Wednesday, September 28, 2016

low reservoir

empty reservoir IMG_8426

This is the Cambridge reservoir today. We've had a little rain in the past couple days, so there is actually some water in it. At times this summer, it's been just a trickle. I don't know how the ducks and fish have survived (if they have).

Yes, the big gardening topic here is still the drought.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

sweet potato harvest

I harvested my sweet potatoes today. I just had on small row that I grew at my community garden. With a very bad vole population this year, I was afraid I find all sorts of half eaten tubers. But only one had nibble marks. And many of the tubers were pretty good size. I was surprised to see several were sprouting already - underground. What's that about? The hot weather? I'm glad I got them out of the ground a bit early. I normally would wait 'til after a frost but I thought I'd get it done now.

sweet potato harvest IMG_8218

peppermint Swiss chard for the food pantry

chard for food pantry IMG_8201 It was very pretty, but I dislike chard. I only planted a little just to see if I might like it - not - and it's been growing like crazy all summer. So I harvested it and donated a big bunch. They appreciated it.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

another farmers market

I sold honey again at our local farmers market. This time I sold all 2 dozen lbs I brought with me and took orders for about 30 more. Now I've sold all of the honey I hoped to sell - about 60 lbs, half of what I had. The trick was bringing Suzie! She is a great sales dog! She got lots of attention at our little table.

honey at farmers market IMG_8179 gourds at farmers market IMG_8180

I also brought a basket full of gourds to sell. I sold a few at 50 cents each, but not many. I thought they looked pretty and maybe helped sell my honey. These were all from one giant vine that was a volunteer in my garden. I let it grow with no idea what it was. One of those compost contributions. I also had a nice butternut squash volunteer as well as a million tomatoes. the butternut produced four nice squashes - I pulled all the tomatoes.

today's harvest

todays harvest IMG_8189

Friday, September 23, 2016

a walk in the woods

late summer woods IMG_8158

Suzie and I took a nice long walk in the woods today. the evening sunlight filtering through the trees was lovely. I took many photos. After looking st then I'm thinking that they look like late fall or early spring - bare trees and leaves fallen already. That's our dryness I guess. It was lovely just the same.

Suzie has learned to pose for the camera She's pretty fast though. She wants to hear that click and then get to her treat. Here's one that I managed to get somewhat in focus. The log anyway - if not the dog.

suzie IMG_8165

Monday, September 19, 2016


We got an inch and a half of rain last night! Wow. And more is on the way. Another 10 inches or so will fill up our reservoirs. (Not to be greedy, an inch and a half is great :-)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

our drought continues

drought IMG_7990 drought IMG_7997 drought IMG_7999

Rain seems to go north or south of us. It's so dry here. I'm watering my vegetable garden, but that's all. Or regulations are to hand water only, between 6 pm and 9 am, so I go out at night (sometimes with a flashlight) and water.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

today's harvest

harvest IMG_7989
my honey table at farmers market IMG_1691

Here's a picture of me just after I set up my table at the Farmer's Market. I ended up selling 15 jars. Pretty good I suppose for a very small Farmer's Market.

Friday, September 16, 2016

honey for sale

I'll be selling my honey tomorrow at the Lincoln MA farmers market. Come by and try some if you're in the area. It's in the morning, 9:30 am to 1:30 pm. It will be the first time I've sold my honey. I wonder how it will go. I've produced over 100 lbs since I started keeping bees two years ago.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The seasons are moving on. The full Harvest Moon is tomorrow. Tonight the sky is like daylight. The great horned owl is hooting. I haven't heard him (her?) since last spring. The garden is winding down.

I'm thinking of where to plant my garlic and about setting up my winter bed. My fall greens are coming along (I hand water them every night). The last of my pickling and canning is nearing, especially since I had no fruit this year with our odd weather. Our whole area has no peaches or nectarines. I had no blossoms on any of my spring blooming trees. But gardeners are always looking ahead. I think next year will be a great year with lots of pears, apples, peaches, etc.

Well, I can't really complain about this year's garden. My tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash have been great. And my greens. All in all, a really good garden year so far. I'm just a bit worried about this drought. It's really bad.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


watermelon IMG_7829

I rarely get a watermelon to grow to ripeness. I'm wondering if I picked this one too soon as its supposed to turn completely yellow. Well, there are several more on the vines. I'm waiting to cut this one open until I have my martini glass ready!

Variety: Golden Midget from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

today's harvest

harvest IMG_7813

This is what I picked today from my community garden plot. That's Suzie helping me out. I'll have to donate some of the butternut to the Pantry I think - it's probably way too much for us. Especially since I let a volunteer plant grow over my chicken coop at home and it's a giant plant producing another 4 or 5 squashes.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

fall vegetable varieties

These are the varieties I planted for our fall seedling sale:

Broccoli, Bay Meadows and Arcadia
Kale, Nash's Green and Vates
Beets, Touchstone Gold and Red Ace
Cilantro, Calypso
Swiss Chard, Bright Lights and Peppermint
Calendula, Flashback
Escarole, Natacha
Lettuce, Cherokee, Monte Carlo, and Allstar Mix
Bok Choi, Black Summer and Win Win
Mustard, Scarlet Frills
Spinach, Emperor

I'll let you know what grows well. This year, it seems very dependent on the weather. Who knows what fall will bring here in the NE!!

fall seedling sale

We're still growing! Here's a link to our Facebook page with photos of our fall seedling sale. Belmont Victory Gardens fall seedlings on Facebook

Friday, September 09, 2016

fall seedlings on a hot September day

fall seedlings IMG_7781

I brought my fall seedlings inside to stay cool today. They're covering most of my dining room floor. It's mid-September and it's going up in the 90's!! Hard to believe.

I'm growing the seedlings for our community garden, but it's been a struggle to keep them happy this year. They'd like cool weather. They were outside the last 2 weeks, but now they're inside. Tomorrow we'll sell them and gardeners will plant them out. Fortunately the forecast is cloudy and cool (low 80's) with scattered showers.

I'm growing the seedlings since it's hard to find a good selection of fall seedlings in stores and fall is (usually) a great time to grow vegetables. The cooler (usually), fewer bugs and diseases, and gardens usually have extra space with summer crops gone. But it's just been so hot this year! I tried growing them outside when they were tiny, but I lost several pots in the hot sun, so they all came inside. I handled most on my plant shelves under lights in the cool garage. A few others stayed on a window sill.

I have 10 trays of plants, 11 types of plants, some with two or three varieties. About 166 4-packs in all. Gardeners have pre-ordered most of these, but we'll have a few extras for other people. They're $1 each, proceeds will support our garden (especially the huge water bill we have this year!).

Thursday, September 08, 2016

my garden today

my garden IMG_7746b

My garden is overgrown with all sorts of vegetables and flowers. I love it!!

My tomatoes are tall - 15 feet or so. Peppers, at least 5 feet tall. Squashes, watermelon, and beans are rambling all over. I'm harvesting, canning, and pickling almost every day. And weeding, staking, planting fall crops, and pulling past summer crops.

Gradually the summer is moving towards fall. We have temps of 90F coming tomorrow, but that seems like it may be our last hot day. Our nights are cooling off. All we need is a bit of rain. Hurricane Hermine brought us about 0.3 inches. Nice, but not really very much. I think we're still near 10 inches short here this year.

I think the dryness and heat have helped to make this a really good year for many vegetables - as long as we've been able to irrigate. My tomatoes are great and many other nearby gardeners tell me the same. Lots of big fruits and low amounts of fungal diseases. Also peppers, eggplants, melons, cukes, squashes and other warm weather vegetables are doing great.

today's harvest

harvest IMG_7730

Hurricane Hermine knocked over two of my tomato supports, so I ended up with some green tomatoes that fell off. I hope they'll all ripen. I got the support back up and the tomato vines strung up again. I added extra stakes and lashing so I hope it can handle another storm.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

in memory

Microsoft PowerPoint - SKIPPY.pptx

These are photos of Skippy. It's been a week and a half since he died. Still hard for me. He was with me nearly every day for 11 years and was such a vibrant, active, protective, and smart dog. Good bye Skip, my friend. I miss you.

Skippy was a Portuguese water dog. He was bred by C-Lion PWDs in Bedford MA. His mom was Clio and his dad, Brisco. He was born the day before Easter in 2005. Skippy was my companion. He was an unruly pup and because of this we did a lot of training with him. Maybe his unruliness was because we were novices and he was our first dog, maybe it was his vibrant nature, or maybe he wanted to learn how to communicate with us. Maybe it was all of this. Whatever, we figured it out together. Skippy did over 50 hours as an excellent therapy dog with Caring Canines. He was an accomplished gardening dog with 11 years of experience (wink). He did a bit of agility work, loved swimming and boating, and loved his little buddy Suzie, who came to live with us when Skippy was 8. He taught Suzie all sorts of things, most of which were good things. Skippy was a great protector and vigorously protected me and my gardens. He could run like the wind, down sledding hills, across open fields, after Suzie, and down the beach. He was healthy his entire life, never sick a day. On August 26, when he was 11 years old, he died suddenly from a burst spleen tumor, going into cardiac arrest before they could get him into surgery. I think he had a great life, I certainly enjoyed being with him. I will remember him always.

Thanks very much to all who have sent their condolences.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

comparing paste tomatoes

paste tomaotes IMG_7609

I'm growing four varieties of paste tomatoes this year. Top: Amish Paste, middle: San Marzano, bottom: Jersey Devil. (My Heinz 2653 plant doesn't have any ripe fruit right now.) My favorite is Jersey Devil, big, meaty, and very productive. I'll definitely grow this one again next year.

Last year I grew eight paste varieties (Cordova, San Marzano, San Marzano Gigante 3, Stump of the World, Opalka, Nova, Polish Linguisa, and Heinz 2653). My favorites were Polish Linguisa and Opalka. I wanted to grow these again this year, as well as blue Beech, which was recommended by a reader of this blog. Somehow I was too late in ordering seeds. I'll order very early for next year.

I pick my tomatoes just as they start to turn red so I can increase the chance that I get to eat them and not the chipmunks. They're eating about 10% of my tomatoes this year.

today's harvest

today's harest IMG_7611