Autumn and spring are busy times for us out and about growing food and such. Time to harvest before the first low temperatures or sudden frosts come. Also soil and seedlings need to be prepared and started in order to have everything ready for transplanting just before or throughout the first winter weeks.
It is also a beautiful time since there is still a lot of green, it is not too cold and the blazing summer sun is giving humans and plants a rest.
The only big harvests in my case were the sweet potatoes and the Loofas (vegetable sponge), neither of which do well at low temperatures and can even get spoiled. I harvested some 300 kilos of sweet potato of two different varieties and some 60 Loofas. The sweet potatoes are insanely good and we are having them on almost every single meal. I have also been selling some together with some garlic and a few other random stuff. The Loofas are used as a dish wash sponge and work fantastic. I am planning on letting others try and see what they think. If they like them I can sell them some.
Like I said, big time for new plantings. Out go the squashes, pumpkins, tomatoes, aubergines, old swiss chard and kale, corn, peanuts, sweet potatoes and loofahs. New mulch is spread and new stuff comes in. That is, one tries.
Delays and problems
There’s been plenty of delays and problems, and all due to one little creature and several very tiny ones. The star this time is a surprisingly tiny and destroyer, rather cute skunk. This guy is making my life very difficult. He is everywhere looking for insects, worms and beetle larvae, completely destroying my veg beds in the process. It’s driving me mad, totally insane. So I have already had to re-replant the same potatoes over and over again because I would inevitably wake up to find my potaoes tossed all over the place every other morning or so. The potatoes managed to sprout eventually at the same time as our friend moved over to the carrot bed (they are quite systematic mind you). Then I had to plant carrots 10 TIMES because it went through the whole bed with its snout making small tornadoes in the soil and basically destroying anything that might have germinated. And this was after I had to re-sow a few times because it was too hot, too dry, too whatever. The 10th time I thought I had outsmarted it and planted the carrots in the greenhouse because I thought it was safe. It´s not like they can open doors right? Think again, just when the carrots were germinating the critter managed to dig its way into the greenhouse and oh my, he had a party there. The raised beds had been filled with horse bedding in December and were therefore completely stuffed with worms and big beetle larvae… I almost felt like crying when I went in there one morning. He went on with this for three days, until we rushed and bought old tin roof and Magnus banged pieces of it in the soil making a skunk-safe perimeter all around the greenhouse. It actually tried to get in, we could see the tiny upside down tornadoes in some parts but it gave up and went to my leek bed instead. He is probably working on it right now since it is dark and they are night creatures.
The best part is, and now you are in for a treat, that we have seen it on several occasions! It has tried to nap inside the guest house and under some wood that we have piled up behind the house. But the absolute best was last Saturday. Saturday night is usually sauna night. It was clear and the moon would be a full one so I decided to go without a flashlight and, strangely enough, I was the one who stayed for longer (usually I am the first to go back to the house). The sauna is some 70 meters from our house and after walking halfway on an open path the width of my tractor (2,5 meters? Magnus laughed at me for using such a useless reference measure) you have to walk through a few narrow paths. This is totally unproblematic in normal circumstances or with some light from either the moon or a torch. Well, after sitting there alone for a while I decided that the sauna was starting to get cold and that I should start to walk back. Before that I had heard something rushing into the bushes when I went out for a shower so, on my way up, I was walking carefully and making a huge effort to see whether the path was clear. I did not get far, really straining my eyes to see, and there it was, just around the first corner. A very daunting small creature. Black and with a white stripe, no doubt. RUUUUUN!!!! This is so embarassing but I did actually run back to the sauna and locked myself there. I tried to get my shit together and went out again only to discover the little bastard had moved a few meters closer so I almost crashed with it instead. Back to the sauna in all haste. Oh well, I’ll just sit here and someone will come and get me eventually, or so I thought. Tic-toc, tic-toc… Hm… Nothing. I tried calling the dogs: “Mari, Benny!” Nada. Oh, for crying out loud, its just a skunk! I went out and there it was! Just outside! Looking at me like “hellow!? Everything ok? Wassup?” At this point I was annoyed at both myself and the skunk so I started throwing stones at it until it eventually disappeared into the forest. I made really sure it wasn’t there, short sighted as I am, and ran for my life all the way up to the house terrified through the narrow curved paths. I am such a coward, I know.
So there you have it. This very tiny super cute extremely bad smelling creature is killing me and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I hope it is not happy enough to start thinking of starting a family of his own… It is completely unafraid of us and did not even pretend to try and spray me. He is the most confident skunk we could ever wish for. Damn!
Then there’s the other destroyers: ants. Yes, my long term, forever enemies. Today I discovered a huge nest WITHIN my potaotes. No wonder they were munching on them. They took care of eliminating my newly transplanted spinach, which were the result of my third attempt at getting them to germinate in trays inside the greenhouse. What else… Oh yes! The mice/rats or whatever rodent it is, went crazy on my sweet potatoes. They took small bites from random sweet potatoes in random crates. I finally decided to sell a big portion of the lot since we do not have proper storage facilities and deviced another way of storing what was left. I made a big square with cement blocks and filled it with layers of sand and sweet potatoes, covered the last layer with sand and put a lid on top with some heavy stuff on it. So far so good. We also have some inside the house, they are too precious.
So no, not much is growing out there right now I must say. But hopefully, if I don´t loose my persistence (and my mind) we will have leeks, onions, garlic, chard and maybe, just maybe, carrots and spinach.
Despite the skunks consistent interventions Tristan and I managed to harvest 20 kilos of potatoes and I guess there are some 20 more left to harvest. It is the white local variety that can be planted over and over again. We’ve tried them and they are very nice so I am definitely going to plant these again. It is not a lot, but I really did not have any time left to take care of them so they have basically grown unattended except for the one time I mulched them. I will most likely stop buying the Chieftain variety that is imported from Canada. They are very nice but very expensive and only give a good enough harvest the first two rounds, then you have to buy again. Nah.
We also had my Dad visiting. We had not seen him since February 2020 so we were very happy to have him here. He went through a rather strenuous trip and I have to say I am deeply impressed by his level of energy towards life. He stayed for a week and the kids were with him every day. We got up to date and had time to drink mate and look at the horizon too. Very nice indeed.
What else have I been up to. Transplanting onions, planting garlic cloves, mulching asparagus and artichokes for the winter and teaching via zoom.
That is all for now. Bye-bye and until next time.
Update 1: the ants ate most of the spinach 🙁
Update 2: I decided I needed to do something nice to feel better. yoga did not help so I set out to help Time transplant her lettuce (that also got eaten btw) and Tristan came along and we harvested the last 10 kilos of potatoes.
Update 3: I´ll better post this before any more things get eaten by the ants. It is insane.