Our 2022 garden: first spinach sown, and onions transplanted

It was a bit cooler and overcast this morning, but still pleasant enough to get the plants outside for a couple of hours.

I am really happy with the newest seedlings. This tray has the cucumbers in the left half, with the Teddy and Red Kuri winter squash on the right. It took so long for the winter squash to germinate, I wasn’t sure they’d make it, but we have 100% gemination!

The purple peas in this tray are getting nice and big. The summer squash in the other cells took a long time to germinate, too, but they seemed to get a boost after I put the warming mat under them. It’s hard to see, but even the green zucchini is finally germinating, next to the peas. I thought the Magda squash had started to germinate, but not quite yet. We had less success with those the last 2 years we planted them, too. Our first year, we had only 2 surviving plants. Last year, there was just the one. Magda squash just seems to have a harder time of it.

So far, only 2 of the yellow zucchini have germinated. Last year, we had some germinate, but when they started producing fruit, they were green, and we no yellow zucchini at all. I’m hoping that won’t happen again, this year!

The transplants seem to be quite liking their time outdoors, and even the newest little tomatoes in the foreground are looking generally robust.

We have 3 Crespo squash – and they are budding! Would you look at that!

I considered pinching them off, but these first flowers would be all male flowers. The next batch of buds should be both male and female. So I’m thinking to just leave them? I don’t know. There is very little information out there on how to grow Crespo squash. They do seem to be very enthusiastic growers!

While moving the blooming Wonderberry in and out of the sun room, we have been brushing the 3 plants against each other, in hopes to pollinate them, just in case. I don’t know how if they are self pollinating or not. Nowhere I’ve looked about them even mentions pollinating.

The transplants were left out for 2 hours today, which gave me time to work on our very first direct sowing – and transplanting – in the high raised bed.

The first thing to do was dig trenches through the wood chip mulch, so that things could be seeded/planted into the soil beneath. We have three varieties of spinach seeds from last year, and for this bed, I chose Lakeside, which is the fastest maturing variety of the three. The tray of onions I grabbed are the red onions, Tropeana Lunga, which should look like this when they mature…

This image belongs to Heritage Harvest Seed. You can see what else we ordered with these, here.

By planting the onions around the spinach, they should help with keeping away harmful insects, and maybe even keep hungry critters away. The high raised bed is buffet height for deer, though, so we will be covering them later.

There is space to do a second planting of spinach in two weeks, which will also finish off the seeds we’ve got left of this variety.

The largest Tropeana Lunga seedlings filled the two outside rows, but there were still a few tiny seedlings left. The size that would be considered not worth planting. I hate to just toss seedlings, though, so I ended up sticking them in the soil at the base of the raised bed on the north end. When this was a low raised bed, it was quite a bit longer, so the soil is softer on that end. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. We don’t have a lot of this variety, so I’m hoping to be able to overwinter a couple of bulbs to go to seed next year.

I was left with nice, soft potting soil in the tray the onions seedlings were growing in, so I used that to gently top the spinach seeds, and put just a little around each onion plant, more to keep the wood chips from falling onto them than anything else.

I have to say, I LOVE the high raised bed to plant in! It was completely pain free, with no strain on my joints. Well. I suppose that doesn’t include my arthritic fingers, but I didn’t even notice pain in my hands, either. It took me less than half an hour to plant into this bed

I didn’t bother watering these, since it was already starting to rain by the time I was finishing up. It’s been raining off an on, ever since. My daughter and I got a bit damp when we headed out later on, to figure out exactly where to plant our tree order when it comes in. With 30 silver bison berry to plant, those were the ones we need to figure out the most. They should be planted 3-4 ft apart. Since we are doing these as a privacy hedge, we will planting them 3 feet apart, with most of them along the east end of the garden area, leaving a lane just wide enough to drive through, if necessary, between them and the fence line. Taking into account where the phone line is buried, we’ll be able to plant two staggered rows of 10, though as we get closer to the spruce grove, we many need to jump the rows closer to the fence itself, to keep that driving lane open. There is a branch pile that will be in the way of any lane we leave open, but we’ll still be able to plant around it.

