Morning in the snow

We’re supposed to get pretty warm today, with a predicted high of 2C/36F, and a combination of rain and snow. It was already just under freezing overnight, which should have meant a pleasant morning to do my rounds. I wasn’t expecting those winds, though! It was warm enough that snow on the roof is melting, and immediately freezing again. The downspouts are full of ice, so it’s dripping all along the eaves-troughs. I broke icicles, just opening the sun room door! πŸ˜€

The kitties were very happy for food and warm water!

I only counted 17 again, but they move around so much, I can’t tell which three were missing, which means even if they came around by the time I finished my rounds, I wouldn’t be able to tell.

There are deer tracks crossing all over the inner yard, and here you can see where they milled around the crab apple trees. Sadly, there are no crab apples for them this year. At least they’re getting a bit of food from the black oil seed we put out for the birds. This is just our first snowfall of the winter, though, so they are not at all in dire straights.

They did appreciate the sunflowers I left behind for them! There isn’t a single leaf or underdeveloped seed head left.

I just love this corridor along the spruce grove, created when we cleared away the lowest branches (many of which were dead). It makes for such a nice, sheltered walkway. As you can see by the tracks, the deer seem to prefer it, too!

My older brother planted these trees, sometime in early 70’s, I think. I would have been just a wee one, and don’t remember them ever not being there, but I do remember being able to climb some of them with my late brother, when we were little. πŸ™‚ There was one tree that had branches lined up so that I could lounge on them like in a reclining chair. My late brother, on the other hand, could climb trees like a monkey, could climb any tree he wanted and go so much higher than I could, with or without branches handy! Of course, in my memory, they were absolutely huge. They would have been a fair bit smaller than they are now, but in my memory, they seemed bigger! πŸ˜€

Once I was done my rounds, I quickly checked the trial cam files, then headed out. I wanted to hit the post office, then to into town to refill our big water jugs and get a flat of eggs. By the time I headed out, however, the winds had picked up even more, and it was raining. Though the gravel roads had been plowed, they were still in rough shape, and driving on them was like driving on a wash board! The paved roads didn’t seem much better, so decided to pick up what I could when I picked up the mail. It’s in a tiny little general store, and they don’t have a lot of selection, but manage to have a good variety of groceries, at least. They do carry the big jugs of water, so I asked about that. Normally, one would pay a $10 deposit for the jug, then $6 for the water. After that, it’s just an exchange of empty jugs for full, for just the cost of the water. I checked, and they looked the same as our own jugs, and the store owner ended up calling the company about it. They were okay with taking another empty, as long as it was clean and the same size/type of jug. So I traded one of our empties that didn’t have a label on it and just had to pay for the water, and not a deposit. It’s more expensive than if I’d gone into town to refill them myself, like I usually do. Likewise with the cartons of eggs I got (we really need to get chickens!), but that’s a small trade off to avoid making the drive on rough, icy roads in the rain and gusting winds.

The closer I can stay to home, the more content I am! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: clean up, little harvests and high raised bed progress

It was a chilly day for it, but we got quite a bit done cleaning up in the garden today.

My focus was on finishing with the abandoned carrot bed that was half done yesterday.

This is how it was left lat night. The second half had the Kyoto Red carrots planted, and after the groundhogs got at them, most had gone to seed when they grew back among the weeds.

Yet we still managed to have some carrots of an edible size!

There were a lot more twisted ones than with the Napoli carrots. This bed had been built on top of one of the potato beds we’d planted the year before, then basically doubled the length. The half the Kyoto Red were on was on top of non-amended ground, and you could see in some of the longer carrots, where they had hit rocks or harder soil, and twisted their way around. Even using the garden fork to loosen the soil and pull up the carrots was harder than the first half.

What a difference with the carrots that had gone to see!

It doesn’t look like we’ll be collecting any; if there are any mature seeds on some of these, I can’t tell.

Once I pulled as much as I could, I started working on cleaning out the weeds and roots. One of my daughter came out after I started that part, and she started working on the sweet corn blocks.

She stacked those next the high raised bed, as I’ll be using some of them in the layers of material used to fill it.

The sunflowers were left for now, but all three blocks of sweet corn were cleared.

She also pulled the summer squash and beans. These beds will be used again next year, so I got her to leave the plants there for now. The beds still need to be weeded and prepped for next year, and I might be able to make use of the plants to improve the soil more.

My daughter also moved the sprinkler hoses, but they were pretty cold and brittle, so they’ve been laid out in the sun for now. It’s supposed to start warming up over the next while, so I’ll wait for a nice warm day before rolling them up for storage.

By the time she got all that done, I was just finishing cleaning the carrot bed. Thankfully, none of the other beds will need as much work to clean them, and will go a lot faster!

My daughter did the final leveling and raking of the bed while I got the tools to continue working on the high raised bed.

I’m finally starting to get a bit of a method down. Between that and the narrower logs, I’m getting the notches cut faster. The logs on the ends are so huge, if I were making this bed only two logs high, I could leave the ends as they are now! As it is, when I add the end pieces for the next level, the narrower side logs means I should only need to cut notches on the cross pieces.

When I got to the point where the second battery on my baby chainsaw needed to sit for a bit before I could squeeze in a few more cuts, I took the time to cut some of the sunflowers. Checking them this morning, I was seeing a lot more losses to birds, so I figured we should get them inside while we still had seeds. πŸ˜€

One pile has the Mongolian Giants and the other has the Hopi Black Dye. I don’t know that all the seed heads I collected will give us finished seeds, but we shall see. I cut the stalks pretty long, which meant some of them included the little baby sunflowers that were branching out, too. Those will, for sure, not have any mature seeds on them, but that’s okay.

At this point, we would be hanging them someplace warm and dry. The best place right now is the sun room, and we have no way to hang anything in there just yet, so I made do.

They should still get good circulation around them on these shelves as they dry. I am very curious as to what we will get out of them!

There is a lot more clean up to do, but thankfully we are expected to continue to get mild weather. So much so, that I am still holding off in broadcasting the wildflower seeds for a while longer. Doing this in the fall will only work if there is no chance of germination, so I would rather wait a bit longer. I think one more week will do it, just to be on the safe side.

The Re-Farmer

Frosted, and planning ahead

Well, it finally happened. We had a lasting frost, and temperatures were still below freezing when I came out to do my morning rounds.

My husband has still been up to feeding the outside cats earlier in the mornings, and has included putting warm water out for them, too, which they are really appreciating! It’s still not cold enough to plug in the heater in the cat’s house or use the heated water bowl, though.

While there was frost still on the ground everywhere else, this area was already warm and sunny. The kittens enjoyed that while watching me do my rounds!

It does show why what we planted along the chain link fence lasted so long. The tomatoes and gourds are finally done for, though. We can now start pulling them and prepping the beds for next year.

While we will be pulling everything else, the sunflowers can stay for a while longer. They sure are a cheerful sight on a chilly morning!

The chard was still quite covered in frost, as these beds are shaded longer in the mornings. We’ve never grown chard before, but from what I’ve read, getting hit with frost can improve their flavour. I don’t know that we’ll grow chard again. They did well, but none of us really ate them much.

I was already planning on pulling the lettuce. That last batch I gathered was so bitter, it went straight to compost instead of the salad I was intending to make with them.

A bit of a surprise was walking by the purple corn, the remains of which we were leaving to go to seed. They were pretty dry by now, yet most of the stalks were eaten last night! They had been left alone for quite a long time, so this was unexpected. Odd that, with so much fresh food still around, and even with the lettuce and chard uncovered, the deer would go for these dried up stalks.

We are going to have a lot of work to do over the next couple of weeks. We’re supposed to warm up again next week, so we do have time. The sweet corn blocks and, eventually, the sunflowers will be pulled, but nothing else will be done in that area until we get the berry bushes we intend to plant there. My daughter has been researching the ones we were looking to get, and Autumn Olive has been taking off our list; apparently, they are considered invasive! The Buffalo Berry and Sea Buckthorn are still on the list. Sea Buckthorn is also considered invasive in some areas, but not our climate zone.

The bean beds, pea trellises, squash tunnel and summer squash areas will all be used again next year, but mostly we need to focus on preparing the main garden beds closer to the house for next year. Once we get our straw bale in, we’ll start mulching some areas for new beds. We are already making lists of what we intend to plant next year, and will start buying seeds and trees over the winter, month by month. We will use that to help decide where to prepare new ground for planting next year.

At the same time, we are making lists of things to stock up on. Though things are looking mild, we’ve been either snowed in or had our vehicles freeze for two winters in a row now, so we want to be prepared in case something like that happens again. With food prices increasing so much over the past few months, and expected to get higher, it’s getting more difficult to buy those few extra things every month. Particularly since so many other people have realized that “prepping” is a really, really good idea, too!

Having grown up here, as a subsistence farm, I am very familiar with a lot of “self sufficiency” and “prepper” habits. That was just what everyone did, because there was no other option, really. So I’m no stranger to the lifestyle. At the same time, I am always wanting to learn new information and more about how to do it better, so I spend quite a bit of time researching. Which means I’ve lately been seeing a lot of homesteading resources – “subsistence farming” just isn’t a term that’s used anymore! – and “prepper” sites. Lately, it’s been feeling downright weird to go to them, as they are increasingly focused on giving information to people who are totally new to the concept, due to current circumstances. For us, this is just stuff we need to do. We are isolated just enough that we know we have to rely on ourselves if things go wrong, and there are always thing that can go wrong. The power could go out. We could get snowed in. We might have to evacuate due to wildfires. At least flooding isn’t a concern where we are, but running out of water is. We can’t just hope over to the corner store if we run out of things, like we could while living in the city. We can’t even assume we will have telephone (meaning the land line; we already can’t rely on getting a cell phone signal here) or internet for communication. The land line is pretty reliable, at least, but our internet starts kicking out as soon as there is a stiff wind, or if there are storms to the south of us. Of course, on top of all that, we have my husband’s health issues. He and I were just talking this morning about his prescription refills. He gets his daily meds in bubble packs now, including those that are restricted. For the longest time, he couldn’t get refills for his restricted medications until he was, at the earliest, 3 days away from running out. Now, his bubble packs aren’t even done locally. They’re done in the city and shipped to the local pharmacy, and with how crazy things have been, they’ve actually lifted some of the red tape surrounding restricted medications. Which means we should be able to get a couple of months of refills, instead of just one month. He just got his refills recently, so we’ll be trying to get an extra month of refills, next time.

Anyhow. It’s just been really strange to go looking stuff up for ideas and inspiration. So many people are now doing the same thing, with absolutely zero background in it. In one way, it makes me feel thankful for how I grew up. On the other, it’s frustrating, when people start panic buying, without any sort of planning or organization in mind, and it ends up causing problems for everybody.

Ah, well. People need to learn somehow. We just do what we can!

And right now, that means cleaning out the last of this year’s garden, and preparing for next, and making sure we are stocked up for the winter.

The Re-Farmer

Bee rescue, and new sign started

Yesterday, looking at the weather radar, I had expected that we would catch the edge of a weather system that was being pushed up from the southeast. Which is what usually happens.

Instead, the system ended up going right over us, and we had heavy rain all day and most of the night. We are expected to continue to get rain today and tomorrow, and remain cool until the day after.

I didn’t think the bee on the sunflower would survive that long.

We have a mini greenhouse in the sun room, so I lay the cover of a seed starter kit upside down on the top shelf, and had a sieve ready to use as a cover, then went to cut the sunflower off and bring the bee over. It had actually moved a bit since I last looked at it, which was encouraging. We had set up a light fixture on the top of the mini greenhouse with a full spectrum, incandescent light bulb in it, to keep our seedlings warm. The sun room wasn’t much warmer than outside, so I turned the light on to add a bit of warmth, making sure the fixture was tilted away, so it was more indirect.

The bee is hidden by the petals on the sunflower, in the above picture.

If the bee were sluggish and staying on the sunflower only because of the temperature, I expected to see it become active fairly soon. If that wasn’t the reason it was still on the sunflower, I expected to find a dead bee.

Since it’s too wet to work on outside projects, I set up in the old kitchen to start an inside project. Since the sign with my late father’s name on it got disappeared from the corner of the property, I decided we needed a new one, as it had been a landmark we could use to give directions to our place. Yesterday, I went rifling through the barn and found a scrap of half inch plywood that was in decent shape, brought it over and gave it a cleaning. Today, it was dry and ready for painting.

We still had some white paint from when we fixed the door into the sun room and repainted the frame as well, and there is enough to do at least two coats.

It’s just a bit bigger than the top of our freezer! πŸ™‚

The first coat is done, and tomorrow I will give it a second coat. I will also look for wood that I can attach to the back to make posts that can be driven into the ground. The sign that disappeared had been attached to the corner post of the fence, but all those old fence posts along there are falling and need to be replaced, so I want to mount the sign independently from the fence.

After the paint is dry, but before the lettering is painted on, I plan to give the whole thing a spray with some reflective paint I picked up a while back. This way, the background should highlight the lettering when hit by headlights as people turn the corner towards our driveway.

We’ve been talking about coming up with a name for the farm, just for fun. It has always been really important to my parents that the farm stay in the family name, which is why it went to my older brother, who has sons and now grandsons, to carry on the name. So out of respect for my late father, I have decided to simply use our family name on the sign, however I will also include our driveway marker number, with the municipal road name, which is also our family name, and an arrow towards our driveway. The road sign with our family name on it that disappeared when the stop sign it was mounted on was broken, never got replaced, so having that road name on the sign will be helpful for our neighbours, too. Which means I will have two lines of lettering, plus an arrow, on this sign when it’s done.

I think we might also need to set up another camera on it, just in case. I have no proof that our vandal stole the old sign, but if we put up a new one, with our family name on it, I suspect it will infuriate him, and our restraining order against him is still going through the court system.

After I finished with the first coat of paint, I checked on the bee, and was happy to find it crawling actively around the sunflower. I’m very glad we had it covered!

We tucked the entire sunflower into a plant pot (our houseplants are still outside), where it would be more protected, both from the weather and from curious kitties. Happily, it immediately began crawling around even more. Hopefully, it will be able to make its way back to its hive, wherever that may be. Most local bees are more solitary, and have hives underground, so there is no way to know where it came from. At least now it has a chance, and we need all the pollinators we can get!

As much as I appreciate the rain we are having, I’m looking forward to when it clears so I can get back to work outside. I got a transaction notification from my bank, showing that Veseys has charged us for the garlic we ordered. That means they will be shipped soon. Possibly even today or tomorrow. I’ll get an email notification when they do. They will need to be planted soon after they arrive. That means we are running out of time to prepare a bed for the garlic. If the weather prevents me from finishing the high raised bed we are working on, then I will top up the low raised beds we made where the garlic was planted last year. With the new dimensions, we might even be able to plant all three varieties in one bed. It’s typically advised to rotate alliums into different beds every year, but in building the low raised beds, the soil has been amended a lot, and they will be topped up with fresh soil, so it should be just fine. We shall see what we have time for.

Meanwhile, we’ve got a couple of days to work on indoor projects, instead. Like the bread baking I can hear my daughter working on as I write this! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Sleepy bee is still there!

While doing my morning rounds, I decided to check the sunflowers and, sure enough, the bee I saw yesterday was still there!

I did confirm that it’s still alive; when I brushed a finger near it, a single, pollen covered back leg lifted up to warn me away!

It’s simply too cold and wet for the poor thing, it seems.

My daughter did some searching, and what I think we will do is cut off the sunflower head to bring it, and the bee, into the sun room to warm up. We’ll cover it with a large sieve we have, so it doesn’t fly off and get stuck in the sun room. If it does revive and warms up, we will release it back outside. Hopefully, it will then be able to get back to its hive before the chill gets to it again.

Here’s hoping it works!

The Re-Farmer

[Edit: I accidentally used a photo from yesterday, instead of the one I took this morning. After much fighting with our increasingly crappy internet, it has been fixed!]

Our 2021 garden: sleepy bee, a pretty harvest, and more rain to come?

While doing my rounds this morning, I was specifically looking to see how things held out after the colder than predicted overnight temperatures a couple of nights ago. Quite a few heads are at that drooping/maturing stage. Others are still in their early stages of blooming. It isn’t unusual, in these cooler mornings, for me to find a variety of small insects in the flowers, not moving much because of the cold.

This morning, I found this beautiful creature.

This beautiful bee wasn’t just sluggish. It was “sleeping”. We were at 10C/50F when I took this photo, and we’re only supposed to get a degree warmer, but I do hope the bee managed to make its way back to its hive!

That we have any pollinators out and about right now is pretty amazing to begin with. Mostly, I’m seeing yellow wasps, probably from that nest at the crack in the foundation under the old kitchen, or the nest in the big branch pile in the outer yard.

Having them around is appreciated, because even though the colder temperatures have resulted in drooping, cold damaged leaves on all our squash, they are still blooming! The flowers don’t seem to have been affected, and summer squash seem to have been protected by their own leaves.

I will be checking on the pattypans later, but I did pick these this morning.

This is actually the second Red Kuri/Little Gem squash we harvested. There is still the mutant, which I’m leaving because its vine is still looking so green still, and a smaller one that is still more yellow than orange. I’ve left our two little Teddy squash for now, as their vines seem to be doing all right, and I want to see if they will get any bigger.

The Tennessee Dancing Gourds were a bit of a surprise. They weren’t the largest ones, which were still firmly attached to their vines when I checked them. Then these ones just popped off their vines when I handled them! We’ve got more than a dozen of these picked, and the vines still have so many more, and more flowers! Even the luffa is still blooming.

How long this will last, I can’t even begin to guess. It’s been such mild fall, and these are plants that are not typically grown in our zone. Our mild fall has extended our growing season by at least a month, already.

It does not look like we will be able to do any chipping today, nor for the next couple of days. We are supposed to be getting more rain. Our own area looks like it will just get the edges of the weather system, but my weather app was sending out warnings for possible flash flooding in some areas. From the looks of the weather radar, the south end of our province is already getting heavy rains. The same system looks like it’s been dropping snow as it passed through the US before reaching us! Since we moved back here, we’ve seen snow, and even blizzards, before now, so I am incredibly thankful for the mild temperatures and rain. Every drop will help in recovering from this summer’s drought conditions.

Oh, my goodness! I just have to share this!

I got interrupted by a phone call while writing the above. When I answered, someone asked for my late father, by his first name only. Without saying he was my father, I told the guy my dad had passed away several years ago. He expressed sorrow, but then another male voice came on, this one with a strong accent, so it was clearly a second person on the line, asking if Mrs. ________ (mispronounced, but that’s not unusual) – my mother – was there. I said no, she no longer lives here. I was then asked if the man or woman of the house was available. I said that would be me. Which is when the first guy started talking again, saying he was from CARP, and how was I doing this morning? I told him that I was very confused right now, so he said he would call back again at a better time.

!!!

I just looked up CARP and, aside from lots of websites about fish, I found this.

C.A.R.P.β€”A New Vision of Aging is Canada’s largest advocacy association for older Canadians promoting equitable access to health care, financial security, and freedom from ageism. Backed by more than 320,000 members, C.A.R.P. is a non-partisan association committed to working with all parties in government to advocate for older Canadians. Our mission is to advocate for better healthcare, financial security, and freedom from ageism. C.A.R.P. members engage in polls and petitions, email their elected representatives, connect with local chapters and share stories and opinions on urgent issues.

C.A.R.P. membership support creates major changes in government policies and protects the dignity of Canadians as we age. Members are also rewarded with discounts on over 100 everyday products and services they know and love from C.A.R.P.’s trusted partners.

https://www.carp.ca/about/#about

So… I don’t quite fit into their demographic, yet. πŸ˜€

Also, they really need to update their phone lists! My mother hasn’t had this number for at least 7 years, and my dad passed away more than 5 years ago.

Oy vey!

Anyhow. Back to topic!

After a few days of rain, we are actually supposed to get sunny and warmer again. Hopefully, that will be a good time to get more chipping done. For now, while the rain holds off, I’ll see what progress I can get on the high raised bed. I want to at least get one high raised bed completed in time for when the garlic comes in, since they will need to be planted right away. I also just got word back about getting another round bale of straw, so we should be getting that delivered soon, too.

There is so much work to get done before the snow flies!

The Re-Farmer

Morning harvest, and another one down

Well, so much for trying to support the sunflower in the old kitchen garden.

We had high winds again this morning, and the last of the three flower stalks on the remaining sunflower in the old kitchen garden finally broke. It was actually still upright when I came out this morning, but by the time I came back to the house, it was lying on the ground.

Sadness.

While checking the garden beds, I did get a little bit of a harvest this morning.

It all could fit in my pocket! πŸ˜€

This is the largest I’ve ever let a pattypan squash get. Any bigger, and they start developing their seeds. One of these days, I should try letting some fully mature. At that point, when the seeds are removed, they leave a cavity that can be stuffed for roasting, which I do want to try. We just really like them at this stage, though. πŸ™‚ For next year, I plan to try other varieties of pattypan squash, and hope to grow some to save seeds, too. Since I accidentally bought three summer squash collections for this year, instead of one, we don’t actually need to buy more squash seeds, but I like to try new varieties.

That is definitely one of the biggest benefits of having a garden. There are so many varieties that are just never in the stores!

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. πŸ˜€

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

Our 2021 garden: still growing!

Today is likely to be the last hot day of the year. As I write this, we are currently at 26C/79F, with the humidex at 30C/86F. We are expected to reach 28C/83F with the humidex making it feel like 31C/88F. We are supposed to get a couple more days in the mid to low 20’s before the highs start dropping to the mid to high teens. So far, overnight temperatures are also still supposed to remain high enough that there are no frost warnings.

I headed out to do my rounds later than usual this morning, and we had already reached 22C/73F.

There has to be something wrong with the squash tunnel thermometer. It may have felt warmer than the 22C it was when I took this photo, but there is no way it was feeling like 42C/108F! Not even being in full sun, like it is, should result in that extreme of a difference. I suspect the dial is stuck. I haven’t been looking at it since the temperatures finally cooled down, so it may well have been sitting at this reading since our last heat wave.

In checking the sunflowers, there was only one little pollinator that I saw! I think the heat waves we had over the summer killed off a lot of our pollinators. There just wasn’t enough food to sustain them. The mild temperatures we are having means more of our sunflowers are actually budding and opening their seed heads, but I don’t know that they’ll have a chance to be well pollinated.

Some of the Mongolian Giants are finally taller than me. Hopefully, the opening sunflowers will lure any remaining pollinators to them. They may not have time to fully mature, even with our predicted mild temperatures, but they will at least provide some food for our surviving pollinators.

These are the Hopi Black Dye transplants that got chomped by a deer. They have all recovered surprisingly well, and are budding and blooming. They don’t need as long of a growing season as the Mongolian Giants, so it should be interesting to see if any of these get a chance to mature.

The green peas are enjoying the cooler temperatures we’ve been having, and I’m seeing more pods developing. This photo is of one of the pea plants growing among the Dorinny corn, the remains of which are being left to go to seed. The three blocks of sweet corn are still green, but they aren’t really growing. At this point, I don’t expect anything from them, really. They’re just there for the peas to have something to climb. Any pea pods we get is just gravy, as their main purpose is to fix nitrogen into the depleted soil in this area.

The winter squash and melons are the ones I am monitoring the most right now.

Remarkably, even as the plants are dying back, we are still getting fresh blooms, and the newer Red Kuri squash are getting noticeably bigger.

The mutant seems to have stopped getting bigger, and is now deepening in colour and developing a harder skin.

As this other, larger Red Kuri is still doing.

I did a nail test on the oldest of the developing Red Kuri, and you can see the mark left behind. Still not ready.

The Teddy squash are also still managing as well.

If we do end up getting frost before any of these larger squash can fully mature, we will still be able to harvest them and eat them. We just won’t be able to store them for long.

The melon vines are dying back faster than the winter squash vines, but their fruit are still hanging in there! I was able to pick this Pixie melon, only because the vine it was attached to had died back completely. I suspect it isn’t quite ripe.

My daughters discovered something about these little melons. After they are cut in half and the seeds scooped out, they make perfect ice cream bowls! I’m not big on ice cream, but I finally had some last night, in half of a Halona melon. It was quite excellent! πŸ˜€

I am glad we found these little, short season melons. They have been among the most enjoyed producers this year. I think we will try different short season varieties next year, but the Pixie and Halona are definitely varieties we would grow again. I’ve also saved seeds from some grocery store melons that I plan to try. They are larger varieties, but if we start them indoors early enough, and we don’t have another drought, we should be able to grow them. πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer