Our 2022 garden: last seed starts? Winter squash and cucumber

Today is 4 weeks from our average last frost date. We started some more seeds indoors, but I’m not sure if these will be our last ones or not.

But first, some re-arranging had to be done.

I moved more pots out of the mini-greenhouse and into the sun room. The mini-greenhouse is now about half empty.

The last of the tomatoes were moved out; these are almost all the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and, I think, one last Cup of Moldova paste tomato. There was room in the bin, so I added the peppers I’d brought over yesterday. The larger bin with the larger tomatoes and the Canteen gourds got moved so this one could be closer to the window and not get overshadowed by the larger bin.

The re-started luffa, and ozark nest egg gourds, were brought over, too. The plants in the cups are the ones I thinned out from the larger, stronger pepper plants, yesterday. It doesn’t look like they’ll make it, but you never know.

The Red Baron bunching onions got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse – and got a hair cut.

Then it was time to start planting.

We had only three seeds to start; two types of shorter season winter squash that we grew last year, and cucumber. For these, I used planting trays the same size that come with the Jiffy Pellets, but with 4 sets of 8 square Jiffy pots in them.

With the Little Gem (Red Kuri) seeds, we picked 8 seeds that looked the best, for 1 seed per square. We still have seeds left over, plus I also still have the seeds we saved from last year. The Teddy squash had only 10 seeds left, so we planted all of them, with a couple of squares having 2 seeds. The seeds got scarified and briefly soaked while the squares were filled with potting mix. With the cumber, we just planted 1 seed per pot, in half the tray, so we have plenty of those left over.

For all the re-arranging, we still couldn’t put the tray in the big aquarium greenhouse on the warming mat, because we still needed to use it for other things. With how warm the sun room is, though, the new tray went straight there!

I didn’t want them drying out too quickly, plus the overnight temperatures are still a bit of a concern. The tray didn’t come with a dome, so I improvised.

Two small bin lids cover the ends, while a small big is deep enough to fit over the labels. πŸ˜€

That done, the girls and I headed outside to check things out, and we were absolutely thrilled to find so many crocuses blooming!

Many of them are blooming in clusters like this. Each one of those clusters was a single flower, last year. I just love how they are already spreading!

There are more grape hyacinth coming up, though they are very hard to see. We also spotted wild strawberry leaves in the patch under a dead tree that we’ve framed with branches to make sure they don’t get accidentally mowed.

My younger daughter wanted to check her raspberries that had such a rough start last year. One of them has tiny new leaves coming up at the base! Hopefully, both will have survived the winter.

Once back inside, I fussed a bit more with the big aquarium greenhouse.

I’d already rotated the bin with the melons in it; the Zucca melon is now in the foreground and the watermelon in the back. The Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes were moved to the mini-greenhouse, while the larger pumpkins got moved to take their place. Some of them were getting too close to the light fixture, and this tray gives them more head room.

A few remained on the warming tray, but moving so many post out freed up just enough room…

… to move the other winter squash out of the small aquarium greenhouse and put them on the warming mat. Hopefully, that will help them germinate sooner.

I have refills of those square pots that fit in the trays like the one on the warming mat. I find myself waffling back and forth over starting the summer squash in them. We have 5 types. These have a short enough season that I could get away with direct sowing. I could leave them be, but I’ve never NOT started summer squash indoors, so I find myself really wanted to start some of them!

If I do start them, it would have to be very soon, and they’ll be going straight into the sun room, too.

What do you think? Should I try go for it, or leave them?

The Re-Farmer

Red Kuri taste test

Okay, we finally gave the Red Kuri (also called Little Gem) squash a try!

We only had three that reached maturity (or close to it), and with the poor growing conditions, they did not reach their optimum size. I expect this has also affected their flavour, but we’ve never had this squash before, so we have nothing to compare them to, but each other!

I decided to roast them, as the easiest way to compare. While preparing them, I saved their seeds, including keeping the mutant squash’s seeds separate. If we liked it enough, we would try growing it next year, and see what we get.

The two furthest halves in the photo are the mutant. This is the one that had a different shape, and was a mottled green and orange, rather than a deep, reddish orange. It also has the most flesh to cavity ratio.

The two halves on the bottom and middle right, with the ring of green near the rind, is the one that was less mature, while the ones on the bottom and middle left are from the squash that matured the earliest and had the most time to ripen.

I added some butter and brown sugar to each one, and roasted them at 350F, with a bit of water in the bottom of the pan, until fork tender. The butter and sugar pooled on the bottom of each, so we could taste them all on their own, then again with the butter and sugar.

Once roasted, I split them up between the four of us, so that we had a piece from each of the three squash.

I didn’t even think to take a picture until we’d eaten them, though! Oops!

The results?

My husband didn’t like any of them. He doesn’t like squash.

As for our daughters and I…

The mutant: we all found it very dry compared to the others. Not a good flavour. My younger daughter couldn’t finish her piece. I was okay with it enough to finish her piece off. The seeds went into the compost bucket.

The ripest one: This one had a nice texture to it, and the flavour was good. Better with the butter and brown sugar, though.

The slightly under ripe one: this one had the best flavour of all! With or without the butter and brown sugar, it was quit enjoyable.

I’m pretty sure we didn’t plant all the seeds that came with the packet, but I now have seeds from the non-mutant squash drying. There is a possibility of cross-pollination with the Teddy squash beside them, so we might get something different next year… or not. They didn’t really bloom at the same time, much, so the chances of cross pollination is rather low.

Not that I mind having something new show up! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer

First ice, last winter squash and melons

Thanks to my husband being up at ungodly hours and feeding the outside cats for me, I didn’t have to head out for my morning rounds until things had started to warm up a bit. Even so, I found ice!

We keep a storage bin with tools and various handy things at the far-flung garden beds. It’s in the shade of the rain barrel (which we no longer fill; it has only enough water to keep it from blowing away), and the rain water that had collected on its lid had a layer of ice on it!

The reason I needed to go into the bin was to get a knife. It was time to collect the few remaining winter squash and melons.

The mutant Red Kuri has probably been ripe for a while, and just the outer skin was getting more time to thicken. The smaller one hasn’t reached its mature colour yet. The larger melons are the Pixies. Their vines died off ages ago, but I still had to cut them free!

The two surviving Teddy squash are smaller than they would have been under more optimal conditions, but from what I’ve read about their mature size, not by much. I do think they actually did get a chance to ripen.

The last two Halona melons! They got to this size, and just stopped growing. They are probably not edible, but who knows?

I figure we’ll be cutting into these as soon as we can. I think the winter squash, at least, will be something we can eat, and we’ll want to do that right away. The Pixie melons should probably be fine. Those little Halonas, though… I suspect they will find their way into the compost!

We’re supposed to get a really warm day tomorrow – 18C/64F!! – then back to chilly, but still mild, temperatures. It should be at least a week before we potentially get rain again, then mild for the rest of October. That will give us plenty of time to do more wood chipping, pull of the spent plants, and work on the high raised bed some more. I plan to include garden material among the layers when filling the high raised bed. Every little bit will help!

Yesterday, I consulted with my brother about a job that needs to be done. The old chicken coop – a log building that was a summer kitchen when my parents first acquired the farm – has a corrugated metal roof that was laid over the original wood shingles. A tree had been allowed to grow next to it and, in high winds, the branches had torn away a section of the metal sheets. I cut away the tree last year, so at least there is no new damage from the branches.

This building is still salvageable, but the exposed wood roof needs to be covered, or it’ll end up collapsing like the others. The metal pieces that got torn off are pretty damaged, and I couldn’t even find all of them. There was another building next to the barn with the same type of corrugated metal roof. It collapsed long ago, so the remains of the roof are almost on the ground. It still has several pieces that are bent to fit over the peak of the roof, so I should be able to salvage those, as well as some other pieces, to cover the old chicken coop roof.

The problem is getting up there. I don’t think that roof can hold a person’s weight anymore. Plus, it would be pretty dangerous to try and use a ladder around there. The ideal thing would be to have scaffolding. My brother told me that there used to be scaffolding alongside the building my parents’ stuff is now stored in. I was pretty sure what I would find, but this morning I went to take another look, just to confirm.

No scaffolding.

Something else that disappeared before we moved out here.

*sigh*

My parents ran a fully equipped and functioning farm until their retirement. Sure, it was just two sticks ahead of the stone ages, but as my late brother prepared to take it over, he brought all sorts of supplies and equipment. I’d say it was more like three or four sticks ahead of the stone ages before he died. Now, it’s like I’m down to just one stick ahead of the stone ages. I have fewer tools and resources available now, than when I was a kid and we still didn’t have running water or an indoor bathroom.

It makes taking care of and improving this place, very frustrating!

Ah, well. We make do with what we have. Perhaps, with our vandal taking me to court over the remaining junk, a judge will see fit to order him to return what he took, or pay my mother and brother back for what can no longer be returned. One can dream!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: sleepy bee, a pretty harvest, and more rain to come?

While doing my rounds this morning, I was specifically looking to see how things held out after the colder than predicted overnight temperatures a couple of nights ago. Quite a few heads are at that drooping/maturing stage. Others are still in their early stages of blooming. It isn’t unusual, in these cooler mornings, for me to find a variety of small insects in the flowers, not moving much because of the cold.

This morning, I found this beautiful creature.

This beautiful bee wasn’t just sluggish. It was “sleeping”. We were at 10C/50F when I took this photo, and we’re only supposed to get a degree warmer, but I do hope the bee managed to make its way back to its hive!

That we have any pollinators out and about right now is pretty amazing to begin with. Mostly, I’m seeing yellow wasps, probably from that nest at the crack in the foundation under the old kitchen, or the nest in the big branch pile in the outer yard.

Having them around is appreciated, because even though the colder temperatures have resulted in drooping, cold damaged leaves on all our squash, they are still blooming! The flowers don’t seem to have been affected, and summer squash seem to have been protected by their own leaves.

I will be checking on the pattypans later, but I did pick these this morning.

This is actually the second Red Kuri/Little Gem squash we harvested. There is still the mutant, which I’m leaving because its vine is still looking so green still, and a smaller one that is still more yellow than orange. I’ve left our two little Teddy squash for now, as their vines seem to be doing all right, and I want to see if they will get any bigger.

The Tennessee Dancing Gourds were a bit of a surprise. They weren’t the largest ones, which were still firmly attached to their vines when I checked them. Then these ones just popped off their vines when I handled them! We’ve got more than a dozen of these picked, and the vines still have so many more, and more flowers! Even the luffa is still blooming.

How long this will last, I can’t even begin to guess. It’s been such mild fall, and these are plants that are not typically grown in our zone. Our mild fall has extended our growing season by at least a month, already.

It does not look like we will be able to do any chipping today, nor for the next couple of days. We are supposed to be getting more rain. Our own area looks like it will just get the edges of the weather system, but my weather app was sending out warnings for possible flash flooding in some areas. From the looks of the weather radar, the south end of our province is already getting heavy rains. The same system looks like it’s been dropping snow as it passed through the US before reaching us! Since we moved back here, we’ve seen snow, and even blizzards, before now, so I am incredibly thankful for the mild temperatures and rain. Every drop will help in recovering from this summer’s drought conditions.

Oh, my goodness! I just have to share this!

I got interrupted by a phone call while writing the above. When I answered, someone asked for my late father, by his first name only. Without saying he was my father, I told the guy my dad had passed away several years ago. He expressed sorrow, but then another male voice came on, this one with a strong accent, so it was clearly a second person on the line, asking if Mrs. ________ (mispronounced, but that’s not unusual) – my mother – was there. I said no, she no longer lives here. I was then asked if the man or woman of the house was available. I said that would be me. Which is when the first guy started talking again, saying he was from CARP, and how was I doing this morning? I told him that I was very confused right now, so he said he would call back again at a better time.

!!!

I just looked up CARP and, aside from lots of websites about fish, I found this.

C.A.R.P.β€”A New Vision of Aging is Canada’s largest advocacy association for older Canadians promoting equitable access to health care, financial security, and freedom from ageism. Backed by more than 320,000 members, C.A.R.P. is a non-partisan association committed to working with all parties in government to advocate for older Canadians. Our mission is to advocate for better healthcare, financial security, and freedom from ageism. C.A.R.P. members engage in polls and petitions, email their elected representatives, connect with local chapters and share stories and opinions on urgent issues.

C.A.R.P. membership support creates major changes in government policies and protects the dignity of Canadians as we age. Members are also rewarded with discounts on over 100 everyday products and services they know and love from C.A.R.P.’s trusted partners.

https://www.carp.ca/about/#about

So… I don’t quite fit into their demographic, yet. πŸ˜€

Also, they really need to update their phone lists! My mother hasn’t had this number for at least 7 years, and my dad passed away more than 5 years ago.

Oy vey!

Anyhow. Back to topic!

After a few days of rain, we are actually supposed to get sunny and warmer again. Hopefully, that will be a good time to get more chipping done. For now, while the rain holds off, I’ll see what progress I can get on the high raised bed. I want to at least get one high raised bed completed in time for when the garlic comes in, since they will need to be planted right away. I also just got word back about getting another round bale of straw, so we should be getting that delivered soon, too.

There is so much work to get done before the snow flies!

The Re-Farmer

Fall garden update: winter squash and melons

While going through the garden beds this morning, I was just blown away by how much is still growing – and still getting a chance to grow, if the forecasts for October stay true!

The last time I had so many photos to share, I put them together into a video, but it only ever got one view. Clearly that’s not something people are interested in. So today, I will instead make a series of short posts, instead, starting with our winter squash and melons.

This is the very first Red Kuri/Little Gem squash that matures. As you can see in the photo, the vine is completely died back – except for the few inches on either side of the stem!

The vine with the next biggest one still has some green leaves on it. There had been another small squash that started to develop, but it withered away and fell off.

The other one, however, is still getting bigger, and just starting to deepen in colour. The vine it’s on has a lot of cold damaged leaves, but is still mostly green and growing, so this one may actually get a chance to fully mature.

The vine the mutant is on is also still growing, with fresh new leaves showing up even as the older ones get killed off by colder overnight temperatures. We still have not had a frost, which is the only reason we still have hope for our garden!

We are back down to the two Teddy squash, one on each plant. The others that had started to form, withered and fell off, likely due to lack of pollination. I don’t know how much bigger this well get, as they are a very small variety to begin with.

If you notice the white on the squash and leaves, no, that is not powdery mildew, or any other sort of fungal disease. That’s road dust. Even with the lilac hedge nearby, dust from the nearby road still gets through and coats things. Even the summer squash, which is furthest away, has road dust on them. Another reason we want to complete the hedge with dense bushes, and also plant taller trees. They will serve as more than wind breaks and privacy screens, in this area!

Here, you can see that the melon vines have all completely died back. All of them. And yet…

… the remaining melons are very firmly attached to their vines! Of course, they can’t grow any bigger, but I’m hoping as long as they stay out here, they will continue to ripen.

Under the conditions we’ve had, I’m really impressed with all of these. The melons managed to be quite prolific. The winter squash were not as prolific as they normally would have been, but we will at least have a few squash to try, and to see if we like them enough to want to grow these varieties again. We certainly would be willing to grow the Halona and Pixie melons again, though I think that we will try new varieties next year, to see what other varieties we enjoy eating.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: still growing!

Today is likely to be the last hot day of the year. As I write this, we are currently at 26C/79F, with the humidex at 30C/86F. We are expected to reach 28C/83F with the humidex making it feel like 31C/88F. We are supposed to get a couple more days in the mid to low 20’s before the highs start dropping to the mid to high teens. So far, overnight temperatures are also still supposed to remain high enough that there are no frost warnings.

I headed out to do my rounds later than usual this morning, and we had already reached 22C/73F.

There has to be something wrong with the squash tunnel thermometer. It may have felt warmer than the 22C it was when I took this photo, but there is no way it was feeling like 42C/108F! Not even being in full sun, like it is, should result in that extreme of a difference. I suspect the dial is stuck. I haven’t been looking at it since the temperatures finally cooled down, so it may well have been sitting at this reading since our last heat wave.

In checking the sunflowers, there was only one little pollinator that I saw! I think the heat waves we had over the summer killed off a lot of our pollinators. There just wasn’t enough food to sustain them. The mild temperatures we are having means more of our sunflowers are actually budding and opening their seed heads, but I don’t know that they’ll have a chance to be well pollinated.

Some of the Mongolian Giants are finally taller than me. Hopefully, the opening sunflowers will lure any remaining pollinators to them. They may not have time to fully mature, even with our predicted mild temperatures, but they will at least provide some food for our surviving pollinators.

These are the Hopi Black Dye transplants that got chomped by a deer. They have all recovered surprisingly well, and are budding and blooming. They don’t need as long of a growing season as the Mongolian Giants, so it should be interesting to see if any of these get a chance to mature.

The green peas are enjoying the cooler temperatures we’ve been having, and I’m seeing more pods developing. This photo is of one of the pea plants growing among the Dorinny corn, the remains of which are being left to go to seed. The three blocks of sweet corn are still green, but they aren’t really growing. At this point, I don’t expect anything from them, really. They’re just there for the peas to have something to climb. Any pea pods we get is just gravy, as their main purpose is to fix nitrogen into the depleted soil in this area.

The winter squash and melons are the ones I am monitoring the most right now.

Remarkably, even as the plants are dying back, we are still getting fresh blooms, and the newer Red Kuri squash are getting noticeably bigger.

The mutant seems to have stopped getting bigger, and is now deepening in colour and developing a harder skin.

As this other, larger Red Kuri is still doing.

I did a nail test on the oldest of the developing Red Kuri, and you can see the mark left behind. Still not ready.

The Teddy squash are also still managing as well.

If we do end up getting frost before any of these larger squash can fully mature, we will still be able to harvest them and eat them. We just won’t be able to store them for long.

The melon vines are dying back faster than the winter squash vines, but their fruit are still hanging in there! I was able to pick this Pixie melon, only because the vine it was attached to had died back completely. I suspect it isn’t quite ripe.

My daughters discovered something about these little melons. After they are cut in half and the seeds scooped out, they make perfect ice cream bowls! I’m not big on ice cream, but I finally had some last night, in half of a Halona melon. It was quite excellent! πŸ˜€

I am glad we found these little, short season melons. They have been among the most enjoyed producers this year. I think we will try different short season varieties next year, but the Pixie and Halona are definitely varieties we would grow again. I’ve also saved seeds from some grocery store melons that I plan to try. They are larger varieties, but if we start them indoors early enough, and we don’t have another drought, we should be able to grow them. πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: late season growth progress

We have been really fortunate with the frost holding off so far. If the long range forecasts are right, we won’t get a frost for at least two more weeks, possibly longer. Other areas in our province have already had their first frost, so I am really thankful that it’s held off in our area so far.

The continued mild temperatures is giving the garden more time to recover and progress, and we even have some new little surprises this morning!

We’ve got two more Ozark Nest Egg gourds forming! That makes for a total of three. I did not see these two when I checked the garden beds yesterday evening, so this is pretty much overnight growth.

This is one of the new ones, from outside the fence. They have such pretty flowers. πŸ™‚

The Tennessee Dancing Gourds are one I don’t have much concern over. Though there are a lot of little gourds developing still, there are quite a few “large” ones like this, that have reached their full size, but are still ripening on the vine.

One of the few remaining Halona melons came off its vine this morning. There are a couple of somewhat larger ones left that might have enough time to fully mature, plus a few more tiny ones that won’t.

In the background of the photo above, you can see the biggest Pixie melon in its hammock. These guys could really use the extra time, it looks like.

We’ve still got Red Kuri developing, and they are growing fast at this stage – and you can even see a new squash developing in one of the photos.

The mutant is my favourite! πŸ˜€ I’m just fascinated by it. It’s shape is different than the other Red Kuri, which can be expected with cross pollination, but it is also getting bigger than the others. If this is the result of cross pollination with the nearby Teddy squash, I would have expected it to be smaller, not bigger! The Teddy squash are a miniature acorn squash and their mature size should be smaller than the Red Kuri. For a hybrid to be bigger than either parent type seems quite unusual. I hope this has time to fully mature, because I really want to see how it turns out!

Speaking of Teddy squash…

We have another new baby! Of the two plants, the one that had only a single squash developing, now has two.

The other plant still has four developing squash, with the one in the photo being the biggest.

While checking the Crespo squash, I was able to find an open line of sight to get a picture of the one developing fruit that I’ve been able to see so far. It should be interesting to see how far it gets, before the frost kills it all. We certainly won’t get the large, green, lumpy pumpkins we are supposed to, but even a little one will be interesting to see.

The cucamelons are an odd one for this year. The plants are growing up the fence rather well, will plenty of blossoms and fruit beginning to develop. Unfortunately, most never get past the size you see in the photo above. They just drop off.

I did find a single, mature cucamelon. Which I ate. πŸ˜€ It’s the first larger one I’ve seen in quite some time. This suggests a pollination problem, unfortunately.

And finally, we have our potato bags.

I’m not sure what to make of these! They just don’t seem to be dying back. Oh, the two varieties at the far end are looking a bit like they are dying back, but they also got hit the hardest by the grasshoppers. The two fingerling varieties just keep on growing!

When we first decided to use the feed bags to grow the potatoes, I expected to continually add soil over time. It was after learning that all four varieties are determinate, not indeterminate, that I changed my mind. They would not benefit from having soil continually built up along the stems, so only a single layer was added to protect the developing potatoes from light, and that’s it. The purple fingerlings, however, just keep getting bigger and bigger. Which leads me to think that these may actually be indeterminate potatoes, and would have benefited from continually adding more soil. I don’t know. It should be interesting to see how many potatoes we get when we do harvest them. I don’t image we will be getting many, but we shall see. If we decide to go with grow bags again next year, we will have to make sure to choose indeterminate varieties, which means finding a source for seed potatoes that actually labels them as determinate or indeterminate.

Until this year, I didn’t even know that tomatoes had those labels, never mind things like potatoes!

It has definitely been a year of learning!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden

Well, it is getting decidedly cooler when I do my morning rounds! Fall is just around the corner, but things are still holding out in the garden.

Here are the gourds growing on the south facing chain link fence. The yellow flowers that you see are the Ozark Nest Egg flowers.

If you look at the bottom right, you’ll see a white flower!

This is a Thai Bottle Gourd flower. The Ozark Nest Egg plants are going so well, they sort of hide that there is another type of gourd growing here. The Thai Bottle Gourd has leaves that are more rounded, while the Ozark Nest Egg leaves have points on them.

These gourds are not the only thing bursting into bloom.

This is the Crespo squash, recovered from critter damage and growing enthusiastically! I was not able to get all of it in this photo. All those arrows are pointing to flower buds, some of which are starting to open this morning. There are probably another dozen or so on the rest of the plant off the left side of the photo.

Hidden away in the middle, I found the first female flower!

I couldn’t get any closer because of the critter barriers, but that flower bud the arrow is pointing to has a baby squash at its base. Hopefully, it will get pollinated and not die off. Under the current conditions, I would hand pollinate, but that would require moving the critter barriers. Mind you, there’s no way any fruit that develop will reach maturity.

More on that, later.

There are only a few Halona melons left on the vines, but there are probably a dozen Pixie melons that have not yet ripened.

This is the largest of them. Since it has a hammock, I check it in the mornings by lifting it at the stem, to see if it is starting to separate, but it’s still hanging on tight!

The rest are more like these two.

I’ll have to double check, but I thought the Pixies had a shorter growing season than the Halonas. They are taking much longer than the Halona to fully ripen. I’m sure the drought conditions over the summer have something to do with that, but since we’ve started having rain fairly regularly now, I would have expected them to mature faster. Ah, well. We’ll see how they do!

This is the largest of the developing Teddy winter squash. This is roughly half of what it’s mature size is supposed to be, so they may still have time.

Our weird mutant Red Kuri is noticeably bigger! It makes me smile, every time I see it.

We’ve got a couple more that are getting bigger, too. This is what the mottled green one should be looking like, which is why I suspect it was cross pollinated with the Teddy squash.

Here’s something that is NOT getting bigger!

The one luffa gourd is just… stalled. The plants are still blooming, but also starting to die off for the season. I started these quite a bit earlier, indoors, and they should have had enough time to develop gourds and reach maturity, but this summer was so rough on everything, I think we’re lucky to have even this.

We even had something to harvest! Not every morning, but at least every few days. We even still had a few beans left to pick. In the photo, I’m holding one of the mutant green sunburst squash. πŸ˜€ I’ve been trying to let the sunburst squash have more time for the fruit to get bigger, but they seem to be developing more slowly than they did last year.

I just had to get a picture of the sunflower in the old kitchen garden. We can see it from the bathroom window, through the sun room, and it makes me smile, every time. πŸ™‚

As the season winds down, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the long term forecasts. Yesterday was our first frost date for the area, but it continues to look like we are not going to have any frost here, for a while. Of course, the forecast constantly fluctuates, and different sources have different forecasts. My Weather Network app has a 14 day forecast, and with today being the 11th, that puts the 14 day trend between the 12th and the 25th. The lowest overnight temperatures I’m seeing is for the 25th, at 6C/43F, with variable cloudiness.

My Accuweather app, however, is very different. The long range forecast on that one goes up to October 5. Up until this morning, all the overnight lows were above freezing, but this morning, there is now a single night – the 25th – where it says we will hit -2C/28F. It is also predicting thunder showers scattered about the province in that day.

If that is accurate, we have only two weeks before frost hits (which is 2 weeks longer than average, so I’m not complaining!). If we do get a frost, that will be it for the tomatoes, squash, gourds and melons. We have no way to cover any of these beds, so if we get any frost warnings, we’ll just have to pick as much as we can the day before. We should get plenty of sunburst squash, but I’m really hoping the Pixie melons and winter squash ripen before then. The gourd and Crespo squash just don’t have enough time left. Except the Tennessee Dancing gourds. They are so small, we should have quite a few to gather before the frost hits. We may be lucky, though. Aside from that one night that one app is predicting will go below freezing, overnight temperatures are supposed to stay mild into October.

The sunflowers will be a lost cause, though. There is no way the seed heads will be able to mature in so short a time. So many haven’t even opened, yet. Starting some of them indoors would have made the difference (well… except for being eaten by deer), had they been under better conditions. Not just with the weather, but the soil quality where they are growing. Had our only reason for planting them been for the seeds, they would be a failure, but they were planted there partly for a privacy screen, partly for wind break, and mostly as part of our long term plans to prepare the area for when we plant food trees there. Which means we had a success with 3 out of the 4 reasons we planted them. I do want to get more of these seeds to try them again, elsewhere.

For now, every night we have without frost is a help.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden, and thinking ahead

What a lovely morning to finish up my rounds in the garden!

There are quite a few Mongolian Giant sunflowers opening their seed heads. Hopefully, we will see the Hopi Black Dye rows in this area opening soon. They are so cheerful! πŸ™‚

I’m just so happy with how the Red Kuri squash are doing! Judging from how the stem looks, the oldest of the ripening squash, in its little hammock, is progressing quite well, and the other two larger ones are catching up nice and fast. Looking at the long range forecast, our overnight temperatures will continue to stay mild, with no frost on the horizon, which will be a huge benefit for all the plants that are recovering from the heat and drought conditions we had this summer. Lately, we’ve had enough rain that we have not needed to do any watering at all, which is helping a lot, too.

The largest of the Halona melons was ready to pick this morning, so…

… the hammock that was supporting it is now holding the larger of the new Red Kuri squash.

It has been a few days, so this morning, I spent some time picking beans.

I also thinned more of the Lounge Rouge Sang carrots.

I ended up using what vegetables we had in the fridge, as well, to make a use-watcha-got version of Hodge Podge. I used bacon fat instead of butter, all the carrots in the photo, some of all three types of beans, cut into smaller pieces, yellow onion, shallots and garlic, a bunch of little sunburst squash, a zucchini, and the chard we’d picked recently; the stems were removed and chopped to about the size of the beans, while the chopped leaves were added near the very end. Also, chunks of sausage for the protein. For a bit of texture, I tossed in some lightly crushed mixed nuts, too. Instead of water, I used vegetable broth, and the dairy at the end was a mix of sour cream, into which I’d stirred in the flour for thickening, and heavy cream. Since I used broth, no other seasonings were added.

The only downside is that the carrots turned the cream pink! πŸ˜€ It was not the most visually appealing of dishes as a result, but is sure was tasty!

While going over the garden and checking things out in general, we are going to have to start working on things that need to be planted at or just before fall. We have the two wildflower seed mixes that won’t be sown until fall, but we need to start preparing the areas now. We won’t be able to do actual seed beds, as the packets recommend, but we can still clear the areas as best we can and, for one set of seeds, hopefully use the riding mower to drag the little harrow I found under the spruce trees and loosen the soil a bit.

We also have the morel and giant puffball spores to “plant”. They need to be done by about the middle of September, if I understand the package directions properly. Unfortunately, where I wanted to put the morels still has a couple of branch piles that were supposed to get chipped. The giant puffballs needs a grassy area, and we have a few options, there. We just need to make a decision before preparing the spores.

We should have good weather for working outside for the next week or so, which will be a huge help.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: the weather was not willing

We did not get the predicted thunderstorms last night, though we did get rain. While I was out doing my morning rounds, I could hear thunder around us, and it was even starting to rain a bit by the time I was done. So, no work was done on the garden bed I’d started on yesterday. We had rain on and off all day, so hopefully those bottom layers got a good soaking.

A few more of the Mongolian Giant sunflowers have started to open up. If the mild temperature continue, I hope to at least see some Hopi Black Dye sunflowers open as well, before the first frost hits. Some areas in our province have already had frost in August, but so far, we are good.

I am really hoping that first frost holds off for quite a while, so that these Red Kuri squash get a chance to mature. Our first frost date for our area is Sept. 10; just over a week from now. From the looks of our long range forecasts, we will continue to have very nice overnight temperatures; cool, but nowhere near freezing.

I especially would love for the Teddy winter squash to have a chance. Yes, we finally have fruit developing on them! Again. I found three of them this morning. Where the Red Kuri/Little Gem squash ripen to a deep orange-red, the Teddy are a mini acorn squash, becoming a deep green and only about a pound in size. The critters have been staying away, after using the cayenne pepper all over the garden beds, even though we have no been able to re-apply the cayenne due to the rain. I am hoping that, having gotten a mouth full of pepper, the critters have learned to associate the garden beds with “ouch”. πŸ˜€ If we can keep them away, these are supposed to be a prolific variety, and their small mature size should mean they may have a chance to fully ripen if we have a mild fall.

After checking the outside of the squash tunnel on the winter squash side, I went through the inside of the tunnel and found something waiting for me!

One of the Halona melons had dropped to the ground! I am so happy with how they are doing. πŸ™‚ Of course, after finding this, I checked all the others, but none were loose. After I finished my morning rounds, I made a quick trip into town to run some errands, then headed out again later to meet a friend. While I was gone and there was a break in the rain, the girls picked the beans and some summer squash – and found two more Halona melons on the ground! I’m a bit surprised that it’s only the Halona melons that are dropping; the Pixies are still hanging in there. Literally! πŸ˜€

My friend and I went to the local Farmer’s Market this afternoon, and I had a chance to talk to my neighbour that sells pork – this time with a budget, and I picked up some sausages. πŸ™‚ We had a chance to talk for quite a while, and I’m really looking forward to being able to get together with them. There are quite a few things they are doing that I would like to do as well, and I am eager to see their methods! And, from the looks of it, I won’t be able to go back to the market this year. Starting tomorrow, our province is imposing medical apartheid. With nothing to justify it, either. If we want to go to any “non-essential” places, we will have to show our papers to prove we’ve gotten the double jab for Schrodinger’s virus. The jab that works so well, those that have already got it are going to have to get a third one, while still covering their faces and remaining in physical isolation from other human beings. Our government doesn’t actually have the authority to impose such segregation, but they’re doing it anyhow, and people are being forced to comply through threats and coercion. Most illogically, while those who can’t have, or decline to have, the jab are now barred from doing things like buying food from a farmer at a market, instead of in a grocery store, the market vendors themselves are not required to have the jab. The levels of psychological manipulation and behavioural modification from our politicians and in the media, including social media, have gone into overdrive and, sadly, many people are getting sucked in and don’t even realize it. The levels of bullying and verbal abuse I’m seeing online has also increased substantially, in just the last few days. In typical gaslighting fashion, the same people who are doing the bullying are also the same people virtue signalling about how, if we don’t like it, don’t take it out on the poor employees trying to enforce the (illegal) restrictions. The obvious implication being that people who disagree with anyone being forced to partake in medical interventions against their will are the bullies when they voice their objections.

Meanwhile, another neighbor of ours I only recently met in person had an accident almost a week ago, breaking his neck. He requires surgery but isn’t getting it, nor is his family allowed to see him. They are literally denying him health care right now, because he is declining medical certain medical procedures that are unnecessary. Our health care system sucked before this, but now, it’s gotten beyond ridiculous.

Ugh. I was talking about my garden. I didn’t intend to go into a rant. It’s part of what we’re dealing with now, though, so I’m leaving it there.

I am so incredibly thankful that we are living here on the farm, and not in any urban setting. When I came up with the sub-title for the blog, “Sometimes you need to go back, to go forward”, I had no idea how true that would be.

The Re-Farmer