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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

planting more garlic

planting garlic

Last week my son planted 40 cloves of garlic. I planted another 60 cloves today - finally. The wind was very chilly and not much is left in my garden plot. After planting I pulled a blanket of salt hay over the cloves.

Yesterday I had looked up how much garlic I planted last year - 100 cloves. This seemed like a perfect amount, so I planted the same number of cloves again this year. This great thing is that this year what I planted is all garlic that I grew myself. So it was FREE!

Last year I bought 4 nice varieties if garlic from Territorial and Johnny's paying about $40 as I remember. I was hoping I was right in my thinking that this was a one time investment and that after this I could now grow my own garlic in successive years. So far so good. 100 cloves is about 12-15 heads of garlic and was about 10% of last year's crop.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

today's harvest

today's harvest

The broccoli is from my cold frame. The spring plants are producing a few nice heads now that the weather has cooled down.

My tomatoes continue to trickle in. A handful a week. No frost in my yard yet. But the sun is so low that I will pull the plants soon anyway.

The herbs are great now: parsley and thyme today.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

my larder

(I'm taking some pictures now....)

Finally - the photos....

squash shelves 2

My larder this fall includes: Winter squashes: Butternut, Long Island cheese, Acorn and Delicata. A couple small orange pumpkins. Potatoes, and lots of sweet potatoes. Onions, garlic. My chile ristra has grown and is drying well. My root cellar (a small basement refrigerator has about 5 lbs of carrots, 10 lbs of beets, some celery, and a head of purple cabbage.

In past years, I kept my potatoes and squashes in baskets in the basement. This year I was disappointed I couldn't see the ones at the bottom of the basket. My husband made the perfect solution - shelves. Now I can admire all my stored vegetables!

Most of my vegetables are from my garden. Some are from Piccadilly Farm, whose CSA distribution I hosted this year. A nice acorn squash I got in trade for a big bunch of dill. (I love the idea of trading! I will try for more trades next year using our new bulletin board that is being installed this winter.)

squash shelves 1 ristra
onions

My onions and carrots will not last the winter. These I should try to grow more of next year. Looks like I have plenty of potatoes sweet potatoes, squashes and beets.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

purple power

Microsoft PowerPoint - Presentation1

The monthly photo contest theme at RAW for October is Purple Power

Royalty, passion, rage, sophistication ... purple is a vivid and versatile color. Let's see how creative you can get with it in this month's color challenge.

My purple photos are mostly shiny eggplants, beautiful cabbages, freshly picked purple calabash or Cherokee purple tomatoes, summer asters with honeybees and a few deep purple sunsets. Oh, and nice purple broccoli and purple potaotes. I assembled a bunch of my purple photos. Maybe I'll submit one, but how creative is a purple vegetable? Not.

My purple slide show: link

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new gardener survey

I got an email from Pennsylvania garden writer George Weigel and Penn State Extension Horticulture Educator Steve Bogash asking me to post about their survey of new gardeners. It seems they are afraid that "newbie vegetable gardeners are ready to pack it in already after the punishing growing season we just had". I have to admit I was surprised. Its been a great season! Hey, compare it to last year's tomato blight disaster. It rained almost all summer last year! OK, this year was dry, and the bean beetles were excessive. But every year has its ups and downs. My experience is only here in the US North East. What do you think?

Veggie Rookies: Once and Done?
How are all of those new vegetable gardeners faring?
What problems are they running into, what are they growing and why, and most of all, are they going to stick with it after the punishing growing season we had in so much of the country?
Pennsylvania garden writer George Weigel and Penn State Extension Horticulture Educator Steve Bogash have put together a 15-question survey to find out.
It’s targeted at folks who have started growing herbs and vegetables within the past 5 years. If that’s you -- or if you know others new to growing their own edibles -- please check out http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VS62KR2 and take the survey.
It’s anonymous, and results will be shared with interested media and garden-industry sources. The survey will close Nov. 19.
Questions: Email Weigel at george@georgeweigel.net or Bogash at smb12@psu.edu

I have asked them to share the results with me, so I'll post them here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

flowers in my October garden

October hyssop flowers 2

Most summer flowers are gone. A few remain. I was pleased to see honeybees still foraging. I photographed these flowers on Thursday, then pulled the nasturtiums on Saturday and after they were damaged by frost between these dates. Hyssop, borage and dill still look happy.

