Saturday, March 31, 2007

signs of activity at local Community Garden

freshly worked soil
anemone gardens
It looks like gardeners have been working the soil in a couple of plots at the Cambridge Community Gardens. Two of about 50 plots have freshly turned soil. No plants yet, except for the little yellow anemone tucked along the side of one plot.

Belmont Victory Garden

Friday, March 30, 2007

the seeds arrived!

sand hill seeds pea seeds
OOoopps! I worried too soon. In today's mail my seeds arrived! That made my day. I opened the blue pod Capucijner peas to see what they look like. They are an interesting range of colors. My package labeled 15 seeds had 32 seeds. Good deal.

Opening the seed order was wonderful because I ordered some dukat dill and the seeds are very aromatic. My dining room smells like fresh dill now. I like to scatter some dill plants around the garden for the same reason - they smell so nice. Plus they reseed as little volunteers throughout the garden for several years afterwards - and the swallowtail caterpillars love it.

Pisum sativum

A nice surprise: Sand Hill included a free package of black-seeded simpson lettuce for trial. Nice. I can always use some extra lettuce.

OK. I'm really for planting now. Only problem is my garden is still a little frozen. I will try again tomorrow. Maybe I can break up the frost layer with the big shovel.

missing pea seeds

About 3 weeks ago I ordered some Blue Pod Capucijner peas from Sand Hill Preservation Center. Today, I emailed to ask where my seeds are. I am getting anxious, as its almost pea planting time! Sand Hill a very small, family-run organization in Iowa. They sell chickens, sweet potatoes and heirloom seeds. It seems like a nice business. But I keep watching for my pea seeds in the mail. I hope they come soon!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

my irrigation system

P3270015 P3270011
Well, you could almost call this garden work ... even though it only took about 5 minutes.

The first step in turning over my garden in the spring is to pull up my irrigation system and move it out of the way. The tubing mostly came out fine, but there is one area that is stuck in the ground. Frozen. It seems that the soil is still frozen down about 5-6 inches deep. In most areas my irrigation tubes are in the top inch or two of soil, but in the one area they are a bit deeper. I guess I'll just have to wait a few days until it thaws. I wouldn't be able to turn the soil anyway if its still frozen underneath.

Here's some information on my irrigation system: It was professionally installed about 4 years ago and is a grid of about 1/2 inch ID tubes that connect to my outdoor water and are controlled by a computerized panel inside. I have been very happy with the system. It saves me a lot of time (instead of hand watering as I used to do) and has been easy to maintain (the only maintenance is once in the fall year the irrigation company winterizes the system by blowing the pipes dry with a big compressor). My guess is it reduces water use by delivering the water directly onto the soil.

garden structures

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

pepper sprouts

two sprouts one sprout
It is now 12 days after I planted pepper seeds (on March 15). Lots of little sprouts have come up. The pepper package said the seeds would sprout in 10-21 days (at 70F) and then be ready to plant in the garden in about 8 weeks (about May 15). I've been incubating these seeds at about 75F by keeping them next to a light under my fish tank. I found I had to keep a sheet of glass over them, as they dried out very fast without it. Once the sprouts get a bit bigger I will bring them out to a window sill.


Monday, March 26, 2007

new fence

I am experimenting with this new fence. I need a way to keep the dog out of the garden. Sorry Skip! It just doesn't work to have him using it as a litter box. I need a fence that I can easily step over. Also it shouldn't interfere with my sprinklers. This fence is 28 inches high and quite sturdy. I was able to get two of the four posts into the soil - its still a bit too frozen where the other two need to go. The fence is designed to keep small animals out of the garden (e.g. rabbits). I think I'll end up digging it into the ground a bit so its quite not so tall.

garden structures

Sunday, March 25, 2007

spring flowers

How wonderful that spring is here. Finally I have flowers in the gardens. We got about 2 inches of snow late last night. I was worried when I saw it accumulating, but it melted by noon today. The soil is mostly thawed now. In some areas of the garden I hit frozen soil about 4 or 5 inches down. But I'm thinking maybe the peas can go in soon. Maybe this week.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Once again, the snow in my garden has melted. We had several warm and sunny days and the snow disappeared quickly. Soon I will be able to turn the soil and install my new edging fence. Maybe today?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

snow covered garden on the 2nd day of spring

I'm home after a brief vacation to southern california. This is what I've come home to. My garden still has 6 inches of snow cover. Where are the spring flowers? I would even enjoy a bit of spring mud!

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn." Hal Borland

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

my sister's garden in southern california

wagon with cilantrostrawberry blossoms
red plantred leaved succulent
blue pot with red leaved plantred flowers
cymbidium orchidmetal pot with geranium
Aahhhh.... Warm weather! I've been visiting my sister near Santa Barbara, California. She has a lovely garden with lots of pots, containers and ornaments. Many types of plants that I am not familiar with. This is a wonderful vacation from the New England snow!

More photos of the California flowers and some from our boat trip out to the beautiful Channel Islands are at Skippy's Backyard.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

We have about 10 inches of snow today with a good layer of ice. It seems like a good time to go south. I have a well-timed ticket out of here! I'll be back later.

