Okay, this is a first. Planting something in April!
We had a bed prepared and covered with plastic over hoops for the soil to warm up more, so that is where I started. All of the carrot seed tape we made fit into the bed, with even a bit of room to spare. After that, another bed was finally prepared and covered with more plastic, and in a couple of days, it will get spinach planted in it.
I tried an experiment this time, setting up an old phone to take a time lapse video of both jobs.
Plus some random cat appearances.
The time lapse made for a short video. I hope you enjoy it!
Yesterday, we made some seed tape, and – best of all! – were able to do some outdoor garden prep. While the main garden area is still buried in snow, the south yard’s garden beds are almost completely clear of snow, and even thawing out a bit.
I was going to post progress pictures, but I need to conserve storage space on WordPress until I go back and resize more old photos. I might do a start-to-finish photo video, instead. Until then, here it is! The L shaped wattle weave bed in the old kitchen garden is DONE!!
The insides of the woven walls were first lined with grass clippings. It turned out to be a very windy day, which made that job more challenging then it should have been!
Next, I used a hoe to make a trench down the middle, pushing the soil up against the grass clippings. The cardboard from the sun room I’d set aside for the burn barrel came in handy, as it was suitable for lining the bottom of the trench. With the bed being so narrow, the size of the boxes didn’t matter as much, since I had to cut them to fit, anyhow. The cardboard then got a soaking.
Next came a layer of corn stalks reserved from the garden clean up, which got a soaking. I raided the compost pile of half rotted kitchen scraps to put on top of the corn stalks, followed by a soaking. Then I raked some leaves off the grass nearby and added that on top, which then got a soaking. At this point, I climbed in and walked back and forth over it, to crush the organic materials. Whatever we decide to plant here next year, I don’t want the roots to be finding big gaps in the soil and drying out.
Finally, I headed out and uncovered the pile of garden soil we bought a couple of years ago. The cover kept the pile from washing away, but didn’t keep the light out, so the pile was covered with a matt of weeds!
I also realized the “tarp” I’d found to cover the pile had channels in it. We’d noticed them when we first dug it out, but only recently did I find the carport support peaces my brother said was in the hay loft. Some time after that, I’d dug out a tarp I thought we might be able to use to cover the hole in a shed roof, but when I unrolled it, I saw it was part of the carport. I figured it was a roof sheet or something, since it isn’t that big. Now I realize that this piece was part of it, too. So I dragged it off and lay it out on the lawn, with weights to keep it from blowing away. We’ll hose it down and see what we can do with it. The first sheet I’d found had a row of tears in it. This one does not.
I’ll have to find something else to cover the garden soil pile with.
It took 4 1/2 wheelbarrow loads of sifted soil (to get as many weed roots out as I could!) to cover the whole thing. In the process, I had to stuff more grass clippings higher up the wattles, so the soil wouldn’t fall through the gaps.
No, this time I did NOT give it a soaking! I didn’t want to compact the soil.
By this time, several hours had passed, so I took a break for a lunch the girls prepared for me, then it was back to work. There was a little bit of grass clippings left, so that got scattered over the soil – at least what the wind didn’t blow away while I was trying to spread it evenly! I then raked up and added a mulch of leaves. That did get a soaking, to keep the wind from blowing it away. Finally, I grabbed the wagon and filled it with as much wood chips as it would hold without spilling as I pulled it back. It turned out to be just barely enough to cover the entire bed with a thin layer.
Once that was done, the entire bed got a very thorough soaking. I wanted all the layers to be good and damp. I might even soak it a couple more times, before our highs start dropping below freezing. We hit a high of 18C/64F today (though with that wind, it didn’t feel like it!), but tomorrow our high is expected to be only 6C/43F, and that’s the warmest day we’ve got left. We are expected to have less than a week with highs above freezing. Which isn’t too bad, for November.
Anyhow. The more the bed gets moistened before things start to freeze, the better it will be for spring. With all the layers, the bed got filled to the top of the shortest walls. My intention was to have it a bit lower, and that will happen as the layers settle and the organic matter decomposes. I expect it to drop at least a couple of inches over time.
While working on this bed, I spent a lot of time going over and around the rectangular bed we’d planted beets in. Once the L shaped bed was done, I decided to work on that one, too. It is framed with logs, and I’d like to raise it a bit higher. This is how it looked, at the start.
The first year we had a bed in this space, it was a sort of triangle shape that was too wide at the end near the house. My daughter and I changed the shape of it, then grabbed some pieces of smaller dead spruces that had been cleaned up, to frame it on three sides and keep the soil in place. We planted carrots here last year, which the groundhogs decimated repeatedly. Amazingly, we still got a crop out of it. This year, we planted beets, which failed. Sort of. I’ll talk about that in a separate post!
There is a pink rosebush on the left, and this year – after pruning away more branches from the ornamental apple trees – it finally had substantial growth and huge numbers of flowers.
It’s amazing what a little sunlight will do!
This year, when we covered the rectangular bed, I had a board across the end by the rose bush to hold the mesh down, but otherwise, there’s nothing there. The ground slopes downwards from the house, so that end is lower than the end closer to the house.
That will be built up.
