Size difference, and morning harvest

It’s coming up on noon, and we’ve already reached out high of 27C/81F, with the humidex at 29C/84F. Usually, we don’t reach our high until about 5pm! They’re also predicting rain, though, so hopefully that includes our area, and things will cool down a bit.

Some things seem to like the heat, though.

That one giant pumpkin is noticeably bigger, every day!

I put our very first tomato that I just picked, and a Magda squash, down for perspective.

Those ants were all over the tomato, immediately!

I have since placed an ant trap at the hill. The main part of the hill is next to the other giant pumpkin plant, and it’s looking like the ants are finally starting to damage it. I put traps next to two other ant hills as well. Usually, I prefer to leave them since ants are pollinators, too, but these ones have to go. There are plenty of other hills in the area, so it’s not like we’re making much of a dent in the population by doing this.

Here we have this morning’s harvest. Our very first tomato – Sophie’s Choice. I will leave the family to taste test it, since I can’t do raw tomatoes. They make me gag. Which, I’ve learned, is a thing, similar to how cilantro tastes like soap to some people, but not others!

Those pea pods are the first peas from our second planting. Remarkably, the first planting of peas is still green and trying to produce.

I didn’t pick any yellow beans tomorrow. There should be a good amount to gather tomorrow, though.

On another note, I got to pick up and pet the black and white kitten with the black splotch by its nose. I was happy to see it, since I did not see it at all, yesterday. It did not run away when I came by, and had no issues with being picked up and cuddled.

Progress!

The Re-Farmer

Little harvest, future harvest

This is what I was able to gather this morning.

Meager, to be sure, but we’ll be having more, soon!

They are hard to see through all the leaves, but these are yellow bush beans developing under the kulli corn. We might be able to actually harvest some in a few days!

I am so looking forward to fresh beans from the garden!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: peas, carrots, turnips, onions

We got some gardening done! There was a break in the rain and we quickly headed out.

My daughter had the bigger job to get the peas in. We’ll be using the pea trellis we used for the purple peas last year, as we still need to do some work on the other trellis frames. The ground was prepped in the fall, but she had to work through it to pull weeds that were trying to reclaim the space, first.

Now it just needs to have some of the wood shavings, or maybe the stove pellets, added to protect the soil surface from crusting. It’s a light enough mulch that the seedlings won’t have trouble pushing through.

The edible pod pea packet turned out to have very few peas in it. Those are between the two labels on the front left side of the trellis. The rest has pod peas in sown. There are still some seeds left of those, which will probably be planted in with the corn.

This should be the last year this trellis, and the nearby beds, will likely be used for gardening. If all goes to plan, next spring, we’ll be planting food trees here. 🙂

While she worked on that, I seeded the bed that was already prepped and mulched with the stove pellet sawdust.

My priority was to get more carrots planted, as they should have been started a while ago. I marked out short rows (making things more like square food gardening), as well as a perimeter line. I started with the Black Nebula carrots. The packet had a nice amount of seeds, and it filled about half the bed, which is about 14-15 ft long. Next, I planted the Uzbek Golden Carrots, which came as a freebie from Baker Creek. There were very few seeds in the freebie packet, and I was only able to plant 4 short rows. For the rest, I planted the Gold Ball turnip, which we got as a freebie from Heritage Harvest seeds, and the Purple Prince turnip at the far end of the bed. I still have some Purple Prince seeds left, but the others in the bed got used up.

We planted the last of our onions started from seed already, so for this bed I used the onion sets I picked up at the grocery store as back ups. I got two boxes of yellow onions – no variety name is on the box – and it took almost all of them to fill the perimeter at 3-4 inches apart. The bed got hosed down to settle the soil over the seeds and onion sets, then support posts were hammered into the ground to hold the netting, after cord is strung through the holes in the posts, and crisscrossed over the middle. This bed will not be getting anything else added to it, so it can be covered sooner rather than later. The other beds have room for transplants in their middles, so they will get their net covering once that is done.

In planting the onions, I naturally was able to grab the biggest sets, since they tended to be on top, so when the bed was completely surrounded by onion, I had a pile of tiny onion sets left behind.

Well, we can’t let those go to waste!

They went into the retaining wall blocks. Two already have shallots in them. After pulling weeds and roots from the empty blocks (the others that look empty had mint transplanted into them in the fall) and adding the wood shavings, I had 6 blocks ready. I was able to fill 5 of them; 4 with 4 onions each, and one with only 3. That one block at the side is still empty. There is a matching block at the other end that doesn’t have anything planted in it, but it looks like it has chives coming through!

We have one box of red union sets left. Depending on where they end up being planted, if we have any left over, I’ll be finding space of them here, too.

