Our 2023 Garden: Purple Peruvian Potatoes planted

Well, we got one out of two done!

I thought we would have more than enough old feed bags to use for both types of potatoes we have left to plant, but I was wrong! The Purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes alone, took 14 of the 19 bags we had!

I made a quick little video with the photos I took. It’s less than a minute and a half long. 😁

The first time we grew potatoes in feed bags, we were intending to do the tower thing, expecting to add more material to the bags several times throughout the summer. Then we found out that potatoes come in both determinate and indeterminate types – and we had determinates. They aren’t the right kind for growing in towers, so there was no benefit to adding more material. The plants got huge, though, and the bags couldn’t support them. With that in mind, this time I made sure to add quite a lot of straw to the tops of the bags. It should help support the plant stems, and hopefully the bags as well.

So now we have to figure out how and where to plant the Red Thumb fingerling potatoes.

I wonder if there are too many to plant in that bed along the old kitchen garden retaining wall I just finished reworking?

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: potatoes chitting, and progress video

Okay, it took WAY longer than it should have, but I finally finished a video I was working on. I ended up leaving my computer on all night to upload it. I don’t know that I’m happy with it, but it shows what I want it to show, and that’s the main thing.

First, though…

I took the potatoes that came in yesterday and laid them out on egg trays to chit for a bit longer. They all already have shoots, so we’ll need to get them into the feed bag-grow bags we’ll be using this year, soon.

These are the Purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes.

They don’t look very purple!

None look like they need to be cut into smaller pieces, so I won’t see how purple they are on the inside, but when these come fresh out of the ground, they are so dark a purple, they’re almost black. Right now, there’s just purple in the new growth.

It’s the same thing with the Red Thumb fingerlings. If it weren’t for the red cast to the shoots, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from these ones. At least the Irish Cobbler ones look more distinctive, just because they’re not a fingerling variety!

For now, they’re all laid out in the trays and set up in the sun room.

While going my rounds this morning, I checked the planted beds. I can’t see that any poppies are coming up, but there may be seedling coming up in the areas planted with the alternative lawn mix. There are most definitely spinach seedlings coming up, though! As for the carrots… I may have goofed. There are lots of things coming up in there. Mostly dandelions. So much for weeding out as many roots as we could! But I can’t see anything that looks like carrots coming up. The problem may be their cover. Once planted, it’s really important that carrot seeds never dry out. That’s why I put the hoops and covered them with plastic. The thing is, it likely got too hot for them under there. Perfect conditions for any weeds, but not for carrot seeds.

I uncovered the bed yesterday, to allow the bed to be rained on. We’ll watch closely over the next while and if they don’t germinate, I’ll replant the bed. We used the entire packet of a new variety of seeds in there, but I have two other varieties waiting to be planted.

Speaking of which, we have pretty much decided not to transplant those teeny little mulberry saplings. At least not outside, this year. What we’ll most likely do is put them up into larger pots and wait until they are larger and more likely to survive being outside.

We’ve also decided to plant that apple tree in the more sheltered spot in the West yard. We’ll have to clear away some dead and dying trees, first, so it might still be a day or two.

The bed along the chain link fence is also ready for a proper weeding now, and we can finally plant our peas.

Lots of work to be done!

But first, here is the video showing the transformation of the Old Kitchen garden, and then I have to go pick up some parcels in the mail!

Please feel free to watch the video on YouTube, like, subscribe, leave a comment, etc.. Any feedback, here or on YouTube (I’ll later upload it to Rumble, too) would be greatly appreciated.

Enjoy!

(Also, I need to learn how to make a thumbnail image to properly fit! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚)

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden and food forest: order is in!

This morning I headed into town to refill our big water jugs and pick up a few things at the grocery store. By the time I headed back, our post office was open. I’d checked the tracking last night and knew our Veseys order would be in today, but when I got there, she still hadn’t had a chance to finish processing all the parcels that came in. She found them for me, though – among several other boxes from Veseys that I could see! They are a popular company, with good reason.

