Our 2022 garden: morning harvest and deer damage

I checked my weather app last night, and read that we were to get rain and thunderstorms this morning.

This morning, I checked the app and it told me “rain will end in 45 minutes”.

There was no rain.

We’re going to have to water the garden today.

Which is not a complaint. We have a garden to water, still! Though the evenings have been chillier than forecast, we’re still frost free.

While checking all the garden beds, I spotted some deer damage in the sweet corn.

The silks were nibbled off!

It looks like a deer ducked under the rope fence (so much for the bells and whirligigs to startle them!), walked along one side of the corn, nibbling the silks all along the way.

I did find one cob that had been pulled off and left on the ground.

I’d been able to check the other nibbled ones, but with this one I could peel it entirely. They are still not ripe. I think the cool evenings are slowing things down.

We’re supposed to have highs between 17C/63F (today) and 14C/57F (in a couple days) over the next while, before temperatures rise above 20C/68F again. We’re supposed to stay above 20C for several days before dropping to the mid teens again. One of my apps has a 28 day long range forecast, and according to that, we won’t hit overnight temperatures low enough for a frost risk until almost a week into October.

Every mild day is bonus right now, and allowing our garden to continue to produce.

I love those G Star patty pans!

The onions are from the curing table for today’s cooking, but the rest is fresh picked. The Yellow Pear are filled with ripening tomatoes – much more than the Chocolate cherry. We have to figure out what to do with them all.

A couple of Sophie’s Choice tomatoes were ripe enough to pick. I will use those to save seeds. The paste tomatoes went into the freezer for later processing.

As I write this, my older daughter is in the kitchen, trying to use up a whole lot of vegetables for lunch, to go with the short ribs that were in the slow cooker all night. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with! 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: some progress, and a little harvest

It’s just past 10pm as I start this, and we’re still at 21C/70F, and the higher winds of earlier today have died down to a lovely calm. I found myself looking for reasons to get the fire going, but I really need to get some sleep tonight! Sleep has been frequently interrupted for the past while. 😕

Lack of sleep wiped me out enough that I was feeling quite ill this morning, to the girls took care of feeding the critters so I could try and get at least a couple of hours in. With Leyendecker still in recovery in my room (no, he wasn’t the one keeping me up at night!), and my daughters still having their days and nights reversed, my younger daughter has been taking her “night shift” and sleeping in my room, to keep and ear out on Leyendecker while I’m out. (He seems to be doing all right, though still having difficulties voiding, so we are monitoring him very closely) In the end, it was almost noon before I finally was able to head outside and do my rounds – minus the critter feeding.

Of course, a fair amount of that is spent checking things in the garden. Things like this.

Here we are, into September, and the Red Noodle beans are just starting to show flower buds!

This Kakai hulless squash was the first to develop and is looking like it’s ripe – but it’s about a quarter the size it should be. If the weather holds, there’s a chance we’ll have a couple more, larger ones. In fact, all the hulless pumpkins are going rather well, compared to the other winter squash. Only the Baby Pam pumpkins are managing as well. The Lady Godiva should give us at least 2 fully developed squash by the end of the growing season, with a few more little ones developing. Likewise, the Styrian variety has a couple large pumpkins that should be harvestable by the time growing season is done, with a couple more developing.

As for the Baby Pam, we have a little few bright orange pumpkins that could probably be harvested, that are smaller than they should be, but there are others that are still growing and turning colour that look like they will reach their full size – which isn’t very large to begin with.

This Georgia Candy Roaster is one of two stunted plants that were just covered in slug trails this morning!

While watering this evening, I was amazed to find female flowers among the Georgia Candy Roaster, and even one Winter Sweet. I hand pollinated them, just in case, but I think it was too late for one of the Georgia Candy Roasters.

While harvesting, I was surprised by how many Yellow Pear and Chocolate Cheery tomatoes were ready. I took the few G-Star patty pans that were on the plant killed off by a cut worm.

A few more of the Cup of Moldova tomatoes were ripe enough to pick, and into the freezer the went, with the others needing to be processed.

I keep saying I need to get those done, but the fact that they are in the freezer actually frees me up to work on other things. But that will be in my next post!

As for the garden, it’s a waiting game. So far, we’re not looking to have cold temperatures or frost for the rest of the month. With our first average frost date on Sept. 10, that is very encouraging. I plan to do recordings for another garden tour video on that date. Hopefully, thing weather will hold and things will have time to catch up.

