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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: final harvest!

Today, I went out to get together with some friends. When I got back, the girls were in the old kitchen garden, starting our final harvest!

I started off helping with the beets in the L shaped bed, before heading over to quickly do the beet bed next to the garlic.

What a difference!

In the old kitchen garden, all the beets were very small. I was expecting that in the bed along the retaining wall, since they had been eaten by the groundhogs, but I expected more from the L shaped bed.

The girls don’t take pictures like I do, so I just got a shot after they were done. The piles of greens in the beet beds include beets too small to keep. This will all be worked back into the soil. In the carrot bed, you can see the Kyoto Red fronds that had gone to seed, left behind as well. I figure those can be worked back into the soil, too. And if we find little carrots coming up in this bed next year, I’m okay with that! 😀

We got a lot more bigger beets out of the little bed by the garlic! Now that this bed is clear, we can build the last low raised box for it, and the bricks used to frame it will be used elsewhere.

Then my older daughter and I started picking the fingerling potatoes. Being able to dump a bag into the kiddie pool, then go through the soil to pick the potatoes, made the job very easy! We moved the bags away from the fence, so that the picked over soil could be dumped back against the fence before we moved on to the next bag, which also made it easier.

The Purple Peruvians are SO dark, it was hard to find them in the soil! We got a lot more of them than expected, and had to start using another container to hold them.

Of course, some of them got used for our supper! Here, you can see the Purple Chief on the left, and the Purple Peruvian on the right. I cubed them, as well as three types of carrots, added some garlic cloves, tossed them in flavoured olive oil and seasonings, then roasted them. I can hardly wait to try them!

While I worked on supper, the girls finished cleaning the vegetables and set out the beets and carrots in the sun room, with the ceiling fan going, since leaving them outside in the sun is not an option right now. There are three types of carrots here; Deep Purple, from Veseys, Kyoto Red and Lounge Rouge Sang from Baker Creek. It’s hard to tell which ones are the Lounge Rouge Sang, as the colour gradient isn’t very visible. All the beets from the small bed are on here, plus most of the beets from the old kitchen garden as well. We did take some straight inside, and a few of them are in the oven, too. They got peeled and chopped, tossed in olive oil and seasonings, then roasted at the same time as the potatoes.

With the beets, we may actually have enough to make it worthwhile to pickle them. I’m not sure. Mostly, though, we’ll just eat them fairly quickly. As for the carrots, I think we’ll either be eating them quickly, too. I don’t think there is enough to even be worth blanching and freezing.

It’s a very small harvest, considering how much we planted, but I’m still happy with it, since we came so close to not having anything at all.

Now our work is really cut out for us! All the beds can now be cleaned out and prepared for next year.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: clean up, little harvests and high raised bed progress

It was a chilly day for it, but we got quite a bit done cleaning up in the garden today.

My focus was on finishing with the abandoned carrot bed that was half done yesterday.

This is how it was left lat night. The second half had the Kyoto Red carrots planted, and after the groundhogs got at them, most had gone to seed when they grew back among the weeds.

Yet we still managed to have some carrots of an edible size!

There were a lot more twisted ones than with the Napoli carrots. This bed had been built on top of one of the potato beds we’d planted the year before, then basically doubled the length. The half the Kyoto Red were on was on top of non-amended ground, and you could see in some of the longer carrots, where they had hit rocks or harder soil, and twisted their way around. Even using the garden fork to loosen the soil and pull up the carrots was harder than the first half.

What a difference with the carrots that had gone to see!

It doesn’t look like we’ll be collecting any; if there are any mature seeds on some of these, I can’t tell.

Once I pulled as much as I could, I started working on cleaning out the weeds and roots. One of my daughter came out after I started that part, and she started working on the sweet corn blocks.

She stacked those next the high raised bed, as I’ll be using some of them in the layers of material used to fill it.

The sunflowers were left for now, but all three blocks of sweet corn were cleared.

She also pulled the summer squash and beans. These beds will be used again next year, so I got her to leave the plants there for now. The beds still need to be weeded and prepped for next year, and I might be able to make use of the plants to improve the soil more.

My daughter also moved the sprinkler hoses, but they were pretty cold and brittle, so they’ve been laid out in the sun for now. It’s supposed to start warming up over the next while, so I’ll wait for a nice warm day before rolling them up for storage.

By the time she got all that done, I was just finishing cleaning the carrot bed. Thankfully, none of the other beds will need as much work to clean them, and will go a lot faster!

My daughter did the final leveling and raking of the bed while I got the tools to continue working on the high raised bed.

I’m finally starting to get a bit of a method down. Between that and the narrower logs, I’m getting the notches cut faster. The logs on the ends are so huge, if I were making this bed only two logs high, I could leave the ends as they are now! As it is, when I add the end pieces for the next level, the narrower side logs means I should only need to cut notches on the cross pieces.

When I got to the point where the second battery on my baby chainsaw needed to sit for a bit before I could squeeze in a few more cuts, I took the time to cut some of the sunflowers. Checking them this morning, I was seeing a lot more losses to birds, so I figured we should get them inside while we still had seeds. 😀

One pile has the Mongolian Giants and the other has the Hopi Black Dye. I don’t know that all the seed heads I collected will give us finished seeds, but we shall see. I cut the stalks pretty long, which meant some of them included the little baby sunflowers that were branching out, too. Those will, for sure, not have any mature seeds on them, but that’s okay.

At this point, we would be hanging them someplace warm and dry. The best place right now is the sun room, and we have no way to hang anything in there just yet, so I made do.

They should still get good circulation around them on these shelves as they dry. I am very curious as to what we will get out of them!

There is a lot more clean up to do, but thankfully we are expected to continue to get mild weather. So much so, that I am still holding off in broadcasting the wildflower seeds for a while longer. Doing this in the fall will only work if there is no chance of germination, so I would rather wait a bit longer. I think one more week will do it, just to be on the safe side.

The Re-Farmer

More garden surprises

If you’re on Facebook, you know how they pop things into your news feed that you posted, X number of years ago today?

Yesterday, I saw one of those, with a photo I posted, three years ago.

After a snowfall.

Not only have we blown past our average first frost date of Sept. 10, but we are at a point where it is not at all unusual to have snow on the ground. Nothing that lasts, really, but usually at least one storm.

I am so loving our extended summer. Especially with how it’s giving our garden so much more time to recover from the extreme heat and drought conditions of the summer.

This morning, I found new Ozark Nest Egg flowers, both male and female! I hand pollinated some other ones, but it’s too early to tell if it works. I went ahead and hand pollinated the female flower here, too.

While looking through the Ozark Nest Egg plants, I found a single flower from the Thai Bottle Gourd that has made its way up the fence, mixed in with the Nest Egg gourds! I’ve only seen male flowers on this one, though.

Remember that carrot bed the groundhogs kept decimating, over and over? The one we finally gave up on, other than watering it now and again? Half of it, where the Kyoto Reds are planted, has carrots gone to see, pushing their way up through the weeds. The other variety, Napoli, have fronds visible among the weeds, but none are going to seed.

I watered the gardens this morning and, out of curiosity, pulled up some Napoli carrots. I was really surprised by how big they were! After having their greens eaten away several times, It’s amazing that there are any at all, never mind anything of a decent size! That had me looking around among the Kyoto Reds for carrots that had not gone to seed, and I found a surprisingly large one there, too!

The squash tunnel thermometer is definitely whack. We might be at 30C/86F as I write this, but it was only about 22C/72F at the time I took this photo.

While watering the peas among the corn, I couldn’t help but notice the corn block that is the furthest south.

We actually have corn. This block as lots of cobs developing!

They are very small – the husks make them look like there is more than there really is – and poorly pollinated, but we actually have corn. I went ahead and ate the one I picked, right after taking this photo, and it was tender, sweet and delicious. I will have to go back later today, with a container of some kind, and pick more!

I didn’t get a photo, but I picked 4 more of the largest Tennessee Dancing Gourds, too.

Once back inside, I started up a big chili in the crock pot. It’s got our own onions, garlic, carrots and bush beans in it, as well as both ground beef and the ground pork we got from our neighbour. Oh, and I also tossed in some Spoon tomatoes we’d tucked into the freezer. In the future, I plan to grow beans for drying, so some day we will be making chili with our own dry beans, too, along with the paste tomatoes we plant to grow and can. 🙂

With a goal of being as self sufficient as possible when it comes to growing our own food, this year has shown just how touch and go that can be. We had a very warm May that had all sorts of things starting to bloom, only to get a single cold night that killed all the flowers off. Because of that one night, we have no crab apples, no saskatoons, no chokecherries, and it killed off the (expensive!) mulberry bush we’d transplanted. Even the lilacs and roses got damaged by that one night. Then we had the drought conditions that had us watering every day, twice a day, for so long. And now we’ve got an extended summer, and instead of frost and snow, parts of our garden are able to recover and start or continue producing! It’s been a crazy gardening year, but as much as I shake my head over how extreme conditions have been, the reality is, this isn’t actually all that unusual. As every farmer, gardener or homesteader knows, you could have the best year of all, only to have all your hard work wiped out by a single storm, or one unusually cold night. Or you could get a terrible spring and summer, but then get a great fall and winter. Some years, you might not get any real summer at all, and in others, the winter will be as mild as any fall or spring. As fantastic as it can be, to be able to grow your own food and preserve it for use in the off season, I’m just as thankful that we have grocery stores and imported food. I think both are good! As my brother and his wife have both said, if they had to rely on their garden, they’d starve!

The Re-Farmer

Fall garden update: carrot and beet surprise!

One last garden update to post, interrupted by having to make a run to the post office to pick up a package before they closed! 😀

With the kittens mashing down the netting on two of the beds in the old kitchen garden, I finally gave in and removed the mesh completely.

With the beets along the retaining wall, there isn’t much we can do about them anymore. If the deer eat them, it’ll be no more of a loss than it already is. I’ll be cleaning that bed up for the winter soon, and if there are any beets to harvest in there, that’s just bonus. The L shaped beet bed, however, will remain covered. The kittens haven’t been going after that one, and they are doing well enough that we don’t want the deer to eat them.

After removing the hoops and netting from the carrot bed, I found my first surprise. I did not plant this bed. My older daughter did. Two types of carrots, with kohlrabi down the middle.

Well, nothing came of the kohlrabi – I finally decided the big leafy plants that did show up were a weed of some kind, as I found them growing in other areas where kohlrabi has never been planted.

What I did notice is that there are three carrot labels, not two. Which I sort of noticed before, when I weeded the bed and added the hoops, but for some reason, never stopped to actually read the label. Along with the Deep Purple and Lounge Rouge Sang, there are Kyoto Red! If you look at the photo, towards the far end of the bed, you can see carrots that have gone to seed. Those are the Kyoto Red. Like the ones planted in the main garden bed, after the groundhogs ate the greens, they got tricked into acting as if they were in their second year and started to develop seed heads. The other two varieties didn’t.

This morning, I decided to pick some, and ended up up quite a few. The ones on the far left are the Kyoto Reds. There were very few that haven’t gone to seed, so I only got a couple of them. The purple ones are obvious the Deep Purple variety, but when I’d picked from that bed before, they were not this dark purple, and I thought they were the Lounge Sang Rouge!! I hadn’t picked any from the other row, as they did not need any thinning.

Which means we got to try two new varieties of carrots today! My daughter decided to use up the summer squash we had in the fridge and make a soup, and she included a few carrots as well. After they were sliced up, we tried each of them. The Kyoto Red, unfortunately, was bitter. They may not have been going to seed, but tasted like they were ready to. The other two tasted fairly similar. We’ve had the Deep Purple before, and they tasted much the same as I remember from last year. The Lounge Sang Rouge seemed to be a bit sweeter.

When cut, the Kyoto Red was that deep reddish-orange colour, all the way through. The Deep Purple carrots were purple with a pale orange, almost yellow, ring inside. The Lounge Sang Rouge was a solid pale orange.

After picking the carrots, I used the rain barrel to water the old kitchen garden, then went on to water the loan beet bed that we made in the spring, next to where the fall garlic beds. This bed was planted with Merlin beets, only. That bed is covered with netting, too, tacked down on the long sides with tent pegs, and the excess netting on the ends rapped around boards to weigh them down. After watering it, I decided to lift the boards at the ends to see how the beets looked.

I ended up picking a couple from each end!

I should have held these differently; there was one quite large beet, but it’s underneath. It’s about the size of the other three, all together!

I’m rather pleased with these – and I know there are larger beets in the middle, from when I last tended it. I’d found a groundhog had managed to squeeze it’s way under the netting, when it was only weighted down with rocks and bricks.

We don’t plan to harvest the beets for a while; possibly not until after first frost. When we do, however, we should have enough to make it worth doing some canning!

Aside from the deer and the groundhogs wanting to eat them, beets have been among our most successful vegetables. We planted a LOT of beets this year, which we may not do next year, but I’m sure we will plant them again. We’ll just have to decide on what varieties we want, and if we want to try some new ones.

And that’s it for our fall garden update! The other parts of the garden were pretty much unchanged, so there’s nothing to really say about them. 🙂

I am so incredibly grateful that our growing season has been extended this year, and am glad our drought and critter ravaged garden has had a chance to recover and continue to produce as much as it has!

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: morning in the garden, and thinking ahead

What a lovely morning to finish up my rounds in the garden!

There are quite a few Mongolian Giant sunflowers opening their seed heads. Hopefully, we will see the Hopi Black Dye rows in this area opening soon. They are so cheerful! 🙂

I’m just so happy with how the Red Kuri squash are doing! Judging from how the stem looks, the oldest of the ripening squash, in its little hammock, is progressing quite well, and the other two larger ones are catching up nice and fast. Looking at the long range forecast, our overnight temperatures will continue to stay mild, with no frost on the horizon, which will be a huge benefit for all the plants that are recovering from the heat and drought conditions we had this summer. Lately, we’ve had enough rain that we have not needed to do any watering at all, which is helping a lot, too.

The largest of the Halona melons was ready to pick this morning, so…

… the hammock that was supporting it is now holding the larger of the new Red Kuri squash.

It has been a few days, so this morning, I spent some time picking beans.

I also thinned more of the Lounge Rouge Sang carrots.

I ended up using what vegetables we had in the fridge, as well, to make a use-watcha-got version of Hodge Podge. I used bacon fat instead of butter, all the carrots in the photo, some of all three types of beans, cut into smaller pieces, yellow onion, shallots and garlic, a bunch of little sunburst squash, a zucchini, and the chard we’d picked recently; the stems were removed and chopped to about the size of the beans, while the chopped leaves were added near the very end. Also, chunks of sausage for the protein. For a bit of texture, I tossed in some lightly crushed mixed nuts, too. Instead of water, I used vegetable broth, and the dairy at the end was a mix of sour cream, into which I’d stirred in the flour for thickening, and heavy cream. Since I used broth, no other seasonings were added.

The only downside is that the carrots turned the cream pink! 😀 It was not the most visually appealing of dishes as a result, but is sure was tasty!

While going over the garden and checking things out in general, we are going to have to start working on things that need to be planted at or just before fall. We have the two wildflower seed mixes that won’t be sown until fall, but we need to start preparing the areas now. We won’t be able to do actual seed beds, as the packets recommend, but we can still clear the areas as best we can and, for one set of seeds, hopefully use the riding mower to drag the little harrow I found under the spruce trees and loosen the soil a bit.

We also have the morel and giant puffball spores to “plant”. They need to be done by about the middle of September, if I understand the package directions properly. Unfortunately, where I wanted to put the morels still has a couple of branch piles that were supposed to get chipped. The giant puffballs needs a grassy area, and we have a few options, there. We just need to make a decision before preparing the spores.

We should have good weather for working outside for the next week or so, which will be a huge help.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: tending the old kitchen garden

As much as I love all the rain we’ve been having, I was happy to have a mild, sunny day to get some work done outside. I finally got around to tending the big L shaped beet bed in the old kitchen garden.

This bed has had almost no tending, since we put the floating row cover on it to keep the critters out. This is how the two sides looked before I started.

Here is how it looked after a good, solid weeding!

There actually wasn’t a lot of weeds in there. After fighting my way through all the beet greens, following strands of weeds to their bottoms so I could pull them out by the roots, I found that there wasn’t much to pull out. The beets were actually choking out the weeds! Most of them were long and leggy and spread out, trying to reach the light, so when I pulled something out by the roots, I found I was removing quite a lot more plant than expected. The exception were all the sprouting Chinese Elms. It’s remarkable how deep and solid the roots are for a sapling that’s just a couple of inches high.

The beets themselves did not need any thinning, though I did accidentally pull a few out with the weeds. I wasn’t seeing a lot of beet roots developing, though. Hopefully, all the rain we’ve been having will result in a growth spurt!

When it came time ot put the netting back on, I took advantage of the big package of tent pegs I found in the garage. The sides of the netting was pulled tight and snug to the ground, so nothing can casually push its way under the netting. No more rocks and bricks to try and keep it down. For the ends, I wrapped the netting around boards, then weighted those down. There is lots of slack in the netting for the leaves to grow, though I don’t expect them to get much taller than they are now.

That done, I worked on the carrot bed next. One of the inner hoops had come down, the doweling holding it in place breaking off completely. Another was well on its way down, too.

Which made for a good time to tend the carrots, too.

There are two types of carrots in this bed, and these ones have been going to seed. Carrots do to see in their second year, so it seems the grounhogs eating their greens has fooled the carrots into thinking they are in their second year.

Carrots gone to see do not produce much of a root!

These carrots got weeded, but did not need any thinning. The other variety did need thinning.

Check these out!!! This is a variety from Baker Creek called Lounge Rouge Sang.

The two orange ones at the top of from the other carrots that had gone to seed, but had enough root that I wanted to keep them.

I checked my records, and those are supposed to be the Deep Purple carrots, from Veseys!

Here you can see what the Longue Rouge Sang carrots should look like, when fully mature. I just love the colours in them, and am happy to see that even the little carrots that got thinned out are showing them.

I’m so excited to see carrots! After the groundhog devastation, I really didn’t know if they would recover enough for us to have any at all. It’s a shame we couldn’t cover the larger carrot bed in the main garden area, too!

Once the bed was cleaned up, and I found new sticks to use to hold the PVC pipe hoops in place, the sides were pegged down tighter to the ground. The only places I used rocks to weigh the netting down was at a couple of corners, where there was excess netting to gather.

I still don’t know what the big green thing in the middle of the bed is. I had hoped it was the White Vienna kohlrabi that was planted there, but I not longer think that’s what they are. I’ve seen them pop up in a few other places, too. They don’t look like a weed, is about all I can say! I’m leaving them, just to hopefully see what they are. I’ve also left quite a bit of the mint that has been making it’s way through. In time, I hope to transplant them somewhere contained. For now, I just try to keep it under control so it won’t take over the garden – and we will still have at least a bit of mint to harvest if we want! 🙂

There is still one more bed of beets by the retaining wall, covered in netting, that needs to be cleaned up, but that will have to wait for another day.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: this morning in the garden

I love how, every day, there seems to be something new or different in the garden!

While doing my rounds, one of the first things I do after putting food and water out for the cats (or like today, just water, as my husband was feeling good enough to go outside and do their food), is check the nearby potatoes.

They are so huge and lush, you can barely see the grow bags! Of everything we planted this year, nothing is doing as well as the potatoes.

Hopefully, that means we’ll have lots of potatoes, and not just lots of greenery!

Potato flowers are such pretty little things!

While checking the tomatoes, I tried looking for the baby tomatoes we’ve been seeing and had a hard time finding them. Then I found this “huge” spray of tomatoes I’ve somehow missed seeing all this time!

“Huge” being a relative terms, for the world’s smallest tomatoes! 😀

While heading back down the driveway after switching out the trail cam memory card, I had to pause to get this photo.

There are less of these flowers than last year, and they are blooming later. Like so many other things, they had been damaged by that one cold night in May, and it’s taken this long for them to recover. We don’t water down here at all, and we’ve had no rain, so it’s amazing to see them at all. Such resilient flowers!

I was weeding the big carrot bed this morning, which is rather difficult right now. I sometimes wonder why I bother, considering how much they’ve been eaten. I accidentally caught a remaining carrot frond while pulling up a weed, and pulled a carrot up with it.

I’m… kinda glad I did.

If they have this much root after all they’ve been through, there is still a chance for them! We won’t get any big carrots, and my hopes of having enough to can are certainly dashed, but we might still have something worth harvesting.

As for this little guy, I washed it off with the hose and ate it, and as small as it was, it was tasty.

So that’s encouraging.

I had another surprise waiting for me in the old compost pile nearby.

Amazingly, there are more mystery squash coming up, next to the stems of the chewed up ones!

Of course, nothing will come of them after sprouting this late in the season, but we might at least see them get big enough to determine what they are.

I find these two Hopi Black Dye sunflowers in the old kitchen garden very interesting. The bigger one was the first of the seeds we started indoors to germinate. That was after the ones we’d direct sown outside had already germinated. The smaller one, which has the label next to it, germinated some time later. Right now, both of these are bigger than the ones that germinated first, in the large beds. The difference, of course, is the soil. The other ones are planted in an area that has not been amended or planted in before, while these are in a garden we’d been working on for 3 summers already

As for the tall plant behind the smaller sunflower, we still don’t know what it is. 😀

I was happy to see that many of the poppies have seen quite a growth spurt, and the ones that were under rhubarb leaves are getting stronger.

Then there is this plant, nearby.

When we were preparing the bed next to the retaining wall, there was a compact plant growing in it. Unsure of what it was, other than “some kind of flower”, we dug it up and transplanted it between the rhubarb and the chives. It quickly grew from a compact, bushy plant to the tall, leggy thing you can see in the photo.

I also now recognize it, though I still don’t know the name.

Do you see those sprays at the ends? With the small round things hanging down?

When it starts blooming, this plant has lovely, delicate little flowers.

Which then become some of the most annoying little burs, ever. It isn’t possible to go near one of these without ending up with masses of tiny burs stuck in your clothes, that are harder to get out than burdock! I’ve had some get so thoroughly stuck in my clothes, not only was I not able to get them completely out, but they managed to stay stuck after several washings!

After I took this photo, I pulled it up. Even though it is in the flower bud stage, it still tried to stick to my clothes!

It did not go into the compost, but into the fire pit for eventual burning.

If we ever get to light the fire pit this year. I suspect not.

While things have finally cooled down today – in fact, it actually got chilly last night! – and we are no longer getting heat warnings on our weather apps, we are now getting air quality alerts. There are a number of fires burning in our province right at the moment. I’d actually been smelling wood smoke for a while before we started getting the alerts, and with our heat and dryness, I was very concerned. None of the fires are near us, thankfully, but we’re still getting some of the smoke.

Today will be our coolest day for the next while, with a high of only 18C/64F so I will be taking advantage of it and getting things seeds sown in those empty spinach beds! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: more critter carnage

I went out to do the evening watering this evening, after trying to wait until things cooled down. When we were still above 30C/86F by 7:30pm, I headed out anyway, so I could be done before dark.

I started in the old kitchen garden, and this should have been my first warning.

When I had gone out earlier to apply the spray repellent, I made a point of spraying the edges of the beds and into the paths, where it would not be washed away by watering as quickly.

Nutmeg is sprawled right on top of where I’d sprayed. Clearly, he is not the least bit bothered by the repellent!

If you look to the bed on the right, you can see the stems of our nibbled on carrots. They were like that this morning, before I did the spraying. In fact, they were why I made a point os going out to apply the repellent when we were nearly at the hotted part of the day!

Meanwhile…

As I was finishing up in the old kitchen garden, I picked our first rhubarb of the season.

We could have picked rhubarb long ago, but we were thinking to do a crumple or a crisp with them, and no one wants to bake in this heat. However, I had other reasons to pick them.

We planted poppies in the new bed next to one of the rhubarb bunches. The only seeds that germinated are all near the rhubarb. While I was trying to weed them, I discovered there was more than we thought.

The rhubarb leaves were covering them, and preventing them from getting any sunlight.

So I uncovered them by picking rhubarb. 😀 We’ll see if they recover, now that they are getting light.

After I was done watering the more southerly beds, I headed over to the main garden beds and started watering. When I had been there earlier, spraying around the carrot bed, I was noticing that they looked to be recovering quite well, with lots of new fronds. I made sure to spray a wide swath all around them, on them, and even on the wire mesh cover.

As you can probably imagine, I was must unhappy when I came back to this.

The entire bed is once again decimated. All of it, from end to end. Apparently, when I sprayed the repellent, all I did was season the fronds for the woodchuck!

I am so frustrated!!

I’ll be taking the wire mesh cover off. All it’s really doing is preventing me from weeding. Though I suppose there’s no point in weeding it anymore. I will, anyhow, but the chances of the carrots recovering just dropped substantially. We knew it couldn’t stop a woodchuck, but I thought it might not want to be under something, and potentially trapped, and at least the carrots in the middle would be ignored. Nope. Apparently, this furry beast had no problem being under a wire net for so long!

This was not our only loss.

The greedy guts even eat the mystery squash seedlings in the old compost heap!

Obviously, I hadn’t sprayed the compost heap, but still… they weren’t exactly easy access in there, and were surrounded by all sorts of things the woodchuck never tries to eat, like the self-seeded raspberries that are also growing out of the pile.

I was really hoping to find out if they were from last year’s pumpkins.

Thankfully, nothing else was nibbled on, but this is damage enough!!

The Re-Farmer