Wednesday, April 27, 2016

today's harvest

harvest IMG_5959

planting asparagus

I am SO busy with my Gardening Class added to spring planting on top of my usual work, but the asparagus I ordered arrived in the mail yesterday - so, it's time to plant asparagus! I need to move a few wheelbarrows full of compost over to the bed I have planned for them, turn it under, then plant the crowns. Last time I planted asparagus, I set the crowns in wrong. I dug them up and replanted them. So this is my second time planting crowns and I'll know what I'm doing (I hope). I'll add some pictures of the process.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

today's harvest

harvest IMG_5817

Today's harvest was a big bunch of spinach and a couple small heads of red romaine from my winter tunnel. I made sauteed spinach with pesto on pasta and pork tenderloin for dinner. It was yummy.

Monday, April 18, 2016

mom's garden

moms garden IMG_5798

My mom's garden looks pretty good. I planted winter rye that did very well over the winter. I am gradually working on turning it under. I planted Super Sugar Snap peas at the far end of this photo and have branches in for support. Mom's garlic looks really good. It's about the 3rd or 4th year now that I have used a portion of her harvest for replanting.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

transplanting tomatoes

IMG_3353 photo by Amelia Fannin

A group of volunteers from my community garden got together and transplanted tomato seedlings yesterday. We do this every year. They are late blight resistant tomatoes: Jasper, Mountain Merit, Defiant and Iron Lady. We transplanted about 360 seedlings. We raised them at home under lights and now they'll be raised by Sandra Curro at Underwood Greenhouses. They'll be distributed free to any of our 135 gardeners who want them. Extra plants will be for sale at Underwood Greenhouses beginning May 7: 20 School St, Belmont MA.

IMG_3347 photo by Amelia Fannin

Thursday, April 14, 2016

sprouting my seed potatoes

I like to sprout my seed potatoes before I plant them. They're all sitting on my kitchen windowsill now. I'm looking at them and wondering: does a watched potato sprout? (silly...)

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Potatoes are hardy enough to be planted outside now. One reason I'm sprouting them inside is I haven't prepared my potato beds yet. It's been chilly and I've been busy. But I have been researching how to prepare the beds. (They're at my community garden.) I looked up whether potatoes like a fertile soil and I found all sorts of different answers: some site say they're light feeders, others say heavy feeders! OK, so a Google advanced search of only .edu sites, voila!, they are heavy feeders. All the extension sites agree.

I didn't realize potatoes are heavy feeders and so I haven't given them much compost in the past. This year I want to put on a good 2 inches of compost. That means I'll need 1 cubic yd (27 cu ft). Compost is so expensive, especially when purchased by the bag. I think I'll bring compost from my home bins to my community garden. I've generated a lot of compost in the past year and I figure the effort to transport it is similar to transporting bags of compost. So that's on my to-do list next week.

At my Master Gardener class today, the speaker talked about SOIL. A great topic! The head of the soil testing lab at the Univ of Conn (Dawn Pettinelli) gave a super 5 hour soil course. She told us that pH is the most important parameter to keep track of in garden soils (drainage too). She mentioned that potato scab is one of the plant diseases affected by soil pH. (I hate digging up potatoes and finding them covered in scab.) She said that at a pH lower than 5.2, the scab pathogen won't grow (the potatoes will), so this is one approach to prevent scab. But if you lower the pH in your potato bed, it makes it hard to rotate plantings. So she said - grow resistant varieties. OK, I did select for scab resistance in the varieties I have this year. Hopefully I'll have scab-free potaotes this year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

seed potatoes arrived today

My seed potatoes from Moose tubers arrived today. My plan: let them sprout a couple weeks, while I amend their beds, then plant them. I have the tubers on my kitchen windowsill so I can watch them sprouting. To amend the beds, I want to add a good 2 inches of compost and dig it in. No scimping this year! I want my spuds in happy soil.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

master gardener class

I've signed up for a Master Gardener Certification class. My first class is tomorrow. It's a class offered by the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association held at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society Horticulture Center at Elm Bank and includes 60 hrs of volunteer time and 80 hrs of class time. I'm excited to learn everything about many topics including composting, turf, weed ecology, botany, soil science, etc, etc. All taught by experts in the fields. I am excited about the first class tomorrow - Soil Science by Dawn Pettinelli. I love soil! I also can't wait to hear the last class - Vegetables, taught by Roger Swain! Awesome! Roger Swain is my hero.

asparagus ordered

I finally remembered to order my asparagus crowns. 25 Jersey Supreme from Johnny's. They'll be delivered April 25. I'm planting a new bed in my backyard garden.

it's a bluebird day!

bluebird IMG_5436

Well, "a bluebird day" is supposed to mean a beautiful day. I can't say it's that today. Low temp was 16F last night. Still snow on the ground. The magnolia blossoms that were just opening have turned mushy brown. And I don't think the forecast is looking very good. But, yippee for the bluebirds! They are beautiful. (So are the gold finches that are turning bright yellow now.)

bluebird IMG_5441 bluebird IMG_5443

I'm hoping a bluebird pair will nest in one of my bird boxes this year. Last year I had both my boxes up against the woods on my garden fence. Not a good location for bluebirds, who need at least 80 ft of open area all around their box. So I had house sparrows. This year, I moved one of the nest boxes out to the center of the yard. Not quite 80 ft from the woods, more like 50 I think. But I'm hoping it will be enough. If not, maybe a swallow will like the box.

The bluebird in the picture perched on a post on my patio. I was able to take his picture from the kitchen window. It was the second time I saw him perch there today. The first time I got so excited that the dogs started barking and he was gone before I grabbed my camera. The second time I was very calm and quiet. The dogs didn't know anything was up.

sustainable farming

Here's an interesting article about sustainable farming in Cuba:

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

spring and then winter

We've had crazy weather for April. I was ready for spring. Well, the flowers and birds and my garden were ready too. Now we have 6 inches of snow on top of the spring plants. And icy temperatures in the 20sF. These are my photos, first of spring on April 2nd, then the return of winter on April 3rd.

My peas were sprouting, so I covered them with old oak leaves.
peas IMG_5339 peas IMG_5343

My garlic is 6 inches high. At least the snow will insulate it.
garlic IMG_5345 garlic IMG_5334

My winter tunnel will be fine. I pulled up both layers of covers. The snow just makes it hard to harvest the greens.
winter tunnel IMG_5336

The spring flowers were beautiful. These photos were taken during a mild rain. I suppose they'll all be mush once the snow melts.
magnolia IMG_5323 forsythia IMG_5333 blue weeds IMG_5349 daffodil IMG_5367 chionodoxa IMG_5325 azalea IMG_5380 andromeda IMG_5364

Here's the view of my garden and the pond beyond. One day apart.
garden view IMG_5377 garden view IMG_5414

Snow covered forsythia.
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I only went out to clear the driveway yesterday, but today, I'll need to go out in the backyard to tend the chickens. I'll walk down and see what the garden looks like. I'll check for those swallows. I didn't see any from the window. I think maybe they've gone back south.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

the swallows are here!

The swallows are here!! We got 3 inches of heavy wet snow overnight and everything is white. But there are swallows all over the place! I love to to see them swooping and soaring over the pond.

Someone asked for pictures. So I did my best a couple days later. It's pretty hard to photograph a swallow in flight. And it was too cold for me to try too long. This is what I got. One of the blurry swallow photos caught the mute swan pair in the background.
swallow IMG_5420 swallow with swan pair IMG_5421 swallows IMG_5419

Saturday, April 02, 2016

my seedlings

seedlings  IMG_5247 - Copy seedlings IMG_5253 - Copy seedlings IMG_5233 - Copy seedlings  IMG_5242 - Copy seedlings  IMG_5239 - Copy seedlings  IMG_5264 - Copy seedlings  IMG_5208 - Copy seedlings  IMG_5238 - Copy

spring is coming

This week: forsythia, magnolias, chionodoxa, and daffodils are beginning to bloom. Lilac leaves are opening. A pair of chickadees is building a nest outside my window. I hear their spring song "dee-dee". I hear "old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody". The swan pair on the pond is chasing Canada geese and little ring-necked ducks have gone on their migration further north.

Friday, April 01, 2016

my seedling shelves today

seedling shelves IMG_5316
My shelves are tucked in the corner of my garage this year. It stays about 60F out there. I think this low temp will be good for the seedlings. I'm thinking they'll grow a bit slower and end up a bit stockier and less leggy than when they were indoors at 70F. We'll see.

Here's the list of what I've planted so far: my 2016 planting list. I'm having more trouble than usual with failed germination this year. It's the old seed. I'm noting the ones that don't come up and throwing out the packages. Mostly it's the ones from back around 2009. (I suppose that's pretty old - I love to save seed.)