For the potatoes, we got a total of 4 pounds each of Red Thumb fingerling and Purple Peruvian fingerling. We really liked the Purple Peruvian when we grew them a couple of years ago, and I’m hoping we’ll have enough to save seed potatoes for next year.

There is also a 3 pound back of Irish Cobbler.

Two of the above images are from the Veseys website. The Purple Peruvian are some of our own harvest.

I can see that the potatoes have already started to sprout. We’ll need to lay those out for air circulation as much as for chitting. I’ll have to go through the old feed bags we have and see how many are left, since we’ve stopped buying deer feed and bird seed. We have too many slugs and not enough garter snakes or toads, to try growing them in the ground again.

Then there was the box with our trees.

Would you look at those mulberry trees!!

I knew they would be small, but I didn’t think they would be THAT small! Normally, there would have been a single, larger, 2 yr old sapling, but they had a shortage of that size. Instead, they sent out two 1 yr old saplings for the same price.

The above pictures are from Veseys. Hopefully, in a few years, we’ll have apples and berries to harvest!

Right now, I’ve got them out of their plastic bags and set up in the living room, safe from the cats. I find myself seriously considering leaving them to grow indoors for a year but… well… I don’t know that their chances for survival would be any better indoors than out! We will have to make sure to put a cloche over them when they are planted, to protect them. The funny thing is going to be transplanting these tiny little things with their fully grown size in mind. They can grow 15-20 ft high. This variety is supposed to be hardy to our zone, but winter protection is still something we’ll want to ensure. At least for the first couple of winters.

The apple tree is quite a bit larger! It started raining as I got home, so it might be a little while before we plant it, so I opened the plastic bag and set it up next to the mulberries. I didn’t take it out, since it’s packed in sawdust.

The planting instructions for the mulberry state:

Unless you have heavy clay soil, there isn’t much to do in terms of soil preparation. You can add amendments such as compost or peat moss to the soil and/or a layer of mulch over the root area after planting will help retain moisture, especially during the first year. While it may be tempting to add fertilizer or manure to your freshly dug hole before planting your new tree, PLEASE resist! Fertilizer or manure in close contact with the root system could chemically burn the roots and potentially kill the tree.

Mulberry trees can grow quite large, up to 15-20 feet tall. Avoid planting near walkways and driveways as the fruit will drop and create stains. Mulberries are self-fertile and require full sunlight.Β 

https://www.veseys.com/ca/trader-everbearing-mulberry-37817.html

Where we will be planting them, the soil is very rocky and hard packed, and a whole lot of sun, so we’ll be giving them some garden soil to grow in, and plenty of wood chip mulch around them.

It’ll be different for the apple tree. The planting instructions are:

Plant apple trees 5-6 meters (15-18 feet) apart in the spring in a full sun location with good air circulation and drainage. For best results, two varieties should be planted to ensure successful pollination and fruit production.Β  Dig a hole large enough to accommodate all of the roots without bending (approx. 18 inches). Place the tree in the hole with the graft union about three inches above the soil surface. You should be able to see the soil mark on the trunk where the tree has been taken out of the ground, it should be planted no deeper than this. Mix compost with the soil to fill back in the hole once the tree is set in place, and lightly firm to ensure good soil root contact. Water surrounding the tree to ensure good root establishment. Water every two to three days if your season is dry.

https://www.veseys.com/ca/liberty-apple-tree-37810.html

It will be planted closer to the crab apple trees for cross pollination, but far enough away to hopefully protect it from the fungal disease that is killing them off. This variety is also a zone 4 tree, which means it will need shelter for the winter.

Hhhmm… I’m rethinking where to plant the apple tree. There are some dead and dying trees in the west yard that need to be cleared out. Better shelter, full sun, and close enough to the ornamental apple trees in the old kitchen garden for cross pollination.

We’ll figure it out. That’s now our job for the day!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: Veseys order placed – potatoes and more

Yes, I have gardening on my mind!

Among the things we were talking about ordering that will be delivered in the spring were potatoes and, potentially, raspberries.

It seems we weren’t the only ones that had a bad growing year in 2022, because the potatoes I was looking for were simply not available. However, Veseys has potatoes again, and so I placed another order with them.

Among the items we have ordered before, we are getting the Purple Peruvian Fingerlings again. We were really happy with them, in their grow bags, two years ago. They come in 2 lb packages, so we ordered two of them.

I am also ordering a couple of seed mixes from them that we ordered before (and using the coupon code from Maritime Gardening saved me the shipping costs!). I ordered two each of the Alternative Lawn Mix, and the Western Mix Wildflowers. The areas we had planted them, in the fall of 2021, got flooded in the spring, and nothing came of them. With so many wood piles chipped, we now have areas of bare ground that I would like to seed before they get taken over the invasive weeds again! Two of those areas will get the alternative lawn mix. The third does get accumulated snowmelt nearby in the spring, but should be fine to plant in. That area is next to our budding food forest, and will be good for attracting pollinators.

The seed packs will be sent right away, but the rest will be sent in time for planting in our zone 3.

Here are the new varieties we are going to be getting. All images belong to Veseys.

These are Red Thumb fingerling potatoes. They are noted for their delicious flavour. Unfortunately, there isn’t any information about how well they store over winter. These come in 2 lb packages, so we ordered two of them.

These are Irish Cobbler potatoes, an early variety also noted for their exceptional flavour. They come in a 3 lb pack, and we ordered just one of them.

These last ones are for our food forest. Royalty Raspberries. They come in packages of three, and we ordered just one package to try them. They are a late maturing variety, hardy to zone 2. So far, everything we’ve tried that’s purple has done really well for us, even in poor growing conditions, so I’m hoping the trend continues! These will produce fruit in their second year, so as long as we can keep them alive this year, we should have purple berries to try, next year.

There are still other things we will want to order for spring delivery, such as replacement sea buckthorn. We’ll just have to be careful to set aside the budget for them as we place the spring delivery orders, because we’ll be charged for them all at once, when they’re shipped!

This year, I’m happy to have several items, with different maturing rates, added to our food forest. The raspberries for production next year, apples that should start producing in 4 or 5 years, and the zone 3 mulberry trees that should take a few more years before they begin producing berries, as we will be getting 2 smaller, younger seedlings, instead of the 1 larger, older seedling they normally would have shipped, but are not available.

Little by little, we’re getting to where we want to be!

The Re-Farmer

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! πŸ˜€

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! πŸ˜€ 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

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! πŸ˜€

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! πŸ˜€

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: progress, and some mysteries

Gosh, it was so lovely to do my rounds this morning! It has finally cooled down (for all the rain we had yesterday, it was still hot and very muggy!), and as I write this, it’s a lovely 17C/63F outside. There is the possibility of more rain, then things are expected to get hot and sunny again. I don’t know of we’ve had enough rain for the burn bans to relax a bit; it would be nice to be able to light our burn barrel, or use the fire pit.

We do still have a few plant babies in the sun room that will eventually get transplanted. This morning, I found a new gourd seedling.

A third Ozark Nest Egg gourd has appeared! We only planted 2 per pot, so we have plenty of seeds to try again next year – starting much earlier, and with a warmer set up!

With the Thai Bottle gourd, if this one seedling survives, we might at least be able to try them, as they are edible at 4-6 inches. There is no wait for them to reach full maturity. The other gourds, however, were planted for crafting purposes, and with them sprouting so late, they just won’t have the growing season for it.

Another reason I’d like to set up polytunnels and/or greenhouses. Extending our growing season would open up a lot of options for us.

I’m happy to see the grapes are leafing out nicely! They had a slow start (which I am beginning to think is normal for them), but once they do, they grow really fast! There are new vines this morning that were not there, yesterday.

The Peruvian Purple Fingerling potatoes are filling their grow bags faster than any of the other varieties. Gosh, they look so pretty! I love that hit of purple at the stems.

One of the nice things about the clean up I was able to do in the spruce grove this spring, is that I can now cut through it to get to the main garden, while doing my rounds. This morning, I found this lovely explosion.

