Sunday, April 15, 2012

It feels like a late opening...

So, after a strangely un-snowy winter (especially compared to last winter's snowfest!), and after a couple bouts of unseasonally warm weather here in the Boston area, we had the official opening day of our community gardens.

We got a lot of work done; it was a great day for it so our various workteams cleared a lot of invasives, brush, and (!!!) very stubborn thorned cane, along with moving several piles of compost, brush, and miscellaneous trash that didn't belong there.

{My back hurts though. It's nagging me to be more dutiful about my yoga if I'm going to insist on this 'bending over and digging and hoeing' business in the garden.}

Random thought: Why does using a lopper to attack those big thorny canes feel so satisfying? Never mind. It does. The local groundhog's den was uncovered, and now he no longer has a convenient briar patch from which to conduct his marauding in our gardens. He's a clever bugger, climbing over our fences in spite of our efforts to discourage him. One gardener laughed wryly that yes, his tunneling was probably hopelessly more thorough than the New York subway system. He may be right, but I'm still enthusiastic about planting my garden.

Which, thanks especially to some help from one of my neighbors in clearing out the winter's growth of brush and grass overgrowth from my plots, I'm ready to plant!

I grabbed some fresh seeds from the store, and I may stop in and peruse the available potted plants from the nursery just so that I can have a little instant green to add to my perennials.

Up so far: the acquilegia, the poppies, various mints that I have (of course, they're immortal and hard to eradicate), and of course the oregano. Also, the 'gift' daffodil bulbs are in bloom (and the blooms so heavy they've tipped over, poor things. I always feel bad when they do that). The rhubarb plants have peeped up and are already in leaf - the warm weather has definitely confused them; they're usually only just peeking upward from the ground, little pink eggs emerging from the earth.

Thanks also to the obliging weather, I got my first bit of sunshine for the season: a little tiny bit of pink on my neck, arms, and forehead. I'll take it! It feels good after being indoors much of the winter. I'm a little curious about how tomorrow's Boston Marathon will go, considering the expected temperature spike (90s F) - I know someone running the race, so I'm more conscious of the weather than I normally would be. {Good luck, runners!}

I'm almost finished with my tea, as I sit here and write this. Now that the season is upon us though, I plan to be posting regularly again. Please drop by and say hello when you find the time. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 13, 2011

9 inches of rain?!

Well, that does explain the daunting amount of weeds that I saw when I got there the other weekend. I accomplished only a limited amount of weeding then, as I had a stunning headache, but I returned with reinforcements (thank you, K, you know who you are), who provided both moral support and significant help yanking out the accumulated weeds that had sprung up in the intervening period and all that rain. Now I can find my plants once more. Hoo-ray!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Excuses...and events!

With all the rain we've had, it's hard to get out there and do maintenance during the few hours I have in any given day. Still, I guess it's just like this:
(As you may imagine, I've become a fan of Yehuda Moon bike comics; I encourage you to go over there and visit. They bring the funny, and are encouraging for those of us trying to build more bicycling time into our busy days).
Still, I'm looking forward to some more maintenance time - and hopefully some peas and lettuce too - on Saturday before our first seasonal event (not counting Opening Day on April 9). If you're interested and are local, it's at 2pm, BYO picnic, and there'll also be a presentation (and I think goodies?) from Sustainable Belmont as well as it simply being a picnic day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Well, first of all, a belated welcome to all the folks who've stopped over to say hello from the recent Globe article about the Rock Meadow Community Gardens.  ( I think it may tell you to register but it will let you view the article for free. ) I was puzzled that the Globe folks didn't wait a few weeks until some of the plants would start leafing out - here in zone 6a we're only in the planting stage this month! It must look so brown! Nevertheless, it was fun to find out that people are so interested in gardening that it might merit a little mainstream attention. That said, please don't be discouraged by the sparseness of the plants - it's early days yet.

So, whether you're just curious about the people you read about in the article, or about gardening in general, welcome. As you'll see if you poke around on my site, I'm much more casual about blogging than many others; Kathy over at Skippy's Vegetable Garden is very scientific and has photos that are far better than mine. Also, she has a really great dog (the aforementioned Skippy) - I have no dog. Sorry. :) But I would point out that if you are curious about a lot of the science behind gardening, you really cannot go wrong by perusing her blog; it really is a wonderful and informative resource. I garden because I love growing herbs, vegetables, berries, and flowers, and it gives me an excuse to hang around outside and watch birds and enjoy the sunset. I blog because it's fun, and through the blog I get to know others around the country and around the world who garden. In turn, we drop by one another's blogs to check in on eachother, and admire everyone's plants as the seasons change. We compare notes, what worked, what didn't, speculate as to reasons and solutions for future attempts... and laugh. A lot.

Speaking solely for myself, I've found it fascinating to learn that people garden everywhere, including the arctic and antarctic zones, where they have to go to some extraordinary lengths to cultivate plants in containers. (Check out the blogroll that lists some of the many many garden bloggers around the world - my blogroll is located in the right-hand column and down a ways.)

What I've learned over the years of blogging about my own experiences and reading about others' is that everyone's climate presents unique challenges (providing or excluding light during the extreme portions of the year in the arctic; water and drought periods in the tropics, etc.), but everyone approaches gardening with the same dedication, anticipation and curiousity -- even though many of us are not relying on our gardens as a strict food source. It provides exercise (and a few injuries - brambles, thorns, blisters and pulled muscles come to mind), sunshine, fresh air, plenty of quiet time (and social time), as well as wildlife observation (for good and ill...suffice to say that we gardeners find the sub-plot in Caddyshack involving Bill Murray and the gopher much more humorous than do most of the rest of the population).

I also appreciate that everyone gardens in their own way, and for their own reasons, just as everyone who blogs does so for different reasons. Some bloggers want a forum for writing essays and engaging in discussions; some hope to build it slowly into a writing career; others (like myself) prefer to keep it a strictly social venue. Likewise, some gardeners prefer strictly organized English-style gardens; others will carefully arrange "square-foot" gardens or rows of various crops; some prefer flower or herb gardens; and some happily improvise from season to season. No doubt you can guess which category I fall into (remember - nature works pretty well without us, and all those seeds get carried and scattered by the wind, by birds, by rows there! so don't laugh at the rough edges in my garden). It works for me.

As with so many other things, there is no "wrong way" to garden - nor, I contend, is there a wrong way to blog. I am happy to sit here at my keyboard and correspond with people when they feel like dropping by. I like to visit their gardens too - via their blogs. Think of the friendships I'd miss out on if I hadn't "met" so many of these people, and the things I might not have learned about (vermiculture, pickling, beekeeping, the locavore movement, raw milk and cheese, urban farming with chickens and ducks, to name only a few) - not to mention the fact that a surprising number of the people I've "met" online are often people that I either have already met or later went on to connect with through other, offline interests (several branches of science, technology, knitting, several art disciplines, documentary filmmaking, teaching and education, just to name a few).

I could natter on for a while about it, but I'm really just trying to encourage the newcomers to say hello, don't be shy, and introduce yourselves. I certainly never expected any of us would make it into the local paper, but I hope that it encourages people to start a little garden, or a container garden, or take a walk through the conservation land and say hello if you see one of us working in our plot.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rain, and a lot of it too

I'm not complaining, believe me, but this year's "April showers" amount to 3.5" between sunday the 10th and Thursday 14th, and another 3.5" overnight last night. Here's my rain guage. This should be an interesting growing season...

But I have bought a few more perennials to tide me over while the seeds are germinating.

- Posted from my iPhone...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rodents, and other mixed blessings

They're so cute, really they are. I let the family of field mice stay in my compost wheel bin over the winter, because I felt badly they might get eaten by this (also very cute) stoat (short-tailed weasel, or Mustela erminea) 
image courtesy of Wikipedia
Still, spring has arrived, and I served the eviction notice, and they scampered out the door and ... straight into the pile of dreck I've been nursing along and pretending to compost. I guess I know what's next on the list of chores, don't I...

As I was clearing out the season's overgrowth and grass, (incredible how much grass, vines and other weedlife grow in the cold months) I got to know my emboldened neighbors, the meadow voles. Again, the only way to deal with them so far is to deny them harborage, so it's more trimming and clearing for me!
baby meadow vole; from Wikipedia

Still, there were plenty of birds around, and as much as I joke about the furry critters, it is part of the package when your garden plot is on conservation land. You get great soil, but you also have to be moderately friendly with the (furry, feathery or scaly) neighbors. Such is life; full of trade-offs! The birds at least are endlessly cheerful. I saw numerous kinds of swallows, song sparrows, redwinged blackbirds in the nearby marsh, and I think a meadowlark (checking on that one though... yay Sibley's) as well as the usual group of cardinals, blue jays, robins, and a few circling red tailed hawks.

Knowing what I'm up against this season, I've got my row cover ready, and I'm planning to hit the hardware store for some of the finer-grained chicken wire so as to cover the plants and exclude the perverse depradations of the woodchuck (one bite out of each and every vegetable, could they find a way to be more annoying?)

Now, I'm off to sort through my seed packets and decide how I'll distribute the remaining spring crops. I keep hoping I'll get some beets one of these years...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Opening Day

Got a fair amount done this Saturday, ie, the official opening day for our community garden. The weather nicely obliged us, with sun, a light cool breeze, andno rain. I got a littlepink, just enough to cheer me up. Got a fair amount of cleanup done;

Obviously there's still a lot to do. But I've cleared several of the plots, and even planted peas,

And also a bed of mesclun greens. I moved things around a little, whileclearing things out. Many little rodents were evicted this day I can tell you. Fly, be free!! It's conservation land, there are plenty of other places to burrow!

Enjoyed watching the many birds racing around, and hearing their songs. Had to laugh though, while heading home I saw a couple of crows dive-bombing and harrying a much larger (and supremely unconcerned) red tail hawk. Eventually he sauntered off in some kind of avian resignation, as if to say "how tiresome. So rude!"

If the predicted rain holdsoff, I may head back to the garden just to get a few more seeds planted. We'll see.

- Posted from my iPhone...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Because my seedlings won't be up yet...

I shall instead entertain you with a couple of gratuitous food and cooking shots. Just...because.

Beets, pre-roasting. (very tasty. Just add a little oil, salt, and mace.)

Peppers, with diced pear, sauteed prior to using them in soft tacos.
Caramelized onions are in the container in background.

Spicy julienned potatoes. Trust me on this one.

A cheese plate from a recent meal out with Dad. (trust me, that pretty green mold outer skin? Don't be afraid. It was tasty!)

- Posted from my iPhone...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Soul Food...

You know it's going to be strange when I submit a blog post with a title like that.

This started when a friend on twitter, who lives in China, casually commented on a vegetable with an odd, hard to translate (i.e., cryptically idiomatic) name. The photo he enclosed of the feast he was having included a beautiful vegetable that I thought might be one of their local fresh pickles (fresh in the sense of being pickled only for a few days or weeks, rather than the truly long-term pickling processes, and/or fermented products such as kimchee, etc.). The colors reminded me of amaranth, but it was clearly a sliced root vegetable with the texture / appearance of a daikon radish, and the colors of a watermelon candy - pastel pink, a ring of white, and an edge of pale green. It certainly looked tasty, but he reported a name [ 心灵美 ]  that translated as "beautiful soul" - so you can see why it became a tantalizing msytery. Still, many favored dishes and foods have poetically unhelpful names, like "空心菜" ["hollow heart vegetable"]. She apparently suggested to him that it was a carrot. I was pretty confident it was not, and when he said it tasted more like a radish, I had hope.

I started searching around on variants of radish (not terribly helpful) and then tried adding the characters and vegetable, and eventuauly found a hilarious artist in Beijing who uses vegetables to create collages. Enjoy the image here:
[courtesy of this site: ]

The title translates to "soul kiss radish" and as you can see is a funny homage to Klimt. It's worth poking around the rest of the site to enjoy the images, it really is sweet.

From there I was able to do a little further searching and figure out that unless you use the full "心灵美萝卜" it won't appear in the vegetable category of words. I also found that in the States, (somewhere at least - no where I'd ever seen it but...) it's called Watermelon radish. By whatever name, it looks delicious and I think I'm going to have to see if I can grow some.
Enjoy the 'soul food'!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter starters

Hopefully, at least. It's always a gamble starting seeds in January/February, but I like to do it. When I was at C-Mart in Chinatown last weekend, seeing these seed packages inspired me just a little. We'll see what happens.When I've done this in the past, I used those little fairy lights to supplement what light they got. It helps - but of course I need to choose my containers wisely too. I used containers last year that were much too small, and they dried out too quickly as a result. Poor little seedlings couldn't tolerate the conditions. This year, hoping to get the balance right...and maybe get a few edibles out of it too. I'm hoping to get an early start on those eggplants - but I'm also realistic about the fact that it's just too cold. On the other hand, the other two packets just might do alright. We'll see. Watch this space for updates, I guess.