Our 2022 garden: kulli corn, yellow beans and garlic

Yes! Finally! Major transplanting was started today. 🙂

The first thing I needed to finish was topping up the low raised bed they were going into.

Since the snow melted away, we’ve been adding our kitchen compost in the trench, which already had some straw in it, and I even tossed in the soil from various pots we had, from house plants that died, to seed starts from last year that didn’t germinate. The last layer before adding the soil was some fresh grass clippings.

This is the first time this pile of garden soil has been uncovered since last year.

So. Many. Thistles!

And those roots go all the way though the pile.

Which meant I had to bring the makeshift soil sifter into service, so get as many of the roots as possible out. It was long and tedious, but at least it was made a bit easier by scavenging a couple of scrap boards out of a pile to support the steel mesh, rather than the found branches I was using before. Sifting the soil had to be a gentle process, because there were SO many worms.

I kept the worms for the new bed. 😀

After the soil was added, stove pellets were scattered across the top and hydrated so act as a thin mulch. It won’t stop any weeds, but it will help keep the soil surface from compacting. After several soakings, the sawdust was spread evenly with the back of a fan rake.

It took a couple of hours, but I could finally transplant the kulli corn!

They had a major root system going! It made it difficult to get them out of the bins, then pull apart the tubes. The toilet paper really wanted to come apart!

With the larger bin, it was even more difficult to get them out, and the whole thing ended up falling out and apart. I think only one corn plant actually got broken, though. We’ll see if it makes it.

I counted the seedlings, then marked three rows of 20 evenly spaced spots for the corn. The actual total was 58, including some smaller ones that may or may not make it. We ordered 100 seeds, and there were extras, so we’re looking at roughly 50% germination rate. Which I don’t mind. We would have had trouble finding space for more. They are quite closely planted, as it is. Which should be good for improving pollination.

Of the remaining rolls, I broke apart the cardboard and rifled through it. No sign of the remaining seeds that did not germinate. The carboard went into the compost pile, while the remaining soil was used to top dress any seedlings that looked like they could use it.

I had also grabbed a bag of bush beans from last year, picking the one that looked like it had fewer seeds. That was the yellow “Golden Rod” variety. We still have some green bush beans left, too.

I counted the bean seeds and there was 38 – which was perfect! I could plant two rows of 19 beans, in between the corn.

As they are “old” seeds, I don’t expect 100% germination. This bed is very densely planted, but they should be complimentary.

The corn, however, needed to be protected. The question was, how?

I made a trip to the barn and dug out the T posts I spotted in one corner, a while back. There turned out to be 6 of them, all different lengths. :-/

I had to dig holes to be able to set them, using a garden trowel, since a spade would have been just too big. Within inches, I was hitting water, then rocks and gravel. After placing the posts and trying to push the soil back against them, there was literally water, shooting out from the ground, as I stomped on the soil!

We have no post pounder, so I found a heavy hammer to try and drive them deeper. Especially the longest one, but I think that one ended up hitting a rock. Being the short person that I am, for the taller once, I had to stand on the corners of the bed to reach. Even with a board across the corner to stand on, I was wobbling all over the place! LOL

Once they were in, I strung some twine around to further support the net, once it was added. That was a job that had to wait for when the girls were available.

In the two garlic beds, the nearer one had only 6 remaining garlic coming up – and one of those was barely there. I could find no sign of the few others that had emerged, as well.

I decided to transplant those 6 garlic into the other bed. That one has a lot more garlic trying to grow, but there was still plenty of space at one end to transplant the remaining 6 of the other variety.

The left a bed available for planting into, which we did end up doing.

The main challenge was, how do we cover the bed with netting, yet still be able to access the plants, easily, for weeding and eventual harvesting of yellow beans.

Piece of pool noodles were added to the tops of the posts, so they wouldn’t tear apart the net. When the one on the tallest post fell off, I left it. If it tears, it’ll only go down to the twine, and will actually line up better with the rest.

When I brought the T posts out of the barn, I also grabbed a stack of narrow pipes. I have no idea what they were for, or why they were stored there, but I figured the might make good supports. The short ends of the net are wrapped around those pipes and zip tied into place. For the long sides, we zip tied narrow fence posts we found… somewhere, to weigh down the netting. Any gaps were further secured with ground staples. If we want to tend the bed, we can remove the ground staples and lift the poles to get under the netting.

Hopefully, that will work out.

The corn can potentially grow to 8 ft tall, which is higher than the netting, but if they do get that tall, we’ll deal with it, then.

That was my big job for today, but it wasn’t the only one we got accomplished! I’ll write about that, in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: sad garlic

I’m mentioned in previous posts, that two of our garlic beds are not doing well. We planted all three beds at the same time, last year.

While doing my rounds this morning, I caught one of the yard cats being… inappropriate… in one of the low raised bed and chased it off. On checking the damage, I saw it had dug up one of the cloves we planted last year.

That is most definitely a dead clove. You can see that it had started to sprout, which would have been the fall growth before the snow fell. It does seem like cold killed a lot of these off.

