Our 2023 garden: garlic planted, and topping up the high raised bed

Earlier today, I made a trip into town to hit the hardware store. I found the screws in the size I needed, though the cost was insane. A box with only 100 screws was $12.99 – about $4 more than the last time I got a 100 count box! Still, we’ll be able to finish the water bowl shelter now.

I also picked up a glass cutter. We have one somewhere, but I have no idea what happened to it. While I was in the city yesterday, the girls worked on clearing the broken glass from the inner pane of one of the sun room windows. There are still pieces that are firmly attached at the sides. Until that’s done, we can’t let the cats into the sun room. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get that cleaned up soon.

I was really happy to find the lever type door handle I was looking for. Just a simple, inexpensive handle for an interior door. It was easy to install, and it now no longer hurts to open my door!

Later on, my older daughter and I headed out to do some work in the garden, including planting these.

The Nootka Rose garlic on the left are a soft neck garlic. On the right, above the cloves, you can see the hard necks from the middle of the bulbs. They do make it easier to break the cloves apart! The cloves are larger, and there are fewer of them. Of the four bulbs, one of them had only three cloves!

The soft neck garlic has nothing like that in the middle. Just smaller and smaller cloves. I’ve never planted soft neck garlic before. While the hard neck garlic should be planted in the fall, in our climate zone, we can plant soft neck garlic in the spring – but we’re planting both now.

We moved the mulch aside and planted them the same way as the first row we planted a few days ago. The row in the middle of the bed got the hard neck Music variety, because there are fewer of them. Less reaching needed when it’s time to harvest!

After laying out the cloves to see how to space them, the kittens absolutely would not leave them alone! They also really, really wanted to dig in those freshly uncovered rows!

After planting, the rows were lightly covered to reduce compaction while watering – and protect from kitties.

Which didn’t work very well. Several of them started digging in to them to poop! One wouldn’t stop even while being directly spayed with the hose!

*sigh*

We did eventually persuade them to go elsewhere.

With the Nootka Rose garlic, there were enough that we planted only the largest cloves.

The remaining smaller cloves are now in the kitchen for us to taste test. 😊

That done, my daughter did some other clean up and gathering of support poles, while I turned my attention to the high raised bed.

The chard remains were pulled. They’re actually looking better after several frosts then they have all summer, now that there are no longer grasshoppers eating them. We were never able to eat any of it!

As expected, the soil level has dropped a fair bit, as the organic material buried in layers below, settle. It looks like some mice may have been trying to tunnel in one corner.

I have no doubt Rolando Moon has taken care of that problem for us already.

The last of the vines from the squash patch were added for more organic material – then smashed as flat as I could get it before adding fresh soil. The remaining soil sifted from what is now the garlic bed came in quite handy!

It had settled enough that it took three large wheelbarrows full of soil to top it up! I probably could have gotten away with two and a half, but it’s going to continue to settle, so a little extra is fine.

It then got a light, thin mulch of grass clippings before I gave the whole thing a thorough watering. I just want to protect the soil surface, not insulate it. In the spring, the mulch will be removed so the soil can warm up and thaw out faster.

We haven’t decided what to plant here next year, yet, but I think we should give it at least one more year for the upper layers to break down before we try to plant any deep root vegetables in it.

I feel like I’m really behind on preparing the beds for the winter. The girls aren’t able to help as much as usual, either. My younger daughter has been having knee issues to the point that she’s now using a cane to get around the house. She did try to go to a doctor about it, about 2 years ago, but it wasn’t taken seriously because she’s so young. It was already a battle to get her to see a doctor in the first place, so that certainly didn’t help. Anyhow, she does the best she can but, right now I’m actually the most able bodied person in our household. Which is kinda scary, considering how much I’m hurting this year! I didn’t expect my hands to be the main problem, though. Usually it’s my wrecked knees and feet. They’ve actually been relatively good, lately. Either that or the pain in my hands is making it seem like they are better.

Ah, well. We do what we can. It won’t be the end of the world if some beds don’t get weeded before winter and need to be done in the spring. There are other things that are higher on the necessity list.

Little by little, it’ll get done.

