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. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

New site

Skippy’s vegetable garden is now live at www.Skippysgarden.com. Soon this page will forward there.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Skippy's Vegetable Garden blog is getting a new look

A whole new look is coming! Later this week I'm switching to WordPress and this blog will be getting a make-over. All links will be forwarded, and you will automatically go to the new version. I'm very excited to see how it will look. It's been a big deal to transfer a blog with so many posts. I started this blog in 2006 (14 years ago) and have 3345 posts (that's 239 a year, almost 1 every day). Over 4 million people have looked at this blog. It is so much fun for me to write this - almost as much fun as being out in the garden!

Thursday, January 02, 2020

a new plan for a New Year

Microsoft PowerPoint - 2020 vegetable garden plans

I am very excited about my new garden plan for my Community Garden plot. I have a plan to grow a great mix of plants that are all Companions. I'll grow them intermixed rather than in patches so they have the benefit of being near their companions.

I was a bit concerned as I started to plan this year because my crop choices are quite limited this year. Community Gardens often have particular plants pests that make growing some crops very difficult, or impossible. At my Community Garden, bean beetles are severe - so no beans. Eggplant flea beetles also make growing eggplants almost impossible. And this year, we have the problem of a recent influx of a certain voracious rodent critter. They devour the fruits of squashes and pumpkins, tomatoes, corn, and  strawberries. They also dig up bean and corn seeds before they sprout.

The plants I plan to grow are mostly potatoes, onions, and brassicas (cabbage family plants). These do great in my Community Garden plot. It has beautiful full sun, not so many cabbage worms, and nice rich soil from all the composted cow manure I bring in every year. Plus, these plants are not affected by the rodents, bean beetles, or flea beetles.

I was interested to notice, when reading The Companion Planting Guide at Mother Earth News that these plants are all good companions. Cabbage family plants do well planted near onions, which deter root maggots. Potatoes like to be near cabbage family plants. Based on the lists in this article I added a few more companions to the mix. I'll mix in basil with my potatoes - it deters potato beetles. I'll add some carrots and beets among the rows of onions, since onions deter root maggots. I'll add some flax near the potatoes since this is said to deter potato bugs, and improve growth and flavor. And I'll add marigolds wherever I can. Marigolds are good to plant with all crops because they stimulate vegetable growth. In my garden marigolds will also help by deterring aphids, potato bugs, nematodes, and maggots.

Since I stumbled on this great mix of companions, I switched from my usual pattern of planting crops in patches and decided I will plant in alternating rows. I think the resulting plan looks beautiful! Can't wait to get planting.

Labels: ,

Monday, December 30, 2019

tasty compact vegetables to grow

See my post at the National Garden Bureau! It's all about Tasty Compact Vegetable Seeds to Grow. These are old and new varieties that I discovered while on my California tour of vegetable breeders with the AAS and NGB last summer.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

today's harvest

harvest IMG_3557 This lettuce is Rouxai. I have no idea how to pronounce that, but I think this is my favorite lettuce. A beautiful deep red oakleaf with bright green interior. It tastes great and grows great in every season.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

snowy day

IMG_3170

We have a foot of snow on the ground now, very early for us. It's still coming down. Very pretty.

Labels:

getting the garden ready for snow

Last Sunday morning, before the Big Snow Storm hit, I spend a couple hours in my vegetable garden getting things set.

My husband removed the plastic outer layer from my winter tunnel and then taped on a cross bar onto the top of the hoops for extra support.

IMG_3090

I opened up the lower fabric cover to check the greens. I wanted to harvest the heads of lettuce at the edges of the bed. These tend to get chilly and freeze. I picked a nice bucket full. Some pretty heads for our salads and some not so pretty heads for my chickens.

IMG_3114 IMG_3113
IMG_3112 IMG_3111
IMG_3105 IMG_3104

When I was covering up the tunnel again I realized I'd forgotten to put in place the low metal hoops I use for support of the inner layer of cold weather garden fabric. They are flexible wire, I think nine gauge. I put these in and then layered on my row cover. In past years I have used a double layer, but since I've been reusing it at least five years now the fabric is ratty. It has many small holes and only makes one layer. But its layered on and looks OK.

Finally I pulled the big sheet of greenhouse plastic over the top and secured it at the base. All set for snow!

IMG_3116 IMG_3117
IMG_3138

Labels:

Sunday, December 01, 2019

today's harvest

IMG_3097

Labels:

Friday, November 29, 2019

black Friday seed planting

Everyone's at the mall and I'm planting seeds! I planted seeds for some herbs that I plan to grow on my kitchen window sill in February and March. I also planted arugula that I plan to grow in the garage under lights to add to our winter salads. I have not planted at this time of year before - so don't take my word for it that this will work! But I love to experiment.

Photo two days later: the arugula is up. Why do I always plant arugula so dense? I need to move this tray to the light shelf now. There is hardly any light from the sun these days. I just wanted to watch them sprout on the windowsill.


IMG_3182

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 28, 2019

happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

my honey bee order is in

I just ordered a package of bees for April 17. I didn’t keep any honey bees last year and I missed having all those pollinators in the vegetable garden. It’s nice to think ahead to spring before winter even starts.

Labels:

Friday, November 22, 2019

crispy pickled peppers

peppers canned IMG_2756

I harvested a lot of peppers the day before our first frost. (100!!) Bell peppers, cayenne, Tex Mex, Shishito, even some heatless Habanero's called Habanada.

pepper harvest IMG_2504 peppers in bowl IMG_2737

We've been working our way through eating them fresh, but we weren't making much of a dent. Time for pickles! I've made pickled peppers a few times, but never liked the way they end up mushy - not at all crispy like store bought ones. So I tried out a new method - I made fresh pickles. Fresh pickles aren't processed in a boiling water bath. They end up fresh and crispy tasting, but only last a few months in the refrigerator.

I like this recipe a lot, very fresh and simple taste. Very crispy. (I adapted it from Food.com)

Ingredients
1.5 lb peppers (preferably Shishito), cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips
5 cups rice vinegar (50/50 rice and white vinegar is OK)
4 cups water
6 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
4 tsp pickling salt
2 Tbs sugar
4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 small red chiles (optional)

Blanch the peppers in boiling water about 2-3 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, simmer all ingredients except the peppers until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Place the blanched peppers in canning jars and pour the vinegar mixture over them. Seal the jars tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before eating. These pickles will last 1-2 months in the refrigerator.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Brussels sprouts

B sprouts IMG_2884b

I ended up with a nice pile of Brussels sprouts. Just over a pound, 5 cups. They taste really really delicious raw! Mild. Like sweet tender broccoli. I think the many nights of hard freezes sweetened them up perfectly. Now I need to find a recipe for roasting them. Since they taste so good raw, I think a simple recipe will work fine.

Its my first year of growing Brussels sprouts that have matured. I've tried 4 or 5 years now. For me, the trick was to start the seeds in May, use lots of composted manure, and grow the plants in full sun. It's a long process.  

Labels:

Monday, November 18, 2019

today's harvest

IMG_2841

This is the last of my kale and Brussels sprouts.

Labels: , ,

cold weather makes super sweet carrots!

Baby carrots! I harvested them last week and I'm amazed how delicious they are. Really really sweet and very crisp. I wonder if the frosts and cold weather improve their flavor. .... Internet search .... Yes, it does! I didn't know that.

"In order to defend itself against the cold, [carrots have] developed all these amazing physiological responses, including increasing the sugar content. Increasing the sugar content helps defend against ice crystal formation, which can do all kinds of terrible things to cells like dehydrate them, crush them, rupture them. ... this increase in sugar content helps defend the carrot against frost and cold." UCLA's Liz Roth-Johnson
This is called "cold sweetening" and happens to lots of vegetables. I knew it happened with parsnips, kale, and Brussels sprouts. I just didn't expect these carrots to be so sweet!

The variety is Mokum. I planted in the middle of August, worrying that it was too late in the season to get a crop. I'll make this date for the future and will plant lots more of them!

IMG_2655

Labels:

  • JOHNNY'S SELECTED SEEDS
  • BAKER CREEK RARE SEEDS
  • FEDCO SEEDS
  • SANDHILL PRESERVATION




  • your ad here

      kathy@skippysgarden.com


    garden garden garden garden garden garden garden garden garden garden

      "A well planned garden
      bathed in rain and sun.
      A faithful laborer...
      and the harvest shall come."
      ...Nancy Simms Taylor

        You can email me at kathy@skippysgarden.com

        Subscribe to
        Posts [Atom]

        © All materials on this site are protected by US copyright and may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without my permission. Please include a link to this site for all noncommercial uses.