Our 2021 garden, still going!

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

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

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

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

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

The chard and the lettuce are still going strong.

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

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

So, we will wait and see how they do.

Meanwhile, on the south side of the house…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: final harvest? Yes, no and maybe!

Here we are, in the middle of October, and still there are things in the garden to pick!

Yesterday evening, I went out to work on the high raised garden bed a bit. The notches at the north end needed to be finished. In particular, I needed to deepen the ones at the ends of the side logs. Since so much material had already been removed, I just used the baby chainsaw for as long as the batteries lasted. Checking it this morning, it looks like one side still needs more material removed, so I will work on that today. I didn’t bother taking photos as the difference really isn’t all the visible.

After I did as much as I could on the high raised bed, I went and did a burn. With the rain we’ve been having lately, using the burn barrel is about as safe as it can be, without snow on the ground! 😀 What an evening it was! I could hear masses of Canada Geese out in the field, where the renter has already harvested his corn. I could even see clouds of them, though the trees, flying low to the ground.

The burn barrel is in the outer yard, which made it easy to check on the garden beds along the chain link fence. When my daughters came outside while doing their evening chores, I snagged one of them to tend the burn barrel while I got a bowl to pick tomatoes into.

Yes, we still have tomatoes!

It was getting a bit too dark to see the ripe from the almost ripe tomatoes, but there were enough that my daughter finished with the burn barrel before I was finished picking!

While we were out there, not only we were serenaded by the cacophony of geese, but howling, as well.

Very different sounding howls.

We have quite a few coyotes in the area, so hearing them howling and yipping is not unusual. These, however, sounded like wolves! Wolves are rarer in our area. I can’t say I’m surprised, though. With all the fires we had this summer, we had a lot of bear sightings. If so many bears could be driven this way, wolves certainly could be, too.

Last night, temperatures were predicted to drop to just above freezing, which means frost was very likely, even though we had no frost warnings. I figured, however, this would be our last tomato harvest. Especially since the actual temperatures dropped lower than predicted. At least, according to the weather apps.

I think I was wrong!

I checked them this morning, and the tomato plants are just fine! With temperatures warming up again over the next while, we should be picking tomatoes for quite a while longer!

The Ozark Nest Egg gourds are also looking just fine, too. Seeing this has confirmed for me that setting up garden beds in the outer yard, south of the house, is a very good idea, because things were different in the old garden area.

The bush beans are done. There are still many little bean pods, but after last night’s cold, I could see frost damage on them, so that’s it for them.

The summer squash… I’m not so sure. I picked sunburst squash, anyhow.

Most of these are smaller than I would have picked them. There are still quite a lot of little ones on the plants, and I left the zucchini entirely, just in case they survived. This entire area gets full sun, however it parts of it do get shade for longer in the mornings, because of trees along the fence line to the east. The shade does not reach the squash tunnel, however, and when I checked it, expecting to harvest the last few winter squash, I decided to leave them longer, though I did collect a couple more Tennessee Danging Gourds. Even the luffa looks like it’s still growing, and there are a few melons that are still firmly attached to their vines. With the warmer temperatures expected over the next few days, the longer the fruit stays on the vines, the better.

So we shall see how it goes!

Meanwhile, the lettuce and chard are handling the temperatures just fine, so we’ll have access to fresh greens for a while, yet.

Today’s focus is going to be on preparing beds for the garlic. I got an emailed shipping notification, so they will arrive next week. There is no way I will be able to finish the high raised bed in time, so I will finish topping up the new low raised beds built over where the garlic was planted last fall. I’ll prep both, even though we may only need one. The beets in the third bed are still growing. Until the ground freezes, they can be left, as can the fingerling potatoes. One of my weather apps has long range forecasts into November, and it looks like we will continue to have mild temperatures for quite some time, yet! Even the overnight lows are going to remain mild, with only a couple of nights forecast to reach -1C/30F.

With temperatures that mild, we may actually eat all our lettuce and chard before it gets cold enough to kill them! I’m very curious to see how far the Ozark Nest Egg gourds manage to mature, and if the radishes will mature enough to produce pods that we can pickle.

These mild temperatures and rains are just what we needed right now. If we can continue to have a mild, wet winter, and no more Polar Vortexes, that would be icing on the cake!

The Re-Farmer

We still have tomatoes

I just had to share this photo.

Before I headed out this morning, I took the time to pick tomatoes.

It’s October 7, and we still have tomatoes!

I probably could have picked more beans, too, but I didn’t have time before I had to head out.

Those little Spoon tomatoes are the most adorable things ever! They almost make me like tomatoes.

Well. No. Not really. I just like growing them. I don’t think that really counts. Thankfully, I have others in the household the household that like to eat tomatoes. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: evening harvest

When I did my morning rounds, I didn’t harvest anything, as there didn’t seem to be any need, yet. Then I did my evening rounds, and found that a lot can change by the end of the day!

As you can see, the tomato plants are dying back, and yet there are so many tomatoes! In the photo with the Spoon tomatoes, I had already picked the ripe ones, so all the red you see are ones that are still not quite ready.

One of my daughters joined me, and we ended up filling two red Solo cups, almost to the top – our biggest haul of these tiny tomatoes, yet!

I was really surprised when we checked the summer squash, and I saw the Madga squash. It was noticeably bigger than when I checked it this morning! Same with the zucchini. We won’t get much more zucchini this season, but there are so many little pattypan squash. It was starting to get dark fast, though, so I’ll see what we can pick tomorrow morning. I think there are even beans to pick, too!

I’m loving this long, mild end of the summer.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: 105

First, the pretty!

The remaining Hopi Black Dye sunflower in the old kitchen garden has three seed heads forming. This is the second one to open, and the third is still just a big bud.

I finished my rounds with picking tomatoes. Here is this morning’s haul.

I was curious, so when I transferred them to a colander for washing, I counted them.

I picked 105 tomatoes….

… and they all fit into a Solo cup. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: progress and pruning

As always during my morning rounds, I checked on the various beds to see how things are growing.

This most mature of our Red Kuri squash has ceased growing in size, and is just beautifully deepening in colour as it ripens.

While it’s neighbour is getting bigger. We won’t have a lot of mature winter squash at the end of the season, but we might have at least the two of them before first frost hits. Which, I hope, will be very late this year!

The one Mongolian Giant with so many seed heads, now has more of them opening and blooming!

These ones just amaze me. These are the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers that were started indoors, but did not actually germinate until after the other ones were direct sown outside. They were much smaller when transplanted, then all but one got their heads chomped off by deer. And yet, not only are they recovering from the deer damage, they are producing seed heads! Meanwhile, the ones that were direct sown are looking a lot bigger, you can see where the seed heads are starting to develop, but so far, they still have not actually emerged as obvious seed heads.

I do want to try these sunflowers again, but I think we will have to invest in a seed tray heat mat to start them indoors, to help with germination.

Yesterday, we picked summer squash and beans. Today, it was tomatoes!

Because of their small size, I use one of the red Solo cups to collect the tomatoes, and this time I quite nearly filled it to the top! That’s the most we’ve gathered, yet. 🙂

You can see a few of the tomatoes have split, from all the rain we’ve had recently.

I also “topped” the tomatoes this morning. I had no idea this was a thing, but a couple of garden related channels I follow had talked about it. It is only needed for indeterminate tomatoes, as they just keep growing taller, putting out more blossoms and fruiting, until the first frost kills them. That leaves a lot of green tomatoes. For this time of year, pruning the tops off the plants will stop them from getting bigger, and the green tomatoes will start ripening faster, instead of staying green longer, so there will be more ready tomatoes before first frost hits.

If that is what starts happening, with how loaded the tomatoes are with green fruit, that should hopefully mean we will start harvesting enough at once to make it worth preserving them in some way. With their small size, I’m not entirely sure what method we’ll use, yet. Only my husband and one of my daughters eats tomatoes, so it’ll pretty much be up to them to decide that one. 🙂

Thinking ahead to next year, the Spoon tomatoes are fun, and they’re great for fresh eating – we’ll likely grow them again, though they are also likely to self seed. The Mosaic Mix tomatoes are doing well and being enjoyed, but we want to try others. There are several varieties of cherry and grape tomatoes my older daughter wants to try, and I want to grow paste tomatoes. I may not be able to eat tomatoes fresh, but I can eat them if they’ve been processed enough before being used as an ingredient. Plus, we have the Yellow Pear variety of tomato we already picked up seeds for to try.

We need to start going over our plans and wish lists for next year’s garden, so we can plan and prepare things this fall.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning after the rain

The gardens seem to be really enjoying all the rain we’ve been having!

The Ozark Nest Egg gourds are having a growth spurt, and more flowers are blooming.

They are the first ones I’ve seen with only three petals on them.

So far, I’m only seeing male flowers, but I might be missing some. I’m not about to lift the chicken wire protection just to look.

On the leaf above the blossom, you can see that the cayenne pepper is still there! I’m rather amazed it didn’t get washed away.

The newest Mongolian Giant sunflower that opened is looking very nice. What surprised me, though, was…

…finding that it is growing stalk babies, too, now!

I don’t know if I’m supposed to prune them or something, but I’m leaving them be.

I even picked some teeny tomatoes and cucamelons this morning. 🙂

It’s been interesting on some of the zone 3 gardening groups I’m on. Quite a few have been sharing photos of all their green tomatoes that they rushed to bring in, before the rain, so that they wouldn’t split. If you like at the tomatoes in my photo, you’ll actually see a couple of Spoon tomatoes that have done exactly that! I’m not concerned about that, with these little guys. What caught my attention more, though, were all the people talking about getting overnight frost. !! They are all at much higher elevations than we are, so while they are zone 3 like we are, us being so close to sea level makes a difference.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden, and the things I found this morning

I have to admit, after yesterday’s damage, I was quite trepidatious about checking the garden beds while doing this morning’s rounds!

I was, however, greeted with a happy sight, first thing.

Potato Beetle is still here!

With him being gone for so many months, there’s no reason to assume he’s here to stay, so every day that we see him will be a gift. 🙂

The down side is, he’s been mean to the other cats. Though he used to be part of the crowd filling the kibble house since we built it last fall, he chased all the other cats away this morning. Yesterday, he went after Nutmeg for no reason, and even growled at Junk Pile cat while she was hiding under the cat shelter. I’m hoping this will settle down once he’s been back for a while.

I found an Ozark Nest Egg gourd blooming this morning. Between the density of the leaves, the chain link fence and the protective wire around them, there’s no way I can look to see if there are any female flower buds developing. Of the few I could see, they were still only male flowers. The vines are pushing their way through the chain link fence, and we should be able to start training them up the fence soon.

If they don’t get eaten, first!

More and more tomatoes are starting to change colour. Until today, the most Spoon tomatoes we’ve had ripe at the same time was only three. Plus, we have our very first ripe grape tomato, from the Mosaic Medley mix of seeds!

Alas, there was more deer damage this morning, though nothing like what we found yesterday. This time, it was the yellow beans that got nibbled on.

I was able to pick a small handful of both green and yellow beans this morning, but I am not finding anything in the purple beans. While moving aside their leaves to look, I was seeing a lot of stems, and I wonder if they’d been eaten. The purple beans have so much more foliage, it’s harder to tell, compared to the other beans.

While the sweet corn and sunflowers appeared untouched, I found an entire Dorinny corn pulled out of the ground. The plant next to it has a big chomp taken out of the cob.

The ants were all over that cob!

I also found a cob that had been torn off another plant, with nothing but a nibble off the top. Curious, I went ahead and shucked it.

It was almost completely ripe! It was so well pollinated, too.

Well, I wasn’t about to let it go to waste, so I washed it and ate it raw.

It was delicious!

However things go for the rest of the season, at least I can say I’ve tasted both the Dorinny and the Montana Morado corn this year. 😀

I had one more find that I wanted to share, but I saved the photo for last. If spiders bother you, you might want to quickly scroll on by.

Still here?

I found a garden friend among the purple bean leaves.

I had been pushing aside and turning the leaves, looking for beans underneath, so it was a real surprise to see this spider, not being startled away. Just look at the grip it’s got on that egg sac! It didn’t move at all while I got close to take the photo. Such a good mama!

When I was done, I took the leaf off and put it on the ground in between some bean plants, where it was more sheltered.

Once I was back inside, I checked the garden cam files and confirmed that yes, it was a deer that had done this morning’s damage. The only other critter that triggered the motion sensor was Potato Beetle, while he was keeping me company in the garden yesterday evening.

I have a few ideas on what to try next to keep the deer out, but I’ll need to go into to town to find the materials for it. Today is a holiday here in Canada, and there is a festival going on in town right now, so I’m going to avoid it completely. :-/

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden, and FIRST ONE!!!!

You know, I think we actually got a bit of rain last night! I didn’t have to water the garden beds this morning.

To start, I found something really, really exciting this morning.

Our first ripe tomato!!!!

There it is, hiding under some leaves. 🙂

Our very first Spoon tomato!

From the photos on the seed packet, this is a really big Spoon tomato. 😀

I am saving it for my older daughter, for whom I’d bought the tomato seeds as a gift, to have first taste. The girls are still keeping reversed hours, so my older daughter can work in the cooler night hours without the computer overheating, or her drawing tablet glitching out, and sleeping during part of the day. I can’t wait to see their faces when they see this!

Other Spoon tomatoes are starting to turn colour, too, so we should be getting lots more over the next while. 🙂 The Mosaic Medley mix of cherry and grape tomatoes are still very green right now, but they should start ripening soon, too.

One of my favourite things to do during my morning rounds has become checking on the squash tunnel, training more vines to climb the mesh, and seeing what progress there is.

It looks like one of the luffa flower buds is starting to open. I actually expected this to do better in our current heat, since they are a warm climate plant. Or at least start flowering and growing fruit before any of the squash and melons, considering how much earlier it was started indoors.

One winter squash plant in particular is growing a lot more enthusiastically than the others, climbing the trellis on its own now, and producing fruit. I keep forgetting which is which, but the other winter squash seems to have a growing habit more like summer squash, and seems to have only male flowers and buds right now.

The Pixie melons are getting so “big”! They are a “single serving” sized melon, and really dense for their size, so I don’t expect them to get much bigger than this one, here.

This is the first Halona melon to develop, and you can see how it’s outer skin is starting to form that distinctive cantaloupe texture. These should get about double the size and weight of the Pixies, or more, when they are fully ripe.

I can hardly wait to try them!!

Yesterday, I found that I thought was, maybe, kinda, possibly, a pea sprout emerging from the soil next to one of the purple corn.

This morning, there is no doubt at all. There are peas sprouting all over the sweet corn beds! I’m actually quite impressed by the germination rate so far, considering the bag of seed peas had been in the storage bin by the water barrel through two heat waves.

Now, if we can just keep the woodchucks from eating them all, not only will they help fix nitrogen in the soil for the corn, but we might even get peas in quantities sufficient for harvesting. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Distractions

Last night, before doing the evening watering, I did a couple of things to – hopefully! – distract the deer away.

One of them went around the Montana Morado corn.

The aluminum tins spin freely on the twine, so I hope they will do as distractions. We can add more distractions after a while, to change things up before they get used to them.

This next one is more of a diversion than a distraction. On a wildlife group I’m on, someone had posted a picture of a deer with her fawn, in their yard. With the heat and lack of rain we’ve been having, they had put out a bucket of water for the wildlife. The mama and her baby promptly showed up and started drinking, even as the guy who posted the picture was sitting on his deck with a coffee!

We have water bowls all over the place for the cats, plus we found a way to keep using the cracked bird bath. Which is great for the cats and birds (and skunks, and probably the woodchucks and racoon), but they’re rather small for deer. I imagine they might still be drinking from them, but for the amount of water in the shallow containers, it wouldn’t slack their thirst.

It occurred to me that if we could set up water for the deer in the right place, we might be able to divert them away from the garden. The deer damage we have been seeing has been comparatively small; they seem to be just nibbling a few things on the way by. My thought it, if they can get water somewhere away from the garden beds, they won’t have a reason to go by and nibble.

The deer go through the maple grove and jump the fence at the gates along West fence line. Our kiddie pool isn’t being used right now (who knew a kiddie pool could be so useful?), so I set it up near the old willow that overhangs the fence. The rocks and bricks are there to keep it from blowing away if it gets emptied, but for little critters, like frogs or kittens, to use to climb out if they fall into the pool.

I checked it this morning, but I honestly couldn’t tell if the water level had changed much.

We’ll see if it works!

Meanwhile, here are a couple of other distractions. Some pretty, developing tomatoes!

This is one of the Mosaic Medley plants. It’s such a dark green! There are others I couldn’t get good pictures of that are a much lighter green.

More like these.

These are the itty bitty Spoon tomatoes. They’re so adorable! 😀

Last night, after setting up the deer distractions, I stayed out to do a very thorough watering of the garden beds. Last night, I ended up awake and 4am and unable to get back to sleep, so I finally gave up and headed outside to do my morning rounds early. With the expected heat, I stayed out to give all the garden beds another thorough watering.

Then I napped. LOL

This afternoon, after coming back from a dump run, I stayed out to check the south garden beds and noticed that the gourds were actually drooping from the heat. When a hot weather crop like gourds are feeling the heat, I am glad I gave everything that extra watering!

Meanwhile, as I was writing this, my daughter went out to put frozen water bottles in all the cats’ water bowls.

Any little bit to help the furry critters deal with the heat!

The Re-Farmer