Our 2022 garden: peas, carrots, onions and more prep

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. πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€

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!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden progress: As the saying goes…

“Make hay while the sun shines.”

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. πŸ˜€

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!

The Re-Farmer

Some progress today

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜€

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. πŸ™‚

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! πŸ˜€

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! πŸ˜€

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.

I can hardly wait to get those into the ground!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: hardening off and first sowing

You know that surreal feeling, when you feel like it’s one time of the day, but then you look at a clock and realize it’s a completely different time of day?

I just finished my “morning rounds”, so it should be morning, right?

Never mind that I spent several hours working on things that aren’t part of my usual morning routine. πŸ˜€

While heading around to put bird feed out, I spotted our new “tenant” under the stairs.

It backed into the space under the stairs, but still hung around to watch me!

Knowing that the main road was fixed, as soon as I finished my usual morning routine, I headed to town, passing a grader on the way. Very happy to see it. There’s only so much a grader an do with the current road conditions, but at least it helps. The area that was washed out was beautifully fixed up. Not even the grader could fix that torn up part closer to our intersection, though.

I picked up just a few of the fresh things we were running low on at the grocery store, then hit the post office on the way home to pick up the mail and a new bag of bird seed. Once everything was put away, I decided to take advantage of the weather, while I could. We’re supposed to get rain later, but for now it’s overcast and decently warm. What we needed to do was start hardening off our transplants.

The girls and I had spent some time trying to figure out what to use to hold the transplants when hardening them off, that will keep the outside cats and other critters away, while also being big enough to hold all the bins and trays. What we used last year is just too small for all the plants we have this year. Then we remembered that we still have the home made, twin sized bed frame that was here when we moved in, sitting in the basement. So I got that out this morning. We also found a pair of folding table legs when we cleaned out the basement, so I figured we could add those to the underside of the frame. It has 8 short legs on the support frame and is topped with plywood. The frame supporting the plywood was too narrow for the plates on the table legs, so I was going to attach it directly to the underside of the plywood, until I realized the shortest screws I have are 3/4″, and it’s 1/2″ plywood.

Ah, well. It would have been a good idea.

That meant using the frame from my daughters canopy tent that she got for when she used to do the art markets. Part of the frame broke in high winds, but we’re still finding ways to use it. Two long pieces of the frame that had been attached to each other with a pivot had snapped. The metal pieces are hollow, so I found a way to rejoin them using a long nail wrapped with enough duct tape to make a snug fit, tucked inside the pieces, then taping them together on the outside. They still wiggle and it certainly won’t hold much, but at least we no longer have pieces flopping around when we move the frame.

The bed platform went on top of the tent frame, with the frame opened wide enough to fit against the inside of the bed’s support pieces snuggly. The ground isn’t level, though, but nothing a couple of bricks under 2 legs couldn’t solve. Then, because the wood is unfinished, I opened the 3 pack of sturdy tarps I picked up at Costco a few months back, and covered the whole set up. Using the cords salvaged from the canopy tent I’d recently disassembled, I was able to peg the corners to the ground, then use the excess cord to lace up the ends. The long sides were still flapping in the wind a bit, so those were tied together, under the platform.

Once everything was secure, it was time to bring the plants out!

It turned out to be the exact size needed for all the bins and trays!

Not quite all the plants fit, though.

The Wonderberry and a couple of trays of onions fit onto the shelf outside the sunroom.

Look at all those Wonderberry flowers!

Since this is the first day the transplants were being hardened off, I set a time for an hour, then started working in the old kitchen garden. We had beds that were ready for planting, but I decided to use the stirrup hoe to run through the bed framed with logs and get rid of any weeds.

I’m glad I did. After a while, I gave up on the hoe and brought out the new garden fork. There were a LOT more roots than I thought.

There were SO many big, healthy worms in the soil!

When we planted here last year, we had a couple of mystery plants show up in the middle of the bed, where we’d planted kohlrabi. Once we were sure they weren’t kohlrabi, we had no idea what they were – but I found their root clusters! That’s the pile you can see at the middle, left. I hope I got all the roots out. Those things got quite large, and I wouldn’t want them choking out whatever we plant here this year.

