Our 2023 garden: Heritage Harvest seeds have arrived!

These came in really fast!

The top row is all stuff we tried to grow in 2022. The only change is that the Candy Roaster seeds we got for last summer was from Veseys. We should still have some of those left, so if we wanted to, we could try both and see which does better here.

The middle row is also all stuff we tried growing last summer, except for the Chamomile, which is new for 2023.

In the bottom row, the Little Finger Eggplant is a repeat, while the Red Wethersfield onion and Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify are new.

The Lemon Cucumber are our free package of seeds with this order. (Image belongs to Heritage Harvest) I had actually been eyeballing these as something new to try, but had decided against them for now. In fact, I wasn’t sure if we’d try growing cucumbers again at all this year. We did actually get cucumbers, and they would have been enough for our own use – but then my sister gave us massive amounts of cucumbers from her own garden, and we were overwhelmed.

We like cucumbers, but not that much!

Anyhow, if we were to order more cucumbers, it would be another dual purpose type, good for both fresh eating and canning. Now we have these, so we will at least have a fresh eating type! Plus, it’s something we’ve never tried before. I’m looking forward to it!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 Garden: Veseys seed order is in

One more order of seeds is now done! This is actually our second order with Veseys for next year’s garden.

We had intended to order our potatoes from here, as they have varieties we tried two years ago we really liked. Unfortunately, all their potatoes are currently listed as sold out. There were issues with this last year, when no potatoes were allowed to be sold out of PEI. I’d hope that wouldn’t be an issue, this year! This order ended up being just seeds. No trees or other such things that would be shipped in the spring.

One thing I noticed with their new inventory for 2023 is that their seed prices have increased substantially. I’ve seen increased prices across the board and was expecting it, but the increase seems quite a bit higher here. High enough that it actually affected some of our purchasing decisions.

As with our other seed orders, we have purchased a few things we’ve bought before. This includes the Pixie melon that we enjoyed so much the first year we grew melons, but weren’t able to save seed for, Lakeside spinach, one of three varieties we’d purchased as a collection, Lewis green beans and Merlin beets.

These are the new items and varieties we’ve ordered this time. All images belong to Veseys.

Purple Queen Improved Bean

The first variety of purple bush bean we’d ordered before did very well, even under drought conditions. In fact, all the purple items we ordered did better. I didn’t see it listed anymore, so I decided to try this similar one. The description notes that it has “amazing flavour”.

Red Swan Bush Bean.

These are noted for their exceptionally high yields, and long production season. It can be used as a fresh bean or a cooking (shelling) bean. I will have to remember to leave some of them specifically for shelling, while harvesting others fresh, so we can try it both ways.

Custard Bean

A new variety of yellow bush bean to try that’s noted for being prolific.

Yeah, we’ve got a LOT of beans on order this year. I like to have the different colours, and a mix of types to try. With how prolific these and the other varieties are supposed to be, we don’t have to plant a lot of each. There tends to be quite a lot of seeds in each packet, so we can likely have enough to last us 2 or 3 years, at least.

Dalvay Peas.

This variety of shelling pea is noted for its long pods, well filled with at least 10 peas per pod, and sweet flavour. We’ve had poor results with peas for the past two years, due to weather conditions, and I’d really, really love to finally have more than a snack’s worth of fresh peas! 😁

Sarah’s Choice melon.

This variety is described as the most flavourful in Vesey’s trials, and matures in only 76 days. Our first year growing melons was better than expected, while the second year’s melons were flooded out, so I’m really hoping we have cooperative weather for 2023. We really like melons in this household!

Honeyboat Delicata Squash

I’ve been hearing rave reviews for Delicata squash, but I also saw warnings that they were not a good storage squash. So when I saw this variety was noted as high yielding and a great storage variety, I figured it was worth a try!

Talon Onion

I was planning to get the Oneida onion again, but choked at the price increase, so I picked these, instead. They are described as a great storage onion that does well in dry conditions, and matures 85 days after transplant.

Ambition Shallot

I was going to try the Conservor shallots again, but the price increase was even higher than the Oneida onions. There was another variety that interested me, but it was already sold out. We’ve had no luck growing shallots from seed so far. Our first attempts were destroyed by cats, and the second by flooding that even killed off the shallots we planted from sets. This variety is supposed to be easy to grow, and store extremely well. Here’s hoping we succeed this time!

Cheyenne Pepper

While we have quite a few varieties of sweet peppers, my daughter requested we get a hot variety, too. This is a high yielding variety of cayenne pepper that is ideal for growing in a pot.

Naval Carrot

I was happy with the Napoli carrots we’ve ordered before – I got two years out of the amount of pelleted seeds we got. However, their smallest size packets currently available was more than we needed, so I chose this variety, instead. It is described as keeping its sweet flavour even after months in storage, and as easy to harvest.

Espresso Corn

We actually discussed not doing corn again for 2023, and waiting until we had better soil conditions for such a nitrogen hungry plant, but I think I know where I want to grow these where they should do quite well – I hope! This variety matures in only 67 days, which solves another of our problems, too.

Classic Eggplant.

Yes, we have the Little Finger Eggplant, with their long, narrow shape, but I thought it would be good to have the more traditional type as well. It is described as having “tremendous yields”, and matures in only 75-80 days, so they should work out well.

Roma VF Tomato

Yes, we saved seed from the Cup of Moldova Paste tomato, and we do want to keep that rare variety growing, but they weren’t exactly a flavour power house. At least that’s what my daughter tells me (I can’t eat non-processed tomatoes). I still want a paste tomato, so I chose this Roma variety. I don’t know what the VF stands for, but they are supposed to be quite prolific, and mature about 75 days from transplant.

Lemon Grass

Another request from my daughters, for our culinary herb garden. It has a hardiness zone of 8-9, though, so this is going to be grown in a pot, and in a very sheltered area. I know just the micro climate spot to put it in!

German Winter Thyme

This culinary variety (they also had ground cover varieties) is a bit hardier, but still a zone 4 – 8, which means it will likely be in a pot, too.

And that’s it for this order – and for any other orders until next month’s budget! Those most of what’s left that we want to get is stuff like potatoes, and more sea buckthorn to replace the ones that died – stuff that won’t be shipped until spring. Still, we don’t want to wait to long to order them, as I expect things will be selling out quickly.

We’re ordering a lot more seeds than we actually need, but if there’s one thing we learned from our 2022 garden, it’s that it’s well worth planting more than we think will be enough. In fact, we planted with that in mind, and it still didn’t cut it!

Nature can be brutal.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: Baker Creek seed order is in

For most things, I try to order from Canadian seed companies. The chances of success is higher, for starters. Plus, there’s the dollar difference. Baker Creek has some pretty incredible stuff, though, so I’m ordering from them again this year. I don’t know if I’ll keep it up, though; orders higher than $20 will now get charged customs duty. I’ll see how much that turns out to be before I decide if it’s worth buying from the US again.

As with our Heritage Harvest order, there are some things I am ordering again. This includes the Red of Florence onion, Uzbeck Golden carrot (last time, these were the free seeds our order came with), plus both the Kakai and Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins.

New with this order, we will be getting:

Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify

Yes, you read that right. The same variety of salsify that I ordered from Heritage Harvest. And yet, they look quite different, as is the taste description. I figured we can try both and see if there really is a difference, and which one we like better.

Indigo Blue Chocolate Tomato

An indeterminate variety for my tomato loving husband and daughter, for fresh eating.

Black Beauty Tomato

Another variety for my husband and daughter for fresh eating. The description neglects to mention if it’s a determinate or indeterminate variety, but apparently they are extremely tasty, and only 80 days to maturity. The description even says the flavour even improves with room temperature storage.

Sweet Chocolate Pepper

We’re going to have a lot of varieties of peppers this year! These are supposed to mature in 75 days, which should not be a problem for our area. I figure if we grow a few of each variety, we’ll know which ones we like best to narrow it down to in the future.

Well. My husband and older daughter will know. My younger daughter and I don’t like peppers.

African Drum Gourd

Have I mentioned I’m a sucker for punishment? And that I’m determined to grow gourds?

They can reach maturity in 90-140 days, so there is a possibility that it will work here. We have a growing season of about 110 days, on average.

On top of these, our order qualified for 2 free packets of seeds. It should be interesting to see what we get!

So that’s it for our Baker Creek order. I’ll be placing at least one more order for our 2023 before the end of November, but that order will include things that won’t be shipped until spring.

I think these planning stages can be some of the most fun in gardening!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: Heritage Harvest seed order in

It may be the end of November, and I may still be sick, but I can still do at least some garden things!

