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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

garden plots in the snow

snow on my community garden plot IMG_0053 On this last day of the year, Skippy, Steve and I walked though our community garden plots and the adjacent fields and woods. We got about 7 inches of snow yesterday - our first real snow of the season. Everything was beautiful. Bright blankets of white, song sparrows and chickadees out and about, and lots of dogs and their people out enjoying it all.
snow at the water hole IMG_0072 winter song sparrow IMG_0065

tiny little sweet potato sprouts!

sprouting sweet potato 038 sprouting sweet potato 024 sprouting sweet potato 042
About a month ago, I selected a couple sweet potatoes and put them in little bowls of water, hoping to get them to sprout. I put them on the floor by the heater, but since they got in the way there, I moved them to my plant shelf. Today I checked on them - sadly, no sprouts yet. :-(

Then later, as I was selecting a sweet potato for dinner from my basket in the kitchen, I found that one of these had tiny little sprouts! Yippee!!! I put this tuber in a bowl with water. Finally, I have a sprouting sweet!

I am guessing that this one sprouted because it was stored in the warm kitchen, quite near the oven. Maybe the room with the plant shelf is too cold for sprouting sweets? In any case, it is exciting to have one sprouting. As I learned last season, one sweet potato makes a lot of slips, and one slip makes a lot of sweets.

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

garden christmas gifts - given and received

This year I gave, and received, a number of gifts made from homegrown garden produce or items to use in the garden.
wrapped gift 027
Dried herbs: This year I dried lots of my garden thyme, rosemary, sage, hot red chilis, and coriander seeds. I packed these in little jars (from Crate and Barrel) and used ribbon to tie on labels.
dried herbs 034 dried herbs 038 dried herbs 019
Hand-decorated dried gourds: My brother-in-law found a fantastic source for the most creative decorated gourds I have seen. I love the tall snowman gourd that is now on my mantle! I'll add more photos and the source later.

Planting basket: My sister gave me a Smart Pot. Its a 10 gallon container made of a porous aeration fabric. (www.smartpots.com) I can't wait to try it.
smart pot
And, I received a stack of wonderful books! gift books 037

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my on-line planting calendar is fixed now

Stan and Jan reminded me that my On-line Planting Calendar link was broken. So I have just now fixed it. It is exciting that it is time to start thinking about planting!!!

If you haven't tried this calendar before, its a piece of code I wrote that lets you calculate when to plants all sorts of vegetable seeds based on your last frost date.

Here's the link: Calendar link.

The link is also near the top of my sidebar.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bo checks out the White House tree:

\http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lce5gWKgMXI
I like this video!

Friday, December 28, 2012

today's harvest

bok choy harvested dec 28 b
Baby bok coy - one of my favorites! I wore a head lantern to go out and find my cold frame in the 5 pm winter darkness this evening. The greens in the frame are looking really nice.

Our dinner tonight was bok choy stir-fried with garlic, sauteed garden sweet potatoes and kielbasa. It was a yummy winter meal. We are waiting for 4-6 inches of snow to fall on us tomorrow.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

advancing cold front

clouds 019 We've had a nice couple days of 60*F weather. Skippy and I have enjoyed walking our usual trails in the balmy warmth. But a cold front is moving in. That's December....

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

more 2012 crop reviews

Carrots. I didn't do a good job with carrots this year. Lots of room for improvement here next year. I've grown great carrots in the past, but for some reason, decided to experiment this year. I learned what not to do. Carrots sprout slowly and they need to stay moist. This is hard for me since I grow them at my community plot and don't have time to go water every day. So I sowed my carrots in pots and and transplanted the seedlings, like I do for nearly every other crop I grow. The results were terrible - short, badly misshapen, bi-, tri- and quadru-furcated roots. Next year, my plan is to dirext sow and use burlap the hold the moisture.

Chiles. Overall a very good year for chiles. I grew lots of NuMex Joe E Parker, poblanos,Thai hots and cayenne. Also a yellow bell that never turned yellow, but was very nice as a green bell pepper. I tried some other varieties also, but these did the best for me.

Cucumbers. It was a super cuke year! I had 6 or 8 varieties, long and short ones, white and green ones. I love to grow way too many cucumbers. Diva is still my favorite variety, but a close second is the long and crispy Sooyow Nishiki. Cucumbers do well in the very protected and slightly shady space my side yard.

Eggplant. My eggplants got shaded by my cucumbers this year. They eventually produced a nice crop, late in the season. I like the little bicolor Thai variety (Tiger) and a big purple oval one (Classic). I'll try to remember to give them more space next year.

Garlic. A bad garlic year. :-( I planted 100 cloves last fall, but at least half of it rotted in the ground. I think because I planted too late and did not mulch. We had a nearly snow free winter, and the soil in my garlic bed was like hardpan it was so dry. I havested about 40 nice big cloves. With so few, I didn't have enough to eat and plant next year. I bought some new seed garlic: The variety Music, which I am looking forward to trying. My current variety is Duganski.

Green beans.

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Monday, December 03, 2012

december cold frame

december cold frame 062 december cold frame 070 december cold frame 066
My cold frame is full of greens. The baby bok choy is a good size for eating now, and I love the thought that it should hold at this size for months in the cold. The other plants are a bit small for harvesting. They'll grow more in March, when the sunlight increases.


There are a couple of pots of greens that I didn't have room to plant. I am reminded now that I juts left them in the center of the frame. They don't enough soil and are dying. I hate to throw out seedlings.

My cold frame is being held together with more and more duct tape as tome goes on. And the wood supports have warped a bit and so my husband stapled old towels to block the the cold air from blowing in the spaces.

I have visions of rebuilding it sometime. I'd like a brick base. But there are so many options to decide on. Plastic or glass panes? Walk in or lift up panels? Kit, custom, or homemade? Heated? Same size or bigger or smaller?

december cold frame 071

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Saturday, December 01, 2012

snow

aerial dec 1 2012 043

We had a powder sugar coating of snow on the garden on this first day of December. It accumulated to about 1.5 inches. It stayed around a day or two, and then melted back to bare ground.

I'm reminded of my fig tree as I look at this picture. It's still sitting in the garden in a pot, unprotected. I have read that its hardy down to about 10*F. We're not close to that yet, but we'll likely get down there in a few weeks. I'm thinking that once the temps fall a bit more, I'll bring it in to my heated porch where my Meyers lemon spends the winter.

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