The first thing I did was dig a shallow trench across the bed near the rose bush. I still had some short logs I’d brought over for tiny log bed and border that didn’t get used (you can read about that here, here and here. Links will open in new tabs, so you don’t lose your place. 😊) I placed one of the shorter logs across, in the trench. Then I pounded in three stakes at each corner, to create upright supports. When I find logs long enough, they will be placed between the stakes. I want the long sides to go on top of the cross piece closer to the house, with a second cross piece to fit in between them, but have it the opposite way on the low side. One of the current side logs is a fair bit shorter than the other, but I think I find find something to fill the gap.
Though I plan to make the bed only one log higher, with the rose bush getting so big, the wall beside it is probably going to be three or four logs high to keep the branches out of the garden bed. I forgot to take a picture, but I’ve already added another log to that end. It’s slightly longer than the one in the photo, so that it is overlapping the longer side log. When I find a gap filling piece for the bottom, it will be tucked under that second log. The second log isn’t as thick as the bottom one, so I tied off the pair of uprights on either side of the ends, to secure them, and will do the same with each log that gets added. I made sure those pairs of upright supports where the tallest and strongest, since they’ll be holding the most logs.
And that was enough for today! I need to go hunting for long enough logs for those sides. If I can’t find any that are suitable, we might add more of those support stakes and use shorter logs instead. We have plenty of short ones that couldn’t be chipped, that were cut to roughly four foot lengths. The bed, however, is about nine feet long, so that might not work. We’ll see.
That done, I had time to work on emptying the rain barrel, which had enough water still in it to do the Korean Pine and Ash tree seedlings in the outer yard, as well as the haskaps and a currant bush in the south yards. So that’s now empty and ready for winter. Usually, I tuck it away in the old kitchen garden for the winter, but I think this time I’ll leave it where it is. It’ll get snow in it, which should be fine. I just don’t want to be chipping it out of the ice and snow again, to set it up to catch the snow melting off the roof in the spring.
While I was doing all this, I had the attention of so many yard cats! Even the ones that don’t like people, like to hang around while I work.
While I was putting things away for the night, I spotted this…
He was napping in the wheelbarrow at first, but I interrupted him while taking a picture. 😊
What a handsome boy! We have managed to pet him every now and then, but he isn’t a fan of attention.
I did get to give the bitty baby a cuddle, though! He came out to explore, and after several attempts, I was able to cat him. He put up quite a fight until I got him into snuggle position and started scritching his ears and he finally calmed down. I hung on to him for quite a while before putting him down, and he didn’t run away. Hopefully, he will become more accepting of cuddles as time goes by. We’ve had others that became less accepting of cuddles and attention over time. Ah, well. We do what we can!
After finishing up my morning rounds, I did as much as I could with the wattle fence, using what materials we had been able to gather. There wasn’t much I could do with the longer sections. With the shorter part of the L shape, I was able to use a few single lengths, but even there I had to start combining them in pairs.
The girls had gathered some really nice, even pieces of maple suckers, though, and they were the perfect length for the wider end bit.
The red barked lengths are the maple the girls had gathered. When I used those up, I went to the pile of small willow branches I’d set aside and brought over the pieces that were close in size to the maple. Those are the greenish coloured branches. Last of all, I topped it with two thicker pieces of maple that I’d pruned from the nearby maples that are now clear of the branch piles. Those are are lot tighter, and will lock everything in place. I didn’t trim the top one to size yet, as I might need to move it out while the other section of wall is worked on. However, as it is now, that is as high as I intend to go for most of the bed.
It would be great if the whole thing could have been done like this! It looks so much prettier, with smaller gaps and more consistent sizes. The only down side is that such small pieces will also break down faster than the larger ones. It will likely still take a few years, but it’s something to be aware of.
I used more of the maple suckers I had gathered at this end, along with more willow that was left, and locked it down at the top with two thicker pieces of maple.
This corner looks a mess right now! It will be built up, end to end, until they are the same height as the walls at the ends. After that, it will be build up higher to match the heights of the debarked posts. By time I’m working on just the three tallest posts, I’ll be working with much shorter pieces, and should be able to tidy up the whole thing a lot more. Right now, it’s looking quite the mess!
That piece of 2×4 is my mallet.
At this point, I am out of useable materials. I think I will go hunting around the spruce grove for more material, before I start wandering father afield. The Red Osier Dogwood that we have would make excellent, flexible pieces, but that’s something I’m trying to encourage as undergrowth. I might still be able to harvest some, though. There might even be some young poplar I can harvest. Mostly, I just want to find enough material to finish this back wall. The remaining sections can wait until spring, if we have to. Once the back wall is done, the soil that has eroded into the paths can be hoed back into the bed and tidied up. I will likely use grass clippings that we still have all along the bottom of the wattle wall to keep the soil from falling into the gaps. Slowly, this bed will be built up to the height of the lowest sections of wattle, which will make growing in it MUCH easier on the back!
That’s about all I’ll be able to get done today, though. We’ve had another change in plans, with company coming tomorrow. We’re hoping to be able to have a bonfire with the remains of the big branch pile that got chipped, but it will depend on the weather. The forecasts keep changing. Just in case, we need to be prepared to move indoors, so we’re going to have to start moving things like our canning supplies back into storage, and all that other stuff that just sort of takes over every flat surface! We’ll need to be able to expand the dining table, too, which will take up twice the space.
We are terrible house keepers. 😂
But I’m really looking forward to seeing my BIL and his family, and really appreciate that they are willing to make the long drive out here, knowing that my husband can no longer go to their place. It’s going to be awesome!
