Our 2021 garden: almost frost

When I woke up this morning, we were at 2C/36F

We had not gotten any frost warnings the night before, but when it gets that cold, it’s going to be too much for some things, with our without frost.

The last few days, morning and evening, we have been hearing a cacophony of geese in the surrounding fields. Something must have disturbed them this morning, because they were not only louder than usual, but I even got to see them flying overhead.

Going north, for some reason! 😀

Last night, my daughters had picked more tomatoes and a few summer squash, and this morning I was going to pick beans.

It looks like we’re now done for beans.

They may not have gotten an actual frost, but the foliage was clearly damaged. The purple beans have a lot more foliage, which protected the pods, but I could see cold damage on the green and yellow beans.

I had taken some photos yesterday, which ended up giving me comparison photos with today. Here is the Crespo squash.

This was taken yesterday afternoon.

This is the smaller of the two squash in the previous photo.

This is the larger one, yesterday (on the left) and this morning (on the right). 😦

This is one of our biggest squash. Yesterday’s photo is on the left, and this morning is on the right. This squash is shaded for longer in the morning, and you can see there is actual frost on it!

These next ones are photos from yesterday and, from what I could see, they were okay this morning.

The one that’s hanging is in a spot where it gets hit with morning sun earlier than others. The large one on the ground has foliage around it that may have protected it. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see, so I can’t actually say for sure if it was damaged or not. It’ll take a bit more time before we’ll know if they got cold damaged or not.

Then there are the Ozark Nest Egg gourds. I took these photos last night, but didn’t bother to take more this morning.

We will have a better idea as the day goes on, but as of this morning, they seemed to have no real damage at all. There are still so many little gourds all over, there are still flowers that look like they are opening, and there was no signs of cold damage, like on the Crespo squash. These gourds are in the south yard and get that morning sunlight nice and early, which may have made the difference.

The tomatoes on the south fence also looked untouched by the cold, but the one that had seeded itself in the lettuce bed looked like it was hit by frost. That bed gets shaded more, longer, this time of year. If we’d gotten a frost warning, I would have put the wire mesh cover back on and covered the bed with cloth. The lettuce is fine; it can handle temperatures even colder than this. The chard was also just fine.

It will be good when these beds all get converted to high raised beds. They get full sun in the summer, but when the sun is lower in the sky, several of them get more shade from the trees to the south. Once they are higher, they will be out of the shade, just a little bit sooner. Still, it is something to keep in mind for when we garden here in the future. It’s also another reason why I want to build permanent garden beds on the south side of the house, in the outer yard, where we don’t have so many tall trees to deal with.

As it is, we’re in the middle of October, and these have lasted far longer than we normally would have expected in our climate zone! So really, I can’t complain!

The Re-Farmer

Morning harvest, and getting named

Check out what I was able to gather this morning!

There are quite a few more of the purple beans buried underneath. They have been, hands down, the most prolific bean producers, and if the weather keeps up the way it has been, we will be picking beans for at least another week or two! Even the yellow beans are putting out a second crop. With the drought conditions, none of the bean plants are as large and bushy as they should be, with the green and yellow beans particularly stunted, even as they continue to produce. With the green beans, that resulted in my finding bean pods that were almost as long as the plants were tall!

I had to get a bigger container to collect tomatoes with, instead of the red Solo cups we’ve been using until now. The vines are dying back, yet they still have so many ripening tomatoes!

Earlier today, I made a quick trip to the post office, before I gathered our morning harvest. The general store it is in always closes at noon on Wednesdays, so I had to do it early, but not too early; I knew the postmaster would need at least an hour from opening, to sort through the morning mail. We had some packages to pick up, but one of my daughters also had a package that was supposed to be delivered by courier, directly to our address, as it was from a place that does not deliver to box numbers.

Which has always been a problem, since our physical address doesn’t come up in searches. Like pretty much all of the roads around here, our road has two names; one is a numerical designation (part of the provincial system), and the other is our family name (a municipal thing). Many of the local roads are named after local families. It was only recently that I discovered that the road past our place has no name on the maps at all! Not even the road number. Which certainly explained why delivery companies had such a problem finding us!

My daughter was keeping an eye on the tracking number, however, and got a notification that her package was delivered to our door at about quarter to one. Of course, there was no such delivery, since the gate is locked. I could see nothing on the live feed of the security cameras, but my daughter went to see if it might have been left at the gate. Sure enough, I watched her on the camera as she got to the gate and picked up a white package. Which was on the gravel of the driveway, which also looks pretty white on the camera! No wonder I couldn’t see it!

I’m impressed that they found us, but it reminded me of something I wanted to try. Using the maps app on my phone, I found our road and took a closer look. It turned out that there is a 4 mile stretch of our road that is not labeled at all, however to the south of us, the road ends at another road, then restarts a short distance away. From where it restarts and continues south, it is labeled with the same numerical designation as the signs we have on our stop sign.

The four mile section that had no label is the only section that has our family name assigned to it. The offset part of the road with the numerical label probably has another family’s name assigned to it.

The app now has a function that allows the map to be edited. When I used that and started to select sections of the road, it simply said “unknown road”. I was able to select all 4 miles that had no label on it, then put in the name. It gave the option to add more information, so I added that it was also known by the numerical designation. I then sent the edit to Google Maps. I’ve already got a confirmation email saying “Thank you for your contribution. Your suggestion is being reviewed. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. We’ll let you know once the changes are published.”

Hopefully, that means or road will finally have a name attached to it on Google Maps, and people will be able to find us more easily! Plus, with the name rather than the number on the map, it will also match what is on not only my driver’s license, but on the licenses of several of my neighbours, too!

Speaking of which, I am hoping to get a chance to visit the one that sells pork products at the farmer’s market today. With our province’s latest draconian restrictions, organic humans are no longer allowed in “non-essential” places, even though such mandates are expressly forbidden in our laws, at both the federal and provincial levels. Vendors at markets aren’t required to be GMO though; just the customers. So I will just have to skip the market, and go right to the source! 😀

I’m quite okay with that. They are a homesteading family that are a few years ahead of where we want to be, as far as self-sufficiency goes, and I would love to see how they’ve been doing things! I may have grown up here on the farm, two sticks ahead of the stone ages, but I am more than happy to learn new, better and more efficient ways to go things! Especially since we’re only about one stick ahead of the stones ages now. 😉

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden, and first lettuce!

I was rather pleased with this morning’s harvest!

I am just amazed that we still have beans to pick, this late in the season! Even a single yellow bean. 😀

If the mild temperatures continue, we will be getting more yellow beans, too. There are new beans growing, all over the row! From what I could see while picking the green and purple beans, we will have more to pick for at least a couple of weeks, unless a frost hits, first.

After seeing that insanely high reading on this thermometer a few days ago, I’ve been making a point of checking it more often. This time, it seems to be reading low. It was chilly this morning, but not that chilly!

Ah, well. It’s a Dollar Store thermometer. As long as it’s close, it’ll be useful.

This morning was the first time I uncovered the lettuce to weed and thin them. The cover may keep the critters out, but it’s so long, it’s awkward to move on and off, unless there are two people.

These seeds had been from the bottom of a baggie they had spilled into, so I was expecting a mix. It looks like they are almost all the same type, with the exception of two Buttercrunch. Today is the first time we have been able to harvest lettuce this year! The first time we planted them in the spring, the groundhog got to them before we could. The lettuce is just loving these cooler temperatures.

What I am most curious about is this…

There is a tomato plant growing here! It’s looking very strong and healthy, too. I think that’s a dill growing beside it. Dill self seeds easily, but a tomato? Where did that come from? And why did it sprout so late in the season? This bed had spinach in it, first, and this tomato is growing past the sticks marking the ends of the rows I sowed the lettuce in. No additional soil had been added. Very strange!

While weeding this bed, I was on the lookout for the radishes we’d planted in the other half. I found a couple, but they were really tiny. I have no idea what happened to them.

The Bright Lights chard is doing well. We’ve harvested leaves a couple of times from these. They are liking these cooler temperatures.

We have completely abandoned the carrot bed the woodchucks had decimated repeatedly. I’d tried to at least keep weeding it a bit, but it was just too much. And yet, you can see carrot fronds among the weeds! It should be interesting to see what we have, when this bed gets cleaned up for next year.

