Our 2022 garden: last seed starts? Winter squash and cucumber

Today is 4 weeks from our average last frost date. We started some more seeds indoors, but I’m not sure if these will be our last ones or not.

But first, some re-arranging had to be done.

I moved more pots out of the mini-greenhouse and into the sun room. The mini-greenhouse is now about half empty.

The last of the tomatoes were moved out; these are almost all the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and, I think, one last Cup of Moldova paste tomato. There was room in the bin, so I added the peppers I’d brought over yesterday. The larger bin with the larger tomatoes and the Canteen gourds got moved so this one could be closer to the window and not get overshadowed by the larger bin.

The re-started luffa, and ozark nest egg gourds, were brought over, too. The plants in the cups are the ones I thinned out from the larger, stronger pepper plants, yesterday. It doesn’t look like they’ll make it, but you never know.

The Red Baron bunching onions got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse – and got a hair cut.

Then it was time to start planting.

We had only three seeds to start; two types of shorter season winter squash that we grew last year, and cucumber. For these, I used planting trays the same size that come with the Jiffy Pellets, but with 4 sets of 8 square Jiffy pots in them.

With the Little Gem (Red Kuri) seeds, we picked 8 seeds that looked the best, for 1 seed per square. We still have seeds left over, plus I also still have the seeds we saved from last year. The Teddy squash had only 10 seeds left, so we planted all of them, with a couple of squares having 2 seeds. The seeds got scarified and briefly soaked while the squares were filled with potting mix. With the cumber, we just planted 1 seed per pot, in half the tray, so we have plenty of those left over.

For all the re-arranging, we still couldn’t put the tray in the big aquarium greenhouse on the warming mat, because we still needed to use it for other things. With how warm the sun room is, though, the new tray went straight there!

I didn’t want them drying out too quickly, plus the overnight temperatures are still a bit of a concern. The tray didn’t come with a dome, so I improvised.

Two small bin lids cover the ends, while a small big is deep enough to fit over the labels. πŸ˜€

That done, the girls and I headed outside to check things out, and we were absolutely thrilled to find so many crocuses blooming!

Many of them are blooming in clusters like this. Each one of those clusters was a single flower, last year. I just love how they are already spreading!

There are more grape hyacinth coming up, though they are very hard to see. We also spotted wild strawberry leaves in the patch under a dead tree that we’ve framed with branches to make sure they don’t get accidentally mowed.

My younger daughter wanted to check her raspberries that had such a rough start last year. One of them has tiny new leaves coming up at the base! Hopefully, both will have survived the winter.

Once back inside, I fussed a bit more with the big aquarium greenhouse.

I’d already rotated the bin with the melons in it; the Zucca melon is now in the foreground and the watermelon in the back. The Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes were moved to the mini-greenhouse, while the larger pumpkins got moved to take their place. Some of them were getting too close to the light fixture, and this tray gives them more head room.

A few remained on the warming tray, but moving so many post out freed up just enough room…

… to move the other winter squash out of the small aquarium greenhouse and put them on the warming mat. Hopefully, that will help them germinate sooner.

I have refills of those square pots that fit in the trays like the one on the warming mat. I find myself waffling back and forth over starting the summer squash in them. We have 5 types. These have a short enough season that I could get away with direct sowing. I could leave them be, but I’ve never NOT started summer squash indoors, so I find myself really wanted to start some of them!

If I do start them, it would have to be very soon, and they’ll be going straight into the sun room, too.

What do you think? Should I try go for it, or leave them?

The Re-Farmer

Red Kuri taste test

Okay, we finally gave the Red Kuri (also called Little Gem) squash a try!

We only had three that reached maturity (or close to it), and with the poor growing conditions, they did not reach their optimum size. I expect this has also affected their flavour, but we’ve never had this squash before, so we have nothing to compare them to, but each other!

I decided to roast them, as the easiest way to compare. While preparing them, I saved their seeds, including keeping the mutant squash’s seeds separate. If we liked it enough, we would try growing it next year, and see what we get.