We’ve got 5 sea buckthorn that will be planted nearer the north fence line, to close a gap in the lilac hedge. Any remaining bison berry can also be planted along the lilac hedge, and still keep the lane over the telephone wire clear. This will leave a gap in the privacy hedge, once they’ve grown to full size, that will need fencing or a gate to close it off from deer.

The Korean pine are a whole other issue. Originally, I wanted to plant them in the space between the north side of the spruce grove, and the crab apple trees. These, however, have an 18 foot spread. At their mature size, they would completely fill that space, and we need at least some of it to be kept open to drive through. The alternative was along the north side, which would make an excellent wind break, but with that 18 foot spread and the lilac hedge, we’d be planting them on top of the phone line. Not going to happen.

Which means we’ll have to plant them in the outer yard.

Just past the fence on west side, which has a gate that leads into the garden, there is a space where we can plant 2 of them. Then there is the gate to the secondary driveway – our “emergency exit”, if you will. It was through here that one of our truck loads of garden soil was delivered.

The remaining 7 seedlings will need to be planted on the other side of that back gate, along where there is already a couple of rows of spruces, with some willows at the south end. If we plant them 18 feet apart (we might go with 16 feet), we will have a row of seedlings matching the length of the existing shelter belt trees.

The only problem with this is that the south end is currently under water.

Still, knowing that this is a low spot will help. We can make sure to basically build things up a bit, so that the seedlings will stay above water during spring melt.

Then we’ll have to make sure to put something over them to protect them from being eaten. I don’t know that deer would eat Korean pine, but they could certainly damage them, just by walking over them.

We have not yet received a shipping notice for the trees, but with so many holes to dig, the earlier we get started, the better. Hopefully, by the time they do arrive, we’ll be ready and can plant them right away.

Oh, I just double checked my order! We’re not getting 9 Korean pine. We’re getting 6.

Which means we won’t be digging holes in water, after all. 😀

It’s going to feel weird getting our little 2 yr old plugs and planting them so far apart. Especially since they will grow very slowly for the next 3 years. Which is exactly how my mother ended up planting so many trees way too close together! 😀

Oh, my goodness. I just checked the short range weather forecast, and it’s changed yet again. We’re supposed to get more rain over the next couple of days, then for the two days after that, we’re supposed to get a mix of rain and snow!

What I planted in the high raised bed should be cold hardy enough to handle that, but we might cover it anywhere, just in case, at least for the night.

Last year, May was a very warm month. On this exact day last year, we had a new record high of 30C/86F. The record low for today, -4C/24F, was set in 2002.

After a long, cold winter, it seems we’re getting a wet cold spring.

Still, there are things we can plant. I just hope things warm up decently in June, so we can get the warm weather transplants in!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: T&T order, and McKenzie seeds

Well, this is it. Today, I placed my last order for our 2022 garden. While I was doing the first half of our monthly shop, I also picked up some pea seeds. I am now done ordering things we are planning to grow this year.

First, the peas.

There are so many varieties of peas, I have been struggling on which ones to pick. While at the Walmart, I saw a new McKenzie Seeds display, and finally settled on one. As much as I love edible pod peas, I decided to go with shelling peas.

Some selling points on these: very productive, heat tolerant and disease resistant. Plus, of course, they’re supposed to be tasty. While I hope we don’t get another drought this year, our summers to get as hot as our winters get cold, so heat tolerant peas are a good thing.

My daughters are not big on peas, but they have never had peas, fresh from the garden. The ones we grew last year did not really produce, due to the heat (just the odd pod, here and there), then the green peas got eaten by a groundhog! The peas sown late in the season, in with the corn, were planted for their nitrogen fixing qualities, and the few pods we got were there only because we had such a long, mild fall. Nothing reached their full potential in flavour. Hopefully, this year will be different, and we will get lots of delicious fresh peas!

Once I got home, I placed an order with T&T Seeds.

All images belong to T&T Seeds.

First up is Jerusalem Artichokes, or Sunchokes.

I just ordered the smallest size; a 10 pack. A friend on a neighbouring farm successfully grows them, so I know they will grow here.

We’re sort of taking a chance on these ones. We’ve never tasted them before. I’ve never even seen one in real life before. However, these are something that can easily be propagated from year to year, and are supposed to be quite delicious. If we like them, we have another good storage food to add to our inventory of foods for self-sufficiency.

