This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

a gardener's lament

My muscles are sore. My hands from holding the snow shovel. My shoulders and arms from lifting the sticky snow and throwing it off to the side. In better weather, I park my car out by my mom's garden to unload seedlings and compost. This time, I parked my car out near the garden to avoid trees falling on it. I shoveled off the 2 feet of snow piled on top. Shoveled the 20 or so feet around it where the plow couldn't reach. Shoveled my mom's walkway and the driveway edges. Of course the feathery white wonderland after a snow storm is beautiful. But I look forward to blisters from turning in compost and pushing a wheelbarrow. Sunburn instead of soggy cold wet clothing. And rich brown soil instead of all this white.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

In stormy fashion
Ends the dark season;
The wind's in a passion
Out of all reason.
Winter, so loth to go,
Howls, spitting out the snow,
Like froth of madness.

~Danske Dandridge, "The End of Winter," 1902

mom's garden during ANOTHER March nor'easter

mom's snowy garden IMG_1853 Arrgh! (Or as my sister wrote, AYFKM!!?) We're in the middle of our third nor'easter in 10 days. The first was 2 inches of heavy rain with very high winds and lot's of coastal flooding. The second was about 8 inches of very heavy wet snow that brought down lots of trees. This one is a blizzard that will give us 2 feet of fluffy snow with high winds. Some years, I'm out planting peas about now.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

March nor'easter aftermath

snow day tree on coop IMG_1820 snow day bonfire IMG_1830

Here's the aftermath of the nor'easter we had last night. Eight inches of very heavy wet snow piled onto the trees and brought down many branches, including two huge ones from my beautiful Carolina silver bell that landed on my chicken coop. No damage to the coop but it took a lot of effort to clear and burn the fallen wood.

I had built a lean-to over my new little lettuce tunnel and the plants look just fine underneath.

snow day garden IMG_1815 snow day lettuce IMG_1818

We’re getting a foot of heavy wet snow tonight. I’ll probably be too busy shoveling to post tomorrow.  I was hoping to plant peas and onion sets outside soon! Maybe it will melt fast..... maybe I’ll start the peas inside....

Saturday, March 03, 2018

when to plant vegetable seeds

It's definitely time to sow seeds now. Here are some suggestions to figure out when is the best time to plant different types of seeds.

- Try the iPhone calendar apps I wrote, I use these to plan when to plant: Skippy's Vegetable Calendar App and Skippy's Flower and Herb Calendar App.

- Or try my old, very simple, and free online planting calendar: Online Vegetable Calendar.

- Johnny's online tool works pretty much the same: Johnny's planting calculator

- The University of Minnesota has a nice page on starting seeds indoors. Some tables too.  So if your climate is similar to theirs, it's a good resource. UMinn Seed Starting.

- I also like a colorful chart that shows planting and harvesting times: Urban Farmer Seeds chart for USDA zone 6.

Let me know other suggestions!

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planting out extra lettuce

winter lettuce tunnel IMG_7292 winter lettuce tunnel IMG_7299
winter lettuce tunnels IMG_7305 winter lettuce tunnel IMG_7295

I had a few 6-packs of lettuce left over that didn't fit in my tunnel so I set up a second smaller tunnel for it. This little tunnel is just covered with a double layer of row cover fabric. I wonder if it will do OK. It depends on the weather we get.

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Friday, March 02, 2018

sowing seeds on a stormy day

It's pretty stormy here. Our road is blocked at both ends by downed trees and wires and our power has been out all day. In addition to tending my little onion shoots, I planted my next batch of seeds a couple days early:

Beets, Boro and Detroit Dark Red
Eggplant, Orient Express, Hansel, and Barbarella
Basil, Tuscany
Marigold, Giant African, Mission Giant Yellow, Tangerine Gem, Gem Mix, Cottage Red
Pepper, Highlander, Shishito, Ace, Red Rocket, and Red Ember
Snapdragon, Tall Deluxe Mix
Chamomile, Common
Lemon Mint

The rest of my sowing list is here: 2018 Planting Progress.


I've learned a new word. "Up-potting" is when you transplant into a bigger pot. Hmm. I've been spending lots of time up-potting recently as a volunteer at the greenhouses at Elm Bank. We're getting plants ready for the Boston Flower Show, which is only a couple weeks away now (March 14-18).

Thursday, March 01, 2018

newly planted seedlings in winter tunnel

winter tunnel IMG_1757

I planted my seedlings out into my empty winter tunnel last weekend. They look very happy out there. I have a few more to plant out and will set up another smaller tunnel. But I'm waiting until after The Big Storm coming tomorrow.

Everyone is talking about the Storm here. 2 inches of rain and then 5 inches of heavy wet snow are predicted with high winds and power outages. I'm glad I don't need to worry about the coastal flooding in my area, because that's supposed to be really bad. Today and yesterday have been beautiful springlike days in the 60's. The dogs and I have been out enjoying it as much as we can. I suppose tomorrow will be a day to stay inside and take care of my little onion sprouts.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

today's seed planting

Feb 28, 2018 (indoors under lights) 
Cabbage, Red Express and Murdoc
Endive, Dubuisson
Parsley, Italian Large Flat Leaf
Flowers, Stock, Katz Lavender Blue


I just looked up when I’ve first heard red winged blackbirds around here in the spring over the past few years. I think it shows a trend:

2018 February 25
2016 March 5
2015 March 27
2009 April 9

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

spring red winged blackbirds

The red winged blackbirds are a full month early this year!!! I saw a small flock of 4 or so males at a nearby pond a few days ago and have been listening to them (cookalokooo) from my window today. We’re having the warmest February on record here. I don’t see much spring going on with the trees and bushes outside. but the birds are reflecting the warmth.

I’m tempted to plant peas now. My soil is workable. The old saying is to plant peas when the female red winged blackbirds arrive. I’ll prepare some soil and listen for the click click of the females replying to the males.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

crazy February weather

Yesterday we had record breaking temperatures in the 70's here! I felt very excited and wanted to plant my gardens all at once. But, back to reality and this is the view this morning. Our typical February weather. Very pretty (but yesterday was really awesome).

winter gardens IMG_1730


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

hardening off seedlings

The seedlings for my winter tunnel have grown really fast. Time to start hardening them off. Today is sunny and 65F (!!) so they are outside on the patio sunning. I am enjoying the air and am working by the open door.

early seedlings IMG_1716

early seedlings IMG_1714 early seedlings IMG_1718

My plan is to harden them off for about a week before transplanting these seedlings into the tunnel soil. I'll leave them outside 3 hours today and then gradually longer until they are OK staying overnight in the tunnel. If it's not warm enough outside during the day, they can be in the covered tunnel for their hardening off time.

I opened up the winter tunnel to the air too. There are a few plants left in there (the mice left me a few). The soil is pretty dry. I'll have to bring a watering can down there this afternoon.

winter tunnel MG_1724 winter tunnel IMG_1720


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