Not much accomplished today

The most predictable thing about plans seems to be that they don’t tend to last very long! 😀

I didn’t get anywhere near as much accomplished today as I’d hoped. I did, however, manage to finish planting the garden bed with peas, carrots and onions. At least until it’s safe to transplant out the tomatoes.

The row of onions and shallots, started from seed, that I transplanted yesterday made up only half the length of the bed. I had two boxes of shallot sets and decided to use those to finish the row.

Some of them are already starting to sprout! Which means the yellow (2 boxes) and red (1 box) onions need to get in the ground as soon as we can, as I’m sure they’d be much the same.

Of the two boxes of shallots, by the time I was done, there was only 5 shallots left. We decided to plant those in a couple of the retaining wall blocks along the old kitchen garden.

Which means that right now, all our shallots, both the sets and the ones grown from seed, are planted.

I noticed by the end of the afternoon that the plumb flower buds were starting to open! It was quite a warm one.

One thing I did manage to accomplish was a much needed trip to the dump. I’m glad we waited; from the condition of the road to it, it got flooded over, too. It did mean we had a lot more than usual to dump off.

While I was putting our glass into the separate bin they have for it, I noticed something very odd.

Canning jars.

Canning jars with the metal rings still on them.

Canning jars with glass lids!

They were in excellent condition, too!

I was sorely tempted to take them as they were, but we already have a lot of those old style canning jars and glass lids. It’s the rings that are getting as rare as hen’s teeth. I checked with the custodian about doing a bit of dumpster diving, and he leant me his reaching tool. In the end, there were only five rings that I could see, though there were quite a few more canning jars. What a waste. Especially with canning supplies being increasingly hard to come by in some places. These old style jars may not be considered safe for canning anymore, but they can still be used for dry canning, and the rubber rings are still available.

Between these and the ones I found in a bucket in the storage house, I think I have about 15 or 20 of these rings in total, and all in very good, useable shape.

In other things, I’d called the clinic on behalf of my mother and got a telephone appointment for her at just before noon. After letting her know about the appointment and talking about her pain situation, I got busy with other things and didn’t get a chance to call her back until much later. Just before 4pm, in fact. That’s when I found out the doctor hadn’t called her! The clinic stops answering the phone at 4pm, so I quickly called them again to find out what happened.

It turns out the appointment I made for my mother wasn’t for today. It was for Monday. I swear, I never heard a date. Just a time. We’d talked about a few things, and I was so focused on getting a doctor to call her as soon as possible, I must have simply missed it.

So that got straightened out, and I called my mother back to let her know. I was happy to hear that she was feeling a bit better. She says it improves if she doesn’t move at all. !!!

I’ll have to call her on the weekend and see about doing a grocery trip for her. She insists she’s well supplied… then starts talking about being almost out of milk, and maybe there’s something else?…


Tomorrow is out, as I should be making the trip into the city for the monthly shopping. At least the Costco portion of it.

One of the things on my to-do list was to contact a local electrician about our fried outlet. I know he works in the city, so I was going to wait until later. Then I got a phone call from my brother. He’d been thinking about what happened, and the photo I sent him, and was considering coming over to look at it himself. He’s done most of the new wiring here and is every bit as qualified an electrician; he just never bothered to get his ticket. If all goes well, he will be coming here on Saturday morning to see what he can do.

Meanwhile, my daughter was able to get her old laptop going again. She can’t work on her commissions on it, but she can at least get online, and can contact her clients about the delay.

And that’s about as much as I managed to accomplish today, and yet I’m feeling so very tired and sore, you’d think I had actually finished filling that low raised bed I’d intended to do today. *sigh*

I’m also falling asleep at the computer. I think an “early” (as in, before midnight) bed time is in order!

The Re-Farmer


The surviving tulips are starting to open!

This area had a double tulip collection planted, with 10 bulbs each of Orca, Pinksize and Double Brownie, and 8 bulbs each of Black Hero, Pamplona and Vanilla Coup planted in it, plus some Bulls Eye tulips off to the side. Aside from the Bulls Eye tulip (which Veseys no longer carries), we’re not sure which is which, anymore!

