The squash, the marrow, the courgette, the kabatchok, what have you, it likes not Estonia. The big sugar leaves turn yellow at the slightest sign of distress, mimicking nitrogen deficiency, which is what I misdiagnosed and wasted time doctoring with manure teas and probably overfertilizing the plants somewhat in the process.
I guess it longs for the greenhouse, to be shielded from chilly wind. Those endless five-hour nights of half-light and damp dew are too much for them. Maybe I didn't harden the transplants off right. Personally I think they're wimps. It's been such a kind year. The ground spongy and well-watered from snowpack, and then a spell of mid-summer temperatures in early May. The soil as loamy and as humic as my plants will ever get. I'm too cheap (nor does our family unit produce enough compost) to grow in raised beds of pure black matter as some of my relatives do.
(It's kind of funny -- we grew up with reminiscences from grandparents of legendary black gold, of forests with a naturally clear understory, and what do we have on our first still-experimental Estonian homestead? A soil that looks like red Virginia clay, and young birch and alder brush all around, encroaching on the home acre.)
The squash are producing a major amount of male flowers. Maybe this is normal, or maybe it's a defensive reaction. I wish they would get a little bushier. I didn't really know about this food until I had some frittered squash blossom at a deli in Rome -- good in the manner of tempura, but the things were overwhelmed in their thick blanket of batter. The fragrance comes across better when you toss a couple into a stew at the end. Not quite sure why some recipes tell you to remove the stamen. It tastes just fine and they're so delicate to begin with, probably plenty of vitamins in that pollen.
The bean seeds rotted in the cold, cold ground last year, so didn't repeat that mistake. These babies are indoors in seedling trays at 20 degrees C. Have some psychedelic looking pre-1840 dolce di chioggia heirloom beets in as well. No worries there. Cabbages - slugs haven't touched them yet, but they're still not very vigorous. Spinach -- just planted. Maybe a little late, but smart money's always on a coolish summer. Pumpkin patch also started -- nothing exotic like last year's butternut. Just pale watery Estonian pumpkin, maybe for jack o' lanterns or spiced marinated pumpkin salad.
The old apple tree has about ten blossoms compared to two last year. Did some basic things like pruning and grooming and fertilizing last fall, but I'm no expert. The black currant transplants, damn Räpina Aianduskool to hell, have anthracnose, but I'll apply a fungicide and maybe they'll beat it. They are bigger than they were last year, so it's not killing them outright yet.
As for the shotgun shack, hey, it keeps the mosquitoes out and has a foundation and no pockets of rot. We have a thuja tree blocking southern exposure in the square 25'x25' cabin almost completely. Not an issue this time of year with plenty of direct sunlight from seven of the eight points of the compass. Still, wondering about the tradeoff -- will we miss it if we cut it down? The roots aren't probably good for the foundation and I can't imagine the cabin being buffeted by icy southern winds. I hesitate to cut down a tree called "life-tree" in Estonian, though. But there is a birch that shades some of the garden area at a certain time of day. I see no use for that one.
I've made my peace with the idea of eventually tearing down both outbuildings -- there's too much rot in different places but some can be harvested and salvaged. It will also open the yard up to breezes and reduce mosquitoes even further (mowing has really helped). It will change the look of the place but not permanently.
The inflatable Russian-made boat is gone. It had a bunch of slow leaks, and I considered it a write-off, but I didn't think anyone would take it. I wish whoever ended up with it lots of luck. Maybe the high water took it, but the tarp was still there. Nothing else was touched over the winter. Whoever took the boat, if they took the boat, did not follow the faint trail across the marsh looking for the farm. Absit omen, this trend will continue. I've never been paranoid about burglary and the only time I've lost something to theft is when it was locked up.
The place looked more civilized when I took charge of it this May. Everything has seemed a little more manageable. Kobestage edasi, my mother-in-law told us when she visited last midsummer. A new expression for me in that context. It could be an illusion, but the property does look more "tenderized" and tamed. Naturally there's a lot of work to be done, and it seems overwhelming, but as long as we don't have to do it, I suppose it won't drive us over the edge.
The basic catch is that if we do ever move to this particular property full-time, we're all but agreed that we would build a new family house (rather than pouring money into a slightly off-kilter cabin). But if we do build something nice and new (and actually had the money), it would have to be a special property. This one has its charms, with location in the woods and the river out back (albeit off-property) but there are also some problems -- wells are weird -- and it's not Zihuatanejo.