Wet, wet and more wet!

I am so, so glad the girls were able to get the clogged downspouts cleared yesterday! We had a thunderstorm last night, and are currently under weather alerts for more severe thunderstorms.

This is the one, draining into the north yard, that was causing the most problems. It is under this corner that the most water is leaching into the basement. This basement does have weeping tile, but they are not working as they should anymore, and are probably clogged at this end.

There is another downspout at the south end, but it had only the short piece of eavestrough at the end to divert the water away from the house. For some reason, we’ve got about a dozen or more downspouts in the garage, so I grabbed one for them, and they set it up to extend into the bed where the dwarf Korean lilac is. With how tall the grass is in the outer yard, it was actually a struggle to get through it, to reach the barn!!

I’ll put up with the extension blocking the path along the house. It’s not as bad as the north corner, but we do have water seeping into the basement a bit in the south corner, too. The wall is partly damaged by the roots from the Chinese elm my mother planted for shade in front of the kitchen window. 😦

While they worked on that, I worked on the trellises.

I decided I’m just going to have to buy more of those bamboo stakes once pay comes in. A pair of them was set up at each of the uprights for the two rows that need trellising. That left me with 4 stakes left. I lashed them to the bottoms of alternate A frames, for 2 on each side. To finish the job on both rows, I’ll need 10 more of these 6′ bamboo poles. Then I used the net from last year and set that up, lacing twine along the ends and at the bottom stakes, to snug it up. We need to get more of this type of net. The spacing is large enough that we can reach through to harvest our beans, peas or cucumbers. The other net we have is 1/4 inch mesh.

After this, I also put a simple rope fence around where we have squash, beans and corn planted. At this point, I just want to stop the deer from walking through it. They’re not after anything there – yet. You’ll see that set up in a photo below.

During the night, the skies opened and the rains poured down! I actually slept through it, awakened only by one exceptionally loud peal of thunder. While doing my rounds this morning, however, I could not believe how much water there is, everywhere! It must have been quite the deluge! I’m still holding out hope to be able to mow the west and north lawns, but that’s not going to happen today, that’s for sure! The west lawn is now mostly under water. Most of the north lawn as well. I’ve never seen that much open water in those areas before.

The squash patch is very wet – thankfully, the straw mulch is helping keep that under control. We’ve had paths between the low raised beds filled with puddles before, but not this much around where the grow bags and the small potato bed are.

I’m actually surprised the mosquito netting has held out. Their purpose is to keep the plants from being pounded by rain or hail, while still letting the water through, and it seems to be working. They’re only held in place with wooden clothes pegs!

I’m standing in water to take the above picture. There is even a large puddle next to the remains of the straw bale. The melons are likely good with the wet – they do need a lot of water, normally – but I’m concerned that some of the potatoes might get drowned.

This is the patch I “fenced” off last night. I used some old conduit pipes I found in the barn and pounded them in place as fence posts. They’ve got 2 lengths of twine running around them, far enough apart that we can just bend down and step through to get to the plants. I also dangled lengths of bells in different places, so even if a deer decided to step through, it would hopefully make a noise and distract it away. I added one of the pinwheels we have to the top of a pipe for the distraction. Little by little, we’ll set up more distractions and noise makers around the garden beds. Eventually, we will probably have to put a hardware cloth fence up, to at least protect the corn.

Assuming the corn and beans survive. As you can see, the sprouting corn is under water in places. The north end of the row with the popcorn in it is all under water. Still no beans coming up next to the sweet corn. Will they survive? I have no idea.

Even the area where the trellises are is full of water. This corner of the yard has been notorious for being incredibly dry and baked hard by the sun. Thankfully, the rows themselves are slightly elevated with the addition of garden soil and mulch, and even our digging and weeding before planting means where the plants are growing, the soil has better drainage.

The nearby sea buckthorn is high enough to not be in puddles – and they are finally unfurling their leaves! Nice to see they all took.

The silver buffalo berry is also doing surprisingly well. Moving south, the land slowly slopes downwards, so the last 10 or so silver buffalo berry are in pools of water. At least three of those have been in water for quite a while, and are still okay. They seem to be quite resilient!

