Our 2023 garden: first order in, with Veseys

We haven’t even done a thorough assessment of our 2022 garden, nor fully decided what we plan to grow next year, but I’ve gone ahead and made our first order for next year’s garden, today.

The main reason is, there are things I wanted to order before they have a chance to be out of stock. Particularly with trees for the food forest we are slowly developing. These will be shipped in the spring, and we won’t be billed until they are shipped. I ordered seeds as well, because I used a sponsor promo code from Maritime Gardening, which gives free shipping if there is at least one package of seeds in the order.

This is what I ordered today. All images belong to Veseys, and links will open in new tabs, so you don’t lose your place. 😊

The new Trader Everbearing Mulberry is the main reason I wanted to place an order right away. We tried a different variety before, that promptly got killed by an unusually cold night shortly after it was planted. Cold enough that even if we had this variety, it likely would not have survived, so soon after being planted.

Here is the description from the site (in case you’re reading this years later, and the link is dead).

Morus alba x rubra. There are so many things to love about ‘Trader’ Everbearing Mulberry! First, the tree itself is absolutely beautiful and can be grown as a single trunk or multi-stemmed shrub. Big, glossy black fruit are present throughout the summer and are an irresistible blend of sweet and tart. Even the leaves are starting to be considered a super-food and can be made into a powerfully healing tea. ‘Trader’ is winter hardy (Zone 3-4), vigorous, long-lived and disease and pest resistant.  We ship 8-12″ non-grafted tree.

Please note: Due to a crop shortage, we are not able to supply the Mulberry in a 3.5″ pot. We can supply in a 2.5″ pot. Since these are smaller, we will send 2 of the smaller size for spring 2023.

That last bit about pot sizes is another reason we wanted to order the mulberry right away. They may be smaller, but we’ll be getting two trees for the price of one. Which means chances are better for at least one of them to survive!

The other tree we ordered was Liberty Apple. From the website:

Malus. Superlative variety resistant to a host of diseases. This apple has outstanding flavour and is aromatic and juicy. The conical red fruit is among the very best and as an added bonus is excellent for cider. Crispy, juicy apples right in your back yard. Good Scab resistance, making them much easier to look after. For best results, two varieties should be planted. We are offering 1 yr. whips. approximately 18-24″ in height which have been grafted onto hardy rootstock. They should mature to about 15-18 ft. Hardy to zone 4.

Yes, it says zone 4 and we are zone 3, but we will just have to take extra care in where it’s planted, and to protect it while it’s small. We have crab apple trees, but no regular apples. One apple tree should be enough to provide for our needs, and the crab apples will be the second variety pollinator.

Then there are the seeds.

While we didn’t have much to show for peppers this past summer, that had more to do with our horrible growing year in general. My pepper loving daughter had thought we would be ordering several varieties for this past year, but I’d only ordered the one type. I think we learned enough about growing them to order more varieties, so I ordered a sweet bell pepper combo.

This is Vesey’s Sweet Pepper collection, and here is their description:

A few of our favourite sweet peppers! This collection contains 3 pkgs, 1 each of Early SunsationEarly Summer and Dragonfly sweet peppers.

Early Sunsation: Bright yellow and big. Very heavy yielding with thick, juicy walls. This variety stays nice and crisp even when fully yellow. 3 lobed fruit. Resistant to Bacterial Leaf Spot races 1-3. 65 days to green; 80 days to yellow from transplanting.

Early Summer: Elite, early and extra large! Early summer is an early maturing, yellow bell pepper. The fruit are large at 5″ and an elite disease resistance package gives Early Summer a winning combination.

Dragonfly: Sweet and colourful. Dragonfly’s early production was a standout for our trial staff. Fruit emerges green and turns deep purple when mature. Dragonfly continues to produce fruit into the fall even after temperatures have dropped.

The Early Summer is new to Veseys for the 2023 growing season.

There was another new for 2023 item I just had to order.

The Caveman’s Club Gourd! This is definitely something for the “just for fun” list. 😁

Truly different! This 12-16″ gourd produces a dark green, ridged, alien-like, bulbous fruit that are not like anything we have seen before! Growing them on a trellis ensures a straight neck. Plant early for best results. Matures in 120 days. Approx. 15 seeds/pkg.

I just couldn’t resist. This will be an ideal thing to try growing on the new trellis tunnels we will be building in the spring.

After we’ve taken the time to assess things from our 2022 garden, then gone through what seeds we still have, we’ll start making final decisions about what else we want to order for the 2023 growing season. One thing we will almost certainly be ordering are different raspberry bushes, that mature at different times. Any raspberries we order won’t start producing until their second year, so what we order to plant in 2023 will be to have raspberries in 2024. As we add to our perennial food producers, while still staying in budget, it’s a balancing act between ordering things that will take years before they start producing, like the apple and mulberry trees, and things that will start producing more quickly, like the raspberries.

Little by little, though, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: some growth, a first harvest, tree status, and no, that is not a funeral pyre

It was a very early morning for me today. The cats got active at about 4am and wouldn’t stop! I finally gave up and did my morning rounds while the girls were still cooking down the crab apple sauce for me to can later.

Parts of the province got frost warnings last night. We did not, thankfully, though the temperatures did go down to 5C/41F. It was still only 6C/43F while I was outside. I actually had to wear a jacket!

Today is our average first frost date and, while it was chilly last night, it is expected to warm up again over the next few days, and stay mild for the next couple of weeks, at least.

The garden is on borrowed time right now!

We actually have a few tiny little Purple Beauty peppers ripening! They are much, much smaller than they should be. These should look much like your typical grocery store bell pepper, in size and shape. That we got any at all still amazes me, though.

The one Little Finger Eggplant that is producing fruit is growing so fast!

No, I’m not pointing to anything there. I’m just moving a leaf while not blocking the view of an eggplant at the same time. 😁

The other plant sharing it’s space is blooming, but still no eggplants, while the plants in the low raised bed aren’t even blooming, yet.

As for this morning’s harvest, we got a first today!

We actually had grapes ripe enough to pick! There are still come clusters that are not ripe, yet. There isn’t a lot in total, but last year we basically had nothing, so that is no complaint at all. I’m not sure what to do with such a small quantity, though.

I finally remembered to go into the outer yard and get a picture of the Korean pine. Here, you can see three of the four surviving pines.

You can just see a mowed path going off to the left. That leads to the fourth surviving pine. The six pine had been planted in pairs on either side of the lane we want to keep open to the secondary gate that I normally would have kept mowed.

The chicken wire covers painted high-viz orange seem to be working out so far. My only concern is that chicken wire isn’t very strong. If the renter does let his cows through to graze in the outer yard, it couldn’t take much for a cow to crush one of them. I’m counting on them simply avoiding the cages, instead. Or deer, for that matter. We’re more likely to have deer going through here than cows.

You can see the other big branch pile on the right of the photo, with some fresh branches on top. Now that the other piles are chipped, any new prunings will be added to this one. Today, I pruned a bit around the stone cross, opening things up and even giving a bit more sun to the Wonderberry. I also started to break down one of the dead crab apple trees near the one that we harvested from. The dead branches are well entangled in the other trees, so it will be done piecemeal at first.

One of the other things I got done, though this was last night, was go through the pile of logs the chippers left next to the burn barrel. I’d already set aside a stack of pieces that are not rotten, quite straight, and useable. The rest of the pile of unsalvageable wood is now moved.

I laid it out around the pile of burnable junk we’d been stacking against the branch pile. Much of it is old newspapers and catalogs we’d cleared out of the sun room when we cleared and cleaned it out the first time. We intended to burn it in the burn barrel, but it’ll just be easier to do a bon fire! The straw is what was cleaned out of the cats’ house, so it’s not something we can use as mulch, or even for the compost.

Once we do have a day to start a burn, we’ll have to take turns keeping an eye on it. This will take a long time to burn through! This is something that could smolder for days. Plus, I plan to drag over branches from the pile next to the garage that the tree guys couldn’t chip, to clean that up, too.

When the girls saw this, the first thing they said was, “nice funeral pyre!” 😂

Yeah, it does kinda look like that! 😁

The Re-Farmer

Crab apple harvest

This afternoon, I headed out to see what I could get from the one crab apple tree that has tasty apples. Most of the apples were well out of reach, but after trying a couple of things, I found I could use the hook at the end of the extended pole pruning saw, at its longest, to grab branches and give them a shake.

Then ducking, so I wouldn’t get beaned in the head. Those things are hard!

Then it was just a matter of gathering them off the ground. The damaged ones got tossed towards the spruce grove, so I wouldn’t have to pick through them again when I had to shake the tree again. With so many apples, I could afford to be picky.

The deer and any other apple eating critters will be in for a treat, tonight!

I got somewhere between 15-20 gallons of apples, and I only shook the tree twice. There are still lots on the tree, but I was out of buckets.

With so many apples, I scrubbed out the wheelbarrow, then used it to give the apples a cursory wash with the hose. The amount in the photo is from the two smaller buckets.

I had to prep a third bin to hold them all.

I love these bins! They interlock to hold together, and even when stacked one on top of the other. They are still just corrugated plastic, though, and can only hold so much before they start bending under the weight while being carried.

For now, the bins are sitting in the dark and relatively cool of the old kitchen. I’ll set aside a bucket for my mother. When she was last here, she insisted in picking apples into her walker, but they were nowhere near ready for picking. They are in their prime right now, and taste so much better. We do have crab apples on some of the other remaining trees, and I do try them every now and then (except the one tree with apples so small, it’s basically an ornamental tree). They don’t taste very good when ripe. When not quite ripe yet, they’re pretty awful. There was one tree that tasted pretty bad right up until the ripened, when they suddenly became tasty and sweet, but that part of the tree died over the winter, leaving only the suckers that had been allowed to grow, so only the not-tasty parts of that tree are still alive. 😕

Tomorrow, I will start de-stemming the apples and cutting them up, and will be using the fermentation bucket from our wine making kit to make a large batch of apple cider vinegar. There will be apples left over, even after taking some out for my mother. We haven’t decided what to do with them. In the past, we’ve made apple jelly, but our Bernardin canning book with the recipes we used is still missing.

I wonder if I lent it out to someone? I can’t remember. I do remember offering to lend it to my SIL, but she just took photos of the recipe she wanted and left the book. I do have other cookbooks with canning recipes, but I’m less sure of their safety.

I suppose I could just go look at their website, but having the book is really handy.

Anyhow, we’ll figure out what to do with the surplus. Then also decide if we want to harvest more, or leave the rest for the birds.

The Re-Farmer

A morning harvest

While the girls worked on the cats’ house, I did my morning rounds. No harvesting in the garden today, but check out this pumpkin!

It’s almost completely changed colour! The second one is just beginning to show the tiniest change in colour at the blossom end, but is otherwise still very dark green.

Once the regular rounds were done, I headed out with some buckets and started our first harvest of crab apples. Mostly, I just shook the branches that I could reach, then picked up what fell.

I got about 10 gallons of crab apples that way. There are still lots on the tree, but I couldn’t reach the branches to shake them. Plus, I don’t have any more buckets available.

After bringing the buckets to the house, I used the hose to fill them with water to do a cursory wash.

I had curious company.

I help!

Then the apples got transferred out of the buckets.

These corrugated plastic bins are the handiest things!!

They have holes cut into the bottom, like what you can see on the sides, but a good layer of shredded paper made sure no apples fell though, while also absorbing water from their rinsing.

Shredded paper is something else we’ve been finding very handy. We shred only paper that is compostable, like fliers and the like. Printers switched to vegetable based inks decades ago, so they’re fine. Just no glossy paper or anything like that. Those go for the burn barrel.

We’ve used the shredded paper as mulch, as compostable layers buried in new garden beds, as a base under tomatoes ripening indoors, and now for crab apples. We even keep the shredder, sitting over a recycling bag on a wire frame holder, in the dining room all the time for convenient shredding.

The first thing we will be doing with the apples is to make crab apple cider vinegar again. That is the fastest and easiest thing to get started. Then we will be making more hard crab apple cider. We have so many crab apples on the one tree this year, we should be able to make more of both this time.

The “mother” left from our previous ACV is still around, but I don’t think it would be safe to use, so I bought some apple cider vinegar with mother to use as a starter. After experimenting with using an airlock or just covering the fermenting jars with cheesecloth, I’m just going to use cheesecloth this time.

The other thing we will be able to do differently this time is to use the big aquarium to hold the fermenting jars. It is already lined with rigid insulation from when we used the space as a greenhouse, so the temperature will remain quite even, and it has cat proof covers over it. It’ll be easier to keep an eye on it in the living room than in the old kitchen.

As for the hard apple cider, we should have enough crab apples to make it worth digging out the wine making kit and using the 5 gallon bucket and carboy for fermentation. We’ll make that decision after the vinegar is started, and we see just how many crab apples we end up with. We’ll probably need to break out the step ladder to pick more apples.

A good problem to have! Especially after having none, last year.

I’m quite looking forward to this!

The Re-Farmer

Future food forest progress

We’ve been having rain off and one, and are still getting storm warnings for today as well. Nothing too excessive; our expected highs and lows are well within average, and the garden beds seem to be really liking it.

After doing my morning rounds, I was able to get the cardboard laid out along the saplings. The pile had been well rained on, which made it easier to lay them out, and less likely to get blown around if we get high winds.

This is the end I started at. The main thing was to get cardboard laid down close to all the saplings – but not too close!. The sticks I added to make them more visible (especially when using the weed trimmer) helped with that. Once all the trees had cardboard around them, I started filling in the spaces in between with what was left of the pile. It started raining again as I was working on it, which I didn’t mind at all. I’d have had to take a hose to it, otherwise.

The Sea buckthorn has all the cardboard they need, and are ready for when we have wood chips to lay on top of the cardboard.

I had enough cardboard to fill in the gaps all along one row, then start on the other, before I ran out. The priority is to cover the two rows, but if I can get enough cardboard, I want to fill in the space between them, too. That might take another 2 loads of cardboard to fill it all in.

We’re going to need a lot of wood chips to cover all this!

Once these bushes are fully grown in, this entire area should be a solid barrier of interlocking branches. There might be enough room to walk between the rows when they are fully grown, but not much. As they are bushes, once a good thick layer of mulch is laid down, they shouldn’t need anything more; they’ll basically be their own mulch, eventually. When we start planting fruit trees in the area, we’ll be working towards planting different edible cover crops into the mulch around them, but there won’t be space for anything like that with these, once they’re filled in.

The space between the saplings and the trees at the fence line is being left open as a lane to drive through. Once the berry bushes are getting to the point where they are starting to form a privacy screen, we’ll start cleaning and clearing up the rest of the fence line. Most of those fence posts in this section need to be replaced, and I want to open up access to it for that, for general maintenance – and to eventually replace the fence with something other than barbed wire! I’d like to also put a gate next to where the sign is, or some sort of fence crossing that will allow us to step over it, rather than trying to get through it. I really hate getting my clothes caught on the barbed wire when trying to go through it! 😀 We’ll figure something out.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Next steps

I just got back from the wonderful person who is letting me take cardboard from her food waste deliveries.

This filled most of the back of the van, with room for me to still see through part of my back window.

The stack looks so small, on the ground! 😀

The next step will be to douse ourselves with bug spray, then go through each of the boxes to remove any tape, plastic labels, etc. Once that is done, we can start laying them around the saplings as a weed suppressant. Priority is around the saplings, but the space between them will also be covered. The cardboard needs to be thoroughly soaked – rain would be very handy right now! 😀 Once we have it, it will be covered with wood chips.

I will easily need at least one more load of cardboard to cover the area, so no hurry on the wood chips right now.

We also got a bonus with this load!

These boxes are corrugated plastic. From the looks of it, they mostly held corn. After they get cleaned off, these will work very well for when we need to store potatoes and other things in the root cellar over winter. 🙂 Plus, as you can see, they easily fold flat for storage. I think I got 10 or so of these. I think they will be very handy for a lot of things!

An extra bonus is, I got to see their baby chickens and turkey, pigs, donkeys and alpaca. They’re already doing a lot of things we are working towards and, once we get our chicken coop built, we’ll be able to buy chicks from them!

I am so happy to have found this family. 🙂

In other things, my husband got notification that my new keyboard was ready for pick up, on Monday. I went to the post office to pick it up and there was no card in the mail box. Today is Thursday, and I stopped by on my way home, but still no parcel.

Once I got home, my husband looked up the order.

It was sent by Purolator.

So while I was unloading the van, my husband called the nearest drop off location, since we are not in their delivery zone. Normally, we would have received an automated call from Purolator, if it was being sent there. When I got back inside, he was on hold – with Purolator. It wasn’t at the drop off location, either.

It turned out to be in the city.

How we were supposed to know that, I have no idea. This information was not included in the delivery notice. It just said that it was delivered.

It’s now being rerouted to the drop off location, and we’ll get a call when that happens.

Places that don’t deliver to PO boxes are a real pain in the butt.

The Re-Farmer

Before the heat hits?

Well, I tried.

I headed outside earlier than usual, to try and get some work done before things got too hot. My goal of the day was to take the weed trimmer to where the berry bushes are. Tomorrow, I’m getting another load of cardboard and plan to lay it down around them as a weed barrier.

This is how it looked when I started.

I shoved the stick into the ground as a post to mark the end one of the rows of bushes.

Can you see the silver buffalo berry?

The row on the left, you can see the sawdust mulch around several of them, but the row on the right just disappears in the trimmed weeds and grass.

I ended up using sticks that were used to hold trellis lines last year, to mark where the saplings are. A few of them got two. They were so buried and trimmed material, I didn’t want to risk accidentally hitting them with the weed trimmer! I’ll be looking to make sure they all have at least two sticks marking each of them, when the cardboard get laid down.

From this end, the two saplings marked in the foreground are the two highbush cranberry.

It took adding one more length of extension cord, but I was able to trim around the sea buckthorn, too.

Since I had the trimmer in the area anyhow, I used it around all the trellises, the hulless pumpkin patch, and the bean tunnel.

The goal was to beat the heat, but I failed. By the time I was working on the bean tunnel, the thermometer attached to it was reading 30C/86F in the sun. Our high of the day is supposed to be 25C/77F, and we are now under a severe thunderstorm watch. When I headed out this morning, we were being warned of possible thunderstorms on the weekend, and just possible showers later today!

I kept at it, though, and was able to use the trimmer around the crabapple trees. The one I’m standing next to, to take this picture, died over the winter and will need to be cut away. There are a couple other sickly ones down the row that need to be removed, and the others need some pruning, but that will have to wait.

I’m hoping to be able to head out again with the lawn mower, set as high as it can go, to finish around the garden area. Even the lowest spot near the branch pile in the background is finally dry enough to mow.

The metal ring in the foreground was something I brought to do burns over old crabapple tree stumps that were infected with a fungal disease. It’s over a taller one that hadn’t been burned completely away. Currently, the ring is full of an ant hill!

We have SO many ants this year!

In other things, whatever happened to our phone last night was no longer an issue this morning. We can use our land line again. I did get an email response from the phone company to try disconnecting all but one phone and seeing if it was still an issue, which I’d done (there’s only 2 lines to disconnect; the extra handset for the cordless phone doesn’t connect to the land line on its charger base). I wrote back to explain that it was working again this morning.

It sounds like there is a short somewhere. Possibly due to rodent damage somewhere. I’m guessing the cause of the problem is outside the house itself. If it’s a short, we could lose our connection again, at any time. In my email response, I did include that possibility. It would require a tech to come and test the lines, though. They’d be able to do that at the pedestals at the fence lines, one of which is hidden by trees in the first two photos at the top of this post, at first. From there, they would know if they have to come to the house and test again or not.

For now, I’m just happy the phone started working again on its own!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden, and first tomatoes!

My morning rounds are taking longer, as I am able to do more in the various garden beds as I go along.

I harvested the largest of the chive blossoms, before they go to seed. While I continued with my morning rounds, one of my daughters washed and de-bugged them, then laid them out on a cooling rack in a baking tray to dry. They are in the oven, with no heat at all, to protect them from the cats. Once the wash water is dried off, we’ll stick as much of them in a jar as we can, with olive oil. Any extras will go in the freezer. Or maybe I should split them into two jars and use them all. There are more chive blossoms to harvest later on, so we’ll have plenty to infuse in vinegar, too.

Speaking of drying things, during the night that cats did manage to get at the stacked screens of drying mint leaves. We’ve lost about 2 screen’s worth of mint leaves to the floor. 😦

When I moved on from the old kitchen garden to check on the squash patch, I noticed one of the giant pumpkins was no longer upright. I thought it might be because it had grown large enough to start leaning over, but I was wrong.

The stem is broken, right at ground level. Possibly from the high winds we’ve been having. Or…

Possibly weakened by the ant hill that has formed on that side of the pumpkin mound!

I built soil up around to support the stem again, in the off chance that it will survive, but with a break that large, I don’t expect it to. We are likely down to just one giant pumpkin plant.

Everything else in the squash patch seems to be surviving so far, and I’m seeing new growth in most. The squash that were started at 4 weeks are so very small, though. I kinda feel like maybe we should have started them at 6 weeks.

I had a very pleasant surprise in the tomato patch nearby, though!

Of course, the camera on my phone didn’t focus where I wanted it to. 😀

We have our first tomatoes forming!

These are on the Sophie’s Choice tomato plants. We got these seeds as a freebie with my order from Heritage Harvest, which was a very pleasant surprise. They have a much shorter growing season, and were started indoors at around 10 weeks or something (it’s a good thing I am using the blog as a gardening journal to record the details, because I’m already forgetting!). So I am not surprised that these are the first to start forming fruit.

We did get some rain last night, but it was light enough that much of the water in the garden was able to get absorbed by the soil, and the paths are just really wet, instead of big puddles of water. That meant I could finally do some much needed weeding in the summer squash bed, then pruning of tomatoes.

I took some of the strongest, healthiest looking branches that I pruned off the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and transplanted them in the open spaces between the summer squash. I don’t know if I’m breaching any companion planting rules here (do tomatoes and squash go well together?), but whatever. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. I specifically wanted to propagate more Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, as they are listed as extremely rare, so if I can save seed and help keep the variety going, that would be a good thing. Because they start producing so much faster than the other varieties we have, I’m not as concerned about cross pollination.

While I was weeding and tending different parts of the garden, I had Rolando Moon hanging out and keeping me company. Not wanting attention. Just being nearby.

I had to chase her out of one of the sweet potato bags, as she decided to start rolling in it! Then she jumped up into the high raised bed and lay down on some onions. THEN, she moved into the squash and corn patch, and sat on some corn seedlings!

That cat seems determined to be destructive!

Meanwhile…

The tomatoes are not the only things blooming. Two of the Styrian hulless pumpkins have suddenly burst into bloom, and they are all covered with buds again. Their first buds had been pruned away when they were transplanted. They look to still be all male flowers. I’m debating whether these flowers should be pruned away, too, so more energy can go to the plants establishing themselves more. It hasn’t been that long since they were transplanted, after all.

Anyone out there know if it would be helpful to prune the flowers off now or not?

The beans and peas at the trellises and bean tunnel are looking quite good. The cucumbers seem more touch and go. The first peas that were planted are getting quite large, and the snap peas are already large enough that some have latched onto the vertical trellis strings already. The snap peas are growing noticeably faster than the pod peas.

There is a single, out of place pea plant that showed up, right near the upright post at the start of the row. It seems to be a pea from last year that finally germinated! It germinated quite a bit earlier than the others, and I’m trying to train it up the support post, since it’s too far from the vertical lines to climb. Last year, we planted the King Tut purple peas here, so that’s what this one would be. It’s even almost as large as the purple peas we started indoors from saved seed, and transplanted against the chain link fence to climb. They are all tall enough that they’ve attached themselves to the fence and are making their way upwards, even though they are still looking kinda spindly.

The Wonderberries have been ripening, though the plants haven’t really gotten any bigger, and have what looks like weather damage. I’ve been able to taste them. They are lightly sweet, but don’t have any predominant flavour. This may be something we just leave for the birds. I’ll have to get the girls to try them, too, and see if they like them. I don’t mind them self seeding in this location, as I’d rather have the berry bushes that produce food, either for us or for the birds, than the invasive flowers.

In other things, my plans for the day have had to change. My sister never made it out to my mother’s yesterday, because my mother told her it was “too soon” to start packing and bagging things in preparation for her apartment being sprayed for bed bugs. She has a shift today, so that’s out. My brother, meanwhile, is out of town for a funeral that had been delayed until now by the lockdowns. So it looks like I’ll likely have to go to my mother’s to help out. I’ll phone her, first, once I’m sure she is back from church. My sister will be able to come out tomorrow morning, and I hope to come out in the early afternoon for the last of the packing and bagging, and moving of larger items. Then she’s back the next morning to bring our mother to her place for the night. I’ll head over in the early evening to check on the place and make sure it’s locked up while my mother is gone.

On Tuesday, I should be heading into the city for the first half of our monthly shopping, too. I will time it so I can check her place on my way home.

Which means I’ll be getting very little accomplished at home over the next few days!

The Re-Farmer

Rescue!

While my husband and I were gone for our medical appointments, my daughter finished watering the rest of the garden beds and transplants, including the trees.

She sent use this sad photo.

One of the Korean Pine was gone! Not only was it dug up, but even the wood shaving mulch was gone! There was nothing left but a hole in the ground.

So disappointing.

When my husband and I got home, my daughter and I headed to town to see what we could find to protect the rest. My original plan had been to pick up some metal mesh garbage cans at a dollar store somewhere – it was a recommended suggestion I found when looking up how to care for the Korean Pine. Somehow, I just never found any.

The local Dollar Store was no different. They’re about half the size if the city stores, so that’s not a surprise.

I did find something else to try.

These are food covers to keep the bugs away while eating outdoors. I picked up 5 of the smaller size for each of the remaining Korean Pine. I used the last of our ground staples on a couple of the, and tent pegs in the rest, to secure them to the ground. Obviously, they won’t stop a determined critter, but they should be enough to keep away any that are not determined!

When I went to where the lost one was, I looked around the area, just in case it was just a critter digging, and that the seedling itself wasn’t eaten or dragged away. There was no sign of it, unfortunately.

With so much open water around this spring, and especially in this part of the outer yard, the mosquitoes are insane. All I could hear was the whining of clouds of mosquitoes. Since I wasn’t going to be long, I didn’t use any bug spray, so I was lunch! As you can imagine, I tried to finish up as quickly as I could. It wasn’t until after I’d covered the remaining Korean Pine and brought the support poles back to the house that I realized I’d forgotten the one by the lost pine. So I battled my way through the clouds of mosquitoes and went back to get it.

Since I was there anyhow, I looked around again. Because once you’re bitten a hundred times, what’s a few more?

I found it!

The poor little seedling was hidden in the grass, just a couple of feet away. I’d walked right past it, at least twice, while looking before!

I quickly replanted it and returned as much of the soil as I could – whatever dug the hole had certainly spread it far and wide! Then I went and grabbed one of the remaining tomato cages and filled a watering can. The tomato cage is now over the seedling, with the support post running through it for extra support, and it has been thoroughly watered.

I intended to get a picture, but I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes, so I ran away as soon as I could!

Hopefully, it will survive it’s brush with whatever dug it up. My thought is it was likely a skunk, digging for grubs, and it dug there because the soil was looser.

So we are back to 6 Korean Pine… and will hopefully stay that way!

The Re-Farmer

Food Forest: Korean pine are in!

My younger daughter planted the last of this year’s tree orders today.

These got planted in the outer yard. Because of how big they get at maturity, we had some issues deciding where to plant them, since we also need to keep a lane open from the driveway to the back gate, plus have open lanes from the garden area, and the fire pit area, gates. Eventually, the old, collapsing fence line on that side of the inner yard is going to be removed completely, and there will be no barbed wire gates at all, but the renter’s cows still sometimes get into the outer yard, so the fence stays for now.

Hard to believe these teeny things will eventually grow at much as 18m/60ft tall, with a spread of 9m/30 feet. It’s that spread that is the kicker. In the end, she planted them in two rows of 3, on either side of the lane from the driveway we want to keep open. We had talked about planting 1 in a corner between the back gate and the garden gate, then the remaining 5 in a row on the west side of the lane we want to keep open, but with spacing them to their mature sizes, that would have put at least one, maybe 2, in an area that is still basically a pond right now. So she winged it.

For now, they are marked with tall stakes, since they are so small they disappear in the tall grass. They are slow growing for their first 5 years, and these are 2 yr old seedlings, if I remember correctly. They are sold out as I write this, so that information isn’t on the website anymore.

If we can manage extension cords from the pump shack, we should be able to get out there with the weed trimmer and clear further around the saplings. We can’t get at some areas here with a lawn mower at all.

I also want to put something around them to protect them. I don’t know if deer will eat them – they don’t seem to bother pine trees – but if the renter’s cows are on this quarter and get through the fence, they might stomp on them or something.

It will be quite a few years before they reach the age to start producing pine nuts, but when it comes to trees, we’re planting for future generations! The main thing is, they are finally in the ground.

Little by little, it got done!

The Re-Farmer