If not, well, they are in the sunflower family and have pretty flowers.

We will be planting them in a location that can be permanent, so not anywhere in our main garden areas.

Covington Sweet Potato

This one is pretty much just for me, as I seem to be the only person in the family that actually likes sweet potato, so I got the smallest option; five slips.

This variety is the only short season variety of sweet potato that can grow in our zone that I have found. I think I will make a grow bag or two from our feed bags, and set these up somewhere near the south facing side of the house, just to hedge my bets, though I would need to make sure there is space for the vines.

Highbush Cranberry.

The girls and I debated whether to get Highbush Cranberry, or more raspberry bushes. We decided to work with the raspberries we already have, and go for the Cranberry. I ordered two.

In cleaning up along the east fence line in the spruce grove, I actually found an American cranberry (at least that’s what Google Snap told me it was). It now gets light and everything, but I would like to transplant it, eventually, to a better location. Not sure where, yet.

Forage Radish

Also called “tillage radish.”

We had tried to plant a daikon type radish to help break up the soil in the corn blocks last year, but I think something ate them shortly after they sprouted, because they all just disappeared. So I was quite excited to find these forage radishes.

They are sold as a green manure and a type of cover crop. They get planted, then left to die off. Their roots can reach up to 6 feet in depth, boring into the soil as they grow. After they die off and decompose, they leave behind root channels that other plants can take advantage of.

With our concrete-like soil, filled with rocks, the plan is to basically just scatter these in strategic areas, so we got the 500 gram/1 pound size, which can cover 5,500 square feet. I don’t expect to use it all this year, but who knows.

So that is it for this year’s seeds and trees, though it’s entirely possible we might still order more. I forgot to order more alternative lawn and wildflower seed mixes from Veseys, but those would be sown in the fall, anyhow. We shall see how the ones I sowed this past fall turn out, this spring.

We still have a monthly “seed” budget, though, and now it will go to other things we need. I did pick up more potting soil today, as we will be starting onion seeds and luffa soon, and have lots more seeds to start over the next few months. After much searching, the girls and I found some netting online that we will be using to help protect our garden from critters. It’s a netting that is 14 x 200 feet. We can get one roll this month, and another roll later. Some of it will be used for the temporary fencing we will need to build around larger blocks, such as the corn. We can also cut it to the sizes needed to cover individual beds. We simply have too much ground to cover, and beds spread out in too many places, to fence it all in from both deer and smaller critters. Particularly since so much of it is still temporary. We’ll also have to figure out what best to use to support the netting, in the different ways we plan to use it, and get what we need for that. We are shooting to have consistent sizes on the permanent raised beds, so that any protective covers we build will fit any raised bed. The low box raised beds are 3 feet by 9 feet (because that’s the size the boards I found resulted in). The high raised beds will all be 4 feet by 9 feet, but with the thickness of the logs we are using, the planting area inside will be smaller, and the 3×9 covers should still fit. Other beds, such as in the old kitchen garden, are oddly shaped, so they will need completely different ways to protect them from critters.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: little surprises

I am happy to say that whatever had been eating our Teddy winter squash seems to have gone away!

These little guys are still around, and getting “big”. I found a 4th one of them, too.

I love how fuzzy they are at this stage!

While looking at the other beds, I had a few little surprises.

I am not only finding more of King Tut purple pea pods, but there are more flowers, too! This just amazes me. These should have been done long ago, even under ideal growing conditions, but they’re still chugging along!

I am leaving any pods that develop to go to seed, for next year. I figure something that could not only survive our drought, but is still managing to produce, is well worth planting again!

Then there are the green peas that were planted among the corn.

Some are starting to bloom! This one is among the sweet corn in the northernmost block. These are the tiniest of the corn. The peas are a real mix in their progress. Some are barely more than seedlings, while others are growing more enthusiastically.

This is one of the biggest pea plants I found, growing among the Dorinny corn that I’m leaving for seed. I’m even finding some among the purple corn that is also being left for seed at this point.

If things stay mild, we might actually have green peas to pick. The ones we planted in the spring did not handle the drought well, and hardly any pods developed. These late planted ones are getting much better temperatures right now.