The wild roses are blooming! The rains have been a huge boost for them. πŸ™‚

As we continue to clean up the spruce grove, everything in here will be cut back and cleaned up. Unlike the spirea, which we are trying to pull out by the roots as much as possible, the roses will just be trimmed to ground level. Once it’s all cleaned out, they should grow back better than ever. This area, however, will probably not get worked on this year. We’re focusing more on the south and west sides for now.

Checking the various garden beds, everything it looking really good and strong. We do have a couple of mysteries, though. One is in the yellow bush beans.

A while back, I noticed a few of the seedlings appeared to have had their heads chopped off. Remarkably, the stumps still seem to be growing!

I’m not sure what did this. Normally, I would have thought it was a deer, but if it was, I would have expected a whole swath of seedlings with their tops gone, like at the ends of the spinach beds. Not 2 here, 1 there, and 2 more in the other row.

Well, whatever it is, it seems to have stopped coming over, as there is no new damage, and nothing is showing up on the trail cam.

There is another mystery, though.

All the radish sprouts have disappeared.

There had been so many sprouts, before the corn started coming up, and now, nothing. Not a trace. Not a stem or leaf to show it was bit by a critter, or cut by an insect. There were only 2 rows with the daikon type radish, but the watermelon radish was interplanted in every row of the other two corn blocks. The corn is coming up nicely, but the radishes have simply disappeared.

It is so very strange!

I should also take back the “no new damage” statement, though this damage is no mystery. Nutmeg has taken to following me along when I do my rounds, wanting attention. While looking at the sunflower transplants, supported by their twine, he decided to rub against the twine, then drop to the ground and start rolling.

Right on a sunflower, breaking the stem.

*sigh*

It wasn’t completely broken off, and it’s been put back between the twine for support, but I doubt it will survive.

Destructive little boy!

As I continued checking the beds, I would stop to do a bit of weeding, and he’d be right in there, pushing at my hands for attention, walking, sitting and rolling on top of the plants! I kept having to move him off the beds, only for him to jump right back, as long as I kept trying to weed.

When the girls and I were just starting to head home from the city yesterday, my husband messaged us to let us know that a low flying airplane had just gone over the house. This morning, it happened again, though it wasn’t an airplane.

Instead, we had a low flying helicopter! Seeing helicopters flying around is not that odd (there is a small airport not that far away), but seeing one flying this low certainly is. I don’t usually see ones coloured like this, either. Usually, they’re black.

When I was done my rounds, I uncovered one of the spinach beds to do some weeding and thinning.

Yes, these are just the thinnings, and just from one side of one bed! They’re packed down a bit in that colander, too. The spinach is doing just fantastic, now that they’re not being eaten by deer. πŸ˜‰ I was able to uncover the bed on my own, but with are makeshift covers we have right now, it takes 2 people to put the covers back again.

I supposed we’ll eventually get to the point when we’ll have more spinach that needs harvesting than we can eat right away, so I’ve been thinking of what to do with any excess. I know they can be frozen, but why ruin good spinach? πŸ˜‰ I’ve decided to try dehydrating them, then making spinach powder. This would keep for a long time in a jar on the shelf, and be a handy ingredient to toss into soups, or pasta dough or something like that.

I’ll have to get some photos later, but our chives have started to bloom, and I’ve started using them to make chive blossom vinegar. I picked up a bottle of white wine vinegar, and we’re just adding the cleaned blossoms straight into the bottle, after removing a small amount of vinegar to make space. It will get strained after 2 weeks in a cool, dark place, though we might keep adding more blossoms over the next few days, as the chives finish their blooming. We’ll count it as 2 weeks from when the last of them are in the bottle. πŸ™‚

*sigh* This post has been taking MUCH longer to finish that it should have. Our internet is crappy at the best of times, but whenever we get rains or winds (not even over us, but anywhere to the south of us), we start having troubles connecting. Getting images to load is the worst. It’s taken me half an hour to get the above image to load, and as I’m writing this, it STILL won’t load! Once I get the bloody thing to work, and hopefully get this post published, it’s time to get off the computer before I go completely bonkers!!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: more firsts, and silly kitties!

Before I headed out to do my morning rounds, we had already hit 25C/77F. By the time I was done, it was already 30C/86F! Thankfully, there was still a breeze and some shade, so it didn’t feel too bad.

I made a couple of discoveries in the garden this morning, but before I get to those, I’ll back track to yesterday evening.

I used the cut off strip of mosquito netting left over from covering our lettuces and beets, some dollar store hula hoops, and lengths of old hose to cover part of the third spinach bed. This is just until we can make a wire mesh cover for it. I also took the trail cam from the tulips and moved it to overlook most of the garden. The only critter I saw in the files this morning was Nutmeg. πŸ˜€

After setting the netting up, I moved on to the far beds and blocks to water them. The water in the rain barrel is usually cool, but it was quite warm by the end of yesterday’s heat! On the plus side, it meant being able to use the watering can instead of the hose, and not shocking everything with cold well water, for almost everything. As the water level dropped below half, I started to refill it while still using the watering can, so it would be just cooler water instead of having to switch to the cold hose to finish watering.

I had company.

Rolando Moon has a thing about drinking from puddles! Once the water was absorbed by the soil, she decided to roll on the damp soil, then just hung out. I guess it’s nice and cool. At least she tended to stay in the middle, which is more of a trench for water, as the beans are planted on the sides. No beans are coming up yet.

Nutmeg was also hanging around. I caught him lying across some pea plants, chewing on the trellis twine! The little bugger! πŸ˜€

When I checked everything this morning, things were still damp and didn’t need to be watered, but I also spotted a whole lot of these…

The radishes are sprouting! The one in the photo is of the daikon type radishes, but I was seeing sprouts for the watermelon radishes in all the rows they were planted in, too. I was aware that radishes sprout quickly, but I’ve never grown them before, so this was a very pleasant surprise. They most certainly were not there when I was watering last night. πŸ™‚

Then I found another lovely sight.

The first potato leaves have emerged through their mulch! There are the purple fingerling potatoes. Sifting around in the mulch in the grow bags, I found other shoots coming through the soil, but these are the first ones to break through and leaf out. πŸ™‚ I really look forward to seeing how these do in their grow bags.

We have a whole lot of squash transplants ready to go out, but I’m starting to rethink what to do with the summer squash. The plan was to make more beds like with the beans and peas. However, we have that long arc where we’d planted the sunflowers last year. In removing some of the old grass clipping mulch to use under some new beds, I couldn’t help but notice how much better the soil is, underneath. It’s still rocky, but we basically have a long row of soft soil, bordered by concrete hard soil. I’m thinking we should take advantage of this. It will need far less amending than starting new beds. I’m also planning to try staking the summer squash this year, but with our without stakes, deer don’t like those prickly squash plants, so it could act as a sort of fence for the rest.

I sorted through our transplants while hardening them off, and we have a lot of nice, strong melons. Between those and the winter squash, and the two types of gourds that successfully germinated, we might not actually have room for it all on the squash tunnel. So I’m thinking we can plant as much as we can fit of each type at the squash tunnel, then whatever is left over can be planted in other areas. Without trellising, these should spread out quite a bit over the ground, and we’ll be able to give them lots of space, and we would just need to haul soil over to make hills, rather than beds. This would allow us to compare how well they do, between left to grow on the ground, or up a trellis.

What I might end up doing is getting the Montana Morado corn done, first. They are doing very well, but will start outgrowing their cups soon. Since the toilet paper tube pots didn’t work out, I’m really hoping they won’t suffer from transplant shock too badly. In zone 3 gardening groups. I’ve read from people who warn against transplanting corn completely, because they don’t handle it well, to people who say they do it all the time, every year, and have never had issues. I suspect type of corn can make a difference, and I seem to be the first person in all of these groups to try and grow purple corn in our zone!

I’m really excited to see how they do!

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. πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€ 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! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer