wraavr: (Default)
 The middle of Hurricane Sandy seems as good a time as any to let folks know that Recently Traditional Fictional Morris (RTFM) will be dancing the Other Morris on Hallowe'en at the Somerville Community Growing Center at sunset.  We will be there, rain or shine!  The Growing Center will be open at 5pm, and there will be pumpkin carols for about half an hour.  RTFM will begin dancing at sunset at 5:39. Hope to see you Wednesday!

Frost-Free

Oct. 13th, 2012 04:28 pm
wraavr: (Default)
 My diligence paid off, and nearly everything in the garden that I tried to protect made it through the night with little to no frost damage.  I moved a bunch of containers into the basement and watering everything left outside at about 5:30 on Friday, and then rewatered the tomatoes and tomatillos and flower beds again at about 10am with the intention of getting the leaves wet.  I also woke up at 5 and went outside and briefly turned the sprinkler on again; I think it was slightly above freezing then, as there were no ice crystals on the grass, and leaves that I checked didn't seem to be in distress.  When I got up for real later in the morning and surveyed everything, I found that the tomatoes and tomatillos were largely unscathed; just some of the outer tips of stalks are withered.  The nasturtiums, mums, zinnias, dahlias, Montauk daisies, and mint all came through fine.  The only major casualties were the green beans in containers; many of the leaves have that frozen-green color, so I think they're done for the year.  I brought out all the containers I put in the basement.  We're supposed to be frost-free for the next week or so, so I'm looking forward to a few more tomatoes, tomatillos, and flowers before the first killing frost.
wraavr: (Default)
 The first frost in the area is forecast for early Saturday morning.  I still have tomatoes, tomatillos, ground cherries, peppers, and green beans making a go of it, so I'll need to protect them from the cold.  Some of the plants are in containers, so I can move them into the basement.  For the ones that are in the ground, I'm going to water them well in the evening and then probably also wake up before dawn and give them some more water.  It's similar to when citrus growers flood their groves; the water-to-ice transition is exothermic, and at the phase change, the temperature will remain at 32F until all of the water has changed to ice.  So if you've got enough water and the low temps are not persistent, you can keep your plants from freezing and dying.  Until the first hard frost, anyway.  I have a small tarp that I'm going to put over as much as I can, too.

The Cornell University Department of Horticulture has some helpful hints in a pdf for giving your plants a better chance against frost.  Good luck to the Boston area gardeners tonight!

wraavr: (Default)
Pipe Dream, the morris team I'm on, will be performing on Saturday in Lincoln and Lexington.  Red Herring Morris invited us to dance with them at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln and then in/near Lexington Center. We'll be out at Drumlin Farm at their Harvest Weekend (fee applies, free for Mass Audubon members) from about 1:00-2:15pm.  Then we'll head to Lexington Center, and be at either Depot Square right in the Center if it's not raining too much, or at the gazebo in Hastings Park (about half a mile away on Mass Ave after it makes the left turn at the Minuteman Statue) if it's pouring (see map).  This location is free!  We'll be in Lexington from about 3:30-4:30pm.  If you're in the area, come see us!
wraavr: (Default)
 Huh, I haven't posted in a while.  Since the last post, I've harvested a whole lot from the garden; canned even more jam, jelly, pickles, salsa, and applesauce; pressure-canned tomatoes with [personal profile] okrablossom, entered things at the Big E in West Springfield and the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, and gotten things back from the Big E.  Whew!

At the Big E, I entered peach jam, blackberry jam, gooseberry jam, sweet pickles, bread & butter pickles, and applesauce in the canning divisions.  I also entered a temari ball and a framed cross-stitch dragon in the needlework division.  I got a third place ribbon for the sweet pickles and second place ribbons for everything else.  Not too shabby!  Pictures will be under the cut.

