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.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

an eggplant that was

eggplant
My Mom saw this eggplant in my garden this evening and asked if she could pick it for our dinner. Sometimes I think things look too nice to pick. But what can you say to your mother? It was very nice grilled.

topic: eggplant

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

lettuce and radish are growing

lettuce seedlings with leaf row of seedlings lettuce seedlings
radish
row of escarole row of arugula
I haven't picked lettuce from my garden in months. But finally its growing. Our nights have cooled off. Days too. I planted 6 or 8 varieties a week or so ago. My garden looks like spring with all the little lettuce sprouts. Even my radish have sprouted. I also have a few rows of greens (escarole and arugula) that I planted mid summer and never really grew, until now. My garden will be filling the lettuce bowl soon - I hope.

just another pretty weed

fleabane
fleabane in my garden daisy fleabane

A little daisy fleabane (Erigeron annuus) has volunteered in my garden between the broccolis and kale. Its a pretty wildflower that's native to our area.

wildflowers, weeds, invasives and natives

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Friday, September 28, 2007

fall broccoli

fall broccolis
This is my fall crop of broccoli. Since we haven't really seen much fall weather yet, with summer-like record-setting warm temperatures still, I think it is on track to make heads before it freezes.


Brassicaceae

Thursday, September 27, 2007

first kale harvest

kale growing kale dinner
kale cooking kale
I'm so pleased to get a good harvest of kale. Midsummer, my kale leaves were filled with holes from the green caterpillars of the white cabbage butterfly. To holey for me to eat. I've had the plants covered with garden fabric since them. Now the leaves are very nice. I sauteed them with garlic, then added water and blanched about 5 minutes. Very tasty. I've read they are sweeter after a frost so I'm looking forward to eating the rest of the leaves this winter.

The variety is called Dinosaur Kale. Seeds were from Seeds of Change.

Brassicaceae

harvests from my vegetable gardens
Kale (Brassica oleracea, Acephala Group)

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

full harvest moon


Tonight is the Harvest Moon. It will rise at 1848EST (7:48 pm EDT) in Belmont MA. It should be bright enough to harvest tomatoes and eggplants late into the night (if that's what I was planning to do).

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

dahlia

dahlia
This is my favorite dahlia. A big soft orange one that my Dad started many years ago. The flowers are about 6 inches in diameter. Its a large vigorous plant that overwinters well. I have a clump taller than me next to my vegetable garden. The flower here is one of my Dad's.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

first day of autumn

coneflower
A sad good-bye to summer...

Something about the fall garden isn't the same as the spring and summer one. I notice I'm not heading out there as much. I have fewer vegetable garden pictures to show. Instead I'm playing with my photos today.
cone flower water color coneflower oil

Saturday, September 22, 2007

oxheart carrots

carrot slice
carrot bunch colander
Oxheart is an old heirloom variety that grows enormous - short, fat roots up to 1 lb or more. I harvested a nice bunch of these last night for dinner. They tasted great.

Daucus carota

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Friday, September 21, 2007

fall sowing

radish plot lettuce plot
pea plot
My fall seeds are all in the ground now. I guess these are the last seeds I'll plant this year (except for the garlic). Sad.

I planted Sparkler and Round Black Spanish radish seeds. Also, shell peas and snap peas (probably too late for these). And lettuce (Bibb, Black-Seeded Simpson, Merveille de Four Seasons, Quattro Stagione, and Prizehead) and escarole (Natacha, Blonda, and Full Heart Batavian).

S&P

Thursday, September 20, 2007

autumnal equinox

I thought fall would begin on September 21 this year, but I was wrong. I've corrected my sidebar count down meter. The equinox is at about 9:30 am on September 23. That means an extra 2 days of summer that I didn't know about. Three cheers!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

fall lettuce bed

lettuce bed greens seedlings
Here's the bed I prepared for my fall lettuce. I hope to get out there to seed and transplant this evening. I plan to sow the lettuce very dense. Soon there will be lots of space to transplant it to as the summer crops are finishing up.

bigger not always better

Here's an article I found at Kitchen Gardener's about high yield commercial vegetable varieties that are getting bigger and less healthy.

A recent study they cite found that "the more a tomato weighs, the lower its concentration of lycopene, a natural anti-cancer chemical that makes tomatoes red. There is also less vitamin C and beta carotene, a nutrient linked to vitamin A." Also, "higher-yield crops decrease the concentrations of cancer-fighting chemicals and anti-toxins -- known as phytonutrients or phytochemicals."

Well, I'm growing some really tiny veggies: carrots, garlic, etc. But I still would like to grow a BIG pumpkin.

Pumpkin -- Cucurbita spp.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

end of the summer

garden sept 18 2007
With only two days left to summer, here's a late afternoon shot of my garden from the upstairs window.

Today I removed the row covers from the broccoli and kale since I haven't seen any white butterflies around in a while. The plants look pretty good. The extra broccoli seedlings that I didn't cover were eaten almost to nothing. I'll eventually post photos of these two.

Also today, I got out my hoe and prepared some soil for my fall lettuce. I have some seedlings I planted several weeks ago. Tomorrow I hope to plant these and my last seeds of the year.

A full size version of this aerial photo is here. You can see all the plants close up.

aerial views of my home vegetable garden

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Monday, September 17, 2007

dill seeds

dill seeds
Time for seed collecting. I have some little plastic baggies I'm saving them in. So far I've collected: morning glories, watermelon, Capucijner peas, three types of beans, garlic cloves and several types of wildflowers seeds. I have a few rows of lettuce that are starting to bloom now and I'll see if I can find their seeds later.

S&P
culinary herbs

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dad's pumpkin

pumpkin
My parents have a beautiful pumpkin ripening in their garden. A real nice one! The vine is crawling out across the lawn and my dad carefully mows around it. It looks like they will be able to make a nice jack-o-lantern for Halloween. Or a pumpkin pie.

I have bad news about my pumpkin flower - it did not set. Oh well. :(

(My little Olympus Stylus 720SW camera has a lot of trouble with the combination of orange and green - pumpkin and grass. It does great with the blues of water scenery. I've tried hard to adjust the colors to look natural. Here's the original. Aaargg.)

Pumpkin -- Cucurbitaceae spp.

my dad's garden

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Friday, September 14, 2007

tgif

martinis
Happy Friday!!! Nothing like a nice garden martini to end the week. Its a good way to use up all those extra tiny tomatoes. Also the cukes you don't know what to do with. Cheers!

Topic: martini!

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

chile peppers

chiles
Even my jalapeños and Hungarian wax peppers are turning red this year. The thinner skinned Hungarian wax and cayennes are drying nicely on a plate in my kitchen. The others I will clean and freeze soon for winter chili.

Capsicum

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dimpled beauty

dimpled beauty
A ripening Brandywine.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

a female pumpkin blossom!

pumpkin flower pumpkin patch
pumpkin flower close up
Finally a female pumpkin flower has opened on my giant pumpkin vines! I'm sooo excited. But am keeping my fingers crossed that the fruit sets. This flower bloomed three days ago - on Sunday. There were lots of bumble bees around, so I am hoping they pollinated this flower. Yesterday the flower had closed and the pumpkin still looked good. We'll see.

I was surprised to see how different the female flower looks from all the male ones (the plants have many of these). Very fancy!

"The female flower contains an ovary that is inferior, usually with a single locule with 1 to 3 placentas. Ovules and seeds vary from one to many in each fruit. The male flower has 1 to 5 stamens with 3 being average. Botanically, the fruit is a pepo, a fruit type in which the ovary wall is fused with the receptacle tissue to form a hard rind." from UGA Hort Dept.

pumpkin vine
Pumpkin -- Cucurbitaceae spp.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

juicy sweet watermelon

watermelon
This melon was grown by Belmont CSA. A beautiful dark green round fruit that I bought last week at the Farmer's Market. It tastes as good as it looks. Sweet and juicy. I didn't ask the variety, but it looks like an heirloom Sugar Baby Watermelon. I saved all of the seeds and am looking forward to a nice patch of these in my garden next year!

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum & Nakai, family Cucurbitaceae)

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

Monday, September 10, 2007

fading summer

fading zinnia
It looks like summer is winding down. The seed heads are drying on my zinnias. Summer crops are fading. Even though the fall crops are perking up, the garden has a different feel to it now. Its time to gather the harvest and save seeds for next year.

"summer's lease hath all too short a date" Shakespeare

I haven't been doing much in the garden this week. I picked lots of tomatoes, cucumbers and chile peppers of course. And this weekend I planted some radish seeds in the sunniest spot in my garden - an heirloom variety called Black Round Spanish. I'm hoping I can get the roots to grow properly this time, even though my last two plantings failed. I'm carefully tending four varieties of lettuce seedlings that I planted indoors two weeks ago. Once it cools down, I'll transplant them into the garden. My fall pinto beans and peas are growing well without my help. But I've been spraying my pumpkin and squash leaves for powdery mildew with a Safers sulphate spray. The squashes continue to produce fruit, but the leaves are heavily mildewed. I've read that mildew is because of too much shade, a constant challenge in my yard. I also continue to water the garden, all the while checking the skies for signs of rain clouds. We are having very dry weather in the Boston area that is close to being a serious drought.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

winner of the too-tall-tomato vine contest!!!

tape measure measuring tomato plants
too tall tomatoes
I was really impressed with The Tiniest Tomato of the Year at May Dreams Gardens and at The Gardeners Anonymous Blog. Wow! I've always wanted to win a contest, so I'm entering myself in the Tallest Tomatoes Vines contest and am officially declaring myself the winner! It seems there has never been a contest before for tall tomato vines, but nevertheless, there is one now.

What clued me in to my unusually tall vines was when my neighbor stopped by. He looked over the garden fence and said "What's with the tomato plants?" I hadn't noticed how tall they were getting.

So on September 3 (Labor Day) I got out the ladder and measured my tomatoes. I recorded a full 9 feet! 112 inches! If you have tall tomato vines too, please send in your heights. Of course to win this contest, you will need to have measurements recorded on September 3rd. Yes, it's a rigged contest. But I would still love to hear that others have outrageously tall vines too.

My winning vine is a New Girl tomato plant. I think the trick to growing tall plants is to plant them too close together. I have squeezed 20 plants into a space of about 7 x 5 feet. That's 1.75 sq ft per plant. I faithfully remove all suckers until the plants are about 5 feet tall. They have very good soil with lots of compost and fertilizer and are watered regularly. The location has sun from about 10:30 am on.

My tomatoes usually continue to grow into October, so this plant may grow another foot or two taller.

(As a footnote, I notice that Wikipedia cites the following tomato information: The heaviest tomato ever was one of 3.51 kg (7 lb 12 oz), of the cultivar 'Delicious', grown by Gordon Graham of Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986. The largest tomato plant grown was of the cultivar 'Sungold' and reached 19.8 m (65 ft) length, grown by Nutriculture Ltd (UK) of Mawdesley, Lancashire, UK, in 2000. These don't count for my contest, so I still win.)

I think I'll make a little button for my sidebar to say I have won this esteemed honor.

Solanum lycopersicum
photos of Kathy

garden web

garden web
A black and yellow garden spider has spun a nice web across my eggplant leaves. In the autumn, I often see these large female garden spiders on their webs waiting for flies. There's another one with a nice web in my tomatoes. I carefully reach around it when picking tomatoes. Spiders give me the willies, so I stay away from them and let them do their job of eating garden pests.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Skippy pictures

snoozin' skippy in the garden
skippy puppy
The garden plants are so big and tall that Skippy and I can just hang out under the leaves on the stone path. Its like our own private jungle. We can watch the bees and spiders, listen to the sparrows and Skippy can watch the sidewalk for passing dogs and mailmen.

more pictures of skip
posts about Skippy

tomato salad

tomato salad
All from my garden! A Big Girl tomato, garlic, purple onions and basil.

pizza with tomato sauce

tomato machine puree
pizza pizza 2
grilling pizza serving pizza
We have a convenient tomato processor that separates the skins and seeds from tomato juice and pulp. We add quartered tomatoes to the hopper and crank them through. The skin and seeds come out one side and the pulp comes out the other.

We ran about 25 big tomatoes through the tomato machine and make a nice batch of puree, which we simmered about an hour to make a nice sauce for pizza. We used a bit of this and froze the rest in baggies.

Almost everything is better grilled - pizza too! I cheat on the dough and pick up premade from Bertucci's. Then layer on fresh garlic, olive oil, tomato sauce, basil leaves, sliced tomatoes, onions and some salt. Add mozzarella and goat cheese. Grill over a hot hardwood charcoal fire on pizza stones.

Aaahh! Delicious!

Solanum lycopersicum
Skippy's vegetable recipes

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