Morning adorableness, morning finds

No rain this morning, so the bitty kitties were out and about!

This one looks disheveled because I had just been holding it. 😻 Not only did it let me pick it up and cuddle it, but when I put it down in the food tray, it just started to eat, ignoring me while I continued to pet it.

*melt*

The little calico acts conflicted. It’s curious enough to slink around, watching me closely, sometimes inching closer, but shy enough to not let me anywhere near it.

This one is not conflicted. It will stay and watch me, only if it’s behind something. It will not come any closer, and will leave it I pay too much attention to it, even if it’s holding my phone off to the side to try and get a picture.

It was, however, more than happy to get into the water tray, after I refilled the gallon water bottle that I’ve set up to drain slowly. They seem to like it when I put the frozen water bottle in the tray to help keep the water cool longer, too.

As I continued on, I did a double taken when I realized I was seeing something new. A self-sown poppy had opened.

When we moved there, we found ornamental poppies growing among the lilacs along the side of the house, so seeing poppies show up in other places was no surprise. This one, however, is a completely different flower! The others are more of an orange, and don’t have the ruffled petals. So far, the is the only red poppy like this we’ve seen. A couple of self seeded poppies have sown up in our beet bed. I kind figured they were from the bread see poppies that we have in a nearby bed, but I know my mother had ornamental poppies growing in the old kitchen garden for quite a few years. When I was a kid, she had seed poppies in that garden. It should be interesting to see if these volunteers turn out to be an ornamental poppy, or an edible seed type!

As for the red ornamental poppy that just bloomed, I’ll be sure to allow it to self seed. This area needs more cleaning up, and it would be nice for the stuff we want to get rid of to be crowded out by something we would like to keep! 🙂

While continuing my rounds, I had another nice surprise. Our very first golden pattypan squash is forming! It was too small to try and get a picture of, among the foliage. Hopefully, it’ll get well pollinated and not just wither and fall off.

We’ve got a very few other things trying to produce. The sugar snap peas are not doing well, but I did find a single well formed pod.

I ate it. It was tasty!

The King Tut purple peas grown from our own seeds are producing pods, but they are green instead of purple. There aren’t very many, but I have been able to pick the odd pod and give them a taste.

They are not tasty. Quite bitter, instead! Which is different from last year. I wonder if they had cross pollinated with the pod peas growing on the other trellis. The peas did so poorly last year, I would not have expected so. The one King Tut volunteer from last year has produced a single purple pod, which I’ve left to dry out and keep for seed. Now I wonder if it’ll stay true to type. It bloomed well before the shelling peas and snap peas did, so it should be fine.

Some of the Chocolate cherry tomatoes needed additional support. Not all of them are blooming yet, and no tomatoes forming yet. Some of them are growing well, but others, not so much. One end of that bed along the chain link fence got drowned, even though the bed itself it raised about 4-5 inches. We’ve lost quite a few of the shallots from sets to the wet, and it looks like none of the shallots from seed have made it, but I was able to give the yellow onions grown from seed a “hair cut”. I now have more green onions dehydrating in the oven, along with a tray of mint.

I was still able to pick some lettuce this morning. They have not yet bolted from the heat, which is nice. The chard I planted not long ago has started to sprout! I should sow more of those soon.

Though we had a decently cool night last night (it was a wonderful 17C/63F at about 7am), it quickly heated right up to our expected high of 27C/81F. We’re not supposed to start cooling down until about 8pm. Hopefully, between the heat and the wind, things will have a chance to dry up. Yesterday’s downpours flooded out quite a few towns. I’d heard the town my mother lives in got 5 inches of rain in 3 hours, however it now seems it wasn’t quite that much. More than enough to flood streets and parking lots, however. The town to the north of us was among those that got hit the worst in our province, and they had flooded streets as well. We certainly don’t have much to complain about, where we are! Still, it does keep us from getting a lot of outside work done. Frustrating, but we’ll live. 😉

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: more progress, second harvest and we have squash!!

Since we weren’t going to get any cooler, I headed out before I lost light, to see what I could do with the small batch of cardboard I got today. There wasn’t much, so I decided to use it here…

To the right of the sweet corn are five Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins, barely visible in the grass and weeds coming up through the straw.

Once the cardboard was down, you could see that the plants are actually fairly large! Smaller than they should be for this time of year, but still larger than most of the squash. In fact, all the hulless pumpkins seem to be doing better than most of the other squash.

After laying down the cardboard, I gave it a soak, then tromped on them to flatten them a bit. I would have stomped the grass down before the cardboard was laid down, but I didn’t want to risk accidentally stepping on a pumpkin plant. As we get more cardboard, the Boston Marrow and the G-star patty pan squash will be done first, then any spaces in between will be covered, including beside the rows of corn.

We need lots more cardboard for this.

Once this was done, I went to check the other garden beds and found a wonderful surprise.

Our first summer squash! There’s a second, smaller one on another plant. I’m really happy, not just to finally see some vegetables, but because this is a Madga squash. The first time we grew them, only 2 plants made it, and last year we had only one. They did not produce as much as the other summer squash, either. This year, we’ve got 4 surviving plants, and they’re the first to produce fruit!

We also got a second harvest this evening.

The garlic bed that is so far behind the one in the main garden has scapes ready to harvest! This is almost all of them. There’s just a very few left that aren’t ready to pick yet.

It may be late in the season, but at least we’re getting something from the garden!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: tending the squash patch

Today is working out to be slightly cooler than yesterday; it’s coming up on 6pm as I start this, and we’ve been at 28C/82F for some hours. We’re not expected to start cooling down for at least another hour. Longer, if today is at all like yesterday.

It was getting pretty late last night before I finally headed outside, fogging myself in mosquito repellant, and started on the squash patch.

I did remember to take a before picture. Every pair of sticks shows where there is a summer or winter squash, a pumpkin or a gourd. The straw mulch we laid down may help keep the soil cool and moist, but it isn’t thick enough to choke out the weeds. It also makes weeding – or even using the weed trimmer – impossible.

One of the apple gourds is relatively robust. The hulless pumpkins, Baby Pam pumpkins and Crespo squash plants are also doing comparatively well. The green zucchini, Teddy, Georgia Candy Roaster and Winter Sweet winter squash, however, are all very tiny. They should all be much, much larger for this time of year.

I am hoping that using the cardboard to smother the crab grass and weeds around the squash plants will help. I did things a bit differently this time. Previously, when preparing an area with cardboard to be covered with a straw mulch, I laid down flattened boxes in overlapping layers, making everything at least 2 layers thick. The overlaps were 4 layers thick or even 6 layers, depending on how they ended up overlapping.

Obviously, I couldn’t do that, here.

Most of the boxes were roughly the same dimensions; there were a lot of banana boxes in the pile! When flattened, they made long rectangles. I cut each in half, so that I could lay each piece down as a single layer, positioning 4 such pieces at right angles around each plant. That meant two boxes for each plant – mostly. I barely had enough cardboard to finish the job, but some of the boxes were large enough that I could cut them down further, and use just one box around a plant. I got them all done, with no cardboard to spare at all.

It was a brutal job.

For all that I used mosquito repellant, I was still being swarmed. Any spot that didn’t get sprayed was attacked. It’s one thing to find myself being bitten in the butt because my shirt shifted as I bent over. It’s quite another when they would fly under the lenses of my glasses and go for my eye lids. Yes, I actually got mosquito bights on my eye lids! On top of that, because of the heat, it wasn’t long before I sweated off the repellant. At which point, I was just a mosquito buffet! By the time I was putting down the last pieces of cardboard, I was spending more time flapping my arms and doing the mosquito dance than anything else!

By the time I was done, it was quite dark, so an after photo had to wait until the morning. We did have a small thunderstorm during the night. As usual, the bulk of the system blew right by us.

None of the cardboard blew away, however! That was my big concern. Interlocking the pieces of cardboard seemed to have done the trick.

