At the gate, and after the rain

While doing my rounds this morning, I found a strange thing at the gate.

The twine was caught around the lock and the caribiner, which usually hangs over one side of the gate, was hooked onto the chain link.

Right off the bat, I knew this was NOT our vandal. If it were, there would have been actual damage, like the locks being glued again, or something like that.

Needless to say, I was quite curious when I sat down to look at the trail cam files. I had a pretty good idea who did it.

I was right.

When my daughter’s package was delivered, the driver tried to shove it into the gate, then used the chain to try and hold it in place. The problem is, the gate moves in the wind. When the cameras were triggered again, less than 15 minutes later, I could see the package was already half-falling. My the time my daughter came over to get the package, about half an hour after it was dropped off, it was on the ground.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t fragile!!

Going through the trail cam files was interesting for another reason: several files caught huge flashes of lighting from last night’s storm! I even saw a deer and her little one, hurrying up the driveway, while the sky light them up repeatedly.

Yesterday blew past our expected high of the day, reaching at least 30C/86F, possibly 32C/90F. That was followed by a wicked thunderstorm that passed over us around 11pm. It was awesome! Of course, we lost internet well before that. It rained enough that I found our rain barrel by the sun room, which had only a few inches of water on the bottom, full to overflowing.

We *really* need an overflow hose on that thing.

The garden loved the rain, too!

I was seeing huge new blossoms on the summer squash. Even the Ozark Nest Egg and the luffa gourds had new flowers opening. So did the Tennessee Dancing gourds, but they never really stopped blooming, so that wasn’t a lot of change.

The Crespo squash is seeing more flowers opening, too, and some of the developing fruit is noticeably bigger! These two are the ones closest to the barriers than I can get clear photos of, but there are quite a few more getting bigger like this.

The sunflowers are loving the deep watering, too. And just look at this Hopi Black Dye seed head! It is getting so very dark!

I even had a baby harvest this morning.

The larger melon is a Pixie melon. There are still lots of those. The little one is a Halona melon. The remaining melons on those vines are not getting any bigger, as the vines are pretty much completely died back now. Most of the melons are all very securely attached to their vines, though. This little one was feeling a bit softer, so I had it with breakfast. 🙂

I even was able to pick some peas! With our first green peas, I did find a pod or two, but between the drought and the critters, that was about it. This is the most I’ve picked at once, this year.

That longest pod is the size they would all be reaching, if growing conditions were better.

I suppose I really should have left them for another day, as these were a bit on the small size, but I couldn’t resist.

I had them with my breakfast, too. 🙂

The melon wasn’t as sweet as larger ones we’d picked, but it was definitely ripe. The peas were also probably not as sweet as they would have been under better growing conditions. They were both still quite tasty, though!

Last night’s storm had blown the door to the outhouse closed. I opened it again and things were still a bit damp. It’s been a few hours now, so I am going to head out and see if I can start painting!

The Re-Farmer

Little by little, and a Crespo surprise

It has remained too damp to try cutting wood, so I worked on a few other things today. One of them was to start getting the remaining chimney blocks out of the old basement, to where they will be set up for next year.

The blocks themselves are not too much of a problem. I can carry them well enough. The main problem is the stairs. If I could simply walk up the stairs, it would have been fine. However, I don’t do stairs well at the best of times, and these stairs have unfortunate dimensions, as well as being unusually steep, to fit into the space available. Which meant setting the blocks down on a step, then cautiously lifting it up, one step at a time, with one hand, while hanging on to the rail with the other. Slow going, and rather dangerous. :-/ Once at the top of the stairs, my husband would open the door for me, keeping the cats away, and slide it aside while I went for another. With his back injury, even sliding them was probably more than he should have done, but he managed.

For now, I only got three out. There are four more left in the old basement. There’s one more in the new basement, but I’m keeping that. It was the perfect height and solidity to use as a surface when I was doing some wood carving.

As I was carrying them out to the yard, with my husband getting the three doors I had to go through for me, while also keeping the cats at bay, I got curious as to how much they weighed. My husband estimated about 25 pounds, but I knew they had to be heavier than that. So I brought over our scale to weigh the last one before taking it out. It turned out to be 53 pounds, so not bad at all. Mostly just awkward. As I sit here writing this, I am starting to feel issues with my right shoulder, from lifting them up the stairs the way I I had to, though. :-/ Fifty three pounds is a bit much for one arm, while scrunched over and squeezed between two walls and a rail!

Of the ones that were outside, all but one were used for the retaining wall in the old kitchen garden. The last one is hidden behind the three I brought out, leaning against the tree. We will have a total of eight blocks by the time the rest are brought up from the basement.

This is where they are going to go, when it’s time to clean up the cucamelons and gourds. We were intending to have them here for this year’s garden, but were not able to get them out of the basement in time, so I want to get that done little by little until they are needed. In this spot, the ground slopes just enough that there is a larger gap under the chain link fence. The cardboard flaps we pushed up against the fence before adding the soil ended up falling under, and the soil started washing away when we watered, so I had to use boards I found in the barn to short it up. The blocks will eliminate that problem, and will make good “containers” to plant into next year.

With that done, I got a few other things done, including picking up more fallen branches from yesterday’s wind, eventually heading over to check out the Crespo squash. I’d noticed more flowers opening, and I wanted to see how the two squash that were forming were looking.

It was a pleasant surprise to look at one of them, and find another little squash developing!

Then I spotted another one, high above the hill they are planted in.

Then I spotted another…

And another…

And another!!!

Which is when a started to walk around the critter barriers, looking closely for any more, and counting.

I spotted twelve. !!! A full dozen, that I could see, baby Crespo squash!

Some were very tiny – even smaller than the one pictured above, while others were surprisingly large.

I did not expect a variety that produces such large fruit would also be so prolific!

The problem, of course, is this.

The first official day of fall is only 5 days away, and leaves are already starting to turn.

The certainly won’t have enough growing season left to reach the size shown in this photo from Baker Creek.

Well, at least I know that, if started indoors early enough and protected from critters, it will grow well in our area. I want to try these again, next year!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: late season growth progress

We have been really fortunate with the frost holding off so far. If the long range forecasts are right, we won’t get a frost for at least two more weeks, possibly longer. Other areas in our province have already had their first frost, so I am really thankful that it’s held off in our area so far.

The continued mild temperatures is giving the garden more time to recover and progress, and we even have some new little surprises this morning!

We’ve got two more Ozark Nest Egg gourds forming! That makes for a total of three. I did not see these two when I checked the garden beds yesterday evening, so this is pretty much overnight growth.

This is one of the new ones, from outside the fence. They have such pretty flowers. 🙂

The Tennessee Dancing Gourds are one I don’t have much concern over. Though there are a lot of little gourds developing still, there are quite a few “large” ones like this, that have reached their full size, but are still ripening on the vine.

One of the few remaining Halona melons came off its vine this morning. There are a couple of somewhat larger ones left that might have enough time to fully mature, plus a few more tiny ones that won’t.

In the background of the photo above, you can see the biggest Pixie melon in its hammock. These guys could really use the extra time, it looks like.

We’ve still got Red Kuri developing, and they are growing fast at this stage – and you can even see a new squash developing in one of the photos.

The mutant is my favourite! 😀 I’m just fascinated by it. It’s shape is different than the other Red Kuri, which can be expected with cross pollination, but it is also getting bigger than the others. If this is the result of cross pollination with the nearby Teddy squash, I would have expected it to be smaller, not bigger! The Teddy squash are a miniature acorn squash and their mature size should be smaller than the Red Kuri. For a hybrid to be bigger than either parent type seems quite unusual. I hope this has time to fully mature, because I really want to see how it turns out!

Speaking of Teddy squash…

We have another new baby! Of the two plants, the one that had only a single squash developing, now has two.

The other plant still has four developing squash, with the one in the photo being the biggest.

While checking the Crespo squash, I was able to find an open line of sight to get a picture of the one developing fruit that I’ve been able to see so far. It should be interesting to see how far it gets, before the frost kills it all. We certainly won’t get the large, green, lumpy pumpkins we are supposed to, but even a little one will be interesting to see.

