Well, I am just a sucker for punishment or something.
I headed out this afternoon and ended up checking the push mowers. We still have my mother’s old mower. We bought the other one when I simply couldn’t start it anymore. The prime pump needs to be replaced. Though that’s not the only thing wrong with it, it’s the one thing that keeps it from running.
After checking over the newer mower, I gassed it up and got it started. It took a while, but once it got going, it started on the first pull again, as usual. It needs a new air filter, and I was sure I had a spare, but can’t find it.
Then, since it was running and had gas, I decided to do a bit of mowing.
In the super tall and thick grass that never got mowed at all last year.
In what was probably the hottest part of the day. It’s past 6pm as I write this, and we’re at 29C/85F right now, so it was at least that, at the time.
My goal was to mow a lane to the barn, making sure to pass close to the pile of garden soil.
This is after I mowed over it twice, at two different heights, sending the clipped grass towards the middle for easier gathering. You can see in the foreground, where the grass is greener. That’s as far as we’d been able to mow, last year. The dried grass is all the thatch from last year. The green grass on the left is misleading; it’s just like the part that I mowed, with the new grass is tall enough to somewhat hide the thatch. In reality, it’s almost all dead, dry grass and hardly any fresh new grass.
I raked the clippings into piles; this is after my daughter had already hauled away several loads with the wagon. Once I finished raking, I grabbed the wheelbarrow to help with the rest. The clippings are now in the main garden area, ready to be used as a mulch.
We’re going to have to take the mower in for servicing. I can’t see the problem, but the self propeller won’t self propel anymore, and when I tried to use it, it made an awful racket. I remember now that it broke last year, but we hardly use the self propeller, so I forgot about it. Of course, getting an oil change, the blade sharpened, and a basic maintenance check would certainly be in order. At least it’s still useable. And if we can get my mother’s old mower fixed, we could have two people mowing at once. The refurbished riding mower my brother bought us when we first moved here, sadly, is toast. Not only does a chain keep falling off (when we had it looked at, we were told that, for the cost of fixing it up, it wasn’t worth it!), rendering it immobile, but the tires need replacing, too. They’ve become cracked, and now one of them is completely flat. If we can figure out where to put it, we should get it out of the garage workshop our mowers and blowers, etc. are stored in, because it takes up a lot of space!
We got the small area we needed mowed clear; next priority is a path to the shed near the barn. Little by little, we’ll get the rest done, but the main thing is access to the garden soil pile and the barn. Raking up the clippings for use in the garden will help with the health of the grass, too, though it will likely take at least a couple more mows before we’ve dealt with all the old thatch.
That done, I did a bit of watering from the rain barrel. Hopefully, we’ll get that promised rain, because it’s going to need a refill!
The transplant trays in the sun room got watered, too. They didn’t dry up as much as if they had been outside today, but it still gets hot enough in there that, together with the fan and the cross breeze between the sun room and old kitchen doors, things dry out pretty quickly.
With the transplants, we have had a few losses. One of them was an African Drum gourd seedling that started dying when they were still set up in the living room. It never recovered, so I took the pot it was in and set it aside to make space in the tray. The pot, of course, dried out completely, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw green poking out! One of the drum gourd seeds that hadn’t germinated was breaking soil. So I found room for it in the tray with the one remaining luffa and watered it, and now there is a second seed germinating!
That was just one surprise, though. While tending the tomatoes, I found these.
A squash or gourd suddenly appeared in the pot on the right a couple of days ago, and now two more have shown up in the pot on the left!
I have no idea how these seeds got in there. I did reuse the seed starting mix from the few pots where seeds never germinated, mixing it in with the potting soil used to pot up the tomatoes, but I was pretty careful to remove anything larger from the potting soil. We’ve had issues with finding sticks and rocks in both the seed starting mix and the potting soil mix. Even when breaking up the soil from the used pots, I remember looking for the failed seeds and never found any, so I figured they’d rotted away. I have no idea what kind of squash these might even be, anymore. There are several possibilities.
Well, when the time comes, they’ll be transplanted and, if they survive, we’ll find out what they are!
With the heat we’ve been having, it is so tempting to start direct sowing – and we actually can direct sow the Montana Morado corn at the end of this week. My sister and her husband, who live south of us, but not as far south as my brother, put their garden in this past weekend. It’s traditional for a lot of people to put their gardens in on Mother’s Day weekend. For others, it’s the May long weekend – Victoria Day in most provinces – which is next weekend, but that’s still almost 2 weeks before our last frost date. As hot as it is today, we’ve now got a forecast a few days from now with a high of only 8C/46F and an overnight low of 3C/37F. Long range forecasts show days with highs of 23C/73F and overnight lows of 5C/41F, or 20C/68F highs followed by 4C/39F. That sort of temperature whiplash would be hard on our heat loving transplants, and we don’t have enough materials to protect them from the overnight chills.
Which is okay. We still have lots of work to do to prepare the existing beds, never mind build the new trellis tunnels we need for our climbers. One of the low raised beds is so full of weeds right now, you can hardly see where it is among the crab grass and weeds in the paths!
One of the things that keeps getting delayed is cutting the trees I need to make the trellis tunnel(s). Which is okay, because it gives me time to rework the design and construction in my mind. We talked about making low raised beds at the base of the tunnels 2 ft wide on the outside, with the tunnel’s vertical supports being part of the inside walls and a 4 ft wide path inside the tunnel. However, we’ve been working with beds at about 3 ft wide for growing space. I’m now thinking of going with beds 3 feet wide, with the tunnel’s vertical supports one foot in from the inside. This way, we can plant our climbers inside the tunnel, and still have 2 ft wide growing space on the outsides. That would add 2 feet to the horizontal distance between the vertical supports.
I think it’s doable, and the dimensions will better match the high raised beds we will be building.
In the end, the final decision will be based on what materials we can scrounge together.
We shall see how that works out!