The Re-Farmer

Some evening clean up

My original plan for the day had been to go into the city for our second stock up trip, but that just didn’t happen. Not only was I very tired from being up so late making and canning the tomato paste, I was in a load of pain. Arthritis sucks at the best of times, but everything else was hurting, too!

By the afternoon, I was feeling a bit better, so I went outside to do some clean up. I figured I would give the water bowl shelter a quick scrub down, and tomorrow we could start painting it.

Ha!

That worked out well enough until I went to flip it upside down to scrub the bottom.

The first time I flipped it on its roof, two floor boards fell off.

Most of the boards are nailed in place, but this salvaged wood is pretty warped and starting to dry rot, so they don’t hold well. I did have 1 3/4 inch screws in a few of them, and those ones held, so I flipped it back again, nailed the boards that fell off back in place, then added some screws.

Then I flipped it upside down, and a different board fell off. And that one did have screws already!

I fixed that and added more screws, flipped it back and…

That board has several screws in it, and it still fell off. It’s basically too warped for the screws to hold. I need longer screws, but the next size up I’ve got are 3 inch screws, and those are just too long. Especially since I’m doing this by hand.

So tomorrow, I’ll pick up some 2 inch wood screws and get those back on. It only has to hold long enough for us to paint it. After that, it won’t matter.

I let the girls know the status of things, including that I was unable to scrub the inside back wall, because I couldn’t reach it, then moved on to something else.

I did some chop and drop around the haskap berries, now that my mother’s flowers are past their prime. I’ve never bothered to do this before, leaving the stems to clean up in the spring, but this year they got SO tall, the completely covered the haskap berries. So now they will be a mulch, and the haskap are finally getting some sunlight.

I had lots of company while I worked.

I like this baby. He spends most of his time just hanging out nearby.

We had haskap

We had no berries at all this year. The male plant bloomed, but I never saw flowers on the females. Hopefully, next year will be better, but I think I just need to move these to a better location.

While I was working on that, one of my daughters came out and worked on the water bowl shelter.

She tacked the floorboard back on, crawled in and got that back wall scrubbed.

If we’d had the paint earlier, we would have scrubbed and painted all the parts and pieces first. That would have made things much easier!

Ah, well. We’ll manage.

That tuxedo really likes the water bowl shelter. He’s always hanging around in or under it!

Once the shelter is dry, it’s going to need another brush down to get the stuff currently stuck in place because it’s damp. With the condition of the wood, we don’t want to use a hose on it any more than we absolutely have to. It’ll be good to finally have it painted and set up in its spot by the kibble house and cat shelter. We’ll be creating a sort of U shape with them, which should help reduce drifting, too.

Little by little, it’s getting done!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: planting garlic

No, that’s not a typo in the title. Today, I FINALLY planted our garlic for next year.

This morning I first headed out to get my mother checked out of her hotel room, then took her out for brunch – she hadn’t had a proper meal since our take out Chinese food lunch, yesterday! – before taking her home. She did not have the energy to do anything else. I stayed long enough to make her bed up again with fresh sheets and blankets, and push some of the stuff back against the walls, before my mother sent me home. She would not allow me to run any errands for her, even!

Which works out. As soon as could after I got home, I worked on the garlic. The first thing to do was break up the bulbs I’d set aside from our harvest this year.

Would you look at this giant clove!

I had set aside six of the biggest bulbs of garlic we harvested.

Out of those six bulbs, we got a whole 24 cloves.

Twentyfour big cloves, but still… we’re going to need a lot more garlic!

I used broken pieces of bamboo stakes to mark the ends of a row along one side of the prepared bed, then pushed aside the mulch. The soil is loose enough that I could just use a weeding tool to scrape a trough from one end to the other, then deepened it using the jet setting on the garden hose.

Which the kittens were absolutely fascinated by.

Once the garlic was planted evenly spaced down the row and covered, I pulled back a little bit of the mulch. Once things start to get colder, more mulch will be pulled over to cover it for the winter. For now, it’s just enough to protect the row.

From this guy.

This guy and several other little “helpers” that were so determined to dig in the fresh dirt, they ignored the hose I was watering with, until they got sprayed!

Silly things.

Anyhow. Our first garlic for our 2023 garden is in.

I am now going to start making tomato paste for canning, freeing up freezer space for our next stock-up shopping trip.

Little by little, it’s getting done!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022/2023 garden: finishing the garlic bed

Once I got home from the city and grabbed a meal, it was right back out to work on the bed our fall garlic will be planted in.

This is how it was left, the night before.

Because I had been tromping across it with the wheelbarrow, the first thing I wanted to do – after putting the new handle on our garden fork! – was loosen up the soil at the bottom.

It was not easy. At this point, not only was I hitting a lot of rocks, but at the north end of it, a lot of tree roots, too!

I also had a kitten on my back, most of the time. The little grey and white tabby that is the most socialized of the bunch. At one point, he simply draped himself across the back of my neck and stayed there as I moved around!

I was also picking up and tossing quite a few larger rocks into the trees, too.

Something this guy really loved! He kept chasing after the rocks as they bounced on the ground, then came back to watch me, waiting for the next throw! He even made it a challenge not to bean him with a rock, the way he was running after them!

Silly thing.

After the base was loosened, I gave the whole thing a thorough watering.

Then I got a wheelbarrow load of wood chips. Just one, for a think layer all across. This is on the same principal as using logs in a hügelkultur mound. As the anaerobic bacteria slowly breaks down the wood, the wood acts as a sponge to hold water for the roots above. Since these are wood chips rather than logs or branches, as we used in the high raised bed, they will break down faster. With garlic having shallow roots, the breakdown of the wood chips won’t affect their nitrogen needs.

The wood chips got a thorough soaking before the next step.

I pulled up the frost-killed summer squash, the remaining dead tomato, eggplant and pepper plants from the other two beds, and quite a bit of dead winter squash plants, too.

Then, because they were so bushy, I tromped them flat, being careful to just step on the dead plants. I just loosened the soil on the entire bed. I didn’t want to compact it all again!

Once they were flattened,, then given a soak, I could start adding soil back.

The soil was raked out evenly, though I tried not to get too close to the logs. That’s where the crab grass will inevitably grow in from the path.

With so many rhizomes catching on my rake as I was working, I finally went ahead and raked the weeds and roots I’d tossed into the paths.

There was a lot more than it seems, while all spread out! It all got dumped among the nearby trees.

With all that soil getting sifted, plus what was added to the bed, this is what I was left with.

Almost half the soil I took out is still there! The logs framing the bed are so low, if I add more back, I’ll have a problem with the sides washing down into the path – something that was an issue when watering the tomatoes.

Which is fine. The high raised bed’s soil level dropped over the summer, as expected, so I can use it to top that up, and still have some left over.

I did not, however, soak the freshly laid down soil. That would have just compacted it. We got a frost advisory for tonight, but things are supposed to warm up after that. We might even hit 21C/70F in a couple of days! So the grass clipping mulch went back right away.

Then it got a thorough soaking!

When it comes time to plant the garlic, we can make holes through the mulch. After tonight’s frost, we’re supposed to have some very pleasant evenings, which will be prefect for the cloves to start rooting themselves before the overnight temperatures start to be consistently too low for growth.

Thankfully, none of the other low raised beds need this much work put into them. They just need to be weeded and mulched for the winter. Except for the bed with the carrots and turnips in it. That will stay as it is for a while longer, as they won’t be bothered by frost.

Lots of clean up to prepare for next year, still! But this bed, at least, is all done and ready for garlic.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 – 2023? garden: preparing the garlic bed

Well, the soil sifter I made really got a work out today! I’m actually quite impressed. It got beaten and battered, and that janky thing withstood the abuse and did the job.

The half inch mesh works out well. The soil was very full of worms, and most of them fell through the mesh quite easily. Any pebbles small enough to go through will not be a problem. In fact, they will help with drainage. Unfortunately, it’s also large enough that roots can fall through, too, so I still did most of the picking of roots by hand, tossing them on the path to be trampled on, pushing through the soil until I reached a point where I could just shake the rest through. What got left behind were the larger rocks and weeks, and small clumps of soil. I didn’t want to break those up too much, as it would have hurt too many worms.

