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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

FAQs

I will finish answering these soon. Please ask more questions! I'll post a link on the sidebar.

Camera/photography Questions:
1. What camera do I use?

I have a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi. A fantastic camera that I highly recommend. Its relatively light and small for a digital SLR, a good size for my hands. I used to take it everywhere with me. But now, I end up taking most of my photos with my cell phone. They have surprisingly good resolution.

I keep saying I'll use my Canon more. It does take a nice photo. I have two lenses. A general purpose Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens (reviewed here). Also a wonderful Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens. This lens gives wonderful background blur.


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 2. How do I organize my photos?

I take 20-100 shots a day. I delete at least half right away. Then I select a couple I like, edit if needed, and upload to Flickr. A subset of these go onto my blog. The folder of all the saved photos gets archived onto an external hard drive, organized by date. If I want to find a photo, I generally just search Flickr or my blog. The important thing on both Flickr and the blog is to title or tag the photo with a useful name that I and likely to find again my searching. I can download the original resolution image from Flickr. Based on the photo date, I could go back to my archived folder and find more photos on that topic, though I have rarely actually done this.

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3. What software do I use to edit my photos?

I use Microsoft Office Picture Manager as a quick tool to view and crop. I use PhotoShop CS3 to do lots of other things. I especially like "auto levels" and "shadow/highlight". I use PowerPoint to make collages. To export, I use DocPrint PDF Driver and then convert the PDF to a jpg using PhotoShop.

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4. How do I get high resolution photos into my blog?

I use Flickr. It allows you to use higher resolution than Blogger.

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5. How do I make collages?

With PowerPoint. To export, I use DocPrint PDF Driver and then convert the PDF to a jpg using PhotoShop.


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6. How do I take "aerial" photos of my garden?

From the 2nd floor window - right above the garden.

I'm trying to find a way to get an aerial shot of my new garden that has no house nearby. I've considered a tall ladder, climbing a nearby tree, a weather balloon, a drone. I'm still thinking. I like the drone idea though if the prices some down a bit.


Blog questions:
7. How do I format my blog?
I have done it all with HTML code in the template box. I directly edit the code there. I started with the template "565" (below) and from there edited lots of things. Not knowing HTML, I have edited using the trial and error method. I haven't updated to the current blogger, so I can't use their widgits and have to write my own or find code on the web.

Blogger Template Style
Name:     565
Designer: Douglas Bowman
URL:      www.stopdesign.com
Date:     28 Feb 2004


Dog Questions:
8. What kind of dog is Skippy?

He was a Portuguese water dog. Skippy died suddenly on August 27, 2016 of a burst spleen tumor. He was 11. He was a wonderful dog. My first dog and I was very close to him.

I now have Suzie, born June 1013. And Charley, born the same day Skippy died. All are Portuguese water dogs. We chose this breed because my husband is allergic to most dogs. He is fine with this breed. All on my dogs were breed by Heather Shilo at C-Lion Portuguese Water Dogs. She's located in Bedford MA.


Garden Questions:
9. I did a good job with succession planting, but no matter when they get planted, the lettuce, spinach, and radishes are finished by the first or second week in July. They all want to bloom, and then get bitter. When I plant for a fall crop in August, some years it grows, and others they don't. Do you have a way to extend the season?

Boy, what a great question! But I think every crop is different.

Lettuce: Grow heat resistant lettuces in the summer. They're called Summer Crisps. Start planting them in June. Plant more every few weeks. I am usually able to grow lettuce all year. My problem is remembering to do the succession planting.

Radish: I think of  radish as seasonal crop. Maybe you can look for a bolt resistant variety and extend the season a little.

Spinach: Again, a seasonal crop. I get one crop in early spring, sometimes one in the fall, and good winter crops. For a fall crop, you can try growing seedling in pots on a table in the shade, or try using shade cloth. I've grown fall spinach in pots in my 60 degree garage under lights and brought them out when the weather cools off. But, since our NE weather goes so fast from very hot to cold, its hard to do this. It works some years and not others. My best crops of spinach are in a winter tunnel. If you plan it so the plants are pretty big by early November, then you will have spinach all winter (if you plant enough of them). They get big and delicious in March and April.