October borage flower October nasturtium flowers
October dill flowers

garden accomplishments

Yesterday my son and I worked a couple hours in the garden. We got a lot done:

GARLIC: We cleared out the weeds and old vines from the squash bed, flattened the soil and then my son planted 40 cloves of garlic. He also transplanted the garlic volunteers that came up this fall in last year's bed. I need to figure out how many more cloves to plant. I think maybe 20 or 30 more. Its really nice to be planting cloves I grew - FREE! (I paid a lot for these last year.)

SALT HAY: I picked up two bales of salt marsh hay ($11.99/bale at Nunan's, Georgetown MA). We spread hay on the newly panted garlic bed, and on my beds of fall greens, and perennial flowers. Looks nice - all tucked in now. (The only thing I dislike about hay mulch is having to pull it out of lettuce when I harvest it. It gets all over the place and doesn't rinse off like dirt does.)

CLEARED BEANS: We have had a couple mild frosts and the beans were hit this time.We pulled off the big purple hyacinth bean on my fence. Also I pulled my shell beans and shelled about of cup of beans. I'm looking forward to a small but nice bowl of beans, maybe with bacon, kale and potatoes.

FROSTED PLANTS: I am noticing that my counter on my sidebar now says its 2 weeks past our usual first fall frost date. We are lucky to have a somewhat late frost. Its been dipping close to frost temperature many nights and giving us very light and scattered frosts, but so far, not a hard freeze. Yesterday, the nasturtiums and marigolds looked singed (as well as the beans) so we pulled these. But lots of plants will are growing: beets, carrots, cabbages, arugula, lettuces, spinach, hyssop, dill, borage, and peas. It seems that pea foliage is less frost sensitive than the pods. My pea plants have lots of pods, but they look like they've been damaged by the cold. I'll try to post a photo of these.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

what birds are these?

bird 2
bluebird on  branch bluebird on rock

These are bird photos from Skippy's and my walk on Friday. A beautiful cool fall day. We walked through the open land on a sunny hill in Belmont. The birds were very active, but I only got photos of a few. I know the bluebirds. There was a group of about 3 or 5 of them. Can anyone help me identify the others?

bird field
bird 1 bird 4
bird 5

.....click on the "birds" label below to see more of my bird posts.....

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Friday, October 22, 2010

this weekend's tasks

Not much garden work left for this weekend.

One last bed to clear out.
Print and post fall/winter information notice on bulletin board at community gardens.
Garlic: Locate new bed, transplant volunteers, figure out how many saved bulbs to plant and plant them. My son wants to help - he wants to earn $$ for some project of his. I love to have his help.

I meant to plant garlic a couple weeks ago, but didn't get it gone. The garlic planting time is pretty flexible. I'm looking forward to this!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

pumpkins on the doorsteps

pumpkins 6 pumpkins 7
pumpkins 4 pumpkins 8
pumpkins 1 pumpkins 2

When Skippy and I walked around the neighborhood yesterday, I brought my camera and took pictures of the pumpkins. I just love seeing pumpkins on doorsteps. One of the houses we walked by had big bunches of onions drying in the doorway too. All the fruits of the season - and its been a really great season for growing vegetables.

pumpkins 5

I will have to add a photo of my pumpkins on my doorsteps. Soon.

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grilled vegetables

grilled vegetables

This is our dinner the night of a harvest. Everything grilled outside: sweet potatoes, white potatoes, beets, carrots and some greens from my perennial (walking) onion.

To grill, my husband gets a nice hardwood fire going, then puts vegetable slices on and brushes with olive oil and turns them as they cook. He keeps them far enough from the fire so they can cook for about 20 minutes, but close enough so they brown nicely during this time.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

this weekend's harvest

harvest 2
harvest 3 harvest 4

Arugula, beets, carrots, red cabbage, oak leaf lettuce, escarole frisee, a big bunch of dill, perennial (walking) onion greens, the last of my newmex chiles, a tiny butternut squash, lemon thyme, parsley and a few tomatoes.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

fall leaves

leaves 2 leaves 1
leaves 5

Just a few photos of Skippy's walk in the woods today. The leaves are turning reds and yellows and gradually more sunlight is filtering down through the branches.

leaves 6
leaves 3 leaves 7

Thursday, October 14, 2010

last chile harvest

last harvest of chiles

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

my community plot

plot 6
plot 1

We got a lot of work done on Sunday in my community garden plot. My son helped me, for a fee. We had fun conversation and accomplished a lot.

First, we pulled the last of the corn stalks and giant sunflowers. I put the sunflower heads on the fence for the birds to finish. They were mostly empty, but had a few seeds left. We pulled the old basil, eggplant, squash and pepper plants. I picked a nice batch of cayenne peppers to dry for winter.

Then we moved the rhubarb plant to make room for a new compost bin. My single bin isn't big enough. I'd like two bins. My son constructed a new compost bin from fencing wire in the back left corner of the garden. Eventually, I will move the old compost bin out of the right corner so it is adjacent to the new one. This will allow me to expand the asparagus bed by a few feet.

Next we cut up the corn and sunflower stalks and pretty much filed the new compost bin with these. We cleaned up and racked three beds.

Last, as the sun was setting, I scattered seeds for cover crops of clover and winter rye. Garden work is a great way to catch up with my teenager, though I may go broke in the process.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

today's tomato harvest

harvest of tomatoes

I picked a bunch of green tomatoes to ripen inside. I gave half to my mom and this is my half. The plants are still up in the garden and look fine, though the tomatoes aren't growing much any more. There's not much light left as the sun has fallen below the neighboring house.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

cold frame ready for winter

cold frame 4
cold frame 2
cold frame 5 cold frame 3

On Saturday, I cleared out the old plants from my cold frame. I removed the cucumber, melon, squash vines, and a few tomatoes plants.

Then I pulled off the ripped plastic from the sides of the cold frame. A wind storm a month ago had ripped them. My husband and I cut and stapled on fresh side sheets. I checked on the type of plastic and the sides are 4 mil basic plastic sheeting from Home Depot. Its not very transparent, but reflects the light well. The front panel was also quite brittle, though not ripped, after a summer of bright light. It may need reinforcing sooner rather than later. (I think it would be good to use a stronger plastic that lasts better next time we replace this. The sides do not need to be transparent.)

After fixing the sides, my husband and I carried out the top panels that had been stored under a tarp behind the garage for the summer. We reattached the hinges. The plastic on these panels is looking very good. Unlike the sides, this is clear (and I think thinner plastic than the sides.) I like the way it reflects our newly painted green house.

The cold frame now looks ready to fill up with plants again. I have a row of broccoli at the back left and one kale plant at the front right. These are plants from the spring. The broccoli are producing heads again now that its cool. Also I planted a some rows of lettuce and beets at the back right a couple weeks ago. The rest is open soil waiting for plants. I brought down a tray of seedlings that I've had under lights. They had a little disaster last night as they fell over onto the floor, but I think they will be fine once they hydrate and unsquish.

On Sunday morning with the top covers down the temp came up to 60*F and the plants were looking very happy. I propped them open and Skippy and I admired the frame. I bet the lettuce will do well here this fall.

cold frame 1

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Picadilly Farm distribution

Distribution 1
Distribution 2 Distribution 4

This week is the third-to-last distribution from Piccadilly Farm (only two more this fall), located in southern New Hampshire. I host a CSA distribution for them. Every week they drop off beautiful boxes of freshly harvests vegetables.

This week was an exceptionally nice box, so I took a picture. A bunch of carrots, 2 giant red peppers, onions, some scallions, garlic, purple kale, pea tendrils, lettuce, a couple Delicata squash, and the most amazing sweet potato I have EVER seen.

Seeing the bunch of pea tendrils, which had just started to flower, made me wonder if I should pick mine now or wait and hope for peas. I'll watch the weather forecast, wait and hope.

The lettuce is one of the loveliest I have ever seen. Its green oak leaf, and very dense and full. I hope mine fill out this much!

The sweet potato is incredible. 2 lbs 6 oz! It dwarfs my cute little sweets. I may have to save this one for Thanksgiving. I've never seen any thing like it.

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mom and dad's vegetable garden

Mom and Dad's garden 1

On Saturday, I helped my parent's with their garden. Mom is still recuperating, but doing GREAT. She was the supervisor with her captain's chair. Dad and I got the garden all set for fall.

We removed all the old plants: tomatoes, squashes, and cucumbers. Picked green tomatoes. Pulled a few onions that had been hidden.

We left the big curly kale plants, a bunch of 4 foot tall bell pepper plants, a nice patch of basil, rows of bright yellow marigolds, a 3 foot sage plant, a big tomatillo plant, a row of rainbow chard, and a row of red beets.

There were a lot of garlic sprouts coming up from heads that didn't get harvested. I dug all these and moved them to the other end of the garden. So many it made a triple row!

As we worked the air was quite chilly - maybe 50*F and Skippy had stolen my sweater again. We marveled at an enormous V-formation of geese that flew overhead. Must have been more than a hundred, all honking to each other and heading due south.

I moved a row of lettuce and beets that were in the area we wanted to rake and seed with cover crop. I put them in with the garlic row. The greens will be harvested within a month so they won't bother the garlic. I also added a few new spinach and escarole Frisee seedlings. Then I covered this row with hoops and row cover. I'm curious to see how it will fare as the cold weather comes. The row cover lets light and air in, retains humidity and warmth, and protects from wind. It will stay on for a couple months, or maybe all winter.

We seeded about half the garden with a mix of clover and winter rye.

There was a frost warning for their area, so our last job, as the sun set, was to spread sheets on the peppers, basil and flowers. These sheets will come off tomorrow morning.

Mom and Dad's garden 4

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Friday, October 08, 2010

planning garden chores

Buy galvanized metal wire at hardware store for hoops
Find my row cover (in the basement I think)
Find my clover seed
Buy 10 lbs winter rye seed at the hardware store (they sell by the lb)

Home Garden
Clear out cucumber and melon vines from cold frame.
Replace torn cold frame plastic
Attach cold frame covers
Transplant fall seedlings into cold frame
Plant cover crop in beds (under tomato and pepper plants)

Community Plot
Clear out old plants
Plant cover crop
Garlic: Locate new bed, transplant volunteers, figure out how many saved bulbs to plant
Transplant rhubarb to make room for new compost bin
Set up hoops for row covers over fall/winter greens

My Parents' Garden

Transplant fall seedlings
Set up hoops and row covers over fall/winter greens (they may frost Sat night)
Clear out all old plants
Plant winter rye

I doubt I will get all this done, but I have a plan.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

photos of my garden plot

plot 7
plot 4 plot 8
plot 1 plot 3

Here are a few pictures of what's growing now in my community garden plot. My lettuce is finally looking good. I have lots of oak leaf coming along. I can start tinning this soon. At home, I have smaller lettuce seedlings that are looking good too: mostly Prizehead, escarole and red romaine.

Other greens growing include: red bok choy (I think), mizuna, escarole frisee, spinach and arugula. The broccoli is forming its second set of heads now that the weather has cooled off. Some of these are quite nice. And the beets (sowed the first week of August) are harvest size now - its been a great year for beets.

plot 5

The purple flowers are some morning glories growing up my old popcorn stalks. They stay open all day now with the declining sunlight. I'm sad how dim the light looks in my photos taken at about 4 pm on Sunday.

plot 6

I also have a couple rows of snap peas in bloom. I planted these late August, but they grew very slowly during the hot September weather. I think they'll need a week or two more to produce, but frost could come anytime now. A gamble. A lot of fresh new dill plants coming up all over the garden. I wanted to use up some old seeds. It smells great.

I've also found stray garlic sprouts popping up where I grew garlic this year. I always have this happen. When garlic is left in the ground too long, heads fall apart and I don't harvest it all. Any left behind sprout in the fall. I'll need to designate a new garlic bed soon. I'll move the volunteers and plants saved cloves from my summer harvest. I have enough this year to go without purchasing more.

















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