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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"sun-dried" tomatoes

sundried tomatoes IMG_7586

I have an inexpensive vegetable drier. It is great. We cut up and dried down two big bowls of tomatoes. At 135 F, most were ready after 12 hours, a few went about 5 hours longer. We packed them into several pint and half pint jars and covered them with olive oil. In the past, these have kept 6 months of more in the refrigerator.

tomatoes in a bowl IMG_7554 sun dried tomatoes IMG_7551

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Monday, August 29, 2016

today's harvest

harvest 8-29 IMG_7568

This is today's harvest from my community garden. It was boring digging potatoes alone. As a pup, Skippy would dig a bit with me. As an adult, he would bark at passersby. Not really a good think to do. I'd say "shush!". He thought it was his garden and I was more than glad to share it with him.

The other story today is the dryness. The garden soil is rising in clouds as I dig. So dry. I've been watering as when I can, probably every four days, a good deep soaking. But it isn't enough. Crops I have left in this: sweet potatoes, gourds, a few tomatoes, raspberries, and butternut squash. My tomatillos dried up and died. The beans are having more trouble from dryness than from bean beetles. The voles are prevalent and thirsty that they are eating everything. They ate an entire row of beans that I planted last week.

I have to say, I don't think my dried out community plot is worth watering anymore. I think squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and raspberries will ripen and I'll pick them. If we get rain, I'll seed a winter cover crop. Otherwise, that's it 'til next year. Kind of sad. A least I have my garden at home that is easier for me to water.

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

distractions

Soon after Skippy died, my husband came home from work. My mother in law was visiting. We worked together, talked, cried. We made and canned bread-and-butter pickles, dilled beans, raspberry jam, and bottled 50 lbs of honey. The next day we dried 4 pints of tomatoes, and donated 30 lbs of squash to the local food pantry. I have to stay busy.

canning and honey IMG_7623 canning IMG_7622

food pantry donation

harvest 8-27 IMG_7544

Squash for donation to the local food pantry. Plus a head of radicchio.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Skippy has died in surgery. My faithful friend. We are heartbroken.

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Skippy

I'm at an emergency pet hospital now, waiting for Skippy. He's not doing well. A mass in his abdomen has ruptured. The doctor says it's probably liver or spleen cancer, and there's a 50 50 chance that it's malignant. They're doing ultrasound now and will operate soon if it's in the spleen and hasn't already spread. :-( My poor buddy.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

today's harvest

harvest 8-25 IMG_7518

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

water restrictions

Our whole region is now in emergency drought restrictions. The town has banned any outdoor sprinklers or irrigation systems. We can only water by hand and only between 6 pm and 9 am. So I can still keep my vegetable garden growing. Everything else will dry up. I'm sure we'll loose a number of bushes around the house.

drought map IMG_7238

Monday, August 22, 2016

fall seedlings for my community garden

It seems crazy to be doing fall and winter planting in the middle of this August drought and heat. But it's time. Since so few fall seedlings are available in nurseries, I've volunteered to grow seedlings for our community garden. I have 50 orders for about 150 pots of about 10 different varieties. I'm growing the. In small pots, about 4 plants per pot.

I set up a large table in my garden to grow them on. I had to cover then to keep the cabbage worms away. With the fabric and the heat the seedlings started to fry. It was over 100 F under the cover! So they are now inside under lights though not all of them fit. The rest are on the window sill.

I'm growing Swiss chard, cilantro, lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, escarole, broccoli, bok choi, beets, kale, and calendulas.

I'd love to be able to get them all outside on the table. Maybe temps will go down, but still 80-90F predicted the next 5 days. I'm also hoping the temps come down by the time they're too big for the little pits and need to be planted. Oh well. We'll see what happens. For now, I t's fun to have a full shelf of seedlings to watch grow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

today's harvest

harvest 8-21  IMG_7438

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

skippy and suzie by the garden gate

skip and suzie by garden IMG_7375

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

today's harvest

harvest 8-13 IMG_7259

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

today's harvest

harvest 8-10-16 IMG_7235

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Someday the rains will fall
When you expect it least
Someday the rains will fall
- John Mellencamp, "Will Fall"

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

hot and dry for fall planting

We're right in the middle of a beautiful summer and I'm doing a countdown to our fall frost as I do my fall planting. All right, it's beautiful as in blue skies, but sort of dry. All right, very dry. Emergency water restrictions in some neighboring towns. Our bushes are dying, grass is crispy. I'm doing my best to keep my vegetable garden watered but our restrictions only allow watering twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday. My mom and I both have grass that crunches when you walk on it. It's a pretty golden color. I've heard that some local farmers are delaying their fall planting. It's just too hot and dry. So we enjoy the blue skies and hope for rain.

Monday, August 08, 2016

today's harvest

harvest IMG_7170
This is the harvest from my community garden plot today. The onions are so small with the drought. I'm picking my tomatoes very green to ripen at home because the chipmunks are eating them for any moisture they can find. The green beans are hardly producing at all. I wonder what will be under the soil when I dig the potatoes and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes droop down so fast in the dry weather. A nice thing is that I've had 4 pretty little acorn squash ripen very early.

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garden photos

skippy and suzie IMG_7176
This is my community garden. Hot and dry! Skippy and Suzie waited in the small piece of shade under the butternut squash arbor while I worked.

my dried out summer community plot IMG_7179 my dried out summer community plot IMG_7182

garden work

I worked a few hours in my community garden plot today. It is SO dry. The soil is dust and most plants are wilted. I haven't had time to water more than once a week and some of the plants just barely grow on that amount of water, even though I water very deep when I do go.

Garden work:
- weed
- cut down potatoes (after two weeks I will start digging them)
- pull onions that were ready (falling over)
- pick tomatoes, beans, and acorn squash
- clean up rhubarb by removing dried out leaves
- count the butternut squashes on the arbor vines (10! if they all mature)
- water everything well (except the cut down potatoes)

Sunday, August 07, 2016

planting fall seedlings!

I'm planting fall seedlings now for me, my mom, and my community garden.

Our community garden is big: 137 plots on 2 acres. We're selling seedlings $1 a pot to benefit the gardens. We've gotten orders for about 125 pots of seedlings so far. Plus, we want to have extra plants available for those who didn't order and will want to buy some on our distribution day. We're offering most as 4-seedlings per pot. Larger plants (like broccoli) will be 4-packs with 1 plant per cell. It's a big job to grow all of these and I'm really excited to start on it!

My husband helped me set up a big outdoor plant table in my home garden and I plan to add another table soon. Im covering all the trays with row fabric to protect against chipmunks and cabbage beetles. Here's what I've planted so far. I'll update here as I plant more.

July 28 (54 days to frost)
Lettuce, Ridgeline (3 small packs), 56 days to harvest
Cilantro, Calypso (3 small packs), 55 days to harvest
Beets, Touchstone Gold (3 small packs), 55 days to harvest
Bok Choi, Win-Win (3 small packs) 52 days to harvest
Lettuce, Edox (3 small packs), 50 days to harvest
Beets, Red Ace (3 small packs), 50 days to harvest
Escarole, Natacha (3 small packs), 50 days to harvest
Lettuce, Cherokee (3 small packs), 48 days to harvest
Lettuce, Rhazes (3 small packs), 42 days to harvest
Mustard, Ruby Streaks (3 small packs), 40 days to harvest
Spinach, Kookaburra (3 small packs), 37 days to harvest
Lettuce, Red Sails (3 small packs), 27 days to harvest

August 2 (59 days to frost)
Red cabbage, Super Red 80 (3 small packs), 85 days to harvest
Broccoli, Arcadia (3 small packs), 63 days to harvest
Swiss chard, Peppermint (3 small packs), 60 days to harvest
Lettuce, Cherokee (3 small packs), 48 days to harvest

August 6 (63 days to frost)
Broccoli, Bay Meadows (12 four-packs), 60 days to harvest
Kale, Nash's Green (4 four-packs, 3 small packs), 60 days to harvest
Cilantro, Calypso (14 small packs), 55 days to harvest
Calendula, Mix (12 small packs), 55 days to flower
Escarole, Natacha (14 small packs), 50 days to harvest

August 13 (57 days frost)

August 20 (50 days frost)

Our plan is to deliver seedlings to gardeners for transplanting to their plots the week of September 4. That's 36 weeks to our first fall frost, which is usually on October 10.

fall seedlings IMG_7166

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