Our 2022 garden, staying out of the heat, and a garden surprise

We’ve got some heat for the next few days – today reached 28C/82F, and we’re expected to keep getting hotter for a few more days before starting to drop a few degrees, with possible thunderstorms in the forecast. Temperatures are still pretty close to average, though, so nothing like the heat waves we got last year.

Still, it does mean that some garden beds need to get watered, which I try to do in the morning, though some need an extra watering by evening, too, depending on how exposed to the sun the beds are. Yesterday evening, while checking the beds, I found a nice little surprise but didn’t get pictures until this morning.

The bed where we planted 10 bare root white strawberries has been largely ignored, since none of the strawberries had come up. Last night, however, I decided to give it a bit of a weeding, anyway, and lo and behold, I found a single strawberry plant had emerged!

No sign of any others, unfortunately, and I certainly don’t expect we’ll get anything out of the one this year, but hopefully we’ll be able to keep it alive and protect it over the winter, and it’ll do better next year.

While weeding the rest of the bed, I found a volunteer!

The soil in this bed is from the bags we used to grow potatoes last year. It looks like we missed one! We grew 4 varieties, so we won’t know which it is until there’s something to harvest, but from the looks of it, and the colour of the stems, I’d say it’s one of the two purple varieties we grew. Awesome!

After carefully weeding as much around them as I dared, I gave them a watering. They were so wimpy from the heat, they just flattened. The potato was perked up by morning, but the strawberry was still having a hard time holding itself up. Hopefully, with some of the weeds pulled away, it’ll grow stronger. If I could be sure none of the other strawberries will come up, I’d cover the bed with a mulch to help them out. I might still at least give them a light mulch.

A lovely surprise this morning is that the Giant Rattle poppies are starting to bloom! There were three flowers this morning, and this is the largest of them. These are from seeds we collected last year. With the heat waves and drought, they didn’t do well last year, and produced pods much smaller than they normally would have. This year, they seem to be doing better, though I’m still expecting smaller pods. We did get seeds for another variety of bread seed poppies that we meant to plant somewhere else, but with the weather conditions we had this spring, that just didn’t happen. If all goes well, we’ll collect more seeds from these in the fall for planting (and maybe have enough for eating, too!), and next year, we’ll be able to plant both varieties.

As I wrote this, things are finally starting to cool down a bit. The heat lingers late into the day, and it gets hot surprisingly quickly in the morning – when I started my rounds, it was already 24C/75F. The last of the spinach in the high raised bed has been pulled, and I am planning to plant some chard in there this evening. The two varieties we have from last year are Fordhook Giant and Bright Lites. I’ll probably mix them up a bit. There were 2 rows of spinach in the high raised bed, so I’ll likely just plant one tonight, and do the other in a week or two.

Aside from the 2 varieties of spinach I picked up to plant at the end of the month, we do still have seeds of one variety from last year. The spinach in the low raised beds are a complete fail. I was weeding the beds this morning and there are some seedlings, but they’re barely there and look like they’re already bolting, even though they’re less than 2 inches tall! A couple of varieties of turnip are also complete fails, though I think they got eaten by insects. There is one variety that is growing, but they are struggling, and the leaves are riddled with tiny holes. I never see the insects causing the damage, though. We’ll see how they manage. Sadly, one of the losses was the Gold Ball turnips. They simply disappeared. Not one left, though they were among the first to sprout. There were very few seeds in the packet, so there is nothing left to reseed. These were among the free seeds we got, and I was looking forward to trying them. It reminds me of the first radishes we got last year; a daikon type, and watermelon radishes. They sprouted quickly, and were just as quickly gone. Something to keep in mind for when we plant them again in the future.

In other things, I have been very slowly working on scything the hay in the outer yard. I have to be careful not to over do it, even if I feel like I can do more. I know that if I over do it, I can end up out of commission for days. If I do a couple of swaths an evening, it’ll slowly get done. The fun part yesterday was that, when taking breaks, I was able to play with a couple of kittens. Two of them are okay with being picked up, now, though they don’t really like getting caught. The mama is not happy, though. I saw no signs of them this morning, so I’m afraid she might have moved them. I still put food and water out, as they may simply have been staying in the cool of the branch pile while mama was eating at the kibble house.

Oh, wow. As I was writing this, my weather app suddenly starting showing this.

For those in the US: 35C = 95F, 16C = 61F and 40C = 104F.

