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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

today's planting list

melon Anne Arundel, 4 seeds
melon, Crane, 4 seeds
melon, Charentais, 4 seeds
watermelon, Sugar Baby, 4 seeds
yellow summer squash, Zephyr, 4 seeds
patty pan summer squash, Sunburst, 4 seeds
patty pan summer squash, Starship, 4 seeds
zucchini, Cashflow, 4 seeds

Melons (Cucumis melo)
squash (Cucurbita pepo)

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

my patio

morning patio

My patio is set up for summer already. Seedlings are sunning all over the place.
The yellow chickadee house is in the upper right. They're bringing soft tufts of grass to the house now. Very busy. A bunch of big empty pots are waiting for flowers. I think I'll mix some herbs in too, mint, basil....

my back patio

my backyard patio
2009 chickadees

garden aerial

aerial

I took this photo in the middle of the hot day today. 81*F! Isn't there usually a season between winter and summer?

I have been using April 30 (this Thursday) as my last frost date. Looks like it was actually mid April this year.

This morning, before it got hot, I cleared debris from the old beds and piled some fresh compost into them. I'll spread it and turn the soil next. Then its ready for planting.

My big new bed shows in the bottom right. Bright and sunny. Its waiting to be planted.

aerial views of my home vegetable garden

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a new raised bed

Copy of IMG_6685
Copy of IMG_6669 Copy of IMG_6668
Copy of IMG_6683 dump truck

My husband made a big new raised bed in the sunny spot next to our house. The soil was contaminated here so he removed 6 inches, built the bed, spread plastic and added new soil. The bed is 14 to 16 inches deep. About 8 by 10 feet. He recently added a board as a bridge/walkway and to reinforce the tall sides. Its not in these photos here.

We'll see how it is to work in such a wide bed. I'll add more boards as pathways. I'm looking forward to growing tomatoes, cucumbers and basil here!

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Monday, April 27, 2009

nesting chickadees

nesting chickadee

This bird house is right on our patio. Its fun to watch the busy chickadees go about their spring activities. They don't seem to mind us too much. As long as we don't look at them, they go in and out of the house with sweet little chirps.

garden birds (Hortus Aves)
my back patio

2009 chickadees

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Friday, April 24, 2009

home garden aerial

garden aerial

It looks messy now, but soon I'll post the "after" photo. I have great plans in action. My husband is putting in a new bed adjacent to the house - a large deep raised bed. And with the fantastic weather predicted for the weekend, I expect to clear out the old beds and transplant lettuce. Maybe even some beans seeds.

If you click here you can see how this area looked 3 months ago. Thanks goodness its spring!
aerial views of my home vegetable garden

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water at the community gardens

water faucet

The water was turned on at the community gardens today!! Yippee.

heat wave ahead

How about the weather forecast for New England! 85*F on Sunday! Time for flip-flops and martinis in the garden. Ahhh....

I think tonight is the last cool night of the season. I have had half of my seedlings (the cool weather ones, like lettuce, beets, broccoli etc) outside to harden off for the past several days and nights now. But tonight I brought them inside as temps may get into the upper 30's. Not a frost. I think our last frost was last week.

It is definitely a good time for transplanting all of these cool weather seedlings into the garden this weekend. I may even put row cover over them to protect them from the sun a bit and hold in humidity.

new garden information

I guess I'm slow to find things, as I just came across this very nice post at Bifurcated Carrots on starting a new vegetable garden. So much good information! Check it out whether you are a new or an old gardener.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

my asparagus shipment is here

asparagus shipment

This box arrived yesterday! Time for planting asparagus. I have 25 crowns. My asparagus plot is 5 feet long and only 28 inches wide. At a spacing of 10 inches, that's 6 crowns per row. Though the recommended spacing per row is 3-5 ft, I'd like to squeeze in two rows, 12 crowns. (Elaine is waiting to plant my extras.) So my rows will be only 14 inches apart. Since its only two rows and I can zig-zag the plants, I think this will work. But it will take a few years to know for sure.

asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April showers and flowers

another hellebore
old hellebore tulip bud
scilla little tulips
daffodil bud daffodil

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

my dad's garden is ready to go

dad's garden

My dad moved his garden a little this year, 3 feet away from the trees that are growing taller at the right. In the foreground he has already planted a few rows - peas and lettuce.

The deer fence isn't up yet, though I suppose that will come soon. The deer have been eating lots of tulips and iris around their yard. Its hard to defend the sprouts again these big hungry animals.

I'm planing to plant some popcorn and maybe potatoes and broccoli at the far side of the garden. My dad thinks he'll have some extra space.

my dad's garden

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Monday, April 20, 2009

today's planting list

potato bed onion bed
planted beds

Planted at my plot:
Potatoes, dark red Norland, 6 ft of row
Potatoes, russet, 6 ft of row
Potatoes, Red Gold, 6 ft of row
Potatoes, Green Mountain, 6 ft of row
Onion sets, Stuttgarter, 2x4 ft of row

At the top left is my potato bed. I dug two trenches and then planted the potatoes about 4 inches deep at the bottom of the trench. As the plants grow, I'll fill in the dirt. A 4 foot wide bed is the absolute minimum to dig two potato trenches and pile the dirt in the center. Wider would have been better.

At the top right is the place I planted the onion sets. Just a few so far. I plant the sets about 3-4 inches apart and pull every other one early for green onions and let the rest grow big.

Things still look pretty bare and the weather is chilly (40's-50's). But the crocus are fading, daffodils are opening, and the lilac leaves are growing fast.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

today's seed sowing list

My planting calendar says to plant zinnias, cucumbers and pumpkins this week. I started some extra greens too.

Spinach, Bloomsdale, 1 6-pack
Lettuce, Valentine mix, 1 6-pack
Lettuce, Merveille 4 seasons, 1 6-pack
Zinnia, White Star, 4-pack
Zinnia, Bernary's Giant Purple 2 6-packs
Winter Squash, Lakota, 3 seeds
Pumpkin, Baby Pam, 6 seeds
Pumpkin, Big Rock, 3 seeds
Pumpkin, Jarrahdale, 3 seeds
Cucumber, North Carolina Pickling, 6-pack

I didn't finish, but will plant the following soon:
Cucumber, Diva, 6-pack
Cucumber, Straight 8, 6-pack
Cucumber, Tokiwa, 6-pack
Cucumber, Sweet Success, 6-pack

2009 sow-what-and-when

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seedlings

seedings 2
seedlings tomato seedlings
cabbage 2 cabbage 3
beets 1
spines lemon basil
marigold 1 marigold 4
marigold 5

Some of my seedlings. I love all the colors.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter rose

Easter rose

My mom and dad gave me this beautiful little rose for Easter. Its on my kitchen counter now, but I'm looking forward to planting it in my community garden plot soon. I have the perfect spot for it. It will enjoy the summer sun.

sun burned basil

burnt basil

A bit of burning on the tender basil leaves from their first days out in the sun. Other seedlings look fine. Its hard to know what's too much for the young plants. I put them out again today, but its cloudy which should be easier on them.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

the season's first patio dinner

grill candles on the table
grilling skippy in the dark

A lovely warm spring night was perfect for patio dining. Our first "dinner out" of the season. No fresh garden veggies, yet that will come.


my back patio

Thursday, April 16, 2009

plot beds

beds 2 step beds 7

I did a bit of work today on my new beds. I want them to be fairly straight and level and have been working on this. The photos help me to see where the unevenness is. I've decided to bring some dirt in to fill them.

I made a stone step today in the sloped area on the north west side of the plot. Skippy posed next to it.

sunning seedlings

sunning seedlings

Today was one of those reasons I put up with the long winter. A clear blue sky and the beauty of the earth waking up.

It was over 50F between 12 noon and 6 pm, so ALL my seedlings got to sunbathe. 50F is my minimum temp for mid-range vegetables: tomatoes, basil, marigolds, etc. For cold-weather vegetables like onions, cabbage, lettuce etc., 40F is fine. Hot weather seedlings need 60-65F. Eggplants and peppers are hot weather veggies, but today was so lovely I put these out too.

I have seven trays of all sorts of veggies and flowers. They are growing well. The cabbage leaves look great, tomatoes leaves are very dark green and healthy looking, marigolds have fat flower buds (!), onions growing slowly but looking good so far.

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Cold-weather seedlings, 40F minimum:
onions, cabbage, lettuce, escarole, arugula, spinach, broccoli, celery, celeriac, parsley, beets, kale, thyme

Mid-range veggies, 50F minimum:
tomatoes, basil, marigolds, cosmos, heliotrope

Hot weather veggies, 65F minimum:
eggplant, peppers, squash, beans

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

a bluebird is here!

Last year the bluebirds arrived at Rock Meadow by April 10. On this date several were here. I've been watching for them this year and finally one is here. I think this year is running about a week later than last year for blossoms, birds and weather.

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well I did get some peas planted ...

pea bed

... but not the others yet (favas, potatoes and onions). I have a lot of business taking precedence... My priorities are all messed up. The others need to go in soon. But at least the peas have been planted.

I used branches this year to support my peas. I've read that the supports should go in when you plant the peas and not later. And I've heard that well branched trees like fruit trees make good pea supports. I used pruned branches from my crab apple tree.

I ran out of wooden row labels so I grabbed a plastic container from my recycling bin, cut it up and it worked great. One of my resolutions this year is to label my plants. Unlike last year.

Unfortunately, I must have lost focus mid planting and planted a row of Tall Telephone peas in the Wando area. So now my Wando's and Tall Telephone's will be mixed. Oh well. These are very similar - both 6 ft shell peas, so its OK. But I had wanted to compare them separately.

I planted one row each of Sugar Sprint (a 2 ft early sugar snap pea) and Wando, and two rows of Tall Telephone. I'll plant another row or two of each once these rows sprout. I like to try to space out the harvest a bit - at the risk of running into weather that's too hot for peas. Risky this year since I've started so late.

I also have a soup pea to plant soon - beautiful purple podded Capucijner peas.

I planted this year in my best pea bed: it warms up fast in the spring, then gets shaded by a big tree as the weather gets hot. In previous years, this spot has produced super well. But I've learned not to count the peas before they hatch....

2009 sow-what-and-when

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finally planting in the garden today

Enough with the dog poetry - I'm finally planting today!

Peas, favas and a row of potatoes will go in. Beautiful sunshine and sort of warm. Photos later.

joy

skippy 2

Joy is the ball of puppy fluff that stole my heart one day.
And ran with it through fields of gold and sunshine dappled hay.

authors: me and emily d.

Monday, April 13, 2009

welcome to Bo from cousin Skippy

puppy2 Skippy 3

Since Bo is coming home today, I'm posting some pictures of Skippy when he was a puppy. Oh what a cute little terror he was.... These photos are at 3 months old - a bit younger than Bo.

I did some reading to see if Skippy is related to Bo. Here's what I found:

Bo was breed by a kennel in Texas called Amigo.

Bo and Senator Kennedy's new puppy, Cappy, (the Senator's third Portie!) are from the same litter - brothers!

Bo's parents are Ch. Amigo's Phor What Its Worth (Penny) and Ch. Valkyrie's Dr. Watson Is Here (Watson).

And, in searching Bo's pedigree, I found that Skippy and Bo have great-great-grandparents in common. Sort of distant cousins. All US Portuguese water dogs are related somewhere, since they all came from a few dogs brought over from Portugal in the 50's.

And here are a few blogs I came across that seem to have all the news.
The Portuguese Water Dog Blog
The Obama Dog Blog

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

a happy Easter with freshly dug potatoes

potatoes and lamb on a plate
grilled potatoes and onions easter table

The over wintered potatoes I dug on Good Friday were grilled to perfection today (with onions) by the head griller here (my spouse). Really nice with spring lamb, broccoli and asparagus, spinach salad and dyed eggs. We were joined by my parents and had a good time together.

I had a big surprise on awakening - kind of like Christmas - the Easter bunny left a couple gifts for me right in the middle of the dining room: a big red wheel barrow, a new rake and a garden shovel! All of which I have been looking for. Wonderful!

potatoes in blue collander potatoes under water

Some of the over wintered potatoes were a bit ratty looking on the edges, but I peeled this off and they were crisp and creamy white underneath. I remember last fall I was in a hurry to dig them and make room for a fall planting of greens. I missed many small ones and some big ones. I considered using these for seed potatoes, but I have plenty from mail order. And I was really pleased to have a homegrown vegetable for the Easter table.

My old potato patch was in an area of the plot that will be my main path this year. So as I dug, I shoveled soil into my new beds to raise them more. My new potato bed will be a little bigger and in a different spot this year.

my easter presents
easter rose easter eggs

potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)















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