Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the gardener is vacationing on Nantucket

Actually there is sun out here on Nantucket. What luck - to vacation the one day when the island clears. The locals here say its the first day in forever with blue sky. But I hear that the mainland is still as wet as ever......

Sunday, June 28, 2009



The left/top area is neglected this year - the right is doin' good. I'm enjoying the big rambler rose on the fence as the blossoms open. Its a great year for it - an old rose called Dorothy Perkins. The blossoms get bleached to pale pink by the sun, but it is VERY dark magenta this year (no sun).

Friday, June 26, 2009

a year of harvests

harvest 2

I put together photos of my garden harvests from the past year. I like to see how the crops changes from green to fruits to roots and back again. Also interesting how much I harvested last May and none this May. What's my favorite harvest? A tough question. I enjoyed growing that big pumpkin!

harvest photos

slide show of harvest photos

Thursday, June 25, 2009

summer nor'easter moves out

a patch of blue

Good-bye! and good riddance! to gray skies and rain.

I think all of New England was cheering the tiny patches of blue sky today. But still, we have the odd air flow with clouds moving in from the north. Our summer weather normally comes from the west. Normal, that was until this year....

"A nor'easter gets its name from its continuously strong northeasterly winds blowing in from the ocean ahead of the storm and over the coastal areas...some low pressure systems associated with nor'easters may develop tropical storm characteristics such as an eye in the center of the low"

The current NOAA satellite loop for today shows our weather has resumed a westerly flow. I suppose I just haven't noticed it yet. I'll check again tomorrow.... Right now, I hear rumbling and see lots of lighting action off to the north. Skippy and I are hanging out of the porch watching to see what kind of storm we get.

roof top gardening - an inspiring article in the NY Times

A friend sent this nice link: Urban Farming, a Bit Closer to the Sun

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

prime lettuce season

Boston lettuce heads
boston lettuce head prizehead lettuce

I am SO excited to have big heads of Boston lettuce forming. I haven't grown this variety before and it is just beautiful! I may have a new favorite lettuce variety. My old favorite, Prizehead, is doing good too.

It seems that the slugs prefer Prizehead to Boston.

WARNING: The photo below may be offensive to some gardeners. Don't scroll down if you are bothered by the sight of slugs.

slug? what slug?

slug on lettuce

This slug is so bold he was on my lettuce in midday! (They're supposed to be nocturnal.) Well, he may not have realized it was midday with all the clouds and gloom we've had for the past month. Or, he realized I have much more lettuce than I can possibly eat.

I haven't done anything yet to eliminate the slugs, though I've seen their damage for several weeks now. I moved the melons and bok choy they were eating and that stopped that problem. They're in certain spots in my garden. Now they're on the outer leaves of my lettuce and the lower bean leaves. I'd rather not put down the slug bait (its very toxic to dogs) and they really aren't doing much damage.

(BTW - I picked this guy up and threw him way out into the weeds.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

today's harvest


A nice crop of bok choy, a big pile of spinach and lots of lettuce (Prizehead and broadleaved escarole).

my plot today

Copy of IMG_8661

summer squash - big flowers on tiny plants

summer squash Anne Arundale melon
Waltham butternut crane muskmelon
sugar baby watermelon
charantois melon jarrahdale pumpkin

I've collected photos here of my squashes. From top: Zucchini Cashflow, Zephyr yellow squash, Anne Arrundale Muskmelon, Waltham Butternut, Crane Muskmelon, Sugar Baby Watermelon, Charentais Muskmelon, Jarrahdale Pumpkin. Not photo'd are Starship Pattypan, Sunburst Pattypan, Big Rock Pumpkin, and Baby Pam Pumpkin.

Some look good, some have seriously suffered from slug damage. I started with 4 or 5 plants of each. Probably most disappointing is the single pant of Charentais melon I have left. :(

Some years I have big leafy squash plants and few flowers - this year lots of big flowers on tiny little plants! I've been trying to figure this out.

One clue (I think) is that usually I have lots of zucchini already by now.

This year, its not that the flowers are early, but the leaves are late. I bet the flowers are triggered by daylight length (luckily the clouds aren't affecting this) and the leaf growth is very sensitive to temperature, which has been cool.

Monday, June 22, 2009

father's day and first day of summer

Microsoft PowerPoint - Presentation1

Summer is here!

But who would know?! A Nor'easter in New England is bringing us heavy overcast, winds, and more rain....

Summer began 1:45 A.M. EDT on Sunday, June 21, 2009. This day had the longest daylight of the year - and we couldn't see any of it. Also Father's Day.

I gave my dad a couple of gardening gifts: I cleaned up his old red garden trowel that I had "borrowed" accidentally for the past few weeks (as he's been asking for it back) and I put a nice bow on it. He gradually recognized it and was quite amused. Also, another brand new cultivator and a big red begonia in a hanging pot. And we went up to his house, made him dinner, and drank his martinis. A nice visit.

Outside was 60*F, dark and WET. I took bunch of garden photos and got soaking wet. Dad's garden looks beautiful in the rain.

dad's garden 10
dad's garden 6 dad's garden 5
dad's garden 12 dad's garden 4
dad's garden 9 dad's garden 7

Saturday, June 20, 2009

obama foodarama

Here's a nice new blog - http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/.

"The Obama's harvested 12 pounds of snap peas and 73 pounds of lettuces and a single lone cucumber this week.

"The First Lady gave a remarkable, policy-dense speech--considering she was primarily addressing fifth graders--and discussed food deserts, food security and food justice; getting more fresh and nutritious foods into the USDA’s Child Nutrition programs; the critical issue of reducing diet-related disease; supporting local and smaller food producers; encouraging urban and community gardening."

3 cheers for community gardening! Go Michelle!


today's harvest

This is my harvest from two days ago. Baby bok coy and spinach. (Both a bit bolted.) We're grilling the bok choy tonight.

Friday, June 19, 2009

compost tumbler assembly

tumbler assembly 1 tumbler assembly 2
tumbler assembly 6 tumbler assembly 3
tumbler assembly 4 tumbler assembly 8

A couple weeks ago I received a wonderful delivery in the mail - a compost tumbler. I'm reviewing this product for World's Best Organic Tumbler.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, the assembly was a family project. Skippy supervised and then took a nap. I took the photos. And hubby and son did all the work. (A good deal for me!)

This project took "us" 1 hour. (I noticed Carol at May Dreams Gardens assembled her's in 30 min - maybe all the extra supervision and photos wasn't all that helpful...) We read and re-read instructions. And some serious muscle power was required. But after it was done, we felt very accomplished (Skippy was well rested).

I now need to read the instructions on how to use the tumbler. In the meantime, I'm just throwing my kitchen scraps into it. I figure I'll use it to make compost from my kitchen scraps and use my open bins (which are falling apart) for my yard waste.

My opinion so far: I think it looks FANTASTIC in my back yard! Very sturdy. I like the way it keeps the squirrels out of my kitchen waste. And its very easy to use. I like the way it opens and closes and tumbles.

I did read that you should fill it up all at once for best results. I'm not doing this because I don't have all my kitchen scraps available all at once. But so far, so good. Once its full, I'll let it sit and its only supposed to take a few weeks to make compost.

tumbler assembly 9 tumbler assembly 10
tumbler assembly 12

my bins and systems for composting compost

Thursday, June 18, 2009

wok cooking

garlic scapes in wok
garlic scape noodles wok meal

Encouraged by my pretty little bok choy, I have taken up wok cooking. I think this will be my preferred method this summer. So versatile:

- only one pot to clean
- I like to see everything cut up and laid out ahead of time
- delicious

My Mom gave me this recipe:

sliced pork lion
chopped garlic (I used scapes)
cooked thin spaghetti noodles
chopped greens (bok choy or cabbage)
chopped carrots
chopped onions
peanut oil

Cook the spaghetti and drain. Add some oil and garlic to wok then add spaghetti noodles. Stir fry briefly. Transfer to bowl and place in warming oven. Add more oil to wok, add pork

Its a great basic recipe that I have tried with a couple different substitutions now. Try chicken instead of pork. Add some soy sauce and hot sesame oil. Try rice in place of noodles.

new potatoes

new potatoes

Talk about delicious! Ahhhh....

I let a number of volunteer potatoes plants grow this year in my paths and my cabbage bed. I guess I missed some spuds last fall and they sprouted this spring. This week, the plants began shading the cabbage too much and I pulled them out. The prize was a few tiny little baby red potatoes on the roots.

These were so young and tender that the skins almost rubbed off when I washed them.

I boiled them 3 minutes, then threw them in the pan to roast next to the steak kebabs. I can't even describe how good they were!

When are potatoes ripe? I was asked about how early you can harvest potatoes. And what about unripe, green potatoes? Aren't they poisonous?

Oh my. Big question.

It turns out that green potatoes ARE toxic (if you eat an entire large green one, you'll probably feel sick). But the green is not from being unripe, but is produced when potatoes are exposed to sunlight. This causes them to make chlorophyll, which is green but not poisonous, and solanine, which is toxic but not green.

So any age or size potato can be green/toxic if it grows above ground, but baby potatoes of any age are fine to eat.

I've read that you can start to harvest potatoes 2-3 weeks after the plants finish blooming. (I pulled these baby potatoes before the plants had even budded and they were yummy.) Early potatoes will be small.

Potatoes will be fully grown when the plants die back. Die back timing depends on the variety. Last year my fingerlings died back in mid July. Last year, I harvested some potatoes then, some in the early fall and still more in the spring after the ground thawed. All were delicious.

It seems to me that you can never dig all of the potatoes in a bed and there'll always be a new crop of volunteers the next year.

potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)

my plot

plot 1
plot 2 plot 3

Click on photos for crop labels.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

potted rosemary

rosemary 4

I bought four new rosemary plants this spring and planted them together in a big pot (at right). Four different varieties. I didn't realize rosemary came in different varieties. I have "BBQ", "Salem, "Prostrate" and an unnamed plant grown by Chef Jeff. I wonder if we'll detect any taste differences?

My three year old rosemary plant is getting woody (at left). I think this is just something that happens to older plants. Especially after spending a couple nasty New England winters indoors. Dry air, dark and gloomy - not really very pleasant.

Anyway, rosemary is definitely a spice to enjoy. We put it on grilled pizza, roast chicken, roast vegetables, scrambled eggs, etc. And potatoes - ah yes, fresh little red spring potatoes grilled with rosemary..... yum!

culinary herbs

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

fava flowers

fava flower

These just starting blooming. My fava bean crop will be late this year because I planted very late.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

tomato blossoms

tomato 2
tomato 1 tomato 3

My first tomato flowers! The rule of thumb is 30 days from flower to fruit, so, lets see, that's July 14 for my first tomato. That would be super timing for me. I usually get my first tomatoes at the end of July.

In fact, for the past THREE years, my first ripe tomato has been on the same day - July 31! Here's my 2008 first, my 2007 first, and my 2006 first.

To get earlier tomatoes, this year I planted a few tomato seeds very early (Feb 21) and the rest at my normal timing (March 25). The early plants are about 2.5 feet tall now and the others are half that height. Only the early ones have flowers now. The early ones are New Girl, Beefsteak and Brandywine.

I like the way the strings are working so far. Its fast and easy to wrap them around the growing tomato vines. To maximize space, I pick off the suckers and plant the tomatoes close (12 inches). This way I'll get very tall plants. And (HOPEFULLY) lots of tomatoes...

tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

radish martini !!

radish martini

I am hosting a CSA distribution site this summer for Picadilly Farm. The first distribution was this week. They have beautiful vegetables! Lettuce, spinach, hakuri turnips, arugula and beautiful spicy radishes. Definitely worth toasting to!

martinis and radish

Topic: martini!

BBQ'd pizza with grilled garlic scapes

garlic scapes
scape pizza BBQ

I picked a big bowl of garlic scapes today. We sauteed them whole in olive oil over the wood fire. Then we chopped and sprinkled them on pizza and grilled the pizza on the fire. The pizza sauce was the last of my garden tomatoes, stored frozen, from last summer. The salad was my first heads of this year's garden lettuce.

Nice to finish the last of last year together with the first of this year.

garlic (Allium sativum)