The Topsfield Fair is under way, so I don't yet have a list of all the ribbons I've won.  I remember seeing first place ribbons on my applesauce and black raspberry jelly, and several seconds, thirds, and honorable mentions on other things I entered too.  The fair closes on Monday, so I'll have everything back on Tuesday and will have a full listing of my entries and prizes.  I entered the Saturday baking contest with quick bread, cake, and dessert bars, but I didn't place in any of those; that was disappointing, as I thought I'd done a pretty good job with the baked goods.  I guess they just weren't to the judges' tastes this year.  Oh well.  I'm entering the King Arthur Flour scone competition on Thursday night, and maybe also the Apple Pie competition on Friday.  Wish me luck!

Pictures from the Big E )
wraavr: (canning)
 It has been a long week of peaches.  Last Friday, I went to my cousins' peach orchard in SE New Hampshire, Union Lake Peach Orchard.  I brought back close to a bushel of peaches - so delicious!  Over the past week, I've canned (or otherwise prepared):

3 batches of peach salsa
1 batch peach jam
1 batch peach/orange jam
1 batch peach leather
1 batch peach compote
1 batch peach pie filling
1 batch peach BBQ sauce

I am finally done!  Thing is, I still need to can some peach-rum sauce and some more jam and compote, so I'll have to pick up some more peaches before the end of the season.  
wraavr: (gardening)
It has been hot and humid a lot of the time this summer.  Not my favorite kind of weather, but the garden is loving it.  The tomatoes are looking fantastic (I have red, orange, and yellow ones this year), and I made a good call putting all the peppers in pots rather than planting them in the ground.  The ground cherries are going crazy, and for the first time I have ripe tomatillos at the beginning of August.  I made green beans almandine tonight with the beans I've picked the past couple days.  The winter squash is continuing to grow with some new ones forming, and I've got two large swan gourds that might be nearly ready to pick (pictures below the cut).  Unfortunately, the zucchini is a casualty; apparently the groundhog that lives in the next yard over was chewing on the vine last week, and there don't seem to be any new leaves growing.  Oh well, at least I got 3 zucchini from the plant.

My unexpected success of the summer is okra.  All the 90+ degree days we've had have been exactly what the okra has wanted.  I have three plants growing in containers, and once they got past the cooler than normal weather in early June, they've taken off. I've gotten 12 or so big pods so far, and the plants keep producing.  I made fried okra using Paula Deen's recipe -- YUM!!  I'm going to make some gumbo next.  I'll need to pick up some filé powder before I do; this might necessitate a trip to Christina's Spice & Specialty Foods in Cambridge (and then a trip to Christina's Ice Cream next door!).  

I picked wild blueberries at Pitcher Mountain in New Hampshire last week.  The locals I met up there said picking wasn't that great for August (like everywhere in southern New England, the blueberries came in early this year), but with diligence I was able to pick about a quart and a half.  Blackberries were an unexpected find on the mountaintop, and I was able to get a cup or so of those too.  I got to do some geocaching up there too, and found all four caches I searched for, so all in all I didn't mind the less-than-peak conditions. 

Canning in the past few weeks has included blueberry jam, seedless blackberry jam, and charred chili salsa.  I will be making peach salsa and jam soon, and will make salsa verde as soon as I get two pounds of tomatillos.  It's time to make pickles too; the drop-off dates for canned goods at the Big E and Topsfield Fairs are coming up in about 4 weeks, and I want the pickles to sit in the jars for at least a couple weeks before the judging.  

Picures of delicious vegetables... )
wraavr: (Default)
It's such a crazy year for weather and crops. Spring started so early, which bumped up all the fruit crops. This year's strawberry season ended right around when it would start in a normal year. Early blueberries and raspberries started to ripen well before the end of June. Peaches and plums are coming in now! Crazy.

I went up to Smolak Farms in North Andover on Friday; they're one of two or three eastern MA farms that has gooseberries and currants, and they have the standard fruit crops as well.  I picked red gooseberries today, and also picked a cup of red and yellow raspberries for a snack.  The gooseberries will go into jam, and I think I got enough extra to make a grunt or fool or one of those old-fashioned New England or British desserts.  I picked blackcurrants at Smolak a few weeks ago and made some nice jam from those as well.

I also went to my new favorite secret blackberry spot before sunset; wild blackberries are just starting to ripen (again, 2 or 3 weeks early), and I foraged about a quart in 45 minutes.  I will try to hit my other spots this weekend too; some years are good and some are sparse, and I haven't done any recon at the other places this season.  