I got two seed orders in today. This first one is from Heritage Harvest Seed. We ordered from them last year, and I was very happy with them. Plus, they grow their own seeds, and are located even further north than we are, so we can be assured that, barring unusual circumstances (like the flooding we got in 2022!), anything we order there should be able to grow where we are.

Though we do still have seeds leftover for some things, I went ahead and ordered a number of things we ordered last year. Among the things I have re-ordered are: Tom Thumb popcorn seeds (we got none last summer, due to flooding, so for 2023, these will be planted in a completely different location, in a raised bed), Little Finger Eggplant, Canteen, Apple and Yakteen gourds, and Zucca melon (because I’m a sucker for punishment and determined to grow more gourds), Styrian hulless pumpkins and Boston Marrow. I am also getting Georgia Candy Roaster. Last year, we ordered those from Veseys, but I want to try Heritage Harvest’s seeds this time.

New for 2023 are:

Red Warty Thing.

Gotta love that name! I wanted to order these last year, but they were out of stock when I was placing my orders. I wanted to make sure I had some seeds for this year. According to the description, they are great for soups and roasting.

Pink Banana Squash.

This is another one that I had wanted to order last year, but they were out of stock.

Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify.

My older daughter requested we try salsify, because it apparently tastes like seafood. More specifically, according to the description, this variety tastes like oysters. Apparently, they can be very difficult to harvest and break easily, so she plans to grow them in something deep, like garbage cans (we have a remarkable number of garbage cans around here), so they can be just dumped out to harvest.

Red Wethersfield Onion.

Last year, I was torn between ordering these or another type, so I’m trying these ones for 2023. They are noted as being a good storage variety. There are only 50 seeds per packet, so I ordered two.

We’ll be ordering a lot of different onions for 2023. We just can’t seem to grow enough of them!

Chamomile.

Lawn chamomile grows wild where we are, but this is the larger type that is what you would find in the chamomile teas you buy in stores. Over time, we will be planting a tea garden, and this is our first start!

I’ll be doing an assessment of our 2022 garden later, but we had a lot of failures, especially with the squash. It is unlikely we will have the level of spring flooding we had this past spring again next year, so I hope things will have a better chance of surviving. I was really looking forward to trying the different varieties of winter squash we’d planted, but we’ll just have to try again!

The Re-Farmer

Wet, wet morning

While the Western parts of the prairies got walloped with snow yesterday, by the time the system reached us last night, it was rain. Some places even got thunderstorms, apparently.

When I headed out this morning, it was still raining pretty heavily, so not a lot of kitties were coming out for kibble! Quite a few of them were inside the cat house, though, so that was good to see. As I went to switch the memory card for the driveway trail cam, I had to walk on the grass to the side of the driveway because it was covered in water.

We seriously need more gravel on that driveway.

While we have not finished winterizing the sun room, we did get the broken glass cleaned up, so I’ve been allowing the kittens to go in. When I topped up their kibble last night, some of them were still in the sun room, so I rigged the doors so that they were mostly shut, but the kittens could still get in and out. Then, because racoons remain a problem, even if we don’t see them, I used my husband’s walker to brace the kibble bin in its shelf, then took the two big bags of kibble my BIL and his family so generously gave us, and tucked them into the old kitchen.

Well, I forgot to put the breaks on, on the walker! This morning, I found the walker had been pushed aside, and the kibble bin open and almost knocked onto the floor. Thankfully, the bin was only half full, so while it was on its side, hung up on some buckets (with a kitten sitting in the kibble!), the kibble wasn’t spilled onto the floor.

Before moving things around, I’d had a shallow bin, designed to fit under beds, on the top of the shelf we used to hold the kibble bins to catch water from the leaking roof. Well, that shelf isn’t there anymore. I wasn’t expecting it to rain this heavily, so there was just stuff set aside against the wall until we could finish cleaning and winterizing the sun room. I had to move those out – and my husband’s walker that had been pushed that far back – so I could set up a bucket to catch the drips.

I will be so happy when that roof finally gets done, though my brother and I are both on pins and needles, afraid our mother will suddenly decide not to pay for it after all. She tends to do that at the last minute, though, so I expect that once the roofers are actually here and the final bill is being tabulated (the total will likely be higher than the estimate, as I expect them to find rot from leaks that needs to be repaired), she’ll try to refuse to pay it. Much like she tried to do after promising to pay for the movers so we would move out here to take care of the place for her.

There was water on the sun room floor, of course, but it’s a concrete floor and not going to be a problem. Seeing how it all flowed across the room to the opposite corner, though, really shows how much the room has shifted since the concrete was poured, and how much that one corner has been undermined.

Speaking of which…

Something knocked the diverter off the downspout above the rain barrel. It had not been full before, but it sure is now, and was starting to overflow. I got the diverter back in place, so it’s not an issue anymore. Getting that barrel empty and set aside for the winter is going to have to be done soon. The girls are going to have to clean the eavestroughs (aka: rain gutters) out again, too. I did pick up rolls of mesh to cover them, but those won’t be put on until after the roof is done. I also picked up a spray sealant to be used after they’ve been cleaned. There are a couple of places where they are leaking. The roof is supposed to be replaced, but I don’t think that includes the eavestroughs.

Looking at the short range forecast, we’re supposed to get a couple of chilly days, with highs barely above freezing, then it’s supposed to warm right up again for about a week, with several sunny and dry days. That will be a great time to get more progress on things, and to finally be able to finish cleaning out and winterizing the sun room. Cleaning the other half of the sun room will require removing the swing bench, the table saw, and a couple of shelves, along with all the stuff in them, outside. Because overnight temperatures have already been going below freezing in there, all the remaining squash have already been moved to the living room. Some of them are still ripening, so they won’t be going to the root cellar, yet.

In putting the stuff back, we need to keep in mind that we’ll be using the sun room as a greenhouse again in the spring. I want to come up with a way to be able to hang those lights we used last spring, more efficiently. If we do it right, the same set up can then later be used in the fall to hang things like strings of onions and garlic to cure.

Wow. I just realized that, if we’re going to be doing things like starting onions from seed again (which we likely will be), we’ll be needing to get those going in just a couple of months. Onions should really be started indoors in January in our area.

The girls and I will go over how the garden went this year and, taking into account the failures due to flooding and other issues out of our control, what worked, what didn’t, what we want to keep doing, what we will stop doing (if only temporarily), and what we don’t want to ever do again! 😄

We have lots of work to get done before the snow flies, and then lots of planning for next year to get working on.

It’s going to be fun!

The Re-Farmer

Yesterday’s progress: trellises down, and pruning willow

Things turned out to be rather pleasant yesterday afternoon, so I took advantage of it to get some stuff off my to-do list.

First, the trellises.

The netting and bamboo stakes are all put away. I even unwound the blue twine from the pea trellis. We won’t be planting vegetables here again. We’ll be planting food trees and bushes in the area, instead (except for the area over the phone line, wide enough to drive a vehicle through, that we’ll be keeping clear). So, the trellises are coming down!

The five uprights from the pea trellis all broke at ground level. I was able to pull the others straight out of the ground, with only a little big of wiggling. You can tell by the dirty on the ends, which pile has those!

Since I had the materials, I used some of the pieces to make a buck and pole “fence” over the sea buckthorn. Only two have survived, so I only wanted it long enough to go over those. Hopefully, that will dissuade deer from nibbling on them. The gap in the hedge is right near here. One end is far enough out that it should make a deer not want to jump the fence there at all. On the trail cams, I’ve been seeing quite a few deer walking around this corner of the property, so it seems they are already not jumping the fence here much. There is another spot they prefer to jump the fence at.

Later on, I decided it was worth working on the willow. I’m after branches to weave into the wattle wall I’m building in the old kitchen garden, so this is getting two things done at once.

The trunks were barely visible from all the branches that had grown along them. Thankfully, we have an extended pole pruner that I can use for the higher branches, instead of trying to get at them with loppers from a ladder. You can see the vine has climbed it quite a bit, too!

The power line to the house is still not clear of branches. This job will be continued later, and includes the trees on the other side of the chain link fence.

The longest and straightest branches were kept, stripped of side branches and leaves, and a daughter started debarking the biggest ones for me while I pruned more, until it started raining. Then I grabbed a knife and helped debark. Wattle fencing isn’t normally debarked, but I want to debark the branches that are going to have contact with soil – because the last thing I want is for willow to start growing right next to the house! I love willow, but that is not a tree you want close to infrastructure!

There were some really straight, thin branches I kept, too, putting them on the pile of maple and cherry wood that’s already there. Who knows. We might find some use for them.

This is all the branches we got out of there, so far. Not even close to how many will be needed to weave a wall. Only the bottom few inches needs to be tightly woven, as it will be holding soil in, but eventually that will be on all sides, not just the “back” that is the focus to get finished first. The high parts of the back wall are to keep things out, rather than in. It’s going to be a challenge to find enough suitable branches for this!

Today is supposed to be a semi-warm day – with both rain and snow expected – then we’ll have several days with highs just barely above freezing, before it warms up again and stays warm for about a week. Hopefully. At least the rain will keep those willow branches from drying out. I’m hoping to at least get these ones woven in, some time today!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: planting garlic

No, that’s not a typo in the title. Today, I FINALLY planted our garlic for next year.

This morning I first headed out to get my mother checked out of her hotel room, then took her out for brunch – she hadn’t had a proper meal since our take out Chinese food lunch, yesterday! – before taking her home. She did not have the energy to do anything else. I stayed long enough to make her bed up again with fresh sheets and blankets, and push some of the stuff back against the walls, before my mother sent me home. She would not allow me to run any errands for her, even!

Which works out. As soon as could after I got home, I worked on the garlic. The first thing to do was break up the bulbs I’d set aside from our harvest this year.

Would you look at this giant clove!

I had set aside six of the biggest bulbs of garlic we harvested.

Out of those six bulbs, we got a whole 24 cloves.

Twentyfour big cloves, but still… we’re going to need a lot more garlic!

I used broken pieces of bamboo stakes to mark the ends of a row along one side of the prepared bed, then pushed aside the mulch. The soil is loose enough that I could just use a weeding tool to scrape a trough from one end to the other, then deepened it using the jet setting on the garden hose.

Which the kittens were absolutely fascinated by.

Once the garlic was planted evenly spaced down the row and covered, I pulled back a little bit of the mulch. Once things start to get colder, more mulch will be pulled over to cover it for the winter. For now, it’s just enough to protect the row.

From this guy.

This guy and several other little “helpers” that were so determined to dig in the fresh dirt, they ignored the hose I was watering with, until they got sprayed!

Silly things.

Anyhow. Our first garlic for our 2023 garden is in.

I am now going to start making tomato paste for canning, freeing up freezer space for our next stock-up shopping trip.

Little by little, it’s getting done!

The Re-Farmer

My morning buddy, and our 2022 garden: eggplants and slow going

I had such a slow start to the day today. Not a lot of sleep, and when I tried getting up this morning, I lost my balance and almost fell. My husband was up and I ended up asking him to take care of feeding the cats this morning so I could lie down again. Considering it’s because of his own pain levels that he’s up (or not) at odd hours, it takes a lot before I ask him to take over like that. I have a theory on what’s going on and will be testing it over the next few nights. If I don’t follow up on that later, it will be because nothing changed.

When I finally did get out, the kitties had full bellies, which means I had company during my rounds!

Especially as I went up the driveway to check the gate and switch out the memory card on the gate cam. The new camera, with its direct solar power and battery backup, has the batteries still at 100%! The other two trail cameras are at about half, and both have had their batteries changed at least once, since we got the new camera.

I’m not actually all that happy that the kittens follow me to the gate. I don’t want them wandering to the road, so I try to pick them up if I can. At one point, I was carrying the three amigos, all at the same time. Interesting that the three most socialized kittens like to stay together the most, too. I can’t say it’s because they are all from the same litter, because the fourth one of that litter is more or less indifferent to its siblings, while the muted calico, from an older litter, still likes to hang out with these three the most. That one is a lot more socialized now, too. It still runs off at time, but more often than not, we can pet it and even pick it up for cuddles.

I worked on the garden bed I intend to plant the garlic in last night, but didn’t get very far.

This is where I left off when my back started to give out.

I really look forward to when we have more high raised beds!!!

I removed the grass clippings mulch and loosened the entire bed with a garden fork first, then started working my way around, pulling out as many crab grass rhizomes and other weeds as I could. The job was made much more challenging, because the kitten in the earlier photo decided it absolutely had to be on my back while I worked! When I straightened up, she would climb up to perch on my shoulder until bent down again.

I managed just over half the bed. I found the soil to be much improved, easy to work into with the garden hoe – though I’m still hitting rocks – and filled with worms. Compaction, however, is still a problem.

Once I’ve got more of the roots and weeds removed, I’ll use the soil sifter to get more out. I plan to dig a trench down the middle. The summer squash bed is right next to it. I’ll be pulling those up and burying them in this bed as a soil amendment. After the garlic is planted, the grass clipping mulch will be returned. The summer squash bed will be ready to work on next.

Things are going much more slowly than I expected, and it’s basically because of pain. Yes, I pain killer up before I start, I’m just taking your basic painkillers. They’re not particularly strong. I’m the sort of person where pharmaceuticals tend not to work as expected to begin with, and typically need double the dose to maybe get the same effect as a regular dose on someone else. It’s the same thing with the painkillers dentists inject before working on a tooth – something I discovered the hard way when I was in 5th grade. I still remember the dentist working on a cavity. I had my eyes squeezed shut in pain and was clutching the arm rests when the dentist made a snarky comment about opening my eyes, it’s not that bad. I did open my eyes, glared at him – and broke one of the arm rests. I was an adult before I dared go to a dentist again. As an adult, the dentists would actually listen to me when I told them there was still pain.

So… yeah. I do have an extremely high pain tolerance because of this, and can typically just keep working through all sorts of pain. That’s getting harder and harder to do as I get older. The problem is, there’s really no one else to take over. My older daughter has joint problems that has lead to injuries that just won’t heal, so there’s only so much she can do, and both of them have back problems that won’t go away unless they both get reduction surgery (as I did, more than 20 years ago: best thing I ever did!!!), but neither of them trust doctors. At all. They’ve seen the BS my husband and I have put up with over the years. Since we’ve moved back to this province, we’ve found health care has gotten even worse during the almost 15 years we were away. So while they can help, all four of us are just really gimpy. Plus, my older daughter has her commissions to work on, so she gets paid, and isn’t available as much. They both also take care of the inside stuff for me, so I’m free to work on the outside stuff – an arrangement I am quite happy with. Still, the way things are going, I’m going to have to ask them to help me with the outside stuff more. It’s frustrating. When we first moved here, I was able to get much more work done in much less time. I did not expect my body to give out that much in so few years!

Ah, well. It is what it is.

I’ll be taking pain killers and heading back out soon.

On another note, we had another small harvest this morning.

I decided it was time to pick the Little Finger eggplant. I actually found one more little one, after I took this picture. These are all from just one plant. None of the others matured enough to produce anything. I had intended to leave them for longer, but last night we dropped to 2C/36F. We were only supposed to drop to 6C/43F, so I didn’t try to cover them for the night. They don’t look frost damaged, but with how messed up the forecast has been, I figured it was time. This variety is meant to be picked while still relatively small and glossy – maybe a bit bigger than the largest one I’m holding.

In talking with the girls about what to plant next year, we are thinking of trying 3 varieties of peppers, and I’d like to try this variety of eggplant again. However, we will need to work out better protection for them. My older daughter is wanting to save up for a type of greenhouse that is specifically designed for our extreme temperatures. Something like the polycrub that Stone Croft Skye has. Before then, I hope to pick up a decent sized portable greenhouse, or maybe a smaller one to use for our seedlings. We have GOT to come up with something better for starting seeds. We had to spend way too much effort to protect them from cats, making for less than ideal growing conditions.

That is something to think about later, though. For now, we need to clean things up and get beds prepared for next year, first.

The Re-Farmer

How they turned out

Last night, after saving some for planting next year, I picked over the blue grey speckled tepary beans we grew, then left them to soak overnight. I ended up using all of the remaining beans.

This is how they looked after shelling.

After soaking overnight, they looked like this.

The got a bit bigger, but not by much, really.

I was going to use them in a soup, and decided to cook them separately, first. This is how they looked after being cooked al dente.

The colour is off because the camera got steamed up. They did lose a lot of their colour, and I noticed they turned the water quite grey, so I’m glad I decided to cook them separately, first. Otherwise, they would have turned my soup grey!

I was going to make a cream of chicken soup, but ended up making an “everything but the kitchen sink” soup. My daughters had roasted several whole chickens, with our own potatoes, a couple of days ago. Today, I deboned what was left of them, and used the remaining roasted potatoes in the soup, too. I also used a couple of yellow onions from the garden, the single shallot I’d picked yesterday, the last bit of slab bacon we had, and all of the Kyoto Red carrots, since there were so few of them. The tiny sweet potato harvest was used up, along with the last of our summer squash – green and yellow zucchini, and yellow patty pan squash. Corn kernels, cut from the cobs, went into the pot, as well as some of the tomato sauce I’d made recently. After everything was cooked, I took the immersion blender to it for a while, adding in some whipping cream at the same time. The very last thing was a handful of shredded cheddar cheese.

I tasted the beans after they were cooked, and they tasted like… beans. 😁 I had not added any seasonings of any kinds, so they were as plain as plain could be. Once in the soup, I honestly couldn’t taste them at all. They did add a nice texture, though, and the ones that got hit with the immersion blender helped thicken things a bit. I like my soups hearty and thick!

I think they worked out rather well, but… well… Aside from what I took out to plant next year, that was an entire year’s harvest, used up in a single pot of soup! 😂 I’ve set aside twice what we planted this spring. Between that and if we get a better growing year, it would be nice to have a much better harvest next year! I also have some beans my mother gave me. I don’t know the name of them, but they are a small (though bigger than the tepary beans) white bean that she grew every year from her own seeds. She’d given some to my sister, who grew them for years. She doesn’t grow beans anymore, so she brought a pasta sauce jar – just shy of a quart – full of seeds to my mother. My mother has no plans to grow them, in her little garden plot, so she gave them to me! They’re a few years old, but there should still be a decent germination rate. Which means that, next year, we should have two different types of shelling beans to grow.

The more, the better!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: harvesting carrots and red onions and cleaning up

I took advantage of the lovely temperatures (and being in less pain) to do some more clean up in the garden. Earlier in the day, my daughter and I drove into town so she could get a new photo to renew her driver’s license, while I popped across the street to pick up a few things at the grocery store. I was thinking of making a cream of chicken soup and was about to buy some carrots, when I remembered…

We have carrots. They’re just still in the dirt.

So I went over to where the chocolate cherry tomatoes had been planted, and pulled up the Napoli (orange) and Kyoto Red (dark orange) carrots – and a single shallot! I also dug up the red onions from sets that were planted with the yellow pear tomatoes.

The new soil sifter came in handy! 😁

I’m actually surprised that we got so many decent sized carrots. The Kyoto Red were pretty small – there were two I left behind because they’re blooming, and I hope to collect some seeds. I used up the last of the Kyoto Red seeds, but I think I still have some Napoli pelleted seeds left. Those really did far better than I expected.

Then there’s that single, solitary shallot!

There were actually two more, but they also bloomed, and I’m waiting for the seed heads to dry before collection.

As for the red onions…

Most of them aren’t any bigger than the sets we planted in the first place. Given how spindly the greens were, I thought they might be rotted out, or at least soft, but nope: they are quite firm. They’re just really tiny. I think they were simply too shaded by how massive the yellow pear tomatoes got.

I was going to take them in and was trying to figure out where I could lay them out to dry a bit, until I thought to check the weather again.

We’ll be having at least a couple relatively warm nights, and no rain is expected. I just spread them out on the soil sifter and will leave them out overnight. Tomorrow, I should be able to brush the dirt off more easily, before bringing them inside.

With that in mind, I think I’ll soak some of those blue grey speckled tepary beans overnight, to include with some our garden’s carrots and onions in my soup!

Once these were gathered, I worked on taking down the hoops in the main garden area, as well as the mesh and supports over the spinach in the old kitchen garden. The spinach is a loss. They germinated, and then got mostly yellow and stopped growing.

With the mesh and netting, I laid them out as straight as I could on the ground, then rolled them up around whatever straight sticks I had that were long enough.

You wouldn’t believe how difficult that is with a yard full of kittens!

The twine I used got salvaged, too, and the shorter pieces came in very handy to tie off bundles of netting, mesh, supports and hoops.

We have a few more warmer days, and my priority right now is to get the empty bed in the main garden area prepped, and then plant our fall garlic. When we go into the city next for our stock-up shopping, I hope to pick up more hardneck garlic to plant. It’s a bit too late to order them like we have for the past couple of years.

Once that is done, I plan to work on building up some of the beds in the old kitchen garden. I have ideas for those that I hope will work. If I get at least one of those done over the next few days, that will give us a prepared bed to plant any garlic I pick up later on. There’s still the beets to harvest from that garden, but I suspect those will be going straight to compost.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer