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 28, 2012

garden work

I did a lot of work today to remove fungi damage. Squash leaves at the base of plants, especially zucchini and butternut, were white and fuzzy. I removed and bagged these. The pruning made it easier to find and pick squashes and weed under the plants.

My potatoes ares quickly dying back now. I removed the plants from my red potatoes and bagged these rather than composting just to be safe.

I also removed tomato leaves with leaf spot damage. It's a super year for tomatoes - plants are big and leaf spot damage is not bad. Lots of big tomatoes on the plants though it is early in the season and so far I have only picked 3 or 4 tomatoes. The worry is reports of late blight in the area. I heard today that late blight was found on tomatoes at Waltham Fields, 1 mile as the crow flies (as the spores travel) from my garden. I was afraid i might find late blight on my plants today, but did not. I looked at other plots at our garden and was dissappointed to find one or two at the far south side that have damage that could be late blight. After harvesting, I sprayed my tomatoes thoroughly with copper fungicide.

I also watered a bit, especially the bed where I sowed carrots a couple days ago. We had rain yesterday, but the ground was surprisingly dry. I will have to get a rain gauge as I don't think the garden (1 mile groom my house) gets the same rain as my house.

The weather was dry when I sprayed at midday, but by 6 pm rain moved in. The whole area got at least 1 or 2 inches of drenching rain. Was it better to spray the tomatoes before this rain? Should I spray again after? I am finding this a bit confusing, but my understanding is that a regular schedule is best and so I should spray again in about 5 days.

today's harvest

7-28 harvest 083 7-28 harvest 097 7-28 harvest 096 7-28 harvest 095 7-28 harvest 093 7-28 harvest 091 7-28 harvest 088 7-28 harvest 089 7-28 harvest 098

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July photos of my gardens

This is my side yard garden. The beds are getting sun about 11 am to 2:30 pm now because of trees to the east and west. But is is really sheltered and warm here, especially in the open cold frame against the south wall of the house.

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And this is my community plot - with completely full sun.
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July plot 031 July plot 084
July plot 033 July plot 057
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July plot 076 July plot 079

Friday, July 27, 2012

skippy - the day before the haircut

skippy 090 A kid said to Skip today, "Who pulled the wool over your eyes?"

Tomorrow is his haircut day. I'll see if I can get an "after" photo, too.
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

help - do you have a cucumber recipe???

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

tomatoes!!

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The "real" tomatoes are ripening! Ahh. Can't beat this time of year.

A couple weeks ago my mom sent me a fascinating article about how supermarket tomatoes lost their flavor. Turns our the green shoulders contain chlorophyll and work to make the tomato sweet as it ripens. The great supermarket tomato advance was to remove the green shoulders and produce a perfectly red tomato - with NO TASTE. Remarkable!

Work linking tomato sweetness and green shoulders was published June 28, 2012 in the journal Science: How Tomatoes Lost their Taste.

A nice article is at The Salt (NPR food blog): How The Taste Of Tomatoes Went Bad (And Kept On Going).

My first three real tomatoes are a Pink Beauty, a Purple Calabash and a Brandywine.
tomatoes 019 tomato 155 tomato 129 tomato 138

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late blight

I just got back from spraying my tomato plants. We had a little rain yesterday and I've been spraying with a copper fungicide after every rain to protect against late blight. My plants look really good this year, so I'm hoping for a good harvest before the blight comes in.

The latest info on tomato blight is at this site: http://extension.umass.edu/vegetable/alerts/late-blight-alert-update

Late blight was spotted early this year, July 3, in some commercial tomato fields near my garden and in other parts of the New England. But it seems that it isn't spreading very rapidly.

A couple weeks ago, I sent out this notice to gardeners in our Community Garden.

Gardeners,

Bad news – On July 3, Late Blight was confirmed on tomato plants near us (Middlesex County MA). This is a very aggressive pathogen that can kill an entire field of tomatoes or potatoes within a few days.

As you may remember, we had a terrible year at the Belmont Victory Gardens with Late Blight in 2009. It affected the whole garden and the entire NE region with devastating effects for commercial growers.

We would like to ask you to do the following:
-    Please read some of the links and information on the bulletin board (we will post photos and info soon) to learn about Late Blight and how to identify it.
-    Check your tomato and potato plants carefully for Late Blight and report it immediately to me if you find any (UMASS extension service like to follow locations of outbreaks and fellow gardeners will also like to know). If you find damage that looks like late blight it must be removed from the Gardens and disposed of at home in your trash. Do not compost it! Late Blight spreads very quickly and it is important to do what we can to contain spread of the pathogen.
-    To protect your plants from infection (especially important in shadier and low lying areas):
o    Remove leaves at the bottom of tomato plants to increase airflow
o    Increase airflow around potatoes and tomatoes by trimming nearby plants, removing weeds, removing vines from fences, and keeping the paths mowed
o    Spray tomatoes and potatoes before every rain with a fixed Copper fungicide spray that is organic approved.

I walked through the Belmont gardens today and checked tomatoes and potatoes in many plots. I did not see any Late Blight, but did not have time to check all gardens. Actually, I think the tomatoes and potatoes look really good this year. There is a bit of Septoria leaf spot around as usual, which is a less aggressive fungus that causes small brown spots and yellowing from the edges of the leaves on both tomatoes and potatoes, but not much.

In my garden, I removed the Septoria damaged tomato leaves and disposed of them in my trash at home. I will be spraying with a copper fungicide soon. This is available at Hillside Garden Center as a powder or spray. Geno recommends a spray combination of Rotenone (also organic) and copper that is available at Agway in Waltham.

Some helpful links:
http://extension.umass.edu/vegetable/alerts/late-blight-alert-update
http://seacoasteatlocal.org/2012/07/alert-late-blight-found-in-massachusetts/
http://extension.unh.edu/Agric/lateblight.htm
http://nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/blight/
http://www.longislandhort.cornell.edu/vegpath/photos/lateblight_tomato.htm (lots of good photos here to learn how to identify Late Blight)

Our Yahoo and Facebook sites and are good places for conversations and advice. Also feel free to email me.

Kathy
Coordinator, Belmont Victory Community Gardens

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

what is this?

mystery plant 009 This is a wetland plant from the meadow near my garden. Can anyone help me ID it?

beans sowed and picked

I planted some bush green beans today and calculated when they should be ready to pick.

Maxibel (a French/filet bean), 50 days, expect to harvest around Sept 12
Jumbo (a flat Italian bean), 55 days, expect to harvest around Sept 17

These will be my last bean plantings as this harvest dates will be the end of bean season.

I also sowed some dill seeds next to the beans. It was very old seed, so I hope it sprouts. Dill matures in 40-60 days.

My purple bush beans, planted this spring, have been producing a small harvest for me for the past week or so. I picked a meal of them today. My second planting of bush beans (Roma and more purple beans) is just beginning to bloom. My pole beans are half way up their poles.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

fall and winter seedlings

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I planted a tray of fall seedlings a couple weeks ago (July 7). I have kept them indoors under lights. Today I brought them outside to start getting used to full sunlight.

Beets, Chiogga Guardsmark
Beets, Round Red Merlin
Beets, White Detroit
Cabbage, Pac Choi, Mei Qing Choi
Cabbage, Pac Choi, Win-Win Choi
Cabbage, Red, Super Red 80
Cilantro, Calypso
Endive, Dubuisson
Escarole, Natacha
Lettuce, Butterhead Green, Ermosa
Lettuce, Butterhead Red, Skyphos
Lettuce, Looseleaf Green, Black Seeded Simpson
Lettuce, Summer Crisp Green, Nevada
Lettuce, Summer Crisp Red, Teide

The beets and cabbages are right on time for a last planting of the season. I don't know how the lettuce will do with the hot weather. I am trying some Summer Crisp types, which are supposed to be more heat tolerant.

I will sow another tray the first week of August (in a week and a half) with my winter crops that will go in the coldframe: spinach, more lettuce and other greens.

This week, I want to remember to sow some carrots and fall peas in the garden. Not sure where these will go yet.

I am using my Fall Planting Calendar to figure out when to plant. Here's a link to it. I am using Nov 1 as my average first fall frost date.
fall seedlings 001c fall seedlings 005

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

today's harvest

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I am digging my potatoes from the front of the bed toward the back as we need them. I finished a row of German Butterball and started on a row of Adirondack Red today. Fun to unearth the bright magenta/pink tubers. Unlike soil-colored Butterballs, these seem to pop right out of the dirt.

As usual, a bunch of RC zucchini and Zephyr yellow squash. Very prolific varieties. I have very low production form my tow other summer squashes: Starship and Yellow Crookneck. Maybe they will produce later in the season.

And some tomatoes are starting to ripen right on schedule - July 21 is a pretty average first tomato date for me. I have a fully ripe New Girl, two almost ripe Pink beauties and some Purple Calabash starting to color-up in the garden. Of course, lots of Sun Gold cherries, which started ripening a week ago.

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my plant list

I put together a list of the varieties of vegetables, herbs and fruits I am growing this year.

Vegetables
Asparagus, Jersey Supreme
Asparagus, Purple Passion
Beans, Bush, Provider
Beans, Bush, Royal Burgundy
Beans, Bush French filet, Maxibel
Beans, Bush Italian flat, Jumbo
Beans, Bush Italian flat, Roma
Beans, Pole, Orient Wonder
Beans, Pole, Scarlet Emporer
Beans, Pole, Shung Wang's Beans, seeds given to me, I save and grow each year
Beets, Pink, Chiogga Guardsmark
Beets, Red, Bull's Blood
Beets, Red, Cylindra
Beets, Red, Early Wonder
Beets, Red, Red Ace
Beets, Red, Round Red Merlin
Beets, White, Blankoma
Beets, White, White Detroit
Broccoli, Diplomat
Cabbage, Napa, Mini Kisaku
Cabbage, Pac Choi, Extra Dwarf
Cabbage, Pac Choi, Mei Qing Choi
Cabbage, Pac Choi, Win-Win Choi
Cabbage, Pac Choi, Wong Bok
Cabbage, Red, Super Red 80
Cabbage, Savoy, Alcosa
Carrots, Bolero
Carrots, Mokum
Cauliflower, Little Cloud Hybrid
Celery, Tango
Cucumber, Boston Pickling
Cucumber, Diva
Cucumber, North Carolina Pickling
Cucumber, Sooyow Nishiki
Cucumber, Straight 8
Cucumber, Sweet Success
Cucumber, Tokiwa
Eggplant, Black King Hybrid
Eggplant, Kamo
Eggplant, Tiger
Endive, Dubuisson
Endive, Olesh Tres Fine
Escarole, Broadleaf Batavian
Escarole, Natacha
Fennel, Perfection
Garlic, Hardneck, Duganski
Garlic, Hardneck, Music
Herb, Basil, Nufar
Herb, Borage
Herb, Chives (perennial)
Herb, Cliantro, Calypso
Herb, Dill, Mammoth
Herb, Oregano (perennial)
Herb, Parsley, Giant of Italy
Herb, Rosemary (perennial in coldframe)
Herb, Sage (perennial)
Herb, Thyme (perennial)
Kale, Blue Curled Scotch
Kale, Green Curled Winterbor
Kale, Tuscan
Leeks, Giant Musselburgh
Lettuce, Butterhead Green, Ermosa
Lettuce, Butterhead Green, Victoria
Lettuce, Butterhead Red, Red Cross
Lettuce, Butterhead Red, Skyphos
Lettuce, Looseleaf Green, Black Seeded Simpson
Lettuce, Looseleaf Green, Green Oak Leaf
Lettuce, Looseleaf Red, Oaky Red Splash
Lettuce, Looseleaf Red, Red Sails
Lettuce, Romaine, Rouge d'Hiver
Lettuce, Romaine, Winter Density
Lettuce, Summer Crisp Green, Nevada
Lettuce, Summer Crisp Red, Teide
Onions, Guardsman Bunching
Onions, Pontiac
Parsnips, Javelin
Peas, Shelling, Maxigolt
Peas, Shelling, Strike
Peas, Snap, Cascadia
Peas, Snap, Sugar Ann
Peas, Snow, Oregon Giant
Peppers, Amelia's Cayenne, seeds from a friend, I save and grown each year
Peppers, Ancho 211
Peppers, Nardello
Peppers, Numex Joe E Parker
Peppers, Sweet Canary Bell
Peppers, Thai Hot
Potatoes, Adirondack Red
Potatoes, German Butterball
Potatoes, Katahdin
Potatoes, Russet Burbank
Radicchio, Chiogga Red Preco #1
Soy Beans, Green, Butterbean
Soy Beans, Green, Envy
Spinach, Bloomsdale Long Standing
Spinach, Spargo
Summer Squash, Patty Pan, Starship
Summer Squash, Yellow Crookneck
Summer Squash, Zephyr
Summer Squash, Zucchini Costata Romanesco
Sweet Potatoes, I sprout and grow a variety of supermarket sweets or mine from the previous year
Tomato, Beefsteak
Tomato, Brandywine
Tomato, Cherokee Purple
Tomato, New Girl
Tomato, Orange Blossom
Tomato, Oxheart Red
Tomato, Pink Beauty
Tomato, Purple Calabash
Tomato, San Marzano Gigante 3
Tomato, Sun Gold Cherry
Winter Squash, Buttercup (Burgess Strain)
Winter Squash, Waltham Butternut

Fruits
Apple, Dwarf Fuji
Blueberries, Bluecrop
Fig, Negronne (potted)
Lemon, Meyer (potted)
Pear, Bartlett
Pear, Kieffer
Raspberries, unknown red variety
Rhubarb, a green stemmed variety
Strawberries, Alpine Red
Strawberries, unknown large red variety

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

summer abundance

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Today's harvest:

1 head cauliflower
5 red and white beets with greens
a bunch of carrots
3 heads of red lettuce
1 chili pepper (the season's first)
3 Costata Romanescu zucchini
a couple green pattypan squash
a couple yellow crookneck squash (season's first)
some bunching onions
4 cucumbers
and a very pretty radicchio (season's first)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

cucumbers!!

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 Today's harvest included about 15 cucumbers, 5 varieties: Diva, North Carolina Pickling, Boston Pickling, Tokiwa and Sooyow Nishiki. We did a taste test and the conclusion was: we couldn't really tell any difference, they all taste like cucumbers!
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Also in today's harvest is my first full size tomato. A New Girl. It needs to ripen inside a few days. In this dry weather, I was afraid the squirrels would eat it if I let it ripen on the vine.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

mystery squash

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A big volunteer pumpkin/squash plant appeared early this season in the middle of my onion bed. I was thinking it was likely a pumpkin, and since I had brought all my pumpkin seedlings to my parents garden, I thought I'd let it grow. Its always fun to have a mystery plant.

The vine has now overtaken the onion bed (I'm cutting off a few leaves here and there to give the onions sunlight), and is running into the sweet potatoes on one side and potatoes on the other. It has produced many male flowers and finally now has its first female.

I am thinking it doesn't look like  a pumpkin. Maybe a buttercup squash? I can't remember what I put in my compost bin last year, but I have grown some nice varieties of buttercup in the past.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

today's harvest

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

the garden after vacation

Its been a busy week in the garden. Good and bad. Many firsts to harvest, but also the concern that late blight may be just round the corner again this year. Here's a rundown of my garden after returning from a week of vacation.

My broccoli is heading up and looking super. Don't know if I've ever had such big pretty plants. I'm expecting some great big heads starting in a week or so. And its the first time I've grown cauliflower and the plants look really nice. Great big leaves that make the water droplets dance as when I water them. It seems heads are starting to form now under the leaves though they are not as easy to see the broccoli.

Basil is all of a sudden happy - it likes the hot weather. I am picking a sprig here and there to cut down on the flowers, and pinching off the rest of the flower stalks. Lots of dill and cilantro too.

This week, I dug my first potatoes, and picked my first cukes (an excellent excuse for a martini to celebrate!) and summer squash. The first squash for me was Zephyr, a yellow variety with a green end, very mild and soft skinned. A close second was zucchini Romanesco, third was green pattypan Starship. The Yellow Crooks will be the last - none yet. So many are ripening so fast that I am picking them very small and giving them away when I can.

Lots of lettuce this week. Oakleafs and butterheads. Big full lovely heads. My raddichio is heading beautifully and I am watching to pick my first one soon.

Last week (before vacation), I picked my first Chinese cabbage, a big full Napa head, and pulled my first carrots. On the forth, I made a yummy cole slaw with these. I served that with potato salad, made with the freshly dug potatoes, dill, and green bunching onions. First beets were a couple weeks ago.

Peas have been great this year. Mine came in early and are gone now. A fellow gardener gave me a big bag of shell peas this week- several meals. They were delicious! Rhubarb too has been yummy as always. I have had a thing about making pies this year and have made at least 6 or 8 so far: mostly rhubarb.

The borage has begun to bloom, as has the thyme, hyssop, echinecia and dahlias. Sunflowers are opening too! Beauty and productivity!

Signs of things to come are the tiny Butternut and Butttercup squashes forming on the vines. My Butternut vines have neared the top of my 6 foot trellis. Every few days I redirect the vines so they head upward. The green beans are starting to bloom and soy beans are growing fast. Leeks and onions are looking good. The sweet potatoes are growing long vines in this heat. Celery and parsnips look good too.

The last planting of seedlings that I made before vacation did not do well. I transplanted lots of beets and carrots. The carrots would have been crooked anyway (sour grapes...), but I'm sad about those beets. It was a dry week and I should have asked someone to water for me. I planted more beets on Saturday. Also planted bok choy, summer crisp lettuce, cilantro, escarole and endive.

All of the bugs that were a concern earlier have pretty much disappeared. A few (very few) squash bugs here and there. A few snails in the cabbage (I sprinkled Sluggo and picked off a few yesterday).

My recent seed order arrived. I ordered 8 or 10 packages from Johnny's. Red and green summer crisp lettuce, a couple new varieties of bok choy, escarole and endive for fall planting, a new cuke for next year, and some more green beans to plan asap.

And the best - the tomatoes - look beautiful. I have many big green fruits and it looks like a first harvest may come next week. Pretty much right on cue. My usual first tomato is July 21-31. The ominous problem is the recent reports of late blight nearby. Very disappointing.

Monday, July 09, 2012

planting calendars

I have updated the links for my on-line planting calendars. Hopefully just in time for planning fall planting schedules.

Spring calendar: http://www.skippysgarden.com/planting calendar.html

Fall calendar: http://www.skippysgarden.com/planting calendar fall.html

Both can be accessed from the link near the top of my sidebar.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

summer on the water

Fireworks, thunderstorms and shark warnings... Its summer. I've been on vacation this week. Today, we were fishing on Cape Cod Bay on "the Roxy" from Rock Harbor, Orleans MA. It was a wonderful day with awesome fishing. Beautiful sun and water. The catch for the boat was 11 bluefish (8 kept) and 2 striped bass.

We grilled a super fresh filet of bass this evening with new summer garden produce: the first cucumbers and zucchini squashes, fresh grated horseradish, ripe Meyer lemon, new garlic. My mom and I made roast potato salad with the first potatoes of the season, and coleslaw with garden napa and carrots.

Can't beat it!

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