Broken pieces from the disassembled canopy tent frame are now set up to support any row cover we use. The holes are all facing the same way, so they can be threaded with cord to keep the netting from sagging in between.

We’re still not 100% decided on what to plant here, but we do know what’s going next to it.

The poppies we planted last year really struggled in the drought and heat waves, but we were still able to harvest some dried pods for their seeds. I’d just put them into a Solo cup and left them in the sun room all winter. This morning, I broke open the pods, and these are all the seeds that were in them. Not a lot, but enough to sow. Watching the seeds as they came out of the different pods, I’ve no doubt that some of the seeds were immature and are probably not going to germinate, but there are some that look good. It should be interesting to see how they do!

This is where we’d sowed the poppies last year. Seeds had fallen and scattered there last year, but I couldn’t tell if anything was germinating. Just in case, I didn’t try to dig up the crab grass or do any weeding. I loosened the surface soil up with a rake, scattered all the seeds evenly, then used the rake again to cover them. I didn’t bother watering them, since we’re expecting rain. We did buy a different variety of bread poppy seeds for this year, which will be planted well away from this area, to avoid cross pollination.

Our very first direct sown seeds of the year! Not what I’d intended, but I’ll take it!

The timing was perfect for finishing this and putting things away, as that’s when my timer went off. All the transplants went back inside. Taking them out gave me a chance to re-arrange things, too. The seed trays that are just starting to germinate are now closest to the west window. The bins with the shortest plants all went into the plant shelf in the south window, and the mini-greenhouse frame by the other west window. As bins were being returned to the platform with the seed trays, they were arranged with the shortest plants by the seed trays, working up to the tallest at the opposite end. This way, the bin that has supports for the Canteen gourds to climb is now no longer behind the shop light!

There was one down side to all this outdoor work, though.

As I was putting the bins and trays back into the sun room, I saw Junk Pile cat going through the old kitchen garden, carrying a kitten. She was taking them away from the cats’ house, heading somewhere to the north side of the house.

When I went out for the next trays, I saw… Junk Pile cat… coming from the south. Which meant the cat I thought was Junk Pile was actually the other mamma using the cats’ house. Not long after, I saw Junk Pile carrying a kitten and taking it to the big branch pile in the outer yard. I was afraid of this. With all the traffic and commotion so close to the cats’ house, the kittens got moved to someplace quieter. *sigh* That’s going to make it much harder to socialize them! It’s too bad the mamas are separate now. They were always snuggled together with their babies in there. Ah, well. It is what it is.

Now that we’ve got the set up done, the transplants will go outside every day – weather willing – for about an hour longer, each time. By the time we pass our last frost date on June 2, they will be good and ready to be outside permanently.

Until then, we can keep working on getting the cool climate seeds direct sown.

It feels so good to finally be getting seeds in the ground!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: potting up

Today, I went through the mini-greenhouse to see what might need to be potted up.

It turned out that there wasn’t anything that wasn’t already potted up. However, almost all the Cup of Moldova tomatoes are getting too big for the shelves! They are certainly doing well, after the thinning and addition of more soil along their stems. Over the next day or two, these need to be moved into the sun room, just for the space.

At the furthest end of the large aquarium greenhouse, you can see the two, out of three, Crespo squash that got potted up. The third smaller one in between the bigger ones had actually been thinned out of another pot, and is going quite well. In the foreground are a pair of Canteen gourds that had shared a small pot. For some reason, when I moved these out of the mini-greenhouse, because a tendril had started to wrap itself around the shelf above, I thought they were luffa. The writing on the labels had started to fade, so I fixed that.

It took some juggling to get the bigger pots to fit into the space. They definitely need to go into the sun room soon, too!

Meanwhile, on the heat mat…

The Red Baron bunching onions are coming up nicely. I’m looking forward to these. Still nothing among the ground cherry, though.