None of this matches the forecast for our area, though. The daytime highs aren’t expected to go above 30C/86F, and that just for one day. The overnight lows, however, are not expected to go below 20C/68F. Definitely some mixed messages, here!

Also, the current temperature has gone back up to 27C/81F instead of continuing to cool down!

At least there is some rain in the forecast, though with our weird climate bubble over our area, that will likely to right around us! 😄 Early morning watering will continue!

Hopefully, this will be good for the heat loving peppers, eggplant, squash and melons, and they will have a nice little growth spurt.

I find myself once again thinking of what my brother and his wife said about their years of gardening. If they had to live off what they grew in the garden, they’d starve to death! Between the weather, the insects and the critters, you just never know what’s going to make it.

Still hoping for a long, mild fall to make up for the long, cold spring!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: Eagle Creek potatoes are here!

Oh, I am so happy! The potatoes we ordered from Eagle Creek have arrived!

I appreciate their sense of humour!

As for the growing directions, for most of them, we’re doing the Ruth Stout deep mulching, so we won’t be hilling them. We specifically chose determinate varieties with that in mind. You can read about what we ordered, and why, at this post.

After doing battle with the remarkably strong bag and metal staples (I ended up having to cut it open! LOL), we had our three varieties.

The one kilogram bag of Caribe potatoes is 2.2 pounds, and the 5kg bags of Bridget and All Blue are 11 pounds each, so we’re looking at just over 24 pounds of potatoes here. 🙂

They’ve already started to sprout!

These are all the Caribe potatoes in the 1kg bag. There’s actually more of them than I thought there would be. Though we could split some of the larger ones, I’m not going to bother. These could be planted right now, if we wanted.

Here are the All Blue. There were quite a few large ones, so they got cu smaller, and will need a few days for the cuts to dry before planting them.

Here are all the Bridget potatoes. A fair number of them got cut smaller, too.

The Bridget and All Blue potatoes are meant for the two heavily mulched beds we just finished. While they are left to chit and the cut edges to dry, we will give the straw mulch repeated soakings with the hose. Hopefully, between that and the rain we’re supposed to be getting, off and on, for the next while, the straw will get good and moist, and keep the layer of carboard under it moist as well.

Now we have to decide where the Caribe potatoes will go. With how many potatoes there turned out to be, the spot I was thinking off will not be large enough. Perhaps these will do well in that low raised bed that we need to finish filling.

Finishing that bed will be a job for tomorrow, then.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes order placed!

I wasn’t going to be able to place another order for our garden until next month’s budget, but thanks to my daughter, we now have our potatoes ordered!

While I was very happy with the potatoes we ordered from Vesey’s, we went with a new company this time – one that I have added to our Cold Climate Seed Sources list.

Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes is in Red Deer County, Alberta, so we can be pretty sure that anything we order from there will grow in our Zone 3 area. It was a company recommended in one of the cold climate gardening groups I’m on, and I really wish I’d discovered them earlier! Not only to they provide a lot of information on each variety of potato they carry, they even have a container and tower pack. That would have been very handy, for when we grew potatoes in feed bags, before we knew that potatoes came in determinate and indeterminate varieties!

This year, however, we are going to use our potato plantings to reclaim more garden space, and will be using the Ruth Stout method again.

These are the potatoes we ordered, to be delivered in May (they let you choose your delivery date range), since our last frost date is early June. They can be ordered as 4 packs, 1 kg or 5 kg sizes (1 kg = 2.2 pounds), and some are available in 14 kg bags.

All images belong to Eagle Creek. All links will open in new tabs.

Caribe.

This is an early maturing variety, though it’s said that they can get quite large if left until late in the season. We ordered these in a smaller, 1kg (2.2 pound) package, to stay under budget. They are listed as having excellent winter storage, and described as making the fluffiest mashed potatoes ever! 😀

Bridget.

This is a medium maturing variety (though the description also lists it as early maturing) with good yields in most soil types, good winter storage and good disease resistance. They are noted as being particularly good for making French fries, though that’s not something we normally do. They are also a good baking or mashing potato. We ordered this in the 5kg size.

All Blue.

Well, we just had to include a purple potato!!! This is a late maturing variety with great winter storage, and is good with pretty much any cooking method. We ordered this in the 5kg size.

