I started, then I couldn’t stop!

With today already being so much warmer, my morning rounds ended with extra outside activities, like doing a burn, and then some shovelling.

I was going to do the vehicle turn around space and leave the paths to the girls, but since I was going through the paths while doing my rounds, I just grabbed a shovel and started clearing a path to the garage, while on my way to the gate camera.

Then I cleared a path to the burn barrel and the electricity meter.

Then I started to clear the path around the house before going to the sign trail cam way out in the corner across the old garden area, and ended up clearing a path to the sign cam.

Then I finished making a path around the house, and since I was on that side anyhow, I went ahead and did the the fire pit area.

I was going to leave the turn around space for the girls, but it was a balmy -7C/19F, with no wind, and lovely sunshine.

Yeah. I cleared that, too.

What can I say? I like shovelling.

The kittens were very excited when I was done. Well… these ones, anyhow.

From left to right, we have Princess, Judgement, Plushy trying to climb my legs, and Gooby.

Who isn’t gooby anymore. That lysine really worked! There’s a few kittens with eyes that look a bit leaky, but that could just as easily be from the cold winds. I didn’t notice any leaky eyes today.

I did notice a little, bitty ball of fluff, though.

The bitty baby was out and about, running around, stalking its bigger cousins, and generally having a blast in the snow. When I came close, he ran off and I was only able to pet him while we was under a step to the storage house, where I could just barely reach. He most definitely did not want me around, though.

He’s doing great, which makes me happy. We’ll still keep an eye on him (along with the others, of course) but with the warmer temperatures we’re supposed to be getting, he should be just fine out there.

Oh, my goodness! I just went looking at the AccuWeather website for our area. The app that came with my desktop is now saying that we will hit 3C/37F on Friday, instead of Saturday, but AccuWeather is saying we should reach a high of 5C/41F on Friday! That’ll feel downright tropical!

We’ll see how things work out, but if the long range forecasts I’m looking at are in any way accurate, we’re going to have that mild winter I’m hoping for. Here’s hoping!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: bed prep, cucumbers, peas, beans, summer squash, gourds

Oh, my goodness, what a gardening day!

Did we bite off more than we can chew?

Maybe we did.

It was a hot and sunny day, and so many trees and bushes are blooming right now.

The regular and double lilacs are just starting to open. The sour cherries are in full bloom. The Saskatoons and chokecherries are pretty much finished blooming, but the different crab apple trees are in various stages of exploding into flowers. There are also three other types of lilacs that are starting to bud, each blooming at a different time. It’s awesome!

My first priority of the day was to prep the beds at the trellises and get them ready for planting.

What a big job that turned out to be.

It didn’t take long before I found myself pulling this bugger out. Normally, I wouldn’t have tried to take out something so big, but it was close enough to the surface that it would inhibit root growth. I’m sure I hit others bigger than this, judging by my inability to work the garden fork around them, but they were deep enough that I just left them. We may get one more year out of these trellises, but most likely, next year, we’ll be building trellises closer to the house.

This trellis was so full of roots – including tree roots! – that this one bed took me about 4 hours to do.

Thankfully, the other one didn’t take anywhere near as long!

After we’ve planted into them, each upright post is going to get it’s own pair of A frame netting supports for things to climb.

At this trellis, on the right hand side, my daughter planted all the cucumbers. On the left hand side, in the foreground, is at least two, possibly four, luffa gourds. I was using labels made out of sour cream containers, and Sharpie’s fade from those! So much for “permanent” markers!

The gourds took up only a quarter of the row. We ended up planting the last of our Lincoln Homesteader pod peas in the rest of that side.

This trellis got the remaining two varieties of pole beans. On the right are Carminat, a purple type of bean. On the left are Seychelles, a type of green bean that Veseys doesn’t seem to carry anymore.

There was some space left at the bean tunnel that got filled with 4 Tennessee Dancing Gourd and 2 luffa.

The girls, meanwhile, got the last low raised bed weeded and ready for planting.

This bed is now all summer squash. The front half has 8 Sunburst patty pan squash. The back half is split between Madga squash and Golden zucchini.

While one daughter transplanted all of those, my other daughter was digging.

We were going to make more beds, but we just don’t have the materials, so we’re winging it. My daughter dug a grid of 7×7 holes roughly 3 feet apart. Before I headed in, I used the jet setting on the hose to drill water into each hole, to help soften the soil. We’ll be transplanting winter squash, gourds and pumpkins into here, with added garden soil and straw mulch. We need to go over it with the weed trimmer to cut the grass and weeds back as much as possible, before the mulch is added.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to get this done tomorrow, but I won’t be much help with that until evening. My husband and I have our doctor’s appointments in the afternoon.

For summer squash, we do still have the green zucchini, plus the G-star patty pan squash.

I have no idea where we will be transplanting those. I also don’t know where we’ll be transplanting the ground cherries. There’s the corn to direct sow, too, if we’re not already too late for those. We have the space. What we don’t have is any sort of prepared beds left.

I’d really hoped to get everything in today, but everything just took so much time.

What a long, long day it’s been.

The Re-Farmer

We caught a break!

Early this evening, the rain finally stopped, the sun came out, and the temperature warmed up several degrees higher than forecast. We took advantage of the break and quickly put the transplants outside to harden off for a couple of hours. Normally, I would have added an extra hour, but it was getting too late in the day for that. (I’m trying something different again with my photos; please let me know if you have any problems viewing them.)

There is SO much water all over the yard. Even areas that don’t seem to have puddles in them have standing water, hidden by whatever green growth is managing to emerge.

One of the things I wanted to get done was reinforce the hoops on the high raised bed. The problem was, I didn’t have anything long enough. So I made do.

We have some bamboo stakes that are getting pretty old and fragile, including some broken ones, so I was able to tie one full length one together with a shorter one, then attached it to the hoops. It’s now ready to have some plastic put over it, tomorrow evening, before the temperatures drop low enough for possible snow.

I also had a chance to clean up one side of last year’s squash tunnel. We’d only managed to do the other side in the fall, before the snow arrived. This year, we will be planting pole beans to climb the tunnel.

Here we’ve marked the future sea buckthorn locations. You can see the gaps in the lilac hedge, where the deer are getting through. It’ll take a few years, but the sea buckthorn should fill that in nicely.

Here, where the corn and sunflower beds were last year, we’ve marked where the silver bison berry will go. (At some point, we’ll even take out the old sunflower stems the deer didn’t finish off. :-D) Each will be about 3 feet apart in their rows. We are still debating how far apart to make the rows – certainly not the 16 feet recommended! We were thinking 4 ft apart at first, but might go with 5 feet apart. We also changed our minds about the 2 highbush cranberry, and will be adding those to the far end of the the bison berry. One of the reasons these are being planted here is for a privacy screen, which will eventually extend as far as the row of crab apple trees. The saw horse you can see in the distance is next to the last one of them in the row. The cranberry bushes will help extend the privacy screen a bit, and we will plant other things over the next few years to keep extending it.

The branch pile in the distance is completely surrounded by water right now.

Where I’m standing to take the above photo is roughly where the phone line is buried, so we will be leaving an open lane, wide enough for a large vehicle or heavy equipment to drive through, as we plant more trees and shrubs.

As the berry bushes we plant fill out and start creating that privacy screen we want, we’ll start doing more to clean up the fence line, which is in serious need of repair. It has trees growing on either side of it, some of which will be taken out completely, while others will have their lower branches pruned back. There are a few dead trees in there, too. In one area, there are wild Saskatoon bushes. I want to clean up around them so that they are not as crowded, and have better growing conditions.

Gosh, it felt so good to be able to get at least a couple of hours of work done outside! I’m just loving being able to finally do some decent manual labour again!

The Re-Farmer

Lovely snow

So the snow that was originally supposed to start this evening and continue on through tomorrow, arrived last night.

The snow was pretty much stopped when I went out to feed the critters. I had to dig out the non-heated water bowls.

Then I had to shovel the path to the feeding station so I could put seeds out for the birds and deer.

Then I kept shoveling.

I am so glad I cleared the paths of the hard packed snow, yesterday. The snow we’ve been having is all light and fluffy, so it made clearing the paths again very easy work!

By the time I reached the garage, the snow was coming down in big, fluffy flakes. We are at a lovely -13C/9F right now. The wind chill is -24C/-11F, but it’s coming from the north, so most of the inner yard is well sheltered. It only got a bit blustery when I reached the bird feeder.

I did most of the paths, but not all of them. Later on, we might break out little Spewie and see what we can do about the driveway. Mostly, we’ll need to clear the end of the driveway, and that will likely need shovels. I don’t think Spewie can handle that! Not only will we have a plow ridge to deal with, but there’s no shelter from the winds there, so it’ll be drifted over and harder packed.

At some point, we’ll be able to set up the snow fencing that we’ve got, rolled up behind the old garden shed. I don’t know where it was used before we moved here, but it would be good to set some up on both sides of the driveway, for both the north and the south winds.

When I came inside and hung my coat on a chair to dry, I discovered this…

I somehow got snow in my hood! πŸ˜€ I didn’t use it because the only way to keep it on is to close up the flaps in front. They go in front of my mouth and I can’t breath, so I keep having to jam it under my chin, which pulls the hood over my eyes. So I wore a cowl, instead. I guess that left my hood to be catch snow! πŸ˜€

I put it in a water bowl we keep near the kitchen for the cats, that happened to be empty. Within minutes, there were three cats checking it out, and a fourth watching because he couldn’t squeeze in. All of them orange. It was funny, except for having to step over them to get into the kitchen! LOL Within minutes, the snow was all gone!

The view from the garage cam, not long after I came in. Looking at the live feed as I write this, the visibility has dropped even more, and those cat paths in the snow are almost completely gone.