The tulips weren’t the only things starting to bloom.

The surrounding plum trees have exploded with flower buds!

Everything is about a month behind, but the flowers and leaves are finally appearing!

The Re-Farmer

That’s not good

Yesterday evening, while puttering in the kitchen, I heard a strange and sudden noise. A very out of place noise, coming from the living room.

So out of place, even the cats started to gather round, searching for the source.

In fact, it was the cats that lead me right to the source, partially hidden by a shelf.

For some reason, this outlet fried itself.

There were two power cords plugged into it. On one of them, nothing plugged into it was being used. On the other there was a salt lamp and a Orbi WiFi mesh device, both of which are always on, neither of which take a lot of power.

The breaker tripped, as it should, which has lead to some other problems.

We’re discovering what else was on that breaker.

On the panel, it’s labelled living room and bathroom. The living room has only 3 outlets. There’s the one that fried, of course. Another that powered the aquarium greenhouses, which are empty right now, is no longer working. The third, which powers the charger for a cordless phone handset, is still working.

The bathroom lights and fan no longer work. At least the bathroom already had a battery operated LED light switch to use, rather than blinding ourselves when going to the bathroom at night. With a second portable LED light next to the mirror, the room gets let up pretty well. Plus, there’s the window into the sun room. That gives us some light during the day, and we can open it more to make up for the lack of a fan.

I discovered an outlet in the new basement, which was being used to power a fan aimed at a damp spot in the corner, was no longer working. Nor is the light switch for the unfinished bar we’re now using as cat-proof storage. I was able to plug the fan in at another outlet, though it needed a much longer extension cord. That actually allowed me to put the fan in a more efficient spot, so no real complaints there.

Overall, things would be fine, except for one more outlet that stopped working. An upstairs outlet.

The one the girls’ computers is plugged into.

That room has only two outlets, a two prong and a three prong. So they can’t even plug into the other outlet.

Which means my older daughter can’t work.

She now has to find a way to email her clients and ask if they’re okay with a delay in their commissions, or if they want their money back.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to get our electrician in to fix it, but we can’t do that until my husband’s disability payment comes in – which, thankfully, is soon.

Not good – but it could have been a lot worse!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: peas, carrots, onions and more prep

One of things we started indoors were the four seeds we managed to save from the King Tut purple peas we tried to grow last year. All for successfully germinated, and were really needing to be either transplanted, or potted up.

Potting up didn’t make sense for these, so today, they got transplanted! Being peas, they are frost hardy, so we didn’t have to wait until after our last frost date.

I did change were they were meant to be planted. I was originally thinking of using the same pea trellis we used for them last year, but there’s just 4 of them, so we’ll save the trellises for the green peas we’ve got.

As the purple peas were already looking to climb, I decided to put them here.

This is where we grew tomatoes very successfully last year, and tomatoes will be grown here again this year. It got completely reworked in the fall.

This bed was going to get a mulch of wood shavings, too, but I also did the concrete blocks on the other side of the small gate, too.

We’ll be looking at planting some climbers in here, that can use the fence as a trellis.

The bag of wood shavings left over from last year got finished off in the long bed, and most of the new bag got used up, too! There was enough to mulch the haskaps (the male haskap is blooming!) and there’s still a bit left over.

All the mulch got watered as I laid it out, as the wind was picking up and threatening to blow it away. Once it was laid down, all the mulch got watered again, multiple times, as I worked.

Of course, the bed didn’t stay looking pretty like this for long!

This bed is going to be intensely and strategically planted! Along with the purple peas, there will be tomatoes planted all along the fence. Just inside where the tomatoes will go, there will be carrots, as they are good companion plants. On the outer edge, near the bricks, will be onions, as a critter deterrent.

In the bowl are the last of the pelleted Kyoto Red seeds from last year.

Clearing out a row to plant the carrots was a bit of a challenge, as there were sticks in with the leaf mulch that had to be removed. With pelleted seed, the carrots could be spaced as they were planted. I still got only half way down the row before running out of seeds. The other half is now planted with Napoli carrots; another pelleted variety from last year. With the Napoli, there are still a LOT of seeds left, so we have the option of tucking them around other things, too. We have 2 other new varieties that are not pelleted seed, so I will likely use cornstarch gel to help plant those.

