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, March 30, 2013

fig tree brought into sunlight

fig tree 027 I remembered my small fig tree up in the attic today and brought it down into the sunlight. It had already broken dormancy and leaves were coming out. Still a bit chilly, so I'll leave it on the porch a while before it goes out in the yard. I suppose it will need a bigger pot this year.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

not so common raven

Copy of 003 Copy of 004 Copy of 005 Copy of 006 I got some better photos of the enormous black bird the I saw last week near the Gardens. I think it must be a Common Raven. Not so common here near Boston! Its the first time I've ever seen one here. Bird books say it is never here. Probably just passing as it's that time of year and I haven't seen it since.

From Cornell Bird Site:

"Not just large but massive, with a thick neck, shaggy throat feathers, and a Bowie knife of a beak. In flight, ravens have long, wedge-shaped tails. They're more slender than crows, with longer, narrower wings, and longer, thinner “fingers” at the wingtips. Common Ravens are entirely black, right down to the legs, eyes, and beak."

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Monday, March 25, 2013

turning under snow to sow pea, carrot and beet seeds

sowing in snow 001 sowing in snow 007 sowing in snow 019 Yesterday I decided I had enough of this snow! So I got out my shovel, turned under the snow and planted.

There was about 4 inches of snow on my garden with nicely thawed soil underneath. I turned the snow under like it was a cover crop. Then I put in a wide row of snap peas, two rows of carrots and a row of beets.

Now I feel that the gardening season has really begun - to heck with the snow!

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

seedlings

seedlings 029 seedlings 015 seedlings 034 seedlings 001 seedlings 011 seedlings 025

Saturday, March 23, 2013

planting list 2013

January 28 (inside under lights)
Onions, Ruby Ring
Onions, Frontier (did not sprout)
Onions, White Wing
Onions, Walla Walla
Onions, Pontiac
Shallots, Prizma
Leeks, Giant Musselburgh
Celeriac, Brilliant

March 11 (inside under lights)
Broccoli, Diplomat
Eggplant, Tiger
Eggplant, Black King
Eggplant, Kamo
Lettuce, Prizehead
Lettuce, Oaky Red
Endive, Tres Fine
Endive, Galia
Kale, Winterbor
Kale, Tuscan
Radicchio, Red Precco #1
Radicchio, Palla Rossa

March 24 (inside under lights)
Pepper, Costa Rican Sweet
Pepper, Canary Bell Sweet
Pepper, Quadrato Rosso D'Asti (Sweet Red)
Pepper, Sweet Chocoloate
Pepper, Nardello
Pepper, Amelia's Cayenne
Pepper, NuMex Joe E Parker
Pepper, Ancho 211
Pepper, Thai Hot
Pepper, Annaheim
Pepper, Jalepeno
Pepper, Tepin
...note: just one or two plants of each of these peppers and chiles
Parsley, Single Italian
Marigolds, Burpee's Best Mix
Marigolds, Cottage Red
Mexican Sunflower, Torch
Basil, Italian Large Leaf
Basil, Genovese
Basil, Lemon Aromatic
... I ran out of seeds of my favorite basil, Nufar, so trying these
Beets, Merlin
Beets, Red Detroit
Beets, Chiogga Guardsmark

March 24 (directly sowed in my community plot - in spite of snow cover)
Peas, Sugar Sprint
Beets, Early Wonder
Carrots, Carnival Mix
Carrots, Mokum

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the first flowers of spring

Copy of 006 Copy of 003 Copy of 002 Copy of 011 Before it snowed last week, I walked around my yard and took pictures of the flowers blooming. These are under a foot on snow now. I hear we may have more snow on Monday.

poor man's fertilizer

I was talking with a real farmer (my brother in law, Scott) the other day, and he was looking on the bright side of all this spring snow we have. He says snow traps nitrogen and since the soil is thawed underneath, this nitrogen will seep in as the snow melts and will be available to the plants. Scott says this may be a myth, but its nice to think there's some benefit.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

my garden gnome on the first day of spring

garden gnome on first day of spring 094 I can see it in his eyes that he has snow fatigue too. But he's toughing it out.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

birds

Copy of 014 Copy of 022 Copy of 020 Copy of 025 Copy of 006 Copy of 008 Copy of 028 I have been bringing my zoom lens on your walks and trying to photograph the birds I see. Some summer birds are gradually starting to arrive, like red wing black birds. I think all of the birds here are winter birds, robin, chickadee, tufted titmouse, starling. I wasn't sure what the bird next to the titmouse it. It was near the titmouse, but not behaving like a titmouse as it was up at the top of the tree singing "sprrriinng", "sprrriinng". I suppse the photo looks like a titmouse, so maybe this is male spring behavior.

And then there is the very blurry photo of the big black bird. It was an enormous bird - bigger than a red tailed hawk. It appeared completely black in the bright light, but I think the photo shows a bit of mottling. My camera battery died and I only got one shot. I am thinking maybe an immature bald eagle! He took off to the north.

I am going to bring my camera again today, with a full battery, and see if I can add more bird photos.

We are expecting another big snow storm today. If this weather keeps up, I may never be able to garden......

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

workable soil

the soil has thawed 5 My soil is workable!! And only 6 days ago we had a foot of snow.....

What does it mean when a seed packet says : "Plant as soon as soil is workable?"

Well, it's cause for excitement and celebration!!! It means the soil is thawed and has drained enough so that its not too wet to turn with a shovel. It means your boots didn't sink in the mud. Your shovel didn't get stuck in frozen soil. Your garden gate opened without a foot of snow blocking it.

It doesn't mean you need to turn it before planting. I've planted early crops the past few years without turning the soil. I just draw a furrow and plant beet, pea, or carrot seeds. Lettuce, arugula, endive .... (so many crops, so little time)

I'm thinking I'll plant my first outdoor crops at the end of next week. We still have cold weather predicted. And a bit of snow - though I'm sure it will be short-lived. My seed packets are ready. This week I'm planing to get my plot ready by turning last year's compost, setting up a new compost bin, cleaning up my plot, taking a soil sample and doing some planning. ..... Next week I'll plant.

Friday, March 15, 2013

vegetable garden i phone ap

I have a new ad I just posted for a vegetable garden Iphone ap. I bought a copy myself to try ($2.99). If anyone else buys one - let me know what you think.

Monday, March 11, 2013

planting seeds

planting seeds 016 planting seeds 018 planting seeds 021 planting seeds 023 I spread a towel on the living room floor tonight and planted a tray of seeds. Skippy kept his eye on the project. I planted broccoli, kale, lettuce, endive, radicchio, and eggplant. (I need to order my potatoes too. I've decided on just two varieties this year: Russet Burbank and German Butterball from FEDCO Moose Tubers.)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

garden aerial view

Copy of 005 I was talking with my brother yesterday. He's looking forward to planting his garden. We were noticing that St Patrick's Day is only ONE week away now! That's when I planted my first seeds last year. We are wondering if there's any chance we can plant that soon this year.

I remember last year on a 70*F day in mid March I turned in a load of compost into my parents garden in northeastern Mass (mostly my son did the spreading and turning) and we planted seeds for them. We planted beets, lettuce, arugula, carrots and lots of peas. The lettuce didn't do so well, but all the others did great.

I'm hoping our soil isn't frozen very deep now and that the snow will melt from the warm spots this week. I'm getting my seeds ready - just in case. I have some packets of arugula, radish, carrots, beets, Chinese celery, spinach and peas ready to go. Even though its probably wishful thinking.

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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Copy of 010 Our 6 inch snow storm turned into 16 inches! I'll have to go clear off my cold frame tomorrow. Fortunately it was reinforced very well and is holding good up so far.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

one last snow storm

Six inches of snow falling tonight! I'm thinking it's probably our last snow storm of the season. Sure has been a snowy winter - too cold and dark and long and snowy. But today's snow is falling on ground that has started to thaw. Snow drops are blooming, willow catkins are out, geese are paired up, hawks are defending their territories, chickadees are singing their spring songs. Next week temperatures are predicted to go into the 50's. Maybe I'll be able to brush the snow off my cold frame and do some more gardening. I am hopeful that spring is just around the corner.

My gardening plans - tomorrow I'm planting broccoli, lettuce, and eggplants. Indoors under light, but I am looking forward to it. And I'm keeping an eye on my garden because St Patty's day, i.e. pea planting day, is only 2 weeks away!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

I signed up for an automatic alert when late blight is spotted within 200 miles of our Gardens. Here is the website http://usablight.org/alerts. There is no need to spray unless late blight spores are in the area - so this seems like a good system. Once I get a notification, I'm planning to spray with Copper fungicide (Bordeaux) alternating with Oxidate (Johnny's recommends this) every 7 to 10 days and before and after rains.

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Monday, March 04, 2013

onion and celeriac seedlings

early march gardening 016 early march gardening 017 early march gardening 013 early march gardening 007 early march gardening 001

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

I was out gardening today!

Its a beautiful sunny Sunday. I opened up my cold frame - meaning only to pick a little bok choi - but the air was so nice, I stayed and gardened a while. I weeded, removed dead leaves and plants killed by the week of bitter cold we had. Many plants are still looking good and perking up now. I watered, and just enjoyed the smell and feel of the dirt and springlike air.

The thermometer said 35*F outside the frame and 52 inside. Ahhh...

The soil in the frame has a wonderful rich feel to it. A big fat earthworm was digging under the spinach. I got my hands nice and dirty.

In the yard, the snow is melting back a bit. Still plenty of 2 foot deep piles, but where it is melting on the edges the snowdrops are blooming and all sorts of bulbs are popping up. I noticed my snapdragons survived the winter. My tree peony has big leaf buds getting ready to open. Though its been very cold, I think the snow cover has been really good for the plants.

I think there is a bit of extra room in the cold frame, and I will start a few bock choi and lettuce plants today to fill in the spaces. I wish I'd thought to do this a few weeks ago, but I am still getting used to using a cold frame.

early march gardening 068 early march gardening 061 early march gardening 029 early march gardening 036 early march gardening 027 early march gardening 037 early march gardening 055 early march gardening 050 early march gardening 056

reinforced cold frame

Copy of 019005 - Copy The problem with my cold frame was mostly that the center front wooden support rotted and the weight of the snow crushed it. Once it was gone, the side bowed out and then the covers sunk in. I propped up the covers and used string to pull in the sides. Once my husband saw this, he got out tools and fresh wood and fixed it properly. Now it has a reinforced center post, reinforced sides and a brace running across the middle of the frame.

early march gardening 026 064 - Copy early march gardening 070

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