I know people in the south of the province probably wouldn’t agree with me, but I am really happy will all this snow. It will be so good for the fields in the spring, and for the water table. Our municipality was among those that declared an agricultural disaster because of the drought, which allowed for farmers to get some financial assistance. So many lost entire crops – again! – and many were struggling with the the decision to cull their animals, because there was no feed to be had. Not that things are any better now. Thanks to the unnecessary, draconian government restrictions, animals aren’t getting to market. Tens of thousands of chickens are being culled. If the various government bodies don’t let up on their medical tyranny, we’re going to have major food shortages, even as farmers are having to throw away food because there’s no way to get it processed and to the stores. They’ll be blaming it on the Wu Flu, but this is the direct consequence of going against the emergency plans all levels of government already had in place.

We’ve long had the dream of being as self sufficient as possible. After moving here, I kinda hoped we would have more time to get there, though!

At least we’ve got our seeds in, and other orders processed for spring shipping. We’re going to be relying on our garden a lot more this year, if things don’t change!

Another reason to be glad for this snow. We are really going to need this moisture.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: starting the first high raised bed

Our glorious weather isn’t going to stick around, and we’ve got garlic ordered, so I wanted to make sure we had at least one prepared bed for them.

This is the empty bed that had yellow onion and shallot sets in it. It was also supposed to have purple kohlrabi, but that never grew. We were planning to rotate our garlic to a different location that did not have alliums in it, but this bed is going to be so drastically changed, it shouldn’t matter.

Also, in the foreground, in the right hand corner, is a single onion that got missed! πŸ˜€

The first order of business was to move out the bits and pieces of logs framing the bed.

One of them had mushrooms attached! πŸ˜€

These are all the logs that were framing the bed. They will be buried at the bottom of the high raised bed. These are already starting to rot, which will be a good thing for our modified hΓΌgelkultur method of filling the bed.

Also, my spell check has hΓΌgelkultur in it!

This bed is so overgrown, you can hardly tell all those logs were removed!

Next began the tedious process of loosening the soil and pulling all the crab grass and weeds out by the roots and rhizomes.

Mostly crab grass.

When we built this bed in the spring, we extended what had been a shorter potato bed, using the Ruth Stout method, the previous year. Basically, potatoes were laid out on the ground and buried under straw mulch. After the potatoes were harvested, the straw was worked into the soil a bit. For the added portion, we just laid down more straw over the grass, as well as the previous year’s bed, then topped it with new garden soil.

There’s a reason we did it that way.

This is as deep as I could get the garden fork into the soil. About half the length of the tines. After that, I was hitting rocks. I’d shift the fork a few inches, and hit more rocks. Shift, hit rocks. Shift, hit rocks. It was insane!

Along with the onion that got missed, I found a shallot, too!

They got set aside on the chicken wire cover over the chard to cure. πŸ˜€

I pulled as many weeds by the roots as I could, but there’s no way I got all of them. The wheelbarrow is mostly crab grass, so this is not something that will go into our compost pile. I dumped it by the edge of the spruce grove, instead.

The high raised beds will be 9 feet long, and this bed is about 14-15 feet long. Originally, I wanted to keep them long like this, but we also want to be able to cover them, and at that length, the covers are very unwieldy. By going shorter, we can potentially add a second row of beds. I had to decide. Should we build the high raised bed at the south end, leaving room for a second row on the north, or start it at the north end, with a potential second row on the south side?

In the end, I decided to build the bed on the south end. It was the shade that decided it for me. If we were to make a second row of beds further south, they would be more shaded by the trees between the garden and the house. If we add a second row on the north side, they will be closer to the short row of trees my mother allowed to self seed among what had been her raspberry patch, but I want to get rid of those trees, as they are causing problems. If nothing else, they won’t be shading any new beds that are closer to them.

That decided, it was time to start digging!

I dragged over a couple of logs to use as a guide, then started removing the loose soil and piling it on the end that will not be part of the bed, pausing to remove more roots and rocks every now and then. I was happy to see how much the straw had broken down – and by how many worms I was finding!

This is it for the day!

I dug down only as far as the rocks, so it’s not very deep. Mostly, I just removed the straw and soil layer we made in the spring, and maybe a couple of inches lower.

The next step will be to level this off and straighten the edges for the logs. I cut the logs a bit longer than 9′ and 4′, to give room to trim the ends straight, but I may not even bother with that. As long as the beds themselves measure no more than 4′ wide on the outside, we’re good. I don’t care if there are bits that stick out a bit further at the corners.

I want to get this bed at least 2 logs high before I start putting the layer of logs on the bottom down. They’re smaller and lighter, but it’ll be easier to put them into place while the walls are a bit lower. The other layers can be added when the bed it as its full height. When it is 3 logs high, I’ll decided if it needs to be higher or not. Then it’s a matter of filling it with layers and getting it ready to plant garlic in. We might be able to plant all three varieties on one bed.

As much as I enjoy the work, it does help me realise how necessary having high raised beds will be. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to continue doing stuff like this. Weeding the bed was the most difficult and painful part. Thankfully, I was able to sit on the scooter for some of it, which helped, but this old body is breaking down. I can still do big stuff, like cutting and breaking down trees and carrying logs, but I’m loosing my fine motor skills on my hands. I drop things a lot more often, the joints are almost always stiff and sore, and that one finger just doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Then there is the back pain from bending over to weed. I can’t bend at the knees, since my knees are already shot. Strange that I’m losing my ability to do small, easy things faster than doing heavy manual labour!

