Our 2022 garden: harvesting squash and corn

Well, the last of the stuff that needed to come in before tonight is done – at least as much as possible. The girls and I put bottles with warm water under the eggplants in the grow bag (the only ones fruiting) and, since they were right there, with the sweet potatoes, too. The eggplant and one grow bag with sweet potato got covered, but the sheet wasn’t big enough to cover the other two grow bags. The apple gourd also got bottles of warm water placed beside them, but we could only cover two of the three plants, so we covered the two biggest ones. As I write this, we are down to 9C/48F, and it’s supposed to keep dropping until we reach 1C/34F at about 7am. Between 6 – 8 am tends to consistently be the coldest time of day.

While I was harvesting earlier, I went ahead and grabbed a bunch of the Latte sweet corn, too. I don’t think they are quite at their peak, but I think they’re about as good as we’re going to get. There are still cobs on the stalks that were pretty small, so I left them be.

With the summer squash, I grabbed all the little – but not too little – patty pans, and the last of the zucchini.

In the above photo, the six pumpkins across the top are the Baby Pam pumpkins. The others are all hulless seed pumpkins. On the far left are four Styrian, in the middle are six Lady Godiva, and on the right are two Kakai. Tucked in with the patty pans are two Boston Marrow. There are so many little Boston Marrow squash forming, but they are just too small and have no chance of ripening after being picked. I’m not even sure Boston Marrow does continue to ripen after being picked!

The pumpkins are now all set up in the sun room. We cleared a shelf in the window, and all but one of them fit in there. The last one joined the onions on the screen. I think it should still get enough light there.

The hulless seed pumpkins are grown just for their seed, not their flesh. The flesh is probably edible, but there would be less of it than for an eating pumpkin. I will give them time before we crack any open to see what the seeds are like. At least we do have the one tiny, fully ripe kakai pumpkin harvested earlier that we could try any time we feel like it.

We planted so many different winter squash, and it was such a horrible year, I’m thankful we have as much as we do. Hopefully, next year, we will have better growing conditions. I made the mistake of calling my mother before I started this post, and talking about our garden. I mentioned that our beets did not do well this year. She started lecturing me on how to grow beets, and how they need to have the soil loosened around them, etc. I told her I knew how to grow beets (this is not our first year growing them!); they just didn’t do well this year. We didn’t even get greens worth eating. My mother then launched into how she always had such big beets, and always had such a wonderful garden (this after she’d mentioned to be before, that some years things just didn’t work) and how she only grew the “basics” and everything was just so wonderful – and the reason my beets failed was because I don’t garden like she did, and that I shouldn’t be gardening “from a book”. Whatever that means. I reminded her that I tested the soil and it is depleted. We don’t have good soil here anymore. She got sarcastic about that, and basically made it like my not having a perfect garden like she did was because I’m not doing things her way. As she got increasingly cruel about it, I called her out on it. I told her that just because she can’t understand something like soil science – which she doesn’t need to – that didn’t make it okay for her to be cruel to me over something she knows nothing about. Nor would I put up with being treated like that. I even asked her, why couldn’t she try being kind for a change? Maybe say something like “I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems”, instead of basically saying “I’m better than you.” She went dead silent, so I changed the subject, and the rest of the conversation went okay. Then she cut the call short because she saw the time, and her program on TV was started, so she had to go.

My mother is pretty open on what her priorities are. 😕

Ah, well. It is what it is. I’m just so thankful she is no longer our “landlord”, and that my brother now owns the property. There was a point, before the title was transferred, that we briefly but seriously considered moving out because of her.

Funny how something as ordinary as gardening can bring out the worst in her, though.

The weird thing is, when I spoke to my brother after he’d visited her to talk about the roofing estimates, apparently my mother had lots of positive things to say about how well we’re taking care of things here.

I guess that doesn’t include the garden! 😄

Well, I guess I should go see what I can do about that corn! 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: pumpkins picked, and what shall we do?

When doing my rounds this morning, I brought the wagon and some pruning shears to finally pick the giant pumpkins.

Plus a few patty pan squash.

One of the pumpkins still has a bit of green, so they are sitting in a shelf by a window to cure and continue to ripen. They are big enough that the kittens shouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been closely looking at the other squash that are developing. Especially some of the hulless pumpkins, which are the furthest along. The longer they stay on the vine to ripen, the better, but…

I don’t know if I should just pick them all and bring them in, along with the last of the tomatoes and onions.

