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

Our 2022 garden: an explosion of seedlings!

We are just so incredibly excited right now! We’ve got an absolute explosion of seeds germinating!

There still aren’t any watermelons yet, but if you look at the back of the second picture, you can see our first Zucca melon has germinated!

Since taking these pictures this morning, the seedlings have gotten notably bigger, and are starting to lean inwards. We’re going to have to rotate the bin.

I’m just thrilled with how fast the hulless pumpkins are coming up. Since taking this photo, the ones in front are fully emerged.

It’s out of focus in the back, but you can see that there are roots coming through the pot with the Giant Pumpkin. I have larger biodegradable pots, still, so that will get potted up soon, with no root disruption.

I’m not sure what’s going on with these two dancing gourds. The leaves look almost as if they’ve been chewed on. They haven’t. That’s just how they emerged.

That’s okay. We have more. The seedling you can see just starting to break ground next to the dancing gourd already up is now fully emerged from the soil – as is the Giant Pumpkin next to it!

In the pots with the Baby Pam pumpkins, you can see the soil starting to lift and split. Since taking the photo this morning, seedlings have fully emerged, not only there, but in the Kakai pumpkin pot next to them! Even in the back corner, it looks like the Apple gourds are starting to germinate. Only the Yakteen gourds haven’t shown signs of germinating, but the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if I checked them this evening, and found something there. 😀

The tomatoes and bunching onions haven’t changed a lot, though. Which is not a problem. They just suddenly seem like they’re growing slowly, compared to everything else exploding around them! 😀

I don’t know why I’m so much more excited about these, than anything else we’ve started so far. I’m not even sure where we’ll be planting these, exactly. More of a vague notion of where we want them, since we’ll be taking advantage of the large leaves of many of our squash to shade out weeds and reclaim parts of the old garden area.

Speaking of the old garden area, here’s how it looked this morning.

This is the view from the fence line. I’m still not even trying to get to the sign cam through the garden. Quite a lot of the snow has melted away, and the area by the squash tunnel (which will be used for pole beans this year) is pretty clear.

I can’t say the same for the areas closer to the house. There’s still deep snow stretching from end to end. The low raised beds are starting to emerge from the snow, but we just can’t get at them yet, any more than I get get to the sign cam.

I checked on a few other things this morning, like the haskap bushes.

The male haskap, which is the largest of them, has been deer damaged, but you can see that leaf buds are emerging.

The female haskap that was planted at the same time as the male has been struggling. It never leafed out or bloomed at the same time as the male. I do see tiny leaf buds, though, so hopefully, it will do better this year – in spite of the deer damage it also has!

The new female haskap we planted is a lot smaller, and seems to have escaped the notice of the deer!

After I got back from town today, and my daughter helped me unload the van – I was finally able to drive right up to the house! – we went around to check on her flowers. There are more irises and daffodils emerging along the old kitchen garden, and more tulips coming up among the nearby trees. We were able to spot more grape hyacinth coming up, too. I had mentioned the snow crocus flower buds I saw yesterday, so we checked those out, too.

Some of them have actually opened, since this morning! There were a few more I couldn’t get good pictures of, completely in water, but still managing.

After things being such a disaster with the tulips, irises and daffodils last year – the first growing season for all the corms and bulbs – we all thought for sure they were a loss. It just didn’t seem they would have managed to store enough energy in their bulbs to survive the winter, never mind spread. Yet that’s exactly what it looks like they’re doing.

My younger daughter is just beyond thrilled. These were her babies! 😀

Spring has been slow in coming this year, but there are finally things growing – and blooming!

Soon, there should be more. The beds in the old kitchen garden are thawed out enough that we can start planting some cool weather crops right now! We’ll have to go through the seeds for direct sowing, and see what we should start first. Some say to plant “as soon as the ground can be worked” while others say things like “plant a week before last frost date”.

