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

Our 2021 garden cleanup: progress and plans for the day

I worked on some of the garden beds yesterday, until it got too dark to keep it up. Here is what I managed to get done.

The first bed I worked on was the beet bed by the garlic, as this one will be getting a box frame soon. I started by removing the bricks and rocks around the edges, some of which you can see in the background.

I had to come back this morning to get a picture of this area. The beet bed had a row of red bricks along one side, which I moved over by the tomato bed. Then I went around the house and yard to pick up all the red bricks I could find and brought them over. When this bed gets cleaned up, we’ll re-do the boards along the fence, so that they fit better between the fence posts and line the entire length of the fence, to keep soil from washing through the chain link. The rest of the bed will be framed with these bricks, to keep the soil from washing into the path.

Amazingly, even though the vines are quite dead, there are still tomatoes ripening. I did not expect that, with the temperatures we’ve been having!

The beet bed then got weeded, and lengthened to match the garlic beds. I also moved the soil more towards the middle. I will not be digging out the soil to do the layering like I did with the others on this one. We only have wood enough to make a box frame one board high, so even though the boards I found are wider than the ones used in the other beds, it still won’t make a bed as deep as the others. This bed also got layers of material buried in it as it was made this spring, and quite a lot of the new garden soil was added, so it won’t need as much material to fill it. Once the box is built, it’ll pretty much just be laid over the existing bed. About the most I’ll do is make a “foundation” of old boards, like I did with the other two beds. Once that’s in place, I will make a trench in the middle of the soil and bury more organic material from the compost pile, but that’s about it.

The next area I worked on was a quick job. I just had to spread out and level the soil from the potato bags (and even found a few missed potatoes!). Nothing fancy is happening here. There are some lilies that need to be broken up, and they will be transplanted here.

The last spot I worked on before it started getting too dark was where the poppies had been. One of the things my daughters and I observed over the summer is that we needed to make areas to walk through, without stepping on plants. So at one end, by the rhubarb, I used the flat stones I found under the old wine barrel planter along the spruce grove as stepping stones. The rhubarb covered the poppies that had been planted near it, so I’m considering transplanting those somewhere else completely, but that won’t be done until the spring. We have only three interlocking bricks, so I used them as stepping stones at the end nearer the laundry platform.

The poppies that were here would have self seeded, which my loosening of the soil would have disturbed, but that’s okay. I did harvest a few little pods. I will broadcast more seeds some time over the next few days, then do it again in the spring. Once they have established themselves, this should end up being a permanent bed for Giant Rattle Breadseed Poppy. I do plan to get another variety of edible poppies I found from a Canadian source, but those will be planted in a completely different area.

So that’s as far as I got, yesterday evening. Today, I won’t be working on the garden clean up at all. My daughters will be working on that, later today. It’s supposed to warm up a bit more, but I’m really hoping the winds will die down. They made things quite bitter while I did my rounds this morning!

I’ve asked them to take before and after pictures for me. πŸ˜€

As for me, I have decided that I will can some of our beets. After going over my recipes, we do have enough to pickle. My daughter has been doing refrigerator pickles with the summer squash, which is great, but they take up a lot of room in the fridge, so I want to do water bath canning, so they will be shelf stable. I should at least get a half dozen 500ml jars.

I’d better get started!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: cleanup up and high raised bed progress

While I was working on the garlic, my daughter did a whole bunch of clean up!

She pulled the Dorinny corn stalks that were next to the squash tunnel, then pulled all the squash, gourds and melon. Aside from the sunflowers, which we will be leaving for the deer to nibble on in the winter, we just need to weed and prep the beds that will be used next year, and put away things like the bin we keep tools and supplies in, empty the rain barrel and put it away for the winter, and take down the last of the critter barriers.

