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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy halloween

carving jack-o-lantern
dinner skip and jack
I bought a nice big pumpkin to carve for Halloween. My son carved it and I am saving the seeds to plant next year. The pumpkin I grew in my garden is the tiny one on the table next the two gourds - also from my garden. Skippy was surprised and barked loudly at all the kids who dressed up as Elmo or a dinosaur and came to our door for candy tonight. Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin -- Cucurbitaceae spp.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the last few cucumbers

last of the cukes
It looks like the end of cucumber growing season. Our nights have finally cooled off into the 40s. The basil and squash vines are brown now. Tomatoes leaves are turning yellow. I suppose we'll have a frost soon.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

harvest day

harvest
prize with cheese
The photos here are all from last Sunday, October 21. My tomatoes continue to produce more fruit than I can eat, but its fun trying. Especially with basil and local handmade mozzarella cheese! Today I should cook a batch of sauce. Nice eggplants too (although those yellow ones underneath were past ripe and went to the compost bin).

harvests from my vegetable gardens

Skippy

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more pictures of skip
posts about Skippy

shady garden

shade
I took this photo of my vegetable garden at 12:00 noon on October 21. Though our weather is still warm (60's) and sunny, my garden's sun has disappeared behind the neighboring houses and tall trees. These days I can watch the shadow of our neighbor's roof peak move across our house. A big tree to the east of my garden blocks the morning sun, so my garden is totally shaded until about 3pm.

On a happier note, I have received a phone message about my new community garden plot. Though no plots are available now (in the fall) plots will open up in April and I am at the top of the list to select one.

pretty weeds

weed

wildflowers, weeds, invasives and natives

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carrot problems

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Aarrgg! My carrots are all infested with root maggots. They look disgusting. I will have to pull and dispose of the entire crop. Very disappointing.

Root maggot controls include crop rotation, immediate turning of soil in the fall, beneficial nematodes, and row covers. Next year I hope to plant my carrots in my new community garden plot, which will have more sun. It looks like people there worry more about rabbits as carrots are covered with chicken wire not fabric.

Daucus carota

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

roasted jalapeños

chopped chiles chiles halves in bowl
grilled chiles chiles in baggies
Most of my jalapeño harvest is now chopped, grilled and frozen.

Capsicum

Sunday, October 21, 2007

drying chiles

cayene ring
chiles hanging big chiles
Red cayenne chile peppers I've picked earlier this summer have dried nicely sitting on a plate in my kitchen. It takes a few weeks. Since I have a big batch of them now, I strung the chiles on wire and hung them up. I just treaded the peppers on 18 gauge galvanized wire and bent it into a loop for hanging. I went ahead and hung a few of the thicker skinned jalapeños and round chiles too. Just to see if they'll dry. They look very decorative.

Capsicum

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

chile harvest

chiles in a bowl
chile patch red jalepeno
It was a beautiful weekend in the garden. A good day for picking peppers. I picked all of the red cayenne and round chiles, and all of the green and red jalapeños. It made a nice sized bowl full. I noticed that there aren't any more Hungarian wax - these seem to be an early season chile. Also only 1 little Anaheim (which maybe is a green Hungarian). There sure weren't many Anaheim's in my seed mix.

Capsicum
harvests from my vegetable gardens

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

fall fava beans

fava favas with label
fava plant
I'm trying again with fava beans. Early this spring I planted a crop that was overcome by black aphids. Since I had some seeds left over, I thought I'd try again this fall. I planted the last of my seeds September 19, a month ago. I now have 20 small plants from about 30 seeds. And the best thing - NO APHIDS!

I'm curious to see if I'll get any beans from these late plants. Time to harvest for favas is about 85 days. That would be December 13. Favas are pretty cold tolerant (down to 0F), but I'm wondering if they grow and produce beans at cold temperatures. I figure gardening by the trial-and-error-method is a good way to learn what works in my garden.

Last year, my garden's first hard frost was November 21 (a low of 31F). The plants I covered survived this one and grew until early January when temperatures plummeted. It seems every year, our fall is a little warmer.

Vicia faba
harvests from my vegetable gardens

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

fall tomatoes

fall tom3
fall tom2 fall tom1
I'm picking my tomatoes when they show a little red and letting them ripen inside. This seems to work better in the fall than vine ripening. The squirrels occasionally try a few bites and the slugs sometimes find them. I'd rather grab them ASAP and keep them in a big bowl inside to ripen.

Its already late October! The tomato leaves are starting to yellow and some are drying up and turning brown. Our temperatures have cooled off here in the Boston area (zone 6b), but my guess is maybe a month yet until we frost. Just a guess ...

Solanum lycopersicum

blog action day: no garden pesticides

Blog Action Day October 15, 2007 is a network of posts relating to the environment.
My topic: What worked for me this year to avoid the use of pesticides in my kitchen garden

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

1. Row covers. My newly found triumph. They were easier than I thought and very effective in keeping the cabbage worms away (photos here).

2. Admit defeat. Black aphids ate my fava beans this year and I admitted failure and pulled them up (pictures of the favas and aphids are here). Soon after, the lady bugs arrived in force and I haven't seen another aphid all year (my lady bug photos are here).

3. Plant many varieties: My fava bean failure was a big disappointment, but since I had many other crops, it didn't matter so much that I lost one. I also had a problem with my green beans this year - probably a bean mosaic virus (pictures here). It affected my heirloom varieties that were not virus resistant. Since I had planted at least 6 or 8 different varieties of beans, including both heirloom and new varieties, I just pulled the affected plants and enjoyed the resistant ones.

4. Encourage birds. I don't know how much the birds really help by eating bugs, but I see them out in the garden every day - rain or shine - eating this and that. I mostly get house sparrows in the bird houses I've put up around the garden. Also robins, chickadees, cardinals, blue jays and house wrens. But I think they are a part of natural pest control.

5. Wrap squash stems with cheese cloth. I didn't have many stem borers in my squashes this year, which may in part be due to wrapping about half of my squash stems with cheese cloth. It looked ugly, but I have to admit that it seemed to work. In previous years, many of my squash and cucumber plants were killed mid year by borers. The plants suddenly wilt and die. Pesticides effective against borers are toxic to bees.

6. Rotate crops. A garden plan helps with this. Mid-winter is a good time to figure out where to move your crops to next year.

7. Get a soil test: A soil test will tell you if what applications of nitrogen and other nutrients are necessary to avoid problems that can occur as a result of stressed plants. I tested my soil late last fall and the results detailed a fertilization regime, organic matter additions and pH adjustments.

8. Irrigation: I highly recommend a built in easy and effective irrigation system for use during dry periods. I have a network of small PVC pipes that I lift to work the soil every spring and then bury prior to planting. (Here are pictures.) It works great. I have a computer controlled system that I use to irrigate early in the day. This promotes the drying of leaves and decreases pests that thrive in moist conditions. (Next year, my hope is to attach a rain barrel my irrigation system. What fun!)

broccoli plants

Saturday, October 13, 2007

community garden tour

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Skippy and I walked though the Rock Meadow Victory Garden yesterday. I just get overwhelmed with how beautiful vegetable gardens are! And to see so many together almost puts me over the edge.

The fall is a great time for gardens. Rich colors and the evidence of a full season of producing fruits. Birds and bees are in abundance - singing, buzzing, gathering.

This collection of 120 garden plots is very nicely maintained. A beautiful range of gardens: from all flowers to all vegetables - even some fruit trees and lots of berry bushes.

I was so enamored that I am looking into getting my own plot. I am realizing that the trees in my yard are not getting any smaller. The shade continues to advance. Some crops do very well there. Some just don't even compare with the plants in the Victory Garden plots, which receive full bright unfiltered sunlight.

So, I'm imagining what would go well at my plot next year. A topic that can keep me laying awake much too long at night. Potatoes, squashes, lettuce, fava beans .... We'll see.

In the meantime, you can see a slide show of more of my Victory Garden photos here on Flickr.

communitygardening
Belmont Victory Garden

Friday, October 12, 2007

rain drops on kale

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We've been lucky to have a good soaking rain for the past couple days. And our weather has cooled off and become more like fall.
Kale (Brassica oleracea, Acephala Group)

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

teeny pumpkin

pumpkin
Here's my tiny little pumpkin. Its even smaller than it looks. I'm leaving it on the vine to make sure its fully ripe. The stem is starting to turn brown, but there's still some green on the fruit. No frost in the forecast, so I think its fine to leave it to ripen longer.

Pumpkin -- Cucurbitaceae spp.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

prolific green beans

beans with label beans and gnome
beans
I have two varieties of green beans that have done great this year. Haricots Verts "Maxibel" and Provider, both of which I planted in the middle of May and never replanted. They keep on producing more. Once a week or so I pick all the beans and they always have another crop when I look again. They are saving me many trips to the supermarket.

Fabaceae

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zinnias and snapdragons

zinnias
These flowers are growing along side my vegetable garden.

Monday, October 08, 2007

fall peas

peas
pea trellis fall peas
My fall crop of peas is a couple feet tall now. I planted them on August 11. The variety is Alderan (Tall Telephone).

Here's the description form Sandhill Preservation Center, where I got these heirloom seeds: "Alderman (Tall Telephone): 75 days. I remember how much I enjoyed growing this variety in the cooler Springs in the Northwest. There it would reach 6 feet tall and be loaded with pods. Our rapidly changing climate here makes them shorter."

Pisum sativum

window view

window view
I transplanted lots of little lettuce seedlings to the space at the front far left of this view. No rows, just a big patch of mixed fall greens. A wet week is predicted, but for now I have the sprinkler watering them.

aerial views of my home vegetable garden

Sunday, October 07, 2007

black eyes

Black eyes
Skippy's eyes are so black they are hard to see sometimes.















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