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! 😀

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden

Well, it is getting decidedly cooler when I do my morning rounds! Fall is just around the corner, but things are still holding out in the garden.

Here are the gourds growing on the south facing chain link fence. The yellow flowers that you see are the Ozark Nest Egg flowers.

If you look at the bottom right, you’ll see a white flower!

This is a Thai Bottle Gourd flower. The Ozark Nest Egg plants are going so well, they sort of hide that there is another type of gourd growing here. The Thai Bottle Gourd has leaves that are more rounded, while the Ozark Nest Egg leaves have points on them.

These gourds are not the only thing bursting into bloom.

This is the Crespo squash, recovered from critter damage and growing enthusiastically! I was not able to get all of it in this photo. All those arrows are pointing to flower buds, some of which are starting to open this morning. There are probably another dozen or so on the rest of the plant off the left side of the photo.

Hidden away in the middle, I found the first female flower!

I couldn’t get any closer because of the critter barriers, but that flower bud the arrow is pointing to has a baby squash at its base. Hopefully, it will get pollinated and not die off. Under the current conditions, I would hand pollinate, but that would require moving the critter barriers. Mind you, there’s no way any fruit that develop will reach maturity.

More on that, later.

There are only a few Halona melons left on the vines, but there are probably a dozen Pixie melons that have not yet ripened.

This is the largest of them. Since it has a hammock, I check it in the mornings by lifting it at the stem, to see if it is starting to separate, but it’s still hanging on tight!

The rest are more like these two.

I’ll have to double check, but I thought the Pixies had a shorter growing season than the Halonas. They are taking much longer than the Halona to fully ripen. I’m sure the drought conditions over the summer have something to do with that, but since we’ve started having rain fairly regularly now, I would have expected them to mature faster. Ah, well. We’ll see how they do!

This is the largest of the developing Teddy winter squash. This is roughly half of what it’s mature size is supposed to be, so they may still have time.

Our weird mutant Red Kuri is noticeably bigger! It makes me smile, every time I see it.

We’ve got a couple more that are getting bigger, too. This is what the mottled green one should be looking like, which is why I suspect it was cross pollinated with the Teddy squash.

Here’s something that is NOT getting bigger!

The one luffa gourd is just… stalled. The plants are still blooming, but also starting to die off for the season. I started these quite a bit earlier, indoors, and they should have had enough time to develop gourds and reach maturity, but this summer was so rough on everything, I think we’re lucky to have even this.

We even had something to harvest! Not every morning, but at least every few days. We even still had a few beans left to pick. In the photo, I’m holding one of the mutant green sunburst squash. 😀 I’ve been trying to let the sunburst squash have more time for the fruit to get bigger, but they seem to be developing more slowly than they did last year.

I just had to get a picture of the sunflower in the old kitchen garden. We can see it from the bathroom window, through the sun room, and it makes me smile, every time. 🙂

As the season winds down, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the long term forecasts. Yesterday was our first frost date for the area, but it continues to look like we are not going to have any frost here, for a while. Of course, the forecast constantly fluctuates, and different sources have different forecasts. My Weather Network app has a 14 day forecast, and with today being the 11th, that puts the 14 day trend between the 12th and the 25th. The lowest overnight temperatures I’m seeing is for the 25th, at 6C/43F, with variable cloudiness.

My Accuweather app, however, is very different. The long range forecast on that one goes up to October 5. Up until this morning, all the overnight lows were above freezing, but this morning, there is now a single night – the 25th – where it says we will hit -2C/28F. It is also predicting thunder showers scattered about the province in that day.

If that is accurate, we have only two weeks before frost hits (which is 2 weeks longer than average, so I’m not complaining!). If we do get a frost, that will be it for the tomatoes, squash, gourds and melons. We have no way to cover any of these beds, so if we get any frost warnings, we’ll just have to pick as much as we can the day before. We should get plenty of sunburst squash, but I’m really hoping the Pixie melons and winter squash ripen before then. The gourd and Crespo squash just don’t have enough time left. Except the Tennessee Dancing gourds. They are so small, we should have quite a few to gather before the frost hits. We may be lucky, though. Aside from that one night that one app is predicting will go below freezing, overnight temperatures are supposed to stay mild into October.

The sunflowers will be a lost cause, though. There is no way the seed heads will be able to mature in so short a time. So many haven’t even opened, yet. Starting some of them indoors would have made the difference (well… except for being eaten by deer), had they been under better conditions. Not just with the weather, but the soil quality where they are growing. Had our only reason for planting them been for the seeds, they would be a failure, but they were planted there partly for a privacy screen, partly for wind break, and mostly as part of our long term plans to prepare the area for when we plant food trees there. Which means we had a success with 3 out of the 4 reasons we planted them. I do want to get more of these seeds to try them again, elsewhere.

For now, every night we have without frost is a help.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning harvest and first potatoes, makes for an awesome breakfast!

I finished off my rounds this morning by doing some harvesting in the garden. The beans in particular had plenty to pick. 🙂

I found a yellow bean, growing on a green bean plant!

It didn’t get picked. It felt completely empty. Any beans it might have had did not develop. I did find one other yellow bean among the green beans, on another plant, that did have developing beans in it, but it was super soft for some reason.

There as a big enough haul this morning to need two containers! 🙂

Among the sunburst squash, we have the one plant that is producing green squash instead of yellow, though some of the developing squash have streaks of yellow in them. An interesting mutant plant! 😀

The yellow beans are pretty much done. We’ll still be picking them for the next while, but just a few here and there.

I found flowers on both green and purple bean plants! Just a few, but still a surprise, this late in the season. We’ll be having plenty of those to pick for a while, from the looks of it. Lots of little ones developing on the plants.

Our first potatoes! We could have picked potatoes earlier, but we’ve been leaving them for now. This morning, I decided to reach into a few bags and dug around until I felt a potato and pulled it up. These are the yellow Yukon Gem and red Norland potatoes. I did not try to pick any of the fingerlings, yet.

That’s a pretty good harvest for the day! There are enough beans there to do another bag for the freezer, if we want. 🙂

I used a bit of everything when I made breakfast this morning. 🙂

I made a hash using all three types of beans, a couple of sunburst squash, a zucchini, and one of each type of potato. I also used onion and garlic that we harvested earlier. Even the oil I used to cook with was infused with our chive blossoms, and the dried parsley on top is from last year’s garden.

It tasted great, too! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: evening harvest

While doing my evening rounds, I was able to gather quite a substantial harvest from the garden!

The yellow beans are, as could be expected, winding down right now, but there was still quite a lot of them. There were plenty of green beans, too, but it was the purple beans that stole the show! There were so many ready to pick this time!

I picked a few sweet corn that seems like they might be ready, just to see how they were. Though their silks are drying, they are still quite immature. My expectations are on the low side for these, given how nitrogen poor the soil is, but we shall see as time goes by.

I was really happy to have so many sunburst squash and zucchini! I also had to straighten up a lot of the support poles, as the wind had blown them over somewhat. However, I can definitely say it was much easier to find and harvest the summer squash grown vertically! Last year, I was picking sunburst squash and zucchini pretty much daily, but this is the first time we’ve had a substantial amount to pick. They did not get eaten before we could get to them! The cayenne pepper is definitely working!

I applied more over everything after I finished picking things. The rains would have washed it all off by now. We might get more rain today, then off an on over the next week, but I don’t expect to get much here, so I wanted to make sure the garden beds had their spicy protection.

There was enough picked that we could blanch and freeze some more, but this time I’m keeping them for having with our meals. In fact, I’m enjoying some of those beans with my lunch as I write this, sauteed with our Purple Stripe garlic (crushed and chopped) in butter, then braised until tender, then seasoned and stir fried with rice and some of the grass fed beef we got with the package we ordered a while back. It turned out very well!!

It may almost be the end of August, but we’re finally getting to where we can probably eat from our garden every day. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: back at it

As I write this, in the early afternoon, we have reached 30C/86F, with a humidex of 35C/95F. Our high of the day is expected to reach 35C/95F with the humidex at 40C/104F. Thankfully, this is supposed to be the hottest day for the next while, but it means that we’re back at watering the garden at least once a day.

At least this time, I had a full rain barrel to use in the garden beds by the house, while the sprinkler was running in the furthest beds.

With the upstairs so hot during the day, the girls are still staying up all night, so my old daughter can work on her commissions. They still have to put ice packs around their electronics – and themselves – to keep things from overheating.

Since they were still up during the cool of the morning, they did a bit of harvesting, and this was waiting for me when I got up.

We actually have summer squash to pick! The cayenne pepper seems to be working and keeping the grogs (groundhogs) away. This is the most we’ve been able to gather all summer.

They also picked a single red crab apple for me. ❤

It was delicious.

The summer squash bed now has one of the sprinkler hoses I found by the grog den a while back, so they can be watered from below more easily. I set the other one up through two bean beds, but half of the hose seems to have clogged holes. I think they will clear as the hose is used more often.

I’m rather encouraged by these tomatoes. The wilted one is the branch that broke off in the wind, and that I just stuck into the ground. The leaves may be wilted, but the stem is still strong, and the tomatoes that are on it are ripening.

I found a surprise while watering the tomatoes.

This cluster of seedlings has emerged from the new garden soil we recently added!

My initial thought was more sunflowers from the bird feeder, but these actually look a bit like squash seedlings.

We’ll leave them to see what they turn out to be.

Unless the grogs eat them, first.

The sweet corn may be small, but they are maturing. The middle block is maturing the fastest, while the northernmost block the slowest. The southern block has one half maturing faster than the other. This area gets shade in the morning, but at least 8 hours of sunlight per day. The Eastern side, however, would still have shade longer than the rest, and that is likely why the plants are shorter on that side.

It does not seem to matter as much for the sunflowers.

The earliest Mongolian Giant flower heads are progressing nicely.

Even the ones that got chomped by deer are recovering. These are the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers, transplanted next to the Dorinny corn, where the entire row had lots their heads.

You can see the cayenne pepper on the sunflower leaves. Since we are using the sprinklers to water things, we’ll need to reapply it at the end of the day.

On the garden cam, I spotted a big raccoon headed towards the summer squash. It reached a plant, touched it with its nose, and pulled back its head like it got bitten, then ambled around the squash bed, avoiding the plants.

When setting up the sprinkler on the purple corn, I noticed a cob with husks that looked quite dried up. I took a chance and harveted it.

It’s ripe!! Small, not completely pollinated, but still pretty full, and the deep, dark purple it’s supposed to be. I found one other little one with dried husks and picked that, too.

With only two of them, I went to the Dorinny corn and picked what I could there, too.

It isn’t a lot for four people, but enough for part of a meal!

I’m thinking of moving the BBQ my brother gave us to the canopy, so we can grill in the shade. Corn on the grill would be awesome! We’ve got some sirloin steaks from the meat pack we got thawing out, and the summer squash are prepped for grilling. I don’t know if we’ll be up to grilling in this heat, but if not, the vegetables can be roasted.

Either way, I’m looking forward to an excellent Sunday dinner!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: new sprouts, and… I must not compare!

While the girls were doing the evening watering, I headed out to check some of the beds they hadn’t got to, yet. I thought I saw something this morning, and I wanted to check.

I did see something – and by evening, I saw more somethings!

The radishes are starting to sprout already!

Here’s hoping these ones don’t disappear, like the ones we interplanted with our sweet corn!

I have been keeping a close eye on our summer squash, too.

This sunburst squash is of a size I would normally pick, but there is only one this big, so I will leave it until there are others to pick with it. We also have more of the green zucchini that is almost big enough to pick.

While watering the beans, my daughter noticed this…

Some of the purple bean flowers are starting to open! When I checked, some of the green ones were also starting to open, but they’re harder to see than the purple beans, with their amazing, bright colours.

While I’m excited to see them starting to bloom, I have to remind myself not to compare. I’m on several gardening groups for cold climate gardening, zone 3 gardening, and local gardeners. Today, someone posted pictures of their huge pea plants, and the basket of peas they had picked, just today.

These are our peas.

The purple peas are doing a bit better than the green peas. They are flowering and growing pods. But they are also struggling. They started out doing well, but have basically just stopped growing. By this time, they should be well up the trellises, much larger, and much closer to having pods that can be harvested.

It’s similar with the bush beans. The purple ones are doing better than the others, as they have from pretty much the start, but they are all a lot smaller than they should be. The sweet corn is also a lot smaller than I am seeing in other people’s gardens, which have corn the size of our purple corn, that was started much earlier and transplanted, or the Dorinny corn, which was seeded before last frost. Even the renter’s corn in our field is about waist high now.

I have to admit; seeing how well other people’s gardens are doing, in spite of the heat we’ve been getting right now, is sometimes rather discouraging. These are gardens in the same climate zone we are in, and many of them planted even later than we did.

I have to remind myself that these are completely different gardens, many of them established years ago. Even the new gardens are in very different situations. There are many reasons why our peas, corn and beans are looking stunted. The heat, certainly. Perhaps we’re not watering them as much as they need under current conditions. Maybe it’s because their roots have made their way through the thin layer of nutrient rich soil and into the nutrient poor soil, below, and even our fertilizing them isn’t enough to make up for it. Maybe it’s all the weeds and plants that were there before we planted. We don’t have access to good compost, we ran out of mulch and can’t get more, etc. The critter damage adds to the problems, but that’s a different issue altogether.

Plus, of course, we’re gardening in temporary locations. Even the beds that are where we will be gardening permanently will have high raised beds built in them, so the current beds are going to be completely redone.

From the start, as we planned where to plant different things, we knew that if we got anything at all from the farthest beds in particular, that would be a win.

But, my goodness, it sure would be nice to have a big basket of freshly picked peas right now! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Getting bigger

Yesterday evening, while doing my rounds and walking around the back of the house, I startled some babies!

Butterscotch seems to have moved her kittens from the junk pile to under the garden shed.

Her kittens are getting so much bigger and more adventurous, wandering further afield in the yard.

I suspect this has something to do with why Butterscotch as moved them. Wherever they are inside the junk pile, it must be getting a bit tight for her and the 4 of them to fit!

Which means that, with the wasp nest gone and the kittens elsewhere (though they do go back to the junk pile to play), I can continue cleaning up in that area.

Now, if only Butterscotch had been willing to move them to the other side of the house, where the food bowls and the old dog house are!

When topping up the kibble, I put one of the containers in the entrance to the doghouse. Recently, I was noticing a definite skunk smell in there, so yesterday, I lifted the roof, fluffed up the straw and left it open to air out for a while. I am trying to think of other ways to encourage the cats to go in there for shelter, but I think it’s going to take winter temperatures to finally convince them!

As for bigger things, look what I found this morning.

It’s the only one that got big like this!

It seems we had a light frost last night (there were no frost warnings), and some of the little squashes actually look a bit frozen. At this point, I don’t think they’re going to get much bigger. I will check them later today, and might just pick what’s left, then start cleaning up the beds in preparation for winter.

This morning, I got a shipping confirmation for part of the fall plantings we ordered. Unfortunately, the garlic was among the things that are back ordered, so they will be shipped later. Still, we will be able to get started on the varieties of flowers we will be naturalizing in the maple grove. I can also leave the beets and carrots in the ground a bit longer, while we wait for the garlic that will be planted there once they are harvested.

It looks like I’ll be able to accomplish more in a few weeks in the fall, than I’d been able to over the past few months, with this summer’s heat! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

The New Mutant

I found this guy… these guys?… this morning.

It was on the same plant as the other mutant squash that I’m leaving to get big.

Such an adorable little mutant. 😀

There have not been as many squashes to pick lately, but there has been a surge of male flowers blooming right now – and the pollinators are just loving it. So I am expecting another burst of new squash before the season ends. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

A bit of a pickle!

While I took my husband to the city for his appointment with the pain clinic, I asked my daughters if they could maybe freeze the sunburst squash for me.

They did that.

With the squash left over after doing a quick pickle!

They did a bit of research and found a quick pickling recipe to try. These will sit in the fridge and be ready for eating in 2 days.

They filled 4 500ml wide mouth jars and still had enough to fill a few size medium freezer bags of blanched squash.

I really look forward to trying these!

If we’re happy with how they turn out, there will be plenty more squash to do it again, and maybe try some other recipes and flavours.

My girls are awesome!

The Re-Farmer

My favorite mutant

While doing my morning rounds and picking more squash, I always check on my favorite mutant sunburst squash.

It looks like, where it rests against a leaf or stem (which I’ve moved to take the picture), it turned yellow, while the exposed parts are green.

I find myself torn between wanting to pick it, and seeing if it’s any different on the inside and if it tastes any different, or leaving it to grow, to see how big it gets, and let it to go to seed. 😀

I think I’m leaning towards leaving it. 🙂

My husband and I will be heading into the city soon, for his appointment at the pain clinic. I figure it’ll take about 1 hour, 45 minutes, to get there, so we’re leaving 2 hours early. How long the appointment will be, I have no idea. Then there’s going to be the drive back.

This is going to be very difficult on my husband. For medical appointments, he tends to skip his quick release painkillers (which are “take as needed”), so that his mind is clearer. What a choice to have to make: reduce the pain, but be in a brain fog, or have a clearer mind, but with increased pain.

I really hope they can help him get this pain under control. This is no way to live.

With us being gone for most of the day, I’ll have to remember to ask the girls to freeze some of the sunburst squash we’ve got so much of right now. 🙂

The Re-Farmer