Last year, we ordered 4 varieties in 6 pound packs, for 24 pounds of seed potatoes. We got a pretty good return on them, though nowhere near enough to store any for winter. This time, we’re getting about the same weight in 3 varieties.

As we are planning to use the Ruth Stout method again, we’ll have to be pro-active in combating snails. Our first year growing potatoes left us with soil that was much more workable when we converted the space into beds for onions and carrots. We pretty much doubled the length of the beds, and when we were harvesting and preparing the beds for the fall, we could really tell the difference in the soil between the two halves! Where the potatoes were grown previously, the garden fork easily sunk deep into the soil, but in the extended portion, once the fork got through the new soil we added on top of the beds, it was like hitting a hard floor beneath.

When we grew potatoes that first year, the only thing we had available for mulch was straw. It’s what we can get, so that’s what we will be using again this year. This time we can run the straw through the shredder chute on our wood chipper, first, so it will cover better and break down faster.

As far as quantities go, unless these all turn out to have amazingly high yields, this is not going to be enough to last us into the winter. Which is okay, because these are new varieties we are trying out. Over time, once we’ve worked out what grows best here, and which ones we like the most, we will get larger quantities of seed potatoes and, hopefully, be able to have enough to plant our own potatoes every year, instead of having to buy seed potatoes. At least, that’s the long term goal for the bulk of our potato growing. I suspect we will continue to try new and different varieties regularly, simply because we like trying new things!

One more item for our 2022 garden to check off our list!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden, still going!

Last night, I heard from one of our neighbours, asking if we were missing some kittens. It seems that several kittens were sighted on the road by our place, and while one was caught, there were others around. They were not ours; by the age estimate, they were about 5 months younger than ours, plus they seem used to humans. Which means they were likely dumped. 😦 The person who caught the one said she would be coming back to try and find the others. Meanwhile, I made sure to be on the lookout for kittens while doing my rounds this morning. Especially in the furthest garden beds, which are the closest to where the kittens were spotted.

I think I did actually see a strange kitten at our house, yesterday, but it ran off, just like most of our yard cats still do. I found myself thinking the colour seeming off had to have been the light, but now I wonder! Well, if there are strange kitties around, they will find food and shelter here. So far, though, I have seen nothing today.

While I was on the lookout for strange kitties, I checked out the squash tunnel. The luffa and Tennessee Dancing Gourds seem to have finally succumbed to the chill overnight temperatures.

The luffa leaves turned really dark, but haven’t shriveled, like pretty much everything else. Take a click on the image of the developing gourds on the top of the squash tunnel! There are still flowers developing! They do look frost damaged, though.

It was much the same with the Tennessee Dancing Gourds. Most of the vines have died back, and cold damage can be seen on some of the little gourds… and yet, there are still flower buds!

The chard and the lettuce are still going strong.

This is the biggest of the surviving radishes. You can see the older leaves that still have grasshopper damage. Something is nibbling the new growth, too, but not as much. I put the bricks around this radish plant, because something has been nibbling on the bulb. I’m guessing a mouse or something like that. Putting the bricks there seems to have stopped it, as there is no new damage.

Then there is that amazing Crespo squash. Is it still going, or is it done? The leaves seem to be completely killed off by the frost, yet the vines still seem strong, and while there is cold damage on most of the squash, some of them still seem to be getting bigger!

So, we will wait and see how they do.

Meanwhile, on the south side of the house…

The Ozark Nest Egg gourds have almost no cold damage on them, and still seem to be growing just fine. In fact, there is more fresh and new growth happening, and new male and female flowers developing!

The tomatoes continue to ripen, with no signs of cold damage to them, unlike the one self-seeded tomato that’s growing near the lettuces, which is pretty much dead.

Check out that wasp on the Spoon tomato vine! Even the pollinators are still out!

The fingerling potatoes are still going strong, too. There is one bag that looks like it has died back, but the others are still very green. Especially the Purple Peruvians.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of the carrots. Even the overgrown bed we abandoned to the groundhogs has carrot fronds overtaking the weeds. Especially the Kyoto Red, which have gone to seed. I’m keeping an eye on those, as I want to try and collect them before they self sow!

It’s hard to know how much longer the garden will keep on going. Today was forecast to be 18C/64F, then things were supposed to cool down again. As I write this, we are at 22C/72F !!! Tomorrow, we’re supposed to drop to 8C/46F, then go down to 5-6C/41-43F, with overnight lows dropping to -1C/30F a couple of nights from now, but who knows what we’ll actually get?

