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.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

the plastic is on my winter tunnel

IMG_4110 - double covered low hoops IMG_4111 - double covered low hoops

I put greenhouse plastic over my garden hoops today. The hoops have two layers now: fabric row cover close to the plants and the plastic outside. The weather is slowly cooling off. Looks like I'll be taking these covers off and on for the rest of the month. I'll take it off when the plants can catch rain and sun on warmer days. Our weather seems about 10 degrees F above normal this year.

post Thanksgiving

I'm finally able to think about something other than making food and entertaining guests! Thanksgiving is past. We enjoyed having many family members at my house: my husband, son and myself, my parents, my sister and her two daughters, and my brother, his wife, two sons and their dog. A dozen in all. 15 with the dogs!

Our preparations started the weekend before when my son and I turned our dining room into a giant table (6x8 ft!) that held us all. It was feat for me to locate seasonal items: my little salad plates with turkeys on them and my orange napkin rings. And the stores were long past stocking Thanksgiving items when I finally shopped for seasonal linens that fit the giant table. But we managed.

I forgot to take pictures of most things, so there are only a few odds and ends here. I put together a menu that included all of our families traditional Thanksgiving items, pulled out and copied all of the recipes, then planned out who need to do what task and when. Everyone did their job to perfection! Dinner was delicious and we had a great time being together.

I'm always pleased to be able to serve things that I grew in my garden. Here's my list: homemade pickles, homemade tomato salsa, my mashed potatoes, my sweet potatoes and butternut squash, celeriac and beets that I mixed with other roasted root vegetables, my garlic and canned tomato sauce in the eggplant parmigiana, fresh parsley, sage and rosemary generously added to various items, sliced salad radish, a really big bowl of freshly picked salad greens (lettuce, escarole frisée, baby beet greens and parsley), and a nice winter squash ("Blue Ballet" and small version of Hubbard) that made the perfect pumpkin pie. Almost everything else was homemade if not homegrown. Amazing. It's a good thing we don't eat all this every day!

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Microsoft PowerPoint - Thanksgivingmenudressy.pptx

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

today's harvest

IMG_4081 IMG_4075 That's my sister, helping me carry everything.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

my Thanksgiving lettuce (variety Sandy) survived the cold

IMG_3976 - thanksgiving lettuce

Yes! It still looks great. This is a little area that's not under my plastic tunnel, so I want to pick it all for Thanksgiving. Its a great variety. Sandy. A 2015 AAAS Winner that I love. Sweet frilly green leaves. And - very cold tolerant!!

I have some escaroles, Frissee and Natacha, to mix with it. Also curly kale and baby beet greens. Maybe some mustard, Purple Streaks, and some tiny radicchio, Perseo, too. I see what kind of mix I end up with. The rest of the nights before Thursday will be warmer, so I'll stop worrying.

Soon I plant to go through all of the 2015 AAAS Winners that I grew this year and post their photos. Most did great for me. I think of December as sort of a "garden review" month.

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a cold night - did lettuce survive?

The temperature dipped to 19F in some areas of my yard last night. I have a bunch of salad greens out there marked for the Thanksgiving Day salad bowl. They're under a double layer of row cover. I'm worried about what I'll find when I check them. I may be buying lettuce ...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

skippy in the garden

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

new old garden shed

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My husband moved this old shed for me. It was up in the front of our new house. He disassembled it, made it a couple feet smaller, and reassembled it next to my garden.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

today's harvest

lettuce harvest IMG_3927

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plastic tunnel is getting ready to assemble

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Right now, the skeleton of a tunnel is standing. Bare white PVC arches over thin metal hoops. When night time temperatures dip to freezing (32F), I pull cloth over the metal hoops and then remove it in the morning.

I'm hoping to get some use out of the tunnel this year. Last year, voles or chipmunks ate everything inside once I closed the plastic up.

This year's attempt to keep critters out:
- 6 inches of hardware cloth dug in around the edges of bed
- castor oil/soap mix soaked into soil at edges of bed
- I'll secure the plastic to edges of bed when I close it up
- Watch carefully for holes the past weeks so I don't close it up with a critter inside

It would be nice to have salad greens all winter. We'll see.

I'm still not sure about the plastic tunnel concept. I've read that it works, but still haven't done it successfully myself. Mine is so far from any heat source (except the sun and soil). I suspect it's success depends on the winter weather - snow cover, sunny days, temperatures. Interesting to read:
- excerpt from Eliot Coleman's Winter Harvest Handbook, overwintering in a tunnel
- Johnny's Winter Growing Guide

My tunnel will have two layers: (1) a layer of winter cold protection Agribon fabric on the low metal hoops (I actually doubled this layer because the roll's width was twice my bed's width - it made it easy to double it), and (2) an outer layer of greenhouse plastic that will go on the PVC hoops. Today, my husband and I used duct tape to attach long 1x2 straps of wood to the apex of the PVC arches to keep snow from collapsing the hoops.

At my old house, my cold frame was right up against the south wall of our house. My baby spinach would survive the winter and start growing in February. By March and April I'd have a frame full of spinach.

I wish the plants in the bed were a bit bigger. Next year, I start them a couple weeks earlier. (I followed my winter planting app dates - I'll adjust them earlier too.)

It's a nice warm November. Maybe I won't need to close it up for a few more weeks. The hawks do a good job keeping the critters out.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

skippy

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plants in my garden now

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

early seed catalog

I just got my first seed catalog! I thought they came out at the end of December.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Persephone period begins

It's November 10. Daylight hours have fallen below 10 hours a day at my latitude. Sunrise 6:28 am, sunset 4:27 pm. Aargh - not my favorite time of year... (Plants don't grow with less than 10 hours of light a day.) I had my countdown timer set to watch for this date. I've set it for February 2nd now - the date the Persephone ends.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

new garden fence

new garden fence IMG_3693

















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