Our 2022 garden: harvesting squash and corn

Well, the last of the stuff that needed to come in before tonight is done – at least as much as possible. The girls and I put bottles with warm water under the eggplants in the grow bag (the only ones fruiting) and, since they were right there, with the sweet potatoes, too. The eggplant and one grow bag with sweet potato got covered, but the sheet wasn’t big enough to cover the other two grow bags. The apple gourd also got bottles of warm water placed beside them, but we could only cover two of the three plants, so we covered the two biggest ones. As I write this, we are down to 9C/48F, and it’s supposed to keep dropping until we reach 1C/34F at about 7am. Between 6 – 8 am tends to consistently be the coldest time of day.

While I was harvesting earlier, I went ahead and grabbed a bunch of the Latte sweet corn, too. I don’t think they are quite at their peak, but I think they’re about as good as we’re going to get. There are still cobs on the stalks that were pretty small, so I left them be.

With the summer squash, I grabbed all the little – but not too little – patty pans, and the last of the zucchini.

In the above photo, the six pumpkins across the top are the Baby Pam pumpkins. The others are all hulless seed pumpkins. On the far left are four Styrian, in the middle are six Lady Godiva, and on the right are two Kakai. Tucked in with the patty pans are two Boston Marrow. There are so many little Boston Marrow squash forming, but they are just too small and have no chance of ripening after being picked. I’m not even sure Boston Marrow does continue to ripen after being picked!

The pumpkins are now all set up in the sun room. We cleared a shelf in the window, and all but one of them fit in there. The last one joined the onions on the screen. I think it should still get enough light there.

The hulless seed pumpkins are grown just for their seed, not their flesh. The flesh is probably edible, but there would be less of it than for an eating pumpkin. I will give them time before we crack any open to see what the seeds are like. At least we do have the one tiny, fully ripe kakai pumpkin harvested earlier that we could try any time we feel like it.

We planted so many different winter squash, and it was such a horrible year, I’m thankful we have as much as we do. Hopefully, next year, we will have better growing conditions. I made the mistake of calling my mother before I started this post, and talking about our garden. I mentioned that our beets did not do well this year. She started lecturing me on how to grow beets, and how they need to have the soil loosened around them, etc. I told her I knew how to grow beets (this is not our first year growing them!); they just didn’t do well this year. We didn’t even get greens worth eating. My mother then launched into how she always had such big beets, and always had such a wonderful garden (this after she’d mentioned to be before, that some years things just didn’t work) and how she only grew the “basics” and everything was just so wonderful – and the reason my beets failed was because I don’t garden like she did, and that I shouldn’t be gardening “from a book”. Whatever that means. I reminded her that I tested the soil and it is depleted. We don’t have good soil here anymore. She got sarcastic about that, and basically made it like my not having a perfect garden like she did was because I’m not doing things her way. As she got increasingly cruel about it, I called her out on it. I told her that just because she can’t understand something like soil science – which she doesn’t need to – that didn’t make it okay for her to be cruel to me over something she knows nothing about. Nor would I put up with being treated like that. I even asked her, why couldn’t she try being kind for a change? Maybe say something like “I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems”, instead of basically saying “I’m better than you.” She went dead silent, so I changed the subject, and the rest of the conversation went okay. Then she cut the call short because she saw the time, and her program on TV was started, so she had to go.

My mother is pretty open on what her priorities are. 😕

Ah, well. It is what it is. I’m just so thankful she is no longer our “landlord”, and that my brother now owns the property. There was a point, before the title was transferred, that we briefly but seriously considered moving out because of her.

Funny how something as ordinary as gardening can bring out the worst in her, though.

The weird thing is, when I spoke to my brother after he’d visited her to talk about the roofing estimates, apparently my mother had lots of positive things to say about how well we’re taking care of things here.

I guess that doesn’t include the garden! 😄

Well, I guess I should go see what I can do about that corn! 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: deer damage and harvested squash

When doing my rounds, one of the things I’ve been making sure to check is for damage to the berry bushes we plants. Especially that one highbush cranberry that has been eaten, twice. Putting the old saw horse over it seems to be helping, and there are even the tiniest of green leaves appearing again. We’ve had a pretty constant and gentle rain since yesterday evening, so that is sure to be helping as well.

This morning, I found this.

Overnight, the self-seeded sunflowers had almost all their leaves eaten. The green beans also had a lot of their leaves eaten, along the length of about half the trellis. The pods got left, though. We have stopped harvesting the beans, though we could probably still be picking the green ones. They are still blooming and producing new pods, though in much reduced quantities.

Two of the self seeded (well… bird seeded…) sunflowers by the sweet corn also got et. There is no new damage to the corn, though. It doesn’t look like the deer went into the bed. Just munched the sunflowers at the edge.

I’m not sure if this is deer damage, or some small critter. One of the sweet potato bags got torn apart more, and the grass mulch turned over, which isn’t too unexpected. The bottle waterer in the black grow bag being knocked out is a bit of a surprise. Nothing else in that bag was disturbed.