But first, we need to prep the sun room some more, so we have space to lay out the plants that are too tall to fit in the growing shelves.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: sun room follow up

This morning, as I headed out to do my rounds, the sun room thermometer was at about 10C/50F. During the night, I saw it dip as low as about 5C/41F.

I moved away the reflect to get some photos of the new bins with the kulli corn. The picture of the smaller bin didn’t turn out, though.

Here is the larger bin with 80 toilet tube pots in it. That white plastic is marking off the pots that are empty. When one daughter finished the smaller bin, she started helping her sister from the other side, so the empty pots ended up in a really weird place. 😀

They planted all the seeds, including the little, bitty extras. I don’t expect those to germinate, but who knows? Even without the extras, I don’t expect 100% germination. It should be interesting to see what we get.

The three trays of bulb onions are doing better in the sun room than they were in the mini-greenhouse, but that tray of shallots is really struggling. 😦

The Cup of Moldova tomatoes have recovered from their first night in the sun room rather well. You can see leaves with cold damage on them, but the remaining leaves are looking quite strong. Even the Crespo squash and Canteen gourds seem to be doing just fine.

Likewise with the Wonderberry.

There are some seedlings in the mini-greenhouse that are starting to look like they can be moved to the sun room, as does the tray of bunching onions. We’ll have to do a bit of re-arranging, since the sun room ended up being a feline recovery room again, to make space for everything.

It will be good when we finally have a small greenhouse or polytunnel. Hopefully, we’ll have something in time for next year.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: some pruning and cleanup – and we are forewarned!

While doing my rounds this morning, I decided it was time to do some pruning and clean up around the squash and melons.

With the summer squash, I cut away a lot of the bottom leaves, and anything dead or dying. The zucchini didn’t really need it, but the sunburst squash needed quite a bit.

Noting for next year: while I am happy with training the summer squash to grow vertically, and will probably do it again next year, I now know to make extra certain the support poles are more secure. I thought they were, but as you can see in about the middle of the squash bed, one of them has fallen right over under the weight of the squash attached to it – and I’d already added a second support pole with it! The zucchini on the far right of the photo is also tippy.

We are in a strange sort of state right now, where the squash and melons are continuing to bloom and produce, recovering for the extreme heat and dryness over the summer, but also dying off as they reach the end of their growing season. A couple of Halona melon plants were completely died off and got taken out. The single melon on the ground ground had come loose from one of those.

The three biggest Red Kuri squash are coming along nicely. The mottled green one is quite noticeably bigger. With the colours and slightly different shape, I find myself wondering if it got cross pollinated with one of the nearby Teddy squash.

Speaking of which…

There’s a new one! Of the two plants, one of them now has four squash developing on it. 🙂

After I finished pruning the squash and melons, I went through the other beds, doing a bit of cleanup, and found this.

We’ve somehow lost a sunflower!

It doesn’t even look like it was bitten – there is no sign of critter damage anywhere. It looks almost as if it were cut! It’s also in the middle of a row, in the middle of a sunflower block.

Very strange.

I took the seed head inside and put it in a very small bowl, shallow enough for the barely-there stem to reach the water. 🙂

As I was finishing up in the garden, the grader went by on the road, and the driver stopped to talk to me. He let me know that he’d seen a black bear – a big male – on our quarter section, and he thought it was heading for the newly dug out gravel pit for water. He’d actually seen 7 bears, just today! The most he’d ever seen in one day – and it wasn’t even 11:00 yet, at the time I talked to him. He suggested we might want to pick up an air horn to carry with us, so if we see a bear, we can use the noise to scare it off.

One of our neighbours, about a mile away, has been posting photos of a bear that’s been raiding – and destroying – his bird feeders. I would not be expecting any to come to our feeding station, though. With both bird feeders broken, I’ve just been tossing a scoop of seeds directly on the ground, so there’s not a lot to tempt them. Especially since we have zero saskatoons and chokecherries this year, and almost no crab apples, thanks to that one cold night in May. Even the ornamental apples in the old kitchen garden, which would normally be full of tiny bunches of apples, and birds eating them, have nothing. No hawthorn berries, either. Between the drought and the wildfires, this loss of berries would be quite widespread, and the bears are starving at a time they should be building up their fat reserves for the winter.

I really appreciated the grader driver stopping to let me know. I have never seen a bear in our yard, but this is not a normal year, so we will have to keep our eyes open!

The Re-Farmer

Brightness through the haze

Today is turning out to be cooler than predicted – as I write this, we are at 16C/61F, instead of the hourly forecast temperature of 22C/72F we’re supposed to be getting.

I’ll take the cooler temperatures. Especially since the predicted rain has not happened. Oh, we’re getting the odd spittle from the sky, but that’s about it. Meanwhile, the humidity level is at 94%! We kept holding off because of the predicted rain, but once I’m done with this post, I’m going to have to go out and do some watering in the gardens.

Unfortunately, it has also been an incredibly smoky day. Thick enough that I can see the haze in the garden when I look out my window. There has been no reprieve for the wildfires all over the province. Most of them are to the north of us, and they’re getting even less rain than we are. 😦

When doing my rounds this morning, however, there was some bright “sunshine” through the haze. The summer squash and everything at the squash tunnel are blooming like crazy, with flowers so bright and yellow, they practically glow in the distance.

The luffa is blooming fairly consistently, though no gourds have started to form yet.

The vines, however, are enthusiastically climbing the squash tunnel, and have even reached the very top. It looks like they grew almost six inches, overnight!

The nearby Tennessee Dancing gourds are also enthusiastically growing and blooming. Unlike the luffa, there are many gourds forming here!

I am somewhat amused that these have such big flowers, yet such tiny gourds!

Then there are the melons, which have such tiny flowers, followed by such hefty fruit – and these are small varieties of melons!

The Little Gem winter squash are also kicking into high gear as they climb the trellis, with many flowers and quite a few squash developing. The plants themselves actually don’t look all that healthy; the bottom leaves in particular are yellowing, with some dying off, but they are still doing really well.

The Teddy squash, however, are not. The plants themselves are looking strong and healthy, but it looks like there has been more nibbles. These are at the very end of the tunnel, and it’s almost as if they are being nibbled in passing, but nothing is showing up in the garden cam. If it were a smaller critter, like a woodchuck or a raccoon, that would make sense, though I would have expected the damage to be more spread out among other things, not just in those two plants. Whatever it is, it seems to have a preference for the flowers. The leaves aren’t showing as much damage. I might have to set the camera up, right on that spot, to find out what’s going on.

The flowers on the Little Gem winter squash have such dramatic, frilly edges to their petals.

While the summer squash are also blooming heavily right now, the Crespo squash, out by the purple corn, has not been. It does not seem to be recovering well from all the critter damage, even though there is no new damage since we added that third layer of protection around them. Thankfully, we still have most of the seeds in the package, so we can try again next year.

The gourds in the south yard, at the chain link fence, haven’t kicked in yet. There are lots of flower buds, though – at least, on the Ozark Nest Egg gourds – so I expect to see plenty, soon. The cucamelons planted next to them are covered with the tiniest flowers, and we are seeing lots of teeny little cucamelons forming. If things go well, we should have lots of them, soon.

All these bright yellow flowers are a cheerful sight to see, through the gloom. While walking outside, yesterday evening, my daughter noticed something about their window fan on the second floor. We’ve got several 20″x20″ box fans set up in various windows. That happens to be the size of our furnace filters, so when the girls noticed their box fan seemed to be pulling tiny insects right through the screen, they put a filter on the back of it. From outside, we could see the filter – and how brown it was, from the smoke!

Today, I finally added a filter to the back of my window fan, too. Usually, when it gets hot outside, I flip it to blow air out instead of in, but with a cooler day like today, I actually want to keep it drawing air in, but that smoke it starting to really affect my chronic cough!

Not that it’s going to be much help while I’m working outside…

Ah, well. It is what it is.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning damage

I have a bit of time before I head off to pick up our meat pack, and just had to make a quick post.

It was a bad morning in the garden.

While heading over to switch out the memory card on the garden cam, the very first thing that I saw was this.

Of the surviving Dorinny corn, there was one plant on its own at the very end of a row. It is now in two rows.

The critter didn’t even eat the whole thing. It just chomped on half a corn cob.

Another Dorinny corn got it’s developing cob torn off and nibbled on.

This one got to me. These are the transplanted Hopi Black Dye sunflowers. The ones we started indoors months ago, but didn’t actually germinate until all the others were direct sown or transplanted. While small, they had been doing well. Now, all but one have their heads chopped off, and the one that didn’t, is broken.

You can see the single surviving pink celery transplant, near it. That got ignored, at least.

Then there’s this. You can even see the hoof print in the ground!

This is the purple corn, way on the other side of the garden. The last two corn in this row had already been partially eaten and were growing back, only to be eaten again. A third one has it’s tall stalk broken right off, and you can see it lying on the ground. Thankfully, that was as far as the damage went, with the purple corn.

And here we have our culprit! At least for the Dorinny corn and sunflowers. The tracks in the purple corn head in the opposite direction, so it was either another deer, or this deer took the scenic route.

In the trail cam files, I did see a woodchuck in the sweet corn during the day, but there was no damage to that corn. It looked like it was eating the grass or weeds in the path.

The woodchuck – or another of them – is likely the cause of this damage, in one of the summer squash. It’s definitely not a deer that did this.


Later today, I’ll be moving some of the things we put around the tulips to keep critters away. The tulips have died back and they are no longer needed there. The bells and spinners would probably be useful in startling critters. Clearly, the flapping grocery bags, motion activated light and aluminum tart pans are no longer enough.

I suppose the damage is pretty minimal, given how much we’ve got planted overall, but even a little bit adds up after a while. It’s so frustrating.

When we plant trees where the temporary garden beds are now, we at least know we’ll have to take extra steps to protect the saplings from critter damage.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: transplanting progress

We’re taking a break from our push to get the squash and corn transplanted today. Lots has been done, with lots more to do, but we just had to stop for a while.

My daughters didn’t take any photos of what they were doing, so I just have “after” pictures to show.

This is the summer squash. We have only 15 transplants; quite a few did not germinate, but we do have some of all 4 varieties. There’s an extra hill. Later on, straw will be added around the hills for mulch, and I will be adding stakes near the transplants, to train them to grow vertically. This is supposed to help prevent fungal infections or rot from touching the soil, increase air circulation, make it easier for pollinators to get to the flowers, increase yield and make it easier to harvest. The bottom leaves are supposed to be pruned away, and it will also be easier to water them at the roots.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. We shall see!

Next, they started building the beds at the squash tunnel. Priority for planting here are the luffa and dancing gourds and the winter squash. Oh, and the little pumpkins. We have quite a lot of melons to transplant, too, but if there is no room here, there is a lot more space where the sunflowers were planted last year.

What they were working on those, I worked on the new corn block.

I had turned about 2/3rds of it last night, so I didn’t expect it to take too long to finish.

Then I hit something, right near the end. Of course, I was hitting rocks the whole time, but usually I could just move the fork a few inches and keep going. Not this time!

I ended up using a space to dig around the rock. I dug up a few other rocks, but part of it seems to continue below where the soil is still undisturbed.

I used water pressure to clear the stone and try and see how much further it went, but that wasn’t much. My younger daughter decided to give it a try, and ended up bending the fork, trying to move the rock!

So… it will stay. 😀

The next step was to take out as many roots, rocks and start leveling things off.

That stick coming out of the ground in the background is a tree root. I have to grab something to cut it with!

For this part, I had a garden claw with a long handle we found in the basement when we were cleaning it out. What a back saver! You can see, all around in the grass, where the roots, crab grass and weeds were tossed. Rocks got tossed under trees, so they wouldn’t be “found” with the lawn mower. Of course, it’s not possible to get all the roots out, but I got most of them.

Finally, I could go over it with the thatching rake, which picked up a few more roots that I missed, as well as some rocks, and leveled it off a bit. I chose not to bury the big rock again, as it was so close to the surface. I’d rather see it and know it’s there, than forget about it and plant something on top by mistake.

One thing about this area; it has the deepest top soil of any part of the old garden, yet! I didn’t reach gravel until I started digging deeper to try and get around the big rock, and while I found other chunks of rock, I just barely reached the gravel layer. This is the soil my mother is talking about, when she talks about how great the soil used to be. Except for the rocks. She didn’t remember the rocks! 😀

The next step was to mark out for planting. I counted the corn plants this morning, and there are 65, plus a couple of bitty ones that probably shouldn’t be transplanted, but I likely will, anyways. I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough space, but with rows 2 feet apart, and the transplants 1 foot apart in each row, I will have enough space.

While the soil may appear good, all the soil tests I did showed a lack of nutrients, so it will still be amended. I used the flags to lay down grass clippings. I lay them out in rows, but I don’t mind them spilling over into the paths in between, to help keep the weeds down.

After this photo was taken, I used a watering can and rainwater to wet down the grass clippings, since the hose and sprinkler were needed at the other end of the garden.

Then we headed inside. We reached 30C/86F while we were out there! So we will take a few hours indoors and let things start to cool down before we continue.

We have predictions for rain tonight, and possible severe thunderstorms by tomorrow afternoon. They might even hit us. :-/ If it does look like we will get a severe storm, we have things we can use to cover the squash to protect them, though the corn would be on its own. It is, however, in a more sheltered area of the old garden. We shall see.

We might still hit our goal to get all the transplants done here by this evening! After that, we have transplants for the south yards, but they are not as urgent and can wait a bit longer.

As for me, I’m seriously thinking of joining all the cats on my bed for a short nap. I’m so tired, I have been falling asleep while writing this!

I’m going to be hurting so much by the time all this done, but it’ll be worth it!

The Re-Farmer

Fall clean up: starting the squash beds, plus… this could be bad!

On my list of things to do today was to prep the squash beds for winter.

Of course, things happened, so I started much later than intended – past 2pm – and didn’t get as much done as I’d planned on.

Here is how it looked when I started.

The first thing I had done we pick up the bricks we’d used to weigh down the plastic we used to cover the beds in the spring, and again under some of the plants to protect the stems or support heavier squash.

You can really see which bed had the most successful plants!

Also, notice the raspberry canes to the left on the foreground? Or, should I say, the bare raspberry canes?

The deer have been nibbling the leaves off those, as well as the sunflowers!

I had brought out both the potato fork and the spade to see which would be better to work on the beds.

It turned out to be the fork. After a year under the mulch, the ground was a lot softer than before, but even with the fork, I had difficulties getting past the rocks. We have only one good spade. I don’t want to break the blade on a rock!

Here is how they looked when I finished for the day.

The bed on the left was still a real chore to dig up. With each section I lifted with the fork, I had to break up the soil by hand. That gave me the opportunity to pull out weed roots and the more in-the-way rocks. The bed on the right was much easier to work, and I had a lot fewer rocks that needed to be pulled out. The squash plants were also buried so they can compost directly into the soil.

I was really happy with how much easier the soil was to work with. To compare, I had pushed the spade into the ground next to the mulched area. After working for a while, I took off my jacket and hung it on the spade. A few minutes later, and a gust of wind turned my jacket into a sail and down it went. So I pushed it into the ground again, this time, standing on the foot supports and bouncing my ample weight on it a few times, then hung my jacket back on the handle. The next stiff breeze, and it fell over again! And I didn’t even hit and rocks when I was pushing in the spade! What a difference, working under the mulched squash beds. Not only was the ground much easier to work, I was finding SO many worms! What a great sign. 🙂

The next area I will dig up will be the long row at the back, and then the pumpkin hills in the middle. The one hill nearest the back row, I might enlarge to create another longer bed, but the other two are so surrounded with crab grass, I’m just going to dig up a roughly 4′ x 4′ area and pull out as many rhizomes from there as I can.

