New Project - Could send me to the insane asylum

Mandy Onderwater

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Loving it! I also love the hand-for-size when you held some foilage out of the way - your garden really is thriving!
It's interesting to see those paprika's grow! I've grown them once and it behaved like a pumpkin vine, creeping and crawling all over the place. I wasn't very serious about growing them, so it died after producing one full-sized paprika. It's interesting to see one thriving like that compared to what mine looked like.
I love how healthy your cucumber looks! My plant looks like it may have some fungal disease going on, which is damaging my plant a lot. And I'm not quite sure how to fix it as an anti-fungal spray that I use doesn't seem to be helping. And now with the rain we've been having on and off, I can't spray without it being washed away.
I love the bountiful harvest! How do you store your veg after harvesting?
 

DThille

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Thanks @Mandy Onderwater - cucumbers are susceptible to powdery mildew like others in the cucurbit family. For the country place, even though we've had a lot of moisture, there is always wind, so that helps keep powdery mildew at bay.

We were out again today...didn't take many photos. I continued with pumping out the cistern...it looks like the basement may be less damp, so I may have gotten the water below a seepage point. Once I get it mostly dried out, I may get some sealant applied to the one wall which would allow us to use the cistern for rainwater storage, which would be wonderful. Without having gone down there, just measuring the garage, I estimate it to be about 3500 cubic feet, or about 99,000 litres. It was about half full, so in the range of 50,000 litres of water. My little pump is putting out about 450 litres/hr the way I've got it set up, so I need to run it about 100 hours...no wonder I don't see a real difference after running it a few times for 2-4 hours at a stretch. Aside from just pumping it out, today I pointed the hose at a small birch tree that isn't entirely happy, and we've been filling and refilling jugs that we use for watering the young fruit trees since I don't have enough hose to reach all the way to the orchard.

20220904DSC_0592RadishCover.jpg

I had seeded some winter radish a while back and recently noticed they were being munched a bit...I think flea beetles. Thus, we put a bit of row cover down today in an attempt to help that out...I think next time I'm out I want to water with some sugar water to see if that may help. Hopefully we excluded enough of the culprits so that we don't have any more issues.

20220904DSC_0593Kajari.jpg

Seeing these Kajari melons lined up in a row amused me, so I shot the photo.

20220904DSC_0594Kajari.jpg

Here's an exciting development...the first Kajari melon ripening. Looking at the plant today, I found it interesting how similar, yet how different the leaves of different members of this plant family are.

20220904DSC_0599TipTopHills.jpg

Three hills of the Tip Top melon, a cantaloupe type. It's rewarding to see a number of fruits through the leaves.

20220904DSC_0600SugarBeets.jpg

Here is much of the patch of sugar beets. I think we'll get quite a bit more than last year's first experiment. Based on information provided by @TNTreehugger I think we may grind up a bunch and spread around to see if that may improve soil health overall. I would concentrate on the garden and orchard areas as a starting point. Sugar is concentrated after frosts, so it will hopefully be a while before we get going on this project.
 

DThille

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I forgot we did a bit of harvesting as well. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and ground cherries are fairly standard these days, but also harvested the first of our Brussels sprouts (which are in the oven for supper), as well as some sunflowers and millet.

Earlier today I'd also started a list for next year's garden. We would like to start some asparagus and sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke, which is native to this part of the world) as our first perennial vegetables - we have few options for those around here. We want to set up some small plots of millet and amaranth to start growing some of our own grains.

@Mandy Onderwater I'd neglected your storage question. It varies quite a bit. Root crops are generally stored as is in the basement. We do some canning and pickling. This year I started doing some fermenting. We also do some drying - right now my wife has some tomatoes in the dehydrator...once dry they can be ground to a powder which can then be reconstituted to create tomato paste or more water to make sauce. We gave away a care package yesterday to our priest. Of course, a lot gets eaten fresh and some gets neglected and spoils...sigh.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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I too love the picture of the kajari melons! They looks so nice lined up together like that.
And the colouration of the ripening one! That looks very attractive.

