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, December 11, 2017

winter garden

winter garden IMG_1188

My garden is snow covered from an early storm. We got about 5 inches of heavy wet snow yesterday. My winter tunnel collapsed at the ends. I didn't put the top support on. I'll do that soon. I use duct tape and attach a PVC pipe along the top apex of each hoop to keep the hoops from collapsing inward. I'm also missing a hoop at the left end.

I opened up the tunnel today and loved the feel of the warm humid air that escaped. It's great how the sun warms the air through the greenhouse plastic. My tunnel has two layers - one of greenhouse plastic and then another of winter fabric row cover.

winter tunnel IMG_1194

I've been experimenting with different greens in my tunnel. Spinach always does super well. I tried a big row of arugula this year and it's awesome too. Escarole and mustard greens are great. I pick a salad bowl once a week and alternate with store-bought. I have several varieties of lettuce growing. I'm really pleased with my iceberg lettuce Ice Queen. I have 4 heads and looking forward to harvesting a couple for a nice Christmas salad. I think this lettuce would be even better if I had started it a bit earlier and had bigger heads, but the loose outer greens are holding up really well in the cold tunnel.

All of my greens will start growing soon - late January - once the sunlight starts to increase. Nothing's growing now, but my tunnel greens always grow like crazy with increasing sun and then by Feb and March it's full. I pick leaves here and there and am patient until the daylight increases.

winter tunnel lettuce IMG_1196

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Charley

Charley IMG_7187 Charley follows me everywhere, especially out to the garden. He's a year and 2 months old now. I still call him a puppy since he bounds around and plays all the time. He's curious and nosy. Sniffs and tastes everything in my garden. His favorite is fresh broccoli - any part of the plant. He's very good and has learned where he is allowed to walk and where he can and can't dig. I rarely need to say "Paws off" or "No dig" anymore. He still has those dark black, wide set eyes that look so sweet and serious.

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Thursday, November 09, 2017

first frost

frost on radicchio IMG_7179

We got a hard frost last night. All my garden plants have a coat of white crystals. It was one month late, almost to the day.

frozen zinnia IMG_7186 garden IMG_7200

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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

today's garden work

We are expecting a good freeze tonight - our first - so I spent some time getting ready.

- Picked the rest of the pole beans, 3 lbs (!), and took down the vines and poles (and later made 5 jars of dilly bean pickles)
- Harvested the last of my peppers and pulled the plants
- Picked a couple small winter squash and a big bunch of lettuce
- Set up my winter tunnel over a bed full of greens by covering low hoops with garden fabric and higher hoops with greenhouse plastic
- Covered a small bed of lettuce with garden fabric

Monday, November 06, 2017

today's harvest

harvest IMG_1044

November 6 and I'm STILL picking green beans! These are Kentucky Wonder pole beans.

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Friday, November 03, 2017

balmy (hot!) fall

I can't believe it's November 3 and NO FROST yet. This is over 3 weeks later then our average date of Oct 10. It's a very odd season here in the northeast. We're up in the 70's today.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

today's harvest

harvest IMG_1029

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

today's harvest

harvest IMG_1020

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

winter tunnel

My winter tunnel is pretty much full of greens. The lettuce is edible size and I've started thinning it. Spinach and escarole need to grow a bit. But it's ready for winter. When temperatures fall, I'll cover this bed with a layer of plastic and a layer of heavy row cover. Hopefully I'll be able to eat these greens all winter.

winter bed IMG_7166

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my pantry

pantry IMG_0597 pantry IMG_0602 pantry IMG_0601 pantry IMG_0650 pantry IMG_0659 pantry IMG_0664 pantry IMG_0720

This is my pantry that doubles as a root cellar. I store my jars and vegetables here at a cool room temperature. Vegetables I have here are shell beans, popcorn, coriander, garlic, potatoes, and winter squashes.

I spend a lot of time in the pantry. It has a little work shelf. Also storage shelves with garden books and garden supplies. In the middle are plant shelves with lights that I can wheel around. The room is off the garage, well vented, and has its own temperature control. It's a tight space but it does the job.

Other things I've stored this year are,
Freezer: green beans, basil pesto, roasted chiles, pizza sauce, raspberries, and dried pears
Refrigerator: carrots, beets, cabbage, and winter radishes
Kitchen: dried beans and dried chiles
Boiler room: honey

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

growing Belgian endive

I'm trying something new this year. Belgian endive! I grew it from seed starting mid summer. Last Friday I harvested the roots and now they are curing in the garden under leaves. They'll stay out there a few days or so, then the leaves get chopped off and the roots are stored like carrots - in plastic in the refrigerator. In a few weeks I'll take out one root and plant it. It should take 3 weeks for it to start producing chicons. What an odd thing to do. I can't wait to see how (if?) it works out.

Belgian endive IMG_0684 Belgian endive IMG_0691 Belgian endive IMG_0694 Belgian endive IMG_0698

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Monday, October 23, 2017

my best tomatoes this year

I'm almost out of garden tomatoes. Two weeks ago I picked the last of the green ones on my tomato vines. They’ve been gradually ripening indoors. Yesterday I made a batch of sauce, probably my last one after a summer of making nearly a batch a week. I only have a couple tomatoes left :-(

I’ve been thinking about which were my favorite varities this year. For slicing tomatoes, it was an heirloom variety called True Black Brandywine (seeds from Baker Creek). It’s not related to Brandywine and doesn't have that mealy flesh. Its flavor and texture are fantastic and it's beautifully colored - deep purple with green shoulders.

true black brandywine IMG_0618 true black brandywine IMG_0547 true black brandywine IMG_0573

My best sauce tomatoes were San Marzano and Opalka. San Marzano gave me a huge number of middle sized tomatoes. Opalka had fewer tomatoes but they were enormous and perfect for sauce.

I grew about 20 varieties this year - a couple of each. Next year I'm planning to grow many fewer varieties. Probably slicing tomatoes: True Black Brandywine, Orange Blossom, Pink Beauty, Cherokee Purple, and Mortgage Lifter. Sauce tomatoes: San Marzano and Opalka.

I'd love to hear what tomatoes did best for other gardeners.

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no frost yet

I didn't get a frost last week in either of my gardens. My mom's garden frosted and many others around, but no frost yet in my area. And none are in sight for the next week and a half. That means I'll have a VERY late frost this year. At least 3 weeks late. Wow. My plants summer plants have stopped growing anyway, because there isn't enough light for them.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

celeriac

celeriac IMG_0537

It's the first time I've grown a good sized celeriac. This one is softball size. I've never had one bigger than a baseball before. I gave them more space. I guess they like to spread out their roots. I put 3 or 4 in a row - about a foot or so apart. And compost, lots of compost.

frosty night

I'm wondering if my garden got it's first frost last night. I covered some baby lettuces and picked the last of my peppers, eggplants, and popcorn - just in case. My thermometer now says it's 33. Brrr. Once it's light and warms up a little, I'll go down and check.

















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