Our 2022 garden: dead plants, and a disappointing harvest

I didn’t head out to do my morning rounds, other than feeding the cats outside, until after I got back from town with Leyendecker, so it was more afternoon rounds than morning!

There were a couple of pleasant firsts that I found in the garden.

This is our very first canteen gourd! Until now, there have been nothing by male flowers. I don’t think it actually got pollinated, but even if it did…. well, it’s September, so there’s no growing season left for it.

I wonder how these would have done, if we hadn’t had such a horrible spring? I wouldn’t mind trying them again. This year was so bonkers, I can’t use it to judge if we can actually manage to grow them here.

It’s the same with the luffa.

Male flowers have finally started to bloom!

Too late for these female flowers. They’re already done, and the developing luffa is going to just dry up and fall off.

There is hope for these ones, though.

Now that the clusters of male flowers are starting to open, there will be flowers available to pollinated these developing female flower buds.

Not that it matters too much. There isn’t enough growing season left. These were started so early indoors, because they need such a long time for the sponges to develop and dry out. They should have been blooming by July, not September!

Ah, well. Something else I wouldn’t mind trying again.

One of the disappointments of the day was found when I took a closer look at the one G-Star patty pan squash plant that was drooping.

It was drooping because the stem was severed! Looks like cut worm damage.


Of course, this happened with the one plant that had the most developing squash on it.

I did get an okay harvest, at least.

Those green beans are both pole beans and bush beans planted with the sweet corn.

What a pain those were! The grass clipping mulch will be great for the plants, but the grass stuck to the beans like crazy. Once they got into the colander, the grass clippings spread to all the other beans, too. Rinsing them off with a hose wasn’t enough. I ended up dumping the beans in a bucket of water, twice, before I could finally get the grass off. Even after swishing them in the water, every bean pod I pulled out ended up with grass floating on top of the water stuck to it, and I still had to hose them – and my hands – off to get rid of it. Who know grass clippings and bean pods would act like Velcro?

There were a few ripe Cup of Moldova tomatoes ready to pick. Those got cleaned off and went into the freezer with the rest.

Now that we’ve brought Leyendecker home from the vet, and I was able to use my daughter’s card to pay for it, we no longer have to delay our city stock up shopping. I still have the tomatoes taking up space in the freezer, though, and I just haven’t had time time to make the tomato paste; it needs to be tended pretty constantly for the hours it will take to get to the right thickness, and too much has been going on. I’ll probably have to split things into two trips, though, so I can make sure the first trip doesn’t have a lot of stuff for the freezer.

Later in the day, I was back out in the garden to see what I could get out of the Caribe potato bed.

This is an earlier variety, and they’ve looked ready to harvest for some time.

The potatoes never grew well, and quite a few never sprouted at all, due to all the flooding we had. I wasn’t expecting much.

The first thing to do was to pull back the straw mulch.

Oh, dear!

What you are seeing in the straw is a whole lot of slugs! I’ve never seen so many slugs all at once before. The whole bed was like this.

The next problem was trying to use the garden fork to dig around where I knew the potatoes had been planted.

We’ve used this bed once before, couple of years ago. I remember digging around in it. What I don’t remember is there being SO many rocks. It was almost impossible to get the fork into the ground, even with how much softer it was with the mulch. What I did manage to turn was full of healthy, active worms, at least, but there is no way we can grow in this spot again, as is. If we ever do, it will have a raised bed on it.

Not that it mattered, in the end. This is all the potatoes I found.

I planted more than I took out. Those two largest potatoes? They’re all chewed up by slugs. One of them is practically hollow.

I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s still disappointing.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely the other two varieties will be much better. The Bridget are looking ready to harvest, too – what little there is. The All Blue are a late season variety, and some of them are still blooming, but…


With how successfully my mother was able to grow potatoes here, I had really hoped for better results. Yes, the flooding this spring did its damage, but it’s been a lot of years since anyone’s been picking rocks out of the garden. A lot of years with the frosts heaving more and more rocks to the surface. For it to be so rocky, I couldn’t get my garden fork to dig more than a couple of inches is just insane.

Potatoes are one of those staple crops we want to grow in large quantities for winter storage. Quantities that are more than what we could do in the raised beds we plan to build. With so many rocks in our soil, we still will need to build things up quite a bit to be able to have any crop worth mentioning.

