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

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: 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

Our 2022 garden; new sprouts, indoors and out

While doing my morning rounds today, I made a point of visiting the old kitchen garden. The girls had gone out to see the sprouting crocuses and tulips yesterday, and checked out the side of the old kitchen garden, where they had planted irises and daffodils. We have some of both coming up!

They took some scrap boards and lay them on the ground outside where the seedlings are, to make sure no one accidentally walks too close to the new sprigs. These had done so poorly last year, only partly due to the drought, so we’re really amazing to find they survived.

Also in the old kitchen garden, I checked the rhubarb. One patch is next to where the irises and daffodils are planted.

It looks like something has been eating them! Rhubarb leaves are toxic, but is that true of emerging leaf buds? I don’t know, but these have been chewed on.

The other patch is on the opposite side of the garden.

I moved some snow to uncover the emerging rhubarb on the right. Some of the ones on the left were chewed on, too.

Very strange.

More snow had melted away in the area we planted grape hyacinth, so I checked there, too.

Yes! There are some grape hyacinths sprouting! I’m so excited about these. I just love grape hyacinths. 🙂

More of the area the crocuses were planted is snow free, too, so I checked that out.

Some snow crocuses are actually showing flower buds! They’re barely out of the ground, yet, and already trying to bloom! Awesome!

Things are sprouting like crazy in the big aquarium greenhouse, too.

Just look at all those melons sprouting! Only the Halona melons are from purchased seed. The rest are seeds saved from grocery store melons.

The toilet paper tube pots were supposed to get one seed each, but I see an extra Halona melon seed snuck in. 😀

Only the watermelon and the Zucca melon, which is a type of birdhouse gourd, have not had any seeds germinating yet.

Meanwhile…

We now have a second Tennessee Dancing Gourd sprouting, and two types of hulless pumpkins. Last night, there was one Kakai in the back) and one Lady Godiva (in the foreground), but this morning, another Lady Godiva sprout exploded out of the soil.

I am so looking forward to seeing how these turn out!

We have just a few more things to start indoors, and that should be done soon.

If all goes well, we’ll be direct sowing into the garden in a few weeks, with cold hardy seeds that can be sown before last frost.

I can hardly wait. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: gourds and pumpkins

Another batch of seeds were started today: the last of the gourds and pumpkins we will be planting this year.

We are trying three varieties of hulless pumpkins. I really love pumpkin seeds, but they are quite expensive, so hopefully we will get lots of seeds to eat from these. We’ve got Lady Godiva, Kakai and Styrian. We’ll see which variety grows and tastes best to save seeds from. Or we might just save seeds from all of them. The Styrian pumpkin seeds are a good oil seed, and getting an oil press is on our wish list. The Kakai are supposed to be really excellent, roasted, while the Lady Godiva are supposed to be really excellent eaten fresh out of the pumpkin, as well as roasted. Three varieties with three different ideal ways to use them.

The remaining gourds we will be planting this year are Apple and Yakteen. Both are edible when young, and apparently Apple gourds are very healthy. I’m growing the Apple gourds for crafting purposes. We’ll try them both. Then we’ll decide whether the Yakteen gourd will be used as an edible, as well as for crafting. The Yakteen gourd is listed as very rare, so we’ll be saving seeds for those, regardless. If we succeed in growing them! We do have two other varieties of gourd seeds from last year, but we’re skipping them this year.

The Baby Pam pumpkins are a small, short(ish) season variety that is supposed to be an excellent eating pumpkin, especially good for pies. Veseys doesn’t seem to carry them anymore, though, so I’m glad to still have these seeds from last year. We had none germinate last year, but I think that has more to do with the troubles we had with our starting medium, rather than the seeds themselves. This year, we’ve bought soilless seed starting mixes, and I think that’s working out much better.

I decided to just plant two pots with three seeds for each of these. The gourds and Baby Pam pumpkin seeds got scarified and soaked for a while before planting. Depending on how well they germinate and how strong they are, we might thin by dividing to get more to transplant in June. My daughter did the planting while I cut up and wrote out more labels.

The ground cherry seedlings got moved to the mini-greenhouse, and now the warming mat is under all pumpkins and gourds right now.

Yes, I added water to the tray after the photo was taken. LOL

Here’s what’s in the mini-greenhouse right now.

I’d rotated all the trays before taking photos. Here are the ground cherries, just added to the tray with second planting eggplants, peppers, luffa and Crespo squash, along with one Canteen gourd that was thinned out from one of the pots now in the sun room.

There is one empty shelf below, ready for when we need to move more things out of the big aquarium greenhouse to make room for more starts.

Here we have the second planting Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, plus the first planting eggplant and peppers that survived the Great Cat Crush.

Here we have the Cup of Moldova tomatoes that were smaller and didn’t need to get moved to the sun room yet. They’re getting quite tall, so we’ll likely have to move them to the sun room fairly soon.

For the next batch of starts, in a couple of days, we’ll be moving on to the winter squash. Particularly the larger varieties that need a longer growing season.

I’m really looking forward to those, and will be looking to start more of each, if we can find the space. These were selected to be a major part of our winter food storage, so I’m aiming to plant quite a lot of each variety, if possible.

We are starting so many seeds indoors this year, but I’d much rather be planting more. Partly because we just don’t know how many will actually make it. Even if they all germinate, the cats don’t manage to destroy any more of them, and we transplant them all, they could still die of transplant shock, a late frost, critters, insects… Gardening is really a touch and go endeavour. As the poem says, one for the rook, one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow. I’m also reminded of a “prepper” saying I’ve recently come across. Two is one, and one is none. Redundancy is a good thing, whether it’s how many bags of rice to store, how many can openers to have handy, or how many seeds to plant!

If we had the space, I would be planting double what we’re doing for our indoor starts.

The Re-Farmer