The cucamelons are an odd one for this year. The plants are growing up the fence rather well, will plenty of blossoms and fruit beginning to develop. Unfortunately, most never get past the size you see in the photo above. They just drop off.

I did find a single, mature cucamelon. Which I ate. 😀 It’s the first larger one I’ve seen in quite some time. This suggests a pollination problem, unfortunately.

And finally, we have our potato bags.

I’m not sure what to make of these! They just don’t seem to be dying back. Oh, the two varieties at the far end are looking a bit like they are dying back, but they also got hit the hardest by the grasshoppers. The two fingerling varieties just keep on growing!

When we first decided to use the feed bags to grow the potatoes, I expected to continually add soil over time. It was after learning that all four varieties are determinate, not indeterminate, that I changed my mind. They would not benefit from having soil continually built up along the stems, so only a single layer was added to protect the developing potatoes from light, and that’s it. The purple fingerlings, however, just keep getting bigger and bigger. Which leads me to think that these may actually be indeterminate potatoes, and would have benefited from continually adding more soil. I don’t know. It should be interesting to see how many potatoes we get when we do harvest them. I don’t image we will be getting many, but we shall see. If we decide to go with grow bags again next year, we will have to make sure to choose indeterminate varieties, which means finding a source for seed potatoes that actually labels them as determinate or indeterminate.

Until this year, I didn’t even know that tomatoes had those labels, never mind things like potatoes!

It has definitely been a year of learning!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden

Well, it is getting decidedly cooler when I do my morning rounds! Fall is just around the corner, but things are still holding out in the garden.

Here are the gourds growing on the south facing chain link fence. The yellow flowers that you see are the Ozark Nest Egg flowers.

If you look at the bottom right, you’ll see a white flower!

This is a Thai Bottle Gourd flower. The Ozark Nest Egg plants are going so well, they sort of hide that there is another type of gourd growing here. The Thai Bottle Gourd has leaves that are more rounded, while the Ozark Nest Egg leaves have points on them.

These gourds are not the only thing bursting into bloom.

This is the Crespo squash, recovered from critter damage and growing enthusiastically! I was not able to get all of it in this photo. All those arrows are pointing to flower buds, some of which are starting to open this morning. There are probably another dozen or so on the rest of the plant off the left side of the photo.

Hidden away in the middle, I found the first female flower!

I couldn’t get any closer because of the critter barriers, but that flower bud the arrow is pointing to has a baby squash at its base. Hopefully, it will get pollinated and not die off. Under the current conditions, I would hand pollinate, but that would require moving the critter barriers. Mind you, there’s no way any fruit that develop will reach maturity.

More on that, later.

There are only a few Halona melons left on the vines, but there are probably a dozen Pixie melons that have not yet ripened.

This is the largest of them. Since it has a hammock, I check it in the mornings by lifting it at the stem, to see if it is starting to separate, but it’s still hanging on tight!

The rest are more like these two.

I’ll have to double check, but I thought the Pixies had a shorter growing season than the Halonas. They are taking much longer than the Halona to fully ripen. I’m sure the drought conditions over the summer have something to do with that, but since we’ve started having rain fairly regularly now, I would have expected them to mature faster. Ah, well. We’ll see how they do!

This is the largest of the developing Teddy winter squash. This is roughly half of what it’s mature size is supposed to be, so they may still have time.

Our weird mutant Red Kuri is noticeably bigger! It makes me smile, every time I see it.

We’ve got a couple more that are getting bigger, too. This is what the mottled green one should be looking like, which is why I suspect it was cross pollinated with the Teddy squash.

Here’s something that is NOT getting bigger!

The one luffa gourd is just… stalled. The plants are still blooming, but also starting to die off for the season. I started these quite a bit earlier, indoors, and they should have had enough time to develop gourds and reach maturity, but this summer was so rough on everything, I think we’re lucky to have even this.

We even had something to harvest! Not every morning, but at least every few days. We even still had a few beans left to pick. In the photo, I’m holding one of the mutant green sunburst squash. 😀 I’ve been trying to let the sunburst squash have more time for the fruit to get bigger, but they seem to be developing more slowly than they did last year.

I just had to get a picture of the sunflower in the old kitchen garden. We can see it from the bathroom window, through the sun room, and it makes me smile, every time. 🙂

As the season winds down, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the long term forecasts. Yesterday was our first frost date for the area, but it continues to look like we are not going to have any frost here, for a while. Of course, the forecast constantly fluctuates, and different sources have different forecasts. My Weather Network app has a 14 day forecast, and with today being the 11th, that puts the 14 day trend between the 12th and the 25th. The lowest overnight temperatures I’m seeing is for the 25th, at 6C/43F, with variable cloudiness.

My Accuweather app, however, is very different. The long range forecast on that one goes up to October 5. Up until this morning, all the overnight lows were above freezing, but this morning, there is now a single night – the 25th – where it says we will hit -2C/28F. It is also predicting thunder showers scattered about the province in that day.

If that is accurate, we have only two weeks before frost hits (which is 2 weeks longer than average, so I’m not complaining!). If we do get a frost, that will be it for the tomatoes, squash, gourds and melons. We have no way to cover any of these beds, so if we get any frost warnings, we’ll just have to pick as much as we can the day before. We should get plenty of sunburst squash, but I’m really hoping the Pixie melons and winter squash ripen before then. The gourd and Crespo squash just don’t have enough time left. Except the Tennessee Dancing gourds. They are so small, we should have quite a few to gather before the frost hits. We may be lucky, though. Aside from that one night that one app is predicting will go below freezing, overnight temperatures are supposed to stay mild into October.

The sunflowers will be a lost cause, though. There is no way the seed heads will be able to mature in so short a time. So many haven’t even opened, yet. Starting some of them indoors would have made the difference (well… except for being eaten by deer), had they been under better conditions. Not just with the weather, but the soil quality where they are growing. Had our only reason for planting them been for the seeds, they would be a failure, but they were planted there partly for a privacy screen, partly for wind break, and mostly as part of our long term plans to prepare the area for when we plant food trees there. Which means we had a success with 3 out of the 4 reasons we planted them. I do want to get more of these seeds to try them again, elsewhere.

For now, every night we have without frost is a help.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: progress

The last few days have been cooler and damp. Thankfully, we have not needed to do any watering at all of late.

I think some of the plants in our garden have gotten confused! 😀

We are finally getting some “big” Tennessee Dancing Gourds. Most have been turning yellow, soft and falling off before reaching this size. Now, we have several that are getting bigger, like this one. The vines are still blooming and being prolific in growing new little gourds! Gosh, they are so adorable!

We still have just the one little luffa gourd. I suspect it is not going to live to get full size, but who knows?

Some of our Giant Rattle poppies have dried out, and when shaken, you can hear the seeds rattling inside. They are not even close to how big they should be, but that’s okay.

Remarkably, there was even one last poppy flower trying to bloom!

My big surprise is the Crespo squash.

These are remarkably resilient! I didn’t expect them to recover from the critter damage much at all, but now that it’s no longer getting eaten, it has started to shoot out new vines and leaves, and… !!!

It’s blooming again! Which just blows me away. Unfortunately, it is way too late in the season for fruit to develop. Particularly since these are supposed to get quite large.

I really look forward to trying these again next year. Even with the critters and drought, they seem to do very well in our climate!

Caught and confirmed! Plus, more critter damage

It took moving the garden cam a few times, but I finally managed it.

I caught him in the act.

It is confirmed that the woodchuck is eating our peas plants.

The green peas are completely shot this year. Between the heat, the dryness, the poor soil and Woody here, eating them, they’re toast. I don’t even know why we still water them, but we do.

Oddly, the purple peas aren’t being eaten. They’re still struggling from the drought conditions, though.

If we are to get any peas this year, it’s now down to the ones I planted among the corn as nitrogen fixers. This morning, I think I even saw a single sprout, under one of the purple corn plants!

When the girls were watering last night, they picked some zucchini and sunburst squash. One of the zucchini had a bite taken out of the end! Like something took a taste and decided they didn’t like it. I’ve seen a few eaten leaves, too. The deer leave the summer squash alone; the spikes on the leaf stems are too much for their tender lips. The woodchucks seem to have a slightly better tolerance for it.

This really, really frustrated me. We put the wire mesh around the Crespo squash in the morning, and by evening, large amounts of it were gone. These have far fewer spines on their stems compared to the summer squash.

Looking around the barriers, I found the likely place they got through. Not that it would have been hard, anywhere around it.

When we made this squash hill, we took advantage of a hill that was already there, created by drunk plowing. There are lower furrows near it, making the ground even more uneven than in other parts of the old garden area. That left a furrow and a drop that made it really easy for a critter to slip under the wire.

I tried to use wire soil staples to peg the bottom of the chicken wire to the ground, but couldn’t. There are so many rocks under there, I couldn’t push the wire through far enough to hold it down. I tried an area about two feet long by a foot wide, and there wasn’t a single place I could push the wire through before being blocked by buried rocks. I ended up folding the bottom of the wire mesh under, then weighing it down with bricks. When I checked this morning, there was no new damage.

At this point, we’re thinking we’re not going to get an Crespo squash. The plants are using their energy to recover from critter damage. Of the flowers we’ve seen, there have still been no female flowers, and as long as stuff like this is happening, they won’t have the energy to produce fruit. If any fruit does start to develop, there is no longer enough of a growing season left for them to fully mature.

I did not invest all this time, effort and money to feed rodents instead of my family.

Those critters have got to go!!

The Re-Farmer

2021 garden: odd one out, and barrier attempts

We are once again hitting higher temperatures, with no more rain, so this morning I started watering the garden beds again, moving the sprinkler every half hour or so. While checking the conditions of the various beds, I had to get a photo of this summer squash. It was the last one to start producing fruit, and when it finally did, it was definitely the odd one out.

And what is so odd about this lovely green pattypan squash?

We only bought yellow pattypan squash seeds.

So… we planted both green and yellow zucchini, but only have green zucchini developing. Then we planted only yellow pattypans, but have both green and yellow squash!

Too funny.

While checking the beds I’d watered last night, I was disappointed to find that more of the Crespo squash has been eaten. 😦 So I snagged a daughter to help me put the last of our chicken wire around it.

We didn’t have enough to go all the way around. I checked the junk pile around the garden shed and found some 2 inch square wire mesh. It was all bent up – when I first found it while cleaning up the maple grove, it was buried in undergrowth – and a mess, but we straightened it the best we could and happily found it long enough to cover the gap left by the chicken wire. I used some other scrap wire that was tangled up in the mesh and used it to attached the pieces together near the ground, so no little critter could just slip in between them.

I’m hoping it works. It’s going to make filling the water reservoir in the middle (half buried, so water the roots) more difficult, though.

I’ll put up with it.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: what happened? and more critter damage :-(

One of the things I’ve been trying to baby is our Montana Morado corn. I really, really want these to work out!

As these were started indoors, they are much further along than any other corn we have, and have been developing ears of corn for a while now. I’ve been a bit concerned about pollination, and have even been hand pollinating any cobs that look like they might get missed.

My concern?

Many of the silks have have dried up. This is supposed to be a sign that the cobs are ready to pick, but they shouldn’t be ready to pick until the end of August or so. The packet didn’t have a “days to maturity” on it, as the variety is just too knew, but in looking up maize morado, it says 120 days to maturity, so I figure this should be close.

As my daughter and I were looking the corn over and talking about our concerns over how many silks are dry, even on tiny little cobs, I went ahead and picked a cob from the plant that first developed one. This would be the largest, most mature, of all the cobs. The silks at the top were so dry, they came off as I started to peel off the husks.

So this tells me one thing, at least. Pollination is good. There are lots of developing kernels, and almost no gaps. It is also clearly immature, and just starting to turn to its mature colour.

I have to admit, that looks very… unfortunate… 😀

We did taste it, and while not particularly sweet (I was not expecting it to be), but it did taste… well… like corn.

So why are the silks starting to dry so early? Yes, it’s been dry, but we’ve been diligent about watering these.

Have we not been watering it enough? Has it been too hot, even for this variety that was developed in a warmer zone than us? Will the cobs continue to mature, even if the silk dries up as would normally happen when the cobs are ready to pick?

I don’t know, but I’ve posted the question on one of my local gardening groups. I’ve had some clarifying questions, but so far, no answer.

