Surviving the wet, and shed thoughts

The forecasts for more thunderstorms today have disappeared. Right now, we’ve got bright sunshine, it’s 20C/68F, and everything is still wet, wet, wet!

Of course, I had to check all the garden beds. Not only to see how they are surviving the wet, but to see if there was any damage caused by the deer I chased out last night!

So far, so good.

The rain has certainly been good for the beans! The bush beans between the Kulli corn are growing so fast! Even the beans at the bean tunnel, which were planted later, are growing like gangbusters.

The Kulli corn doesn’t seem too happy, though. They may still be suffering transplant shock. Hopefully, the nitrogen fixing beans will help them grow.

The first potatoes have sprouted! So far, only the All Blue are sprouting. I expected the leaves would be darker than other potato varieties we planted, but I did not expect them to be so deeply purple! I am so happy to see them. I was starting to wonder if they were okay or not. The paths between the beds had standing water in them, which means there was probably a lot of water under that mulch. If it’s too wet, they’ll just rot rather than grow.

There was no signs of deer damage, but oddly, something seems to be eating the turnip greens. The sprouts are still incredibly tiny. Areas I’d seen some sprouting earlier, now seem to have none, while the ones I do find have teeny holes in the teeny leaves. Whatever is chewing those holes must be incredibly small.

I was able to do a bit of weeding this morning. The wet ground does make it easier to pull them up by the roots – if they don’t break, first, which seems to be what happens more often. Thankfully, the winds are high enough to blow away the mosquitoes, so working outside will be more pleasant. We still have loads of soil to bring to the garden, but the area in between the pile of garden soil and where we need to take it is so muddy, that will not be easy. Nor will going through the tall grass. It’s just too wet to mow.

Where the water collects is going to help us in deciding where we want to put a foundation for the shed we ordered. If it comes in. With such deeply discounted prices, there is the very real possibility it’s a scam site. I did get an order confirmation right away. If it is a scam, they’re doing a very good job of hiding it. That they are using the Lowe’s brand and images without being shut down is also a point to consider. What we should be getting next is a shipping notice. The shed is supposed to arrive in 3-7 days – or 6-10 days to Canada, under Covid restrictions. Canada has finally lifted the vaxx mandate for flights (masks still required, which makes no sense at all) but truckers still aren’t allowed across the boarder unless they’ve been jabbed, so anything shipped by truck is still going to be delayed. That is an issue only after it’s been shipped, of course. According to the order confirmation email, we can cancel our order within 14 days and get a refund, so long as it hasn’t been shipped yet.

I really hope it’s legit. I’ll keep updating about it.

Interestingly, since I placed the order, I have started to see all sorts of ads in my Facebook news feed about sheds for sale at even lower prices, from companies with questionable names, the same photos used over and over, and quite obviously scam sites. The comments under the ads were all unfavorable, too.

Well, we’ll see how it goes.

For now, I’m procrastinating going outside. It’s now 21C/70F, which is going to make heavy manual labour quite unpleasant. At least the winds are still high enough the mosquitoes shouldn’t be much of a problem!

The Re-Farmer

Blooming and growing

We had more rain last night and this morning, and while we have some sun as I’m writing this, we’re expected to have more rain and thunderstorms tonight.

The plants and trees are loving it!

The lilacs near the house are so heavy with clusters of flowers, the branches are bowing down with the weight, to the point that even short little me has to duck to go under them!

This is our fifth spring here, and I’ve never seen the white lilacs blooming and well as this year.

The double lilacs in the old kitchen garden had to recover from storm damage a couple of years ago, then the late May killer frost last year. It’s been a while since these have bloomed so heavily!

The nearby honeysuckle did all right last year, as they start budding later than things like the lilacs and did not get affected by the last frost as much, and it looks like this year they will do even better.

Even the hawthorn, which is thoroughly shaded, is blooming.

After uploading the photo, I could see that it has some sort of insect infestation under some of the leaves!

Also, just look at that thorn! Yikes!

Shrubs aren’t the only thing we’ve got blooming right now.

Yes! We have blooming tomatoes! These would be the Sophie’s Choice, which we started very early indoors, then restarted after the seedlings got eaten by cats. An early start was recommended for this variety, even though it is a short season variety, so I’m not too surprised to see flowers on these ones. To see them so soon after transplanting, though, is rather awesome!

While checking the various garden beds, I could finally see the purple carrots are starting to sprout. They’re still very hard to see, but they are making an appearance. The yellow Uzbek carrots are being much more enthusiastic about sprouting! I can’t tell about the Napoli and Kyoto Red planted near the south fence. They were pelleted seeds, so we could space them further apart, which makes it harder to see if those tiny leaflets are carrot, or some weed!

The peas that had already sprouted at the trellis are getting noticeably bigger. In the old kitchen garden, I’m finally seeing some beets, though for all my efforts to pull up and transplant the mint out from the bed last fall, they are still coming up strong, along with some other weeds. The beet seedlings are too tiny and delicate to risk disturbing them while trying to weed.

