Food forest: silver buffalo berry

Since planting trees and bushes are more long term than our usual gardening, I decided to start a food forest category.

Including for things that were already here before we moved in, like these Saskatoons. It’s so nice to see them blooming again – though you can very clearly see how high the deer ate the twigs and branches! Hopefully, we’ll have berries this year. Thankfully, these are very flexible, so we should be able to bend them down to harvest them.

We are, however getting a frost advisory tonight. !!! Well, our June 2 last frost date is just an average, after all. It’s supposed to dip to just barely freezing, so most things should be all right.

Including…

The 20 out of 30 silver buffalo berry my daughter was able to transplant today!

She does not take progress pictures, though, so I just got a picture at the end of the day.

Even with the holes already dug, it was a huge job. The soil that was removed was so full of roots, rocks, weeds and gravel, she was using garden soil from the remains of the pile we got last year – which is clear across the garden area. After sitting there for a year, it’s full of roots, too, which she picked out as best she could.

She started at the north end of the double rows, next to the highbush cranberry, as the ground is slightly higher there, and the holes were mud rather than filled with pools of water. It didn’t take long before she was having to deal with standing water, though.

Towards the end, I was able to help her out, adding the mulch and watering it just enough to keep it from blowing away. By the end of it, my poor daughter was so knackered, she could barely lift the shovel on its own, never mind with soil in it!

So the remaining 10 silver buffalo berry (I just realized, I’ve been calling them bison berry, because we don’t have buffalo; we have bison. The label says buffalo) will be planted tomorrow. Holes still need to be dug for the sea buckthorn, but there’s just 5 of those. Then there’s the Korean pine, which is going to be planted in the outer yard.

While she did that, I worked on the main garden area and got some decent progress done, too – but that will be my next post.

The Re-Farmer

We have rain!!! Lots of rain!

As I write this, we’ve had several rainfalls, and even a couple of downpours. We’ve had more rain today than we have had all year until now! It is so exciting!

We actually got our first bit of rain this morning, while I was quickly doing my rounds. In fact, it was a bit of a problem at the time. While changing the micro disc cards on the driveway cam, the card I took out of the camera slipped through my fingers and fell to the ground.

I never found it.

I had a fresh card to put in and came back several times today, and nothing. I have extras, but I’d really hate to have lost it completely!

When checking the garden beds, I found a couple more sunflowers got nibbled on.

Almost every one of the transplanted Mongolian Giant sunflowers in this row have had their head bitten off. 😦

The culprit was caught on the garden cam!

Anyhow.

This morning, I made a trip to the smaller city to do the Walmart part of our monthly shopping, then swung by town on the way home to pick up my husband’s prescription refills. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized mine weren’t in there. I’ll have to remember to call them and get mine delivered. I only have one prescription, compared to my husband’s bubble packs and injections.

I wanted to make sure I got all the errands done early, because we were going to have visitors this evening. My brother and his wife were going to swing by, on their way to somewhere else. I’ve been sharing photos of the garden progress with them, and they wanted to see it in person.

It was while they were on the way over that the first thunderstorm hit. It stopped and started a couple of times, then stopped before they arrived. Meanwhile, during their drive, they saw no rain at all! It wasn’t until they got close that they finally saw wet highway. When they got here, we did the tour, including my showing them where the groundhogs have been hiding out.

I saw one crossing by the spruce grove just before they arrived, heading under the junk pile. When I took a look, there it was, watching me!!!

The cheeky little bugger.

While checking out around the junk pile, I was disappointed to see this.

These are Saskatoon bushes. We have a couple of them here, and they are in terrible shape. Not only do they show signs of fungal disease, but their leaves are riddled with insect damage, and little growths where insect eggs are. There is even a sudden grown of lichen on the trunks and branches! Lichen is supposed to be slow growing, yet these bushes, and even the dead branches on nearby spruce trees, have suddenly turned bright green and thick. Or perhaps it’s just the rain waking up what was already there? That sounds more likely.

There are a few places where we will have to clear out the diseased trees and bushes, then not plant anything nearby for a few years.

We were just finishing off our tour of the garden beds with my brother and his wife when it started to rain heavily again. We still have the gazebo tent set up, where we had painted the kibble house. The kibble house it back where it goes, so we had plenty of room to be sheltered from the rain, while still enjoying the lovely cool wind and freshness. They were really hoping some of the rain would make it their way; they’ve been pretty much as dry as we have, and while they have had a bit more rain than we have this year, it’s been more like a tease than anything else.

When the rain let up a little big, we made a dash to the pump shack. I had asked my brother if he remembered when the pump got changed, and he wanted to see what I was talking about.

He had no idea.

He remembers better than I do, what the set up was like before, when there was a motor to operate the pump with electricity. When I pointed out that the current pump was not attached to anything, but just sitting on the pipes, loose enough to move while I was pumping, he mentioned something interesting. It seems the pipes into the well are “floating”, and the pump itself will actually move up and down with the water table. !! He also described the piston system at the bottom of the well. The fact that I could get water but couldn’t keep it going suggest to him that the O rings are giving out.

We are still left with the mystery of what happened to the motor and the frame that supported it.

Later this evening, my mother phoned and I remember to ask her about it. Not only does she not remember, but as far as she knew, there was never electricity to that pump. She insisted it was only ever manual. This tells me that it was my dad that had it set up, after they moved out here. As far as I remember, there was always the electric system, which suggests that it was installed in the 5 or so years before I was born, but my mother no longer remembers this at all. I find that a rather strange thing to forget!

Which leaves us with the mystery of what happened to the old pump system. I suppose it’s possible my late brother had it removed, perhaps with plans to get the old well repaired? I can’t think of any other reason someone would have removed it. If he had, however, the parts and pieces would still be around, and they aren’t. So what happened to it?

It seems that there is no longer anyone alive that could tell us.

By the time we were done looking at the pump, it was starting to pour again, and my brother and his wife still had other places to do, so they had to quickly head out. I’m really happy they were able to stop by, and we could show them how things have been going. Including with the woodchucks. My brother brought up a possible solution, and it’s one I’d already taken steps towards. Hopefully, it’ll work and I’ll be able to post about being free of woodchucks! We shall see. Until the problem is solved, however, I’m not even going to try to plant the fall spinach and lettuces I was planning on. I’m not going to go through the effort, only to have it eaten!

I think I may have come up with a way to keep the grasshoppers off, too. They are decimating our poor radish and kale seedlings as thoroughly as the groundhogs have been wiping out our carrot beds!

At least our garden beds have finally had a thorough soaking. No amount of watering with the house can match a good, solid rainfall!

Here’s hoping the rain helped with the wildfires to the north of us, too!

The Re-Farmer