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10. How big is your garden?

1992 - 2013, I had a garden next to my house. Over time, trees grew and it got very shady. This garden had 5 raised beds, about 9 x 3.5 each and one big bed about 10 x 10. So, about 250 sq ft.

In 2008 - current, I got a local community garden plot, a mile from my house and full sun. The plot is about 30 x 30. So, 900 square feet.

2013 - current, I have a big backyard and a large vegetable garden. It has 7 raised beds and a perennial border along the front. The fenced area is about 20 x 60. So that's 1200 sq feet. I also have a blueberry patch, space for fruit trees and a 10 x 5 ft herb garden next to the house.


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11. What are the dimensions of the posts and wire of your community garden fence? Where did you buy the metal posts and wire? And more importantly, how has it worked out for you?

The fence is 5 ft tall. The poles are driven in a ft or so, so I guess they are 6+ ft. They are the ones sold to go with the 5 ft fencing at Home Depot. My garden is about 25 ft square, so we have 25X4 total ft of fencing.

The 5 ft fencing material is hung to start at the ground. We then dug a 1 ft trench and lined the garden with 2 ft chicken wire, half underground and half above. This keeps the burrowers out, plus the small rabbits that can squeeze through the larger fencing holes. In areas we couldn't dig down the chicken wire angles outward underground. The chicken wire is secured to the 5 ft fence with small tie wraps.

After two seasons, I can report that this fence has worked great. The chipmunks come over, but that's all.


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12. Is there anything I can plant this late in the season? (August-September)

You can try out my on-line fall planting calendar. Here's the link. Enter your first frost date and it gives dates for planting. Also my new apps at a link a the top of my sidebar.

July and August are the months for fall planting. I plant peas, kale, spinach, escarole, mustard greens, lettuce, bok choi, baby carrots, beets for greens, and radish. The peas never work though - just my challenge. People in NE used to grow fall peas but now the weather goes from hot to cold too fast.

Even in September or October, you can plant seeds to come up early in the spring. Plant cilantro and dill in the garden for early crops. In a cold frame, plants seeds for spinach, mustard greens, kale, escarole, radicchio. They'll sprout and the baby plants will take off and grow fast once the sunlight gets stronger, March and April.


Food Questions:
13. What do you do with all your vegetables?

I store many by canning, pickling, freezing and drying them. Most, we eat fresh. A big salad every evening with dinner. We don't buy vegetables in the summer or fall. I bring my vegetable dishes to outings, serve them to guests at my house. And I look forward to having too much. I give them to my mom, siblings, and neighbors. Or I take them to the local Food Pantry. I always feel good doing that. One spring I brought 16 beautiful heads of bok choi an a big basket to the Pantry.

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14. What won't you put in a martini?

Well, tomatoes, beans, greens, pumpkins, eggplants, kohlrabi, turnips, or rutabagas. But I think just about anything else is fair game. And seasonal, fresh homegrown tastes best.

Favorites from my garden: cucumbers, celery, radish, onions, carrots, watermelon, apples, fresh and dried pears, strawberries, raspberries. And once in a while I like a store bought olives. Especially the big green Castelvetranos.

BTW, here's my martini recipe (serves 2): Chill shaker, gin and glasses in freezer. (We store them there.) Add to shaker: about 1 cup crushed ice, 4 shots gin (or vodka) and a splash of dry vermouth (~5 drops). Shake well. Pour into two glasses. We like to add the ice too. Add vegetables and/or fruits to taste.

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15. Where did you get your paella grill?

www.buyspain.com (We have a 42 cm pan.)


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16. What can I do with kohlrabi?

Compost it! (If you feel bad about that, put it in the bottom drawer of your fridge til its brown and then compost it.) Sorry, I've never brought my self to eat it, though I do hear it's very good.

21 Comments:

Blogger la roux said...

i'd like to add to the kohlrabi question!
1. skin it, slice it up and eat it fresh with dip!
2. skin it, mix it into stirfry!

i've tried both of the above methods with great success. another i just thought of was...skin it and peel into thin strips—make into salad as one might with beets, carrots, etc. On that note, they could probably be shredded and mixed into coleslaw or added to tacos!

raw, kohlrabi is a little peppery with a radish-like consistency. i'm not always a fan, but i like them from time to time and they are a good winter crop.

good point is to skin it. i just skin it with a knife.
another point, the leaves are edible. i've made great stirfry with kohlrabi greens and roots.

August 01, 2009 12:30 AM

 
Blogger Heidi said...

I think it's fantastic, and a real testament to the level of quality of your blog, that you have so many visitors to your blog that you have to set up your own FAQ! Congrats! Keep them coming.

August 01, 2009 6:43 AM

 
Blogger kathy said...

Well, my interpretation of frequent may not really be all that often....

August 01, 2009 4:07 PM

 
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Kathy--

I'm a local reader of your blog and also a gardener. This is probably not the best place to post this question, but I have a bit of a dilemna that I was wondering if you or your readers might be able to help with.

I have a beautiful healthy tomatillo plant, but I recently learned that they are not self-polinating and I only have the one. I was wondering if you knew of anyone at the Belmont Victory Gardens or other nearby place who was growing tomatillos and might be able to spare some pollen? Or alternately, do you know where I could post this request to reach someone who does?

Thanks so much for you help! I love your blog and always look forward to reading about what's happening with your garden.
Thanks,
Anne

August 03, 2009 2:36 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

Hi Anne,

At the Belmont Victory Gardens, "wild" tomatillos are a prolific weed. These are probably a reverted form of some cultivated varieties grown in plots years ago. Wild tomatillos are often described as endemic weeds in cultivated areas (and I bet BVG has every weed known and then some).

I have cultivated a nice little patch of wild tomatillos. They reseed well all on their own. They make small tomatillos, though I didn't get around to harvesting any last year. They are blooming now. I'll have to check and see if there are fruits. (A great idea for a post!)

My understanding is that they will pollinate cultivated varieties - though I'm not sure about this. You probably wouldn't want to save the seed though if you cross pollinated with wild ones.

In any case, you would be more than welcome to come with a big pot an dig up any number of wild tomatillos in the paths and see if it helps your crop. Email me if you want me to help you identify them and we can set up a time.

Other than that, I don't grow cultivated tomatillos and don't know anyone local who does. I do know of a big garden in Boxford MA with tomatillos if you want to go that far. Maybe someone else will comment here.

If I see any cultivated tomatillos next time I'm walking around BVG, I can let you know.

Kathy

August 03, 2009 3:24 PM

 
Blogger Anne said...

Thank you so much, Kathy! That is really helpful. I'll try to stop by BVG this week. I think I should recognize the tomatillos, but if I don't, I'll write again for your help. Thanks again, and I'll let you know how the half-"wild" tomatillos turn out!

Best,
Anne

August 03, 2009 8:38 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

The paths about 4 or 5 plots back and to the right side of the gardens have many plants that I haven't weed whacked recently. I'll make sure to avoid them until you get some.

I checked today and my plants have little yellow flowers and little (0.5-1 inch) fruits now. I should get out my salsa recipe!

August 03, 2009 11:38 PM

 
Blogger pjkobulnicky said...

OK ... here is a kohlrabi suggestion that is sure to please. It requires a mandoline or very sharp knife and associated knife skills AND the kohlrabi should be harvested before they get woody and strong. Given that, cut them into matchsticks and marinate in a 1-2-3 sauce (vinegar, sugar, water). You can use some soy or fish sauce for salt and you can add a few hot pepper flakes. Alternatively, look up daikon radish pickle recipes and substitute kohlrabi.

Paul

August 06, 2009 2:22 PM

 
Blogger Rachael said...

I have a "newbie" gardening question for you: i had a decent, mostly vegetable, organic garden this year but just now have lost most of my tomato plants to septora leaf spot (i think). So here's my question - do i need to amend or clean up the soil so that it's free and clear of this years troubles? If so, how would you recommend doing it?
Thanks so much, Rachael

September 07, 2009 8:50 AM

 
Blogger kathy said...

Hi Rachael,

There are two things important for reducing chances of carrying over pathogens to next year's tomato plants.

1. Clean up: You should remove all tomato plants and debris from the garden as soon as the season is over. (If you think it could be Late Blight, remove all infected plant material asap and dispose in the trash.)

2. Rotate: Don't plant tomatoes in the same spot more than once in three years.

The weather was a big factor in fungal diseases the past couple years. Not much we can do about that.

September 07, 2009 10:35 AM

 
Blogger CommonWeeder said...

Great post. I keep trying to improve my photography - and file system.

September 24, 2009 10:50 AM

 
Blogger Vanessa said...

I recently started a raised bed vegetable garden, we filled it with a mixture commercial garden soil and compost. My seeds are now beginning to sprout, everything looks great. However, yesterday I noticed very tiny little bugs on the top of the soil. I further investigated and noticed they are covering every area of the top soil but they are not below the surface. In the same area I also have a few container vegetables, I used potting soil in those and there are no bugs in them. I sprayed some vegetable insecticidal soup over the top layer but that was ineffective, plus they are all over the soil and its tough to make sure every inch is adequately covered. Any idea what they might be and if they are harmful to the veggies?

May 06, 2010 12:00 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

It sounds like the bugs are eating something in the soil and not the plants. Can you describe what they look like?

May 06, 2010 1:46 PM

 
Blogger Vanessa said...

One additional thing... since I have just begun planting there are several feet that dont have any sprouts and even that top soil has them as well.

May 06, 2010 7:58 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

My guess is your plants will be fine. Soil usually has lots of bugs that are important for breaking down organic things into a form plants can use.

If they are gnats or anything else with wings, you can try hanging some sticky fly paper near by. I love this stuff.

May 07, 2010 9:22 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI

June 14, 2010 2:58 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

HI yourself!

June 14, 2010 9:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! I am a rookie gardener and am in need of good advice relative to green pepper plants from someone in our planting zone (I live in Raynham MA). My green peppers plants are drooping and once they do, I can't seem to revive them. I have tried thorough watering even with some of the rain we've had, feeding with Miracle Grow tomato food, and alternatively tried to withhold water on the plants. I am at a loss here on what to do. Can you render some assistance?

Thank you,

Aaron Raynham MA

June 19, 2010 12:20 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

Dropping means a root or soil problem. They are not pulling in enough water.

Its a tough time of year for peppers. Mine are not growing much right now. (But they're not dropping.) Peppers prefer more warmth and sun then we have had in the past couple weeks. Now, as its suddenly its hot and dry, peppers may wilt and droop in the middle of the day. But should recover by dusk. If they don't, you need to think about ways to retain moisture in your soil.

Its been a cloudy and wet spring and the plants have become accustomed to this. As the summer gets hotter and drier, pepper plants will wilt as they adjust.

I think the best solution is to try a mulch and to continue to provide extra irrigation. For mulch, try salt marsh hay, straw, wood chips, plastic, or otherwise. To irrigate, water thoroughly before 10 am or after 4 pm.

Fertilizer is not needed unless the pepper leaves begin to yellow slightly. Avoid fertilizer as it damages soil structure. (Worms and microorganisms don't like it.) Its better to use an organic fertilizer like Garden Tone. Its better for soil structure if you work hard during fall, winter and spring to add manure, compost, and cover crops to add organic matter and nutrients.

For next year, maybe your soil needs more moisture holding components. Think about adding more compost and organic matter next year.

I hope this helps. Maybe other gardens will add comments for you too.

June 19, 2010 8:33 PM

 
Blogger Rachael said...

What can i do about these dang cucumber beetles? I don't want to lose my whole cuc crop again this year:(

July 17, 2010 11:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying your gardening blog. I'm a twenty year gardener from central Pennsylvania. Did you remove your categories list from the right side of your page? I was sure there was a link for recipes and individual vegetables plus other gardening info. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong place.My husband and I planted our garden last weekend 5/7/11.Both veggies and flowers are loving the rain we had last night and today. Barb

May 15, 2011 11:01 PM

 

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