I’d really like a chance to try those red noodle beans!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden, and a follow up

My mother wanted me to check her out of the hotel as late as we could, so this morning I actually got to sleep in a little bit before doing my morning rounds! I’m happy to say, my mother is now settled in at home and really hoping not to have to go through this again! While helping put fresh sheets back on her bed, I noticed the exterminator left a trap in the corner, to monitor things. We shall see.

I had done a small harvest from the garden yesterday, so I didn’t have to pick any beans this morning – though I did find a couple of cucumbers I’d missed!

I was able to do some hand pollinating, which is nice. Not with the luffa, though.

We still have only female flowers blooming. The clusters of male flowers are forming, but are still just tiny buds.

The nearby dancing gourds have so many flowers, I don’t even bother. What few pollinators we’ve got right now are more than able to get those ones done! There are many developing gourds, hidden among the leaves, to show for it.

The G-Star patty pan squash are really getting big and healthy, and I finally spotted a female flower today. When they were still struggling, I did see one squash starting to form, but there were no male flowers to pollinate it, so it fell off. Since then, until today, there have been only male flowers.

This is how they should have looked by the end of June and the first half of July. Not at the very end of August!

There were other summer squash I was able to hand pollinate. Most of them are not as far behind as the G-Star, though the green zucchini is sort of in between. I could have picked some summer squash this morning, but left them to get a bit bigger. I should be able to pick at least a couple of them, tomorrow.

Mostly, though, I wanted to pick tomatoes!

There are only 3 or 4 of the rounder Sophie’s Choice in there, and the rest are the Cup of Moldova. Most of those went into the freezer with the others awaiting processing, though I kept a few for fresh eating.

This is the first time we’ve grown determinate tomatoes. I kept hearing about how they ripen all at once, so be prepared to do a lot of canning and processing in a very short time. I was kind of counting on that, since the main reason we were planting these was to make tomato paste. A lot of tomatoes will cook down to a fairly small amount of paste. However, they seem to be ripening little by little, like indeterminate tomatoes do. Even with what I’ve already got in the freezer, I really don’t think there’s enough to fill the dozen 125ml jars we have waiting for them. (From what I’ve been finding, because tomato paste is so very dense, they should not be canned in even 250ml jars, as it’s so hard for the paste to come to temperature all the way through.)

We’re going to have to process them soon, though. In a couple of days, I’ll be doing the rest of our monthly stock up shopping, and we’re going to need the freezer space taken up the the bin with the tomatoes! So whatever we’ve got now is going to have to do.

Before we can do that, though, we need to finish processing the crab apples and get the hard apple cider started. At least the girls got the cider vinegar started, while I was helping my mom. When I told my mother about what we’re doing with the apples, she asked for a small bottle of cider vinegar to try, which I had already been planning to do – or at least offer. That she’s even asking to try new things like this is pretty surprising, after all these years since our move with her being so angry whenever I did something different from how she did things! 😁 She is still upset with me because there were cherries still on the cherry trees when she came out here with my sister. I was supposed to pick every single one of them, and make all the things she would have made with them. Any left on the tree is apparently a real tragedy. Just the fact that I froze the ones we did pick, rather than processing them right away, ticked her off. I told her I had other things to do and, since they’re frozen, I can do them at my leisure. All that got me as a grilling on what could I possibly be doing to keep me from processing them right away. I don’t have cows to milk! (That’s her current thing: we don’t have cows to milk, therefore we have no work to do.) When she was on the farm, she always processed this stuff right away. I reminded her that back then, there was seven of us, so she was able to do this stuff and the rest of the work still got done. Her response was to ask, what did I do while growing up on the farm? I started listing out how I helped in fields, in the barn, with the cows, with the chickens, and in the garden. I just wasn’t allowed to help much with the pigs, because I was so young, and they were so potentially dangerous.

She didn’t remember me doing any of that.

I told her that just because she didn’t see or remember something, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!

I can’t really complain about her digs too much. It has actually gotten better compared to when we first moved here, and she was so very angry that we didn’t instantly do all the things she thought needed to be done (never mind what actually needed to be done), and didn’t immediately recreate the garden she had some 40 years ago, in exactly the same place (though much of that space is now taken up with trees or the shade from trees), and in exactly the same way she did it (never mind that we don’t have the equipment she did). It’s taken a lot, but she’s at least less critical, even if she still doesn’t understand the how or why of what we’re doing.