This has been such a difficult year for gardening, I’m happy with anything we get!

The Re-Farmer

But it’s a good tired…

Okay, I just have to start with the obligatory garden photos. 😀 I took these yesterday.

The largest seed head of the Mongolian Giant sunflowers is opening up beautifully. Still nowhere near the size a Mongolian Giant seed head should be, but we’ll see what happens in what’s left of our growing season.

What amazed me, though, was seeing several of these.

The King Tut purple peas are still growing and producing! The green peas next to them are basically gone; completely died off and dried out, barely visible among the weeds and wildflowers that are left. Peas do not usually last this long, so I’m quite impressed!

I didn’t get to posting yesterday for a happy reason. An old friend from high school is in the province and was able to come for a visit. Even my husband was able to join us for a while. Aside from running into her briefly at the grocery store, we haven’t seen each other since we graduated! We had 35 years of catching up to do, and it was awesome. 🙂 Then, she and I headed out to a local farmer’s market. I’ve driven past it many times, but had never stopped in. With the crazy going on these days, I wasn’t sure if it was even a safe place to go for someone who can’t wear a mask. The mandates were over, though, so we gave it a visit, and that was awesome, too. No issues at all. Best of all, I found a vendor that has a homestead and supplies pork, among other things – and they live only a few miles away from us! In the spring, we’ll be able to make arrangements for getting a half pig in the fall, so they know how many piglets to raise. So now we have local suppliers for both beef and pork!

The place has a little bistro during market hours, and we ended up enjoying some awesome food and just talking until they closed down. Wonderful people running the place. We definitely will be coming back before my friend heads home.

Today was our city shopping trip, so I headed out as soon as I was done my morning rounds. I actually made it to Costco this time. With restrictions relaxed, I didn’t have to worry about being able to stand in line outside. It was the most pleasant Costco trip I’ve had in a long time. Unfortunately, by the end of it, my hip was giving out, so that was the only stop I made before heading home. Which was okay. I was able to stock up on the main things. It was a bit disconcerting, though. I didn’t buy more than I usually did at Costco. In fact, I probably bought less than usual. And yet the final bill was about $200 more than the last time I was able to do a full stock-up trip there. Prices have really gone up in the past few months. 😦

While I was out, I got word about a freedom rally in town this evening. I had time to get home, unload, then head out again. I wanted to be early, because I wasn’t quite sure where it was happening. It’s not an area of town I usually go to. There were people already there and even my friend was eventually able to join us, so that was awesome. The rally was to protest the school board forcing children to wear masks all the time which is, at its most basic, illegal. The government and health department can make recommendations, but cannot force, anything that goes against the charter rights and freedoms, or the human rights code. That’s actually written into the health act and the charter. Anyhow, there was a really good turnout, and I ended up meeting people in person that I’d been getting to know online, and even a family that may become “neighbours” soon! It was funny to discover we had other personal connections, too.

The people from the school board were not particularly useful to talk to. Their stance was basically, they’re just following orders. Now where in history have we heard that line before?

While there, I learned our province has made another step backwards. While I was on the road home from the city, our government announced that the mask mandates start again tomorrow, even in many outdoor venues that had been exempt before. There is no actual reason to do this. We aren’t seeing any surge in hospitalizations or deaths. It’s all been so arbitrary, and like all the lockdowns and restrictions is just as illegal as the schools forcing kids to wear masks.

All the families there with school aged children were planning to homeschool, rather than engage in government enforced child abuse. The school is going to lose a lot of funding over this. Some of the parents I spoke to told me they were getting to many calls from the school to get them to register this year, it bordered on harassment. I’m hoping to keep in touch with some of these families, since we homeschooled the girls completely. I look forward to being able to help and encourage a new generation of families taking this route! There is the makings of a vibrant local community. Something that didn’t exist, when we last lived here and were homeschooling.

The whole event just happened to be next to the grocery store, so when it was all done, I stopped by to pick up a few things I wasn’t able to get in the city before heading home. Even with the the sale prices, I still spent way too much money. 😦

One of the things I want to do is get chickens, for eggs and meat, but we are not at all ready to have birds yet. I was hoping to get to that point in a year or two, but the way things are going, I think we need to prioritize that and make it so that we can get chicks in the spring.