The two furthest halves in the photo are the mutant. This is the one that had a different shape, and was a mottled green and orange, rather than a deep, reddish orange. It also has the most flesh to cavity ratio.

The two halves on the bottom and middle right, with the ring of green near the rind, is the one that was less mature, while the ones on the bottom and middle left are from the squash that matured the earliest and had the most time to ripen.

I added some butter and brown sugar to each one, and roasted them at 350F, with a bit of water in the bottom of the pan, until fork tender. The butter and sugar pooled on the bottom of each, so we could taste them all on their own, then again with the butter and sugar.

Once roasted, I split them up between the four of us, so that we had a piece from each of the three squash.

I didn’t even think to take a picture until we’d eaten them, though! Oops!

The results?

My husband didn’t like any of them. He doesn’t like squash.

As for our daughters and I…

The mutant: we all found it very dry compared to the others. Not a good flavour. My younger daughter couldn’t finish her piece. I was okay with it enough to finish her piece off. The seeds went into the compost bucket.

The ripest one: This one had a nice texture to it, and the flavour was good. Better with the butter and brown sugar, though.

The slightly under ripe one: this one had the best flavour of all! With or without the butter and brown sugar, it was quit enjoyable.

I’m pretty sure we didn’t plant all the seeds that came with the packet, but I now have seeds from the non-mutant squash drying. There is a possibility of cross-pollination with the Teddy squash beside them, so we might get something different next year… or not. They didn’t really bloom at the same time, much, so the chances of cross pollination is rather low.

Not that I mind having something new show up! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer

First ice, last winter squash and melons

Thanks to my husband being up at ungodly hours and feeding the outside cats for me, I didn’t have to head out for my morning rounds until things had started to warm up a bit. Even so, I found ice!

We keep a storage bin with tools and various handy things at the far-flung garden beds. It’s in the shade of the rain barrel (which we no longer fill; it has only enough water to keep it from blowing away), and the rain water that had collected on its lid had a layer of ice on it!

The reason I needed to go into the bin was to get a knife. It was time to collect the few remaining winter squash and melons.

The mutant Red Kuri has probably been ripe for a while, and just the outer skin was getting more time to thicken. The smaller one hasn’t reached its mature colour yet. The larger melons are the Pixies. Their vines died off ages ago, but I still had to cut them free!

The two surviving Teddy squash are smaller than they would have been under more optimal conditions, but from what I’ve read about their mature size, not by much. I do think they actually did get a chance to ripen.

The last two Halona melons! They got to this size, and just stopped growing. They are probably not edible, but who knows?

I figure we’ll be cutting into these as soon as we can. I think the winter squash, at least, will be something we can eat, and we’ll want to do that right away. The Pixie melons should probably be fine. Those little Halonas, though… I suspect they will find their way into the compost!

We’re supposed to get a really warm day tomorrow – 18C/64F!! – then back to chilly, but still mild, temperatures. It should be at least a week before we potentially get rain again, then mild for the rest of October. That will give us plenty of time to do more wood chipping, pull of the spent plants, and work on the high raised bed some more. I plan to include garden material among the layers when filling the high raised bed. Every little bit will help!

Yesterday, I consulted with my brother about a job that needs to be done. The old chicken coop – a log building that was a summer kitchen when my parents first acquired the farm – has a corrugated metal roof that was laid over the original wood shingles. A tree had been allowed to grow next to it and, in high winds, the branches had torn away a section of the metal sheets. I cut away the tree last year, so at least there is no new damage from the branches.

This building is still salvageable, but the exposed wood roof needs to be covered, or it’ll end up collapsing like the others. The metal pieces that got torn off are pretty damaged, and I couldn’t even find all of them. There was another building next to the barn with the same type of corrugated metal roof. It collapsed long ago, so the remains of the roof are almost on the ground. It still has several pieces that are bent to fit over the peak of the roof, so I should be able to salvage those, as well as some other pieces, to cover the old chicken coop roof.