And even interested in trying new things, like asking for a Red Kuri squash, and some crab apple cider vinegar!

That’s some pretty huge progress, there! 😊

The Re-Farmer

We have pickles!

Today, I made my first pickled cucumbers, using a mix of our own cucumbers, and those given to us by my sister.

She gave us so many, they over filled my mother’s massive bowl that was left here. When I was a kid, I remember she used this bowl for making pickles, too!

My canning cookbook is still missing, so I found a recipe online – it was surprisingly hard to find a simple, basic recipe that didn’t require ingredients that we didn’t have, either because we don’t like them, or because they aren’t available locally. Or they required ridiculously long preparation – one recipe I found took nine days of preparation before the final canning and, after reading the instructions, I can’t for the life of me figure out how the cucumbers weren’t complete mush long before then! Or, they were for fermented pickles, and I wanted to water bath can these.

I just wanted to make basic pickles.

Who’d have though that would be so difficult? 😄

But I found one, and got to work. I had only 1 case of quart size jars, and I am very glad they were wide mouth jars! They are so much easier to fill than the regular mouth jars.

I filled the dozen quarts, and there was still lots of cucumbers left over!

There we have it! My first canning of cucumbers into pickles. I even got a 100% ping rate – all the lids sealed properly! Once they’re fully cool, I’ll remove the rings, put the jars in the case they came in, and we’ll need to find somewhere to store them. There’s the root cellar, of course, but that’s quite the oubliette right now. Things that go in there, get forgotten! At least it won’t matter as much with canned goods, and if we are able to harvest enough produce from the garden to store in there, that will help us remember we actually have food in there, and not just the Christmas trees and decorations. 😁 I’ll have to get the girls to take things down there, though. With my knees, trying to navigate the stairs while carrying glass jars is just not a good idea. 😉

I’m glad it’s done, though I left quite a bit for the girls to clean up tonight. At times like this, they get the raw end of the deal! They are sweethearts about it, though. 💕

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning harvest

The pole beans are starting to really kick in!

We’re even still getting bush beans and peas!

I’ve been training the cucumber up the trellis netting, but somehow missed one big cucumber that was lying right on the ground. I’m glad I spotted it this morning. Not much longer before it would have started to be over mature. Which would be okay if I were wanting to save seeds, but I won’t be for these.

With last night’s rain and an incredibly humid morning, things were still soaking wet outside, and my glasses were fogging up! The squash are loving it, though, and I’m seeing increased growth. Even the one Zucca melon that’s trying to survive had a noticeably growth spurt.

The sweet corn and the popcorn are both sending up tassels! The popcorn is still really small, but has had a growth spurt, too. They only reach about 2 ft high to begin with, so there is hope for a crop, yet!

There are squash blooming all over. Whenever possible, I am hand pollinating. There has not been a lot of opportunity to do that. Still, if we have a long, mild fall like last year, it will help ensure we have fruiting plants that can take advantage of it. We shall see!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning harvest, and first purple beans!

Check it out! Our largest morning harvest, yet!

There were very few yellow beans to pick this morning. The bush beans seem to be winding down. There were more of the green pole beans to pick, though – and our first purple beans!

There are still a few peas on the first planting, while the second planting of peas are getting into their prime. I found more cucumbers than expected. Enough to make a decent size cucumber salad.

I finally picked the one Sophie’s Choice tomato that was looking like it could have been picked a while ago. It didn’t seem to be getting any redder, so I went ahead and grabbed it. I also grabbed the reddest Cup of Moldova tomatoes. The one that fell off while I tried to get the clip loose has ripened indoors, so there are two of them for my husband and the girls to taste test later on.

I picked what seemed to be the largest of the turnips to taste test as well. They are not a large variety and golf ball size is supposed to be when they have the best flavour. I also pulled a couple of the largest looking beets, to see how they are, and… they’re not doing well at all.

But we have something. And something is better than nothing!

I had done some recordings to make another garden tour video in the morning, but after going over them, I went back out to re-record most of them in the early evening. The final video will have a mix of both. I have this terrible habit of using the wrong words for things and not even noticing. Like saying “purple corn” when I meant to say “purple peas”. That sort of thing. I might have time to work on editing it this evening, but I’m not sure just yet. It depends on how things go after I get back from my mother’s, this afternoon.