The bunching onions planted in the bed along the retaining wall are still looking wimpy after transplanting. Hopefully, all these onions will make things too stinky for the grogs to want to go after the lettuce and beets. A groundhog could easily tear through the net, if it really wanted to. It’s going to be the big garden area that will be the most difficult to protect, however.

~~~pause for real world interruption~~~

My older daughter and I just finished bringing the transplants in. We have so many strong, healthy tomatoes! It’s going to be a challenge to plant them all, since they’ll mostly be going into new beds. Maybe that’s where those grow bags and fabric raised beds will be the most useful!

We’ve got our work cut out for us, but I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do tomorrow, as I’ll be heading to my mother’s to help her run errands. She is suddenly taking her back no longer hurts – I guess it took that long for the meds to have their effect, but she still says that when she takes them, they do nothing. She feels up to going out for her errands, though. She has her telephone doctor’s appointment, so I will probably go over there early enough to be there for her appointment, in case she needs things explained to her.

The question for me will be, can her car make it through that one muddy spot on the road? I might have to take the van, even if my mother will need a stool to get in and out!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; what a difference rain makes! Plus, a possibility

We got a pretty substantial rainfall last night. We are supposed to continue to get rain through today and into tomorrow, too. Which means I won’t be getting much done on the raised garden bed, but that’s okay. We need lots more rain – and hopefully get the mild, wet winter the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting for our region – to at least start to make up for the drought conditions we had this summer. The water table is still really low.

The rainfall made a huge difference in the garden. Especially with the squash!

The zucchini that we’d left to get bigger got a huge, overnight growth spurt! Even the patty-pans got a boost. The biggest one, with the green, is from the mutant plant. It had been producing only green patty-pans at first, then started to show the yellow they are supposed to be, and now we have squash that are a mix of colours.

There was plenty of bush beans to pick. Especially the purple ones. A few more peas were large enough to pick, and I even got three more Tennessee Dancing Gourds. There are still so many more smaller ones on the vines.

While checking them over, I had to check the luffa, too. The two developing gourds I tried to hand pollinated may not have taken. One of them, at least, seems to be dying off. However…

… the ones growing over the top of the squash tunnel are looking much bigger!

I don’t know how fast luffa gourds take to develop. Looking at the long range forecast, we should be hitting overnight temperatures of 4C/39F a week from now, which can mean frost, but those same nights also have predictions for overnight showers. We have no frost warnings. Even on my app that has forecasts through the end of the month doesn’t show overnight temperatures of 0C/32F until October 29, and even then we are expected to get rain that afternoon, which would actually prevent frost from happening.

However much longer we manage to have rain and no frost will not only give the luffa a chance to develop, but the Crespo squash, too. Check it out!!!

This one looks like it doubled in size since I last checked it out!

This is one of the older squash and, while it didn’t double in size, it did get noticeably bigger, and the colours and patterns are definitely changing.

The one shown by itself is the larger one in the photo showing two squash developing, and both have gotten much larger in just the last day.

This is what they’re supposed to look like, when fully mature (image source), so the chances of them reaching their full growth this year is virtually nil, but it should still be interesting to see how close they get, if this mild weather continues, and the frost holds off!

If they’re growing this fast now, can you imagine how big they would have been, if the vines had not been eaten by deer and groundhogs?

You know, I never imagined I would find gardening so exciting. Particularly when so much of it is “failing” due to things like poor soil conditions, weather and critters! In fact, I think I’m finding it more exciting because of how well things have done, in spite of all the problems we’ve had!

The rainy weather means we’re not going to get much progress outside, but I am holding a slim hope out to things potentially improving. I did end up driving my mother to an appointment today and, in the process, I made a proposal to her. She had been talking about buying us a garden shed and got an estimate. It was over $3000, and that would have had the parts and pieces delivered to us, including the deck blocks to set it on, and we would then have to assemble it. As much as such a shed would be useful, we’re not ready for it. Where we would want to put it still needs to be cleaned up. However, with the farm being basically ransacked of anything useful while it was empty for two years, we don’t have the tools, equipment and resources to do a lot of stuff, and what we can do is taking much longer than it should. I proposed she instead give us the cash to use to pay for what needs to be done, from getting a chainsaw and wood chipper, to replacing the front door and frame. There would be enough to hire someone to haul the junk away, too. If she didn’t like the results by spring, we would pay her back. I told her to think about it and discuss it with my brother, who now owns the property, before making a decision.

It’s been really frustrating, talking to my mother about what we’re doing here. We are here to take care of the place and improve it. That’s our “job”. It’s what we’re doing in place of paying rent. Though my mother no longer owns the property, we still try to keep her up to date and let her know what’s going on. When I saw her yesterday, I told her about the problems we had with the septic backing up and how I’d done the best I could to clear the pipes until we could get the plumber in with an auger to clear out the roots. As I described trying to unclog the pipes as best I could, first, she made comments about how I was doing “man’s work”. After talking about how we’ve not been able to use the bathroom several times since we’ve moved here, so I fixed up the inside of the outhouse, she was very confused. Looking at the pictures on my phone, she somehow thought I was showing her photos of the inside bathroom, not the outhouse. ?? When she realized what she was seeing, and I showed her older photos of what it looked like before, I got more comments about my doing “man’s work”, and how she never worried about things like the outhouse. She just took care of the housework and the cooking (which isn’t true; she milked cows and even threw bales like the rest of us, when needed!).

Today, as I talked about the work that needed to be done, but that I wasn’t able to do because we don’t have the tools and equipment, I got more comments about how I’m doing “man’s work”. As for my proposal, she said she wouldn’t deal with me about that. Only with my brother.

Because he’s a man.

At one point, as I was about to put her walker into the back of her car, I noticed one of the handles was really, really loose. So I took the time to grab a keychain multitool I have to tighten it. I got one nice and tight, but the other one’s nut is damaged, and my little keychain tool wasn’t enough. I got it tighter, but it still wiggled. As I told her the status of the handles, she chastised me for doing it, saying that my brother would fix it. Because it’s a man’s job. She wants my brother to drive an hour and a half to tighten a handle on her walker, but I shouldn’t do it, because I’m female. Apparently, there are all sorts of things I shouldn’t be doing her on the farm, because it’s a man’s work. At least this time she didn’t make unfortunate comments about how sorry she feels for me, because I don’t have a man in the house (my husband being disabled apparently means he’s not a man anymore!).

Growing up here, my mother worked very hard to force me to learn my “duty as a woman” and leave everything else to my dad and my brothers (my sister having moved on to college by then), but even then, it wasn’t as extreme as what she’s trying to push on me now. How am I and my daughters supposed to take care of the place, without doing “man’s work”? I honestly think she wants my older brother to be coming out here every week, like he used to before we moved in. Our moving here was as much to take a burden off of him (and my other siblings) as to help my mother. She has become more rigid about what gender roles are supposed to be as she gets older, and has less to actually do with the farm, than she was before she and my dad retired from farming. I know part of it is getting older and her memory becoming more selective, but my goodness, I’m glad she transferred ownership to my brother, because otherwise, she’d be sabotaging our efforts to take care of the place constantly! All because I’m female.

As frustrating as it is, if that means she’ll give the money to my brother instead of to me, I don’t care. My brother knows what we want to do and what we need to do it, and we are very much on the same page.

We shall see how it works out. If she does agree to my proposal before the weather turns, it’ll mean getting more done in a matter of weeks than we’ve been able to do in years! It’s a very slight possibility, but I do have some hope for it!

The Re-Farmer

Fall garden update: sunflowers, corn and peas

When it comes to the sunflowers, it looks like we’ll have a few Hopi Black Dye seed heads that will fully mature, but I wasn’t expecting much from the Mongolian Giants.

Then I took a closer look at one of the largest heads.

This is only about a third, maybe a quarter, of the size it should be, and yet there are maturing seeds in here!! There are so many developing and opening seed heads still, too. I don’t think there are any other Mongolian Giants like this one, with pollinated and maturing seeds in them, but while looking at them this morning, I did see some bees fluttering around, so who knows what will happen? It’s been such a strange growing year, there’s just no way to know anymore.

Some sad little peas among some sad little corn! This is the sweet corn block that is doing the worst, and yet they are still trying to produce little bitty cobs! We’ve got the most pea plants growing in this block, though, so at least this area should see the most improvement from their nitrogen fixing capabilities.

And we’ll even have a few peas to harvest!

The Montana Morado corn – what’s left of it – is being left to go to seed, and a few of the cobs have uncovered themselves. Which is helpful, since it lets me see how the seeds are maturing and drying on cob. A fair number of peas interplanted with them have been managing to grow, too. Not a lot of pods developing, but I’m seeing flowers around.

When it comes to the corn, I find myself waffling back and forth over whether or not we want to try growing them again next year. I still want to get Maize Morado seeds to try, and maybe we’ll do the Dorinny Canadian hybrid again. It’s hard to guess how much better the sweet corn would have done, had we not had drought conditions. The soil is nitrogen depleted, but we did use a water soluble, high nitrogen fertilizer on all the garden beds, a few times over the summer, plus were able to amend a bit with the purchased garden soil.

Is it worth trying the sweet corn again? I really love corn, but until we are able to improve our nitrogen depleted soil, is it really worth it?

The Re-Farmer

At the gate, and after the rain

While doing my rounds this morning, I found a strange thing at the gate.

The twine was caught around the lock and the caribiner, which usually hangs over one side of the gate, was hooked onto the chain link.

Right off the bat, I knew this was NOT our vandal. If it were, there would have been actual damage, like the locks being glued again, or something like that.

Needless to say, I was quite curious when I sat down to look at the trail cam files. I had a pretty good idea who did it.

I was right.

When my daughter’s package was delivered, the driver tried to shove it into the gate, then used the chain to try and hold it in place. The problem is, the gate moves in the wind. When the cameras were triggered again, less than 15 minutes later, I could see the package was already half-falling. My the time my daughter came over to get the package, about half an hour after it was dropped off, it was on the ground.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t fragile!!

Going through the trail cam files was interesting for another reason: several files caught huge flashes of lighting from last night’s storm! I even saw a deer and her little one, hurrying up the driveway, while the sky light them up repeatedly.

Yesterday blew past our expected high of the day, reaching at least 30C/86F, possibly 32C/90F. That was followed by a wicked thunderstorm that passed over us around 11pm. It was awesome! Of course, we lost internet well before that. It rained enough that I found our rain barrel by the sun room, which had only a few inches of water on the bottom, full to overflowing.

We *really* need an overflow hose on that thing.

The garden loved the rain, too!

I was seeing huge new blossoms on the summer squash. Even the Ozark Nest Egg and the luffa gourds had new flowers opening. So did the Tennessee Dancing gourds, but they never really stopped blooming, so that wasn’t a lot of change.

The Crespo squash is seeing more flowers opening, too, and some of the developing fruit is noticeably bigger! These two are the ones closest to the barriers than I can get clear photos of, but there are quite a few more getting bigger like this.

The sunflowers are loving the deep watering, too. And just look at this Hopi Black Dye seed head! It is getting so very dark!

I even had a baby harvest this morning.

The larger melon is a Pixie melon. There are still lots of those. The little one is a Halona melon. The remaining melons on those vines are not getting any bigger, as the vines are pretty much completely died back now. Most of the melons are all very securely attached to their vines, though. This little one was feeling a bit softer, so I had it with breakfast. 🙂

I even was able to pick some peas! With our first green peas, I did find a pod or two, but between the drought and the critters, that was about it. This is the most I’ve picked at once, this year.

That longest pod is the size they would all be reaching, if growing conditions were better.

I suppose I really should have left them for another day, as these were a bit on the small size, but I couldn’t resist.

I had them with my breakfast, too. 🙂

The melon wasn’t as sweet as larger ones we’d picked, but it was definitely ripe. The peas were also probably not as sweet as they would have been under better growing conditions. They were both still quite tasty, though!

Last night’s storm had blown the door to the outhouse closed. I opened it again and things were still a bit damp. It’s been a few hours now, so I am going to head out and see if I can start painting!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: still growing!

Today is likely to be the last hot day of the year. As I write this, we are currently at 26C/79F, with the humidex at 30C/86F. We are expected to reach 28C/83F with the humidex making it feel like 31C/88F. We are supposed to get a couple more days in the mid to low 20’s before the highs start dropping to the mid to high teens. So far, overnight temperatures are also still supposed to remain high enough that there are no frost warnings.

I headed out to do my rounds later than usual this morning, and we had already reached 22C/73F.

There has to be something wrong with the squash tunnel thermometer. It may have felt warmer than the 22C it was when I took this photo, but there is no way it was feeling like 42C/108F! Not even being in full sun, like it is, should result in that extreme of a difference. I suspect the dial is stuck. I haven’t been looking at it since the temperatures finally cooled down, so it may well have been sitting at this reading since our last heat wave.

In checking the sunflowers, there was only one little pollinator that I saw! I think the heat waves we had over the summer killed off a lot of our pollinators. There just wasn’t enough food to sustain them. The mild temperatures we are having means more of our sunflowers are actually budding and opening their seed heads, but I don’t know that they’ll have a chance to be well pollinated.

Some of the Mongolian Giants are finally taller than me. Hopefully, the opening sunflowers will lure any remaining pollinators to them. They may not have time to fully mature, even with our predicted mild temperatures, but they will at least provide some food for our surviving pollinators.

These are the Hopi Black Dye transplants that got chomped by a deer. They have all recovered surprisingly well, and are budding and blooming. They don’t need as long of a growing season as the Mongolian Giants, so it should be interesting to see if any of these get a chance to mature.

The green peas are enjoying the cooler temperatures we’ve been having, and I’m seeing more pods developing. This photo is of one of the pea plants growing among the Dorinny corn, the remains of which are being left to go to seed. The three blocks of sweet corn are still green, but they aren’t really growing. At this point, I don’t expect anything from them, really. They’re just there for the peas to have something to climb. Any pea pods we get is just gravy, as their main purpose is to fix nitrogen into the depleted soil in this area.

The winter squash and melons are the ones I am monitoring the most right now.

Remarkably, even as the plants are dying back, we are still getting fresh blooms, and the newer Red Kuri squash are getting noticeably bigger.

The mutant seems to have stopped getting bigger, and is now deepening in colour and developing a harder skin.

As this other, larger Red Kuri is still doing.

I did a nail test on the oldest of the developing Red Kuri, and you can see the mark left behind. Still not ready.

The Teddy squash are also still managing as well.

If we do end up getting frost before any of these larger squash can fully mature, we will still be able to harvest them and eat them. We just won’t be able to store them for long.

The melon vines are dying back faster than the winter squash vines, but their fruit are still hanging in there! I was able to pick this Pixie melon, only because the vine it was attached to had died back completely. I suspect it isn’t quite ripe.

My daughters discovered something about these little melons. After they are cut in half and the seeds scooped out, they make perfect ice cream bowls! I’m not big on ice cream, but I finally had some last night, in half of a Halona melon. It was quite excellent! 😀

I am glad we found these little, short season melons. They have been among the most enjoyed producers this year. I think we will try different short season varieties next year, but the Pixie and Halona are definitely varieties we would grow again. I’ve also saved seeds from some grocery store melons that I plan to try. They are larger varieties, but if we start them indoors early enough, and we don’t have another drought, we should be able to grow them. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 Garden: still growing!

Okay, before I get into it, I just have to share a laugh.

The phone rang just as I was about to start this post. It was clearly from a call centre, from the noise I heard in the background. After the usual greetings, the very polite person told me he was calling about our Visa or Mastercard… provider? I can’t remember the exact word he used.

Of course, I found this incredibly funny and started laughing.

I don’t have a credit card.

Too funny!

Anyhow.

While doing my rounds through the garden this morning, I found some new growth happening.

After seeing flowers for a while, now, there is finally an Ozark Nest Egg gourd starting to form! This is the first female flower I’ve seen. Hopefully, it has been pollinated and the new baby gourd will actually keep growing.

Meanwhile, among the sweet corn, I found…

… our very first green pea pod!

These peas were planted among the corn, late in the season, for their nitrogen fixing qualities, but peas are a cool weather plant, so we might actually have a decent amount to harvest before our growing season is done.

Looking at the long range forecasts, our overnight temperatures should be cool, but it’s not until October that we’re looking at temperatures just above freezing. If that holds out, that means our garden has another 20 days or so for things to grow. The beets and the surviving carrots can stay in the ground until it freezes, if we wanted to leave them. The few chard that made it are doing quite well, though I don’t think the radishes will have a chance to reach their pod stage. If they’d been planted for their roots, we’d have a whole three radishes to pick, but none of them seem to be growing into full sized plants. The lettuce that was planted for a fall crop is just reaching a size worth harvesting baby leaves while thinning things out a bit. The seeds were well spaced to begin with, so not a lot of thinning is needed.

It’s new growth like the Ozark Nest Egg gourds, the sunflowers that have not yet opened their seed heads, and the new squash and melons that I am hoping the weather holds off for. The Halona melons have been ripening nicely, and there aren’t a lot left on the vines, but there are still lots of Pixie melons. I picked the one melon to taste test, before it was fully ripe, and have just been waiting on the rest to reach that point where they will fall off their vines. It seems to be taking an oddly long time! There are a lot of little Red Kuri squash that just won’t have time to fully mature before the cold sets in, but I hope the Teddy squash will have time to mature. They are so small, they should be able to.

A lot of people on my gardening groups have already brought their green tomatoes in to ripen indoors. With our tiny indeterminate varieties of tomatoes, I don’t know that we’ll bother. We have ripe tomatoes to pick every two or three days, and that is working out quite well.

On the down side, while I’m glad I was able to finish the extensive mowing around the inner and outer yards, by the time I was done, I was in massive pain. Especially my hips, where I have bone spurs. I’m still in a lot of pain today, so that limits what I am physically able to get done outside, as far as manual labour goes. The temperatures are supposed to remain pleasantly cool for the next while; perfect temperatures to get caught up on the heavy work outside.

But not today.

The Re-Farmer