This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. But Skippy always stood by me and was a great friend. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps and garden with me. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes, chickens and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

bean sprouts

bean sprouts Copy of sprout
Amazing how fast beans grow! Yesterday there were no signs of sprouts and today lots of 1 or 2 inch plants. These are Italian Pole Beans and Haricots Verts bush beans that I planted two weeks ago.

Fabaceae

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basil plants

basil bed basil
I just finished planting 18 basil plants. I hope they grow up to be good pesto! I find that basil is prone to root rot in our damp spring weather. Often, later in the season, I need to fill in a few holes where I've lost plants. But, for now, the young plants look good.

Ocimum basilicum

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once in a blue moon

blue moon

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

cucumber plants

cuke packs cukes in a row
I planted cucumber seeds on May 9th, but none sprouted. I couldn't even find any of the seeds in the soil. So I bought two 6-packs of plants - Slicemaster and pickling cukes. I planted these today under the trellis.

I also put some seeds of striped Armenian cucumbers into a little 6-pack with potting soil. This is one of the varieties that didn't sprout. I'll keep this in a nice warm location and see if I can get a few seedlings.

I planted two types of cucumber seeds in early May, Diva and striped Armenian. I put them at the back of bed #5, the coldest and shadiest area of the garden. Probably not a good choice of location for cukes, since the soil needs to be nice and warm for them to sprout. I think I'll put the lettuce in this bed next year.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

ferocious house wrens

wren
Perhaps putting up a wren house was a bad move. An article on the aggressive and destructive nature of house wrens is here, at an Audubon Blue Bird site. I have an enormous racket in my backyard often times now: the battle of the house wrens and the house sparrows.

Last week I posted photos of baby house sparrows ready to fledge. I never saw them after that day. But rather than attending to their family, after that day the sparrow parents have been battling the house wrens.

I perhaps should not worry that it is only sparrows that the wrens are fighting with, but the Audubon article suggests that no other birds nests are safe within an acre of a house wren nest. Sparrows are also very aggressive and will destroy the nests, eggs and nestlings of other species in their territory (see this Cornell article). Sparrows and house wrens are both believed to be factors in the decline of the Eastern Bluebird.

I have been moving the sparrow house progressively further from the wren house. But on my 1/8th acre property, I can't go very far. So, I listen to the battle noises outside. I just want them to do their job and eat the bugs in my garden!

garden birds (Hortus Aves)

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Monday, May 28, 2007

gardening, gardening

mint planter seeds
romaine lettuce rows
It was a perfect day for gardening. Even Skippy came out to "help". I finished up many chores. I squeezed in two rows of romaine lettuce next to the peas, mulched the peppers and garlic, planted another row of dill, a row of soy beans, and a tower of pole beans. (I've squeezed things in very close this year.) I moved my two new mint plants from the vegetable garden to a metal tub (my Mom took a look at it in the garden yesterday and said, who would ever knowingly plant mint in their garden!!).

peppers planted

peppers peppers in flowers bed
mulched peppers
Good news about all my chili pepper seedlings. I have successfully found good homes for all 90 plants! Some to my parents, some to a friend of theirs, some to a friend of mine and some to a friend of my friend. Then another 20 are happily mulched in my vegetable garden. The last 10 plants I snuck in among my flowers in the perennial beds.

Capsicum

Memorial Day

memorial day

Sunday, May 27, 2007

skippy by the garden

skippy in the garden
I know he has eyes under there somewhere! Skippy has very long and shaggy fur this week. I suppose that's why he hasn't been coming out to the garden much. Time for a good short summer clip.

more pictures of skip

black seeded simpson

lettuce simpson
Its a good year for lettuce. This is black seeded simpson that I grew from a free trial package of seeds from Sand Hill Preservation Center. Its an heirloom lettuce that grows very fast. We have been eating little seedlings that I thin out for a week now. After I thin it a bit more, its recomended to harvest it by scissoring at the base and then letting the leaves grow back.

Lactuca sativa

garden greens

lettuce mix escarole
endive arugula 2
From top left: A lettuce mix, escarole, endive and arugula. The arugula is so thick that we have started eating plants I thin out.

Lactuca sativa

Saturday, May 26, 2007

harvest of greens

green harvest

garlic

garlic
I've been clipping off garlic leaves here and there and eating them, either fresh or briefly grilled. Yummy. Stronger than a garlic chive and greener tasting than garlic. Delicious!

Allium sativum

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Friday, May 25, 2007

view from above

top view
Aerial view.

aerial views of my home vegetable garden

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carrot seedlings

carrots 2
carrots 3 carrots 1
I planted three types of carrots this year. Two orange varieties and a purple one. The orange heirloom called "Oxheart" is produces a 6 inch root, 4 inches wide and over 1 pound! I'm looking forwar to this. It looks like I'll need to do some serious thinning of all of the carrots. I tried to scatter the seed thinly this year, but still a million little plants.


Daucus carota

Thursday, May 24, 2007

almost ready to fledge

two chicks hungy chick
Copy of IMG_2472
The sparrow chicks look almost ready to fledge. The parents are doing a great job of catching bugs from my garden to feed them. Between the sparrows and the robins, I've got a whole crew out there working hard!
garden birds (Hortus Aves)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

zucchini sprouts

zucchini sprouts
The zucchini is up. A little yellow on the edges. I don't think it liked all the rain. That's OK - were having zucchini weather this week - sunny and warm.

more gnomes

digging fishing
I have one gnome who works in my vegetable garden and these two others in my backyard. One is digging behind the azalea, the other is fishing.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

correction

I miscounted the number of varieties of tomato plants I have: Really only 10 different varieties, 20 plants. I have Brandywine (3), Early Girl (3), Marglobe (3), Big Beef (3), Big Girl (3), Big Boy (1), Moskvich (1), Chadwick Cherry (1), Rutgers (1) and New Girl (1).

These are all red tomatoes, mostly large ones. I have a mix of heirlooms (Brandywine, Moskvich and Chadwick), old non-heirlooms (Rutgers and Marglobe) and hybrids (Early Girl, Big Girl, New Girl, Big Boy and Big Beef). I'm looking forward to comparing these!

Solanum lycopersicum

Sunday, May 20, 2007

tomatoes are in!

garden
The tomatoes are in! They are in the foreground here, with hay mulch between them. I planted 20 plants, 16 different varieties.

Solanum lycopersicum

transplanting peppers

peppers pre-planting peppers planted
pepper pots
This year I raised one type of plant indoors from seed - peppers. They are a mix of five types of chili peppers. I made the pots from strips of newspapers. Today I planted them, paper and all. The pots worked great. They held together well. And even without bottoms the roots held the dirt in the pots. The only problem, I have room for 20 and I raised 90 plants! Chili peppers anyone?

Capsicum

rain on dill

rain on dill
We've had 2.7 inches of rain in the past week. Pretty wet. The gardens are soggy and muddy. But I think most of the vegetables have been enjoying it (with the exception of the basil). This photo is some dill, which looks really happy to me.

culinary herbs

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

1st harvest of the season

1st harvest preparations
grilling 2 1st harvest dinner
Today I picked our first garden vegetables. Tender pea tendrils, garlic greens, rosemary sprigs and parsley. We briefly roasted the peas, garlic and rosemary over a hot flame and served these with grilled halibut, shrimp, baby potatoes and as always a BIG salad. Delicious. Cheers to the start of another season of fresh garden vegetables!

Pisum sativum
harvests from my vegetable gardens

compost surprise

squash compost
I found these in the compost bins this week. Maybe halloween pumpkins? Thanksgiving butternut squash? Gourds? I'll try to find a sunny spot for these volunteers and transplant them soon.


Pumpkin -- Cucurbitaceae spp.
my bins and systems for composting compost

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Friday, May 18, 2007

tomato bed

rain on dirt
I did succeed in preparing my tomato bed this week. I clipped the rhododendron way back (I couldn't bear to get rid of it), added 4 barrows full of compost and turned it all in. Then the rain storm moved it.

Solanum lycopersicum

Thursday, May 17, 2007

gnome at work

gnome at work
The gnome is very quietly going about his work now. There's always a lot to be done in the spring garden. I have several garden chores waiting for me. Planting tomatoes, the patio flower pots, cleaning up the clematis vine.... not to mention just watching the plants grow. But there are also always a lot of other things that need to be done. Work, family. And then there's the weather, which has been cool and rainy the past week. I will admire my gnome and perhaps I'll join him next week.

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so much for the broccoli ....

b6
b5 b4
On Wednesday my broccoli was looking great. Not today. I have to blame the squirrels. The florets have been eaten, plants pulled out of the ground, and even the little collars strewn about. (I thought cut worms ate my first batch of plants, so I put collars on my second batch.) It looks like the squirrels had party in my broccoli patch. I've been thinking about a solution, but I think the answer is to skip broccoli. Out of the 40 different types of vegetables I have growing in my garden now, the squirrel only bothers the broccoli. I think that's pretty good.

Brassicaceae

more squirrel trouble

begonias
Here's another item the squirrles like: Begonia tubers. They dug up many of my tubers and nibbled on them. I recovered all but one. The rest I repotted and covered securely!

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