We shall see.

The Re-Farmer

Size difference, and morning harvest

It’s coming up on noon, and we’ve already reached out high of 27C/81F, with the humidex at 29C/84F. Usually, we don’t reach our high until about 5pm! They’re also predicting rain, though, so hopefully that includes our area, and things will cool down a bit.

Some things seem to like the heat, though.

That one giant pumpkin is noticeably bigger, every day!

I put our very first tomato that I just picked, and a Magda squash, down for perspective.

Those ants were all over the tomato, immediately!

I have since placed an ant trap at the hill. The main part of the hill is next to the other giant pumpkin plant, and it’s looking like the ants are finally starting to damage it. I put traps next to two other ant hills as well. Usually, I prefer to leave them since ants are pollinators, too, but these ones have to go. There are plenty of other hills in the area, so it’s not like we’re making much of a dent in the population by doing this.

Here we have this morning’s harvest. Our very first tomato – Sophie’s Choice. I will leave the family to taste test it, since I can’t do raw tomatoes. They make me gag. Which, I’ve learned, is a thing, similar to how cilantro tastes like soap to some people, but not others!

Those pea pods are the first peas from our second planting. Remarkably, the first planting of peas is still green and trying to produce.

I didn’t pick any yellow beans tomorrow. There should be a good amount to gather tomorrow, though.

On another note, I got to pick up and pet the black and white kitten with the black splotch by its nose. I was happy to see it, since I did not see it at all, yesterday. It did not run away when I came by, and had no issues with being picked up and cuddled.

Progress!

The Re-Farmer

Change in plans, morning in the garden

This morning was our date with the vet, to get Potato Beetle, Big Rig and Tissue spayed and neutered, as arranged by the Cat Lady.

I had a chance to text with her last night, as she reminded me to have them fasting. She herself was going back to the hospital today. The poor thing has been in and out of hospital all summer, and yet she still manages to help with cats. She just brought home a couple more because they were sick, and no one else was willing/able to take care of them. She is so awesome!

She did warn me that there is a shortage of vets, and there was a possibility of cancellation. So when my phone started ringing while I was driving with the three cats, I had a sinking feeling. Of course, I couldn’t answer while driving. It started ringing again, then I suddenly started getting notification noises, one after another. *sigh*

The calls were from one of the staff from the clinic – but she was calling from home! When she couldn’t get through to me, she called the Cat Lady, and both of them were trying to text me at the same time, letting me know that the vet wasn’t coming in today. All surgeries were being cancelled.

I got all these when I parked in front of the clinic.

After responding to both of them, the lady from the clinic said she would call me when she got into the office to reschedule, then I headed home.

The cats were not happy with all this. I was concerned about Potato Beetle. He’s already been stuck in the sun room for over a week. Yes, he has cool places to lie down, and we make sure there’s a frozen water bottle in his water bowl, the ceiling fan is going, and the small box fan I found the the garage is set up. Still, it gets quite warm in there and, as much as we try to go over and pay attention to him, he’s mostly all on his own.

Thankfully, the clinic was able to reschedule us for this Friday, so tomorrow night, we do the fasting again.

Since we no longer to dash to and from town to deal with the cats, I took advantage of the change in plans and decided to do our Costco trip today, instead of next week.

But first, I had to do my morning rounds, switch out the memory cards in the trail cams, and check the garden beds.

The Carminat pole beans finally have pods forming!

The one giant pumpkin is growing so fast!

I looked around and finally saw another pumpkin forming. Just to be on the safe side, I hand pollinated it. The vines of the two plants are overlapping each other, but as far as I can tell, this one, plus another female flower I found that is still just a bud, is on the same plant as the pumpkin that’s growing so big. The second plant has lots of male flowers, but I can’t see any female flowers on it.

I’ll keep checking and, as I find them, I’ll hand pollinated them, just to be on the same side.

Which I am also doing with the Red Kuri (Little Gem) squash, in the south yard. These are doing really, really well here. I have hand pollinated several female flowers already, and I can see more budding. I’m happy that these are doing so well, because these may be the only winter squash we get this year!