There were not a lot of the Oneida yellow onions we started from seed to transplant, but it was still close to the half way mark. Of the onions we stared from seed, we have one tray or red onions left, but there’s quite a few of those, and I didn’t want to split them up. We also had a few shallots started from seed – a whole 7 of them survived – so I used those, and there’s still half the row left. We have shallot sets, too, so I’m thinking of using some of those to finish off the row. That will be another job for tomorrow!

As for the peas, I cut some of the plastic bottles from distilled water we have so many of, to put around the peas, to protect them from the wind. One of them blew away while I was transplanting onions. I’d tried to push it into the soil, but there turned out to be too many little sticks in the leaf litter. 😀 Once I got that fixed, I added the sticks to help keep them from blowing away. They are the sticks sold for toasting marshmallows, broken in half. We got a package for cookouts last year, but I’ve been using them as supports for some of the taller squash and gourd plants that were starting to flop around a bit. They work really well for that!

This bed now has only tomatoes to be transplanted into it, and that won’t be until after our June 2 last frost date, just to be on the safe side. We will be adding netting after the tomatoes are planted. The decorative wire garden fencing that you see in one of the photos above will be placed right up against the bricks, to hold the net away from the net, which will be attached to the top of the fence. The tomatoes and onions should be fine, but the carrots will need to be protected from critters. The net won’t stop a determined groundhog, but between that, the onions and the carrots, we hope the greedy buggers will decide they’re not worth the effort!

While I was working on this, my younger daughter was working on one of the low raised beds in the main garden area.

The girls cleaned up these beds last year, and this one was the worst for crab grass.

It still was. It took my poor daughter hours to get it done, diligently and carefully pulling up all the roots she could. Unlike me, she’s agile enough that she can kneel down on the ground to work, but she still knackered her back in the process. Once inside, she ended up having to put on her corset she made for herself, to use as a back brace just so she could sit upright at the table! She plans to continue with other beds tomorrow, and will likely just wear the darn thing from the start.

Her sister ended up helping me bring the transplants back inside after everything we done. She was up sick much of the night, but was finally feeling better. It was a bit of a juggle, since the chitting potatoes were sitting on the platform the seed trays and most of the bins sits on. Those had to go outside and onto the roof of the cats’ house until all the transplants were brought into the sun room, then we had to figure out how to fit the potatoes back in! Some ended up on the swing bench under the platform. Potato Beetle has lost his favourite bed for now. 😀

I fully expect we will expand our garden again, next year, which means starting more seeds indoors. Having at least a small, portable greenhouse is going to be increasingly a necessity! We almost got one this year, but the funds ended up being reallocated. Mind you, we still haven’t gone into the old hay loft, where my brother tells me there is the frame for a carport. If all the parts and pieces are there, we’d just need to get the plastic, and we’ll have a polytunnel. I can’t get up into the hayloft anymore – my body is too broken to clamber up there – so I’ll have to ask the girls to do it.

Well… that last paragraph got quite the interruption. I hadn’t realized my mother had phoned and left a message while we were working outside. She called again. It seems the painkillers the doctor prescribed for her back pain are not helping at all, and she’s in a lot of pain. Can’t sit, can’t stand, can’t lie down… She’s convinced the doctor gave her the wrong medication. She called the pharmacist, and he assured her she got the right meds. I guess she now thinks the prescription was a mistake? So tomorrow morning, when the clinic is open, I’ll give them a call. Hopefully, either her doctor, or the doctor that saw her in the ER, will be available to call her today and talk to her about it.

My husband is feeling very sympathetic for her. She’s entering his world, and is completely unprepared for it.

My plans for tomorrow may be changing, if I find myself having to drive my mother somewhere!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: sad garlic

I’m mentioned in previous posts, that two of our garlic beds are not doing well. We planted all three beds at the same time, last year.

While doing my rounds this morning, I caught one of the yard cats being… inappropriate… in one of the low raised bed and chased it off. On checking the damage, I saw it had dug up one of the cloves we planted last year.

That is most definitely a dead clove. You can see that it had started to sprout, which would have been the fall growth before the snow fell. It does seem like cold killed a lot of these off.

This garlic is from the bed planted with Rocambole garlic.

There were 90 cloves planted in this bed. This morning, I counted maybe 7, including what looked like a tip just barely breaking through.

The bed with Purple Stripe in it is doing a bit better, in that there are more emerging, but it still looks like less than half have survived the winter, and they are all so very tiny.

I am curious as to why these beds did so poorly over the winter, while the Porcelain Music planted in the low raised bed in the main garden are doing to very well right now. Could it be, that the slightly higher boxes offered less protection than the lower, log framed bed?

Well, whatever the reason, I hope what few have survived manage to do well, even if they are quite a bit behind in growth. It may just mean we’ll be harvesting them later in the summer.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: Eagle Creek potatoes are here!

Oh, I am so happy! The potatoes we ordered from Eagle Creek have arrived!

I appreciate their sense of humour!

As for the growing directions, for most of them, we’re doing the Ruth Stout deep mulching, so we won’t be hilling them. We specifically chose determinate varieties with that in mind. You can read about what we ordered, and why, at this post.

After doing battle with the remarkably strong bag and metal staples (I ended up having to cut it open! LOL), we had our three varieties.

The one kilogram bag of Caribe potatoes is 2.2 pounds, and the 5kg bags of Bridget and All Blue are 11 pounds each, so we’re looking at just over 24 pounds of potatoes here. 🙂

They’ve already started to sprout!

These are all the Caribe potatoes in the 1kg bag. There’s actually more of them than I thought there would be. Though we could split some of the larger ones, I’m not going to bother. These could be planted right now, if we wanted.

Here are the All Blue. There were quite a few large ones, so they got cu smaller, and will need a few days for the cuts to dry before planting them.

Here are all the Bridget potatoes. A fair number of them got cut smaller, too.

The Bridget and All Blue potatoes are meant for the two heavily mulched beds we just finished. While they are left to chit and the cut edges to dry, we will give the straw mulch repeated soakings with the hose. Hopefully, between that and the rain we’re supposed to be getting, off and on, for the next while, the straw will get good and moist, and keep the layer of carboard under it moist as well.

Now we have to decide where the Caribe potatoes will go. With how many potatoes there turned out to be, the spot I was thinking off will not be large enough. Perhaps these will do well in that low raised bed that we need to finish filling.

Finishing that bed will be a job for tomorrow, then.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: light mulching

After finishing my morning rounds, I remembered to check the tracking information and saw that our potatoes were ready for pick up. After picking up the nice big, heavy bag, I made a spur of the moment purchase and got some more wood shavings. We still had a small amount left over from last year, but since we can’t quite use our wood chipper yet, I decided it was worth picking up another bag. I’m glad I did!

One of the issues we have with our soil is that, when it’s watered, it develops a hard crust at the time, which seedlings have difficulty breaking through. One way to reduce that is with mulching – and that’s something we don’t have in the old kitchen garden right now. A straw mulch would be too much for what we’ve got in there right now. We do have lots of the hardwood pellets we use for cat litter, but I decided to use the shavings, too.

For some things, I could use the shavings for a slightly thicker mulch, such as around the irises and daffodils, and that one onion that predates us and keeps coming back, no matter how many times something managed to crunch it. The onions along the retaining wall are super tiny still, so they just got a very light mulch, as did the area we planted poppy seeds in, and the tiny patch with lettuce seeds next to the rose bush. More can be added later, as things grow, if necessary.

I even mulched one of the retaining wall blocks. Last year, we found a mystery bulb lying on the grass. We weren’t sure which of the bulbs we’d planted had lost one, so I just stuck it into this cube to see what came up. Nothing did, so it was quite a surprise to see what looks like a tulip emerging this year!

For the beds that are covered with netting, I still used the hardwood pellets, since they can fit through the net. It was a bit difficult to get it to spread evenly, since they wanted to roll into the furrows seeds were planted in, but those are what we want to protect from crusting, anyhow.

All the mulch got watered, so they can help keep the soil moist, and for the hardwood pellets to break up into sawdust. The seedlings should be able to push through the sawdust just fine.

Over time, the crusting problem will lessen as more organic matter like this mulch, breaks down into the soil. Definitely a long term process, but that’s par for the course! This garden has already been 4 years in the works, since we started cleaning it up and prepping it, our first summer here!

Ah, but what about those potatoes we finally picked up?

That will be in my next post! 🙂 I am really happy with them!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: first Yakteen gourd!

We had started some Yakteen gourd seeds indoors a while back, but none germinated. There was also one pot with hulless pumpkin in it that didn’t germinate, so I took the last 6 seeds we had left and replanted them in the three pots.

One has finally germinated!

Since I took this photo this morning, the seedling has fully emerged from the soil.

So far, there’s just the one, but I moved all of them to the sun room. Hopefully, more will germinate. This is one of those rare varieties that I want to save seeds from, to keep it going. This is really late for starting indoors, but maybe we’ll have another long and mild fall – to make up for how long it took for winter to let go, only to have a cold, wet “spring”.

We got a lot of garden related stuff done today, and I took lots of pictures, so I’ll be making several shorter posts rather than one huge one!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: preparing beds for planting

Last night, I was able to head outside again and work on a couple of the low raised beds. We’d done these in the fall, but they need more work again.

I managed to get a bed and a half done last night.

We definitely need to raise these beds higher. With the constant bending to pull the rhizomes and roots out, by the time I was done, I was feeling light headed and ill. 😦

The garlic hear is doing very well. The other two beds are doing very poorly. Because I planted them in a grid, I could use the few sprouted garlic to figure out where others should be, and gently dug down. I’ve found some cloves with their bit of leaf sprouted, but not at all green. I suspect we may have lost a lot of cloves to the cold, even though they were heavily mulched.

The remaining three beds need to be worked on, but we’ll have to do the pea trellises, first. Those should be planted already, and the purple peas the sprouted from seeds we saved need to be transplanted. They are frost hardy, so we don’t have to wait until past our last frost date, and they’re getting too big for their pots.

Today, however, I was expecting our potatoes to come in, so I really wanted to get that second bed deep mulched. I was very happy to be able to pick up some more cardboard from my new homesteading friend this morning – and get to visit her chickens, guinea hens and ducks! I was very inspired. We so need to get a coop built, so we can have chickens!!

They didn’t have as much carboard as list time, but I was also offered stacks of egg trays, so I went ahead and took those, too. The one downside of this program: it may keep a lot of food waste out of the landfills, but the farmers and homesteaders are left will all sorts of packaging, and not all of it can be reused. Even some of the cardboard has a wax coating on it, can can’t be used as mulch. Stuff is still going to end up in the landfills.

But not the cardboard I got today! 🙂

This is the area that needed to be worked on. This had two layers of black tarp over it!

We are dry enough that I could break out the weed trimmer (and three extension cords!) and use that, first.

I trimmed right into the ground as much as I could, which tended to reveal plenty of surface rocks. I stopped frequently to pick the bigger ones. I’m not sure how much of a difference it will make, but better to remove them while the chance was there!

After this was done, I dug some hoses out of the garden shed and set up. It was very hot (we hit at least 22C/72F, which is higher than forecast) and windy, so I wanted to be able to wet down the cardboard as I worked, to make sure it wouldn’t blow away.

By this time, the post office was open again, so I headed out to pick up the potatoes, only to discover they weren’t in yet! I suppose I should have checked the tracking number first. Ah, well. I needed to get more milk at the store, anyhow! The tracking number now says they should arrive tomorrow by end of day, but the store is open only half a day tomorrow. Hopefully, it’ll be in, in the morning. We’ll see.

Once home, it was back to work!

This is when I ran out of cardboard, including what was left over from last time!

This is where I ran out of egg trays, including some of our own that we’d been saving. They’re laid in interlocking layers, so each row is at least two layers deep.

