Our 2023 garden: first order in, with Veseys

We haven’t even done a thorough assessment of our 2022 garden, nor fully decided what we plan to grow next year, but I’ve gone ahead and made our first order for next year’s garden, today.

The main reason is, there are things I wanted to order before they have a chance to be out of stock. Particularly with trees for the food forest we are slowly developing. These will be shipped in the spring, and we won’t be billed until they are shipped. I ordered seeds as well, because I used a sponsor promo code from Maritime Gardening, which gives free shipping if there is at least one package of seeds in the order.

This is what I ordered today. All images belong to Veseys, and links will open in new tabs, so you don’t lose your place. 😊

The new Trader Everbearing Mulberry is the main reason I wanted to place an order right away. We tried a different variety before, that promptly got killed by an unusually cold night shortly after it was planted. Cold enough that even if we had this variety, it likely would not have survived, so soon after being planted.

Here is the description from the site (in case you’re reading this years later, and the link is dead).

Morus alba x rubra. There are so many things to love about ‘Trader’ Everbearing Mulberry! First, the tree itself is absolutely beautiful and can be grown as a single trunk or multi-stemmed shrub. Big, glossy black fruit are present throughout the summer and are an irresistible blend of sweet and tart. Even the leaves are starting to be considered a super-food and can be made into a powerfully healing tea. ‘Trader’ is winter hardy (Zone 3-4), vigorous, long-lived and disease and pest resistant.  We ship 8-12″ non-grafted tree.

Please note: Due to a crop shortage, we are not able to supply the Mulberry in a 3.5″ pot. We can supply in a 2.5″ pot. Since these are smaller, we will send 2 of the smaller size for spring 2023.

That last bit about pot sizes is another reason we wanted to order the mulberry right away. They may be smaller, but we’ll be getting two trees for the price of one. Which means chances are better for at least one of them to survive!

The other tree we ordered was Liberty Apple. From the website:

Malus. Superlative variety resistant to a host of diseases. This apple has outstanding flavour and is aromatic and juicy. The conical red fruit is among the very best and as an added bonus is excellent for cider. Crispy, juicy apples right in your back yard. Good Scab resistance, making them much easier to look after. For best results, two varieties should be planted. We are offering 1 yr. whips. approximately 18-24″ in height which have been grafted onto hardy rootstock. They should mature to about 15-18 ft. Hardy to zone 4.

Yes, it says zone 4 and we are zone 3, but we will just have to take extra care in where it’s planted, and to protect it while it’s small. We have crab apple trees, but no regular apples. One apple tree should be enough to provide for our needs, and the crab apples will be the second variety pollinator.

Then there are the seeds.

While we didn’t have much to show for peppers this past summer, that had more to do with our horrible growing year in general. My pepper loving daughter had thought we would be ordering several varieties for this past year, but I’d only ordered the one type. I think we learned enough about growing them to order more varieties, so I ordered a sweet bell pepper combo.

This is Vesey’s Sweet Pepper collection, and here is their description:

A few of our favourite sweet peppers! This collection contains 3 pkgs, 1 each of Early SunsationEarly Summer and Dragonfly sweet peppers.

Early Sunsation: Bright yellow and big. Very heavy yielding with thick, juicy walls. This variety stays nice and crisp even when fully yellow. 3 lobed fruit. Resistant to Bacterial Leaf Spot races 1-3. 65 days to green; 80 days to yellow from transplanting.

Early Summer: Elite, early and extra large! Early summer is an early maturing, yellow bell pepper. The fruit are large at 5″ and an elite disease resistance package gives Early Summer a winning combination.

Dragonfly: Sweet and colourful. Dragonfly’s early production was a standout for our trial staff. Fruit emerges green and turns deep purple when mature. Dragonfly continues to produce fruit into the fall even after temperatures have dropped.

The Early Summer is new to Veseys for the 2023 growing season.

There was another new for 2023 item I just had to order.

The Caveman’s Club Gourd! This is definitely something for the “just for fun” list. 😁

Truly different! This 12-16″ gourd produces a dark green, ridged, alien-like, bulbous fruit that are not like anything we have seen before! Growing them on a trellis ensures a straight neck. Plant early for best results. Matures in 120 days. Approx. 15 seeds/pkg.

I just couldn’t resist. This will be an ideal thing to try growing on the new trellis tunnels we will be building in the spring.

After we’ve taken the time to assess things from our 2022 garden, then gone through what seeds we still have, we’ll start making final decisions about what else we want to order for the 2023 growing season. One thing we will almost certainly be ordering are different raspberry bushes, that mature at different times. Any raspberries we order won’t start producing until their second year, so what we order to plant in 2023 will be to have raspberries in 2024. As we add to our perennial food producers, while still staying in budget, it’s a balancing act between ordering things that will take years before they start producing, like the apple and mulberry trees, and things that will start producing more quickly, like the raspberries.

Little by little, though, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Tree planting, and a different kind of apple

For a while now, my mother had been telling me she had a tree for me to take home and transplant. She’d grown it from seed collected from trees in her town, and it was in her little garden plot.

When I was at her place a couple of days ago, she had it dug up and in a bucket, waiting for me to take home.

I asked her about the tree to try and get a sense of how big it would get, or even where she got the seeds from, so I could see for myself. She wasn’t able to tell me much, but did think that, in English, it was called an Ash tree.

So I looked it up and confirmed it was Ash, but couldn’t narrow it down to a specific variety. This is not something that normally grows in our area. Using the ID function on my phone’s camera, it listed European Ash first, but there was no way that was right. Those can’t grow in our climate zone.

From what I could find, Ash trees can grow anywhere from 30 to 100 feet tall – I even saw one listed as growing up to 115 feet! Given that the trees she got the seeds from were planted to line streets somewhere in her town, I figured this one wouldn’t get that tall, but probably more than 30 feet.

Which that in mind, I decided to plant the tree in the outer yard, replacing one of the Korean pine that died.

Since I have both, it got a double mulch. The grass clippings will break down faster, and both will keep the grass and weeds down, while the roots establish themselves. Wind is a problem, though; even as I was planting it, the wind was pushing it over. The Korean Pine that had been here had a tomato cage to protect it, secure in place with a branch, so I made use of the branch to support the Ash tree. It can stay there through the winter. In the spring, we can see what it would still need for support.

We still have some chicken wire left over. I will cut some to size to put around the tree to protect it from deer, too, making sure to spray it with the high visibility paint, like the ones protecting the surviving Korean pine. I hope it does well.

Earlier on, while checking the garden during my morning rounds, I found a surprise. I don’t know how I missed this!

I’ve been admiring all the little gourds forming on the Apple gourd plants, but never saw this big one until this morning! It had been hidden behind some leaves. There is another one that’s about 3/4 the size of this one. The little ones may not have time to fully mature before the growing season ends, but this big one has a chance!

We continue to have forecasts for mild temperatures over the next couple of weeks. Early next week, we may reach as high as 24C/75F.

Or… maybe higher?

My husband found this article a couple of days ago.

Canada, a perfect storm is about to change your September
Tyler Hamilton
Meteorologist

Tuesday, September 13th 2022, 9:10 pm – On paper, Typhoon Merbok appears unremarkable. An intensifying typhoon in the Pacific is hardly noteworthy, but its location where it’s intensifying is a little perplexing.

The part that caught my attention was this…

The perturbation continues eastward. As the trough digs across the West, there will be a region of adverse weather, including the prospect of a classic fall low developing across the eastern Prairies. The temperature extremes across the Prairies will be extraordinary, with wet snow across higher terrain in Alberta and southern Manitoba pushing towards 30°C.

Across Ontario and Quebec, there’s increasing confidence in temperatures surpassing 30°C, so some daily temperature records will likely fall next week. It’s a relatively rare feat to record 30°C across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) after mid-September, with Pearson International Airport reaching it this late in the season more than 15 times since 1938.

Where we are, we’re not likely to get such extremes, but perhaps that 24C/75F day we’re supposed to be getting is a result of this. We’re supposed to have and overnight low of 14C/57F that night, yet just three nights later, we’re supposed to reach lows of 1C/34F, which would likely mean frost. This would be a week from now. The app on my phone, however, says we’re supposed to have a low of 5C/41F that night, so no frost.

I’m just obsessing over the temperatures forecast right now. I want the garden to be able to squeeze in every bit of mild weather. However, if things start dipping too low overnight, I’ll have to at least harvest the winter squash and pumpkins that I can, and might be able to cover a few beds.

I would really, really love it if the frost held off until well into November, like it did last year! That might be too much to hope for, though. We shall see!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: surprise!

Look what I found this morning!

There was a new and different flower among the dancing gourds, and it turned out to be a luffa!

Which means there may actually be two surviving luffa gourds that got transplanted.

Along with this open flower, I found some teeny, tiny female flowers developing as well. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single male flower or bud to be seen, so this luffa likely won’t get pollinated.

It’s way too late in the season for something like luffa. We started them indoors early enough to have given them the time, even after the Great Cat Crush, but everything got set back by the weather so much after transplanting, any advantage we had was lost. Still, it was a nice surprise to find they did survive!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: confirmed

After doing some watering with the hose, I hooked up the soaker hose on the tomatoes, then let it run while I finished mulching the paths in the squash patch.

Our straw bale is now completely used up, and all the paths in the squash patch are now mulched. Yay!

Somehow, I didn’t think to take a picture, though. Too focused on getting the watering done!

The rain barrel at the trellises was half empty, so I set the hose to fill it and use the watering can, taking my time to give the barrel time to actually fill up in between my taking water out. That gave me the chance to train more of the cucumbers up their trellis net, as well as the mystery gourd.

Which is no longer a mystery.

The labels had worn off, but I figured they were either luffa or ozark nest egg gourds – and they didn’t look like luffa.

While training some of the vines up their trellis net, I found some baby gourds.

Which officially confirms it. They are Ozark nest egg gourds.

Which mean that none of the luffa transplants survived at all.

Hopefully, this year, we will actually have some mature gourds! Last year, once the heat waves and drought conditions eased off, the Ozark nest egg gourds absolutely exploded with new growth, and many baby gourds. Unfortunately, it was too late in the season by then, even with our unusually long and mild fall, and they were killed off by frost.

Hopefully, these will have more time! The gourds aren’t particularly large at their mature size, so there is a chance for them.

I would love to finally have some gourds to cure and use for crafting!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: new growth, weeding progress and sad harvest

While checking on the garden (and putting back cardboard mulch that was blown around), I spotted some new growth.

This is an apple gourd! I’m hoping it was pollinated and will continue growing. It looks like 3 of the 4 apple gourd plants are going to be productive, but this one is definitely the largest and strongest. The fourth one remains barely visible!

We have two more Baby Pam pumpkins developing! I hand pollinated these ones myself, just in case, and it seems to have taken. That makes a total of 3 of these pumpkins trying to grow. As these are a small, short season variety, we might actually have ripe pumpkins to harvest this fall.

The kulli corn is getting nice and tall! It’s time to take the net off and see if we can wrap it around the side, leaving the top open, for the corn to reach its full height.

Those bean plants are huge! This bed was made with trench composting, and it seems to have made a difference.

Rearranging the net will give a chance for some weeding, too, but it doesn’t look like this bed is having weed problems! 😄

The nearby ground cherries are getting very robust!

This is what ground cherry flowers look like. 🙂 I’ve finding quite a few flowers, and developing fruit. I’m looking forward to these!

I was finally able to settle in and weed this overground bed. The netting around it may keep the groundhogs away from the carrots, but it prevents casual weeding, too.

Unfortunately, I did end up accidentally pulling a couple of purple carrots in the process. It’s really hard to pull up crab grass next to carrot greens!

There aren’t a lot of the one type of turnip, but at least there’s something. The Gold Ball turnip are simply gone. They were the first to germinate, and disappeared almost immediately. I’d hoped that, while weeding, I might find some survivors, but there’s nothing. I don’t know what ate them, any more than I know what is leaving so many holes in the other turnips. We planted 3 types of turnips, but only one has survived – so far.

I did manage to have a sad little harvest this morning. A handful of the shelling peas, and a few raspberries.

Which is better than no harvest at all!

While at my mother’s, yesterday, we went looking at the garden plots outside her apartment. She has one little corner with some low maintenance plants in it, but some of her neighbours have better mobility and are growing a remarkable amount of vegetables in those little plots. One person has peas. They are pretty much twice the size of our own peas even though, from the stage of the developing pods, they had to have been planted later than our own. Even so, they were smaller than pea plants should be.

It’s been a hard gardening year for so many people!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: things are trying to grow

My daughters were sweethearts and took care of feeding the cats outside for me, as I’m still feeling pretty unstable, so the cats weren’t out and about by the time I headed outside. I did get to briefly pet a kitten, though! 😀

While checking out the garden, there was some new progress – and a bit of deer damage – to find.

The Carminat beans are reaching the top of the trellis, and you can see their flower buds. At my fingers, however, you can see the stem of a missing leaf! There was a vertical row of missing leaves, a few feet along the trellis. Right about deer height! Time to find more noise makers and flashy things to set up.

On this side of the trellis are the Seychelles beans, which are starting to get pretty tall, too. None of them show deer damage, which is good, since less of them germinated. In the foreground are the self seeded (or should I say, bird-seeded) sunflowers that I left to grow. The beans can climb them, too! With the flooding this spring, we did not plant any of the Hopi black dye or Mongolian Giant sunflower seeds we’d collected from last year, so I don’t mind letting these one grow. These would be the black oil seed that we put out for the birds in the summer. We’re finding them all over the place, thanks to being spread by birds!

The first sowing of shelling peas may be about half the size they should be, but they are loaded with pods. At least on the north end of the pea trellis. Towards the south end, the sugar snap peas are barely surviving, and the shelling peas on the other side of the trellis are much weaker, too. The entire trellis gets an equal amount of sunlight, so this would be a reflection of soil conditions.

This should be the last year we use this spot for growing vegetables. Next year, they’ll be moved closer to the house, and this area will be made available for planting fruit or nut trees. We haven’t decided what to get next, yet.

The cucumber row is a mixed bag of plants that are growing nice and big, and filled with little cucumbers, and others that are barely bigger than when they were first transplanted!

I had an adorable find at the big trellis.

We have a first Tennessee Dancing gourd developing! It is so cute!

The beans on the same side as the dancing gourds are the red noodle beans. The plants are pretty large, but they are still not at the point of climbing. The shelling beans on the other side, however…

The are much smaller, but have tendrils climbing the trellis, and have even started to bloom!

The most adorable little pollinator showed up just as I was taking the picture.

I startled a bee when checking out this HUGE pumpkin flower.

Yes, it’s on a giant pumpkin plant. 😁

I’d seen some female flowers previously, but now I can’t find them, so there are no pumpkins starting to form, yet. While we are not shooting for super big pumpkins, and won’t be pruning them down to just one pumpkin per plant, it feels like it’s too late in the season for any giant pumpkins to mature. We’re near the end of July already, and none have formed, yet!

In the south yard, we finally have Chocolate cherry tomatoes! Just this one plant, yet. Of the 4 varieties we planted this year, the Chocolate cherry have been the most behind – and they are planted where tomatoes had done so well, last year. The plants themselves are getting nice and tall, and we’ve been adding supports and pruning them as needed, but there are much fewer flowers blooming, and only today do we finally have tomatoes forming. Thankfully, the other varieties are much further along.

I also spotted some ground cherry fruit forming! These plants are doing remarkably well, given how much water they had to deal with this spring. It took a while, but not they are quite robust plants, and I’m happy to see them setting fruit!

Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer before we start getting actual food from the garden. Everything is so, so behind, I am extra happy to see progress like this.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: tending the squash patch

Today is working out to be slightly cooler than yesterday; it’s coming up on 6pm as I start this, and we’ve been at 28C/82F for some hours. We’re not expected to start cooling down for at least another hour. Longer, if today is at all like yesterday.

It was getting pretty late last night before I finally headed outside, fogging myself in mosquito repellant, and started on the squash patch.

I did remember to take a before picture. Every pair of sticks shows where there is a summer or winter squash, a pumpkin or a gourd. The straw mulch we laid down may help keep the soil cool and moist, but it isn’t thick enough to choke out the weeds. It also makes weeding – or even using the weed trimmer – impossible.

One of the apple gourds is relatively robust. The hulless pumpkins, Baby Pam pumpkins and Crespo squash plants are also doing comparatively well. The green zucchini, Teddy, Georgia Candy Roaster and Winter Sweet winter squash, however, are all very tiny. They should all be much, much larger for this time of year.

I am hoping that using the cardboard to smother the crab grass and weeds around the squash plants will help. I did things a bit differently this time. Previously, when preparing an area with cardboard to be covered with a straw mulch, I laid down flattened boxes in overlapping layers, making everything at least 2 layers thick. The overlaps were 4 layers thick or even 6 layers, depending on how they ended up overlapping.

Obviously, I couldn’t do that, here.

Most of the boxes were roughly the same dimensions; there were a lot of banana boxes in the pile! When flattened, they made long rectangles. I cut each in half, so that I could lay each piece down as a single layer, positioning 4 such pieces at right angles around each plant. That meant two boxes for each plant – mostly. I barely had enough cardboard to finish the job, but some of the boxes were large enough that I could cut them down further, and use just one box around a plant. I got them all done, with no cardboard to spare at all.

It was a brutal job.

For all that I used mosquito repellant, I was still being swarmed. Any spot that didn’t get sprayed was attacked. It’s one thing to find myself being bitten in the butt because my shirt shifted as I bent over. It’s quite another when they would fly under the lenses of my glasses and go for my eye lids. Yes, I actually got mosquito bights on my eye lids! On top of that, because of the heat, it wasn’t long before I sweated off the repellant. At which point, I was just a mosquito buffet! By the time I was putting down the last pieces of cardboard, I was spending more time flapping my arms and doing the mosquito dance than anything else!

By the time I was done, it was quite dark, so an after photo had to wait until the morning. We did have a small thunderstorm during the night. As usual, the bulk of the system blew right by us.

None of the cardboard blew away, however! That was my big concern. Interlocking the pieces of cardboard seemed to have done the trick.

As we get more cardboard, I do want to fill in the spaces in between, but the squash and corn patch needs to be done, first. For now, this should help. I’ve picked up a slow release, granular fertilizer that will be applied soon. I just don’t want to be feeding the crab grass as well as the squash!

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get another van load of cardboard, soon. I did manage to get a few boxes today, when I stopped at the post office/general store. Possibly enough to do one row in the squash and corn patch. We shall see.

Another thunderstorm is being predicted for tonight. I do hope it actually happens, and gets swept northward. Not only to help cool things down here, but there are some major fires to the north of us. At least one of the reserves had to be evacuated yesterday. Rain would certainly help get those under control. For all the flooding we had this year, most of it affected the south of our province. The further north you go, the less affected it was, which means those areas will still be prone to fires.

Just out of curiosity, I checked our 30 year temperature records for today. We’re still at 28C/82F as I write this. Our average for today is 26C/79F. The record high was 33C/91F, set in 2011, while our record low was only 6C/43F, set in 2000. So we’re pretty normal for this time of year. If our spring hadn’t been so awful, this would have been a very productive gardening year.

It’s hitting the girls in their upstairs “apartment” the worst. My younger daughter just cut all her hair off, to help keep cooler. Their switching to sleeping during the day and being active during the night hasn’t been working that well this year; the nights are simply not cooling down much. As a surprise for them, I made a trip to a Canadian Tire this morning, and got one of those Arctic Air cooling fans. I’d much rather have picked up a portable AC unit for them, but not only are they ridiculously expensive, there aren’t any in stock in most places right now. The window AC units are much more affordable, but there is only one window it could possibly be installed in, and it won’t fit with the way that window opens. In fact, that’s true of all our windows. Best bet would be to actually have one installed through a wall, not in a window. Since we don’t actually own the house, that’s not something we’re going to start doing!

Ah, well. It is what is it. We’ll manage!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: having a whacky time!

After a few hours of waiting, things dried up enough that I could do some much needed weed whacking in the garden.

Most of the yard still squelches when we walk through the grass – grass that is getting so tall, it’s actually hard to walk through! Not only are all the dandelions gone to seed, but the grass is going to seed, too!

The first place to work on was the large squash patch.

I’m not happy with how much shade some of them are getting. They get full sun early in the morning, though, so with the total hours of sunlight, it should be okay. It’s a shame my parents planted more trees on the south side of the garden. I’ve since learned my brother got them those trees to add to the shelter belt in the outer yard, but my parents didn’t want to go out that far. Now, the shadows are covering more than half of the old garden area on this side. 😦

Some of the squash seedlings are still so small, they could not be easily seen through the overgrown grass and weeds. I used taller sticks and stakes to mark the corners, then smaller sticks to mark the smaller squash. Then I went ahead and added sticks to all of them, with pairs of sticks to support the larger squash so they’d be out of the grass. In the end, I added a pair of sticks to all but the gourds with the tall metal support stakes, as much to protect them from accidental weed whacking as to mark where they were. I trimmed right down to the ground as much as I could. I am glad to get this done before adding the straw mulch. I really didn’t want to add it on top of the overgrown crab grass and weeds.

Then, since I was there with the weed trimmer anyhow, I kept working around all the beds and the straw mulch where the potatoes and melons are planted. I didn’t need to trim around where the other squash, corn and beans are planted, since that area got done in preparation for planting.

I had grabbed the second 100 ft extension cord from the garage, so with about 250 ft of extension cord, and judicious placement of a spade to make sure the cord didn’t drag across the squash and corn patch, I was able to reach the bean tunnel.

The bean tunnel got a thorough trimming before I moved on to the hulless pumpkins. For these, I decided to give them three support poles each. These poles were used to support summer squash last year, and some still had the twist tie wire that was used to fix the stems to the poles. Those were used to go around the three poles and hold the vines off the ground and protect them from the weed trimmer. I also had some left over sifted garden soil in the wheelbarrow, so I added that around the bases of the support poles to help hold them in place, being careful not to go too close to the stems. I didn’t want to bury the stems, as that could cause the stems to rot.

These pumpkins are now ready for a mulch, too.

I stopped at this point, as I wanted to get to the post office before it closed, then go on into town. I want to use the weed trimmer around the trellises and, if I can reach, around the sea buckthorn and silver buffalo berry. That will be a job for after the squash patches are mulched.

The canteen gourds are blooming! I probably should have pinched off the flower buds when I transplanted them, as they haven’t really gotten any bigger, but I forgot. We shall see how they do. Their flowers are very pretty!

We are starting to get weather advisories and heat warnings for the weekend. Tomorrow, we’re supposed to approach 30C/86F, and the day after – Father’s Day – we’re supposed to reach the mid-30’s (35C is 85F). While I was working on the bean tunnel, the thermometer there was already reading 30C in the sun. Which means the best time to get the mulch down will be early tomorrow morning, while it is still cooler.

Going to bed early tonight would be a good idea! Hopefully, the cats will even let me sleep… :-/

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: bed prep, cucumbers, peas, beans, summer squash, gourds

Oh, my goodness, what a gardening day!

Did we bite off more than we can chew?

Maybe we did.

It was a hot and sunny day, and so many trees and bushes are blooming right now.

The regular and double lilacs are just starting to open. The sour cherries are in full bloom. The Saskatoons and chokecherries are pretty much finished blooming, but the different crab apple trees are in various stages of exploding into flowers. There are also three other types of lilacs that are starting to bud, each blooming at a different time. It’s awesome!

My first priority of the day was to prep the beds at the trellises and get them ready for planting.

What a big job that turned out to be.

It didn’t take long before I found myself pulling this bugger out. Normally, I wouldn’t have tried to take out something so big, but it was close enough to the surface that it would inhibit root growth. I’m sure I hit others bigger than this, judging by my inability to work the garden fork around them, but they were deep enough that I just left them. We may get one more year out of these trellises, but most likely, next year, we’ll be building trellises closer to the house.

This trellis was so full of roots – including tree roots! – that this one bed took me about 4 hours to do.

Thankfully, the other one didn’t take anywhere near as long!

After we’ve planted into them, each upright post is going to get it’s own pair of A frame netting supports for things to climb.

At this trellis, on the right hand side, my daughter planted all the cucumbers. On the left hand side, in the foreground, is at least two, possibly four, luffa gourds. I was using labels made out of sour cream containers, and Sharpie’s fade from those! So much for “permanent” markers!

The gourds took up only a quarter of the row. We ended up planting the last of our Lincoln Homesteader pod peas in the rest of that side.

This trellis got the remaining two varieties of pole beans. On the right are Carminat, a purple type of bean. On the left are Seychelles, a type of green bean that Veseys doesn’t seem to carry anymore.

There was some space left at the bean tunnel that got filled with 4 Tennessee Dancing Gourd and 2 luffa.

The girls, meanwhile, got the last low raised bed weeded and ready for planting.

This bed is now all summer squash. The front half has 8 Sunburst patty pan squash. The back half is split between Madga squash and Golden zucchini.

While one daughter transplanted all of those, my other daughter was digging.

We were going to make more beds, but we just don’t have the materials, so we’re winging it. My daughter dug a grid of 7×7 holes roughly 3 feet apart. Before I headed in, I used the jet setting on the hose to drill water into each hole, to help soften the soil. We’ll be transplanting winter squash, gourds and pumpkins into here, with added garden soil and straw mulch. We need to go over it with the weed trimmer to cut the grass and weeds back as much as possible, before the mulch is added.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to get this done tomorrow, but I won’t be much help with that until evening. My husband and I have our doctor’s appointments in the afternoon.

For summer squash, we do still have the green zucchini, plus the G-star patty pan squash.

I have no idea where we will be transplanting those. I also don’t know where we’ll be transplanting the ground cherries. There’s the corn to direct sow, too, if we’re not already too late for those. We have the space. What we don’t have is any sort of prepared beds left.

I’d really hoped to get everything in today, but everything just took so much time.

What a long, long day it’s been.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2020 garden: the bean tunnel

This year, we decided to use the squash tunnel for vining beans.

But first, it needed some work.

We were able to weed and prep this side of the tunnel in the fall. Can you tell?

What a huge difference in the soil. When we first set up the squash tunnel, using a post hole digger to make holes for the support posts, it was incredibly hard. For the rows to plant in, we layered straw, then fresh garden soil – we’d long run out of carboard, and even shredded paper, if I remember correctly. Then the top was mulched with straw after the squash, gourds and melons were transplanted.

As you can see in the photo, the garden fork can now did deep into the soil, and I could push my hands into it to pull out the weed roots.

And tree roots. A remarkable amount of fine, thin tree roots.

The only things causing problems while using the garden fork was hitting rocks or larger tree roots!

So. Many. Rocks! Deep enough that I didn’t try to dig them out, though. I just pulled out the small rocks nearer the surface.

In the picture, you can see some orange twine. I found 3 places where the screws had snapped, and the cross pieces were basically being held in place by the wire mesh. I just lashed them back to the support poles. We might get one more year out of this tunnel before we build a permanent one, closer to the house, so I’m not too worried about it.

It was very hot work. Though my weather app said it was 19C/66F, with a RealFeel of 21C/70F, this is what the tunnel thermometer read.

Yeah, that’s reading about 33C/91F out there.

I’m sure the heat loving melons, eggplants and peppers were just loving it.

Me? Not so much!

Along with beans, the two Canteen gourds were transplanted. These were growing so fast, they had been potted up three times, and we needed to add support poles because they were trying to climb anything they could reach, including the tomato plants they were sharing a bin with! They were outgrowing their pots again, and really needed something sturdy to climb!

In the row on the left of the photo, I planted Blue Grey Speckled Tepary beans. These are a vining bean for drying, not fresh eating. They are also drought and heat tolerant, so perfect for this spot! The space was just enough for the amount of beans in the package, too. I supposed it’s possible there were more, but the cats tried to eat the package, scattering beans all over the floor. I think we found all of them, but some may have been missed.

On the right in the photo, I planted Red Noodle beans. These beans can grow up to 20 inches long! The packet was supposed to have 25 seeds, but I counted 33, which didn’t fill the row. We still have 2 other varieties of pole beans, but there are too many in the bags to fit in the remaining space, and I didn’t want to plant just a few. One of them has something like 200 seeds in it, so we aren’t going to be planting all of them!

I think, instead, we’ll plant some climbing gourds in the remaining space. We have some Tennessee Dancing gourds that would fit. Or some luffa. I think we have some that survived. We’ll decide after we get the remaining two trellises ready.

I’m glad we got at least two types of vining/pole beans in. It’s quite late in the season to be direct sowing beans here, but they are short season varieties, so it should be fine.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer