Volunteer pumpkin

All of our vegetables in the garden are doing great this year. The only thing that has not worked out so far are our pumpkins. We grew six pumpkins from seed, they were all hardened carefully, transplanted to the garden, and then they all died in about a week. Pumpkins need warm weather, and unfortunately we had a couple of cool nights in late June that probably killed them.

However, we do have a volunteer pumpkin in our side yard which is doing great. Is the term ‘volunteer’ used outside New England? It means that we did not plant this one, it just started growing. Most likely from a composted pumpkin from last year. It stretches across two sections of fence, each about eight feet long. Every few days I have to check to see if it is growing into my neighbors yard, I’ve already had to move the huge vines out of the neighbor’s yard twice.

There’s also a small tomato plant squeezed in there too.

I hope we get some pumpkins from this one!

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A gardening experiment

We’re experimenting with our basil this year. We eat a lot of pesto, and it usually costs something like $6 for a four ounce jar, so we’ve been growing our own. Homemade pesto is very inexpensive and any excess can be frozen too.

Basil tends to grow like a weed here, but I noticed that our plants have not been doing well so far this year. We have them in old kitty litter bins, to keep the dog from trampling them. It’s possible that the potting soil-dirt mix may just be played out, it’s been in the same bins for a few years now. So we’ve added some supplements to the bins to see which one helps the plants the most.

In this bin we have added some compost from our own compost bin. Decomposed fruit and vegetable peels and cores, grass clippings, leaves.

A commercial plant food. It’s a powder that is mixed with water.

Worm castings. We have a worm bin. C likes to say that he takes care of a thousand pets in addition to the dog. Possibly another post to come on that. The worms eat the same type of fruit and vegetable scraps that we have in the compost, they also eat paper, newspaper, and cardboard. We then gather up the finished castings.

And as a control, a bin with nothing added.

Each bin had about a quart of each supplement added to try to make sure each one is equal. Each one also receives about the same amount when we water them.

We’ll see what happens.

Vegetable Garden ‘18

Last year we had a plot in our town’s community garden area. We have a small yard and what do have planted will be trampled by our dog anyway so the community garden is a good option. We had been on the waiting list for about two years, and I had not planned anything ahead of time when they assigned us our plot in late May. So we had to rush to get seedlings in the ground and we just were not able to get much done in time, so by the end of the season we ended up with just some carrots and a few stalks of basil.

Once you’re in the garden you are automatically renewed unless you cancel so this year we were determined to plan ahead! Here’s what the garden looks like at the beginning of the season.

We have a 20 x 40 plot, located where the pile of garden tools are in the photo. In the distance are a group of guys playing cricket!

Here’s what it looks like now.

Several plots are in the photo, ours is the three rows in the center. The enormous cabbage in the foreground is C’s contribution, part of a school project. Whoever grows the biggest cabbage in his grade wins! I forget what the winner gets, but he’s determined to win.

Here’s our Brussels sprouts and swiss chard.

Here’s our zucchini.

Results are already much better than last year. We’re going to have more zucchini than we can eat. We’re already using it for zucchini bread.

Community Garden

After two years on the waiting list, we were awarded a plot in our town’s community garden area this Spring.  Even though we live in New Hampshire, we’re not in an area where the houses have large yards so we were looking forward to getting the extra space for a vegetable garden. 

We were informed about the garden plot very late Spring, so we weren’t very well prepared with seedlings ready or a well thought out plan.  We were then very much occupied by our dog, Scout, getting sick, so our garden plot does not have a very well tended appearance.  The garden area has at least two hundred plots.  Some people have been gardening there for many years, so they’ve had years to come up with the best plan for their area. 


Look at this one, for example.  Just look at the carefully planned rows of enormous vegetables and well tended paths with no weeds!   No, that’s not our garden. 

How about this one?  Don’t those cabbages look great!   No, not our garden.

This is our garden.  It’s close to 99% weeds with a row of carrots, a few beets, and some other random vegetables struggling through the jungle of weeds.


When talking to the other gardeners, I can’t help but feel a little self conscious in comparison.  Which plot is your’s? They will ask.  Ummm.. that one there, I’ll say.  Which is usually followed by a disapproving look and a ‘Oh, yes, I’ve seen that plot’ 

But within the weeds are the best carrots we’ve had..

and more basil than we can use…

With which we made chicken pesto with roasted carrots.  So it’s at least been worth it for the new recipes we’ll be trying. I had made pesto before, but this qualifies as new since it has both basil and carrot greens in it.  Roasting carrots is easy, but I’ve never tried cooking it, so that qualifies as new too.   I have this ambitious plan of trying a new recipe each week, so this would be recipes #1 and #2. 

WPC: Spring

This week’s photo challenge is ‘Spring’, and as usual, I’m late posting!

Spring in Southern New England is the brief time in between turning off the furnace and turning on the air conditioner. It usually lasts about two weeks. Once it’s over, we go into hazy, hot, and humid New England Summer. These brief weeks tend to be rainy, cloudy, and cold, with a few bright sunny days mixed in. So we try to get as much gardening done as possible now to take advantage of all the rain.

I tend to be a very unorganized gardener, which will be apparent as I describe these photos.

A month or so ago, I posted a photo of some vegetable seeds we had started; basil, dill, a few varieties of tomato, Swiss chard, and a few others. Though which tomato variety is which, I now have no idea. I’ve been trying to take them out for a few hours each day to harden them before transplanting, though most days have been too rainy and windy to do that. Maybe I’ll be able to transplant in a week or so.

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Here are a few Iris bulbs, with some other perennials mixed in. have no idea what variety of Iris these are. A neighbor gave them to me many years ago. She had found next to an abandoned ginger ale bottling plant, so I call them the Ginger Ale Iris. They are a light yellow color so it seems to be an appropriate name.

 

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Where did these tulips come from? I didn’t plant them, they just suddenly appeared among my rose bushes. Must have been left by the previous owners, though that was 14 years ago!

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A hosta and some Tiger Lilies. In New England, if nothing else is going to grow somewhere, then plant some Tiger Lilies. Or just wait awhile and some will appear there anyway.

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Usually Spring for me has meant a trip to Blanchette Gardens in Carlisle, Massachusetts. This is where I bought all of my perennials. Unfortunately, the owners retired last year, so I’ll have to find somewhere else to go. I’ll miss going there as it was a relaxing place to browse through their rows of native perennials, most of them very hard to find elsewhere. They sold their plants by their Latin names, with small plastic tags attached to each pot. I would keep each tag once I transplanted them, thinking that I would somehow keep track of them. But have I ever done that, No. So here’s a row of my perennials, just about all are from Blanchette, many have been here as long as I have been living here. Do I know the names of any of them ? Nope, not a single one!

I still have those tags with the Latin names somewhere, I should try to match up the names to the plants. Yeah, I’m sure I’ll do that.

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This year’s vegetable garden

Mr. C started his own vegetable garden this weekend. He’s very excited to see what will happen with the seeds he planted. He planted the seeds in small starter pots with Ms. J, while I was off doing yet another home improvement project. So I don’t have a lot of detail on how they did it. Last year the only thing we were able to plant were some basil seeds. Once basil starts, it grows like a weed, so we had some home-made pesto meals in the Fall. Pesto is one of those things that are very expensive when you but it in the supermarket but turn out to be kind of easy to make at home. So instead of paying something like $6 a jar for one meal’s worth of pesto, we had about six pesto meals for about $2.

This year he planted basil, three types of tomatoes, Swiss chard, oregano, and dill. (Can you tell that I’m Italian from the selection of seeds?). He’s checking the seed tray every hour or so to see if any of the seeds are growing yet. I have no idea where we will put all of these plants in the backyard yet, but it’ll be fun for him to watch them grow.

I’ve never really been able to follow through on keeping track of a project like this for the blog, but here’s the first photo. It just looks like some dirt so far.

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