What to do next?? This is a large area to cover.

I scrounged around the house and found some boxes I could break down. Then I remembered we still had some moving boxes in the basement. We’d been saving them for something – I can’t even remember what, anymore – but the new basement now gets wet where a rain barrel had been allowed to overflow, before we moved here, and the boxes have been water damaged.

Which is just perfect for here.

I used up almost all of the old moving boxes! I think there’s three left, now.

I kept having to pause and use the hose, because they were drying so quickly in the sun. The egg trays, at least, hung on to their moisture a lot more.

Then it was time to start laying out the straw.

This took up a lot of that big straw bale!

Since I had the hose handy, I took the time to wet down the straw every now and then – and the cardboard, so it would still be wet as I laid the straw down. It took quite a while to get it done, but I think it worked out better that way. I hosed down the other bed as well, but it takes a lot to get straw really wet. We’re expecting showers and thundershowers, on and off over the next couple of weeks, but it won’t be enough to really get it soak, so we’ll be hosing it down daily. I plan to chit the potatoes, so we should have a few days to get it really good and wet.

The high raised bed, with its onion transplants and sown spinach, also got thoroughly watered.

While I was working on this, a daughter was back out digging holes for when the trees come in, until the heat became too much for such heavy manual labour. It was bad enough that she had to break out the loppers to cut roots she was hitting, not to mention all the rocks she had to clear out, too! Including both the bison berry and the highbush cranberry, she’s digging two rows of 16, three feet apart. Then there’s just the holes along the lilac hedge for the 5 sea buckthorn, and those will be ready for when the trees arrive. The shipping date for those is scheduled for May 30, with an expected arrival of June 2. Once they arrive, we need to get them in the ground as quickly as possible – and have a way to protect the saplings from being eaten by deer!

For now, we are ready for potatoes. Now that we finally have a break in the weather, the next few weeks are going to see a lot of garden activity! I’m eyeballing the long range forecast, on three different apps, and while they are all slightly different, none of them are suggesting we’ll be getting frost, and overnight lows are looking pretty good. I might have to chance it with some of our transplants. The kulli corn is outgrowing their toilet paper tube pots and need to be in the ground! I’m still not even sure where I’ll be planting them. They can grow up to 8 feet tall, so I’m thinking of putting them along the back of the main garden area, where we’d tried growing gourds our first year of gardening. They’ll be protected by trees from the north, while getting full sunlight all day. They would be planted in two or three long rows, closer together, rather than a block, but I think it will still work out.

This is going to be a very interesting gardening year!

The Re-Farmer

Morning flowers, random skulls, and grogs

I made arrangements to pick up some more cardboard this morning, so I was out doing my rounds a bit earlier today. I was quite happy to see some new flowers showing up.

The grape hyacinths are finally pushing up their flower spikes!

Also, does anyone know what those broad-leafed plants all around it are? This stuff is absolutely everywhere, very invasive, and very hard to get rid of!

The very fist of my daughter’s daffodils is starting for form flower buds! Her flowers did so poorly in their first year, she’s thrilled that the managed to survive at all. The irises are still incredibly sparse and thin, but at least they’re there and still growing. Perhaps next year, we’ll finally see flowers from those. With the tulip area fenced off, even the eaten ones are recovering, while the survivors have flower buds that look ready to bloom any time now.

After my morning rounds, I headed out to pick up the cardboard, stopping for gas along the way, where I found something unexpected.

A random skull, just sitting on the concrete next to the gas pump! It looks like some sort of large rodent.

What a fascinating and unexpected find! I can just imagine someone leaving it there and giggling at the thought of how people might react to seeing it. It looks like something someone found half buried in a ditch somewhere. There’s even moss growing on it.

Hmmm… I wonder… Could it be from one of these?

When the grogs go into one of these chimney liners, I’m able to get quite close to them and get a photo. This little guy was chittering and hissing at me, so I made sure to stay out of its view, and just stuck my phone around to take the picture, then left it alone.

You know. The more I think about it, the most I think that might indeed be a groundhog skull!

The Re-Farmer