The Hopi Black Dye sunflower in the old kitchen garden had three stalks with flowers on it. In our recent winds, one of them broke, so I added the supports for the plant to try and save the rest. This morning, I found a second stalk, broken on the ground.

We didn’t really have a lot of wind last night.

I suspect kittens.

I’ve been catching them playing in this garden, right on top of the netting over the carrot bed and the beets by the retaining wall. The carrots are on the edges of the bed, and the kittens have been playing in the middle, so those aren’t as affected, but the beets are being flattened. That bed was already struggling to recover from being et by grogs, and not doing well, so I guess it’s not really a loss, but I find it interesting that the kittens seem to really like playing on top of the netting, instead of on the ground or paths beside it!

Thinking ahead to next year, I believe we have enough salvaged boards in the barn that can be used to make low raised beds here. It would be a good place to make contained areas, such as with square foot gardening, as we turn this into a kitchen garden, and we start to plant more herbs that may have a spreading tendancy. If we have actual frames on the beds, that will make it easier to set up sturdy covers to protect from voracious critters and insects – and playful kittens!

I think we should dig up the rhubarb and transplant them somewhere else. They are not doing well here, likely because they are right under the ornamental crab apple trees.

As difficult and sometimes disappointing as things have been with gardening this year, particularly with the drought, it has showed us a lot about what works, and we can do to improve things for the future.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: yesterday and today

Yesterday ended up being even hotter than was forecast.

We also didn’t get the thunderstorms that were predicted. 😦

I still ended up outside to take care of a few things. One of them was to check on our curing onions, shallots and garlic.

They are not cured yet, but they’ve dried enough that I took the time to brush off the soil from the shallots, then kept right on going, doing all the onions and hanging garlic, too.

Quite the difference!!

They will probably need at least a few more days, probably a week, to cure, but I might be able to trim and re-string them and hang them in the root cellar to finish curing. We shall see what the conditions are like. They really shouldn’t be hanging outside in the heat like this, though they are at least dry. I found out from my SIL that my mother would braid her garlic and hang them in trees, so I guess this should work out fine, too.

Though we did not get the predicted thunderstorms, we did have high winds from the south all day.

High enough to break a heavily laden tomato branch that didn’t have enough support. 😦 I spent some time adding supports to the tomatoes, and found others that were bent, but not broken like this one. This one was still attached, so I tied it upright, but by this morning it was wilting. It’s likely a lost cause, but I went ahead and took it off completely, then stuck the end into the ground.

After adding support to the tomatoes, I picked the ripe ones – there are three different types of tomatoes in this photo – and picked the largest cucamelons, too. We’re still getting just enough for snacking on. 🙂

Speaking of cucamelons, check this out.

This morning, their vines were reaching even higher past the top of the fence. How these are not falling over, I don’t know! The vines are clearly much stronger than they appear!

For the past while, I’ve been watching the sweet corn grow, wondering that there were so may tassels forming, but no cobs. When I went to water them yesterday evening, it was a relief to finally see silks emerging on several stalks. We might have corn to eat, after all!

This morning, I was able to pick some more beans, too.

The yellow beans seem to be getting into the height of their production, and I even found green beans large enough to harvest, but only one purple bean large enough to pick!

With how many we planted, I had hope to have more, but with our drought conditions, I’m happy that we have enough to eat fresh with our meals.

Also, do you see the drops of moisture on the colander in the photo?

That’s not from rinsing the beans.

Those are rain drops.

Yes! We have rain! It started to rain lightly just as I was finishing up with my rounds, and has been raining off and on ever since.

So exciting!

Even my older brother is getting rain at their place. They’ve had even less rain than we have. They get the same weird weather phenomenon that we do. As the systems move over us, something seems to just push them to go around, or even cause them to dissipate. Our theory was that it has something to do with being between such large lakes, but my brother’s place is well past the southernmost tip of the lake. So it can’t be that

We are just so happy for the rain we are getting right now. I can’t wait to check on the gravel pit this evening, to see if there’s any water at the bottom of the new dig!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; NOOooo!!! *sob*

Today is supposed to be hot again, so I wanted to make sure to get the garden watered early in the day, while it was still cool. I started with the soaker hose at the squash tunnel, then went around checking the melons, squash and gourds.

