Our 2022/2023 garden: finishing the garlic bed

Once I got home from the city and grabbed a meal, it was right back out to work on the bed our fall garlic will be planted in.

This is how it was left, the night before.

Because I had been tromping across it with the wheelbarrow, the first thing I wanted to do – after putting the new handle on our garden fork! – was loosen up the soil at the bottom.

It was not easy. At this point, not only was I hitting a lot of rocks, but at the north end of it, a lot of tree roots, too!

I also had a kitten on my back, most of the time. The little grey and white tabby that is the most socialized of the bunch. At one point, he simply draped himself across the back of my neck and stayed there as I moved around!

I was also picking up and tossing quite a few larger rocks into the trees, too.

Something this guy really loved! He kept chasing after the rocks as they bounced on the ground, then came back to watch me, waiting for the next throw! He even made it a challenge not to bean him with a rock, the way he was running after them!

Silly thing.

After the base was loosened, I gave the whole thing a thorough watering.

Then I got a wheelbarrow load of wood chips. Just one, for a think layer all across. This is on the same principal as using logs in a hรผgelkultur mound. As the anaerobic bacteria slowly breaks down the wood, the wood acts as a sponge to hold water for the roots above. Since these are wood chips rather than logs or branches, as we used in the high raised bed, they will break down faster. With garlic having shallow roots, the breakdown of the wood chips won’t affect their nitrogen needs.

The wood chips got a thorough soaking before the next step.

I pulled up the frost-killed summer squash, the remaining dead tomato, eggplant and pepper plants from the other two beds, and quite a bit of dead winter squash plants, too.

Then, because they were so bushy, I tromped them flat, being careful to just step on the dead plants. I just loosened the soil on the entire bed. I didn’t want to compact it all again!

Once they were flattened,, then given a soak, I could start adding soil back.

The soil was raked out evenly, though I tried not to get too close to the logs. That’s where the crab grass will inevitably grow in from the path.

With so many rhizomes catching on my rake as I was working, I finally went ahead and raked the weeds and roots I’d tossed into the paths.

There was a lot more than it seems, while all spread out! It all got dumped among the nearby trees.

With all that soil getting sifted, plus what was added to the bed, this is what I was left with.

Almost half the soil I took out is still there! The logs framing the bed are so low, if I add more back, I’ll have a problem with the sides washing down into the path – something that was an issue when watering the tomatoes.

Which is fine. The high raised bed’s soil level dropped over the summer, as expected, so I can use it to top that up, and still have some left over.

I did not, however, soak the freshly laid down soil. That would have just compacted it. We got a frost advisory for tonight, but things are supposed to warm up after that. We might even hit 21C/70F in a couple of days! So the grass clipping mulch went back right away.

Then it got a thorough soaking!

When it comes time to plant the garlic, we can make holes through the mulch. After tonight’s frost, we’re supposed to have some very pleasant evenings, which will be prefect for the cloves to start rooting themselves before the overnight temperatures start to be consistently too low for growth.

Thankfully, none of the other low raised beds need this much work put into them. They just need to be weeded and mulched for the winter. Except for the bed with the carrots and turnips in it. That will stay as it is for a while longer, as they won’t be bothered by frost.

Lots of clean up to prepare for next year, still! But this bed, at least, is all done and ready for garlic.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 – 2023? garden: preparing the garlic bed

Well, the soil sifter I made really got a work out today! I’m actually quite impressed. It got beaten and battered, and that janky thing withstood the abuse and did the job.

The half inch mesh works out well. The soil was very full of worms, and most of them fell through the mesh quite easily. Any pebbles small enough to go through will not be a problem. In fact, they will help with drainage. Unfortunately, it’s also large enough that roots can fall through, too, so I still did most of the picking of roots by hand, tossing them on the path to be trampled on, pushing through the soil until I reached a point where I could just shake the rest through. What got left behind were the larger rocks and weeks, and small clumps of soil. I didn’t want to break those up too much, as it would have hurt too many worms.

I laid out the black landscape-type fabric/tarp we’ve got to put the sifted soil on until I’m ready to put it back into the bed.

It took many loads as I worked my way down. You can see the crab grass rhizomes I pulled out on the grass. You can’t see all the other roots and weeds that also got pulled out.