As I write this, we are at -2C/28F, which is warmer than forecast. Warm enough that any expose ground or concrete is thawing out and melting the snow around it in the sun. We’re still supposed to reach a low of -13C/9F overnight tonight, and tomorrow we’re supposed to warm up to -2C/28F, but get more snow. Depending on what app I look at, we’re either going to get isolated flurries, or snow all day for a total of 2-4cm, or about 1/2 – 1 1/2 inches. Either way, it won’t be enough to cause problems with driving my mother to my brother’s, to meet her new great grandson. πŸ™‚

After that, we’re supposed to had daytime highs hovering a few degrees above freezing for the next while. One of my apps has a 28 day long range forecast and, according to that, we won’t start hitting 10C/50F until May. Our last frost date is June 2, so that fits. Last year, May was an incredibly warm month. May long weekend is when a lot of people put their gardens in, only for many of them to lose almost everything to one cold night, just days later. Hopefully, we will not have anything like that again!

I am really looking forward to getting to work on the garden!

The Re-Farmer

Deer visitor, and seedling status

I guess I was just too disruptive this morning, because I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the outside cats! We’re expecting another warm day, so I wanted to make sure the sidewalk was scraped and cleared, so the concrete can warm up in the sun and melt away any remaining ice and snow.

The deer didn’t seem to mind! I saw a group of three, before I headed out, then my husband saw the usual pair, before the piebald finally came around. We are definitely seeing a lot more deer lately, all over. Sadly, that also means we’re seeing more on the side of the highways, that had been hit by cars. I’ve lost count of how many bald eagles I’ve seen, scavenging the carcasses. I’ve never seen as many bald eagles as I have this year – and it’s only the beginning of March!

While checking and tending our seedlings, I was happy to see the 4 new Canteen gourd seedlings are growing very quickly. I had been wondering about the on luffa that started to sprout, but hasn’t gotten any bigger, so when I had the chance, I checked it out.

Oh. This would be why it’s not growing.

That little bit of seedling had been right against the side of the pot, but when I touched the leaves, it fell right out.

So far, there’s just the one luffa seedling we have, which seems to be surviving the cat damage all right. I’m not as sure about the one Canteen gourd in that tray, but with that one, we at least have 4 new sprouts. Aside from the one seedling that did not succeed, there is no sign of more luffa germinating. We still have luffa seeds, so I’m thinking of adding more to the pots to try again.

The seedlings in the mini-greenhouse seem to be struggling, and not just the ones with cat damage. I suspect part of the problem is that we have to keep the plastic cover on it, to keep the cats out. I’ve put the little fan we’ve got, inside the mini-greenhouse, so there is at least going to be air circulation. They may be getting over watered, too. We’ll have to watch out for that.

In other things, I got word from the garage about my mother’s car. It’s ready to be picked up. He checked it over, reset the codes and found nothing wrong with it. Most likely, the check engine light and codes were triggered by changing out the battery. Which is a relief to hear, but I still don’t know what made that “pop” noise when the car died! We’ll head in this afternoon to pick it up and hopefully, I’ll have a chance to talk to him about it.

It’ll be good to have the car issues over and done with for a while!

The Re-Farmer

Manual labour is good therapy, and a court update

I headed out early today, for my court date with our vandal. It’s been a year, minus a day, since my first court date regarding my application for a restraining order was scheduled.

It was a very, very long day.

No, it’s not resolved.

But before I get into that, I will talk about something more therapeutic. I was so mentally exhausted by the time I got home, I needed to do some good old manual labour to get some “rest”.

I feel so much better, now!

With the day being several degrees warmer than forecast, I focused on the area that caused problems before, because the ground was too frozen. The old kitchen garden.

Before our old garden fork finally bent from the mostly frozen ground, then broke when my daughter tried to straighten it, she did get a start on the retaining wall before moving to an area where the ground was not frozen. This is the area that gets the most shade, plus I wanted to transplant some mint out of another bed into some of these, so the blocks got first priority. The ground was quite thawed out, today.

