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, December 31, 2010

organizing last year's seeds

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I got out my seed basket, spread out all the seeds, stacked them by the type of vegetable, and then wrapped the little stacks with rubber bands. The basket is all organized and ready to go now.

My first seed order arrived yesterday and I added these to the basket. I'll be setting up my lights and starting up a few seeds soon.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

planning next year's garden

I'm starting to plan my next garden!

Its much too cold to go outside. But inside a warm fire, leftover Christmas food and piles of new seed catalogs.

I figure with my new cold frame I can move up my planting dates. Since the frame extended my harvest by 2 months this fall, I'm guessing I can start two months early in the spring for as much as I can fit in the frame. (I have to remember that I still have plants in there and I want to see if they will survive and start growing again in the spring.) I'm setting up a planting calendar with March 1 as a "last frost date" to use for greens and onions. This calendar says I should have planted celery, celeriac and onions already - on December 23! Broccoli, kale, lettuce, escarole and other greens can go in the second week of January! Great. I will check on the seeds I have left over and the planting trays and soil I have. And I'll get ready.

Here's my first order. Its from Territorial Seed Co.
Giant Musselburgh Leek - 1/2 gram
Winter Density Lettuce - 1 gram
Oaky Red Splash Lettuce, Organic - 1/2 gram Organic
Victoria Lettuce, Organic - 1/2 gram Organic
Palla Rossa Special Radicchio - 1/8 gram
Perfection Fennel, Organic - 1/2 gram Organic
Rhodos Endive - 1 gram
Ruby Streaks Mustard - 1 gram
Kyoto Mizuna Mustard - 1 gram

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white garden

aerial in the snow

Looks we got a foot of snow, but hard to tell with the drifting. And its still coming down. No sign of the garden gnome - guess he took off and went south.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day lettuce harvest

Christmas Day lettuce harvest

I've been looking forward to harvesting lettuce on Christmas Day. In the snow. Not much left in the frame now, but enough for a bowl of greens for the Christmas table. They were very fresh and crisp. I picked spinach, baby beet greens, escarole frisee and curly red lettuce. I also added some baby kale for color.

I think this is my last harvest of the season. Maybe what's left in the cold frame will wait until spring and regrow when it warms up again. I've heard spinach is good at regrowing in the spring. We have heavy snow coming tomorrow night, so I'll replace the tarp covering tomorrow and see how the cold frame survives its first winter.

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my community plot on Christmas eve

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Belmont victory garden plot 022

Skippy and I walked around the Belmont Community Gardens yesterday. My plot is snow covered. Lots of little critter prints in the snow. The big redtail hawk watched overhead from the tall elm. Nearly dark at 3 pm. We are watching the forecasts for a big storm bringing a foot of snow tomorrow.

redtail hawk

merry christmas

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Skippy had a great time opening presents at midnight - early Christmas morning. He was like a little kid, and the 3 of us like big kids. Skippy used paws and teeth to carefully tear off paper - especially when he could smell a treat inside. He got his very first frisbee of his own, a new dog bed, a fluffy shearling ball, and lots of treats.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas eve aerial view of my side yard vegetable garden

aerial view

We shook the snow off the tarp covering the cold frame in the morning. Once the sun hit it warmed up to 45*F, so I opened the doors and let it get some fresh air. I brought a few gallons of water out while it was open. Not much left inside, but I will pick a salad bowl full tomorrow (Christmas Day) and then let the rest wait 'til the spring starts it growing again.

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a baby meyer's lemon

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meyer lemon flower baby lemon martini

My Meyers lemon tree has been dropping unripe lemons now and then since I brought it inside. It drops the smallest ones and the big ones keep growing. About 10 big lemons are still on the tree, all green still. The baby lemon that fell yesterday was big enough to slice. It looks like a lime, but a Meyer's lemon smell. Not much juice, but excellent in a martini!

Here is a beautiful Meyers lemon tree at A Growing Tradition. Covered with big lemons!

Skippy posed in front of my tree and looked very handsome for Christmas! Cheers!

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a little bit of snow

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A little bit more snow on the garden. The gnome is working hard. Its sunny today, so I will go out soon, shake the snow off the cold frame cover and pull it back. I'm going to harvest the Christmas lettuce, too.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

our first snowfall - ducks, dove and dog at the pond

Skippy and I took a walk around the big pond today with lightly falling snow. Its our first snow in the Boston area. I brought my camera and took photos of the birds and ducks (and Skippy).

I've done my best to name the ducks. Please let me know if any are misidentified.

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Mallard male

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male Ring-necked ducks

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female Ring-necked

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sleeping Canvasback male

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Hooded Merganser male

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Hooded Merganser female

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American coot

snowy dove by the pond
a puffy mourning dove (with blue eye shadow)

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And finally - Skippy! (lightly sprinkled with snow)

These ducks (and the dog and dove) are a common sight at the big pond (Fresh Pond, Cambridge MA) in early winter. The ducks stay til the pond freezes over. I think its one of the biggest ponds in the area. All the small ponds are frozen over now.

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cold frame ready for snow

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We may get a couple inches of snow tonight, so we pulled the tarp down over the cold frame. The greens are still fine inside. I'm hoping for a Christmas Day harvest of fresh green salad.

I harvested a bag of greens the other day when a friend came by. I gave her a Christmas gift of fresh greens and a few squashes and garlic from my garden.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

fried potatoes

potatoes fried

I can't do much gardening now, but I'm cooking and eating my produce. Today's recipe is fried potatoes. I found, then lost, a recipe online that worked great.

Standard potatoes: russets, blues, etc.
Sweet potatoes
Canola oil

1- Scrub and cut standard potatoes (whites, yellows and/or blues, leave skin on). Rinse in cold water, then soak 5 or more minutes in cold water.
2- Heat oil to 210-230*F.
3- Dry soaked potatoes on towel, then fry about 10 minutes in preheated oil. Remove to paper towel and let cool.
4- Increase oil temperature to 265*F.
5- Scrub and cut the sweet potatoes (leave skin on).
6- Add all potatoes (sweets and standards to the oil. Fry 5-10 minutes til nicely browned. Add salt and enjoy!

potatoes ready for frying Copy of 035

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Monday, December 13, 2010

winter reds and greens

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The greens are still growing in my cold frame. I think the lowest temperature they have seen in the frame is about 28*F. This was on a very cold night that went into the teens outside the frame. The remote thermometer monitors below show the cold frame temperature on the big display and the outside temperature on the smaller one.

temperature

I was worried to see the plants all wilted down, but they perked up as the temperatures came up. I had to bring a bucket of water out to water the plants yesterday as the soil is drying out.

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Since its my first year with a cold frame, I not sure how long I can wait to harvest. So far, so good. But it seems some very cold weather is heading east on Wednesday and I will plan to harvest most of the greens before this.

I never did get a heater or even extra insulation added to the cold frame. Still impressive how well it has done to extend the harvest time.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

amaryllis in bloom

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The first of my 5 amaryllis bulbs is in full bloom now. A very nice one.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

seed catalogs!

Seed catalogs have started arriving in the mail. They seem to come earlier every year. Christmas seems to come earlier every year too. Maybe I'm just getting further behind.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

red-tailed hawk guarding my plot

redtail on branch
There's a big hawk sitting in the ash tree right next to my community garden plot the past few days. A female Red-tailed hawk. Probably the same one I've seen in this area for years. I'm glad to see her watching over the plots. I know there are very many rodents (and rabbits) in there.

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I recently saw this Red-tail photo in the Boston Globe. The hawk caught and ate a pigeon amidst the holiday shoppers downtown. They are everywhere in the winters here.

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