I can still crochet, though, so that’s good. I whipped up a couple of hats recently, and plan to work on other small projects. The only problem has been choosing what yarn I can work with. My hands are so rough right now, some types of yarn catch on my fingers while I work! LOL Working with my stash of metallic yarns is out of the question, as well as anything the least bit fuzzy. πŸ˜€

Hopefully, I will be able to continue working on this raised bed tomorrow, after I’ve headed out to do some errands. We hit 27C/81F today, but tomorrow should be a bit cooler, and we’re expected to get rain – possibly even a thunderstorm – over the next couple of days. Looking at the long term forecast, we’ve got another nice, warm week before things start to cool down, and overnight temperatures may result in frost. It’s not until the end of October that we’re looking at the possibility of snow. Of course, looking that far ahead, things are very likely to change, so we shall see what really happens! Until then, I’ll be taking advantage of the mild weather and doing as much work outside as I can!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: salvaging logs, and bonus clean up

Today was dry enough that I could work on cutting up the dead tree that had finally fallen, thanks to recent high winds.

This time, I could use power tools! I used my baby chainsaw (aka: cordless pruner), with it’s 4″ blade, to trim off branches, then a reciprocating saw, with a 12″ blade to cut the measured lengths. Unfortunately, my reciprocating saw is giving up the ghost. It cuts, but it doesn’t stop. Sometimes, it’ll slow down when I release the trigger, but other times it would just keep right on going. I had to unplug it to turn it off!

At the last minute, I changed my mind on the longer lengths I would be cutting. These will be used to make high raised beds in the main garden area, and I had been thinking of building them at 10 feet long. As I was measuring, however, I decided to make them 9 feet long. The boxes we built for the beds where the garlic had been planted are 9′ x 3′. I figured if I did these at 9 feet long, any future cover frames we build will fit on both. I kept the short ends at 4 feet, though. With the width of the wood, the inside of the beds will be roughly 3 feet wide, so any covers would still be interchangeable.

So here we have two 4′ and two 9′ lengths. Enough to make one course of logs to frame a high raised bed.

By the time I cut these, the rest of the tree was light enough that I could drag it closer to cut a couple more pieces.

That gave me another 9′ and another 4′ piece. At the top of the long pieces is the remaining top of the tree, which is about 7 or 8 feet. I set that aside for potential future use. When I was trimming the branches off, I found another 6 or 7 feet of the top had broken off and was dangling from a nearby tree. With three 9′ lengths, three 4′ lengths, plus another, say, 7 feet of trunk, and 6 feet for the top that broke off, we’re looking at a tree trunk that was roughly 52 feet. Add in the roughly 3 feet of stump left behind, we’re looking at a dead tree that was about 55 feet tall when I cut it down.

The one that’s still stuck on another tree was a bit taller.

At this point, I had salvaged logs to do 1 1/2 courses to build a raised garden bed. I needed two more pieces.

I didn’t have to cut down another tree, though. I still had the trunk of the dead tree I’d cut down and used the stump to make a bench.

After I finished trimming the branches, the trunk was eventually rolled up against the patch on the right, where there is a currant bush, chokecherry tree, raspberries, some flowers and a crab apple tree that died this spring. So after dragging/carrying the first pieces over to where the garden bed will be built, I cut a couple more lengths from this tree trunk, then set the remaining top piece aside with the top of the other tree, for potential future use.

You can see that the new raised bed will be quite a bit shorter than the low raised beds we had this year. Those are about 13 feet long. We will be losing planting space, but we should also be able to plant more densely, once they are at a more accessible height. For now, I want to make these at least 3 logs high, then see how they work. I expect to finish them off at 4 logs high.

Which would translate to roughly 3 or 4 trees to harvest, per bed. In this area, there are six low raised beds that will be converted to high raised beds, so that means as many as 12 trees to replace all the low raised beds with high raised beds.

Considering that we have more than 20 dead trees that need to be cut down, having enough logs won’t be a problem, even if some of them turn out to be too rotten to use. Some of those trees are thicker and taller than the two I used today, so I’ll probably need even fewer. With the new beds being several feet shorter than the current beds, we could potentially have a double row of beds. That will depend on the space for paths. These are meant to be accessible raised beds, with room for a walker or wheelchair in between, so the paths need to be 4′ wide.

The one thing we do have is the luxury of space. While we are starting with raised beds in this area we are already gardening in, as time goes by we will be adding more beds in this area. Not a lot more, though, as there are too many tall trees on the south side casting shadows. The plan is to build more permanent raised beds in the outer yard, where they will get full sun.

But that is for after we’ve done a lot more logging of dead trees in the spruce grove!

Once the last of the logs were dragged over, I took advantage of having the tools handy and finally took down the dead crab apple tree.

For this job, I was able to use the baby chain saw, and didn’t need anything else. I love that thing!

In the photo, you can somewhat see where the bark as split off the trunk at the bottom. This tree had started to get leaves in the spring, but then just died off, and seeing that damage sure explains why. The tree itself was showing signs of disease, even last year, so all this wood is for burning, not the chipping piles. I noticed that even the raspberry plants near it were also showing signs of disease, so what we will likely have to do is remove any plants growing around the tree and not plant anything at all here for a few years. That should be time enough for whatever disease has gotten into the soil to die off.

Once cutting and clearing away to the base, I could see that this tree was actually the sucker of a larger tree that had died, long ago! The inside of the old stump was so rotted out, I could brush it aside with my hands.

I kept cutting and breaking up bits and pieces for a while, but what I will ultimately do is bring a small metal ring I found and have been using as a portable fire ring, and light a fire on top of the remains of the tree. That will prevent any suckers from trying to start growing and, hopefully, sterilize the soil of whatever disease has gotten into it, at least a bit.

It was good to finally get this cleared up. There are a few other dead and dying crab apple trees that will need to be cleaned up, too. Over time, once enough time has passed, I hope to replace them with other fruit trees that are more disease resistant. This spot, however, will not get anything tall planted in it. There are already too many tall trees shading the area. An awful lot of garden space was lost to shade because my parents planted so many new trees on the south side of the garden, instead of the north! Most frustrating is that they also planted them too close together, so none of them thrived, and quite a few died. I removed a lot of these when I cleaned up the maple grove, our first summer here, but I think I will have to take out an entire row of crab apple trees I discovered in the process. They simply aren’t getting enough light to bloom and produce, even after I cleaned the area up. That’s not a priority right now, though.

But I digress!

I’m happy to have gotten as much done as I did today. Tomorrow, the girls and I have an outing with my mother planned, so we won’t be able to get more done then. I’ll have to use Sunday to take down another tree and hopefully get enough wood to start on the first permanent high raised bed before winter. With several days of rain predicted next week, we shall see how far we will be able to get on that!

The Re-Farmer

I was hoping to avoid that

After giving my hips a chance to recover, it was time for more manual labour today!

Today, I decided to do a bit more cleanup around the junk pile, so I could access some dead trees that need to be taken down.

Here is how it looked before I started.

We have our ongoing battle with the spirea that’s choking everything out, so I wanted to pull them up by the roots as much as possible.

Some of them had roots so long, they started going under things. I pushed them aside after a certain point, so I could focus on clearing around three specific dead trees.

The thistles were much more of a problem. The thorns go right through my work gloves!

I did leave on thing behind, besides some wildflowers.

There was a little Saskatoon bush, at the base of one of the trees, and it’s actually trying to produce berries! Weather willing, the berries you see will turn a deep, dark purple, and look a bit like blueberries.

Once the area was cleared of tripping hazards, I started taking down the first tree, using a bucksaw. Because of where these trees are, I tried to do it in such a way that it would fall in a space between some other spruces. I didn’t want it falling towards the open yard, because then it might land on the beet bed or compost pile, or some Saskatoon bushes and an elm tree we want to keep.

It almost worked.

It fell too far to the south, and got hung up on another dead tree, that’s right nest to a still live one.

I was able to wrap some rope around the trunk and get it off the stump, but it would not come loose from the dead tree it was entangled in.

So I moved on to the next tree. This time, it actually fell into the gap I wanted it to fall into.

It still got hung up! I had hoped these trees would be heavy enough that the dead branches would break and let them fall to the ground, but apparently, they are still quite strong.

On the plus side, I was very pleased with what I saw after cutting them down.

The wood is nice and solid, with no sign of rot or ant damage. This is very encouraging, because I want to use the logs. These nice, solid stumps will later be used to make seats and tables.

Here is how it looked when I stopped for the day. I did try to use the rope and our van to try and get that first tree loose from the dead tree it’s hooked up on, but the rope kept breaking. We don’t have any stronger rope. If we’re going to need to use the van anyhow, I will pick up some sturdy rope and hook it up to near the base of the trunks, and pull the entire trees out into the yard, where we will break them down.

Since the wood is in such good shape, these will be used to make the high raised beds we will be building in the main garden area, where we currently have the low raised beds we’d planted spinach, onions and carrots in. I’m thinking of cutting the logs into 10 ft and 4 ft lengths, and I figure it will take about 4 logs to get the accessible height we are after, though of course, that will depend on how big the individual trees are. We don’t have a lot of time left, if we want to get these ready for next year. I’m hoping to get at least a couple built for next year. By using whole logs like this, we won’t have any concerns about the sides bowing out under the weight of the layers of wood, compostable materials and soil they will be filled with.

Once these dead trees closer to the edge of the spruce grove are down, we’ll be able to feel the other ones towards the yard, and there will be no other trees for them to get hung up on!

Once all the dead trees in this corner are down, and the area is cleaned up, we will be able to convert the trunks into seating and surfaces. Then we can start planting food trees that need a protected microclimate. I will be testing the soil, and if the acidity from all those decades of spruce needles is high enough, I hope to be able to plant blueberries. We do still want to grow a mulberry tree, since the one we got this spring got killed off by that one cold night in May, and it was in here that we originally intended to plant it. I think, this time, we will try and get a Canadian variety we found out about, that is increasingly endangered. We will still need the microclimate for it, but if we can help keep a variety at risk going, that’s what we prefer to do, if we can.

There are a lot more dead trees further to the east and around to the south, inside the spruce grove. Some will also have their trunks converted to seating, but as we go further into the grove, I want to start transplanting more spruces into the spruce grove! πŸ™‚

While we are getting rid of the spirea, we will be leaving the wild roses and red bark dogwood as underbrush. I will probably take out most of the chokecherries I’m finding in here, as there are so many, to make room for the Saskatoons to spread. We will also be transplanting new spruces in here, though more strategically. Lots to do, but I am really looking forward to when we have a lovely little sanctuary in here, where we can sit and enjoy the outdoors, somewhat protected from the elements by the trees. πŸ™‚

For now, however, I’m going to get some tweezers, and get that thistle thorn that got through my gloves!

The Re-Farmer

So tired, but I got it done!

I love having so much space around the house. I really do! But taking care of it is a … well… you know…

After all this rain, I got mowing done, but never had the chance to do the week trimming around the edges. The lawn needs mowing again already, even without more rain, which is a good sign. This time, I decided to do the trimming, first.

I started yesterday.

I got all the areas on the south side of the house, particularly around the kibble house, cat shelter, well cap and other things in front of the sun room that is hard to get to even with a push mower.

Then I went around the edges in the front yard, including the sidewalk to the small gate, which has sections tree roots have pushed upwards high enough the mower can’t go over anymore, without hitting it.

Doing the south yard includes trimming around the bed the haskaps are in, the bed where the white lilacs are, in between or around various trees, around the asparagus bed, around the potatoes in their bags, around the storage house on two sides, and the outside of the chain link fence. With pauses to McGyver a fix on the chain link vehicle gate that got backed into by our vandal a couple of years ago that really needs its hinges replaced, and to finally drag out some bricks and rocks from under one of the lilacs growing against the storage house.

Then the east yard got trimmed, including as much as I could into the edge of the spruce grove that has been cleared. There’s only so far I can go into there with the trimmer, as I need to get in there with the lopper to get the trees that are trying to grow back. There is a space between the house and where more lilacs and the cherry trees we are keeping, with the now-gone bird houses at either end, that is easier to use the trimmer on instead of trying to maneuver the push mower. Driving through with the riding mower is a bit tight, with the concrete stairs in the middle of the house. I also used the trimmer in an area we’ve been slowly clearing to access into the spruce grove, where we will eventually be building the cordwood shed that will be an outdoor bathroom, but for now will be access to the largest group of dead trees we need to cut down.

For the west yard, I just did the edge of the old kitchen garden retaining wall. The grass in the west yard is so sparse, I probably won’t mow it at all.

By the time all that was done, so was I, so I stopped for the night.

Today, I finished the trimming.

Sort of.

I finished the edges in the north yard, then worked around all the low raised beds in the main garden area. The ones that the onions were in have been left alone, and I’ve given up trying to weed the decimated carrot bed (which, amazingly, has recovering carrots in it!), and the paths in between have gotten so overgrown, it was getting hard to see the beds at all. That took a while to get done! While I was at it, I trimmed in between the raspberries as much as I could. Then I dragged the trimmer over to the Crespo squash and the Montana Morado corn. With the squash, I could only trim around the barriers we’ve put around it. It is recovering amazingly well, which is kind of sad, since there isn’t enough growing season left for them to develop any squash. As for the corn, I used the trimmer in between each row, being careful not to take out any of the peas that are growing with the corn, but falling into the paths. For the longer ones, I tried to get them to grow up the corn stalk they are closest to. I found quite a few pea plants that are blooming!

This area is the “sort of” part. It is so rough, the trimmer is the best way to cut the grass and weeds. Not today, though.

Then it was time to drag the trimmer over to the far garden beds.

Did I mention this is an electric trimmer?

Just as we need 300 feet of hose to reach the furthest areas of these beds, I needed 300 feet of extension cords. That allowed me to trim around the squash tunnel, most of the Dorinny corn and the transplanted Hopi Black Dye sunflowers beside them. The peas planted among the Dorinny corn are doing pretty good, too. I trimmed around the green pea trellises, too, even though there are no longer any peas growing there. Of course the purple peas and the three bean beds got done. It looks like I will be picking beans tomorrow. πŸ™‚

Then the corn and sunflower blocks got done, which meant going in between every row with the trimmer (there is just no way to weed this area anymore), again being careful not to take out any of the pea plants. Then the summer squash got done, and finally all the crap apple trees.

You know those cartoons, where a character is going through a spooky forest, and the tree branches turn into hands that clutch and grab? That’s what crab apples trees do. It’s almost impossible to walk under them without getting snagged! Thank goodness I was wearing my cap. The last time I worked under them and forgot to wear one, I found myself having to untangle branches from my hair. There is just something weird about how these apple branches catch onto everything!!

What I didn’t even try to do, besides skipping the old garden area by the purple corn and Crespo squash, is anything in the maple grove. Once again, it is so sparse, I will likely skip it.

I look forward to when the areas between the trees are filled with moss, flowers and other lawn replacements we are working towards.

Anyhow. That was it for the day!

The mowing will wait until tomorrow.

Until then, the girls are watering the garden beds for me right now. This is the first time they’ve needed to be watering since we finally got rain. That’s the longest time we’ve been able to go without watering, all summer.

The Re-Farmer

A much better day today, and what will I do with these?

After yesterday being such a crappy day, I’m happy to say that today was much improved!

This morning, I found several bright bits of sunshine in the garden.

Several of our summer squash blossoms are now fully open! There are just male flowers right now, so it’s still too early to expect baby squash, but it’s still very exciting to see!

The summer squash was not the only thing in bloom.

Some irises in the flower garden outside the living room window started blooming today. These have been here for as long as I can remember, coming back year after year, decade after decade. They may well have originally been planted here before I was even born.

We got the trip to the smaller city that I meant to do yesterday. One of our stops was to Canadian Tire, where I was finally able to find the air filter I needed for the push mower. After double checking exactly what I was looking for, I realized that the last couple of times we’d looked for a filter, this type wasn’t in stock at all, so I was happy to find one.

We also made a stop at the nearby Walmart. We ran out of kibble this morning, and had a few other things we needed to pick up. Thankfully, we were able to get everything on the list, and still stayed under budget – something we couldn’t have done if we’d had to buy in town.

One of the other things we needed to get was more gas for the lawnmowers, so pretty much as soon as we got home, I changed the air filter on the push mower, and was finally able to finish most of the mowing.

I had started to move along the driveway with the riding mower, a couple of days ago, but there was no way I could use the riding mower to do the area in front of the barn. This is the first time this area has been mowed this year, and it was tall enough to make hay! I’ll go back with a rake and the wagon to pick up clippings for mulch. There was no way I was going to use the bag. I’d have needed to stop to empty it so often, I would never have been able to finish it all in one evening. As it is, there is still another area that needs to be done, but it’s not used at much. At least now, we don’t have to wade through knee high grass to get to the barn and shed!

I also finally got to cut the main garden area, that is too rough to use the riding mower on. Frankly, found myself thinking I maybe should have used the weed trimmer over all of it, but at the highest setting, the push mower was able to do the job.

I had done most of this area with the riding mower; the strip along the right was done with the push mower; you can tell by the darker green, because I had the mower set so much higher. This strip had been plowed, so there are still furrows. If I wanted to get the rest, among those trees, I’d have to use the weed trimmer.

It’s just a guess, but I’m pretty sure where I was standing to take the photo is where the telephone lines are buried. A thing to keep in mind when we plant the trees we are planning on.

This photo was taken from the same spot, facing the other way.

Not much left of that pile of garden soil!

Part of this section was also plowed. You can see the gate in the back, where the tractor and plow would have entered. The plow was dropped starting along the trees on the right. Why there, I have no idea. There hasn’t been garden there since I was a babe. My parents did try gardening here, when they first moved the garden closer to the house (it used to be way out by the car graveyard, when my parents first moved out here). As I child, I remember when the area that has the trees right, now, was a cabbage patch. The area the dirt pile is on now was no longer being used by then. I remember asking my mother why they stopped using this section, and she told me it was too rocky.

Considering how many rocks are everywhere else, that’s saying a lot! πŸ˜€

Anyhow, I still wonder why the plowing was starting that far back, but then, my sister thinks the person who did it was drunk at the time, so who knows? The furrows mean it’s another area for the push mower, though the section to the right is flat enough for the riding mower.

I was even able to do some mowing among the trees, to open up some of the paths. The plants at the bottom of the dead spruce tree in the left foreground bloom beautifully, so I’m making sure to leave them be. I’ll have to do the rest of the area around the trees with the weed trimmer.

Mid term goal is to plant low growing ground covers that we can walk on in the paths, while in between the trees will be a combination of ground cover and flowers, with one exception. The morel mushroom spawn my husband got for me for Christmas will be “planted” under one of the elms in the maple grove. He also got giant puffball spawn for me, too, but they like to grow among grass, not under any particular type of tree. I still haven’t quite decided what area I want to inoculate with those, yet. Just somewhere we won’t be going over with the mower.

That is not the only thing I have to figure out where to put. We also have these.

These are the Jiffy pellets we planted the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers in, some 2 months ago. The one that had sprouted got transplanted into the old kitchen garden. When a second one suddenly sprouted, almost a week later, I transplanted it a short distance away.

That made me curious enough to look at the rest of the pellets. I haven’t been watering the tray they were in, but when I lifted some of them up, I saw roots! No sprouts, just roots.

So I moved them all onto one of the baking sheets we got to hold the Solo cups we were using to start seeds, and added water.

Almost overnight, more started to sprout.

Currently, there are 7 new sprouts!

Why did it take these so long to sprout? Especially when the ones that were direct sown, in far less ideal conditions, sprouted so quickly??

And what will we do with them? At this point, I don’t think there’s enough growing season for them to fully mature, but now that they’re finally germinating, I don’t want to just toss them. Also, there’s no more room for sunflowers in the old kitchen garden, and the space they would have gone into in the garden got the Mongolian Giants transplanted into it, since these hadn’t sprouted at all at the time, and we thought they were a lost cause.

I think we will transplant them near the Dorinny corn. That wicked frost we had in late May didn’t seem to affect the corn sprouts at the time, but then they disappeared. They are supposed to be a Canadian frost-hardy hybrid, but that was an unusually cold night. While they looked unharmed the next morning, I guess it took a couple of days for the damage to become visible. However, the other corn seeds that hadn’t geminated yet came up soon after, so we will still have Dorinny corn, but it also means we have entire rows in the block with only one or two corn plants in them. I figure, we can make use of the empty space and transplant these sunflowers into them. Sure, they may not reach full maturity, but at least they’ll have a chance. Who knows. We might have a long and mild fall.

Then there are these.

These are the pink celery that should have been started indoors much earlier. They’ll eventually go into a container (or two?), so we can keep them outdoors for most of the growing season, then try using the sun room as a green house to extend their growing season though late fall.

Assuming they survive being transplanted. We’ll see.

All in all, it’s been a really good day. I finally got things done that kept getting delayed, I got to see the kittens, we had a fabulous supper of butter chicken one daughter made while I was mowing, and there’s panna cotta setting in the fridge, made by my other daughter. And tomorrow, we will be celebrating Father’s Day and my younger daughter’s birthday, early, with a pizza night. πŸ™‚

I’m looking forward to a great weekend!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: corn, gourds, squash and melon transplants DONE!!

Yes!!!!! We managed to finish transplanting tonight!

I thought we might have to move beyond the squash tunnel, but since these will be trained to climb, we were able to plant them closer together than we normally would, and they all fit. Also, I was sure we had the little pumpkins to transplant. I was wrong. None of them germinated. We didn’t plant many to begin with, but I’d hoped to have at least one!

At the far end of the squash tunnel, we have 4 luffa vines on one side, and 3 dancing gourd on the other. Next to them are the two varieties of winter squash, and the two varieties of melon.

There are a lot more melons than anything else (I REALLY love melon!), and that’s even with several cups that never germinated. There are some cups with summer squash in them that never germinated, either, which is why we have only 15 transplants. We all really love summer squash, so we would have enjoyed more, but it’s still a bit more than we had last year.

Now that the squash tunnel’s transplants are in, they, and the summer squash, will be getting a mulch of straw as soon as we are able to get back to it. Then I’ve got to get those bottom cross pieces in, so we can attach the mesh for them to climb.

That done, it was time to finish the new corn block. I’d put a fairly deep layer of grass clippings down, first, so I wanted to put a fairly deep layer of soil. Plus, the garden soil tested high in nitrogen, which corn uses a lot of, so I wanted to make sure it had at least that for the transplants to start in.

After the soil was in place, I made a trench in each row to plant into, then thoroughly watered the trench with water from the rain barrel.

Doing the actual transplanting was rather cringe worthy. I keep hearing from others that corn doesn’t handle being transplanted well, their roots don’t like to be disturbed, and so on. At the same time, I have heard from zone 3 gardeners that only start corn from transplants and never had an issue. Still, I really would have loved for the toilet paper tube plan to have worked. I don’t know of anyone who has tried to grow Montana Morado in Canada, never mind in our province, nor can I find anything online about it, so this is all completely experimental.

The biggest, healthiest looking corn plants tended to be the ones were all 4 seeds in the cups germinated. Except for when they were taken outside to be hardened off, the cups with their drainage holes were all in a bin that had water on the bottom, so they could take up water from below. Which means that there were strong roots at the bottom of the cups, and with anything more than 2 plants in a cup, that meant having to tear the roots apart to separate them.

I am really, really hoping they survived this.

They are, however, all in! I even managed to get some in the little half row I wasn’t sure if I’d be using. I went ahead and planted the little ones, too. Considering they tended to be a single plant per cup, they might actually end up doing better!

Also, the flash makes it look darker than it actually was. I did still have enough light to see what I was doing.

After they were transplanted, I gave them a gentle watering with the hose. It was amusing to see a flashlight coming through the increasing darkness. My daughters hadn’t realized I’d stayed out to finish transplanting the corn, and one of them came out to check on me. πŸ˜€ Which was handy, because that meant I had help putting things away. The washing of the cups and trays, however, will wait until tomorrow!

The only thing left to do with the corn is put a mulch in the paths between the rows. More to keep the new soil in place while watering than anything else.

Now that this is done, the girls and I can head into the city tomorrow, and I won’t be angsting over getting the transplants in the whole time we’re out! πŸ˜€

I’m tired and in a world of hurt – and really, really appreciating having my husband’s bath chair to use in the shower! – but I am very happy. πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer