Our 2022 garden: harvesting squash and corn

Well, the last of the stuff that needed to come in before tonight is done – at least as much as possible. The girls and I put bottles with warm water under the eggplants in the grow bag (the only ones fruiting) and, since they were right there, with the sweet potatoes, too. The eggplant and one grow bag with sweet potato got covered, but the sheet wasn’t big enough to cover the other two grow bags. The apple gourd also got bottles of warm water placed beside them, but we could only cover two of the three plants, so we covered the two biggest ones. As I write this, we are down to 9C/48F, and it’s supposed to keep dropping until we reach 1C/34F at about 7am. Between 6 – 8 am tends to consistently be the coldest time of day.

While I was harvesting earlier, I went ahead and grabbed a bunch of the Latte sweet corn, too. I don’t think they are quite at their peak, but I think they’re about as good as we’re going to get. There are still cobs on the stalks that were pretty small, so I left them be.

With the summer squash, I grabbed all the little – but not too little – patty pans, and the last of the zucchini.

In the above photo, the six pumpkins across the top are the Baby Pam pumpkins. The others are all hulless seed pumpkins. On the far left are four Styrian, in the middle are six Lady Godiva, and on the right are two Kakai. Tucked in with the patty pans are two Boston Marrow. There are so many little Boston Marrow squash forming, but they are just too small and have no chance of ripening after being picked. I’m not even sure Boston Marrow does continue to ripen after being picked!

The pumpkins are now all set up in the sun room. We cleared a shelf in the window, and all but one of them fit in there. The last one joined the onions on the screen. I think it should still get enough light there.

The hulless seed pumpkins are grown just for their seed, not their flesh. The flesh is probably edible, but there would be less of it than for an eating pumpkin. I will give them time before we crack any open to see what the seeds are like. At least we do have the one tiny, fully ripe kakai pumpkin harvested earlier that we could try any time we feel like it.

We planted so many different winter squash, and it was such a horrible year, I’m thankful we have as much as we do. Hopefully, next year, we will have better growing conditions. I made the mistake of calling my mother before I started this post, and talking about our garden. I mentioned that our beets did not do well this year. She started lecturing me on how to grow beets, and how they need to have the soil loosened around them, etc. I told her I knew how to grow beets (this is not our first year growing them!); they just didn’t do well this year. We didn’t even get greens worth eating. My mother then launched into how she always had such big beets, and always had such a wonderful garden (this after she’d mentioned to be before, that some years things just didn’t work) and how she only grew the “basics” and everything was just so wonderful – and the reason my beets failed was because I don’t garden like she did, and that I shouldn’t be gardening “from a book”. Whatever that means. I reminded her that I tested the soil and it is depleted. We don’t have good soil here anymore. She got sarcastic about that, and basically made it like my not having a perfect garden like she did was because I’m not doing things her way. As she got increasingly cruel about it, I called her out on it. I told her that just because she can’t understand something like soil science – which she doesn’t need to – that didn’t make it okay for her to be cruel to me over something she knows nothing about. Nor would I put up with being treated like that. I even asked her, why couldn’t she try being kind for a change? Maybe say something like “I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems”, instead of basically saying “I’m better than you.” She went dead silent, so I changed the subject, and the rest of the conversation went okay. Then she cut the call short because she saw the time, and her program on TV was started, so she had to go.

My mother is pretty open on what her priorities are. 😕

Ah, well. It is what it is. I’m just so thankful she is no longer our “landlord”, and that my brother now owns the property. There was a point, before the title was transferred, that we briefly but seriously considered moving out because of her.

Funny how something as ordinary as gardening can bring out the worst in her, though.

The weird thing is, when I spoke to my brother after he’d visited her to talk about the roofing estimates, apparently my mother had lots of positive things to say about how well we’re taking care of things here.

I guess that doesn’t include the garden! 😄

Well, I guess I should go see what I can do about that corn! 😊

The Re-Farmer

Mutants!

I just got back from meeting someone who, unlike us, has lots of squash this year and was willing to share…

… her mutants!

She didn’t even plant them. They came up on their own!

Two of them are a type of zucchini, in their winter squash stage. The other stripy ones are squash and pumpkins that cross pollinated. Yes, I know pumpkins are a type of squash, but they get their own category. 😁 I was told that 2 of them that have the darkest green are ready to eat now.

I was also gifted a big bag of spinach and beet greens! Our beets are doing so poorly this year, the greens were unusable, and our fall spinach are still trying to come up.

It should be interesting to see how these taste!

Now… how would one prepare a mutant squash? She said to just use them like pumpkins. So…

… pie?

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning harvest, and a survivor

Here is today’s morning harvest. 😊

I found a little round cucumber lying on the ground and picked it, leaving the others to get a bit bigger. There were a few peas to pick, as well as some carrot thinnings. I would have thinned more of the purple carrots, but they are a very long variety, and our soil just doesn’t want to give them up!

I grabbed some of the smallest Red of Florence onions for today’s cooking, and decided to grab a few little turnips, too. There was one Magda squash I went ahead and grabbed. There was also a single green zucchini, and one large-ish sunburst squash, that I left to get a bit bigger.

The yellow bush beans are almost done. I couldn’t see very many developing pods left as I picked these. The purple Carminat beans are very prolific! There are so many more of them, compared to what’s on the green pole beans.

In that pile of green pole beans, however, there were two extras.

They are from this one little bush bean plant, grown from a leftover seed of our first planting of green bush beans under the sweet corn. The second planting of green bush beans are starting to develop pods, while this lonely original had a couple ready to pick.

I’m happy that this year, we at least have plenty of these two varieties of beans. The Red Noodle beans still show no signs of blooming, though they are at least starting to climb the trellis more. I’m curious about how the shelling beans will turn out, given how incredibly small and fragile the plants turned out to be. There are a lot of pods developing, too.

We planted so much this year, with hopes of having lots of food, in many varieties, to have over the winter. I always expect to have at least some losses. I didn’t expect to have so many total, or near total losses! Which makes me extra thankful to have what we do have.

The Re-Farmer

Afternoon in the garden

I wasn’t feeling very well this morning, so the girls took care of feeding the outside cats before heading to bed for the day. I didn’t start the rest of my morning rounds until late afternoon.

Tomorrow is expected to be a hot one, so I wanted to make sure the garden got a deep watering. I set up the soaker hose on the tomato bed and left it running while I did a dump run, then used the warm water in the rain barrel by the trellises and the Styrian pumpkins, to water everything at that end.

Part way through watering the trellises, I decided to set up one of the spray hoses I found while cleaning up around the junk pile. I set up the first one in the summer squash bed, then through the zucchini and some of the Teddy squash in the squash patch nearby. After hooking up the water and seeing that it was working out all right, I tried adding on the second spray hose, only to find it had a large crack near the connector. Well, at least I could get some of the squash watered while I continued using a watering can by the trellises. By that time that was finished, the spray hose had had enough time to do it’s job, and I could continue watering the rest with the hand sprayer.

I was quite pleased to see this fuzzy fellow.

One of the bird-seeded sunflowers by the carrots has at least 5 seed heads opening up, and there were several bumble bees buzzing around.

I love the bumbles!!!

The yellow pear tomatoes are finally starting to turn yellow!

I had some help by the chain link fence.

They were trying to pull out some of the crab grass that was growing through the netting. 😁

It’s about time to lift the net and to a thorough weeding under there.

There are quite a few nice, big (relatively speaking) Red Kuri squash developing here, and every couple of days or so, I’m finding new female flowers ready to be pollinated. I’m quite happy that we’ll have at least one type of winter squash to store for the winter!

Speaking of pollinating, while watering the corn and squash patch, I spotted our very first female Boston Marrow flower! I made sure it was pollinated and checked the other plants but, so far, they only have male flowers. I also spotted our first G-Star green pattypan squash, though it’s at the stage where it just dropped its flower. Over the next few days, I’ll be able to see if it got pollinated, or if it just falls off.

Still praying for a long, mild fall. So many things in the garden are suddenly starting to grow, bloom and produce fruit but, as of today, there’s only 3 weeks to our average first frost date.

I was surprised to have company while I was watering the grapes! Normally, she would have run away when I came this close. Instead, she just stayed all curled up and napping in the shade.

I got photos from my sister in law, yesterday. Their grapes are almost ready to harvest. Ours are still very small and green.

Hmm… I keep forgetting about that cross. I found it while uncovering the grapes from the spirea. I later learned my sister had put it there as a support for the grape vines. We should scrub off the rust, give it some sort of protective coat, and set it up somewhere permanent. I don’t know where it came from, but it would be a safe guess that my late brother salvaged it from one of this demolition jobs, like the stone cross by the spruces, for my parents. So I definitely want to hang on to it.

I topped up the kibble trays before going inside, including the one near the grape vine. Earlier, I’d seen the newest group of kittens playing around the shrine, so I made sure that container had plenty of kibble, too.

Pouring dry kibble into metal trays can be pretty loud. The sound is like ringing a lunch bell. By the time I was putting kibble in the last tray, I could see cats swooping in from all directions, heading for the kibble house! 😂 Unfortunately, the skunks have learned that sound means food, too! Ah, well.

Hopefully, I’ll be feeling good tomorrow morning. I want to get out while it’s still cool and continue putting wood chips around the saplings. I also plan to collect a harvest tomorrow morning, too. I’m just loving that we have so many fresh beans to harvest – the last batch did end up in the freezer, so we’re getting quite a few bags by now!

Every little bit helps!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: mulching done! Mostly.

Here is the pile of grass clippings my daughters hauled over last night.

This is actually just what they raked up along the driveway, where it was thickest. There were other parts of the outer yard they hadn’t done, where the clippings were much thinner.

I didn’t even try using the bag on the lawn mower. I would have been stopping to empty it way too often. It is more efficient to just rake it up after.

It was enough to FINALLY finish mulching the squash patch! Just on the cardboard around the plants themselves, though. As I’m able, I will continue to mulch the paths in between, to keep the grass and weeds down.

There was enough left over to mulch all but one end of the summer squash bed. Since I had continued to mow around the main garden area yesterday evening, I didn’t have to go far to rake up more clippings to finish mulching the bed.

I was also able to thoroughly mulch around the Styrian hulless pumpkins, out by the trellises.

At this point, any other mulching that gets done is bonus. The Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins could use more mulch to fill in the spaces between the plants, and I also want to mulch more around the sweet corn and green beans, as well as the popcorn, if I can. I still have more scything to do, so I should have enough to get all of that done, too.

It has been a very rough year for most of the squash. They are a fraction of the size they should be. Finally getting them all mulched should help them at least a little bit! Whether or not there is enough growing season left for them – especially the winter squash – it still in the air. Some varieties should still have time but with others, I don’t expect anything at all anymore.

That’s not going to stop me from trying to help them along, though!

The Re-Farmer

Not very far

The scything done near the main garden didn’t get me very far.

It was enough to mulch 5 out of 6 squash in a new row. That leaves one, plus three more rows of 6 to do.

And this is just focusing on around the plants themselves. The paths in between are not fully covered. As you can see between the rows previously done, grass and weeds will still get through, but at least those won’t be competing with the squash for nutrients as much.

While I was working in this, I was hearing the sound of cows that were a lot closer than usual. Usually, I hear them from the property across the road. Not this time! The renter has rotated his cows onto our quarter section! By the time I got out to take a look, they were back in the bushes by the gravel pit, so I couldn’t get any pictures.

We’ll have to keep an eye on the outer yard now. Especially at the “gate” in the fence by the barn. I noticed while I was scything there that one of the big gate posts is leaning way over. With all the water we got in that area this spring, anything already rotting at ground level would have been weakened considerably. The renter has an electric fence going around, but it does fail every now and then. The renter had been looking to replace the fences (responsibility for the fences is part of the rental agreement), but with this spring being such a disaster, I would not be surprised if they won’t be able to do it this year. They weren’t able to even plant anything in the field on this quarter, either. The other quarter they are renting is just hay and pasture, and much of that would have been under water this spring.

At least grazing and haying will be good this year!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: squash patches mulched, shade cloth ready

With today predicted to be very hot, the girls and I headed out much earlier than usual. Normally, they do the evening stuff while I do the morning stuff, but this was a big job, and I wanted to get it done before the heat hit.

The big squash patch is now completely mulched. I’m glad I put all those sticks in! All the squash started at 4 weeks before last frost date are all still so tiny. The mulch will also help to protect them from any heavy rains and storms we may get.

The other squash patch, with the corn and beans in between, also got a layer of mulch.

Last of all, the hulless pumpkins next to the bean tunnel got a layer, too.

Look how tall the garlic is!! Love it!

I brought out the old sheets we were using as shade cloth last year, and one of my daughters helped me set them up over two of the beds with spinach in them. It felt odd to put up shade cloth when it’s so overcast.

I’m trying to think of what we can use to put over some of the other beds, to protect them from heavy rains and possible hail. The netting we have might keep critters out, but the mesh is too large to protect from heavy rains or hail. Last year’s row covers that fell apart when we moved them has old window screen mesh on one of them, but it’s too narrow to use without more support than the twine we’ve got now. I’m thinking of the mosquito netting we used as row covers might work. We only need to cover the tops of the beds enough to protect from heavy rain, while still letting water through. I’m not too keen on using the mosquito netting, as it sheds long strands from the cut sides, and I’m still finding them among the weeds in the old kitchen garden. Those strands don’t break easily, and are something small critters could get caught up in. The best thing would be to hem up the cut edges, but that wouldn’t be done until we have them in the sizes we want.

We’re getting all these predictions for high temperatures and advisories for heat, but… it’s almost cool out there. We’re also getting storm warnings that are all over the place. One minute, the storms are expected on Tuesday. Then Sunday (tomorrow). Then tonight. Then not at all. Then Monday.

I am, however, hearing thunder as I write this, and I can see from the trees out my window, that the winds are picking up.

My dropped the idea of getting more weed trimming done today. The necessary areas are already done; anything else is just bonus at this point. The ground is almost dry enough to mow in places, but that’s not going to happen either.

Well, we got the main thing done. The squash patches are now mulched.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: having a whacky time!

After a few hours of waiting, things dried up enough that I could do some much needed weed whacking in the garden.

Most of the yard still squelches when we walk through the grass – grass that is getting so tall, it’s actually hard to walk through! Not only are all the dandelions gone to seed, but the grass is going to seed, too!

The first place to work on was the large squash patch.

I’m not happy with how much shade some of them are getting. They get full sun early in the morning, though, so with the total hours of sunlight, it should be okay. It’s a shame my parents planted more trees on the south side of the garden. I’ve since learned my brother got them those trees to add to the shelter belt in the outer yard, but my parents didn’t want to go out that far. Now, the shadows are covering more than half of the old garden area on this side. 😦

Some of the squash seedlings are still so small, they could not be easily seen through the overgrown grass and weeds. I used taller sticks and stakes to mark the corners, then smaller sticks to mark the smaller squash. Then I went ahead and added sticks to all of them, with pairs of sticks to support the larger squash so they’d be out of the grass. In the end, I added a pair of sticks to all but the gourds with the tall metal support stakes, as much to protect them from accidental weed whacking as to mark where they were. I trimmed right down to the ground as much as I could. I am glad to get this done before adding the straw mulch. I really didn’t want to add it on top of the overgrown crab grass and weeds.

Then, since I was there with the weed trimmer anyhow, I kept working around all the beds and the straw mulch where the potatoes and melons are planted. I didn’t need to trim around where the other squash, corn and beans are planted, since that area got done in preparation for planting.

I had grabbed the second 100 ft extension cord from the garage, so with about 250 ft of extension cord, and judicious placement of a spade to make sure the cord didn’t drag across the squash and corn patch, I was able to reach the bean tunnel.

The bean tunnel got a thorough trimming before I moved on to the hulless pumpkins. For these, I decided to give them three support poles each. These poles were used to support summer squash last year, and some still had the twist tie wire that was used to fix the stems to the poles. Those were used to go around the three poles and hold the vines off the ground and protect them from the weed trimmer. I also had some left over sifted garden soil in the wheelbarrow, so I added that around the bases of the support poles to help hold them in place, being careful not to go too close to the stems. I didn’t want to bury the stems, as that could cause the stems to rot.

These pumpkins are now ready for a mulch, too.

I stopped at this point, as I wanted to get to the post office before it closed, then go on into town. I want to use the weed trimmer around the trellises and, if I can reach, around the sea buckthorn and silver buffalo berry. That will be a job for after the squash patches are mulched.

The canteen gourds are blooming! I probably should have pinched off the flower buds when I transplanted them, as they haven’t really gotten any bigger, but I forgot. We shall see how they do. Their flowers are very pretty!

We are starting to get weather advisories and heat warnings for the weekend. Tomorrow, we’re supposed to approach 30C/86F, and the day after – Father’s Day – we’re supposed to reach the mid-30’s (35C is 85F). While I was working on the bean tunnel, the thermometer there was already reading 30C in the sun. Which means the best time to get the mulch down will be early tomorrow morning, while it is still cooler.

Going to bed early tonight would be a good idea! Hopefully, the cats will even let me sleep… :-/

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: bed prep, cucumbers, peas, beans, summer squash, gourds

Oh, my goodness, what a gardening day!

Did we bite off more than we can chew?

Maybe we did.

It was a hot and sunny day, and so many trees and bushes are blooming right now.

The regular and double lilacs are just starting to open. The sour cherries are in full bloom. The Saskatoons and chokecherries are pretty much finished blooming, but the different crab apple trees are in various stages of exploding into flowers. There are also three other types of lilacs that are starting to bud, each blooming at a different time. It’s awesome!

My first priority of the day was to prep the beds at the trellises and get them ready for planting.

What a big job that turned out to be.

It didn’t take long before I found myself pulling this bugger out. Normally, I wouldn’t have tried to take out something so big, but it was close enough to the surface that it would inhibit root growth. I’m sure I hit others bigger than this, judging by my inability to work the garden fork around them, but they were deep enough that I just left them. We may get one more year out of these trellises, but most likely, next year, we’ll be building trellises closer to the house.

This trellis was so full of roots – including tree roots! – that this one bed took me about 4 hours to do.

Thankfully, the other one didn’t take anywhere near as long!

After we’ve planted into them, each upright post is going to get it’s own pair of A frame netting supports for things to climb.

At this trellis, on the right hand side, my daughter planted all the cucumbers. On the left hand side, in the foreground, is at least two, possibly four, luffa gourds. I was using labels made out of sour cream containers, and Sharpie’s fade from those! So much for “permanent” markers!

The gourds took up only a quarter of the row. We ended up planting the last of our Lincoln Homesteader pod peas in the rest of that side.

This trellis got the remaining two varieties of pole beans. On the right are Carminat, a purple type of bean. On the left are Seychelles, a type of green bean that Veseys doesn’t seem to carry anymore.

There was some space left at the bean tunnel that got filled with 4 Tennessee Dancing Gourd and 2 luffa.

The girls, meanwhile, got the last low raised bed weeded and ready for planting.

This bed is now all summer squash. The front half has 8 Sunburst patty pan squash. The back half is split between Madga squash and Golden zucchini.

While one daughter transplanted all of those, my other daughter was digging.

We were going to make more beds, but we just don’t have the materials, so we’re winging it. My daughter dug a grid of 7×7 holes roughly 3 feet apart. Before I headed in, I used the jet setting on the hose to drill water into each hole, to help soften the soil. We’ll be transplanting winter squash, gourds and pumpkins into here, with added garden soil and straw mulch. We need to go over it with the weed trimmer to cut the grass and weeds back as much as possible, before the mulch is added.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to get this done tomorrow, but I won’t be much help with that until evening. My husband and I have our doctor’s appointments in the afternoon.

For summer squash, we do still have the green zucchini, plus the G-star patty pan squash.

I have no idea where we will be transplanting those. I also don’t know where we’ll be transplanting the ground cherries. There’s the corn to direct sow, too, if we’re not already too late for those. We have the space. What we don’t have is any sort of prepared beds left.

I’d really hoped to get everything in today, but everything just took so much time.

What a long, long day it’s been.

The Re-Farmer

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. 😀

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