Sunday, December 20, 2009

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

I was very happy to hear that a huge storm was making its way up the coast this weekend for two reasons. One, I love snow. Two, since southern NJ (where I grew up) was going to be getting dumped on meant that I will have a white Christmas!

On Saturday I was glued to The Weather Channel and local news stations. Boston was expected to get 10-15 inches. I anxiously waited - and stayed awake - until the arrival of snow in Boston at midnight. Although it was not a peaceful, quiet snow I still loved waking up early this morning to find everything covered in white!

After the storm stopped on Sunday afternoon I decided to take a walk around Boston. I especially wanted to see what to see what the FVG (and my plot) looked like with almost a foot of snow!

A few people were out walking their dogs, but overall the city was pretty quiet. The Muddy River was colorless but beautiful.

I am sorry to say that it has been well over a month since I visited the gardens. However, with leaves missing from the surrounding trees and bushes, the plots of the FVG were more visible than ever before! I has a great time wandering around to get a closer look at people's plots. Some of the rows were deep from the drifting snow. I had my rain boots, but should have worn my snowshoes!

I then strolled over to see how my own plot had survived the Blizzard of 2009. I looked down Row Z to see my fence, sticking out because of its height, design and 'newness'. As I followed footprints from an earlier visitor, I got my first glimpse of what my plot looked like in the snow! Anything that may lie under the blanket of snow may remain hidden for quite sometime.

On a final note, Monday, December 21st is the winter solstice, the longest night of year. Even though winter has just started, and we may have many more snow storms, the arrival of the winter solstice puts pressure on me to start planning my 2010 gardening goals! I long for the days where it doesn't get dark until 8pm!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gardening Gift Ideas

I can not believe how quickly the holidays are upon us! There always seems to be so much to do and so little time, and with two weeks 'til Christmas I have not started my to-do list! After surviving my first season of gardening I am really looking forward to next spring to try everything all over again. I have a few ideas up my sleeve for things to try. As a result I have called out for assistance. Two things on my Christmas list are:
Living in the city I have found it extremely difficult to build things. The re-building of my plot's fence was hard enough! Although these two projects are smaller, they require more precise cuts and tools that I cannot easily use/store in my apartment.

I came across this posting on Craftzine for a few gift ideas for gardeners in case you need one!

What is on your Gardener's Christmas list?

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Chores & Harvest Report 11/1

I hope that everyone had a great Halloween. I was disappointed not to have a pumpkin from my garden to carve and ended up not doing anything very festive. I attended a concert last night by one of my all time favorite bands, Guster! Walking around Boston, there were a lot of great costumes, but I also found it amusing to see what the more 'popular' costumes were this year. I saw many people dressed up as Peter Pan, Minnie Mouse, a Pirate, Where's Waldo, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. My favorite costume was probably "the swine flu" (a pig with a face mask).

Anyway, back to gardening...finding time to get into the garden is becoming increasingly difficult as the days get shorter. Now that we turned the clocks back, weekends are going to be the only time I can really attend to the garden (since early mornings are not my thing). So, in addition to planting garlic, I took the opportunity to do a few fall chores:
  • dug up my impressive marigolds that added color and bug protection to my plot
  • spread two wheelbarrows of wood chips in the path
I also harvested my remaining radishes and mache*:

*A side note about my background with mache (i.e. corn salad, lamb's lettuce). I first discovered mache while in Switzerland. With a simple vinaigrette, it was delicious by itself. While shopping at my local Trader Joe's in Cambridge, MA shortly after my Swiss trip, I came across a bag of mache. I could hardly contain my shock and excitement. I now purchase bags of mache several times a month (partly because I want to make sure that they continue to stock it and feel that i alone purchase enough to keep the sales up!) Unfortunately, I have not found it at all TJ locations, but if you can find it I highly recommend it. Again, all it needs is a simple vinaigrette, but is also delicious with avocado, tomato and eggs! Bon appetit!

Garlic Planting Day

My goal of planting my garlic this weekend was accomplished as my order arrived on Friday. However, although it was incredibly warm on Saturday (70 degrees), it was unbelievably windy! The winds were blowing everything around like crazy so I decided not to attempt planting on Saturday. Fortunately, today was a beautiful day, sunny & 60 with less wind!

A little bit more about my garlic. After checking the garlic inventory of the more popular sites, I decided to order from The Garlic Store. They are a small company based in Fort Collins, CO. (I only bring up that they are in Ft. Collins because I lived there for a short time after college and absolutely loved it!!) Anyway, my 1/2 lb. order of Organic German White Garlic (a hardneck variety) gave me 3 bulbs/heads.

It looked great...especially once I broke the bulbs open to find out how many cloves were in each! The cloves were very easy to break apart, fragrant, and although I did not try, also easy to peel.
Each bulb had 7-8 large cloves, giving me 21 to plant. (I held back one on the smaller side to eat!) I have heard of a few variations on how to plant garlic and was very impressed with Daphne's method. However, I decided to start with the most basic and easiest way of naturel! I was going to leave the skin on each clove and just plop them into the ground.

After loosening up the existing soil and adding a bag of compost to the bed I created to plant the garlic, I made 21 holes, about 2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart. I put one clove in each hole, "tip" up.

Next, I covered the holes back up with the soil. To protect the garlic from the upcoming New England winter, I used what I had around me as mulch...leaves and grass! I covered the bed with about 6" of leaves and added pieces of the 20' reeds from the surrounding Muddy River bank.

The final result after placing a plastic netting over it so the wind wouldn't blow everything away...

I can't wait until next year and hope that I have all 21 heads of garlic!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Garden Scene Cupcakes

Garden scene cupcakes, originally uploaded by Angelina Cupcake.

How cute! Take a look at this cute garden scene cupcake from Angelina Cupcake in the UK. I found these cute cakes while visiting Cupcakes Take The Cake, a blog that I follow related to my other passion, baking!

Thumbs Up San Francisco!

In case you haven't heard I wanted to share the great news that composting is now MANDATORY in San Francisco!! This is an incredible accomplishment! Similar to the Seattle law, which required only households to compost, the October 21st SF law requires every residence and business to have three separate color-coded bins for waste: blue for recycling, green for compost and black for trash.

I cannot imagine how the city is educating everyone on composting, however I did find details about what people can compost in their green carts and kitchen pails, in addition to this public awareness commercial:

San Francisco is definitely doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint--all their collection and transfer trucks run on alternative fuel (either liquefied natural gas or biodiesel). They may start fining people in the future for non-compliance as their goal, according to City Environmental Officer, Jared Blumenfeld is to have zero waste - no garbage - going to landfills by the year 2020. I hope that other cities (especially Boston) follow SF's example.

View a quick MSNBC report about how composting can go full-cycle to help local vineyards.

Learn more about SF's composting program:
Also, I added a poll (in the right hand section) to get a feel for how many people are already composting in their homes. Unfortunately, I am not yet composting myself, but hope to purchase at least one kitchen composter by early 2010! Living in an apartment makes composting challenging, but not impossible!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Brookside Community Gardens

Last week I took an opportunity to go over to Brookside Community Gardens on my lunch break. Located close to where I work in Wellesley, MA I have driven by it many times. This is the one of the few other community gardens I have visited, so I was interested to see what they had to offer.

As I strolled through the garden I passed two women tending to their plots and said a quick hello. Wandering down each aisle, strawberry plants had popped up where people had not walked. I noticed that most of the 30 plots were very large, but bare from the fall clean up.

I enjoyed my lunch detour on such a beautiful (and mild) fall day. It is always great to admire other people's gardens!

Cabbage & Celery Harvest

On Saturday I harvested the last of my red cabbages along with two heads of celery! I was so anxious to try the celery and I have to say that I am very pleased!

Quick celery tip: Did you know that putting celery in tinfoil keeps it fresh and crisp?

A Shot in the Dark

Tonight I placed my first garlic order! However, the combination of being late to order and not knowing much about each variety, I took a shot in the dark. I ordered a 1/2 lb of Certified Organic German White from The Garlic Store. This variety seems like a good place to start. I am definitely a garlic fan, but also always buy whatever I can find in the grocery store. As long as the garlic comes, I look forward to planting this weekend!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Strawberry Surprise!

I made a spur of the moment purchase at Whole Foods a few months ago. It was an "ever-bearing" strawberry plant. I originally planted it in the perimeter 'flower' bed, but later had to dig it up when I made the passage way between my two spaces. It is doing pretty well in a pot, but I was doubting whether it will make it through the winter. However, upon my visit to the garden today I noticed a small white flower blooming!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What a difference a year makes

As many of you are aware, this has been an interesting and challenging year for agriculture. In New England, it was "too wet" earlier this summer and now it is "too cold." Martha Stewart posted an interesting entry on her own blog, comparing this year's autumn to last. The weather conditions earlier this year seem to be having an affect on the foliage this year. I have definitely seen some brilliant trees, but I agree with Martha that the widespread colors have been more dull this year. Have you also noticed a difference?

Find Martha's post here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Caring & Preparing

I continue to care for my last remaining crops that are still growing...mache, peppers, bush beans, scallions, cabbage and celery.

mache; Mandarin Peppers (unripe)

Here is an updated shot of my plot. I now have two of my 'boxes' covered since we have had many nights in the 30's, frost watches and snow. Unfortunately, I ran out of odds and ends to weigh down the plastic, so the middle box is on its own for now!

In preparation for garlic planting I cleared and created a spot in my recent addition. I still have to order my garlic so I will be limited to what is still in stock. However, I am hoping for a hard-neck variety at least. I have searched Johnny's, Seeds of Change and The Garlic Store. I definitely need to plant soon though-especially if the temps are going to stay below average!

On a final note, I just checked Eliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest out of the library. I hope to have a 'review' soon!

The End of a [few] Season[s]...

The sun has set over Fenway as another baseball season has come to an end for the Red Sox. Since baseball is such a big deal in Boston, I guess Mother Nature decided to strike back with some crazy weather--ending Fall before it even got started! In the past few days I have seen snow not once, but twice! It never amounted to anything in downtown Boston (so I did not capture it on film) but others like Daphne and Kathy saw a nice dusting!

Before the nor'easter hit on Sunday, it was a very nice almost fall-like day! I hit the river to catch some of the Head of the Charles rowing events. I used to row in for the University of New Hampshire (despite being on the shorter side at 5'3"). Although I no longer row, I still love the sport and have many opportunities to watch the local schools compete! If you have never seen attended the Head of the Charles I highly recommend it! It is the largest two-day rowing event and one of Boston's best traditions, attracting people from all over the world!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Re-post: You Might Be A Gardening Geek If...

I found these great posts on May Dreams Gardens and thought I would re-post it.

Her original post, You Might Be a Gardening Geek if...

An expanded post, More clues that you might be a Garden Geek

Although my overall "score" is low, I find myself moving toward some of these "geeky gardener" characteristics. Is it bad that to have it be an aspiration?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An unexpected visitor

As if walking into the gardens didn't already make me feel that I have escaped city life for a while, I get to enjoy the beauty of nature in another way...

While bringing some debris to the compost pile near my plot, I turned around to see a surprise visitor! A hawk was perched on a fence post of the plot next to me, about 10 feet away. I carefully rushed back to my plot to grab my camera. However, I did not have to worry about the hawk flying away, as he was enjoying his freshly caught dinner.

Still growing...

I am excited to have a few things still growing in my garden...

Second round of radishes; revived peppers

Second round of bush beans; my celery experiment


I also have a few more cabbages and m√Ęche (lamb's lettuce/corn salad)! Unfortunately, cauliflower and melon made it to my "failed" crop list.