Looking at the data for our area, our average temperatures for October are 10C/50F for the high, and 1C/34F for the low – but our record high was 30C/86F in 1992, with a record low of -18C/0F in 1991, so while a bit unusual, the mild temperatures we’re having right now aren’t that uncommon. In fact, the record highs and lows seem to lurch from one extreme to the other, within just a few years of each other, if not one year after the other!

I’m looking forward to NOT hitting any record lows this fall and winter! 😀 Still, the way things are going, it may be a while before we finally harvest our carrots, potatoes and beets – I want to leave those in the ground as long as possible – and we’ll have lettuce and chard for quite some time, yet!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: two kinds of potatoes

I wasn’t going to harvest our potatoes yet, since they can stay in the ground until after we get frost. It is, however, Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and dangit, I want to have some of our own potatoes! 😀

The fingerling potatoes are still growing, but the Yukon Gem and Norland potato plants are completely died back, so those were my target for today.

Using old feed bags as grow bags was an experiment for us, and it was interesting to see that roots had made their way through the bottoms of the bags. These will definitely not see another year of use, and they were also weathered enough to start tearing a bit while I moved them, but that’s still pretty good, considering they would have been thrown out, otherwise.

That kiddie pool is, once again, the handiest thing ever! So are those old window screens I found on the barn. 😀 The bags got dumped into the pool, where I could go through the soil to find the potatoes and set them aside on the screen.

This is the contents of the very first bag I emptied!

Each variety was planted in five feed bags. We did gather some potatoes earlier, and I tried to take out just a couple from each bag, so there was originally a few more than what you can see here.

I had assistance from a Nosencrantz, ferociously hunting leafs!

By the time I was working on the Yukon Gem potatoes, the kiddie pool was too full, so I moved aside the remaining bags and started to return some of the soil to create a new bed for planting. For the amount of soil, the new bed will extend along the fence further than the rows of bags are, as I don’t want to to be too wide or too deep. Unless I change my mind at the last minute or something, we will be transplanting some perennial flowers that need to be divided.

One of the nice things I noticed while picking through the soil to find the potatoes, was how many nice, big fat worms I found! They managed to make their way through the bottoms of the bags. I could even see worm holes in the soil under the bags, too.

Here they are! All of the red and yellow potatoes we got.

Such a small harvest, but not too shabby, considering this year’s growing conditions. These will sit outside on the screens for a bit, but with so few potatoes, there’s no need to properly cure them. We’ll be eating them pretty quickly. In fact, quite a lot of these will be used up this weekend, with Thanksgiving dinner. 🙂

It should be interesting to see what we get with the fingerling potatoes!

As for how the grow bags did compared to doing the Ruth Stout, heavy mulching method we did last year, I would say these did better. I didn’t know about indeterminate and determinate potatoes before this. If I’d known, I would have specifically looked up indeterminate varieties for these bags, and would have kept filling them with soil and mulch over the summer. That would have resulted in a higher yield. It just happened that all the varieties we chose were determinate, so they grew all on one level. The main thing was that there was no sign of any slug or insect damage on the potatoes. With the Ruth Stout method, I found a lot of slugs as I dug up the potatoes, and quite a few holes in the spuds.

For next year, I am thinking we definitely want to look into doing something like this again; maybe grow bags again, or some other way of doing a potato tower. I think it will depend on what kind of varieties we go with next year, and if I can find indeterminate varieties. I was looking at different websites last night, including some that specialized in only potatoes, and just about everything is marked as sold out. I’m hoping that’s because of the time of year, and that they will come available again after harvesting and curing is done for the winter. I’d like to try sun chokes and sweet potatoes, too – there is one place I’ve found that sells sweet potatoes that can grow in our climate. I think I’m the only one in the family that actually likes sweet potatoes, though (the rest of the household just sort of tolerates them), so I wouldn’t have to grow many. I’ve never found sun chokes to buy and taste, so that will be something to try just to find out if we like them or not!

We’ll have to find a new place to grow potatoes next year, though, since this spot will become a flower bed. We’ll have to think about that! Especially since I hope to increase the quantity we plant. Over time, we’ll need to grow a LOT more potatoes to have enough for four people, to store over the winter, but we’ll get there little by little.

The Re-Farmer

So much colour

The sunflowers are so cheerful looking!

