Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden, and first tomatoes!

My morning rounds are taking longer, as I am able to do more in the various garden beds as I go along.

I harvested the largest of the chive blossoms, before they go to seed. While I continued with my morning rounds, one of my daughters washed and de-bugged them, then laid them out on a cooling rack in a baking tray to dry. They are in the oven, with no heat at all, to protect them from the cats. Once the wash water is dried off, we’ll stick as much of them in a jar as we can, with olive oil. Any extras will go in the freezer. Or maybe I should split them into two jars and use them all. There are more chive blossoms to harvest later on, so we’ll have plenty to infuse in vinegar, too.

Speaking of drying things, during the night that cats did manage to get at the stacked screens of drying mint leaves. We’ve lost about 2 screen’s worth of mint leaves to the floor. 😦

When I moved on from the old kitchen garden to check on the squash patch, I noticed one of the giant pumpkins was no longer upright. I thought it might be because it had grown large enough to start leaning over, but I was wrong.

The stem is broken, right at ground level. Possibly from the high winds we’ve been having. Or…

Possibly weakened by the ant hill that has formed on that side of the pumpkin mound!

I built soil up around to support the stem again, in the off chance that it will survive, but with a break that large, I don’t expect it to. We are likely down to just one giant pumpkin plant.

Everything else in the squash patch seems to be surviving so far, and I’m seeing new growth in most. The squash that were started at 4 weeks are so very small, though. I kinda feel like maybe we should have started them at 6 weeks.

I had a very pleasant surprise in the tomato patch nearby, though!

Of course, the camera on my phone didn’t focus where I wanted it to. 😀

We have our first tomatoes forming!

These are on the Sophie’s Choice tomato plants. We got these seeds as a freebie with my order from Heritage Harvest, which was a very pleasant surprise. They have a much shorter growing season, and were started indoors at around 10 weeks or something (it’s a good thing I am using the blog as a gardening journal to record the details, because I’m already forgetting!). So I am not surprised that these are the first to start forming fruit.

We did get some rain last night, but it was light enough that much of the water in the garden was able to get absorbed by the soil, and the paths are just really wet, instead of big puddles of water. That meant I could finally do some much needed weeding in the summer squash bed, then pruning of tomatoes.

I took some of the strongest, healthiest looking branches that I pruned off the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and transplanted them in the open spaces between the summer squash. I don’t know if I’m breaching any companion planting rules here (do tomatoes and squash go well together?), but whatever. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. I specifically wanted to propagate more Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, as they are listed as extremely rare, so if I can save seed and help keep the variety going, that would be a good thing. Because they start producing so much faster than the other varieties we have, I’m not as concerned about cross pollination.

While I was weeding and tending different parts of the garden, I had Rolando Moon hanging out and keeping me company. Not wanting attention. Just being nearby.

I had to chase her out of one of the sweet potato bags, as she decided to start rolling in it! Then she jumped up into the high raised bed and lay down on some onions. THEN, she moved into the squash and corn patch, and sat on some corn seedlings!

That cat seems determined to be destructive!

Meanwhile…

The tomatoes are not the only things blooming. Two of the Styrian hulless pumpkins have suddenly burst into bloom, and they are all covered with buds again. Their first buds had been pruned away when they were transplanted. They look to still be all male flowers. I’m debating whether these flowers should be pruned away, too, so more energy can go to the plants establishing themselves more. It hasn’t been that long since they were transplanted, after all.

Anyone out there know if it would be helpful to prune the flowers off now or not?

The beans and peas at the trellises and bean tunnel are looking quite good. The cucumbers seem more touch and go. The first peas that were planted are getting quite large, and the snap peas are already large enough that some have latched onto the vertical trellis strings already. The snap peas are growing noticeably faster than the pod peas.

There is a single, out of place pea plant that showed up, right near the upright post at the start of the row. It seems to be a pea from last year that finally germinated! It germinated quite a bit earlier than the others, and I’m trying to train it up the support post, since it’s too far from the vertical lines to climb. Last year, we planted the King Tut purple peas here, so that’s what this one would be. It’s even almost as large as the purple peas we started indoors from saved seed, and transplanted against the chain link fence to climb. They are all tall enough that they’ve attached themselves to the fence and are making their way upwards, even though they are still looking kinda spindly.

The Wonderberries have been ripening, though the plants haven’t really gotten any bigger, and have what looks like weather damage. I’ve been able to taste them. They are lightly sweet, but don’t have any predominant flavour. This may be something we just leave for the birds. I’ll have to get the girls to try them, too, and see if they like them. I don’t mind them self seeding in this location, as I’d rather have the berry bushes that produce food, either for us or for the birds, than the invasive flowers.

In other things, my plans for the day have had to change. My sister never made it out to my mother’s yesterday, because my mother told her it was “too soon” to start packing and bagging things in preparation for her apartment being sprayed for bed bugs. She has a shift today, so that’s out. My brother, meanwhile, is out of town for a funeral that had been delayed until now by the lockdowns. So it looks like I’ll likely have to go to my mother’s to help out. I’ll phone her, first, once I’m sure she is back from church. My sister will be able to come out tomorrow morning, and I hope to come out in the early afternoon for the last of the packing and bagging, and moving of larger items. Then she’s back the next morning to bring our mother to her place for the night. I’ll head over in the early evening to check on the place and make sure it’s locked up while my mother is gone.

On Tuesday, I should be heading into the city for the first half of our monthly shopping, too. I will time it so I can check her place on my way home.

Which means I’ll be getting very little accomplished at home over the next few days!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: filled in the squash bed

The squash bed prepared by my daughter has been filled!

Some things went in some odd configurations. It’s going to take some doing to remember everything, even with the labels.

In my previous post, I’d stopped for a break after getting the Kakai hulless pumpkins, and the Crespo squash, started in the squash bed. As expected, the rest went much faster.

I’m so tired right now, I’m not sure I’m going to remember everything I planted in here at all! 😀

At this corner, the four Endeavor green zucchini got transplanted, running parallel to the low raised bed. This way, they will be easily accessible for harvesting throughout the summer.

There was a bit of space at the end of the row the green zucchini was planted in, so a couple of Teddy winter squash were planted there, and the remaining 6 were planted in a block in the next couple of rows. The Teddy squash has a growing habit similar to zucchini, so I wanted to make sure they were near the path, so we shouldn’t have too much trouble getting by while tending the low raised bed, or the green zucchini.

Next to the Kakai hulless pumpkin, I planted the Baby Pam pumpkins. There was six of them, planted in a 3 x 2 block. These are a smaller pumpkin that are supposed to be excellent for pies.

The poles are with the Apple gourds. I can’t remember if they’re climbers or not, but they are the only gourds in this bed, so I wanted to make them easy to spot.

I know we had some Ozark Nest Egg gourd seedlings, but as I planted them, I got a closer look and it does seem the are all Apple gourds. I don’t remember the Ozark seedlings dying off; if I had noticed, I would have tried planting more! I have no idea what happened to them.

Fit into the remaining spaces are the Georgia Candy Roaster and Winter Sweet.

Of the 7 x 7 grid my daughter dug, I did not plant anything in the south row, as it was too far into the shade. So this squash bed has been planted in a 7 x 6 grid.

The next step will be to mulch this area with straw. There had been thunderstorms forecasted, but now they’re just saying showers – those storm predictions keep going away! Still, we want to make sure the mulch is down as soon as possible.

If I can, though, I’ll see if I can get in with the weed trimmer first. It’ll be more difficult, now that the seedlings are planted, but it will make a big difference later in the season.

There were still seedlings to be transplanted, however. Which means a whole new section needed to be claimed. We were hitting 25C/77F, though, so I went back inside to take a hydration break, though I ended up making a dash to the store to pick up more bug spray. I’d just bought some, and we were already running out. They didn’t have a lot of options – normally we get something that will repel ticks, too, but there was none available. Still, with how fast we’ve been going through them, I got two.

For the rest of the transplants, I decided to start transplanting here.

In this area next to the potatoes, the grass I’d cut was growing back faster that the squash bed I’d just finished planting in, so I couldn’t make do without using the weed trimmer.

I worked in sections, starting out with an area large enough to include walking paths.

I had a couple of bins of transplants already at the garden, so I started on those, first.

These are the G-Star, green patty pan squash. The plants will be more compact compared to the winter squash, and they will be more easily accessed from the path between them and the potato and melon bed. I started by digging the row of holes then, using the jet setting on the hose, drilled into the soil and into the divots to blast as much soil back into the holes as I could, while leaving the roots and rocks behind. Then each hole got a spade full of sifted garden soil, and finally the squash were transplanted.

That process was then repeated for the next row, for the Boston Marrow. There were three pots, but so many of them germinated, I was able to plant eight. Which is probably quite crowded, even though I spaced them out more, as I think these will sprawl quite a bit as they grow.

Once those were in, I went to get more transplants – and found the only squash left were both hulless pumpkins!

