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, May 31, 2009

bug season!

Fast growing plants mean lots of bugs. I suppose we have to expect this.

Flea beetles: These are eating tiny holes in my potatoes again this year. Last year I was worried about this and added lots of marigolds to the bed. The beetles went away. But I think its just the natural course of events that once the leaves fill out and the season progresses, the beetles go away. They like the dust. So I'm ignoring them.

Leaf miners:
I have a minor problem with leaf miners on my spinach. Also on my beet leaves. I'll just ignore this. I dispose of affected leaves and eat the others.

Cutworms: A few cut worms here and there in my garden. I found a big fat one chewing on a broccoli seedling today. My parents have had them on cucumber, cabbage, tomatoes, and broccoli this year. I looked up the list of what plants cutworms eat: Beans, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Collards, Cucumbers, Endive, Kale, Lettuce, Lima Beans, Melons, Muskmelons, Onions, Parsley, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Radishes, Snap Beans, and Sweet Corn. Just about anything, I guess!

Mystery bugs: The worst problem is my broccoli and baby bok choy. I covered these seedlings with row cover and checked today under the cover today. Arrghh! Some bug has been eating well! I covered to keep the cabbage worm off. I looked hard and couldn't find any of the fat bright green worms on the stems or leaves. These are usually pretty easy to find if you look close. What I did find if the bugs here:

two bugs on bok choy

I think they are young leaf hoppers. I submitted the photo to Bug ID. (I always enjoy their answers. Not only ID, but age, sex and other info.) I asked the experts if these guys could be responsible for the damage. I'll keep watching for their answer.

Here's what my broccoli and bok choy look like:

broccoli patch
holy bok choy eaten broccoli

My parent's broccoli, bok choy, cabbage and similar greens look the same.

I have no idea how to get rid of the problem. Usually my approach is to not worry about the bugs and grow something else instead. But I really do like broccoli and bok choy. So, I dug up the little plants and moved them to my community plot. Maybe with more sun, they can outgrow the pest? I think I'll add some fertilizer tomorrow too. I'm starting to think about an organic pesticide, like BT or rotenone. I've never tried these. So much for the row covers. I took them off for now. And I'll watch for the bug ID so at least I can know what's doing the damage.

Note added Monday: I haven't heard from BugGuide yet, but I think my bugs in the photo are winged aphids. I've been looking at similar photos on line. A couple aphids won't do much damage. But Daphne had a suggestion that I think is the real answer. SLUGS! I bet they are crawling under the covers at night! These guys can do lots of serious damage!

Slugs: I hate to say it, but I use the regular box of slug and snail poison bait. (Ortho Bug Getta) It gets rid of them. (I got tired of walking across my patio in the dark barefoot and stepping on a six inch slug.) I use it sparingly in the locations where there is a problem. Slugs especially like my basil and zinnias. I'll try a little under my broccoli covers and bring some up to my parents' garden.

And something's eating my rose pretty seriously too. I'll have to remember to look closely to see what bugs I can find on it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

quickly growing vegetables

onions fava beans
spinach popcorn
red cabbage celeriac
bibb lettuce beet
cherry tomato prizehead lettuce
broccoli pumpkins
potatoes carrots
garlic asparagus
These vegetables are growing fast now in my community plot. Maybe you can guess what they are. I notice some bug problems here and there.

mystery rose

mystery rose

The old rose in my community plot is showing some pink!
mystery garden rose: Rosa gallica Charles de Mills

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

tasty, healthy and priceless ...

I love this comment from Soilman so I'm posting it again!

'Efficiency' is what we're all desperately trying to get away from at an a community garden or UK allotment site. 'Efficiency' means chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and machinery. That's what commercial farmers do... unfortunately. With all the resulting freakery and horror that they inflict upon our food.

I adore 'inefficiency'. It's tasty, healthy and priceless.
Wonderful!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Baptisia australis – false indigo

baptista

My neighbor gave me seeds last fall from her blue false indigo plant. I planted them today in a pot. Such a beautiful clear blue flower! I hope my seeds sprout.

Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) is native to the eastern US and was an important medicinal plant to Native Americans. The seeds require some sort of abrasion to be applied to their seed coat in order to germinate. The plants are legumes, members of the bean family, and are able to fix nitrogen. Planted in full sun in even the toughest of soils, plants will grow to 2.5’-3.5’ tall.

wildflowers, weeds, invasives and natives

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so many rabbits...

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I think we have a bumper crop of rabbits this year. I have never seen so many. Babies and adults - they don't even run from gardeners and cameras. A pair lives in my neighbors backyard and Skippy watches them through the fence. He'd love to get out and chase them. I disturbed 3 tiny little babies while weed whacking the garden paths yesterday. Very cute!

The baby bunny in the photo here was at Mt Auburn cemetery today and hardly even looked up at me. The big one is the neighbor bunny that Skippy has his eye on.

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growing fast - photos of my community plot

plot 1
asparagus corn
sweet potatoes garlic

My plants are growing very fast, but still the gardens look like mostly dirt. The potatoes are getting very big. All my asparagus plants (10) sprouted and shoots are 5-15 inches tall now. Today I filled in with dirt to the top of the bed and accidentally broke off a thin shoot. So I ate it. Absolutely delicious!!!

My popcorn is up now. Two dense rows of 2 inch plants. I'm planning to transplant some to thin the rows since I have room for a third row. How exciting. I've never grown corn before.

And another first, Jennifer gave me a few sweet potato shoots. She mail ordered them. Two varieties - about 4-6 shoots of each. The directions said to make a 12 inch high mound with a 2 inch trough at the top and plant the shoots in this. I'm very curious to see how they do.

Also planted today: two seedlings each of 4 summer squashes Starship (a green patty pan), Zephyr (yellow with green tip), Cashflow (green zucchini) and Sunburst (a yellow patty pan). Also 4 Waltham butternut, 1 Big Rock pumpkin, and 3 Jarrahdale pumpkins. Plus, lots of peppers and chilis (red and yellow sweet, Poblano, Costa Rican sweet, Nardello, and Thai hot). And 6 eggplants and some big purple zinnias. A busy day!

Almost all of my seedlings are out now. Only the melons and my cayenne peppers are still in pots.

The last photo is my garlic, which is looking fantastic this year. The first full season for garlic in my sunny community plot! I'm looking forward to digging these.

chickadee with worm

chickadee with worm

These guys can whistle with a worm in their mouth!

2009 chickadees

Sunday, May 24, 2009

garden work

List of today's garden work (all in my home garden):

Replanted more pea seeds in areas where none came up yet.
Planted Chinese pole beans, Tongue of Fire shell beans, and Fortex pole beans.
Planted 1 row of soy beans (Butterbeans).
Planted dahlia tubers.
Added lower trellis to cucumber trellis.

A couple days ago:
Transplanted cucumbers.
Brought plants to my parents garden: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and peppers.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Skippy's summer haircut

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Skippy has become a sleek and slim puppy again! He's ready for summer in his "nuddie clip". So much cooler for a black dog, and easier. He looks and feels like a velveteen teddy bear now!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

chickadee update

The chickadee babies have hatched (I think). Yesterday both parents started bringing food to the bird house. Every 15 minutes or so. I don't hear any chirping from inside. Chickadees are so secretive.

Here is a paragraph I posted earlier: "On April 27, I noticed that the chickadee pair were building their nest, bringing moss and grasses. A few days later they brought fluff and fuzz. Maybe around May 1 she probably started laying eggs. The female lays one egg a day for about a week. On May 8, I noticed she was staying in the box and the male was bringing her food. Chickadees incubate their eggs for 12-13 days once all the eggs are laid. If she started incubating around May 7, then the eggs should hatch around May 19-20. Then the parents will feed them for 16 days and the chicks will fledge on Friday June 5."

I put a wren guard on the chickadee's bird house several a couple weeks ago because we have a very active house wren around. I took it off this morning to make it easier for the chickadees to feed their chicks. Immediately, the wren arrived. He went right into a new sparrow house I just put up, where sparrows have been nest building for a few days now. He looked around, but didn't seem interested. Then he came over to the chickadee house. When he got about 5 feet from it, I shewed him away. Then I put the sparrow guard back on!

2009 chickadees

garden birds (Hortus Aves)

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

community gardening thoughts

I just took a look at just at the post and heated discussion on Community Gardens at Garden Rant recently (May 7). Guest Ranter Ed Bruske describes a whole different concept in community gardening. A new way to remove all individuality (and probably pleasure) from of the community gardening and increase efficiency. No thanks! I'd much prefer CSA shares. I'd even rather go to the supermarket ....

... Instead of assigning individual plots, why not form a co-op that would operate more like a farm? Food production would be so much greater, I argued.

... The problem with typical community gardens, as I see it, is that there is no control over what is planted in individual plots. Plot holders operate according to their own individual learning curves. They may be growing a great deal of food, or very little. They may be planting things appropriate for the site, or they may not. They may be putting in a great deal of effort, or they may not be doing much at all, in which case the garden manager at some point is forced to take back the plot and assign it to someone else. As far as overall production in concerned, community gardens are a terribly inefficient use of valuable urban property. (by Guest Ranter Ed Bruske)

I really do love all the different plots and garden styles at the Belmont Victory Gardens. And this year there are SO many active plots! I think about 130 now. Today I'm looking forward to mowing the grass in the paths between all the gardens. I'll bring my camera and photograph the fantastic variety and beauty of the vegetable plots!

click for a slide show of plots at the Belmont Victory Gardens

photo 02 photo 23 photo 28 photo 20
photo 30 photo 36 photo 14 photo 10
victory gardens entrance

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lead in garden soil

Here's an article from the New York Times: For Urban Gardeners, Lead Is a Concern.

“It’s kind of a dirty secret nobody really knows about because we’re all distracted worrying about lead in toys from China,” said Gabriel Filippelli, a professor of earth science at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis who has published several papers on lead accumulation in soil. His and other research indicates lead levels in people’s blood correspond directly to the amount of lead in the soil where they live.

my community plot

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