Our 2022 garden: first tassels and first tomatoes!

While doing my evening rounds this morning, I spotted the first tassels on the kulli corn!

I got this picture by standing with my arms up as high as I could reach. I did not zoom in at all. I think at least a couple of the kulli corn have reached their 8′ potential height!

Still no signs of silks, though.

Going through the garden beds with one of my daughters later on, we were looking at the sweet corn, which has lots of tassels, and the popcorn. The little bitty Tom Thumb popcorn plants are not only showing lots of tassels, but I actually spotted some silks in one of them! The doubt the plant it was on was even a foot high. They only need 60 days to maturity, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, except for how drowned out they got this spring.

When checking the tomatoes in the main garden area, I was noticing some were looking like they were about to crack, and I think some were even missing. So we decided to harvest the most ripe ones. Yes, we’ve picked a few tomatoes here and there already, but this is our first real harvest of them!

The Cup of Moldova are on the right, Sophie’s Choice on the left. There are still plenty more on the vines that are completely green, or just starting to blush.

My daughter found a couple really ripe ones that were so small, they would have fallen through the holes in the containers we were using. Pocket tomatoes! 😄

Once inside, they got nestled into shredded paper. With so much less of the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, they got transferred to a smaller bin.

They can now sit in the relative cool and indirect light of the old kitchen to finish ripening, safe from cats!

The girls will be prepping the kitchen and dining table for when we’re ready to start canning the tomatoes. Hopefully, they’ll find my small batch canning recipe book in the process. It’s bugging me, now that I can’t find it! I know where it should be, but it isn’t there!

We talked about pickling the beans I picked this morning, with the recipe from another book I found for that, but they might just blanch and freeze them, instead. It depends on how things go for them tonight. My older daughter has commissions to work on, of course, so most of that job will be falling on my younger daughter.

Today has been a very fruitful day out of the garden, and with so many setbacks this year, I am incredibly grateful.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 Garden: morning growth, and what a harvest!

I was able to do some harvesting this morning, while checking on the garden.

This is a beautiful Ozark Nest Egg gourd! From what I can see so far, we’ll have about 4 of them, plus there was a female flower I found that I hand pollinated.

I was able to hand pollinate quite a few summer squash, too. I did see bees out and about, but while the male flowers were open, the female flowers had already closed.

This tiny Baby Pam pumpkin is the most ripe of them all – plus there was another female flower that I could hand pollinate, too.

The smaller of the two giant pumpkins had a growth spurt. It also has developed a wonky shape!

I was very happy with this morning’s harvest

We are still getting yellow bush beans. The purple beans are getting very prolific, and the green pole beans are kicking in, too. (The green bush beans under the sweet corn are starting to show tiny pods, too.) We actually have enough beans that we could probably can some pin sized jars. I’d love to do some pickled beans!

Speaking of pickles, we even have enough cucumbers altogether to do some pickles, too – also in pint sized jars.

There are just a few peas ripe enough to pick, but more are growing. I thinned out more of the carrots, and grabbed a couple of small onions for today’s use. I found a whole three ground cherries that were ripe enough, they fell off their plants.

We also have our first picking of sunburst pattypan squash. I normally would not have picked them this small, but they don’t seem to be getting any bigger, before they start withering away. Hopefully, picking these will encourage more growth, and the hand pollinating I was able to do will help, too.

My daughters have been doing the processing at night, when things are cooler. They should be able to do the pickling, if we have all the ingredients we need. My recipe book for small batch canning seems to have disappeared, though, so I can’t double check to see if we are missing ingredients. I have other recipes, though, and of course we can look online.

I’m just excited to finally have quantities sufficient to even think of canning instead of freezing.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning harvest

The pole beans are starting to really kick in!

We’re even still getting bush beans and peas!

I’ve been training the cucumber up the trellis netting, but somehow missed one big cucumber that was lying right on the ground. I’m glad I spotted it this morning. Not much longer before it would have started to be over mature. Which would be okay if I were wanting to save seeds, but I won’t be for these.

With last night’s rain and an incredibly humid morning, things were still soaking wet outside, and my glasses were fogging up! The squash are loving it, though, and I’m seeing increased growth. Even the one Zucca melon that’s trying to survive had a noticeably growth spurt.

The sweet corn and the popcorn are both sending up tassels! The popcorn is still really small, but has had a growth spurt, too. They only reach about 2 ft high to begin with, so there is hope for a crop, yet!

There are squash blooming all over. Whenever possible, I am hand pollinating. There has not been a lot of opportunity to do that. Still, if we have a long, mild fall like last year, it will help ensure we have fruiting plants that can take advantage of it. We shall see!

The Re-Farmer

Morning harvest, and … that really sucks

When to do my morning rounds these days is a bit of a conundrum. I can wait until later in the morning, but find it gets too hot, too quickly. Plus, the kitties will be hungry. Or I can do it earlier when it’s cooler, but get eaten alive by mosquitoes. I went earlier this morning and not only were the mosquitoes out in full force (and I didn’t want to use bug spray when I wasn’t going to be outside for very long), but it was so humid out, my glasses fogged up while I was picking beans, and the dew got me completely soaked from the knees down!

Still, there were some decent pickings this morning. The purple beans are starting to really kick in.

Normally, I would have set it up all pretty before taking a picture, but things did not go as expected this morning.

I was planning to make jokes about feeling “chipper”, because I got a call from the tree guys yesterday. They will be coming in today to chip our branch piles. The problem is, I’m not feeling the least bit chipper this morning, and this is why.

There is supposed to be a trail cam there. The post the camera screws onto is snapped right off.

In the off chance something bigger, like a racoon, broke it, I checked the ground around the post, both on our side of the fence line, and the road side. Nothing. It’s gone.

Obviously it was there yesterday morning, since I switched out the memory cards. I was watering the garden quite late, but I didn’t check it, so I can’t say if it disappeared during the day, or at night.

Now, the most obvious assumption is that our vandal took it. While in court with his civil suit against me, one of the things he kept bringing up is that I have cameras all over the place because I’m trying to “catch” him and put him in jail. That camera is there because the sign with my late father’s name on it that was mounted on the post had disappeared. A reflector that had been mounted to overlap the top of the sign was broken in half. Half is still on the post, and I found the other half on the ground. So we made the new sign and put the camera on it as a deterrent. In fact, one of the pictures our vandal submitted to court as some sort of evidence against me (???) was of the sign, with the camera beside it circled.

I would have preferred to have the camera further back from the fence, but there was no way to mount it and still record the area in front of the sign. So it’s very been very visible from the road, and can be easily reached.

The irony of it is, this camera has been having problems. Unlike the other trail cam, where you can see that the batteries are slowly dying in the night shots (infrared flash is not as bright, flickering lines across the frame, etc), when the batteries go on this one, it tends to be very sudden. I’ll open it up and the LCD screen won’t turn on, and the camera will be dead. Usually, I just change the batteries, reset the time and date, and it’s done, but the LCD screen never came back. The camera was still recording, but the time and date was on default, and reset to default every time I changed the memory card. I was planning to replace it, but all our extra funds are going towards paying the tree guys to chip the branch piles today. Still, I was expecting to replace the camera fairly soon.

Now, there’s no camera to replace.

*sigh*

So once I was back inside from doing my rounds, the girls took care of the vegetables for me so I could look up and call the non-emergency RCMP number for our area.

There was no answer, so I left a message.

I could report the theft online, but after going over their options, I decided against it. Because of our vandal and the restraining order we have against him, this theft falls into several categories – and we can’t even say that he is the one who took it. Yes, he’s the most likely person to have done that, but would he really be THAT stupid? Yet, there is no one else who would do something like that. Even if one of his buddies decided to do it, they would know he would be the one immediately suspected and that it would get him in even worse trouble.

*sigh*

What a start to the day!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: evening harvest – first potatoes

We were out of potatoes and I wanted some for supper, so I decided to see what I could get out of the garden.

*sigh*

I chose to dig under plants that I remember had come up the earliest, and were the farthest from the most flooding.

First, the good: the soil under the mulch and cardboard is SO much softer, instead of the usual rock hard. It was cool in the 27C/81F heat, and moist. There were lots of worms, though there were also lots of crab grass rhizomes. A single season under an “instant garden” made a HUGE difference in the soil.

Now, the not so good:

There were almost no potatoes. I dug up three of each type of potato, and that’s all there was.

I didn’t pull out the plants completely, leaving the remains of the seed potato and the soil around the base, digging them down a bit deeper than they started, returned the mulch and watered them well. Who knows. They might survive and still produce more potatoes. Unlikely, but it’s worth a try.

With the condition of the plants, I didn’t really expect much, but I still thought I’d find more than one or two potatoes per plant!

I then thinned out some of the Uzbek golden carrots, checked out the Black Nebula (there’s one in there, hidden by the yellow carrots), and they’re still really skinny but getting bigger. I also picked some of the smaller onions. Over the next while, if we want fresh onions, we’ll dig up the little ones, leaving the bigger ones to get even bigger for winter storage.