I was extremely disappointed to find this.

Our one and only Teddy winter squash was gone.

Et.

Munched.

Masticated.

The two Teddy plants are blooming, and there is even a female flower developing, but that one baby squash had grown so much after the rain, I was really looking forward to watching it develop.

This is one of the nearby Little Gem winter squash. There were no developing squash down here to be eaten; those are much higher on the trellis. Still, it means energy will be going to recover from the damage, instead of into developing squash.

Thankfully, that was the only damage here. The melons and gourds had no critter damage. I did find one of the nearby Dorinny corn had been gotten into, the remains of a cob on the ground. The corn may have been a deer, but I figured the squash was a groundhog. The deer don’t go along that side of the garden beds, preferring to walk through the open areas in the middle.

I was wrong.

When I checked the garden cam, I almost missed the shadow moving in the darkness. It was a huge raccoon! So big that, if it hadn’t turned at the end of the bean bed and I could make out its tail, I would have thought it was a bear cub.

I continued checking the beds, and was so disappointed to find this.

A deer got into the Montana Morado corn. In the above photo, several stalks in the outermost row are gone.

I found corn cobs scattered on the ground, each looking like they had only a single bite taken out of them.

Hoof prints left no doubt as to what was responsible for this damage.

The deer had traipsed right through the middle of the corn block, leaving damaged plants and nipped corn cobs in its wake.

These are all the cobs I picked up off the ground.

I think it would bother me less if the deer actually ate the corn, rather than taking a bite here and a bite there. and leaving a trail of damage.

On checking the cobs, you can see that a couple of them were almost completely ripe, if poorly pollinated. When ripe, the kernels should be an even darker purple.

One cob is looking like it was going blue, instead of purple!

Several of the cobs had been beautifully pollinated, full of developing kernels.

I am so incredibly unhappy. Clearly, the flashy spinny things around the corn block are no deterrent.

Not even our purple beans escaped damage. The purple beans are lusher and bushier than the green and yellow beans – except for at this end of the row, where the leaves have been thinned out by nibbling.

And here is the beast that did the damage – nibbling on a sunflower!!!

I. Am. Not. Impressed.

I even added bells to the lines around the corn and sunflower beds, but the deer came from the other side!!

Venison is sounding very good right now.

What a disappointing way to start the day.

Other things went well, though, and I will save those for other posts!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning harvest

Oh, my goodness, what a difference a single day of good rain makes! No amount of watering with the hose can compete.

While we have been able to pick a Spoon tomato or two, every few days (there were three ripe ones yesterday, that my brother and his wife to go try. 🙂 ), the Mosaic Medley tomatoes still have a ways to go. Two plants have tomatoes that are starting to ripen, though, with this one being the furthest along.

Though pickings are slim right now, I can see that we will have lots ripening, all at once, soon! They are all indeterminate varieties, and with the Spoon tomatoes alone, we’re probably going to be picking lots, daily.

The Little Gem winter squash, in particular, got noticeably bigger overnight! There is easily several inches of new growth on the vines.

The Teddy winter squash has pretty much doubled in size since I checked it, yesterday morning.

Even the pea sprouts, among the sweet corn, are visibly bigger and stronger – and their stems are barely two inches high right now! 😀 As short as they are, the sweet corn is starting to develop their tassels, too.

There were a few zucchini we were keeping an eye on and leaving to get bigger, but by this morning, some of them were almost getting too big!

Plus, I picked our VERY FIRST beans!!!! Just a few yellow and green beans. No purple beans were even close to being ready to pick, yet. I’m pretty thrilled with just the handful we have now, and seeing how many I could see developing on the plants. 🙂

This morning, I uncovered the beet bed near the garlic. This was the first bed that got major damage, almost wiped out by a deer. After several attempts to cover it, we ended up putting on mosquito netting as a floating row cover, though I had to keep adding more weights around the edges to keep the woodchucks from slipping under and nibbling on them some more. Once the floating row cover was on, it basically remained untouched until this morning. We kept watering it, but that’s it.

It got a thorough weeding this morning, and I picked a few young beets as well. My daughters really enjoy baby beets and their greens. 🙂 The bed is covered again and will probably get ignored for awhile, other than watering. The other beet beds are also covered with mosquito netting as floating row covers, and they’re going to need some tending as well. That’s one down side of covering them like this. It’s a pain in the butt to move all the things we scavenged to weigh down the edges, so they are just being left alone.

In looking back at our gardening posts from last year (this blog is my gardening journal, too! 😀 ), there were posts about the heat waves we got last July. It wasn’t as severe as this year, but it was the most severe we’d seen since our move at the time. By this time our sunflowers – which we’d lost half of to deer and replanted with other giant varieties – were growing their heads and some were even starting to bloom. This year’s sunflowers are nowhere near that stage! We had also been able to do quite a lot of clean up and fix up jobs that were out of the question in this year’s heat. The drought and heat waves have set us back quite a bit, as far as getting things accomplished. We were also harvesting carrots and sunburst squash, regularly, by the end of last July. It’s hard not to be disappointed with how things are turning out this year, but there isn’t much we can do about the weather, and very hungry animals that have lost their usual summer food and water sources.

Speaking of animals…

I had finished up at the furthest garden beds and was making my way to the main beds closer to the house, when I realized I was being stared at by a little furry face on the gravel over what used to be a den! A woodchuck, the littlest of them, was just sitting there, watching me come closer. I started to shoo it away, and it would run a few feet, then stop and look at me, run a few feet, stop and look at me… on it went until I finally got it to run through the north fence and off the property. By then, I was standing next to the purple corn, at the opposite end of the garden area. Since I was there anyhow, I decided to check on the purple corn, turned around and…

… discovered I was standing next to another woodchuck! It had just frozen in place until it realized I could see it, then ran off. I chased that one past the north fence, too!

Thankfully, there was no sign of critter damage in the gardens this morning, but my goodness they are cheeky little buggers!

After their visit yesterday, and seeing some of the issues we’ve been dealing with, my brother messaged me this morning with some photos. There’s a store they were at that had electric fence started kits. The one he showed me uses D cell batteries, but he knew of another store that has solar powered versions. The basic kit he sent me a picture of covers 50×50 feet, at a very reasonable price. It wouldn’t be enough to cover our farthest garden beds, but we could easily pick up the parts and pieces to cover more area. We’d need a second kit to cover the other end of the garden area.

Something to keep in mind. Particularly when we start building our permanent garden beds. We’d still need to find ways to stop the woodchucks, but it would be a good start, and cheaper than building tall fences!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: today’s project, and new growth

One of my goals for today was to modify one of the wire mesh covers for the main garden beds. I will be planting in this bed soon, and have set up the soaker hose in it for now.

I had one board left of what we used to make the long sides, and used it to make end pieces just over 3 feet long, so it will fit in the narrowest part of this bed. The lengths of hula hoops are woven through the wire and their ends are screwed in place. It’s still kinda floppy, but it won’t collapse completely.

We might still add chicken wire to the ends of the cover, to keep small critters out. Of course, it won’t stop the woodchuck, since it can just dig under it, but I hope to at least reduce the chances. I did see it briefly this evening, dashing under the garden shed when I came around the house. I have not seen any new nibbled on plants today, thankfully.

I have to go digging around to see if I can find more of this wood, so I can do the other wire cover as well. It’d be good if I can find enough to make a third cover, but I doubt it. We’ve picked over the area we found those boards in pretty thoroughly.

The board on the ground is something I found in the barn. This bed is a bit wider than the others, so I plan to lay the board down the middle, so that we’ll have something to step on, to make it easier to tend the bed.

Now that this has the end pieces, it will be easier for one person to move it aside to do weeding, then put it back again. It was the “put it back again” part that was the most awkward, without a second person to help.

If all goes well, we will have some radishes and chard planted in here tomorrow. 🙂

The girls did the evening watering while I was doing this, and called my attention to something that I did not see this morning.

Our beans are showing flower buds!

So awesome! It looks like we’ll have more of the purple beans than the green or the yellow.

While flower buds are forming here, we have flowers blooming somewhere else.

This is part of the area at the edge of the spruce grove that I cleaned out this spring, partly to get materials needed to build the squash tunnel. With all the little trees and dead branches cleared away, they finally have enough light to be able to bloom. I expect this to happen more, as we continue to clean up the spruce grove.

When we first moved here, we worked out a plan: the first two years, we would focus on cleaning up the house and inner yard. In the third year, we would start on the outer yard, and then in the following years, we would start working on things beyond the outer yard, as warranted. In the first year of working the inner yard, we would clean up the maple grove, which we did. The second year of working the inner yard, we were to clean up the spruce grove. Then things happened, and we only got parts of it done. As time goes by, however, we’re realizing just how much bigger of a job the spruce grove is. This is now an area we’re going to have to chip away at, little by little, as we can. We need to work on the outer yard more, in the process. Particularly since we plant to build permanent raised bed gardens in the outer yard.

We still have a multi-year plan to get this stuff done. It’s just been adjusted quite a bit! Plus, with our starting to garden ahead of “schedule”, the time and resources we have available has had to shift, too. As much and things need to be cleaned up, and we have to get the junk hauled away, doing things that will actually feed us has become more of the priority. It was always the goal. It just went from a mid term goal, so a short term goal!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: beans, and future mulch!

So… today didn’t go quite as planned, originally. What else is new? 😀

But first, I want to share this picture.

This bed is the yellow bush beans. The green and purple ones look much the same. Even more beans have been sprouting, and it looks like we’ve got an almost 100% germination rate already! Even in the spaces where there are no beans sprouted yet, I’m seeing bumps and cracks in the soil, showing that something is trying to push it’s way through. Some were so close to the surface, they got uncovered when I watered them!

My original plan had been to finish the new corn block, so the Montana Morado corn could be transplanted, after I got back from helping my mother with her grocery shopping. Instead, I decided the lawn needed to be mowed, first. Not just because we haven’t mowed it yet this year (even with the rains we did get, it wasn’t all that overgrown), but because I wanted the grass clippings. Which meant using the push mower, with its collection bag.

I started off dumping the grass clippings into the wagon, with the intention of hauling the clippings to the garden beds where they will be used as mulch, but I realized the constant stopping and starting and hauling would take too long; particularly since the wagon can only hold 3 bag fulls. Which is more than the wheelbarrows, but still…

So I started dumping the clippings into the compost ring.

This is the clippings from just the south yards, minus two bag fulls. The compost ring was almost empty when I started.

My only concern with this is all the Chinese Elm seeds in there. Piles of grass clippings get shocking hot, though, so I’m hoping that will kill off at least some of the seeds. :-/

When I started on the East yard, I had to find some place else for the clippings, so they got added to the old compost pile. The one we haven’t been able to use, because when we started to dig into it, we kept finding garbage and branches. I think we got all the garbage out, except for maybe a few stray bits. Then when the East and North yards were done, and I started on the West yard, I had to start a third pile.

I didn’t get all the mowing done; a couple of areas just don’t have enough grass to mow, and I didn’t try to go into the trees at all, yet. I want to mow the areas around the old garden, and the new garden beds, more to keep down the poplars that keep trying to spread, and we need to do the parts of the old garden we haven’t put beds into, as well. That part is the most difficult, because it’s so rough. Last year, even at the highest setting, I still kept catching rocks and clumps of soil. In some areas, it’ll be easier to use the weed trimmer, which we can actually do, now that we have enough extension cords to reach all of it.

After the mowing was done for today, I took the plants back inside before going into the house, and noticed some of the squash are starting to show flower buds! They need to get into the ground right away, so they’ll have the nutrients, space – and pollinators! – they need. The girls and I were going to make a trip into the city tomorrow for some shopping they need to do, but that will be pushed back. Instead, I will be focusing on finishing that corn block and transplanting the Montana Morado corn, while the girls will be focusing on building the squash beds. The summer squash will have beds build where the sunflowers were planted last year, where the ground had been mulched. The winter squash will need to have beds built at the squash tunnel, too. The bottom supports and mesh will have to be done after they are transplanted. They will be planted on the outside, so can work from the inside to avoid the plants, if we have to. If we end up having more transplants than there is space at the squash tunnel, the extras will also be planted where the sunflowers were last year, in the section that runs close to where the squash tunnel is. The only thing we need to make sure of is to leave a gap where we can walk through while dragging the hose to reach the rain barrel.

I figure, by the time we’re done, we’ll be out of grass clippings again. 😀

We shall see how it works out!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: more firsts!

Okay, this is getting ridiculous!

I don’t think the needle on that thermometer can go any further. What do you think that’s at? 65C/149F? Closer to 70C/158F? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that thermometer get that high.

Of course, the weather apps didn’t show temperatures that high. One of them allows me to look at historical weather. Our average temperature for June is 22C/72F, and our record high for the month was 37C/99F, set in 1995. I’m pretty sure we did beat that, today. The average low for June is 12C/54F, with a record low of 0C/32F, set in 2009.

This is the thermometer in the sun room.

This is with the inner door open, the screen window in the outer door open as wide as it can, and the ceiling fan going at its highest setting, and it still got to about 37-38C/99-100F. There are still a few trays of seedlings (and cups of dirt I’m pretending to expect things to germinate, still) in the sun room while I take the rest out to harden off. The trays outside got misted several times during the day, but a bunch of the squash and melons were really droopy by the end of the day. For all the misting they got, they still dried out quite a bit, so everything got a thorough watering before they came in for the night. Except the corn. They get put back into their bin, without the outer cups, so I put water in the bin for them to absorb from below.

When the girls went out as things started to cool down, they checked on the netting over the lettuces and beets. They ended up flipping one side up over the other, because there were so many insects caught inside. Including several of these guys.

This snowberry clearwing moth decided to just sit there and chill instead of flying away!

We also had a visitor, as things cooled down.

Madam Stinky came over for a snack! Later on, we saw a second one in the kibble house with this first one. I am loath to chase any critter away from food when it’s not doing any harm, but it’s really not good for them, and there is potential for harm. I think they are both hungry mamas. It’s certainly the time of year for them to have babies. When I used the hose to spray them away, the second one, which is quite a bit bigger than this one, did NOT want to leave! It kept grunting at me and trying to go back to the kibble house, until the water finally drove it away.

They’ll be back tonight, I’m sure! 😀

Before it had cooled down enough to start the evening watering, I checked on the garden beds to see how they were handling the heat. Especially the new transplants. I’m happy to say that the tomatoes and sunflowers were doing just fine. Only the bunching onions were starting to get a little bit wimpy.

While checking other beds around the transplanted sunflowers, I spotted little bits of green and pink.

We have beans!!!

These were not there when I checked them this morning, but both the yellow and green bean beds had sprouts, some still carrying their brightly coloured inoculated seed covering. The Royal Burgundy didn’t have any sprouts, but when I came back later to water them, even that bed had sprouts just starting to break through the soil. I’m so excited!!!

While watering the sunflower transplants, though, I got an even bigger, more exciting surprise.

This is a Hopi Black Dye sunflower seedling! I had to check and double check to be sure. I marked the spacing to plant them with flags, which are still there, so I could use them to confirm that yes, these are in the right places and everything. Considering how long it took for just one Hopi Black Dye seedling to sprout in the tray, I am totally stunned that they are already sprouting after being direct sown, just 5 days ago! All I can think is that the seeds we tried to start indoors were just too cold to sprout, even in the warmth of the sun room. Now that I’ve started to take the tray outside, to harden off the cucamelons sharing the tray, we might get even more of them.

The heat may be hard on humans and animals, but some of our plants are just loving it!

Hopefully, the extra watering they all got will help the ones that maybe don’t like the heat quite as much. 😀

After the watering was done, and things had cooled down a bit more, I did decide to do one transplanting job done today, but that will get its own post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: beans are in, and first spinach protectors

Once again, our temperatures have lurched from one direction to the other! From days cold enough for the furnace to turn on, and overnight lows below freezing, we’re back to the heat. It’s past 7:30pm as I write this, and our temperature is still at 24C/75F. A week from now, we’re expected to hit 31C/88F.

