Our 2023 garden: Veseys order placed – potatoes and more

Yes, I have gardening on my mind!

Among the things we were talking about ordering that will be delivered in the spring were potatoes and, potentially, raspberries.

It seems we weren’t the only ones that had a bad growing year in 2022, because the potatoes I was looking for were simply not available. However, Veseys has potatoes again, and so I placed another order with them.

Among the items we have ordered before, we are getting the Purple Peruvian Fingerlings again. We were really happy with them, in their grow bags, two years ago. They come in 2 lb packages, so we ordered two of them.

I am also ordering a couple of seed mixes from them that we ordered before (and using the coupon code from Maritime Gardening saved me the shipping costs!). I ordered two each of the Alternative Lawn Mix, and the Western Mix Wildflowers. The areas we had planted them, in the fall of 2021, got flooded in the spring, and nothing came of them. With so many wood piles chipped, we now have areas of bare ground that I would like to seed before they get taken over the invasive weeds again! Two of those areas will get the alternative lawn mix. The third does get accumulated snowmelt nearby in the spring, but should be fine to plant in. That area is next to our budding food forest, and will be good for attracting pollinators.

The seed packs will be sent right away, but the rest will be sent in time for planting in our zone 3.

Here are the new varieties we are going to be getting. All images belong to Veseys.

These are Red Thumb fingerling potatoes. They are noted for their delicious flavour. Unfortunately, there isn’t any information about how well they store over winter. These come in 2 lb packages, so we ordered two of them.

These are Irish Cobbler potatoes, an early variety also noted for their exceptional flavour. They come in a 3 lb pack, and we ordered just one of them.

These last ones are for our food forest. Royalty Raspberries. They come in packages of three, and we ordered just one package to try them. They are a late maturing variety, hardy to zone 2. So far, everything we’ve tried that’s purple has done really well for us, even in poor growing conditions, so I’m hoping the trend continues! These will produce fruit in their second year, so as long as we can keep them alive this year, we should have purple berries to try, next year.

There are still other things we will want to order for spring delivery, such as replacement sea buckthorn. We’ll just have to be careful to set aside the budget for them as we place the spring delivery orders, because we’ll be charged for them all at once, when they’re shipped!

This year, I’m happy to have several items, with different maturing rates, added to our food forest. The raspberries for production next year, apples that should start producing in 4 or 5 years, and the zone 3 mulberry trees that should take a few more years before they begin producing berries, as we will be getting 2 smaller, younger seedlings, instead of the 1 larger, older seedling they normally would have shipped, but are not available.

Little by little, we’re getting to where we want to be!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: first order in, with Veseys

We haven’t even done a thorough assessment of our 2022 garden, nor fully decided what we plan to grow next year, but I’ve gone ahead and made our first order for next year’s garden, today.

The main reason is, there are things I wanted to order before they have a chance to be out of stock. Particularly with trees for the food forest we are slowly developing. These will be shipped in the spring, and we won’t be billed until they are shipped. I ordered seeds as well, because I used a sponsor promo code from Maritime Gardening, which gives free shipping if there is at least one package of seeds in the order.

This is what I ordered today. All images belong to Veseys, and links will open in new tabs, so you don’t lose your place. 😊

The new Trader Everbearing Mulberry is the main reason I wanted to place an order right away. We tried a different variety before, that promptly got killed by an unusually cold night shortly after it was planted. Cold enough that even if we had this variety, it likely would not have survived, so soon after being planted.

Here is the description from the site (in case you’re reading this years later, and the link is dead).

Morus alba x rubra. There are so many things to love about ‘Trader’ Everbearing Mulberry! First, the tree itself is absolutely beautiful and can be grown as a single trunk or multi-stemmed shrub. Big, glossy black fruit are present throughout the summer and are an irresistible blend of sweet and tart. Even the leaves are starting to be considered a super-food and can be made into a powerfully healing tea. ‘Trader’ is winter hardy (Zone 3-4), vigorous, long-lived and disease and pest resistant.  We ship 8-12″ non-grafted tree.

Please note: Due to a crop shortage, we are not able to supply the Mulberry in a 3.5″ pot. We can supply in a 2.5″ pot. Since these are smaller, we will send 2 of the smaller size for spring 2023.

That last bit about pot sizes is another reason we wanted to order the mulberry right away. They may be smaller, but we’ll be getting two trees for the price of one. Which means chances are better for at least one of them to survive!

The other tree we ordered was Liberty Apple. From the website:

Malus. Superlative variety resistant to a host of diseases. This apple has outstanding flavour and is aromatic and juicy. The conical red fruit is among the very best and as an added bonus is excellent for cider. Crispy, juicy apples right in your back yard. Good Scab resistance, making them much easier to look after. For best results, two varieties should be planted. We are offering 1 yr. whips. approximately 18-24″ in height which have been grafted onto hardy rootstock. They should mature to about 15-18 ft. Hardy to zone 4.

Yes, it says zone 4 and we are zone 3, but we will just have to take extra care in where it’s planted, and to protect it while it’s small. We have crab apple trees, but no regular apples. One apple tree should be enough to provide for our needs, and the crab apples will be the second variety pollinator.

Then there are the seeds.

While we didn’t have much to show for peppers this past summer, that had more to do with our horrible growing year in general. My pepper loving daughter had thought we would be ordering several varieties for this past year, but I’d only ordered the one type. I think we learned enough about growing them to order more varieties, so I ordered a sweet bell pepper combo.

This is Vesey’s Sweet Pepper collection, and here is their description:

A few of our favourite sweet peppers! This collection contains 3 pkgs, 1 each of Early SunsationEarly Summer and Dragonfly sweet peppers.

Early Sunsation: Bright yellow and big. Very heavy yielding with thick, juicy walls. This variety stays nice and crisp even when fully yellow. 3 lobed fruit. Resistant to Bacterial Leaf Spot races 1-3. 65 days to green; 80 days to yellow from transplanting.

Early Summer: Elite, early and extra large! Early summer is an early maturing, yellow bell pepper. The fruit are large at 5″ and an elite disease resistance package gives Early Summer a winning combination.

Dragonfly: Sweet and colourful. Dragonfly’s early production was a standout for our trial staff. Fruit emerges green and turns deep purple when mature. Dragonfly continues to produce fruit into the fall even after temperatures have dropped.

The Early Summer is new to Veseys for the 2023 growing season.

There was another new for 2023 item I just had to order.

The Caveman’s Club Gourd! This is definitely something for the “just for fun” list. 😁

Truly different! This 12-16″ gourd produces a dark green, ridged, alien-like, bulbous fruit that are not like anything we have seen before! Growing them on a trellis ensures a straight neck. Plant early for best results. Matures in 120 days. Approx. 15 seeds/pkg.

I just couldn’t resist. This will be an ideal thing to try growing on the new trellis tunnels we will be building in the spring.

After we’ve taken the time to assess things from our 2022 garden, then gone through what seeds we still have, we’ll start making final decisions about what else we want to order for the 2023 growing season. One thing we will almost certainly be ordering are different raspberry bushes, that mature at different times. Any raspberries we order won’t start producing until their second year, so what we order to plant in 2023 will be to have raspberries in 2024. As we add to our perennial food producers, while still staying in budget, it’s a balancing act between ordering things that will take years before they start producing, like the apple and mulberry trees, and things that will start producing more quickly, like the raspberries.

Little by little, though, 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

Crab apple harvest

This afternoon, I headed out to see what I could get from the one crab apple tree that has tasty apples. Most of the apples were well out of reach, but after trying a couple of things, I found I could use the hook at the end of the extended pole pruning saw, at its longest, to grab branches and give them a shake.

Then ducking, so I wouldn’t get beaned in the head. Those things are hard!

Then it was just a matter of gathering them off the ground. The damaged ones got tossed towards the spruce grove, so I wouldn’t have to pick through them again when I had to shake the tree again. With so many apples, I could afford to be picky.

The deer and any other apple eating critters will be in for a treat, tonight!

I got somewhere between 15-20 gallons of apples, and I only shook the tree twice. There are still lots on the tree, but I was out of buckets.

With so many apples, I scrubbed out the wheelbarrow, then used it to give the apples a cursory wash with the hose. The amount in the photo is from the two smaller buckets.

I had to prep a third bin to hold them all.

I love these bins! They interlock to hold together, and even when stacked one on top of the other. They are still just corrugated plastic, though, and can only hold so much before they start bending under the weight while being carried.

For now, the bins are sitting in the dark and relatively cool of the old kitchen. I’ll set aside a bucket for my mother. When she was last here, she insisted in picking apples into her walker, but they were nowhere near ready for picking. They are in their prime right now, and taste so much better. We do have crab apples on some of the other remaining trees, and I do try them every now and then (except the one tree with apples so small, it’s basically an ornamental tree). They don’t taste very good when ripe. When not quite ripe yet, they’re pretty awful. There was one tree that tasted pretty bad right up until the ripened, when they suddenly became tasty and sweet, but that part of the tree died over the winter, leaving only the suckers that had been allowed to grow, so only the not-tasty parts of that tree are still alive. 😕

Tomorrow, I will start de-stemming the apples and cutting them up, and will be using the fermentation bucket from our wine making kit to make a large batch of apple cider vinegar. There will be apples left over, even after taking some out for my mother. We haven’t decided what to do with them. In the past, we’ve made apple jelly, but our Bernardin canning book with the recipes we used is still missing.

I wonder if I lent it out to someone? I can’t remember. I do remember offering to lend it to my SIL, but she just took photos of the recipe she wanted and left the book. I do have other cookbooks with canning recipes, but I’m less sure of their safety.

I suppose I could just go look at their website, but having the book is really handy.

Anyhow, we’ll figure out what to do with the surplus. Then also decide if we want to harvest more, or leave the rest for the birds.

The Re-Farmer

Starting hard crab apple cider: a long night!

Last night, my daughters and I got some hard crab apple cider going, with some minor changes from when we made it before.

I started on the apples while my daughter’s sanitized the 5 gallon carboy and set up the juicer. Each apple got cut in half, the stem removed, and any damaged bits cut off. We were able to get to the apples faster than when we made it before, so they had noticeably less bits to cut off this time around. The cut pieces went into a giant bowl with water and lemon juice while waiting to be juiced. We had a small colander set up over a bowl that we would scoop batches of pieces into, that could be kept close to the machine while I continued cutting apples

My younger daughter did the juicing again. We knew we would have more juice this time, so she set up the sanitized carboy with a funnel on a chair under the juicer nozzle; fresh, raw juice went straight into the carboy, instead of first into a pitcher, then into the gallon glass carboy.

The juicing took such a long time.

The machine could only handle getting a couple of pieces put in at a time; far less than when juicing other fruit. These are small apples that don’t have a lot of juice in them, so we didn’t get a lot for the work. After a short while, the sound of the juicer would change, and my daughter would have to stop it, open it up and peel off the shoe-leather strip of accumulated pulp that did not go into the collector, like it was supposed to.

It was past 2am by the time we were done. Which was fine for my daughters, since they are still up at night and sleeping during the day.

This is what the more than 5 gallons of apples got us.

We got about two and a half gallons of juice. We calculated roughly 5 cups of sugar for the amount of juice we had (the ratio is 1-1 1/2 pounds of sugar per gallon of juice). The handy thing about it being only half full is that, once the sugar was added, it was easy to just pick it up and shake it to dissolve the sugar. A half packet of yeast was hydrated, then added and it got another shake before being set up with the airlock.

I didn’t bother taking a hydrometer reading.

This is how it looked this morning, after having roughly 9 hours to settle.

The airlock was bubbling about every 23 seconds when I checked it, and the temperature of the liquid is 20-21C/68-70F. We’re supposed to reach 28C/82F today, so it’s definitely going to get warmer.

I’d hoped to have more juice, but it’s still more than we had last time. We do still have lots of apples on the tree to pick, if we want. We don’t have another large carboy, but we do have the 1 gallon ones, if we want to make more hard cider. I think I’d rather make more cider vinegar, but we don’t have more of the large, wide mouth jars right now. For the amount of apples we’d have, I wouldn’t want to use smaller jars. It would be a waste of jars and space. There are other things we could do with the apples, too.

