Our 2021 garden: fixing the beet bed, and last things

One of the things we’ve done to protect some of our garden beds from the groundhogs and deer was to use mosquito netting as row covers. The edges were weighed down with whatever was handy; rocks, bricks, pieces of wood… that sort of thing.

The beet bed near where the garlic had been planted has been recovering very well. So well that the greens were tall enough to pull the netting out from under the weights that were holding it in place, in spots.

More specifically, out from under this board and the rock that was weighing it down. A grog took advantage of the gap and had a bit of a snack.

There wasn’t a lot of damage. The netting still did its job.

I took advantage of the situation to do some weeding and pick the onions that had been planted around the beets as a deterrent.

The down side of adding the netting was that the onions were rather squished, as they were planted so close to the edges of the bed. A few ended up on the compost pile, but there were still a few good enough to harvest! These last onions joined the others that are curing under the canopy tent right now.

I picked the beets that had the most of their greens eaten, plus a few more while I was weeding, which left me with some greens to harvest as well.

They got to join the corn I’d picked earlier.

This is pretty much the last of the Dorinny corn. There are still a few little cobs out there. I figure I’ll just leave those, and when we clean up the beds in the fall, we might have some seeds to save for next year, perhaps.

I just wanted to share how the first Mongolian Giant sunflower to start blooming is progressing, too. 😀

Back to the beets!

They are looking a lot better for a bit of clean up! There are some pretty big ones forming in there, too. It should be interesting to see what we get when it’s time to harvest the entire bed.

Then the netting was returned. I made good use of the bag of tent pegs I found in the garage, and pegged the sides down snug along the length, but close in to the beets, so that there would still be slack over the bed, with room for the beets to continue to fill out. I rolled boards into the excess netting at the ends and tucked them close under the leaves as well, so there would be no gabs in the corners for critters to get through.

The beets in the big L shaped bed in the old kitchen garden are starting to lift their floating row cover as well. I spotted a small gap where the rocks weighing the edge down had rolled off, and there are a few nibbled on greens at the very edge. There are heavier weights on either side of the gap, so a critter the size of a ground hog isn’t getting any farther. Tomorrow, I plan to uncover the bed, give it a thorough weeding, pick some more beets, then peg the netting down like this one, so it is more secure.

The beets planted against the retaining wall in the old kitchen garden don’t have this problem. They have not really recovered from when they got eaten. I think it has more to do with low light levels. That area is more shaded by the ornamental apple trees than the rest of the old kitchen garden. I’ll be uncovering them to at least weed them, and get a better look at how they are doing in the process.

As for what was picked today, the corn was added to the summer squash and teeny tomatoes the girls had picked earlier, and roasted in foil with some olive oil, granulated garlic, salt and pepper. The beets got roasted in another foil, with some chive blossom oil, salt and pepper. That way, I could roast both at the same time, in the same pan, without the beets turning the other vegetables all purple! 😀 It turned out very well!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: back at it

As I write this, in the early afternoon, we have reached 30C/86F, with a humidex of 35C/95F. Our high of the day is expected to reach 35C/95F with the humidex at 40C/104F. Thankfully, this is supposed to be the hottest day for the next while, but it means that we’re back at watering the garden at least once a day.

At least this time, I had a full rain barrel to use in the garden beds by the house, while the sprinkler was running in the furthest beds.

With the upstairs so hot during the day, the girls are still staying up all night, so my old daughter can work on her commissions. They still have to put ice packs around their electronics – and themselves – to keep things from overheating.

Since they were still up during the cool of the morning, they did a bit of harvesting, and this was waiting for me when I got up.

We actually have summer squash to pick! The cayenne pepper seems to be working and keeping the grogs (groundhogs) away. This is the most we’ve been able to gather all summer.

They also picked a single red crab apple for me. ❤

It was delicious.

The summer squash bed now has one of the sprinkler hoses I found by the grog den a while back, so they can be watered from below more easily. I set the other one up through two bean beds, but half of the hose seems to have clogged holes. I think they will clear as the hose is used more often.

I’m rather encouraged by these tomatoes. The wilted one is the branch that broke off in the wind, and that I just stuck into the ground. The leaves may be wilted, but the stem is still strong, and the tomatoes that are on it are ripening.

I found a surprise while watering the tomatoes.

This cluster of seedlings has emerged from the new garden soil we recently added!

My initial thought was more sunflowers from the bird feeder, but these actually look a bit like squash seedlings.

We’ll leave them to see what they turn out to be.

Unless the grogs eat them, first.

The sweet corn may be small, but they are maturing. The middle block is maturing the fastest, while the northernmost block the slowest. The southern block has one half maturing faster than the other. This area gets shade in the morning, but at least 8 hours of sunlight per day. The Eastern side, however, would still have shade longer than the rest, and that is likely why the plants are shorter on that side.

It does not seem to matter as much for the sunflowers.

The earliest Mongolian Giant flower heads are progressing nicely.

Even the ones that got chomped by deer are recovering. These are the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers, transplanted next to the Dorinny corn, where the entire row had lots their heads.

You can see the cayenne pepper on the sunflower leaves. Since we are using the sprinklers to water things, we’ll need to reapply it at the end of the day.

On the garden cam, I spotted a big raccoon headed towards the summer squash. It reached a plant, touched it with its nose, and pulled back its head like it got bitten, then ambled around the squash bed, avoiding the plants.

When setting up the sprinkler on the purple corn, I noticed a cob with husks that looked quite dried up. I took a chance and harveted it.

It’s ripe!! Small, not completely pollinated, but still pretty full, and the deep, dark purple it’s supposed to be. I found one other little one with dried husks and picked that, too.

With only two of them, I went to the Dorinny corn and picked what I could there, too.

It isn’t a lot for four people, but enough for part of a meal!

I’m thinking of moving the BBQ my brother gave us to the canopy, so we can grill in the shade. Corn on the grill would be awesome! We’ve got some sirloin steaks from the meat pack we got thawing out, and the summer squash are prepped for grilling. I don’t know if we’ll be up to grilling in this heat, but if not, the vegetables can be roasted.

Either way, I’m looking forward to an excellent Sunday dinner!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: harvest firsts

This evening, I went over our beans and made our first real harvest!

We’ve picked a couple of beans, here and there, before, but this is the first substantial amount we have been able to gather. The yellow beans, for all that they are the smallest plants, are maturing the fastest.

A few purple beans, at the very end of the row, look to be newly nibbled on, but of the entire row, I could only find these few that looked mature enough to pick. As for the green beans, there are lots of them, but I don’t think they’re quite ready for picking. With the yellow beans, it’s at least easy to tell when they are ready. They turn from green to yellow. The green beans just stay the same green! 😀

After picking these, I stopped to look over other parts of the garden, including the Dorinny corn. These are the ones that were planted before last frost, and are the most mature. With the weather, they have had a hard time, but some of the cobs did seem to be ready to pick.

A whole four of them, including one that had its tip nibbled on by a deer a while back!

Generally speaking, they seem to have had good pollination; just the one cob that got its silks nibbled away has fewer kernels, which makes sense.

I had moved the garden cam to face the Dorinny corn and one side of the squash tunnel, in hopes of seeing what is eating the winter squash. One of the things I’ve done, after the last time a deer got into the Dorinny corn, and the one row of transplanted sunflowers, was move some of the distractions by the tulips, over to these garden beds. Two of those distractions were long strings of twine with jingle bells on them. I took our last couple of bamboo stakes and set them up along the side of the Dorinny corn block, with the bells strung between them.

I didn’t catch anything on the garden cam going after the winter squash, but I did catch a deer on several video files. It was nibbling at the ground in front of the string of bells, but never tried to go past it.

That was encouraging, at least.

Meanwhile, I currently have the corn in the over, wrapped in foil with some butter, salt and pepper, and am looking forward to tasting one! The beans will be enjoyed tomorrow. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden, and the things I found this morning

I have to admit, after yesterday’s damage, I was quite trepidatious about checking the garden beds while doing this morning’s rounds!

I was, however, greeted with a happy sight, first thing.

Potato Beetle is still here!

With him being gone for so many months, there’s no reason to assume he’s here to stay, so every day that we see him will be a gift. 🙂

The down side is, he’s been mean to the other cats. Though he used to be part of the crowd filling the kibble house since we built it last fall, he chased all the other cats away this morning. Yesterday, he went after Nutmeg for no reason, and even growled at Junk Pile cat while she was hiding under the cat shelter. I’m hoping this will settle down once he’s been back for a while.

I found an Ozark Nest Egg gourd blooming this morning. Between the density of the leaves, the chain link fence and the protective wire around them, there’s no way I can look to see if there are any female flower buds developing. Of the few I could see, they were still only male flowers. The vines are pushing their way through the chain link fence, and we should be able to start training them up the fence soon.

If they don’t get eaten, first!

More and more tomatoes are starting to change colour. Until today, the most Spoon tomatoes we’ve had ripe at the same time was only three. Plus, we have our very first ripe grape tomato, from the Mosaic Medley mix of seeds!

Alas, there was more deer damage this morning, though nothing like what we found yesterday. This time, it was the yellow beans that got nibbled on.

I was able to pick a small handful of both green and yellow beans this morning, but I am not finding anything in the purple beans. While moving aside their leaves to look, I was seeing a lot of stems, and I wonder if they’d been eaten. The purple beans have so much more foliage, it’s harder to tell, compared to the other beans.

While the sweet corn and sunflowers appeared untouched, I found an entire Dorinny corn pulled out of the ground. The plant next to it has a big chomp taken out of the cob.

The ants were all over that cob!

I also found a cob that had been torn off another plant, with nothing but a nibble off the top. Curious, I went ahead and shucked it.

It was almost completely ripe! It was so well pollinated, too.

Well, I wasn’t about to let it go to waste, so I washed it and ate it raw.

It was delicious!

However things go for the rest of the season, at least I can say I’ve tasted both the Dorinny and the Montana Morado corn this year. 😀

I had one more find that I wanted to share, but I saved the photo for last. If spiders bother you, you might want to quickly scroll on by.

Still here?

I found a garden friend among the purple bean leaves.

I had been pushing aside and turning the leaves, looking for beans underneath, so it was a real surprise to see this spider, not being startled away. Just look at the grip it’s got on that egg sac! It didn’t move at all while I got close to take the photo. Such a good mama!

When I was done, I took the leaf off and put it on the ground in between some bean plants, where it was more sheltered.

Once I was back inside, I checked the garden cam files and confirmed that yes, it was a deer that had done this morning’s damage. The only other critter that triggered the motion sensor was Potato Beetle, while he was keeping me company in the garden yesterday evening.

I have a few ideas on what to try next to keep the deer out, but I’ll need to go into to town to find the materials for it. Today is a holiday here in Canada, and there is a festival going on in town right now, so I’m going to avoid it completely. :-/

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: more firsts – and more damage!

I will start with the good stuff, first!

Like these teeny, tiny first fruits!

These are the miniscule Spoon tomatoes! Several plants are now showing baby tomatoes, and they are so tiny and green, the only reason we could see them was because we were wrapping twine around stalks to the chain link fence to support them. Only now have enough of them gotten big enough to do that.

While watering the Montana Morado corn this evening, my daughter called me over to see some new growth.

Most of these handled their transplanting well, and the larger ones almost all now show these developing spikes. I somehow didn’t expect them to show up until the corn was taller, but we’ll see.

Now for the unhappy stuff.

While watering the corn and sunflower beds, I made a point of checking more closely where I saw the deer in the trail cam. Sure enough, a couple of corn had been nibbled on. I also found some Mongolian Giant sunflowers had been nibbled on. None of the larger, transplanted ones.

Then I saw this, while watering the Dorinny corn. The surviving plants are much larger – almost as large as the transplanted Montano Morado corn. Now, we’re down even more!

Three of the largest corn plants were chomped right down. 😦

While I was watering, my daughter came over from watering the old kitchen garden to ask me if I’d harvested the lettuces.

No. No I hadn’t.

Almost every single block with lettuce in it was eaten.

It was the groundhog.

I had hoped we’d driven it away, as it doesn’t seem to be using the den we’d found, anymore. We’re still spraying water in it, and this evening I left the hose running into it long enough to flood it. Wherever it’s gone to make a new den, it didn’t go far. This afternoon, while I was putting the DSLR on its tripod back at the living room window after vacuuming, I happened to see it just outside, with what looked like a dandelion leaf in its mouth. I called the girls over and it heard me, running off behind the house. The girls went outside to chase it off, but either it was already too late, or it came back.

Interestingly, it didn’t touch the beet greens.

I am not happy.

In watching the deer on the trail cam, they seem to be just nibbling as they go by. So after I finished watering, I took some bamboo stakes and set them up around the corn and sunflower beds, then used twine to join them, and the stakes that were already there, at two heights, around three sides. I ran out of twine just as I was finishing, so only a small section has one string instead of two. It won’t stop the deer, but if they’re just passing through, it’ll sort of guide them away.

After running out of twine, I used the last of our yellow rope and strung it from one of the support posts of the squash tunnel, through the pea trellis supports, and joining it to one of the new stakes I put in around the Peaches ‘n Cream collection corn blocks. I then stole another bamboo stake and used it to put a second, higher line at the Dorinny corn.

This leaves the beds in that corner with either twine or rope along the north sides of the Dorinny corn, the pea beds and the northernmost Peaches ‘n Cream corn block, all along the east side of the corn and sunflower beds, and the south side of the southernmost corn block.

Later, we will be stringing the aluminum tart tins I picked up to flash and spin in the wind.

Once we get more twine and/or rope, we’ll put up more to guide the deer away from the garden beds.

I also want to put a barrier and distractions around the Montana Morado corn. So far, they have been untouched, but I would rather lose any of the other corn completely, then this variety.

I also moved the garden cam and hopefully it will cover more of the garden beds.

There are lots of things we can do about the deer, even though we can’t put up anything permanent, like fencing, right now. The groundhog, on the other hand, is a different issue. It can get through or under most things, and now that it’s eaten all the lettuce, there is nothing to stop it from going after the beets. Unless it just doesn’t like beets.

This critter has got to go!!

The Re-Farmer