Then she pulled all the purple corn stalks, removed the three layers of barriers we had around the Crespo squash, and pulled those, too. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with the corn block. There’s some very good soil there. It would be good to plant some sort of legume there, next year, to replace the nitrogen the corn used up. As for the squash hill, that’s something else I’m not sure what do do with. When we plant squash again next year, I want it to all be on the other side of the main beds, where they get more hours of sunlight.

What a sad sight. The Crespo squash had recovered so well from the critter damage! I definitely will be trying these again – with critter barriers, right from the start!

Once I finished with the last garlic bed, I pulled the frozen chard and the remaining radishes we’d hope to grow for pods.

All those radishes we planted, and these are the only ones that survived the grasshoppers!

It’s a shame we don’t have chickens. They would have loved all the greens we pulled today! Not that they will go to waste. They will get buried in the beds as we prepare them for next year. There are still four more beds in the main garden area, including the one with lettuce still in it, to clean up. The lettuce is handling the overnight cold very well, but they have become very bitter tasting, so they will be pulled. Of course, there is still the high raised bed to work on.

I had company while I worked on the garlic. The cats do like the high raised bed. I’m sure the wood is much warmer on their toes than the ground. πŸ™‚

My daughter was able to help with the high raised bed this time. She finished making the notches on the next end piece, in the background, while I cut another 9′ side piece from the last tree we cut down. She does not like using the baby chainsaw, and much prefers a hammer and chisel, so I started on the notches on the end piece in the foreground, until the second battery on the baby chainsaw ran out. By then, it was starting to get dark, so my daughter finished up the end piece she was working on and we called it a day. You can’t see the cuts I made on the end piece in the foreground, as I rolled the log onto them. They make it less likely to roll around, should the cats decide to climb all over it again.

The side pieces that are waiting are from higher up in the tree trunk, and quite a bit thinner than the other logs. Almost too thin. Since we will probably make this bed four logs high, I am thinking I should wait until I have thicker logs to use, and save the narrower ones for the top row. The tree that’s still stuck on the branches would give me logs that are just the right size – if we could get it the rest of the way down! πŸ˜€ It’s either that, or find another dead tree to cut down. The problem with that is, most of the trees that need to be cut down are all really huge. They might be too big!

As glad as I am to have so many dead trees available that are still solid enough for this project, I’m a bit sorry to be using them. These are the trees we intended to use for the walls of the cordwood shed we plan to build as an outdoor bathroom. It’s possible, however, that we will be able to get a load of cast-off electricity poles. These are the remains of poles that broke in storms or had to be replaced for some reason, and we’re on the mailing list with the electric company. They don’t come available often, and not always in our area, but these are cedar poles and would be much better to use for cordwood walls than spruce. So maybe it’s for the better, that the dead spruces are being used to build high raised bed gardens!

The Re-Farmer

Guess what I’ll be doing today!

I made a trip to the post office today and had a lovely surprise.

Our garlic is in!

According to the Canada Post tracker, it wasn’t supposed to arrive for another four days.

We have our garlic, but we still don’t have a straw bale to mulch the bed, so I messaged our renter about it. When we bought from them before, they usually had a bale over right away, so I was wondering.

Sadly, my suspicions were correct. They are having to buy all their hay and straw bales themselves this year. They haven’t got their shipment yet, and don’t even know what to charge me until they pay for it themselves. Yet they’re still willing to part with one for me!

We ended up chatting a bit, and it’s been a very rough year from them. Almost everything is a write off this year. The corn they harvested from the field by our place was chopped up and will be made into silage, at least. Even their garden was decimated by the grasshoppers, on top of the drought.

So it may be a while before we get a straw bale. Now that I know this, I will cover the garlic beds with plastic and maybe some grass clippings until the straw comes in.

Since the garlic will be going into the low raised beds we built this year, I’m thinking it might be worth dismantling the long covers we made for the main garden beds and use the materials to make covers for the low raised beds. We shall see. That’s something that can wait until spring. Cleaning up and preparing the beds for planting in the spring is the priority right now.

