Morning in the garden

We had another very foggy morning, so I didn’t head out to do my rounds, then into the garden to do a bit of harvesting, until later. It has been a few days since I picked anything. With the colder overnight temperatures, things are not ripening as quickly. Though the forecast was for overnight temperatures was for 7C/45F, we actually dipped down to 4C/40F. There were no frost warnings, but at those temperatures, if I’d known they were coming, I would have done something to help the more tender plants.

I didn’t pick any sunburst squash at all; they’re growing a lot more slowly, so I’m leaving them to get bigger. They seem to be handling the chill nights all right, otherwise.

It now looks like we will have several mature heads of Hopi Black Dye sunflowers! That would be so awesome. I might even be able to save seeds to plant next year.

The middle of the three blocks of sweet corn are a bit of a mystery. There are so many cobs like this; they have almost no husks on them, and the cobs are not developing well. It’s only this one corn block that’s like this. Very strange.

Speaking of corn, the renters started harvesting their corn yesterday, and I could hear them already out there this morning. Yesterday saw their three dump trucks going back and forth all day. When I checked the trail cam files, the newer camera, which saves 3 stills and 1 short video every time the motion sensor is triggered, had almost 340 files for me to check this morning! I noticed the trucks did not have any corn cobs in them, though. Their corn was still very green, and it looks like the entire corn plants got ground up, cobs and all. I think it was a very bad year for corn, overall, both in gardens and in fields!

That one big Pixie melon finally came off its vine today! I’m surprised by the other ones. The vines have now died off completely, but those melons are still very firmly attached! The beans are still doing amazingly well, with lots of small pods still developing, and even flowers still blooming. There are lots of tomatoes, too, but with the cooler night time temperatures, they are taking longer to ripen.

Well, it looks like things are finally warmer and drier out there right now. Time to go finish some projects outside! 🙂

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

So much colour

The sunflowers are so cheerful looking!

This is the Hopi Black Dye sunflower that has the one seed head that I think will have time to fully mature – and it has four more bright and cheerful seed heads opening!

I don’t know why my phone’s camera blew out this shot, but you can still see what a deep, dark purple is developing as the seeds mature.

When my mother found out I was planting sunflowers, she immediately mocked me, telling me that the birds would eat them all. This is the first sign of birds eating them I’ve seen this year. 😀

Not too long ago, while working on supper, I decided to dig into the potato bags and see what I could find.

The Norland (red skin, white flesh) and Yukon Gem (light brown skin, yellow flesh), we have picked before, but this is the first time I tried to find any of the fingerling potatoes, Purple Chief (purple skin, white flesh) and Purple Peruvian (purple skin, purple flesh). I did not find a lot, but I’m hoping it’s because I just wasn’t digging around in the right places.

I currently have them roasting in the oven with our own onions, both red and yellow, three types of summer squash, and purple beans. The only thing in there we didn’t grow ourselves was celery. Oh, and the dill we got from my brother. 🙂 I’ve got three chickens roasting, too, so we shouldn’t need to cook for the next couple of days! 😀

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

Well, I got that backwards!

You know, it’s a good thing that we labelled the things we planted in the garden beds, and left those labels there.

Because apparently, my memory sucks.

For the past while, I’ve been posting photos of our sunflower seed heads. Particularly the Mongolian Giant sunflowers.

The transplanted ones are much taller and stronger, and further along – at least in the row that wasn’t eaten by deer!

The other, direct seeded ones, next to the transplanted ones that got eaten, are developing their seed heads and blooming, but they are smaller and less robust plants. Even most of the eaten ones have been recovering and are producing seed heads. Their stems are stronger. They’re just shorter.

While checking on them this morning, I noticed the labels at a direct seeded row in one of the blocks was lying on the ground, so I picked it up to push it back into the ground at the end of the row it was at.

Which is when I noticed what was actually written on it.

Hopi Black Dye.

Hold on. I thought this bed was all Mongolian Giant…

So I went to the other bed and looked at the label.

Mongolia Giant.

Which is when I remembered; I’d deliberately planted the Hopi Black Dye seeds in the southern bed, regretting that I’d put the Mongolian Giant transplants in the southernmost row, because they would shade the smaller Hopi Black Dye sunflowers.

One of the flowering seed heads is starting to droop as it matures, so I took a closer look, brushing off the spent flowers.

Yeah. That’s definitely purple.

For some reason, when I remembered transplanting the Mongolian Giants in the southernmost row of the two sunflower blocks, my brain decided that the southernmost block had also been direct seeded with Mongolian Giants. I’ve had it backwards for months. But now that I’ve actually looked at the labels after all this time, I remember that I’d direct seeded the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers in the southern block, where they would get more light, even with the taller transplanted Mongolian Giants shading them a bit. Which turns out not to have been an issue, since the transplants in that row were chomped by deer, and are now shorter than the Hopi Black Dye, so they are getting the most light of all the sunflowers out in these blocks.

Which means we have quite a lot of Hopi Black Dye sunflowers with seed heads open and developing, and only a few Mongolian Giants.

And that, my dear friends, is why I’ve gotten into the habit of labeling things, taking lots of photos, and using this blog as a journal for documentation, writing things down as soon as I can, as much as possible. Lord knows, I obviously can’t trust my own memory for things like this! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden

Well, it is getting decidedly cooler when I do my morning rounds! Fall is just around the corner, but things are still holding out in the garden.

Here are the gourds growing on the south facing chain link fence. The yellow flowers that you see are the Ozark Nest Egg flowers.

If you look at the bottom right, you’ll see a white flower!

This is a Thai Bottle Gourd flower. The Ozark Nest Egg plants are going so well, they sort of hide that there is another type of gourd growing here. The Thai Bottle Gourd has leaves that are more rounded, while the Ozark Nest Egg leaves have points on them.

These gourds are not the only thing bursting into bloom.

This is the Crespo squash, recovered from critter damage and growing enthusiastically! I was not able to get all of it in this photo. All those arrows are pointing to flower buds, some of which are starting to open this morning. There are probably another dozen or so on the rest of the plant off the left side of the photo.

Hidden away in the middle, I found the first female flower!

I couldn’t get any closer because of the critter barriers, but that flower bud the arrow is pointing to has a baby squash at its base. Hopefully, it will get pollinated and not die off. Under the current conditions, I would hand pollinate, but that would require moving the critter barriers. Mind you, there’s no way any fruit that develop will reach maturity.

More on that, later.

There are only a few Halona melons left on the vines, but there are probably a dozen Pixie melons that have not yet ripened.

This is the largest of them. Since it has a hammock, I check it in the mornings by lifting it at the stem, to see if it is starting to separate, but it’s still hanging on tight!

The rest are more like these two.

I’ll have to double check, but I thought the Pixies had a shorter growing season than the Halonas. They are taking much longer than the Halona to fully ripen. I’m sure the drought conditions over the summer have something to do with that, but since we’ve started having rain fairly regularly now, I would have expected them to mature faster. Ah, well. We’ll see how they do!

This is the largest of the developing Teddy winter squash. This is roughly half of what it’s mature size is supposed to be, so they may still have time.

Our weird mutant Red Kuri is noticeably bigger! It makes me smile, every time I see it.

We’ve got a couple more that are getting bigger, too. This is what the mottled green one should be looking like, which is why I suspect it was cross pollinated with the Teddy squash.

Here’s something that is NOT getting bigger!

The one luffa gourd is just… stalled. The plants are still blooming, but also starting to die off for the season. I started these quite a bit earlier, indoors, and they should have had enough time to develop gourds and reach maturity, but this summer was so rough on everything, I think we’re lucky to have even this.

We even had something to harvest! Not every morning, but at least every few days. We even still had a few beans left to pick. In the photo, I’m holding one of the mutant green sunburst squash. 😀 I’ve been trying to let the sunburst squash have more time for the fruit to get bigger, but they seem to be developing more slowly than they did last year.

I just had to get a picture of the sunflower in the old kitchen garden. We can see it from the bathroom window, through the sun room, and it makes me smile, every time. 🙂

As the season winds down, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the long term forecasts. Yesterday was our first frost date for the area, but it continues to look like we are not going to have any frost here, for a while. Of course, the forecast constantly fluctuates, and different sources have different forecasts. My Weather Network app has a 14 day forecast, and with today being the 11th, that puts the 14 day trend between the 12th and the 25th. The lowest overnight temperatures I’m seeing is for the 25th, at 6C/43F, with variable cloudiness.

My Accuweather app, however, is very different. The long range forecast on that one goes up to October 5. Up until this morning, all the overnight lows were above freezing, but this morning, there is now a single night – the 25th – where it says we will hit -2C/28F. It is also predicting thunder showers scattered about the province in that day.

If that is accurate, we have only two weeks before frost hits (which is 2 weeks longer than average, so I’m not complaining!). If we do get a frost, that will be it for the tomatoes, squash, gourds and melons. We have no way to cover any of these beds, so if we get any frost warnings, we’ll just have to pick as much as we can the day before. We should get plenty of sunburst squash, but I’m really hoping the Pixie melons and winter squash ripen before then. The gourd and Crespo squash just don’t have enough time left. Except the Tennessee Dancing gourds. They are so small, we should have quite a few to gather before the frost hits. We may be lucky, though. Aside from that one night that one app is predicting will go below freezing, overnight temperatures are supposed to stay mild into October.

The sunflowers will be a lost cause, though. There is no way the seed heads will be able to mature in so short a time. So many haven’t even opened, yet. Starting some of them indoors would have made the difference (well… except for being eaten by deer), had they been under better conditions. Not just with the weather, but the soil quality where they are growing. Had our only reason for planting them been for the seeds, they would be a failure, but they were planted there partly for a privacy screen, partly for wind break, and mostly as part of our long term plans to prepare the area for when we plant food trees there. Which means we had a success with 3 out of the 4 reasons we planted them. I do want to get more of these seeds to try them again, elsewhere.

For now, every night we have without frost is a help.

The Re-Farmer


A lovely little bee, laden with golden pollen, on a Hopi Black Dye sunflower!

I was very happy to see it this morning. Strangely, I have not been seeing very many pollinators since we finally got rain. We still have flowering summer and winter squash, beans and peas, along with the sunflowers. With the sunburst squash, which is the most prolific of them all, I can see quite a few losses due to lack of pollination. The Magda squash as well, and we only have the one plant. We have plenty of yarrow blooming, among other wildflowers, so there is plenty to attract them. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t tried to get rid of the wasps nest in the crack in the foundation under the old kitchen. They are almost the only pollinators I’ve been seeing lately!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: 105

First, the pretty!

The remaining Hopi Black Dye sunflower in the old kitchen garden has three seed heads forming. This is the second one to open, and the third is still just a big bud.

I finished my rounds with picking tomatoes. Here is this morning’s haul.

I was curious, so when I transferred them to a colander for washing, I counted them.

I picked 105 tomatoes….

… and they all fit into a Solo cup. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; more firsts – and SO many kittens!

While heading out to do my evening rounds yesterday, I topped up the cat kibble – and got invaded by kittens!

There is only one adult cat in the kibble house in the above photo, plus Rosencrantz and her two are at their private dining area under the shrine.

All three litters of kittens were running all over the yard, playing with each other! The fact that most of them stayed to eat while I took photos – even with zoom – is very encouraging. 🙂 It will be good for them to get used to each other, since we can expect them all to be using the cat shelter over the winter.

While checking the garden beds, the girls gave me a hand moving one of the mesh covers so we could collect our very first chard leaves!

These are the Bright Lights chard, with their brilliant colours.

In the other bed where we had planted chard and radishes, only a single chard plant has survived the grasshoppers, and it’s pretty small, still.

Here we have the largest of the developing Hopi Black Dye sunflower heads. These are the ones that were direct sown after last frost.

This morning, I found this.

This is another Hopi Black Dye sunflower, from the row of transplants. These are the ones that did not germinate until after the others were direct sown, so they were much smaller and further behind. Then they had their tops chomped off by deer. Yet here they are, spindly and barely knee high, yet the seed heads are starting to open before the big ones!!

Speaking of seed heads…

I collected the driest of the poppy pods. I was a bit concerned that the rain and humidity would create a mold issue, so they are now in the sun room. As you can see, some of them are even dropping seeds!

These are Giant Rattle Breadseed Poppy, and the pods should be much, much larger than this, but given the growing conditions of this year, I’m just impressed we have any at all. There are still others that are green, but starting to dry out. I am debating just leaving them be, to self sow for next year. Given how few survived, there isn’t enough for eating, other than a taste, but more than enough to keep seeds for planting in a different area next year, if we want. I wouldn’t mind even finding a spot to scatter them as if they were wildflowers, where we can access them to harvest seed pods, but also where we can leave them to self seed, year after year. At the same time, I’m thinking of ordering more of this variety from Baker Creek, plus trying a different variety of eating poppies I found from a Canadian source. This is something I don’t mind having lots of, as poppy seeds are among those things I enjoy, but rarely buy. Neither variety I’ve found are like the ones I remember my mother growing, but I believe she got her seeds from Poland.

As things are maturing, my mind seems to constantly assess for next year or, as in the case of the poppies, for a more permanent crop. For all the difficulties we’ve had with this year’s garden, due to things pretty much out of our control, we have learned a lot that we can apply to future gardens, what we want to keep, and what we need to change. Especially as we move from our temporary garden beds to our permanent ones. 🙂

On a completely different note, today we had an early birthday party to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday at my brother’s. I was my mother’s chauffeur. 🙂 We had a great time, and we able to see her great grandson for the first time in almost 2 years. They live in a different province, so it was fantastic that they could come out for the birthday party.

Between the drive and how long we stayed to visit, we were out pretty much all day, but my mother held out very well. She even seemed to like the necklace we got for her gift and put it on right away, though she was completely indifferent to the little bag I crocheted to “wrap” it in. Even when I suggested she could use it to hold one of her rosaries, she said nothing. Now that I think about it, I don’t even know if she took it home. I helped bring in and put away her packages, and it wasn’t in any of them, so unless someone tucked it into her purse, she doesn’t have it. Which is actually a better response than I was expecting. 😀

Some things just don’t change! 😉


As wonderful as it was to see everyone, this introvert needs a battery recharge. I think an early bed time is in order! 😀

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