The problem is getting up there. I don’t think that roof can hold a person’s weight anymore. Plus, it would be pretty dangerous to try and use a ladder around there. The ideal thing would be to have scaffolding. My brother told me that there used to be scaffolding alongside the building my parents’ stuff is now stored in. I was pretty sure what I would find, but this morning I went to take another look, just to confirm.

No scaffolding.

Something else that disappeared before we moved out here.

*sigh*

My parents ran a fully equipped and functioning farm until their retirement. Sure, it was just two sticks ahead of the stone ages, but as my late brother prepared to take it over, he brought all sorts of supplies and equipment. I’d say it was more like three or four sticks ahead of the stone ages before he died. Now, it’s like I’m down to just one stick ahead of the stone ages. I have fewer tools and resources available now, than when I was a kid and we still didn’t have running water or an indoor bathroom.

It makes taking care of and improving this place, very frustrating!

Ah, well. We make do with what we have. Perhaps, with our vandal taking me to court over the remaining junk, a judge will see fit to order him to return what he took, or pay my mother and brother back for what can no longer be returned. One can dream!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: sleepy bee, a pretty harvest, and more rain to come?

While doing my rounds this morning, I was specifically looking to see how things held out after the colder than predicted overnight temperatures a couple of nights ago. Quite a few heads are at that drooping/maturing stage. Others are still in their early stages of blooming. It isn’t unusual, in these cooler mornings, for me to find a variety of small insects in the flowers, not moving much because of the cold.

This morning, I found this beautiful creature.

This beautiful bee wasn’t just sluggish. It was “sleeping”. We were at 10C/50F when I took this photo, and we’re only supposed to get a degree warmer, but I do hope the bee managed to make its way back to its hive!

That we have any pollinators out and about right now is pretty amazing to begin with. Mostly, I’m seeing yellow wasps, probably from that nest at the crack in the foundation under the old kitchen, or the nest in the big branch pile in the outer yard.

Having them around is appreciated, because even though the colder temperatures have resulted in drooping, cold damaged leaves on all our squash, they are still blooming! The flowers don’t seem to have been affected, and summer squash seem to have been protected by their own leaves.

I will be checking on the pattypans later, but I did pick these this morning.

This is actually the second Red Kuri/Little Gem squash we harvested. There is still the mutant, which I’m leaving because its vine is still looking so green still, and a smaller one that is still more yellow than orange. I’ve left our two little Teddy squash for now, as their vines seem to be doing all right, and I want to see if they will get any bigger.

The Tennessee Dancing Gourds were a bit of a surprise. They weren’t the largest ones, which were still firmly attached to their vines when I checked them. Then these ones just popped off their vines when I handled them! We’ve got more than a dozen of these picked, and the vines still have so many more, and more flowers! Even the luffa is still blooming.

How long this will last, I can’t even begin to guess. It’s been such mild fall, and these are plants that are not typically grown in our zone. Our mild fall has extended our growing season by at least a month, already.

It does not look like we will be able to do any chipping today, nor for the next couple of days. We are supposed to be getting more rain. Our own area looks like it will just get the edges of the weather system, but my weather app was sending out warnings for possible flash flooding in some areas. From the looks of the weather radar, the south end of our province is already getting heavy rains. The same system looks like it’s been dropping snow as it passed through the US before reaching us! Since we moved back here, we’ve seen snow, and even blizzards, before now, so I am incredibly thankful for the mild temperatures and rain. Every drop will help in recovering from this summer’s drought conditions.

Oh, my goodness! I just have to share this!

I got interrupted by a phone call while writing the above. When I answered, someone asked for my late father, by his first name only. Without saying he was my father, I told the guy my dad had passed away several years ago. He expressed sorrow, but then another male voice came on, this one with a strong accent, so it was clearly a second person on the line, asking if Mrs. ________ (mispronounced, but that’s not unusual) – my mother – was there. I said no, she no longer lives here. I was then asked if the man or woman of the house was available. I said that would be me. Which is when the first guy started talking again, saying he was from CARP, and how was I doing this morning? I told him that I was very confused right now, so he said he would call back again at a better time.

