Our 2022 garden: potting up, and new sprouts!

After checking on the plants last night, I ended up shifting things around earlier than expected. Some of the Cup of Moldova tomatoes at the top of the mini-greenhouse were getting too big! With not being able to remove the cover, it was actually a bit difficult to get them out. The door flap doesn’t open all the way to the top of the cover, so I only had a few inches to get them through.

I was going to just take them to the sun room, but they were so tall, I decided to pot them up, using some pots we found when cleaning up the old basement.

I had to commandeer a larger bin being used for something else, to fit them! The plants were potted with about 3 inches of their stems buries. If I’d had deeper pots, I could easily have buries another 3 inches.

There were also some new seedlings I finally was able to get pictures of.

These were taken last night. The Yellow Pear tomatoes had started to come up earlier, and there were finally some Chocolate Cherry sprouts showing. Among the squash and gourds, there was that one Giant Pumpkin pushing it’s way through – then a Tennessee Dancing Gourd suddenly popped up!

This is how they looked this morning. It’s always so exciting to see how fast they grow, once they germinate! That Giant Pumpkin looks like a tiny Audrey II, about to sing “Feed me, Seymore!”. πŸ˜€ Since this picture was taken, the leaves have already opened.

The tomatoes handled their first night in the sun room quite well. The only place there was room to put them and still get light was at the bottom shelf. The shop light we’re using to give light from the inside isn’t long enough to light up all the shelves we’re using. The highest shelf we’re using only gets light during the day, so that’s where we’ve got smaller bins of toilet paper tube pots seeded with the tulip trees, paw paws, and some of the kulli corn. Until they germinate, low light is not an issue for them.

These tomatoes are the same age as the ones we’d brought to the sun room earlier; they’d been left in the mini-greenhouse because they were smaller. Now, they’re bigger than the ones that have been in the sun room for a while, but the sun room ones looks sturdier, though they also still have a bit of cold damage on their leaves from their first night in the room. The greater temperature swings make for stronger plants plants, almost like hardening them off.

One of the things I did before coming in from my rounds was got into the garage and grab the folding closet doors we found in the outhouse when we cleaned it up. We’ll need more space for plant pots in the sun room, and we’re going to use it, probably with the new saw horses I bought, to set up a “table” over the swing bench. Depending on the height, there should still be room for Potato Beetle to curl up on the swing bench when he wants to be in the sun room again. πŸ™‚ He, I’m happy to say, leaves the plants completely alone.

Unlike Susan, who desperately wants to eat them all.

Or Beep Beep, who wants to sleep on them.

Or Tissue, who wants to dig them all up.

They do make this whole “starting seeds indoors” thing much more difficult that it should be!

These tomatoes, however, are now safe in their new pots and new location. πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: the 6 week batch

This week is 6 weeks away from our average last frost date, so we started our next batch of seeds.

We had the Kulli corn, the Chocolate Cherry tomato and Yellow Pear tomato to do. We were also still considering starting the last few Spoon tomato seeds, since they were so fun last year, but in the end, decided against it. Four types of tomatoes is enough!

Of course, I found extra to start.

Looking over our seedlings, I noticed that one pot with Tennessee Dancing gourds still has not germinated, while the other had a single sad looking little plant that was looking ever more wimpy…

… it turned out to be dead.

Well, then.

We still have seeds from last year, so I scarified a few and started them soaking before I headed out for errands.

Then, just because I’m curious…

… I scarified then set to soak the two giant pumpkin seeds that were given out for free at the grocery store near my mother’s place. Her town has a giant pumpkin contest every year and, in the spring, there’s always a big basket full of envelopes with just a few seeds in them, available for free (though they do request a limit of one packet per family).

Before filling the bins with toilet paper tube pots with soil, I decided to count how many corn seeds we actually got. Each package was supposed to have 25 seeds, but I know sometimes there are extras, and we were going to put one seed in each tube.

There turned out to be a total of 106. πŸ˜€ Granted, some of the extras were really tiny, but we intended to plant them anyway.

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture, so here’s an old one of the larger bin. It fits 8 rows of 10 tubes. I actually ended up changing the tubes in the picture out for different tubes. The tubes from some brands are longer than others, and I ended up switching to a brand – the Costco Kirkland brand – that had taller tubes.

The big bin held 80 tubes, while the smaller shoe-box size bin held 4 rows of 8, so we would have empties. We still filled them all with soil, so that the tubes could support each other.

Before we started filling the tubes with the growing medium, I set the corn to soak. My daughters did their best to fill the tubes without getting too much of the soil in between the tubes, while I potted up the gourds and pumpkin seeds, then started working on the tomatoes.

Which is when I got a phone call from my brother, to talk about the latest on our vandal’s court case against me that was supposed to be today, but got cancelled. I’d sent a message to the court clerk about the conflict in dates, saying that I’d been told on the phone our vandal had picked 2 dates, and some of the issues we have to deal with as to why we chose the November date. I added that the earlier December date would work better for us, but I didn’t think our vandal would agree to any date we selected and suggested the court simply assign a date and we’d all just work with it.

We got a response saying that, since we couldn’t agree on a date, we’d have a teleconference call in early May with the court clerk to set up a trail date. The response was to my email, with our vandal’s email added on, so he got to see what I wrote.

Well, he responded in a reply-all. One of the first things he said was that he had NOT selected the November date, just the May one, and said something about how he felt my comment on not agreeing on dates was inappropriate, and he just wanted to get the whole thing over with as soon as possible. I’m paraphrasing of course, but it was pretty brief.

Hhhmmm. Now that I think about it, his wife probably wrote it. He’s not typically that succinct.

Anyhow.

Basically, he tried to make it sound like I had lied, and that he was a victim.

Of course, I forwarded the emails to my brother, since he’s my witness and he’s the one that needs to book time off work to attend. He phoned me this evening and we talked about the situation.

Which is kind of funny, realy.

You see, our vandal goofed. I had written that I was told on the phone that he’d picked the two dates. He basically accused me of lying – however the court clerk (or whatever her official position is; I can’t remember right now) who wrote the email is the same person who phoned me, telling me she’d already called him and the two dates he’d picked. Which means that, in trying to imply that I was lying, he was actually implying that the person we’ve been corresponding with is the liar.

I don’t think he realizes that at all.

I’m guessing his attempt to play the victim backfired on him.

By the time I finished talking with my brother, the girls were done with the corn, putting the lids on the bins to protect the pots from the cats, and tucking the tomato seeds out of feline reach for me. So I finished those up.

A few things got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse and into the mini-greenhouse to make space. The ground cherries stayed. Those are the super tiny seedlings you can see on the left. This is on the warming mat, so that’s where the gourds and pumpkins went.

The tomatoes should also be getting extra warmth, but there isn’t room for them over the heat mat until we can move the ground cherries out. (The bunching onions just got moved over to the upcycled plastic stray you can see on the right.) I ended up putting 5 tomato seeds in each cup, with 3 cups per variety, half filling them so the seedlings can be “potted up” later, by just adding more soil. It should be interesting to see how many germinate, and if we’ll get enough strong seedlings to thin by transplanting.

We’re going to have an awful lot of tomatoes. Which is weird with just 2 out of 4 people liking tomatoes – at least for fresh eating. Still, I’d rather plant extra and have enough to afford losses.

The kulli corn went straight to the sun room.

Potato Beetle got out of the sun room while I was using the wagon to bring my earlier purchases through (yes! I was able to get big bags of cat kibble!!), slipping under the wagon and out the door before I could do anything. The sun room was over 25C/77F !!! at the time, so I left the outside doors slightly open as much to cool things down, as to give Potato Beetle a chance to come back in.

When I came in with the bins holding the corn, I found a skunk eating Potato Beetle’s kibble! I shooed it outside, and found a second one in the kibble house.

I shooed that one away, too, then topped up the kibble trays just enough to make noise and maybe get Potato Beetle’s attention. A bunch of cats came running, but no Potato. 😦

Well, now that the corn is in the sun room, he lost one of the spots he likes to sit in, anyhow. I do wish we’d been able to get him back in for the night, at least.

I’ll get pictures tomorrow, when it’s light out again. So far, the toilet paper tubes in these bins works out very well. The final word on it, though, will be when we have to get them out for transplanting!

Now that Lent is over, I’m back on social media and my gardening groups. Today, one of them posted a list of seeds to start indoors over the next week. Based on that list, we’re behind, but our June 2 frost date is quite late, even for a zone 3. Most of the people in the zone 3 gardening groups have last frost dates in the second half of May. Still, because we have so very many seeds to start indoors, I think I will slowly work on them over the next couple of weeks. The remaining gourds would probably do better with an earlier start, I think, and some of the winter squash probably would, too. As long as they are all done within the next 2 weeks, it should work out, and not be too overwhelming when it comes to finding space for all the pots before the older seedlings also get added to the sun room.

Meanwhile, we’re still getting weather alerts, and still being told we may get as much as 10cm/4in of snow, just on Sunday. We’re supposed to start getting snow tonight, and mixed precipitation tomorrow. But then, according to the weather apps, we’re snowing right now, and there isn’t a flake to be seen in the infrared flash of our security camera (though I’ve been seeing plenty of cats and skunks running around on the driveway! πŸ˜€ ).

It seems to strange to be starting seeds for relatively heat loving plants, when we’re possibly getting yet another snow storm!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: squash and gourd seedlings

It always amazing me just how fast some seedlings grow!

It’s like they’re bigger, every time I look in the tank. Just look at those Crespo squash!

These two pots each have 3 seeds in them. Two that were scarified, and one that was not. I think the scarification made the difference!

To the left is the Ozark Nest Egg gourd, and…

… you can see a Tennessee Dancing Gourd emerging, too. In the background, the luffa are starting to develop their true leaves.

What is interesting is that, while these squash and gourds are germinating, there is no sign of germination in the pots with eggplant and peppers seeded into them.

Last year, it took forever for the squash and gourds to germinate, and many pots never did. This is a huge improvement. I think there is a combination of reasons. One being the scarification of the seeds – except the dancing gourds, which were too small – and the other being the use of a heat mat.

I know we’re supposed to thin the seedlings down, but I’m thinking we’ll thin them by transplanting the extras. When it’s time to transplant outside, I want to have extra, just in case some don’t survive transplanting, or in case critters get to them. The more we plant, the better the chances of having at least one survive!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: 10 week seed starts

Today is 10 weeks from our average last day of frost, and we had a few seeds to start.

But first, we needed to make space. These would be going into the big aquarium greenhouse, on the heat mat, which meant the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes had to be moved. All the pots have seeds germinating in them, so it’s okay to take them off the heat mat now.

Space was made for them to fit onto the tray in the small aquarium greenhouse, which is where we have a few rescues. At the bottom left is the only luffa we’ve got so far. The seed leaves have wilted away, but the true leaves are still holding out. In the top left corner is the rescued Canteen gourd. It had seemed to be doing well, then suddenly it started wilting and the seed leaves started wilting away, but it has actually perked up again. If it can manage to develop some true leaves, there’s hope for it. With the Canteen gourd, however, the replacement seeds we planted are doing much better. The two plants with the largest leaves in the photo are Canteen gourds, as are the not quite as robust pair in between the luffa and the original Canteen gourd.

There’s also one surviving tomato plant in there; I can’t remember which type is it. There are a few others in the mini-greenhouse, too.

The one Wonderberry that sprouted from the first planting has gotten big enough that it was too tall for the lower shelves in the mini-greenhouse, so I couldn’t put it in one of the trays with other pots. So it got double cupped and tucked in with the bulb onions at the very top, where the mini-greenhouse has a peak. It didn’t like my attempt to put it in a lower shelf, but it should be standing tall again, soon.

Here we have the pots that my daughter and I started today, joining the luffa pots that we planted a couple of weeks ago. Still no sprouts. 😦

Everything got two pots each. Two types of gourds got started today; the Tennessee Dancing Gourd, and the Ozark Nest Egg gourd. Both did surprisingly well last year, in spite of the drought.

The Crespo Squash was also started. Then, we decided to plant extra eggplants and peppers. We do have surviving ones from the first planting that seem to be recovering all right from being flattened by a cat, but we’ve decided to play it safe and plant extra. The last of the Little Finger eggplant seed were planted, but we still have a few left of the Purple Beauty pepper.

The next batch of seeds should be started about 2 weeks from now. Hopefully, we’ll be able to move at least the onions to the sun room. They can handle cool weather better than anything else we’ve got started right now.

One more step forward in our gardening, done! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Upside down?

Okay, I don’t know what happened with WordPress, but I didn’t get a message left through the Contact page a couple of weeks ago until the morning.

Thank you, Matt Jones of the Songbird Jones for reaching out and sharing this adorable video.

What fun!!!

Also, it turns out we’ve been spinning our Tennessee Dancing Gourds upside down! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer

Dry Dancers

While watering plants today, I thought it would be a good time to post some pictures of how our Tennessee Dancing Gourds are drying out.

We have been using the big aquarium tank to protect some of our plants from the cats, and the gourds have been drying in there, too. Also to protect them from the cats, who love to play with them!

It’s awkward to water in there, and I didn’t want to accidentally spill water on the gourds, so I took them out and put them in the stack of egg trays I’ve got stored next to the tank. I don’t know why I’m keeping these, as we will NOT be using them to start seeds again. That did not work out at all. However…

… an egg tray turned out to be perfect for holding the gourds!

Here are all the Dancing gourds we were able to harvest for drying. There were many, many more on the vines that were too under developed to harvest.

Like this one was. This immature gourd withered as it dried.

This fully mature gourd shows how they change colour as they dry. It’s almost as dry as my finger tips!

Eventually, all of them are supposed to dry to this tan colour. It’s a bit of a shame, because their green stripes look so pretty!

This one looks like a bit of mold had started as it was drying. From everything I’ve read about drying gourds, this is normal and not a problem. When fully dry, they can be scrubbed and sanded.

Which is going to be a bit more difficult with gourds this tiny!

I moved things around inside the tank to fit the tray. Before, they had been just lying on the bottom, so they took up less space. We’ve got a tiny fan we found in the basement to maintain air circulation in the tank.

You can see one of my daughter’s orchids is going to be blooming again, soon! The one flower that is visible is actually completely dried out from the last time it bloomed.

I need to figure out what to do with all these plants, so we can use the tank to start seeds. Since there is no way to lower the lights, we put boxes under that sheet of insulation on the bottom, to bring the seed starting trays close to the lights. This tank has two light fixtures; the one that originally came with it, which lies flat on the top, and one that has stands on the ends to keep it several inches above the top. That one gets warm, and is one of Saffron’s favourite places to sit (along with the heat vents). πŸ˜€ She’s so tiny, it’s not an issue, but we’ve caught her brother, Layendecker, on there, too, and he’s about double her size and triple her weight. It’s weird how Saffron has stayed so tiny – even Turmeric is finally starting to fill out a bit – while Big Rig quickly became larger than their mother, and Layendecker, who was probably the smallest of the litter, is now as big as Cheddar!

But I digress…

One of the reasons my daughter’s orchids are in here is because it’s warmer. In the spring, it’ll be warm enough to hang them in front of a window again, but we’ll be needing the tank to start seeds long before then. One of them is small enough that we could probably keep it in the tank after raising the floor higher, but I am not so sure about the bigger one.

The aloe vera, however, will need to come out. We have all sorts of places we can put them, but Cabbages in particular is absolutely dedicated to digging into the plant pots. We’ve been able to create barriers to protect other plants. With one pot, we had to build a cage around it out of hardware cloth, and sometimes I can hear a cat trying to tear through. Which cat it is, I have never been able to find out, since they run off when I come out to check, but the girls and I have caught Cabbages sitting on top of the cage! I’ve seen Tissue trying to climb the cage, too. That Jade tree would have been destroyed long ago, if we hadn’t put that cage around it! Another Jade tree is so big, it covers its pot and protects itself, but we’ve not been able to create a barrier around these pots that the cat’s haven’t been able to get past, and they’re too big and heavy to hang.

Frustrating.

Anyhow.

When I put the gourds back in the tank to dry, I kept the wizened one to see what’s inside.

The answer is, nothing! It was so immature, I don’t see any sign of developing seeds.

Cutting it open felt a bit like trying to cut a dry, crispy sponge on the inside. Even the outer shell around the widest part felt like cutting through a brittle, rigid foam. It was practically weightless, too.

I haven’t decided what to do with the dried gourds, but I am thinking of cutting open at least the largest one to harvest the seeds. We do still have seeds from last year, so it would be interesting to compare germination rates.

They are so adorable! I look forward to growing more of them. πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden, still going!

Last night, I heard from one of our neighbours, asking if we were missing some kittens. It seems that several kittens were sighted on the road by our place, and while one was caught, there were others around. They were not ours; by the age estimate, they were about 5 months younger than ours, plus they seem used to humans. Which means they were likely dumped. 😦 The person who caught the one said she would be coming back to try and find the others. Meanwhile, I made sure to be on the lookout for kittens while doing my rounds this morning. Especially in the furthest garden beds, which are the closest to where the kittens were spotted.

I think I did actually see a strange kitten at our house, yesterday, but it ran off, just like most of our yard cats still do. I found myself thinking the colour seeming off had to have been the light, but now I wonder! Well, if there are strange kitties around, they will find food and shelter here. So far, though, I have seen nothing today.

While I was on the lookout for strange kitties, I checked out the squash tunnel. The luffa and Tennessee Dancing Gourds seem to have finally succumbed to the chill overnight temperatures.

The luffa leaves turned really dark, but haven’t shriveled, like pretty much everything else. Take a click on the image of the developing gourds on the top of the squash tunnel! There are still flowers developing! They do look frost damaged, though.

It was much the same with the Tennessee Dancing Gourds. Most of the vines have died back, and cold damage can be seen on some of the little gourds… and yet, there are still flower buds!

The chard and the lettuce are still going strong.

This is the biggest of the surviving radishes. You can see the older leaves that still have grasshopper damage. Something is nibbling the new growth, too, but not as much. I put the bricks around this radish plant, because something has been nibbling on the bulb. I’m guessing a mouse or something like that. Putting the bricks there seems to have stopped it, as there is no new damage.

Then there is that amazing Crespo squash. Is it still going, or is it done? The leaves seem to be completely killed off by the frost, yet the vines still seem strong, and while there is cold damage on most of the squash, some of them still seem to be getting bigger!

So, we will wait and see how they do.

Meanwhile, on the south side of the house…

The Ozark Nest Egg gourds have almost no cold damage on them, and still seem to be growing just fine. In fact, there is more fresh and new growth happening, and new male and female flowers developing!

The tomatoes continue to ripen, with no signs of cold damage to them, unlike the one self-seeded tomato that’s growing near the lettuces, which is pretty much dead.

Check out that wasp on the Spoon tomato vine! Even the pollinators are still out!

The fingerling potatoes are still going strong, too. There is one bag that looks like it has died back, but the others are still very green. Especially the Purple Peruvians.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of the carrots. Even the overgrown bed we abandoned to the groundhogs has carrot fronds overtaking the weeds. Especially the Kyoto Red, which have gone to seed. I’m keeping an eye on those, as I want to try and collect them before they self sow!

It’s hard to know how much longer the garden will keep on going. Today was forecast to be 18C/64F, then things were supposed to cool down again. As I write this, we are at 22C/72F !!! Tomorrow, we’re supposed to drop to 8C/46F, then go down to 5-6C/41-43F, with overnight lows dropping to -1C/30F a couple of nights from now, but who knows what we’ll actually get?

Looking at the data for our area, our average temperatures for October are 10C/50F for the high, and 1C/34F for the low – but our record high was 30C/86F in 1992, with a record low of -18C/0F in 1991, so while a bit unusual, the mild temperatures we’re having right now aren’t that uncommon. In fact, the record highs and lows seem to lurch from one extreme to the other, within just a few years of each other, if not one year after the other!

I’m looking forward to NOT hitting any record lows this fall and winter! πŸ˜€ Still, the way things are going, it may be a while before we finally harvest our carrots, potatoes and beets – I want to leave those in the ground as long as possible – and we’ll have lettuce and chard for quite some time, yet!

The Re-Farmer

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

Our 2021 garden; what a difference rain makes! Plus, a possibility

We got a pretty substantial rainfall last night. We are supposed to continue to get rain through today and into tomorrow, too. Which means I won’t be getting much done on the raised garden bed, but that’s okay. We need lots more rain – and hopefully get the mild, wet winter the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting for our region – to at least start to make up for the drought conditions we had this summer. The water table is still really low.

The rainfall made a huge difference in the garden. Especially with the squash!

The zucchini that we’d left to get bigger got a huge, overnight growth spurt! Even the patty-pans got a boost. The biggest one, with the green, is from the mutant plant. It had been producing only green patty-pans at first, then started to show the yellow they are supposed to be, and now we have squash that are a mix of colours.

There was plenty of bush beans to pick. Especially the purple ones. A few more peas were large enough to pick, and I even got three more Tennessee Dancing Gourds. There are still so many more smaller ones on the vines.

While checking them over, I had to check the luffa, too. The two developing gourds I tried to hand pollinated may not have taken. One of them, at least, seems to be dying off. However…

… the ones growing over the top of the squash tunnel are looking much bigger!

I don’t know how fast luffa gourds take to develop. Looking at the long range forecast, we should be hitting overnight temperatures of 4C/39F a week from now, which can mean frost, but those same nights also have predictions for overnight showers. We have no frost warnings. Even on my app that has forecasts through the end of the month doesn’t show overnight temperatures of 0C/32F until October 29, and even then we are expected to get rain that afternoon, which would actually prevent frost from happening.

However much longer we manage to have rain and no frost will not only give the luffa a chance to develop, but the Crespo squash, too. Check it out!!!

This one looks like it doubled in size since I last checked it out!

This is one of the older squash and, while it didn’t double in size, it did get noticeably bigger, and the colours and patterns are definitely changing.

The one shown by itself is the larger one in the photo showing two squash developing, and both have gotten much larger in just the last day.

This is what they’re supposed to look like, when fully mature (image source), so the chances of them reaching their full growth this year is virtually nil, but it should still be interesting to see how close they get, if this mild weather continues, and the frost holds off!

If they’re growing this fast now, can you imagine how big they would have been, if the vines had not been eaten by deer and groundhogs?

You know, I never imagined I would find gardening so exciting. Particularly when so much of it is “failing” due to things like poor soil conditions, weather and critters! In fact, I think I’m finding it more exciting because of how well things have done, in spite of all the problems we’ve had!

The rainy weather means we’re not going to get much progress outside, but I am holding a slim hope out to things potentially improving. I did end up driving my mother to an appointment today and, in the process, I made a proposal to her. She had been talking about buying us a garden shed and got an estimate. It was over $3000, and that would have had the parts and pieces delivered to us, including the deck blocks to set it on, and we would then have to assemble it. As much as such a shed would be useful, we’re not ready for it. Where we would want to put it still needs to be cleaned up. However, with the farm being basically ransacked of anything useful while it was empty for two years, we don’t have the tools, equipment and resources to do a lot of stuff, and what we can do is taking much longer than it should. I proposed she instead give us the cash to use to pay for what needs to be done, from getting a chainsaw and wood chipper, to replacing the front door and frame. There would be enough to hire someone to haul the junk away, too. If she didn’t like the results by spring, we would pay her back. I told her to think about it and discuss it with my brother, who now owns the property, before making a decision.

It’s been really frustrating, talking to my mother about what we’re doing here. We are here to take care of the place and improve it. That’s our “job”. It’s what we’re doing in place of paying rent. Though my mother no longer owns the property, we still try to keep her up to date and let her know what’s going on. When I saw her yesterday, I told her about the problems we had with the septic backing up and how I’d done the best I could to clear the pipes until we could get the plumber in with an auger to clear out the roots. As I described trying to unclog the pipes as best I could, first, she made comments about how I was doing “man’s work”. After talking about how we’ve not been able to use the bathroom several times since we’ve moved here, so I fixed up the inside of the outhouse, she was very confused. Looking at the pictures on my phone, she somehow thought I was showing her photos of the inside bathroom, not the outhouse. ?? When she realized what she was seeing, and I showed her older photos of what it looked like before, I got more comments about my doing “man’s work”, and how she never worried about things like the outhouse. She just took care of the housework and the cooking (which isn’t true; she milked cows and even threw bales like the rest of us, when needed!).

Today, as I talked about the work that needed to be done, but that I wasn’t able to do because we don’t have the tools and equipment, I got more comments about how I’m doing “man’s work”. As for my proposal, she said she wouldn’t deal with me about that. Only with my brother.

Because he’s a man.

At one point, as I was about to put her walker into the back of her car, I noticed one of the handles was really, really loose. So I took the time to grab a keychain multitool I have to tighten it. I got one nice and tight, but the other one’s nut is damaged, and my little keychain tool wasn’t enough. I got it tighter, but it still wiggled. As I told her the status of the handles, she chastised me for doing it, saying that my brother would fix it. Because it’s a man’s job. She wants my brother to drive an hour and a half to tighten a handle on her walker, but I shouldn’t do it, because I’m female. Apparently, there are all sorts of things I shouldn’t be doing her on the farm, because it’s a man’s work. At least this time she didn’t make unfortunate comments about how sorry she feels for me, because I don’t have a man in the house (my husband being disabled apparently means he’s not a man anymore!).

Growing up here, my mother worked very hard to force me to learn my “duty as a woman” and leave everything else to my dad and my brothers (my sister having moved on to college by then), but even then, it wasn’t as extreme as what she’s trying to push on me now. How am I and my daughters supposed to take care of the place, without doing “man’s work”? I honestly think she wants my older brother to be coming out here every week, like he used to before we moved in. Our moving here was as much to take a burden off of him (and my other siblings) as to help my mother. She has become more rigid about what gender roles are supposed to be as she gets older, and has less to actually do with the farm, than she was before she and my dad retired from farming. I know part of it is getting older and her memory becoming more selective, but my goodness, I’m glad she transferred ownership to my brother, because otherwise, she’d be sabotaging our efforts to take care of the place constantly! All because I’m female.

As frustrating as it is, if that means she’ll give the money to my brother instead of to me, I don’t care. My brother knows what we want to do and what we need to do it, and we are very much on the same page.

We shall see how it works out. If she does agree to my proposal before the weather turns, it’ll mean getting more done in a matter of weeks than we’ve been able to do in years! It’s a very slight possibility, but I do have some hope for it!

The Re-Farmer

Fall garden update: squash tunnel gourds

While the squash and melons are died back, or in the process of doing so, I continue to be amazed by the Tennessee Dancing Gourds.

These were one of our “fun” crops. Yes, I hope to use them for crafting purposes, but really, I just thought they were adorable and hoped that maybe, just maybe, they would grow in our Zone 3. From reviews I read when I bought the seeds, I knew they could be prolific, and the certainly have been, even with poor growing conditions.

While I’ve harvested only four mature dancing gourds, that are now drying out on our kitchen counter (protected from the cats!), there are more on the vines that are just as big, but still firmly attached.

More amazingly, the vines are still growing and blooming, with both male and female flowers. They have been doing amazingly well!

The luffa have decided to surprise me. I thought that, by now, they were basically a lost cause.

The very first luffa gourd that started to form ended up withering away, so when these ones showed up, I tried to hand pollinated them. Which I hope worked, but it’s still too early to tell.

You can just see a minuscule female flower developing, above my finger, too.

There are more male flower buds forming, and even another tiny female flower, with its tiny gourd, developing.

The vine itself is the only one that has grown enough to start making it’s way over the top of the squash tunnel.

I took this picture above my head to show the flowers that are blooming, but I was pretty blinded when I took it. So it was not until I uploaded the photo that I realized, there are gourds forming up there, too! There is no possibility of hand pollinating them, as I can’t reach them, but they might just make it!

None of the gourds we planted are zone 3, so that was a strike against them growing here, right from the start. While they would have loved the heat of our summer, it was difficult to water them adequately during drought conditions, so that was another set back. Though we have not have frost yet, we have had some pretty chilly nights, so I am really amazed they are still green, growing and flowering, while plants more suited to our zone, such as the nearby winter squash, are dying back. Especially the luffa, which didn’t even start blooming until very late, and didn’t start producing female flowers even later. It is unlikely the mild temperatures will continue long enough for the luffa gourds to fully mature, but the Tennessee Dancing gourds are doing just fabulously! I definitely want to try growing both, again. If they did this well in such poor conditions, imagine how well they’d do in better conditions?

The Re-Farmer