I laid out the black landscape-type fabric/tarp we’ve got to put the sifted soil on until I’m ready to put it back into the bed.

It took many loads as I worked my way down. You can see the crab grass rhizomes I pulled out on the grass. You can’t see all the other roots and weeds that also got pulled out.

Using the wheelbarrow and soil sifter really helped a lot. I have a long handled garden claw that I used to break the soil up in the sifter, pulling up the longer roots, and using the back of it to help push the soil through the sifter. It was a real back saver! Plus, when I stopped to work with my hands, I could brace the garden claw on the ground, or even into a corner of the sifter, to lean on as I worked. The logs around the garden bed allowed me to raise one leg, relieving even more pressure from my back. Without all those little things to help out, I would not have been able to finish the soil sifting today!

This is where I stopped, after several hours.

Oh, wow. I just looked at the time stamps between the first progress photo I took, and the last one. I was working on this for four hours. !!

Basically, I removed the top four inches or so of soil. After that, I was scraping the shovel over rocks.

There are still a lot of rhizomes along the edges, but the run under the log border, and I wasn’t up to moving those out to get rid of them.

The sifted soil is now so light and fluffy, it looks like there’s so much more than what could fit into the space in the bed!

What got left behind in the sifter got dumped among the nearby trees. Plenty of rocks, clumps of soil, worms, and the occasional sticks, rusted nails and even bits of glass!

I am so glad this is done.

Tomorrow, I plan to add a layer of wood chips into the bottom of the bed, top it with the summer squash vines I’ll be pulling from the next bed over, and then the soil will be returned, ready for garlic planting and mulch. I hope to get that all finished tomorrow, because the day after, I am expecting to go into the city for a much needed stocking up trip to the city.

While I was writing this, I got a call from my brother. He had just made the trip out to my mother’s to get the battery from the motorized chair he got for her (which she refuses to use) that isn’t holding a charge for some reason. She just let him know that they’re coming to spray her apartment for bedbugs again, the day after tomorrow. She hadn’t mentioned a thing to me when I called her last, even though she’d told me about some other stuff, even though I’d really stressed with her to let us know right away if she got another letter of notification that they’d be coming in to spray her place again, so that we would have time to help her prepare. She started talking to him about staying in the lobby, even though she has to stay away from her apartment for 12 hours after spraying.

*sigh*

My brother took a picture of the letter she got and will send it to me. Hopefully soon, because I’d like to read it before I call her. It looks like I will be helping her book a room at the motel again, as she doesn’t want to stay at my sister’s overnight. Too many stairs in her house. Which means I’ll be using her car to go into the city, which means not a Costco trip.

At this point, I don’t even know if they are spraying her place because they’re actually finding bed bugs, or because they’ve just decided to keep spraying the same apartments every month. The guy did leave a trap, but no one comes to check it.

What a pain.

Oh, and I just found out our vandal had called my mother again – at the beginning of the month! It was her birthday, so he used that as an excuse to call her, then start harassing her about the farm again until she finally hung up on him. I had hoped, after losing his court case against me, he’d finally give up, but apparently not. She never said a thing to any of us until now. So frustrating!

Well, we’ll figure it out. For now, I’m just going to focus on getting that bed done and planting garlic for next year!

The Re-Farmer

My morning buddy, and our 2022 garden: eggplants and slow going

I had such a slow start to the day today. Not a lot of sleep, and when I tried getting up this morning, I lost my balance and almost fell. My husband was up and I ended up asking him to take care of feeding the cats this morning so I could lie down again. Considering it’s because of his own pain levels that he’s up (or not) at odd hours, it takes a lot before I ask him to take over like that. I have a theory on what’s going on and will be testing it over the next few nights. If I don’t follow up on that later, it will be because nothing changed.

When I finally did get out, the kitties had full bellies, which means I had company during my rounds!

Especially as I went up the driveway to check the gate and switch out the memory card on the gate cam. The new camera, with its direct solar power and battery backup, has the batteries still at 100%! The other two trail cameras are at about half, and both have had their batteries changed at least once, since we got the new camera.

I’m not actually all that happy that the kittens follow me to the gate. I don’t want them wandering to the road, so I try to pick them up if I can. At one point, I was carrying the three amigos, all at the same time. Interesting that the three most socialized kittens like to stay together the most, too. I can’t say it’s because they are all from the same litter, because the fourth one of that litter is more or less indifferent to its siblings, while the muted calico, from an older litter, still likes to hang out with these three the most. That one is a lot more socialized now, too. It still runs off at time, but more often than not, we can pet it and even pick it up for cuddles.

I worked on the garden bed I intend to plant the garlic in last night, but didn’t get very far.

This is where I left off when my back started to give out.

I really look forward to when we have more high raised beds!!!

I removed the grass clippings mulch and loosened the entire bed with a garden fork first, then started working my way around, pulling out as many crab grass rhizomes and other weeds as I could. The job was made much more challenging, because the kitten in the earlier photo decided it absolutely had to be on my back while I worked! When I straightened up, she would climb up to perch on my shoulder until bent down again.

I managed just over half the bed. I found the soil to be much improved, easy to work into with the garden hoe – though I’m still hitting rocks – and filled with worms. Compaction, however, is still a problem.

Once I’ve got more of the roots and weeds removed, I’ll use the soil sifter to get more out. I plan to dig a trench down the middle. The summer squash bed is right next to it. I’ll be pulling those up and burying them in this bed as a soil amendment. After the garlic is planted, the grass clipping mulch will be returned. The summer squash bed will be ready to work on next.

Things are going much more slowly than I expected, and it’s basically because of pain. Yes, I pain killer up before I start, I’m just taking your basic painkillers. They’re not particularly strong. I’m the sort of person where pharmaceuticals tend not to work as expected to begin with, and typically need double the dose to maybe get the same effect as a regular dose on someone else. It’s the same thing with the painkillers dentists inject before working on a tooth – something I discovered the hard way when I was in 5th grade. I still remember the dentist working on a cavity. I had my eyes squeezed shut in pain and was clutching the arm rests when the dentist made a snarky comment about opening my eyes, it’s not that bad. I did open my eyes, glared at him – and broke one of the arm rests. I was an adult before I dared go to a dentist again. As an adult, the dentists would actually listen to me when I told them there was still pain.

So… yeah. I do have an extremely high pain tolerance because of this, and can typically just keep working through all sorts of pain. That’s getting harder and harder to do as I get older. The problem is, there’s really no one else to take over. My older daughter has joint problems that has lead to injuries that just won’t heal, so there’s only so much she can do, and both of them have back problems that won’t go away unless they both get reduction surgery (as I did, more than 20 years ago: best thing I ever did!!!), but neither of them trust doctors. At all. They’ve seen the BS my husband and I have put up with over the years. Since we’ve moved back to this province, we’ve found health care has gotten even worse during the almost 15 years we were away. So while they can help, all four of us are just really gimpy. Plus, my older daughter has her commissions to work on, so she gets paid, and isn’t available as much. They both also take care of the inside stuff for me, so I’m free to work on the outside stuff – an arrangement I am quite happy with. Still, the way things are going, I’m going to have to ask them to help me with the outside stuff more. It’s frustrating. When we first moved here, I was able to get much more work done in much less time. I did not expect my body to give out that much in so few years!

Ah, well. It is what it is.

I’ll be taking pain killers and heading back out soon.

On another note, we had another small harvest this morning.

I decided it was time to pick the Little Finger eggplant. I actually found one more little one, after I took this picture. These are all from just one plant. None of the others matured enough to produce anything. I had intended to leave them for longer, but last night we dropped to 2C/36F. We were only supposed to drop to 6C/43F, so I didn’t try to cover them for the night. They don’t look frost damaged, but with how messed up the forecast has been, I figured it was time. This variety is meant to be picked while still relatively small and glossy – maybe a bit bigger than the largest one I’m holding.