!!!

I just looked up CARP and, aside from lots of websites about fish, I found this.

C.A.R.P.β€”A New Vision of Aging is Canada’s largest advocacy association for older Canadians promoting equitable access to health care, financial security, and freedom from ageism. Backed by more than 320,000 members, C.A.R.P. is a non-partisan association committed to working with all parties in government to advocate for older Canadians. Our mission is to advocate for better healthcare, financial security, and freedom from ageism. C.A.R.P. members engage in polls and petitions, email their elected representatives, connect with local chapters and share stories and opinions on urgent issues.

C.A.R.P. membership support creates major changes in government policies and protects the dignity of Canadians as we age. Members are also rewarded with discounts on over 100 everyday products and services they know and love from C.A.R.P.’s trusted partners.

https://www.carp.ca/about/#about

So… I don’t quite fit into their demographic, yet. πŸ˜€

Also, they really need to update their phone lists! My mother hasn’t had this number for at least 7 years, and my dad passed away more than 5 years ago.

Oy vey!

Anyhow. Back to topic!

After a few days of rain, we are actually supposed to get sunny and warmer again. Hopefully, that will be a good time to get more chipping done. For now, while the rain holds off, I’ll see what progress I can get on the high raised bed. I want to at least get one high raised bed completed in time for when the garlic comes in, since they will need to be planted right away. I also just got word back about getting another round bale of straw, so we should be getting that delivered soon, too.

There is so much work to get done before the snow flies!

The Re-Farmer

Fall garden update: winter squash and melons

While going through the garden beds this morning, I was just blown away by how much is still growing – and still getting a chance to grow, if the forecasts for October stay true!

The last time I had so many photos to share, I put them together into a video, but it only ever got one view. Clearly that’s not something people are interested in. So today, I will instead make a series of short posts, instead, starting with our winter squash and melons.

This is the very first Red Kuri/Little Gem squash that matures. As you can see in the photo, the vine is completely died back – except for the few inches on either side of the stem!

The vine with the next biggest one still has some green leaves on it. There had been another small squash that started to develop, but it withered away and fell off.

The other one, however, is still getting bigger, and just starting to deepen in colour. The vine it’s on has a lot of cold damaged leaves, but is still mostly green and growing, so this one may actually get a chance to fully mature.

The vine the mutant is on is also still growing, with fresh new leaves showing up even as the older ones get killed off by colder overnight temperatures. We still have not had a frost, which is the only reason we still have hope for our garden!

We are back down to the two Teddy squash, one on each plant. The others that had started to form, withered and fell off, likely due to lack of pollination. I don’t know how much bigger this well get, as they are a very small variety to begin with.

If you notice the white on the squash and leaves, no, that is not powdery mildew, or any other sort of fungal disease. That’s road dust. Even with the lilac hedge nearby, dust from the nearby road still gets through and coats things. Even the summer squash, which is furthest away, has road dust on them. Another reason we want to complete the hedge with dense bushes, and also plant taller trees. They will serve as more than wind breaks and privacy screens, in this area!

Here, you can see that the melon vines have all completely died back. All of them. And yet…

… the remaining melons are very firmly attached to their vines! Of course, they can’t grow any bigger, but I’m hoping as long as they stay out here, they will continue to ripen.

Under the conditions we’ve had, I’m really impressed with all of these. The melons managed to be quite prolific. The winter squash were not as prolific as they normally would have been, but we will at least have a few squash to try, and to see if we like them enough to want to grow these varieties again. We certainly would be willing to grow the Halona and Pixie melons again, though I think that we will try new varieties next year, to see what other varieties we enjoy eating.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: late season growth progress

We have been really fortunate with the frost holding off so far. If the long range forecasts are right, we won’t get a frost for at least two more weeks, possibly longer. Other areas in our province have already had their first frost, so I am really thankful that it’s held off in our area so far.