So, along with building high raised garden beds for next year, we need to build/acquire a chicken coop. Preferably a mobile one. That way, the chickens will be playing a significant part in soil preparation for planting.

After all the running around over the past couple of days, and being around so many people, I am feeling quite tired. It is, however, a good tired!

It has been a wonderful couple of days. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning harvest

Oh, my goodness, what a difference a single day of good rain makes! No amount of watering with the hose can compete.

While we have been able to pick a Spoon tomato or two, every few days (there were three ripe ones yesterday, that my brother and his wife to go try. 🙂 ), the Mosaic Medley tomatoes still have a ways to go. Two plants have tomatoes that are starting to ripen, though, with this one being the furthest along.

Though pickings are slim right now, I can see that we will have lots ripening, all at once, soon! They are all indeterminate varieties, and with the Spoon tomatoes alone, we’re probably going to be picking lots, daily.

The Little Gem winter squash, in particular, got noticeably bigger overnight! There is easily several inches of new growth on the vines.

The Teddy winter squash has pretty much doubled in size since I checked it, yesterday morning.

Even the pea sprouts, among the sweet corn, are visibly bigger and stronger – and their stems are barely two inches high right now! 😀 As short as they are, the sweet corn is starting to develop their tassels, too.

There were a few zucchini we were keeping an eye on and leaving to get bigger, but by this morning, some of them were almost getting too big!

Plus, I picked our VERY FIRST beans!!!! Just a few yellow and green beans. No purple beans were even close to being ready to pick, yet. I’m pretty thrilled with just the handful we have now, and seeing how many I could see developing on the plants. 🙂

This morning, I uncovered the beet bed near the garlic. This was the first bed that got major damage, almost wiped out by a deer. After several attempts to cover it, we ended up putting on mosquito netting as a floating row cover, though I had to keep adding more weights around the edges to keep the woodchucks from slipping under and nibbling on them some more. Once the floating row cover was on, it basically remained untouched until this morning. We kept watering it, but that’s it.

It got a thorough weeding this morning, and I picked a few young beets as well. My daughters really enjoy baby beets and their greens. 🙂 The bed is covered again and will probably get ignored for awhile, other than watering. The other beet beds are also covered with mosquito netting as floating row covers, and they’re going to need some tending as well. That’s one down side of covering them like this. It’s a pain in the butt to move all the things we scavenged to weigh down the edges, so they are just being left alone.

In looking back at our gardening posts from last year (this blog is my gardening journal, too! 😀 ), there were posts about the heat waves we got last July. It wasn’t as severe as this year, but it was the most severe we’d seen since our move at the time. By this time our sunflowers – which we’d lost half of to deer and replanted with other giant varieties – were growing their heads and some were even starting to bloom. This year’s sunflowers are nowhere near that stage! We had also been able to do quite a lot of clean up and fix up jobs that were out of the question in this year’s heat. The drought and heat waves have set us back quite a bit, as far as getting things accomplished. We were also harvesting carrots and sunburst squash, regularly, by the end of last July. It’s hard not to be disappointed with how things are turning out this year, but there isn’t much we can do about the weather, and very hungry animals that have lost their usual summer food and water sources.

Speaking of animals…

I had finished up at the furthest garden beds and was making my way to the main beds closer to the house, when I realized I was being stared at by a little furry face on the gravel over what used to be a den! A woodchuck, the littlest of them, was just sitting there, watching me come closer. I started to shoo it away, and it would run a few feet, then stop and look at me, run a few feet, stop and look at me… on it went until I finally got it to run through the north fence and off the property. By then, I was standing next to the purple corn, at the opposite end of the garden area. Since I was there anyhow, I decided to check on the purple corn, turned around and…

… discovered I was standing next to another woodchuck! It had just frozen in place until it realized I could see it, then ran off. I chased that one past the north fence, too!

Thankfully, there was no sign of critter damage in the gardens this morning, but my goodness they are cheeky little buggers!

After their visit yesterday, and seeing some of the issues we’ve been dealing with, my brother messaged me this morning with some photos. There’s a store they were at that had electric fence started kits. The one he showed me uses D cell batteries, but he knew of another store that has solar powered versions. The basic kit he sent me a picture of covers 50×50 feet, at a very reasonable price. It wouldn’t be enough to cover our farthest garden beds, but we could easily pick up the parts and pieces to cover more area. We’d need a second kit to cover the other end of the garden area.

Something to keep in mind. Particularly when we start building our permanent garden beds. We’d still need to find ways to stop the woodchucks, but it would be a good start, and cheaper than building tall fences!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden, and FIRST ONE!!!!

You know, I think we actually got a bit of rain last night! I didn’t have to water the garden beds this morning.

To start, I found something really, really exciting this morning.

Our first ripe tomato!!!!

There it is, hiding under some leaves. 🙂

Our very first Spoon tomato!

From the photos on the seed packet, this is a really big Spoon tomato. 😀

I am saving it for my older daughter, for whom I’d bought the tomato seeds as a gift, to have first taste. The girls are still keeping reversed hours, so my older daughter can work in the cooler night hours without the computer overheating, or her drawing tablet glitching out, and sleeping during part of the day. I can’t wait to see their faces when they see this!

Other Spoon tomatoes are starting to turn colour, too, so we should be getting lots more over the next while. 🙂 The Mosaic Medley mix of cherry and grape tomatoes are still very green right now, but they should start ripening soon, too.

One of my favourite things to do during my morning rounds has become checking on the squash tunnel, training more vines to climb the mesh, and seeing what progress there is.

It looks like one of the luffa flower buds is starting to open. I actually expected this to do better in our current heat, since they are a warm climate plant. Or at least start flowering and growing fruit before any of the squash and melons, considering how much earlier it was started indoors.

One winter squash plant in particular is growing a lot more enthusiastically than the others, climbing the trellis on its own now, and producing fruit. I keep forgetting which is which, but the other winter squash seems to have a growing habit more like summer squash, and seems to have only male flowers and buds right now.

The Pixie melons are getting so “big”! They are a “single serving” sized melon, and really dense for their size, so I don’t expect them to get much bigger than this one, here.

This is the first Halona melon to develop, and you can see how it’s outer skin is starting to form that distinctive cantaloupe texture. These should get about double the size and weight of the Pixies, or more, when they are fully ripe.

I can hardly wait to try them!!

Yesterday, I found that I thought was, maybe, kinda, possibly, a pea sprout emerging from the soil next to one of the purple corn.

This morning, there is no doubt at all. There are peas sprouting all over the sweet corn beds! I’m actually quite impressed by the germination rate so far, considering the bag of seed peas had been in the storage bin by the water barrel through two heat waves.

Now, if we can just keep the woodchucks from eating them all, not only will they help fix nitrogen in the soil for the corn, but we might even get peas in quantities sufficient for harvesting. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Caught and confirmed! Plus, more critter damage

It took moving the garden cam a few times, but I finally managed it.

I caught him in the act.

It is confirmed that the woodchuck is eating our peas plants.

The green peas are completely shot this year. Between the heat, the dryness, the poor soil and Woody here, eating them, they’re toast. I don’t even know why we still water them, but we do.

Oddly, the purple peas aren’t being eaten. They’re still struggling from the drought conditions, though.

If we are to get any peas this year, it’s now down to the ones I planted among the corn as nitrogen fixers. This morning, I think I even saw a single sprout, under one of the purple corn plants!

When the girls were watering last night, they picked some zucchini and sunburst squash. One of the zucchini had a bite taken out of the end! Like something took a taste and decided they didn’t like it. I’ve seen a few eaten leaves, too. The deer leave the summer squash alone; the spikes on the leaf stems are too much for their tender lips. The woodchucks seem to have a slightly better tolerance for it.

This really, really frustrated me. We put the wire mesh around the Crespo squash in the morning, and by evening, large amounts of it were gone. These have far fewer spines on their stems compared to the summer squash.

Looking around the barriers, I found the likely place they got through. Not that it would have been hard, anywhere around it.

When we made this squash hill, we took advantage of a hill that was already there, created by drunk plowing. There are lower furrows near it, making the ground even more uneven than in other parts of the old garden area. That left a furrow and a drop that made it really easy for a critter to slip under the wire.