Now that it looks like making hard crab apple cider is a thing we will continue to do, we want to acquire a cider press. The juicer is great for other fruit, but does very poorly with these little crab apples. There are table top versions that are reasonably priced. Building one is another option. It’s something we wouldn’t for another year, so we have time to figure it out.

I’ve been asking my mother about how my dad made fruit wine. I remember him using the same crock my mother used to make sauerkraut. I remember watching him one year, as he layered sugar, then raspberries, in the crock until it was full, then … I can’t remember. Most likely, he weighted it down then covered it with a cloth, but did he add water to it? And how much sugar to fruit did he use?

I described what I remember to my mother, and she just brushed it off. They just combined fruit with sugar, covered it and let it sit, she told me. They didn’t add water. That’s how she’s got the cherries she picked while here set up, right now. She didn’t have a lot of cherries, so it would be just a small jar. She couldn’t tell me how much sugar they used; apparently, they just winged it.

Well, whatever my dad did, his raspberry wine in particular got rave reviews. I remember picking pin cherries (those trees are now gone) that he used to make wine, as well as the hard little plums that are more stone than fruit, that we still have in the yard (though the trees seem to be dying). My parents had no wine making equipment. They used no commercial yeast (yeast for brewing was not something that would have been easily found back then). I wish I could ask my dad what he did. I don’t think my mother paid too much attention to it, and what she’s doing now is not what I remember seeing him doing. Maybe one of my siblings remembers more than I do. I should ask them. 😊

For now, though, I’m content to make hard cider with our crab apples. I prefer that over wine, anyhow. 😁

The Re-Farmer

A morning harvest

While the girls worked on the cats’ house, I did my morning rounds. No harvesting in the garden today, but check out this pumpkin!

It’s almost completely changed colour! The second one is just beginning to show the tiniest change in colour at the blossom end, but is otherwise still very dark green.

Once the regular rounds were done, I headed out with some buckets and started our first harvest of crab apples. Mostly, I just shook the branches that I could reach, then picked up what fell.

I got about 10 gallons of crab apples that way. There are still lots on the tree, but I couldn’t reach the branches to shake them. Plus, I don’t have any more buckets available.

After bringing the buckets to the house, I used the hose to fill them with water to do a cursory wash.

I had curious company.

I help!

Then the apples got transferred out of the buckets.

These corrugated plastic bins are the handiest things!!

They have holes cut into the bottom, like what you can see on the sides, but a good layer of shredded paper made sure no apples fell though, while also absorbing water from their rinsing.

Shredded paper is something else we’ve been finding very handy. We shred only paper that is compostable, like fliers and the like. Printers switched to vegetable based inks decades ago, so they’re fine. Just no glossy paper or anything like that. Those go for the burn barrel.

We’ve used the shredded paper as mulch, as compostable layers buried in new garden beds, as a base under tomatoes ripening indoors, and now for crab apples. We even keep the shredder, sitting over a recycling bag on a wire frame holder, in the dining room all the time for convenient shredding.

The first thing we will be doing with the apples is to make crab apple cider vinegar again. That is the fastest and easiest thing to get started. Then we will be making more hard crab apple cider. We have so many crab apples on the one tree this year, we should be able to make more of both this time.

The “mother” left from our previous ACV is still around, but I don’t think it would be safe to use, so I bought some apple cider vinegar with mother to use as a starter. After experimenting with using an airlock or just covering the fermenting jars with cheesecloth, I’m just going to use cheesecloth this time.

The other thing we will be able to do differently this time is to use the big aquarium to hold the fermenting jars. It is already lined with rigid insulation from when we used the space as a greenhouse, so the temperature will remain quite even, and it has cat proof covers over it. It’ll be easier to keep an eye on it in the living room than in the old kitchen.

As for the hard apple cider, we should have enough crab apples to make it worth digging out the wine making kit and using the 5 gallon bucket and carboy for fermentation. We’ll make that decision after the vinegar is started, and we see just how many crab apples we end up with. We’ll probably need to break out the step ladder to pick more apples.

A good problem to have! Especially after having none, last year.

I’m quite looking forward to this!

The Re-Farmer

August garden tour (video)

Oh, my goodness. This took way more time and effort to make than usual! Starting with going back later in the day to record new video because I made too many goofs, the first time around. I mean, how did I accidentally say “corn” when I meant to say “peas”? Repeatedly!! 😂

It also took all day to upload the file. Yes, it’s more than half an hour long, but it still shouldn’t have taken more than 8 hours to upload.

But, here it is. A tour of our garden, including fruit trees this time. It’s been a very rough year for the garden, with some complete losses, but we do still have something to show for it, at least!

I hope you enjoy it, and please feel free to let me know what you think!

Kitty cats and sour cherries

I’m happy to say that I’ve been seeing Potato Beetle around. He joined me while I was tending things in the garden, yesterday evening.

The cats do like the cardboard mulch around the silver buffalo berry!

Unfortunately, he’s a bit too spry and back to normal. He went after Rolando Moon. Then I saw him and Sad Face stalking each other. I broke that up before it became an actual fight, only to later see him stalking The Distinguished Guest!

I dissuaded them from fighting, but Potato Beetle is looking like he’s wanting to reestablish his top spot in the pecking order.

Aren’t they supposed to be less aggressive after losing their nibs?

Well. At least he’s staying close to home.

He showed up this morning, while I was putting kibble out, but he had no interest in the other trays. He wanted his personal food dish in the sun room! So I let him in and left the door open, so he could come and go as he pleased.

While doing my morning rounds, I took recordings for a new garden tour video. I’ll be working on editing it later today.

I also had a chance to pick cherries.

These are the cherries that I could reach without a ladder. I could pull some branches down, but there are still plenty higher up that need to be picked. The gallon bucket was about 3/4 full. These have been laid out in a pair of trays in a single layer, and are in the big freezer. Once they’re frozen, we’ll bag them up. I wouldn’t mind trying to make wine with these. It’s bee a long time since we’ve tried to make wine. The problem is having a cat-safe space for the carboy. There just isn’t any. 😕😒

After washing off the cherries with the hose, I starting into the sun room, only to find the netting I’d put on the swing bench, on the floor in front of the door.

The bench was occupied.

The sun room was just crawling with kittens! These three, and their mama, were relaxing, but you can just see the tail tip of the one that ran between the window and the bench. Some of the big kittens were in there, too. My presence was panicking them, though. One ran into a window, and another into the back of the inner door, trying to get out. *sigh* So I was careful to skirt around and make sure they could access the door as I picked up the netting, then brought the cherries inside. The mama ran off, too, but the three kittens in the photo, stayed.

That mama has this permanent angry expression on her face. 😄

Today is looking to be a really nice day for work outside, so I’m going to see what I can catch up on. Maybe say hello to the cows. I can see them on the security camera’s live feed, at the fence along the driveway. 😊

Mostly, though, I need to finish mowing. After working in the old garden area last time, though, I had better check the blade and see if I need to sharpen it, first!

The Re-Farmer

2022 garden: morning in the garden

Just a little big of progress in the garden.

The sour cherry tree by the house has lots of ripe berries, ready to be picked. I’ll have to get the girls to do it, though. A ladder will be needed to reach the ripest ones at the top. This is the most cherries we’ve had since moving here.

We got a pretty decent amount of yellow bush beans this morning. Not enough to make it worth blanching and freezing, never mind canning, but enough for a couple of meals this time.

The purple pole beans are getting more pods, though they are still very thin. I saw the first of the green pole bean pods this morning – tiny wisps of pods! Still no sign of pods, or even flowers, on the red pole beans, while the shelling beans still have lots of flowers, but no pods that I can see.

We should be able to harvest the garlic from this bed pretty soon.

One of the Baby Pam pumpkins is starting to turn colour. This variety doesn’t get much bigger than this. From the looks of it, these are going to be the only winter squash we get out of this patch, other than maybe one kakai hulless seed pumpkin. Even the Teddy squash, which are a very small variety with only 55 days needed to maturity, will likely not get a chance to produce anything. The green zucchini still isn’t producing; they did have female flowers, but no male flowers bloomed at the same time to pollinate them. We do have some golden zucchini developing, though, and some Magda squash I should be able to pick in a few days. Maybe even a yellow pattypan squash or two.

The paste tomatoes, at least, are coming along nicely, with more of them starting to blush.

I was able to harvest more green onions from the high raised bed. Most of these will be dehydrated, and there are lots more I can harvest.

The handful of pea pods are almost all from the second planting. The first planting is, amazingly, still blooming!

Most of the onions seem to be growing well. Some of the red onions have very different shapes, and they are starting to be noticeable. I’m thinking of picking one or two for fresh eating, just to see how they taste.

The one surviving type of turnips are finally starting to have visible “shoulders”. We might actually be able to pick some, soon.

I don’t know what to make of the potatoes. They’re done blooming and we should be able to harvest young potatoes now, but I want to leave them as long as I can. The plants themselves are nowhere near as large as potato plants normally get. There was so much water in that area, I’m sure it stunted the growth of the ones that survived. I still might dig one plant up, of each variety, just to see what there is to see. Will the lack of foliage translate into a lack of potatoes, too? I was really hoping to have a good amount of potatoes to store for the winter. It certainly wouldn’t be enough to last the entire winter for the 4 of us, but it will help us decide if these are varieties we will get again or not.

Every time I’m in the garden, I’m thinking of next year’s garden. One thing is for sure. It is nowhere near big enough to meet our goal of providing sufficient amounts of food to last us until there is fresh produce again. We planted so much, with the expectation of losses, but this year the losses are just too great. Which has really surprised me. I did not expect to get less productivity this year, compared to last year’s drought. Mind you, during the drought, we were watering the garden beds every day, twice a day. This year… well, adding water is easy. Keeping water out is not. Still, even if everything had gone well, we would still probably need double the garden size to meet our long term goal. Short term is to have enough to supply our needs for at least 3 months – the hardest winter months, when we might find ourselves snowed in or the vehicles frozen.

Every year we garden, we figure things out a bit more, from what weather extremes we need to work around, to how much of anything we need to grow, to what we like enough to grow year after year. More me, half the enjoyment of gardening is analysing the results and using that information to make decisions for the next year!

That’s one good thing about having hard gardening years. You do learn more from it, than from years were everything goes smoothly.

The Re-Farmer

Future food forest progress

We’ve been having rain off and one, and are still getting storm warnings for today as well. Nothing too excessive; our expected highs and lows are well within average, and the garden beds seem to be really liking it.

After doing my morning rounds, I was able to get the cardboard laid out along the saplings. The pile had been well rained on, which made it easier to lay them out, and less likely to get blown around if we get high winds.

This is the end I started at. The main thing was to get cardboard laid down close to all the saplings – but not too close!. The sticks I added to make them more visible (especially when using the weed trimmer) helped with that. Once all the trees had cardboard around them, I started filling in the spaces in between with what was left of the pile. It started raining again as I was working on it, which I didn’t mind at all. I’d have had to take a hose to it, otherwise.

The Sea buckthorn has all the cardboard they need, and are ready for when we have wood chips to lay on top of the cardboard.

I had enough cardboard to fill in the gaps all along one row, then start on the other, before I ran out. The priority is to cover the two rows, but if I can get enough cardboard, I want to fill in the space between them, too. That might take another 2 loads of cardboard to fill it all in.

We’re going to need a lot of wood chips to cover all this!

Once these bushes are fully grown in, this entire area should be a solid barrier of interlocking branches. There might be enough room to walk between the rows when they are fully grown, but not much. As they are bushes, once a good thick layer of mulch is laid down, they shouldn’t need anything more; they’ll basically be their own mulch, eventually. When we start planting fruit trees in the area, we’ll be working towards planting different edible cover crops into the mulch around them, but there won’t be space for anything like that with these, once they’re filled in.

The space between the saplings and the trees at the fence line is being left open as a lane to drive through. Once the berry bushes are getting to the point where they are starting to form a privacy screen, we’ll start cleaning and clearing up the rest of the fence line. Most of those fence posts in this section need to be replaced, and I want to open up access to it for that, for general maintenance – and to eventually replace the fence with something other than barbed wire! I’d like to also put a gate next to where the sign is, or some sort of fence crossing that will allow us to step over it, rather than trying to get through it. I really hate getting my clothes caught on the barbed wire when trying to go through it! 😀 We’ll figure something out.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer