A journal of my home vegetable garden. Skippy thinks it's his garden, but I've been gardening here for 20 years. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6). I have a big community garden plot and a small plot in my yard. I try to grow all of my family's vegetables using sustainable organic methods.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

planting squash and cukes

Just planted a tray with squash and cucumber seeds.
(in order of my favorites:)
Squash: Waltham butternut, Buttercup Burgess strain, Jarrahdale pumpkin, New England Pie pumpkin, Hubbard blue ballet, and Acorn Honey Bear

Cucumbers: Diva, Tokiwa, Sooyow nishiki, Straight 8, Sumter pickling

Monday, April 07, 2014

leveling my new raised beds

Copy of IMG_7186 My raised beds are on a bit of a slope. To level them, my husband secured a 2x4 horizontally to the bottom of each bed at the downhill side. He used three 2x4 stakes on each and left these sticking out a few inches at the bottom. One some beds where the slope was steeper, we left the stakes at the soil surface and filled in below with a layer of brick. For most, the stakes were dug in leaving the horizontal 2x4 resting at soil surface. One or two were on a flatter ground and he dug the whole horizontal board in a bit. We used brick to fill in at the sides. Now all of the beds are pretty much level. Next step - add dirt!

Copy of IMG_7190 Copy of IMG_7195 Copy of IMG_7198 Copy of IMG_7185 Copy of IMG_7181 Copy of IMG_7211 Copy of IMG_7203

Saturday, April 05, 2014

germination test of old corn seeds

Copy of IMG_7166 I'm doing a germination test of my old corn seeds. They were "Packed for 2009" - 6 years old. Any bets on whether they'll sprout?


Friday, April 04, 2014

forced forsythia

Copy of IMG_7156 I have always wanted to be able to force forsythia. Our new house has lots of it around to cut. It bloomed within a couple days of bringing it inside. I suppose it won;t be long til its in bloom outside.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

chickens and eggs

fresh eggs IMG_7005 We are doing some renovations upstairs of our new house where there's a good view of my chicken coop. The construction crew tells me they've seem a big red tailed hawk fly down and perch on my chicken coop a couple of times.

Of all places! Can't he perch on some bird feeder or a random small tree?!! He might as well put in his order for a chicken lunch!

The red tails out here are BIG! I've been impressed. They must be better fed than the ones in more urban Belmont. Stronger and better fed.... and able to carry off large chickens for lunch....

Usually, I let me hens run free an hour or so in the afternoon sun. After this conversation with the construction guys, I only let them out briefly today when I could watch them carefully. The problem was, it was such a nice day and the girls really wanted to run for a while. After 20 min, I started trying to get them back into their coop and it took me a good 20 min. They did NOT want to go.

So, the eggs in the picture above are what the hens lay in about 5 days now. Since all 3 hens are laying, finally, I usually get 6 brown eggs per week from Penny (Black Australorp), 5 blue/green eggs per week from Ginger (Auracana), and 3 giant pink eggs a week from Bertha (Light Brahma). Bertha has just started to lay. So that's 14 egg a week. Plenty for us, and we're giving some away to anyone who leaves a car with open windows on the driveway ;-) Tomorrow I'm planning to make mushroom quiche, and then, Friday for guests, I'll make some deviled eggs of all different sizes.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

seedlings inside under lights

seedlings 7020 seedlings 7021 seedlings 7023 seedlings 7028 I have lots of little seedlings growing. Beets, broccoli, marigolds, lettuce, escarole, endive, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes.... Some I'm on time planting, some ahead of schedule and some behind schedule.


Monday, March 31, 2014

soggy crocus

soggy crocus Everything is cold and soggy, if not icy this spring. These are some sheltered crocus in my yard - trying their best to bloom.

Our local plant grower is having hard time with the cold weather. She's pulled plants out of the greenhouse and into her heated garage. I heard at Home Depot that all growers in the area are at least 2 weeks behind because of the cold weather.

Well, I'm pulling for the little crocuses. It would be cheery to see some color around here about now.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

the raised bed movie!

Here's another movie of my garden: Time lapse video of raised bed construction. Funny to see us running around and making 8 raised beds in 2 minutes....

eight new raised bed frames

finished raised bed frames Yesterday my husband and I made eight raised beds for my new garden! Kind of a dreary late March day, but I am so happy seeing the beds all lined up! We made six 4x12 foot beds and two 6x15 foot beds.

To make the six 4x12 beds:
- We started with fifteen 2x8x12's, untreated pine.
- We brought a compound miter saw down to the garden area. (It was raining off an on so we used a canopy to keep it dry.
- To make the 4' edges, four boards were cut in thirds.
- To make 24 corner brackets, two 4x4x8 untreated fir beams were cut the width of the boards, 7.5 inches.
- We butted up the boards one edge at a time and attached them using wood screws.
- We then placed the 4x4 bracket beam piece in the corner and used self-threading lumber screws to securely attach from both sides.
- Then we placed the beds where we wanted them. We're still looking at the placement and it may take us a few days to get the positioning we want.
- Next steps, we will level the beds with brick at one edge since we are on a bit of a slope. Then we'll secure the beds in place by pounding in wood stakes on the outside of the beds, every 3 feet. Then we'll add DIRT and plant stuff!

raised bed frames raised bed frames 2 raised bed corer IMG_6993 raised bed corner IMG_6991


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

scoping out sizes of new raised beds

043 - scoping out sizes of new raised beds My husband and son carried the wood that will edge my new raised beds down to the site of my new garden. We then laid out a few pieces to see how the beds will look. My plan has six 4x12 foot beds and two 6x15 foot beds.

time lapse video: making Skippy's new garden

I am making a time lapse video of my new vegetable garden. So far, the video only shows us bringing the boards for the raised beds down to the garden area. The boards are 2x8 untreated pine.

We also set out a few boards where the edges of the beds will be, just to see how they look.

Time Lapse Video: Making Skippy's New Garden

I'll extend the video as we create the garden and as the plants grow this year. Tomorrow we plan to make the raised bed frames.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

happy birthday Skippy

skippy is 9! 006 Skippy is 9 years old! Where does the time go?

Friday, March 14, 2014

6 yr old onion seeds didn't sprout...

How long do seeds last?

I've given up on my 6 year old onion seeds. :-( They didn't sprout this year. Time to throw out the package. I think also last year they also didn't sprout. It may have been the previous year (4 years old) that was the last time they came up. And that year, they took an extra week to come up.

Onions seeds are one of the more short-lived types. Its often recommended you only use them the season they are packaged for. Other short-lived seeds include corn, leek, onion, parsnip, and spinach. Hmm, I haven't bought spinach in ages. Mine have saved very well. But I agree with putting parsnip in this list and I'd add carrots here. I have some 5 year old popcorn seeds I was thinking of using again this year. I'll try a test germination on paper towels to see if there's any life left in them.

Long-lived seeds include beets, all brassicas (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, kohlrabi), chicory (endive, escarole, radicchio), cucumber, kale, lettuce, melons, mustard, peppers, radish, rutabaga, sunflower, tomato, and turnip. Long-lived means 5-10 years if kept cool and dry.

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 13, 2014

roses for my new arbor

I'd like to grow climbing roses up an arbor over my garden gate. Pale pink ones. Its fun to think about variety. I think my favorite is Eden (also known as Pierre de Ronsard). A modern French rose with an old fashioned look. "The flowers are huge and cup-shaped and very heavy. The buds are light green and develop into creamy white almost cabbage looking and later cup-shaped flowers with a delightful blush pink center. As the flower ages they turn almost white."

'Eden' rose
'Eden' rose Eden

Other nice roses are 'New Dawn' and the David Austin rose 'Sombreuil'
Eden Eden

Other nice David Austin climbers are 'St. Swithun' and 'Mortimer Sackler'
Eden Eden

I wonder how it would look to have 'Eden' on one side of the gate and 'Sombreuil' on the other. It seems from the pictures that their colors compliment each other.

'Sombreuil' description: "The flowers have many petals arranged in the form of flat, quartered rosettes. They are creamy white, sometimes with a hint of pink at the centre, and have a delicious tea scent. A hardy rose that repeat flowers well; in fact, we know of no other old variety that produces better flowers in autumn. 12ft."


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

companion planting plans

home garden diagram 2014 v5 I've looked up some companion planting suggestions and included the on my planting diagram. I'll put carrots next to parsley. Peas away from cucumbers. Lupines next to the peas. Marigolds and Bee Balm with the tomatoes. And lettuce by the squash. I've never done more than the basic companion planting - add marigolds and pollinator-attracting flowers here and there. It'll be fun to give this a try.

I've grown hyssop for years and its great for attracting bees. I'll put a row of hyssop, lavender and Echinacea along the front to attract pollinators and look pretty.

At my community plot, I'll also try a bit of companion planting this year. Tansy with the squash and pansies with the onions.

community garden diagram 2014 v5

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


marking out garden-to-be 018 My husband and I shuffled through the snow to mark out the edges of my garden-to-be.

I'm getting prices for putting in nice fencing around the plot. I'd like 4 foot post and rail. I'll put some kind of wire netting behind it, like chicken wire, to keep the rabbits out. I'll dig it down 6 inches to keep the woodchucks out. Then probably an electric wire at the top (or a 6 foot extension of plastic fencing) to keep the deer out.

Alternatively, we've been thinking we may just go with light weight fencing and metal poles all around this year and put in the post and rail next year. That'll give me some time to see how the location and size work out before adding a permanent fence.

The snow is starting to disappear from some of the sunniest areas. The ground is showing along the little brook that runs behind may garden-to-be. Tomorrow, we have an inch of rain coming. Maybe that will melt more of our snow.

stream by garden-to-be 012 garden-to-be 007 new sprinkler head waiting by garden-to-be garden-to-be 019

Sunday, March 09, 2014

winner - most garden catalogs!

catalogs 042 How do these companies find us??!! I moved late last year, yet I'm getting a stack of garden catalogs at my new address - maybe even more than usual.

Though I do most of my reading on-line, its still nice to have a hard copy. Catalogs are my favorite garden reading. Some have so much information.

I remember well many previous years, sitting curled up on the couch with catalogs, waiting for winter to pass.... Well, some years, I sat on bleachers as my son wrestled. Other years, in the waiting room as he had music lessons. Other years, in a car or plane as we traveled to visit relatives. Wherever, love those catalogs.

My favorites,
- BC Greenhouse Builders Limited: Beautiful greenhouses!
- FarmTek: Hoophouses!
- Territorial: Great culture and disease info. A whole refresher course.
- FedCo: More creative fruit and vegetable info than anyone else.
- Kitazawa Seed Co: So much variety in Asian vegetables!
- I didn't get a Johnny's catalog or I would have recommended them too as a second, and more extensive, vegetable culture and disease refresher course.
- And for chickens: Murray McMurray Hatchery. I mush have lost that one from bringing it around with me too much.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

second sowing

I planted two trays of seeds tonight. The varieties are listed here: 2014 planting list.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

a weekend to play outside

chickens 025 chickens 027 chickens 036 chickens 029 chickens 046

My chickens got to fly the coop this weekend. We had some nice sunshine melting the snow. The girls foraged, scratched, flapped, and shook their booties. (I watched from my chair with my coffee).

After half an hour wandering the thawed areas of the lawn, all three followed Penny back into the coop and hung out with her while she laid an egg. I peeked in through the window and was amazed to see her carefully poke the golf balls under she feathers.

chickens 061 chickens 066 Two golf balls were in the nest box when she sat down, a brown egg too when she got up.

chickens 130

ready to plant more seeds

seeds 139 I got a bunch of seed packets out and arranged them for planting my next tray of seeds. Lettuce, eggplants, broccoli, etc. I need to get to it soon, Suzie already ate one of the lettuce packets!

Vegetable Tree iPhone App

Drip irrigation kits from Irrigation Direct Vegetable garden kit

your ad here


Irrigation Direct Drip irrigation kits from Irrigation Direct Raised bed starter kit

Tomatoes & rose kit

Container gardening