To continue working on the low raised bed in the old kitchen garden, I couldn’t use the mini chainsaw any more – the batteries just don’t last long enough for a job like this.
It was time to break out the electric chain saw. It’s very handy. The only problem is that I was moving around so much to reach the corners, the extension cord was in the way.
It still made the job much easier and faster. There was one log that was so bumpy, I spent more time trying to smooth it out than all the rest of the work put together!
You can see in the background that the kittens had been playing in the soil on the tarp, spreading it out quite a bit!
The whole thing wasn’t very stable, though. Something needed to be done to stabilize it, so it wouldn’t fall apart when the soil was added.
I decided to sacrifice some of the plastic coated metal stakes that I’d used to hold hoops supporting netting over the spinach bed.
I used an auger bit to drill holes into each corner of the bed, then hammered in a length. A couple had to have excess length broken off, but I think the other two actually went all the way through and into the ground below.
This made the whole thing quite sturdy. Now I could start filling.
On top of the wood chips I’d added earlier, I added some of the contents of our compost pile. Vegetation, apple pieces from straining the apple cider vinegar, coffee grounds, and even a few eggshells went in.
Next was a layer of dry grass clippings. One of the logs at the end had a fair bit of space under it, so I stuffed it with some grass clippings, too. Then it all got a thorough soaking before the soil was returned.
Once the bed was full, soil was added around three side of it, to fill in the gaps left from digging out a larger hole than the bed itself.
Which, of course, a kitten promptly tried to use as a litter box!
Finally, some grass clippings were added to mulch the top, and it got another thorough watering. I was also able to clear off the stepping stones at each end.
This bed is now done, and ready for planting next year.
My next job will be to try and weed along the whole side of this garden, before we start figuring out the low wall we want to edge it with (my daughter wants to use rocks – we have lots of those!) and top it up with some of the leftover sifted soil. The next bed I want to work on, though, is the L shaped bed that goes around the double lilac. Even if it only gets a supporting wall on the inside of the L shape, that will help. Trying to work about that lilac bush is a pain, and there are so things trying to grow into the space from there. We’d already tried to remove so many roots over the past couple of years, but it’s just getting worse! As with this bed, the L shaped bed will be only 2 feet wide, except possibly the tip of the short part of the L shape, where it can be accessed from three sides and is already wider than the rest of the bed.
Little by little, this garden will eventually have all walled, low to middle height raised beds. I was wanting to make this our kitchen garden, with things like herbs and salad vegetables that get used the most often over the summer, in here. My younger daughter wants to make it into a flower garden. Considering most herbs have lovely flowers, I’m sure we can come up with a compromise. 😊
Speaking of my younger daughter, when I was done working here, I helped my daughter out with her project.
By stealing kittens.
You’ll notice one of them has yellow paws. My daughter was painting the water bowl shelter, and that kitten would NOT leave her alone! The only way to keep him out of the paint was to put him on her shoulders – which means her skin and the tank top she was wearing got paint, too!
The first coat is done. The underside won’t need another coat, except for the legs. She was able to crawl inside and paint there, too. Carefully, as the roof is resting on bricks to hold it off the ground, and it’s not particularly strong. I think she even got the floor done, as well as the underside of the roof. After the legs and walls get a couple of coats, we’ll flip it right side up again to do the roof and whatever else can be reached at that point.
I’m surprised more kittens didn’t end up with paint all over them. They really, really love playing in this thing! Once it’s done and set up with the water bowls, they’ll have three roofs they play on. 😁
When I picked the colour, I tried to get a yellow as close as I could to the colour used on the kibble house. I couldn’t remember where we’d bought the original paint from, so I figured it was a different brand’s colour and would be slightly different. My daughter remembered that we bought it at Canadian Tire, too. It turns out I really did pick the exact same colour! We used up an entire gallon on the kibble house, but the water shelter is smaller, so we should have enough left over to do the tree stump bench out by the main garden area, too.
It feels good to have visible, tangible progress done! A lot of the fall clean up work doesn’t look like a lot got accomplished, because things get taken away, rather than added.
There are some things I wanted to try with the old kitchen garden, but kept getting distracted. So today I gave the girls a to-do list for the main garden beds, and got started.
This is the main area that I wanted to make changes to.
The areas surrounded by red lines are where we currently have stepping stones. The long red line on the bottom is the border outside of where my daughter planted her irises. You can see the one walking onion, now laying flat on the ground, that has been coming up every year since we moved here. This year, it actually produced a head that, hopefully, has planted itself now. To the right of the onion is where my daughter’s daffodils are planted. We currently have a couple of boards on the outside of this area, but we’ve had issues with people completely ignoring them and stepping on the onion. So one of the things we want to do is build some kind of low wall along that red line, with openings to the stepping stones, just to keep wayward feet out of there.
Where I wanted to work on today, though, is the area marked in orange. That is where we planted our bread seed poppies, using seed collected from last year. They never got to their full size, and the area was way too full of weeds. There was just no way to pull the weeds without damaging the poppies.
So I decided to make a low raised bed in that spot. The first thing that needed to be done, though, was to get rid of those weeds and their root systems, as best as possible.
That meant breaking out the wheel barrow and soil sifter.
For such a small area, it took a long time to remove the soil and sift out the roots and weeds.
Some of the roots, from the nearby ornamental apple trees, needed loppers to clear them out. I ended up digging out a lot more of the soil than expected.
