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.
My dad and I have been watching for wooly bear caterpillars this fall. We've seen several and they've been nearly all orange, with only small tips of black at the ends. The addage is that the smaller the orange stripe, the worse the winter will be. Sure looks like it will be a very mild winter.
Yesterday I dug about half of my sweet potato bed. It was drizzling on the eve of Hurricane Sandy's arrival. I told myself I wouldn't get my hands dirty as I planned to shop afterwards. I often fail at this plan. My hands got really muddy. I dug a nice pile of sweets.
Labels: sweet potatoes
Yesterday I made a series of "How To" videos in my garden for E-How. It was perfect weather and I was lucky to have a great video producer, Alan from Spinning Horse Video Productions, do the shooting. Skippy and Alan's cute little female black lab Coby hit it off immediately, ran all over the garden and gave us lots of great dog-in-the-garden photo ops. Alan is putting our videos together now. We did: "How to harvest perennial bunching onions", "How to save seeds", "How to plant peas in the fall", "How to store dahlia tubers" and a bunch of other topics. I will post links here when they are available.
Writing a blog is an interesting thing. Usually it's just me, going on about my garden or photos I took. "I did this, then that". But the best part for me is getting comments. Sometimes comments come from gardeners on the other side of the world.(OK, it can be really hard to hear about summer in Australia when we're under a foot of snow.) Sometimes I get comments from gardeners with more experience than me, or who have a good idea to describe. Sometimes a new gardener comments with a question.
Soon after I first began blogging in 2006, Marian from London UK added her comments. A bit about her lottie, a note of support, a quick hello. Over about 5 years, we've virtually gotten to know each other.
Well, this past week, Marian and her husband John traveled to Boston and I was very pleased to become a part of their travel plans. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, we met at my community garden plot. We talked, we walked. It is really an exciting experience, to put a face to someone I have known for so long.
I enjoyed hearing how Marian's experience of a community garden in the UK is different from mine here in the US. And of course there are lots of UK and USA politics that make for good discussions these days. We chatted as we walked through the gardens and then back around and through the fields with fall colors. We talked more at my house, over garden fresh pizza and fresh cabbage slaw.
When I published a photo of these great bluestones that I recovered from someone's trash earlier this year, a reader commented that he/she would lay them in a pattern with stones between. This sounded like a great idea to me. I've never done this, so I am experimenting. I loosened and racked the soil, laid the bluestone and then piled on extra dirt. After stomping it down and working in more soil under stones that wobbled, I swept the extra soil of off the patio. I'll gradually work in more small stones to complete the pattern. Its a work in progress!
These are photos of my vegetable garden plot today. "Before" the storm. I am hearing reports that we may have a "super storm" coming our way in a couple of days. Wind and rain.
I think most of my vegetables will be OK with this. There's really not much left to blow around. The tall sunflowers and trellised squashes are gone. Today I cut down my asparagus ferns and laid them flat on the bed to protect the roots during the winter. Tomorrow I will dig the dahlia tubers, harvest the big cabbages, and the last of my broccoli. I haven't finished digging the sweet potatoes, but they will be fine with wind and rain. Most everything that's left now is pretty well hunkered down under a layer of hay. I will stack the chairs and put a big rock on them and lie my garden tools flat.
I am hoping the storm doesn't do much damage to anyone.
I am growing Brussels sprouts for the first time. Maybe I planted too late. Maybe not .... My sister has a recipe that she would like to make us for Thanksgiving. I am hoping these will keep growing and give us a nice harvest by Nov 22 - 4 weeks away.
Labels: brussels sprouts
Yow! It was a hard freeze at my community garden plot. Talk about microclimates.
My parents garden 30 miles north of me got a light frost, my home garden stayed above frost temp - it went down to 33*F (when I woke and looked the the thermometer at 5 am) BUT my community garden plot (1 mile from my house) had a HARD freeze.
I tried to protect my fall peas with row cover - to no avail. I wish I had picked the pretty little pods. They would have been tasty. I find peas are not very hardy in the fall, though they do well with cool weather in the spring.
I also tried to protect my chiles (Anaheim, poblano and Thai hot) with row cover. Same result as the peas. I should have picked them all. I am shooting an E-How video that includes the chiles next week and I was hoping to protect them.
In our community garden, everyone's dahlias, beans and nasturtiums turned black. Sweet potatoes too. The smell of frozen nasturtiums is quite distinctive.
But, this freeze is right on time. The seasons move forward.
I am happy that my lettuce, cabbage, kale, spinach and bok choi are still very happy.
And, as usual, my side yard garden will die back from lack of sunlight before a frost.
Freeze warnings tonight - and right on schedule.
Its hard to know what to expect for my gardens. Boston is predicted to go down to 36*F, Worcester to 29*. Everywhere in between depends on your microclimate. My home garden is a few miles from Boston and is very protected between tall houses and trees. It tends to be warm and I don't think it will frost. Even so, I picked my green tomatoes and the beans I had ripening for next year's seed.
But my community plot is a mile away, far from any buildings and it runs a lot cooler than my yard. I think it will frost or freeze there. So, I picked and brought home about half of my chiles and all of my Butternut squashes. I used row cover to cover my pea and the other half of the chile plants with row cover. Then I spread salt marsh hay on most other crops. I have a lot of lettuce, beets, broccoli, carrots, cabbages (etc) still growing. These are all pretty cold hardy and I don't expect to loose them, but I like to give the delicate lettuce some hay cover. I will leave the row cover and hay on the plants for the rest of the year now. A funny thing is that temps in the 70's (*F) are predicted next week. New England weather is crazy!
I walked around the community gardens to see how other gardeners have protected their plants. I saw one gardener leaving with a big last minute harvest of peppers and squashes. Several other gardens have hay, row covers, low tunnels and even one high plastic structure.
I remember how my parents used to go out on fall evenings like this and cover the tomatoes and squashes with sheets. These worked great, but since they weren't transparent, they needed to be put un in the evening and removed in the morning - they couldn't be left on.
I imagine the dahlias and nasturtiums at our community garden will be killed. Sad, since its been such a good year for them. Here are some photos to remember the dahlias.
"A well planned garden
bathed in rain and sun.
A faithful laborer...
and the harvest shall come."
...Nancy Simms Taylor