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, June 30, 2013

daddy long legs - a garden beneficial

Copy of 022 I love to see these amazing creatures. This Daddy Long Legs is on my potatoes. Maybe that's why the Potato beetles aren't proliferating as fast as they sometimes do.

I had to look up some info on these spiders-that-aren't-spiders.

They're not spiders, they're Opiliones. And they're more accurately called harvestmen.

Harvestmen legs can exceed 6 inches! They molt every ten days and their legs have seven joints. The embryos also apparently have one or two "egg teeth" to help them get out of the egg sac. They really are good guys in the garden:

Harvestmen are garden predators and scavengers and eat a wide variety of food, preferring insects and other arthropods (dead or alive), though also eating vegetable matter and juices. Adults usually begin foraging at twilight. Food ranges from aphids, beetles, caterpillars, earthworms, flies, mites, small slugs, snails and spiders, to fecal matter and fungi. After each meal a Harvestmen cleans each leg, drawing them, one at a time through its jaws.

Friday, June 28, 2013

garlic harvest

Copy of 125 The garlic in the back side of my garlic bed (Music) is ripening early. I have been picking lots of scapes and they have been delicious. As leaves yellow, I have been pulling the garlic. I like to pull them when 2 or 3 of the bottom leaves are yellow or brown.

I've started underplanting the garlic with small bok choy and summer crisp lettuce seedlings. So hopefully, as I pull the garlic, the bed will gracefully turn into a bed of greens.

I also have a couple rows of garlic in the front of the bed that are ripening much later. This is a "variety" that I've saved for years now. I've selected the biggest ones for replanting from my mix of garlics, some from the farmer's market, some Duganski. I don't really know what variety it is now.
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

summer solstice weeding

Copy of 024 I am amazed at how fast the weeds are growing this year. But then, bet I say that every year.... I start weeding at one end of the garden and by the time I finish, there are big weeds at the far side again and I have to start over.

As I remember, this weed phase is a late June/early July thing - the summer solstice weed race. Soon the vegetable plants will be big enough to shade the weeds. In late July/August, the weeds will wind down their growth spurts as all of the plants move to making seeds and fruits.

But I think this after photo does show a fully weeded summer solstice garden (except for that far right corner). (snap quick) Thank goodness for photos!

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Thursday, June 06, 2013

fighting garden pests

Its that time of year.....
- Slugs ate 80% of my red runner beans but none of my Chinese beans (thank goodness). Time for Sluggo.
- Slugs are also eating my basil, and I'm finding baby slugs inside the lettuce heads when I wash them. I transplanted the basil to fill in the holes and sprinkled on some Sluggo.
- Leaf miners are all over my beets greens. I should have covered them earlier, but did not. I'll just ignore them and hope some new leaves can out grow the miners.
- My potatoes and tomatoes have buckshot holes from flea beetles, but not too bad. This pest is short lived, with a spring life cycle of about 1 mo.
- I can't see my cabbage, broccoli or kale because I covered it last week to keep the cabbage worm off. I think its doing well.
- The chipmunks ate my first big red strawberry today. I have some chicken wire covering ready to go on tomorrow in hopes of having a nice strawberry martini for myself soon.
- Chipmunks also have been eating the sunflower seeds from the roots of my sunflower seedlings. That basically kills the plants....I suppose a chicken wire cover in the top of the soil wold help if I grow some more sunflowers.

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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

lots of baby pears

baby pears 013 My espaliered pear trees are filled with hundreds of little pears!!! The first year. I guess pruning them right was the trick.

I am wondering if I should remove some of the pears. I'll look into that. Soon I will bag them with either plastic baggies or paper bags to protect against bugs and chipmunks.

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Saturday, June 01, 2013

trellising tomatoes

Copy of 038 This year I am trellising my tomatoes. I planted the seedlings very deep, then added 1-2 inch collars (for cutworm protection).

The trellis stem is made up of two upright posts set into the ground 6 feet apart. Each post has a hole at the top. Through the two holes, I thread an 8 foot metal pole.

Twine provides the support for the tomato plants. To set up the twine, I cut a length twice the height of the pole from the ground and laid this over the metal pole with the middle of the twine resting on the pole. I then tied a knot next to the pole to hold the twine in place.

For now, I have loosely wrapped the ends of the twine around the little plants. When they are bigger, I'll tie the twine loosely to the stem of the plants. As the vines grow, I'll wrap the twine around the stem of the plant so that it stays upright and off the ground. I'll also trim off any suckers so I get a tall straight plant with lots of room for airflow.

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