After the groundhog ate the lettuce that was planted in these, they basically got abandoned until now. Happily, there wasn’t too many weeds and roots to dig out.

After I did the blocks from the chives to the opposite end, I dug up some mint and transplanted them into every other block, again starting from the chives. When I thought I was done, I walked back and found some mint that got dropped from the bunch as I moved along the retaining wall, so I cleaned up one of the blocks in the foreground and planted it there. We had buried a mystery bulb in it, earlier in the year, but there was no sign of it when I dug into that block, so mint it will be!

I don’t know if they will take, but we shall see. After they were transplanted, they got a thorough watering, and that section is now done, unless we decide to mulch it with straw, now that there is mint in the blocks. We shall see how things go over the next couple of days.

This is the somewhat triangular bed we had planted carrots in, and where the garden fork met its match. The bed is too wide in the foreground, and that is also where the mint was coming up. Mint was even coming up through the paths we covered in straw and were walking on! There was one mint plant visible in the foreground that looks frozen, so I didn’t try to transplant it.

For this bed, the carrots that had bolted got buried in the middle, while the wider end was narrowed.

I stopped before getting too close to the pink rose bush at the “point” of the triangle. We’ve pruned the ornamental apple tree that was overshadowing it, and last year it finally bloomed, but this year, like so many other things, that one cold night in May killed off any developing flower buds, and it did not bloom at all. Hopefully, next year, it will have a chance to do better!

These are the mint rhizomes I found while clearing and resizing the bed! Even the rhizomes smells strongly of mint.

I then moved on to the L shaped bed we planted beets in. This one end in the foreground was particularly bad for weeds, but the rest was much easier to clear out.

My older daughter was able to come out and give me a hand part way through. She brought the logs over to frame the resized bed. The log at the end was originally cut as an end piece for the high raised bed, but the measurement got goofed, and it was more like 3 1/2 feet long, instead of 4 ft. So it’s perfect for here! The other two logs were from the remaining tops of dead spruce trees we’d used in the high raised bed. They are too thin and wonky to use in a high raised bed, but they will work here for now. In time, this will get replaced with something more permanent, and higher.

Then my daughter helped me finish weeding the L shaped bed. Once that was done, a shallow trench was dug along the middle, and the beets that were too small to harvest got buried.

The final step was to even out the soil in the framed bed, then I used the hose to wash the soil against the logs and level it out more. As gaps were found under the logs by the water, I stuffed them with straw.

These beds are now ready for next year. There is just the bed along the retaining wall to clean up, and later the paths will get a new layer of straw to keep the weeds down.

By the time I was done, I was feeling much rejuvenated and refreshed.

The day in court was so much longer than expected. Because of the fairly long drive, plus the need to get some gas, I left before 8am. It was still dark when I left, and there was one redeeming factor during the drive. I got to see a gorgeous sunrise. We do live in a very beautiful area!

On the down side, by the time I got home, I’d burned off all the gas I’d been able to put into the tank! 😦 I used my mother’s car, as it has not been driven much at all, lately. It does not have good mileage!

Anyhow.

I got there so early, I was the first person there, and the security guard didn’t even have the docket yet. We ended up chatting for a while, until the other security guard came with the docket. They both remember me by now! While we were talking the next person who showed up was our vandal. I almost didn’t recognize him at first, because of the mask (I wore my Mingle Mask, making me both recognizable and memorable, it turns out!). His lawyer was going to call in, so our vandal was on his own.

So we waited.

And waited.

Court started at 10, and they went through the docket.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

The security guard called our vandal over and told him he might want to talk to his lawyer about calling in, because he was next on the docket and I heard him say the lawyer was already on the phone, waiting, too!

An hour passed.

Two hours passed.

The second security guard, who was calling people in, came out and called for anyone who was there for the first time, but was not represented by a lawyer.

Someone else went in, and we waited.

Then someone else got called in, and we waited some more.

By the time we got called in, it was well past noon.

Our vandal was asked about his lawyer, and he explained that he had been on the phone for an hour already. The judge called into the mike, but the lawyer wasn’t there.

So they took the next files while waiting for the lawyer to call in again.

Several files later (they went by very quickly) and still no lawyer, so our vandal finally offered to text him, and they went on to the next file, with the understanding that it would be interrupted if the lawyer called in.

This one took longer, and then they moved on to another that was even longer. That one did get interrupted as the lawyer finally called in, with apologies.

The judge spoke to the lawyer for a while, then asked our vandal to clarify some things. I had agreed to suspend my application, if he agreed to seek psychiatric help. It turns out that his first referral was to the bigger city, but they are so backlogged, they are not accepting any out of town patients. His doctor then referred him to the smaller city we were in for court, but they are backlogged at least 3 or 4 months.

Given the way things are going, in my mind, it’ll be twice that, at least, but who knows?

So that left us in a quandary. The judge asked me how I wanted to proceed, and I told him that I understood the issues with backlogs, but until he is getting help, I don’t feel safe. He has already caused damage and been threatening towards me, which was acknowledged. I told them I felt that the only reason we have peace right now is likely because of my application, but it’s already been a year. The problem is, if it goes to trial, we won’t have a court date until…

A year from now.

All the previous cases that got rescheduled while we waited were going to November of next year, so I was not surprised by this.

Given how long it has taken, the lawyer suggested going to Case Management. The judge explained that this would be me, our vandal and his lawyer in a room, trying to work things out. I asked if I could have someone with me. The judge asked who, and I suggested my older brother, who owns the property. I had to explain that we are basically caretakers, and my older brother owns the property; the safety issue is about me, while the vandalism affects my brother. The judge agreed. So I won’t have to be alone and bullied by our vandal and his lawyer.

So, in the interest of speeding things up, the lawyer will have to show up in court a week from now, a date for case management will be worked out with the judge, and the lawyer will inform both of us.

By the time we left, it was nearly an hour, for what is normally a 10-15 minute session.

Near the end of it, our vandal tried to interject that there was a “bigger picture” involved and brought up his civil suit against me. He started to say how the property was transferred to my brother “behind his back”, that I’m keeping him from his possessions, and that I am using the courts against him. Which is a rich claim indeed, considering he is the one that caused damage and took so many things from this property, and he is the one who has filed vexatious litigation against me, in retaliation for applying for a restraining order. However, in his mind, he is the victim. He doesn’t even deny that he vandalized things. He just acts like it hasn’t happened, and my family and I are just persecuting him. He doesn’t deny that he’s taken things, either. He truly seems to believe he was entitled to it all. But then, he also believes he’s “maintained” this place for 30 years (my parents were still actively farming 30 years ago), my parents bought the property in 1952 (they weren’t even married yet), and they somehow managed to fun a fully functioning farm, without owning anything on it (he’s told me 90% of everything here belongs to him). It’s all part of why I want him to get psychiatric help.

The judge pretty much brushed his comments off as something to be dealt with in Case Management.

Given his mental state, I don’t expect anything to be accomplished by Case Management. But, at the very least, it will show the courts that we tried.

The year long delay for things to go to trial, though… good Lord! So much can happen within that year! Even then, ultimately it’s just a piece of paper. But it’s a tool that will, hopefully, get him help for his mental health, and maybe stop drinking (which hasn’t even come up, yet). The judge may even choose to have our vandals guns removed. Not that it would stop him from doing something like setting fire to the house.

*sigh*

The police recommended I apply for the restraining order back on 2018, when I first laid charges. It was already stressful enough to press charges – which got stayed, anyhow – and I didn’t want to go through it all. On the one hand, it feels like I shouldn’t have bothered now. On the other, I wish I’d done it back in 2018, before the world went crazy.

*sigh*

What’s done is done. I can’t stop now, or things will just get worse.

Meanwhile, we just keep on going, taking care of this place, and improving it any way we can.

And protect what’s left of it it from our vandal.

The Re-Farmer

Boxes, tubers, broken tools and… cows!

We’re having another lovely, mild day with sunny skies. A perfect day to get more done outside!

My main goal for the day was to finally build the third low raised bed box and set it up.

The ground is starting to freeze, though, so I couldn’t make quite as deep a “foundation” as with the other beds. It should be all right, though.

This is as much as going to be done with it, for now. Things are supposed to get warmer of the weekend, so I might get a chance to bury stuff from the compost pile down the middle, then top it up for the winter.

While I was building the bed, my younger daughter started working on beds in the old kitchen garden.

Beds that were more shaded than other areas.

Beds that were more frozen than not!

Alas, it was too much for our garden fork; one of the few useable tools we found that hadn’t been “disappeared” while the place was empty. It had a tendency to bend in that spot, and when my daughter tried to straighten it, it broke! The poor thing felt so bad.

The old kitchen garden got left for warmer days, and my daughter moved on to clean up the remaining bed at the chain link fence. The chicken wire protecting the cucamelons and gourds had to be removed, the plants pulled, and the soil moved to prepare for the block planters.

The cucamelons did not to well in our drought. The plants grew, there were many, many flowers, with teeny little fruit, but very few of them ever matured. Very likely, they just didn’t get polinated.

As my daughter dug the area up, however, she discovered they did much better below the soil!

Cucamelons produce tubers. I’d read that, in colder climates like ours, they can be dug up, put in a pot of soil and overwintered indoors, then transplanted in the spring. I tried that last year, but the tubers just disappeared in the soil. They, however, were nowhere near as big and thick as these ones!

My daughter set aside the biggest ones, and we will try overwintering them. Maybe at this size, they will have a better chance of surviving to be transplanted.

When my daughter was done cleaning out the bed, she headed inside and I continued working on it.

We had four of these chimney blocks waiting. My daughter had already moved the soil, and I just needed to level it for the blocks.

I found more cucamelon tubers in the process!

I ended up moving the blocks a little bit further away from the fence, so that when we bring up the remaining blocks and lay them down, the fence post won’t be in the way. I put leaf litter in the bottoms of the blocks before filling with the soil, since there is so much of it handy.

It was around this time that I could hear the sound of a utility vehicle nearby, so I headed over. The wife of the couple renting the property had come over to check the electric fence. I have spoken and messaged with her quite a few times, but this is the first time I met her in person! She brought their little daughter along, too, and she was a great help with holding the wire for Mom. It did take quite a while to find one of the ends; it must have gotten caught on a cow’s leg when it got spooked. Not only was it well away from the fence, but a couple of the support poles were pulled right out of the ground!

There was just enough slack that she could twist the wires back together, then we went around to another section where she said she had found a cow had gotten through, in a very unusual spot. She agreed with me, that something must have spooked the cows into going through areas they normally don’t.

While we were walking around, the cows were intensely curious about us humans – and looking for another grain treat!

Just look at those adorable faces!!

Unfortunately, they were a bit TOO interested in Tiny Human, who was starting to get scared. With just cause. Cows may look docile, but they can be aggressive and dangerous to an adult, never mind a wee one. Tiny Human was much more comfortable being carried by Mom!

I took the opportunity to tell her about where we are looking to put a fence through the old hay yard, so we can plant trees for a wind break against the south winds. She let me know that they will likely take out the old fences completely, and put in new, because of the cows getting through so often. We also talked about redoing the fencing around the septic field, so we can still access it from our side, rather than filling in those gaps the cows got through this time. She said she would pass on the things I brought up, and hopefully her husband will soon be able to find the time to come over and we can do a more thorough walk about and discuss it in more detail. They are such good renters. With all our long term plans, I don’t want to be doing anything to make it more difficult for them. That’s part of why I wanted to make sure they knew about where I want to add the fence and plant a windbreak, since it takes away some of the land the cows graze in.

So, all in all, it turned out to be a very productive day, on several levels. πŸ™‚

The only down side, is we how have to replace a garden fork. πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer

2022 garden preparation: fixing up the tomato bed

Today, I took advantage of the lovely, warmer than forecast weather we are having, to clean up and redo the tomato bed.

Here is how it looked when I started. This is a new bed, built this spring, and I was very happy to see how deep and strong the roots on the tomato plants where, when I pulled them. I also saw the biggest, fattest worms I’ve seen this year!!

There were two goals to redoing this bed. One was to make sure the soil didn’t go through the chain link fence. When the bed was build, we laid cardboard down on the grass first, with the flaps up against the fence. That cardboard is pretty broken down now. We had to top up the soil part way through the year, and boards I’d scavenged from the barn were used to keep it from going through the fence. The other goal was to use the bricks to create a little retaining wall around the bed. When watering the tomatoes, no matter how gentle we tried to be, soil eroded into the path, exposing roots. Especially at the end by the vehicle gate, which got even more soil added to try and combat the erosion.

The first thing to do was move the soil away from the fence and pull up the boards. Then I went back along the fence with a hoe to make it as even as I could.

The boards were then put back, this time to fit in between the fence posts. Each section got one full length board, plus another cut to about 3/4 length. I snagged an extra board from the where the cucamelons were planted, on the other side of the people gate, to have enough.

The chain link fence is kind of wobbly, so I used the left over sections of board and placed them at the “seams” between each pair of boards, to support them from the weight of the soil.

Then, in a couple of sections, I also hammered pegs into the ground on the outside of the fence, for extra support.

That done, it was time to start working on the bricks.

First, I had a decision to make.

Should I make the bed two, or three, bricks wide?

I decided on two and a half!

This way, not only would the bed be a comfortable width, but there would be no corner to catch a foot on. Because I just know that I’d be doing that, constantly! πŸ˜€

Once that was decided, the soil was moved out of the way and the space where the bricks would go, leveled as well as I could with a hoe. Then the bricks were spread out along the length of the bed.

Would I have enough? It did look like it, but I wasn’t completely sure.

The next job was to use a garden claw to loosen the soil where the bricks would go, so I could push them down a bit. Not too far, though, because I didn’t want to lose any height.

By the time I reached the end, there was a gap of about two inches, so I just moved the bricks at the end to fill it!

Then is was time to level off the soil. This was also the time to pick out any remaining weeds and roots.

Then I went over it with a hose to wash the soil against the bricks and boards a bit more, and clean off any soil that got on top.

The final touch was to mulch the whole thing with leaf litter.

This bed is now ready for next year!

The tomatoes did so well here, we might use it for tomatoes again next year!

The boards and bricks around this bed are temporary. The wood will rot away, and there bricks are just sitting on the ground. At some point, we plan to get to the salvage place and see what sort of bricks and blocks we can find. Maybe even some paving stones. Once we have the materials, the path will be laid with bricks or paving stones, and the bed itself well get framed in a more permanent way. Until we are able to do that, though, this will be enough to keep the soil in this bed from washing away when we water it.

I was pretty much done when the girls finished their stuff inside, and came out to work on the last bed in the main garden area that needed to be cleaned up.

Since we have the straw bale now – and the chipper/shredder – I am thinking of running some straw through the shredder and using that to mulch the top of these beds over the winter.

Aside from that, these beds in the main garden area are now all done and ready for next year.

I’m pretty happy with how these are turning out!

The Re-Farmer

Filling the high raised bed.

Today worked out to be a longer day than planned. I had intended to do a Costco trip to the city tomorrow but decided that 1) I didn’t want to deal with weekend crowds and 2) Halloween is around the corner, and I didn’t want to deal with even bigger crowds because of it! So I headed into the city this morning. After this, we’ll need to go over what’s left that we need to pick up, then make one more trip – after Halloween!

Once that was done and everything was put away, I headed to the finished high raised bed, to start filling it, modified hΓΌgelkultur style.

While making the bed, I tried to put all the scrap bits of wood inside, so the first order of business was to spread those out more evenly. Then the short logs that had been used to frame this bed over the summer were added to the bottom. There weren’t a lot of those, but we have plenty of piles of wood to raid. I tried to put the bigger pieces on the bottom, then smaller pieces on top, using them to fill gaps as best I could. Then I started adding bark to fill gaps, too. Ideally, there would be no gaps, but with so many odd shaped pieces of wood, that wasn’t really an option.

Thankfully, we have lots of bark debris. This spot used to have a pile of logs between the two spruces. There is just one long one with a weirdly shaped end left. It needs to be cut up before we can use it.

The nice thing is, along with the partially decomposed bark, I was able to pick up quite a bit of spruce needles. Not enough to increase the acidity of our very alkaline soil, but every little bit helps!

I added a couple of wheelbarrow loads of bark into here, and even went around the bed to pick up little bits of wood and handfuls of sawdust to toss in. I wanted to fill the gaps as much as I possibly could.

Next, a few shovels full of soil was added. This is the soil that had been dug out of this bed before the high raised bed was built. Just a very thin layer was added to fill in the gaps a bit more, and give the breakdown of the wood a bit of a boost of soil microorganisms.

Next came a nice thick layer of corn stalks that we saved, just for this! If we did not have the corn stalks, this layer would have been straw, because straw takes longer to decompose than the other things that will be added.

Yes, we have straw, now!

This got delivered while I was working on the corn stalk layer.

I broke that baby open almost right away!

With the layers, I was alternating between “brown” and “green” layers. The corn stalks were a brown layer, so the next layer (after a bit more soil) was grass clippings, which are considered a “green” element.

I stole the grass clippings from the nearby garlic bed, replacing it with straw. I was concerned the grass clippings might smother the garlic. Later, we will replace the grass clipping mulch on the other two beds with straw as well.

But not today.

With each additional layer of soil, I added a bit more than the previous soil layer. The layers were still pretty thin, comparatively speaking, but I could already notice the weight of it was causing the looser layers below to settle and sink. If I had any, I would have been using compost or manure to layer instead of, or in addition to, the soil.

The next brown layer was leaves.

The final green layer got all the bitter lettuce and frozen chard that had been pulled from the other beds. The kitchen compost buckets got added as well, so there’s also things like egg shells and coffee grounds in there.

Now, it was time to add the rest of the soil. This job actually took the longest, because I frequently stopped to spread it out, pull out the roots and rocks, break up clumps, and make sure any worms that hitched a ride were gently and safely buried.

I stopped adding soil when I was getting too many crab grass rhizomes and rocks to make it worthwhile anymore, and the last of it got raked out evenly, as did the soil in the raised bed.

The very last layer was a mulch of wood chips. Thanks to my mother’s generosity in getting us the wood chipper, we had enough to add a couple of inches to the top.

I expect the contents to settle and sink over the next while. We’ll probably be down a few inches, by spring. Which is okay. We will continue to add more organic matter to build it up.

I must say, I am so thrilled with the height of this. It is SO much easier on the back to work at this height! I don’t even have a back injury. I’m just old. πŸ˜‰ It might be a bit low for my husband, if he ever wanted to do a bit of gardening, but he would be able to reach while sitting in his walker just fine.

One down, five more to go!

Eventually. πŸ˜€

Temperatures are expected to continue to be mild over the next couple of weeks; a few degrees above freezing during the say, and just barely below freezing overnight. We’re expecting some rain tomorrow, then possible rain and snow over the next couple of days. Which means we can still continue preparing garden beds for next year. I might even be able to start cutting down more dead trees before things start getting too cold. It would be good to have the lengths pre-cut to build more beds, even if building them ended up waiting until next fall. Mind you, there’s nothing stopping us from adding more beds to the main garden area, other than possibly running out of material to layer with. My only hesitation is that we intend to expend our garden area into the outer yard, where there is better sun exposure, and those will all be high raised beds. Perhaps by the time we’re ready to build those, we’ll be able to use materials other than salvaged dead spruce trees!

Gosh, I’m having so much fun with all this!

The Re-Farmer