Analysing our 2022 garden: lettuce, spinach and chard

Okay, it’s that time! I’ll be working on a serious of posts, going over how our 2022 garden went, what worked, what didn’t, and what didn’t even happen at all. This is help give us an idea of what we want to do in the future, what we don’t want to do in the future, and what changes need to be made.

Growing greens this year was pretty touch and go.

We had three varieties of spinach seeds left over from the year before. Only one variety was a success.

The Results:

These were planted with the Tropeana Lunga onions in the high raised bed, and they did quite well. They were not as lush as the year before, but still quite good.

The other two varieties were planted in nearby low raised beds, together with other onions, and with peppers in one bed, and eggplants in another. The few that managed to germinate disappeared very quickly, with none growing beyond their seed leaves! I don’t know what went wrong with them this year. Last year, they were grown in the low raised beds and thrived.

After the high raised bed spinach was harvested, the space was replanted with chard.

We also had three varieties of lettuce seeds left over form the year before, and those were planted in the L shaped bed in the old kitchen garden, with netting to protect them from critters – whether those critters be groundhogs or playful kittens! The last of the seeds were scattered, all mixed together, over an open space by a nearby rose bush, since there weren’t many seeds left.

The Result:

The lettuces did pretty well, in general. Even in the area you see in the photo above, which kept getting overtaken by the nearby invasive flowers, managed to do well. I think the Buttercrunch lettuce did the best of the three varieties.

We eventually removed the netting, when it seemed the groundhogs had moved on, because the netting made it very hard to keep up on the weeding. Ultimately, though, we found we just didn’t eat a lot of lettuce, and they started to bolt. I left some plants to go to seed while harvesting the rest, and then the bed was reseeded with the last of our spinach seeds.

The Result:

The second sowing of spinach was a complete fail! The first section that got planted had started to germinate, but the kittens flattened the protective cover and rolled all over them. They never recovered.

We planted more in two other sections, and made the netting supports stronger – strong enough for the kittens to use it as hammocks, and not touch the ground!

It made no difference. The second sowing barely germinated at all, and never got past their seed leaves. They were a total fail, which really surprised us.

Then there was the chard.


The Result:

What you see in the above photo is all the chard we got. As soon as they started to germinate, their leaves became riddled with holes. Some insect was eating them, but we never saw the insects themselves! In the end, we simply left the chard alone. Most died off, but I figured whatever was left could act as a bait crop for whatever insect was eating them.


There are expectations, and then there is reality!

With growing greens, we were picturing having plenty of salads, or having lettuce in our sandwiches, and basically just enjoying having access to leafy greens, any time we wanted. We figured they would be among those things we would eat more of, simply because they were there.

Well, that was more or less true of the spinach – what we got of it. But not so much with the lettuce. We found we just don’t eat lettuce all that much. Having them barricaded under netting didn’t help. None of us wanted lettuce enough to go through the bother of taking out pegs holding the netting to the ground (so nothing could crawl under it) to harvest leaves.

As for the plants we left to go to seeds, only one variety seemed to reach full maturity. The others were still blooming when I finally cleared the bed out.

With how well the lettuce did, I expected the second sowing of spinach to do well, so it was a real surprise for them to fail completely. Now that the L shaped bed has been built up to a low raised bed with wattle woven walls, anything we plant there should do better. There is new garden soil, as well as layers of organic matter trench compositing below.

As for the chard, we really didn’t know what to do with it, that we actually enjoyed eating.

For 2023, we will have just one variety of spinach. That, at least, is something we enjoy eating, sometimes even just picking leaves to snack on while doing other things.

We will probably not grow lettuce again next year. If we do grow chard again, it’ll be because we still have seeds left, and have space for it.

It turns out we just don’t like leafy greens all that much. It actually makes more sense for us to buy greens at the store every once in a while, rather than grow them ourselves.

I do still want to get chickens next year, if we can build a brooder and coop for them early enough. One of the things we plan to do is grow as much of their feed as possible, and I can see us growing greens more as chicken feed than for ourselves!

