Sunday, June 20, 2010

Death of a good plant

By the time you read this, the rhubarb will be gone. Hacked to bits. To make a tasty pie for my FIL on Father's Day. (Don't worry, my dad got garden presents, too--a GC to Home Depot. Love you, Dad!)

FIL loves rhubarb and since we've got the biggest and fastest regenerating plant I've ever seen, I've chopped it down and we will be enjoying a lovely strawberry rhubarb pie this Sunday.

Enjoy your Father's Day--mow the lawn for him!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Starting from Seed

Most of the plants in my garden are grown from seed. This year I started to wonder about the possibility of saving seeds from these plants and using them next year. I know that some plants are hybrids and that the seeds from those may not be able to germinate. I'm hoping the good folks at Burpee can let me know if I can save seeds from this year's Cherry Belle Radish.

I let just one of them "go to seed." I got impatient over the weekend and asked my father when the seeds would show up. He said after the flowers died off. If nothing else the flowers were lovely. Lo and behold, this morning I was rewarded with what appear to be seed pods! Next I have to figure out when to harvest the seeds, how to dry and save them.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My precious babies!

Um, baby tomatoes, that is.

Don't forget just like babies, tomatoes can benefit from milk. Mix together 4 cups water and 1 cup powdered milk. Pour into a spray bottle and gently mist the foliage to prevent blight. Water the base of the plant with any remaining mixture.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

In mere months, I intend to turn this adorable little seedling into a 50+ pound pumpkin. I have promised stepson a pumpkin that weighs more than he does. Thank goodness he's a teeny guy, so it won't be that hard to deliver.
Burpee's Prizewinner promises a huge pumpkin. Most customer reviews state an average 60 pounds. It's supposed to be possible to get over 100 pounds. But I'm setting my sights a little lower. After all, last year's pumpkins turned out to be one green gourd smaller than a football.
The seedlings came up in less than 7 days. Three of the five have sprouted (and the other two may still), with this one looking like the clear winner. I've got so many tips I've heard over the years. I've even heard some folks inject milk directly into the vine! But here's basics from the folks at Organic Gardening.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Welcome to Reservoir Gardens version 2.1!

See that trellis back there? I built it. Of course my husband had to one up me by asking why I didn't just tie it to the posts with twine instead of my brilliant idea of using his drill, some 2 inch screws and the world's longest extension cord to put it together. Whatever. Just because I already had the twine out to string between the bamboo poles where the green beans are going to grow...

So, yes, it's true, the green beans are planted. They will still have plenty of time to come up. Sixty days from planting will put me at harvest in mid-August right into early fall. No problem.

Behind the peppers we have 3 rows of celery. I planted those seeds today. Okay, I realize that is REALLY late, but I had killed all my seedlings when I started them earlier. I thought I used the entire seed pack when I started indoors, but they just magically turned up yesterday.

Up along the three sections of my beautiful trellis we have eggplant (those seedlings didn't die), butternut squash, and cucumber. I'm okay with it if we don't get the cucumbers. They're just for the husband and even he can't eat that many salads.

Out in front, next to the black, plastic wrapped sections I planted my sugar pumpkins and the giant pumpkins that I promised my stepson. Both varieties are already sprouted in less than a week! More on those tomorrow.

Today I also transplanted some sage to nestle in with the peppers and some garlic into the corner to the right of the trellis. They weren't doing so well over in the herb bed by the house, just a couple rows next to the house weren't getting enough water.

I think I'm finally set with the garden the way it is. So many plans on how to do it better (mostly just do it all SOONER!) next year.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Peas for Dinner!

First, the Truth in Gardening update. As you can see, I did not finish the weeding, but in my defense we did have some crazy thunderstorms this weekend. I will get my tail back out there this afternoon.

But look! My peas have finally come! I think this RSVPea from Burpee was a total winner, I can't believe they even germinated after I had sown them in the soil with the Miracle Gro Feed Plus Weed Preventer. Next year I'll start these sweeties earlier (we had a TON of rain in March) and without a weed preventer to slow them down.

So, Harvest #2 is today and we're having peas for dinner. Who would have ever believed I'd be so excited about peas? Ask my mother, any green vegetable was the bane of my existence as a child. But I decided to throw caution to the wind this morning. I plucked a pod and was amazed by the burst of sweet green flavor as I gobbled down those peas. Yum!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Harvest #1

Picked all the radishes last week, aren't they beauties? Turns out the guinea pig likes the greens, so nothing's going to waste this year.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Truth in Gardening

Okay, I admit it. I did the same thing I did last year. The thing I swore would not happen this year. I stopped weeding. Admit it, you do it, too! It just gets so tiring to do it over and over and over.

That picture is what the garden looked like last weekend. In the interest of honesty, most of that is not actual plants. Just weeds. I promise I'll take another picture again this weekend. And I promise it will look better.

Friday, June 4, 2010

In Bloom

I've neglected the blog for so long that now I have to show all the May blooms in one post.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Princess Peony has arrived, gracing us with her blushing presence and sublimely sweet scent. I've been waiting for her.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A little big?

I've always wanted to put a flag up in the holder screwed to the front of the house. I just never got around to buying one until this weekend. Looks a little big, though...

But don't you love the huechera and azaleas out front? I'm so glad my husband is always willing to dig and move plants on my whim--those azaleas were a little deeper than I could get to.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010


Peppers are about to bud and the radishes have grown 6 inches since this picture was taken last week. You almost can't find the pepper plants anymore!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

An Eye for Color

Who knew he was so good at colors? My husband picked out this purple Heuchera ("Plum Pudding") at Boston Tropical Tree and then moved the variegated ground cover from the hillside. It makes a cute little vignette under the arborvitae next to the shed.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Those Nice Folks at Burpee

Today I received my last plant shipment from Burpee...well, almost the last. They sent my Blockbuster and Godfather peppers, my Health Kick and Big Mama tomatoes. But they didn't send my Honeybunch cherry tomatoes, instead I've got Porterhouse? (Check the link KM, I think you're going to like these!)
I called right away and a lovely Burpee associate named Irene checked the stock on the Honeybunch and promised to send out another set right away. She also told me to enjoy the Porterhouse tomatoes. I realize they wouldn't have expected me to ship 'em back, but still, I think I'm going to really enjoy this screw up!

Mama Bird

Seriously? Like it wasn't bad enough last year when she built a nest in the tree right next to the walkway?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

One More Cup of Coffee...

There's not a whole lot of coffee drinking that goes on over here at the Gardens (it only takes one cup to overcaffeinate me, and it ain't pretty), but when we do brew a pot I save those grounds for my hydrangea.

A bunch of acid loving plants really enjoy their joe when you work some used grounds into the soil - hydrangea, blueberries, roses, rhododendron and azaleas. I hate azaleas. And I have three awful scrawny ones left behind by the previous owner. Think it will help if I give them a little caffeine?

Monday, April 26, 2010


Rhubarb! I love the stuff, but all I really know is rhubarb jam or pie. My mother makes a great cobbler with Jiffy cake, but I wanted to try something new. Good thing I've been pawing through my thousands of recipes clipped from magazines!

Rhubarb Crisp
1 small orange
1lb. strawberries, hulled & sliced
10oz. rhubarb, sliced
1/4 c. sugar
1Tb. cornstarch
1/3c. old-fashioned oats
1/3c. brown sugar
1/3c. whole wheat flour
3Tb. butter

Preaheat oven to 375 degrees. Zest orange and divide into two medium-sized bowls. Squeeze 1/4c. juice and reserve. In one bowl, mix fruit and sugar. Mix cornstarch into orange juice and add to fruit. Combine well. Pour fruit into a 9" pie plate. In second bowl with orange zest, combine oats, brown sugar and flour with butter. Cut the mixture into coarse crumbs and sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Bake 45 minutes. Cool until filling sets, about 45 minutes and serve slightly warm.
I think the only thing I would change about this, is add 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

This recipe gets 4 stars from both myself and my father-in-law.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A-Mulchin' We Will Go...

D'you think 10 yards will be enough?
I'm going to mulch the pathways of the veggie garden, which is all you've heard about so far. Here at Reservoir Gardens, we also have a large front bed of ornamentals (Burning Bush, Weeping Cherry tree, Lilac bush, Lupine, Azaleas, etc.), the bed around the mailboxes, the base of the maple tree, the beds in front of the house, the base of the Lilac tree in the High Yard, the Hillside that slopes into the backyard, and the area around the Fire Patio.

We didn't have enough last year to mulch to the appropriate depth and we didn't even get to the Hillside. We also didn't mulch the pathways of the garden. And to be fair, the Fire Patio was so overgrown, we just let it go last year and tried not to burn the place down. So, this year we doubled our order from Bakers and it arrives tomorrow.

HUGE thanks to the husband for attacking the overgrown Fire Patio--wish I had before and after pics... The shot above shows the area at its best from last year and that's pretty rough.

On another topic, what do you know about Irish Moss?? We need to put in a pathway from the drive to the house. We've got a ton of large irregular slate, but we need something to fill in the gaps other than scraggly grass.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Garden Grows... Yes, glass. I wish I had a picture of all I found while I was "pre-weeding" the garden. Pretty sure the yard was a hangout for beer-drinking teens during the 18 months the house was empty before we moved in.

Decided that next year I will pre-weed before I hard to find the little buggers when they're not sprouting! Pre-weeding finished on Saturday morning and by noon all the pathways and 3'x3' squares were cordoned off with twine.

Onion sets are down, peas are down (so late with those!), radish, carrots and spinach are down. The garlic cloves are down in the herb garden.

What else does my garden grow? Here's the complete listing for this year...

16 Vegetables, 22 Varietals
Spacemaster Cucumber
Big Mama Tomatoes
Health Kick Tomatoes
Purple Rain Eggplant (if I say Prince eats these, do you think my husband will?)
Bush Blue Lake 47 Green Beans
Beananza Green Beans
Tall Utah Celery
Blockbuster Peppers
Godfather Peppers
Cherry Belle Radish
Danvers Half-Long Carrots (a local favorite?)
Sugar Snax Carrots
Baby Leaf Spinach
RSVPea Peas
Butterbush Squash
Hollow Crown Parsnip
Onions - Red, White, and Yellow
Heirloom Small Sugar Pumpkin
Prizewinner Hybrid Pumpkin

Yep. The rhubarb's the only original item left in the bed. Though I wouldn't be surprised if a few of those strawberries snuck back in, they sure were hard to dig up. The asparagus? That scary looking root octopus now resides in my folks' backyard. I wish him well.

I've made big plans this year. I've ordered quality seeds from Burpee instead of the 3 for $1 packs at the discount store that are leftover from last year's stock. I'm planting a lot more items and keeping things a little closer together (faux square foot gardening), because the weeding last year was ridiculous.

Think I'm overdoing it? Yeah, me, too. I've never grown half of these things before and I don't even like some of them. No idea what I'm doing. Between the Burpee site and a copy of Month-by-Month Gardening in New England (thanks KM!) I hope I can learn enough to make all this work worth it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

2009 in Review

Last year there were 11 items in the garden. The asparagus, strawberries, and rhubarb were pre-existing. The strawberries ran rampant and didn't produce much. The asparagus...well, we discovered that's not on a vegetable we want on our menu. Some of the rhubarb is still in freezer packs...d'you think that's okay to eat?

We planted iceberg lettuce, radishes, spinach, carrots, green beans, peppers, tomatoes and pumpkins. Everything lived and produced (except for the lettuce), though the pumpkin succumbed to a case of powdery mildew when it was only the size of small balloon and still dark green.

Oh, and weeds. Lots and lots of weeds. Hubby hated pulling them up, but he did a lot more of it than I did. I've got some plans on how to take care of that this year. And it all starts with getting my butt outside this afternoon to finish pre-weeding the garden.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

They're Here!

Onion sets and garlic bulbs have arrived from Burpee. The rhubarb is already poking its head above the surface. Planting begins Saturday!

Gardening. A History.

I've been gardening for 8 years, but this year I'm actually going to do it right.

The first few years were rough. Mostly I planted in containers. There was the year I planted morning glories in a hanging basket and ended up with vines taking over the light next to the front door. (What? You mean they climb, not hang over the side?) There was the year I grew salad mix using an old tire with a ripped sidewall as a raised bed. (Doesn't that sound healthy?) The time I planted leftover wilting green onions I had in the fridge and was rewarded with some of the strangest looking bugs I've ever seen. Did I mention this happened when I was living down the road from a nuclear power plant? Let me tell you, if you've never had the chance to grow nuclear chives, those puppies are HUGE.

After moving to a less radioactive location, I stuck to mostly herbs and cherry tomato plants in containers on the deck. They did okay, but my desire for a real garden burned within.

A few years later the opportunity came. A new home, with a 25 x 15 raised bed already in place. A few items came up on their own before my plans were even in place--a shame I don't like asparagus, but the rhubarb was a thrill.

We burned brush, we tilled, we cleared, we planted. Tomatoes, peppers, carrots, spinach, lettuce, green beans, and the obligatory pumpkins for the 7 year old. The herbs were transplanted to a small bed on the back of the house. Things went pretty well considering our lack knowledge. After all, I think we were the only folks in New England to get many tomatoes last year.

I've been gardening for 8 years, but this year I'm actually going to do it right. I'm going to learn about what I'm planting and how to grow it properly. Keep your fingers crossed!