In talking with the girls about what to plant next year, we are thinking of trying 3 varieties of peppers, and I’d like to try this variety of eggplant again. However, we will need to work out better protection for them. My older daughter is wanting to save up for a type of greenhouse that is specifically designed for our extreme temperatures. Something like the polycrub that Stone Croft Skye has. Before then, I hope to pick up a decent sized portable greenhouse, or maybe a smaller one to use for our seedlings. We have GOT to come up with something better for starting seeds. We had to spend way too much effort to protect them from cats, making for less than ideal growing conditions.

That is something to think about later, though. For now, we need to clean things up and get beds prepared for next year, first.

The Re-Farmer

How they turned out

Last night, after saving some for planting next year, I picked over the blue grey speckled tepary beans we grew, then left them to soak overnight. I ended up using all of the remaining beans.

This is how they looked after shelling.

After soaking overnight, they looked like this.

The got a bit bigger, but not by much, really.

I was going to use them in a soup, and decided to cook them separately, first. This is how they looked after being cooked al dente.

The colour is off because the camera got steamed up. They did lose a lot of their colour, and I noticed they turned the water quite grey, so I’m glad I decided to cook them separately, first. Otherwise, they would have turned my soup grey!

I was going to make a cream of chicken soup, but ended up making an “everything but the kitchen sink” soup. My daughters had roasted several whole chickens, with our own potatoes, a couple of days ago. Today, I deboned what was left of them, and used the remaining roasted potatoes in the soup, too. I also used a couple of yellow onions from the garden, the single shallot I’d picked yesterday, the last bit of slab bacon we had, and all of the Kyoto Red carrots, since there were so few of them. The tiny sweet potato harvest was used up, along with the last of our summer squash – green and yellow zucchini, and yellow patty pan squash. Corn kernels, cut from the cobs, went into the pot, as well as some of the tomato sauce I’d made recently. After everything was cooked, I took the immersion blender to it for a while, adding in some whipping cream at the same time. The very last thing was a handful of shredded cheddar cheese.

I tasted the beans after they were cooked, and they tasted like… beans. 😁 I had not added any seasonings of any kinds, so they were as plain as plain could be. Once in the soup, I honestly couldn’t taste them at all. They did add a nice texture, though, and the ones that got hit with the immersion blender helped thicken things a bit. I like my soups hearty and thick!

I think they worked out rather well, but… well… Aside from what I took out to plant next year, that was an entire year’s harvest, used up in a single pot of soup! 😂 I’ve set aside twice what we planted this spring. Between that and if we get a better growing year, it would be nice to have a much better harvest next year! I also have some beans my mother gave me. I don’t know the name of them, but they are a small (though bigger than the tepary beans) white bean that she grew every year from her own seeds. She’d given some to my sister, who grew them for years. She doesn’t grow beans anymore, so she brought a pasta sauce jar – just shy of a quart – full of seeds to my mother. My mother has no plans to grow them, in her little garden plot, so she gave them to me! They’re a few years old, but there should still be a decent germination rate. Which means that, next year, we should have two different types of shelling beans to grow.

The more, the better!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: harvesting carrots and red onions and cleaning up

I took advantage of the lovely temperatures (and being in less pain) to do some more clean up in the garden. Earlier in the day, my daughter and I drove into town so she could get a new photo to renew her driver’s license, while I popped across the street to pick up a few things at the grocery store. I was thinking of making a cream of chicken soup and was about to buy some carrots, when I remembered…

We have carrots. They’re just still in the dirt.

So I went over to where the chocolate cherry tomatoes had been planted, and pulled up the Napoli (orange) and Kyoto Red (dark orange) carrots – and a single shallot! I also dug up the red onions from sets that were planted with the yellow pear tomatoes.

The new soil sifter came in handy! 😁

I’m actually surprised that we got so many decent sized carrots. The Kyoto Red were pretty small – there were two I left behind because they’re blooming, and I hope to collect some seeds. I used up the last of the Kyoto Red seeds, but I think I still have some Napoli pelleted seeds left. Those really did far better than I expected.

Then there’s that single, solitary shallot!

There were actually two more, but they also bloomed, and I’m waiting for the seed heads to dry before collection.

As for the red onions…

Most of them aren’t any bigger than the sets we planted in the first place. Given how spindly the greens were, I thought they might be rotted out, or at least soft, but nope: they are quite firm. They’re just really tiny. I think they were simply too shaded by how massive the yellow pear tomatoes got.

I was going to take them in and was trying to figure out where I could lay them out to dry a bit, until I thought to check the weather again.

We’ll be having at least a couple relatively warm nights, and no rain is expected. I just spread them out on the soil sifter and will leave them out overnight. Tomorrow, I should be able to brush the dirt off more easily, before bringing them inside.

With that in mind, I think I’ll soak some of those blue grey speckled tepary beans overnight, to include with some our garden’s carrots and onions in my soup!

Once these were gathered, I worked on taking down the hoops in the main garden area, as well as the mesh and supports over the spinach in the old kitchen garden. The spinach is a loss. They germinated, and then got mostly yellow and stopped growing.

With the mesh and netting, I laid them out as straight as I could on the ground, then rolled them up around whatever straight sticks I had that were long enough.

You wouldn’t believe how difficult that is with a yard full of kittens!

The twine I used got salvaged, too, and the shorter pieces came in very handy to tie off bundles of netting, mesh, supports and hoops.

We have a few more warmer days, and my priority right now is to get the empty bed in the main garden area prepped, and then plant our fall garlic. When we go into the city next for our stock-up shopping, I hope to pick up more hardneck garlic to plant. It’s a bit too late to order them like we have for the past couple of years.

Once that is done, I plan to work on building up some of the beds in the old kitchen garden. I have ideas for those that I hope will work. If I get at least one of those done over the next few days, that will give us a prepared bed to plant any garlic I pick up later on. There’s still the beets to harvest from that garden, but I suspect those will be going straight to compost.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: sweet potatoes harvested

This morning I spent some time doing some clean up in the garden, taking off the netting from a couple of beds and removing the supports and twine. While I was at it, I decided to go ahead and harvest the Covington sweet potatoes from the grow bags. They did survive the frost, but with the cooler temperatures, anything there wouldn’t be getting any bigger.

This is it. Our entire sweet potato harvest.

They’re smaller than fingerling potatoes!

Now, I know we can grow short season sweet potatoes in our zone. In some of the local gardening groups I’m on, I’ve seen people posting pictures of their very nice sweet potato harvests. The soil in the grow bags looked good; there were lots of worms in the soil, and even mushrooms growing out the sides of the ones that tore; a sign of healthy soil. Like so much else this year, they just never really recovered from our horrible spring. This is actually more than I was expecting to find, to be honest.

Yes, I want to try growing sweet potatoes again. Whether we’ll be able to try again next year, I don’t know yet, but I do want to grow them. They would make a valuable, nutritionally dense, storage crop to help meet our self sufficiency goals.

What a rough gardening year it has been this year!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: shelling beans

Change of plans for the day. I’m just in too much pain to be outside in a cold wind, doing manual labour. Of course, there’s no shortage of things to do inside!

The shelling beans I’d harvested a while ago, then set aside to dry, needed to be retrieved and shelled. There were a few pods that were still too green and got set aside, but this is the total haul of shelled Blue Grey Tepary beans.

I think there’s maybe 2 cups – certainly not more – in there! They are so very pretty!

And very tiny.

Now, I planted these, and I vaguely remember being surprised by how small they were when I took them out of the package, but I honestly can’t remember if they were this small. I even went back through my photos, but hadn’t taken one of the seeds, so I went to where I bought them from. There is nothing to give any perspective of the size.

Ah, well.

Later on, I’ll go pick over the beans, then select the biggest and brightest (which would be the ripest) ones to plant next year. The packet came with 50 seeds, so I figure we would need at least twice that. Assuming we actually like them. I’ll try them out in a soup or something. It won’t take much to use them all up! Especially after I take out the ones for seed saving.

Next year, we will change up where we plant things quite a bit, mostly because we won’t be using the trellises we have now again. When we built them, it was expecting to use them just one year, not two! Right now, I’m thinking that we can plant peas or beans at the chain link fence, where we planted the chocolate cherry this year. Wherever we went up planting them, it’ll be very different conditions. Hopefully, between that and a better growing year, we’ll find ourselves with more robust plants, and higher yields!

The Re-Farmer