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, June 30, 2008

fava beans are almost ripe

favas

I will be picking these soon. They are looking about ready to me. They should grow to 5-8 inches and have full green pods. My sister recommends popping them out of the shell and sauteeing them in butter and olive oil. I also have a grill recipe to try.

Vicia faba
Fabaceae

Sunday, June 29, 2008

pollinators

wool carder on weed tiny bee on achillia
little bee on clover green metalic bee on black eyed susan
bumble on blue honeybee on clover
green metallic on potato fly on fleabane fly on cilantro fly on blue
bumblebee on pink pea flowers bumble on rose
bumble on pea 2 bumble in yellow

I was searching for pollinators today. Bees, flies, wasps, etc. I even saw a hummingbird (though no photo).

I saw lots of wild bees: green metallics, wool carders and bumble bees. Also lots of small flies. A few wasps. Only ONE honeybee. This one was in my parents yard, which is within a mile of a bee keeper.

I was pleased to find lots of pollinators at my home garden, my community plot and my parents yard. Even though there were very few honeybees.

The bees spent most of their time on flowers and weeds adjacent to the vegetable garden, though I caught a few photos of bees on vegetables flowers. I think this shows the importance of companion planting (that is, planting flowering plants in your vegetables garden or letting some flowering weeds grow).

Information:

Bees have two pairs of wings (though it can be hard to see the second pair), three body segments and eyes that are smaller than their bodies. Flies have big eyes and only one pair of wings. Wasps have a waist that is more conspicuous than a bee's.

Flower flies (Syrphid flies) tend to sit on one flower for some time and move from flower to flower to collect pollen as bees do. They do not accumulate loads of pollen as female bees do, but they can be significant pollinators.

I sent the photos to BugGuide to get IDs for the ones I wasn't familiar with: from top left, Wool Carder Bee (Anthidium manicatum), female sweat bee Halictidae family(probably Lasioglossum spp.) on achillea, male leafcutter bee (Megachile spp.) on crimson clover leaf, green metallic bee on black-eyed susan (rudbeckia), bumblebee, honeybee on white clover flower, green metallic bee on potato flower, flower fly (Syrphid fly) on fleabane, fly on wild carrot, flower fly (Syrphid fly, probably Toxomerus marginatus), bumblebee on sweet pea flower, bumblebee on rambler rose, bumblebee on pea blossom, bumblebee on primrose.

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zucchini leaves

zucchini leaves

I was surprised at how pretty my zucchini leaves are. They have a mottled silver gray pattern that is very bright on the mature leaves.

Someone asked if this is mildew. No. Its a natural pattern on healthy zucchini leaves. Different cultivars have different shaped leaves and different amounts of silver.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

me in the garden

me pulling carrotsme and skippy me and skippy 2

My sister got hold of my camera and took photos of me and Skippy.

Those are raindrops on my shirt. We had a few more of our spectacular downpours today. Why not show our CA visitors what New England weather is like! My sister and I got soaked in the garden.

photos of Kathy

today's harvest

harvest 1 harvest 3
harvest 4 harvest 2 harvest 5

I harvested a lot today since we had a birthday to celebrate. Lettuce, radish, onions, baby carrots, spinach, beets, zucchini, yellow squash and basil.

Cucurbita pepo (squash)
beets (Beta vulgaris)
harvests from my vegetable gardens

radish (Raphanus sativus)

spring vegetables with basil gremolade

sautee 1 dinner 2
dinner 3
dinner dinner
wines party 2

Recipe:
(from June 2008 Bon Appetit, with lots of modifications)

Vegetables: In olive oil, sautee chopped garlic, baby carrots and sliced squash about 3 minutes. Add sliced beet greens and cook about 1 minute. Add spinach, turn off heat and toss until spinach wilts.

Gremolade: Chop 1/4 cup basil and parsley. Add 1 T chopped capers, grated lemon peel, and 2 T olive oil. Mix.

Cook linguine. Mix with vegetables and gremolade.

(Cook and serve beets separately.)

Serve with grilled fresh Alaskan salmon and a nice cabernet - on the patio, with a big family gathering.

Skippy's vegetable recipes

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Friday, June 27, 2008

party!!

birthday

Its a perfect time for celebrating. The bounty of the garden. The beauty of the season. We have a birthday today as an event to gather our family, express cheer and raise a toast. I harvested in excess. And we all enjoyed it. Thanks to my sister and nieces from CA for coming by and joining us! And to the birthday boy - cheers! To many more!

bee search

Where are the honeybees?

I'm planning to search our community garden for bees soon. Especially honeybees. I haven't seen ANY yet this year and it is very disappointing. I'm still hopeful that if I actually go looking for them I will find some. Maybe they're there and I just haven't noticed .....

I meant to do this project sooner, but I haven't gotten to it. Soon.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

harvests

harvest pea harvest
radish harvest harvest

I'm keeping track of my harvests this year by taking a photo of each. Here are harvests from the past few days. Much too much lettuce right now, but better too much than too little. I hope it holds up. Lots of radish - all different shapes. The carrot thinnings are really tasty.

My squash rotted at the bud end. Too much water or no pollination? I don't know which. But I'm worried that I haven't seen many bees this year. Definitely no honeybees. Where are the bees?

Daucus carota

rainstorm

rain on my garden 3
This is my home garden. We've been getting deluged with rain every day this week. The sky seems to just open up and buckets pour down. My rain gauge says nearly 3 inches this week.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

my plot today

my plot 2

garden bluebirds

male bluebird
female bluebird bluebird on house 2

We have a pair of bluebirds nesting in a house in the middle of the community gardens. As I understand, this is not a good location for bluebirds. The risk is high that gardening activities and aggressive birds, especially sparrows and wrens, will interfere with their nesting. But so far, so good. Both parents are bringing food to the box, which means their chicks have hatched. They need a few more weeks without interference to raise their family.

The following Eastern Bluebird information is from Alabama Wildbird Conservation Association at http://www.alaweb.com/~kenwood/saba/birdinfo/bluebird.htm.
# Egg Laying - Egg laying takes from 3 to 6 days. One light blue egg is laid each day until the clutch is complete. The most common clutch size is 5 eggs, but 3, 4, or 6 eggs is not uncommon. 2 or 7 eggs in a clutch is rare.
# Incubation - The female incubates the eggs for 13 or 14 days. She starts incubating on the day she completes the clutch. For this reason, the eggs will all hatch on the same day.
# Nestling Stage - The baby bluebirds will remain in the nest for approximately 15 days. They will be brooded by an adult bird every night, and on cool days until they are fully feathered. During the nestling period the youngsters will be fed by both parent birds. They do not leave the house during this time. All droppings are removed from the house except on the day the young birds fledge (fly from the nest). Once the young birds fledge they do not return to the nest.
# Fledgling Stage - At the end of the nestling period, the young birds fly from the nest. They will be fed by the parent birds for another 7 to 14 days. During this period you will see them in the vicinity of the house. Very soon after the nesting cycle has been completed the parent birds will start over. They may raise as many as 3 broods in a season. Certain management techniques should be practiced to help them along.


garden birds (Hortus Aves)

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Monday, June 23, 2008

two types of broccoli

broccoli harvest
This year I grew two varieties of broccoli: Green Goliath and Green Sprouting Calabrese. Unfortunately, I don't know which plants are which. But I do notice that some of my plants make compact heads and some make taller sprouts with very small heads. I suppose the compact heads are Green Goliath and the taller sprouts are Green Sprouting Calabrese. I planted seeds on March 22 and am harvesting now.

Green Sprouting Calabrese is an Italian heirloom that was brought to America in the 1880s. It is supposed to have 5"-8" heads and many side shoots.

Green Goliath is a large headed, tight budded, blue-green variety bred especially for the home gardener, to give an early and extended harvest. Center heads mature over a three-week period, not all at once. Good side shoots follow after center head is harvested.

Gardeners around here have mentioned small broccoli heads. My heads are about 2-3 inches (above). I think the weather warmed up too fast for the plants to form large heads. Maybe my fall harvest will be better though the small heads taste great too.

My dad got much bigger heads from seedlings I gave him (below). A good 4 inches! He's located a bit north of me and his garden is almost a full zone cooler.

Broccoli from dad's garden
harvests from my vegetable gardens

my dad's garden


Brassicaceae

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grilled broccoli

broccoli with garlic and chiles
grilling broccoli chile oil

I wanted to try something different with my fresh broccoli harvest. I found this nice post at The Grown Diaries on Spicy Grilled Broccoli. My version is the same idea, but a little different. I used dried chiles from last year's garden and some chile oil we made by soaking dried chiles in olive oil. I also used a bunch of broccoli leaves.

Recipe: Separate broccoli leaves and heads. Chop leaves and slice heads into 1/4 inch slices. Combine broccoli and leaves with 2 cloves chopped garlic and 1 chopped dried cayenne chile pepper. Add about 1 Tbs chile oil. Mix and let sit about 30 minutes. Grill the broccoli heads on a hot fire in a grilling pan until tender, then add the leaves and grill until the leaves wilt. Season with salt to taste.

Just to be clear, it was my husband who figured out how to grill this dish. I just handed him the raw vegetables. He did the rest.

I thought this was really delicious. Even the leaves! I think I'll try the same thing with some kale soon.

chile and bell peppers (Capsicum)
Skippy's vegetable recipes


Brassicaceae

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

today's harvest

harvest
Broccoli, garlic scapes and lettuce.

notes from my garden

- Time to give up on growing soybeans at the community plot. They are being dug up by some critter. Seeds and sprouts. I'll plant these at home. They did OK in the shade last year. I figure I'm lucky that its only the soybeans.

- My potato plants keep getting bigger! I planted too many and they are way out of hand. I figure I'll end up with potatoes to last all winter. Great! I'm having fun collecting potato recipes.

- The flea beetles are gone from my potato plants now. They were real bad earlier so I interplanted with lots marigolds. These are a companion crop believed to repel the beetles. Should I conclude that the marigolds worked? Hmmm.

- The wren chirping noises from inside my bird house are getting louder. I suppose they'll fledge soon. The Rock Meadow bluebird coordinator is concerned with these additional wrens. Not the best neighbors for bluebirds.

- I enjoyed giving away heads of lettuce yesterday to the parents of the scouts at the Eagle Project. The red lettuce (var. Prizehead) has formed very nice heads. I have some green Bibb coming next and then Summer Crisp.

- It is interesting to me that the lettuce in my shady garden is bolting sooner than the lettuce in my sunny garden. I had expected the opposite would happen. Not exactly the same types to compare. Bolting shady garden varieties: Four Seasons and Black Seeded Simpson. Nicely headed sunny garden: Prizehead and Bibb.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

evening cocktail party with the cows

view2
cows more cows
We were invited to a wonderful Birthday Party at a local farm with a fantastic view of the sunset on one of the longest days of the year. Not shown is the patio with lavender and peonies in full bloom, women in cocktail dresses, and wait staff with platters of appetizers and wine glasses. A flock of plump Buff Orpington hens were scratching and 17 Belted Galloway cows calmly chewed in the pastures. Idyllic is the word, I believe.

















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