The continued mild temperatures is giving the garden more time to recover and progress, and we even have some new little surprises this morning!

We’ve got two more Ozark Nest Egg gourds forming! That makes for a total of three. I did not see these two when I checked the garden beds yesterday evening, so this is pretty much overnight growth.

This is one of the new ones, from outside the fence. They have such pretty flowers. πŸ™‚

The Tennessee Dancing Gourds are one I don’t have much concern over. Though there are a lot of little gourds developing still, there are quite a few “large” ones like this, that have reached their full size, but are still ripening on the vine.

One of the few remaining Halona melons came off its vine this morning. There are a couple of somewhat larger ones left that might have enough time to fully mature, plus a few more tiny ones that won’t.

In the background of the photo above, you can see the biggest Pixie melon in its hammock. These guys could really use the extra time, it looks like.

We’ve still got Red Kuri developing, and they are growing fast at this stage – and you can even see a new squash developing in one of the photos.

The mutant is my favourite! πŸ˜€ I’m just fascinated by it. It’s shape is different than the other Red Kuri, which can be expected with cross pollination, but it is also getting bigger than the others. If this is the result of cross pollination with the nearby Teddy squash, I would have expected it to be smaller, not bigger! The Teddy squash are a miniature acorn squash and their mature size should be smaller than the Red Kuri. For a hybrid to be bigger than either parent type seems quite unusual. I hope this has time to fully mature, because I really want to see how it turns out!

Speaking of Teddy squash…

We have another new baby! Of the two plants, the one that had only a single squash developing, now has two.

The other plant still has four developing squash, with the one in the photo being the biggest.

While checking the Crespo squash, I was able to find an open line of sight to get a picture of the one developing fruit that I’ve been able to see so far. It should be interesting to see how far it gets, before the frost kills it all. We certainly won’t get the large, green, lumpy pumpkins we are supposed to, but even a little one will be interesting to see.

The cucamelons are an odd one for this year. The plants are growing up the fence rather well, will plenty of blossoms and fruit beginning to develop. Unfortunately, most never get past the size you see in the photo above. They just drop off.

I did find a single, mature cucamelon. Which I ate. πŸ˜€ It’s the first larger one I’ve seen in quite some time. This suggests a pollination problem, unfortunately.

And finally, we have our potato bags.

I’m not sure what to make of these! They just don’t seem to be dying back. Oh, the two varieties at the far end are looking a bit like they are dying back, but they also got hit the hardest by the grasshoppers. The two fingerling varieties just keep on growing!

When we first decided to use the feed bags to grow the potatoes, I expected to continually add soil over time. It was after learning that all four varieties are determinate, not indeterminate, that I changed my mind. They would not benefit from having soil continually built up along the stems, so only a single layer was added to protect the developing potatoes from light, and that’s it. The purple fingerlings, however, just keep getting bigger and bigger. Which leads me to think that these may actually be indeterminate potatoes, and would have benefited from continually adding more soil. I don’t know. It should be interesting to see how many potatoes we get when we do harvest them. I don’t image we will be getting many, but we shall see. If we decide to go with grow bags again next year, we will have to make sure to choose indeterminate varieties, which means finding a source for seed potatoes that actually labels them as determinate or indeterminate.

Until this year, I didn’t even know that tomatoes had those labels, never mind things like potatoes!

It has definitely been a year of learning!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden, and thinking ahead

What a lovely morning to finish up my rounds in the garden!

There are quite a few Mongolian Giant sunflowers opening their seed heads. Hopefully, we will see the Hopi Black Dye rows in this area opening soon. They are so cheerful! πŸ™‚

I’m just so happy with how the Red Kuri squash are doing! Judging from how the stem looks, the oldest of the ripening squash, in its little hammock, is progressing quite well, and the other two larger ones are catching up nice and fast. Looking at the long range forecast, our overnight temperatures will continue to stay mild, with no frost on the horizon, which will be a huge benefit for all the plants that are recovering from the heat and drought conditions we had this summer. Lately, we’ve had enough rain that we have not needed to do any watering at all, which is helping a lot, too.