This is the Hopi Black Dye sunflower that has the one seed head that I think will have time to fully mature – and it has four more bright and cheerful seed heads opening!

I don’t know why my phone’s camera blew out this shot, but you can still see what a deep, dark purple is developing as the seeds mature.

When my mother found out I was planting sunflowers, she immediately mocked me, telling me that the birds would eat them all. This is the first sign of birds eating them I’ve seen this year. 😀

Not too long ago, while working on supper, I decided to dig into the potato bags and see what I could find.

The Norland (red skin, white flesh) and Yukon Gem (light brown skin, yellow flesh), we have picked before, but this is the first time I tried to find any of the fingerling potatoes, Purple Chief (purple skin, white flesh) and Purple Peruvian (purple skin, purple flesh). I did not find a lot, but I’m hoping it’s because I just wasn’t digging around in the right places.

I currently have them roasting in the oven with our own onions, both red and yellow, three types of summer squash, and purple beans. The only thing in there we didn’t grow ourselves was celery. Oh, and the dill we got from my brother. 🙂 I’ve got three chickens roasting, too, so we shouldn’t need to cook for the next couple of days! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning harvest and first potatoes, makes for an awesome breakfast!

I finished off my rounds this morning by doing some harvesting in the garden. The beans in particular had plenty to pick. 🙂

I found a yellow bean, growing on a green bean plant!

It didn’t get picked. It felt completely empty. Any beans it might have had did not develop. I did find one other yellow bean among the green beans, on another plant, that did have developing beans in it, but it was super soft for some reason.

There as a big enough haul this morning to need two containers! 🙂

Among the sunburst squash, we have the one plant that is producing green squash instead of yellow, though some of the developing squash have streaks of yellow in them. An interesting mutant plant! 😀

The yellow beans are pretty much done. We’ll still be picking them for the next while, but just a few here and there.

I found flowers on both green and purple bean plants! Just a few, but still a surprise, this late in the season. We’ll be having plenty of those to pick for a while, from the looks of it. Lots of little ones developing on the plants.

Our first potatoes! We could have picked potatoes earlier, but we’ve been leaving them for now. This morning, I decided to reach into a few bags and dug around until I felt a potato and pulled it up. These are the yellow Yukon Gem and red Norland potatoes. I did not try to pick any of the fingerlings, yet.

That’s a pretty good harvest for the day! There are enough beans there to do another bag for the freezer, if we want. 🙂

I used a bit of everything when I made breakfast this morning. 🙂

I made a hash using all three types of beans, a couple of sunburst squash, a zucchini, and one of each type of potato. I also used onion and garlic that we harvested earlier. Even the oil I used to cook with was infused with our chive blossoms, and the dried parsley on top is from last year’s garden.

It tasted great, too! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning rain, and solution found

For the past while, we have been pretty much constantly checking the weather radar. Yesterday evening, it was getting discouraging, and the predicted overnight rain kept getting pushed back and the weather system passed us by to the south. This morning, however, I was thrilled to see a system pushing rain right over is. Granted, based on the radar images, we should have been raining right at that moment, but at least we weren’t going to be missed entirely.

We did get at least some rain last night, as the ground was still damp when I came out to do my morning rounds. It even started raining while I was out there! A very light rain; the sort of rain that, had I not been outside being rained on, I wouldn’t have been able to tell it was happening, but still, it was rain!

While checking the furthest garden beds, I was accompanied by Creamsicle Baby, who has finally started to allow us to pet him again. Frustratingly, when the cats follow us around those beds, they have a terrible habit of going into the pea trellises. This morning, I had to chase Creamsicle off the pea plants he was rolling on, only to have him come right back and start playing with the trellis twice, pulling their pegs out of the ground and getting tangled in them!

Even as I checked the garden cam this morning, I saw Butterscotch going through the pea beds, all four kittens following along, and every one of them went through the pea trellises, running, bouncing and rolling around.

Those poor peas just can’t seem to catch a break!

Other things, however, are doing quite well.

I’m really impressed by how well these Hope Black Dye sunflower transplants are doing. These are from the ones we tried starting indoors, but never germinated until well after we’d direct sown the other half of the seeds outdoors. The seedlings have pretty much quadrupled in size since they got transplanted. I don’t expect them to have a chance to reach maturity, given how late in the season they got transplanted, but part of the reason we grow sunflowers is as a privacy screen and wind break, and these might still accomplish that. Assuming they don’t get eaten. This morning, I saw deer tracks in the soil at the very ends of two bean beds, but no signs of anything new critter damage, so here’s hoping!

Every time we go out to these garden beds, we can’t help but check on the melons. They are getting so big!! This variety isn’t supposed to get as large as, say, the cantaloupes we see in the grocery store, but they are still supposed to produce lots of 4-5 pound fruit. The Pixies are supposed to reach about 1 1/2 pounds in size. I’m really, really excited about these. Melons are among my favourite foods, but we rarely buy them, as they are a treat, rather than an essential.

One of the challenges we’ve been having as been with the potatoes. Since discovering some critter damage, we unrolled the feed bags we’re growing them in to full height. If these had been indeterminate potatoes, we would eventually have done that by continually adding more soil, but these turned out to all be determinate potatoes, so there is no advantage to doing that.

Unfortunately, that meant there was nothing to support the bags, and the plants kept flopping over. Especially while being watered. If we had mulch, we could have added that to help fill the space and keep them from flopping over, but we don’t have anything right now. At least it’s been working to keep critters out, but some of the bags were flopping over to the point that I was concerned the stems would all break, and they’re still in their blooming stage.

Last night, I think I found a solution.

This is how they looked this morning, so it seems to have worked!

What I’d done is cut small holes near the tops of the bags, then tied them together with twine. The double row was tied together in groups of four, while the bags in the front were tied in groups of three. Then, just in case, extra twine was run around the front, tying them to the chain link fence. So now, the bags are holding each other up, while also protecting the plants from critters. It’s just insects we’ll still need to keep an eye on.

Hmm. One down side of finally getting some rain. There are some storms passing to the south of us, which means we’ve lost internet. The WordPress editor’s autosave has been spinning for a while, and once that starts, it doesn’t recover even once the connection is back. Which means that I can’t save my draft, and once our connection is up again, I’ll have to open whatever draft was last autosaved, then copy and paste whatever got missed into it, before I can publish it, and close this window.

Oh, the internet seems to be back again! Let’s see if I can publish this!

The Re-Farmer

Nooo!!! These critters have got to go!

Okay, I am not a happy camper right now.

My daughter and I had started to do the evening watering, and she was at the tomatoes when she saw something on the concrete steps outside our dining room door. We currently have our umbrella tree sitting there, and she saw something go behind the pot.

The mock orange here has been recovering nicely from cold damage.

As I to check on what my daughter saw, I could see movement through the mock orange leaves. The kittens have been enjoying playing on these steps. In the past, we’ve had cats move their litters under here. There is a gap between the stairs and the basement wall that even the skinnier adult cats can fit through, and I believe the stairs are hollow underneath. In fact, this is where we caught David and Keith, mostly because their eyes were so infected, they couldn’t see us to run away. Their sibling managed to keep going under the stairs and we were never able to get her. Rosencrantz then moved her out of there completely, and into the junk pile, hence Junk Pile’s name.

So, was it a kitten? Or…

When I got to the steps, there was nothing there, so I moved the branches of the mock orange to see if there were any kittens behind the steps.

Instead, I found a large hole!

Yup. A woodchuck had made a den here.

There wasn’t even the telltale pile of dirt, like the one in the garden.

Not. Impressed.

I grabbed our jug of critter repellent, which was almost empty, and simply dumped it into the opening. Then I refilled the jug with water. As I came back, as saw one of the little woodchucks running away and around the back of the house.

Because this is right up against the house, we can’t just flood the opening, but I did pour a couple of jugs of water down the hole. I also blocked it as much as I could with some scrap pieces of wood, for now.

For this one, once it’s clear, I think we will be gathering as many small rocks as we can to dump into the opening, then top it off with soil. It’s going to be difficult, with the mock orange in the way.

And we’re all out of strong smelling soap and hot spicy things.

While watering near the old kitchen garden, I could smell the soap from a distance. Checking the beds with the soap shavings, they seemed to have no new damage.

However, the end of the beet bed neared the house, where we had never had critter damage before, was now kibbled on. Not much. This area did get black pepper, so maybe that discouraged more damage.

Before heading into the house, I checked some other stuff, including the potatoes my daughter had just watered.

I found this.

Four potato bags against the fence were damaged.

I at first thought it could be that kittens had started rolling in the bags or something, but …

… no kitten would be eating potato leaves!

Off everything we’ve been trying to grow this year, nothing has been thriving as much as the potatoes, so this is particularly frustrating!

Since taking this photo, I went back and unrolled the bags to their full height. They are tall enough that it should keep the critters out.

I am not a happy camper!!!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: this morning in the garden

I love how, every day, there seems to be something new or different in the garden!

While doing my rounds, one of the first things I do after putting food and water out for the cats (or like today, just water, as my husband was feeling good enough to go outside and do their food), is check the nearby potatoes.

They are so huge and lush, you can barely see the grow bags! Of everything we planted this year, nothing is doing as well as the potatoes.

Hopefully, that means we’ll have lots of potatoes, and not just lots of greenery!

Potato flowers are such pretty little things!

While checking the tomatoes, I tried looking for the baby tomatoes we’ve been seeing and had a hard time finding them. Then I found this “huge” spray of tomatoes I’ve somehow missed seeing all this time!

“Huge” being a relative terms, for the world’s smallest tomatoes! 😀

While heading back down the driveway after switching out the trail cam memory card, I had to pause to get this photo.

There are less of these flowers than last year, and they are blooming later. Like so many other things, they had been damaged by that one cold night in May, and it’s taken this long for them to recover. We don’t water down here at all, and we’ve had no rain, so it’s amazing to see them at all. Such resilient flowers!

I was weeding the big carrot bed this morning, which is rather difficult right now. I sometimes wonder why I bother, considering how much they’ve been eaten. I accidentally caught a remaining carrot frond while pulling up a weed, and pulled a carrot up with it.

I’m… kinda glad I did.

If they have this much root after all they’ve been through, there is still a chance for them! We won’t get any big carrots, and my hopes of having enough to can are certainly dashed, but we might still have something worth harvesting.

As for this little guy, I washed it off with the hose and ate it, and as small as it was, it was tasty.

So that’s encouraging.

I had another surprise waiting for me in the old compost pile nearby.

Amazingly, there are more mystery squash coming up, next to the stems of the chewed up ones!

Of course, nothing will come of them after sprouting this late in the season, but we might at least see them get big enough to determine what they are.

I find these two Hopi Black Dye sunflowers in the old kitchen garden very interesting. The bigger one was the first of the seeds we started indoors to germinate. That was after the ones we’d direct sown outside had already germinated. The smaller one, which has the label next to it, germinated some time later. Right now, both of these are bigger than the ones that germinated first, in the large beds. The difference, of course, is the soil. The other ones are planted in an area that has not been amended or planted in before, while these are in a garden we’d been working on for 3 summers already

As for the tall plant behind the smaller sunflower, we still don’t know what it is. 😀

I was happy to see that many of the poppies have seen quite a growth spurt, and the ones that were under rhubarb leaves are getting stronger.

Then there is this plant, nearby.

When we were preparing the bed next to the retaining wall, there was a compact plant growing in it. Unsure of what it was, other than “some kind of flower”, we dug it up and transplanted it between the rhubarb and the chives. It quickly grew from a compact, bushy plant to the tall, leggy thing you can see in the photo.

I also now recognize it, though I still don’t know the name.

Do you see those sprays at the ends? With the small round things hanging down?

When it starts blooming, this plant has lovely, delicate little flowers.

Which then become some of the most annoying little burs, ever. It isn’t possible to go near one of these without ending up with masses of tiny burs stuck in your clothes, that are harder to get out than burdock! I’ve had some get so thoroughly stuck in my clothes, not only was I not able to get them completely out, but they managed to stay stuck after several washings!

After I took this photo, I pulled it up. Even though it is in the flower bud stage, it still tried to stick to my clothes!

It did not go into the compost, but into the fire pit for eventual burning.

If we ever get to light the fire pit this year. I suspect not.

While things have finally cooled down today – in fact, it actually got chilly last night! – and we are no longer getting heat warnings on our weather apps, we are now getting air quality alerts. There are a number of fires burning in our province right at the moment. I’d actually been smelling wood smoke for a while before we started getting the alerts, and with our heat and dryness, I was very concerned. None of the fires are near us, thankfully, but we’re still getting some of the smoke.

Today will be our coolest day for the next while, with a high of only 18C/64F so I will be taking advantage of it and getting things seeds sown in those empty spinach beds! 🙂

The Re-Farmer