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.

Monday, April 15, 2019

today’s harvest

I had my first harvest of the season today. A pretty little head of red butterhead lettuce, some kalelette sprouts, and a handful of big spinach leaves. Delicious.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

more baby chick pictures

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I bought a batch of 15 mixed layers from McMurray Hatchery. They say they are a mix of at least 5 good laying types plus one exotic layer. I can see that the single fancy bird is silver and has very pretty feathers. I don't know any of the breeds. If anyone can tell the breed from looking at a chick and you recognize any of these - let me know!!

They are two days old now and are being very good. There was one chick who kept pecking other chicks' eyes yesterday. (She the black blur in the left front of the bottom photo.) Over and over. She spent the night in solitary (the shipping box under the light). She's being good today.

Then there is one very tiny bird that I'm hoping will thrive. (She's that buff one at the upper right of the bottom photo.) She has a hard time pushing her way in to the food. I'm spreading crumbles now and then to see if that helps. In have both of my red heat lights over the crate now my to keep the temperature up at 95 degrees for a week. Next week when they are OK at 85 I can separate any tiny birds and move the second light to a smaller crate.

My plan is to only keep 4 or 5 of the chicks. I have one adult hen laying in my coop outside (with another adult that I am overwintering for someone else). I should limit myself to 4 and 5 is pretty full for my small coop. Five others have been spoken for. If you're local to Lincoln MA and want any let me know. I'll advertise on Craig's list at some point.

Charley is very interested in watching the chicks, Suzie less so. Charley always follows me to go check on them. The chicks are in a very secure crate!

baby chicks!

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I got a box full of one-day-old baby chicks in the mail today. 17 of them! They are very tiny and very cute. They are now under a red heat lamp in a dog crate converted into a chick incubator.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019

winter bed

Whenever we get a couple days with night temperatures above freezing I open up my winter bed. It's not as full as last year since I planted late in the fall, but there are lots of greens coming along. Spinach, lettuce, bok choy, and cabbage. Some overwintered rosemary. I was impressed with my kalettes that didn't mature last year, but look good now.

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

spring!!!

The first day of spring - one of my favorite days!

I have 8 trays of seedlings planted so far. Some are doing very well. A tray of wild flower seeds I collected are taking their time to sprout. No problem. Sometimes these take 30 days or so.

I am working on planting my tomato seeds now. A few days late now for me. I have the pots clean and set in trays.  I’ve pulled out the seed packets I'll plant. Maybe I'll have time to plant tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow I'll pick my up mother at the airport marking the end of her winter in Florida. She's looking forward to returning north. I've planned her vegetable garden and have several new ideas to try out to improve her garden this year. Her biggest challenge is tomatoes. I have an idea that the very high phosphorus level in her soil is affecting these plants. My dad liked to add super phosphate, but it eventually accumulates if you aren't testing the soil as you go. I'm looking forward to the growing season.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

my planting progress

I'm planting way too many varieties of vegetable seeds this year. Last year, I cut back on different varieties and planted only my favorites. This year, the opposite. I'm planting a few plants each of many different varieties. I have a big Excel list to keep track of them all.

So far I have planted:
Feb 5: rosemary and thyme
Feb 23: lots of onion varieties, also celeriac and parsley.
March 4: 11 cabbage varieties, also escarole and endive.
March 10: 4 basil varieties, 5 marigolds, 5 eggplants,
          and 15 varieties of peppers.
March 19: radicchio, broccoli and lots of sweet peas.
March 24: bok choy, 6 varieties of lettuce, and 18 varieties of tomatoes
March 25: ginger, cumin, cilantro, Swiss chard, and nasturtiums

I hope to get my peas planted in the garden soon. As soon as the mud dries up a little more. The next indoor planting is cucumbers around April 10.

I'll add to this list as I continue planting.

And finally, here’s how I keep track of what to plant when: Skippy's Calendar App.
It's a planting calendar for a mobile device. I wrote this app and a friend coded it. I have it on my cell phone and refer to it all the time. You can adapt the calendar to your garden by putting in your last frost date. Please leave us a review! And let me know if you find any bugs. (All of the old bugs people have told us about have been fixed.)

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seedlings

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

red-winged blackbirds return - a sign of spring

I was surprised to hear a red-winged blackbird today. Everything is snow covered and seems quite wintery still. I looked up when they returned to my yard in previous years:

2015: March 27
2016: March 5
2018: February 25
2019: March 12

I also looked at the site Journey North, a citizen reporting site. These dates fit with their observations. Some springs are late, some early. This looks like a pretty average one based on the blackbirds.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

plan for my home vegetable garden

Microsoft PowerPoint - 2019 vegetable garden plans V2.pptx

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plan for my community garden

Microsoft PowerPoint - 2019 vegetable garden plans V2.pptx

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mom's vegetable garden plan

Microsoft PowerPoint - 2019 vegetable garden plans V2.pptx

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

happy new year

Today is the first page of a 365 page new book, a 365 day new garden season. A new slate, fresh soil, new plans to make. May all your New Years dreams come true.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving

Max Coots: A Harvest of People

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:

For generous friends, with smiles as bright as their blossoms.
For feisty friends as tart as apples;
For continuous friends who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us that we’ve had them.
For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;
For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn; and the others as plain as potatoes and as good for you.
For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as endless as zucchini, and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you through the winter.
For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time.
For young friends, who wind around like tendrils and hold us.

We give thanks for friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that we might live.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

today's garden work

It was a beautiful, bright and warm HALLOWEEN day! I was lucky to do garden work all day. There are not so many of these good outdoor days any more as the season moves on toward winter. Here's what I did:

- Finished up my seed list. (Last year I started a list of all the seed packets I have that includes the folder they are stored in and when I planted them. By going through my seeds again now I put misplaced ones back in correct folders and identified seed packets that were used up this year so I know what to buy for next year.)

- From my home garden I harvested some kale and bulb fennel, dug up 3 first year artichoke plants for overwintering in pots in the garage, and dug 4 or 5 Belgian endive plants and set them out to cure under several layers of row cover.

- I photographed 3 types of mushrooms growing in my home garden. One on untreated pine raised bed wood, and two on birch logs that edge my flower bed. I'll get these identified by an expert. I THINK two are edible, one possibly a turkey tail and another maybe an oyster mushroom. I have no idea what the third is.

- I unpacked 4 or 5 of the 10 or so micronutrients that I am collecting mail order to refurbish the soil of my small orchard (3 apple trees, a cherry and a peach).

- And finally, the task that wiped me out, I dug a bed of potatoes at my community garden. I recovered about 20 lbs of beautiful russets from the bed in soil that was REALLY heavy. I was thrilled to get such a good harvest and shouldn't complain, but it was a lot of work!! We have had an unusually rainy fall here and even though I dig potatoes only after a couple dry days, the soil is still heavy. I've dug two beds so far, one more to go, lots of rain in the forecast...

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

a year of garden photos

May 4: The peas are a few inches high, cover crop of winter rye is tall in some beds, and winter beds have greens growing.
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May 11: I just turned under the winter rye, crabapples and tulips are in bloom.
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May 30: I just planted tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. Alliums are blooming. 05-30 IMG_2790

June 18: Everything is growing, including the weeds in the paths. Those are asparagus fronds across the view in the foreground. 06-18 IMG_7487

August 24: Time for eating fresh vegetables! 08-24 DSC00070

October 15: Beds with summer crops are cleared and ready for planting with some small seedlings to overwinter. 10-15 IMG_6023

October 21: Overwintering beds are covered with a single layer of fabric. Soon I'll add a layer of greenhouse plastic. 10-21 IMG_6154