Saturday, May 29, 2010

Enter the Pole Bean...

Quick trip to the plot after work this afternoon. Some hand weeding, a few pictures, 1 more potato seedling and...

The first picture is 2 of the 7 Ottawa Cranberry Beans (planted 5/20) that sprung up between Wednesday afternoon and Friday afternoon. The second picture is 1 of 3 Kentucky Wonder pole beans (planted 5/23) that popped up in the same time frame. These are the only 2 varieties of beans I'm growing this year, so as usual, with signs of a new veggie coming to life I am very excited and pleased!

Long weekend with lots of garden & non-gardening planned. I will be doing lots of weeding, cleaning, some thinning, planting and general upkeep. I hope to take lots of pictures (I need the practice!) and have a nice update after the long weekend!

Happy Memorial Day for my U.S. Readers!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Last Organic Box

Here is this weeks produce box from Boston Organics:

What we got/where it's from:
1.5 lbs Bananas (Ecuador)
2 Bosc Pears (Argentina)
2 Pink Lady Apples (WA)
1 Red Grapefruit (CA)
2 Valencia Oranges (CA)
2 Yellow Peaches (CA) (not really, the website says CA but the labels on the peaches said Mexico)
1 bunch Asparagus (NY)
1 Cucumbers (GA)
1 Green Bell Peppers (CA)
1 lbs Peeled Carrots (CA)
1 Salad Tomatoes (FL)
0.75 lbs Zucchini (GA)

Gail and I have decided to stop the every other week delivery from Boston Organics in order to make a serious effort to get our produce from local farmers markets & farms, and hopefully provide some produce from our own garden. There are farmers markets within walking distance of both of our offices 4 days a week, and Allandale farm is just a short distance from our apartment. I will certainly miss regular deliveries of Oranges from the west coast and Bananas from South America, but I know I can substitute other fruits and veggies and still get my vitamin C and Potassium.
I know we won't get EVERYTHING from farmers markets and farms but I am certainly going to make an effort to get as much as possible from local sources. I think making the serious effort to acquire local produce and locally sourced meats is something worth pursuing .
Look for more updates regarding farmers markets and farms as the season continues!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Potato Seedlings!

With the temperatures hitting 90F/32C the past few days(unseasonably warm for Boston) Gail and I made sure to stop by the garden today to water the plants and do some small things. Upon arrival Gail was delighted to point out that we had potato seedlings!!!
3 seedlings have emerged off of 2 potatoes in the trench, and I'm just delighted. According to the Potato Growing Guide that Wood Prairie send along with the seed potatoes it normally takes 3 weeks for seedlings to emerge from the ground. The potatoes were planted 16 days ago, so it looks like a few of them are just eager to get growing!!

I trimmed down the basil transplant, cut the chives down to 2 inches, and snipped some cilantro as well.

I also had a great gift waiting in my plot when we arrived. Marie, a fellow gardener and sometime blog reader (Hi Marie!) left us 2 moonflower plants in pots! This weekend they will be planted along the fencing. I am not positive as to the specifics of the plant but I think that it's Ipomoea alba which seems to be the most commonly referred to moonflower I was able to find online.

Potato seedlings and more flowers for the plot! All in all a pretty good day!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

31 Days of Gardening

I've been gardening at the Fenway Victory Gardens for 4 weeks now. Here is what the plot looked like the day we picked it out:
(April 25th-Day 1)
Here is the drastically improved look 4 weeks later:
(May 22nd-Day 28)
After this weekend I really felt that the garden was coming together and starting to show some real signs of life and future vegetables! Here's a peek at what is springing to life in plot Z-1:






Missing form the photo's: Cabbage, Onion, Carrots, Spinach, Potato, Kentucky Wonder pole bean, Ottawa Cranberry pole bean, Garlic Chives, & Sage.
For the Beans, Potato, Garlic Chives & Sage seedlings have not sprouted yet or are just beginning to sprout. (A trellis and a pair of makeshift trellis' have been installed for the beans and await their arrival)
The Cabbage, Onion, and Carrots have developed very slowly so there isn't even enough to take pictures of.
The Spinach is another story. Some piece in the row are starting to look like spinach, others have clearly been bothered by the encroaching bindweed which we are doing our best to keep up with.
I suspect some of the seedlings which are slowly to develop were either planted late or are the victims of soil which developed a crust after a few rough rain storms. It's still early and there is plenty to grow so stay tuned!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Garden Progress Report!

Some things are progressing quite nicely others not so much. Here is a quick overview on the goings-on at the plot.

My neighboring plot has a large rose bush that grows alongside the fence we share. The roses are starting to bloom. Here is a rather resilient rose that grew through the fence and bloomed on my side. I believe that the rose is 'The Fairy Rubra Rose' based on some rudimentary internet sleuthing.

Pictured below is a bud off of the same Fairy Rubra Rose bush:

Alongside our gate we also have a 6 foot tall wild rose bush that provides some protection from intruders and some cover for our tool area. I spotted a few of the beautiful small white roses blooming. From the looks of it we will be inundated with tiny white roses very soon:

On the vegetable growing front things are doing pretty well. I was concerned with the incredibly hard rain we received on Tuesday after I had transplanted my broccoli, cilantro and tomato seedlings to the garden on Monday afternoon. Some of the plants looked like they took a bit of a beating in the rain, but I think the seedlings are young enough that they have plenty of time to bounce back. Below are pictures of relatively healthy looking tomato and broccoli seedlings:

Here is a quick rundown on what is & isn't growing in our plot. Our leek transplants & broccoli seedlings are doing very well. The carrots are starting to show some signs of life, I was concerned the top layer of soil had crusted over to much for them to break through. The potato trench looks great but hasn't seen any signs of life yet. Onion seedlings are coming very slowly, as are the cabbage and romaine lettuces. I have a feeling the romaine and cabbage were planted too late to grow to a healthy size before the heat of summer arrives, but we shall see.

Continuing with greens the spinach seems to be doing well and the mesclun mix is flourishing, as are the beets. Our dill and sage that was planted last week has started to come in, but the chives and garlic chives are taking their time. The cilantro seedlings looked quite happy as well.

Half of my tomato seedlings were a little droopy from the rain but the other half seemed to be flourishing. I managed to salvage 4 tomato cages from a fellow gardener which was nice because when I arrived at my plot yesterday I discovered my brand new bamboo stakes which I was going to use for tomatoes and a pole bean trellis had been stolen. This brings to light the disadvantages of gardening in a community setting. The gardens are located in a heavily trafficked area. I guess I have to be more careful when storing some of my tools and supplies.

Without the ability to set up my bean trellis I was only able to plant 2 small sections of beans. I choose the wonderful looking Ottawa Cranberry Beans that Daphne of Daphne's Dandelions sent me last fall. Kentucky Wonder will have to wait until Sunday. If all goes according to plan Sunday should also see some cucumber and zucchini seeds put in the ground as well.

The extended forecast looks pretty good, warming up for a few more days before showers roll in middle of next so the overall outlook is pretty great!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Review: Economics of Local Food forum

Last weeks panel on the Economics of Local Food was stimulating, inspiring and fun. Each speaker was engaging and provided first hand accounts regarding the local food economy and the challenges they face in responsibly bringing quality produce, seafood, and meats to market. Challenges including paying a livable wage to those they work with, engaging with the community they operate in, and the difficulty involved in setting a fair price for the producer, retailer, and consumer.
The major underlying theme I took from the panelists was that we as consumers have to challenge those who supply our food. We need to ask questions, get educated, and make our own decisions. As consumers we vote with our dollar. Every food purchasing decision we make is a reflection of whether we choose to support the local food economy or not.
Moderator Ilene Bezahler, editor of Edible Boston opened the forum by asking the question What is local? to the consumer? the producer? For some local is within a 100 mile radius of where you live, for others local can be defined as the geographic region we are in(New England and Upstate, NY). The fact of the matter is that there is no set answer. We need to ask ourselves what local is and make our own decisions on what we consider local.

Up next was Jamey Lionette, former owner of Lionettes Market and currently the organizer of the Boston Local Food Festival. Jamey started off by stating that there is a huge disconnect between food and people. He made the point that for the first time in human history food is now dangerous, it is actually killing us. Rates of food borne illness are rising, as are the rates of obesity and diabetes. One quote from Jamey that really stuck with me was "It is criminal what our food is doing to us"

Food produced by large scale agribusiness is cheap, whereas locally produced farm food looks expensive. Americans on average spend 9% - 16% of their income on food, whereas worldwide that number is closer to 30%. If you add up the true cost of our food (transportation, petroleum, packaging, environmental devastation, etc.) the prices becomes astronomical. As an example of this he points out how astounding it is that that a Banana at a random gas station in Maine should not cost .59 cents. Thinking about the distance that banana had to travel, the oil for the transportation, the packaging, the cost of labor, and so on - it makes no sense that a banana moved 3000 miles (from Ecuador to Maine) could be so cheap. Globally our food comes from a small group of companies (Tyson, Monsanto, & Dole to name some).

Jamey's main point boiled down to: You can eat local food, but it takes work! In New England, for example, asparagus should only be eaten a few weeks a year, not purchased at a grocery store year round where chances are it is coming from Peru. In order to eat locally you have to eat seasonally. Tomatoes in the northeast should be eaten between July and late September- not in the dead of winter. It is better for our bodies, for our local economies, and for the world. Our food is more flavorful, more nutritious, and there is a greater component of human interaction with your food. Instead of going into a sterile super market where you can get all of your food and check out without interacting with a single person you can buy from Farms, Farmers Markets, and local producers and actually interact with the people providing your food, gaining a true idea of where (and who) your food is coming from.

Jamey's final words were directed towards the parents of young children- Try not to think 'my kids won't eat that' (regarding local vegetables) Your kids aren't special!! Children the world over have been eating locally produced food for generations. They will eat local seasonal produce if you can cook it for them in a way that appeals to their palette.
Up next was David Warner co-owner of City Feed and Supply (a co-sponsor of the forum) Ilene began the forum asking the question what is local? David explained how his store defines it: City Feed and Supply tags every product in the store based on where it originated. They define local as within 100 mile radius of the store, further then that products are tagged as Regional, National, or Imported - Therefore it is upfront to the consumer where their food originates, leaving them the ability to make educated and informed decisions. On the consumer side, David explained that higher prices can be seen (by the customers) as an act of aggression. City Feed is a business, they are looking to charge a fair price, one which is fair to the producer, to the retailer, and to the consumer. Tensions abound in the relationship between producer & retailer and retailer & customer due to money. You do not hear local farmers and producers asking 'how can we make more money.' Instead, they are asking 'how can we make a living? how can we pass our farm/business on to our children and to the next generation of farmers/producers.

David is clearly passionate about keeping things local. City Feed is in the same neighborhood he and his wife call home. They support local non-profit organizations, they opened city feed and supply as a response to what they saw as a need in the neighborhood.

When you buy from an independent, locally owned business more of your dollars go back to other locally owned business and suppliers. As more money is spent at locally owned business' they create more locally based jobs.

Stepping back from the retail and conceptual side of local food the farmer/producer portion of the forum began with farmer Jim Buckle of Allandale Farm. Jim started off by explaining that when you buy directly from Allandale Farm your money goes to the employment of 72 people at the farm, which puts $700,000 into the local economy per year (because your purchase helps pay all of the farms employees). If you include the various local contractors, suppliers, and business' Allandale works with you are putting close to $1 million into the local economy. I think this example perfectly demonstrates the real impact of supporting the local food economy. Allandale is a small farm, yet they employ 72 people and put a good amount of money into the local economy. The next speaker (Ridge Shinn) pointed out a figure I will place here: for every dollar spent directly at a local farm it circulates through the local economy 7 times, which is a very powerful figure. Purchasing your produce/meats/fish from local producers has a drastically large impact on a local economy over going into a large chain grocer and purchasing the same products which are shipped halfway around the world. The money spent at the large chain store is rarely circulated back into the economy, and if it is I am willing to bet it isn't to the great extent which local business recirculate the same amount of money.

Jim went on to say that people are getting sick from food, such as the current e.coli outbreak in romaine lettuce because there is no accountability in the food system. The large scale farmers aren't being held accountable, neither are the produce pickers, those who pack the produce, those who supply the produce, and all the way down to the retailers are not being held accountable. Allandale farm has to be accountable because they can't afford not to be. People won't get sick from their (local) produce because if they did, word would spread by word of mouth that their produce makes people sick and Allandale would find themselves without customers. Using tomatoes as an example Jim explained that each tomato sold at their farm stand is handled by 3 people: The person picking the fruit, the person polishing/cleaning the fruit, and the person putting it on the shelves at the farm stand. Every singe one of them has to be held accountable for the tomato which ends up being sold at the farm stand.

Through the Farm stand and the CSA Allandale is creating an open space in their community. The members/families who participate in the CSA learn that one member is a doctor, or another a graphic designer, or perhaps that 2 member families have kids who are the same age - citing the supermarket example discussed earlier, you don't walk into a chain supermarket and share anything beyond a cursory interaction while you stand in line waiting to pay for your products, whereas at Allandale when you pickup your share or wait in line at the farm stand you can talk to people about what they are getting, exchange recipes, and the reach of the community reaches well beyond the farm when you make such personal connections.

Following Jim, was Ridge Shinn of Hardwick Beef & Rotokawa Cattle Company. Ridge was featured in a January 15, 2010 article in Time: "How Cows (Grass-Fed Only) Could Save the Planet." Ridge began his portion with an adage that was repeated in one way or another throughout the forum: We as consumers vote with our dollar. Every product we buy is a vote for a given product. Hardwick Beef established the price their beef would be sold for at market. Instead of using the conventional methods for setting the price of their beef they established a price they felt was fair for both the farmer raising the cattle and for the retailer/consumer. Ridge stressed the importance of the consumer learning what they want and articulating it to the retailers. As I mentioned in the previous summary of Jim Buckle's portion, Ridge pointed out that every dollar spent directly at a local farm circulates through the local economy 7 times. This figure is at the heart of his point that the consumer votes with their dollar. If you vote to spend your food dollars with a local producer your dollar is being spent throughout the local economy in ways you don't see, but it is clear that your choice has a greater impact on your local economy.

Ridge went on to say that calling your elected officials, or contacting the USDA to voice your concerns isn't going to help because our system is broken. However, as a consumer the more you demand better and local food choices to the retailers it will pull through the system over time. Retailers work to meet what their consumers are asking for, therefore it is a much more effective means of working for more local options at food retailers, but you have to be willing to pay the higher price. Local food costs more to produce (and more to purchase) because it isn't coming from massive wholesalers who can get away with paying people horrendous wages.
The Hardwick beef model involves involves aggressive grazing. All the cows at a given farm graze together on one acre at a time, then they are moved to another acre, letting the land on the original acre rest. This means the cattle is entirely grass fed and the farmers cost is decreased because they need very little industrial equipment, feed, etc.
The final speaker at the forum was Niaz Dorry of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. According to Niaz, the idea of local fish has 'missed the boat' in the local food movement. The fishing industry has taken the same path as other agribusiness' took before it. One way to support local fishing was the creation of Eastman's Local Catch a CSF, similar to a CSA, but the model is based on community supported fisheries instead of agriculture.
Niaz went on to point out that the 'save the whales'/single species approach that most environmentalists and activists take is incorrect because it doesn't take into account the greater balance of a whole ecosystem. If you intensely work to save 1 species when the stock is replenished and numbers are healthy they can easily be over fished, whereas if you build the eco- system over time both the environment and the local fishing industry is much more sustainable and successful. If you wanted to save the whales, she says, start with replenishing the herring population. Once the herring return instead of overfishing them, let the cod and mackerel, who dine on the herring. Once the stock of cod and mackerel have returned the whales come back, the fishing industry has more options instead of focusing on overfishing and eradicating one species. One builds upon the next. Niaz' presence was interesting because rarely is local fishing brought up in the local food discussion. Truthfully, I am allergic to seafood and shellfish, therefore what Niaz was calling for in the fishing industry was not pulling my interest as strongly as the previous speakers, but I feel that her message regarding the balance within the ecosystem was one of the most important points of the entire evening.
At this point the forum was open to audience questions, which I was unable to keep notes on due to the quick pace of the back and forth between audience and panelists, but the message from all the forum participants was clear: Get educated! Be cautious of those who retail your food, ask questions of your food suppliers and let them know you want local options! We as consumers vote with every dollar we spend on food. If we want local food we should support the local farms, meat producers, fisheries, and stores. When we dine out asking the restaurants what local options they have will force them to sit up and take notice. The more attention brought to local food, the more we demand local food on a day to day basis the greater our local food choices will become.
I think the forum was extremely successful and educational and I look forward to attending similar events in the future.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Forum: Economic of Local Food

I'm really looking forward to this forum tonight:
Thursday, May 13th, 7 - 9 pm
FORUM: Economics of Local Food
Come hear local food economy leaders talk about the issues of raising and bringing high quality food to market.
Learn how these issues affect farmers, producers, merchants; while learning more about the produce, seafood, beef and poultry that is raised right here in New England.

Panelists: David Warner: Co-Owner of City Feed and Supply
Jim Buckle: Farmer, Allandale Farm
Niaz Dorry: Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance
Jamey Lionette: Former owner of Lionette's Market & current organizer of The Boston Local Food Festival
Ridge Shin: Hardwick Beef
Moderated by:Ilene Bezahler: Editor/Publisher of Edible Boston

Where: English High School Auditorium
144 McBride Street
Jamaica Plain
(Entrance on Williams Street)
Date: MAY 13th Time: 7:00p.m.-9:00p.m.
Presented by: City Feed and Supply & Edible Boston

Don't miss this great line up of local food leaders. Discussion is sure to be lively & enlightening!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Gail and I picked up our seedlings from the Natick Community Organic Farm this afternoon!
Peppers and Tomatoes:
Nasturtium & Sunflowers:
Broccoli, Cilantro, Morning Glory & Borage:
The folks at the farm hardened off all but the Peppers so most of these will be going in the ground just as soon as it gets a little warmer and I have the time to plant them. Not all of the seedlings looked healthy and full of life after sitting out all day in the unseasonable cold, getting picked up, and jostled on the ride home. Specifically the morning glories looked worse for wear but I've watered all the seedlings and will be keeping them in sunny windows until they get put in the ground. Wish them luck!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seed Potatoes: Planted!

The seed potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm were planted this afternoon!
After visiting the family on Sunday to show reverence to my wonderful Mother I set out to prepare the potatoes and their future home. First I cut up the potatoes, making sure there were at least 3 eyes per piece.
While the potatoes sat in the light I headed to the plot and got to work digging the trench which will house the potatoes. After some digging and clearing I was left with a nice 10 inch deep trench, sprinkled with a generous helping of compost.
My hard work was clearly appreciated. This bird below was extremely excited to see a freshly dug trench for him to patrol, a veritable bug buffet! Here he (she?) is just about ready to dive in.
While at work on Monday I realized the temperature might drop too low to plant the potatoes in the next few days, I was also concerned with the brown cavities in the Russian Banana Fingerlings in the 1st photo so I called Wood Prairie and spoke to Jill at the potato growers helpline. She was extremely helpful informing me that the brown cavities in the fingerlings were of no concern, and despite the unreasonably cool temperatures I would be alright to plant out the Potatoes today. I cannot stress how excellent the customer service from Wood Prairie has been- I explained to Jill I was a first time gardener and merely wanted to alleviate my concerns before putting my potatoes in the ground. Jill patiently answered all of my questions and gave me some additional tips for successful spuds!
With my newly found potato confidence I stopped at the plot and placed my cut potato pieces in the trench, being careful to evenly space the pieces out.
I made sure not to note which potatoes were places where in the trench so that when they grow I can be surprised by what sort of potatoes I'll be able to randomly pull from the forthcoming hills.
Once the potatoes were evenly spaced I covered each piece with a few inches of a soil and compost mixture.
Next stop: Spud City!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Seed Potatoes are here!

My Seed Potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm arrived yesterday!!
(Seed Potatoes from top to bottom: Russian Banana Fingerling, All Blue, Yukon Gold, and Cranberry Red)

The packaging also came with postcards for each variety of seed potato I had ordered...
...the Maine Department of Agriculture certification for each variety...
...and finally: a thank you note, potato recipe booklet, and potato growing guide!
I'll be preparing and planting these delicious varieties just as soon as I can, hopefully as early as tomorrow! I'm looking forward to enjoying some delicious and colorful potatoes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

We have liftoff (and bindweed)!

Gail and I headed to the plot Friday afternoon. When I arrived I found Gail happily weeding with a large pile serving as proof that we will be fighting an uphill battle against Bindweed (Calystegia sepium). Lots of serious hand weeding is ahead of us!

Besides the Bindweed springing up everywhere it can we saw signs of a garden coming to life.
I am extremely ecstatic to report numerous Beet and Mesclun mix seedlings emerging from the ground a mere 6 days after planting! I looked very carefully in the rows next to the Mesclun for Spinach and Romaine seedlings and believe I saw a few, however the Mesclun mix and Beet seedlings were easily visible in abundance so I will only confirm those for now. No visible seedlings from the Onions, Carrots or Cabbage yet but I will be back Sunday afternoon and hope to find more signs of life.

To celebrate our growth we began planting our herb bed. Garlic Chives, Dill, Sage and Chive seeds were planted in short rows before we left on account of darkness.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seeds, Seedlings, and What I Hope to Grow

A few readers, friends, and fellow community gardeners have asked me what I'm planning to grow now that I have a plot so I thought I would give a break down of the seeds I've acquired and seedlings which will be picked up soon.
1)From Fenway Community Gardeners & The Fenway Gardens Spring Meeting:
Leeks (transplants gifted to us from a fellow gardener), Chive Seeds & Spinach Seeds - The Fenway Garden Society was nice enough to provide some seeds for their spring meeting, I got Chives & Spinach!
2)From the down:2:earth expo Gail and I attended in early April:
Mesclun Mix(planted last week!), Scarlet Nantes Carrots(planted last week!), and Dill seeds were all given out from the different garden & landscaping companies at the expo. Coincidentally all 3 seed packets were from High Mowing Organic Seeds.We also picked up packets of Basil & Sage seeds at the expo, but these come from the farmers of the Cabot Creamery Dairy Cooperative! Gail and I are huge fans of their cheese's and I think their business model is fantastic. They do not seal their seeds, they were giving them out as a gift. I am a proud supporter of their cheese products and will be proud to grow their herbs in my garden.
3)From fellow bloggers:
Daphne over at Daphne's Dandelions was kind enough to send me some delicious looking Ottawa Cranberry Beans(seen here). While Ottawa Gardener at The Veggie Patch Re-imagined provided me with Garlic Chive seeds, some of which were successfully grown indoors over winter, while the rest are ready to be planted in the plot soon!
4) Hometown Seeds:
The kind people at Hometown Seeds saw my blog months ago, long before I had a plot and were nice enough to send me their Survival Seeds package to try out. The Survival Seeds package contains 16 non-hybrid 100% GMO free seeds which are meant to have a shelf life of at least 5 years. The seeds were not in individual packets, but in 5 0z, 5 gram, & 10 gram packages, more then enough for my small plot. From the Survival Seeds package we will be planting Golden Acre Cabbage(planted last week!), Long Green Cucumber, Utah Yellow Sweet Spanish Onions (planted last week!), Detroit Dark Red Beets (planted last week!), Black Beauty Zucchini, Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce (planted last week!), & Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans.
5) Natick Community Organic Farm:
The Natick Community Organic Farm is a non-profit certified organic farm just west of Boston. Their mission is to provide farm products, hands on education for all ages, and to foster community goodwill through love of the land. I have visited the farm numerous times since I was a child and am honored to support them in their spring seedling sale. Next week Gail & I will be picking up the following organic seedlings for our plot:
Yankee Bell & Hungarian Wax Peppers. Peacevine, Early Girl & Striped Roman Tomatoes. Diplomat Broccoli and Cilantro.
Along with the above vegetables we will also be adding Morning Glory, Autumn Beauty & Mammoth Sunflowers, and a mix of Nasturtium's
6) Wood Prairie Farm
The prospect of having a garden of my own made me think of Potatoes. I absolutely love them. Wood Prairie Farm has a reputation as one of the best sources of certified organic seed potatoes. Not wanting to limit myself to 1 variety of potato and taking into account the limited space I will have for potatoes I decided to order the Experimenter's Special which allows you to choose 4 different varieties of potato. Each package contains 3 potatoes of each variety for a total of 12 hills. I picked All Blue, Cranberry Red, Russian Banana Fingerling, and Yukon Gold for a nice variety of color, size, and taste. Potatoes were ordered last weekend and shipped out on Monday. They should be here before the end of the week!

Looking back at this massive list of vegetables and herbs I realize successfully growing all of these varieties will be extremely daunting. I don't expect every crop to be a smashing success so I am growing a large variety in smaller quantities in the hopes that the success's will outweigh the failures. My hope is that smaller plantings will allow Gail and I to slowly ease our way into the challenge of caring for all of these(hopefully) delicious edibles.

With research, hard work, and some luck hopefully the season will be full of gardening success and delicious vegetables!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Getting down and dirty at the new plot!

This weekend Gail and I were finally to get to work on our plot at the Fenway Victory Gardens. We both had friday off and were able to spend most of friday and saturday working on our plot. We met quite a few of our neighbors while we worked. It's really nice to feel the sense of community as complete strangers came by and said hello or struck up a conversation with us. We were offered tips on identifying some of the major weeds in our plot, given advice on having a successful plot, and we were even gifted a few plants! The knowledge that many of our fellow plot holders passed to us went a long way in helping us prepare the plot. We also managed to meet some of the animal inhabitants of the gardens:
Gail spotted these mourning doves with her young expertly camouflaged in a neighbors plot. We don't know anything about birds, but were fortunate enough to intrude on a group of birders (thank you Gail) who were able to identify the species. We also learned that it was a great surprise the nest was so out in the open and the birds were really relying on their ability to blend in rather then having a nest on safer, higher ground. According to the birders the young were between 2 and 4 weeks old.
After the short distraction it was time to get to down to business. Here is look at what we managed to accomplish with two days of hard work on plot Z-1:
Gail began weeding and outlining plots while the major cosmetic task was undertaken: I built and installed a new gate(above) for the plot using 1 in x 3 in x 8 ft boards and some wire mesh fencing.
With the gate installed Gail and I weeded and started to dig out our beds...
and we kept digging...
and digging!
Over the course of two days we got the gate built and installed, weeded the entire plot, as well as digging, amending with compost, and cultivating the soil in all six of our beds!
We even managed to do some planting:
The above photo shows our half rows of newly planted Mesclun Mix, Romaine, & Spinach. We also planted Beets, Onions, Carrots, and Cabbage. Along with the seed we were given the gift of leeks to plant, which we planted along side some volunteer plants Gail found while cleaning up the plot. I suspect they are pearl drop onions or something closely related (our volunteers are the healthier looking bunch on the left, the leeks are the smaller looking bunch closer to the fence):

After two days of hard work our plot is clean, weeded and starting to look like a garden:

All in all it was a fantastic way to spend my birthday weekend!