This garlic is from the bed planted with Rocambole garlic.

There were 90 cloves planted in this bed. This morning, I counted maybe 7, including what looked like a tip just barely breaking through.

The bed with Purple Stripe in it is doing a bit better, in that there are more emerging, but it still looks like less than half have survived the winter, and they are all so very tiny.

I am curious as to why these beds did so poorly over the winter, while the Porcelain Music planted in the low raised bed in the main garden are doing to very well right now. Could it be, that the slightly higher boxes offered less protection than the lower, log framed bed?

Well, whatever the reason, I hope what few have survived manage to do well, even if they are quite a bit behind in growth. It may just mean we’ll be harvesting them later in the summer.

The Re-Farmer

Some progress today

I’m going to try something a bit different with my images today. I’m starting to run low on storage space on WordPress. The only way to increase it is to upgrade my legacy plan – at more than triple the price. Instead, I’ll try uploading them elsewhere and embedding them. Please let me know if you have any issues with them.

I actually got useable pictures of the outside cats while doing my rounds this morning!

I spotted a dozen of them, in total, this morning. There was about eight of them waiting at the door for me! It’s been a while since they’ve done that. 🙂

Today, I actually got ahead on a few things. I wasn’t sure if I would, since I was heading to my mother’s to help her with her shopping and didn’t know how long I’d be gone.

I picked up our usual lunch along the way, though she didn’t think she would be up to a larger meal. I figured if she wasn’t, we could just put it in the fridge for later. By the time I got there, though, she did have some of it, and was glad for the change. Plus, she still has some for later, so that worked out.

She is feeling better, though still says she hurts from top to bottom. My brother thinks she has the flu, though the way she describes it, it sounds like how I get when the barometric pressure changes drastically – and we do have thunderstorms on the forecast! To be honest, most of my joints are hurting, too. Stiff and sore finger joints are making it hard to type! So to me, that seems a likely cause, since she has no other symptoms other than a slight headache.

Still, she wasn’t going to go to the grocery store with me. She took her Tylenol, and was going to stay home to rest. She was feeling pretty sad about having to miss a dinner event tonight. One of the local colonies used to host annual dinners with entertainment for widows and widowers, and she looked forward to them every year. They weren’t allowed to host these for the past two years, and she really missed them. When they called to confirm if she were coming and she had to say no, they asked if they could bring her a care package! She happily said yes. That was sweet of them. 🙂

After going over her list to make sure I knew what she wanted, and in what quantities, etc., I headed to the grocery store. As I was unloading the items at the cash desk, the cashier asked about my mother! I didn’t recognize the cashier, though; it’s the first time I’ve seen all of her face, but she recognized me since I have never been able to wear a mask, and this is one of the few places where it was safe for me to go to. It was nice that she asked about my mother. She thinks my mom is funny. 😀

Once back at my mother’s place and putting stuff away in her fridge, there was a knock at the door. It was one of her neighbours, coming to check up on her! Then, as I was leaving, a passed another neighbour coming out of her apartment, and she asked how my mother was, too, telling me she’d checked on her last night.

I am glad that my mother has so many neighbours keeping an eye out for her! Now that the abusive caretakers have quit, things are really good in her building now. 🙂

It turned out to be a really nice day today, and the winds died down, so once I got home, I snagged a daughter and we set the platform up for hardening off the transplants, out of reach from critters that might eat them. There are now so many seedlings germinating in the flat trays of cucumbers and summer squash right now – only the green zucchini isn’t germinating yet – I even brought those out, too, setting them up on the roof of the cats’ house, along with the new strawberries. It’s been a few days since we brought the trays and bins out, so I only wanted to leave them for an hour. They really should have been in the shade, but that wasn’t an option, so I brought a hose out of storage and misted them all, and made sure the trays and bins all had water in their bottoms.

Then I took advantage of the lovely day and finished up the chimney block planters at the chain link fence.

The last four got a layer of shredded paper on the bottom, a layer of the soil from the new bed in this spot last year, a layer of straw, then topped with more soil. Between the space the blocks take up, and the layers of straw and shredded paper, there was extra soil, so that got used to top up the four blocks that were done in the fall and had settled. This is the garden soil we bought two truckloads of last year, so I didn’t want to waste any! Once these were filled and the soil in the path smoothed off, I used straw to cover the path along the blocks, so it wouldn’t be muddy to walk on. The blocks all got watered to help the soil settle in, too.

These are now ready for anything with a vining habit, or that can use the support of the fence.

That done, I decided to do a bit of work in a bed I’d already prepared in the old kitchen garden. I noticed some greenery coming through at one end, and wanted to pull those out so they wouldn’t cause problems for the food plants we’ll be planting there. A good excuse to use my new garden fork! 😀

Well, it didn’t turn out to be the quick job I thought it would be.

I’d already prepped the bed using a hoe, but once I started digging deep with the fork and pulling those plants up from the roots, I just kept finding more roots.

And more roots.

Then more roots!

Before I knew it, I was working my way across the entire bed.

Part way through, my timer went off. I got my daughters to help me bring the transplants back into the sun room, so I could get back to work faster! 😀

While working on the bed, I remembered that we still had an upper piece of spruce tree by the compost heap. Most of it had been used in the high raised bed, but the upper parts were too thin and wonky. I figured it would do very well in the old kitchen garden. When I was done pulling out as many roots as I could – there was no way I was going to get all of them! – my daughters helped me bring the log over and set it in place.

After leveling the soil, I hosed off the log and the blocks to clean things up a bit and settle in the soil. Later on, we’ll add more straw to the paths, and I’ll make sure to push some against the underside of the log as much as possible, to make sure no soil gets washed out under the bendy parts of the log.

I think this will work out rather well. As we find ourselves with other leftover pieces of log like this, we’ll probably border the L shaped bed with them, too, to help keep the soil from eroding into the paths.

You can see some of the roots I pulled out, in the lawn on the other side of the retaining wall blocks. While all the roots couldn’t be removed, it should still go a long way in reducing how many of these… whatever they were… from growing around whatever we end up planting here.

One thing is for sure; the soil here is SO much improved since we first started working on this garden! I could easily push the garden fork deep into the ground, and the soil was rich with earthworms. This bed would do well for any deep root vegetable – as long as we can keep the groundhogs and deer out!

Speaking of which…

The wire fencing we’ve managed to put around the tulip patch seems to be working. No new tulips have been eaten, and even among the ones that did get eaten, some look like they are growing again. They won’t be able to bloom, but should at least be able to store enough energy to be able to regrow next year.

One other thing that is growing well is the garlic in the main garden area.

They are getting so tall! The garlic in the other two beds, in the south east yard, are just barely breaking ground right now, but here, some of them at as much as 8 inches tall! What a difference. They were planted at the same time, and mulched the same way. The only major difference is location and, with that, sunlight. This particular bed, which is right next to our first high raised bed, would be getting light for more than 12 hours, this time of year. The other two beds get at least 8 hours of light this time of year, but are in shade for the morning hours.

This bodes well for when we build more of the permanent high raised beds in this area.

Gosh, it feels good to be working outside again! We’re supposed to get light rain tomorrow, with warmer temperatures. Weather willing, I’m looking forward to getting back at it! I especially want to prepare the areas the potatoes will be going in. I got an email with a tracking number from Canada Post today, and they should arrive by the 24th.

I can hardly wait to get those into the ground!

The Re-Farmer

Things that make us smile

I had a few pleasant surprises this morning. Such as some new crocuses that exploded into bloom overnight!

When I checked them this morning, there was only this one cluster of purple crocuses. I just got back from walking around the yard with my daughters, and a second cluster was blooming, next to it!

There may be only a couple of clusters of purple crocuses, but the yellow ones burst into bloom all through the area we planted them – and there are more spikes of leaves that we can see that haven’t developed flower buds yet. It’s going to be so beautiful, once they all start blooming!

There was another wonderful surprise this morning, in the sun room.

The very first Tulip tree has emerged! I was really wondering how these would do, as there is so much mold on the soil and pots.

Meanwhile, in the big aquarium greenhouse, there are now 4 out of 8 watermelons germinated, and another Apple gourd is breaking through.

Oh, and I have to make a correction about those peppers in the sun room.

I really out to read my labels. They’re eggplant. The peppers are still in the mini-greenhouse in the living room! 😀

I’m seeing a lot fewer cats around when I put the food out in the morning.

Only 3 came to the kibble house.

The Distinguished Guest is still limping, but he is putting weight on that injured leg again. He’s pretty skittish right now and I wasn’t able to come near him.

Speaking of skittish, there were 4 at the tray under the shrine, and I had to zoom in from quite a distance to not scare them off from the food.

After doing my morning rounds, I headed into the city to finally do our second shop that we normally would have done a week ago. We’re able to pull the van into the yard to unload now, which is much nicer!

After things were put away, the I joined the girls to look at things outside. They wanted to see the new seedlings (there are SO many Kulli corn coming up, too!), and we found a potato.

Or should I say, a Potato Beetle.

This is partly why I wanted to put a platform for the transplants above the swing bench. Last year, we had bins right on the bench. The platform is high enough that any cats in the sun room can still use the swing bench as a bed.

He’s really liking that roll of mosquito netting!

It’s 20C/68F right now, and tomorrow is supposed to hit 22C/72F. The sun room gets warm enough, we leave the inner door open with the screen window in the outer door open all the way, the ceiling fan on, and even the inner door of the old kitchen open, and the screen window of the outer door open, too. It’s a lot cooler in the the old kitchen, so it should help cool the sun room down, while the sun room should help warm the old kitchen up a bit. We wouldn’t want things to get too hot in the sun room for the plants – or for Potato Beetle!

Gosh, he’s adorable.

While checking things out, the girls and I went into the main garden area, where there is another garlic bed mulched with straw. They helped me remove the straw just over to the bale nearby, and we had a very pleasant surprise.

