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, May 31, 2013

rhubarb crisp

rhubarb crisp 112
I picked a big handful of rhubarb today - first of the season. It made a delicious rhubarb crisp for desert.

(I used this recipe and modified by using 1.5 lbs rhubarb with the full amount of topping in the recipe. I also broiled it on low for 3 minutes after it was finished baking. I didn't hear any complaints....)

rhubarb 075 rhubarb crisp 113 rhubarb 070

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today's garden work

On our first hot and muggy summer-like day:
- Eggplants transplanted: Kamo, Tiger and Classic
- Tomato supports set up, bar and string set up this year (is there a better name for this method?)
- First rhubarb harvest of the season
- Weeding
- Harvested a big bunch of dill weed that had volunteered in the squash bed prior to preparing the bed
- Prepared squash bed by bringing in a wheelbarrow full of compost and digging it in
- Transplanted winter squash and summer squash
- Transplanted sunflowers and pumpkins
- Bought chicken wire to cover my strawberries
- Distributed Agribon row cover and Sluggo to community gardeners

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

yesterday's broccoli harvest

winter broccoli harvest 023 This is from seed I started last August. It grows in my cold frame until late October, then hangs out during the winter - not enough sun to grow. In early March it takes off again. Then gives us a very early harvest.

However, this year I learned what not to do. I should have transplanted it out of the cold frame in April. The frame gets too hot too fast for broccoli and most of the plants buttoned. They made tiny little button heads and I was so mad I pulled them out and composted them. These three heads grew on plants at the edges and gave marginally nice heads. I steamed one of them up for dinner last night and it was tasty.

The broccoli variety I have been growing is called Diplomat. As I was doing some unrelated task it occurred to me why someone would use this name for a broccoli: the big head - of course! Very funny. (except when it buttons.....)

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rainy May garden

Copy of 028 This is my shady garden. I know it will have even less sun this year as those trees keep on growing.

The open cold frame gets the best light (5 hours of sun: 10am - 3pm). I'll plant tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in it soon. I have a pile of compost inside ready to spread and dig under. Yesterday I cleared the last of the winter broccoli and lettuce out of the frame, so its ready to go when the rain clears. The seedlings are soaking up the rain and waiting to be transplanted.

The far left and right beds get the least sun (maybe only 3 hours of midday sun, 11am - 2pm), plus they're shaded by the rose and day lilies next to they. In the far left bed I planted basil. Some peas are struggling along, but I'm thinking they won't amount to much. I'll plant shell beans in the far right bed soon.

The three middle beds get about 4 hours of sun midday (11am - 3pm). Herbs do well along the front. I've planted pole beans there and cucumbers on teepees. Some lettuce is growing well and ready for harvest soon. I'll plant lots of edamame soybeans soon - yum!

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

today's garden work

In my side yard garden:
- chicken wire baffles put over newly planted pole bean seeds to protect from squirrels
- winter broccoli harvested from cold frame
- cold frame prepared for summer plantings
- cucumber seedlings transplanted to tepee
- spinach, lettuce, parsley and basil seedlings transplanted (I am so late with the spinach and parsley!)

time for spring babies!

cardinal fledgeling 089 I have seen so many baby birds and animals around this year! Cardinals fledged in my yard today, and the robins are feeding a nestful of chicks. Baby bunnies are in the gardens. I even had a baby river otter run smack into my leg yesterday, with mother otter close behind. (First time I've even seen an otter.) So cute!!

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Monday, May 27, 2013

beets in the evening sun

the beauty of the beets 003 Seeds planted in the garden while there was still snow - March 25.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

gardening with my sister on a rainy May day

Copy of 089 Copy of 093 Copy of 091 Copy of 087 Copy of 080 Copy of 092 Copy of 083 Its been a very cool spring. And now, very wet. Don't remember when I've waited so long to set out tomatoes.

Anyway, yesterday my sister and I planted tomato seedlings in my community plot. These are a set of six different varieties of late blight resistant tomatoes: Defiant, Ferline, Mountain Magic, Old Brookes, Prudens Purple and Plum Regal. We had 500 of these seedlings, that are reported to have different degrees of late blight resistance, grown for our community garden by a local grower. We are looking forward to seeing how they do.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

pear blossoms for mother's day

pear blossoms 014

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

working on my community garden plot

spring garden plot 012 spring garden plot 015 spring garden plot 019 I would have taken "before" photos of my plot, but I was overwhelmed looking at it this morning. I knew how late I was getting it in shape and how much should be done. After accomplishing a day's work, I'm now enjoying the "after" photos.