Looking at the Accuweather forecast on my phone, we’ll have chilly nights, but not cold enough for frost until well into October. The low for tonight is expected to be 5C/41F, BUT… when I look at the hourly forecast, it says we will reach 0C/32F by 5am tomorrow. Which means frost by morning.

Going online to the Accuweather website, however, the coldest we’re supposed to get overnight is 8C/46F by 8am. Most of the night will be 9C/48F. Not a chance of frost there.

Looking at the forecast on my desktop’s app, it says we’ll hit a low 2C/36F tomorrow night. Cold, but not likely to have frost.

I’m also not seeing any frost warnings for our area, yet.

The problem is, there are no weather stations being used for these forecasts. The closest one is also closer to the lake, so that can change conditions dramatically. Others are to the north and south of us, and far enough away that both can have quite different conditions that we do at any given time. We just don’t get accurate forecasts for our specific area, which makes it hard to plan what to harvest, or allow to ripen more!

Do I take a chance and let things be? As I write this, we are at 16C/61F, and are expected to reach a high of 19C/66F. It’s quite lovely. But those overnight temperatures… those are the potential killers.

Just to throw a wringer into the thought process, I am not feeling well today. I had a much disturbed night, partly from having to spend way too much time in the bathroom (which I now know is a side effect of the new medication my doctor is trying me on), and partly cat disturbances. We did a dump run and a trip into town today, and I had to get my daughter to drive, mostly because I was afraid I might fall asleep at the wheel. As if that isn’t enough, the weather changes are wrecking havoc on my arthritis, and I just plain hurt. Not that it matters. What needs to be done, needs to get done. It’s just a matter of figuring out what needs to be done now, or later!

The Re-Farmer

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: morning harvest, curing onions, and a garden tour video

I did recordings for a garden tour video on Sept. 10 – the date for our average first frost – and meant to post the finished video yesterday. I ended up leaving my computer on all night while the video uploaded to YouTube, only for it to not process. Which meant I had to close it and start over.

It really irritates me that YouTube will let you upload something for hours, but if the processing fails, there’s nothing there. All that time, lost!

But it’s done, and here it is! Our September garden tour video – and it’s much shorter than my last one!

This morning, I got a small harvest.

It seemed strange to pick those tiny, misshapen Purple Beauty peppers, but they are ripe, so leaving them isn’t going to help anything.

I picked the largest G-star patty pan and could have picked more, but decided to let them get bigger. I’m so glad those are finally producing.

There was just one cucumber to pick and I didn’t even try to pick any pole beans. What little is left can be left to dry on the vine. I was able to pick a decent number of Cup of Moldova tomatoes, but the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes seem to have just stagnated. They’re not really ripening. I suppose when the time come, and we pick the remaining green ones to finish ripening indoors, they will still be fine.

The onions that had been left on the netting overnight are now set out to cure out of direct sunlight. We are supposed to get rain in a few days, so if they still need time to cure, they will be protected under the canopy tent. We’ll be able to braid the Red of Florence onions, but will have to use a mesh bag to store the yellow onions, and even the ones that still have greens on them, the greens aren’t strong enough to handle being braided.

The next big job in the garden is to harvest the Brigit potatoes. I’m not looking forward to it, after how difficult it was to harvest the small bed of Caribe potatoes, and how few potatoes there were. It’s going to be a lot of work for little return.

Not today, though. I’m rather sore from digging this morning. I seem to have pulled something in my neck while wresting with that rock, and it’s starting to hurt pretty bad. 😕

Time to pain killer up and work on something more sedentary for now.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: dead plants, and a disappointing harvest

I didn’t head out to do my morning rounds, other than feeding the cats outside, until after I got back from town with Leyendecker, so it was more afternoon rounds than morning!

There were a couple of pleasant firsts that I found in the garden.

This is our very first canteen gourd! Until now, there have been nothing by male flowers. I don’t think it actually got pollinated, but even if it did…. well, it’s September, so there’s no growing season left for it.

I wonder how these would have done, if we hadn’t had such a horrible spring? I wouldn’t mind trying them again. This year was so bonkers, I can’t use it to judge if we can actually manage to grow them here.

It’s the same with the luffa.

Male flowers have finally started to bloom!

Too late for these female flowers. They’re already done, and the developing luffa is going to just dry up and fall off.

There is hope for these ones, though.

Now that the clusters of male flowers are starting to open, there will be flowers available to pollinated these developing female flower buds.

Not that it matters too much. There isn’t enough growing season left. These were started so early indoors, because they need such a long time for the sponges to develop and dry out. They should have been blooming by July, not September!

Ah, well. Something else I wouldn’t mind trying again.

One of the disappointments of the day was found when I took a closer look at the one G-Star patty pan squash plant that was drooping.

It was drooping because the stem was severed! Looks like cut worm damage.

*sigh*

Of course, this happened with the one plant that had the most developing squash on it.

I did get an okay harvest, at least.

Those green beans are both pole beans and bush beans planted with the sweet corn.

What a pain those were! The grass clipping mulch will be great for the plants, but the grass stuck to the beans like crazy. Once they got into the colander, the grass clippings spread to all the other beans, too. Rinsing them off with a hose wasn’t enough. I ended up dumping the beans in a bucket of water, twice, before I could finally get the grass off. Even after swishing them in the water, every bean pod I pulled out ended up with grass floating on top of the water stuck to it, and I still had to hose them – and my hands – off to get rid of it. Who know grass clippings and bean pods would act like Velcro?

There were a few ripe Cup of Moldova tomatoes ready to pick. Those got cleaned off and went into the freezer with the rest.

Now that we’ve brought Leyendecker home from the vet, and I was able to use my daughter’s card to pay for it, we no longer have to delay our city stock up shopping. I still have the tomatoes taking up space in the freezer, though, and I just haven’t had time time to make the tomato paste; it needs to be tended pretty constantly for the hours it will take to get to the right thickness, and too much has been going on. I’ll probably have to split things into two trips, though, so I can make sure the first trip doesn’t have a lot of stuff for the freezer.

Later in the day, I was back out in the garden to see what I could get out of the Caribe potato bed.

This is an earlier variety, and they’ve looked ready to harvest for some time.

The potatoes never grew well, and quite a few never sprouted at all, due to all the flooding we had. I wasn’t expecting much.

The first thing to do was to pull back the straw mulch.

Oh, dear!

What you are seeing in the straw is a whole lot of slugs! I’ve never seen so many slugs all at once before. The whole bed was like this.

The next problem was trying to use the garden fork to dig around where I knew the potatoes had been planted.

We’ve used this bed once before, couple of years ago. I remember digging around in it. What I don’t remember is there being SO many rocks. It was almost impossible to get the fork into the ground, even with how much softer it was with the mulch. What I did manage to turn was full of healthy, active worms, at least, but there is no way we can grow in this spot again, as is. If we ever do, it will have a raised bed on it.

Not that it mattered, in the end. This is all the potatoes I found.

I planted more than I took out. Those two largest potatoes? They’re all chewed up by slugs. One of them is practically hollow.

I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s still disappointing.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely the other two varieties will be much better. The Bridget are looking ready to harvest, too – what little there is. The All Blue are a late season variety, and some of them are still blooming, but…

*sigh*

With how successfully my mother was able to grow potatoes here, I had really hoped for better results. Yes, the flooding this spring did its damage, but it’s been a lot of years since anyone’s been picking rocks out of the garden. A lot of years with the frosts heaving more and more rocks to the surface. For it to be so rocky, I couldn’t get my garden fork to dig more than a couple of inches is just insane.

Potatoes are one of those staple crops we want to grow in large quantities for winter storage. Quantities that are more than what we could do in the raised beds we plan to build. With so many rocks in our soil, we still will need to build things up quite a bit to be able to have any crop worth mentioning.

It may be more efficient to get indeterminate varieties and grow in potato towers, instead.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden

Thanks to my daughters taking care of feeding the yard cats for me, I got to sleep in a bit, after a late night of getting the hard crab apple cider started. I’ve been pretty good about getting to bed at around midnight of late, so I’m not as used to being up past 2am anymore. 😄

I am really enjoying checking the garden while doing my morning rounds. The Red Kuri squash are ripening nicely, and the chocolate cherry tomatoes are slowing turning colour.

I’m a bit surprised these are taking so much longer, considering they get more sunlight than the Yellow Pear tomatoes, which we’ve been able to harvest for a little while now. My older daughter, for whom I bought this variety for, is really looking forward to trying them.

I remembered to get a picture of the newly supported kulli corn and Yellow Pear tomatoes. You can see some of the corn is still leaning way over. Those stalks are from the middle of the bed, and I wasn’t able to do much to add support in there. The tomatoes had all been leaning into the pathway, too, but I managed to straighten them up and add more support to their tops, and now the pathway can be walked in again!

I just love the look of these Ozark Nest Egg gourds! They are doing so well. I was even able to hand pollinate a couple more this morning.

While seeing what else could be pollinated, I was happy to see the G-Star squash I’d hand pollinated seems to have taken. I was able to hand pollinate another Boston Marrow and a couple Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins, too.

I was able to collect a far larger harvest this morning than I expected. The larger colander I use for harvesting was not available. Usually, that’s not an issue, as the smaller one is quite enough – but I didn’t expect to be picking more tomatoes this morning! I ended up having to use my pockets, too. 😄

There were more pole beans to pick than last time – and from the looks of some of them, a few got missed before! I was happy to pick more Magda squash, and to have one green zucchini ready to pick.

The tomatoes are all Cup of Moldova, and they went into the freezer with the rest. We still had some Sophie’s Choice that I picked yesterday, and they are now sliced and dehydrating in the oven.

Today is the last business day of the month: payday. Normally, I’d be in the city right now, doing more of our monthly stock up shopping. We are still good from the trip I did on the weekend, and we need to process the tomatoes in the freezer to free up space, so the trip can wait a bit longer.

I think, however, I might still make a jaunt into town. My husband’s birthday is coming up, and he wants a pizza night for his birthday. 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: progress

With all the rain we’ve been having lately, the garden is loving it. Who would think, after all that flooding in the spring, that would even be an issue?

The Red Kuri winter squash is doing so well, and starting to turn colour. We have a little more than 3 weeks before our average first frost. We may just have enough time for these to fully ripen.

The other squash are blooming and growing like they should have, in the spring. I’m still holding out for a long, mild fall so we can at least get summer squash, if not more winter squash!

The variety of sweet corn we have is not particularly tall, but these are still quite a bit shorter than they should be – but they are putting out tassels, which means we should be seeing silks, soon too. Even the Tom Thumb popcorn is perking up. Those only grow to about 2 ft high, and some of them are almost there. They are sending out tassels, too. Their cobs only grow a few inches long.

We might actually have corn this year!

This is my big surprise. The tiny, barely making it, eggplants are blooming, too! Well. One of them is. I thought these ones were a complete loss. They probably still are, but one can hope!

The paste tomatoes are really starting to turn nice and red. We’re at the point where I’m wondering if I should start harvesting most of them and letting them finish ripening inside. Less chance of critters getting to them before we do, but then we’d have to find ways to keep the inside cats out of them.

I’ll be harvesting more tomorrow. It’s still mostly beans, but I should be able to pick a fair number of cucumbers, too. We don’t have enough to warrant trying to pickle them, but enough to make some cucumber salads! It’s the same with the beans. There’s more than we can eat in a day or two, but not enough to make it worthwhile to break out the canner. One of my daughters has just been blanching and freezing the excess for now. It’ll be when we do the tomatoes that we’ll finally get into some serious processing. 😊

What a mix of things doing well, things failing, and things struggling in the garden this year.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: last seeds starts – for real this time!

Okay, I went ahead and did it. I got one more tray of seeds started.

Most of them are summer squash.

I also decided to start the only 4 King Tut Purple Peas I was able to save last year. They did not do well at all in the drought, but they bravely tried!

The seed tray holds 32 square pots, and I wanted to plant just one seed per pot. I decided to start only 4 each of the Magda (a mottled light and dark green squash), yellow zucchini (Goldy)…

… and green zucchini (Endeavor). With these summer squash, I want to also try direct sowing more, and see if that makes any difference.

That left room to plant 8 each of the patty pans; Sunburst and G Star.

It occurred to me after I uploaded the pictures that I should have just planted each flat of 4 x 2 pots with one type, instead of two long rows of the patty pans. 😀 Ah, well, The flats will come apart easily when it’s time to transplant.

The tray then went straight into the sunroom, covered to keep them moist until they germinate. As you can see by the one that got pushed to the back, it’s working rather well.

There we are. Done. No more seeds will be started indoors.

Honest.

😉

The Re-Farmer