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.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Long Island cheese pumpkin

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The stem of my big early Long Island cheese pumpkin was broken off completely today when I went to my community plot. This pumpkin set fruit midway up on my fence and the weight of it was more than the vine could hold. The stem broke part way through a couple weeks ago. It looks like its nearly ripe. Its mostly beige colored, with only a few areas of greenish tint. Very early for a pumpkin. I'll keep it on my kitchen counter for a month before I use it and I think it will fully ripen. This is supposed to be a very good tasting pumpkin.

I was pleased to notice today that the vines at the edges of my pumpkin patch are looking very dense and lots of small pumpkins are setting. The center of the patch looks bad. I guess that's just because the oldest leaves aren't so healthy any more. I also picked a fully ripe ad bright orange Baby Pam pumpkin today. Several more are ripening on the vines.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

seeds in the mail

urban farmer

I often get requests from small seed companies to check out their seeds. Here are packages I received from Urban Farmer. Shirley poppies, Roma tomatoes and Large leaf Italian basil.

The packages are recycled magazines. They have a nice website to check out. Here's a link: http://www.ufseeds.com/

I looked up the poppies on google images and found: this link. Beautiful! I also looked up when to plant and it says fall or spring. I will save a place to put these seeds this fall.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

harvests: basil, onions and beets

onion harvest
beet harvest basil harvest

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squirrel eats tomato

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I've figured out why I have so few tomatoes this year. Unfortunately, I could put up chicken wire to keep a rabbit out, but there's not much that will keep a squirrel out of the garden.

The poor squirrel was sad to drop his pretty tomato from the fence post. After the last photo above, he went down, out of my sight and I suppose found it and finished it off.

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no soy beans

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This is what the rabbit did to my soybeans.

I love edamame, especially fresh from the garden. And I prefer a variety called Butterbeans. It has big pods and very good yields. I planted a patch earlier this year using seeds left over from 2 or 3 years ago. They did not spout (about 1 on 20 sprouted and the rabbit ate the few that did sprout). Maybe this is a seed that does not store well.

So I looked up online to find more Butterbeans. It seems they are out of stock everywhere. I found them at advertised one website and ordered two packages. But when they arrived they were a different variety (Envy - it has little pods). But I planted them anyway just before I left on vacation.

To make a short story long - the baby rabbit ate all the sprouts. Before leaving on vacation, I asked my husband to barricade the cold frame so the bunny couldn't get in. He reinforced the edges, adding lattice and plastic stapled to the wood frame. The problem was in securing it to the house. Well, the rabbit must have found a way in. Its too late now for a third try. No homegrown edamame this year.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

so cute ...

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What to do about a very cute baby rabbit that has taken up residence in my garden? Every morning when I open the blind and look out to my side yard garden - there he is. Cute as ever. A rabbit is a bit of a novelty here in suburbia. As I watch, he mostly eats weeds I have missed: grasses and clover. Those, oh and the dill, soy beans, and all the perennial trilobia (a pretty black-eyed Susan type of plant) that I grew from seed last winter. But so far, he's cuter than the damage he's doing.

I have plans though. I'm thinking of 12 inches of chicken wire around the garden. My guess is he will eat more as he gets bigger. But maybe I will only put chicken wire around the cold frame (I will definitely add chicken wire around this). The cold frame is in the last sunny section of my side yard.

I am getting more and more disappointed about how poorly things are growing in my shady side yard. The shading trees grow by the day. I'm now moving what I can out to my community plot now. Eggplants and peppers are moving as I pull out spent peas, and harvest onions and garlic. Maybe I'll just sow sweet clover as I move the plants out....

Have you ever heard of a gardener who liked having a rabbit in their garden?

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broken pumpkin stem

LI Cheese with broken stem

My big Long Island Cheese pumpkin stem broke, but not all the way off. It was growing half way up on my fence and, as the weight increased, it sunk lower. (I should have given it a support, but forgot.) Finally, the weight pulled the pumpkin all the way to the ground, but the vine couldn't stretch quite that far. It has partially broken. I don't dare touch it. It seems to me there may be enough intact stem for it to ripen. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Its a nice big pumpkin and very early in the season. Even if it doesn't make it, there is still plenty of time for others to set and ripen.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

photos of my vegetable plot

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garden work

Weeding
Harvested basil
Transplant eggplants from side yard to community plot for more sun
Weed whack paths around my plot
Fertilized popcorn
Transplant a small rudbeckia from side yard to community plot
Weeding, weeding
Harvested about 1/4 of onions, and some beets
Clean out pea and fava bean bed

In pea and fava bean bed, sow seeds for:
Carrots, Mokum
Beets, Chioggga and Lutz
Lettuce, Green Summer Crisp Loma

In garlic beds, sow seeds for:
Shell beans pole, Tongue of Fire, Flagrano,
Shell beans bush, Vermont Cranberry, Black Turtle Soup

More weeding....
My compost bin is way over filled now and I will need to add a second bin somewhere.

Friday, July 23, 2010

giant patty pan squash bread

giant patty pan
giant patty pan sliced giant patty pan grated
giant patty pan bread

After returning from vacation, I found this giant white patty pan squash growing in my garden. I should have weighed or measured it. I didn't, but it was pretty big. It made about 8 cups of grated squash. I made my old summer squash bread recipe. Its exceptionally good!

I also sauteed some grated squash for dinner. I added a bunch of chopped onion, fresh garlic and thyme, then lightly sauteed in olive oil. After it finished cooking, I grated on a bit of Robusto cheese. Delicious! I'd like to find a recipe for grated squash where it holds together like a potato pancake. The nice white squash looks very much like potato, but has delicious squashy sweetness.

These 2 recipes used up about 4 cups of grated white squash. Another 4 cups yet to go. And then there are the zucchinis and yellow squashes I found too....

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late blight alert

I was disappointed to hear that late blight has been spotted in Massachusetts (links below) this week. On Tuesday, it was found on tomatoes in a field in Hadley MA (Hampshire County, western MA). Tests are being done to figure out where it came from.

Its also been found this year in a garden in Maine, and on commercial potatoes in Wisconsin.

I have been looking at tomatoes and potatoes in our plots and have yet to see any late blight.

UMASS late blight site
Cornell late blight site.

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drying garlic

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Before leaving for vacation, I was short of time and threw my newly harvested garlic into a box in the basement. I found this nice video from Kitchen Gardeners about harvesting, curing and storing garlic. Hopefully my garlic will still dry OK after neglecting it last week.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

today's harvest

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my garden after vacation

I love exploring my garden after being away. Every bed has surprises.

Especially the squash beds! I will have to get my squash bread recipe out to use the big ones I discovered. (Or sneak them over to the compost bin...)

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I have an enormous Long Island Cheese pumpkin already. Must be about 1 foot diameter. Also a couple other types of pumpkins.

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My popcorn needs fertilizer. I meant to do this before vacation, but ran out of time. It is 5 feet tall now, and tasseling. The ears will form soon. I want to figure out how to prevent the corn ear worms this year and will have to start on this soon.

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The cabbages look nice. Always a very pretty crop. My Savoy and Radicchio have done well this year. The radicchio is bolting some. Some compact heads, but others are popping out of the top. They still have nice red leaves inside.

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The basil needs to be harvested soon. I've waited too long already and the leaves have gotten small. The bees like the little flowers that I should have picked off long before this.

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My onions are better this year than last since I planted further apart and they aren't shaded by nearby plants. Again though, I have no idea what variety is where - except the purple ones. I didn't label well, but they all look good. And lots of nice carrots too.

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So many beans. I only planted a couple short rows. Thanks goodness. These may need to go to the food bank. Not sure there's any way I can eat all of them.

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The peas and fava beans have totally burnt up. Lots of space now for more planting. Also the empty garlic beds are waiting for plants. I have little broccoli and greens sprouting in my hot frame at home.

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My tomatoes are growing finally, but still small and only few fruits ripening. I noticed the gardeners who planted tomatoes in the community plots have lots beautiful ripe fruit already. Almost no fungal issues on them. Its a good year for warm weather crops but I rotated then out of my sunny community plot this year. Same with the eggplants and peppers.

In my frame at home I have cucumber and melons. I have a bumper crop of cukes! Time to make some pickles. The melon plants look very good too. Small fruits are trying to set.

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I forgot to bring my wide angle lens, so I only got close up photos today. Tomorrow I'd like to get some of the whole garden.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

here's Skippy

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One of the nicest things about coming back home after vacation is to see Skippy again! My parents took very good care of him while we were away. He's happy and healthy and cute as ever!

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Swiss community gardens

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While I was in Switzerland last week on vacation, I took a bunch of photos of vegetable gardens. We traveled by train, so I had to pull up the camera quick and hope to get a shot before we went into a tunnel or behind a tree. It was a challenge!

The gardens are full to the top at this time of year with all sorts of crops. They look beautiful!

The community gardens look a lot like ours here in the US, but I was surprised at all the little huts in the plots. I wonder why this is? Are there that many tools to store that its worth using garden space for a shed? Or are they used for growing something? There are also many high hoop houses and shelters over plants.

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And here are a couple links to photos by eamesd on Flickr of an enormous community garden area in Basel, Switzerland. I missed seeing this and would have loved to have walked through here! Next time...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eamesd/1804275000/sizes/o/in/set-72157602797493837/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eamesd/1803441757/sizes/o/in/set-72157602797493837/

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