Using the wheelbarrow and soil sifter really helped a lot. I have a long handled garden claw that I used to break the soil up in the sifter, pulling up the longer roots, and using the back of it to help push the soil through the sifter. It was a real back saver! Plus, when I stopped to work with my hands, I could brace the garden claw on the ground, or even into a corner of the sifter, to lean on as I worked. The logs around the garden bed allowed me to raise one leg, relieving even more pressure from my back. Without all those little things to help out, I would not have been able to finish the soil sifting today!

This is where I stopped, after several hours.

Oh, wow. I just looked at the time stamps between the first progress photo I took, and the last one. I was working on this for four hours. !!

Basically, I removed the top four inches or so of soil. After that, I was scraping the shovel over rocks.

There are still a lot of rhizomes along the edges, but the run under the log border, and I wasn’t up to moving those out to get rid of them.

The sifted soil is now so light and fluffy, it looks like there’s so much more than what could fit into the space in the bed!

What got left behind in the sifter got dumped among the nearby trees. Plenty of rocks, clumps of soil, worms, and the occasional sticks, rusted nails and even bits of glass!

I am so glad this is done.

Tomorrow, I plan to add a layer of wood chips into the bottom of the bed, top it with the summer squash vines I’ll be pulling from the next bed over, and then the soil will be returned, ready for garlic planting and mulch. I hope to get that all finished tomorrow, because the day after, I am expecting to go into the city for a much needed stocking up trip to the city.

While I was writing this, I got a call from my brother. He had just made the trip out to my mother’s to get the battery from the motorized chair he got for her (which she refuses to use) that isn’t holding a charge for some reason. She just let him know that they’re coming to spray her apartment for bedbugs again, the day after tomorrow. She hadn’t mentioned a thing to me when I called her last, even though she’d told me about some other stuff, even though I’d really stressed with her to let us know right away if she got another letter of notification that they’d be coming in to spray her place again, so that we would have time to help her prepare. She started talking to him about staying in the lobby, even though she has to stay away from her apartment for 12 hours after spraying.

*sigh*

My brother took a picture of the letter she got and will send it to me. Hopefully soon, because I’d like to read it before I call her. It looks like I will be helping her book a room at the motel again, as she doesn’t want to stay at my sister’s overnight. Too many stairs in her house. Which means I’ll be using her car to go into the city, which means not a Costco trip.

At this point, I don’t even know if they are spraying her place because they’re actually finding bed bugs, or because they’ve just decided to keep spraying the same apartments every month. The guy did leave a trap, but no one comes to check it.

What a pain.

Oh, and I just found out our vandal had called my mother again – at the beginning of the month! It was her birthday, so he used that as an excuse to call her, then start harassing her about the farm again until she finally hung up on him. I had hoped, after losing his court case against me, he’d finally give up, but apparently not. She never said a thing to any of us until now. So frustrating!

Well, we’ll figure it out. For now, I’m just going to focus on getting that bed done and planting garlic for next year!

The Re-Farmer

My morning buddy, and our 2022 garden: eggplants and slow going

I had such a slow start to the day today. Not a lot of sleep, and when I tried getting up this morning, I lost my balance and almost fell. My husband was up and I ended up asking him to take care of feeding the cats this morning so I could lie down again. Considering it’s because of his own pain levels that he’s up (or not) at odd hours, it takes a lot before I ask him to take over like that. I have a theory on what’s going on and will be testing it over the next few nights. If I don’t follow up on that later, it will be because nothing changed.

When I finally did get out, the kitties had full bellies, which means I had company during my rounds!

Especially as I went up the driveway to check the gate and switch out the memory card on the gate cam. The new camera, with its direct solar power and battery backup, has the batteries still at 100%! The other two trail cameras are at about half, and both have had their batteries changed at least once, since we got the new camera.

I’m not actually all that happy that the kittens follow me to the gate. I don’t want them wandering to the road, so I try to pick them up if I can. At one point, I was carrying the three amigos, all at the same time. Interesting that the three most socialized kittens like to stay together the most, too. I can’t say it’s because they are all from the same litter, because the fourth one of that litter is more or less indifferent to its siblings, while the muted calico, from an older litter, still likes to hang out with these three the most. That one is a lot more socialized now, too. It still runs off at time, but more often than not, we can pet it and even pick it up for cuddles.

I worked on the garden bed I intend to plant the garlic in last night, but didn’t get very far.

This is where I left off when my back started to give out.

I really look forward to when we have more high raised beds!!!

I removed the grass clippings mulch and loosened the entire bed with a garden fork first, then started working my way around, pulling out as many crab grass rhizomes and other weeds as I could. The job was made much more challenging, because the kitten in the earlier photo decided it absolutely had to be on my back while I worked! When I straightened up, she would climb up to perch on my shoulder until bent down again.

I managed just over half the bed. I found the soil to be much improved, easy to work into with the garden hoe – though I’m still hitting rocks – and filled with worms. Compaction, however, is still a problem.

Once I’ve got more of the roots and weeds removed, I’ll use the soil sifter to get more out. I plan to dig a trench down the middle. The summer squash bed is right next to it. I’ll be pulling those up and burying them in this bed as a soil amendment. After the garlic is planted, the grass clipping mulch will be returned. The summer squash bed will be ready to work on next.

Things are going much more slowly than I expected, and it’s basically because of pain. Yes, I pain killer up before I start, I’m just taking your basic painkillers. They’re not particularly strong. I’m the sort of person where pharmaceuticals tend not to work as expected to begin with, and typically need double the dose to maybe get the same effect as a regular dose on someone else. It’s the same thing with the painkillers dentists inject before working on a tooth – something I discovered the hard way when I was in 5th grade. I still remember the dentist working on a cavity. I had my eyes squeezed shut in pain and was clutching the arm rests when the dentist made a snarky comment about opening my eyes, it’s not that bad. I did open my eyes, glared at him – and broke one of the arm rests. I was an adult before I dared go to a dentist again. As an adult, the dentists would actually listen to me when I told them there was still pain.

So… yeah. I do have an extremely high pain tolerance because of this, and can typically just keep working through all sorts of pain. That’s getting harder and harder to do as I get older. The problem is, there’s really no one else to take over. My older daughter has joint problems that has lead to injuries that just won’t heal, so there’s only so much she can do, and both of them have back problems that won’t go away unless they both get reduction surgery (as I did, more than 20 years ago: best thing I ever did!!!), but neither of them trust doctors. At all. They’ve seen the BS my husband and I have put up with over the years. Since we’ve moved back to this province, we’ve found health care has gotten even worse during the almost 15 years we were away. So while they can help, all four of us are just really gimpy. Plus, my older daughter has her commissions to work on, so she gets paid, and isn’t available as much. They both also take care of the inside stuff for me, so I’m free to work on the outside stuff – an arrangement I am quite happy with. Still, the way things are going, I’m going to have to ask them to help me with the outside stuff more. It’s frustrating. When we first moved here, I was able to get much more work done in much less time. I did not expect my body to give out that much in so few years!

Ah, well. It is what it is.

I’ll be taking pain killers and heading back out soon.

On another note, we had another small harvest this morning.

I decided it was time to pick the Little Finger eggplant. I actually found one more little one, after I took this picture. These are all from just one plant. None of the others matured enough to produce anything. I had intended to leave them for longer, but last night we dropped to 2C/36F. We were only supposed to drop to 6C/43F, so I didn’t try to cover them for the night. They don’t look frost damaged, but with how messed up the forecast has been, I figured it was time. This variety is meant to be picked while still relatively small and glossy – maybe a bit bigger than the largest one I’m holding.

In talking with the girls about what to plant next year, we are thinking of trying 3 varieties of peppers, and I’d like to try this variety of eggplant again. However, we will need to work out better protection for them. My older daughter is wanting to save up for a type of greenhouse that is specifically designed for our extreme temperatures. Something like the polycrub that Stone Croft Skye has. Before then, I hope to pick up a decent sized portable greenhouse, or maybe a smaller one to use for our seedlings. We have GOT to come up with something better for starting seeds. We had to spend way too much effort to protect them from cats, making for less than ideal growing conditions.

That is something to think about later, though. For now, we need to clean things up and get beds prepared for next year, first.

The Re-Farmer

How they turned out

Last night, after saving some for planting next year, I picked over the blue grey speckled tepary beans we grew, then left them to soak overnight. I ended up using all of the remaining beans.

This is how they looked after shelling.

After soaking overnight, they looked like this.

The got a bit bigger, but not by much, really.

I was going to use them in a soup, and decided to cook them separately, first. This is how they looked after being cooked al dente.