The Re-Farmer

Frosted, and planning ahead

Well, it finally happened. We had a lasting frost, and temperatures were still below freezing when I came out to do my morning rounds.

My husband has still been up to feeding the outside cats earlier in the mornings, and has included putting warm water out for them, too, which they are really appreciating! It’s still not cold enough to plug in the heater in the cat’s house or use the heated water bowl, though.

While there was frost still on the ground everywhere else, this area was already warm and sunny. The kittens enjoyed that while watching me do my rounds!

It does show why what we planted along the chain link fence lasted so long. The tomatoes and gourds are finally done for, though. We can now start pulling them and prepping the beds for next year.

While we will be pulling everything else, the sunflowers can stay for a while longer. They sure are a cheerful sight on a chilly morning!

The chard was still quite covered in frost, as these beds are shaded longer in the mornings. We’ve never grown chard before, but from what I’ve read, getting hit with frost can improve their flavour. I don’t know that we’ll grow chard again. They did well, but none of us really ate them much.

I was already planning on pulling the lettuce. That last batch I gathered was so bitter, it went straight to compost instead of the salad I was intending to make with them.

A bit of a surprise was walking by the purple corn, the remains of which we were leaving to go to seed. They were pretty dry by now, yet most of the stalks were eaten last night! They had been left alone for quite a long time, so this was unexpected. Odd that, with so much fresh food still around, and even with the lettuce and chard uncovered, the deer would go for these dried up stalks.

We are going to have a lot of work to do over the next couple of weeks. We’re supposed to warm up again next week, so we do have time. The sweet corn blocks and, eventually, the sunflowers will be pulled, but nothing else will be done in that area until we get the berry bushes we intend to plant there. My daughter has been researching the ones we were looking to get, and Autumn Olive has been taking off our list; apparently, they are considered invasive! The Buffalo Berry and Sea Buckthorn are still on the list. Sea Buckthorn is also considered invasive in some areas, but not our climate zone.

The bean beds, pea trellises, squash tunnel and summer squash areas will all be used again next year, but mostly we need to focus on preparing the main garden beds closer to the house for next year. Once we get our straw bale in, we’ll start mulching some areas for new beds. We are already making lists of what we intend to plant next year, and will start buying seeds and trees over the winter, month by month. We will use that to help decide where to prepare new ground for planting next year.

At the same time, we are making lists of things to stock up on. Though things are looking mild, we’ve been either snowed in or had our vehicles freeze for two winters in a row now, so we want to be prepared in case something like that happens again. With food prices increasing so much over the past few months, and expected to get higher, it’s getting more difficult to buy those few extra things every month. Particularly since so many other people have realized that “prepping” is a really, really good idea, too!

Having grown up here, as a subsistence farm, I am very familiar with a lot of “self sufficiency” and “prepper” habits. That was just what everyone did, because there was no other option, really. So I’m no stranger to the lifestyle. At the same time, I am always wanting to learn new information and more about how to do it better, so I spend quite a bit of time researching. Which means I’ve lately been seeing a lot of homesteading resources – “subsistence farming” just isn’t a term that’s used anymore! – and “prepper” sites. Lately, it’s been feeling downright weird to go to them, as they are increasingly focused on giving information to people who are totally new to the concept, due to current circumstances. For us, this is just stuff we need to do. We are isolated just enough that we know we have to rely on ourselves if things go wrong, and there are always thing that can go wrong. The power could go out. We could get snowed in. We might have to evacuate due to wildfires. At least flooding isn’t a concern where we are, but running out of water is. We can’t just hope over to the corner store if we run out of things, like we could while living in the city. We can’t even assume we will have telephone (meaning the land line; we already can’t rely on getting a cell phone signal here) or internet for communication. The land line is pretty reliable, at least, but our internet starts kicking out as soon as there is a stiff wind, or if there are storms to the south of us. Of course, on top of all that, we have my husband’s health issues. He and I were just talking this morning about his prescription refills. He gets his daily meds in bubble packs now, including those that are restricted. For the longest time, he couldn’t get refills for his restricted medications until he was, at the earliest, 3 days away from running out. Now, his bubble packs aren’t even done locally. They’re done in the city and shipped to the local pharmacy, and with how crazy things have been, they’ve actually lifted some of the red tape surrounding restricted medications. Which means we should be able to get a couple of months of refills, instead of just one month. He just got his refills recently, so we’ll be trying to get an extra month of refills, next time.

Anyhow. It’s just been really strange to go looking stuff up for ideas and inspiration. So many people are now doing the same thing, with absolutely zero background in it. In one way, it makes me feel thankful for how I grew up. On the other, it’s frustrating, when people start panic buying, without any sort of planning or organization in mind, and it ends up causing problems for everybody.

Ah, well. People need to learn somehow. We just do what we can!

And right now, that means cleaning out the last of this year’s garden, and preparing for next, and making sure we are stocked up for the winter.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden, still going!

Last night, I heard from one of our neighbours, asking if we were missing some kittens. It seems that several kittens were sighted on the road by our place, and while one was caught, there were others around. They were not ours; by the age estimate, they were about 5 months younger than ours, plus they seem used to humans. Which means they were likely dumped. 😦 The person who caught the one said she would be coming back to try and find the others. Meanwhile, I made sure to be on the lookout for kittens while doing my rounds this morning. Especially in the furthest garden beds, which are the closest to where the kittens were spotted.

I think I did actually see a strange kitten at our house, yesterday, but it ran off, just like most of our yard cats still do. I found myself thinking the colour seeming off had to have been the light, but now I wonder! Well, if there are strange kitties around, they will find food and shelter here. So far, though, I have seen nothing today.

While I was on the lookout for strange kitties, I checked out the squash tunnel. The luffa and Tennessee Dancing Gourds seem to have finally succumbed to the chill overnight temperatures.

The luffa leaves turned really dark, but haven’t shriveled, like pretty much everything else. Take a click on the image of the developing gourds on the top of the squash tunnel! There are still flowers developing! They do look frost damaged, though.

It was much the same with the Tennessee Dancing Gourds. Most of the vines have died back, and cold damage can be seen on some of the little gourds… and yet, there are still flower buds!

The chard and the lettuce are still going strong.

This is the biggest of the surviving radishes. You can see the older leaves that still have grasshopper damage. Something is nibbling the new growth, too, but not as much. I put the bricks around this radish plant, because something has been nibbling on the bulb. I’m guessing a mouse or something like that. Putting the bricks there seems to have stopped it, as there is no new damage.

Then there is that amazing Crespo squash. Is it still going, or is it done? The leaves seem to be completely killed off by the frost, yet the vines still seem strong, and while there is cold damage on most of the squash, some of them still seem to be getting bigger!

So, we will wait and see how they do.

Meanwhile, on the south side of the house…

The Ozark Nest Egg gourds have almost no cold damage on them, and still seem to be growing just fine. In fact, there is more fresh and new growth happening, and new male and female flowers developing!

The tomatoes continue to ripen, with no signs of cold damage to them, unlike the one self-seeded tomato that’s growing near the lettuces, which is pretty much dead.

Check out that wasp on the Spoon tomato vine! Even the pollinators are still out!

The fingerling potatoes are still going strong, too. There is one bag that looks like it has died back, but the others are still very green. Especially the Purple Peruvians.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of the carrots. Even the overgrown bed we abandoned to the groundhogs has carrot fronds overtaking the weeds. Especially the Kyoto Red, which have gone to seed. I’m keeping an eye on those, as I want to try and collect them before they self sow!

It’s hard to know how much longer the garden will keep on going. Today was forecast to be 18C/64F, then things were supposed to cool down again. As I write this, we are at 22C/72F !!! Tomorrow, we’re supposed to drop to 8C/46F, then go down to 5-6C/41-43F, with overnight lows dropping to -1C/30F a couple of nights from now, but who knows what we’ll actually get?

Looking at the data for our area, our average temperatures for October are 10C/50F for the high, and 1C/34F for the low – but our record high was 30C/86F in 1992, with a record low of -18C/0F in 1991, so while a bit unusual, the mild temperatures we’re having right now aren’t that uncommon. In fact, the record highs and lows seem to lurch from one extreme to the other, within just a few years of each other, if not one year after the other!

I’m looking forward to NOT hitting any record lows this fall and winter! 😀 Still, the way things are going, it may be a while before we finally harvest our carrots, potatoes and beets – I want to leave those in the ground as long as possible – and we’ll have lettuce and chard for quite some time, yet!

The Re-Farmer

Fall garden update: the covered beds

In the main garden area, which will be a permanent garden, we’ve still got the two beds covered with mesh to protect them from the deer. Unfortunately, that leaves them pretty neglected, due to the difficulty in moving such long frames.

Of the radishes we planted, there are two French Breakfast radishes that survived the grasshoppers, and they are actually now looking stronger and healthier than ever! They were so eaten up, I did not expect them to.

And just look at the big mutant radish bulb. 😀

Will they get to the pod stage they were planted for? I have no idea. Normally, I’d say it’s way too late for that, but then I look at the long range forecast and think… maybe they will?

The surviving chard, on the other hand, are just thriving! The problem is, we’re not really using them much. It’s not that we dislike them or anything. It’s just a pain to get at them.

The lettuce is also doing really well – as is that one tomato plant that showed up on its own!!

If I were not sure that deer are still passing through the garden areas, I would take the covers off completely. Then they could be tended and harvested more easily. Which won’t be much use if I come out one morning and find it all gone. Mind you, from what I’ve seen on how big radish plants get when they start to develop pods, we’re going to have to take the cover off at least that bed. And what will we do about this very strong, very healthy tomato plant that started itself so late in the season? I don’t even know what kind of tomato it is. Can tomatoes be transplanted into pots and grown indoors over the winter? I have no idea.

At least the groundhogs are no longer a problem. For them to go into hibernation so early, I would be thinking we’re in for an early and bitterly cold winter, and yet it’s supposed to continue to be warm throughout October, for as far ahead as the long range forecasts go. Plus, The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a milder, wet winter for our region.

Once protected from critters and insects, we can at least say that the chard, lettuce and radishes were – eventually – a success. When we have our permanent, high raised beds, which will be only nine feet long, we will be making sure the covers we make for them will be easy to move aside as needed!

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; more firsts – and SO many kittens!

While heading out to do my evening rounds yesterday, I topped up the cat kibble – and got invaded by kittens!

There is only one adult cat in the kibble house in the above photo, plus Rosencrantz and her two are at their private dining area under the shrine.

All three litters of kittens were running all over the yard, playing with each other! The fact that most of them stayed to eat while I took photos – even with zoom – is very encouraging. 🙂 It will be good for them to get used to each other, since we can expect them all to be using the cat shelter over the winter.

While checking the garden beds, the girls gave me a hand moving one of the mesh covers so we could collect our very first chard leaves!

These are the Bright Lights chard, with their brilliant colours.

In the other bed where we had planted chard and radishes, only a single chard plant has survived the grasshoppers, and it’s pretty small, still.

Here we have the largest of the developing Hopi Black Dye sunflower heads. These are the ones that were direct sown after last frost.

This morning, I found this.

This is another Hopi Black Dye sunflower, from the row of transplants. These are the ones that did not germinate until after the others were direct sown, so they were much smaller and further behind. Then they had their tops chomped off by deer. Yet here they are, spindly and barely knee high, yet the seed heads are starting to open before the big ones!!

Speaking of seed heads…

I collected the driest of the poppy pods. I was a bit concerned that the rain and humidity would create a mold issue, so they are now in the sun room. As you can see, some of them are even dropping seeds!

These are Giant Rattle Breadseed Poppy, and the pods should be much, much larger than this, but given the growing conditions of this year, I’m just impressed we have any at all. There are still others that are green, but starting to dry out. I am debating just leaving them be, to self sow for next year. Given how few survived, there isn’t enough for eating, other than a taste, but more than enough to keep seeds for planting in a different area next year, if we want. I wouldn’t mind even finding a spot to scatter them as if they were wildflowers, where we can access them to harvest seed pods, but also where we can leave them to self seed, year after year. At the same time, I’m thinking of ordering more of this variety from Baker Creek, plus trying a different variety of eating poppies I found from a Canadian source. This is something I don’t mind having lots of, as poppy seeds are among those things I enjoy, but rarely buy. Neither variety I’ve found are like the ones I remember my mother growing, but I believe she got her seeds from Poland.

As things are maturing, my mind seems to constantly assess for next year or, as in the case of the poppies, for a more permanent crop. For all the difficulties we’ve had with this year’s garden, due to things pretty much out of our control, we have learned a lot that we can apply to future gardens, what we want to keep, and what we need to change. Especially as we move from our temporary garden beds to our permanent ones. 🙂

On a completely different note, today we had an early birthday party to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday at my brother’s. I was my mother’s chauffeur. 🙂 We had a great time, and we able to see her great grandson for the first time in almost 2 years. They live in a different province, so it was fantastic that they could come out for the birthday party.

Between the drive and how long we stayed to visit, we were out pretty much all day, but my mother held out very well. She even seemed to like the necklace we got for her gift and put it on right away, though she was completely indifferent to the little bag I crocheted to “wrap” it in. Even when I suggested she could use it to hold one of her rosaries, she said nothing. Now that I think about it, I don’t even know if she took it home. I helped bring in and put away her packages, and it wasn’t in any of them, so unless someone tucked it into her purse, she doesn’t have it. Which is actually a better response than I was expecting. 😀

Some things just don’t change! 😉


As wonderful as it was to see everyone, this introvert needs a battery recharge. I think an early bed time is in order! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden

While checking on the sunflowers this morning, I found one of the Mongolian Giant seed heads finally starting to open.

I had actually expected this one to open up first. Look how dark the middle is!

Hard to believe this is the same type of sunflower as this…

They look completely different!

One of the smaller seed heads sprouting out the side is starting to open, too.

With our fall planting, only a few of the rainbow chard has survived the grasshoppers and the heat. Enough that, when they are large enough, we can find out if we actually like chard! 😀

The lettuces protected by the window screen covered frame are coming up quite nicely! It’ll still be a while before they are large enough to start picking baby greens for salads, but being under the adapted cover, they should be protected from both groundhogs and insects, so I expect to actually have some this time. Unlike our first planting in the spring, that got eaten before we’d had more than a handful ourselves! Even the weather is supposed to be cooler and potentially rainier, over the next while, so we won’t have to use the shade clothes, either.

As rough of a gardening year it has been, we’re still getting some produce, and I’m happy with that!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; fall planting, and shallot surprise

Now that it’s “cooled off” again to 32C/90F (feels like 34C/93F), I headed back to the garden to remove the shade clothes and get those photos I promised.

Our surviving (barely) French Breakfast radishes, and rainbow chard.

Now that one of the beds has a window screen mesh covering it, I decided to take a chance.

I planted lettuces.

On the far left are the surviving purple kohlrabi, and in the middle are radishes. I forget which variety at the moment.

I had our four varieties of lettuce together in a slide lock bag, and they spilled a bit, so I planted the mixed up seeds at the bottom of the bag. So we are going to have lettuce surprise when they start to sprout!

Moving the cover on and off is still a two person job. The length of the cover makes it a bit too wobbly. We definitely need to make the permanent beds shorter, just for that!

A nice thing about the window screen mesh is that it slows down and breaks up the water, so it lands more gently. We don’t have the hose nozzle set on anything high pressure, but these surviving seedlings are still spindly and weak from being under those water bottle covers to protect them from insects and critters. With the mesh covering the ends, I have at least some hope that these lettuces will have a chance to survive. At this point, it’s the grasshoppers, more than the critters, that are an issue.

Once this was done, I decided to harvest the shallots. I’d been weeding the bed while watering this morning and accidentally pulled one up. I didn’t think they were doing well; many of the green parts had withered away completely, and I could no longer see where they were, while others just looked like they were struggling. The one I accidentally pulled up looked surprisingly large, so I left it there, to collect with the others this evening.

I was very pleasantly surprised!

As I started digging them up, I found they were much larger than expected. The one way at the far end in the photo is almost as big as an onion!

Then I accidentally dug up a shallot there there was no sign of any growing there anymore, and it was far larger than I expected, too. So I went back over the row and dug into each spot I knew I’d planted a shallot, and found several more! They are the smaller ones with no, or almost no, stems.

For now, they sit on a window screen, raised up on bricks for air circulation, to cure for a while. I’m quite pleased with what we got. Our original shallots, started from seed, were destroyed by the cats, so these ones are from sets I bought at the grocery store. There was only a dozen sets per bag, so I got two bags. A far cry from how many we would have had, if the ones from seed had survived, but way better than nothing at all! This is just awesome!

Tomorrow morning, I think I will start harvesting some of the onions. They are not all ready, but some of them definitely are. We have quite a lot of them, so I don’t mind harvesting and curing them in batches!

Being able to harvest things already, and even plant things for a fall harvest, kinda makes up for all the problems we’ve been having with the drought, critters and insects! We may not have as much as we hoped to in the spring, but we will still have food to harvest, and that’s the important part!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; new seedlings – plus critters

Today, with repeated warnings for thunderstorms, and even the sound of thunder in the distance, we got only a smattering of rain this afternoon. Barely enough to get the ground a bit wet. 😦 At least we’re a couple of degrees cooler than forecast. With the conditions we’ve had this year, our Rural Municipality officially declared an agricultural emergency. We had one last year, and I seem to remember there was an attempt by the province to declare one the year before, but it was rejected by the federal government. When I was growing up here, there were no such declarations. Whatever federal funding programs that are now available were brought in while we were living elsewhere, in cities.

It was during one of those times our skies were spitting a bit of moisture that I headed outside for a bit and made a point of checking the newly planted beds. Happily, we now have more seedlings appearing!

Yes, these pictures were all taken after there was some rain. :-/

Both types of chard are showing seedlings, though I only took a photo of the one type.

It would be awesome if we FINALLY got some kohlrabi! We will be taken extra steps to try to protect these beds, since what’s growing in them are favoured by all kinds of critters. The red flakes you see on the ground around the seedlings are hot pepper flakes, which we hope will deter critters better than the sprays and granules we’ve bought.

Which leads me to why I headed outside.

I saw the woodchuck out by the old compost pile again.

Yes, I sprinkled the new mystery squash seedlings growing in there with hot pepper flakes, too.

As I came out, the woodchuck watched me for a while before finally running off and into…


…the old burrow we thought had finally been abandoned. We’re still running water into it, and collapsing the entrance little by little. The entrance is not being cleared, but they’re still squeezing in.

After seeing the woodchuck go in, I went and raided my kitchen cupboards again and dragged out a package of whole, dehydrated hot peppers. After giving them a rough chop, I scattered them in and around the opening.

At some point, we will be sure enough of it being empty, that we can finally fill it in. :-/

While heading back inside, I did get a chance to play with some more pleasant critters. Butterscotch’s junk pile babies!

Three of them like to come out to play with the stick, though they still won’t come close enough to touch. There’s that one tabby, hidden in the background, that just will not come closer.

I saw Rozencrantz’s babies – the other junk pile babies! – today, too, though I couldn’t get any pictures. The one that looks like Nicky the Nose is a bit braver and doesn’t run off until it’s sure if I’m coming closer. They like to play in the soil the cucamelons and gourds are planted. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except that I’ve caught them actively digging into the edge of the bed! At least they’re not digging near the plants, themselves. :-/

While we are still getting thunderstorm warnings, when I look at the hourly forecast, the warnings disappear. Instead, we will have sun and clouds for a few hours, and then it switches to “smoke”, all night. There are quite a few wildfires in the province right now, including about 5 that are listed as out of control, but none are near our area. Fire risk, of course, remains high so we are still under a total burn ban. It looks like we won’t get to test out the firepit grill my brother and his wife got for us this year at all, nor the big BBQ that they passed on to us after getting a smaller one for themselves.

Maybe we’ll get a chance to use them in the winter!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; summer sowing

Finally! I got the summer sowing done, in all three empty beds. 🙂

Before I started on that, though, I made another attempt at trying to keep the woodchuck out of our carrot beds.

I’d read the Epsom salts are a thing they don’t like, while also being good for the garden. We didn’t have a lot left, so one of the beds was a bit sparser. We shall see if it helps, any.

Then I got to work on the first empty bed. This is the one that’s slightly wider, and that I’d already started to prep, and sized the mesh cover for.

I laid the board down as something to walk on, when we tend it later. The piece of scrap wood in the middle is a divider. In the foreground, I planted the Bright Lights Swiss Chard, and on the other side of the divider are French Breakfast radishes, with two short rows of each.

The tool you see in the middle is what I’m using as a hoe. The metal is quite thin, compared to most garden tools. If anyone knows what that is called, I’d love to know!

The second bed got three things planted in it.

Towards the middle of the bed is one long row of Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard.

You know, I hope we actually like Chard. 😀

The row on the outside has Cherry Belle radish in the foreground, and on the far side of the brick is the Russian Red kale.

In the last bed, the Early Purple Vienna kohlrabi are planted on the outside, and Champion radish is planted on this inside.

Later in the month, these beds will have spinach and lettuces planted in them. The kale is a frost hardy plant and I’ve read it tastes better after being hit with a frost. I planted the radishes sparsely, as they can get quite big when allowed to go to pod. We can start harvesting the chard in less than a month, and they should be done before first frost. By putting the taller plants that will be there for the rest of the growing season on the west side, I hope that they will help provide shade for the lettuces and spinach, and we can maybe plant them a bit earlier, as long as the soil doesn’t get too warm for germination.

We will have to monitor all our beds frequently. In the last little while, we’ve seen quite an increase in grasshoppers. Some people in the local gardening groups I’m on have had major problems with them, and they seem to be slowly making their way north.

I admit, this one was rather cute. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this sort of colour before!! I find myself wondering if this is grasshopper albinism, or a species that happens to be almost white in colour!

With the seeds sown, I worked on weeding around one of the onion beds for a while, then dragged my aching butt over to the water barrel at the furthest garden bed to fill it. The spray plastic coating we’d used to seal cracks had started to come loose on the inside, so I went to pull it off while I was filling the watering can. A huge chunk peeled off, and the barrel promptly started to leak at one of the cracks. We still have a bit of the silicon sealant left, so last night, I patched the crack. It should be cured by now, and I wanted to refill the barrel with water. That was when my daughter came out to let me know she needed to pick up a parcel in the mail and go to the grocery store in town, so I set that aside and headed in. Not before I got her to help me position the adapted wire mesh cover.

I had deliberately planted everything in shorter rows, leaving a lot of empty space at the ends of the beds, because of the length of these covers. We set the cover as far to one side as we could, and I was happy to find the row lengths worked out just right. They are completely covered, and the cross pieces at each end are beyond the ends of the rows, so no seedlings will be squished.

Then it was off to town with my daughter, with a quick stop at the post office along the way. I took advantage of the trip to pick up a few things at the grocery store and, as I was wandering down the aisles with the shopping cart, I suddenly realized I was getting the shakes and feeling dizzy. Usually I have to use the shopping cart as a walker because my knees will suddenly dislocate or a hip will give out, but this time, I was using it to not fall over. It took me a while to realize what was going on.

I’d forgotten to eat again.


I did have breakfast, but it was a small meal, and after I finished my last blog post, I headed straight out to work on the garden. It was well past lunch time by then. Had my daughter not come out to get me, I would have been out there for quite a while longer before noticing anything was wrong. Thankfully, I was able to grab something I could eat in the car while my daughter drove home.

Sometimes I’m an idiot, but I enjoy the work so much, I didn’t notice the time or how long it had been since I’d had anything to eat or drink.

I had been planning to go out again and do some weeding, or dig through some sheds to see what I can salvage to make another row cover, but I think that will have to wait until tomorrow.

The Re-Farmer