As we get more cardboard, I do want to fill in the spaces in between, but the squash and corn patch needs to be done, first. For now, this should help. I’ve picked up a slow release, granular fertilizer that will be applied soon. I just don’t want to be feeding the crab grass as well as the squash!

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get another van load of cardboard, soon. I did manage to get a few boxes today, when I stopped at the post office/general store. Possibly enough to do one row in the squash and corn patch. We shall see.

Another thunderstorm is being predicted for tonight. I do hope it actually happens, and gets swept northward. Not only to help cool things down here, but there are some major fires to the north of us. At least one of the reserves had to be evacuated yesterday. Rain would certainly help get those under control. For all the flooding we had this year, most of it affected the south of our province. The further north you go, the less affected it was, which means those areas will still be prone to fires.

Just out of curiosity, I checked our 30 year temperature records for today. We’re still at 28C/82F as I write this. Our average for today is 26C/79F. The record high was 33C/91F, set in 2011, while our record low was only 6C/43F, set in 2000. So we’re pretty normal for this time of year. If our spring hadn’t been so awful, this would have been a very productive gardening year.

It’s hitting the girls in their upstairs “apartment” the worst. My younger daughter just cut all her hair off, to help keep cooler. Their switching to sleeping during the day and being active during the night hasn’t been working that well this year; the nights are simply not cooling down much. As a surprise for them, I made a trip to a Canadian Tire this morning, and got one of those Arctic Air cooling fans. I’d much rather have picked up a portable AC unit for them, but not only are they ridiculously expensive, there aren’t any in stock in most places right now. The window AC units are much more affordable, but there is only one window it could possibly be installed in, and it won’t fit with the way that window opens. In fact, that’s true of all our windows. Best bet would be to actually have one installed through a wall, not in a window. Since we don’t actually own the house, that’s not something we’re going to start doing!

Ah, well. It is what is it. We’ll manage!

The Re-Farmer

Morning finds

Actually, this first photo is an evening find. While doing my evening rounds, I walked past the feeding station, and found a family of skunks at the bird seed!

I left them be, since I’d rather they were eating the sunflower seeds than the kibble. On the way back, I startled a couple of little ones. This one went up against the house and just froze, watching as I went by.

Such a cute little baby!

On uploading the photo, I saw the strange dot on its head. Now that I’ve “upgraded” by trading phones with my husband, I have a camera with much better zoom quality, so I was able to get a closer look.

It’s a wood tick. A big, blood filled tick.

😥

Poor baby! Mind you, it probably doesn’t even notice it’s there.

All the kittens have most definitely been moved out of the branch pile. I found one of the mamas on the wood pile (formerly a junk pile), so I brought a tray over and put it at the top for some kibble. In the past, we’ve got kibble trays on the ground near the pile, but with the skunks eating the kibble, and a ground hog still living under the pile, I figured it would be better for the kittens at the top. Not long after, I came by and saw three kittens at the tray. Two ran off immediately, but I managed to zoom in and get a picture of the little calico.

Oh, and that shredded orange tarp on there? It used to cover the entire top of this wood pile. It has been torn to shreds by the groundhogs, who have been taking the strands back to their dens to line their nests.

I suspect we’ll start seeing baby grogs in the not so distant future!

I’ve got some heavy duty tarps I found at Costco. They’re only 8′ x 10′, but that should be enough to cover the top of this pile. The layers of wood at the top had all rotted from years of exposure, but I’ve finally reached wood that looks useable, and I want to protect it. Hopefully, the grogs will leave non-torn tarps alone! If I do that now, though, I suspect the mama will move the kittens again. :-/

The fourth kitten – the little tabby trying to get under Mom to nurse – was already at the laundry platform when I first came out with the morning kibble. The other two are the ones I saw running away from the kibble tray on the wood pile.

Unfortunately, there is no sign of the 6 bitty kitties. I don’t know where the mom took them.

This is another surprise find. The Wonderberries are starting to bloom again! The berries they had when they were transplanted have all ripened and fallen away (those that we didn’t eat), but there are new green berries forming, and new flower buds, too!

Next is a surprise find that shows just how wet the ground still is in places.

As our spring kept dragging on, we had a melt followed by a large snowfall. When our angel with the front end loader cleared our driveway for us, the snow was so deep, he couldn’t see where the driveway ended and the grass on the sides began. There was water under the snow, and when he went off the gravel with one side of the front end loader, the tires sank, leaving a trench several inches deep. I’ve yet to be able to mow that area as much as we normally would, because that side is still so much wetter. As I headed out this morning, I spotted these, growing in the sunken tire track.

Do you see those sprays of broad, flat leaves coming out of a central point in the mud? They are coming up along the entire length of the muddy tire track. Nowhere else along the driveway.

Those are bullrushes. AKA cattails. These normally grow in ponds. I’ve never seen bullrushes growing here before. The nearest bullrushes in the area are in a series of small ponds in the ditch along the road, a couple hundred yards away. Even the low area in the old hay yard, which actually became a bit of a pond this spring, does not have bullrushes in it.

I’m going to leave these be. Bullrushes are something I want to encourage, even if it is in an odd place. We’re not in a position to make use of them now, but we have plans to in the future. The more of them that starts growing now, the more they will spread and increase. That way, by the time we are ready to use them, there should be enough to harvest, without over harvesting. When we finally get to turning that low spot in the old hay yard into a pond that should hold water all year, I want to make sure bullrushes start growing in there, too.

Every year since we’ve moved here has been very dry. With this year actually having adequate amounts of rain, it’s been interesting to see what things are now growing where we didn’t expect.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden, staying out of the heat, and a garden surprise

We’ve got some heat for the next few days – today reached 28C/82F, and we’re expected to keep getting hotter for a few more days before starting to drop a few degrees, with possible thunderstorms in the forecast. Temperatures are still pretty close to average, though, so nothing like the heat waves we got last year.

Still, it does mean that some garden beds need to get watered, which I try to do in the morning, though some need an extra watering by evening, too, depending on how exposed to the sun the beds are. Yesterday evening, while checking the beds, I found a nice little surprise but didn’t get pictures until this morning.

The bed where we planted 10 bare root white strawberries has been largely ignored, since none of the strawberries had come up. Last night, however, I decided to give it a bit of a weeding, anyway, and lo and behold, I found a single strawberry plant had emerged!

No sign of any others, unfortunately, and I certainly don’t expect we’ll get anything out of the one this year, but hopefully we’ll be able to keep it alive and protect it over the winter, and it’ll do better next year.

While weeding the rest of the bed, I found a volunteer!

The soil in this bed is from the bags we used to grow potatoes last year. It looks like we missed one! We grew 4 varieties, so we won’t know which it is until there’s something to harvest, but from the looks of it, and the colour of the stems, I’d say it’s one of the two purple varieties we grew. Awesome!

After carefully weeding as much around them as I dared, I gave them a watering. They were so wimpy from the heat, they just flattened. The potato was perked up by morning, but the strawberry was still having a hard time holding itself up. Hopefully, with some of the weeds pulled away, it’ll grow stronger. If I could be sure none of the other strawberries will come up, I’d cover the bed with a mulch to help them out. I might still at least give them a light mulch.

A lovely surprise this morning is that the Giant Rattle poppies are starting to bloom! There were three flowers this morning, and this is the largest of them. These are from seeds we collected last year. With the heat waves and drought, they didn’t do well last year, and produced pods much smaller than they normally would have. This year, they seem to be doing better, though I’m still expecting smaller pods. We did get seeds for another variety of bread seed poppies that we meant to plant somewhere else, but with the weather conditions we had this spring, that just didn’t happen. If all goes well, we’ll collect more seeds from these in the fall for planting (and maybe have enough for eating, too!), and next year, we’ll be able to plant both varieties.

As I wrote this, things are finally starting to cool down a bit. The heat lingers late into the day, and it gets hot surprisingly quickly in the morning – when I started my rounds, it was already 24C/75F. The last of the spinach in the high raised bed has been pulled, and I am planning to plant some chard in there this evening. The two varieties we have from last year are Fordhook Giant and Bright Lites. I’ll probably mix them up a bit. There were 2 rows of spinach in the high raised bed, so I’ll likely just plant one tonight, and do the other in a week or two.