Oops. I’d intended to plant them further apart. I would have put the Boston Marrow in between them, if I’d thought ahead. Ah, well.

I chose to plant the Lady Godiva variety here, because there was 5 seedlings, to the other variety’s four.

The last four, the Styrian hulless pumpkins, went next to the bean tunnel. I wasn’t able to use the weed trimmer here, though. I had to add another length of extension cord, but for some reason, it just wouldn’t run. I think there’s an issue with one of the extension cord plugs.

Oh, I almost forgot!

While watering the beds out here earlier, I noticed that we now have peas sprouting! The ones my daughter planted at the finished trellis. There are 2 varieties, and both have broken ground. 🙂

So here we have it! That last of the squash, gourds and pumpkins are now transplanted! As with the others, these will also need a straw mulch.

We might end up finishing off the bale, soon!

As of tonight, the only things left to transplant are the ground cherries and the Yakteen gourds. The Yakteen gourds will be filling in some gaps in other places. After talking about it with my daughter, she suggested a place for the ground cherries that I hadn’t thought of. Next to the compost ring, there’s a spot where we’ve got grass clippings sitting on top of a sheet of metal. That metal has been there for about a year now, so it should be just fine to plant into. We’ll just have to find ways to use up the grass clippings that are there! 🙂

I am so glad to finally have the transplanting done! Where we’re planting them is far from ideal, but they should be fine, I think.

We still have corn to direct seed. We’ll check the days to maturity and see if we still can, or if the seeds will just have to wait until next year. There are other seeds I’d hoped to plant this year, but they will have to wait until next year. They should have been sown back when everything was flooding. There is no longer enough of a growing season left for them.

While I was working on all this, my younger daughter took care of some other jobs, including doing a burn. We haven’t been able to get the burn barrel going for a while, and it was over full of the cat litter sawdust. That meant she had to stay and tend the fire for several hours.

She had just reached the point where she could put the cover on and finally let it smolder away on its own, when I came by to the pile of garden soil for one last wheel barrow load. Previously, I’d been sifting soil from the remains of the pile near the squash bed, but what’s left of that is so full of roots, it’s not worth the effort anymore. Later in the season, we’ll break up what’s left of it and use it to level off that area which, like so many other spots around the old garden area, is really rough, making it difficult to mow.

While sifting soil into the wheel barrow from the other pile – which went so much faster, as I was able to work from an area that hadn’t been taken over by weeds, yet – my daughter and I both heard a strange sound.

Coming from the branch pile.

A teeny, tiny mewing sound!

There are still kittens in there! Well. At least one. I’ve seen the mamas taking their kittens out of there, so this may be different litter? I have no idea. It’s going to still be a while before we start seeing the moms bringing their babies to the kibble house.

We’ll have to keep our eyes out for them. 🙂

So, there we are. The squash transplants are finally done!

Looking at the 14 day forecast, we’re looking at highs hovering around 20C/68F during the day, and the lows hovering around 15C/59F, which fairly regular showers throughout. Which should be just excellent for the garden! It would be so good to finally have a good growing year.

As for me, I am wiped out. A daughter has been kind enough to take care of my laundry for me, I’ve taken my pain killers, and am more than ready to go to bed!

And it’s not even midnight yet. 😉

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: winter sowing, and transplants organized

During the winter, we tried a winter sowing experiment. We sowed seeds in 4 different styles of containers to see which would do better come springtime.

The answer is…

… none of them.

Not a single thing has germinated.

I think they froze. Our extended winter was probably a bit too much for them. People in some of my zone 3 gardening groups have had good success with their winter sowing, so I know the technique works. It just didn’t work for us, this year!

Will be try again next year?

Maybe. We’ll decide in the fall, I think.

When bringing the transplants in last night, I took the time to go through them all, organize them and get labels ready for today.

This morning, while taking them back outside, I gave them another once over, trying to figure out how I wanted to get them in. This is what we’ve got left to transplant.

This year, we have 3 surviving Crespo squash – and one of them was thinned out from another pot. These guys REALLY want to go into flower!

We did all right with the Styrian hulless pumpkins, with 4 surviving transplants.

The Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins did even better. There are 5 pots in there, but some of them have two or three plants – seeds started germinating later, after we started hardening off the plants!

The Kakai hulless pumpkin did not fare as well. There are only 2 of those.

The Baby Pam pumpkin did amazing. We’ve got 6 of them – a 100% germination rate! These are last year’s seeds, and last year, none of them germinated!

In the other bin are the two Little Finger eggplants I found among the squash and pumpkins, plus the two giant pumpkins started from free seeds given out at the grocery store near my mother’s place. We won’t be doing any of the pruning or special care to grow a competition sized pumpkin, but it should still be interesting to see how big they do get!

Here we have 3 pots each of winter squash, but some of the pots have 2 or 3 seedlings in them! We’ll decide what to do with them, as we are ready to transplant. I don’t like to “waste” strong, healthy seedlings, so they might all get transplanted. We shall see.

We’ve got 2 Apple gourds, for sure – these were from a second start, due to the Great Cat Crush. There are two others that are either more Apple gourds, or Ozark nest egg gourds. The writing faded on the labels.

We have quite a lot of ground cherries, and still have no idea where we are going to plant them!

Here are the last of the seedlings that were started at 4 weeks before last frost date. There are 4 green zucchini (the yellow zucchini and the Magda have already been planted), and 8 of the G-star patty pans, which we got through a happy mistake. The Teddy squash are from last year’s seeds, and these ones grow in a bush habit, rather than vining.

Then there are the three pots that have Yakteen gourds planted in them, but only one pot has seedlings – and a new one germinating again! That was one of the pots that got re-planted, because none germinated. The other round pot that has a label stuck in it was also replanted, but nothing has germinated. The middle round pot had Kakai pumpkins sown in it, which did not germinate, so I used the same pot for more Yakteen gourd seeds. Nothing. Very strange!

When it’s time to plant these, we’ll be trying to work them in groups or clusters, placing like away from like, as much as possible. At the same time, we want the summer squash to be easily accessible, which means not letting them get crowded by the sprawling winter squash! We’ll see how many we can fit into the area my daughter dug a grid of holes into.

It’s a littler over a weeks since our last average frost date, so hopefully, it’s not too late to be transplanting these. As you can tell by the yellowing leaves, they really need to be out of those pots and into the ground!

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: first spinach sown, and onions transplanted

It was a bit cooler and overcast this morning, but still pleasant enough to get the plants outside for a couple of hours.

I am really happy with the newest seedlings. This tray has the cucumbers in the left half, with the Teddy and Red Kuri winter squash on the right. It took so long for the winter squash to germinate, I wasn’t sure they’d make it, but we have 100% gemination!

The purple peas in this tray are getting nice and big. The summer squash in the other cells took a long time to germinate, too, but they seemed to get a boost after I put the warming mat under them. It’s hard to see, but even the green zucchini is finally germinating, next to the peas. I thought the Magda squash had started to germinate, but not quite yet. We had less success with those the last 2 years we planted them, too. Our first year, we had only 2 surviving plants. Last year, there was just the one. Magda squash just seems to have a harder time of it.

So far, only 2 of the yellow zucchini have germinated. Last year, we had some germinate, but when they started producing fruit, they were green, and we no yellow zucchini at all. I’m hoping that won’t happen again, this year!

The transplants seem to be quite liking their time outdoors, and even the newest little tomatoes in the foreground are looking generally robust.

We have 3 Crespo squash – and they are budding! Would you look at that!

I considered pinching them off, but these first flowers would be all male flowers. The next batch of buds should be both male and female. So I’m thinking to just leave them? I don’t know. There is very little information out there on how to grow Crespo squash. They do seem to be very enthusiastic growers!

While moving the blooming Wonderberry in and out of the sun room, we have been brushing the 3 plants against each other, in hopes to pollinate them, just in case. I don’t know how if they are self pollinating or not. Nowhere I’ve looked about them even mentions pollinating.

The transplants were left out for 2 hours today, which gave me time to work on our very first direct sowing – and transplanting – in the high raised bed.

The first thing to do was dig trenches through the wood chip mulch, so that things could be seeded/planted into the soil beneath. We have three varieties of spinach seeds from last year, and for this bed, I chose Lakeside, which is the fastest maturing variety of the three. The tray of onions I grabbed are the red onions, Tropeana Lunga, which should look like this when they mature…

This image belongs to Heritage Harvest Seed. You can see what else we ordered with these, here.

By planting the onions around the spinach, they should help with keeping away harmful insects, and maybe even keep hungry critters away. The high raised bed is buffet height for deer, though, so we will be covering them later.

There is space to do a second planting of spinach in two weeks, which will also finish off the seeds we’ve got left of this variety.