But first, I will go start breaking apart garlic bulbs to get them ready for planting!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: clean up, little harvests and high raised bed progress

It was a chilly day for it, but we got quite a bit done cleaning up in the garden today.

My focus was on finishing with the abandoned carrot bed that was half done yesterday.

This is how it was left lat night. The second half had the Kyoto Red carrots planted, and after the groundhogs got at them, most had gone to seed when they grew back among the weeds.

Yet we still managed to have some carrots of an edible size!

There were a lot more twisted ones than with the Napoli carrots. This bed had been built on top of one of the potato beds we’d planted the year before, then basically doubled the length. The half the Kyoto Red were on was on top of non-amended ground, and you could see in some of the longer carrots, where they had hit rocks or harder soil, and twisted their way around. Even using the garden fork to loosen the soil and pull up the carrots was harder than the first half.

What a difference with the carrots that had gone to see!

It doesn’t look like we’ll be collecting any; if there are any mature seeds on some of these, I can’t tell.

Once I pulled as much as I could, I started working on cleaning out the weeds and roots. One of my daughter came out after I started that part, and she started working on the sweet corn blocks.

She stacked those next the high raised bed, as I’ll be using some of them in the layers of material used to fill it.

The sunflowers were left for now, but all three blocks of sweet corn were cleared.

She also pulled the summer squash and beans. These beds will be used again next year, so I got her to leave the plants there for now. The beds still need to be weeded and prepped for next year, and I might be able to make use of the plants to improve the soil more.

My daughter also moved the sprinkler hoses, but they were pretty cold and brittle, so they’ve been laid out in the sun for now. It’s supposed to start warming up over the next while, so I’ll wait for a nice warm day before rolling them up for storage.

By the time she got all that done, I was just finishing cleaning the carrot bed. Thankfully, none of the other beds will need as much work to clean them, and will go a lot faster!

My daughter did the final leveling and raking of the bed while I got the tools to continue working on the high raised bed.

I’m finally starting to get a bit of a method down. Between that and the narrower logs, I’m getting the notches cut faster. The logs on the ends are so huge, if I were making this bed only two logs high, I could leave the ends as they are now! As it is, when I add the end pieces for the next level, the narrower side logs means I should only need to cut notches on the cross pieces.

When I got to the point where the second battery on my baby chainsaw needed to sit for a bit before I could squeeze in a few more cuts, I took the time to cut some of the sunflowers. Checking them this morning, I was seeing a lot more losses to birds, so I figured we should get them inside while we still had seeds. πŸ˜€

One pile has the Mongolian Giants and the other has the Hopi Black Dye. I don’t know that all the seed heads I collected will give us finished seeds, but we shall see. I cut the stalks pretty long, which meant some of them included the little baby sunflowers that were branching out, too. Those will, for sure, not have any mature seeds on them, but that’s okay.

At this point, we would be hanging them someplace warm and dry. The best place right now is the sun room, and we have no way to hang anything in there just yet, so I made do.

They should still get good circulation around them on these shelves as they dry. I am very curious as to what we will get out of them!

There is a lot more clean up to do, but thankfully we are expected to continue to get mild weather. So much so, that I am still holding off in broadcasting the wildflower seeds for a while longer. Doing this in the fall will only work if there is no chance of germination, so I would rather wait a bit longer. I think one more week will do it, just to be on the safe side.

The Re-Farmer

Today’s progress: high raised bed and half a carrot bed. Plus, a robocall with a difference!

One of the things about living our here is that phone calls are pretty rare things.

We like it that way.

Every now and then, we’ll get a robocall. Sometimes, from political parties, for conference call town hall meetings, or urgent messages telling us that we are about to be arrested by Canada Revenue for some reason or another, if we don’t call them immediately – and give them our personal information, of course. You know. The usual.

I was just preparing to write this post when we got a robocall with a difference. It was for our municipality, but from the RCMP. It was a warning that there was possibly an armed and dangerous suspect in our area! And by “our area”, they meant the two nearest cities, plus our region. Not municipality. Region. Which is huge.

The alert came with a name, but no description of the person. We did get a description and license plate of their truck, as if that means anything.

After the call, I settled back at my compute to continue with this post. I am happy to say I finally got some progress on the high raised bed that’s worth blogging about. Of course, I’m keeping a close eye on the weather. One of the handy things is that I have a little icon from The Weather Network in the corner of my task bar with the temperature on it and, when warranted, it flashes red with a white lightning bolt as a weather warning. We used to get those whenever there was a frost warning, but I have not seen that, even after last night’s heavy frost. It was flashing when I sat down, though, so I figured we were finally getting a frost warning.

Nope.

My weather app was giving a public safety alert, and it took me to the exact same message from the RCMP that I got from the robocall!

There is no other information about this guy, but they sure to want us to know he’s dangerous and might be in the area!

Or hours away from us, considering how large of an area they are including!

None of us are particularly concerned, but the warnings are appreciated.

Anyhow. To the topic at hand!

Progress on the high raised bed has been frustratingly slow. My tools are the baby chain saw, a hatchet (our other axes are too big for the job), a hammer and a chisel. Basically, I use the baby chain saw until both batteries are drained, with the other tools used to remove material in stages.

Today, I also worked on the carrot bed next to the high raised bed, which meant the first battery actually had time to charge, giving me a chance to get more done than usual.

Which means I FINALLY got the second log in place on one side of the bed.

That took ridiculously long to do! But, it’s now in place, and I’ve started on the other side.

I used the second log to mark where I needed to cut the notches on the side log and end logs. The logs at the end are the thickest, so I started removing material from there, first.

I think part of why I’m so frustrated is, I’ve got three chain saws. The gas powered one broke when I tried to start it, simply because the plastic shell was so old and brittle. The electric one I found was checked out, and they found nothing wrong with it and just sharpened the chain for me, but I discovered it leaked chain oil when I found it in a puddle after the first time I used it, which was for just a single cut before I switched to the baby chainsaw. The next time I used it, I found it would simply stop cutting after just a few seconds. I still have the little, electric, convertible pole chain saw with a 10 inch blade my husband got for me a couple of years ago. It would be enough to do the job, but something went wrong with it the first summer we got it. I checked it out again today, and it basically just screams when I try to make a cut, and the chain stops turning. I’ve got that in the van now, for the next time I go into town and can leave it at the small engine shop to see if they can fix it. I can’t even try using the reciprocating saw. It runs, but no longer shuts off. It needs to be unplugged to turn it off, and it even starts trying to run when it’s plugged back in, making and it quite unsafe to use.

If even one of those chainsaws worked, this thing would be done by now!

*sigh*

Ah, well. It is what it is. Hopefully, I will still be able to complete the high raised bed, and fill it, before the snow flies.

One of the things I found with the baby chainsaw is that, when it first seems to run out of juice, and the red light starts blinking on the battery meter, I can set it aside for a little bit and it will actually “recover” and run again for a while. That usually gives me time to chop or chisel away excess wood. I can usually do this a few times before the battery is finally completely dead. This also gave me time to pull carrots while waiting on the battery life.

I just dug up the Napoli carrots in half the bed. With the Kyoto Red mostly gone to seed, I figured they could wait.

Pulling them all from in between the weeds was certainly a challenge, even using a garden fork to loosen the soil and weeds!

After draining the second battery on the baby chainsaw, I had time to clean up the weeds, pulling out all the roots I could. If some leaves got left behind, I didn’t care, but my goodness, there were some REALLY deep roots I had to dig out!

Half the bed, all done! Hopefully, I’ve pulled out enough roots that it won’t get this bad again, next year! The time it took to do this was enough for a battery to charge, and get more done on the right raised bed.

The temperatures are supposed to stay the same as today for a couple more days, then start to warm up again, which should hopefully give more time to work on the high raised bed and, of course, finish cleaning up all the garden beds and ready them for next year, too.

The Re-Farmer