Aside from the 2 varieties of spinach I picked up to plant at the end of the month, we do still have seeds of one variety from last year. The spinach in the low raised beds are a complete fail. I was weeding the beds this morning and there are some seedlings, but they’re barely there and look like they’re already bolting, even though they’re less than 2 inches tall! A couple of varieties of turnip are also complete fails, though I think they got eaten by insects. There is one variety that is growing, but they are struggling, and the leaves are riddled with tiny holes. I never see the insects causing the damage, though. We’ll see how they manage. Sadly, one of the losses was the Gold Ball turnips. They simply disappeared. Not one left, though they were among the first to sprout. There were very few seeds in the packet, so there is nothing left to reseed. These were among the free seeds we got, and I was looking forward to trying them. It reminds me of the first radishes we got last year; a daikon type, and watermelon radishes. They sprouted quickly, and were just as quickly gone. Something to keep in mind for when we plant them again in the future.

In other things, I have been very slowly working on scything the hay in the outer yard. I have to be careful not to over do it, even if I feel like I can do more. I know that if I over do it, I can end up out of commission for days. If I do a couple of swaths an evening, it’ll slowly get done. The fun part yesterday was that, when taking breaks, I was able to play with a couple of kittens. Two of them are okay with being picked up, now, though they don’t really like getting caught. The mama is not happy, though. I saw no signs of them this morning, so I’m afraid she might have moved them. I still put food and water out, as they may simply have been staying in the cool of the branch pile while mama was eating at the kibble house.

Oh, wow. As I was writing this, my weather app suddenly starting showing this.

For those in the US: 35C = 95F, 16C = 61F and 40C = 104F.

None of this matches the forecast for our area, though. The daytime highs aren’t expected to go above 30C/86F, and that just for one day. The overnight lows, however, are not expected to go below 20C/68F. Definitely some mixed messages, here!

Also, the current temperature has gone back up to 27C/81F instead of continuing to cool down!

At least there is some rain in the forecast, though with our weird climate bubble over our area, that will likely to right around us! 😄 Early morning watering will continue!

Hopefully, this will be good for the heat loving peppers, eggplant, squash and melons, and they will have a nice little growth spurt.

I find myself once again thinking of what my brother and his wife said about their years of gardening. If they had to live off what they grew in the garden, they’d starve to death! Between the weather, the insects and the critters, you just never know what’s going to make it.

Still hoping for a long, mild fall to make up for the long, cold spring!

The Re-Farmer

Morning in the garden

I just spent a bit of time going back over garden photos from last year. For all the drought and heat waves we had, the garden was well ahead of most of this year’s garden. It’s amazing how much the extended cold and excessive moisture has set things back. At this time last year, I was picking at least a few summer squash, and even beans in the morning. As much as they struggled in the heat, the peas were starting to produce pods. The melons were setting fruit and looking really prolific, and even the Mountain Morado corn was starting to develop cobs. The cherry tomato mix and spoon tomatoes had sprays of green tomatoes, with some ripening and ready to eat, soon after.

This morning, I was able to give more onions a hair cut.

These are onions from seed, taken from the high raised bed, which had the most, plus a few from one of the low raised beds. We picked so many from the onion sets last time, most of these went straight to getting dehydrated.

Kitchen shears makes the job to much faster. After a more thorough washing, then trimming off the browned tips, it was quick work to snip them into small pieces. As I write this, they are in the oven under the warm setting, at 145F (the lowest temperature our new oven can go).

Even with the onions, there’s a difference. They they are looking pretty good, last year they were developing bulbs by now.

I got to taste our first strawberry from the transplants! It was so very sweet! Not the one in the photo; that one’s not ready yet. Nor the first one that developed. That one rotted before it ripened for some reason. There are plenty more developing, and lots more flowers, though, so I hope we will have a decent amount from our 4 little plants. Hopefully, they will also develop runners that we can propagate, to have more plants next year. 🙂

Still nothing from the bare root white strawberries we got, though. Looks like a total loss, there.

Some of the Carminat pole beans are getting very enthusiastic about climbing! The pole beans on the other side of the trellis aren’t quite there yet. There are a couple of self seeds (or should I say, bird-poop seeded) sunflowers that I am allowing to grow. There are some in other beds that I’m letting grow, too.

I was sure the beans I planted at the tunnel were also vining types, but I’m starting to think they are actually a bush bean. They are getting bigger, but so far, I see nothing to show that they are climbers!

While the Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes are not showing fruit yet, the tomatoes that were started so much earlier indoors are really starting to fill out! Almost all the plants are starting to show fruit now. The photo above is one of the first Sophie’s Choice tomatoes to develop, and it’s getting surprisingly large, from what I can tell for the variety.

There is a distinct shape difference between the Sophie’s Choice and the Cup of Moldova tomatoes. In fact, it looks like the row that I thought was all Sophie’s Choice actually has a few Cup of Moldova in it. There are a LOT more of the CoM than the SC tomatoes.

The big surprise are the giant pumpkins. Do you see that flower above? And all the buds around it, both male and female?

That’s on the pumpkin I found with a broken stem. The one I didn’t think would survive. Turns out that pushing the broken surfaces together and burying them was enough to save it.

The rest of the squash nearby are not really doing well. Most are still very small, and even the ones that are growing more are nowhere near as big as they should be for this time of the growing season. I am starting to think we might not get any of the winter squash in this patch (the Red Kuri at the chain link fence is doing really well, at least), and we’ll be lucky to get any summer squash, too. The melons are all so small, I just don’t see them making it. Squash and melon all need lots of water, but it looks like they still got too much, this wet-wet spring, and just aren’t recovering. Unless we have a ridiculously long and mild fall. Some of the hulless pumpkins seem to be doing better, but I still don’t think they’re recovered enough to get a crop this year.

We planted SO much this year, and it seems much of it is going to be wasted effort. Hard to believe that it’s pretty much all having a much harder time this year, with so much moisture and more average temperatures, than last year with the heat waves and drought. I would have expected it to be the other way around. Looking at what is working and what isn’t, it definitely confirms that we need to go with the high raised beds. Even the low raised beds, while better than what’s at grade, are not all doing as well as one would expect. The tomato bed is the only thing I would say is doing really well. Most of the onions are doing all right, though even the shallots from sets planted near the Chocolate Cherry tomatoes are struggling at one end of the bed. Though the bet was raised about 4 inches when we framed it with bricks, the end near the vehicle gate had a lot of water around it. So much, it even looks like the shallots at the end were largely drowned out. At least there are more, further down the bed, that escaped nature’s wrath!

I’m struggling with disappointment right now. We planted more then we “needed”, with the expectation that we’d lose some, so that we could at least still be able to preserve food for the winter. Now it’s looking like we’ll barely have fresh produce for the summer.

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

Morning discoveries

Sunday is normally our day of rest, though of course work still needs to be done. Today, however, is going to be more of a day of rest than I’d hoped. We had rain overnight, and everything is still wet, so finishing the mowing is out. We’re also still getting all sorts of weather warnings, from severe thunderstorms to high water levels from rain falling elsewhere. At least we’re not getting tornado warnings in our area.

The garden, at least, if finally seeing some grown spurts. I’m most happy to see how this bed is doing.

That Kulli corn has been staying small for so long, I was starting to be concerned, but it is finally kicking in. I hope the beans planted with them are helping!

Hungry kittens are brave kittens! Nice to see them actually inside the kibble house, instead of hiding under the cat house.

There was an unexpected harvest this morning. Just a tiny one.

I checked on the wild strawberry patch, and could actually see the red berries from a distance!

The berries are so tiny, they are hard to pick! Many were already over ripe, but there are still lots of under ripe ones. This is the most we’ve seen since we found the patch while cleaning out the maple grove.

At some point, I would like to prepare a bed for them and transplant as many as I can, so they’re not fighting with grass and weeds to grow.

While moving things over to the burn barrel, I found another surprise in the branch pile.

One of the other litters of kittens has emerged! I had no idea there was another litter of kittens in this branch pile. Definitely the largest litter we’ve seen, too. There are six of them.

So adorable!

The cats are going to miss this pile of branches when we finally get it chipped!

We got another, far less pleasant surprise.

Our first spring here, one of the things that suddenly gave out was the drain on one side of the kitchen sink.

Well, the other side has finally given out, too. I heard some dripping a couple of days ago and asked my daughters to check it for me, as I can’t get under to look properly. My younger daughter found where it was leaking. When examining it from below, she was actually able to push the whole thing upwards!

So today, I’ll be making a trip to the hardware store to get the kit to replace it all. They open in about half an hour, so I’ll be heading out soon. At least we know, since we’ve already had it happen before, what we need to fix it! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Morning flowers and not quite enough!

Look what I found blooming this morning!

This is the flower of an apple gourd. Usually, the flowers are some shade of yellow, leaning towards orange or white, but these are almost brown in colour!

While doing my morning rounds and tending the garden beds, I can’t push back on a feeling that everything is really “wrong” this year. Added to that, I’m seeing people in my zone 3 gardening groups posting pictures of how far along their gardens are right now, and they are WAY ahead of ours.

So I just went and looked at garden posts I made around this time, last year. I did a tour post on July 3 or last year, but mostly I compared to posts closer to 1 year ago today.

This year, our purple Kulli corn is starting to grow more enthusiastically, but last year’s purple Mountain Morado corn, which was also started indoors and transplanted, where producing silk by now.

Last year, we had bush beans starting to bloom, and the King Tut purple peas were blooming and growing pods, in spite of the heat. This year, even the first bush beans we planted with the Kulli corn are not yet blooming, and the peas are really just starting to actively grow. The King Tut peas we started indoors are much larger and climbing the chain link fence, and there are a few flowers on those.

Our summer squash is all pretty small, though some are starting to bloom, anyway. Last year, I posted a picture of our first yellow pattypan squash that was of a size we would normally harvest.

Last year at this time, the Crespo squash was looking as big as the Giant Pumpkin plants are this year, and just days later, things were starting to eat it, but this year’s Crespo squash is still quite small.

This year, our beets are just a couple of inches high. Last year, we had lush leaves we could harvest for salads, and had to use a row cover to keep the critters from eating it all.

This year, we have a tomato bed that was started indoors very early, and those determinate varieties are growing fruit. Of the tomatoes we started indoors at about the same time as what we started last year, the Yellow Pear are starting to bloom but nothing on the Chocolate Cherry yet. Last year, the cherry tomatoes already had sprays of fruit forming.

So it’s not just in my head. The garden really is far behind, when compared to our own garden last year. A summer of heat waves and drought, no less. This year, things that should have been planted before last frost didn’t, because everything was under water, and even things that needed to wait until after last frost date were a bit on the late side.

We’ve got rain and hotter temperatures coming up, with a possible thunderstorm tonight. Conditions that are actually better than at this time last year. I hope this means that what we’ve got will start catching up soon, though from the looks of the melon patch, I think we’ve lost most of them. Especially the Kaho watermelon, which has actually gotten smaller instead of bigger, and it looks like something ate a few of them.

At least most of the potatoes are finally coming up, though there are some blank spaces. As these are in groups, I think they ended up in water for too long and rotted before they could sprout.

There is little I can do about things. All I can do is be glad for what growth is happening, and pray we will have another long, mild fall to make up for the cold, wet spring.

We do the best we can.

In other things, while putting the kibble out, I’ve started to leave some in front of the pump shack door, and on the metal table in front of it (where the skunks can’t get at it). As I came around towards it, I saw the black and white kitten, the tuxedo and a tabby looking kitten, just as they say me and dashed into the pump shack. Which is encouraging, as I was concerned most of the litter didn’t make it. I also saw the tiny little calico, playing in the big branch pile, by itself.

Yesterday evening just kept getting hotter and hotter, but I decided to head out and see if I could get the new clothes line up. I was able to remove the tightener from the old line, then had to set up a step ladder at the post opposite the laundry platform, to be able to reach the pulley. Then I walked both ends of the line back to the laundry platform.

Except… not.

100 feet was not enough.

I got to about 10 feet short of the post. Which means I’m about 20 feet short in clothes line.

I don’t want to start splicing ends, so I’m just going to get another 150 feet. They sell them in 50 ft rolls that are still attached to each other. I’ll get 3 rolls and should have roughly 30 ft extra. Plus I’ll have a spare 100 ft of clothes line. I don’t mind having extra. I’m sure we’ll find a use for it at some point.

I was also able to finally undo and re-wrap the excess cable from our StarLink dish. When my brother helped install it, there was still a lot of snow on the ground, so he just quickly wrapped up the excess and used zip ties with screw holding heads (I forget the proper name for them) to hold it all together against the outside wall. It was pretty tangled and messed up. I finally picked up more of those zip ties. After removing what my brother used, I re-wrapped the cable nice and neat, making sure there was slack available in strategic places, just in case. Since I didn’t want to leave holes in the wall, I use the same number of zip ties that my brother did, then screwed them into the same holes as before.

It looks much better now!

Unfortunately, in the few minutes it took me to do that, I was just baking! The hottest part of the day has been hitting well after 6pm.

Keeping that in mind, I tried to go to bed early last night, so that I could get up much earlier and get things done before things got too hot.

Instead, I ended up having a sleepless night with all sorts of distractions, issues, and just plain not being able to fall asleep.

Which means that right now, when I should be doing things outside, I’m sitting here typing, and trying not to fall asleep on my keyboard. I’m feeling to tired, I actually feel ill.

*sigh*

Well, at least I got some things done this morning, but right now, I’m feeling pretty useless.

We’ll see what I manage to get done before the thunderstorms start. If they even hit us at all, rather than going around like the often do!

The Re-Farmer

That’s quite the discrepancy!

Today was forecast to be a hot one, and getting even hotter tomorrow, so my morning rounds including watering the garden beds. The nice thing was being able to use a nice, full rain barrel to water the old kitchen and south garden beds, while the soaker hose was going under the big tomato bed in the main garden area. There was even enough water in the barrel out by the trellises that I could use to start watering there.

Once the hose was available again, though, I watered them some more. Especially the pumpkins, gourds and cucumbers.

A few of the cucumbers are getting bigger, though most seem to be stagnating. I took a picture of one that is blooming, but didn’t see the baby cucumbers until I uploaded the photo to my computer! There are not a lot of flowers, so I don’t know if there are any male flowers around to pollinate them. The Baby Pam pumpkin that I found never did, and fell off the vine this morning. I spotted two other female flowers, and the little pumpkins under them were already yellow. It seems very odd for female flowers to develop first, like that. At least to me. I have never grown cucumbers before, and none of the Baby Pam we tried to grow last year germinated.

By the time I came in, at about half past noon, it was 24C/75F out there, with a “real feel” of 29C/84F. At least according to the app on my phone. The thermometer outside my husband’s window was at 25C/77F. That window was just getting out of the morning shade.

While I was watering, however…

Yeah. The bean tunnel thermometer was reading 41C/105F already!

That’s quite a discrepancy!

The tunnel gets no shade this time of year. Thankfully, the pea trellis at least gets morning shade. The other two trellises also get morning shade, but not as long, and the silver buffalo berry were still mostly shaded when I headed in. The beans and gourds planted at the tunnel, plus the hulless pumpkins planted near it, would be just baking in the sun! The pumpkins have a nice deep mulch around them, but the beans are large enough that we should start adding more than just the wood shavings and stove pellet sawdust they were planted in.

Where we live is certainly an area of extremes. Long cold winters and short hot summers. It would be nice if we could have something in between! Ah, well. Such is life on the Canadian prairies! We’ll deal. 😉

The Re-Farmer