Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today's score,...

Or reds: another batch of tomatoes, a pepper, some nasturtium and mint and the hopes of some more zukes.

The rodents nommed on the last of the beans and the chard, the carrots, and the brassicae. :/
Oh well. More plans for the fall though.

- Posted from my iPhone...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Post-vacation De-brief

So, I had a short post ready on my phone to upload - and that's when I became pretty sure that there was no signal (bandwidth) available on the island. I'm glad for the local residents up there: the sheer volume of visitors was unusual - it had been quiet the past 10 - 15 years I'd been up to the island - so this was, in a sense, "back to normal" and businesses were doing well, from what I could see. That also meant, however, that my normal ability to get a line out on my cel phone and check email, etc., was... yeah. no bandwidth available! or, if you're old enough to remember, "All circuits are busy right now, please hang up and try your call again later."

So here we are at "later" and I'm back in the office, and still haven't downloaded my photos from my camera.

I'll get to that soon enough, and I'll post a proper update then - because saying "wow, there were such a variety of cool-looking mushrooms all around our campsite" just isn't the same as being able to show you.

Also, I bought a few books from a bookstore that I found on the drive south and home; including a book with gorgeous photos and clear directions on how to preserve various fruit & vegetable jellies, chutnies, pickles, etc. You can see where this is heading, can't you?

I'll get back to you on this when I've got photos to document the various adventures, misadventures, and mistakes.
Until then, ...

Sunday, August 15, 2010


So, after all the threats of heavy rain this week, instead we have powdery earth. I dropped by yesterday (in the company of dad, who nicely grabbed a pair of snippers and got after some of those pesky invasives while I watered, harvested veggies, and yanked weeds. Yay! I have a few veggies and I'm really pleased. Now I was able to share with dad, gave a few to friends Susan& Bob, and still have plenty for bringing up to Maine while I camp for the week.

Also, the mystery bulbs my neighbor kindly gifted me have started to bloom and they have a faint, but lovely scent.

I'll try to post a few photos fromour planned visit to local farmers markets up north, but it's an island, so coverage may be spotty. Who knows!
Posted from my iPhone..

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rain, oh when will it rain?

Don't get me wrong. I'm a New England native, so I know just how strange and contrary and unpredictable the weather in these parts can be. It's just that I keep getting fooled by the little gadget that claims to predict the weather on the interwebs. See, for the past 10 days, each day when I look to see what the next couple of days are allegedly going to provide (considering that most days are always going to be "partly sunny" or "parly cloudy") - I'm looking for a basic "is the sun going to shine and I should water extra," or an "is it going to rain, so I don't need to worry about the soil." And each day for the past 10 to 14 days, my little program has been telling me that the next few days will have [cue dramatic music] THUNDERSTORMS and heavy rain! [cue sound of thunder and lightning flashes] and each day passes with a few clouds after a hot, often sunny day, and we get at best, a few drops of rain - a scattered hint of a shower. rain? not so much. Thunderstorms? definitely not. I don't mind - my plants need more sun, and I can water. It's just this whole will-it-or-won't-it thing that's slightly annoying me.

Plus, tantalizingly enough, I'm reading that other folks to the west in the northern central states are getting crrrrazy T-storms, lightning and funnel clouds and microbursts. I could do without that particular drama, I confess. Still. I wonder. Where's the rain?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Purple beans!

Yum, beans, tomatoes and peas, oh my!

- Posted from my iPhone...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A zuke, a cuke, and a pepper

And a few tiny tomatoes, some peas and some raspberries. :) and herbs. And my geraniums and rue and beans are all thriving. I couldn't quite summon the strength to weed as well as water, but that can be tomorrows adventure. Now, I must go home and cook!

- Posted from my iPhone...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

First cuke and pepper!

All kinds of things on the verge of harvest now. Yay!!

- Posted from my iPhone...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mad dogs and Englishmen

And me. All out in the noonday sun. In my case, to do a little garden work, but I plead temporary insanity. Gardening at that hour on a 90+F day? Yeah. At least I had the sense to stick my head under the water spigot each time I filled the 5-gallon bucket for watering. Still, got a fair amount done, and glad to see a few tomatoes and peppers showing through. Also, looks as though I'll get a nicely staggered crop, so I hopefully won't get overwhelmed. Tied up and staked up sone of the mint, since it's blooming. I was going to trim it back, but there were so many bees having a field day on the little blossoms that I relented and just tied them back so they'd grow up instead of out.

Honestly it does still resemble a jungle but since the bees are happily pollinating and hopping from the tomato and pepper blossoms to the mint and back, how can I complain?

Other areas of the garden are looking better, or at least more orderly.

