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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

the giving garden

Ava, the teacher at The Garden Road School, asked me to post this link for her kids. She wrote

The Garden Road School in Peekskill, NY is building a school garden! So far the children have learned about earthworms, soil structure, compost, and so much more. I've been working on it since September without a budget, but now I've designed a Kickstarter grant to raise some funds. The way Kickstarter works is through social networking, so everyone gives a little bit to raise a large sum of money.
Here's their link. The Giving Garden at KickStarter  Its a really cute video!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

robin webcam

Here's a link to see the robin nesting in my garden. I didn't pay for the premium service so you need to watch a 30 second commercial before you see the stream.

http://www.livestream.com/robininthegarden

There are 3 eggs in the nest that I think will hatch on about May 10.


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

I finished off my indoor spring seed planting yesterday with a few pots of zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkins, butternut and buttercup squash. I also put in a couple extra pots of basil. My cukes and watermelons have sprouted and are working on their second leaves. All that left for seeds now is  to remember to plant more lettuce every couple weeks. And maybe a second crop of spinach too. The bean seeds go directly in the garden and I don;t plant to put these in for a couple more weeks.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

lilacs!

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The lilac bush in my garden is blooming!

last of the garlic

last garlic 278 I only have a few heads of garlic left from last years harvest. They have been delicious!

I wish this years crop looked better. I forgot to cover it with salt hay and it looks like this was a mistake. Plus I planted very late. Many cloves didn't sprout and it looks like its suffered from drying out with the lack of rainfall this spring.

April garlic  012

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A third robin egg today!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

robin nest

A second blue egg is in the nest today.

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compost

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I added several loads of fresh compost to my garden beds and cold frame last Saturday.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

robin nesting

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A robin has built a nest just outside my dining room window. She's been coming and going all week, but today is staying put on the nest. When she left briefly I saw there is one bright blue egg. I'm hoping she doesn't get too bothered by the activity inside the window.

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meyer lemon tree

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This year my Meyer lemon tree has lots of lemons on it. I think because I did better at watering it indoors this winter. Its in a big pot and comes in to our front porch during the winter. It can stand a mild frost and is inside from Nov to April usually. Its about 6-10 years old, I'm guessing and very pot bound as I don't have room for a bigger tree. This summer, it could use to have its roots and branches trimmed.

Sometimes I get a few fully ripened yellow lemons, but usually they stay greenish. I am assuming we don't have enough sun at this latitude to fully ripen all of the fruit it produces. It seems to bloom and set fruit all year round. I learned last year (from a a kind commentor on my blog) that it needs a lot of nitrogen, and I have been regularly fertilizing, which is making it look great.

The lemons are delicious, even when they are a bit greenish, and are wonderful in a martini!

I was on line last night (ordering a few more asparagus crowns) and came across a sale at Territorial Seed Co on fig trees and ordered one. I have to look into figs now. I imagine these have similar culture requirements to citrus. Hope I can squeeze two trees on the porch in the winter.

(If you click on the label below, you can see previous posts on my lemon tree.)

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comparing tomato planting dates from previous years

Yesterday I transplanted 6 tomato seedlings to my side yard garden. Its been so warm this spring that it seems like tomato planting time already to me. Temperatures the past 2 weeks have been in the 70s and 80s, nighttime lows staying up near 50*F. The forecast is for a week of rainy weather in the 60's - perfect for tomato roots to take hold and grow. I plan to plant another 6 plants out at my community plot. I will try to wait until mid May to be safe as this big open space can get late frosts.

I compared this tomato transplant date with previous years. For the past 6 years, I have transplanted tomatoes out from May 3 to May 30. One year that I tried planting out in April with wall-o-water protectors and the plants did not do well.

2012: April 21 and TBD

2011, May 30: Last spring was very cold and damp. I planted tomato seeds late, around April 25, then transplanted seedlings out to my community plot on May 30. I never really got many tomatoes from these plants. I think my mistake was to plant them right next to my dense corn patch (just to the north of it), and I planted too many tomato plants too close together. I had lots of fungal problems - fortunately no late blight, but seemingly every other fungi (post). I pulled the plants in August and gave up.

2010, April 7 and May 16: I planted a few tomato seeds very early, Feb ?, and the rest right on schedule, March 23, 6 weeks before our usual last frost date of around May 4. I tried Wall-O-Water and transplanted the early (Beaver Lodge) plants to my side yard garden on April 7 (posts). But cold weather stayed late and I couldn't remove the covers til the first week of May. Most of the plants in them died from fungi as there is no air flow inside the units. I did my regular tomato transplanting on May 16 (post).

2009, May 3: I sowed tomato seeds Feb 21 and April 2, then transplanted the seedlings to the garden on May 3. This was the year that Late Blight wiped out almost every tomato in New England. Mine were no exception.

2008, May 22: This was a year of super tomatoes (post). Not many plants, but beautiful tomatoes (post). It was also my first year in my community plot. Here's a photo of transplanting tomatoes (with Amelia) on May 22 in my brand new plot (post). I planted my tomato seeds on April 6.

2007, May 20: I had an enormous crop this year!!

2006, May 23:
Another super year for tomatoes.

I wish I had a chart for each year to see when certain flowers bloomed and birds arrived and nested. My sense is the season is at least 2 weeks early here this year. My early rhododendron blossoms have come and gone, the purple iris is blooming and tree peony buds are about to open. Oak leaves are bigger than squirrels ears and the robins are nesting. The activity at our community garden is amazing and everyone is enjoying the warm spring.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

april garden arial

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A lot of good gardening weather this week!

Midweek, I moved my Meyers lemon out to its summer location. Its full of fruit this year and blooming again.

Today I shoveled 3 wheelbarrows full of compost to my garden beds, raked it down and did some planting. I usually turn the compost in every spring, but (mostly out of lack of energy) decided to try lasagna gardening this year. Since I have an irrigation system that needs to be lifted and redug when I turn the garden, its a big saving of time to forgo turning the garden. I layered on compost, racked to level, and will turn it locally to plant.

I planted six tomato plants today. Four (Beefsteak, Orange Blossom, Cherokee Purple, and New Girl) in brightly colored cages. One (Sun Gold cherry) has a 10 ft pole. And the sixth (Pink Beauty) is in the cold frame and will get a pole later, when the cold frame covers are removed. It is maybe the earliest I have ever planted tomatoes. What a year - such warm weather!(I'll plant another 6 tomato plants in a week or so at my community plot.)

I have 4 and a half rows of peas growing fast. I am working on getting a trellis for them (and the 3 rows of peas I planted at my parents' garden.) This is next weekends' garden job.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

time to plant potatoes

My seed potatoes arrived in the mail today. I will see if I can get time tomorrow to start to prepare their bed. I want to gather a few wheelbarrows full of compost from the piles at the edges of our community garden, then turn these under. Then I will dig two long trenches and plant the tubers in these. I ordered four varieties of potatoes from Fedco and they are waiting in the cool basement now for planting.

Other updates, we had a super work day at our community garden on Saturday. I hope to post photos soon.

On Sunday, I planted seeds for cucumbers, watermelons, basil, dill, and cilantro. They are under my plant lights now, but nearly all of my seedlings I moved outside to the cold frame, at least temporarily. It has been very hot (highs about 80*F) and sunny, so I am saving my light bulbs. The pepper and chili seedlings are inside where it's a little warmer at night.

The number of garden items I am eating is very gradually increasing. I still have lots of spinach and kale, also a bit of escarole and lettuce. Last week I also harvested a pot of extra dwarf bok choy that matured before it got transplanted. It made a really nice side dish over rice. Stored from last year, I have about a dozen heads of garlic left, a few tiny onions and lots of dried chilies. I am watching my asparagus sprout. I expect this weekend I may have enough for nice meal. Exciting. My bed is four years old now and I'm hoping this will be my first year with good asparagus

Monday, April 09, 2012

peas are growing

more pea sprouts 074

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garden gnomes

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I have two gnomes in my garden. One in the kale patch and another in the thyme. I'm not sure where my third gnome went, he was fishing by my pond last year and I didn't realize he was gone until now, hmmmm. I guess it's time to clean out the pond.

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April garden view

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Not much happening yet, but soon. My gnomes are working hard. And the peas are growing.

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Sunday, April 08, 2012

happy easter

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Skippy is enjoying the pansies. I will try to plant then in the garden today - a good gardening activity for a beautiful Easter Sunday!

(Disclaimer - my son says I should be honest here and disclose that I put a treat in the pansies and Skippy is not actually interested in the flowers. However, it is an actual photo with only a little Photoshopping to fix the contrast.)

tomato cages

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I have a stack of bright new tomato cages on my patio waiting to be used. I haven't ever used cage before, but these new colorful ones are hard to resist.

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Saturday, April 07, 2012

2012 garden plan

garden plan 2012

I've cut back on a few things this year, no popcorn, no melons. Only 3 pumpkin plants. Only 12 tomato plants. I'm going to try my tomatoes scattered in different locations in the garden rather than all in one patch hoping this will reduce fungi problems I've had the last few years.

In the center of my plan is a new feature currently under construction, a new garden arbor. I'm planning to grow squash up one side and flowers up the other. It is a good solid wood arbor that can hold the weight of butternut, which are always very productive in this plot.

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