Well, by then we should be transplanting our squash seedlings, so that will be good for them, at least!

This morning’s job was to direct sow our bush beans. I am so glad we picked up that extra hose. The mini-beds we made for them needed to be soaked, re-soaked, then soaked again, before I even planted the seeds. I can’t believe how quickly things have dried out already, though I suppose with the winds we’ve been having, I shouldn’t be surprised. You can even see that the pea trellises have been moved around by the winds! I even found one end of a cross piece had come loose after one particularly windy days. The bags may work to startle critters, but they also act like sails.

The yellow and green bean packages had 200 seeds each. With a 20’/6m double row, we still had seeds left over. The purple beans were packed by weight, and a 50g package was just enough for its double row.

Once planted, they all got watered, and watered again! Normally, I would have pre-soaked the beads, but these were inoculated seeds, and I figure soaking them first would have washed off the inoculant!

After the beans were done, we set up the sprinkler to start soaking down the rows for the corn and sunflowers. We left it running over one side for a few hours, then moved it to cover the other end. Much to my surprise, the sprinkler can cover all but 3 rows. There isn’t a lot of pressure, this far out!

Our afternoon project was to see what we could do about protecting our spinach beds. After scrounging in a little shed near the barn, we dragged out the last of some narrow old, salvaged boards. Many of them had several 3″ deck screws in them that had to be removed, first. There were 13 boards, and we ended up using 12 of them, because they were not all the same length.

The roll of chicken wire (or 1″ hex wire) we got was 25′ (7.6m) long and 4′ (1.2m) wide. We have three spinach beds we need to cover. While the beds themselves are about 3-4′ (about a meter) wide and roughly 15′ (just over 4.5m) long, the rows of spinach were, of course, less than that. So we were able to use the roll to cover 2 spinach beds. Well, mostly.

We stole a couple of hoops from the small beet bed by the garlic beds to hold the wire up in the middle. The sides are held in place with sticks, that have a bit of mesh hooked onto their tops, so they are helping hold that up, too. Once we get more hoops, we’ll be able to stop using the sticks to hold up the mesh, which will allow us to move the covers to harvest the spinach.

The edges of the chicken wire were sandwiched between boards that were screwed together. Because of the different lengths, we had to cobble them together. A couple ended up with small gaps between the ends of boards, but they were still secure. The covers don’t really leave much room to do a second sowing, though, which we could do any time now, if we wanted. I think I will skip it, and save the seeds to sow later in the summer for a fall crop.

Like everything else we’re doing this year, this is a temporary thing, so we don’t need to get too fancy. When we build our permanent, high raised beds, we will make protective covers that fit properly, and be properly framed and supported. Right now, neither one completely covers the rows of spinach, so the ends might still get nibbled at, but it should be fine. If we want, we can tie on brightly colored or metallic ribbons to flap in the wind and discourage critters.

I’ll have to make a trip to the local dollar store again and see if they’ve restocked on things like pinwheels. I’ll pick up more hula hoops, too. I figure a couple more rolls of the chicken wire would not be a bad idea. I think we still have enough of that wood in the basement that we can make one more cover for the third spinach bed. For the small beet bed, I’m hoping the mosquito netting we ordered will come in soon, but if not, we can use chicken wire.

While in the city, I also picked up 200’/60.9m of yellow rope to string around where the corn and sunflowers will be planted. If what I read about deer not having good depth perception, so having two shorter fences a few feet apart works as well as a high fence, is accurate, we should be able to string just one “fence” of the yellow rope around half the garden, since it’s already so close to the barbed wire perimeter fence. Since most of the other half will be edged with squash, which deer don’t like, we might not need to do much more than that. We shall see!

Now that the blocks for the corn and sunflowers have been soaked down, tomorrow’s job is to plant the corn, with radishes in between to help break up the hard soil, and direct sow the rest of the sunflowers. The transplants are not done hardening off yet, and all our transplanting will wait until after June 2, regardless of what the weather forecasts are right now! The forecasts change so often, I don’t really trust them beyond a couple of days, and, even then, they are frequently wrong for our area.

Once the seeds are sown, we can finally get back to working on the squash tunnel!

The Re-Farmer