Our 2022 garden: melon patches

It’s been a very long, hot day today, and we got a lot done in the garden!

My first priority was to get the melons transplanted, as they were getting too crowded in their toilet paper tube pots and starting to yellow and weaken. We had 100% germination on all but the watermelon, but one seedling had already simply withered away.

The only place we really had for these was in the deep straw mulched beds that have potatoes planted in them. The potatoes are in the north side of the beds, with one having slightly less room than the other.

I had 4 varieties of melons with just 4 seedling each, so they went into the bed that was slightly smaller.

The Zucca melon, which is actually a gourd and can grow extremely large, is planted on the far right in this photo. For the longest time, we had only one seedling of the Zucca. A second one germinated late, and I was happy with that. Then, less than a week ago, the law two germinated! As they grow, we can train the plants out into the open area beside the bed, where we hope they will shade the grass and weeds. I’ll be going over the area with the weed trimmer, working to cut things as close to the ground as possible, which will help, too.

The other three varieties are from grocery store melons. One, on the far left, is Crenshaw melon. The other two, I lost the names off. Both are cantaloupe type melons. On the label for the jar of seeds, I’d made note that one of the (right of centre) had a nice crisp texture. The other (left of centre) has only 3 seedlings. There’s a prepared space to plant something, if we want.

To plant these, I dug my way through the straw to the carboard, which was still nice and damp. After cutting through the cardboard, I dug out a small hole and loosened the soil, then drilled down into the holes with the hose on the jet setting. Each hole then got a spade full of sifted garden soil (and any worms that hitched a ride) before the melons were finally planted. The seedlings aren’t particularly large, and in the deep mulch, they practically disappear!

This bed is slightly larger. I started 8 Halona melons and 8 Kaho watermelons from seed, so I prepped two rows of four, just like the other bed, with more space in between for a path.

The watermelons were much like the Zucca… some germinated early, some just recently. Of the 8 seeds, there were 5 seedlings, but I went ahead and planted all 8, just in case the remaining seeds still germinated.

Getting these in took quite a while, though I think most of the time was spent sifting the weed roots out of the garden soil. It took two wheelbarrow loads of sifted soil to fill all the holes, with a bit left over.

I was returning the wheelbarrow to the pile of soil for my daughter to use when planting the last of the trees, when I had a bit of of a surprise. There was a car in the driveway, and a woman had just climbed the gate to get in. !!! She turned out to be with the electric company to do a regular maintenance check on our meter. They do it about once every year or two. The startling part was, from a distance, she looked just like my sister! 😀

I’m quite happy to have gotten the melons in. I don’t know that they’ll all survive – at least one might not make it, as it had so few roots, it fell out of its pot as I tired to remove them from the small bin they were in. Before heading in for lunch, I watered all the other transplants, and so far, nothing looks like they are suffering transplant shock.

After that, I took a break from the heat (!!!) before moving on to the next project, which I will write about in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: thinning and potting up

A lot of the squash in the big aquarium greenhouse were getting too big for their britches, so it was time to thin them out and pot them up!

The Giant Pumpkins were easy enough to do; there’s just one plant per biodegradable pot, so they just got put into bigger biodegradable pots with little issue.

With the others, we thinned by division. We had only a few of the larger biodegradable pots left, so the biggest ones were transplanted into those. After that, they went into the red Solo cups. Then they all went into the sun room.

Once those were done, we went through the mini-greenhouse and moved the remaining eggplants and peppers to the sun room as well. A couple of them got thinned by division, too.

These two bins are all winter squash, the giant pumpkins and hulless pumpkins, under the bright shop light.

The gourds that were already in the sun room joined more squash and Apple gourds in a bin.

The peppers that survived the Great Cat Crush, as well as replacement starts of peppers and eggplants, got moved into the window shelf.

Back in the big aquarium greenhouse, there is now more room to space things out. The melons were looking leggy, so I put something under the bin they’re in to raise them closer to the light. There’s still just one Zucca melon sprouted (the big one in the foreground).

There are still some smaller squash and gourds on the heat mat. The Yakteen gourds have not germinated yet. I tried to get a photo, but the camera decided to focus on the aquarium frame instead of the plants. LOL

In the mini-greenhouse, there are still the Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes, and the ground cherries. With more space available, they’re now all spread out to get maximum light and air flow.

It’s always a risk to pot up things like squash. Once the new bins were in the sun room, water was added to the bottoms to let them absorb more moisture from below; particularly the biodegradable pots, so the pots themselves wouldn’t wick moisture out of the soil and away from the roots. I left the shop light on all night, to hopefully give them the energy they needed to handle the changes.

As of this morning, everything looked pretty much as I left them. Nothing was drooping or otherwise showing signs of stress from being divided and potted up. So far so good!

In about a week or two, we will start hardening off the transplants. By then, everything that’s in the aquarium greenhouse and the mini-greenhouse should be moved to the sun room, with the tomatoes divided and potted up.

If all goes well, we should have most, if not all, or cold tolerant seeds direct sown outside by the end of the month, too.

It feels so good to finally be able to move ahead with the gardening!

The Re-Farmer

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. 😀

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

Our 2022 garden: an explosion of seedlings!

We are just so incredibly excited right now! We’ve got an absolute explosion of seeds germinating!

There still aren’t any watermelons yet, but if you look at the back of the second picture, you can see our first Zucca melon has germinated!

Since taking these pictures this morning, the seedlings have gotten notably bigger, and are starting to lean inwards. We’re going to have to rotate the bin.

I’m just thrilled with how fast the hulless pumpkins are coming up. Since taking this photo, the ones in front are fully emerged.

It’s out of focus in the back, but you can see that there are roots coming through the pot with the Giant Pumpkin. I have larger biodegradable pots, still, so that will get potted up soon, with no root disruption.

I’m not sure what’s going on with these two dancing gourds. The leaves look almost as if they’ve been chewed on. They haven’t. That’s just how they emerged.

That’s okay. We have more. The seedling you can see just starting to break ground next to the dancing gourd already up is now fully emerged from the soil – as is the Giant Pumpkin next to it!

In the pots with the Baby Pam pumpkins, you can see the soil starting to lift and split. Since taking the photo this morning, seedlings have fully emerged, not only there, but in the Kakai pumpkin pot next to them! Even in the back corner, it looks like the Apple gourds are starting to germinate. Only the Yakteen gourds haven’t shown signs of germinating, but the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if I checked them this evening, and found something there. 😀

The tomatoes and bunching onions haven’t changed a lot, though. Which is not a problem. They just suddenly seem like they’re growing slowly, compared to everything else exploding around them! 😀

I don’t know why I’m so much more excited about these, than anything else we’ve started so far. I’m not even sure where we’ll be planting these, exactly. More of a vague notion of where we want them, since we’ll be taking advantage of the large leaves of many of our squash to shade out weeds and reclaim parts of the old garden area.

Speaking of the old garden area, here’s how it looked this morning.

This is the view from the fence line. I’m still not even trying to get to the sign cam through the garden. Quite a lot of the snow has melted away, and the area by the squash tunnel (which will be used for pole beans this year) is pretty clear.

I can’t say the same for the areas closer to the house. There’s still deep snow stretching from end to end. The low raised beds are starting to emerge from the snow, but we just can’t get at them yet, any more than I get get to the sign cam.

I checked on a few other things this morning, like the haskap bushes.

The male haskap, which is the largest of them, has been deer damaged, but you can see that leaf buds are emerging.

The female haskap that was planted at the same time as the male has been struggling. It never leafed out or bloomed at the same time as the male. I do see tiny leaf buds, though, so hopefully, it will do better this year – in spite of the deer damage it also has!

The new female haskap we planted is a lot smaller, and seems to have escaped the notice of the deer!

After I got back from town today, and my daughter helped me unload the van – I was finally able to drive right up to the house! – we went around to check on her flowers. There are more irises and daffodils emerging along the old kitchen garden, and more tulips coming up among the nearby trees. We were able to spot more grape hyacinth coming up, too. I had mentioned the snow crocus flower buds I saw yesterday, so we checked those out, too.

Some of them have actually opened, since this morning! There were a few more I couldn’t get good pictures of, completely in water, but still managing.

After things being such a disaster with the tulips, irises and daffodils last year – the first growing season for all the corms and bulbs – we all thought for sure they were a loss. It just didn’t seem they would have managed to store enough energy in their bulbs to survive the winter, never mind spread. Yet that’s exactly what it looks like they’re doing.

My younger daughter is just beyond thrilled. These were her babies! 😀

Spring has been slow in coming this year, but there are finally things growing – and blooming!

Soon, there should be more. The beds in the old kitchen garden are thawed out enough that we can start planting some cool weather crops right now! We’ll have to go through the seeds for direct sowing, and see what we should start first. Some say to plant “as soon as the ground can be worked” while others say things like “plant a week before last frost date”.

But first, we need to prep the sun room some more, so we have space to lay out the plants that are too tall to fit in the growing shelves.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden; new sprouts, indoors and out

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very strange.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile…

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

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

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

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

I can hardly wait. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: melons, melons and more… gourd?

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the weather, as the Colorado Low continues to push northwards. We’ve had a few short downpours and high winds from the north, with milder rain continuing throughout the day. The forecasts are still saying it will turn to snow in our area overnight, but that there will be almost no accumulation, as it’s expected to melt on contact.

Which means there’s water leaking from the sunroom ceiling, and there is water starting to seep through the concrete in the old basement. Oddly, it’s puddling on the north side, not the south, where it usually gets damp first. I’ve got the blower going to try and dry things a bit. So far, the water in the sump pump reservoir doesn’t seem to be increasing yet.

A perfect day to start more seeds!

Here we have the purchased seeds. The Zucca melon is actually a gourd. It can grow to prodigious size, with 130 days to maturity, but when they’re young they can be picked and eaten like zucchini. The Halona melon seeds are left over from last year. We do have some saved seeds, but I decided to use up seeds from last year, instead. The Kaho watermelon is a rare, yellow fleshed variety we wanted to try, and hopefully save seeds from.

Then there are the other seeds we saved from grocery store melons. One has the sticker from the melon itself, so I know the name of it; Crenshaw. With the other two, the stickers were lost, and I couldn’t remember what they were. I do remember the one on the right had a wonderful, crisp texture to it.

After deciding how many of each I would plant, I scarified the larger seeds, then set them all to soak while the pots were prepared.

I was originally going to put these in the little biodegradable Jiffy pots, with several seeds per pot, but decided against that. I decided to use more toilet paper tube pots, with one seed each, in one of the small bins.

The tubes I had left were a smaller size than the ones we used for the kulli corn, so they wobbled around more in the bin. After deciding how many of each type I would plant, I cut up a couple of disposable plates we happen to have. Several pieces were used as dividers between the different types, then leftover edge pieces were tucked along one side to hold all the tubes in place.

After shifting the Solo cup pots to make room, the bin fit quite nicely beside them. I decided to plant 8 each of the Kaho watermelon and the Halona melon, then 4 each of the others. Hopefully, we’ll have a good germination rate and have lots of melons this year, but honestly, I’ll be happy if we get only one of each. What was that poem again?

Four seeds
In a row
One for the rook
One for the crow
One to die and
One to grow

Thankfully, we don’t need to worry about rooks and crows when starting indoors. Just cats.

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

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

At the gate, and after the rain

While doing my rounds this morning, I found a strange thing at the gate.

The twine was caught around the lock and the caribiner, which usually hangs over one side of the gate, was hooked onto the chain link.

Right off the bat, I knew this was NOT our vandal. If it were, there would have been actual damage, like the locks being glued again, or something like that.

Needless to say, I was quite curious when I sat down to look at the trail cam files. I had a pretty good idea who did it.

I was right.

When my daughter’s package was delivered, the driver tried to shove it into the gate, then used the chain to try and hold it in place. The problem is, the gate moves in the wind. When the cameras were triggered again, less than 15 minutes later, I could see the package was already half-falling. My the time my daughter came over to get the package, about half an hour after it was dropped off, it was on the ground.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t fragile!!

Going through the trail cam files was interesting for another reason: several files caught huge flashes of lighting from last night’s storm! I even saw a deer and her little one, hurrying up the driveway, while the sky light them up repeatedly.

Yesterday blew past our expected high of the day, reaching at least 30C/86F, possibly 32C/90F. That was followed by a wicked thunderstorm that passed over us around 11pm. It was awesome! Of course, we lost internet well before that. It rained enough that I found our rain barrel by the sun room, which had only a few inches of water on the bottom, full to overflowing.

We *really* need an overflow hose on that thing.

The garden loved the rain, too!

I was seeing huge new blossoms on the summer squash. Even the Ozark Nest Egg and the luffa gourds had new flowers opening. So did the Tennessee Dancing gourds, but they never really stopped blooming, so that wasn’t a lot of change.

The Crespo squash is seeing more flowers opening, too, and some of the developing fruit is noticeably bigger! These two are the ones closest to the barriers than I can get clear photos of, but there are quite a few more getting bigger like this.

The sunflowers are loving the deep watering, too. And just look at this Hopi Black Dye seed head! It is getting so very dark!

I even had a baby harvest this morning.

The larger melon is a Pixie melon. There are still lots of those. The little one is a Halona melon. The remaining melons on those vines are not getting any bigger, as the vines are pretty much completely died back now. Most of the melons are all very securely attached to their vines, though. This little one was feeling a bit softer, so I had it with breakfast. 🙂

I even was able to pick some peas! With our first green peas, I did find a pod or two, but between the drought and the critters, that was about it. This is the most I’ve picked at once, this year.

That longest pod is the size they would all be reaching, if growing conditions were better.

I suppose I really should have left them for another day, as these were a bit on the small size, but I couldn’t resist.

I had them with my breakfast, too. 🙂

The melon wasn’t as sweet as larger ones we’d picked, but it was definitely ripe. The peas were also probably not as sweet as they would have been under better growing conditions. They were both still quite tasty, though!

Last night’s storm had blown the door to the outhouse closed. I opened it again and things were still a bit damp. It’s been a few hours now, so I am going to head out and see if I can start painting!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: still growing!

Today is likely to be the last hot day of the year. As I write this, we are currently at 26C/79F, with the humidex at 30C/86F. We are expected to reach 28C/83F with the humidex making it feel like 31C/88F. We are supposed to get a couple more days in the mid to low 20’s before the highs start dropping to the mid to high teens. So far, overnight temperatures are also still supposed to remain high enough that there are no frost warnings.

I headed out to do my rounds later than usual this morning, and we had already reached 22C/73F.

There has to be something wrong with the squash tunnel thermometer. It may have felt warmer than the 22C it was when I took this photo, but there is no way it was feeling like 42C/108F! Not even being in full sun, like it is, should result in that extreme of a difference. I suspect the dial is stuck. I haven’t been looking at it since the temperatures finally cooled down, so it may well have been sitting at this reading since our last heat wave.

In checking the sunflowers, there was only one little pollinator that I saw! I think the heat waves we had over the summer killed off a lot of our pollinators. There just wasn’t enough food to sustain them. The mild temperatures we are having means more of our sunflowers are actually budding and opening their seed heads, but I don’t know that they’ll have a chance to be well pollinated.

Some of the Mongolian Giants are finally taller than me. Hopefully, the opening sunflowers will lure any remaining pollinators to them. They may not have time to fully mature, even with our predicted mild temperatures, but they will at least provide some food for our surviving pollinators.

These are the Hopi Black Dye transplants that got chomped by a deer. They have all recovered surprisingly well, and are budding and blooming. They don’t need as long of a growing season as the Mongolian Giants, so it should be interesting to see if any of these get a chance to mature.

The green peas are enjoying the cooler temperatures we’ve been having, and I’m seeing more pods developing. This photo is of one of the pea plants growing among the Dorinny corn, the remains of which are being left to go to seed. The three blocks of sweet corn are still green, but they aren’t really growing. At this point, I don’t expect anything from them, really. They’re just there for the peas to have something to climb. Any pea pods we get is just gravy, as their main purpose is to fix nitrogen into the depleted soil in this area.

The winter squash and melons are the ones I am monitoring the most right now.

Remarkably, even as the plants are dying back, we are still getting fresh blooms, and the newer Red Kuri squash are getting noticeably bigger.

The mutant seems to have stopped getting bigger, and is now deepening in colour and developing a harder skin.

As this other, larger Red Kuri is still doing.

I did a nail test on the oldest of the developing Red Kuri, and you can see the mark left behind. Still not ready.

The Teddy squash are also still managing as well.

If we do end up getting frost before any of these larger squash can fully mature, we will still be able to harvest them and eat them. We just won’t be able to store them for long.

The melon vines are dying back faster than the winter squash vines, but their fruit are still hanging in there! I was able to pick this Pixie melon, only because the vine it was attached to had died back completely. I suspect it isn’t quite ripe.

My daughters discovered something about these little melons. After they are cut in half and the seeds scooped out, they make perfect ice cream bowls! I’m not big on ice cream, but I finally had some last night, in half of a Halona melon. It was quite excellent! 😀

I am glad we found these little, short season melons. They have been among the most enjoyed producers this year. I think we will try different short season varieties next year, but the Pixie and Halona are definitely varieties we would grow again. I’ve also saved seeds from some grocery store melons that I plan to try. They are larger varieties, but if we start them indoors early enough, and we don’t have another drought, we should be able to grow them. 🙂

The Re-Farmer