The tarp has two wheel barrow loads of sifted soil on it. I didn’t want to go too deep, so I loosened the soil on the bottom to try and pull up more roots, but there’s no way to get them all out. At least I got the bulk of them out.
While sifting the soil, I pulled most of the roots out and tossed them onto the grass for later clean up, then whatever was left on the screen after sifting got dumped near some trees behind the storage house, where it will be used to fill in and level some low spots.
We’ve been building up the soil in this garden since our first summer here, and it really showed. Unlike other areas, I never hit the sand and gravel that is so close to the surface in our area.
The soil was really, really dry, though, so my first amendment was a layer of wood chips, to act as moisture absorbing sponges as they break down. I’ll be adding other layers of organic material before putting the soil back, but first I wanted to build walls.
My initial thought was to drive strong stakes into the soil, then weave a wattle wall. I need to clear the suckers out from around the maples. Especially where the branch piles used to be. With those piles gone now, I can finally reach them. As I took a closer look at the suckers, though, I realized they were not straight enough, or long enough, to be suitable for weaving around the uprights, even for such a small bed.
There were, however, those lengths of wood that couldn’t be chipped, neatly stacked nearby.
So I went through the pile and chose a whole bunch of the straightest ones and loaded them on the wagon. As I was taking them to the old kitchen garden, I went through where one of the branch piles used to be. It’s just bare ground, which is why I was able to see something reflecting in the sunlight.
Something pointy looking, and very bright.
Oh, the things we find around here!
Why on earth would there be an old steak knife buried in the soil here? It’s been here long enough that most of the wooden handle rotted away and broke off.
I’m glad I spotted that, because just the point was sticking out, and it would have been a pretty nasty thing to step on!
I brought more logs than I thought I would need, including shorter ones for the ends of the bed. When I made our high raised bed, the wood was not debarked, but I have a draw knife now, so I wanted to do that with these.
Isn’t the leather cover my husband made for it awesome? It fits perfectly, and he made sure the stitching is super strong.
I measured the space I’d dug out, and it was almost exactly 2′ x 4′. Conveniently, the tree guys cut these log pieces to a maximum about 4′ in length. I used my baby chainsaw (pruner) to cut pieces to length. I’m glad I got that extra battery, because I went through both of them to get it done! I also used it to remove the nubs of branches on some of them. I’ll let the batteries recharge before I finish that part of the job.
I cut enough to make the bed three logs high. As the soil slopes and is quite a bit lower on the outside, I plan to use the thicker logs on the outside and try and level it off a bit. Or I might have three logs on the outside, and only two on the inside. We’ll see.
It took me almost 3 hours to get to this point, and I was done for the day. Once all that was prepared, I cleaned up the log ends, bark pieces and the roots and weeds. Those went into the burn pile, where we also burn the sawdust from the used stove pellets in the litter boxes (sure beats hauling it all to the dump, like we did with the clay litter!), and our burnable garbage. The garden bed will have to wait until tomorrow to finish. There wasn’t much wind today, so I did a much needed burn.
While I was tending that, the girls headed out to the trellises to start salvaging the netting and bamboo stakes. It took them forever to free up the netting the pole beans were on! Those beans were well wrapped around it. They salvaged the netting and the bamboo stakes that joined the A frame supports across the bottoms. The A frame supports were left for now, as they are currently holding up the trellis frame! Those are going to all come down, eventually, but after it took so long to free up the netting, that got left for another day. Those trellises weren’t built to last more than a year, and we got two years out of them, so I’m impressed that they lasted as long as they did! The next ones we build will be much more permanent.
While they worked on that, and I was tending the fire, I started getting messages from the cat lady. She will be able to book three more spays and neuters for us soon. We pick which ones need to be done first. It’ll be in a town further out, so she will pick up the cats, keep them for their recovery period, then bring them back. There are still problems with too many surrendered cats in the adoption system, and she’s had virtually no progress with adopting any cats out at all, but she is still able to get donated spays and neuters at various vets around the area. Adoption will be easier with cats that are fixed.
We still have Big Rig and Tissue that need to be done, since they got into food while they should have been fasting and their previous appointments had to be cancelled. I was thinking we might want to start doing outside cats, though, as population control, but the kittens we’ve socialized enough may still be too young.
We have made socialization progress, though! Not with the black and white one in the back, looking at the camera. We still can’t touch that one. The three at the peak of the cat shelter roof are the most socialized – they LOVE attention! Those four are siblings from the same litter. The fuzzy grey tabby is a female.
The muted calico on the far left has been allowing us to pet it regularly now, though it’s not quite as socialized as the littler litter. It’s sibling, the brown tabby starting at the camera, is male. The girls have been able to pet him but today, for the first time, I was able to not only pet him, but even pick him up! He wasn’t too comfortable with the picking up thing, but loved the ear skritches, so after I put him down again, he came back for more!
If we are going to get the two indoor females fixed, we can also choose one male from among the outside cats. The girls were thinking one of the smaller ones. The thing is, once we’ve got an outside cat fixed, then being kept indoors with the cat lady during recovery before coming back to us, it’s not going to go back outside. Especially not with the weather changes right now. Plus, once fixed, chances of adoption are higher, and we’d have to made sure we can actually get at it, if a permanent home is found.
If all goes well, though, the cat lady will be able to find homes for several cats over the winter!
Once I got home from the city and grabbed a meal, it was right back out to work on the bed our fall garlic will be planted in.
This is how it was left, the night before.
Because I had been tromping across it with the wheelbarrow, the first thing I wanted to do – after putting the new handle on our garden fork! – was loosen up the soil at the bottom.
It was not easy. At this point, not only was I hitting a lot of rocks, but at the north end of it, a lot of tree roots, too!
I also had a kitten on my back, most of the time. The little grey and white tabby that is the most socialized of the bunch. At one point, he simply draped himself across the back of my neck and stayed there as I moved around!
I was also picking up and tossing quite a few larger rocks into the trees, too.
Something this guy really loved! He kept chasing after the rocks as they bounced on the ground, then came back to watch me, waiting for the next throw! He even made it a challenge not to bean him with a rock, the way he was running after them!
After the base was loosened, I gave the whole thing a thorough watering.
Then I got a wheelbarrow load of wood chips. Just one, for a think layer all across. This is on the same principal as using logs in a hügelkultur mound. As the anaerobic bacteria slowly breaks down the wood, the wood acts as a sponge to hold water for the roots above. Since these are wood chips rather than logs or branches, as we used in the high raised bed, they will break down faster. With garlic having shallow roots, the breakdown of the wood chips won’t affect their nitrogen needs.
The wood chips got a thorough soaking before the next step.
I pulled up the frost-killed summer squash, the remaining dead tomato, eggplant and pepper plants from the other two beds, and quite a bit of dead winter squash plants, too.
Then, because they were so bushy, I tromped them flat, being careful to just step on the dead plants. I just loosened the soil on the entire bed. I didn’t want to compact it all again!
Once they were flattened,, then given a soak, I could start adding soil back.
The soil was raked out evenly, though I tried not to get too close to the logs. That’s where the crab grass will inevitably grow in from the path.
With so many rhizomes catching on my rake as I was working, I finally went ahead and raked the weeds and roots I’d tossed into the paths.
There was a lot more than it seems, while all spread out! It all got dumped among the nearby trees.
With all that soil getting sifted, plus what was added to the bed, this is what I was left with.
Almost half the soil I took out is still there! The logs framing the bed are so low, if I add more back, I’ll have a problem with the sides washing down into the path – something that was an issue when watering the tomatoes.
Which is fine. The high raised bed’s soil level dropped over the summer, as expected, so I can use it to top that up, and still have some left over.
I did not, however, soak the freshly laid down soil. That would have just compacted it. We got a frost advisory for tonight, but things are supposed to warm up after that. We might even hit 21C/70F in a couple of days! So the grass clipping mulch went back right away.
Then it got a thorough soaking!
When it comes time to plant the garlic, we can make holes through the mulch. After tonight’s frost, we’re supposed to have some very pleasant evenings, which will be prefect for the cloves to start rooting themselves before the overnight temperatures start to be consistently too low for growth.
Thankfully, none of the other low raised beds need this much work put into them. They just need to be weeded and mulched for the winter. Except for the bed with the carrots and turnips in it. That will stay as it is for a while longer, as they won’t be bothered by frost.
Lots of clean up to prepare for next year, still! But this bed, at least, is all done and ready for garlic.
One of things we started indoors were the four seeds we managed to save from the King Tut purple peas we tried to grow last year. All for successfully germinated, and were really needing to be either transplanted, or potted up.
Potting up didn’t make sense for these, so today, they got transplanted! Being peas, they are frost hardy, so we didn’t have to wait until after our last frost date.
I did change were they were meant to be planted. I was originally thinking of using the same pea trellis we used for them last year, but there’s just 4 of them, so we’ll save the trellises for the green peas we’ve got.
As the purple peas were already looking to climb, I decided to put them here.
This is where we grew tomatoes very successfully last year, and tomatoes will be grown here again this year. It got completely reworked in the fall.
This bed was going to get a mulch of wood shavings, too, but I also did the concrete blocks on the other side of the small gate, too.
We’ll be looking at planting some climbers in here, that can use the fence as a trellis.
The bag of wood shavings left over from last year got finished off in the long bed, and most of the new bag got used up, too! There was enough to mulch the haskaps (the male haskap is blooming!) and there’s still a bit left over.
All the mulch got watered as I laid it out, as the wind was picking up and threatening to blow it away. Once it was laid down, all the mulch got watered again, multiple times, as I worked.
Of course, the bed didn’t stay looking pretty like this for long!
This bed is going to be intensely and strategically planted! Along with the purple peas, there will be tomatoes planted all along the fence. Just inside where the tomatoes will go, there will be carrots, as they are good companion plants. On the outer edge, near the bricks, will be onions, as a critter deterrent.
In the bowl are the last of the pelleted Kyoto Red seeds from last year.
Clearing out a row to plant the carrots was a bit of a challenge, as there were sticks in with the leaf mulch that had to be removed. With pelleted seed, the carrots could be spaced as they were planted. I still got only half way down the row before running out of seeds. The other half is now planted with Napoli carrots; another pelleted variety from last year. With the Napoli, there are still a LOT of seeds left, so we have the option of tucking them around other things, too. We have 2 other new varieties that are not pelleted seed, so I will likely use cornstarch gel to help plant those.
There were not a lot of the Oneida yellow onions we started from seed to transplant, but it was still close to the half way mark. Of the onions we stared from seed, we have one tray or red onions left, but there’s quite a few of those, and I didn’t want to split them up. We also had a few shallots started from seed – a whole 7 of them survived – so I used those, and there’s still half the row left. We have shallot sets, too, so I’m thinking of using some of those to finish off the row. That will be another job for tomorrow!
As for the peas, I cut some of the plastic bottles from distilled water we have so many of, to put around the peas, to protect them from the wind. One of them blew away while I was transplanting onions. I’d tried to push it into the soil, but there turned out to be too many little sticks in the leaf litter. 😀 Once I got that fixed, I added the sticks to help keep them from blowing away. They are the sticks sold for toasting marshmallows, broken in half. We got a package for cookouts last year, but I’ve been using them as supports for some of the taller squash and gourd plants that were starting to flop around a bit. They work really well for that!
This bed now has only tomatoes to be transplanted into it, and that won’t be until after our June 2 last frost date, just to be on the safe side. We will be adding netting after the tomatoes are planted. The decorative wire garden fencing that you see in one of the photos above will be placed right up against the bricks, to hold the net away from the net, which will be attached to the top of the fence. The tomatoes and onions should be fine, but the carrots will need to be protected from critters. The net won’t stop a determined groundhog, but between that, the onions and the carrots, we hope the greedy buggers will decide they’re not worth the effort!
While I was working on this, my younger daughter was working on one of the low raised beds in the main garden area.
The girls cleaned up these beds last year, and this one was the worst for crab grass.
It still was. It took my poor daughter hours to get it done, diligently and carefully pulling up all the roots she could. Unlike me, she’s agile enough that she can kneel down on the ground to work, but she still knackered her back in the process. Once inside, she ended up having to put on her corset she made for herself, to use as a back brace just so she could sit upright at the table! She plans to continue with other beds tomorrow, and will likely just wear the darn thing from the start.
Her sister ended up helping me bring the transplants back inside after everything we done. She was up sick much of the night, but was finally feeling better. It was a bit of a juggle, since the chitting potatoes were sitting on the platform the seed trays and most of the bins sits on. Those had to go outside and onto the roof of the cats’ house until all the transplants were brought into the sun room, then we had to figure out how to fit the potatoes back in! Some ended up on the swing bench under the platform. Potato Beetle has lost his favourite bed for now. 😀
I fully expect we will expand our garden again, next year, which means starting more seeds indoors. Having at least a small, portable greenhouse is going to be increasingly a necessity! We almost got one this year, but the funds ended up being reallocated. Mind you, we still haven’t gone into the old hay loft, where my brother tells me there is the frame for a carport. If all the parts and pieces are there, we’d just need to get the plastic, and we’ll have a polytunnel. I can’t get up into the hayloft anymore – my body is too broken to clamber up there – so I’ll have to ask the girls to do it.
Well… that last paragraph got quite the interruption. I hadn’t realized my mother had phoned and left a message while we were working outside. She called again. It seems the painkillers the doctor prescribed for her back pain are not helping at all, and she’s in a lot of pain. Can’t sit, can’t stand, can’t lie down… She’s convinced the doctor gave her the wrong medication. She called the pharmacist, and he assured her she got the right meds. I guess she now thinks the prescription was a mistake? So tomorrow morning, when the clinic is open, I’ll give them a call. Hopefully, either her doctor, or the doctor that saw her in the ER, will be available to call her today and talk to her about it.
My husband is feeling very sympathetic for her. She’s entering his world, and is completely unprepared for it.
My plans for tomorrow may be changing, if I find myself having to drive my mother somewhere!
Except the sun isn’t shining, and we’re raining again, but I did get to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity.
This morning was mild enough that I was able to get our transplants outside to harden off. I also took advantage of the lack of rain to work on the old kitchen garden some more, trying to get as many roots as I could out of the L shaped bed, then in a couple of tiny little plots we may or may not plant in. In one of them, I noticed asparagus coming up! There’s just the one plant there, but I knew there were more on the opposite side of the garden, so I went looking. Sure enough, there were some spears coming up there, too. These are asparagus that have been there since before my parents bought the property, in the early 1950’s! I weeded around them as best I could, then checked under the straw much of the purple asparagus bed we planted last year. Still nothing there, that I could see.
After the transplants were brought back indoors, I started to settle in with “breakfast” (it was past noon. LOL) and check my computer, when I got a message telling me about someone who was offering up some carboard for mulch. There is a food waste reduction program that collects food that cannot be sold for human consumption for one reason or another, and distributes it to people to feed to their animals, thereby keeping it out of the landfills. Much of this is in cardboard boxes, which can pile up pretty fast! I was able to get in touch with this person and, before I knew it, I was heading out to pick up some cardboard!
That muddy spot on the road near our intersection is getting worse. With the upcoming expected rain, I’m not sure we’ll be able to get through for much longer. We shall see.
The person I met up with was absolutely awesome, and we ended up chatting for quite a while about the things they’re doing on their farm. I was really interested to see some of their fencing; particularly their buck and pole fence. No post holes required! That would be ideal for the temporary fencing we want to make. I just showed the girls pictures and talked about it, and they thought it was a good style of fencing to use, too. Over the next while, as we work on cleaning up dead trees and collapsed sheds, we’ll set aside the materials we’ll need to make them.
The town I went to, to pick up the cardboard, is a town I’ve never been to before. One of many places we drive past on the highway, see the signs and think “gee, we ought to go there one of these days”, and never manage it! While there, I drove past an antique store and flea market that happened to be open today (they are open only 3 days a week), so I had to stop by on the way home.
One of my favourite things about visiting antique stores is seeing all the stuff that I grew up using. Like this.
We used a saw like this to cut our firewood. We had an old tractor with a wheel on it that the belt attached to, to power the saw. That thing made short work of a big job!
There were so many things in there that I either used as a child, or that we have here at the farm, including a couple of pink glass antique oil lamps, like one we’ve had here at the farm for as long as I can remember. It’s still tucked away in a storage space near the ceiling in the kitchen, though we’ve had to block it off to keep the cats out of it. Ours is missing the chimney, though. I asked about it, and was told they are VERY hard to come by. They are a very different size and shape. There were a lot of other really awesome things there. I definitely want to come back with the girls.
Once at home, I backed the van up near the garden – unfortunately tearing up some of the lawn in the process, because parts of it are so muddy! At first, we were thinking of leaving the van there,, with the cardboard stored inside, but I knew it was going to start raining soon. So, while the girls started supper, I went ahead and started going through the boxes to take off any pieces of tape or labels that would come off.
I was able to set up the rolling seat and a garbage bag under the lift gate, and mostly stayed out of the rain once it started. 😀
Yeesh. Laying that black tarp down really doesn’t do much to kill off the grass and weeds. Normally, I would have taken the weed trimmer to the ground, first, not our weed trimmer is corded. This far from the outlet on the house, I’d have had to use at least a couple of cords, and there’s a puddle of water in the way. Not going to happen! The tarp I took off is now pegged down on top of the second tarp. The two of them together will do a better job in killing off the grass, until we can start laying cardboard down under there, too.
I was able to lay down such a nice, thick layer of cardboard! When we were laying cardboard down under previous beds last year, we had to be rather parsimonious about it, because we just didn’t have all that much cardboard. It was better than nothing, but not enough to make a really good weed barrier. Some of these boxes are made out of a really thick cardboard, and I was able to overlap the edges really well, too.
It has been left like this to be rained on. Normally, we’d be taking a hose to it, to saturate the cardboard before laying the straw on it. It can take a really long time for the cardboard to get wet all the way through. It would take even longer, with such thick cardboard and so many layers. These boxes had been stored outside, though, so some of them were already damp, which helps.
This is all the cardboard that’s left!
I’ve already been offered more, if I want it. Which I will happily accept! We’re still supposed to get rain all night, with a mix of rain and snow by tomorrow morning. At least now the forecasters are saying the rain will stop tomorrow morning, and we aren’t expected to get more for the next 5 days. That should give the road enough time to dry up and be more accessible, I hope. The municipality might even have a chance to fix it before we get another expected 4 days of rain! At least it’ll be warmer by then, and we won’t have to worry about snow.
Speaking of which…
The high raised bed now has its plastic cover, to hopefully keep things a bit warmer if it snows. Both the onions and spinach under there should be able to handle the cooler temperatures, but I’d rather give them what protection I can.
After taking the picture, I noticed the plastic already has a hole in it! It’s a pretty thin plastic. Or perhaps the hole was already there, right off the roll. This was the last of a roll, so the very end of it was a bit mashed up.
This should be the only time we’ll want to cover the high raised bed with plastic. After this, if we ever need to cover it again, it’ll be with netting or something like that, to keep the critters or the insects out.
As you can see in the back on the left, the garlic here is doing really well! The other two beds are still barely showing, and very few of them. I’m starting to wonder if I’d planted them too deep or something, though these ones were planted at the same depth, so… I don’t know. We’ll see how they do as things warm up.
This was not the only step ahead we got in our garden and growing plans. While I was out, my daughter started digging holes for planting trees in. Holes that are now half full of water, but that’s to be expected right now. Hopefully, that won’t be an issue once the trees actually get here and we start transplanting them.
I’m so glad I was able to head out to get this cardboard today! Having a flexible schedule, and the girls to take care of things while I’m gone, is something I really appreciate. That and people like Wolfsong, who let me know about the cardboard being offered up. Thank you so much! You’re awesome!
I’m going to try something a bit different with my images today. I’m starting to run low on storage space on WordPress. The only way to increase it is to upgrade my legacy plan – at more than triple the price. Instead, I’ll try uploading them elsewhere and embedding them. Please let me know if you have any issues with them.
I actually got useable pictures of the outside cats while doing my rounds this morning!
I spotted a dozen of them, in total, this morning. There was about eight of them waiting at the door for me! It’s been a while since they’ve done that. 🙂
Today, I actually got ahead on a few things. I wasn’t sure if I would, since I was heading to my mother’s to help her with her shopping and didn’t know how long I’d be gone.
I picked up our usual lunch along the way, though she didn’t think she would be up to a larger meal. I figured if she wasn’t, we could just put it in the fridge for later. By the time I got there, though, she did have some of it, and was glad for the change. Plus, she still has some for later, so that worked out.
She is feeling better, though still says she hurts from top to bottom. My brother thinks she has the flu, though the way she describes it, it sounds like how I get when the barometric pressure changes drastically – and we do have thunderstorms on the forecast! To be honest, most of my joints are hurting, too. Stiff and sore finger joints are making it hard to type! So to me, that seems a likely cause, since she has no other symptoms other than a slight headache.
