Blooming and growing

We had more rain last night and this morning, and while we have some sun as I’m writing this, we’re expected to have more rain and thunderstorms tonight.

The plants and trees are loving it!

The lilacs near the house are so heavy with clusters of flowers, the branches are bowing down with the weight, to the point that even short little me has to duck to go under them!

This is our fifth spring here, and I’ve never seen the white lilacs blooming and well as this year.

The double lilacs in the old kitchen garden had to recover from storm damage a couple of years ago, then the late May killer frost last year. It’s been a while since these have bloomed so heavily!

The nearby honeysuckle did all right last year, as they start budding later than things like the lilacs and did not get affected by the last frost as much, and it looks like this year they will do even better.

Even the hawthorn, which is thoroughly shaded, is blooming.

After uploading the photo, I could see that it has some sort of insect infestation under some of the leaves!

Also, just look at that thorn! Yikes!

Shrubs aren’t the only thing we’ve got blooming right now.

Yes! We have blooming tomatoes! These would be the Sophie’s Choice, which we started very early indoors, then restarted after the seedlings got eaten by cats. An early start was recommended for this variety, even though it is a short season variety, so I’m not too surprised to see flowers on these ones. To see them so soon after transplanting, though, is rather awesome!

While checking the various garden beds, I could finally see the purple carrots are starting to sprout. They’re still very hard to see, but they are making an appearance. The yellow Uzbek carrots are being much more enthusiastic about sprouting! I can’t tell about the Napoli and Kyoto Red planted near the south fence. They were pelleted seeds, so we could space them further apart, which makes it harder to see if those tiny leaflets are carrot, or some weed!

The peas that had already sprouted at the trellis are getting noticeably bigger. In the old kitchen garden, I’m finally seeing some beets, though for all my efforts to pull up and transplant the mint out from the bed last fall, they are still coming up strong, along with some other weeds. The beet seedlings are too tiny and delicate to risk disturbing them while trying to weed.

In the lettuce bed, the buttercrunch lettuce germinated a while back and it won’t be long before we are able to start harvesting baby leaves while thinning the rows. Another variety, Lunix, if I remember correctly, as also started to sprout, but like the beet bed, efforts to pull up the weed roots were not very successful. My mother had planted some very invasive flowers in this bed, and they are incredibly difficult to get under control!

The Kulli corn is still looking a weak, but the bush beans planted with them are starting to come up! I’ve got arrows pointing to the bean seedlings that are in this photo.

Meanwhile, all around the various beds, we’ve got onion sets coming up, and the onions started from seed seem to have all survived and are getting stronger. All of the transplants seem to have not only survived being transplanted, but are handling the heavy rains we’ve had, just fine. The first spinach that was planted are growing their true leaves now, and it won’t be long before we will be having fresh greens to eat!

I am so looking forward to when my morning rounds will start to include harvesting fresh leafy greens, beans, peas and summer squash, regularly again!

The Re-Farmer

Strange hair!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Last night we had some rain storms blow through. High winds were the main issue. Having rain now, when the flood waters have yet to finish receding, probably didn’t help much, but I don’t think we got enough for it to be an issue. Mostly, it was the winds that were of concern.

Since things have warmed up, there are far fewer outside cats to greet me in the morning.

I only saw 5 or 6, in total. The amount of kibble needed has also dropped considerably. For a while, I was putting food out twice a day, and sometimes even a third little top up got done if I was up in the wee hours and saw they were out again. Now, I’m finding kibble still left in the trays at the end of the day!

That’ll make things a bit easier on the budget!

While switching out the trail cam memory cards and checking the state of the garden beds, I noticed something rather unusual.

The straw bale had grown hair!

Green hair.

Looks like last night’s rain was enough to get the seeds caught in the straw to sprout, enthusiastically! It’s even growing out the sides exposed by the straw that had fallen away from the bale over the winter.

Too funny!

I’m going to just leave it. Once the soil had dried enough, we’ll be bringing the wood chipper over and running straw through the shredder chute for mulch. Last year we tried that by running the lawn mower over the straw, and it worked much better than non-shredded straw, but doing it that way clogged up the air filter on the mower like you wouldn’t believe! We are very happy to have the new wood chipper available.


Having sprouted greens included with the dry straw for mulch is just more nutrients for the soil. 🙂

It should be interesting to see how tall it gets by the time we’re ready to do the shredding.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: first bloom!

This is so very late in the season, but it finally happened.

Our first Hopi Black Dye sunflower seed head is opening!

When the seeds we’d started indoors neglected to germinate until after we’d already direct seeded outside, there was just one for a while. That one got transplanted into the old kitchen garden, and when a second seedling sprouted, it was planted here as well. Then a whole bunch sprouted, and they got transplanted to the main garden.

Of the two that were planted here, the first one was broken by high winds and did not recover, so there is just this one, now.

However, this one plant has three seed heads forming! The third one is mostly hidden under a leaf to the left of the one that’s opening.

It should be interesting to see how far they are able to develop before first frost hits!

Meanwhile, our recent rains have given us more sunflowers. Sort of.

This is where the large birdhouse landed, when the raccoons broke it. It had been almost full of black oilseed. The critters ate most of it, but as you can see, that still left lots behind to start sprouting! I think recently mowing over this area gave them the sunlight they needed to explode like this.

I’ve read that sunflower seedlings make for tasty microgreens. I don’t plan to harvest this out of the lawn, but one of these days, I think we should give it a try. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: getting better

Like for so many others this year, it has been a real challenge to keep things alive and growing in the garden. With our furthest beds, even having enough hoses to be able to reach the furthest beds, the corn and sunflower blocks were the hardest to keep watered, until we started using the sprinkler.

The corn is nowhere near as tall as they would have been, if we weren’t in drought conditions, but they have really grown a lot in a very short time, and are starting to develop their tassels. Because of how long the area of corn and sunflowers is, the sprinkler we have can’t cover it all. To be able to water it all, we set it up in the middle of one of the sunflower blocks, set it to “full”, and it can water most of the blocks. After a while, we move it to the end and set it to spray just on one side, and we get the rest of it. The corn block in the middle tends to get water from both settings, and it really shows. The corn in the photo in that middle block.

The sunflowers are also not anywhere near as tall or robust as they would be. Especially the Mongolian Giant sunflowers. They and the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers, pictured above, are basically the same size. Only the ones that got started indoors and transplanted are slightly taller. All of them have very thin stems, still. As you can see in the photo, however, they are starting to grow their flowers! I don’t expect them to reach full size, but I do hope we at least get some of the Black Dye sunflowers reach maturity.

We planted sunflowers, and chose the location for them, for a number of reasons. One of those reasons, for both the corn and the sunflowers, was to have a privacy screen. Unfortunately, this year’s drought has prevented that particular goal from happening.

If all goes to plan, however, we will be planting shrubs that will do that particular job, on a permanent basis!

The Re-Farmer


The kittens were too active to get good photos this morning.

Plants, on the other hand, are much more co-operative.

The first potato leaves have made their way through the mulch!


Sadly, we are also down another sunflower. We found another one with just a stem, the leaflets gone. Total count is one less than yesterday.

We’ll still have a decent “wall” of sunflowers, but it will definitely have large gaps. If we do this again next year, we’ll know to get at least twice the number of seeds to start, and maybe even start them indoors, first. The sunflowers that have developed their true leaves seem to be left alone.

The Re-Farmer

Two kinds of babies

Of course, we have the furry wormy kind.

They are quite liking the new set up. The kittens will wobble their way all over, then go back to their little bed for cuddles with Mom.

So far, it looks like all the kittens are male. There is only one, mini-BeepBeep, we haven’t been able to see.

While doing my rounds, I noticed these other babies.

This is a chokecherry. As the leaf buds unfurl, they reveal baby future berries! Those little clusters will eventually bloom and, if we have a good year, we will have lots of berries. This little tree is just sort of by itself in the middle of a grassy area on the North side of the garden. There are two more, among the lilac hedge. In the last couple of years, those ones produced berries, but this little one, not really. It looks like this year, it has reached production maturity!

The Re-Farmer


While walking around the trees in the west yard (because we can do that now!), I took a rake to the bottom of some of the tree stumps that are all over the place.  The taller ones, to prepare them for when we can cut them close to the ground.  Other, old and rotting ones, to uncover them and make them more visible, because I keep finding them by tripping over them!

There is a large elm tree in there that I’ve walked past many times, but it wasn’t until I started raking a stump next to it that I really paused to look at its trunk.

Where I realized I was looking at … another trunk?


It looks like a tree inside a tree.

With all the clean up I’ve done, and seeing so many trees growing against each other, I am guessing that this tree had suckers growing out the bottom that no one trimmed away.  Over the years, the main trunk simply grew around the smaller tree growing against it, absorbing it into itself.


It looks like there are two more of them on the other side!

I’m sure there is some deep and meaningful metaphor that can be seen from this.

The Re-Farmer

There are fungus among us

My apologies for the bad pun… 😀

Walking through the West yard, we noticed these, high above our heads…


This is on one of the three big maples near the fire pit.

They showed up very quickly; I know for sure they weren’t there, just a couple of days ago!

Looking around, we found these on another branch of the same tree.


That’s as much as I could zoom in with my phone’s camera and still get a half decent photo.

Of course, we immediately started looking around the other trees for more, but found none, so we continued on through where I had been working this morning.  We ended up going through the rest of the maple grove, too, and found more!


These were just a few feet above our heads.

Whatever these mushrooms are, they like maples, they like the spaces where branches used to grow, long ago, and they grow really fast!

The Re-Farmer

A visible difference

While walking around the maple grove with my daughter (and finding mushrooms growing on trees!  Will post those later…), I found myself looking at the lonely little Colorado Blue Spruce near the main garden.

Here is how things looked about a month and a half ago.

This first picture was taken at the very end of June.


On the left, you can see three sad looking trees, grouped together.

This next photo was taken on July 2.


I cut away two of the three trees, and pruned the dead branches on the remaining one, hoping it would survive, and maybe even thrive.

Well, this is how it looks now.

As you can see, the new growth filled in vigorously!

It’s even looking blue. 😀

Here’s a closer look at one of the branches.

Here, you can really see the older, greener, needles contrasted with the new, bluer, growth.

It is already becoming a happy little tree, instead of a sad little tree. 😀

This is exactly what I was hoping to see – and faster than I expected!

This is a tree with the potential to grow 65 ft tall, with a width from 10-20 ft, though I have read they can reach 135ft high and 30 ft wide. They can grow anywhere from 12 – 24 inches in a single growing season.  This is a tree that needs space!  It’s unfortunate that the three of them had been planted so close together.  There are others that I hope I can clear up around and salvage.  This one, at least, might actually make it!

This makes me happy. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

An Awesome Day, and growth explosion

Today, all four of us made it into the city for a family get together.  It made for a very long and painful day for my husband, but he hasn’t seen his sister in 4 years.  She flies home soon, so he wasn’t about to miss this chance.  It was so great to see everyone and spend time with them.  It is a rare thing for everyone to be together at the same time, these days.

With all this wonderful rain we’ve been having, it’s just fantastic to see everything so GREEN, everywhere.  Even the drive into the city looked completely different.


A short time ago, the trees were just showing green leaves, while everything else looked like the dead growth from last year that you can still see in the ditch.  Now, it’s like the trees all just exploded in green.

(Also, I’m amused by the fact that there is a reflection of me driving, hovering in the sky. 😀 )

When we got home, we found all sorts of cats had missed our company!

The inside cats were very curious about Nasty Crime boy.


It was a shared curiosity! 😀

I’m loving the long daylight hours, too.  Though we didn’t get home until past 8pm, there was still plenty of light, so I did a quick walk around the yard to see how things were.


The crab apple trees north of the spruce grove are finally blooming.  My sister and her husband pruned them back quite heavily last summer, but I can see that there are some dead branches that will need to be cut away.  These might have died off over the winter.


A few days ago, these linden leaves were just barely new leaf buds!

I had a chance to ask my mother about the linden tree, because it looks so different than I remember it.  So much so that, until the leaves unfurled, it looked like two different trees!  She told me that she used to cut back the suckers every year, but no one continued that after she went to the senior’s centre she now lives in.  That would explain why they look so different.  The growth at the base – where these leaves are – is only about 4-5 years old, whereas the trunk in the middle is more like 30-35 years old.

These lilies had been showing in green clusters but after the rain, they shot up several inches and threw out flower stocks and buds virtually overnight!

Rolando Moon approves.

I also did a basement check this evening, and the old part basement is bone dry, though there is some water in the sump pump reservoir.  Well below the level of the float.

We still need to get the old hot water tank out of there.  It’s much bigger and heavier than modern ones!

I was just thinking, as I wrote this, how I can’t remember the last time the old part basement was still dry this far into spring, and I remembered one year when it flooded.  This had to have happened before the new part was built, so I was probably about 6 years old, give or take a year or two.  I remember going part way down the stairs to see.  The water was a couple of feet deep – deep enough to cover several steps – and perfectly clean and clear.

Then, as I was looking, a frog went swimming past the bottom of the stairs!

I will never forget that frog! 😀

I hadn’t thought of that in years!

Funny how things trigger old memories of growing up in this house. 🙂

The Re-Farmer