The largest of the Halona melons was ready to pick this morning, so…

… the hammock that was supporting it is now holding the larger of the new Red Kuri squash.

It has been a few days, so this morning, I spent some time picking beans.

I also thinned more of the Lounge Rouge Sang carrots.

I ended up using what vegetables we had in the fridge, as well, to make a use-watcha-got version of Hodge Podge. I used bacon fat instead of butter, all the carrots in the photo, some of all three types of beans, cut into smaller pieces, yellow onion, shallots and garlic, a bunch of little sunburst squash, a zucchini, and the chard we’d picked recently; the stems were removed and chopped to about the size of the beans, while the chopped leaves were added near the very end. Also, chunks of sausage for the protein. For a bit of texture, I tossed in some lightly crushed mixed nuts, too. Instead of water, I used vegetable broth, and the dairy at the end was a mix of sour cream, into which I’d stirred in the flour for thickening, and heavy cream. Since I used broth, no other seasonings were added.

The only downside is that the carrots turned the cream pink! πŸ˜€ It was not the most visually appealing of dishes as a result, but is sure was tasty!

While going over the garden and checking things out in general, we are going to have to start working on things that need to be planted at or just before fall. We have the two wildflower seed mixes that won’t be sown until fall, but we need to start preparing the areas now. We won’t be able to do actual seed beds, as the packets recommend, but we can still clear the areas as best we can and, for one set of seeds, hopefully use the riding mower to drag the little harrow I found under the spruce trees and loosen the soil a bit.

We also have the morel and giant puffball spores to “plant”. They need to be done by about the middle of September, if I understand the package directions properly. Unfortunately, where I wanted to put the morels still has a couple of branch piles that were supposed to get chipped. The giant puffballs needs a grassy area, and we have a few options, there. We just need to make a decision before preparing the spores.

We should have good weather for working outside for the next week or so, which will be a huge help.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: the weather was not willing

We did not get the predicted thunderstorms last night, though we did get rain. While I was out doing my morning rounds, I could hear thunder around us, and it was even starting to rain a bit by the time I was done. So, no work was done on the garden bed I’d started on yesterday. We had rain on and off all day, so hopefully those bottom layers got a good soaking.

A few more of the Mongolian Giant sunflowers have started to open up. If the mild temperature continue, I hope to at least see some Hopi Black Dye sunflowers open as well, before the first frost hits. Some areas in our province have already had frost in August, but so far, we are good.

I am really hoping that first frost holds off for quite a while, so that these Red Kuri squash get a chance to mature. Our first frost date for our area is Sept. 10; just over a week from now. From the looks of our long range forecasts, we will continue to have very nice overnight temperatures; cool, but nowhere near freezing.

I especially would love for the Teddy winter squash to have a chance. Yes, we finally have fruit developing on them! Again. I found three of them this morning. Where the Red Kuri/Little Gem squash ripen to a deep orange-red, the Teddy are a mini acorn squash, becoming a deep green and only about a pound in size. The critters have been staying away, after using the cayenne pepper all over the garden beds, even though we have no been able to re-apply the cayenne due to the rain. I am hoping that, having gotten a mouth full of pepper, the critters have learned to associate the garden beds with “ouch”. πŸ˜€ If we can keep them away, these are supposed to be a prolific variety, and their small mature size should mean they may have a chance to fully ripen if we have a mild fall.

After checking the outside of the squash tunnel on the winter squash side, I went through the inside of the tunnel and found something waiting for me!

