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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

marked out plots

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Most of these are about 20 by 20 (feet), I think. We didn't measure. We laid them out in a ridiculous wind. The string and stakes were almost blown away. Nonetheless, I think the paths are nearly straight and the plots are fairly even.

16 new plots for 16 new gardeners.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

CSA bee hives are in place

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I believe our beekeeper set up this hive last Friday. Lots of bees! They have a nice sunny spot with a southwesterly slope and a good view of all the flowers that will come soon in our community garden plots.

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preparing new community plots

new community garden space

We are nearly finished with preparing an additional 15 or so plots for rental at our community garden. It will make a small dent in the long waiting list.

This area was previously overgrown with trees, shrubs and all sorts of invasives. After clearing the growth, we found that the soil was a bit rough. A good layer of topsoil was spread, and then a layer of dark black compost. Soon we will mark out plots with stakes and string. Then these new plots will be assigned. It will be a whole new start for this piece of land.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

fava seedlings

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These are crimson flowered fava beans. The seeds were collected and sent to me by Dan. I planted them on March 17 - St Patrick's Day. I love the full roundness of the leaves. Prettier then regular favas it seems. I'm looking forward to the red flowers.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

woodland wildflowers

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On a drizzly and cool afternoon, Skippy and I went hunting in the woods for early spring wildflowers. We found many. I think many more than in previous years. In some areas, I just stopped and starred - amazed. The woods were blanketed with flowering natives: a mix of anemones, Solomon seal, Lily of the Valley, geraniums, foam flower, bellwort, wild roses, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, trillium, wood violets and even showy lady's slipper. Amazing. And beautiful. Several are still budded and I will have to return here to watch them open.

wildflowers

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showy lady's slippers -- not

I made a real find today.

Skippy and I wandered into an area of the woods where we don't usually go and came across a nice stand of Showy Lady's Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium Reginae). I have never seen these before and am mostly guessing that this is what they are as the leaves look like pink lady's slippers, which are fairly common here. The difference is that the plants I found are MUCH taller - 2 to 3 feet tall.

I looked up photos of the showy lady slipper and they look like the plants I found. They are native from Newfoundland to Manitoba, in the northeastern and north central U.S. and in the Appalachians southward and stand 35 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet) high topped by gorgeous pink-and-white flowers. In most of its US range, this plant is considered rare, endangered or critically endangered.

One of the plants has a bud and I am looking forward to seeing the blossom! I will have to check back regularly so I don't miss it. I read that they usually bloom in June, but it looks like this one may bloom sooner than that.

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Note added: Thanks for the comment that this plant is actually Veratrum! Ooops. Its a very poisonous plant used for many medicinal preparations with a fairly plain white flower plume. I will have to keep searching for a showy lady slipper.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

double digging

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Before we planted my Mom and Dad's garden last Sunday, we double dug it. My dad gave us instructions. (I had already spread a good 4 inches of new compost on the garden.)

First we dug a 12 inch trench and moved all the dirt to the far end of the garden. (We I say "we dug" here, I will mostly mean "my husband dug".) Then we turned the adjacent soil into the trench to progressively move the trench down the garden. The result is a bed loosened and amended 12 inches with minimally disturbed "structure", which means happy worms and other soil inhabitants.

The bottom layer was dense and very hard to dig. I hope this year's vegetables will benefit from this nice preparation. It took about 2 hours for the 3 of us. A good team project.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

a toast to the new season

martini with olives

We've done a lot of planting this weekend. Soon I'll have fresh homegrown vegetables for my martini. Radish, then carrots, then cucumbers, onions, melons, apples, pears .... And maybe I can discover a new martini this year. Today's martini is traditional - a couple of nice olives. Cheers!

Note added: Oliver sent me this link http://www.gineralelection.com/. Cute site. Now I'm really looking forward to fresh cukes - with Hendricks. (I think Oliver may work for them, but the site (and gin) is good anyway.)

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(click on the link below to see previous martinis)

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planting Mom and Dad's garden

planted garden

After double digging the new compost into Mom and Dads' garden, we planted:

One row of marigolds, Lemon Boy, Petit mix and Fireball
3 Early seedlings tomatoes with Wall-O-Water on green mulch film
One row cabbages: Radicchio, Savoy, Wong Bok and Super Red
One row salad greens: Elegance mix, Black seeded Simpson and Red Romaine
One double row of onions: Ruby Ring, Frontier, Sweet Yellow Spanish and Ailsa Craig
Two long rows of potatoes: Butte, All Blue and Cobbler

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

water!!

The water is on at the community garden today! Yippee.

today's garden work

plot

Remove old dead pear tree and plant new pear (Kieffer) to espalier on fence
Move tomato supports to new location
Direct sow carrots: Mokum and St Valery
Direct sow radish: French Breakfast
Direct sow another package of Crimson Flowered Fava Beans (from Dan)
Transplant onion seedlings to plot
Transplant 6 broccoli seedlings and 6 collard seedlings

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plant corn when oak leaves are as big as squirrels ears

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This season is going so fast I can't keep up with it! Already the oak leaves are opening. I am planting more by my calendar than phenology, just because I can't seem to keep up this year. The dandelions have been open a week and I still haven't finished planting my potatoes and I haven't started planting my carrots. I will keep trying to catch up.

Here's some other phenology advice:
When red winged blackbird females return its time to plant peas.
When the chickadees build their nests, plant peas and spinach.
When dandelions are blooming plant potatoes, beets, lettuce, spinach and carrots.
When the iris bloom, plant the peppers and eggplants outside.
Plant beets, lettuce, spinach when lilac is in first leaf.
When lilac blooms, plant beans, cukes and squash.
Plant corn when oak leaves are the size of squirrels' ears.
Plant your corn when apple blossoms start to fall.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

seeds planted today

peat pots

Today I planted:

Pumpkin, Jarrahdale (Botanical Interests)
Pumpkin, Long Island Cheese (Territorial)
Pumpkin, Baby Pam (Fedco)
Pumpkin, Big Rock (Johnny's)
Pumpkin, Galeux D'Eysines (Territorial)
Winter Squash, Waltham Butternut (Sand Hill Preservation)
Winter Squash, Delicata (Botanical Interests)
Cucumber, Diva
Cucumber, North Carolina Pickling (Sand Hill Preservation)
Cucumber, Boston Pickling
Cucumber, Tokiwa (Sand Hill Preservation)
Cucumber, Sweet Success (Burpee)
Summer Squash, patty pan Benning's Green Tint (Territorial)
Summer Squash, patty pan Starship (Johnny's)
Summer Squash, patty pan Sunburst
Summer Squash, Zephyr (yellow straight neck) (Johnny's)
Summer Squash, zucchini Cashflow (Johnny's)
Watermelon, Crimson Sweet (25 lb) (Burpee)
Watermelon, Red Sugar Baby (Johnny's)
Melon, Anne Arundel (Sand Hill Preservation)
Melon, Crane (Sand Hill Preservation)
Melon, Charentais (Johnny's)
Lettuce, Valentine red mix (Botanical Interests)
Lettuce, Oak Leaf mix (Botanical Interests)
Zinnia, Benery's Giant mix (Johnny's)
Bachelor Buttons (Botanical Interests)

This is my last large indoor sowing.

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my side yard garden

aerial April 22 2010

Lots of chores after returning home to my gardens:

- To all side yard beds, added composted, turned and buried irrigation lines
- Potatoes planted in far left bed: All Blue, Cobbler, Green Mountain and Butte Russet. I'll leave the irrigation line above the soil for now in this bed.
- Marigolds planted along front of cold frame
- Spread old salt hay between beds (not quite enough - I'd like to get more)
- Admired all the green in the cold frame

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

white house vegetable garden

white house south lawn with vegetable garden
white house vegetable garden

I was in Washington DC for a business conference (AACR) this week and had one tourist location I made sure to find time for: the White House Vegetable Garden! I wasn't able to get a tour, but did peek through the fence and take photos.

It seems to be planted nicely already. What do you think is in? I think I see onions, and broccoli. The poles are maybe for a pea trellis? Maybe rhubarb in the raised beds at the left? Probably salad greens too. There is a big stack of beehives about 50 feet from the garden, by the tree in the middle of the lawn. Looks great!

I added a diagram below of the garden last year and a link to a nice news article about the garden.

me by the white house vegetable garden white house vegetable garden through the trees
white house vegetable garden information plaque


This year's White House vegetable garden is 1500 square feet (about 26 by 60 feet). That's a bit bigger than my vegetable garden space of about 1000 square feet: community plot (25 x 30) and my home garden (a 10 x 12 bed and five 10 x 3.5 beds). This amount of space can produce a ton of food - even with a amateur gardener. The link below says the White House garden produced 1000 pounds of food last year. I'm sure they could put a small farm on the lawn, but I think the point is to have a family garden. This is a perfect scale for a family.

The article also says Michelle expanded the garden this year. "The newly planted garden is 400 square feet larger than last year and will contain four new vegetables: bok choy, cauliflower, artichokes, and mustard greens."

April 1, 2010, The Christian Science Monitor, Michelle Obama expands the White House garden,

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

magnolia blossoms

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

preparing Mom and Dad's garden

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Yesterday I went up to my parents house and enjoyed a day in the dirt. I had ordered a truckload of compost to be delivered. I was expecting a morning delivery, but as my luck had it, it was a 5:30 pm delivery. So I had time to do a lot of raking and prep work, but had to scramble to get the dirt spread and turned before dark.

My parent's garden plot is about 15 by 50 feet, by my guess. It is against the woods with a westerly exposure, so it gets lots of midday and afternoon sun. As the trees to the east grow, my parents have been gradually inching the garden out into the yard to get more sun.

The plot has a few things growing in it now. Perennial rhubarb, and herbs oregano and sage. Also three nice rows of garlic.

I had meant to order enough compost for a 2-3 inch layer, but looks like I was off by a factor of 2. It was pretty intimidating after the truck left to be standing there by an enormous pile - just me and my shovel and the setting sun. I surprised myself and did get it spread. Then I limed (10 lbs) and added a little organic fertilizer (Garden Tone, 5 lbs). And I was able to turn about half of the plot before Skippy insisted it was time to go home.

I ended up with 4-6 inches of compost. This is almost too much, but from what I've read, it should be OK. I will try to go back and double dig the whole plot down to 12 inches. (My Dad may get a friend in with a big rototiller before I get back to it, but I just hate to think what that does to all the worms he has.)

The compost is dark and even and looks great. No mixed in trash, no sticks or rocks. Just very nice and good smelling stuff. I hope it will produce a bumper crop!

Note added: Here's the link for the compost that I added: Agresource Compost. Looks like its already pH adjusted - so I didn't need to add lime. I'm also noticing that the weeds prior to prep seem to be "sweet" soil weeds: dandelions and chickweed. Well, at least tomatoes like the soil sweet, as do peppers and zucchini. The carrots and beets may not appreciate it. We'll see.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

cold frame lettuce

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My seedlings in the big new cold frame are doing really well. I'm starting to think about getting the salad bowl ready. As soon as the water is turned on at my community plot (last year this was April 24), I will transplant them out there.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

new plots

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These are a couple of the new plots we cleared last weekend during our community garden work day. These plots were used years ago, but then abandoned when interest dropped about 10 or so years ago. We removed a large buck thorn tree that had overgrown the area and lots of raspberry canes. Then the soil was rototilled. One of the plots had become a compost area and the soil there looks incredibly good. I believe we will be assigning these plots in the next week or two - our waiting list, which is still more than 50.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

garlic in april

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It looks like it'll be a fantastic year for garlic. Maybe its the big fancy (expensive) bulbs I mail ordered, or maybe it was a good winter for garlic. Maybe both. It seems it was a fairly average winter here - not overly cold, good snow cover and then an early, warm, sunny and very wet spring. Anyway, the plants are big and healthy looking.

I counted today about 100 garlic plants in my plot. Maybe too many, but in past years I haven't had near enough, so I'm still working out how much I can use. I'm hoping to be able to save my own bulbs for planting next year. Maybe 10% will be for replanting and I won't have to pay the high price of seed bulbs. I bought very nice quality garlic last fall from Territorial.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

corn stalks for pea support

peas

I decided to go with the pea trellis material that was lying around my garden - last year's popcorn stalks.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Work Day

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We had a fantastic Work Day at the Belmont Victory Garden on Saturday! It was really amazing to see how much work we got done!! And everyone seemed to be having such fun. Nothing like happy gardeners. I supervised the work details and assigned photography duties to a super photographer. He took 200 photos and in all of them, everyone is smiling! (Except maybe the rock moving crew.) I love to look back at all the smiling faces.

We also assigned 6 or 8 plots to new gardeners. Looks like we'll have an additional 20 or so ready to assign in a week or two.

By the way, that's me in the red jacket and yellow tee shirt.

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