The main reason I had to stop, though, we because I started to feel rather unwell. It took a while for me to realize something.

I hadn’t eaten yet, other than a couple of freshly baked cookies, before I headed outside.

Usually, I do my morning rounds outside, then have breakfast while going over the trail cam files. Today, I was out earlier to make sure the gates were open for the septic truck. (Which still hasn’t shown up.) Then I heard someone in the kitchen and with our kitchen being so small, I decided to wait until they were done.

Then my husband came over and informed me we were almost out of butter. He is having a good pain day today for a change, and was up to making cookies, not realizing we didn’t have enough butter to make them. Normally, we would have done our monthly shop by now, and there would have been a whole bunch in the freezer, but we had to take care of other things. We’ll be going in a couple of days.

So I made a quick run into town to pick up a few things along with the butter. I’m glad I did, because once I had a data signal, I started getting texts from our plumber. I’d sent him pictures of our well pump when I was in town yesterday, as he requested, and he was responding to them


The first thing he noted was that the new pump is 1/2 hp, while the old pump is 3/4 hp. My brother bought this pump and he knows the system very well, so I knew it would work. It’s just not as powerful. After seeing the pictures of the old pump, from various angles, he thought the problem might be in the well itself. This is something my brother and I had talked about, as he thinks the foot valve might be leaking. The problem is, this is a very old system. He has actually worked in there before – about 20 years ago! – and that was probably the last time anyone has gone into the well.

So aside from it getting harder to find parts for it, it’s going to be fragile. If he starts opening things up to see what’s what, we might end up with no water at all. I could go to a company that specializes in wells, but they don’t like these old systems, either, and he said we would most likely be told we need a new well drilled. We could instead replace the submersible pump in the well, along with the pump in the basement, and that would take care of all sorts of potential problems down there. I asked him for an idea of what those pumps cost, but before he could get back to me, I had to leave town and head home, where I would no longer be able to get text messages. I sent him a message to phone me later and headed home.

Once at home, I emailed my brother to pass on the info, since he knows the system way better than I do. We both agreed that we should just get the pump in the basement switched to the new one, then see how it goes. If we still have problems, then it would be time to have someone go into the well and see what’s what. I hope it doesn’t come to that. Over the years, the well cover has been damaged. It’s a concrete circle with bent rebar handles embedded in the concrete. At some point, one of those handles got broken right off, and the other is bent down against the concrete. I’m not sure how we would get it open.

So I ended up calling the plumber back and leaving a message about starting with switching out the old pump in the basement and seeing how that goes. I also called the septic company to see if they are still coming out today, but we’ve had no call back from them, either. Which is really, really unusual for them.

I don’t like have the gate not only unlocked, but open, for so long. At least I can keep an eye on it through the live feed of the garage security camera.

It’s still afternoon as I write this, but it feels like it should be several hours later, right now!

I have such an urge to just go to bed right now.

The Re-Farmer

Morning cuteness, and a sad little gourd

Before heading outside to do my morning rounds, I spotted 3 kittens out the window…

… playing on the roof of their cat house!

Of course, as soon as I went outside, they ran off, but mystery kitten stayed to spy on me.

It was so funny to see her hide behind the frame, pop her head up, hide, peek, hide, peek… watching me as I brought out some kibble for the outside cats.

In checking out the squash bed, I just had to go looking for our one birdhouse gourd that was developing.

The one, sad, squishy little gourd!

The frosts have completely decimated all the squashes, so it’s time to prep the beds for the winter. I don’t know that we’ll plant squash in the same places next year, but we will definitely plant them again. With what we learned this year, I hope to be able to do more to protect them for late and early frosts.

The squash beds will not be cleaned up today, though. After lunch, we will be planting flower bulbs in the maple grove, in areas that are the hardest to mow around.

I’m really looking forward to it! 🙂

The Re-Farmer