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.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

My cold seems to maybe be getting a bit better. It’s been dragging on almost a week now.

Today I finally got done work done and planted my cucumber and winter squash seeds. One tray each. Also up potted 4 or 5 types of flowers and brought them down to my new greenhouse. The greenhouse is running about 60-70F during the day and 40F at night. Perfect for peas, onions, and other cool weather crops. for now, my tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other warm weather crops are still on my living room floor. I bring them in and out as temps go above 50F.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

My new bees are happy in their new home! Today was a beautiful day for them. I put most of my seedlings out on the patio to get some sun and fresh air. I up-potted 60 tomato seedlings last night and they were outside too. I opened up my winter tunnels to the nice spring air and am thinking I may not need to cover them up much more this season. They are looking really nice. (I’ll add pictures here this weekend.)

Monday, April 09, 2018

honey bees

I picked up a package of bees today. Both of my hives died early last winter - it was a very hard fall/winter for bees here. I have heard that the overwintering rate in our area for experienced bee keepers was about 20%. One out of 5 hives survived. I almost decided it wasn't worth keeping bees and if I have to buy new ones every year, but I went ahead and got one hive anyway.

They are not off to a good start. Tonight will be very cold and I was told to keep them inside at 60F overnight and install them tomorrow. I was also told to spray sugar water on the frame near the queen to make sure they stay in a cluster and keep each other warm. I hear our weather will warm up at the end of this week, but we have another cold spell coming in soon after that. Our trees are all blooming, but the bees can't fly to gather any nectar until temperatures are above 50F or so.

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Sunday, April 08, 2018

hoop house taking shape



The swallows have arrived!


Saturday, April 07, 2018

hoop greenhouse construction

We're building a hoop house today!! It will be 10x12 ft and will go in the backyard, unheated, and should hold lots of seedling trays. It will be a temporary, spring-only structure to give extra space during April and May. Today is a chilly wet day, so we are enjoying this as an garage project for now. We bent the first hoop and it looks good. So far, so good!!


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Friday, April 06, 2018

charley with snow flakes

charley with snow flakes IMG_2094 All right all ready with the April snow!!! What a slow spring!! We're still having temperatures in the 30-40's (F). Charley likes it. I'm looking forward to 50-60's. I hear it'll get warm next Thursday. I won't hold my breath.


I transplanted my peppers and eggplants into larger pots today. ...a bit of a mess in the kitchen, but I love working with all these little seedlings.

up potting in the kitchen IMG_2081 up potting IMG_2083

Sunday, April 01, 2018

easter eggs

easter eggs IMG_2059

My chickens did a great job and laid all colors of eggs. I don't need to dye them for the Easter basket! White, brown speckled, blue, and green. I boiled up a half dozen for deviled egg Easter appetizers. I'll put them on a platter with my garden arugula.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 31 is the full sap moon. I think sap ran early this year and is past by now in my area. But it's a beautiful full blue moon to light up the Easter eve.

Friday, March 30, 2018

spring is here - a good friday

The peepers (little yellowish wetland frogs) started singing tonight! The song of spring. They don’t start up gradually. About 4 pm today, they started in full chorus, peeping away.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

my first salad greens of the season

March salad greens IMG_2032

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

planting sweet pea seeds

sweet pea seeds with tails IMG_7462
This is the method of planting sweet peas that I just learned from nw organic gardener.

nick the outer skin of sweet peas seeds - a large fingernail clipper works...
layer the seeds in wet paper towels...
check daily after 5 days...
as soon as they get their tails, pot each in a 2 inch pot with tails pointing down...
they don't all tail at the same time so plant them as they do....
make sure the soil is damp, not wet, and wait for first the sprout to break ground before watering again...
then put them in good light, like a sunny window...
no heat mat! peas don't like bottom heat...
when the seedlings have 3 or 4 sets of leaves pinch the tip...
then harden them off and plant them in the garden...
watch out for slugs...
btw, if after 8 days the seeds haven't tailed but have swollen, plant them anyway

The same method works for other types of peas (snap peas, snow peas, etc), except that they don't need to be nicked or pinched. They can also be planted directly in the garden after tailing.

Thanks nw organic gardener!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

what's up today

 - I'm planting my snow peas (inside) today,
 - my little sweet pea seeds (in wet paper towels) are getting tails,
 - my artichoke seedlings are starting their 10 day vernalization (below 50F) out on my patio
 - my tomato seeds are planted (17 varieties), but they haven't sprouted yet
 - my vegetable garden is totally free of snow now!!
 - my garlic and my mom's are up - nice little 3 inch sprouts
 - and I think I may be able to start filling my salad bowl from my winter tunnel greens this week!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

vegetable, flower, and herb plants for shade

Last Sunday I worked in the “Ask-A-Master-Gardener” booth at the Boston Flower Show. The most popular question I had was: What should I plant in my shady garden?

I have several shady areas in my gardens. Knowing what plants will grow there is helpful. Here's a list I've put together. 

Full Shade

Part Shade (dappled shade all day or 4 hours of sun per day)
Leafy greens including arugula, beet greens, cress, collard greens, endive, kale, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, radicchio, spinach, and Swiss chard

Part sun (more than 4 hours of sun per day)
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peas, garlic, beans, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, peas, potatoes, and rhubarb. Also small beets, turnips, and carrots.

Full Shade
Lemon balm, oregano, mint, angelica, chervil, mints, American pennyroyal, wild bergamot (monarda), and sweet cicely

Part shade (at least 4 hours of sun per day)
Chives, thyme, basil, parsley, rosemary, horseradish, and sage

Full Shade or dappled light
Hostas, wild ginger, ferns, Jack in the Pulpit, hellebores, mayapple, lily of the valley, sweet woodruff, trillium, foam flowers, black snakeroot, wild violets, vinca, epimedium, bellwort, lungwort, Virginia bluebells, Dutchman's breeches, meadow rue, liriope, and Solomon's seal

Part Shade (at least 4 hours of sun per day)
Alstilbe, day lily, ajuga, coral bells, bleeding heart, bergenia, forget-me-not, monarda, monkshood, foxglove, some ornamental grasses, lady’s mantle, bloodroot, cardinal flower, hepatica, Jacob's ladder, rue anemone, columbine, leopardsbane, platycodon (ballon flower), campanula, cranesbill geranium, toad lily, and turtle head

Full Shade or dappled light
Impatiens, browallias, coleus, and wax begonias. Also spring bulbs, like daffodils,  crocus, scillas, snowdrops, and species tulips if discarded after they bloom.

Part Shade (at least 4 hours of sun per day)
Ageratum, tuberous begonias, fuchsia, sweet alyssum, lobelia, mimulus, feverfew, and dwarf salvias

This is a partial list that I will continue to work on. I welcome suggestions. What do you grow in the shade?

Gardening in the Shade - Univ Missouri Extension
Brooklyn Botanical Garden: A Garden of Shade-loving Herbs

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