In the garden, and critters not in the garden

Well, we seem to be back to having all the rain systems passing us by again. We are a bit cooler – as I write this, we are at “only” 26C/79F – but our humidex puts us at 33C/91F. Which I suppose helps, as we didn’t need to water the garden at all, yesterday. I probably could have left them be for another day, but I used a water soluble fertilizer on most of it, this morning.

This is the biggest of the Pixie melons that I checked on this morning. I just love how perfectly round they are! 😀

We had a whole bunch of poppies blooming this morning, including this tiny one. So far, it’s the only one with petals that are almost the pink they are supposed to be.

Unfortunately, the potatoes are getting more grasshopper damage these days.

They seem to prefer to eat the flowers! There is a fair bit of leaf damage, though the potatoes are doing so well, they can handle it pretty well right now. Though this seemed odd.

The Purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes have virtually no damage at all! I think I found only two leaves that had been chewed on. That’s it. All the other varieties, meanwhile, have quite a lot of chewed up leaves. Apparently, these potato leaves taste bad to grasshoppers! 😀

I don’t know what it is about today, but the entire household seems to be having a hard time. Perhaps it’s the humidity? I’m actually feeling an oppressive weight in my upper chest and throat that gets worse when I lie down, making it hard to sleep, and my chronic cough has been an issue, even though the rain we did get cleared the smoke out of the air. I don’t know, but we’re all barely able to drag our butts around to get anything done, and we all feel like falling asleep where we stand. Even the cats are sprawled all over the house in furry puddles, sleeping.

Speaking of furry puddles…

The big woodchuck was under the bird feeder earlier today – along with a chipmunk! You can’t really see it in the photo, but the woodchuck’s back hips are just sort of flattened to the ground, like a puddle.

It came back again later, then got some company.

The little one wandered over and started munching. They look peaceable in the photo, but when the littler one got too close to the big one, the big one attacked it! Had it flipped over on its back, teeth at its throat, in a heartbeat!

Then it let the little one go. This was clearly a dominance thing, not an attempt to do real damage. The little one didn’t fight back, but submitted to the big one. Given the size – and likely age – difference, that was probably a wise decision on the little one’s part!

With today being a day where manual labour seems to be out of the question (and there is much of it that needs to be done, but couldn’t be, because of the heat we’ve been having), I decided it was a good time to write out some plans and lists, and make some diagrams, for next year’s garden. I’ve got our catalogues out and started some wish lists, as well as working out what we want to do for next year. The girls and I will go over things and hash out details, using what we learned with this year’s gardening. Having this worked out early will be useful as we clean things up at the end of this growing season. The main thing I’m trying to figure out is what to use to build the first permanent, high raised beds, which will be where we currently have the low raised beds bordered with logs. Buying lumber is out of the question for our budget, but the barn and sheds got picked over by our vandal over the years before we moved here, quite thoroughly. The barn used to be full of salvaged lumber. I have a few ideas in mind, but it looks like it’ll be a while before we can see if they’re even possible. Ah, well. We’ll figure something out.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: some growth, some critter damage, and WE GOT RAIN!!!!

I just have to start with the exciting part. We actually got rain today!

Okay, so it was maybe only for about 20 minutes, but it was a nice, gentle, steady rain, and enough that after several hours, the ground is still damp. Not only that, but we’ve got a 90% chance of more rain overnight and into tomorrow morning.

Thank God!

Hopefully, by then, the smoke will finally clear out of the air, and some of that rain will hit the areas that have fires right now.

It is not going to make up for months of drought and heat, but it will certainly help. Even the completely dry, crispy grass has started to wake up and show green already.

It was lovely and cool when I did my rounds this morning, then a daughter and I went and checked all the garden beds just a little while ago.

I’m really glad we set up the chicken wire over the gourds and cucamelons. I found this critter damage this morning. It looks like something, likely a woodchuck, leaned on the wire and managed to nibble on a leaf through the gaps. Just one leaf here, and another on the other side of the chain link fence. Without the wire, we probably would have had a lot more damage.

While I was checking on these, Nosencrantz was playing on the concrete block leaning on a tree nearby, so I paused to try and get her to come to my hand. I managed to boop Nosencrantz’s nose before she ran away. Toesencrantz, on the other hand, was far more interested in trying to get at a lump of dirt on the other side of the chicken wire! He could get his paws under the wire, but the tent pegs held and he couldn’t get the lump out. Not for lack of trying! So that confirmed for me that the kittens were doing the digging in the dirt. More reason to be glad for the wire! The dirt lump got broken up, so as to remove further temptation.

The cucamelon plants looks so tiny, but they are starting to develop fruit! The chain link fence gives an idea of just how tiny these are. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do in this location, which gets more sun than where we grew them last year. They produced quite well last year, for a plant that’s supposed to have full sun.

While checking things out with my daughter, I found new critter damage. When I checked the bed this morning, the damage wasn’t there. These are the Champion radish sprouts. Not all of them were eaten, and the purple kohlrabi sprouts next to them seem to have been untouched. Which would lead me to think it was grasshoppers, not a groundhog, except that after the rain, there were NO grasshoppers around. I didn’t see any in the morning, either, but I usually don’t, that early in the day. They tend to come out later.

