Our 2021 garden: final harvest!

Today, I went out to get together with some friends. When I got back, the girls were in the old kitchen garden, starting our final harvest!

I started off helping with the beets in the L shaped bed, before heading over to quickly do the beet bed next to the garlic.

What a difference!

In the old kitchen garden, all the beets were very small. I was expecting that in the bed along the retaining wall, since they had been eaten by the groundhogs, but I expected more from the L shaped bed.

The girls don’t take pictures like I do, so I just got a shot after they were done. The piles of greens in the beet beds include beets too small to keep. This will all be worked back into the soil. In the carrot bed, you can see the Kyoto Red fronds that had gone to seed, left behind as well. I figure those can be worked back into the soil, too. And if we find little carrots coming up in this bed next year, I’m okay with that! 😀

We got a lot more bigger beets out of the little bed by the garlic! Now that this bed is clear, we can build the last low raised box for it, and the bricks used to frame it will be used elsewhere.

Then my older daughter and I started picking the fingerling potatoes. Being able to dump a bag into the kiddie pool, then go through the soil to pick the potatoes, made the job very easy! We moved the bags away from the fence, so that the picked over soil could be dumped back against the fence before we moved on to the next bag, which also made it easier.

The Purple Peruvians are SO dark, it was hard to find them in the soil! We got a lot more of them than expected, and had to start using another container to hold them.

Of course, some of them got used for our supper! Here, you can see the Purple Chief on the left, and the Purple Peruvian on the right. I cubed them, as well as three types of carrots, added some garlic cloves, tossed them in flavoured olive oil and seasonings, then roasted them. I can hardly wait to try them!

While I worked on supper, the girls finished cleaning the vegetables and set out the beets and carrots in the sun room, with the ceiling fan going, since leaving them outside in the sun is not an option right now. There are three types of carrots here; Deep Purple, from Veseys, Kyoto Red and Lounge Rouge Sang from Baker Creek. It’s hard to tell which ones are the Lounge Rouge Sang, as the colour gradient isn’t very visible. All the beets from the small bed are on here, plus most of the beets from the old kitchen garden as well. We did take some straight inside, and a few of them are in the oven, too. They got peeled and chopped, tossed in olive oil and seasonings, then roasted at the same time as the potatoes.

With the beets, we may actually have enough to make it worthwhile to pickle them. I’m not sure. Mostly, though, we’ll just eat them fairly quickly. As for the carrots, I think we’ll either be eating them quickly, too. I don’t think there is enough to even be worth blanching and freezing.

It’s a very small harvest, considering how much we planted, but I’m still happy with it, since we came so close to not having anything at all.

Now our work is really cut out for us! All the beds can now be cleaned out and prepared for next year.

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

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: beating the heat, transplants, potatoes and … stalking goldfinches?

Today, we definitely heated up fast! I was outside early to do my rounds, the watering, and hardening off the seedlings, managing to finish before things started getting too hot. We easily reached 30C/86F and probably went a bit higher. We even got heat alerts, and air quality warnings for those places dealing with wildfires right now. We’re supposed to hit 30C again tomorrow, then the temperatures are expected to drop to highs below 10C/50F, with overnight lows of 2C/36F, so frost is still a possibility!

Our order of potatoes came in. It was expected to come in tomorrow, but when I checked the tracking number, I found out they had arrived on Friday! So they sat at the post office over the weekend. I was going to chit the potatoes this year, but it looks like I won’t have to!

We got only one box of each type, so we are not expecting to have a long term supply, even if they do turn out to be very productive. The Yukon Gem, which we tried and enjoyed last year, are likely a type we will grow more of in the future. We shall see how the others do. To have enough to last the winter for 4 adults who really like potatoes would require a lot more seed potatoes!

This afternoon, my daughter and I braved the heat to do some transplants.

The new lady haskap is now in. You can see the other two in the photo. The other female haskap is harder to see, since it has so few leaves! At least it is growing. Watering everything twice a day is making a big difference all over, but it’s really helping with the struggling haskap.

My daughter chose a spot for her raspberries. They’re now in front of the row of trees in the old garden. The ones that self seeded among my mother’s raspberries that she transplanted. I still don’t quite understand why she moved them from a full-sun location, into the shade. No matter. We now have our first two raspberry bushes planted! As we add more, we will build trellises for them, but that will slowly happen over the next couple of years.

Before we headed in, my daughter and I checked out where the potatoes and their grow bags are going to go. This is near an area of the chain link fence where we are allowing vines to grow. We’re tearing them out, everywhere else we find them, as they are so invasive. Right now, there’s last year’s dead vines on the fence, and we found a tiny little surprise.

This old nest was only about 2 or 3 inches across! We don’t have many birds small enough to have a nest like this. In fact, I can only think of one, and I find myself wondering if it was a hummingbird nest. What a delightful surprise!

After finishing the transplanting, we headed into the cool of the indoors for a few hours. My husband recently picked up a Roku media streaming device. We have Amazon Prime for the free shipping, but now we can watch shows on the big screen TV. That thing hasn’t been turned on in months. 😀 I’ve been watching Poirot lately, and settled down to watch an episode while having breakfast… er… lunch… whatever. Which is when I got another surprise.

A bright, yellow, feathered stalker!

It stayed there for a surprising length of time, watching me through the window!

This is not the first time we’ve had a goldfinch decide to perch on a window sill and check out the humans inside. The last time it was last summer, and the bird was trying to look in at my bedroom window. Too funny! And very adorable.

After things started to cool down (which is a relative statement; it’s past 11pm as I write this, and we’re still at 23C/73F), I started setting up the home-made grow bags for the potatoes.

We’ve got 4 bags for each variety. For now, they’ve just got a few inches of soil on the bottoms, which I hosed down thoroughly, after this picture was taken. Tomorrow morning, before things start to heat up again, the potatoes will be added to the bags and topped off with a few more inches of soil. As they grow, we’ll keep adding either soil or straw mulch, and the bags can be unrolled as more height is needed. Hopefully, this will give us a better yield, as well as protecting the potatoes from slugs. We shall see!

Once this was done, I did the evening watering.

I had company.

Rolando Moon kept following me around, then settled herself in the middle of our “found object” art display to watch me. 😀 She is so funny!

Once back inside, I had less fun things to deal with; a call with my brother, talking about the upcoming court date this Friday for the restraining order against our vandal. Last time, my brother took a day off work for the court date, only for us to discover everything got cancelled again, due to the province increasing restrictions again. We just had Mother’s Day and have a long weekend coming up, so the province increased restrictions again. :-/ I will call the court office on Wednesday to find out if court dates are cancelled again. It’s hard to know what will happen, but we’re trying to be as prepared as possible. Most likely, our vandal’s lawyer (which he can somehow afford, while claiming I’ve put him almost $200,000 in debt…) will just try to delay things to a trial date. If we are offered a mutual restraining order, I would only accept it if he agrees to stop drinking, and relinquishes his guns for the year the order applies. If possible, I’d request a psychiatric assessment, too. He’d never agree to any of that, though. In past experience (granted, in another province, but I really don’t expect this one to be any better), a lot will depend on whether we get a judge that’s able to set aside his/her own personal biases or not. The hard part is going to be staying focused on the matter at hand, and not allowing the lawyer to distract away with our vandal’s many imagined grievances. A judge, of course, would have no way of knowing that they’re imagined. Nor would his lawyer, for that matter. We shall see how it goes. If it doesn’t get cancelled again, of course. :-/

At least we’ve got lots of hard physical labour in the garden as a distraction and stress reliever!

I like manual labour! 😀

The Re-Farmer