Next on my foraging list is wild blueberries; I've never picked them before, so this might be the year.  I've heard there are some in Middlesex Fells, but I figure I'll probably have better luck in NH or ME.  I'm also interested in scouting beach plums; I've never seen these before, and I have no idea which beaches might have them.  I didn't see any along the North Hampton to Rye stretch in NH last year when I was collecting rose hips, but maybe I just didn't know what I was looking for.  Any suggestions?
wraavr: (gourd)
The Mystery Gourd is a Speckled Swan Gourd, and will look something like the ones pictured here. There are some proto-gourds growing on the vine now, so I was able to identify them by appearance (pictures below the cut). And although I didn't plant the seed, it did originate here. I'd bought a swan gourd a couple years ago, and when it started to rot I chucked it in the compost bin. (At least) One of the seeds remained viable and made it into the screened compost I put on the veg bed in March, and the resultant vine is now going crazy. I hope I'll get at least one gourd from the plant!

Other garden stuff is coming along pretty well. I've had to be diligent about watering for the past couple weeks since it's been so hot here, and since we've gotten so little rain. We're supposed to get thunderstorms on Wednesday and cooler temps coming in Thursday, so that should be good for everything.

On to glamor shots of the veggies. )
wraavr: (Default)
Answer: Lots!

Now that summer fruit is ripening, it's time for putting things up: canning, freezing, dehydrating.

Now, if you can things, I think you should enter your jams, jellies, salsas, sauces, pickles, etc. in county fairs! I did last year, and I won prizes! Woo!

2011 fair prizes

More observant viewers will have noticed there's a distinctly non-canned temari sitting amidst the jars and ribbons; I entered that in one of the arts & crafts contests, and got ribbons for that too! There are also lots of contests for baking, quilting and sewing, knitting, crocheting, photography, art, and various kinds of crafts. If you enter something, you stand a very good chance of winning a prize. You might even get prize money!

Local fairs (with entry due dates) include:

  • The Big E (W. Springfield, MA) - Canning, Baking, Photography, sewing/quilting, knitting, crocheting, crafts - August 1 (late entry August 15)
  • Topsfield Fair (Topsfield, MA) - Canning, Arts & Crafts - September 3; Baking, Honey - September 26 (yes, the website is down as of post time)
  • 3 County Fair (Northampton, MA) - Canning, Baking, Arts & Crafts - August 20


More info on the fairs under the cut. )
wraavr: (black petunia)
 The garden harvest continues!  Some of the hot peppers are ripening, and the zucchini's producing as well.  The first ground cherries are ripening, and fruit has set on all the tomatillos as well (a month earlier than in past years!).  I think the garlic is close to being ready too.  (Other Boston gardeners with garlic, is it time to dig it up now, or do I need to wait longer?  I planted it last fall.)  The tomatoes are coming along, but it looks like several weeks before anything's ripe; I didn't grow cherry tomatoes this year, so no early tomatoes for me.  The winter squashes are vining everywhere, and the Mystery Squash in front has white flowers and might actually be a birdhouse gourd.  No fruit on it yet, but the flowers sure are pretty!  Oh, and the okra has been loving the hot weather we've been having the past few weeks.  The proto-okra pods that have formed have usually died after the flower blooms, but there are a couple out there that might  be getting past that initial stage.

On to the pictures! )
wraavr: (fraternity)
My friend [personal profile] okrablossom is doing a kickstarter chronicling the adventures of Olivia (the new Lego Friends Inventor) and her friends doing Science! [Insert mad laughter here.]  Kickstarter page is here; please consider supporting this project if i appeals to you, especially if you like equations and giggling!
wraavr: (Default)
Garlic scapes from my garden!

On to the scapes! )
wraavr: (black petunia)
Finally, some garden pictures.

Here's the containers in back. There are tomatoes, chili peppers, okra, purple tomatillos, cucumbers, zucchini, and a butternut squash.