For supper, I used these, plus some of the beans I picked this morning, and the turnips I’d picked before, along with some thinly sliced pork to make a sort of Hodge Podge.

I love being able to cook with food almost entirely out of the garden.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: mulching, growing and harvesting

I didn’t get a photo of the finished squash patch last night, so I got one this morning.

All the paths are now mulched, too. There’s no carboard under the paths, so I expect things to start growing through, but at least it will be more sparse.

The plants themselves are seeing new growth and lots of flowers. It’s a race against time and the weather to see if we’ll have anything to pick this year.

I love that you can see the giant pumpkin from so far away!

I swear, this thing is visibly bigger, every day.

Of the two other pumpkins spotted, this one is making it and growing fast. The other did not get pollinated, and withered away. I see no other female flowers, so we’re probably just have the two.

In checking the Red Kuri squash and Apple gourds, I found both male and female flowers blooing at the same time, so I went ahead and hand pollinated. The Red Kuri is doing well, but with the Apple gourds, all the female flowers so far have withered. This morning, I found a female flower on one plant, and a male on another, si I made sure to hand pollinate

Thankfully, tomatoes are self pollinating.

The are so many of them changing colour right now! I have to check myself, to make sure I don’t pick some of them too early.

The one big Sophie’s Choice tomato I recently picked was enough for the girls to make a tomato salad out of it. I’m glad they’re enjoying the variety.

I finally picked the one bigger golden zucchini this morning. There were not a lot of yellow beans to pick, but there were more of the pole beans, with many more little ones on the vines. There will be more peas for a while, too. There may not be a lot of quantity from each of them, but altogether, it’s pretty decent.

The only down side this morning are my pain levels. I over did it yesterday, while pruning the trees. I was so distracted by the heat, I missed my other “time to back off” warning signs. Frustrating.

Ah, well. That’s what pain killers are for. Today is going to be a hotter one, with possible thunderstorms, so it’s not going to be a day for significant manual labour, anyhow.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: new growth, surprise growth, fall planting and our biggest harvest yet.

There is some lovely growth happening in the garden right now.

While we have lots of Cup of Moldova and Sophie’s Choice tomatoes ripening on their vines, these Yellow Pear tomatoes are looking to have a good crop, too. They are actually turning out larger than I expected for this variety. It should be interesting when they finally start turning colour!

These Carminat bean pods are getting so very long! I love their gorgeous dark purple.

With the purple pole beans, we can see quite a few pods developing, though the vines are still trying to extend their reach, and blooming all the way. The green pole beans (sheychelles) have wispy little pods forming, too.

Then I started weeding and discovered a hidden surprise.

There are ripe pods hidden among the greens! It turns out these beans start developing right near the ground, unlike the Carminat, which have no flowers or pods at all near the ground.

Awesome!

After finding these, I made a point of looking more closely at the Blue Grey Speckled Tepary beans – the shelling beans – too. They’ve been blooming for a while, but are still such tiny and delicate plants.

Sure enough, I found time tiny pods starting to form. Since these beans are for shelling only, they’ll just get weeding and watering until the pods are all dried.

We actually have yellow zucchini this year! Last year, I was sure we had at least one germinated, but after transplanting, all we got were green zucchini. So I am happy to get some this year. Especially since we still don’t have any green zucchini developing! We did have female flowers, but there were no male flowers blooming at the same time to pollinate them.

We are finally getting more Sunburst patty pan squash, too. There was also one Magda squash ready to harvest.

All the squash are SO far behind. The squash patch, which is mostly winter squash, and the summer squash bed should be enveloped in plants. It’s unlikely we have enough growing season left for most of them, but we should still get something from the smaller varieties.

Here is this morning’s harvest!

Yes, the peas are still producing! There was only a handful to harvest from the second planting, but it’s the most I’ve been able to pick in one day, this year. We have both the yellow bush beans, and the green pole beans.

With the lettuce, we normally just go in and grab however many leaves we want. This time, I harvested the plants in one area of the L shaped bed in the old kitchen garden, so that the space can be used again.

I was planning to plant fall spinach elsewhere in the main garden area, but changed my mind.

It’s just a small area for now. As more of the bed gets cleared, I’ll plant more.

We got another harvest in this morning, too.

This is the garlic from the bed in the main garden. There isn’t a lot, but they are much larger than last year’s drought garlic!

The other garlic is quite behind, so it might be a while before we can harvest those.

The freshly picked garlic is now strung up under my daughter’s old market tent, where it can get plenty of air circulation as it cures, and we won’t have to worry about it being rained on.

I am quite thrilled by how well these garlic did!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: evening harvest

At the time this scheduled post is published, I should be on the road, headed to court. Because I have to leave so early, I won’t be able to do my usual stuff in the garden until later, but I wanted to have something positive to start the day with!

So here is an evening harvest to share in the morning. 😊

I was checking on the ground cherries while doing my evening rounds when I noticed one that had ripened since I checked them this morning.

I ate it.

Then I started weeding and found several others that had ripened enough to fall to the ground.

I brought those in for the family to taste test. 😁 I know they’ve had them before, since we grew them in a container in the city, but when the first of my daughters tried one, she sounded really surprised when she commented on how good it was. Looks like I’ll be fighting over them, as they ripen! 😂

There were a couple of Magda squash I could have grabbed, but I left the smaller one to get a bit bigger.

I picked the red onions because they were starting to fall over. Though they look the same, the bigger one is a Red of Florence onion, while the other, smaller one, is a Tropeana Lunga.

The yellow onion is from sets. Somehow, a few Black Nebula carrot seeds ended up around the onion, so I pulled all of them. The carrots were just wisps, so I tried pulling the biggest one I could reach, and… well… that’s what you see in the picture. Really long, really skinny.

The pale yellow carrot is an Uzbek Golden carrot that we got as a freebie. The two orange ones are napoli carrots using seeds left over from last year. I tried pulling a Kyoto Red, too, but it turned out to be really tiny. There are so few of them, I didn’t want to try another.

The shallot is one of the “spare” sets we planted in the retaining wall blocks of the old kitchen garden. Sadly, we lost most of the shallots in the bed by the chain link fence. Though the bed was raised a few inches when we added the bricks around it, it wasn’t enough at one end. There was just too much flooding this spring, and they rotted out. The ones planted in the retaining wall blocks aren’t doing much better, but that probably has more to do with cats rolling on them. The one I picked had lost most of its greens, so I decided to pick it before it started going soft. The other that was planted with it had lost all its greens and had gone mushy.

A nice little variety of things to try! Still lots of growing to do, though. 🥕🧅

The Re-Farmer

2022 garden: morning in the garden

Just a little big of progress in the garden.

The sour cherry tree by the house has lots of ripe berries, ready to be picked. I’ll have to get the girls to do it, though. A ladder will be needed to reach the ripest ones at the top. This is the most cherries we’ve had since moving here.

We got a pretty decent amount of yellow bush beans this morning. Not enough to make it worth blanching and freezing, never mind canning, but enough for a couple of meals this time.

The purple pole beans are getting more pods, though they are still very thin. I saw the first of the green pole bean pods this morning – tiny wisps of pods! Still no sign of pods, or even flowers, on the red pole beans, while the shelling beans still have lots of flowers, but no pods that I can see.

We should be able to harvest the garlic from this bed pretty soon.

One of the Baby Pam pumpkins is starting to turn colour. This variety doesn’t get much bigger than this. From the looks of it, these are going to be the only winter squash we get out of this patch, other than maybe one kakai hulless seed pumpkin. Even the Teddy squash, which are a very small variety with only 55 days needed to maturity, will likely not get a chance to produce anything. The green zucchini still isn’t producing; they did have female flowers, but no male flowers bloomed at the same time to pollinate them. We do have some golden zucchini developing, though, and some Magda squash I should be able to pick in a few days. Maybe even a yellow pattypan squash or two.

The paste tomatoes, at least, are coming along nicely, with more of them starting to blush.

I was able to harvest more green onions from the high raised bed. Most of these will be dehydrated, and there are lots more I can harvest.

The handful of pea pods are almost all from the second planting. The first planting is, amazingly, still blooming!

Most of the onions seem to be growing well. Some of the red onions have very different shapes, and they are starting to be noticeable. I’m thinking of picking one or two for fresh eating, just to see how they taste.

The one surviving type of turnips are finally starting to have visible “shoulders”. We might actually be able to pick some, soon.

I don’t know what to make of the potatoes. They’re done blooming and we should be able to harvest young potatoes now, but I want to leave them as long as I can. The plants themselves are nowhere near as large as potato plants normally get. There was so much water in that area, I’m sure it stunted the growth of the ones that survived. I still might dig one plant up, of each variety, just to see what there is to see. Will the lack of foliage translate into a lack of potatoes, too? I was really hoping to have a good amount of potatoes to store for the winter. It certainly wouldn’t be enough to last the entire winter for the 4 of us, but it will help us decide if these are varieties we will get again or not.

Every time I’m in the garden, I’m thinking of next year’s garden. One thing is for sure. It is nowhere near big enough to meet our goal of providing sufficient amounts of food to last us until there is fresh produce again. We planted so much, with the expectation of losses, but this year the losses are just too great. Which has really surprised me. I did not expect to get less productivity this year, compared to last year’s drought. Mind you, during the drought, we were watering the garden beds every day, twice a day. This year… well, adding water is easy. Keeping water out is not. Still, even if everything had gone well, we would still probably need double the garden size to meet our long term goal. Short term is to have enough to supply our needs for at least 3 months – the hardest winter months, when we might find ourselves snowed in or the vehicles frozen.

Every year we garden, we figure things out a bit more, from what weather extremes we need to work around, to how much of anything we need to grow, to what we like enough to grow year after year. More me, half the enjoyment of gardening is analysing the results and using that information to make decisions for the next year!

That’s one good thing about having hard gardening years. You do learn more from it, than from years were everything goes smoothly.

The Re-Farmer

Change in plans, morning in the garden

This morning was our date with the vet, to get Potato Beetle, Big Rig and Tissue spayed and neutered, as arranged by the Cat Lady.

I had a chance to text with her last night, as she reminded me to have them fasting. She herself was going back to the hospital today. The poor thing has been in and out of hospital all summer, and yet she still manages to help with cats. She just brought home a couple more because they were sick, and no one else was willing/able to take care of them. She is so awesome!

She did warn me that there is a shortage of vets, and there was a possibility of cancellation. So when my phone started ringing while I was driving with the three cats, I had a sinking feeling. Of course, I couldn’t answer while driving. It started ringing again, then I suddenly started getting notification noises, one after another. *sigh*

The calls were from one of the staff from the clinic – but she was calling from home! When she couldn’t get through to me, she called the Cat Lady, and both of them were trying to text me at the same time, letting me know that the vet wasn’t coming in today. All surgeries were being cancelled.

I got all these when I parked in front of the clinic.

After responding to both of them, the lady from the clinic said she would call me when she got into the office to reschedule, then I headed home.

The cats were not happy with all this. I was concerned about Potato Beetle. He’s already been stuck in the sun room for over a week. Yes, he has cool places to lie down, and we make sure there’s a frozen water bottle in his water bowl, the ceiling fan is going, and the small box fan I found the the garage is set up. Still, it gets quite warm in there and, as much as we try to go over and pay attention to him, he’s mostly all on his own.

Thankfully, the clinic was able to reschedule us for this Friday, so tomorrow night, we do the fasting again.

Since we no longer to dash to and from town to deal with the cats, I took advantage of the change in plans and decided to do our Costco trip today, instead of next week.

But first, I had to do my morning rounds, switch out the memory cards in the trail cams, and check the garden beds.

The Carminat pole beans finally have pods forming!

The one giant pumpkin is growing so fast!

I looked around and finally saw another pumpkin forming. Just to be on the safe side, I hand pollinated it. The vines of the two plants are overlapping each other, but as far as I can tell, this one, plus another female flower I found that is still just a bud, is on the same plant as the pumpkin that’s growing so big. The second plant has lots of male flowers, but I can’t see any female flowers on it.

I’ll keep checking and, as I find them, I’ll hand pollinated them, just to be on the same side.

Which I am also doing with the Red Kuri (Little Gem) squash, in the south yard. These are doing really, really well here. I have hand pollinated several female flowers already, and I can see more budding. I’m happy that these are doing so well, because these may be the only winter squash we get this year!

The cherry tree by the house is doing well, too. This is the most we’ve seen on this tree since moving here. The other trees at the edge of the spruce grove have nothing. Being close to the house seems to be providing the microclimate it needs. I don’t know the name of this variety; only that the original tree was from Poland, which has a longer growing season than we do.

The cherries at the very top look ripe, or close to it. We’ll have to bring over the step ladder and start picking them!

Speaking of picking things…

This is this morning’s harvest. Along with the bush beans, there was a single pea pod from the row that was planted first. That row is almost done, but the ones that were planted later have quite a few pods that should be ready to pick in a few more days.

I also picked our very first two cucumbers! I picked this variety as it is supposed to be good for both fresh eating and pickling. Whether or not we’ll have enough to make pickles, I’m not sure yet, but we at least have these ones to taste test now!

There was also a few raspberries to pick. Maybe 3/4’s of a cup in total.

It’s not much, but it’s enough to enjoy with a meal. Certainly better than nothing at all!

That done, I was off to the city to do the last of our monthly stocking up, but that will get it’s own post. 😊

The Re-Farmer