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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

today's garden work

I thought I was going to just " plant potatoes" in my community plot today, but lots of other things needed to be done. The potatoes can go in later in the week (I hope).

This is what I did:

- cleaned salt marsh hay mulch off asparagus bed and then top dressed with an inch of compost
- cleared salt hay mulch off of rhubarb and added an inch of compost
- cleared old growth from perennial flowers
- disposed of old garden materials in dumpster we have on site this month
- cleared the new potato beds and started bringing in some compost

I didn't finish bringing enough compost to plant the potato beds. With rain coming tomorrow, I'll probably wait a few days to plant...

farewell the non-organic AdSense

OK, looks likes it's time to shut down AdSense on my side bar. I opened up my blog tonight and saw an advertisement advocating the use of Round-up to kill weeds before laying down mulch. That's not even semi organic or half sustainable.

Its a lazy gardening approach that could result in poison run off into wetlands, accumulation in soils, and, frankly, costs more than just mulching properly. I mean, its really easy to lay newspaper or cardboard as a barrier under mulch if you want to eliminate weeds. Today I laid a thick layer of salt marsh hay in my garden paths - this will stop most weeds. I'll probably need to pull a few weeds now and then (on a bright sunny morning with the birds singing...maybe I'll find some dill or borage "weeds" that I'll transplant, weeding is half the fun of gardening...)

It's too bad to shut down AdSense as I liked the panels of garden-related (thought sometimes distantly related, or not related) topics on the ad bar. They added some extra color and variety to the format I thought. ...Hormel cheese dip, potting soil and landscaping services.... And the content changes regularly with almost no work for me. But, they aren't organic. Oh well. Goodbye AdSense. It will take me some time to remove and replace.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

new garden gate

new garden gate 7568 new garden gate 7565 new garden gate 7569

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fruit trees

I bought 2 apple trees today: Liberty and Honey Crisp dwarfs.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

putting up garden fencing

Copy of IMG_7523 A cold dreary April day. My husband and I put up fencing around the 3 raised beds that I'll be planting spring crops in soon.

For many of the posts, we ran into rock about 4 inches down. Seems maybe there's a layer of rocky fill down there.

Suzie and Skippy patiently watched and were soaked by the cold rain by the time we finished. They dug a good hole under the rhododendron for fun and played in the fresh mud. Now, its evening, and they are clean. They got ushered straight into a warm shower and had nice baths.

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weekend gardening plans

Fence

Our plan for the weekend is to get a fence up around my new garden. (Hopefully we can do this in between the rain drops!) For now, we'll put a simple metal fence around half of the beds. I think we'll go with a 5 or 6 ft fence. We have lots of deer, so the main purpose of the fence is to keep them out. We also have raccoons and rabbits that I'd rather not share my vegetables with.

At the community garden I manage, we talk a lot about fencing. Our recommendation there is 4 or 5 foot metal fencing, with wood or metal posts. We like the 1 inch grid, stainless fence with a 12 inch layer of chicken wire or poultry cloth at the bottom, 6 inches dug in and 6 inches above ground. The tall fence protects against human theft, the dug in wire protects against woodchucks and rabbits. We dislike any type of plastic fencing as its not a sustainable option. Plastic is damaged by mowers and gets scattered in the local environment. While a little bit here and there seems innocuous now, plastic is forever. If we let it accumulate, it won't be pretty later. Our main criterion for fencing recommendation is that they are safe for gardeners using the paths. Secondary concerns are esthetic and environmental issues.

With my new home fence, I'll avoid plastic. Metal is more functional and long lasting. Over the long term, it degrades into an innocuous form and is a more sustainable choice.

Soil

We have a fantastic community farm near us and I've discovered they are a source for not only CSA meats, eggs and vegetables, but also for organic aged manure compost. Our plan to fill the new raised beds is to bring in local loam to fill beds within a couple inches of the top, then top off with local compost. I'll vary the amount of compost according to what I plan to plant: 1 inch of compost for root beds, 2 inches in beds for greens, at least 3-4 inches in beds for tomatoes, peppers, squashes, cucumbers and corn. I ordered a loam delivery for midweek, but we'll start bringing in compost this weekend.

Fruit trees

I have specific varieties of fruit trees I'd like to grow: Honey Crisp and Golden Grimes apples, Contender peach and a pie cherry. It will be fun to see what we can find in local nurseries this weekend.

Planting

I have seed potatoes to go in this weekend. Yukon Gold, Kennebec Red, Burbank Russet, and Adironac Blues. Also, I'd like to transplant seedlings of lettuce and other greens. Its time to start seeds indoors for pumpkins and winter squashes.

Monday, April 21, 2014

pea planting

pea planting IMG_7298 pea planting  IMG_7299 pea planting  IMG_7301 Today I planted my peas! The first seeds to go into my new garden.

I brought three wheelbarrows full of loam down to one of my new raised beds. I added two 40 lb bags of composted cow manure, turned it, then raked the surface smooth. I planted two packages of 5 foot tall French snow pea seeds. For each, I cleared a 2 inch deep trench about 5-6 inches wide. Since I haven't planted peas in this soil before, I sprinkled on pea/bean innoculant, scattered the pea seeds, then covered the area. I added some 6 foot tall branches for supports. Our irrigation water isn't on yet, so the seeds will sprout when they get enough moisture.

We are in the process of applying to the Town Conservation Commission for a permit for this vegetable garden site since it's near wetlands: a pond and a seasonal brook. It doesn't seem that there is any problem getting the permit as the garden is all sustainable organic and we are planning work to avoid runoff and mitigate local wildlife habitat issues. But since we do not yet have "go ahead" approval, I am filling and planting one bed at a time. For this first planting, I used a minimum of soil - only 3-4 inches in an 8 inch raised bed. I think approval takes 3 weeks from submission, which will go in next week (hopefully). The submission will include all of the modifications that we plan for the house and yard. One of the modifications to the hose is the addition of a vegetable storage/root cellar that I look forward to filling up with home-grown vegetables.

pea planting IMG_7304 pea planting IMG_7308

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

planting squash and cukes

Just planted a tray with squash and cucumber seeds.
(in order of my favorites:)
Squash: Waltham butternut, Buttercup Burgess strain, Jarrahdale pumpkin, New England Pie pumpkin, Hubbard blue ballet, and Acorn Honey Bear

Cucumbers: Diva, Tokiwa, Sooyow nishiki, Straight 8, Sumter pickling

Monday, April 07, 2014

leveling my new raised beds

Copy of IMG_7186 My raised beds are on a bit of a slope. To level them, my husband secured a 2x4 horizontally to the bottom of each bed at the downhill side. He used three 2x4 stakes on each and left these sticking out a few inches at the bottom. One some beds where the slope was steeper, we left the stakes at the soil surface and filled in below with a layer of brick. For most, the stakes were dug in leaving the horizontal 2x4 resting at soil surface. One or two were on a flatter ground and he dug the whole horizontal board in a bit. We used brick to fill in at the sides. Now all of the beds are pretty much level. Next step - add dirt!

Copy of IMG_7190 Copy of IMG_7195 Copy of IMG_7198 Copy of IMG_7185 Copy of IMG_7181 Copy of IMG_7211 Copy of IMG_7203

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Saturday, April 05, 2014

germination test of old corn seeds

Copy of IMG_7166 I'm doing a germination test of my old corn seeds. They were "Packed for 2009" - 6 years old. Any bets on whether they'll sprout?

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Friday, April 04, 2014

forced forsythia

Copy of IMG_7156 I have always wanted to be able to force forsythia. Our new house has lots of it around to cut. It bloomed within a couple days of bringing it inside. I suppose it won;t be long til its in bloom outside.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

chickens and eggs

fresh eggs IMG_7005 We are doing some renovations upstairs of our new house where there's a good view of my chicken coop. The construction crew tells me they've seem a big red tailed hawk fly down and perch on my chicken coop a couple of times.

Of all places! Can't he perch on some bird feeder or a random small tree?!! He might as well put in his order for a chicken lunch!

The red tails out here are BIG! I've been impressed. They must be better fed than the ones in more urban Belmont. Stronger and better fed.... and able to carry off large chickens for lunch....

Usually, I let me hens run free an hour or so in the afternoon sun. After this conversation with the construction guys, I only let them out briefly today when I could watch them carefully. The problem was, it was such a nice day and the girls really wanted to run for a while. After 20 min, I started trying to get them back into their coop and it took me a good 20 min. They did NOT want to go.

So, the eggs in the picture above are what the hens lay in about 5 days now. Since all 3 hens are laying, finally, I usually get 6 brown eggs per week from Penny (Black Australorp), 5 blue/green eggs per week from Ginger (Auracana), and 3 giant pink eggs a week from Bertha (Light Brahma). Bertha has just started to lay. So that's 14 egg a week. Plenty for us, and we're giving some away to anyone who leaves a car with open windows on the driveway ;-) Tomorrow I'm planning to make mushroom quiche, and then, Friday for guests, I'll make some deviled eggs of all different sizes.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

seedlings inside under lights

seedlings 7020 seedlings 7021 seedlings 7023 seedlings 7028 I have lots of little seedlings growing. Beets, broccoli, marigolds, lettuce, escarole, endive, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes.... Some I'm on time planting, some ahead of schedule and some behind schedule.

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