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. But Skippy always stood by me and was a great friend. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps and garden with me. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes, chickens and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Early girl tomato

This tomato was delicious! I put the dates of the pictures in the lower right corner. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.) The flower bloomed on June 22. About 40 days from flower to ripe tomato.

Solanum lycopersicum

All-in-a-row: Cherry tomatoes








I'll pick my first ripe tomatoes tonight. The one in the picture plus a couple of Early Girls. These are Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

cucumber salad


I was surprised yesterday by finding a hiding cucumber. It was in between the lattice of my trellis and I hadn't noticed it before. So we got a spur-
of-the-moment cuke salad. I found a recipe in The Victory Garden Cookbook, Marion Morash (one of my favorite's) and modified it to use things I had in my 'fridge:
1/4 cup plain yogurt,
some chopped dill and mint (both fresh from my garden)
several cloves of garlic
a little gray salt
some lime juice
Mix together, then add sliced cucumber. Serve on top of lettuce. Yum. It was good.
Skippy's vegetable recipes

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Green, green, green

I just took this picture of my garden from the second floor window. So much green!

aerial view

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Another community garden

This one is on Walden St, Cambridge, MA. Seems like fairly large plots. An enormous green-eyes Rudbeckia (8 ft!) in the northeast corner. Many flowers: especially black-eyed Susan, zinnias, cosmos, nasturtiums, daylilies. A stick sculpture in the center is an interesting focal point. Several chairs and benches are nice additions. Very happy plants. Sooo hot and humid today you can see the air in some pictures.

communitygardening

Friday, July 28, 2006

Tomatoes, eggplants and garden chores

Today I caught up on alot of gardening work: Finally planted those colorful annuals I bought on Tuesday, trimmed off alot of seed pods and dead growth from the spring flowering plants, especially the lady's mantle. I fertilized all the vegetables well with Garden-Tone (4-6-6), adding super phosphate (0-20-0) to the fruiting and flowering plants. A special tomato formula for the tomatoes (4-7-10), plus I added extra phosphate hoping to encourage extra blooming and fruiting. The roses got a special formula too (Rose-tone, 6-6-4). Also I put Sevin on the squash and cuke stems (lowest 5 inches)(I know, not good ....). I checked the eggplants for stem-sucking bugs - one little one that I squished. By then the day was pretty hot (90 today in Boston) so I took a break.

topic: eggplant, Solanum lycopersicum

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Cambridge community gardens

I went by this community garden yesterday and couldn't resist stopping for a few pictures. Someone has an impressive crop of lettuce and peppers. Some nice sunflowers. Red bee balm. Squash vines are popular on the fence and have grown well out of the official garden area. (I should have checked for female squash flowers!) Something about community gardens is very pretty. And interesting. Different styles all together. Some plots weedy, some tended. Some in rows, others scattered. A patchwork.

communitygardening

Cucurbita pepo (yellow summer squash) problem

Well, I'm starting to be concerned about my squash. They are very pretty, but no squash. They started blooming July 2. That's 3 1/2 weeks ago! It seems like along time to wait with no sign of fruits. I did Google the delay and it seems unusual. The female flowers should show up 3-7 days after the males. A delay means the plants are stressed. Oh well. I'm not sure why. One site said low fruiting could be due to nutrient wash-out from excessive rain. We certainly have had excessive rain. I suppose I'll add some more fertilizer. And some extra phoshate. Can't hurt. Bother.

topic: yellow squash
Cucurbita pepo (summer squash)

cucumber biology






My cukes have lots of both male and female flowers. Unlike my squash, I think both came out at the same time. In this set of pictures, the females are on the left and the males on the right. There is even a difference between the two from the top of the flower. Center stuctures are different and petals look different. At the bottom, there is a little bee in a male flower. I hope he goes to the female one soon.

garden bees

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lettuce










I think lettuce is my most useful crop. We've been eating it nearly every dinner for a month now. It tends to bolt, so I plant it thick and just harvest the tallest plants to make room for the smaller ones. I think this variety is called Buttercrunch Bibb. I keep planting more lettuce seeds every few weeks, when I see some spaces where it might fit. I have two nice mixes with endive that I am planting now. I have read that I can keep planting lettuce through August.

Lactuca sativa

Treehoppers




The treehopper nymphs that were on my eggplants seem to have morphed. Well, not the same ones I squished, but I found this guy hanging around the same plants. This bug is brown and triangular with short horns. He hopped very well when the camera got too close. The eggplants are doing fine. Good riddance to the nymphs.

topic: eggplant

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Skip












Ahhhhh ... Relaxing by the garden.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Squash flowers









My squash (crookneck yellow summer squash) are flowering well, but still only male flowers. No sign of the females.

topic: yellow squash
Cucurbita pepo (summer squash)

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Pea harvest

Well, this is my pea harvest for the year. Three packages of pea seeds. A mix of snap and snow peas. My peas just didn't sprout well and they grew slowly. Same as in previous years. It was suggested I add innoculum, which I will try next year if I don't give up on peas. The lettuce is a much better use of space for us. By the way, I steamed the peas (5 min) and served them with fancy French sea salt. Very tasty.

Pisum sativum

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Northshore garden


This is the most fantastic home garden I have seen. It is in Essex County, north of Boston (zone 5b). Tucked away in a backyard. Impecably tended. Enormous plants. Incredibly rich soil. From the right end of the garden: blueberries, red raspberries, potatoes, garlic, chard, basil, tomatoes (Big Girl, San Marzano, Brandywine), peppers, squashes, corn, tomatillos and horseradish. The blue tarp covers a pile of salt marsh hay, which has been used to mulch the garden. The tomato plants are 6 ft tall now and heavy with tomatoes - maybe 15-20 per plant. The gardener said that he expects the first ripe tomatoes in about two weeks. This week he is planting a long double row of endive.

Solanum lycopersicum

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Pink oriental lily






These lilies have just just come into bloom in my front yard. Almost too much. Deep pink with a light edge, dark spots, orange stamen and heavy fragrance. I think maybe they are called "La Mancha".

A garden down the road





This is a garden a couple of blocks from mine.

Along the driveway, they have tomatoes, squashes and dill. A very nice tomato support system of wrought iron pipe, wood posts and twisted rope.

Along the sidewalk is a low stone wall next to a row of emormous plants of cabbage, basil, swiss chard, kale, spinach and brussels sprouts. It is all mulched with salt marsh hay. A great garden to walk by.

Solanum lycopersicum

Friday, July 21, 2006

Wren house



A new wren house overlooking the vegetable garden. Maybe it'll get an occupant next spring.

gardenbirds

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Platycodon grandiflorus














Balloon flower. My ~10 year old plant grows about 3 feet tall and gets sun from about 12 noon on. It looks nice this year next to "Prarie Sun" Rudbeckia.

Happy eggplants

I'm pleased with the way the eggplants look. After removing the 3 treehopper nymphs and a quick spray with nasty stuff (Sevin), they seem to be doing well. Some fruits are beginnning to form. Many blossoms. The 2 plants girdled by the treehoppers lost all their original leaves, but have many little new leaves coming and even those plants, though small, look sort of OK now. I check closely for more hoppers, but haven't found any more. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

topic: eggplant

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tomatoes









My tomatoes are about shoulder-high now. I can almost taste them. But I think its at least another week yet.

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Skippy









Looks like its time for a haircut.
more pictures of skip

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My dad's garden


I photographed my dad's garden in the heat of the day yesterday. Even so, it looks great. Lots of lettuce in straight rows. He'll be harvesting the beans soon. And there's a great squash (8-ball zucchini) ready for harvest. He also has rhubarb, basil, tomatoes and beets. (Did I forget anything, Dad?). He's in northeastern Massachusetts - zone 5b.

my dad's garden

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Snapdragons



















Rocket pink.

Leafhoppers on my eggplants!










I'm pleased that I may have found the cause of the problems I've been having with my eggplants. I found three of these ugly bugs on the stems of the wilting plants on the right side of the picture. I submitted a photograph to BugGuide http://bugguide.net and it was identified as a treehopper nymph http://bugguide.net/node/view/64307/bgimage though it seems to be unusual for them to do serious damage to plants. These are definitely girdling the stems of my plants. They are big enough and few enough for me to just squish them - now that I know what to look for. I think they are the cause of the plants wilting, leaves curling, small spots on leaves and aphids on the plants. I squished and sprayed with Sevin. Until now, the eggplants have been looking pretty good.

topic: eggplant

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Snap pea




Finally a snap pea is ripe!




I do have to admit, though, that there are about 5 of these on the vines. Not a very good crop. I'll probably just eat them raw, right as I pick them. The seeds didn't fare well with the wet spring and alot didn't sprout. My snow pea crop will be ready soon and it looks pretty good.

Pisum sativum

Eggplant blossom


My eggplants are tucked in among my perennials this year in hopes that this will keep them warmer. I have had terrible luck with eggplants in the past few years. I keep trying. They are one of the most interesting vegetable plants.

topic: eggplant

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Friday, July 14, 2006

July 14, 2006







Skippy's not playing like a puppy as much any more. Growing up.

Jalepeno pepper?










I think there's a little jalepeno starting to grow here. I didn't see it until I looked at the picture, but, unfortunately, the camera focuses better than my eyes do.

Capsicum

Thursday, July 13, 2006

cucumber trellis

Lots of bright yellow flowers and little baby cukes.

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July 13, 2006


My vegetable garden: from front to back: lettuce, beets, bush beans, carrots, scallions, basil, cucumbers, yellow squash, tomatoes, blueberries and red raspberries.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pumpkin blossom









My pumpkin blossoms open early in the morning and close by about 8 am. The past couple days, I have tried to take their picture, but didn't get up in time. Here's a 7 am photo. A lovely deep orange color.

Pumpkin -- Cucurbita spp.

Echinacea purpurea - Eastern Purple Coneflower


The genus name is from the Greek echino, meaning "hedgehog", an allusion to the spiny central disk. Its so perfectly arrayed its mesmerizing.

Monday, July 10, 2006

July 10, 2006





On June 20 (20 days ago), I had my first tomato flower. Five days later I was able to photograph a tiny a baby tomato. Here it is now - growing up into a big guy (a Supersonic). Our weather has been good, so it might ripen right on schedule: July 20th (10 more days).

(My brother is going to come visit once the tomatoes start ripening, so he can make a note ....)

Solanum lycopersicum

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pink pea blossoms






Snow pea flowers.

Very pretty.

I've never seen pink pea flowers before.

Pisum sativum

pumpkins in a pot

I found a large pot I hadn't filled yet this year in the back of the garage, so I got a 6-pack of pumpkins and an unlabeled (mystery!) 6-pack and planted them in it. I used three bamboo poles as a support and found a patch of unoccupied sun in the driveway. All I have to do is remember to water it and try not to back the car into it.


Pumpkin -- Cucurbitaceae spp.

Creeping Bellflower

This pretty blue flower is a really bad problem in my garden. This year I have let it go and it has flowered both in my side and front yard. Tempting to leave it, as the flowers are very nice. But it is horribly invasive and impossible to eliminate. I keep after it, sifting out the roots, and usually keep it in check. I'll probably be in trouble next year for letting it go this year. It crowds out everything else. Here's what some web sites have to say about it: "Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) is a native of Europe and was introduced to North America for its ornamental value. The root system of Creeping Bellflower is specially designed for long-term survival and persistence in cultivated conditions. Areas where it is moist and shady, this weed can become very invasive." "Creeping bellflower has escaped from older gardens to become a weed. It is a perennial, 2 to 4 feet tall, and spreads by deep roots. Leaves are somewhat rough and lance-shaped, tapering to a point. The 1-inch flowers are purple, down-turned and bell shaped. It can become a serious weed problem in urban areas as well as in pastures and open fields."http://www.sfn.saskatoon.sk.ca/science/splep/creeping_bellflower.html

wildflowers, weeds, invasives and natives

Berry net











I'm now working hard to defend my fruits and veges from bugs, birds, etc. This is our berry cover: a wood frame with nylon netting. We've used this system several years now and it works well to keep the birds out. We pull the netting up on one side to pick the fruit. Berries are ripening fast. Seems like it will be a good crop this year.















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    kathy@skippysgarden.com














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