Cheers on the info on the cucumbers. I've been having some rather bad luck with my new plants - my old one never had an issue... until I accidentally mowed over it.

That's a large patch of sugar beets! But then agian... they can store really well. And I love beets personally. I've contemplated growing them but I don't think I can get them as sweet as I'll like them. Storebought beets for me.

We've had wild asparagus growing when I was living in The Netherlands. It would survive through winter and pop back up on it's own in Spring (if I remember correctly). Now I'm not sure if that was a specific type, or just some edible look-a-like, but it was there. I think it'd do fairly well in your climate.

Haha I hear you; I have a small garden and sometimes things spoil already! It happens. You can always compost it down again. I am interested in canning and pickling perhaps. Possibly even wanting to make a solar dehydrator.
 

DThille

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She Who Must Be Obeyed has rediscovered the dehydrator we got a few years back. Now we are contemplating purchase of a bigger, more feature-rich one.

We do freeze things as well, but want to be careful about that as we’ll be getting a pork in October and a turkey at some point, so freezer space is a bit tight although we have close to 50 cubic feet of freezer space…time to get rid of some of the “stuff” in them.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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From what I can see, Mark is quite happy with his dehydrator (or is it a freeze-dryer). I'm hoping to get one too in the future - they seem amazing!
One thing to consider is whether you have the space for it somewhere, that and the cost are what's stopping me. I'd love to have one :D
 

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The leaves are very similar, although the stems are darker with a purplish tinge.

Now for today's adventures. I was back out today and continued with weeding by machete in the cover crop. It was in the mid to high 20s and quite humid...I felt myself flagging and getting a bit sloppy with the machete so stopped and did some mowing instead...at least I won't cut a leg off sitting on the tractor.

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Tip Top melon, a cantaloupe type.

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Kajari (honeydew type) melons continue to grow...I counted 6 on the plant, but I think I could only make out 5 on the photo...one may be hidden by a leaf.

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Boothby's Blonde cucumber - supposed to be good for bread & butter pickles.

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One of these things is not like the others...Muncher cucumber. The darker ones may be a bit overripe...I didn't pick them the other day not realizing they were at more or less full size.

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I believe this is a wee Sugar Lump watermelon.

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A shot of some of the cover crop.

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Three guesses and the first two don't count. I saw a video the other day where they used the petals and some of the pollen bits to make a tea.

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Turk's Turban squash.

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Another one that may give a better idea to the naming.

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This should be a Mandan squash...it sort of snuck up on me and is a good size.

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Spaghetti squash

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This one is bigger

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Tomatoes and brassicas

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Cherry tomato and ground cherry

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Black Hungarian pepper (chili)

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The variegated Fish variety in the foreground

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Pod of a Fish pepper...the pods are variegated too.

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Feher Ozon...I think these plants will look spectacular when the peppers ripen to red.

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Corno di Toro pepper

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Red Ruffled Pimento

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Brussels sprouts...looking forward to these.

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Other side of the cherry tomatoes.

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Today's harvest...3 types of beets, turnip, a few small red onions that were disturbed, three types of carrots (the small ones are Paris Market and I'm a bit confused about the yellow ones, unless we seeded some of the old rainbow mix and I happened to pick two of the same colour), broccoli, Patisson squash, baking (or spiralizing) zucchini, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes.

I've decided we'll roast some root vegetables along with a roast chicken on Sunday.
💕💕💕💕💕
 

DThille

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I forgot to post some photos from last weekend...after the fact.

20220905DSC_0604ThreshingStages.jpg

Three stages of "playing" with millet. The seed company called this German millet...online it seems it is also known as golden millet. Anyway, She Who Must Be Obeyed picked a pretty good bucket full, so we were threshing by hand. this photo shows unprocessed ears of grain up top, collected seed, and remaining head of grain to the lower right.

20220905DSC_0606MilletFirstWinnow.jpg

After first winnowing...much cleaner, but still needs work.

20220905DSC_0605DragonTongueFeherOzon.jpg

From a raised bed in the city, a Feher Ozon pepper and Dragon Tongue bean. Unfortunately the purple is lost when cooked.

20220909DSC_0608DragonTongueBeans.jpg

A picking of Dragon Tongue Beans.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Those seeds like like what dad would hang in the bird coop for them to snack on. He has canaries and they absolutely adored it. It was always fun to watch them bicker on who would eat the most (even though we'd hang in multiple spots) and how playful and happy they'd get. Even though they aren't "pet" birds, but more a hobby. He's got them for song, and they go into contests.

Those Beans look very cool!
Does the colour disappear over time or is it like, the second they hit boiling water / a hot pan?
Otherwise you could perhaps stir-fry them lightly to retain some colour.
 

DThille

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Now on to today's adventure...our dryer in the city died...I played with it a bit but decided my time was more valuable...according to the information online it's from 2006 and we bought it new, so 16 years isn't too bad. Anyway, we cleaned up the dryer in the country, verified it worked, and loaded it onto the back of the truck to bring to the city. While I was a courier, She Who Must Be Obeyed headed to the garden and started harvesting.

20220911DSC_0611DesecratedTipTop.jpg

We learned that crickets like muskmelon :mad: The two most advanced were sacrificed...two with some damage were picked and when we got home we cut off the eaten part and ultimately chopped up and tasted. They are very nice, although not overly sweet because they were a bit on the green side...sigh.

20220911DSC_0616GaleuxDEsynes.jpg

A Galeux D'Esynes squash getting bumpy and changing colour.

20220911DSC_0619GoldenMidget.jpg

Golden Midget watermelon.

20220911DSC_0623TurksTurban.jpg

I found an alien among the Turk's Turban squash. Looks like we may be ready for Hallowe'en.

20220911DSC_0630PepperDisease.jpg

Some of the peppers and the ground cherry are showing signs of what I suspect is a fungal disease...sigh.

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Brussels sprouts.

20220911DSC_0634Mandan.jpg

Mandan squash.

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Photo 1 of today's harvest. Happily, the crickets don't seem to bother the Kajari melons. These had slipped off the vine, so they are as ripe as they are going to get. I intend to prepare one for breakfast.

20220911DSC_0636Harvest.jpg

Photo 2 - it was nice to see the Doe Hill and Feher Ozon peppers changing colour.

20220911DSC_0639PackingUp.jpg

Phoenix supervising Mom packing up.

We roasted a root crops to go with a roast pork for supper and tomatoes are presently being processed. She Who Must Be Obeyed walked a care package over to a neighbour and I hope to share some with a friend tomorrow.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Oh no! That was definitely a long time for a dryer; it was worth the money for sure.
I hope the new one (if you're getting one) will last just as long!

Naughty crickets! I didn't thing they'd be able to eat through the peel like that.. wowzers. Do you think you could try putting some bug netting around it? Or are you thinking of sticking with more hardier breeds of melon instead?

I love the others - they're huge! The alien face is hilarious 😆

Oh no! The peppers are definitely showing signs of struggle... if I see correctly, are their leaves turning black?

Something's been loving the leaves of the brussels sprouts. Too bad - they're edible too! Hopefully they'll keep their hands off of the main product though.

Oh wow that's a huge harvest - I love it! It looks amazing :D

Phoenix and mom look very cute together, and it definitely shows the size of the fruit & veg!
 

DThille

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The crickets start in at the stem end,, which is a weak spot in the rind. I plan to go out Wednesday afternoon and wrap a number of the fruits with a cover fabric. Hopefully that will allow us to save some more.

Since the two melons that were harvested had been started on, we cut off that section and chopped them up last night. They had a nice flavour, but were a bit on the green side, so weren’t as sweet as I would expect. This morning we cut up one of the Kajari melons…that was very nice and sweet.

The black you see are the Black Hungarian pepper pods…for the most part the leaves are green, but for the spots.

Flea beetles like brassicas, so they’ve done a number on the big leaves of the Brussels sprouts. There’s still plenty of green to photosynthesize. I’m hopeful the sprouts are tight enough to avoid too much damage. They apparently improve with a frost, so I’d like to wait to harvest for that, but I’m in no rush for frost to show up and end the peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

We definitely need to work on our preservation skills to get more of it all stored up. Make hay while the sun shines.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Blasted crickets are getting smart! Hopefully the fabric will help though...

Ahh fair enough. I must be blind, haha 👓

I hope that the flea beetles don't do more damage than you can "afford". Are you leaving all the brussels sprouts on or are you intending on partial harvests?
I did indeed hear that they get better with some frost, though I don't know what their "minimum" temperature is. Hopefully frost will stay away for a little while as you've had plenty snow last time ❄️

I'm hoping to learn to preserve too, once I start producing a little more. Progress has been slow on clearing space as my back and shoulders have been giving me many issues. On top of that I really don't have the necessary equipment and would be mostly winging it.
Do you have a designated area for growing grasses to turn into hay?
 

DThille

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My wife did harvest some Brussels sprouts the one time. I’ve been tempted to harvest one plant to spread out the harvest.

Drying is one of the easiest methods of preserving. Depending on your environment, you may be able to get away with a bit of insect screen on something like a cookie sheet in the sun. That’s also easier to do small batches. Learn from my mistakes…don’t bite off more than you can chew. Fermenting can be done in small batches…you don’t need the fancy lids if you’re willing to pay a bit more attention and “burp” the jar while fermenting. If you’re growing herbs, infusing them into oil or vinegar is also fairly straightforward without requiring special equipment.

Make hay while the sun shines is an expression…more or less avoid procrastinating. I’ve got to remember we are an international group here so local euphemisms I’m familiar with aren’t necessarily universal.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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By harvesting some of it you can compare the difference and see for the future if overwintering it is worth it to you.

Yeah I'm hoping to figure out a way of drying that keeps the flies out. I've even considered a drying net, but I can't find something I consider reasonably priced.
I have been thinking about fermenting, though I feel like that might be an acquired taste. I've never really eaten anything fermented (I think), other than sauerkraut. I grew up hating it, but nowadays I sometimes feel like trying it again.
I'm definitely into growing herbs! I'm still trying to learn how to use them, though. @Grandmother Goose had started on an article around this though, which has been massively helpful.

I love learning new things, so feel free to keep saying them. That's interesting :D
 

DThille

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In a change of pace, I went out on a Thursday...I'm driving tomorrow to get to the memorial of a friend who passed in December.

As I was puttering, I heard an unfamiliar bird sound...it turns out it was coming from high overhead. I believe it was a flock of sandhill cranes...the first group had perhaps 50 then a while later another 20ish flew over.

Anyway, one of the main reasons to go out was to foil the crickets and wrap some of the melons.

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It was on the windy side, so cutting and handling the row cover material was challenging, so I wrapped seven of the most advanced fruit and hopefully that will at least slow them down, if not stop them.

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The potato plants are skeletons after the insects got through with them...I'm guessing grasshoppers.

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They also seem to like carrot tops.

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Here's a shot of the patch of Galeux D'Esynes squash.

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Here's a closer image of one of these intriguing winter squash.

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Mandan squash.

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Spaghetti squash

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Some funky spaghetti squash. Apparently this is a cross pollination issue with another member of the cucurbit family. Some folks imply these fruit would have been pollinated by something else, but I don't know if that is it or if perhaps these are all on one plant from a seed that had been cross-pollinated.

20220915DSC_0651TurksTurban.jpg

Development of the alien face on a Turk's Turban squash

20220915DSC_0654GoldenMidget.jpg

I was tempted to harvest these Golden Midget watermelon, but from photos I don't think they are quite ripe yet. We don't have frost forecast in the near future and after a few cloudy / damp days, it's supposed to get sunny and warmer again, so I'd like to give them a chance.

20220915DSC_0657SuyoCircle.jpg

Suyo Long cucumber that is going in circles.

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Elderberry that was planted earlier this year that was apparently found to be tasty...sigh. I'm quite confident it will come back.

20220915DSC_0667Kajari.jpg

A Kajari melon that is approaching ready.

I did harvest quite a bit again...peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, ground cherries, melons, a cauliflower, a few carrots, and some herbs. Oh yeah...more zucchini. Our kitchen is out of control with produce and pretty much every evening there's something different going on to prep something else for drying or canning or pickling or blanching and freezing.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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My condolences.

Naughty crickets and grasshoppers! They are such a pest in the garden. I struggle with them here as well, as they munch through stuff before you have a chance to fix it sometimes.
Glad to see a lot of your crops are still doing really well though :D

I do think potentially investing in a material that might last more than one season might be a good idea. I've got little veggie nets that seem to do pretty well, though I'm not sure how well it'd fare in sunlight (it was cheap and bought online). I can absolutely be mistaken and your material might last longer than I think.

Haha, the alien face is looking real angry now.
And what a special cucumber! Are they all growing like that, or is this one just showing off? :p

Haha, a busy kitchen is a happy kitchen isn't it? Rather too much than too little. And you could probably try many ways of pickling and so on :D
 

DThille

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She Who Must Be Obeyed and our daughter held down the fort the last while, doing some harvesting to keep up. I attended an online permaculture conference this weekend and spent time in the kitchen so we were dividing labour.

However, last night we had a frost advisory - the official weather station here at the airport was nearly -3C this morning...we got no frost at the house - there's a secondary weather station not too far from the house and as we are near the city centre, it was about 5 degrees warmer, getting down to about 2C this morning. The closest official weather station to our property (about 22 km from the garden) recorded a light frost of -0.4C. In anticipation of that, we went out after supper last night, arriving about dusk. We cut off most of the pepper plants and all the tomato plants to allow the fruit to ripen somewhat on the vine. We harvested the watermelon, the other melons that were close to ready, cucumbers, and a sampling of the squash. If the squash get a light freeze, they'll be OK, but it will negatively impact their long term storage, so I'm hoping we didn't get frost yet. There's another advisory for tonight, but then the outlook is warmer.

20220927IMG-1763Peppers.jpg

Pepper plants in boxes.

20220927IMG-1762Tomatoes.jpg

Good thing we haven't disposed of this box from a freezer we purchased a few years back...it came in handy with the tomato plants. That said, I'm thinking the easiest way to access them will be to cut down a side, making the box recycling or fire starting material.

20220927SquashMelons_cropped.jpg

Most of the melons and squash we gathered.

Since it was dark, we were using our phone flashlights, a headlight and the tractor lights, which helped, but it was still quite challenging.

Our daughter messaged a friend who gathered her boyfriend and a telescope to join her...it was clear, so the stars were incredible. Sometimes I forget just how intense the light pollution is in the city. She tells me they were able to see three of Jupiter's moons and make out stripes on Jupiter. There was also some aurora borealis action.

I expect to head out tomorrow afternoon...if need be I'll remove the last pepper plants, some more squashes, and get moving on starting to dig some of the root crops. Although we haven't been big winter squash eaters in our house, considering what I paid for a packet of seeds of each, there's a tremendous return in growing these plants. Now to cure them before long term storage.

The winter radishes continue to grow...hopefully the weather cooperates and allows them to grow something of a root. It's difficult to get at them to check with the row cover on them...I'll have to rethink how I do that in the future.

Anyway time to run as I want to prepare some salsa for fermenting.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Oh wow! Temperatures seem to be dropping fast and hard over there. Good plan on getting your plants out while you still can.
I don't think I'd dare garden at night here, too many spiders and snakes for my comfort.

I've never looked through a telescope, I imagine it to be quite beautiful to be able to see the stars like that. And I'd love to see the aurora; is it as beautiful as often described?

What forms of preserving do you prefer? Drying, pickling, curing, etc? And is one easier than the other, or simply a different way of doing things?

My internet is acting up a bit today, so apologies if my messages seem a little jumbled today.
 
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