One of the Halona melons had dropped to the ground! I am so happy with how they are doing. πŸ™‚ Of course, after finding this, I checked all the others, but none were loose. After I finished my morning rounds, I made a quick trip into town to run some errands, then headed out again later to meet a friend. While I was gone and there was a break in the rain, the girls picked the beans and some summer squash – and found two more Halona melons on the ground! I’m a bit surprised that it’s only the Halona melons that are dropping; the Pixies are still hanging in there. Literally! πŸ˜€

My friend and I went to the local Farmer’s Market this afternoon, and I had a chance to talk to my neighbour that sells pork – this time with a budget, and I picked up some sausages. πŸ™‚ We had a chance to talk for quite a while, and I’m really looking forward to being able to get together with them. There are quite a few things they are doing that I would like to do as well, and I am eager to see their methods! And, from the looks of it, I won’t be able to go back to the market this year. Starting tomorrow, our province is imposing medical apartheid. With nothing to justify it, either. If we want to go to any “non-essential” places, we will have to show our papers to prove we’ve gotten the double jab for Schrodinger’s virus. The jab that works so well, those that have already got it are going to have to get a third one, while still covering their faces and remaining in physical isolation from other human beings. Our government doesn’t actually have the authority to impose such segregation, but they’re doing it anyhow, and people are being forced to comply through threats and coercion. Most illogically, while those who can’t have, or decline to have, the jab are now barred from doing things like buying food from a farmer at a market, instead of in a grocery store, the market vendors themselves are not required to have the jab. The levels of psychological manipulation and behavioural modification from our politicians and in the media, including social media, have gone into overdrive and, sadly, many people are getting sucked in and don’t even realize it. The levels of bullying and verbal abuse I’m seeing online has also increased substantially, in just the last few days. In typical gaslighting fashion, the same people who are doing the bullying are also the same people virtue signalling about how, if we don’t like it, don’t take it out on the poor employees trying to enforce the (illegal) restrictions. The obvious implication being that people who disagree with anyone being forced to partake in medical interventions against their will are the bullies when they voice their objections.

Meanwhile, another neighbor of ours I only recently met in person had an accident almost a week ago, breaking his neck. He requires surgery but isn’t getting it, nor is his family allowed to see him. They are literally denying him health care right now, because he is declining medical certain medical procedures that are unnecessary. Our health care system sucked before this, but now, it’s gotten beyond ridiculous.

Ugh. I was talking about my garden. I didn’t intend to go into a rant. It’s part of what we’re dealing with now, though, so I’m leaving it there.

I am so incredibly thankful that we are living here on the farm, and not in any urban setting. When I came up with the sub-title for the blog, “Sometimes you need to go back, to go forward”, I had no idea how true that would be.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: winter squash follow up

Yesterday, I posted about a concern I was finding with our Red Kuri/Little Gem winter squash. I also shared photos in some gardening groups I’m on, and of course, did some searches.

I greatly appreciated the feedback that I got from all over. Some had suggested it was a pollination problem, but that seemed to be from people seeing the pictures of the dying fruit, and not seeing my question about the yellowing leaves. Thankfully, we have not had any shortage of pollinators, unlike some other gardeners I’ve been hearing from. Others suggested blossom end rot. That would be due to watering problems, particularly over watering. In this location, and with our soil (or lack of it), over watering would be very difficult to do. Under watering could be an issue, but these plants are watered the same as everything else at the squash tunnel.

Other possibilities included squash borers, which there are no signs of, and the pattern of yellowing would have been reversed from what is happening. Fungal disease was another possibility, as was root rot. Both of which I could rule out pretty confidently. Insect damage in general could also be ruled out.

Nutritional deficiency seems to be the most likely cause. Everything at the squash tunnel has been fertilized a couple of times with high nitrogen fertilizer, and lack of nitrogen is one of the possible nutrient deficiencies, but I ‘also had suggestions that lack of calcium, iron and even magnesium might be contributing factors. None of those are included in the soil tests I did! It could simply be that this type of squash has higher nutritional needs than the melons and squash on either side of it. There are five of this type of squash, and all five are affected, while nothing around them are having the same issues, which suggests to me that it this variety is simply a heavier feeder than the others.

This morning, I pruned away all the dead and dying leaves at the bottom of the plants, as well as trimmed away the stems from leaves that had been nibbled on, previously. There were very few of those; it’s the winter squash next to them that is getting the worst of the nibbles!

There was quite a bit to trim away! What I found interesting was what was revealed, once these leaves and stems were removed.

There are fresh new leaves growing! Many are growing out of the stems right next to the dying leaves, as if the plants are trying to replace them as fast as it can.

This also opened things up so I could better check for things like fungal disease, insect damage, etc., just in case I’d missed something before.

In the end, lack of micro nutrients seems to be the most likely cause. That new leaves are coming up at the bottoms (no leaves higher up on the trellis needed to be trimmed), is encouraging.

The big, beautiful flowers, and the still healthy developing squash is also very encouraging!

On a completely different garden topic, I was checking out the corn and sunflower blocks, and taking a closer took at some of the developing seed heads.

This Mongolian Giant is typical; one large seed head developing at the top.

Then there was this one, two stalks over.

This one has a whole bunch of little seed heads starting to develop, all down the stem! Pretty much every leaf on this plant is showing a baby seed head growing in their elbows.

I remember we had a sunflower last year do this, too! Sadly, none had a chance to mature before that first frost hit. Hopefully, these have more time to develop, and we’ll have seed heads to harvest as something other than bird feed this year!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; NOOooo!!! *sob*

Today is supposed to be hot again, so I wanted to make sure to get the garden watered early in the day, while it was still cool. I started with the soaker hose at the squash tunnel, then went around checking the melons, squash and gourds.

I was extremely disappointed to find this.

Our one and only Teddy winter squash was gone.

Et.

Munched.

Masticated.

The two Teddy plants are blooming, and there is even a female flower developing, but that one baby squash had grown so much after the rain, I was really looking forward to watching it develop.

This is one of the nearby Little Gem winter squash. There were no developing squash down here to be eaten; those are much higher on the trellis. Still, it means energy will be going to recover from the damage, instead of into developing squash.

Thankfully, that was the only damage here. The melons and gourds had no critter damage. I did find one of the nearby Dorinny corn had been gotten into, the remains of a cob on the ground. The corn may have been a deer, but I figured the squash was a groundhog. The deer don’t go along that side of the garden beds, preferring to walk through the open areas in the middle.

I was wrong.

When I checked the garden cam, I almost missed the shadow moving in the darkness. It was a huge raccoon! So big that, if it hadn’t turned at the end of the bean bed and I could make out its tail, I would have thought it was a bear cub.

I continued checking the beds, and was so disappointed to find this.

A deer got into the Montana Morado corn. In the above photo, several stalks in the outermost row are gone.

I found corn cobs scattered on the ground, each looking like they had only a single bite taken out of them.

Hoof prints left no doubt as to what was responsible for this damage.

The deer had traipsed right through the middle of the corn block, leaving damaged plants and nipped corn cobs in its wake.

These are all the cobs I picked up off the ground.

I think it would bother me less if the deer actually ate the corn, rather than taking a bite here and a bite there. and leaving a trail of damage.

On checking the cobs, you can see that a couple of them were almost completely ripe, if poorly pollinated. When ripe, the kernels should be an even darker purple.

One cob is looking like it was going blue, instead of purple!

Several of the cobs had been beautifully pollinated, full of developing kernels.

I am so incredibly unhappy. Clearly, the flashy spinny things around the corn block are no deterrent.

Not even our purple beans escaped damage. The purple beans are lusher and bushier than the green and yellow beans – except for at this end of the row, where the leaves have been thinned out by nibbling.

And here is the beast that did the damage – nibbling on a sunflower!!!

I. Am. Not. Impressed.

I even added bells to the lines around the corn and sunflower beds, but the deer came from the other side!!

Venison is sounding very good right now.

What a disappointing way to start the day.

Other things went well, though, and I will save those for other posts!

The Re-Farmer