It was a drizzly day. I weeded, transplanted rogue strawberry plants, moved salt marsh hay from beds to paths, set up a tomato pole, screened compost and turned it in under a couple beds, top-dressed my asparagus bed, transplanted onion seedlings and dahlias tubers. I didn't get to everything: lettuce and cabbage seedlings need to go in and more compost is needed, but its a good start.

During my work, I saw two male rose-breasted gross beaks flitting around, and a couple male Baltimore orioles. Bight flashes of color over the garden plots. I suppose they were vying for prime territories before the females arrive.

Skippy rested on the salt hay in the garden paths while I worked. At dusk, he got a nice walk to the swimming hole. Now its time for a good nights' rest.

skippy and wheelbarrow 021

Juha's challenge

Juha is a new gardener who lives in Finland. A couple weeks ago we helped him by recommending gardening books for a beginner. Not being so familiar with gardening books myself, I gave him this advice,

... messing it up is a way of learning, as long as you don’t get disappointed. And there are many ways to grow every food crop. You may find a new one that works best for you by just getting into the dirt and trying.

Most important is soil preparation, water and sunlight. Make sure your location has full sunlight. Mark it off. (If there is a chance it has toxins in the soil, like lead from flaking house paint, do a soil test.) Bring in a load of rich compost, enough so you can spread it 2 inches thick over the garden space. Turn it under, rake it smooth, then plant. What and when you plant depends on where you are located. Check the back of the seed package or buy seedlings. Ask when you buy if the seedlings can be planted yet. Check the seed package or online to see how much space you need to leave for the plant (I always put them closer than is recommended because my space is small).

If you have deer around, put up a 5 ft fence; rabbits or woodchucks, a 3 foot chicken wire fence. No fence will keep squirrels out of your garden. They run all over my garden and don’t usually do too much damage, except to eat ripe tomatoes if the weather is dry.
Anyway, I wanted to post an update, since Juha sent me an email today about his progress.
Hey Kathy! My gardening project is going well. Today I got all of my seeds planted. Just in time, since the weather is starting to warm up here in Finland! I devised a little challenge for myself. My goal is to prepare a meal for my family using produce from my garden and the wilderness :) To add some pressure I made it public on my blog http://www.juhakardo.com/food-sovereignty-challenge/ -Juha
I always love to hear about garden projects. This one sounds fun. I would also like to try the challenge of making a meal completely from items I have grown, foraged or caught myself too. I'm looking forward to doing some fishing this summer, and of course, lots of gardening. Maybe I should try some fermenting too if I'm doing an entire meal....

My reason for doing this would be that it reduces my ecological footprint, the food tastes better, and mostly - it is personally satisfying.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

rainy day

rainy day 087 Its a rainy day. The garden is soaking it up. I'm inside looking out and admiring.

All of the beds are read to go. Little trays of seedlings are waiting for transplanting. The fig tree has been re-potted to a bigger pot. Tulips are fading, small iris in full bloom, and summer perennials growing fast.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

compost screen

compost screen  030 compost screen  033 compost screen 029 My husband made me a compost screen today. It is a big frame that fits nice on top of a wheelbarrow. The mesh is made from doubled chicken wire. I've seen many ways to make a compost screen. The main thing is that the wire mesh is well supported by a frame and the mesh size is not too small.

Over the years, my compost bins have been accumulating things that don't compost so well (branches, avocado seeds, Christmas trees, oyster shells, plastic plant labels...) Instead of returning them to the bin this year, they went into the trash.

We screened about 10 wheelbarrows full of fresh compost and piled it onto my garden beds. I spread it and turned it under. The beds are ready for planting now.

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Friday, May 03, 2013

asparagus

asparagus 082 asparagus 072 asparagus 094 This is my first real harvest of asparagus. Enough for a nice meal.

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Thursday, May 02, 2013

pear blossoms

pear blossoms 060 pear blossoms 109 pear blossoms 065 The two espaliered pears in my community plot are full of blossoms! Finally.

For two years they haven't bloomed at all. Last summer I found a book on pruning and stopped clipping off all of the side branches. What a difference.

I'm hoping some pears set.

pear blossoms 105

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