Humble Garden

ReSkilling for future food independence

Archive for July, 2007

Another version of the garden tour

Posted by Nika On July - 30 - 2007

Below is my second try at this video podcast business. I hope it loads for you and that you can hear my voice!

My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-eb5a79734dd79125645e1e5327d2a732}

If this is not working for you, try the YouTube link.

Take a video tour of our Humble Garden

Posted by Nika On July - 27 - 2007

We, ok, I have spent quite a few hours filming (on my laptop so sorry if its sketchy), editing, configuring and posting our first video podcast!

Commence applause now. (Just kidding!)

Let me know what you think and if you have any problems viewing this.


If the above video is not loading, try the YouTube video below. If you just see a camera-clock icon, this means that YouTube is still processing it. It should go live very soon.

This is the YouTube version:

High-rise gardening

Posted by Nika On July - 19 - 2007

(Green and lemon cucumbers rising to the occasion)

Because we grow in raised beds and also because we are trying to grow a bit of pasture and run space for the kids, I am growing our vine crops skyward to keep them off the ground. I have read that this encourages higher production and better fruits/veggies because they do not mold on the ground.

(infant cuke)

What it means in a practical sense is that I am doing bonsai veggies.

(rising spaghetti squash)

I am not doing any pruning but a lot of tying and coddling and massaging, etc. Rather intensive and good more me because its a small garden but this would be tedious if you had a larger thing going on.

(Massive squash)

This enormous squash is growing TONS of base leaves and amassing quite a few proto-runners but has yet to send out a vine I can attach to the trellis. This plant seems poised to simply explode with vines. I feel like I need to almost check it several times a day in case it gets ahead of me!

Who knew there could be so much excitement in a garden. Makes me feel a bit silly, but what are you gonna do.

The young kohlrabis are coming along and I do not find the beetles most times when I go out. I got this notion that these plants must smell irresistible to the beetles because they seem to find them so easily. Because of this crazy idea, I decided to sprinkle the leaves with some cinnamon. I hope this will change the “flavor profile” to one the beetles find either confusing or revolting and I hope not delicious.

Finally, here is a shot of some of the beds, just to give a sense for how some of the garden grows.

Woolly Aphids, lady bugs, and hymenoptera musings

Posted by Nika On July - 15 - 2007

We have been very lucky to have few aphid problems. I have found aphid mommas surrounded by many aphid babies on the undersides of my tomatillo plants but I kill them right away (by hand, right on the leaf so their little juices, in my theory of things, might be attractive to predators). I check the tomatillos every day and kill these colonies every few days (as in, I don’t find them every day).

Yesterday I found a woolly aphid on the poor tomatillo and shot it with the 100mm macro lens.

These bugs leave a woolly residue on stems.

Woolly aphids (subfamily: Eriosomatinae) SOURCE

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Suborder: Sternorrhyncha
Superfamily: Aphidoidea
Family: Aphididae
Subfamily: Eriosomatinae

This aphid was not happy when I brushed past the woolly area and she went on to wollify some place else on the plant. :-/. From what I have read, you want to encourage ladybugs and lacewings, spray with water, etc. I squish them.

I am not too worried about aphids because we, like everyone else around here, are besieged by massive swarms of ladybugs every year. This year they will have extra meaning to me because they will be helpful. Already we have lady bugs in the garden busy laying their eggs every where.

We have not seen any honey bees, at all. Thankfully we have several industrious bumblebees who are quite busy.

Before the bumblebees were on the scene, we have had a lot of other pollinators, especially around the tomatillos!

Like anyone else into gardening, I know about colony collapse disorder (CCD) in the bees here in the US. We have several local hobby beekeepers (one sells honey the other has them because he adores them and he has a nice big garden) and I know that at least one of them is having a hard time with his queens.

If I were to get into the bee thing (I do worry about my kids being near hives because I would never forgive myself if they were stung and died, we have severe allergies to nuts so we need to determine if the kids have a proclivities to allergies to bee venom) I think I would not do it for the honey (only for home use tho we are not big into honey – hurts my teeth) but to breed queens and to pollinate my own garden.

I would prefer to help with the restoration of the annihilated wild bee population but I am not sure yet how or if I could.

A garden, just so

Posted by Nika On July - 13 - 2007

First, a thought that I felt was noble, something to aspire to:

“So stop perching on your shoulders peering out from behind your eyes and sit down. And when you stand, stand forth from the haunted and dead thoughts of the past and idle and wasteful speculation about the future and take a step.” * see bottom of this post.

