Showing posts from February, 2017

The Owl on Kent Street

Throughout the summer and fall, on quiet nights after everyone else had gone to bed, I would swear that I could sometimes hear the hooting of an owl in the trees on the hill behind our house. I never actually saw  an owl in our yard, of course, because they are so stealthy and secretive. I wasn’t even sure if I could trust my ears, but this area is full of interesting wildlife, so I figured anything was possible. I have been proven right — on the possibility, at least. There’s an owl in Newburyport for sure. Kirk came home from work at the hospital last week with a tidbit about there being an owl in a tree in the park down Kent Street. (I live in a town where the juicy gossip is about bird sightings, it seems.)  We figured we’d check it out between snow storms, and here he — or she — is: Newburyport and Plum Island are major destinations for serious bird watchers, so there was group of people gathered to see this owl. Many came prepared with serious telescopic l

2017 Seed Inventory

Somehow this task escaped us last year, but usually once the garden planning is done, we go through our seed inventory and decide what we need to stock up on. At this time we also choose new varieties to try or seek out more of the same if something did well. Once the seeds are ordered and arrive in the mail, we sort them by type and store them in a plastic box in the fridge, where they keep very well in the cool, dry conditions. For reference, here’s what we chose for 2017: The Driveway Quadrant Pole beans: Cherokee Trail of Tears Pumpkin: Small Sugar Pie Squash: Butternut JWS 6823 and Spaghetti Squash Cabbage: Red Express and Hybrid Storage Green Cucumber: Northern Pickling and Marketmore 76 Peppers: Ace bell pepper, El Jefe jalapeño, Baron poblano Eggplant: Galine Cilantro: Cruiser Head lettuce: Green Forest and Buttercrunch  Corn: Sugar Buns Broccoli: Arcadia Parsnips: Javelin Cauliflower: Snow Crown The Workshop Quadrant Cherry to

2017 Master Plan: The Patio Quadrant

The final planting quadrant is also the smallest, because it lacks the center C that the others have in favor of a patio area for picnicking. It also has a full bed of strawberries along with existing perennial plantings of roses, rhubarb and lavender, so there aren’t many areas left to fill. Across the top row is garlic that was planted back in October. When this is harvested in July, it will be replanted with winter green like arugula, bok choy and turnips. The remaining section has Paisano paste tomatoes.  Along the right side is a short trellis of snap peas, which will shade a patch of mesclun and other spring greens. Right now this is the site of our winter cold frame of mache and spinach, so our plan is simply to interplant the mesclun with these plants in early spring and gradually remove and replace things they bolt throughout the season. There are also both winter and summer carrots close to the house, where they can handle the shade that creeps in during the fa

2017 Master Plan: The Swingset Quadrant

The section of the garden near the swings is always on the easiest to plan. It’s reliably sunny, but two large swathes are already spoken for, with asparagus along the left side and grapes and herbs across the top.  To the right will be Brussels sprouts and a row of fennel bulbs, along with a large bed of leeks, which hopefully do better this year. Along the bottom is a trellis of peas and a row of Amish paste tomatoes for saucing.  In the center C are beets, chard, okra, and potatoes.  And that’s it! This section is full of big plants, or big patches of some of our favorites, so it’s just not very complicated — which is a nice change of pace.

2017 Master Plan: The Workshop Quadrant

Working our way around the garden, we come to the workshop quadrant. I guess we could also call this the office quadrant, since it forms the bulk my view during the day. Here’s what I’ll be gazing out at when I’m procrastinating: In the center C are celery and parsley, zucchini, cantaloupe, and a Sungold tomato plant. The Sungold, celery, and parsley are partially shaded, which should be fine. It should help slow the ultra-prolific Sungold down to a manageable harvest level, and celery and parsley will do well with some shade in the summer anyway. Across the top, as always, are our perennial grapes and herbs. In the upper portion of the right side is a succession planting of dill. This is the shadiest section of the garden, but dill is basically a weed and will do fine here. Below that is a semi-shaded section that will lie fallow for most of the season until we plant next winter’s spinach and mache in a cold frame. Across the bottom is a long trellis of peas and a r