Friday, March 16, 2007

about 6 inches so far

gnome at 11 pm
Gnome at 11 pm. Only the tip of his hat is showing. We have about 6 inches of fluffy snow and now the sleet and ice are starting to come down.

still snowing...

gnome at 6pm
At 6pm gnome is up to his ears.

so much for the spring thaw

Well its now 4pm. Gnome is up to his elbows in snow. Its windy and coming down fast. The birds are fairly frantic at my window feeder. Skippy is thrilled and has been out chasing his tail in the backyard. I guess we now have about 2-3 inches of the 6-10 predicted for tonight. I just hope it melts fast.

the snow is gone, briefly

garlic gnome garden
The snow is gone. If it would dry up a little, I could turn over the soil. But - there is some odd weather report for tomorrow for the Boston area. 8 inches of snow? We haven't had that much all winter. Maybe its just a bad dream....

Allium sativum

Thursday, March 15, 2007

planting the first seeds of the year

flat tank
I bought a package of hot peppers and decided I would try growing just one thing inside this year. Its alot of work to raise seedlings, so I haven't done it recently. Of all the seeds to pick, I chose peppers. Patrick at Bifurcated Carrots has told me that these need to be kept above 70F to sprout. So I have set up a way to keep them warm. They are next to a small light on the refugium in a cabinet under my salt water fish tank. I turn this light on at night and I've been checking the temperature near it - about 78F, same as my fish tank temperature. It should be a nice spot for the pepper seeds.

The pepper package says the seeds should sprout in 10-21 days (at 70F) and then be ready to plant in the garden in about 8 weeks (about May 15). Last year it wasn't warm enough (and dry enough) to plant peppers in my garden until May 23. I think this timing should be good.

As an aside, this is the second time I've touched dirt this year and the second allergy attack I've had. Of all of the things for a gardener to be allergic too! Thank goodness for antihistamines. I love playing in the dirt!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

more planning

I've been doing another revision of my 2007 garden planting diagram. I wanted to make sure I make room for all of the seeds I've mail-ordered this year. I also wanted to take into account the amount of sunlight different areas receive. We have a large tree to the east of the garden and a small tree to the west. As a result, only beds at the center of the garden get full sunlight. I am adding new space against the house, which will get full sunlight and, I expect, will also be warmer with the radiant heat from the south-facing wall.

I've found a couple of nice websites with information about plants' sunlight requirements: Growing Vegetables in the Shade and Ten Vegetables You Can Grow In Shade.

In general in this diagram, the colored blocks indicate plants that need full sun and lots of warmth. These are the fruiting vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, squash, cukes and beans. The green shaded blocks are the leaf and root vegetables that are OK with less sunlight, like lettuce, beets and carrots. I have bought lots of different greens seeds this year, like endive, chard, many lettuce varieties, kale, etc. I will seed these every 2 or 3 weeks all through the year as they were a great crop last year. I want to make sure I leave enough space for them, but not too much.

So here it is - another, and probably the final, revision of MY PLAN. The soil has almost thawed and I hope planting will start soon.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

beginning to thaw

March 11

aerial views of my home vegetable garden

spring thaw

mud check
The garden is thawing! I went out with my shiny new shovel and checked in a few areas. Some places it goes 2 inches into the mud before it hits the frozen ground underneath. Some places are still ice covered and the shovel doesn't go in at all.

I'm pleased to report that my garlic looks like it has survived the winter. The sprouts are small, but look like they'll begin growing as soon as they can.

I'm planning to put up a low fence around the vegetable garden areas. I made my first visit of the season into a garden supply store and bought some fencing material. Time to start keeping the dog out of the vegetable area, even though he's really cute.

Friday, March 09, 2007

signs of spring

snowdrops garlic gnome garden
Finally, a few signs of spring in my garden. Pussy willows are out and snowdrops are opening. My gnome has emerged from the snowcover. The birds are plentiful and signing loudly. A lovely carolina wren was singing today, as well as the usual chickadees, cardinals, and sparrows. I am a bit concerned about my garlic. Its still under a couple inches of snow and the tips are looking ragged. I hope it survived.

sure signs of spring

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

much too cold

frozen garden
I thought our weather was getting better, but its gotten colder again. In the single digits this week. My yard is an ice sheet! No outdoor gardening any time soon. I didn't want to go outside to take a picture this week - this is the view from my diningroom (my office) where I spend alot of my time working these days. Its hard to believe that it will be spring in 2 weeks! Looks like it may be a cold spring in New England.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

bushes by the house

bushes by house
These are the bushes I'd like to remove this spring. Definitely the two (rhodo and yew) to the left, and maybe also the yew at the right. There's also a very overgrown yew just out of sight behind the big rhododendron, which will also come out. I've also been thinking about removing the raspberry and blueberry bushes in the foreground. (Maybe too much removal for one year...) The berries are about 10 years old and did well for several years, but not recently.

My dad would like the rhodo and maybe a yew. Another small yew I may move into a space at the back side of our house. We've been thinking about how we will remove these plants. We'll need to leave a root ball. The plants are pretty big. Maybe they'll make it, maybe not. The main thing is to remove them and make additional vegetable garden space.