Still, she wasn’t going to go to the grocery store with me. She took her Tylenol, and was going to stay home to rest. She was feeling pretty sad about having to miss a dinner event tonight. One of the local colonies used to host annual dinners with entertainment for widows and widowers, and she looked forward to them every year. They weren’t allowed to host these for the past two years, and she really missed them. When they called to confirm if she were coming and she had to say no, they asked if they could bring her a care package! She happily said yes. That was sweet of them. 🙂
After going over her list to make sure I knew what she wanted, and in what quantities, etc., I headed to the grocery store. As I was unloading the items at the cash desk, the cashier asked about my mother! I didn’t recognize the cashier, though; it’s the first time I’ve seen all of her face, but she recognized me since I have never been able to wear a mask, and this is one of the few places where it was safe for me to go to. It was nice that she asked about my mother. She thinks my mom is funny. 😀
Once back at my mother’s place and putting stuff away in her fridge, there was a knock at the door. It was one of her neighbours, coming to check up on her! Then, as I was leaving, a passed another neighbour coming out of her apartment, and she asked how my mother was, too, telling me she’d checked on her last night.
I am glad that my mother has so many neighbours keeping an eye out for her! Now that the abusive caretakers have quit, things are really good in her building now. 🙂
It turned out to be a really nice day today, and the winds died down, so once I got home, I snagged a daughter and we set the platform up for hardening off the transplants, out of reach from critters that might eat them. There are now so many seedlings germinating in the flat trays of cucumbers and summer squash right now – only the green zucchini isn’t germinating yet – I even brought those out, too, setting them up on the roof of the cats’ house, along with the new strawberries. It’s been a few days since we brought the trays and bins out, so I only wanted to leave them for an hour. They really should have been in the shade, but that wasn’t an option, so I brought a hose out of storage and misted them all, and made sure the trays and bins all had water in their bottoms.
Then I took advantage of the lovely day and finished up the chimney block planters at the chain link fence.
The last four got a layer of shredded paper on the bottom, a layer of the soil from the new bed in this spot last year, a layer of straw, then topped with more soil. Between the space the blocks take up, and the layers of straw and shredded paper, there was extra soil, so that got used to top up the four blocks that were done in the fall and had settled. This is the garden soil we bought two truckloads of last year, so I didn’t want to waste any! Once these were filled and the soil in the path smoothed off, I used straw to cover the path along the blocks, so it wouldn’t be muddy to walk on. The blocks all got watered to help the soil settle in, too.
These are now ready for anything with a vining habit, or that can use the support of the fence.
That done, I decided to do a bit of work in a bed I’d already prepared in the old kitchen garden. I noticed some greenery coming through at one end, and wanted to pull those out so they wouldn’t cause problems for the food plants we’ll be planting there. A good excuse to use my new garden fork! 😀
Well, it didn’t turn out to be the quick job I thought it would be.
I’d already prepped the bed using a hoe, but once I started digging deep with the fork and pulling those plants up from the roots, I just kept finding more roots.
And more roots.
Then more roots!
Before I knew it, I was working my way across the entire bed.
Part way through, my timer went off. I got my daughters to help me bring the transplants back into the sun room, so I could get back to work faster! 😀
While working on the bed, I remembered that we still had an upper piece of spruce tree by the compost heap. Most of it had been used in the high raised bed, but the upper parts were too thin and wonky. I figured it would do very well in the old kitchen garden. When I was done pulling out as many roots as I could – there was no way I was going to get all of them! – my daughters helped me bring the log over and set it in place.
After leveling the soil, I hosed off the log and the blocks to clean things up a bit and settle in the soil. Later on, we’ll add more straw to the paths, and I’ll make sure to push some against the underside of the log as much as possible, to make sure no soil gets washed out under the bendy parts of the log.
I think this will work out rather well. As we find ourselves with other leftover pieces of log like this, we’ll probably border the L shaped bed with them, too, to help keep the soil from eroding into the paths.
You can see some of the roots I pulled out, in the lawn on the other side of the retaining wall blocks. While all the roots couldn’t be removed, it should still go a long way in reducing how many of these… whatever they were… from growing around whatever we end up planting here.
One thing is for sure; the soil here is SO much improved since we first started working on this garden! I could easily push the garden fork deep into the ground, and the soil was rich with earthworms. This bed would do well for any deep root vegetable – as long as we can keep the groundhogs and deer out!
Speaking of which…
The wire fencing we’ve managed to put around the tulip patch seems to be working. No new tulips have been eaten, and even among the ones that did get eaten, some look like they are growing again. They won’t be able to bloom, but should at least be able to store enough energy to be able to regrow next year.
One other thing that is growing well is the garlic in the main garden area.
They are getting so tall! The garlic in the other two beds, in the south east yard, are just barely breaking ground right now, but here, some of them at as much as 8 inches tall! What a difference. They were planted at the same time, and mulched the same way. The only major difference is location and, with that, sunlight. This particular bed, which is right next to our first high raised bed, would be getting light for more than 12 hours, this time of year. The other two beds get at least 8 hours of light this time of year, but are in shade for the morning hours.
This bodes well for when we build more of the permanent high raised beds in this area.
Gosh, it feels good to be working outside again! We’re supposed to get light rain tomorrow, with warmer temperatures. Weather willing, I’m looking forward to getting back at it! I especially want to prepare the areas the potatoes will be going in. I got an email with a tracking number from Canada Post today, and they should arrive by the 24th.