Peppers, tomatoes, purple cabbage, and a couple random volunteer potatoes from last year? Hmm. Well they are all blooming with health so...

That last photo doesn't seem to show how much I've tied that monstrosity back, but I have. Really.

Also, I am inordinately fond of borage's pink and blue flowers. I seem to choose an awful lot if plants that like to sprawl, so after this photo I gave it a bamboo stake to lean on.

Then, on the way home for a shower, I stopped in to browse at my local farm/store/greenhouse. I'd never seen inside their greenhouse, but it's small and cute - but also it has fish!! I will have to stop by another day to visit them. They're lovely fat healthy Koi.

So, more work to do in the garden, but enough for one day. In spite of heat&sun induced headaches, it was a good day off.

Posted from my iPhone...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ahhh, much better

Tucked in the wormwood and some more creeping thyme; planted some more beans, and gave everyone a good soak.

The bats swooped by to say hello as they munched on more bugs. :)

- Posted from my iPhone...

Thursday, July 8, 2010


There are bats at the garden eating bugs!!!

*does a happy dance*

Also blackberries, raspberries, and at last my tomatoes are showing fruit.


Now to come back tomorrow and finish clearing out all the overgrowth from around the edges of the garden.

- Posted from my iPhone...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm sorry, the temperature is what?

Well, my poor garden (and everyone else's, here in New England) is struggling with the heat. At least my peppers might like it, but apparently it's not my imagination - we've broken the 100 degree mark, but mostly it's stubbornly sticking around between 94 and 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Good times.

Pardon me, but now I have to go water my garden, while it won't *immediately* evaporate away and might actually benefit the little green babies.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rue, geraniums, and thyme

Okay, and the usual gang of mosquitoes too.

Still, I'm pleased with the progress so far. The main round of planting, both starters and seeds, are safely tucked into their beds beneath various ghostly (ghastly?) protective layers of wire cage material and row cover or plain plastic screening.

I'm slowly digging out the mint that's in the way and freeing up the other beds. Today was just about watering in the new seeds, using the small grass-clippers to nip down some of the grass taking over the walkway between me and the nearest water spigots, and to plant a few geraniums (one rose-scented, one "Pinto Red" that's in flower now), a rue plant (I'm fond of it; I blame my mother for that! ) and some creeping thyme.

Plus, by planting the new ones, I've thoroughly inconvenienced the local chipmunks. Always a good thing to keep them on their toes. ;)

Posted from my iPhone...

Friday, June 4, 2010

I regret to report that Eucalyptus oil not that effective when there are that many clouds of mosquitoes. I managed to get the door part of the gate nailed together, at least, but not a whole lot else done. It was pretty brutal. I may try to switch to an early morning routine - not sure how much of this I can stand, given the bites I've endured every time I'm out there. Apparently part of the reason the bugs are so numerous is that we've had a lot of rain (therefore more standing water and larger vernal pools as breeding grounds) but also we're still suffering from a significantly reduced brown bat population due to the White Nose Fungus syndrome. June and July are the season when mothers have their little ones, so they tend to stay close to their roost while they're nursing the little ones, but the males usually have several roosts. If you've decided to install a bat house in your yard this year, don't get discouraged if you don't think they're taking up residence; apparently the females are more choosy than the males (pups to rear) and the males flit around a bit. Keep it up through at least a year so they get a chance to get used to it's presence. It took a couple years before my aunt & uncle's bat house got settled, but now they have regular resident bats there.

That's all for tonight. See you around the gardens!

- Posted from my iPhone...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mending the fence

Got a fair amount of maintenance done tonight at the plot. Attacked the bittersweet that's been colonizing the fenceline, yanked out a lot of mystery tubers that grow 3' tall (hmph. If only my veggies would be so vigorous right?!) and mowed somed of the grass coming up in the walkways. I cleared out one of the smaller beds and that'll be my flower garden - it's already got columbine growing there so that's a good omen for the kinds of flowers I'm fond of. Then finally I tackled nailing up the chickenwire (and what's with the sudden enthusiasm for calling it "poultry fencing"?!) to complete the rest of the back fence. My neighbors in that direction look as though they've given up, which would be too bad, since they're awfully nice, but given that they have a new baby, I can only imagine: probably something had to give, time-wise. I'll be pleasantly surprised if I see them return though. Lots of other people (including the new gardeners working overtime to put up their fences while sorting out their soil, laying mulch, prepping beds, etc) are really doing well this year. It's fun to walk through and admire everyones different gardens and little spaces to sit and enjoy their garden. I'm personally slightly envious of those who have arbors set up - I'm hoping to get one set up for myself later in the summer, but obviously a lot of other things could get in the way of that getting built.

The little plants starters I laid in this weekend are looking alright, and in addition to the cage, I laid some of that white cloth over them to keep the bugs and other critters off. It makes it a little less cheery to look at, but I'm hoping it'll increase my chances of getting a yield from my various little plants. I forget what that stuff is called, but I'd saved it from last season, and I find that exclusion methods seem to work best for me. Too bad I can't set up an entire enclosure of that stuff: it would be nice to avoid the mob of mosquitoes, but they really like me this season. Oddly enough, I've been reading this book about color, pigments and dyes in art history, and it mentioned that one of the very non-mysterious reasons ancient peoples tended to paint themselves with ochre is that it tends to protect one from insects. Not so dumb, huh! Granted, I have no idea where to obtain some of that rock, and even were it easily obtainable in the raw form you still wouldn't catch me painting myself up with it to go gardening. On the other hand, given how covered in dirt I come OUT of the garden due to all my swatting at the pests with my dirt-covered gloves, maybe it's all the same?!

So next visit should include the new gate, some mint-mulching (works so far), some seed planting, and a little more digging. That's the news from plot 78B - keep digging and drop by if you're in the neighborhood.

- Posted from my iPhone...

So many birds,

...and I wish they'd eat more mosquitoes, but who's complaining? Okay, it's true. Now that my arms and neck are devastated by the clouds of mozzies that assaulted me at sunset, it's true, I'm complaining. A little.

On the other hand, I really enjoy the sheer number and variety of birds that I see and/or hear at the allotment when I stop to rest a moment.

For your amusement, and from the safety of your computer terminal so that you don't have to brave the mozzies...a list of the ones that I know about. There are others that I'm still identifying by call and by plumage, but since I can link to a photo and recording of their call (Thank you Cornell Ornithology lab):

The usual suspects:
Blue Jays
barn swallows
tree swallows
sparrows of various kinds

More often heard than seen:
red-winged blackbird
mourning dove
yellow throat warbler
yellow throat vireo

More often seen than heard:
Brown-headed Cowbird
red-tailed hawk
Baltimore Oriole

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thunderstorms, weeding, and planting

So, at last, an update. I seem to be an intermittent blogger these days, my apologies to those of you who check in regularly: you must be saying "now, why don't she write?" - but obviously the usual excuses of "busy" followed by "too tired to write at the end of the day" apply. You know how it goes - I imagine most of you are in the same boat, (and surely this spring, 'boat' is an accurate metaphor).

Much of my energies this spring went into fence building and repair, as seen in my previous post. I had a number of projects come up in the past month that derailed me from getting to the garden plot while it was still light out, and I admit I'm just not quite dedicated enough to wear a headlamp, so what can I say? I did have some success with seedling starters at home this year, much to the dismay of my ever-mischievous cat who was really disappointed that one of the windows was blocked by a large, large new set of wire shelves that housed my little green babies.

One of the things that was driven home while I nursed the seedlings along was that although in spring it provides great sunlight, once the trees surrounding my building leaf-in it becomes shady there. I supplemented the light with those little fairy-lights, and they don't seem to mind the substitution, although I think I should add more lights.

Successes: some of the heirloom tomato seeds I started have thrived, as have the bok choi (白菜) and even the hot peppers. For reasons that remain mysterious to me, and probably have to do with the soil in the container I grew them, my beans didn't thrive - they grew right up and then suddenly keeled over and died. I'll just direct plant them this week and see what happens. I do love beans in the summer.

I feel like I cheated a little, but I bought starter flats this year, which I don't normally do. I had an urge though, and there you are. I used starters to plant a couple other varieties of heirloom tomatoes (some 'black cherry' and another beefsteak variety), some green bell peppers, red cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, zucchini, and I also bought some herbs to intersperse and add to my herb garden: tricolor sage, pineapple mint, and English thyme.

Another trick I've started to employ is that - since I have such an abundance of mint that springs up everywhere (as members of the mint family are wont to do) and honestly I don't drink mojitos THAT often (!!!), I decided that I'm going to simply remove the mint heartlessly when it intrudes, and use it to mulch around my tomatoes, etc. etc. - see what that does for the various plants.

There are still two "beds" that want weeding and opening up, so there's work ahead, and I have designs on the corner that used to house my would-be cold frame, and I think it needs to turn into a rock garden, with both herbs and flowers. Plus, I have to finish my new gate, so I think there will be hammering noises coming from my plot soon enough.

That's the news from plot 78B... see you around the garden!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fences, rocks, snakes and some spring onions

A short update, as one is overdue but I'm too tired to do a proper update just now.

Among recent events, no doubt you've heard about our flooding up in Massachusetts; lucky me, I had some of it in my apt, although compared to many I got out alright: no evacuation, just a couple weeks of inconvenience while I stayed elsewhere during the repairs. Whew. Counts self lucky and moves along thankyouverymuch.

After weeks of rain, the sun abruptly came out this weekend and gave us 70 degree days (80 on Saturday where I was). I cranked through some much needed work in the garden. I put up the fence posts for some places that really needed it in the garden plot; enjoyed the birds (they were carrying on a wild spring symphony themselves); and was pleasantly surprised to find two cute little grass snakes in my overgrown garden. I guess they might have been hunting field mice? Not sure, will have to look it up later. At any rate, here is one of them: you'll have to look closely, but he's stripey, and his head is next to a green leaf - nature is pretty good at camouflage.

The daffodils are coming up, so i grabbed a couple to bring home and enjoy. Last but not least I found some very randomly sprung up scalions. Tiny, but I'm okay with that. The back aches now, and I'm ready to hit the shower. So here, unsightly but practical, is how part of the new fence looks. Notice I've made the fence part of a future coldframe. Yeah. That's why it looks soooo fabulous (sarcasm alert!!)
That's all the news for now. I still haven't re-hooked up the computer at home, but when I do I'll get back to my regular posting once more. Yay. Spring. Finally.

- Posted from my iPhone...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thinking healing thoughts

Simply stunned and reeling that my friend Katie (GardenPunk blogger, flickr photographer, avid Twitter user, and all-around healthy soul and cheerful person) could ever be so abruptly and unfairly felled and hospital-ridden by what has turned out to be bacterial meningitis.

Judging by the hundreds of signatures and lengthy thoughts left on her site created by her sister, I know that I'm among many many people who were touched by her generous friendship over the years.

Katie, by now I know you've been read all our messages, and we are all sleepless and thinking all kinds of healing thoughts your way. I know you're getting good care in the hospital. Get well soon. We (and it's such a very numerous 'we') all miss you !!!

I know most of you reading this alreaady know Katie through her writings on the blog and so on, but for the few who don't, suffice to say that a great number of us on the world feel that Katie is Good People, and we care about her and our thoughts are with her family.

- Posted from my iPhone...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Winter distractions


Sometimes I stop into the la-dee -dah store that has an attached greenhouse so that while I'm picking up a jar of spaghetti sauce, I can get a dose of tropical foliage. It's actually not very busy in winter, but it's nice to be able to wander in and enjoy the hanging plants and flowers, even though it's 8:30pm on a bitter cold Tuesday.

Along my morning commute I get treated to a strange vision each morning. I have to say that this nativity scene has been bothering me all season. It's the three kings, particularly that one on the right; the posture, the expression, the look on the face all contribute to the impression that that he's just tripped over something behind him. Or caught some bubblegum on his shoe, I don't know.

Finally, some more of my seedlings have come up. The colder and more grey it gets, the more I look forward to seeing the little green shoots.


carrots, if you can believe it- even if at this stage they look more like oat grass...

And of course beans :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Myopia dog sled races

Meet... Snow Dog!!!

We attended the sled dog race eventvat the Myopia Hunt club up in Hamilton, MA, and between racers going by, my friend K decided snow sculpture was in order. Bring your own fun - especially if you didn't think ahead to bring your own tailgate party:

This division was all young racers and they did a great job.

Posted from my iPhone...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Carrot seedlings!

Okay. It's official- I'm now excited. The carrot seedlings are up. Last time I planted some, they simply failed. Hopefully these will do better.

- Posted from my iPhone...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More seedlings!

I can't help it. The more winter sets in, the more my little seedlings cheer me up. Here are a few more- hopefully future carrots. The second photo is of the progress of the 'zeolights' variety I planted.

Posted from my iPhone...

Post-snow sunshine

And cold. So say the rhododendron leaves outside my window.

- Posted from my iPhone...

Friday, January 8, 2010


The first two tentative little seedlings showed this morning. Yay!

- Posted from my iPhone...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Resting indoors and pondering the early seed catalogs (thank you Lee Valley and Johnny's) after having surveyed the damage the wind and snow wrought on my little plot.

I'm glad to see all the various posts from gardeners talking about their spring plans. It's encouraging at least, even though I realize that with the soil newly frozen in my neck of the woods I can expect at least two to three more months of indoor activities and container plant tending before I can dig outdoors. 2009 really threw some monkeywrenches into the works for me, but I hope this coming year may go a little more gently on me and everyone around me.

Here's wishing you all the best for the new year. See you in the garden!

- Posted from my iPhone...