The largest Tropeana Lunga seedlings filled the two outside rows, but there were still a few tiny seedlings left. The size that would be considered not worth planting. I hate to just toss seedlings, though, so I ended up sticking them in the soil at the base of the raised bed on the north end. When this was a low raised bed, it was quite a bit longer, so the soil is softer on that end. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. We don’t have a lot of this variety, so I’m hoping to be able to overwinter a couple of bulbs to go to seed next year.

I was left with nice, soft potting soil in the tray the onions seedlings were growing in, so I used that to gently top the spinach seeds, and put just a little around each onion plant, more to keep the wood chips from falling onto them than anything else.

I have to say, I LOVE the high raised bed to plant in! It was completely pain free, with no strain on my joints. Well. I suppose that doesn’t include my arthritic fingers, but I didn’t even notice pain in my hands, either. It took me less than half an hour to plant into this bed

I didn’t bother watering these, since it was already starting to rain by the time I was finishing up. It’s been raining off an on, ever since. My daughter and I got a bit damp when we headed out later on, to figure out exactly where to plant our tree order when it comes in. With 30 silver bison berry to plant, those were the ones we need to figure out the most. They should be planted 3-4 ft apart. Since we are doing these as a privacy hedge, we will planting them 3 feet apart, with most of them along the east end of the garden area, leaving a lane just wide enough to drive through, if necessary, between them and the fence line. Taking into account where the phone line is buried, we’ll be able to plant two staggered rows of 10, though as we get closer to the spruce grove, we many need to jump the rows closer to the fence itself, to keep that driving lane open. There is a branch pile that will be in the way of any lane we leave open, but we’ll still be able to plant around it.

We’ve got 5 sea buckthorn that will be planted nearer the north fence line, to close a gap in the lilac hedge. Any remaining bison berry can also be planted along the lilac hedge, and still keep the lane over the telephone wire clear. This will leave a gap in the privacy hedge, once they’ve grown to full size, that will need fencing or a gate to close it off from deer.

The Korean pine are a whole other issue. Originally, I wanted to plant them in the space between the north side of the spruce grove, and the crab apple trees. These, however, have an 18 foot spread. At their mature size, they would completely fill that space, and we need at least some of it to be kept open to drive through. The alternative was along the north side, which would make an excellent wind break, but with that 18 foot spread and the lilac hedge, we’d be planting them on top of the phone line. Not going to happen.

Which means we’ll have to plant them in the outer yard.

Just past the fence on west side, which has a gate that leads into the garden, there is a space where we can plant 2 of them. Then there is the gate to the secondary driveway – our “emergency exit”, if you will. It was through here that one of our truck loads of garden soil was delivered.

The remaining 7 seedlings will need to be planted on the other side of that back gate, along where there is already a couple of rows of spruces, with some willows at the south end. If we plant them 18 feet apart (we might go with 16 feet), we will have a row of seedlings matching the length of the existing shelter belt trees.

The only problem with this is that the south end is currently under water.

Still, knowing that this is a low spot will help. We can make sure to basically build things up a bit, so that the seedlings will stay above water during spring melt.

Then we’ll have to make sure to put something over them to protect them from being eaten. I don’t know that deer would eat Korean pine, but they could certainly damage them, just by walking over them.

We have not yet received a shipping notice for the trees, but with so many holes to dig, the earlier we get started, the better. Hopefully, by the time they do arrive, we’ll be ready and can plant them right away.

Oh, I just double checked my order! We’re not getting 9 Korean pine. We’re getting 6.

Which means we won’t be digging holes in water, after all. 😀

It’s going to feel weird getting our little 2 yr old plugs and planting them so far apart. Especially since they will grow very slowly for the next 3 years. Which is exactly how my mother ended up planting so many trees way too close together! 😀

Oh, my goodness. I just checked the short range weather forecast, and it’s changed yet again. We’re supposed to get more rain over the next couple of days, then for the two days after that, we’re supposed to get a mix of rain and snow!

What I planted in the high raised bed should be cold hardy enough to handle that, but we might cover it anywhere, just in case, at least for the night.

Last year, May was a very warm month. On this exact day last year, we had a new record high of 30C/86F. The record low for today, -4C/24F, was set in 2002.

After a long, cold winter, it seems we’re getting a wet cold spring.

Still, there are things we can plant. I just hope things warm up decently in June, so we can get the warm weather transplants in!

The Re-Farmer

Deliciousness

While I was outside, using the wood chipper, my daughter was busy dealing with our last summer squash!

She made four 750ml jars of refrigerator pickles with most of them.

The rest went into a summer squash and tomato soup. I think she actually used canned soup as a base, with the summer squash and the teeny tomatoes we’d harvested recently, plus our own onions and garlic, added in, then whizzed with the immersion blender when they were cooked.

It was absolutely delicious!

The Re-Farmer

At the gate, and after the rain

While doing my rounds this morning, I found a strange thing at the gate.

The twine was caught around the lock and the caribiner, which usually hangs over one side of the gate, was hooked onto the chain link.

Right off the bat, I knew this was NOT our vandal. If it were, there would have been actual damage, like the locks being glued again, or something like that.

Needless to say, I was quite curious when I sat down to look at the trail cam files. I had a pretty good idea who did it.

I was right.

When my daughter’s package was delivered, the driver tried to shove it into the gate, then used the chain to try and hold it in place. The problem is, the gate moves in the wind. When the cameras were triggered again, less than 15 minutes later, I could see the package was already half-falling. My the time my daughter came over to get the package, about half an hour after it was dropped off, it was on the ground.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t fragile!!

Going through the trail cam files was interesting for another reason: several files caught huge flashes of lighting from last night’s storm! I even saw a deer and her little one, hurrying up the driveway, while the sky light them up repeatedly.

Yesterday blew past our expected high of the day, reaching at least 30C/86F, possibly 32C/90F. That was followed by a wicked thunderstorm that passed over us around 11pm. It was awesome! Of course, we lost internet well before that. It rained enough that I found our rain barrel by the sun room, which had only a few inches of water on the bottom, full to overflowing.

We *really* need an overflow hose on that thing.

The garden loved the rain, too!

I was seeing huge new blossoms on the summer squash. Even the Ozark Nest Egg and the luffa gourds had new flowers opening. So did the Tennessee Dancing gourds, but they never really stopped blooming, so that wasn’t a lot of change.

The Crespo squash is seeing more flowers opening, too, and some of the developing fruit is noticeably bigger! These two are the ones closest to the barriers than I can get clear photos of, but there are quite a few more getting bigger like this.

The sunflowers are loving the deep watering, too. And just look at this Hopi Black Dye seed head! It is getting so very dark!

I even had a baby harvest this morning.

The larger melon is a Pixie melon. There are still lots of those. The little one is a Halona melon. The remaining melons on those vines are not getting any bigger, as the vines are pretty much completely died back now. Most of the melons are all very securely attached to their vines, though. This little one was feeling a bit softer, so I had it with breakfast. 🙂

I even was able to pick some peas! With our first green peas, I did find a pod or two, but between the drought and the critters, that was about it. This is the most I’ve picked at once, this year.

That longest pod is the size they would all be reaching, if growing conditions were better.

I suppose I really should have left them for another day, as these were a bit on the small size, but I couldn’t resist.

I had them with my breakfast, too. 🙂

The melon wasn’t as sweet as larger ones we’d picked, but it was definitely ripe. The peas were also probably not as sweet as they would have been under better growing conditions. They were both still quite tasty, though!

Last night’s storm had blown the door to the outhouse closed. I opened it again and things were still a bit damp. It’s been a few hours now, so I am going to head out and see if I can start painting!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden, and first lettuce!

I was rather pleased with this morning’s harvest!

I am just amazed that we still have beans to pick, this late in the season! Even a single yellow bean. 😀

If the mild temperatures continue, we will be getting more yellow beans, too. There are new beans growing, all over the row! From what I could see while picking the green and purple beans, we will have more to pick for at least a couple of weeks, unless a frost hits, first.

After seeing that insanely high reading on this thermometer a few days ago, I’ve been making a point of checking it more often. This time, it seems to be reading low. It was chilly this morning, but not that chilly!

Ah, well. It’s a Dollar Store thermometer. As long as it’s close, it’ll be useful.

This morning was the first time I uncovered the lettuce to weed and thin them. The cover may keep the critters out, but it’s so long, it’s awkward to move on and off, unless there are two people.

These seeds had been from the bottom of a baggie they had spilled into, so I was expecting a mix. It looks like they are almost all the same type, with the exception of two Buttercrunch. Today is the first time we have been able to harvest lettuce this year! The first time we planted them in the spring, the groundhog got to them before we could. The lettuce is just loving these cooler temperatures.

What I am most curious about is this…

There is a tomato plant growing here! It’s looking very strong and healthy, too. I think that’s a dill growing beside it. Dill self seeds easily, but a tomato? Where did that come from? And why did it sprout so late in the season? This bed had spinach in it, first, and this tomato is growing past the sticks marking the ends of the rows I sowed the lettuce in. No additional soil had been added. Very strange!

While weeding this bed, I was on the lookout for the radishes we’d planted in the other half. I found a couple, but they were really tiny. I have no idea what happened to them.

The Bright Lights chard is doing well. We’ve harvested leaves a couple of times from these. They are liking these cooler temperatures.

We have completely abandoned the carrot bed the woodchucks had decimated repeatedly. I’d tried to at least keep weeding it a bit, but it was just too much. And yet, you can see carrot fronds among the weeds! It should be interesting to see what we have, when this bed gets cleaned up for next year.

The Hopi Black Dye sunflower in the old kitchen garden had three stalks with flowers on it. In our recent winds, one of them broke, so I added the supports for the plant to try and save the rest. This morning, I found a second stalk, broken on the ground.

We didn’t really have a lot of wind last night.

I suspect kittens.

I’ve been catching them playing in this garden, right on top of the netting over the carrot bed and the beets by the retaining wall. The carrots are on the edges of the bed, and the kittens have been playing in the middle, so those aren’t as affected, but the beets are being flattened. That bed was already struggling to recover from being et by grogs, and not doing well, so I guess it’s not really a loss, but I find it interesting that the kittens seem to really like playing on top of the netting, instead of on the ground or paths beside it!

Thinking ahead to next year, I believe we have enough salvaged boards in the barn that can be used to make low raised beds here. It would be a good place to make contained areas, such as with square foot gardening, as we turn this into a kitchen garden, and we start to plant more herbs that may have a spreading tendancy. If we have actual frames on the beds, that will make it easier to set up sturdy covers to protect from voracious critters and insects – and playful kittens!

I think we should dig up the rhubarb and transplant them somewhere else. They are not doing well here, likely because they are right under the ornamental crab apple trees.

As difficult and sometimes disappointing as things have been with gardening this year, particularly with the drought, it has showed us a lot about what works, and we can do to improve things for the future.

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, and wayward vegetables

Heading out to do my morning rounds is pretty awesome these days. ALL of the kitties come running!

I even got to give Nosencrantz full body pets – but only while she was eating! Toesencrantz started to come close, but she was too nervous with me being so close, and kept going away. So I left, to give her a chance to eat.

The other eight kittens, plus Potato Beetle, converged on the kibble house! 😀 What a crowd! Gosh, they’re getting big. 🙂

While I was out by the furthest garden beds, I started hearing some exciting meowing. It took a while, but Rolando Moon came over from wherever she had spent the night across the road, all excited. She let me pet her, then followed me as I went around the garden and made my way back to the house. As we got closer to the house, she would start hissing in between her meows, even though there were no other cats in sight. She was sure on the lookout for a nasty Potato Beetle!

By the time we got to the kibble house, all the other cats were done eating and were gone, so she had a chance to have breakfast in peace.

There were a few squash large enough to pick this morning; a small enough harvest that I could fit them in my jacket pockets! 😀

I found another Madga squash ready to pick, and even one of the mutant sunburst patty pans – the one that’s part green, part yellow – was a nice size to pick, and even one zucchini was ready.

Just one.

While going through the squash tunnel, Rolando Moon ran ahead of me to the end, then flung herself to the ground, waiting for pets.

Right next to a zucchini.

When I had picked squash yesterday, I was carrying them in my arms rather awkwardly, and it looks like I dropped one! 😀

With the fix on our main entry door hinges giving out, we’ve been using the sun room to go in and out of the house. This requires going through a door into the old kitchen, where the cats are not allowed. The door is an old style door with a skeleton key lock on it – though there is no key for it anymore. From there, there is a pair of doors going into the sun room; in the summer, we leave the solid, inner door open. The outer door, which has a window with a screen that we keep partly open for air circulation, is a sort of buffer between the old kitchen and the sun room, in case an outside cat is in the sun room, or an inside cat sneaks into the old kitchen. There are a couple of them that REALLY want to get into the old kitchen!!

Finally, there are the sun room doors. Once again, for the summer, we leave the inner, solid door open, while the outer door, with its screen window partially open for air circulation, is one last barrier. I used to leave the sun room doors open while working outside and have to go in and out frequently, but sometimes an outside cat slips in to investigate and I accidentally close them in when I’m done, so I try to keep that one closed most of the time, too.

When I came into the sun room after finishing my rounds this morning, I spotted a cat jumping off the old wood cook stove in the old kitchen, though the window in the old kitchen door. My initial thought was the Fenryr had once again slipped by me so fast I didn’t see her.

Boy was I wrong.

You see, the old door leading from the house to the old kitchen has… issues. Sometimes, when it seems to be closed, the latch doesn’t actually catch. Then, after a while, the door simply pops open.

By the time I came back, it was wide open, and most of the cats were in the old kitchen, exploring.

As soon as I opened the door from the sun room, there was a rush of cats going into the sun room.

Thank goodness that outside door was closed!!

It took a spray bottle and a few minutes, just to get the cats out of the sun room and into the old kitchen, so I could close that door. Then it took a few more minutes to get them out of the old kitchen and into the rest of the house, so I could close that door. Only then could I empty my jacket pockets of vegetables onto the big freezer, though as I hung my jacket up, I spotted a Nicco in the little niche by the wood cook stove, hiding under my late father’s folded up wheelchair. At that point, I left her along, put things away and, by the time I came back, she came out on her own and I was able to get her to leave.

Inside and outside cats all together, I had 28 cats to deal with this morning! And I didn’t even see the three mamas, yet. 😀

I guess that makes me a crazy cat lady!

The Re-Farmer

Unexpected harvest, and other things

We were having a lovely rain when I headed out to do my morning rounds. Though we have been getting the odd showers for the past while, things were still starting to dry out. With the high winds yesterday, I actually watered the old kitchen garden, when I noticed all the beet greens were wilted.

With the cooler temperatures and things in the garden winding down, we’re gathering things every few days or so, and the amount we harvest is getting smaller. Mostly, it’s just summer squash. My daughter had recently picked summer squash, so when I went through the garden beds this morning, I wasn’t expecting to actually pick anything.

I was rather surprised to find even a few larger summer squash! The Magda squash have been slow growing this year, so finding two of them large enough to pick is a treat. There are lots of little sunburst pattypans, and after my daughter had already picked the larger ones, I certainly didn’t expect to find more so soon. Yes, I know they can get much larger, but this is the stage we like them best. The only thing that wasn’t a surprise was the big zucchini. Usually, we pick the squash soon after the flowers fall off, but the flower on this one was solidly attached. Even though it was of a size we would normally pick it at, we left it. When I saw it this morning, I just had to pick it. Any bigger, and it’s going to start getting becoming a winter squash! 😀 Maybe some day we will let some zucchini reach that point, but not this year. 🙂

We are supposed to continue to get showers through the afternoon, but I’m hoping things will have a chance to dry up a bit. I really want to tackle that tree that came down in the wind. We really need to get started on any high raised beds for next year. If we can get even just one bed done, I will be happy. I also need to prepare three beds for the garlic we ordered. I were intending to order double what we got last year, but after talking about it with the girls – and looking at our budget – we got the same amount as before; a collection of racombole, purple stripe and porcelain music, 1 pound each. Though the beds they were planted in before are available, we want to rotate them into other beds that did not have alliums in it. Unfortunately, those beds are still being somewhat used right now! However, if I am able to get enough out of the tree to build a high raised bed, it will have fresh garden soil and amendments added to it, so it won’t matter if it’s in a location that had onions this year.

If it’s too wet to break down the tree today, I should still have tomorrow. The weekend is supposed to get quite hot, and we’ve got plans for Saturday. Next week, we’re supposed to get several days with rain, and then things start cooling down a fair bit. As long as I can get enough pieces cut, while it’s dry, we can get some progress on a bed.

Though our overnight temperatures have not been cold enough for frost, some of the more delicate plants were showing signs of what I would otherwise consider frost damage. Some of the cucamelon leaves are showing signs, and part of a Ozark Nest Egg plant had a vine that was growing the highest, suddenly start dropping this morning.

Everything is all winding down, which means things are getting busier. There’s a lot of work to prepare beds for next year, and getting it done often depends on the weather.

In other things, I’m happy to say that since we installed that shut off valve and, in the process, adjusted the pipe so it wasn’t touching another one, and padded it with vibration reducing material, that very disturbing noise we would sometimes hear seems to be gone. It’s hard to say for sure, since the noise didn’t happen every time the well pump turned on, but so far, it’s encouraging.

Something else seems to have gone away.

The woodchucks.

I haven’t seen any of them in almost a week, now. Usually, I’d at least see one peaking out of the entry to their den under the pile of wood, or eating the bird seeds near the living room window but, lately, nothing. I was wondering if they might have gone into hibernation, so I looked it up. They tend to hibernate from October to February, so it’s still too early for that. But then, the sites also said they mate after the come out of hibernation, and we so them going at it in the summer, so who knows.

Very strange.

Not that I’m complaining! 😀