Our 2022 garden: more progress, second harvest and we have squash!!

Since we weren’t going to get any cooler, I headed out before I lost light, to see what I could do with the small batch of cardboard I got today. There wasn’t much, so I decided to use it here…

To the right of the sweet corn are five Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins, barely visible in the grass and weeds coming up through the straw.

Once the cardboard was down, you could see that the plants are actually fairly large! Smaller than they should be for this time of year, but still larger than most of the squash. In fact, all the hulless pumpkins seem to be doing better than most of the other squash.

After laying down the cardboard, I gave it a soak, then tromped on them to flatten them a bit. I would have stomped the grass down before the cardboard was laid down, but I didn’t want to risk accidentally stepping on a pumpkin plant. As we get more cardboard, the Boston Marrow and the G-star patty pan squash will be done first, then any spaces in between will be covered, including beside the rows of corn.

We need lots more cardboard for this.

Once this was done, I went to check the other garden beds and found a wonderful surprise.

Our first summer squash! There’s a second, smaller one on another plant. I’m really happy, not just to finally see some vegetables, but because this is a Madga squash. The first time we grew them, only 2 plants made it, and last year we had only one. They did not produce as much as the other summer squash, either. This year, we’ve got 4 surviving plants, and they’re the first to produce fruit!

We also got a second harvest this evening.

The garlic bed that is so far behind the one in the main garden has scapes ready to harvest! This is almost all of them. There’s just a very few left that aren’t ready to pick yet.

It may be late in the season, but at least we’re getting something from the garden!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning harvest

Though we have been grabbing lettuce and spinach leaves, as needed, this morning we our first harvest from the garden!

One bed with onion sets planted around it got a hair cut. They were trimmed down to about 6 inches, and that almost filled the colander. I did see one that was starting to form a bulbil, so I left that to go to seed. Onions are bi-annual, but with sets, their time in dormancy has them acting as if they are in their second year, instead of their first. With the onions we grew from seed, I would like to leave some to overwinter, so we can get seed next year, but I have to figure out how to do that and have them actually survive the winter.

I also gathered the very last of the scapes in the big garlic. The other garlic that is behind is not yet showing signs of scapes.

In the high raised bed, the first spinach we planted was starting to bolt, so I pulled them all up, before they could get too bitter.

After trimming off most of the leaves, the remains were laid along either side of a row of onions to act as a mulch. They are more on the wood chips than against the onions. These onions are from seed, and are looking like they could use a trim, too, though they are quite a bit smaller than the onions from sets.

The other row of spinach looks like we’ll be pulling it fairly soon, too.

Once those are out, we can plant something else. I still have radish and chard seeds that would work. Most likely, chard will be planted. We’re not big on radishes and, if the conditions had been better, they would have been planted much earlier to try their pods, rather than for their bulbs. It’s too late in the season to grow radishes for their pods, I think.

We’re nowhere near the stage where we can be harvesting something out of the garden every morning, so it was really nice to be able to have something like this now. What we don’t use fresh right away will be cleaned, trimmed, chopped and either frozen (at least the onions), or dehydrated (that worked really well for the spinach, last year).

If we do any dehydrating, though, we’ll be doing small batched in the oven, rather than using the screens. All the mint we had dehydrating, and by the time they were done, there was only enough left to barely fill a small jar. The cats wrecked the rest! At least with the mint, there is still lots in the garden.

The Re-Farmer

I blinked, and the day went by!

My goodness, where did the day go? I just realized it’s past 6pm, but it feels like it should be 2pm. This, even though I ended up doing the rest of our monthly stock-up shopping today.

The mamas were out in full force when I came out to do my rounds this morning – and so was Sad Face! I just had to try for a picture of him on the shrine. I couldn’t get any closer, as he runs off. Which I’m good with, because he has been beating up Potato Beetle and The Distinguished Guest a lot!

He is, however, waiting his turn for the food, letting Rosencrantz eat her fill, first!

It’s entirely possible she’s pregnant with his kittens.

Before coming in from my rounds, I paused to get eaten alive by mosquitoes while picking the rest of the garlic scapes in the main garden. There are only a couple that weren’t ready to pick. Looking forward to using them!

With the other garlic so far behind, we should have more scapes to harvest in about a month or so. A bonus to that garlic coming up so late!

While I was putting food out for the cats and the birds, Potato Beetle appeared in the sun room, enjoying his very own private breakfast. When I was leaving to do the shopping, I found him like this.

Awwww… So cute!

He’s still really skinny again, so I hope he stays around long enough to put some meat back on those bones. And with both Sad Face and The Distinguished Guest prowling around, I’m much more comfortable with him safe in the sun room!

The last of our stock-up shopping for the month was a Walmart trip this time. Partly because I finally wore out my last pair of jeans and needed to get new ones.

Very little of what I needed to get was food times. I got four 7kg bags of kibble; hopefully, we now have enough to last the month. With the skunks and the racoons also eating the kibble, I’ve taken to setting out less kibble, more often. Hopefully, the cats will get more of it that way, and the kibble will last longer.

We needed to stock up more on paper products, in non-Costco sizes. We’re slowly building up an inventory of non-perishable products, with a goal of having at least a 3 month supply by winter. That way, if we get snowed in, or vehicles break down – or if we get another spring of flooding and washed out roads – we will be set. We need to be doing that with cat kibble, too, but with how many big bags we need just for 1 month, stocking up extra is much more difficult!

The brand of bug spray I bought last time didn’t seem to work well at all. During the cookout, we all used it liberally, but the mosquitoes were practically mainlining the stuff instead of being repelled by it. I was able to find the brand that we find works best and bought a couple of cans – along with more AfterBite!

Finding a new pair of jeans was annoying. I tried on a couple of pairs and found ones that fit – on the upper body. Unfortunately, it seems the popular style is skinny leg jeans. The only reason I could get them on my calves at all was because the fabric was part Spandex. Went through rack after rack before finally finding one style that were regular cut on the legs. Thankfully, they had some in my size, too.

It shouldn’t be this hard to find clothes that fit! Honestly, I think the next time I need to get a pair of pants, I should just go to the men’s department. At least if they’re too long, I can get my daughter to hem them for me or something.

I did have a small splurge today. Nosencrantz and Butterscotch still refuse to leave my office. I have a scratch board for them that they completely ignore. Nozencrantz has been using my office chair as a scratch post. Usually, we get the scratch pads made out of corrugated cardboard, and I was originally going to get two of them, but I found a cheap little cat tower that I got instead of a second scratch pad. Hopefully, they will figure out how to use that, instead of my constantly having to stop them from clawing either my chair, or the carpet!

Well, that didn’t take long! As soon as there was a space while unpacking the shopping, Tissue jumped right in!

I gave the cardboard scratch pad to the other cats, but kept aside the cat nip that came with it. After assembling the new little cat tower, I put cat nip all over it, and on the other scratch board they’ve been ignoring, then gave the last of the cat nip to the other cats. Which is always hilarious.

Butterscotch and Nosencrantz seemed happy enough with the cat nip, and mildly curious about the little scratch tower. Then Cheddar wanted in and discovered the tower. It’s barely taller than he is! It has a curved portion with a “comb” under it for cats to rub up against, and I’m not sure he can even fit through it, but he was certainly enjoying the hanging toy and bell, while going into a cat-nip fueled frenzy over the thing. Nosencrantz just sat on a nearby foot stool, looking at Cheddar like he was crazy!

Well. He was a bit high on catnip, so I guess in a way, he was!

They’re all sleeping it off on my bed right now.

I still don’t know if they’ve figured out they can scratch at that thing, yet.

When I next went into the dining room, I found cats splayed all over the place, in a stupor, with Susan all curled up on the cardboard scratch pad (which got its own catnip application), taking a nap!

Aside from the regular monthly shopping, my husband asked if I could get some prices for dimensional lumber, so I stopped at a hardware store on my way home. It’s in the town my mother lives in, and I know they deliver. After getting the prices, I remembered to pick up some new clothes line to replace what broke this spring. I hope 100 feet will be enough. I also got proper clothesline spreader. Two of them, actually. There’s a lot of distance between the poles! I’d been using S hooks, and they don’t slide very well.

When I headed into the city, I drove into a deluge of rain, and by the time I got home, the rain had reached our place. Enough that we have water all over, again. I’m not complaining, though. It means the garden doesn’t need to be watered, and it’s not so much that things are drowning again.

One of the things I was able to get done yesterday was finally prune away some large branches from the ornamental apple trees in the old kitchen garden. Where we have the bunching onions planted is not doing well, and drying out faster, because of the thick mat of interlocking branches above. There was one large branch from each tree that I wanted to take out but, once those were down, it uncovered a whole lot of dead branches. By the time I got that all cut away and cleared out, it was looking much more open and bright at the end of the garden. Which means the retaining wall blocks and the bed along them all got today’s rain better, too!

Oh, my goodness! I am so happy!

Just moments ago, I had to stop Nosencrantz from scratching at my chair again. She left – and then I heard her using the new scratch post directly behind me! She’s figured it out!!! Yay!

Okay, time for me to get my butt back outside and do my evening rounds.

Because even though it still feels like it should be the afternoon, it is well into the evening right now!

Where did the day go?

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! 🙂

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

The Purple Stripe looks so meager compared to the others. 😀

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. 🙂

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. 🙂 Then we can think about what to plant in them, next year! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Critter battle update, a mini harvest, and we’re getting poppies!

First, a bit of a follow up from yesterday. After blocking the woodchuck holes by the house and in the old garden area, I headed out a few times to check on the one by the house. Twice, I found things disturbed!

This picture was taken after the second time I found it dug up. The first time, I had started to remove the plastic around the back of the mock orange, saw that things had been pulled out, and started tying it back again. As I was fussing and making noise, I could actually hear little grunting noises coming from under the stairs! I found some rocks had been dug up a bit on the other side, too, but just a little. After blocking the other side, I tried spraying water into the little gaps remaining, to try and pursuade the woodchuck to leave out the other side. We never saw it, but I came back later and it seemed to be gone, so I blocked the opening again. A couple of hours later, what you see in the photo above it what I came back to! After making as sure as I could there was nothing inside, I blocked it off again. As of today, it has not been disturbed again, so here’s hoping the critter has decided it’s not worth the effort.

Later in the evening, I found this in the old garden area.

Much to my surprise, the first den we found was dug into again! It was just a small hole compared to before – the buried sticks seemed to work in preventing further digging. I blocked it off and, when I checked it this morning, it was still buried. Once again, I’m hoping the woodchuck has decided it’s not worth the effort and have moved on.

After doing the watering this morning, I picked a tiny little harvest.

There was one zucchini big enough to pick, and I gathered the last of the garlic scapes (unless I missed one or two). Plus, we have our first peas. 😀 Only two pods from the purple peas. Because the pea plants are so stunted in growth, the weight of the pods were keeping the plants they were on from being able to reach the trellis lines. At least we’ll be able to taste the peas. I’m curious about how the purple peas taste. Reviews on the Baker Creek website were pretty mixed!

Unfortunately, it looks like some of the pea plants are not just stunted in growth, but have been nibbled on, too! Where this is new nibbles or not, I couldn’t really tell. I also noticed new nibbles on the Crespo squash. Any part of the squash that started to grow outside the hoop and twine barrier seems to be getting nibbled. We’ll have to find a way to extend the barrier.

Meanwhile, in the old kitchen garden, I’m happy to see pods developing on the Giant Rattle poppies! These had had such a rough started, I wasn’t sure what we would get, so this is making me very happy. For this year, we might have enough pods to taste them, but not enough for cooking with; mostly I want to save the seeds to grow more next year, and fill the bed. Gosh, this brings back memories! When I was a kid, my mother grew similar poppies in this garden, and I remember my late brother and I picking dried out pods and eating the seeds, straight from the garden. We would later have big bunches of the dried pods (well… big, in my childhood memory!) gathered. The only thing I remember my mother making with them was a special soup she made only for our Wigilia (Christmas Eve) dinner.

I did have another harvest this morning, which will get its own post next. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: first scapes

My daughter had noticed that some of the garlic scapes looked ready to harvest, so when I did my rounds this morning, I came prepared to grab them!

Our very first garlic scapes!

We’ve never had scapes before, and are really looking forward to trying them. Only 4 were ready to harvest this morning, but there are plenty more that we’ll be harvesting soon. So far, only one variety of garlic has scapes. A second variety is just starting to show the tips of them, while the third variety doesn’t have anything, yet. Between the three, we should have quite the extended season of them!

Now we have to figure out what to do with just 4 scapes. 😀

I also picked our first beet greens, lettuces and green onions this morning, along with more spinach. They’ve been around for a while; I just wanted to wait until the plants were robust enough before I went in among them.

Have you ever had scapes before? If so, what’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

The Re-Farmer