I tried to use wire soil staples to peg the bottom of the chicken wire to the ground, but couldn’t. There are so many rocks under there, I couldn’t push the wire through far enough to hold it down. I tried an area about two feet long by a foot wide, and there wasn’t a single place I could push the wire through before being blocked by buried rocks. I ended up folding the bottom of the wire mesh under, then weighing it down with bricks. When I checked this morning, there was no new damage.

At this point, we’re thinking we’re not going to get an Crespo squash. The plants are using their energy to recover from critter damage. Of the flowers we’ve seen, there have still been no female flowers, and as long as stuff like this is happening, they won’t have the energy to produce fruit. If any fruit does start to develop, there is no longer enough of a growing season left for them to fully mature.

I did not invest all this time, effort and money to feed rodents instead of my family.

Those critters have got to go!!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden

Now that we have Halona melons developing, it is so much more fun to check the garden in the mornings! Check this out.

These melons are visibly bigger than they were when I looked at them yesterday evening. I checked them again this evening, and they are again, noticeably bigger! Not only that, but we are finding lots more new ones, plus some larger ones that we hadn’t seen earlier. None as big as the one I’m holding in the photo, though.

I’ve looked over the Pixie melons, and while there are lots of flowers, they all seem to be male flowers. Which is interesting, since the Pixies are 70-75 days to maturity, while the Halona are 75 days to maturity, so you’d think it would be the other way around.

This is a photo of our very first WINTER squash! *insert happy dance* They are starting to get quite big, and this type are quite enthusiastically climbing the squash tunnel. I forget which ones these are; the markers are hidden under leaves right now. 😀

Well, if I needed clearer proof that something is eating our peas, this is it. Half the pod of this purple pea got et. There were still a few that were ready to pick. Maybe 5 or 6 pods. Just enough to include with my breakfast, as an edible garnish. 😀

This evening, I refilled the patched rain barrel and, while I was waiting, I checked over the peas more thoroughly. Enough are showing signs of nibbles that I moved the garden cam so I can hopefully see what critter is the cause. We’ve seen deer and raccoons going by, but they’re not eating anything, however the camera was not being triggered by anything in the pea beds. In fact, last night, nothing triggered it at all, until I walked past it this morning. I now have it up against the lilac hedge on the North side of the pea beds, and lowered on the flag stand, so I’m hoping it will work.

Two more poppies were blooming this morning!

They drop their leaves by the end of the afternoon, though. I was talking to my sister about them and mentioned that they were supposed to have pink petals, not white, and she said that it’s from the heat. If things were cooler, they would be the pink they’re supposed to be. Interesting. She also confirmed that it’s likely the heat that is causing our peas to struggle. I agree that this would be the major factor, though I’m sure a combination of factors are just making it harder for them to thrive.

And that’s before having critters eating them!

In other things, my plans changed with a phone call, and I headed out for most of the day, but that will be in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Critter battle update, a mini harvest, and we’re getting poppies!

First, a bit of a follow up from yesterday. After blocking the woodchuck holes by the house and in the old garden area, I headed out a few times to check on the one by the house. Twice, I found things disturbed!

This picture was taken after the second time I found it dug up. The first time, I had started to remove the plastic around the back of the mock orange, saw that things had been pulled out, and started tying it back again. As I was fussing and making noise, I could actually hear little grunting noises coming from under the stairs! I found some rocks had been dug up a bit on the other side, too, but just a little. After blocking the other side, I tried spraying water into the little gaps remaining, to try and pursuade the woodchuck to leave out the other side. We never saw it, but I came back later and it seemed to be gone, so I blocked the opening again. A couple of hours later, what you see in the photo above it what I came back to! After making as sure as I could there was nothing inside, I blocked it off again. As of today, it has not been disturbed again, so here’s hoping the critter has decided it’s not worth the effort.

Later in the evening, I found this in the old garden area.

Much to my surprise, the first den we found was dug into again! It was just a small hole compared to before – the buried sticks seemed to work in preventing further digging. I blocked it off and, when I checked it this morning, it was still buried. Once again, I’m hoping the woodchuck has decided it’s not worth the effort and have moved on.

After doing the watering this morning, I picked a tiny little harvest.

There was one zucchini big enough to pick, and I gathered the last of the garlic scapes (unless I missed one or two). Plus, we have our first peas. 😀 Only two pods from the purple peas. Because the pea plants are so stunted in growth, the weight of the pods were keeping the plants they were on from being able to reach the trellis lines. At least we’ll be able to taste the peas. I’m curious about how the purple peas taste. Reviews on the Baker Creek website were pretty mixed!

Unfortunately, it looks like some of the pea plants are not just stunted in growth, but have been nibbled on, too! Where this is new nibbles or not, I couldn’t really tell. I also noticed new nibbles on the Crespo squash. Any part of the squash that started to grow outside the hoop and twine barrier seems to be getting nibbled. We’ll have to find a way to extend the barrier.

Meanwhile, in the old kitchen garden, I’m happy to see pods developing on the Giant Rattle poppies! These had had such a rough started, I wasn’t sure what we would get, so this is making me very happy. For this year, we might have enough pods to taste them, but not enough for cooking with; mostly I want to save the seeds to grow more next year, and fill the bed. Gosh, this brings back memories! When I was a kid, my mother grew similar poppies in this garden, and I remember my late brother and I picking dried out pods and eating the seeds, straight from the garden. We would later have big bunches of the dried pods (well… big, in my childhood memory!) gathered. The only thing I remember my mother making with them was a special soup she made only for our Wigilia (Christmas Eve) dinner.

I did have another harvest this morning, which will get its own post next. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: new sprouts, and… I must not compare!

While the girls were doing the evening watering, I headed out to check some of the beds they hadn’t got to, yet. I thought I saw something this morning, and I wanted to check.

I did see something – and by evening, I saw more somethings!

The radishes are starting to sprout already!

Here’s hoping these ones don’t disappear, like the ones we interplanted with our sweet corn!

I have been keeping a close eye on our summer squash, too.

This sunburst squash is of a size I would normally pick, but there is only one this big, so I will leave it until there are others to pick with it. We also have more of the green zucchini that is almost big enough to pick.

While watering the beans, my daughter noticed this…

Some of the purple bean flowers are starting to open! When I checked, some of the green ones were also starting to open, but they’re harder to see than the purple beans, with their amazing, bright colours.

While I’m excited to see them starting to bloom, I have to remind myself not to compare. I’m on several gardening groups for cold climate gardening, zone 3 gardening, and local gardeners. Today, someone posted pictures of their huge pea plants, and the basket of peas they had picked, just today.

These are our peas.

The purple peas are doing a bit better than the green peas. They are flowering and growing pods. But they are also struggling. They started out doing well, but have basically just stopped growing. By this time, they should be well up the trellises, much larger, and much closer to having pods that can be harvested.

It’s similar with the bush beans. The purple ones are doing better than the others, as they have from pretty much the start, but they are all a lot smaller than they should be. The sweet corn is also a lot smaller than I am seeing in other people’s gardens, which have corn the size of our purple corn, that was started much earlier and transplanted, or the Dorinny corn, which was seeded before last frost. Even the renter’s corn in our field is about waist high now.

I have to admit; seeing how well other people’s gardens are doing, in spite of the heat we’ve been getting right now, is sometimes rather discouraging. These are gardens in the same climate zone we are in, and many of them planted even later than we did.

I have to remind myself that these are completely different gardens, many of them established years ago. Even the new gardens are in very different situations. There are many reasons why our peas, corn and beans are looking stunted. The heat, certainly. Perhaps we’re not watering them as much as they need under current conditions. Maybe it’s because their roots have made their way through the thin layer of nutrient rich soil and into the nutrient poor soil, below, and even our fertilizing them isn’t enough to make up for it. Maybe it’s all the weeds and plants that were there before we planted. We don’t have access to good compost, we ran out of mulch and can’t get more, etc. The critter damage adds to the problems, but that’s a different issue altogether.

Plus, of course, we’re gardening in temporary locations. Even the beds that are where we will be gardening permanently will have high raised beds built in them, so the current beds are going to be completely redone.

From the start, as we planned where to plant different things, we knew that if we got anything at all from the farthest beds in particular, that would be a win.

But, my goodness, it sure would be nice to have a big basket of freshly picked peas right now! 😀

The Re-Farmer