Our 2022 garden: heavy mulch, and high raised bed cover

I was hoping we wouldn’t get a lot of wind, but it was gusting pretty wildly when I came out to check on the garden beds.

The cardboard did not get as saturated as I’d hoped, but it also didn’t get blown away as badly as I’d feared it might.

The cover on the high raised bed, on the other hand, was all over the place.

I fought with it for a while, using bricks to try and weigh down the edges, and the pieces of garden hose we cut last year as crimps on the hoops. The main problem was how high the hoops were. Ideally, I would have just laid the plastic flat across the top, but I have no way to fasten it down right now.

I did push the hoops deeper into the soil, but they are right along the walls, and the lower logs are thicker than the top ones, so I kept hitting the wood and having to adjust. There wasn’t a lot of wiggle room to avoid the onions.

Thankfully, onions are very hardy.

By the time I finished mulching, though, I just took the plastic off.

The only reason the plastic was being added was in case it snowed (I did actually see some flakes!), but by then, the temperature had risen enough that it wasn’t an issue.

Gathering up and folding that sheet of plastic was interesting. I usually try to use the wind itself to help, which usually works well, but not this morning! The wind kept coming from all directions, and I found myself as likely to suddenly have plastic wrapped around me as having the wind blow it straight out.

The future potato bed now has a nice, deep mulch at least a foot deep. I had wanted to chop the straw first with the shredder chute on the wood chipper, but there’s no way to get the chipper out there through the mud and water.

The straw bale has been left exposed to the elements all winter. Layers of it were sloughing down and, as you can see, it’s wet and starting to decompose. Which is exactly what I want for mulching. Straw takes quite a while to decompose, which is the main reason we wanted to put it through the shredder, first. The wet straw is also not going to blow away. Normally, after laying the straw down, we’d be taking a hose to it, but between how wet it already is, and the rain, it should be pretty moist.

Well, crud. I just looked at the weather forecast, and it’s changed again. We might get rain with snow again this evening! We’re supposed to hit 0C/32F overnight, with the wind chill making it feel like -4C/25F. Then more light rain tomorrow. I guess we should cover the !#$%!$# high raised bed again.


The Re-Farmer

Strange hair!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Last night we had some rain storms blow through. High winds were the main issue. Having rain now, when the flood waters have yet to finish receding, probably didn’t help much, but I don’t think we got enough for it to be an issue. Mostly, it was the winds that were of concern.

Since things have warmed up, there are far fewer outside cats to greet me in the morning.

I only saw 5 or 6, in total. The amount of kibble needed has also dropped considerably. For a while, I was putting food out twice a day, and sometimes even a third little top up got done if I was up in the wee hours and saw they were out again. Now, I’m finding kibble still left in the trays at the end of the day!

That’ll make things a bit easier on the budget!

While switching out the trail cam memory cards and checking the state of the garden beds, I noticed something rather unusual.

The straw bale had grown hair!

Green hair.

Looks like last night’s rain was enough to get the seeds caught in the straw to sprout, enthusiastically! It’s even growing out the sides exposed by the straw that had fallen away from the bale over the winter.

Too funny!

I’m going to just leave it. Once the soil had dried enough, we’ll be bringing the wood chipper over and running straw through the shredder chute for mulch. Last year we tried that by running the lawn mower over the straw, and it worked much better than non-shredded straw, but doing it that way clogged up the air filter on the mower like you wouldn’t believe! We are very happy to have the new wood chipper available.


Having sprouted greens included with the dry straw for mulch is just more nutrients for the soil. 🙂

It should be interesting to see how tall it gets by the time we’re ready to do the shredding.

The Re-Farmer

Just some stuff. :-)

I wanted to share some photos from this morning’s rounds, but first, some photos from last night.

May I introduce you to, The Three Croissants.

Nicco, Beep Beep and Susan, all nestled together! Can they get any cuter? 😀

While putting things away for the evening, I noticed my mother’s lilies had started to bloom. Thye practically glow in the evening light!

If all goes to plan, we will be dividing these up this fall, and transplanting some in a new bed where the potatoes in their grow bags are now.

We had quite the crowd of hungry kitties this morning! Ghost Baby showed up not long after.

I expect the mamas will start bringing their babies over for food some time soon. I wish I knew where they were. I’d leave food out nearby for them, if I could. I’ve spotted mamas going by carrying various rodents, though, so the mamas are obviously taking care of that, themselves. It just makes less work for them if we can supplement with kibble! That, and there’s a better chance of the kittens getting used to humans.

Of course, I had to check the newest transplants. We got another heavy rain last night, that lasted for a couple of hours. They seem to have handled it quite well. I took this photo from the gourd end of the row. In the foreground are the 4 Ozark Nest Egg gourds (you can just barely see one of them, it’s so tiny!). By the fence post is the Thai Bottle gourd. You can’t see it in the photo, but hidden under one of the leaves is a second sprout!

This is what’s left of our straw! I’d taken so much from the bottom, where it was breaking down the most, that the whole thing finally just fell over. We should have enough to mulch the summer squash, and hopefully have some to add to the transplants at the squash tunnel, but I doubt there will be much left by then. I’ll have to contact the renter to see about getting another bale. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get hay next time. I’m deliberately asking for older bales that aren’t good for feed anymore, since it will be used only for mulching, but when I asked about it last time, they had none, as they spread them on their crop fields and plow them under to amend the soil.

Today, we’re looking at a high of 27C/81F, though we are already at 25C/77F as I write this, so I would not be surprised if we get hotter. The next couple of days should be just a degree or two cooler, then we’re looking at possible thunderstorms again. Hopefully, we’ll have the squash tunnel and pea trellises finished before then! We’ll see how things work out. One of my daughters has been feeling quite ill lately, and I’m pretty sure it’s the heat. 😦 Summer is their least favorite time of the year!

There is one other down side to this time of year that I was really noticing this morning. The horseflies are out in full force! I had a buzzing crowd of them, dive bombing my head, from the moment I stepped outside to the moment I stepped back into the house – and even then, it was only because I dashed in and closed the door fast enough. Having them bounce off my head is annoying enough (at least they weren’t biting!), but they were even getting caught up in my hair bun. They already seem to be unusually bad this year.

Ah, well. That’s life in the sticks! 😀

The Re-Farmer

I got you covered!

Something very disorienting happened today.

There was a knock at the door.

Which is one of those things that is so unexpected, it takes a moment for my brain to clue in and say, “oh… there’s a person at the door.” 😀

Turns out, it was the guy delivering the straw bale we had ordered. He had to leave the tractor in the driveway, hop the locked gate, and come knocking.

There’s a reason I asked for a call first! 😀 The guy delivering the bale was not the guy I bought it from, so he probably didn’t have my number. Not that he could have called us from his tractor, anyhow. 😉

I was really happy to see him, that’s for sure! It’s been snowing off and on, and the temperatures are dropping, so I really wanted to get that septic tank covered!

This time, I asked him to drop it off in the old garden area. You can see that the bale has been sitting for a year! After unwrapping it, I started trying to pull the straw down near that dark area, and found it half frozen and very wet.

Which is great, because the wet straw that’s already starting to decompose went straight onto the garden area, and some of the compost, right away. I even found a worm in it. LOL

This is where our septic tank is. Our system is very different from what is usual; instead of a gravity based system, ours has a smaller tank and pumps. There are pipes leading from the basement to the left of the tank in this photo. The tank has two chambers. Everything goes into the first chamber, then when it fills with liquid, there is an overflow chamber. When that fills, the liquid is pumped to a field out by the barn. The pipe for the outflow runs under the old kitchen, which is behind the septic lid in the photo.

All of these pipes are buried deep and, theoretically, we could go without covering any of this at all, but it’s not something we want to take a chance with. An extreme winter could freeze the ground far enough that the pipes would freeze, and if that happened, it could get really nasty in our basement! It would also cost many thousands of dollars to get it fixed. So spending $25 on a bale and covering it is really cheap insurance! 😉

Here is now it looks now! I added extra along the old kitchen foundation, just for a bit of extra insulation.

I’m leaving the tools with the bale for now, as we’ll be using it to insulate the old dog houses, probably in a couple of days.

While working on this, I had several very curious kitties checking things out. I expect the bale will also serve throughout the winter to keep little paws warm, and for burrowed nests, as well. 🙂 They were already quite keen on getting into it.

When I was done, I got a selfie with Susan.

She was not co-operative. LOL

Another thing off the list of things to get done before winter! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Off the “get done before winter” list

Yay!  I can tick “straw bale” off my list of things we need to get/do before winter!


The renter was taking his bales off our field today, and this beauty was just delivered.

That is going to be enough for so many things!

The main thing is to cover the top of the septic tank – the other thing on the list is getting that emptied, and I’ve already contacted the company about when they’re going to be in the area again.  There will be enough to cover that entire corner.  I’ll be able to put a nice, thick layer on the small garden by the Old Kitchen.  The girls plan to rake some leaves to layer on to there today, too, so we’ll be able to build up lots of organic matter onto it.  This garden slopes, so I’m loosely planning to eventually build a low retaining wall at the west end, and find a way to do the sides as well, to level it off.

We will also be able to put new straw into the old dog houses the cats use as winter shelters, and insulate the outside of them, too.  I want to see if I can move those to more sheltered places, first, though.

We might even still have enough left to use the remains of the bale as a throwing target. 😀

Oh, I am so happy!

It’s the little things that make life good. 😀

The Re-Farmer