It may be more efficient to get indeterminate varieties and grow in potato towers, instead.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden, and a follow up

My mother wanted me to check her out of the hotel as late as we could, so this morning I actually got to sleep in a little bit before doing my morning rounds! I’m happy to say, my mother is now settled in at home and really hoping not to have to go through this again! While helping put fresh sheets back on her bed, I noticed the exterminator left a trap in the corner, to monitor things. We shall see.

I had done a small harvest from the garden yesterday, so I didn’t have to pick any beans this morning – though I did find a couple of cucumbers I’d missed!

I was able to do some hand pollinating, which is nice. Not with the luffa, though.

We still have only female flowers blooming. The clusters of male flowers are forming, but are still just tiny buds.

The nearby dancing gourds have so many flowers, I don’t even bother. What few pollinators we’ve got right now are more than able to get those ones done! There are many developing gourds, hidden among the leaves, to show for it.

The G-Star patty pan squash are really getting big and healthy, and I finally spotted a female flower today. When they were still struggling, I did see one squash starting to form, but there were no male flowers to pollinate it, so it fell off. Since then, until today, there have been only male flowers.

This is how they should have looked by the end of June and the first half of July. Not at the very end of August!

There were other summer squash I was able to hand pollinate. Most of them are not as far behind as the G-Star, though the green zucchini is sort of in between. I could have picked some summer squash this morning, but left them to get a bit bigger. I should be able to pick at least a couple of them, tomorrow.

Mostly, though, I wanted to pick tomatoes!

There are only 3 or 4 of the rounder Sophie’s Choice in there, and the rest are the Cup of Moldova. Most of those went into the freezer with the others awaiting processing, though I kept a few for fresh eating.

This is the first time we’ve grown determinate tomatoes. I kept hearing about how they ripen all at once, so be prepared to do a lot of canning and processing in a very short time. I was kind of counting on that, since the main reason we were planting these was to make tomato paste. A lot of tomatoes will cook down to a fairly small amount of paste. However, they seem to be ripening little by little, like indeterminate tomatoes do. Even with what I’ve already got in the freezer, I really don’t think there’s enough to fill the dozen 125ml jars we have waiting for them. (From what I’ve been finding, because tomato paste is so very dense, they should not be canned in even 250ml jars, as it’s so hard for the paste to come to temperature all the way through.)

We’re going to have to process them soon, though. In a couple of days, I’ll be doing the rest of our monthly stock up shopping, and we’re going to need the freezer space taken up the the bin with the tomatoes! So whatever we’ve got now is going to have to do.

Before we can do that, though, we need to finish processing the crab apples and get the hard apple cider started. At least the girls got the cider vinegar started, while I was helping my mom. When I told my mother about what we’re doing with the apples, she asked for a small bottle of cider vinegar to try, which I had already been planning to do – or at least offer. That she’s even asking to try new things like this is pretty surprising, after all these years since our move with her being so angry whenever I did something different from how she did things! 😁 She is still upset with me because there were cherries still on the cherry trees when she came out here with my sister. I was supposed to pick every single one of them, and make all the things she would have made with them. Any left on the tree is apparently a real tragedy. Just the fact that I froze the ones we did pick, rather than processing them right away, ticked her off. I told her I had other things to do and, since they’re frozen, I can do them at my leisure. All that got me as a grilling on what could I possibly be doing to keep me from processing them right away. I don’t have cows to milk! (That’s her current thing: we don’t have cows to milk, therefore we have no work to do.) When she was on the farm, she always processed this stuff right away. I reminded her that back then, there was seven of us, so she was able to do this stuff and the rest of the work still got done. Her response was to ask, what did I do while growing up on the farm? I started listing out how I helped in fields, in the barn, with the cows, with the chickens, and in the garden. I just wasn’t allowed to help much with the pigs, because I was so young, and they were so potentially dangerous.

She didn’t remember me doing any of that.

I told her that just because she didn’t see or remember something, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!

I can’t really complain about her digs too much. It has actually gotten better compared to when we first moved here, and she was so very angry that we didn’t instantly do all the things she thought needed to be done (never mind what actually needed to be done), and didn’t immediately recreate the garden she had some 40 years ago, in exactly the same place (though much of that space is now taken up with trees or the shade from trees), and in exactly the same way she did it (never mind that we don’t have the equipment she did). It’s taken a lot, but she’s at least less critical, even if she still doesn’t understand the how or why of what we’re doing.

And even interested in trying new things, like asking for a Red Kuri squash, and some crab apple cider vinegar!

That’s some pretty huge progress, there! 😊

The Re-Farmer

It’s raining again!

This morning, I woke to the sound of a light rain. I was so excited! I honestly didn’t expect the predicted rain to hit us.

Of course, by the time I went out to do my morning rounds, it had pretty much stopped. Which I suppose was good, since switching out memory cards on the trail cams in the rain isn’t really a good thing. 😀

While checking on the garden beds, I was quite thrilled to see this.

The baby luffa gourd’s blossom is opening!

So far, it’s still the only gourd I’m seeing developing.

Check out that orange colour in the background. The Red Kuri squash is ripening up nicely!

While I was out and about, it did start to rain a bit, and I decided to do a quick check of the gravel pit dugout.

There is so little water left in there, form the last time it rained. No doubt, the renter is still needing to bring water to his cattle here.

The rain has continued, and even gotten heavier, throughout the day. If the forecasts are accurate, it will continue to rain all through tomorrow, too, with a 100% chance of thunderstorms overnight. I’m even getting a weather warning on my desktop app I’ve never seen before. “Overland Flow Flood.” It’s for our region, but at rivers that are not anywhere near us. We have no rivers near us. Not even creeks.

The rain is still desperately needed, and it looks like even the areas where the most wildfires are will finally get some rain.

The Re-Farmer

Melting and managing, and I GOT TO TOUCH IT!!!

Well, the forecasts have changed again. Instead of things starting to cool down starting today, we’re now supposed to hit 33C/91F with a humidex of 40C/104F this afternoon, and hit 30C/86F over the next couple of days. Thunderstorm warnings are back for tomorrow, but now extending over two days.

I really hope we do get them!

Overnight temperatures are high, too, making it hard to sleep. Especially since the box fan I had in my window broke. I suppose I could take the one we’ve got in the root cellar, but I think our curing garlic needs it more than I do.

The cats, meanwhile, are melting.

David is just so… magnificent!

Layendecker spent hours in my butt spot, splayed out like this, until I had to claim my chair.

We were able to have our very first BBQ (grilling, for the purists) yesterday.

This is the first time we’ve used the BBQ my brother gave us. It was insanely hot, even in the shade, but being able to cook everything at the same time, and not heating up the house, was worth it.

After the meat was set on the warming grill, I took the zucchini strips and put them directly on the grill, just enough to get some char on them. It was awesome! Unfortunately, the photos I took of the finished meal did not turn out, but it was as pleasing to the eye as to the palate. The purple corn was interesting. The kernels were far harder than I expected. I liked them. I look forward to growing enough for both fresh eating (or making chicha morado) and to make corn flour. That will be a few years, which will also give us time to pick up a decent quality mill.

The steaks are the sirloin steaks from the meat pack we got from a local ranch. I kept it simple. Just a bit of oil (okay, maybe not so simple; I used (fake) truffle oil), salt and pepper. Oh, man. It’s been so long since we’ve had steak! My husband and I even made a “date” of it and ate at the table. He usually isn’t able to sit at the table for very long, but he put up with the pain for steak! 😀

We got a nice little haul of tomatoes yesterday evening; these are mostly the Spoon tomatoes.

I am quite enjoying having these, but have found I still can’t eat fresh tomatoes. About the best I can say when I tasted one last night is, at least I didn’t gag.


Which is weird, because I like tomato in things, to a certain extent. I just can’t handle eating them fresh. My younger daughter is much the same. No loss, though. We planted these for my older daughter and my husband. They enjoy tomatoes!

As the temperatures started to drop a bit, yesterday evening, my husband opened up various windows and the inner door in the dining room – setting up the little step latter so the cats can look out the window of the outer door, of course. We still have food and water set up on the concrete steps for Butterscotch and her kittens. Even though they have moved to the empty property across the road, she still brings them over.

Not long after things were opened up, I heard a commotion outside the door, and the cats were very interested in whatever was under their perch. So I popped over to the living room window to see what was on the steps.

I never saw anything on the steps, but I did find a shadow on the post for the hanging bird feeder! It was getting dark by then, but I could tell it was a raccoon. Not the big one we saw the first time, but a slightly smaller one.

So I went outside to shoo it away.

Now, normally, they run off as soon as they hear the door open, and I come around the corner just in time to see them dashing away.

Not this time!

As I came closer to the feeder, making shooing noises, the raccoon was far too busy eating to take off. It was sitting with its lower body on the bird perch – what used to support a platform feeder on the post before we cleaned it up and painted it – and was grabbing the base of the hanging feeder with its front paws. When I got to the post, it just froze.

And stared at me.

So there I am, standing RIGHT next to the post, face to face with a raccoon.

Before anyone starts, yes, I know what to watch out for re: rabies and so on. I am very aware that wild animals are unpredictable and can F you up, in general. I was being cautious and giving it plenty of opportunity to jump down and run away.

I think, however, the way it was hanging onto the feeder, it couldn’t just let go, and with this big human standing there, it probably didn’t want to off balance itself and drop to the ground.

So it froze.

And stared at me.

With that adorable face.

Since it wasn’t moving, I carefully reached out and poked the end of its tail.


I poked it again.


I wiggled its tail a bit.

Still nothing!

I poked its hip.

It just kept staring at me.

I even gently poked at its strange little man-hand foot.

Not a twitch.

Finally, I reached out and began to pet its lower back.

It let me.

The only time it really moved was then Potato Beetle started weaving around my feet. I paused to pick him up and the two of them stared at each other for a bit, but Potato Beetle was far more interested in being held than in the creature on the bird feeder post.

So I pet the raccoon some more for a while, the left it be. It took a minute or two before it finally got down and ran off.

I got to touch a raccoon. !!!!!

The rest of the family missed all this. I didn’t even have my phone with me to try and take a photo, though it was probably too dark for one. I certainly wasn’t going to use a flash on the poor thing. When I told them, I got chastised by my daughters, first for taking the risk, then for terrorizing the poor raccoon. 😀


With today’s heat, the garden beds are getting a thorough watering. Instead of standing out there in what is already 28C/82F, I’ve been using the sprinklers, moving them every 45 minutes or so, and will be finishing with the spray and soaker hoses. Though someone had already put kibble out for the cats, I did have to top up the containers by the junk pile and concrete steps already.

The kittens were out and about.

Toesencrantz won’t come anywhere near us, but she will watch from a distance.

I was watering the tomatoes and cucamelons from the rain barrel, going back and forth, and in one of my trips, I found I had an audience!

I love how Toesencrantz has her toes on the log like that. So adorable!

Since the rain we did get, and now the heat being back again, the squash are all blooming like crazy.

I really like the luffa flowers!

Still no luffa, though. For those who grow luffa, is that normal? Shouldn’t there be gourds by now?

The ants really like the luffa vines. I’m not sure why. They seem to just be climbing them. As long as they are not damaging them, I don’t mind. Ants are pollinators, too. I find it odd that they are only climbing the luffa, though, and nothing else growing at the squash tunnel.

The one Red Kuri squash is getting bigger. 🙂

I am starting to think we can harvest some of our melons, but I’m not sure. The bigger ones don’t seem to be getting any bigger, so I figure we can at least start harvesting those.

Maybe I’ll pick one of each type, when I hook up the soaker hose, later on. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: new finds!

Today is supposed to exceed 30C/86F, so I wanted to make sure the garden got an deep watering this morning. When I had removed the shade cloth from the three beds with fall harvest crops planted, the seedlings seemed to be doing pretty good.

When I returned to cover them this morning, I saw this on one of the beds.

There was no evidence of a critter getting under the chicken wire cover. That suggested whatever ate these leaves was either a really small, light critter, like a mouse (very unlikely, given how many hungry mouths our mama cats have to feed), or it was insects.

My money is on the grasshoppers. 😦

This was, however, the only damage found this morning. The rest was all fun stuff. I was absolutely thrilled to see this.

Our very first Tennessee Dancing Gourd!!!

Somehow, in seeing all the flowers in the plants next to the luffa, my brain just stuck them in the “melons” category. On looking more closely, I found lots of these.

It looks like we are going to have plenty of little spinner gourds growing! They only get a few inches long and, according to one of the reviews I read when I bought the seeds, they are very prolific. The writer claimed their one plant ended up with at least 250 gourds. This was someone with a much longer growing season than ours, so I don’t expect that sort of success, but we should definitely have quite a few from our several plants.

Meanwhile, the flower bud on the nearby luffa plant I saw yesterday, looking like it was starting to open, absolutely exploded into flower this morning! So awesome!

What is also awesome is being able to walk past the squash tunnel and, from any angle, be able to see melons, and knowing that there are more little ones, still hidden under the leaves.

I finally remembered to uncover and read the labels by the winter squash. The ones that are so enthusiastically climbing the wire are the Little Gem variety, with several small squash already forming.

This morning, I finally saw some fruit forming on the Teddy variety of winter squash.

Both of these varieties as supposed to produce small fruit, with a short growing season, so when I hadn’t seen any of the Teddy squash developing, I was beginning to wonder. I am really excited to see the fruit developing now. 🙂

The Re-Farmer