Almost all the garlic is coming up already! They’re mostly yellow from lack of light, and uncovering them will help with that. This bed warmed up much faster than the other ones. These are the Porcelain Music garlic.

We checked the other beds and, with their straw mulch gone, they are no longer frozen in the middle. We should be seeing garlic coming up there soon, too.

Before heading inside, I checked one more thing – the cat’s house! I’ve looked through the windows a few times today, and usually saw two adult faces looking back at me. The adults happened to be out this time, though.

It is very hard to see through the smudged up window, but I am positive there are now two litters in here.

That tuxedo in the back is one of the first kittens I saw. The grey tabby and the grey and white it’s using as a pillow are its siblings. I could never tell how many more there were, but thought there could be 4, or even as many as 6, but we just couldn’t see them well enough. I was pretty sure there was at least one more dark, possibly black, kitten.

Looking at the photo above, it looks like there are two much smaller kittens! And possibly that 4th dark, possibly black, kitten I can never be sure I’m seeing.

If it wouldn’t result in the mamas moving the kittens and hiding them somewhere else, I’d be popping up the roof to check on them, and start socializing them.

And clean the inside of the windows, so we can see them better! 😀

At it is, I’m concerned just looking through the windows might scare the mamas away with their babies. After I checked in them, I started heading to the sun room and found a matched set of cats – Junk Pile and the ‘iccus that’s been hanging out with her – coming around the corner of the cat house. They froze in matched poses, with matching expressions of alarm, staring at me. Even when they finally moved, it was like they were synchronized! Too funny.

I quickly headed in so they could go in to the babies. If my guess is right, these two mamas are taking care of both litters together, as we would sometimes see Butterscotch and Beep Beep do. Well. Mostly Beep Beep. Butterscotch spent as little time with her kittens as she could!

So many things to make us smile today!

The Re-Farmer

Garden prep – getting work done outside

Oh, what a lovely, lovely day! I was able to get things done that have been waiting for a day like today.

Before I get to that, though, take a look and who I found.

Possibly the same grog (groundhog) I saw this morning. It was at a space under the fence critters use to get through the chain link, but there’s water there right now. Because I was so close, it wanted to run through, but didn’t want to go through the water! It ended up running down the fence towards the junk pile, and I didn’t see it again until I was back in the house. The girls told me it was at the feeding station outside our living room window! I could tell it was the same one because it’s got burrs or something it its fur.

Then, as I sat down at my computer to upload photos, I saw two grogs running across the driveway towards the inner yard.

*sigh*

We’re going to have our work cut out for us!

Anyhow. Back to business!

The first thing I wanted to get done was lay out the salvaged black tarps (or whatever they are) in the main garden area.

Click on the images to see them larger.

In the background, you can see sticks coming out of the ground where a groundhog’s den used to be. It took shoving those sticks into the hole and burying them to finally get it out of there. They will be trimmed, later.

The black plastic should help warm up the soil, while also killing off the grass and weeds. We will be growing potatoes here, using the Ruth Stout deep mulching method, to start reclaiming this area.

When we’ve used these tarps before, we’d weigh the edges down with rocks, bricks, fence posts – whatever we could find. Since then, I found a big bag of cheap metal tent pegs, so I used some of those to pin the tarps down. The ground is thawed enough that I had no problem pushing them through – except for the rocks.

So. Many. Rocks.

I think only one tent peg actually made it through with minimal problems, and even then, I could feel it pushing past more rocks.

We have three types of potatoes on the way. Two at 5kg/11 pounds and one at 1kg/2.2 pounds. We will likely break the spaces covered by the tarps into 4 beds with paths, if only to make things easier to reach. We may plant the two 5kg types of potatoes here, and find somewhere else of the 1kg of potatoes. Maybe use one of the two grow bags I picked up on sale, for such a small amount.

The next area I wanted to work on was the chimney block bed along the chain link fence. The last 4 blocks had been brought over and were waiting to be placed.

At this point, all I wanted to do was level off the soil with a hoe, then line the blocks up along the fence. The ground slopes downward along this area, and the gap under the chain link increases along the way. When we built the bed here last year, we had to add boards along the fence to keep the soil from washing away when we watered things. It didn’t work as well as in the other bed (the one now bordered with bricks, in the background) because of all that space under the fence. Having these blocks will solve the erosion problem.

The blocks won’t be filled quite yet. I want to put some more organic material at the bottoms before returning the soil, and adding more, if needed. The ones we filled last year look like they could use some topping up, too.

Next, it was the garlic and asparagus beds.

I’ve been reading up and watching videos about growing asparagus – which is not yet showing – and it seems they do well with deep mulching (as well as being planted together with strawberries, which we might do). The garlic beds have mulch on them that I have decided to take off, and move to the asparagus.

First, the garlic beds.

Click on the images to see them in a larger size.

Pulling back the mulch, I can feel that the soil has thawed around the edges, but the closer to the middle, the more frozen it is. In the photo on the right, you can see some of the ice crystals exposed as the mulch was pulled back.

Also, this is oat straw, and quite a lot of seeds got caught up with the straw. I was seeing quite few sprouting grains, like the one in that second photo! (click to enlarge)

Both beds are now uncovered. The bed that’s in the back was more frozen than the one in the foreground. I couldn’t pull off some of the mulch because it was stuck in ice.

Now that there is no longer mulch insulating the ice, it should be melted by the end of the day. We’re at 18C/64F as I write this, so it won’t take long for the beds to thaw, and the garlic can start growing again.

As for the straw mulch…

The red lines mark there the asparagus is, plus there is a narrow band around it, where we shoved in some tiny onions that were really too small for transplanting, but we didn’t want to just toss. They didn’t do well, which is not a surprise, but what is a surprise is that the bulbs survived the winter and are starting to grow! So when the mulch from both garlic beds was added over the asparagus, I made sure it was not really covering where the onions are.

Who knows. We might ended up being able to collect Norstar onion seeds this year!

The asparagus planted here is a purple variety, and this is its second year. Two years from now, we should be able to start harvesting them. We also plan to get green asparagus crowns, but we’ve got so many things to plant this year, it sort of went by the wayside. I’m still not sure where we’d want to plant them, since it would be permanent.

Maybe here?

When we first cleaned out there area, there was a tire planter that was a car tire cut in half around the circumference, the tire flipped inside out, and still attached to the rim, which raised it up a bit. I had dug it out and tipped the soil onto the ground, discovering it was covering the stumps of a maple – which promptly started to send up suckers! Then we discovered that the planter had been for a type of flower that spreads through rhizomes. Which means I inadvertently spread a weed.

When we built the bed here last spring, we used carboard to try and kill things off first, then layered straw and soil on top of the carboard, to make the new bed. We planted strawberry spinach. If any of them sprouted, we had no way to tell, and they didn’t last long. Instead, the bed was filled with all sorts of other things we didn’t want in it.

So today, I took my nice, new garden fork to it, broke it up and pulled out as many roots and rhizomes as I could find. I then scrounged in the garage and found a couple of pieces of panelling, which I placed on top of the space between the two beds, for something to stand on, and also to smother out more of those flowers!

The little stumps are something we’re going to need to get rid of, too.

I’m not sure what we’ll be planting here. Maybe some squash or gourds, which can be heavily mulched and has large leaves to further shade and kill off anything we don’t want to be growing here.

That was it for outside garden prep. I also adjusted some things in the sun room.

The bright LED shop light that had been used on the inside of the plant shelf got rigged to light the new growing platform over the swing bench. This may be a “sun” room, but it’s not a greenhouse, and this far back from the window doesn’t get much direct sunlight at all.

Also, I’m happy to say that it looks like the two little peppers I thinned out of the other pots have perked up and may actually survive!

Once these were all taken care of, I started to dismantle the broken canopy tent frame. I could only do part of it, because I only brought a Phillip’s screwdriver with me, and the rest of them need a hex tip. Which I have, but I’ll continue it another time.

I still can’t get that one leg out of the soil. I can move it around, and the ground is thawed out for at least a couple of feed, but I just can’t pull it out. We’ll have to dig it out! The amount of force from that falling piece of tree must have been amazing to push that leg, with the flat plate on the bottom, through frozen ground must have been something else! So glad it didn’t land on the BBQ, or it would have been destroyed!

While working on the frame, I noticed the window in the back of the storage house had its cover knocked off, so I went over to put it back. Before I did, though, I could see it was wet under there, so I put my phone on flash, stuck it through the window and took some blind shots.

Oh, dear.

With how the water had formed a moat around the storage house, not coming up to the house itself, I thought it might have been pretty dry. Talk about wrong! It’s a lake under there! The kitties have lost their largest shelter.

This is also the brightest I’ve ever seen it under there. I’m not usually there and taking pictures, this time of day!

Well, no surprise that the entire storage house has been slowly sinking if it gets like this during wet years!

In the 14 day forecast, there are a couple of days where we are expecting light showers, but beyond that, we’ve got all warm and sunny, or mostly sunny, days for a while. That is going to be a huge help in giving the soil a chance to absorb more water, and the high water levels to drop or drain away. That means more chances to prepare garden beds for planting!

I’m having so much fun right now… 😀

The Re-Farmer

The current state of things

This morning’s rounds were extended rounds – but about a mile and a half! 😀

The first order of business was to check the old basement. The south side of the basement is still slowly getting wetter. The sump pump is doing its job quite well. The north side hasn’t really changed much, and I’ve no doubt the big blower fan is doing a lot to keep that side more under control. The larger puddles of water got swept into the drain or the sump pump reservoir, and another of the chimney blocks was brought upstairs, before I headed outside.

I hadn’t slept much, so I was outside earlier than the cats are used to, so I didn’t see many of them! 😀

The first cat I saw was The Distinguished Guest (TDG), and he was limping. Favoring the same leg that Potato Beetle still does. Now that we know why Potato Beetle was limping, I have less concern. It’s probably a bite or claw injury. Considering how aggressive TDG has been to the other cats, I can’t say I feel much sympathy for him. I didn’t see Potato Beetle this morning, and whenever that happens, I worry that TDG has injured him and he’s suffering somewhere. 😦

I don’t know where Rosencrantz has set herself up again but, wherever it is, it’s very close by. She just seemed to magically appear at the kibble house of late! The only thing I can say for sure is that she’s not coming from the junk pile.

Speaking of junk piles, while Junk Pile (we have GOT to come up with a better for her!) was eating, I blindly took a couple of shots of her kittens through the window. This was the best one. I think I count 5 in there.

While switching out the memory cards on the trail cams, I was happy to see the water on the driveway has actually receded. To get to the sign cam, I went outside the fence line and didn’t even try to go through the snow and water along the garden area. While I was at it, I “made” a bridge. 😉

This sheet of plywood I found in the garage was set up over the drainage ditch, turned the other direction, so I could drive over it with the riding mower. Which isn’t working and, according to the place I last took it to, not really worth paying someone to fix, anymore. Since we won’t be driving a riding mower through here anytime soon, I pulled up up the plywood and laid it the other way. That helped increase the flow of water, too. I don’t know who dug this drainage ditch, how long ago, or what they used to do it. All I know is that it’s very uneven and rough, even for just a push mower.

That done, I went for a walk to check out the state of the road heading south. For the first half mile, it was actually pretty good. There’s an area that has a series of small ponds on one side that has the potential to be an issue if we get the predicted rains – we’re still under a rainfall warning that extends to the north of us, with accompanying flood warnings – but this morning, it was still pretty good.

Then I got to where the municipal drainage ditch crosses the road.

The culvert is marked with that red plastic tube on the left, and is the only reason this section isn’t already washed out.

This drainage ditch crosses the quarter section we’re on, cutting through the rented out fields into our neighbour’s quarter, until it crosses the road here.

The drainage ditch then cuts across the corner of this quarter section to another road and another culvert.

I wasn’t going to go that far to check the state of the road, seeing how things are here!

The drainage ditch is completely full; the line of higher soil, created by dredging, marks one side of it. Right now, we’ve got one flooded field draining into another flooded field!

The first area that’s washed out is past the drainage ditch. You can somewhat see how much of the gravel has been washed off the road and into the ditch.

The second wash out has done a lot more damage to the road.

Half the road has been washed down right to the rock base!

I took this next wide angle shot while standing in the middle of the second wash out.

There is still SO much snow and ice.

Here, I’m standing in between the two washed out sections. The water is flowing with remarkable speed!

I took some video, too. Once I have time, I’ll test out my new movie making software and make a little video to upload.

So this road is not a viable alternate route for us. When I get a chance, I plan to walk the road to the north and see how things are, there. We may not be able to avoid the pothole riddled main road, though.

Enough snow has melted that I could check out a few other areas, once I got back home. The path to the outhouse and the back of the garage is still full of water, and the pit under the outhouse is flooded to the top.

The garlic beds are clear of snow, but the soil under the mulch is still frozen solid.

Our first high raised bed is also clear of snow – but the snow around it is still quite deep!

I noticed one of the cages protecting the raspberry bushes we got my daughter for her birthday last year was knocked aside, so I made my way through the snow to get to it. Some of it even held my weight, though when it did give out, I found myself knee deep in snow.

Once we have rows of high raised beds built here, I can see that it will greatly affect the snow in the area.

The arrow in the above photo is pointing to the raspberry bush, and shows where the cage is supposed to be. The cages got dug out of the scrap pile around the old garden shed and placed over the raspberry bushes, after we discovered the deer were nibbling on them.

I found a couple of large rocks under the trees to weigh the cage down. Hopefully, it will hold until we find a more permanent way to protect the raspberries.

Hopefully, the raspberries have survived. Shortly after we transplanted them last year, they got hit by that one unusually cold night in late May that killed off so much. Then there was the drought, the heat waves and the deer. Now we’ve got this winter that just doesn’t want to let go. These poor bushes have had a very rough start! At this point, there’s no way to see if they’ve survived the winter. Hopefully, we’ll know in a couple of weeks.

The snow has receded enough that I was able to check out a few more areas before heading back inside. Another check on the basement, then the last chimney block was brought upstairs. Getting those up the old basement stairs has been a real pain. It’s one thing to carry a block down the hallway or across the yard. It’s quite another to safely get them up those stairs. I finally got it worked out, though. Basically, once a block was lifted to the highest step I could reach while standing at the bottom, I had to go up a couple of steps, to line myself up with the next step it would go on, carefully bend at the knees (my busted up knees!), grab the block and brace it against my belly (sometimes, my extra girth comes in quite handy!), straighten my knees to lift the block while using the hand rail to keep from falling backwards, and use my belly to place it on the next step.

Then the process is repeated, step by step, to the top. Thankfully, there is room for a block in front of the door, which has to be kept closed to keep the cats out. Then it’s, open the door, chase away cats, wrestle the block clear of the door with enough space to get past it, chase away the cats again, then close the door – hopefully remembering to turn the light off, first!

After that, it gets easy. The only difficult part is getting through the old kitchen door, without letting any cats through.

It’ll be a while before we can prep the area the blocks are going into, so we can take our time getting the blocks out the rest of the way. Getting them out of that basement was the main hurdle, and I’m very glad it’s finally done!

And that’s the state of things for now. As I write this, we’re at 5C/41F and we’re supposed to reach a high of 9C/48F, so things are melting. The rains are supposed to hit us this evening and continue through tomorrow, before changing to a mix of rain and snow, the day after, with highs of 4C/40F.

Then, three days later, they are now saying we’re supposed to get a high of 18C/64F. Long range forecast after that has highs ranging from 16C/61F to 19C/66F for the next week.

Hopefully, by then, the soil will have thawed enough to be able to absorb more of that moisture!

We shall see how things turn out.

The Re-Farmer

More fall clean up, prowlers, and there’s a stranger in town!

While it was a warm day today, it wasn’t quite warm enough to work on garden beds, so once the outhouse floor was done, I focused on doing a number of small jobs around the yard.

One of them was to replace the grass mulch on the garlic beds with a thick layer of straw. The grass mulch went into the newly framed bed, which has a trench in the soil for now. We’ll toss our kitchen scraps for the compost into the trench as well, before it all gets buried in fresh garden soil.

While I was getting ready to roll up the garden hoses at the back of the house, the cats were prowling all around me! It seems like, everywhere I turned, there was a cat, circling around me.

Except for Tuxedo Mask. The cheeky bugger planted his butt in a plant pot! The flowers in there are one of things my mother planted that turned out to be invasive. After telling me there was nothing in the old kitchen garden she wanted me to save, and I cleaned out and covered it all with layers of cardboard and mulch, she changed her mind and wanted me to keep them. They pushed their way through the layers of mulch, anyhow, so I transplanted some into this pot while preparing beds to plant in this spring. They’ve still managed to take over a section of the old kitchen garden, but it’s an area that is overshadowed by lilacs, honeysuckle and roses, so it’s not likely we’ll ever plant anything else in there. We’ll just have to keep them out of where we have built new beds, which looks like it’s going to be a challenge!

These flowers, which look a lot like periwinkle, are very hardy. They won’t have any problem recovering from a cat sitting on them, so I didn’t bother chasing Tuxedo Mask off!

I probably should have waited for a warmer day to put away the hoses, but it’s done now, except for one hose in the front of the house that I left for a bit longer. From the long range forecast, this weekend will be the last warm days, then the day time highs will slowly drop. Even so, we’re not expected to have highs at or just below freezing until past the middle of November.

I’m good with that!

After doing some other clean up around the yard, I got the burn barrel going for a while, then headed inside before the light failed. At the last minute, I decided to top up the cat kibble, which had been gotten into by that big skunk again. Of course, as soon as I came out of the sun room with the container of kibble, I had cats prowling all around me, crying like they were starving to death.

Including… hold on…

That wasn’t Tuxedo Mask over on the sidewalk. He’s busy trying to trip me on the way to the kibble house.

We had a stranger in our midst!!

After refilling the kibble trays, I was able to try and get photos.

What a handsome stranger!

The other cats didn’t seem the least bit bothered by his presence, either. I saw the kittens act more skittish around Creamsicle Baby than this guy!

He moved away from the food while I was trying to get a photo, prowling around the cat’s house and kibble shelter, and making his way back to the sidewalk, but he never ran away.

Even when my older daughter came out to see him, he stuck around. I went inside to let my younger daughter know. She was in between batches of bread baking, so she was able to come out, too. He did eventually start eating while my daughter was just a few feet away.

I wonder where he came from? This is the first time we’ve had a long haired cat come by, and the first time we’ve seen another tuxedo.

As long as the cats get along, he is more than welcome!

The Re-Farmer

On growing garlic

This year, I joined a number of gardening groups on social media. Either local groups or cold climate/zone 3 gardening groups. It’s pretty cool to see how many first time gardeners have been joining the groups and asking all sorts of questions.

This is the time of year for planting hard neck garlic, as we did yesterday, and there is a LOT of discussion on these groups right now, and people are sharing some really good links.

One really good video I saw shared was uploaded just yesterday, and it give a lot of good information. I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

He talks about hard neck garlic, soft neck garlic, seed garlic and even using store bought garlic, too.

I didn’t realize Elephant garlic isn’t actually garlic!

He talks about lots more, including harvesting “wet garlic”, which was something I wondered about when checking our own garlic last year.

Among the most discussed things I’ve been seeing in the gardening groups has been how deep to plant the cloves. There is a LOT of differing, even conflicting, advice. The thing is, the conflicting advice isn’t necessarily wrong. There can be quite a bit of variance, based on climate zones. For those in zone three, like myself, this was an excellent link that was shared. I also found this video, specific to planting garlic in zone 3.

I found it interesting that he says to leave the curing garlic out in the rain!

For those who aren’t necessarily in colder climates, here’s a video from MI Gardener (published September, 2018)

A lot of gardeners on my groups get seeds from MI Gardener, too, and are very happy with what they get.

There is a lot of information and advice out there, but if you can’t follow all of it, you know what? You can still get good garlic! We didn’t plant our cloves as deep as recommended for out zone, yet they survived the Polar Vortex just fine. We don’t have compost or manure to add, and we still got decent sized bulbs. That’s one of the beauties of gardening. You can do all sorts of things “wrong”, and chances are, you’ll still get decent results. What works in your own specific garden may also be quite different from what works in other places, too, so it will always be a learning experience.

Which is half the fun of the whole thing!

For those reading, do you have other things you plant in the fall? I’ve read about a number of vegetables that can be seeded in the fall, and plan to try it in the future, as we get our garden more established. If you plant garlic, do you plant hard or soft neck varieties? What works for you?

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021-22 garden: garlic is in!

When it became clear we would be using our low raised beds to plant the garlic when it came in, I thought about how much space the garlic we planted last fall had taken, and thought we might be able to plant all three varieties in one bed. Maybe one and a half.

Boy, was I wrong. 😀

The garlic is sold by weigh so, technically, we got the same amount of seed garlic as we did last year, but when I opened the bags, it just seemed like… more.

It’s a good thing I take pictures and document everything, because I was able to look at last year’s post and compare.

The photo on the left is from last year, the one on the right is the garlic that came in today.

I even just happened to lay them out in the same order! The Purple Stripe is actually less than last year. Seven bulbs instead of eight, but this year’s bulbs were more consistent in size. Last year, we got seven Rocambole, but this year there is nine. The Porcelain Music had eight bulbs last year, and this year there is nine.

Separating hardneck garlic cloves is rather a lot more difficult than the soft neck garlic at the grocery store! 😀

Last year, we planted all the cloves. Even the little ones. The Porcelain Music had fewer cloves per bulb, but they were all large. With the other two, I separated out the little cloves for eating, and kept the larger ones for planting.

Which turns out to have been a good decision!

Last year, I planted the cloves at approximately six inches apart, but this time, I actually measured and marked a six in grid. Which was SO much easier now that the bed is raised up higher! Now I’m thinking I must have been closer to four or five inches, when I planted last year. At six inches, I filled one bed almost completely with Purple Stripe. There were maybe three prepared holes that did not get a clove planted in them. Which means this bed has 82 cloves planted.

The second bed got the Rocambole, which actually had more cloves. This bed is just a little bit longer than the first one, which gave me an extra row. I had exactly enough cloves to fit! That gives us 90 Rocambole garlic in that bed.

The third bed here still has beets in it, but thankfully, we finished cleaning up the carrot bed, yesterday.

The first thing I did was add half a bag (about 20 pounds) of hardwood pellets and work them into the top couple of inches of soil. Then the bed got watered, so the pellets would start absorbing moisture.

As with the other bed, I marked off a six in grid, though with this bed being so much lower, I did it by dragging a bamboo stake to mark the lines, first, then poking holes in where the intersected. Far less painful doing it that way!

I marked far more than I needed. Having just cleaned this bed out, I know that the edges get invaded by crab grass pretty heavily, so I tried to keep further away from the edges. I marked out 5 rows but, knowing I had fewer cloves with Porcelain Music, I laid the cloves out along four rows, first. I turned out to have exactly enough to fill a 4 x 13 grid, making for 52 cloves.

Which ended up being pretty much exactly half the bed. I placed the piece of wood across to mark how far the garlic is planted, so we know how much space we have when we plant something in the other half in the spring.

While I was working on the third bed, my daughter covered the low raised beds with a grass clipping mulch before moving on to other areas of the garden, then I used grass clippings the last bed. I hope to replace it with straw, when the bale comes in. The mulch has to be removed in the spring, once the overnight temperatures are warm enough. The garlic should be showing through the mulch by then. That is fine with straw, but the grass clippings may be too dense for the garlic to work its way through, so when the straw comes in, I plan to replace the grass clippings with it.

All three beds were finished with a fairly decent watering. Mostly to dampen the mulch than try and soak through it. We are still expected to warm up over the next few days, so this should be enough for now. Later on, as overnight temperatures drop and before the snow comes to say, we’ll cover the beds with plastic.

One thing is for sure. Working with the newly framed low raised beds is SO much better than the ground level beds, even though those ones are technically considered raised beds, too. It was easier to mark out distances, easier to reach the middle, and much MUCH easier on the back. Everything went so much faster because of this, too. I look forward to when all our garden beds are at least this high, or higher!

We had originally intended to double how much garlic we planted this year, but I am glad we decided not to, at the last minute. We would not have had enough beds ready to plant them all, if we had!

It should be interesting to see how these do next year. Not only will be be able to compare with the highly amended low raised beds in the same location as last year, but also the third bed in the main garden area. The low raised beds get full sun (meaning, at least 6 hours), but are shaded longer in the morning by the spruce grow and nearby Chinese elm. The third bed has nothing to shade the morning sun, and is far enough away from the trees by the house that it’s not affected by evening shadows, either.

Our 2022 garden now has its first plantings!

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