Crud.

Well, we’ll just keep watering them and hope for the best!

Meanwhile, on checking the Crespo squash nearby…

More, “oh, crud.”

One of the vines have been eaten, and it does not look like deer damage. The barriers we put around it might convince a deer to not bother, but they can’t actually stop anything. I’m guessing this is from one of the woodchucks.

Today was hot enough that everything has dried up again, so I set up the sprinkler on the purple corn for a while. As I was moving the sprinkler to the corn at the opposite end of the garden area, I spotted a woodchuck in the middle of one of the sunflower blocks!! It wasn’t eating anything, and there was no damage when I checked, so it may have been just passing through.

I greatly encouraged that notion, and chased it through the hedge, into the ditch. It can go to the empty house across the road!

Anyhow.

As for the corn, I guess the only thing we can do is keep watering it and hope the cobs will continue to mature.

When we first bought the corn seeds, the produce description was for maize morado. The site even had a video talking about how a cowboy from Peru brought some seeds to where he was living in the US, and was able to grow extra to provide seeds for the company. I thought I was getting a Peruvian corn. Then the story changed, and it turned out to be a purple corn developed in Montana, and now it seems the name has been changed to Mountain Morado.

While trying to look up what the days to maturity might be for this corn, I found a different seed company that is selling the actual maize morado from Peru, Kulli. I think I will try buying those for next year. The packets only have 25 seeds in them, so I’ll probably get two or three. I had hoped to have seeds to save from this year’s corn, which may still happen, but if I don’t, I will also try the Mountain Morado (again?). Between the two, I hope to have something that will grow in our zone.

Until then, we’ll see how things go with what we have now.

The Re-Farmer

update: well, that was fast! Having tapped into the wealth of knowledge in the local gardening group, I have a likely answer. The drying of the silk may show that they have been successfully pollinated.

It’s either that, or the heat.

Our 2021 garden; made in the shade, and we have melons!

While doing the evening watering, the girls spotted a couple of little melons last night! I just had to go looking for them this morning.

Aren’t they adorable?

The bigger one is about 2 inches long. I wasn’t expecting them to be fuzzy. 😀

These are the Halona melons. Still nothing among the Pixies – at least not that we can see. Lots of flowers, though.

In thinking of how to protect our Crespo squash from being nibbled on, and our new sprouts from the upcoming heat, I scrounged in the old garden shed and dug up some old, bent up, decorative wire border fences.

Most of the sections went around the Crespo squash. Whatever has been eating them has not tried to go past the hoops, so I’m hoping the new border will further dissuade it.

The ground here is so rocky, I wasn’t able to push all the wire “legs” into the soil! Enough are in to keep it from falling over, though, so it should be fine.

There were a few sections left, and they got used in the garden bed that doesn’t have a row cover on it. Then I used some bed sheets as shade covers. I neglected to take progress photos, though. :-/

There were 6 individual sections that got evenly spaced over the seedlings. The bundle of fencing had been tied with a fairly long ribbon, so I used that to join the tops of as many of the middle ones as I could. As I was laying the sheets down, though, there was nothing in the centre to support the ends. I had a short piece cut from a hula hoop left, so that’s now in the middle, on a couple of sticks in the ground to hold it up. It was too short to bend well, so there’s a kink in the hula hoop piece, but at long as it holds the sheet up, I don’t care! 😀

After that, rocks and bricks were used to pull the fabric taught and weigh it down.

For this bed, I could use some old Twin sheets. For the other two, I had some queen and kind sized sheets to use.

The one top sheet was easy enough, but the fitted sheets needed to have their elastics cut off, and one of them was cut in half and used to cover the ends of the rows. With these, the fabric could be secured by tucking it under the wooden frame. The sheet that was cut in half is barely wide enough on one frame, and a few inches too narrow on the other, but the ends are tucked, and in the middle of the row, the other sheets were laid on top to hold it in place.

So now our shade-loving seedlings have their shade, and protection from the heat of the day. We can uncover them when we start the evening watering, so they get some less direct light during a cooler time of the day. Then I can cover them again when I do my morning rounds.

We’re supposed to start hitting 30C/86F and higher, tomorrow, though the hourly forecast on one of my apps says we’re supposed to hit 32C/90F this afternoon. The record high for today is 33C/91F, set back in 2002. I think we were actually living in this province again in 2002, though I believe we moved back in the fall. The record low for today is 9C/48F, set in 1993.

Anyhow, we’re supposed to stay about 30C/86F for almost a week, and these sheets should help keep the seedlings a bit cooler. I’m considering whether it would be a good idea to moisten the sheets, too, but the extra weight of water might be too much for the frames to hold.

It should be interesting to see how these work out!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning finds

While doing my rounds this morning, I topped up the small bird feeder. As I took it down from its hanger, I heard something fly out from the plants below. It turned out to be a goldfinch. It flew onto a nearby lilac branch, and just stayed there, watching me.

As I went by again, on my way to the garden, I saw it again.

I came withing a few feet of it, and it just stayed there. Like it was trying to sleep and wondering what this idiot human was doing at 5:30 in the morning!

A few days ago, I noticed we’d lost a few sunflowers, among the Hopi Black Dye rows, and a couple of sweet corn. Off hand, I would have thought “deer”, but it was odd. There were just a few nipped plants, and they were in the middle of the rows, in roughly the middle of blocks, not along the edges as I would expect from a deer going around the roped off blocks.

Nothing showed up in the garden cam, which told me that whatever it was, it was too small to trigger the motion sensor where the camera was set up. So I repositioned the camera (mounting in on that flag stand was the best rig ever!) to hopefully catch something.

When checking the beds before watering them, I was disappointed to find this.

The second Crespo squash find has had its end nibbled off, too. Only as far as the hoop barrier, but then, the only vine had been nibbled about the same amount, and there was no barrier at all at the time.

Unfortunately, we don’t have another camera for this end of the garden.

As for the sweet corn…

Three corn plants were nibbled on. In the middle of a row, and in the middle block of the 3 corn blocks!

Just those three. Nothing else in the area was nibbled on.

It was a gorgeous 18C/64 when I first came out, but by the time I finished using the new action hoe to finish weeding a second row, it was already getting too hot for manual labour. So I headed indoors and checked the trail cam files, to see if whatever did this was captured.

Well, waddaya know. Do you see those two “lights” on the left?

Those are the eyes of two big, fluffy raccoons!!! And the far one could be seen coming out of the roped off area, while the nearer one was on the outside of the roped area.

*sigh*

So it is likely these guys that have been nibbling our sweet corn and sunflowers. We have not been seeing deer on the trail cams lately, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been going elsewhere in the yard. The water level in the kiddie pool is down, but not by much, so I don’t think anything as big as a deer has been using it.

The more stuff like this I see, the more I am thinking we are going to have to invest in a guard dog. A large breed that loves our cold winters. Which is a weird thing to think of, in our current heat.

As I write this, we’re at 33C/91F with a humidex of 36C/97F, and our high is predicted to be 34C/93F… oh, wait. My weather app icon on my desktop just changed. We’ve just hit 34C. The humidex is supposed to reach 37F/99F. Which is actually a bit lower than was forecast, a few days ago. But then, the weather forecasts have been unusually off this spring and summer. It’s one thing to be off by a couple of degrees, or even the continual calling for rain and thunderstorms that never happen. It’s when they say things like “rain will stop in X minutes”, and there’s no rain at all, anywhere in the region. Or “rain will start in X minutes”, but if I look at the weather radar, there isn’t any rain showing in the entire province, nor even in provinces on either side of us, nor the states to the north of us. Frustrating!

Still, over the next two weeks, the temperatures are expected to hover just above or below 30C/86F. One of my apps has a 25 day forecast, so it’s running into August, where, we’re expected to hover around the 25C/77F range. The average temperatures for both July and August in our area is 25C/77F, so I guess that’s about right. I was planning to plant spinach and lettuce in late July. I guess we’ll find out if it’s too hot for them or not!

One thing about our expanded gardening this year. We are continually looking at things and saying, “okay, so next year we’ll do this” or “next year, we’ll not to that.” 😀 It would all be a waste, if we didn’t learn anything from it! 😀

Now.

What to do about the raccoons…

The Re-Farmer