Sunday, January 31, 2010

more on the photo contest

I'm still playing with my macro lens for the January "what's that" photo contest. One of the joys of an on line contest - I can play with my entry til the last second. Jan 31 at midnight. I had entered the door knob, but have now switched to the pumpkin. February's theme is "love portraits". I'm looking forward to a mid summer contest, theme something like "vegetable garden". Or a March contest themed "seedlings".

Microsoft PowerPoint - Presentation1

Saturday, January 30, 2010

january full moon

full moon with phone camera

The January full moon. I only had my cell phone camera with me tonight. Its beautiful even at low resolution.

Check out Dan's blog for a high res photo viewed from 550 miles west of me (link).

Friday, January 29, 2010

orange Jarrahdale pumpkin

orange jarrahdale pumpkin

I grew this pumpkin in my community garden plot this summer. It was a beautiful shade of mottled green-blue-gray when I picked it (photo). I ended up with three 6-10 lb Jarrahdale's from two plants. One I made into fantastic pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread at Thanksgiving time. The other I gave to my brother and he did the same. This is the third. Its now on my dining room table and has ripen to bright yellow-orange. I'm thinking about baking with it soon (tomorrow).

Jarrahdale's have very thick, flavorful, and bright orange flesh. It will be enough to make several recipes. I love pumpkin bread, so I'll definitely make this. Any suggestions for other pumpkin recipes?

Here's the pumpkin soup recipe:

adapted from Marci Arthur

1 Cooking Pumpkin, about 2 lbs. Cut into quarters, seeded and peeled
3 tablespoons butter
2 large leeks, including 1-inch pale leaves, cut into ½-inch thick slices
6 cups chicken stock
2-1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced to make 1 tablespoons
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup sour cream or creme fraiche
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Steam pumpkin til tender - about 15 minutes. Scoop pumpkin flesh into balls and set aside. (OR you can bake in foil for 1 hour, cool and then scoop out flesh. OR, if you are strong and want to use the shell to serve the soup, scoop out raw flesh.)

In soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add all but 2 of the leek slices and sauté for two to three minutes, or until nearly translucent. Add broth, minced ginger, salt and pepper and pumpkin balls. Bring just below a boil, reduce heat.
Simmer until pumpkin is very tender, about 10 minutes. Puree.

To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls, garnish with spoonful of sour cream, cilantro and leek slices as desired.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

gardening by the moon calendar

moon calendar by my plant shelves

I have been looking forward to hanging this "Gardening by the Moon" calendar by my planting shelves this year. And tonight when the moon is so full seemed an appropriate time to dig it out of a drawer and hang it up.

It seems that above the ground plants should be planted on the waxing moon and roots on the waning. Or is it the other way around? This is new for me and will be fun to read about over the coming months.

The calendar has a number of planting tips and timing information. It looks great on the wall. It comes in three version for long, mid and short growing seasons.

(Caren Catterall at Divine Inspiration Publications sent me this calendar free to review.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

photo contest

primary light levels sunlight purple light
gray on gray reds and greens 7 mixed up 001 - 2
reds and greens 4 evening respite 001 - Copy 99 suncatcher 2
silver light green starburst creeping sky blue

These are my choices of photos for the January Globe photo contest. The theme is "What's That?". Photos must be taken this month. I think I can only enter one of these.

Its a fun contest. Here's a link to see all entries at Flickr. Check out this one: link. Do you think they are tomatoes? And this one: link, cauliflower?

Of mine, I like this one best: Can you guess what it is?

light levels

I have ended up entering "primary" the one at the top left with primary colors - red, yellow and blue. These are those lights that are on all night. If you try to photograph and move the camera the effect can be interesting. (Or not.) I'm always amazed at all the little lights when everything is supposed to be off.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

paperwhite bulbs

paperwhite bulbs

I just started these bulbs my brother gave me. It takes 4-8 weeks from starting til blooming.

melted snow on the south slopes

old road on the south slope

After a couple inches of rain yesterday, we have wonderful stretches of BARE GROUND! And lots of slush and mud. I know its just a spring teaser and we'll have more snow and cold, but its nice.

A friend asked today if I've planted any seeds yet. No, none yet. But it won't be long now. My plan was to get going mid Feb, but I think I'll start sooner this year. Maybe next week. For now, I just have the sweet potatoes - I'm gradually collecting a few more of different varieties from the supermarket and hoping a few will sprout.

winter farmers markets and CSA shares

There are a few Farmers Markets still open around here in MA. Even in the snowy cold of winter. Saturday morning markets in Wayland, Natick, and Greenfield sound great. They offer local honey, wool, dairy items, eggs, salad greens and lots of other things. I may have to find time for a country drive this weekend.

And Gretta (from Shared Harvest) just emailed me that she has extended season shares still available. Also, there will be a Farmers Market Fair Feb 25 in Arlington. 25 local farms will participate and you can find out what they offer and line up a share for the summer.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

tag cloud advice

Can anyone point me to code for old Blogger templates to insert a tag cloud into my sidebar? I've been looking for this forever.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

sweet potato sprouts

sweet potato sprout
sweet sprouts in  cup sweet sprouts under the fish tank

One of my sweet potatoes is sprouting well, but very slowly. No growth on the other. I thought maybe they need more warmth than they get on the window sill, so I moved them to an 80*F location under my fish tank. I hope to buy a few more of different varieties soon.

pear buds - is anyone home?

pear branch

I'm looking closely for even a little sign of life on the espaliered pear trees at my plot. Nothing yet. They're still hibernating. Not like the pussy willows that are opening already.

I have two pear trees at my plot. A Bartlett and a Parker. The Bartlett leafed out well last year, but there was no sign of life on the Parker other than a couple branches that didn't look quite dead. It was their first summer at the plot after transplanting the previous fall. I'm interested to see what happens this summer.

not much

wheel barrow

This is what's going on at my plot ......

Thursday, January 21, 2010

seeds have arrived!

free seeds for the hungry seed box

The seeds of a new garden!

All my seed orders came today. So many exciting new things. I'm pleased I remembered to order inoculant - for peas, beans, broad beans and soy beans. And the green plastic mulch looks interesting.

Territorial send a free packet of carrot seeds to grow for the food pantry. A very nice thought. This is a perfect vegetable to donate. (I brought butternut squash last year, which worked out well, too.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

lichen on gray birch

lichen on gray birch

I will be experimenting with macro photos this month for a photo contest. I often look into contests, but have never yet entered one. Maybe this time. Its a bit of a challenge to find a good subject this time of year.

seed order placed

My seed order is placed. I ordered:
- about 30 varieties from 3 mail order companies (blue text)
- green plastic mulch for melons and squashes to increase soil temp and reduce weeding
- bean, pea, broad bean and soybean inoculants
- clover cover crop seed

Much of the seed I will plant this year is left over from previous years (green text). Some is also self collected.

Here's my list of varieties.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

belmont edible yards

Belmont will have a effort this year to encourage edible gardening. The Farmers Market will purchase fruit bushes and trees at wholesale prices and sell at cost at the Market. I am very excited by this.

Our area of Belmont was a pear orchard in the 1800's. Mostly Bartlett's. It seems only proper for the new program to offer this pear, which does well here. Maybe dwarf varieties are available for small yards. Since it needs cross pollination, it would be nice if many yards had these trees.

Ideas for the varieties to offer are: blueberries, raspberries, dwarf pears and lingnon berries. Any other ideas?

I am planning to landscape my front yard this spring. I think it will be fun to incorporate some berry bushes among the shrubs. Also some vegetables. I will have to start working on a plan soon.

home again

Much of our snow cover back up here in Massachusetts has disappeared by now. Our weather is in the 40's in the day. Now that I am home, I'll collect planting trays and soil. I'd like to get a few seeds started, even though its too early. And I have salad sprouts waiting to go too. Spring is around the corner.... somewhere....

more florida photos

pink flowers grapefruits 1
lemons 2 kitchen table orchid

Friday, January 15, 2010

florida fruits

grapefruits 2

It is so wonderful to get fresh Florida fruits from the backyard (and front yard) trees.

About 30 years ago, my sister planted a seed from a grapefruit and now there is an enormous tree in my parents backyard. The tree is COVERED!! this year with so many fruits hanging low and pulling the branches to the ground. And then my grandmother started a couple avocados from seed and they too are 40 foot tall trees with many fruits now.

My parents neighbors to the right have a lemon tree (with orange lemons) and it is always so heavy with fruit that he says - please come and pick them whenever you want. The neighbors to the left say the same about their two papaya trees. Two yards down, we admire the mango tree. Maybe someday I'll move down here to paradise.

I do think the taste is special when produce is homegrown, picked and eaten within a couple hours. And free gifts of the land.

lemons 1

my mom's seedlings


These are my mom's little tomato and basil seedlings. They are sunning on the front porch down here in Florida.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

the gardener is on the beach

Copy of 122

This is Naples Florida, way down south on the west coast of Florida. I abandon the New England weather for a few days in the middle of every winter. To visit my parents and get some sun on my face and sand in my toes.

The weather here has been very cold, for this area, for the past few days. There has been damage to the local crops and plants around my parents house. The papaya trees next door looked singed and the orchid flower has some spots.

My Mom has started growing a few tomato and basil seedlings from seed. They are a few inches tall now and I have photos of them to post soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

willow catkins are opening

willow fur

You have to search around a bit and look close, but some of the pussy willow buds are opening. Don't know if its fair to call these a sign of spring.

Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 vegetable varieties list

I'm working on my seed list. Here's a list of all the varieties I've grown for the last few years with notes on how I liked them. The 2010 column lists varieties I'll grow again this year. I need to go through it and add new varieties I'll try.

Its exciting that the sun is getting a little brighter by the day. I noticed pussy willow buds today that are getting furry. My sweet potatoes sprouts on the window sill are almost starting to grow - almost ...

2010 vegetable varieties list

Sunday, January 10, 2010



My winter coat isn't half as nice as Skippy's.

We did try the new dog boots the other day. I won't show a picture because they look silly. They are a thick rubber balloon material, color coded by size. Skippy's size is bright purple. But they prevent snowballs in the paws very well. These are a big problem for Skip when we have fresh powder.

Don't know why they can't be a more dignified color - like black. Skippy looks good in basic black. Even dark green or dark blue. But bright purple!! OMG. People who walked by would quietly stare, one couple giggled. They don't ask, they just stare, so you know it seems odd. But we will endure as they worked well and Skippy liked them and we doesn't care too much about the stares. Here's a picture of a dog with the purple rubber boots (notice he wouldn't let them show his face). It seems he even has socks on under them!

Friday, January 08, 2010

sprouting sweets

I'm experimenting with a couple sweet potatoes from the store. A white one and an orange one. I cut off an inch of each and put them in a glass of water. I'm hoping for a few sprouts I can pot up then plant in the garden when spring comes. I didn't do so well with mail ordered slips last year. Maybe too early to start, but I'm looking forward to getting the garden going.

skippy in the snow

skippy in the snow
skippy 2 skippy 1

I will take photos of Skippy in playing the snow soon. He just loves it. Rolling, running and he buries his head under the fresh powder. So silly.

my plot in the snow

plot 1

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I came across a nice post at Johnny's about January "garden" tasks.

Get the greenhouse ready. I don't have a greenhouse, but the wonderful thought of working in the sun in the middle of the winter makes me wish for one: "The ideal way to spend a sunny day in winter? Go to the greenhouse and soak up some Vitamin D while you get organized for transplant production. Your goal is to inspect, clean, repair, and take inventory." Rather than a greenhouse, I'm getting my plant lights and shelves ready in the sunniest window of my house.

Inventory your seeds. I'm also going through my old seeds before I order more. This is the number of years you can expect old seeds to stay viable:
* 1 year: onions, parsnips, parsley, salsify, and spinach;
* 2 years: corn, peas, beans, chives, okra, dandelion;
* 3 years: carrots, leeks, asparagus, turnips, rutabagas;
* 4 years: peppers, chard, pumpkins, squash, watermelons, basil, artichokes;
* 5 years: most brassicas, beets, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, muskmelons, celery, celeriac, lettuce, endive, chicory.

As I go through the old packets, I'm putting together a variety list so I can start keeping track of what does well for me.