Container Garden


And the plants in front. These include tomatoes, green tomatillos, ground cherries, snow peas, sugar peas, regular peas, strawberries, onions, garlic, blue Hubbard squash, buttercup squash, and some kind of squash that came up by itself in the garden.

Front Yard Garden 1


And from the other direction.

Front Yard Garden 2


Some of the strawberries are transitioning from green to white, which means red strawberries within the week.  So early, but yay!  The snow peas are producing now too; I've eaten a couple small ones straight off the plants, but the first batch will be ready in a few days.  The pepper plants, tomatoes, tomatillos, and ground cherries are all starting to bloom, and the poblano pepper has a couple small peppers on it already.  I think some of the garlic is starting to put out scapes (blossoms), so I'll get to use those in cooking in a few weeks.

wraavr: (crocuses)
 I have just about everything in the ground and in containers now.  This year's fruits & veggies include: strawberries, 4 different kinds of peas, butter lettuce, a whole mess of garlic and onions, tomatoes, green tomatillos, purple tomatillos, ground cherries, okra, chili peppers, pickling cucumbers, zucchini, blue Hubbard squash, buttercup squash, and butternut squash.  I have a couple more peppers and an okra to put outside when they're a little bigger, and I found the green bean seeds that I need to plant as well.  

All the peppers are in pots this year.  I haven't had great luck with them in the ground, but they seem to do fine in pots.  The master gardener at the Arlington garden club plant sale a couple weeks ago figured the peppers in the ground didn't get enough sunlight, and that the ones in pots probably benefitted from the warmer soil in pots.  Several other plants are in pots too, since I ran out of space in the garden.

So far, I've harvested one (small) head of lettuce.  The strawberries are blooming and forming fruit, but I'd guess it'll be another week or so before the first ones are ripe.  Some of the pea plants are starting to bloom, so harvest time for them won't start for another couple weeks.

Pictures soon, maybe Sunday.

Winter!

Mar. 18th, 2012 03:57 pm
wraavr: (crocuses)
Today, while it is still technically winter, I started my 2012 gardening!  I had a half a barrel of compost from last fall, and I dumped it over my garden plot and I dug it in.  There were some pretty huge roots in there, and I don't know if it's the hedges encroaching, or if they're left over from last year's tomatillos; I'm guessing the former.  The garlic I planted last fall is starting to come up, and the crocuses are also in bloom.  My daffodils and tulips seem to be a week or two behind the ones in other people's yards around here, and East Arlington is in general a couple weeks behind Somerville, Cambridge, and Arlington.  I also planted 2 kinds of regular peas, 1 kind of sugar pea, and 1 kind of snow pea.  I'm hoping that they'll be producing by the time I'm ready to plant other veggies.  It is so strange to be planting things in the garden in the middle of March!  It's 76 outside as I write this, and it looks like it's going to be be as ridiculously unseasonable for the rest of the week at least. 

I have some other things that need to go into the ground this week too: bareroot strawberry plants, hardy hibiscus, and Lewisia.  I'll be starting things indoors too, whatever I have seed packets for.   Main outdoor planting of those starters probably won't take place until May, but if I find some pretty pansies I could put those in now.
wraavr: (fraternity)
Today I made butter!

Finished butter

All the boring details.... )
wraavr: (omgpineapple)
So My Brute is an utterly ridiculous little flash game. You make a character and then pick some fights. You don't actually get to determine what your attributes will be, or have an active roll in fighting your battles. You *do* get to decide what spiffy clothes you get to wear, so that's something. And, it's a great pyramid scheme! If you join as my disciple, I get experience points. Yay! Doesn't that sound fantastic? I know you can't wait to sign up now, so please go to http://omg-pineapple.mybrute.com and join in teh awesome battles.
wraavr: (gandalf)
O hai! So icanhascheezburger is having a contest right now, and the theme is poker cats. I hadn't LOLd either of my cats yet, so this seemed like a good time to start. Making Gandalf pose with cards seemed kinda dumb, so I went for a slightly different approach. I think it turned out well. Anyway, wud u plz vote for mai kitteh? Click on the picture, then click on the number of cheezburgers you think the kitteh deserves. kthx!

Texas hold em kitteh
More on the online Poker Cats Contest
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