Happily, the eggplants were completely undisturbed. I put everything back, including the mulch, and in the process found that the sweet potato vine that got pulled aside seemed undamaged, too.

I checked everything else closely, and nothing else seems damaged. I did, however, decide it was time to harvest the ripe squash and pumpkins, just in case. Except the giant pumpkins. We could harvest both of those, but I’ll come by with the wagon to carry them to the house, another time.

There is the one Kakai hulless pumpkin and three Baby Pam pumpkins. Both have more green ones on the vines that I hope will get time to ripen fully. I also harvested seven Red Kuri squash, leaving one to ripen a bit longer on the vine. These are all now set up in the kitchen to cure.

With all the other squash I looked at, I’m rather impressed with the Boston Marrow. We will still likely get only two that can be harvested – one of which is starting to turn colour – but I’m seeing a surprising number of little ones developing, plus more female flowers. It looks like they would have been very prolific, had we not had such a terrible spring. Definitely something to try again next year.

The Baby Pam pumpkins are supposed to be an excellent pie pumpkin, but with just these three little ones, there isn’t enough to make one! We’ll find some other way to enjoy them. I do look forward to trying the seeds in that Kakai pumpkin. We already know we like the Red Kuri squash, and I promised one of those to my mother. I think next year, we should plant more of them.

I’m thankful that we at least have these to harvest. We planted so many more that just didn’t make it. Hopefully, we’ll have better growing conditions next year!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: some progress, and a little harvest

It’s just past 10pm as I start this, and we’re still at 21C/70F, and the higher winds of earlier today have died down to a lovely calm. I found myself looking for reasons to get the fire going, but I really need to get some sleep tonight! Sleep has been frequently interrupted for the past while. 😕

Lack of sleep wiped me out enough that I was feeling quite ill this morning, to the girls took care of feeding the critters so I could try and get at least a couple of hours in. With Leyendecker still in recovery in my room (no, he wasn’t the one keeping me up at night!), and my daughters still having their days and nights reversed, my younger daughter has been taking her “night shift” and sleeping in my room, to keep and ear out on Leyendecker while I’m out. (He seems to be doing all right, though still having difficulties voiding, so we are monitoring him very closely) In the end, it was almost noon before I finally was able to head outside and do my rounds – minus the critter feeding.

Of course, a fair amount of that is spent checking things in the garden. Things like this.

Here we are, into September, and the Red Noodle beans are just starting to show flower buds!

This Kakai hulless squash was the first to develop and is looking like it’s ripe – but it’s about a quarter the size it should be. If the weather holds, there’s a chance we’ll have a couple more, larger ones. In fact, all the hulless pumpkins are going rather well, compared to the other winter squash. Only the Baby Pam pumpkins are managing as well. The Lady Godiva should give us at least 2 fully developed squash by the end of the growing season, with a few more little ones developing. Likewise, the Styrian variety has a couple large pumpkins that should be harvestable by the time growing season is done, with a couple more developing.

As for the Baby Pam, we have a little few bright orange pumpkins that could probably be harvested, that are smaller than they should be, but there are others that are still growing and turning colour that look like they will reach their full size – which isn’t very large to begin with.

This Georgia Candy Roaster is one of two stunted plants that were just covered in slug trails this morning!

While watering this evening, I was amazed to find female flowers among the Georgia Candy Roaster, and even one Winter Sweet. I hand pollinated them, just in case, but I think it was too late for one of the Georgia Candy Roasters.

While harvesting, I was surprised by how many Yellow Pear and Chocolate Cheery tomatoes were ready. I took the few G-Star patty pans that were on the plant killed off by a cut worm.

A few more of the Cup of Moldova tomatoes were ripe enough to pick, and into the freezer the went, with the others needing to be processed.

I keep saying I need to get those done, but the fact that they are in the freezer actually frees me up to work on other things. But that will be in my next post!

As for the garden, it’s a waiting game. So far, we’re not looking to have cold temperatures or frost for the rest of the month. With our first average frost date on Sept. 10, that is very encouraging. I plan to do recordings for another garden tour video on that date. Hopefully, thing weather will hold and things will have time to catch up.

I’d really like a chance to try those red noodle beans!

The Re-Farmer

Morning in the garden and, photobomb!

Things are getting cooler in the mornings, that’s for sure! At about 7am, we were at 9C/48F – quite a bit less than the low of 16C/ that was forecast!

And that is why I don’t allow myself to hope too much, when I see mild temperatures in the long range forecasts. Even forecasts within a 24hr period can be wildly off.

Still, things are working out okay. Along with the cool mornings, we’ve been having high humidity, resulting in very heavy dew that the plants are quite enjoying. Unfortunately, if it’s too cool, it slows down maturation. Our chocolate cherry tomatoes are only now starting to turn colour. We also still have only one kulli corn showing tassels, with none showing silk.

While looking for beans to pick, I spotted this at the bottom of the one stalk that has tassels. I think it’s neat that corn develops these.

The yellow bush beans are pretty much done, but I’m leaving the plants be, rather than pull them up. They act as a living mulch for the corn, and shade the ground, so they still serve a purpose.

The sweet corn, on the other hand, is suddenly doing very well! There are so many cobs developing. This area is pretty breezy, so there are nor worries about adequate pollination, here!

There was finally a new Lady Godiva baby pumpkin to hand pollinate – the one you can see in the background is still the only pumpkin from the 5 plants. I did see another female flower bud, but it won’t be ready to pollinate for a few days yet – assuming it makes it that long.

While checking the beds, I could see bees busily doing their work in the squash blossoms, but I’ve noticed that while all the male flowers are wide open, the female flowers tend to have there blossoms already closed!

As lovely as it is to see the luffa gourd, it’s not going to make it. Do yo use that sort of star shape on my finger in the background? That’s a cluster of male flowers, nowhere near blooming. Meanwhile, the female flowers that have emerged so far are already losing their blossom ends, so there is no possibility of pollination.

These shelling beans may be tiny and delicate, but they have SO many developing pods!

Still nothing on the red noodle beans.

There are, however, a LOT of dancing gourds! It looks like they’ll be able to reach their full mature size, too. We had lots last year, but they were all much smaller than they should have been.

Once I finished gathering a harvest, I paused to hose it all over, then set up for…

… a photobomb, it turns out!

What a cheeky little bugger.

It looks like the pole beans are winding down now, too. There is still lots on the vines, at various stages of growth, so we’ll still be picking every 2 days, but there was a lot less of them, this morning.

The peas were a surprise, though. I didn’t expect to find very many, especially at the first planting, so I started off just eating them. Then I just kept finding more. Peas should have been done producing, long ago!

I tried thinning by harvesting some carrots, but that just doesn’t work with the Black Nebula carrots. They’re such a long carrot, though, it’s hard to pull them up, so I’m just leaving them for now. Those will need to be harvested with a garden fork.

I hand pollinated some more summer squash, and even had a few to pick. That one yellow zucchini was looking like it was going to ripen unevenly, so I just grabbed it. I also grabbed a few of the smaller onions for today’s cooking.

Once done my rounds, I headed to town to pick up some missing ingredients to do some pickling. We really need to do something with the cucumbers my sister gave us. They are so huge, though! It’s a good thing I did pick up a case of wide-mouthed quart jars a while back. I usually get 500ml or 750ml sized jars. There are cucumbers that would completely fill one of those, all on its own! I plan to pickle the smallest ones, and leave the larger ones for fresh eating.

While in town, I also stopped at the wine making supply shot and picked up more yeast, and a couple of spare bungs for the gallon sized carboys. We’ll be making hard apple cider again, soon, and it’ll be nice if we can get four carboys started this time. We had only two, last time. It turned out so well, I’ll happily double the amount. We should have more than enough apples to do that, plus make apple cider vinegar, too.

But first, the cucumbers need to be taken care of. They’ve been scrubbed, and it’s time to start sterilizing the quart jars! 😊🥒

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: progress, and one last cardboard mulch

There wasn’t much of anything to harvest this morning. I picked a few shelling peas and just ate them right away. There was no point in bringing so few inside! At least with the first planting of peas. The second planting is looking like it will have a decent amount to pick fairly soon.

I really don’t know what to make of the beans at the tunnel. These are the Blue Grey Speckled Tepary shelling beans. They are so small and delicate looking. They are just barely tall enough to reach, but are managing to climb the mesh. I have no idea how big these would normally get, but for a shelling bean, I would have expected them to be at least as big as…

… the red noodle beans on the other side of the tunnel. These are much bigger plants, but there is still no sign of any vining happening. I’m not seeing any flowers, either. Given that it’s the start of August and our average first frost date is Sept. 10, I’m starting to wonder if we’ll get any of these at all. Even if we do get a super long, mild spring, like we did last year, I wonder if we’ll have any of these at all. At least the purple beans on the A frame trellis are blooming and producing tiny little pods, with vines extending well past the top of the trellis frame, while the green beans on the other side are climbing and blooming.

I have never grown pole beans before, but I really expected them to do better than this. This area did not get flooded out the way the bed with the green bush beans did.

Well, next year we’ll be moving the trellises closer to the house, and this area will be getting perennials planted in it. Parts of the area will need to be kept clear because of the phone line running under it, but not all of it. Hopefully, a new location for our legumes next year will be better.

The dancing gourds are doing rather well, at least! The plants are much stronger and more vigorous this year than they were during last year’s drought. So far, there is just this one early gourd growing, though I am seeing quite a few female flowers developing. This one gourd is already bigger than the biggest we had last year. For perspective, the squares in the wire mesh are 2 inches.

In between the tunnel and the A frame trellises are some hulless pumpkins. They are the last patch without the cardboard mulch. I still had the cardboard sides from the wood chipper in the garage, so I decided to use it.

This is how it was looking. There’s an awful lot of creeping charlie making it’s way through the straw mulch around the pumpkins in the foreground. There are actually less weeds than it appears, though, just because of how they spread out.

The cardboard from the wood chipper box was very heavy duty, and had even more staples holding it together than the lawn mower box I used on the Boston Marrow. Cutting it so I could put it around the plants took some doing! Sliding the cardboard in place required quite a bit of care, too. The vines were gripping the straw and weeds quite strongly.

I placed some of the protective poles back, around the patch, and will be adding scythed hay mulch on top as I am able, but I find myself wondering if I should make a support frame for the vines to climb. I don’t know if that would actually help these or not. At the very least, I’ll be adding cord around it, to discourage deer from walking through.

There were quite a few female flowers on the vines, but I found only one male flower, so I used it to hand pollinate as many of the female flowers as were ready. While moving the vines onto the cardboard, one of them had already fallen off, because it had not been pollinated. Hopefully, the hand pollinating will help.

All three varieties of hulless pumpkin have at least some developing pumpkins. Some of summer squash is also finally picking up; the sunburst patty pans are starting to show female flowers again. The Madga squash seems to be doing the best, and we finally have yellow zucchini starting to develop. Not so much of the green zucchini, though.

At least we will have lots of the determinate tomatoes. Even the Cup of Moldova tomatoes are starting to show more of a blush in them.

If the weather holds and the frost stays away, we might still have something to harvest this fall.

The Re-Farmer

Some garden stuff, and a run-around day

Just a few growing things to share from this morning!

The spruce grove next to the board pile where the smaller kittens are living has been overtaken by spirea again. Hard to believe I pulled those all out, just a couple of years ago. They are blooming like crazy right now, and just buzzing with insects, so I am leaving them for the pollinators. They can be pulled up later, when we need access to cut down the dead spruces.

This is one of the hulless pumpkins; a Kakai variety. So far, there’s just the one. I’ve seen another, much smaller one. We shall see if it got pollinated and gets bigger or not.

There is also just the one giant pumpkin growing. I made sure to hand pollinate this one, when I first found it! I am not seeing any other female flowers on the giant pumpkins at all, yet.

I was able to make a tiny harvest of shelling peas this morning; more of the pea plants have had hair cuts by a deer, it seems. Just at the one end, where they are already all spindly, though, so it’s not actually much of a loss. I was able to pick a small handful of raspberries, too. Not as much of either, as yesterday.

I didn’t spent too much time in the garden, though, as I had a lunch date in town. I met with my SIL for lunch, after she picked up the sleep test machine in the city for me, saving me the trip. After lunch, I tried calling my mom from the parking lot, but got a “user not available” message. So I made a stop at the hardware store and picked a paint for the benches. I went with a dark red. I got a gallon, so there should be enough for both benches, with some to spare for future projects.

That done, I tried calling my mom again, and discovered she had called the farm and left a message for me. She had just gotten word that her sister passed away this morning. My aunt would have turned 99, this fall. My aunt had gotten to the point where, when my mother recently visited her, she could not recognize her at all, and didn’t seem to know my mother was there. We were expecting this for some time, now.

I told my mother I had her sleep test machine and was on my way to her place. I was really looking forward to seeing it. The little storage bin it was in was about the same size as the machine I got, when I had a sleep test done years ago.

My goodness, has it ever changed! The test is the same; a pulse oxymeter to be worn on one finger, a hose with nasal prongs, and a heart rate monitor worn the chest. The small box strapped to the chest was the entire unit, with both the air hose and pulse oximeter attached to it. No machine sitting next to the bed, making things like rolling over very challenging to do!

There was a questionnaire sheet that I helped fill out on one side. The other side is for after the test is done. Then we went over the instructions.

Yeeeeeaaaahhh….

No.

It’s actually very easy to use, but the instructions were well beyond my mother. Especially when it started talking about what to do if you turn it on and get red lights instead of green ones. Just the nasal prongs, and putting the air hose around her ears, was too much for her. She was more than ready to not do the test at all, and expressed regret for agreeing to do it.

So I’ll be giving her a hand. The machine needs to be returned on Tuesday. I’ll come over on Monday night to help her put everything on and get the machine going, before she goes to bed. Then I’ll come back in the morning, go through the shut down procedure, finish off the questionnaire with her, then take the machine to the city and drop it off. It’s already been arranged with them that, when the specialist has gone over the readings and is ready with his report, he’ll call me to go over it, not my mother. I can then explain the results to her in a way she can understand, later on. The report will also be sent to her doctor to go over.

Then, since I’ll be in the city anyhow, I’ll stay to do more of our monthly stock up. I will be using my mother’s car again, though, so still no Costco trip, but there is a liquidation store near where I have to drop off the sleep test machine that I want to check out. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, and their inventory can change quite dramatically from shipment to shipment. I should be able to get deals on things to stock up on that I might not find at the other wholesale places I go to.

So that is all arranged.

There was one odd message my mother passed on to me while I was there. When her niece called about her sister’s passing, my mother was told that our vandal would be at the funeral, therefore I could not be there.

Which is completely backwards. If I go to the funeral, it’s our vandal that has to leave. I have a restraining order against him, not the other way around. Not that I would do that to him at a funeral. I would make and exception. He, obviously, would not. I have no idea what he told my cousin, but I suspect she doesn’t want me there, anyhow. When I later had a chance to pass on my condolences to her husband, I explained it to him, but also said that I will just keep things easy and not go. Our vandal might cause a scene, and if my suspicions are correct and my cousin doesn’t actually want me there, she would be upset with me, not our vandal. I have other ways to honour my aunt’s life without all this theatre.

Since I was in town with her car, I was able to take my mother on some errands before heading home. She is not at all impressed with how expensive things have gotten. I’ve been trying to warn her for months that this was coming, but she brushed me off. Even now, she thinks that the prices are high because the local stores are cheating people. She found an error on her grocery receipt a couple of times (in the 8 or so years she’s been living there), and is convinced the errors were actually deliberate. She still doesn’t get that cashiers don’t actually put prices in manually as they scan her groceries, and that the prices are set into the computer system by the franchise the store is affiliated with, not the store itself. For all my warnings, she seems to think these higher prices are just in the local stores she goes to, not something that’s happening across the country. Frustrating.

I had noticed a weekly farmer’s market was on today, so before heading home, I swung by to see what was available. There was one booth with fresh vegetables. The selection was more sparse than I remember from last year, but I was able to get some fresh yellow beans and a bunch of carrots. The market itself had a lot fewer booths, too. My bee keeping cousin was there, though, and I was looking to get a bucket of honey, but he had none, and will not be having any of his largest size at all this year. The long, cold winter took out his bees. He’s down to only two hives! They would have already been struggling after last year’s drought, too. This horrible start to the year we had must have been just too much for them.

It explains a lot, though. I’ve heard from a lot of people saying they’re not seeing any bees this year. At the time when the bees would have been coming out of hibernation, not only was it cold, but things that normally would have been blooming, were not. There would have been nothing for them to eat.

I had just been talking to a woman selling chokecherry jam (among other varieties of jams and jellies) about how we had plenty of chokecherry flowers this spring (when they finally could bloom), but no berries, and she had said she had the same thing. Especially with Saskatoons. The flowers just didn’t get pollinated. Bees would not have been the only pollinators affected by our horrible spring, either. I’m glad we have so many pollinators now, but the timing of it is just wrong for most berry bushes.

Thankfully, my beekeeping cousin has other stuff to sell in his booth, not just honey. It might take a long time for him to build his hives back up again.

This has been a hard year for all kinds of produce!

Still, I did get a large jar of honey, some fresh vegetables, a couple jams and jellies, and some individual sized pies to take home. Not too bad.

It’s been a long run-around day, though, and I was more than happy to get home!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: more progress, second harvest and we have squash!!

Since we weren’t going to get any cooler, I headed out before I lost light, to see what I could do with the small batch of cardboard I got today. There wasn’t much, so I decided to use it here…

To the right of the sweet corn are five Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins, barely visible in the grass and weeds coming up through the straw.

Once the cardboard was down, you could see that the plants are actually fairly large! Smaller than they should be for this time of year, but still larger than most of the squash. In fact, all the hulless pumpkins seem to be doing better than most of the other squash.

After laying down the cardboard, I gave it a soak, then tromped on them to flatten them a bit. I would have stomped the grass down before the cardboard was laid down, but I didn’t want to risk accidentally stepping on a pumpkin plant. As we get more cardboard, the Boston Marrow and the G-star patty pan squash will be done first, then any spaces in between will be covered, including beside the rows of corn.

We need lots more cardboard for this.

Once this was done, I went to check the other garden beds and found a wonderful surprise.

Our first summer squash! There’s a second, smaller one on another plant. I’m really happy, not just to finally see some vegetables, but because this is a Madga squash. The first time we grew them, only 2 plants made it, and last year we had only one. They did not produce as much as the other summer squash, either. This year, we’ve got 4 surviving plants, and they’re the first to produce fruit!

We also got a second harvest this evening.

The garlic bed that is so far behind the one in the main garden has scapes ready to harvest! This is almost all of them. There’s just a very few left that aren’t ready to pick yet.

It may be late in the season, but at least we’re getting something from the garden!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden, and first tomatoes!

My morning rounds are taking longer, as I am able to do more in the various garden beds as I go along.

I harvested the largest of the chive blossoms, before they go to seed. While I continued with my morning rounds, one of my daughters washed and de-bugged them, then laid them out on a cooling rack in a baking tray to dry. They are in the oven, with no heat at all, to protect them from the cats. Once the wash water is dried off, we’ll stick as much of them in a jar as we can, with olive oil. Any extras will go in the freezer. Or maybe I should split them into two jars and use them all. There are more chive blossoms to harvest later on, so we’ll have plenty to infuse in vinegar, too.

Speaking of drying things, during the night that cats did manage to get at the stacked screens of drying mint leaves. We’ve lost about 2 screen’s worth of mint leaves to the floor. 😦

When I moved on from the old kitchen garden to check on the squash patch, I noticed one of the giant pumpkins was no longer upright. I thought it might be because it had grown large enough to start leaning over, but I was wrong.

The stem is broken, right at ground level. Possibly from the high winds we’ve been having. Or…

Possibly weakened by the ant hill that has formed on that side of the pumpkin mound!

I built soil up around to support the stem again, in the off chance that it will survive, but with a break that large, I don’t expect it to. We are likely down to just one giant pumpkin plant.

Everything else in the squash patch seems to be surviving so far, and I’m seeing new growth in most. The squash that were started at 4 weeks are so very small, though. I kinda feel like maybe we should have started them at 6 weeks.

I had a very pleasant surprise in the tomato patch nearby, though!

Of course, the camera on my phone didn’t focus where I wanted it to. 😀

We have our first tomatoes forming!

These are on the Sophie’s Choice tomato plants. We got these seeds as a freebie with my order from Heritage Harvest, which was a very pleasant surprise. They have a much shorter growing season, and were started indoors at around 10 weeks or something (it’s a good thing I am using the blog as a gardening journal to record the details, because I’m already forgetting!). So I am not surprised that these are the first to start forming fruit.

We did get some rain last night, but it was light enough that much of the water in the garden was able to get absorbed by the soil, and the paths are just really wet, instead of big puddles of water. That meant I could finally do some much needed weeding in the summer squash bed, then pruning of tomatoes.

I took some of the strongest, healthiest looking branches that I pruned off the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and transplanted them in the open spaces between the summer squash. I don’t know if I’m breaching any companion planting rules here (do tomatoes and squash go well together?), but whatever. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. I specifically wanted to propagate more Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, as they are listed as extremely rare, so if I can save seed and help keep the variety going, that would be a good thing. Because they start producing so much faster than the other varieties we have, I’m not as concerned about cross pollination.

While I was weeding and tending different parts of the garden, I had Rolando Moon hanging out and keeping me company. Not wanting attention. Just being nearby.

I had to chase her out of one of the sweet potato bags, as she decided to start rolling in it! Then she jumped up into the high raised bed and lay down on some onions. THEN, she moved into the squash and corn patch, and sat on some corn seedlings!

That cat seems determined to be destructive!

Meanwhile…

The tomatoes are not the only things blooming. Two of the Styrian hulless pumpkins have suddenly burst into bloom, and they are all covered with buds again. Their first buds had been pruned away when they were transplanted. They look to still be all male flowers. I’m debating whether these flowers should be pruned away, too, so more energy can go to the plants establishing themselves more. It hasn’t been that long since they were transplanted, after all.

Anyone out there know if it would be helpful to prune the flowers off now or not?

The beans and peas at the trellises and bean tunnel are looking quite good. The cucumbers seem more touch and go. The first peas that were planted are getting quite large, and the snap peas are already large enough that some have latched onto the vertical trellis strings already. The snap peas are growing noticeably faster than the pod peas.

There is a single, out of place pea plant that showed up, right near the upright post at the start of the row. It seems to be a pea from last year that finally germinated! It germinated quite a bit earlier than the others, and I’m trying to train it up the support post, since it’s too far from the vertical lines to climb. Last year, we planted the King Tut purple peas here, so that’s what this one would be. It’s even almost as large as the purple peas we started indoors from saved seed, and transplanted against the chain link fence to climb. They are all tall enough that they’ve attached themselves to the fence and are making their way upwards, even though they are still looking kinda spindly.

The Wonderberries have been ripening, though the plants haven’t really gotten any bigger, and have what looks like weather damage. I’ve been able to taste them. They are lightly sweet, but don’t have any predominant flavour. This may be something we just leave for the birds. I’ll have to get the girls to try them, too, and see if they like them. I don’t mind them self seeding in this location, as I’d rather have the berry bushes that produce food, either for us or for the birds, than the invasive flowers.

In other things, my plans for the day have had to change. My sister never made it out to my mother’s yesterday, because my mother told her it was “too soon” to start packing and bagging things in preparation for her apartment being sprayed for bed bugs. She has a shift today, so that’s out. My brother, meanwhile, is out of town for a funeral that had been delayed until now by the lockdowns. So it looks like I’ll likely have to go to my mother’s to help out. I’ll phone her, first, once I’m sure she is back from church. My sister will be able to come out tomorrow morning, and I hope to come out in the early afternoon for the last of the packing and bagging, and moving of larger items. Then she’s back the next morning to bring our mother to her place for the night. I’ll head over in the early evening to check on the place and make sure it’s locked up while my mother is gone.

On Tuesday, I should be heading into the city for the first half of our monthly shopping, too. I will time it so I can check her place on my way home.

Which means I’ll be getting very little accomplished at home over the next few days!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: filled in the squash bed

The squash bed prepared by my daughter has been filled!

Some things went in some odd configurations. It’s going to take some doing to remember everything, even with the labels.

In my previous post, I’d stopped for a break after getting the Kakai hulless pumpkins, and the Crespo squash, started in the squash bed. As expected, the rest went much faster.

I’m so tired right now, I’m not sure I’m going to remember everything I planted in here at all! 😀

At this corner, the four Endeavor green zucchini got transplanted, running parallel to the low raised bed. This way, they will be easily accessible for harvesting throughout the summer.

There was a bit of space at the end of the row the green zucchini was planted in, so a couple of Teddy winter squash were planted there, and the remaining 6 were planted in a block in the next couple of rows. The Teddy squash has a growing habit similar to zucchini, so I wanted to make sure they were near the path, so we shouldn’t have too much trouble getting by while tending the low raised bed, or the green zucchini.

Next to the Kakai hulless pumpkin, I planted the Baby Pam pumpkins. There was six of them, planted in a 3 x 2 block. These are a smaller pumpkin that are supposed to be excellent for pies.

The poles are with the Apple gourds. I can’t remember if they’re climbers or not, but they are the only gourds in this bed, so I wanted to make them easy to spot.

I know we had some Ozark Nest Egg gourd seedlings, but as I planted them, I got a closer look and it does seem the are all Apple gourds. I don’t remember the Ozark seedlings dying off; if I had noticed, I would have tried planting more! I have no idea what happened to them.

Fit into the remaining spaces are the Georgia Candy Roaster and Winter Sweet.

Of the 7 x 7 grid my daughter dug, I did not plant anything in the south row, as it was too far into the shade. So this squash bed has been planted in a 7 x 6 grid.

The next step will be to mulch this area with straw. There had been thunderstorms forecasted, but now they’re just saying showers – those storm predictions keep going away! Still, we want to make sure the mulch is down as soon as possible.

If I can, though, I’ll see if I can get in with the weed trimmer first. It’ll be more difficult, now that the seedlings are planted, but it will make a big difference later in the season.

There were still seedlings to be transplanted, however. Which means a whole new section needed to be claimed. We were hitting 25C/77F, though, so I went back inside to take a hydration break, though I ended up making a dash to the store to pick up more bug spray. I’d just bought some, and we were already running out. They didn’t have a lot of options – normally we get something that will repel ticks, too, but there was none available. Still, with how fast we’ve been going through them, I got two.

For the rest of the transplants, I decided to start transplanting here.

In this area next to the potatoes, the grass I’d cut was growing back faster that the squash bed I’d just finished planting in, so I couldn’t make do without using the weed trimmer.

I worked in sections, starting out with an area large enough to include walking paths.

I had a couple of bins of transplants already at the garden, so I started on those, first.

These are the G-Star, green patty pan squash. The plants will be more compact compared to the winter squash, and they will be more easily accessed from the path between them and the potato and melon bed. I started by digging the row of holes then, using the jet setting on the hose, drilled into the soil and into the divots to blast as much soil back into the holes as I could, while leaving the roots and rocks behind. Then each hole got a spade full of sifted garden soil, and finally the squash were transplanted.

That process was then repeated for the next row, for the Boston Marrow. There were three pots, but so many of them germinated, I was able to plant eight. Which is probably quite crowded, even though I spaced them out more, as I think these will sprawl quite a bit as they grow.

Once those were in, I went to get more transplants – and found the only squash left were both hulless pumpkins!

Oops. I’d intended to plant them further apart. I would have put the Boston Marrow in between them, if I’d thought ahead. Ah, well.

I chose to plant the Lady Godiva variety here, because there was 5 seedlings, to the other variety’s four.

The last four, the Styrian hulless pumpkins, went next to the bean tunnel. I wasn’t able to use the weed trimmer here, though. I had to add another length of extension cord, but for some reason, it just wouldn’t run. I think there’s an issue with one of the extension cord plugs.

Oh, I almost forgot!

While watering the beds out here earlier, I noticed that we now have peas sprouting! The ones my daughter planted at the finished trellis. There are 2 varieties, and both have broken ground. 🙂

So here we have it! That last of the squash, gourds and pumpkins are now transplanted! As with the others, these will also need a straw mulch.

We might end up finishing off the bale, soon!

As of tonight, the only things left to transplant are the ground cherries and the Yakteen gourds. The Yakteen gourds will be filling in some gaps in other places. After talking about it with my daughter, she suggested a place for the ground cherries that I hadn’t thought of. Next to the compost ring, there’s a spot where we’ve got grass clippings sitting on top of a sheet of metal. That metal has been there for about a year now, so it should be just fine to plant into. We’ll just have to find ways to use up the grass clippings that are there! 🙂

I am so glad to finally have the transplanting done! Where we’re planting them is far from ideal, but they should be fine, I think.

We still have corn to direct seed. We’ll check the days to maturity and see if we still can, or if the seeds will just have to wait until next year. There are other seeds I’d hoped to plant this year, but they will have to wait until next year. They should have been sown back when everything was flooding. There is no longer enough of a growing season left for them.

While I was working on all this, my younger daughter took care of some other jobs, including doing a burn. We haven’t been able to get the burn barrel going for a while, and it was over full of the cat litter sawdust. That meant she had to stay and tend the fire for several hours.

She had just reached the point where she could put the cover on and finally let it smolder away on its own, when I came by to the pile of garden soil for one last wheel barrow load. Previously, I’d been sifting soil from the remains of the pile near the squash bed, but what’s left of that is so full of roots, it’s not worth the effort anymore. Later in the season, we’ll break up what’s left of it and use it to level off that area which, like so many other spots around the old garden area, is really rough, making it difficult to mow.

While sifting soil into the wheel barrow from the other pile – which went so much faster, as I was able to work from an area that hadn’t been taken over by weeds, yet – my daughter and I both heard a strange sound.

Coming from the branch pile.

A teeny, tiny mewing sound!

There are still kittens in there! Well. At least one. I’ve seen the mamas taking their kittens out of there, so this may be different litter? I have no idea. It’s going to still be a while before we start seeing the moms bringing their babies to the kibble house.

We’ll have to keep our eyes out for them. 🙂

So, there we are. The squash transplants are finally done!

Looking at the 14 day forecast, we’re looking at highs hovering around 20C/68F during the day, and the lows hovering around 15C/59F, which fairly regular showers throughout. Which should be just excellent for the garden! It would be so good to finally have a good growing year.

As for me, I am wiped out. A daughter has been kind enough to take care of my laundry for me, I’ve taken my pain killers, and am more than ready to go to bed!

And it’s not even midnight yet. 😉

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning transplants

Well, I got some of the transplants in this morning! I’m just taking a break for hydration and sustenance, before I get back at it.

The first priority of the morning was to fill the remaining “instant raised bed” I got from The Dollar Tree that had a split seam, so my daughter sewed it up for me.

The one with the sweet potato slips in it got some straw on the bottom to act as a sponge, and to hold up the sides while I added soil, then stove pellets to create the sawdust mulch. For the eggplant, I had grass clippings, so some was added to the bottom, then it was filled almost to the top with sifted garden soil, with more grass clippings to mulch the top. Then the two eggplants were transplanted. It should be interesting to see how these do, compared to the ones that were transplanted earlier, in one of the low raised beds.

The next job was to reclaim the squash hill the Crespo squash was in last year. The old straw mulch was pulled back, the soil broken up and weeds pulled up. I ended up using our makeshift soil sifter on quite a bit of the soil, to get out more of the weed roots. After I sifted enough to fill the wheelbarrow, I broke up the soil in the hill some more, pulled out as many roots as I could, then returned the sifted soil. After re-burying the watering container (to fill with water for deep root watering, rather than spraying the entire hill), the hill got mulched with grass clippings, then straw. Once that was all ready, the two giant pumpkins were finally transplanted. If the critters don’t eat it first, these should get quite large and spread out quite a distance.

Then it was time to start planting into the holes my daughter had already dug. I did use the space to loosen the soil a bit more (it’s so incredibly hard!) and ended up pulling out quite a few rocks. The smaller ones got tossed into the trees. The larger ones, I set aside. We might actually find a use for them.

After loosening the soil, the holes were filled with water, then they got a couple of spade full’s of sifted garden soil. We still have some left of the dump truck load we had dropped off here, but it is so full of roots now, most of my time was spent sifting it out. At least the pile is close to where we are currently working!

The first thing that went in were the two Kakai hulless pumpkins. Once in place, they each got a light spade full of soil places around them. Then they got another watering.

Along the same row went the three Crespo squash.

For all of these, any flower buds got removed. Hopefully, they will now expend their energy towards establishing their roots and growing, rather than making flowers.

With the squash hill and the eggplant planter done, the rest of the transplanting should go faster. Except for all the soil sifting! Once everything is in place, the whole area will get a layer of straw mulch. I had intended to use the weed trimmer, first, but the sheer amount of time that will take is a bit much. All the grass and weeds would eventually make their way through the straw, but I hope that the plants will be big enough for the leaves to start acting like a mulch.

Well, I’m done eating lunch. Time to use more bug spray and get back at it before the hottest part of the day! We’re almost there now. On the plus side, we’re expecting overnight showers, so that will be quite nice for the transplants. 🙂

The Re-Farmer