Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

Tomatoes at last

September 1, 2013


Lest my radio silence be mistaken for lack of gardening, I give you:  Tomato Season.


I’ve got 26 pints of roasted tomato sauce canned, with more in the works.

IMG_3612My squash are sadly dying from powdery mildew, but we’ve enjoyed some zucchini and flying Saucer squash, and have shredded and frozen some, too, for use this winter.  The Diva and Socrates cukes have been divine.  So wish I’d managed a second planting of cukes.

As always, there is much to do and too little time here at Henbogle.  Sigh.


Here’s a glimpse of one of the garden’s less demanding residents.  He’s been singing to us for much of the summer.

A waiting game

July 18, 2013

Picture 38Holy heck it’s hot!  First a cool damps spring, then an overnight switch into hot & humid have marked our summer here at Henbogle.  The very wet June has led to a bumper crop if mosquitoes and biting flies, here, IMG_3296and those, combined with the  heat and humidity during the day, are making gardening exceptionally unpleasant.

The garden grows, though a lot of things got off to a very slow start.  Still, the shallots look good, the potatoes are blossoming, there are green tomatoes on the vine, and the spring broccoli and cauliflower was good.  The broccoli, though, even my beloved Piracicaba, has been slow to give me side shoots.

The snap peas came and went in a flash, and I’ve had some destructive nibbling of my lettuce crop, so garden eating hasn’t been super to date.  It is a IMG_3301good thing I’ve got fabulous nearby farms and farm markets.  Late blight has been confirmed in Western Massachusetts, sigh, meaning it is more than likely we’ll have it here sooner than later. I’ll hope I can get some new IMG_3297potatoes and fried green tomatoes if nothing else.

Of course the weeds are flourishing with the early plentiful rain and hit weather/absent weeder.  Sigh.  Dan Man and I watered and weeded a bit last night, until the biting flies drove me inside.  The watering brought on a nice thundershower, so the other gardens we did not water got some needed rain, and we got a lovely light show.  No such luck that the storm would usher in cooler air, we have more of the same until Sunday.

At least inside we have air conditioning on the first floor, so we’ve been IMG_3305keeping busy with painting and house projects.  I’ve got some dear old friends coming to visit next week, so Henbogle is being buffed and waxed to a glow.  More on that next.

A quick peek at the garden

June 26, 2013

IMG_3177I snapped some photos early in the day Monday and Tuesday.  The garden is looking good, except for a couple of weedy patches that need major remediation.

The shallots are looking good despite the late planting and their being nearly over grown by weeds.  The first IMG_31782 years I grew them I planted them in the fall for overwintering (2010 and 2011).  After being away all summer, the fall was crazy and I did not get them planted, so Dan helped me get the shallots in on May 6 in hopes of at the very least having a fall seed crop.  They don’t look quite as lush as they did in June 2011, but I’m happy, especially as they have regrouped nicely after a thorough Dan-man weeding, followed by a good watering, treatment of fish emulsion, and mulching with grass clippings.

The potatoes, planted last Monday, are up and after a rain shower are even bigger than pictured.  More rain IMG_3180showers are predicted today, after which I’ll fill them in with some more soil to encourage more taters.  My cukes, zucchini and Futsu Black winter squash are up.  I was fortunate to discover some Johnny’s Diva cukes at a local nursery, and purchased some when my Socrates cukes, in the back of the first tomato cage cuke trellis, were slow to sprout.  Since then, two of the three Socrates cukes have sprouted but I’ll leave them just in case.  I have room for an additional cuke trellis for a later planting if the striped cucumber beetles are bad.

IMG_3182I also discovered some Flying Saucers summer squash at the same nursery that had the Diva cukes, and purchased them as I had forgotten to buy seed.  I love their nutty flavor and funky shape.  I’ve got the squashes all covered with floating row cover to deter the striped cucumber beetles and squash bugs.  I’ll pull the cover when the plants begin to blossom.  I’d like to make some kind of cover for the trellised cukes, but haven’t managed that yet, and given the extensive home improvement project list, it probably won’t happen this year.  Ah well.

Today it is very humid and sticky, as it was yesterday, ugh.  Perfect weather for sanding our living room floor.  NOT, but oh well.  I’m working on the edges today but the majority of the sanding is done and looks great.  When and if we have a break from the humidity, we’ll put on some polyurethane, and until then, we take our shoes off at the door.

Harvest Monday: Broccoli edition

June 24, 2013

IMG_3185IMG_3188Finally, after my slow start in the garden, some harvests are happening.  I harvested 3 heads of broccoli, weighing in at 1 lb. 12 oz..  Another 3 heads are also almost ready to go.  We’ll eat one tonight and freeze the rest for winter treats.  One head started to bolt early, but while not cosmetically perfect should still be tasty.

I discovered this morning that some other mammal is harvesting some crops for me, unfortunately.  Recently set out broccoli and Brussels sprouts, lettuce, cauliflower, all have been chomped.  I suspect it is a rabbit that squeezed through the garden gate.  I’ll be fixing that as soIMG_3186on as this report is posted.  This early unauthorized harvesting may be the end of the Brussels sprouts and broccoli, I don’t know if they can recover if the main stem is eaten.  I may need to look for replacement plants.

Some of the lettuce was of a size where I could harvest some of the outer leaves, but no more.  A few of the smaller transplants are doomed, I think they are too chomped to recover.  Grrrr.  Time to set the HaveNoHeart trap.

Heading up

June 19, 2013

IMG_3159I’m making good progress in the garden now that my days in the office have ended for the summer (yay!).  Almost all my transplants are set out, just a few purchased Brussels sprouts I purchased yesterday remain.  Over the past few days and with Dan’s help, I managed to plant the remaining lettuce, some bok choi, potatoes, more broccoli and IMG_3166cauliflower, and sow some cucumbers and squash seeds in the vegetable garden.  This morning, I sowed more lettuce, and some cilantro and dill, and then I peeked under the brassica row cover.  The broccoli and cauliflower I set out in April is heading up — there will probably be broccoli for dinner some night soon.  I also IMG_3170set out all my flower seedlings, a mix of zinnias, black-eyed Susans, bachelor buttons, and salvia.  I also sowed some sunflower seeds in both the flower bed and the vegetable garden.

In the midst of all this, we’ve been weeding and fluffing the perennial beds, and starting a big refresh of the house.  We have a fabulous contractor repairing and patching sheetrock and replacing the textured ceiling in the living room.  Once he is done, we’ll be doing some painting.

We have one other little problem to solve, too.  I need a groundhog sniper.



A big gardening day

June 10, 2013

IMG_3122The blue tarps worked.  Although the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea dumped about 3 inches of rain on us Friday night, the soil below the taps was dry enough to work today.  We had a mix of sun and clouds throughout the day, with just enough of a breeze to keep the black flies and mosquitoes at bay.

We started the day with a bike ride, then breakfast with friends at a local restaurant.  Then we rode home (uphill, I might add) to do some gardening.  First I finished planting annual flowers in containers for the deck.  We are going with white and pink this year, with some silver accents.  Once all the containers were planted, I mulched the pots with grass clippings IMG_3124to minimize soil splashing and help keep the soil moist.  Once that was done,

I fertilized the beds lightly with to give the seedlings some readily accessible nutrients, then Dan and I laid down the plastic mulch.  While Dan weeded the shallots (he is a weeding fiend!) I sowed cucumber and squash seeds, then planted lettuce in front of the tomatoes.  I peeked under the tomato row cover and discovered some of the tomatoes were flowering, so I removed the row cover to let the bees do their thing.  I also cut some chive blossoms for chive blossom vinegar, mmm.

I have more younger lettuce starts to go in the garden, but they will have to await another day.  All in all, the garden is looking better, although there is still a LOT to do.


Snap peas are beginning to flower
Tomatoes thriving and uncovered
Peppers planted and coveredIMG_3125
90% of the beds are ready for planting (not including the hoop house)
Plastic down
Checked on broccoli, beginning to head up  some weeding and recovered
Cucumbers and winter squash sowed50% of the lettuce starts sowedShallots weeded and mulched


Sow bush and pole beans
Purchase and sow “Flying Saucers” Patty Pan squash seed
Sow cabbage and more bok choi, tatsoi, kale (for baby kale) and other Asian greens
Plant leek starts
Sow cilantro
Plant parsley starts
Plant cutting flower starts
Sow sunflowers
Prep remaining beds


And oh joy, heavy rain is forecast for Monday overnight and Tuesday, with up to 2 inches, and more showers and overcast skies through Thursday.  I feel bad for commercial growers, with strawberry season just beginning. Sigh.


All tucked in

June 6, 2013

Tonight, I covered the peppers with floating row cover to protect them as best I can from the weather, which looks like this:Picture 27

Originally the forecast was calling for up to three inches of rain in my area, but has dropped the amount to just 1 inch.  Here’s hoping for clear skies for the rest of next week.

Good advice well heeded

June 5, 2013

IMG_3110Daphne gave me good advice.  With the threat of 3+ inches of rain approaching over the weekend from a tropical storm and an army of weeds standing between me and planting, I was feeling IMG_3111overwhelmed.

Daphne said If you aren’t sure you will get the weeding done on the beds that aren’t planted up yet, cover them in black plastic right now…. At least they won’t go to seed and make the problem worse. And the plastic will keep the beds from being too wet when you want to work them.

Before my dentist appointment this morning I managed to prep two beds and lay down the plastic mulch.  I even managed to plant my pepper seedlings.

This evening, Dan turned over most of the rest of the beds and covered them with plastic tarps to keep the rain off.  I hope this will make it possible to work in the garden once the worst of the rain passes.

Thanks, Daphne!  And thanks Dan, too.IMG_3112

I need a gardening pep talk

June 3, 2013

Some good weather over the weekend would be nice, too.

Henbogle garden is in a sad state.  End of year busyness, and bad gardening weather is keeping me out of the garden at the time it (and I) most need to be in the garden.  Weeds are taking luxuriant advantage of the 4 inches of rain we got over Memorial Day weekend, especially after the 3 days of 90+ degree weather we had this past weekend.

My tomatoes are doing ok under the row cover and plastic mulch, but I haven’t been able to plant my peppers or potatoes, let alone prep the beds for direct seeding of pole beans, squash and cukes, more lettuce, etc.  The shallots are looking good but in need of daily intensive weeding for a bit and then a thick layer of mulch.  The cool crops in the hoophouse hated the hot spell and most have bolted.  At least the hens enjoy the sharp flavor of the arugula.

A lot more rain is in the forecast for the weekend and I am despairing about getting the rest of the beds weeded and ready.  I am beginning to think I should have planted a thick cover crop last year while we were away and then the garden would have been in better shape this spring.

Harvest Monday: Bok Choi and Tatsoi

May 20, 2013

IMG_3077I’m finally harvesting a few items from the garden.  Whew, it’s been a long haul, and I’ve really missed having my own backyard produce after our summer away last year.

Saturday I picked two nice bok choi and tatsoi plants for a stir fry for dinner.  It was a pretty local stir fry, too, other than the rice and the green beans, soy sauce, ginger and oil, everything in the dish was locally sourced.IMG_3081  Ok, maybe not that local except by weight.  Still, it was darn tasty!

Unfortunately I forgot to weigh them, but will weigh the remaining plants when I harvest them this week and guesstimate the total.  The two remaining plants were smaller so it will probably even out, or least be close enough.

I also picked a few radishes and will make these into an Asian-type salad this week using some rice wine vinegar and sesame oil.  I’m out of sesame oil though, so they have to wait a bit in the fridge as they were getting a bit big.

This post is part of Daphne’s Harvest Monday series on her fabulous blog, Daphne’s Dandelions.  Other gardeners from around the globe report in on what is growing in their gardens,  It is really interesting reading.