Unfortunately, this bed has only the wire border fence pieces to hold up the shade cloth. We are out of the materials to make another wire mesh cover, so with the shade cloths not being used, this bed is unprotected, and there’s really nothing we can do about it right now. 😦 On the plus side, it wasn’t a total loss, and I’m thinking the woodchucks, at least, are preferring the easy pickings under the bird feeder.

At the squash tunnel, we found this lovely friend, resting on a Halona melon flower. The melons, winter squash and gourds are doing quite well right now, though all the garden beds are due for another feeding. The baby melons are getting nice and big, and we keep finding more. I was really excited when my daughter spotted this, hidden under a leaf.

These are the first flower buds on the luffa! I was really starting to wonder about them. They started out well, then went through a rough patch, but since I started using the soaker hose, they are already looking more robust again.

In checking the onion beds, my daughter spotted an onion that had lost its greens completely, so she picked it. It will need to be eaten very quickly. It is so adorable and round! This is from the onions we grew from seed. Though I’ve trimmed the greens of almost all the onions, we’re finding some of them with broken stems. Most likely, it’s from the cats rolling on them, as I’ve sometimes seen Creamsicle Baby doing.

We also found a green zucchini big enough to pick. I’ve checked all the plants, and while there should be at least one golden zucchini, I’m not finding any. Every plant is starting to produce fruit now, too, even if just tiny ones, and no golden zucchini. Odd. Perhaps the package was mislabeled and we got a different kind of green zucchini instead? There are differences in the leaves that suggest two different varieties, even if the fruit looks much the same.

Oh, in the background of the onion picture is the Montana Morado corn. We’re always checking them and the nearby Crespo squash for critter damage. There does seem to be some, but I am uncertain what to make of it. One corn plant, in the middle of the furthest row, lost its tassels and top leaves, but none of the others around it were damaged. It has a cob developing on the stalk, so I pollinated it by hand. Then I spotted another stalk, in the middle of the bed, that also lost its tassels. But what would have done that, while ignoring all the other plants around it? Very strange.

And finally, we have the poppies.

The Giant Rattle Breadseed poppies continue to bloom in the mornings, loosing their petals by the end of the day. Their pods are so tiny at that point, but in my hand, you can see the pod from the very first one that bloomed. It has gotten so much bigger!

We also found a couple of these.

My mother had ornamental poppies in here, and even with the mulching and digging we did, some still survived. This photo is of the bigger of two that showed up in an unexpected place: where my daughter had dug a trench to plant her iris bulbs. Somehow, they survived, and now we have two tiny little ornamental poppies. 😀

In hopes that we will get rain tonight, we will not be doing our evening watering. If we don’t get rain, we will water everything in the morning, instead.

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

Our 2021 garden: first!

I completely forgot to post this, this morning!

Our first poppy is blooming!

This is the Giant Rattle Breadseed Poppy, from Baker Creek. The flowers are very different from the poppies my mother grew with I was a kid; those had bright red flowers with black at the bases, similar to the Remembrance Day poppies. She may have gotten the original seeds from Poland. It should be interesting to see how big the pods get. The plants themselves had a rough start and are very small, even compared to the ornamental poppies. These are supposed to get very large (hence their name.. LOL).

Interestingly, the photos at the website show pink, not white, on petals.

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: more critter carnage

I went out to do the evening watering this evening, after trying to wait until things cooled down. When we were still above 30C/86F by 7:30pm, I headed out anyway, so I could be done before dark.

I started in the old kitchen garden, and this should have been my first warning.

When I had gone out earlier to apply the spray repellent, I made a point of spraying the edges of the beds and into the paths, where it would not be washed away by watering as quickly.

Nutmeg is sprawled right on top of where I’d sprayed. Clearly, he is not the least bit bothered by the repellent!

If you look to the bed on the right, you can see the stems of our nibbled on carrots. They were like that this morning, before I did the spraying. In fact, they were why I made a point os going out to apply the repellent when we were nearly at the hotted part of the day!

Meanwhile…

As I was finishing up in the old kitchen garden, I picked our first rhubarb of the season.

We could have picked rhubarb long ago, but we were thinking to do a crumple or a crisp with them, and no one wants to bake in this heat. However, I had other reasons to pick them.

We planted poppies in the new bed next to one of the rhubarb bunches. The only seeds that germinated are all near the rhubarb. While I was trying to weed them, I discovered there was more than we thought.

The rhubarb leaves were covering them, and preventing them from getting any sunlight.

So I uncovered them by picking rhubarb. 😀 We’ll see if they recover, now that they are getting light.

After I was done watering the more southerly beds, I headed over to the main garden beds and started watering. When I had been there earlier, spraying around the carrot bed, I was noticing that they looked to be recovering quite well, with lots of new fronds. I made sure to spray a wide swath all around them, on them, and even on the wire mesh cover.

As you can probably imagine, I was must unhappy when I came back to this.

The entire bed is once again decimated. All of it, from end to end. Apparently, when I sprayed the repellent, all I did was season the fronds for the woodchuck!

I am so frustrated!!

I’ll be taking the wire mesh cover off. All it’s really doing is preventing me from weeding. Though I suppose there’s no point in weeding it anymore. I will, anyhow, but the chances of the carrots recovering just dropped substantially. We knew it couldn’t stop a woodchuck, but I thought it might not want to be under something, and potentially trapped, and at least the carrots in the middle would be ignored. Nope. Apparently, this furry beast had no problem being under a wire net for so long!

This was not our only loss.

The greedy guts even eat the mystery squash seedlings in the old compost heap!

Obviously, I hadn’t sprayed the compost heap, but still… they weren’t exactly easy access in there, and were surrounded by all sorts of things the woodchuck never tries to eat, like the self-seeded raspberries that are also growing out of the pile.

I was really hoping to find out if they were from last year’s pumpkins.

Thankfully, nothing else was nibbled on, but this is damage enough!!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: three firsts, this morning!

You just have to love how quickly things change, day by day!

The first ornamental poppies started blooming this morning. They have had bulbs for a while now, and then this morning, two of them exploded into full bloom. 🙂

I was looking at the garlic yesterday evening, and seeing what might, possibly, could be, itty bitty garlic scapes starting to come up. They were so tiny, I couldn’t be sure.

This morning, there was no doubt. Our first garlic scapes are starting to form! We are really looking forward to when they can be harvested and trying different things with them. 🙂

I have saved the best for last – check this out!

Our very first tomato flowers!! You can see the tiny little buds behind it, too.

These are the super tiny Spoon tomatoes. In reviews, people have warned that these self-seed very easily, because they are so tiny, it’s impossible to pick them all before they ripen and fall off the vine.

We’ve got no problem with that, and chose this location with that in mind.

I’m just so happy with how things are growing. Most of these are in new beds in new locations, with limited preparation. Every single plant that has survived is, for me, a total miracle. 😀 I’m hoping how things are looking now are a sign of a very busy fall, preserving the harvest. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Mourning roundup – and what a nasty boy!

The morning rounds, as usual, started with a visit to the kitties.

I fully expected to find a couple at the top of the stairs, as has been the usual thing lately.

Nope. Just Beep Beep.

The other usual thing is to go down the stairs and find the kittens not already on the stairs, coming sleepily out from under the platform bed frame, where they’ve created a nest.

Not this morning!

Beep Beep jumped into the pile faster than I could get my phone out for a picture, but all the kittens had been on the chair, curled up in a furry mass, sleeping!

The outdoor part of my morning rounds went rather quickly, because I was being eaten by mosquitoes! Every time I paused to take a picture, I would be attached by clouds of them!

The first of my mother’s poppies has opened up.

The dwarf lilac by the house is just a riot of flowers!

This other variety of lilac, planted by the chain link fence, doesn’t have a lot of flowers, but the few clusters is does have are starting to open.

When feeding the outside cats, I saw some faces that have not been around as much, lately.

Junk Pile cat has been hanging around, even if I only see him in passing, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen Butterscotch. I was happy to see Rosencrantz show up.

While checking the garden plots and switching memory cards on the trail cams, I got some company.

Creamsicle came to join me and wanted attention. 🙂

Butterscotch came along this time, too.

Then this happened!!!

Her boy went into a full-on attack! I couldn’t believe it! He wouldn’t stop, either. I broke them up several times, until I just couldn’t catch up with them. Each time, Butterscotch would run off, and Creamsicle would run right after her and attack as soon as he reached her!

What a terrible son!

I am not impressed.

The Re-Farmer

Good Morning!

It was lovely doing my rounds with morning, and I just wanted to share some of my flowering finds. 🙂

One of my mother’s fancy lilacs is now blooming. Last year, while cleaning up this flower bed, I took out a maple tree that was growing in the middle of it!

At its base, where I had pruned and cleared quite a bit, there is now massive new growth of this lilac.

Swallowtails love lilacs, we’ve noticed. 🙂 I wasn’t able to get a picture of one this morning, though.

The first couple of my mother’s poppies opened this morning. This one is near the lilac bush in the above picture. The large leaves you see to the left is a small cherry tree. Small enough that I hope to transplant it to a better location, by next year.

Another poppy that opened up this morning is under the bird bath.

We’re going to have lots of these blooming, this year!

I tried making my way through an area of the spruce grove this morning, but there were too many fallen trees and undergrowth blocking my way. The wild roses scattered throughout, however, were blooming enthusiastically in the mess. It should be interesting to see how they do after the area is cleaned up, and they have more light and space. 🙂

This is one of the plants I’ve been seeing growing all over the places where I had pruned branches and cleared away deadwood. This one is near the south fence of the spruce grove, where I’d managed to do some clearing before the snow fell, last year. This is the first of the flowers I’m seeing from this plant. I don’t know the name of it, but we’re going to have quite a lot of these, all over the place! 🙂

I also did a bit of patriotic decorating today.

Canada Day will be here soon, so I set up four sturdy little flags that we have, on the East fence line, facing the road.

Kinda wishing I had more! I love how they look. 🙂

The Re-Farmer