Preparing for frost...

'Tis the season to prepare for frost. Temps are getting into the 40s at night. In order to protect the last of my growing veggies I wanted to try making protective domes. Following the SFG method, I bought two PVC pipes per box. For the cover I chose a thin plastic tarp. I realize that a variety of things can be used as a cover (burlap, blankets, sheets, row covers, plastic). Right now I only have Box 3 covered. I still have a lot of clean up tasks to do, which include removing the tomato plants. Hopefully I can spend more time in the garden this weekend and finish prepping my plot for the fall temps!

Updated photos of my SFG boxes.

Box #3, covered

Monday, October 5, 2009

A harvest of another kind

Taking advantage of a beautiful fall day, I ventured west of Boston to harvest some apples! Apple picking is such a great New England tradition, and one that I have not done in quite a few years! There are so many orchards in Massachusetts alone, but decided on Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton, MA. Although my primary focus was their orchard, I just had to step into the gift shop to browse their selection of wines! (I definitely want to check out their wine tour and tasting some day!)

Back to the apples...there were only three varieties of available for harvest...McIntosh, Macoun and Courtland. I filled my bag with equal amounts of all three! The macs were especially large, but I think I managed to fit about 25 apples in my bag (a peck). There were also a few peaches left in their orchard, but opted against harvesting any. Maybe next year!

Once I had the apples at home I tried smitten kitchen's simplest apple tart recipe..twice! I am still trying to master rolling out the dough, but it was a delicious recipe! What do you like to make with your apples?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Carrot harvest

I harvested the last of my Short 'n Sweet carrots. Many of them were a perfect 4-5" and tasted great! I added the smaller ones to the pot roast I made, debuting my new dutch oven!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thanks to for listing me in their directory of farming, gardening and composting blogs! Check out their website to find a lot of great information. Many of my favorite blogs that I follow are also listed! Blogs are listed by state/country.

Also, since the site founders also invented the Worm Factory®, there is a lot of information about vermi-culture (worm composting) which I hope to try some day when I move on from apartment living!! I hope to post more about vermi-culture soon as I attended a workshop earlier this year! It sounds easy and fun with only a small amount of "yuckiness!"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Free Press

Even though things are slowing down, I am way behind in posting about my garden. Unfortunately, this is not that kind of post. Before I forgot, I wanted to blog about an article from Boston University's student newspaper, The Daily Free Press. One of their reporters gave the Fenway Victory Gardens some publicity and wrote an article about the garden and the recent FensFest event. To make it even more blog-worthy, I was quoted in the article as he happened to catch me in my garden!

Read the article, "Avant Gardening" here:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thinking about potatoes

Like many, I am starting to think about what veggies I will grow next year. Potatoes are definitely on my list. I have heard that they are pretty easy to grow and can even be planted in buckets and trash cans!

While I still have to decide what variety or varieties I will grow along with my method of choice, I came across a post, "How to grow 100 pounds of potatoes in 4 square feet." Again I have never grown potatoes, but this seems like a great way to go!

Side note: for those not familiar with they have a great family of websites/blogs. The one I visit [every few hours] is

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Success at FensFest!

The Fenway Garden Society made the right call when deciding to postpone the FensFest until Sunday. We received 3 inches of rain between Friday afternoon and Saturday evening! Thanks to my new rain gauge I will now know how much rain we get!

We had a gorgeous day to celebrate FensFest! With steel drums playing in the background, the grill was hot, the 'white elephant' table was stocked with used treasures, and everyone had the chance to win fabulous raffle prizes! Gardeners, families, friends and passers-by stopped by to wander through the gardens and enjoy the festivities.

I entered one of my Savoy Ace green cabbages in the produce contest! It won "Best Vegetable"!

Success! I was thrilled to win "Best New Gardener" for my section.

Thanks to everyone that came out! I loved showing you around!