I usually load up my iPod with various zen teishos (podcasts) and walk about the garden in the cool of the morning listening to the zen masters without having to sit on my legs (an impossibility, I would throw a clot in no time). This is suboptimal because teisho is best after sitting at least some 45 minutes but its still a good thing to do. Sometimes I do wonder about the discordant dichotomy between my pondering the universal dharma and the preciousness of all beings while pulling weeds, killing flights of aphid babies and beetles, and pruning various plants. My sole justification is that I am growing this garden for my family, not for the ravenous bugs. Its the right justification but it still gives me pause as I consider the tenet of doing no harm.

As with the realities that most women have to live with, I come to terms with the needed death decisions in my garden but I do it first hand, by hand, and not in the disconnected way with pesticides.

Today I was admiring the way the kohlrabi plants had burst into growth but then when I looked more closely I noticed this little beetle you see below. He sure is pretty but he is also an eating machine. He has eaten several plants to nothing and has hit almost all the rest.

This photo? It was his last.

When I planned out my garden, I bought seeds that were not the usual thing you might see in a traditional New England garden (I am sure not a traditional New Englander, considering I was born at the Equator, in a far away land). One plant is doing MUCH better than I thought it would. Do you know what this plant is? There are several photos below.

and this..

and this..

If you know, drop me a comment!

The entire garden is surging into a green frenzy. Its abundance is hard to capture by camera but here is an attempt.

The tomatoes are blooming. I know that many other people have plants laden with fruits but we started late so we are happy with anything we get.

The cucumber plants have little infant cucumbers with tiny nascent blossoms.

This photos was taken yesterday.

This photo was taken today, the difference is amazing.

Our entire patch of spinach had been planted at the same time and it was also all starting to bolt at the same time so yesterday I pulled it all.

We steamed it, chopped it up and added hot heavy cream, salt, some pepper. Was delicious. We had many green spinach salads from the same patch over the past weeks. This spinach was just so productive!

* Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi, concluding teisho 5: “Actualizing the Samadhi of Dharmata” in the series “Essentially Real, commentaries on Eihei Dogen zenji’s Hossho: Dharmata”. Presented on Tuesday, December 7, 2004 at the White Wind Zen Community Zendo in Ottowa, Ontario, Canada. See their site to learn more about zen and their sangha.

The Future Harvest

Posted by Nika On July - 5 - 2007

I learned recently that our neighboring town has a farmer’s market starting up (on Saturdays) and I have looked into what it takes to sell there. I am a bit worried that some of the crops we planted may overwhelm our capacity to eat them and this Saturday market would be a good way to profit from the overproduction. Its entirely possible that I am being overly optimistic but better to be prepared than caught off guard. Come to think of it, I do not know how best to price produce so that I am not undercutting or pricing myself out. Anyone have any good guidelines?

I put together the logo you see above as a brand for any veggies we may sell at the market. We will print it out onto stickers which I will then apply to bags at the time of sale. I used the euphemism “Grown Pure” because I didn’t want to have to remove “Organic” at a later date. I understand that if you make less than $5000 a year, you can call yourself organic (if you ARE organic) without the certification. We are going to go through that process. Am going to be joining Northeast Organic Farming Association/ Massachusetts (NOFA) and also attend their conference this summer. Should be a lot of fun and a great way to meet fellow growers.

There are many things going on in the garden since last I wrote. Trellising is going up for climbing beans, snow peas, squashes, watermelons, mini-pumpkins, and zucchinis. We had a pretty windy storm yesterday so some plants had to do be tied up for support. I am not exactly sure why but my cruciferous veggies, like the broccoli and the collards are really leggy but do not want to quit so they just have this really weak elbow bend where they came out of the soil. I staked the broccoli so that they get some support and I hope that they produce. Did I water them too much? These were seeded right into the bed on and around May 24th.

We have been cutting mesclun to eat and it grows right back. The spinach is the same but it is REALLY abundant! We cut and cut but they just grow back even more vigorously. Some of them didn’t like the 96 F weather last week so I think they are on the verge of bolting. Good thing is that it has cooled off a lot. Now its humid, mid 70s and abundant rain (tho a bit rough at times).

The first batch of radishes that were planted are getting to the final pickings. Here are a few photos for your food porn purposes.


Bundle of red globes.

The radishes slice up nicely, are crispy and sweet at first with a medium and not harsh hot after-taste.

My bell peppers are starting to bloom (there are other pepper plants that are sequenced later so we have a couple sets of those) and the tomatillos are budding too. The cayenne are taking their sweet time! I dont think they like our mild weather.

The wood shed – to – chicken house connecting deck is almost done and then we will start on the chicken house. We are still debating how many to get :-/.

I am working on what MIGHT be an exciting project that will bring in organic fertilizer to help us maintain and boost our soil fertility.

About Me

We are a family of 5, including Nika, Ed, Q (14), KD (7), and Baby Oh (4). We garden 1024 square feet of raised beds plus assorted permacultural plantings. We also have 13 LaMancha dairy goats, 40 chickens, and one guard llama.



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