The beds in the east yard are almost surrounded by water. Remarkably, the ground cherries are doing all right. I think that grass mulch is acting as a sponge, keeping them from being drowned out completely. There are pools of water right next to the mulch.

The paths between the low raised beds, and the entire lawn in front of them, is full of water. There is basically a pond in front of the outhouse. Thankfully, the raised beds are making a difference. There is increased growth visible in the Kulli corn, and the beans between them are looking very healthy. The tomatoes and onions are also looking strong – and those onions are really taking off! The 6 transplanted garlic at the far end of the third bed may not all make it, but the rest of the garlic is finally looking like they are taking off. I figure they are at least a month behind the garlic in the main garden area.

The other beds in the south yard are all high enough to be out of water. It looks like all 10 of the sunchoke tubers planted are now sprouted; some of the tubers have multiple stalks coming up. The asparagus and strawberry bed are right next to the vehicle gate, which is full of water, but the bed is doing well. Likewise, the beds along the chain link fence, on either side of the people gate, are above water and doing well. Still no signs of white strawberries.

The old kitchen garden has a slightly different situation. We’ve deliberately built it up over the past 4 years and have the retaining wall at one end, so it’s above the water that is in the lawn surrounding it. The house itself also usually keeps parts of it from getting rained on as much, not to mention the ornamental apple trees. However, the sump pump hose drains into the sun room garden, and that pump is going off quite frequently. It drains next to the bed where we’ve got the beets planted. I shift the end every now and then, so it’s either draining straight down a mulched path between the bed and the laundry platform, or it’s draining into the mulch at the end of the bed, and partly down the path on the other side.

These are all areas that are normally drier than everywhere else. Until this year, the sump pump basically never went off, because we’d been so dry. Now, not only are we getting more rain, but there’s all that nice, clear water from the sump pump reservoir being added. There is currently so much lush growth along the house side of the old kitchen garden that the path we made using salvaged cap stones, bricks and rocks along the house is almost hidden. The high end of the beet bed is almost overgrown with mint – and I dug up and transplanted as much of the mint from there as I could, last fall. Then again in the spring, I pulled up more of it when getting the bed ready for planting! The path is also full of mint at that end, along with loads of crab grass. Moving north along the house, it’s more of those invasive wildflowers, some of which my mother planted deliberately, not knowing they were invasive, and some are the same ones we’ve got taking over all over the place. I don’t mind them in the paths too much, but they’re coming up in the L shaped bed, too, and choking out the lettuce.

We have a drainage hose for the sump pump, but it’s currently being used for the washing machine to drain outside (it sounds like whatever is causing the water to back up in the pipes is still a problem). I’d like to add an extension so that the sump pump drains further away. With the length these hoses come in, we could even move the end to different areas of the old kitchen garden that might need more water, if we wanted. The area it’s draining into right now is getting to be too much of a jungle! πŸ˜€

We had already determined that we’ll be building high raised beds for mobility reasons. For some crops, like corn, tomatoes and vining plants, we would still want to have low raised beds. High raised beds are notorious for drying out quickly and needing more water, which is why we are using modified hΓΌgelkultur methods to fill them, with all those layers of wood and organic matter acting as a sponge to hold water. This spring has shown us that even for a wet year, there are benefits to having raised beds, as they are keeping things from being drowned, too. Even a few inches of elevation or a mulch is making a difference.

When we get around to building permanent high raised beds in the outer yard, from what I’ve been seeing so far, water like this will be less of a problem. There are patches with water collecting in them, but where we are planning to build the beds seems clear. We’ll see better once we finally get that overgrown grass cut. It’s about 3 ft high, at least! I almost feel like asking one of our neighbours if they have a grazing animal we could borrow. Otherwise, it feels like such a waste to cut it all!

We’ll figure it out.

The Re-Farmer

A couple days break?

We had quite a lot of rain yesterday, with temperatures much cooler than forecast for the first day of summer. The cool was much appreciated! It was nice being able to open up more windows again.

The problem is how wet everything is. Even the new part basement now has water pooling in places. Unlike the old basement, we can’t sweep this into a drain or a sump pump cistern. All we can do is keep a fan on it, really.

We’re supposed to have a couple of days that are warmer and without rain. Hopefully, that will be enough to let the grass dry out enough that I can finish mowing the lawn tomorrow. No chance of being able to get it done today, even if I wasn’t going to be at my mother’s for her home care assessment appointment. After that, however, we’re looking at possible thunderstorms and more rain for several more days.

