Our 2022 garden: some growth, a first harvest, tree status, and no, that is not a funeral pyre

It was a very early morning for me today. The cats got active at about 4am and wouldn’t stop! I finally gave up and did my morning rounds while the girls were still cooking down the crab apple sauce for me to can later.

Parts of the province got frost warnings last night. We did not, thankfully, though the temperatures did go down to 5C/41F. It was still only 6C/43F while I was outside. I actually had to wear a jacket!

Today is our average first frost date and, while it was chilly last night, it is expected to warm up again over the next few days, and stay mild for the next couple of weeks, at least.

The garden is on borrowed time right now!

We actually have a few tiny little Purple Beauty peppers ripening! They are much, much smaller than they should be. These should look much like your typical grocery store bell pepper, in size and shape. That we got any at all still amazes me, though.

The one Little Finger Eggplant that is producing fruit is growing so fast!

No, I’m not pointing to anything there. I’m just moving a leaf while not blocking the view of an eggplant at the same time. 😁

The other plant sharing it’s space is blooming, but still no eggplants, while the plants in the low raised bed aren’t even blooming, yet.

As for this morning’s harvest, we got a first today!

We actually had grapes ripe enough to pick! There are still come clusters that are not ripe, yet. There isn’t a lot in total, but last year we basically had nothing, so that is no complaint at all. I’m not sure what to do with such a small quantity, though.

I finally remembered to go into the outer yard and get a picture of the Korean pine. Here, you can see three of the four surviving pines.

You can just see a mowed path going off to the left. That leads to the fourth surviving pine. The six pine had been planted in pairs on either side of the lane we want to keep open to the secondary gate that I normally would have kept mowed.

The chicken wire covers painted high-viz orange seem to be working out so far. My only concern is that chicken wire isn’t very strong. If the renter does let his cows through to graze in the outer yard, it couldn’t take much for a cow to crush one of them. I’m counting on them simply avoiding the cages, instead. Or deer, for that matter. We’re more likely to have deer going through here than cows.

You can see the other big branch pile on the right of the photo, with some fresh branches on top. Now that the other piles are chipped, any new prunings will be added to this one. Today, I pruned a bit around the stone cross, opening things up and even giving a bit more sun to the Wonderberry. I also started to break down one of the dead crab apple trees near the one that we harvested from. The dead branches are well entangled in the other trees, so it will be done piecemeal at first.

One of the other things I got done, though this was last night, was go through the pile of logs the chippers left next to the burn barrel. I’d already set aside a stack of pieces that are not rotten, quite straight, and useable. The rest of the pile of unsalvageable wood is now moved.

I laid it out around the pile of burnable junk we’d been stacking against the branch pile. Much of it is old newspapers and catalogs we’d cleared out of the sun room when we cleared and cleaned it out the first time. We intended to burn it in the burn barrel, but it’ll just be easier to do a bon fire! The straw is what was cleaned out of the cats’ house, so it’s not something we can use as mulch, or even for the compost.

Once we do have a day to start a burn, we’ll have to take turns keeping an eye on it. This will take a long time to burn through! This is something that could smolder for days. Plus, I plan to drag over branches from the pile next to the garage that the tree guys couldn’t chip, to clean that up, too.

When the girls saw this, the first thing they said was, “nice funeral pyre!” 😂

Yeah, it does kinda look like that! 😁

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; pixies and our grape harvest

The girls joined me for the evening rounds last night, and my daughter found a ripe Pixie melon!

I had checked them in the morning, and none were coming loose from their stems, but by the end of the day, one of them finally did. 🙂 It isn’t even the biggest one that has a hammock to support it. Hopefully, this means the other Pixie melons were ripen soon. While we did pick one Pixie melon to taste test, it was still under ripe (still delicious, though!), which makes this the very first ripe Pixie we have picked.

Meanwhile, this morning, I finally picked grapes. Here is our harvest for this year.

Yup. That’s it. About a week ago, I did find another cluster with a whole three grapes on it, and I ate them.

This year, we will cover and insulate the grapes for the winter. These are supposed to be hardy to our zone, as far as I know without knowing the exact variety they are. However, even the hardy ones have a hard time things like month-long polar vortexes. Not even that one cold night in May that left us with no berries and almost no crab apples could be blamed for the lack of grapes. It took these so long to start budding, I feared the polar vortex had killed them off.

The Re-Farmer

One last post for the day – just for fun!

How can you tell it was nice out today? I got so much done outside to post about! 😀

I just wanted to share some of my finds today. Like this adorable little guy.

The tree frogs seem to really like the sacks we’re using to grow potatoes! I keep finding them, all tucked in and napping. 🙂

Though we have almost no grapes at all this year, the few we do have are managing to survive and ripen.

I am just loving how the colour is changing on this squash! Our one and only winter squash. Though there are many little ones growing, even if they don’t all die off as they have been, I don’t think there’s enough growing season left for them to fully ripen.

The melons, on the other hand…

The Halona melons turn orange as they ripen! I’m sure that was obvious on the seed packet photo, but I didn’t even think to look.

There was something I missed completely when I took this photo, though.

I saw another one that was starting to turn colour, too, and lifted it to check the weight, only to see the stem come off. So I went back to the first one and realized it was completely detached from its stem already!

Aren’t they adorable?? ❤

After picking one of each melon type to taste test, and they both turned out to be under ripe, I look forward to seeing how different these ones taste.

The Re-Farmer

Baby grapes and… what’s our forecast???

While doing the morning watering, I noticed the grapes have babies!

The teeniest of bunches of baby grapes are now visible. 🙂

Doing the watering this morning was a bit of a challenge, as we were having some pretty high winds. High enough to blow the water all over the place. 😀

As always, I check the weather frequently throughout the day. Especially before heading out in the morning. Between the app on my phone and the one on my desktop, I can usually get some idea of what to expect for the day. There are differences between them, but usually they’re pretty minor.

Today, not so much.

My desktop app, which is with The Weather Network, says we’ll hit our high of 31C/88F by 7pm, with variable cloudiness and no precipitation.

My phone app, with AccuWeather, says we’ll hit our high of 31C/88F by 6 pm…

… but around 4pm, it’s predicting thunderstorms, adding “Watch for a strong thunderstorm this afternoon; storms can bring gusty winds and even an isolated tornado.”

Tornado?

Yeeeaahhh…. I don’t think so.

This is definitely the most extreme difference I’ve ever seen in the forecast between the two apps!

Well, we’ll see what actually happens. I just went ahead and did the watering, in case we get no rain at all. That’s one thing about all the rocks and gravel where we live. It’s pretty much impossible to over water. Drainage is exceptionally fast!

The Re-Farmer

[addendum: our internet connection has been unusually bad of late. It took me four hours and three different browsers just to open the WordPress editor so I could write this post! Much of the problem is with our satellite internet provider. Apparently, they over sold and are in a permanent state of over capacity, now that so many people are working from home or staying home in general. One of our neighbours with the same provider contacted them for service only to be told their “slow speeds” were adding to the over capacity of their towers, and their contract is being terminated. Which makes no sense whatsoever. So… we’ll deal with the connectivity issues until the new Star Link service is available in our area!

Which is my long winded way of saying that, if posting becomes more sporadic, or the posts themselves start getting truncated, that is likely why!]

Our 2021 garden: progress, and some mysteries

Gosh, it was so lovely to do my rounds this morning! It has finally cooled down (for all the rain we had yesterday, it was still hot and very muggy!), and as I write this, it’s a lovely 17C/63F outside. There is the possibility of more rain, then things are expected to get hot and sunny again. I don’t know of we’ve had enough rain for the burn bans to relax a bit; it would be nice to be able to light our burn barrel, or use the fire pit.

We do still have a few plant babies in the sun room that will eventually get transplanted. This morning, I found a new gourd seedling.

A third Ozark Nest Egg gourd has appeared! We only planted 2 per pot, so we have plenty of seeds to try again next year – starting much earlier, and with a warmer set up!

With the Thai Bottle gourd, if this one seedling survives, we might at least be able to try them, as they are edible at 4-6 inches. There is no wait for them to reach full maturity. The other gourds, however, were planted for crafting purposes, and with them sprouting so late, they just won’t have the growing season for it.

Another reason I’d like to set up polytunnels and/or greenhouses. Extending our growing season would open up a lot of options for us.

I’m happy to see the grapes are leafing out nicely! They had a slow start (which I am beginning to think is normal for them), but once they do, they grow really fast! There are new vines this morning that were not there, yesterday.

The Peruvian Purple Fingerling potatoes are filling their grow bags faster than any of the other varieties. Gosh, they look so pretty! I love that hit of purple at the stems.

One of the nice things about the clean up I was able to do in the spruce grove this spring, is that I can now cut through it to get to the main garden, while doing my rounds. This morning, I found this lovely explosion.

The wild roses are blooming! The rains have been a huge boost for them. 🙂

As we continue to clean up the spruce grove, everything in here will be cut back and cleaned up. Unlike the spirea, which we are trying to pull out by the roots as much as possible, the roses will just be trimmed to ground level. Once it’s all cleaned out, they should grow back better than ever. This area, however, will probably not get worked on this year. We’re focusing more on the south and west sides for now.

Checking the various garden beds, everything it looking really good and strong. We do have a couple of mysteries, though. One is in the yellow bush beans.

A while back, I noticed a few of the seedlings appeared to have had their heads chopped off. Remarkably, the stumps still seem to be growing!

I’m not sure what did this. Normally, I would have thought it was a deer, but if it was, I would have expected a whole swath of seedlings with their tops gone, like at the ends of the spinach beds. Not 2 here, 1 there, and 2 more in the other row.

Well, whatever it is, it seems to have stopped coming over, as there is no new damage, and nothing is showing up on the trail cam.

There is another mystery, though.

All the radish sprouts have disappeared.

There had been so many sprouts, before the corn started coming up, and now, nothing. Not a trace. Not a stem or leaf to show it was bit by a critter, or cut by an insect. There were only 2 rows with the daikon type radish, but the watermelon radish was interplanted in every row of the other two corn blocks. The corn is coming up nicely, but the radishes have simply disappeared.

It is so very strange!

I should also take back the “no new damage” statement, though this damage is no mystery. Nutmeg has taken to following me along when I do my rounds, wanting attention. While looking at the sunflower transplants, supported by their twine, he decided to rub against the twine, then drop to the ground and start rolling.

Right on a sunflower, breaking the stem.

*sigh*

It wasn’t completely broken off, and it’s been put back between the twine for support, but I doubt it will survive.

Destructive little boy!

As I continued checking the beds, I would stop to do a bit of weeding, and he’d be right in there, pushing at my hands for attention, walking, sitting and rolling on top of the plants! I kept having to move him off the beds, only for him to jump right back, as long as I kept trying to weed.

When the girls and I were just starting to head home from the city yesterday, my husband messaged us to let us know that a low flying airplane had just gone over the house. This morning, it happened again, though it wasn’t an airplane.

Instead, we had a low flying helicopter! Seeing helicopters flying around is not that odd (there is a small airport not that far away), but seeing one flying this low certainly is. I don’t usually see ones coloured like this, either. Usually, they’re black.

When I was done my rounds, I uncovered one of the spinach beds to do some weeding and thinning.

Yes, these are just the thinnings, and just from one side of one bed! They’re packed down a bit in that colander, too. The spinach is doing just fantastic, now that they’re not being eaten by deer. 😉 I was able to uncover the bed on my own, but with are makeshift covers we have right now, it takes 2 people to put the covers back again.

I supposed we’ll eventually get to the point when we’ll have more spinach that needs harvesting than we can eat right away, so I’ve been thinking of what to do with any excess. I know they can be frozen, but why ruin good spinach? 😉 I’ve decided to try dehydrating them, then making spinach powder. This would keep for a long time in a jar on the shelf, and be a handy ingredient to toss into soups, or pasta dough or something like that.

I’ll have to get some photos later, but our chives have started to bloom, and I’ve started using them to make chive blossom vinegar. I picked up a bottle of white wine vinegar, and we’re just adding the cleaned blossoms straight into the bottle, after removing a small amount of vinegar to make space. It will get strained after 2 weeks in a cool, dark place, though we might keep adding more blossoms over the next few days, as the chives finish their blooming. We’ll count it as 2 weeks from when the last of them are in the bottle. 🙂

*sigh* This post has been taking MUCH longer to finish that it should have. Our internet is crappy at the best of times, but whenever we get rains or winds (not even over us, but anywhere to the south of us), we start having troubles connecting. Getting images to load is the worst. It’s taken me half an hour to get the above image to load, and as I’m writing this, it STILL won’t load! Once I get the bloody thing to work, and hopefully get this post published, it’s time to get off the computer before I go completely bonkers!!

The Re-Farmer

Harvest

This morning, I finally harvested all of the grapes.

There is actually a zucchini and a couple of patty pan squash under there!

I’m really happy with how the grapes did this year!

Our first summer here, we didn’t even know we had grapes at all, at first. We even had some to pick, then made some small batch jelly with it.

20180816.bowl.of.grapes

What a difference in how they looked, two years ago, and now! The above photo is from 2 years ago. This year’s grapes are easily double in size – and these are not a large fruit variety!

It’s even more appreciated, since after cleaning out and trellising them last year, we didn’t get any grapes at all last summer. Not a one.

In picking the grapes this morning, I did have a bit of a problem. Most of the grapes were on the other side of the trellis. Which is when I realized the trellis was so close to the wall, I couldn’t get at them.

Thankfully, the trellis is just on a couple of bars pushed into the ground for support. I was able to move them a few inches away from the wall, and that was enough for me to be able to get back there to harvest the grapes. I’ll have to go back to them to pound the supports into the ground more, but I will likely do that when I prune the vines before winter.

At the moment, we’re not really sure what we want to do with the grapes, so they’ll be given a wash, then frozen, like we did with the chokecherries. If we do decide to do something like a jelly or syrup, or add them to the must when making mead, freezing them first will make it easier to extract the juice.

I must say, for a variety that clearly isn’t a table grape (my mother doesn’t remember what they were), they taste quite good, just as they are!

The Re-Farmer

Get a little bit closer, and a follow up

I headed out to water things this evening, but got distracted.

Junk Pile and two of her babies were out!

I ended up lying right on the ground, in hopes that would make them less intimidated by the tall(ish) human.

Creamsicle took full advantage of the situation.

What a silly boy!

Tabby didn’t come any closer than this, but did spend some time rolling around under the grapes, in between watching me.

Little Braveheart did come a bit closer to the stick I was wiggling, but not close enough to actually touch it.

It was funny to watch Little Braveheart and her mother. They share many of the same mannerisms, and often mimicked each other’s movements.

They also have the same eyes! Even though the markings in their fur are different, they have the same facial structure and many other similarities.

The grapes, meanwhile, did eventually get watered, and are looking really good.

The more shaded ones at the back of the trellis are noticeably darker than the ones that are more exposed.

While tending the rest of the garden, I found this.

The tallest of our sunflowers is starting to open up its seed head! So far, it’s the only one at this stage.

Awesome!!! I can’t wait to see how big the seed head gets.

Meanwhile…

My husband and I had our medical appointments today. Heading out two days in a row was really hard on him. Thankfully, we got in quickly, and didn’t have long to wait.

I learned one thing today that my husband forgot to mention after yesterday’s appointment at the pain clinic. The doctor there was going to phone our doctor here to discuss recommended pain medications.

Another reason I’m unhappy I wasn’t allowed to go in with him yesterday. He forgets things more often, these days. At least he remembered this while with our doctor!

The doctor had a couple of concerns. For one, he will be referring my husband to an endocrinologist, so we’ll be getting a phone call about that. He also wants to adjust my husband’s prescriptions, but will wait until he talks to the pain clinic doctor, go through his current medications, and think about it. Once he’s done that, he will fax any new/changed prescriptions directly to the pharmacy.

As for the rest of my husband’s bloodwork, it was all fine.

Then it was my turn. My bloodwork was fine, across the board. During the physical, we did get a laugh. After testing my reflexes, he did the usual putting his hand on my knee while flexing the joint, as he started to ask if I had any issues with pain, etc. When he lifted my lower leg, he cut himself off in mid sentence with a startled “Oh!!”

To which I responded to his half-finished question, “yes. Arthritis. You felt that, did you?” 😀

Yeah, both my knees do some interesting things when they’re flexed!!

One thing with both my husband and I was, what we thought were heat rashes turned out to be fungal infections. !! So we both got prescriptions for creams to treat that. When we were done, I dropped my husband off at home, picked up a daughter, then headed into town to get the prescriptions filled before the pharmacy closed. A stop at the mail on the way out found a letter from the heart clinic, with my husband’s rescheduled appointment, early next month.

I’ll have to remind him to phone them about it right away, to arrange some sort of accommodations, like having a stretcher available for him, for an appointment they say might take up to 2 hours.

So while nothing much changed at today’s appointment, steps were taken and others are being put in place, for the near future.

We shall see what comes of it.

The Re-Farmer

Ripening

The grapes are looking so great!

Our first summer here, when we found the grapes among the overgrown spirea, the ripe grapes were barely bigger than the seeds. I was still excited, because… we had grapes! And they made great jelly (this from someone who does NOT like jams and jellies), and still tasted great, straight from the vine.

This year, they look massive in comparison. I am really looking forward to seeing how they are when fully ripe!!

The Re-Farmer