In the lettuce bed, the buttercrunch lettuce germinated a while back and it won’t be long before we are able to start harvesting baby leaves while thinning the rows. Another variety, Lunix, if I remember correctly, as also started to sprout, but like the beet bed, efforts to pull up the weed roots were not very successful. My mother had planted some very invasive flowers in this bed, and they are incredibly difficult to get under control!

The Kulli corn is still looking a weak, but the bush beans planted with them are starting to come up! I’ve got arrows pointing to the bean seedlings that are in this photo.

Meanwhile, all around the various beds, we’ve got onion sets coming up, and the onions started from seed seem to have all survived and are getting stronger. All of the transplants seem to have not only survived being transplanted, but are handling the heavy rains we’ve had, just fine. The first spinach that was planted are growing their true leaves now, and it won’t be long before we will be having fresh greens to eat!

I am so looking forward to when my morning rounds will start to include harvesting fresh leafy greens, beans, peas and summer squash, regularly again!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: kulli corn, yellow beans and garlic

Yes! Finally! Major transplanting was started today. 🙂

The first thing I needed to finish was topping up the low raised bed they were going into.

Since the snow melted away, we’ve been adding our kitchen compost in the trench, which already had some straw in it, and I even tossed in the soil from various pots we had, from house plants that died, to seed starts from last year that didn’t germinate. The last layer before adding the soil was some fresh grass clippings.

This is the first time this pile of garden soil has been uncovered since last year.

So. Many. Thistles!

And those roots go all the way though the pile.

Which meant I had to bring the makeshift soil sifter into service, so get as many of the roots as possible out. It was long and tedious, but at least it was made a bit easier by scavenging a couple of scrap boards out of a pile to support the steel mesh, rather than the found branches I was using before. Sifting the soil had to be a gentle process, because there were SO many worms.

I kept the worms for the new bed. 😀

After the soil was added, stove pellets were scattered across the top and hydrated so act as a thin mulch. It won’t stop any weeds, but it will help keep the soil surface from compacting. After several soakings, the sawdust was spread evenly with the back of a fan rake.

It took a couple of hours, but I could finally transplant the kulli corn!

They had a major root system going! It made it difficult to get them out of the bins, then pull apart the tubes. The toilet paper really wanted to come apart!

With the larger bin, it was even more difficult to get them out, and the whole thing ended up falling out and apart. I think only one corn plant actually got broken, though. We’ll see if it makes it.

I counted the seedlings, then marked three rows of 20 evenly spaced spots for the corn. The actual total was 58, including some smaller ones that may or may not make it. We ordered 100 seeds, and there were extras, so we’re looking at roughly 50% germination rate. Which I don’t mind. We would have had trouble finding space for more. They are quite closely planted, as it is. Which should be good for improving pollination.

Of the remaining rolls, I broke apart the cardboard and rifled through it. No sign of the remaining seeds that did not germinate. The carboard went into the compost pile, while the remaining soil was used to top dress any seedlings that looked like they could use it.

I had also grabbed a bag of bush beans from last year, picking the one that looked like it had fewer seeds. That was the yellow “Golden Rod” variety. We still have some green bush beans left, too.

I counted the bean seeds and there was 38 – which was perfect! I could plant two rows of 19 beans, in between the corn.

As they are “old” seeds, I don’t expect 100% germination. This bed is very densely planted, but they should be complimentary.

The corn, however, needed to be protected. The question was, how?

I made a trip to the barn and dug out the T posts I spotted in one corner, a while back. There turned out to be 6 of them, all different lengths. :-/

I had to dig holes to be able to set them, using a garden trowel, since a spade would have been just too big. Within inches, I was hitting water, then rocks and gravel. After placing the posts and trying to push the soil back against them, there was literally water, shooting out from the ground, as I stomped on the soil!

We have no post pounder, so I found a heavy hammer to try and drive them deeper. Especially the longest one, but I think that one ended up hitting a rock. Being the short person that I am, for the taller once, I had to stand on the corners of the bed to reach. Even with a board across the corner to stand on, I was wobbling all over the place! LOL

Once they were in, I strung some twine around to further support the net, once it was added. That was a job that had to wait for when the girls were available.

In the two garlic beds, the nearer one had only 6 remaining garlic coming up – and one of those was barely there. I could find no sign of the few others that had emerged, as well.

I decided to transplant those 6 garlic into the other bed. That one has a lot more garlic trying to grow, but there was still plenty of space at one end to transplant the remaining 6 of the other variety.

The left a bed available for planting into, which we did end up doing.

The main challenge was, how do we cover the bed with netting, yet still be able to access the plants, easily, for weeding and eventual harvesting of yellow beans.

Piece of pool noodles were added to the tops of the posts, so they wouldn’t tear apart the net. When the one on the tallest post fell off, I left it. If it tears, it’ll only go down to the twine, and will actually line up better with the rest.

When I brought the T posts out of the barn, I also grabbed a stack of narrow pipes. I have no idea what they were for, or why they were stored there, but I figured the might make good supports. The short ends of the net are wrapped around those pipes and zip tied into place. For the long sides, we zip tied narrow fence posts we found… somewhere, to weigh down the netting. Any gaps were further secured with ground staples. If we want to tend the bed, we can remove the ground staples and lift the poles to get under the netting.

Hopefully, that will work out.

The corn can potentially grow to 8 ft tall, which is higher than the netting, but if they do get that tall, we’ll deal with it, then.

That was my big job for today, but it wasn’t the only one we got accomplished! I’ll write about that, in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

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: so many beans!

For the past while, we’ve been harvesting a handful of beans, every couple of days. Just enough for the day’s meal, really. It would mostly be the yellow beans, with a few greens, and maybe three or for purple beans.

This morning, we had our biggest harvest, yet!

It is still mostly yellow beans, but they are on the bottom. It’s remarkable to me how, the plants that are the smallest and having the hardest time in this heat, is producing the most right now! Not for long, though, I think. There are LOTS of immature green and purple beans hiding under the leaves. We should start getting hauls like this more often, soon. 🙂

This is the first time we had enough to make it worthwhile to preserve them. Not enough to make it worth breaking out the canner or doing some quick pickles or something, but enough to fill a bag for the freezer.

After trimming the ends, then cutting them to more equally sized pieces, I was able to use the blanching pot I’d found in the storage area of the kitchen, while trying to cat proof it (it’s right up by the ceiling and hard to get to!). This is the first time we’ve been able to use it. 🙂

All those ice packs we have to help keep our food cold or frozen when we do our city trips are coming in handy. I used a bunch of them to make an ice bath to chill the blanched beans in. We don’t typically make ice with our well water, and the ice we do have is purchased, so I didn’t want to use any of that!

This variety of purple beans turn green when cooked or blanched. They are a somewhat less bright green; you can tell them apart in the foreground.

The blanched beans were laid out on a couple of trays and are now in the chest freezer, to be bagged later.

One thing about freezing produce. It’s very fast! I still hope to have enough to pickle or pressure can, so we have shelf-stable beans, too. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: first taste, and getting big!

This evening, our first real harvest of beans was prepared to accompany our supper, and did a taste test. Though we’d picked a few beans before, they were so few, they just got chopped up and added to a hash.

For these, they were first steamed until almost done, then pan fried in butter with fresh garlic (our own, of course!), then seasoned with salt an pepper.

The purple beans turn green when cooked, and I made a point of tasting them individually, to compare the flavour.

Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference. As far as I could tell, they tasted the same! 😀 Which was very good, I might add. 🙂

I forgot to follow up on how the Dorinny corn tasted. We had those last night, wrapped in foil with butter, salt and pepper, then roasted in the oven, next to a ham.

I really liked the Dorinny corn. If you’re a fan of really sweet corn, it probably wouldn’t be your thing, but it had a good, solid corn flavour. It was also wonderfully toothsome. As much a pleasure to eat as to taste. I don’t think we’ll be able to save seeds from these, there are so few of them, but I will definitely want to pick up more for next year’s garden. In fact, I think I will get two packets this time.

While heading out to check on the gravel pit, I paused to look at the cucamelons and had a lovely surprise.

Hiding behind some leaves are some really big ones! Not quite big enough to harvest, but very close.

Yes, this is “big” for cucamelons. 😀

So awesome!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: harvest firsts

This evening, I went over our beans and made our first real harvest!

We’ve picked a couple of beans, here and there, before, but this is the first substantial amount we have been able to gather. The yellow beans, for all that they are the smallest plants, are maturing the fastest.

A few purple beans, at the very end of the row, look to be newly nibbled on, but of the entire row, I could only find these few that looked mature enough to pick. As for the green beans, there are lots of them, but I don’t think they’re quite ready for picking. With the yellow beans, it’s at least easy to tell when they are ready. They turn from green to yellow. The green beans just stay the same green! 😀

After picking these, I stopped to look over other parts of the garden, including the Dorinny corn. These are the ones that were planted before last frost, and are the most mature. With the weather, they have had a hard time, but some of the cobs did seem to be ready to pick.

A whole four of them, including one that had its tip nibbled on by a deer a while back!

Generally speaking, they seem to have had good pollination; just the one cob that got its silks nibbled away has fewer kernels, which makes sense.

I had moved the garden cam to face the Dorinny corn and one side of the squash tunnel, in hopes of seeing what is eating the winter squash. One of the things I’ve done, after the last time a deer got into the Dorinny corn, and the one row of transplanted sunflowers, was move some of the distractions by the tulips, over to these garden beds. Two of those distractions were long strings of twine with jingle bells on them. I took our last couple of bamboo stakes and set them up along the side of the Dorinny corn block, with the bells strung between them.

I didn’t catch anything on the garden cam going after the winter squash, but I did catch a deer on several video files. It was nibbling at the ground in front of the string of bells, but never tried to go past it.

That was encouraging, at least.

Meanwhile, I currently have the corn in the over, wrapped in foil with some butter, salt and pepper, and am looking forward to tasting one! The beans will be enjoyed tomorrow. 🙂

The Re-Farmer