing I got in my email was a transcript of the chat that didn’t happen.

Well, something must have happened, because suddenly, here they are!

We have decided the highbush cranberry will be added to one end of the rows of silver buffalo berry, where we’d grown corn and sunflowers last year. The sweet potato slips will be split between a grow bag and a bed where we’d grown potatoes last year. The sunchokes are still not 100% decided, but I think there’s really just one spot for them; in an unused bed near the garage. We’d tried to grow strawberry spinach there last year, but that didn’t work. There are invasive that keep trying to take it over, but sunchokes have a reputation for being somewhat invasive, too, and I think they’d win out on that battle. πŸ˜‰

I also got a shipping notification for our TreeTime order. You can read about what we ordered and why, here. We’re expecting a total of 41 trees and shrubs that will need to be planted right away.

Which is going to be difficult. What came in today needs to be planted as quickly as possible, but it’s been very rainy off and on, all day today, and it’s expected to continue through tomorrow. In fact, we have started to get weather alerts.

There’s another Colorado Low on the way.

At least it’s bringing rain and not snow, though we’ve have a rather cool May, and it’s looking like June will be, too.

The warnings for our area is for heavy rain falls. Once again, the south end of the several provinces are expected to get the worst of it, as the system swirls its way east and west. There are even tornado warnings!

The transplants did not get taken outside today. They are probably okay with the temperatures by now, but being in pots, and the pots in trays and bins where they get watered from below, it doesn’t take much for rain to accumulate too much in their containers.

For the stuff that can’t be planted until after last frost, it’s looking like we won’t be able to get them out until after June 5, because of the overnight temperatures. Once they’re in and established, if temperatures dip again, we can try protecting them with row covers, but not while they are still undergoing transplant shock.

One good think about everything being in at least low raised beds: the paths may be full of mud and water, the the beds are still good.

Somewhere in there, we need a break in the rain – or at least the heavy rain – and get our T&T Seeds order into the ground!

The Re-Farmer

Recommended: the wildly talented Kari Fell

Welcome to my second β€œRecommended” series. Here, you’ll find various sites and channels that I’ve been enjoying and wanted to share with you. With so many people currently looking to find ways to be more self sufficient or prepared for emergencies, that will be the focus for most of these, but I’ll also be adding a few that are just plain fun. Please feel free to leave a comment or make your own recommendation. I hope you enjoy these!

I’m going in a completely different direction with my recommendation this time. Partly due to content, but also because this is someone I have known personally for years, though we now live in very different provinces.

Today, I am very proud to recommend the exquisitely talented Kari Fell, fine artist and weaver.

My older daughter is an artist and, since we’ve moved here, her work is completely digital. Before we moved, however, she also did non-digital art, and took part in a major art market that happened once a year, and took up many blocks of a particular neighbourhood. I would usually accompany her to help set up and help out any way I could. She tended to pay for a spot in the same little park every year, and after a few years, we got to know some other artists that liked to set up in the same park. It was at one of these events that we happened to find our booth next to an really awesome woman and her paintings. You can view some of them at her website here. Her grid paintings were particularly amazing in their detail. Believe me; the photos do not do the originals justice! Along with her paintings, she also sold items she sewed herself. Especially hats, each featuring a unique decoration, one of which my younger daughter still considers a favourite. As with her paintings, her attention to detail in sewed was just as perfect. Then she started tablet weaving and making hand woven Viking hats, made as authentically as possible, inspired by re-enactors at festivals she had booths at.

After she and her family moved to the Cape Breton, she was able to set up a studio, get back into dying and weaving, and start making YouTube videos. At first, her videos covered a number of topics, but eventually she started a second channel, just for her drawing and painting videos, while the original focused on Dying and Weaving. If you go to her About pages, here and here, you will also find how to follow her on social media, her shop, and her Patreon links.

You know those grid paintings I mentioned? She’s done videos on those.

You can watch part two, here.

Her attention to detail, to be able to make all those squares fit into the larger image is pretty mind blowing. That attention to detail extended into her tablet woven bands.

While setting up a booth at various event, she started going to Viking re-enactment events. They are a really awesome community that took her youngest son under their wing. They inspired some of her paintings, and she began making these era appropriate hats.

In her new studio, she has really been able to delve into loom weaving, with the same incredible perfection in skill and detail that is her trademark in everything Kari does.

She is also able to get right into dying her fibres, with her Dying Games videos, where she picks colours out of a hat, being a lot of fun.

The results are always really interesting, and I love all the information details she includes.

Kari is easily one of the most talented and skilled artists I know, and she’s an awesome person, too! We miss you, Kari!

I do hope you enjoy going through her amazing work, check out her YouTube channels, Patreon, store and more. You won’t be disappointed!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: peas, carrots, turnips, onions

We got some gardening done! There was a break in the rain and we quickly headed out.

My daughter had the bigger job to get the peas in. We’ll be using the pea trellis we used for the purple peas last year, as we still need to do some work on the other trellis frames. The ground was prepped in the fall, but she had to work through it to pull weeds that were trying to reclaim the space, first.

Now it just needs to have some of the wood shavings, or maybe the stove pellets, added to protect the soil surface from crusting. It’s a light enough mulch that the seedlings won’t have trouble pushing through.

The edible pod pea packet turned out to have very few peas in it. Those are between the two labels on the front left side of the trellis. The rest has pod peas in sown. There are still some seeds left of those, which will probably be planted in with the corn.

This should be the last year this trellis, and the nearby beds, will likely be used for gardening. If all goes to plan, next spring, we’ll be planting food trees here. πŸ™‚

While she worked on that, I seeded the bed that was already prepped and mulched with the stove pellet sawdust.

My priority was to get more carrots planted, as they should have been started a while ago. I marked out short rows (making things more like square food gardening), as well as a perimeter line. I started with the Black Nebula carrots. The packet had a nice amount of seeds, and it filled about half the bed, which is about 14-15 ft long. Next, I planted the Uzbek Golden Carrots, which came as a freebie from Baker Creek. There were very few seeds in the freebie packet, and I was only able to plant 4 short rows. For the rest, I planted the Gold Ball turnip, which we got as a freebie from Heritage Harvest seeds, and the Purple Prince turnip at the far end of the bed. I still have some Purple Prince seeds left, but the others in the bed got used up.

We planted the last of our onions started from seed already, so for this bed I used the onion sets I picked up at the grocery store as back ups. I got two boxes of yellow onions – no variety name is on the box – and it took almost all of them to fill the perimeter at 3-4 inches apart. The bed got hosed down to settle the soil over the seeds and onion sets, then support posts were hammered into the ground to hold the netting, after cord is strung through the holes in the posts, and crisscrossed over the middle. This bed will not be getting anything else added to it, so it can be covered sooner rather than later. The other beds have room for transplants in their middles, so they will get their net covering once that is done.

In planting the onions, I naturally was able to grab the biggest sets, since they tended to be on top, so when the bed was completely surrounded by onion, I had a pile of tiny onion sets left behind.

Well, we can’t let those go to waste!

They went into the retaining wall blocks. Two already have shallots in them. After pulling weeds and roots from the empty blocks (the others that look empty had mint transplanted into them in the fall) and adding the wood shavings, I had 6 blocks ready. I was able to fill 5 of them; 4 with 4 onions each, and one with only 3. That one block at the side is still empty. There is a matching block at the other end that doesn’t have anything planted in it, but it looks like it has chives coming through!

We have one box of red union sets left. Depending on where they end up being planted, if we have any left over, I’ll be finding space of them here, too.

The bunching onions planted in the bed along the retaining wall are still looking wimpy after transplanting. Hopefully, all these onions will make things too stinky for the grogs to want to go after the lettuce and beets. A groundhog could easily tear through the net, if it really wanted to. It’s going to be the big garden area that will be the most difficult to protect, however.

~~~pause for real world interruption~~~

My older daughter and I just finished bringing the transplants in. We have so many strong, healthy tomatoes! It’s going to be a challenge to plant them all, since they’ll mostly be going into new beds. Maybe that’s where those grow bags and fabric raised beds will be the most useful!

We’ve got our work cut out for us, but I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do tomorrow, as I’ll be heading to my mother’s to help her run errands. She is suddenly taking her back no longer hurts – I guess it took that long for the meds to have their effect, but she still says that when she takes them, they do nothing. She feels up to going out for her errands, though. She has her telephone doctor’s appointment, so I will probably go over there early enough to be there for her appointment, in case she needs things explained to her.

The question for me will be, can her car make it through that one muddy spot on the road? I might have to take the van, even if my mother will need a stool to get in and out!

The Re-Farmer

Cheer in the gloom

It started to rain again, while I was doing my morning rounds, but there were some bright colours to make an otherwise gloomy and overcast day a bit more cheerful.

The grape hyacinths are reaching their full maturity. At some point, I hope that they will take over this area, replacing the invasive greens that are already there. I don’t mind them too much in this area, and they don’t seem to be choking out the hyacinths, but they sure do take over when growing among less resilient plants!

Then there was this little bit of sunshine.

The very first of my daughter’s daffodils have finally bloomed! After last year’s failure to thrive, and not being sure they’d survive the winter, my daughter is quite thrilled at how well they’re doing this year.

I got the transplants outside, but for a while there, I thought we’d have to bring them back in. The rain started coming down pretty hard, but it slowed down and now seems to have stopped for a while, so they should be fine. Mostly, we don’t want too much water accumulating in their bins and trays.

Unfortunately, with how wet everything is, that means no progress on the garden. Everything is just too muddy. It’s frustrating, because we have so many things that should already be in the ground, like the peas, the potatoes, and the strawberries, as well as more cool weather things to direct sow. Then there are more beds to prepare for the warm weather crops to direct sow, as well as areas for all the transplants.

One of the things I did this morning was check out what’s in the barn. I’m eyeballing the remains of salvaged and scrap wood, trying to think if there’s enough to start building a chicken coop.

I also popped my head up into the old hay loft, climbing the ladder as high as I dared. My brother says there is a car port frame up there, but I can’t see it. There are still some bags of insulation left behind – there was a lot more, but it grew legs and walked away, along with so many other things. It’s the kind of insulation that’s like a powder and gets blown into the walls. They’re scattered about and I can’t see the corner my brother says it’s in. What I did see, however, was what temptingly looked like a stack of lumber. I will have to come back with a daughter or two, as I don’t dare go up there on my own. With my knees, will have difficulty getting back down again, and parts of the floor up there are rotted out. If there is salvageable material up there, I want to get it out and stored someplace more accessible. Even those old bags of insulation might come in handy at some point. Who knows.

Oh! A daughter just came by. There’s a break in the rain, so she wants to do some gardening. Let’s see what we can manage before the rain starts up again!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: beds prepped, spinach, onions and turnips sown

With a steady rain all night, we’ve got a lot of standing water and mud in the yard again. The straw mulch where we will be planting our 5kg bags of potatoes got well soaked, though, so I don’t mind.

This afternoon, I finally had a chance to work on the garden again, and I’ve got some thing figured out, too.

The spinach sown in the high raised bed has started to sprout. There was room for one more row of spinach, so that got planted today.

Then it was time to work on the low raised beds.

We are well behind on direct sowing our cool weather crops, so I focused on the 2 1/2 low raised beds that my daughter and I had gone through, pulling out as many roots and rhizomes as we could. A few that we missed started growing again (there will always be some of those!), so I pulled out some more, before leveling the beds out. I decided to use the stove pellets as mulch for these beds. After leveling the soil in one bed (the back of a fan rake is great for leveling the soil), I’d scatter some pellets as evenly as I could over the bed, soak them with the hose, then work on the next bed. It generally took about 3 soaks before the pellets had expanded and broken up enough to be spread evenly with the back of the rake.

It always surprises me just how much sawdust is packed into those tiny pellets!

Once those were done, I gave them one last spray with the hose, then moved on to what will be a deep mulch bed for the 1kg package of potatoes. We had considered planting those in the low raised bed by the compost heap, but have decided the kulli corn will go in there. It’ll be easier for us to put a barrier around the wooden frame to keep the critters out. Potatoes need no such barrier.

In our second summer here, we started preparing an area for future gardening by mulching the area heavily with straw, and trying to kill off as many weeds as possible. You can read about those preparations here, here, here, and here.

Yeah. It was a big job, spread over months.

The next summer, we had our first garden, and all along the north side, we planted a row of birdhouse gourds. We’d started them indoors, but I thought our last frost date was May 28, the same as a town to the east of us, only for us to get hit with a frost on June 2 – which was the last frost date for a town to the north of us (our own little hamlet is too small to be on any of the frost date lists). The gourds didn’t really survive, and since then, this particular area has not been planted in.

The straw you see raked aside in the above photo has been there for 4 years.

The area was still mostly clear of crab grass, though I spent some time pulling those out. With the straw layer, the rhizomes tended to be running across the surface of the soil, so that made it easier to get them.

I knew we had a few moving boxes left in the basement. I thought there was three left, so I cleared an area to roughly match how much I thought those three boxes, opened flat in a single layer, would cover.

I was wrong.

There was 5 boxes left, so I laid them down folded in half, to get a double thick layer. This should be more than enough for the smaller amount of potatoes.

After soaking the cardboard, I put most of the old, wet straw back, then topped it with some newer straw to get a good, thick later.

This bed is now ready for potato planting.

While I was working on this, the girls got the fire pit going, and I finished just in time for a wiener roast. πŸ˜€

We’ve used that fire pit in the past month, almost than we’ve been able to in the past 4 years. No fire bans, this spring!

After the girls made sure I was fueled up, it was back to the low raised beds. Time to do some planting!

Look how big that garlic is!! They are just thriving, here.

For this half-bed, I marked out a grid, but planted in rectangular boxes. I started with some spinach – a variety called Space – planted around the middle of the bed. There are still some seeds of this spinach variety left, if we want to sow some for a fall harvest.

One those were in, the outer perimeter, I planted some onions. These are Red of Florence; the last of the onions we started from seed.

The centre of the bed was left empty. Later on, we’ll put in plants that we won’t be harvesting leaves from, or harvesting many times. Perhaps we’ll put some eggplants or peppers in the middle. There’s room for only a few plants in this half-bed.

There will be more room in the next bed.

The centre row was marked, but nothing is planted in it. On one side of the centre line, a third variety of spinach, Lakeside, was sown. On the other side, Tokyo Silky Sweet turnips were planted. Then, all around the perimeter the last of the Red of Florence onions were planted.

The onions being planted around the perimeter like this is to dissuade critters at least a bit. That is not our first defense, though.

These will be covered with netting. I’m not sure the bamboo stakes will hold those hoops very well, though. Trying to push them into the ground, I kept hitting rocks. In one spot, right at a corner, I just couldn’t get around a rock, so that one is more shallow than I would prefer. A couple of stakes broke while I was trying to push them into the ground. Since I couldn’t get them very deep, I ended up having to break the tops off of the rest, to be able to put the hoops on them.

Later, bamboo poles will be tied to the centre of the hoops to hold them steady and hold up the netting when it’s added on. Not until after something has been transplanted in the middle.

For the long bed, I grabbed pieces from the canopy tent that was dismantled. Those were easier to pound into the soil. Literally. I had a piece of would I could use as a mallet, and got them in pretty deep.

With the logs bordering the bed, the supports aren’t spaced very well. For the ones in the middle, most had to be squeezed into the spaces between logs. Which is fine. After something is transplanted in the middle, cord will be strung through the holes in the supports around the perimeter, then criss crossing across the middle to support the netting. With them so oddly spaced, it’ll be wonky, but it’ll work.

The ground staples will be used to tack the net down , but we still want to be able to easily life the sides, to harvest greens as needed.

The third bed was left for tomorrow. We have 2 more varieties of turnips to plant, or I might do carrots, first. They should have been sown about a week or more ago!

Beds will continue to be bordered by onions from sets. I’ve got 2 boxes of yellow onions and one of red onions, so there is plenty to go! πŸ™‚

The other thing that really needs to get done are the two varieties of peas. Hopefully, it won’t get too hot for peas over the next while! Meanwhile, we need to get those potatoes into the ground.

The next few weeks are going to be very busy in the garden! Lots to go in, in a very short time.

The Re-Farmer

Yesterday’s monthly shop

I’m glad I was able to do the city trip yesterday. It rained all night, so today, the gravel roads are all muddy again – especially that one really bad spot near our place – and the yard is completely saturated. Yesterday, I was able to back up to the house to unload. The vehicle gate was still muddy, but I could at least drive through with minimal spinning of tires. Today, that area of the driveway is all water again. So are a number of areas in the yards.

I’d left a bit earlier than usual, making my regular stop to get a bit of gas at the town my mother lives in. Too early for their fried chicken to be available, so “breakfast” was a protein bar, instead. πŸ˜€ I also paid the “idiot tax” and bought a lotto ticket, as well as a couple of on-sale energy drinks for the cooler in the van. Grand total was just over $45.

This trip is our usual series of three stores, finishing at Costco. The first was Canadian Tire, where I picked up a couple more 40 pound bags of the stove pellets we use as cat litter. We still had plenty, but I’m starting to use it as mulch in the garden again – it works really well for the finer seedlings – so I wanted to get more. I also got an extra spool of line for the weed trimmer, as it’s going to get a major workout in the old garden area, soon, and a package of short bamboo stakes that I thought might work for some hoops for the garden (more on that in another post). The PVC pipe I got to use as hoops last year is a bit too stiff and kept breaking the doweling I used last year. Metal stakes would be better, but finding any small enough to fit into the pipe is more difficult, and more expensive, so I’ll try the bamboo for now. I also picked up a roll of half inch PEX pipe. It is more flexible, and we can cut it to the lengths we need. Plus, it’ll be easier to find metal stakes to hold it in place.

I also finally picked up something I’ve been eyeballing for a while, now.

White Carolina strawberries! We have 4 transplants of red strawberries, which will be planted with the purple asparagus. There are 10 roots in this package, and I’m not really sure where we’ll plant them – several options come to mind – but we’ll figure it out. More perennial food plants is worth it. Altogether, this stop was just over $100.

After that, it was off to the international grocery store, though I did make one extra side trip, first. They share a parking lot with a Dollar Tree, and I wanted to see what gardening supplies then had. I ended up getting a selection of plant supports. I got 4 tomato cages, though they will probably be used for the eggplants or peppers. Then I got 4 supports that are a narrow metal spike with a spiral at the top to wind a stem through. I’m not sure what we’ll use those with, yet. Then I got 4 each of plastic coated metal stakes in two sizes. These came with adjustable ties for the plants. The heavier duty ones look like they would do very well for vertical growing summer squash. That worked out okay last year, except we had a hard time getting the lengths of poplar we’d cleared from part of the spruce grove to stay upright. The narrower ones might do well for that, too. After testing the 4 different types of supports, we’ll know which ones to get more of – if any at all. I also picked up a couple of fabric “raised beds” to test out. We already have a couple of grow bags that I was planning to grow the sweet potato slips in, once they arrive. We’ve got 5 sweet potato slips, 10 Jerusalem Artichokes and 2 highbush cranberry that will be shipped when it’s time for planting in our zone, which is pretty soon. With so many transplants, so many things to direst so, and so few beds to plant in, I thought it was worth trying out. I also picked up some S hooks and ground staples. The ground staples will work better than the tent pegs we are currently using for the protective netting we’re putting over the beds. Altogether, this part of the shop was just under $50.

Once those were all put away in the van, I headed into the grocery store and finally had “breakfast”. One of the bonuses for making these trips is being able to have dim sum!

This store is where we find some favourite frozen dumplings, international condiments and less common types of cheese. They also have a section of locally produced slabs of smoked bacon. Sometimes, they only have small pieces of unsliced bacon, but this time, they had some of the big ones in stock. It’s also where we get things in non-Costco sized quantities. πŸ˜‰ Prices for some things have gone up quite a bit, and this stop ended up being just under $200. Plus the dim sum (which also went up in price) and drink I bought, it was about $215 in total.

Then it was Costco time.

*sigh*

Gas was 6 cents per litre cheaper, so I filled the tank first. That still came out to a little over $50. Then there was inside the store.

Ugh. There was a fair bit of sticker shock for some of the food items. I got more canned chicken for our stock, and that had gone up in price again. Six cans now cost about $20. Last month, they’d gone up to about $15. Basics like butter, eggs, rice, even toilet paper, have all gone up in price. The only other meat I got was the all-beef wieners and buns for a planned cookout. It’s a good thing we stocked up on meats previously, and we still have plenty. All the meats and fish have gone up in price substantially. Oddly, dry cat food hasn’t gone up in price as much as people food. I would have liked to get more than the 4 bags I got, but our van doesn’t like heaving loads, and I already had 80 pounds of stove pellets in there. The canned cat food has gone up in price more than the dry has. The popcorn we get (in the excellent, heavy duty, food-safe plastic containers that we are keeping for dry-storing other foods) hasn’t gone up, nor has mayo, but mixed nuts (to keep in the van) has gone up more, as has the Basmati rice. Even their flats of water (for the cooler in the van) has gone up.

The frustrating thing is that I was looking to pick up non-food things for our stash, like more of those heavy duty tarps, and some non-scented, “flushable” wet wipes for washing up should we lose our water for some reason, as well as some work gloves that are stronger than the gardening gloves we have right now. I had to put them all back. The grand total for this trip was just under $550, which isn’t unusual for how much we spend at Costco, except that we got way less actual food this trip.

More incentive to keep increasing what we grow in the garden, and to get a coop and brooder set up, so we can finally have chickens.

Altogether, I spent over a thousand dollars, but our fridge is only half full. Granted, the pantry and freezer are still good for now, but the stash is not growing as well as I’d like.

Ah, well.

Next week, we have the rest of our monthly stocking up to do. I’m planning on going to the Wholesale Warehouse again, now that I’ve got a better idea of what we can get there.

It was a very hot day, and I’m glad I remembered to grab the ice packs from the big freezer this trip. We do have insulated bags, but even with saving those purchases for last, the van doesn’t have air conditioning, and those bags can only protect so much.

While I was gone, the girls were taking care of things on the home front, including frequently checking on the transplants to make sure they weren’t being baked, misting them as needed. They were still better off outside than in the sun room; it hit 30C/86F in there.

One of the things a daughter had tried to do while I was gone, was vacuum the living room. She’d done about half when the new vacuum cleaner basically lost all suction. We still don’t know all the quirks of this machine, so we left it until I got back.

We then spend probably 2 hours in total, fighting with that thing. What we eventually found was that the main hose was clogged, but it took figuring out how to dismantle the vacuum cleaner part way. The hose itself runs through a part of the vacuum cleaner that holds it in place, but doesn’t come off, so all the fighting we did with the hose included pulling it back and forth through the back of the machine. It ended up taking one of the metal plant supports I got at Dollar Tree to finally punch a hole through the clog, but we still couldn’t get it out. My daughter remembered a computer tool kit we have, which has a screw grabbing tool that was long enough and narrow enough to reach the clog, and the grabber could pull it out, little bits at a time.

The clog turned out to be mostly fibres of sisal rope from the cats’ scratch post. That stuff is nasty on the vacuum cleaner!

Plus cat hair, of course. Everything has cat hair.

One of the downsides of doing this is, we were in the living room, which has no air circulation. I was dripping with sweat, and by the time we were done, we were covered in dust, cat hair and little bits of sisal fibres.

Well, at least she was able to finish vacuuming the carpet. It was my turn to do the bathroom, which was done by LED flashlight, because the breaker was being kept off until the burnt outlet could be repaired. Not much air circulation in there, either, even with the window to the sun room open.

We were all pretty exhausted by the end of the day. I hate housework even more than I hate shopping. That’s why I’m usually the one doing the outside stuff, while the girls take care of the inside stuff. πŸ˜€

Still, I’m glad I got the Costco shopping done, at least, and I won’t have to do that again for another month!

The Re-Farmer