The cherry tree by the house is doing well, too. This is the most we’ve seen on this tree since moving here. The other trees at the edge of the spruce grove have nothing. Being close to the house seems to be providing the microclimate it needs. I don’t know the name of this variety; only that the original tree was from Poland, which has a longer growing season than we do.

The cherries at the very top look ripe, or close to it. We’ll have to bring over the step ladder and start picking them!

Speaking of picking things…

This is this morning’s harvest. Along with the bush beans, there was a single pea pod from the row that was planted first. That row is almost done, but the ones that were planted later have quite a few pods that should be ready to pick in a few more days.

I also picked our very first two cucumbers! I picked this variety as it is supposed to be good for both fresh eating and pickling. Whether or not we’ll have enough to make pickles, I’m not sure yet, but we at least have these ones to taste test now!

There was also a few raspberries to pick. Maybe 3/4’s of a cup in total.

It’s not much, but it’s enough to enjoy with a meal. Certainly better than nothing at all!

That done, I was off to the city to do the last of our monthly stocking up, but that will get it’s own post. 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: things are trying to grow

My daughters were sweethearts and took care of feeding the cats outside for me, as I’m still feeling pretty unstable, so the cats weren’t out and about by the time I headed outside. I did get to briefly pet a kitten, though! 😀

While checking out the garden, there was some new progress – and a bit of deer damage – to find.

The Carminat beans are reaching the top of the trellis, and you can see their flower buds. At my fingers, however, you can see the stem of a missing leaf! There was a vertical row of missing leaves, a few feet along the trellis. Right about deer height! Time to find more noise makers and flashy things to set up.

On this side of the trellis are the Seychelles beans, which are starting to get pretty tall, too. None of them show deer damage, which is good, since less of them germinated. In the foreground are the self seeded (or should I say, bird-seeded) sunflowers that I left to grow. The beans can climb them, too! With the flooding this spring, we did not plant any of the Hopi black dye or Mongolian Giant sunflower seeds we’d collected from last year, so I don’t mind letting these one grow. These would be the black oil seed that we put out for the birds in the summer. We’re finding them all over the place, thanks to being spread by birds!

The first sowing of shelling peas may be about half the size they should be, but they are loaded with pods. At least on the north end of the pea trellis. Towards the south end, the sugar snap peas are barely surviving, and the shelling peas on the other side of the trellis are much weaker, too. The entire trellis gets an equal amount of sunlight, so this would be a reflection of soil conditions.

This should be the last year we use this spot for growing vegetables. Next year, they’ll be moved closer to the house, and this area will be made available for planting fruit or nut trees. We haven’t decided what to get next, yet.

The cucumber row is a mixed bag of plants that are growing nice and big, and filled with little cucumbers, and others that are barely bigger than when they were first transplanted!

I had an adorable find at the big trellis.

We have a first Tennessee Dancing gourd developing! It is so cute!

The beans on the same side as the dancing gourds are the red noodle beans. The plants are pretty large, but they are still not at the point of climbing. The shelling beans on the other side, however…

The are much smaller, but have tendrils climbing the trellis, and have even started to bloom!

The most adorable little pollinator showed up just as I was taking the picture.

I startled a bee when checking out this HUGE pumpkin flower.

Yes, it’s on a giant pumpkin plant. 😁

I’d seen some female flowers previously, but now I can’t find them, so there are no pumpkins starting to form, yet. While we are not shooting for super big pumpkins, and won’t be pruning them down to just one pumpkin per plant, it feels like it’s too late in the season for any giant pumpkins to mature. We’re near the end of July already, and none have formed, yet!

In the south yard, we finally have Chocolate cherry tomatoes! Just this one plant, yet. Of the 4 varieties we planted this year, the Chocolate cherry have been the most behind – and they are planted where tomatoes had done so well, last year. The plants themselves are getting nice and tall, and we’ve been adding supports and pruning them as needed, but there are much fewer flowers blooming, and only today do we finally have tomatoes forming. Thankfully, the other varieties are much further along.

I also spotted some ground cherry fruit forming! These plants are doing remarkably well, given how much water they had to deal with this spring. It took a while, but not they are quite robust plants, and I’m happy to see them setting fruit!

Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer before we start getting actual food from the garden. Everything is so, so behind, I am extra happy to see progress like this.

The Re-Farmer

That’s quite the discrepancy!

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

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

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

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

While I was watering, however…

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

That’s quite a discrepancy!

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

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

The Re-Farmer