While doing my morning rounds, I saw a couple of the kittens under the cat’s house again. I’m glad to see them, after they got so frightened by the lawn mower. I caught a brief glimpse of the little calico’s face. Her one eye still seems gooby, but otherwise all right.

The garden plots seem to be holding out all right, though I noticed a lot of pole beans at the trellises seem to have lost their leaves. I can’t tell if it’s because they were eaten by something, or because they wilted and fell off from excess moisture. There are still lots of plants, though, so we should still be good.

I’m pretty sure one of the lilacs at the corner of the storage house has been totally drowned. The few leaves it managed to grow are gone. If it survives, I’ll be amazed. There are others that aren’t quite as bad, and I think they’ll make it.

The Kulli corn seems to finally be recovering from transplant shock, looking more green and actually growing. The bush beans growing with them are progressing nicely. The first planting of spinach and one type of lettuce are getting big enough we should be able to start harvesting leaves and thinning them out.

As much of a problem the excess rain is, after last year’s drought and having to water every day, twice a day, throughout the summer, I’m really happy with how things are growing right now.

Still, it’ll be nice to have a couple of days break from the rain!

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, and yes, spring really is trying to arrive

This morning, I got to pet Nosencrantz’s mother, Rosencrantz.

Not for too long, though, as she stops eating when I pet her, and I knew she was hungry.

Her boy, Toesencrantz, was hungry enough to come to the corner of the tray, but not hungry enough to let my near him!

Altogether, I counted a dozen cats this morning.

While switching out memory cards on the gate cam, Rosencrantz came RUNNING up to me for pets.

She’s so… elegant looking… πŸ˜€

It’s April 9 as I write this. Spring has been with us for a few weeks now.

Honest.

In about a month and a half, we’re should be starting to plant some things in here.

Honest.

See? Spring!

No, these are not pussy willows. There are leaf buds on a huge poplar at the fence line.

Getting very tired of snow.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: first seeds started

Though it is very early in the year, we have our first seeds started indoors today. A lot of people in our zone have already got seedlings, while still others are saying, it’s way too early.

So which is it?

I happened on a video today, talking about planting peppers and eggplants, which we are doing for the first time this year. Both are plants we never grew when I was a kid, so I have zero familiarity with them.

This particular video mentioned something I’ve never heard before, yet had wondered about.

When reading the seed packets, they say things like “start indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost date”.

Last year, we had a lot of issues with some things not germinating. Some took forever to germinate. Others never did at all. This was particularly true of various squash, plus all the Hope Black Dye sunflowers – with did finally all germinate, when I started taking the trays outside, while hardening off other seedlings.

What got mentioned in this video, is that when they say “4-6 weeks before last frost,” it’s actually from germination, not from planting the seeds. So if you have something that needs to be started, say, 6 weeks before last frost, but the packet says the seeds take 7-10 days to terminated, then the time to start them indoors is 6 weeks, plus 7-10 days.

That actually makes so much more sense to me.

I’d already made a list of which seeds needed to be started when, and these were the ones that needed at least 8 weeks.

The gourds were started first, as they needed extra steps. Among the things recommended that I wanted to try was scarification and pre-soaking.

So that’s what I started this morning.

Of the gourds we will be trying to grow this year, I chose the Canteen gourd to start early, as the gourds are supposed to get quite large. The other gourds I want to grow are smaller at full maturity.

Which lead me to another thing. With the luffa, we’re not after “days to maturity”, which is 110 days, if I remember correctly. We’re after the sponges, so we need for those mature gourds to dry out. That puts them at 200 days. Even starting now, we might not have that long for them. It will depend on whether or not we get another really long summer again. Of course, in the end, everything depends on the weather.

I chose 6 of the plumpest, healthiest looking seeds from each, then carefully snipped their outer shells with a nail clipper, before putting them inside the folds of a paper towel.

Then they went into sandwich baggies, and the insides were sprayed with water, before being sealed and left to sit. Most places recommended leaving them overnight, but I left them “overday” instead. πŸ˜‰

Then they went into planting pots filled with pre-moistened seed starting soil. My daughter used a chopstick to push them the inch into the soil they needed to go. Once covered, the tops of the soil got sprayed with water.

