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, August 28, 2011

aerial after the storm

aerial Aug 28 2011

We were lucky and have very little damage in my yard from hurricane Irene. My rain gauge says we got 3.3 inches of rain. The town of Belmont had a number trees down and power was out in some areas. Tomorrow I'll check out the other side of town where my community garden plot is. This area is low and sometimes has flooding.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

hurricane irene

Liz at bisforbread.wordpress.com asked

Hi Kathy!

I wonder if you've come across any helpful advice for how to prepare a garden for Hurricane Irene this weekend. We're in western Massachusetts and are of course harvesting all that we can, but I'm finding few other tips online. Do you have any suggestions for how to save our squash, brussels sprouts, etc. from the deluge ahead?

Good luck with the hurricane - I hope you'll enjoy a martini when it arrives!

Liz

Great idea about that martini!!! A super idea for a storm.

About the garden - I just made sure there was nothing that could blow around. I took down my umbrella and stashed it under the squashes. I brought my drinking cup home from my community garden and took down my bird feeders and a wobbly old bird house. I picked the apples from my tiny tree since they seemed like they were nearly ready, the squirrel was eating one, and I was afraid they would blow off. (I left my pears on my tree.) Another gardener at the community garden took down her pole beans - mostly because they were pretty much done already anyway. (I left my pole bean teepee up.) And I harvested what was ready.

Here in Belmont we are to the east of the storm. I'm not expecting much wind or rain tomorrow. I think flooding may be our biggest problem. Our community gardens and my basement sometimes flood in storms. We'll see. I hope all the gardens to the west of me fare well.

I'm looking forward to a day inside tomorrow while the wounds blow and the rain falls. I'm thinking I'll make eggplant parmesan and maybe stuffed zucchini. Also a batch of cucumber pickles and maybe some red sauce. That will keep me busy.

Let me know what garden preparations you have made. Or what you plan to do during the storm.

this week's harvest

harvest 048
harvest  021

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apple harvest

apples 072

I picked all my apples today. A bit early. The squirrel had started eating one (he thinks they're ready!) and hurricane Irene is coming in tomorrow and I don't know if the wind might blow then around. The 20 heavy apples seemed so big on my little tree! Some branches were weighted down almost to the grass.

I've read that apples ripen up after picking. They sure look pretty! I'm admiring them in a bowl on my table.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

more fungi

apple diseases (3) apple diseases (2)
apple diseases tomato fungi  004

What a humid summer!

My apples have fungi too. Black mildew on the fruits. The good news is that it washes right off. I picked all my apples today (a bit early) and they washed up perfectly.

Tomato fruits and squash leaves have mildew too.

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tomato spots

tomato fungi 001 tomato fungi  002

I have every type of spot on my tomatoes this year - except late blight, thank goodness. Big spots, small ones, orange and brown and black. The damage is pretty much limited to the fruits and is not on the leaves or stems of the plants.

Its been perfect weather for fungi this summer - hot and humid. But I think much of my problem is that I planted my tomato plants too dense and between tall popcorn and sunflowers that reduce airflow. Other gardeners in our community garden have nice tomatoes that they planted with lot of airflow. Next year I will do this too....

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

apples on the tree

apple 022

There are about 20 apples on my dwarf Fugi apple tree this year. All are getting big and red and I'm tempted to pick one soon. I can imagine the crisp juicy bites!

All summer, the apples have been covered with plastic baggies and I just removed them last weekend. I took them off on Sunday because it seemed some of the fruits were getting some black fungal/mildew growth. Its been such a humid summer that I think I have every type of fungus growing in my garden somewhere this year.

The risk for the uncovered apples now is that the squirrels might find them before I pick them. Once they start to sweeten up the squirrels get interested. I'd like to leave them on the tree to ripen as long a I can. SO I'm watching out.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

first pumpkin

fresh picked pumpkin

Is there a good way to know when pumpkins are ready to pick? I usually pick when they are deep orange or the stem is hardened.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ah! sunflower

sunflower

August is for sunflowers! I love all the tiny little flowers gathered together into one great big sunny ring of yellow.

(Wikipedia says there are 1,000-2,000 little flowers per head and that H. Vogel proposed in 1979 that the polar coordinates of their arrangement is modeled by r = c \sqrt{n}, \theta = n \times 137.5^{\circ}.)

Our community gardens are full of many 15 foot tall sunflowers this year. They stand above the fence tops. The sparrows, goldfinches and chickadees are singing as they flit among them.

Ah! sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;

William Blake P. 1793

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Skippy

skippy 2

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Friday, August 19, 2011

my plot

my plot 6
my plot 2

Garden notes:

Very late peppers and tomatoes. And small onions. That's from planting outside too early this spring into my cold frame. An experiment.

As usual, my garden plot is way overgrown - I like to squeeze in as much as I can.

Beautiful popcorn, potatoes, garlic and eggplants. It may be a good year for my melons finally - fingers crossed as they continue to ripen and grow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ripening melons

melon, charentais
melon, san juan

A nice hot summer and I have my first ever melons ripening! A Charentois and a San Juan. I think maybe a watermelon or two will ripen also. I can't wait to try them!!

How do I know when they are ripe???

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Judy's butterfly garden

hummingbird moth on monarda
monarch on Joe Pye Weed Copy of 153
Judy's butterfly garden

I've never seen a hummingbird moth before. My sister helped me identify it. Amazing!

Judy owns the community garden plot next to mine. She planted a butterfly garden along the path for everyone to enjoy. Its a moving experience of buzzing and color. Every time I go to my plot, I walk by and marvel. Last weekend I had my camera and took a bunch of photos.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

mixed up pumpkins and squashes

pumpkins
lakota winter squash cinderella pumpkin
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squash yellow crookneck pumpkins 015

I raised many varieties of pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers and winter squashes from seeds this year and it seems I did a bad job of labeling....

Pumpkins: New England Pie, Long Island Cheese, Baby Pam, Galeaux, Orange Giant, and Rouge vif d'Etampes
Winter squash: Lakota, Buttercup, Waltham Butternut, Delicata

The giant pumpkins I gave my parents grew into yellow summer squash, cucumbers ended up in the middle of the pumpkin bed, and giant 80 pound pumpkins are now hanging from my parents' little mesh garden fence.

I can't think of how this happened!!! I wrote a label for each. Maybe it was that late night transplanting. Or the rushed 2nd re-potting. Next year - next year....

Photos of the giant (70 kg!!) pumpkins are below (I think). They have an unusual squashy stem and color is bright orange/yellow. They're about 10 lbs in weight(my guess) so far. They were meant to be planted in my parents' front yard to sprawl where they wanted, but ended up on the fine mesh deer fence of the vegetable garden and are pulling it down as they gain weight. The prolific vines have made a beautiful wall of green at the front of the garden. My parents need to part the leaves to enter. It feels kind of like Alice in Wonderland walking into another world. So far there are about 2 big pumpkins and 5 or 8 smaller ones forming. I am wondering how big they will get!!!

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window view

window view
window view 2

... my side yard garden from the window ...

Monday, August 15, 2011

garden aerial

aerial

I took this photo in the middle of the August full sun with the sprinklers going. Too much for my camera. I will get another photo soon in dimmer light. What a glorious time of year!

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

onions

onions

My onions are rapidly maturing. The tops are falling over. I pulled about half of mine today. I leave then to cure int eh sun a day or two, because that's what I see that the old gardeners do. My onions are very small this year :-(

Monday, August 01, 2011

fall sowing

fall sowing

I sowed a tray of seeds today. A few experiments. Since my carrots and parsnips didn't sprout well this spring from direct seeding in the garden, I'm trying seeding in pots for the first time. They need constant moisture and it was dry this spring/summer, and I didn't keep up with irrigation. Don't know if they do well being transplanted. I think I can dig a deep hole and line up the root so I get a straight root.

Carrots, Bolero and Mokum
Parsnips,
Beets, Chiogga, Lutz, and Detroit White
Greens, mixed
Broccoli
Escarole, Frissee
Cauliflower
Spinach
Winter radish
Fennel


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parasitic wasps

corn wasps 034corn wasps 015
wasp delivery wasp delivery 3
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My first shipment of corn worm parasitic wasps arrived 3 weeks ago. They need to go out to the field within 24 hours, so I ran over to the community gardens and distributed the four cards. Each card has pin head size wasp eggs glued to it. I searched through the plots and found about 10or 12 patches of corn. In four of them, I hung a card of eggs.

I am receiving more eggs about once a week and each time I place the cards in different patches.

The wasps parasitize the eggs of the European Corn Borer. Its an experiment to see if this helps with our worms. From looking back to my old photos (below), the worms I had two years ago were Corn Ear Worms, not Borers. My understanding is that the Ear Worm lays its eggs singly so its hard for a wasp to be effective against them because it has to find every egg. On the other hand the European Corn Borer lays eggs in a cluster, so the wasps can effectively parasitize all of them. It seem like a fantastic, organic method of pest control, so I am trying the experiment anyway.

popcorn worm

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harvests

harvest 018

I was working all last week and didn't get time to go to the garden. On Saturday I found a bunch of scary giant zucchinis! I left 4 of the biggest squashes out for others to take. The good news is they disappeared within a few minutes.

I cannot believe how delicious my potatoes are this year. Last night we grilled then - fantastic.

The cucumber below is a long Sooyow nishiki Asian cucumber and I forgot to photograph it before I sliced it - next time.

What's here: Bennings Green Tint summers squash, Romanesco zucchini, yellow crookneck summer squash, red potatoes, fennel, some small purple onions, a bunch of little red radishes, a head of Chinese cabbage, and two beets: a Chiogga and a Detroit white.

harvest 058 harvest 054

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