The colour is off because the camera got steamed up. They did lose a lot of their colour, and I noticed they turned the water quite grey, so I’m glad I decided to cook them separately, first. Otherwise, they would have turned my soup grey!

I was going to make a cream of chicken soup, but ended up making an “everything but the kitchen sink” soup. My daughters had roasted several whole chickens, with our own potatoes, a couple of days ago. Today, I deboned what was left of them, and used the remaining roasted potatoes in the soup, too. I also used a couple of yellow onions from the garden, the single shallot I’d picked yesterday, the last bit of slab bacon we had, and all of the Kyoto Red carrots, since there were so few of them. The tiny sweet potato harvest was used up, along with the last of our summer squash – green and yellow zucchini, and yellow patty pan squash. Corn kernels, cut from the cobs, went into the pot, as well as some of the tomato sauce I’d made recently. After everything was cooked, I took the immersion blender to it for a while, adding in some whipping cream at the same time. The very last thing was a handful of shredded cheddar cheese.

I tasted the beans after they were cooked, and they tasted like… beans. ๐Ÿ˜ I had not added any seasonings of any kinds, so they were as plain as plain could be. Once in the soup, I honestly couldn’t taste them at all. They did add a nice texture, though, and the ones that got hit with the immersion blender helped thicken things a bit. I like my soups hearty and thick!

I think they worked out rather well, but… well… Aside from what I took out to plant next year, that was an entire year’s harvest, used up in a single pot of soup! ๐Ÿ˜‚ I’ve set aside twice what we planted this spring. Between that and if we get a better growing year, it would be nice to have a much better harvest next year! I also have some beans my mother gave me. I don’t know the name of them, but they are a small (though bigger than the tepary beans) white bean that she grew every year from her own seeds. She’d given some to my sister, who grew them for years. She doesn’t grow beans anymore, so she brought a pasta sauce jar – just shy of a quart – full of seeds to my mother. My mother has no plans to grow them, in her little garden plot, so she gave them to me! They’re a few years old, but there should still be a decent germination rate. Which means that, next year, we should have two different types of shelling beans to grow.

The more, the better!

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, and checking beyond the outer yard

It’s a good thing we normally keep kibble, water and a litter box in the sun room. When I closed the door last night, I made sure to check for kittens and saw none. This morning, I discovered I’d closed the three amigos up in there overnight!

I was able to get a picture with Rosencrantz’ tortie! It is the shiest of the bunch. I was able to pet the one at the pack a little bit, at least. Rosencrantz herself acts like she wants to be petted, will stretch out to sniff my fingers, bump her head against my hand – then try to bite and scratch me, too! She used to be much more friendly.

While doing my rounds, I kept hearing cows and calves, very loudly. The renter has rotated his cows out and took away the power source for the electric fence to use in the other quarter he’s renting, so if for some reason there are cows in this quarter, there is nothing to stop them from getting into the outer yard – and we’ve opened up the gates to the inner yard.

For all that I could hear them, I couldn’t see them. I decided to do a walkabout, though. I haven’t gone beyond the outer yard since last year, and I really wanted to see how the gravel pit was looking, after the renter hired someone to dig it deeper during the drought last year.

Wow. What a difference!

September 2022

I couldn’t even go to where I had tried to consistently take pictures last year, because it’s under water. You can see a whole bunch of ducks swimming around, too!

Just for comparison, this was last year.

August, 2021

That was the most water it had all of last year. The clay held what little rain we finally got.

September, 2022

Only the deepest part was dug deeper; it extends quite a bit in one direction, and forms a sort of marsh in the other. Last year, this part didn’t even really get muddy.

This is what it looks like in July of last year.

July, 2021

If you look in the trees, there’s one that is distinctively bent up. If you look in the photo I took this morning, you can find that tree, further away. The spot I stood in to take the picture in July of last year is underwater now, too.

I wish I’d thought to head out and see how high the water was when things were flooding in the spring!

I followed along the marshy bit to where it ends at a sort of roadway, with a pond on the other side.

It has water, too!

When I was a kid, I remember there being enough water in here to float makeshift rafts in, but it has filled in a fair bit over the years.

I was surprised to see this, not too far away.

This tree is still alive! The trunk is even more split open, with the middle rotted away, than when I first found this tree broken after high winds.

Since I was in the area, I decided to head towards the field, which the renter has prepared for next year already, so check on things. There’s an old junk pile there, too. All during my walkabout, as much as possible, I was picking up junk and scrap pieces of metal the cows had scattered around, and put them onto the nearby piles of junk.

I really look forwards to being able to get a scrap dealer to clear away some of this stuff!

I found more pieces of junk scattered about near the fields and cleaned them up a bit.

And found this.

It’s completely intact. Not even a chip, though it was full of dirt.

I brought it home and added it to the table of other found objects. ๐Ÿ˜

My daughter came by as I was working on this post, and I showed her the photos I took this morning. She was happy to see the cup! She’s found it last year and had intended to bring it back, but her hands were too full of other things. It’s now sitting exactly where she’d wanted to put it, herself! ๐Ÿ˜Š

I found another surprise in the area.

More water!

Normally, this area has water only during spring melt. There is a sort of “river” that heads off to the right in the photo, all the way to the road, where there is a large culvert, and continues north in someone else’s property. To the left, it goes into the field and joins up with the municipal drainage ditch. The group of trees in the middle become an island, but right now, we have another pond!

While chatting with the renter, I’d commented on how glad I was that they were able to get the gravel pit dug out. He mentioned that, in this quarter, getting enough water for the cows has always been difficult. Not this year, that’s for sure! And with how deep the pit was dug, and the heavy clay bottom, it should not be a problem again, even in dry years.

While heading back, I spent some time checking out the car graveyard, which has all sorts of old farm equipment as well. In the process, I think I found a solution to a problem.

One of the things I want to get built this fall is a chicken coop, so we can get chicks in the spring. We can’t get away with the basic chicken tractor that is so easy to find plans for all over. We need something suitable for our winters, so a lot more substantial. However, I still want to be able to move it to different locations, so that we can incorporate chickens into our garden plans. I’ve been doing some research and have seen mobile chicken coops that are more or less what I have in mind. Basically, they are build on a wagon chassis. I’ve looked around, and even second hand, those can be pretty expensive.

I think I’ve found one.

Among the junk is an old, wooden wagon of some kind. It’s got sheets of aluminum in it, and the wood walls are rotting away. It has all steel wheels and, as far as I can tell, the chassis is completely intact.

As soon as I have the opportunity, I want to go back out there with some tools, pull out the metal sheets, dismantle the rotting wood portions and see what’s there. Once clear, we should be able to just roll it home. We should be able to build a pretty decent sized chicken coop on it, if it’s intact enough!

It’s remarkable what we have been finding among the junk, that can be salvaged. It’s a shame so much of this stuff was left to rot away in the first place.

It would be really awesome if we can salvage this!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: harvesting carrots and red onions and cleaning up

I took advantage of the lovely temperatures (and being in less pain) to do some more clean up in the garden. Earlier in the day, my daughter and I drove into town so she could get a new photo to renew her driver’s license, while I popped across the street to pick up a few things at the grocery store. I was thinking of making a cream of chicken soup and was about to buy some carrots, when I remembered…

We have carrots. They’re just still in the dirt.

So I went over to where the chocolate cherry tomatoes had been planted, and pulled up the Napoli (orange) and Kyoto Red (dark orange) carrots – and a single shallot! I also dug up the red onions from sets that were planted with the yellow pear tomatoes.

The new soil sifter came in handy! ๐Ÿ˜

I’m actually surprised that we got so many decent sized carrots. The Kyoto Red were pretty small – there were two I left behind because they’re blooming, and I hope to collect some seeds. I used up the last of the Kyoto Red seeds, but I think I still have some Napoli pelleted seeds left. Those really did far better than I expected.

Then there’s that single, solitary shallot!

There were actually two more, but they also bloomed, and I’m waiting for the seed heads to dry before collection.

As for the red onions…

Most of them aren’t any bigger than the sets we planted in the first place. Given how spindly the greens were, I thought they might be rotted out, or at least soft, but nope: they are quite firm. They’re just really tiny. I think they were simply too shaded by how massive the yellow pear tomatoes got.

I was going to take them in and was trying to figure out where I could lay them out to dry a bit, until I thought to check the weather again.

We’ll be having at least a couple relatively warm nights, and no rain is expected. I just spread them out on the soil sifter and will leave them out overnight. Tomorrow, I should be able to brush the dirt off more easily, before bringing them inside.

With that in mind, I think I’ll soak some of those blue grey speckled tepary beans overnight, to include with some our garden’s carrots and onions in my soup!

Once these were gathered, I worked on taking down the hoops in the main garden area, as well as the mesh and supports over the spinach in the old kitchen garden. The spinach is a loss. They germinated, and then got mostly yellow and stopped growing.

With the mesh and netting, I laid them out as straight as I could on the ground, then rolled them up around whatever straight sticks I had that were long enough.

You wouldn’t believe how difficult that is with a yard full of kittens!

The twine I used got salvaged, too, and the shorter pieces came in very handy to tie off bundles of netting, mesh, supports and hoops.

We have a few more warmer days, and my priority right now is to get the empty bed in the main garden area prepped, and then plant our fall garlic. When we go into the city next for our stock-up shopping, I hope to pick up more hardneck garlic to plant. It’s a bit too late to order them like we have for the past couple of years.

Once that is done, I plan to work on building up some of the beds in the old kitchen garden. I have ideas for those that I hope will work. If I get at least one of those done over the next few days, that will give us a prepared bed to plant any garlic I pick up later on. There’s still the beets to harvest from that garden, but I suspect those will be going straight to compost.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: shelling beans

Change of plans for the day. I’m just in too much pain to be outside in a cold wind, doing manual labour. Of course, there’s no shortage of things to do inside!

The shelling beans I’d harvested a while ago, then set aside to dry, needed to be retrieved and shelled. There were a few pods that were still too green and got set aside, but this is the total haul of shelled Blue Grey Tepary beans.

I think there’s maybe 2 cups – certainly not more – in there! They are so very pretty!

And very tiny.

Now, I planted these, and I vaguely remember being surprised by how small they were when I took them out of the package, but I honestly can’t remember if they were this small. I even went back through my photos, but hadn’t taken one of the seeds, so I went to where I bought them from. There is nothing to give any perspective of the size.

Ah, well.

Later on, I’ll go pick over the beans, then select the biggest and brightest (which would be the ripest) ones to plant next year. The packet came with 50 seeds, so I figure we would need at least twice that. Assuming we actually like them. I’ll try them out in a soup or something. It won’t take much to use them all up! Especially after I take out the ones for seed saving.

Next year, we will change up where we plant things quite a bit, mostly because we won’t be using the trellises we have now again. When we built them, it was expecting to use them just one year, not two! Right now, I’m thinking that we can plant peas or beans at the chain link fence, where we planted the chocolate cherry this year. Wherever we went up planting them, it’ll be very different conditions. Hopefully, between that and a better growing year, we’ll find ourselves with more robust plants, and higher yields!

The Re-Farmer

First frost: Our 2022 garden

Well, I’m certainly glad we made the preparations we did, yesterday. We did, indeed, hit 1C/34F by this morning, and got frost.

The roof of the cat house still had quite a bit of frost on it, when I came out to feed the babies. Clearly, it isn’t stopping them from enjoying kibble in what seems to be a favourite place for quite a few cats!

As expected, the frost killed off all the squash. We did leave the ozark nest egg and dancing gourds. From what I’ve read, they can handle a light frost, in that it triggers them to start drying. I’m not completely sure that was the right decisions, but I’ll know better as I check them later in the day.

The apple gourds got covered, but they still seemed to get hit with frost. It’s hard to see in the photo, but this largest of the developing gourds does seem to have some frost damage, as did a lot of the leaves, though not as much as those that were exposed in places.

The eggplant, however, looks just fine!

We’ve got one more night with colder temperatures, and then the lows will increase for a while, so we will repeat the process again tonight, and will hopefully be able to at least keep the eggplant going for a bit longer.

There’s lots of work to do over the next while, to get things ready for next year.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: pumpkins picked, and what shall we do?

When doing my rounds this morning, I brought the wagon and some pruning shears to finally pick the giant pumpkins.

Plus a few patty pan squash.

One of the pumpkins still has a bit of green, so they are sitting in a shelf by a window to cure and continue to ripen. They are big enough that the kittens shouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been closely looking at the other squash that are developing. Especially some of the hulless pumpkins, which are the furthest along. The longer they stay on the vine to ripen, the better, but…

I don’t know if I should just pick them all and bring them in, along with the last of the tomatoes and onions.

Looking at the Accuweather forecast on my phone, we’ll have chilly nights, but not cold enough for frost until well into October. The low for tonight is expected to be 5C/41F, BUT… when I look at the hourly forecast, it says we will reach 0C/32F by 5am tomorrow. Which means frost by morning.

Going online to the Accuweather website, however, the coldest we’re supposed to get overnight is 8C/46F by 8am. Most of the night will be 9C/48F. Not a chance of frost there.

Looking at the forecast on my desktop’s app, it says we’ll hit a low 2C/36F tomorrow night. Cold, but not likely to have frost.

I’m also not seeing any frost warnings for our area, yet.

The problem is, there are no weather stations being used for these forecasts. The closest one is also closer to the lake, so that can change conditions dramatically. Others are to the north and south of us, and far enough away that both can have quite different conditions that we do at any given time. We just don’t get accurate forecasts for our specific area, which makes it hard to plan what to harvest, or allow to ripen more!

Do I take a chance and let things be? As I write this, we are at 16C/61F, and are expected to reach a high of 19C/66F. It’s quite lovely. But those overnight temperatures… those are the potential killers.

Just to throw a wringer into the thought process, I am not feeling well today. I had a much disturbed night, partly from having to spend way too much time in the bathroom (which I now know is a side effect of the new medication my doctor is trying me on), and partly cat disturbances. We did a dump run and a trip into town today, and I had to get my daughter to drive, mostly because I was afraid I might fall asleep at the wheel. As if that isn’t enough, the weather changes are wrecking havoc on my arthritis, and I just plain hurt. Not that it matters. What needs to be done, needs to get done. It’s just a matter of figuring out what needs to be done now, or later!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: a sad little potato harvest

This afternoon, my daughter and I got working on the remaining potato beds.

The first bed I worked on was the mid season Bridget potatoes. They have been ready to harvest for a while, now.

Based on how things went after harvesting the early season Caribe potatoes, my expectations were very low, but it needed to be done.

I started off by pulling away the straw mulch. Most of the plants I dug up had nothing under them, but every now and then…

…I would pull back the straw, and there would be these lovely little potatoes, just sitting on top of the cardboard layer!

We had company while we were working.

This little bugger kept trying to climb my daughter while she was using the garden fork!

This one was content to just be held, but we had to put him down so we could work. It was so cute to seem him starting to fall asleep among the summer squash!

The soil was greatly improved since we first made these “instant garden” beds with the cardboard and straw. Granted, two days of almost constant, gentle rain did help soften the ground a lot, but it was much easier to dig into the soil with the garden fork. There were lots of worms and while I saw slugs, there wasn’t as much as I’d seen with that first bed I’d harvested.

The late season All Blue potatoes had more of a return.

This is it. We had 10 pounds of each type of potato. I doubt we got the same amount back. Certainly now with the Bridget potatoes.

One of the reasons I chose these varieties is because they are good for storage, but with so few of them, that’s not going to happen. Normally, we’d cure them, then bring them inside, but these got a wash down and we’ll be eating them right away.

Though we got more of the All Blue, we might actually have less. Unlike the Bridget, quite a few had insect damage. They also had scab on quite a few of them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen scab on potatoes grown here before, even when I was a kid.

The straw got loosely returned to the bed. There may not have been a lot of potatoes, but there was an insane amount of crab grass rhizomes. We tried to pull out as much as we could as we worked, but that is something that requires a lot to get rid off. For now, the straw is back to try and keep them from getting worse.

I am thinking that these beds are a good place to build some permanent squash tunnels. At the very least, we can use the path between the beds as the path inside a tunnel. Though this has been a terrible year for the squash, we got enough growth that I could see which ones are the most enthusiastic climbers. I look forward to trying them again. For the permanent squash tunnels, I plant to make low raised beds on the outside. Since we wouldn’t be able to access the beds from the inside of the tunnel, they would only be two feet wide, with a four foot wide path inside the tunnel. I think I would like to build at least three tunnels, though we might not be able to get them all done this fall. They are going to be a lot stronger than the ones we slapped together to start with, though even those lasted longer than we expected them to.

Now that the potatoes are harvested, and since the melons in these beds are a loss, we can actually go ahead and start building something in this area as soon as we can.

The Re-Farmer