Then it was time to take a look at the rest of the seeds and see what we had to work with. None of the packets have a lot of seeds in them, but we are not after a lot of individual plants.

The Sophie’s Choice tomato was a conundrum for me. Everything I read about them said they needed to be started very early; a couple of weeks earlier than other tomatoes. Yet they are an early tomato, with only 55 days to maturity. At only 55 days, we could start them outdoors and they’d have plenty of time to mature. Odd.

For all but the Wonderberry, we decided to plant about 5 seeds per pot, and three pots each. With the gourds, that filled an entire tray.

The Wonderberry got planted using the double cup method. I reused some of the Red Solo cups we used last year, with the inner cups having drainage holes in the bottom, so they can be watered from below, using the outer cup.

We still had seeds left over, even with how little was in each packet, so that’s nice.

We used more boxes to bring the tray and cups closer to the lights, inside the big aquarium greenhouse. The heat mat fits under the tray. I’m hoping that just being near the mat as well as close to the light fixtures, one of which does warm up, will be good enough to adequately warm the Wonderberry in their cups.

The double cups got water in their bottoms before they were put in place, and water was added to the tray once it was settled on the heat mat. We do still have a little fan blowing into the tank, though it’s over the orchids and aloe in the other corner. We won’t be able to cover these with a plastic dome, as typically recommended, so I’ll be making sure to use a spray bottle to keep the tops moistened, since the smaller seeds are so much closer to the surface. There’s quite a bit of water in the tray so, with the heat mat, that should help increase the humidity levels, with the fan hopefully keeping things from starting to mold.

The heat mat doesn’t have a thermometer, nor do we have a soil thermometer, so we’ll have to monitor these fairly closely. Everything is plugged into a power bar, which gets shut off every night, so there will at least be that break. If it seems to be getting too warm – unlikely, for what we’ve got planted in there – we can put something under the tray to elevate it. Once the seeds germinate, we can probably take the mat out entirely.

The next things we’ll be starting are the onions, which won’t need the heat mat, but when it comes time to start the rest of the tomatoes, and all the squash, we’ll need both the heat mat and space – and space is going to be harder to come by! We do have a mini greenhouse, the frame of which we are currently using in the sun room to hold the heater bulb for Butterscotch and Nosencratnz, as they recover. We did try to use it in the living room last year, as it does have a zippered cover, but the cats still managed to get into it. If we could find some way to keep the cats out of it, it would go a long way to helping with our space issues!

We’ll figure something out.

The main thing is, we’ve got stuff started that need that extra time indoors.

Yay!!

The Re-Farmer

The good, the bad, the “someone just shoot me now”

What a day.

What a long day that started really well…

I had a very enthusiastic crowd waiting for me this morning. Including the new edition. I was even able to pet her a few times, though she kept moving away when I did.

But yes, I was able to confirm. Our new addition is a she.

I just hope that, wherever she came from, she’s already fixed.

In the end, I counted 19 cats this morning. Only Rosencrantz was missing. πŸ™‚

My morning rounds now include going to the very corner of the property to check on the sign. No vandalism! (yet?)

What I found interesting is that the squash tunnel was shaded. It is only this time of year that the shadows from the spruce grove reach this far. In the summer, the squash tunnel gets full sun, all day. The main garden area’s beds, meanwhile, are now in pretty much full shade all day. What a difference, time of year makes!

The transplanted mint is looking just fine; not at all droopy from being moved.

One of the empty blocks, however, seems to attracted a critter. Possibly a skunk digging for grubs. Whatever it was, it lost us some of the soil in those openings around the edges! I want to fill those with sand or gravel.

After I finish my rounds, I spend some time going over the trail cam files. We had a long list of things to work on outside, while it is still relatively warm in the afternoon. I was going to head out right after having lunch, then calling my mom to arrange to bring her to see the sign tomorrow.

She called me first.

She wanted to come today.

I told her I was thinking of tomorrow, because it’s such a warm day, and we have lots to do outside. She said the warm day was why she wanted to come today, because it would be harder for her when it was cooler. And I could spare an hour for her, couldn’t I?

Which would mean just driving her over to see the sign, taking some photos of her next to it, then driving her home. Was that what she was wanting to do?

Yes.

Okay.

So off I head to the town she lives in, and when I get there, she is cleaning out her purse and preparing a list of things she needs.

Since I’m there with her car, anyhow…

Okay, so we’ve added grocery shopping to the list. No worries.

We head back to the farm and as we come to our driveway, my Mom suggests we go straight to where the sign is from the road, not in the driveway. As we get closer, however, she suggested we keep going to look at the other quarter section, first. Just a drive by. This was something she had talked about wanting to go before, so I was expecting it. We did the drive, saw that it looks like the renter has moved his cows to that quarter, since there is a hay bale, salt blocks and a feeder set up near the gate. At the far end of the property is an intersection I can turn around at, then back we went to the sigh. I pulled over on the road, and there was thankfully a nice level spot she could go over with her walker. We got several pictures, and then back to the car.

Did she want to see what I did with the outhouse? I ask.

Oh, yes! was her enthusiastic reply.

I am such an idiot.

First, we drove over to the old workshop that is now completely filled with all my parents’ stuff we cleared out of the house. There was an old framed print she wanted. This was something else that had come up in past conversation, so we too the opportunity to grab that. Then we drove into the yard, and I backed up towards the outhouse.

My mother being ticked off that I did that, instead of parking further ahead, as usual, should have been my first warning.

To make it short, because I really don’t want to relive the experience, my mother decided to tour the inner yards, starting with the newly finished brick lined bed where the tomatoes were (she liked that, at least), but not until after making snide comments about the newly framed low beds where we have two types of garlic planted (so this is where you’re putting the garden now, is it? Uhm… no, Mom. It’s just the garlic).

I tried several times to redirect her to the outhouse, and she ignored me every time. As she worked her way around the yard, she made sure to give me a hard time about the garbage pile, which we need to hire someone to haul away for us (she didn’t have much to say when I pointed out this was garbage we found all around the yard that’s now in one place), acted surprised about the tire planters being moved, even though she’s been here since they were moved, and had just walked past the one that isn’t wrecked and could be used again), made sure to tell me to leave the spruce tree she planted at the chain link fence (I’s talked about transplanting it, before it gets so big it tears the fence apart, shortly after we moved out here, and she went ballistic on me, so I didn’t say anything this time). I commented on the second one that had been there dying, and she lectured me on how I should have watered it (it was killed by the cold, two winters ago), made numerous comments about the things I should have done around the yard (things I would have been doing, if she hadn’t asked me to bring her over), asked why I’d cut down the crab apple tree by the old compost, and when I told her it had died of diseased, lectured me about watering things again. Because, in her mind, if you water the trees, they won’t get disease. Then she mocked and laughed at me for building the high raised bed, the squash tunnel, the trellises and the low raised beds. No one does things like that, you see. They just plowed the whole thing.

Then she nagged me about various other things as she worked her way around the yard. When I thought she was finally going to the outhouse, she ended up going to the back door of the garage. She wanted to see the wood chipper.

That door leads to where her car is parked.

I tried to get her to go around, but she wrestled her walker through to door, so she could snoop in the garage. Which was have not even come close to cleaning up. I got the chipper out for her to see, and she really liked that, but then complained because there were still branch piles. Then she complained about how ugly they looked, and how ugly the post pounder my late brother built looked. I’d covered it with a tarp I’d found in the barn that was big enough, but after several years, the wind has torn it to shreds. We don’t have anything else big enough to protect it. But it looks ugly, and people can see it from the road, so it needs to be covered.

Eventually, we made our way back into the yard and…

She went to the car to leave.

By then, I’d opened the door to the outhouse, but hadn’t put the mat back because I wanted her to see how nice the floor looked, too.

She wouldn’t go near it. She just glanced over and said she could see it through the door. Then got into the car.

So, I put the mat back, closed up the outhouse, put her walker into the car, then we headed out.

Along the drive home, I tried to chat and mentioned the electric chainsaw we got. She mocked me about it, but in such a way that I didn’t understand her “joke” at all. Which then led to a whole slough of mockery.

I shouldn’t be using a chainsaw. I shouldn’t be doing men’s work. I need a man. Also, I’ve done nothing at the farm at all. Apparently, I’m a weak, useless, stupid woman who shouldn’t do actual work, except for the stuff that she used to do on the farm (while everything else magically did itself, apparently), which I am not doing right, because I haven’t done it yet, but she thinks I should have done it by now, or I’m not doing it the way she did, therefore I’m doing it wrong.

Oh, I forgot. At one point, when I told her that I’d lost a day of work by having to drive her around, she told me, what work? I don’t have cows to milk! What work am I doing? I don’t have any work.

Well, I called her on her behaviour, and pointed out that she shows no appreciation, gratitude or kindness. To which I got a sanctimonious, “yes, yes, get that off your chest” response. Because, clearly, I’m the one with the problem, and her cruelty and insults are neither cruel nor insulting.

*sigh*

Still, when we got back to her town, we were civil. I helped her with her grocery shopping, though she brought up getting an apple pie to have with tea when we got back to her place. I told her I didn’t have time to stop for tea, but she could get one if she wanted.

She didn’t.

Once at her place, I put her groceries away and she was going to give me some money for gas, which I do appreciate. She then brought out a bill (almost enough to cover the amount of gas spent in driving, but I do still appreciate it!) and told me, if I’d invited her inside for tea, I would have gotten more.

I told her, I didn’t realize that was an expectation.

By the time I left and put some gas in the tank, it was so late, I couldn’t even stop at the post office to pick up a package. My day was wasted. There was no time to even start anything when I got back, because I wouldn’t have enough time to finish before the light was gone.

I’m just so ticked off right now. After talking with my husband and telling him some of how it went, his response is, not to have her back here again. And at this point, I can’t disagree.

My mother is why we are living here. We came here to take care of the place for her. Now that the ownership has been transferred to my brother, I still try to respect her wishes as much as possible, and keep her informed of how things are going. In the end, though, she doesn’t own this place. My brother does. And he is very happy with what we are doing, and with our various plans for improving the place. He is our “landlord”. Not my mother. She has no actual say in how this place is run, and she certainly has no right to verbally abuse me.

I am lost past the stage where she can actually hurt me anymore, but my goodness, she can drain every bit of energy out of me. I feel more exhausted from a few hours with her – and it wasn’t even an unusually bad visit! – than I would have felt if I’d spend those same hours doing manual labour. Mental exhaustion is far more difficult to recover from than physical exhaustion. Still, to look at the bright side, at least there wasn’t a single racist rant or shouting about political issues she doesn’t understand, either.

Thank God my brother now owns this place. He and his wife more than make up for all the trouble my mother causes. They are such awesome people, and make it all worthwhile.

The Re-Farmer

The luffa is still trying! Plus, a bit of an update.

Our temperatures have been lurching around quite a bit, lately! Last night, we dipped to 3C/37F, but our high of the day is supposed to reach 23C/73F!

I’m watching our garden beds closely and had a surprise. Not only is our Ozark Nest Egg gourd trying to produce more gourds, so are the luffa!

This is our first – and until now, only – luffa that was developing. It’s withering away, likely due to lack of pollination.

Right near it I found these.

Three new luffa starting to develop!

There are even some male flowers blooming, too. With so few pollinators around right now, I am thinking of pollinating them by hand, to give them a chance to actually mature, but it’s almost October. Normally, I wouldn’t bother, but then, this year it looking like we will have a long, warm fall. I’d like to see how far along they get.

Though last night was chilly, we had no frost warnings, and when I headed out early this morning, to make sure the gate was open for the septic guy, I don’t think I saw any frost damage. I even was able to harvest a couple more zucchini this morning.

The overnight dip did make going to the outhouse during the night rather unpleasant! As I write this, we are still waiting on the septic guy to come by. All he could tell me when I called last night was that he thought he could make it in the morning.

Until the tank is emptied, there is no point in trying to unclog the pipe from the basement to the tank. So for now, we’re not only stuck using the outhouse, but doing things like using a bowl to wash up in, so the water can be dumped outside later, rather than going down the drain.

I’m really hoping we can get this is just a straightforward clearing of that pipe. Otherwise, we’ll be having to call a plumber, and that means dipping into funds set aside for other things. The good thing is, we have those funds if we need them, at least. :-/ As much of a pain as it can sometimes be, we’ve actually been able to set aside a bit of cash into a contingency fund. While we were living in the city, that was impossible to do. So I am thankful for that, at least!

The Re-Farmer

Caught in the act!

Oh, the adorable little beast.

I moved the garden cam again, this time onto the summer squash. I’d had to tie some of their stems back onto their supports, and wasn’t sure if they’d come loose under their own weight, or if something caused them to fall.

Our sunburst squash is looking prolific, but we’ve had very little to pick. Lots of them have been withering on the vine, but there have also been bite marks on them.

It is confirmed who is the cause of this!

I had the camera low on its pole, and at some point during the night it slid down and spun a bit to the left. Which is why it caught a raccoon going by. There was a possibility that the raccoons were doing damage, but it completely ignored the squash, other than to go around them.

I was about 99.9% sure it was the woodchuck doing the damage. Now it is 100% confirmed.

*sigh*

The Re-Farmer

What I found this morning

I tried to head out earlier to do my rounds this morning, as I wanted to make sure all the garden beds got a deep watering, and that the fall plantings got their shade covers. Last night, we never got cooler than 19C/66F, and it was already above 20C/68F by the time I got outside. We’re supposed to hit 31C/88F, with a humidex of 37C/99F by this afternoon.

They’re also saying we’re supposed to get thunderstorms this afternoon. I’ll believe THAT when I see it!

I had a few amusing surprises this morning. One of them was the filthy, filthy water bowls.

We often see where the skunks have been digging for grubs, but this was an unusually enthusiastic dig, for the dirt to be scattered into the water bowls like that!

There must be a lot of grubs right now, because I was finding little divots all over the place this morning.

Well, now.

It looks like the raccoons are not only still able to get to the bird feeder from below, but have figured out how to open the top!

Note the condition of the formerly white post.

The new hanging bird feeder was empty again. No real surprise there, as it is smaller than the old one. I didn’t find the canister on the ground this morning, but it was slid around to the “unlock” position.

It’s the support post that really caught my attention. You can’t really see it in the photo, but all up the post are little scratches in the wood. Then there’s the greasy layer of dirt stuck to it, like on the metal post supporting the big feeder. That would be from the raccoons greasy fur!

Ew.

I notice there’s a fair bit of exposed wood now, too. We’re going to have to pick up more of this paint. I don’t think we have enough left to do many touch ups.

This made me smile! The Little Gem squash is developing quite a few fruit, and this one is looking noticeably bigger, even from yesterday. When ripe, these will turn a deep, reddish orange – their other name is Red Kuri – with a round body and a little neck, and should reach 4-5 pounds.

Hopefully, enough of these will survive and ripen to make up for what looks like a complete loss on the Teddy squash. The plants are looking vigorous, and they are blooming, but it seems their developing fruit are irresistible to some short critter that isn’t triggering the motion sensor on the garden cam. From what I could see this morning, there are no female flowers, and any developing fruit there had been before are gone.

More information to file away for our garden next year!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: garlic is harvested!

Things have been a bit odd with our garlic this year. I am sure part of it is because of the drought, but others, I’m not so sure!

We did a partial harvest and curing of our Purple Stripe garlic a while ago. The remaining garlic looked like it was ready to harvest for the last week or so, but I wanted to be sure of them before I dug them up. Here is how the beds looked, before I started.

In the foreground are what’s left of the Purple Stripe garlic, and the other half of the bed is Rocambole.

This bed has the Porcelain Music in the foreground, and the other half of the Rocambole in the other side.

I started with the Purple Stripe, since I was curious to see how they compared to the ones that were harvested early.

I was very surprised and impressed! They are really nice and big!

The Porcelain Music has bulbs a fair bit smaller, and a lot more compact feeling. These probably should have been harvested maybe even a week ago.

Then it was time to start on the Rocambole, where I had a surprise waiting for me.

I found a pair of garlic scapes!

The Rocambole were the oddest of the garlic, and their scapes were part of that. We didn’t get a lot of scapes from them, since so many seemed to get stuck in the stems.

There was certainly a lot of them. They were the smallest of the garlic bulbs, though several of them were double bulbs. Quite a few of them had “bulbs” forming in their stems, of varying sizes.

Here is the entire harvest. I’m rather pleased with it! πŸ™‚

Each garlic type got tied off and hung to cure inside the gazebo tent.

The Purple Stripe looks so meager compared to the others. πŸ˜€

You can see some of the mutant Rocambole here. One of them had really large bulbils forming in the stem – easily as big as a head of garlic! – and almost no bulb underground.

There’s so much garlic handing in the gazebo tent, I’m a bit concerned about the weight on the supports! I wonder if we can find a way to hang them in the basement with the dehumidifier or something. It’s been so dry, we haven’t had to use the dehumidifier in the old basement at all this year.

While those are hanging to cure, I brought these ones inside.

There were a few odd little bulbs that lost their stems, or the stems were really weak. There’s even a couple of bulbils that fell of the stems of Rocambole. That’s what most of these are, though there are a few Porcelain Music in there, too. These will be for using right away. πŸ™‚

That is now it for our garlic in the garden! Now I just need to clean up the beds. I am thinking of going through the barn to see if there is any scrap wood suitable to build box frames for these beds. I don’t think we’ll be doing high raised beds here, but I do want to keep the soil from falling down the sides and into the paths. πŸ™‚ Then we can think about what to plant in them, next year! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Little friends, and garlic mystery solved?

Well, we’ve passed our forecasted high of the day and have reached 30C/86F, with the humidex putting us at 35C/95F, this afternoon. We did, however, get RAIN this morning! I was awakened by the sound of thunder, so I quickly went outside to make sure the cats and birds had food before the rain hit. The storm blew past us, but it did start to rain while I was still outside. I’ll take the nice, gentle rain, thank you very much!

Unfortunately, it looks like this will be the last rain we’ll have in a while, and tomorrow the smoke is supposed to be back. What rain we did have never reached the fires up north. 😦

While doing my evening rounds yesterday, and checking the old kitchen garden (the floating row covers are doing their job; no signs of critters trying to get under them, and our carrots are recovering!), I stumbled on a pretty green friend!

It was just hanging out on the leaf of one of the flowers that made its way through the layers of mulch we put on this garden, two summers ago. We’ve seen a lot of frogs this year (likely because all the ponds and ditches have dried up), but we don’t often see the green tree frogs.

It didn’t seem to like us giants hanging around, so we let it be, though I must admit, it is very tempting to want to hold it.

I also was able to get a picture of some furry friends.

Rosencrantz and Nosencrantz were calm enough to just watch me as I went by. Toesencrantz, unfortunately, is more skittish and was hiding.

I so want to boop Nosencrantz’s nose. πŸ˜€

While the girls and I were checking the garlic beds, I showed them this odd garlic.

It looks like garlic is forming inside the stem, and this one is getting pretty big. I’d noticed another had started to show signs of this happening a few days ago. This is only in the Racombole garlic, which is split between the two garlic beds, so the girls started looking around in the other bed, and we found several more.

This one was the strangest looking one, and it may explain what’s happening.

This looks like a garlic scape! This might explain why the Racombole seemed to have fewer scapes than the other two varieties. Instead of growing out the tops, as they should have, the scapes look like they got stuck in the bottoms of the stems in quite a few of the plants. Since they didn’t get harvested, bulbils are now forming inside the stems, eventually bursting through. Only this one had the rest of the scape emerge from the stem for us to see.

It also looks like something tried to give this one a taste!

In theory, we can keep the bulbils and plant them in the fall. Hardneck garlic are bi-annual, growing seeds in their second year. Planting the cloves, rather than the bulbils, and harvesting the scapes by passes that, allowing for large bulbs with lots of cloves to form. If we planted bulbils, we sould get small bulbs that are basically one big clove. Kind of like the garlic we had to harvest early, because the plants died back so soon.

It should be interesting to see the bulbs that form under the plants that have these trapped bulbils growing in their stems. I would expect they would be smaller bulbs, though with conditions this year, I expect all of them to be smaller. I don’t expect to have any suitable for planting next year. This year, for our fall planting, we are looking to double the amount of garlic we plant. I should order them soon; they will be shipped when ready for planting in our zone, so ordering early will not be an issue. We will just have to decide where we want to plant them this fall, as we rotate things.

I am finding that half the fun of gardening is planning out next year’s garden! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer