Our potager-style vegetable garden is coming into it’s own.  Summer of 2008 has been just about a perfect garden year – the weather has been beautiful,  warm but not humid and we’ve had plenty of rain.  Of course, with garden there are always high and lows, oftenat the same time.  The lone tomatillo I planted hasn’t had any fruit, and some of the tomatoes are showing signs of blosson end rot.  But then again, the watemelon is amazing, and we even have decroative white mini pumpkins growing that I never even seeded!  We bought a bag as Thanskgiving decoration at Costco and threw them onto the front bed to compost.  Well, of course over a dozen of them sprouted!  So I kep the biggest one going, and you can see it in the same bed as the watermelon vines.  We have more veggies than we can even eat!

The chicken coop is finally finshed and we have our permit from Westwood. The coop design is the well known Playhouse Coop.  It’s just the right size for 3-4 chickens.  We have three, 1 Buff Orpington, 1 Autralorp, and 1 Easter Egger.  The first will lay lay brown eggs, and the Easter Egger lays a blue or green egg.  They’re 4 weeks old this week, and still a few months away from laying.

One nice surprise this year are the watermeloms; they’re growing on the front steps.  That’s by far the warmest spot around our house due to the south facing windows and the hard surfaces.  The watermelons seem pretty happy there. The vines are just growing all over the place and osme of them are  more than 15 feet long.  Next year we will have to crop rotate, so we might actually goew these in the front yard under some ornamental grasses that get pretty tall. Or we might put them were you see the tomatoes, and plant giant sunflowers behind them as a livng screen because the tomatoes will need to go into a different bed as well.


Good progress was made today on the chicken coop; and John did allof the work, although I did manage to get the painting started.  This is the well-known Playhouse Coop and the only major change we made will be to use Tuftex corrugated opaque vinyl panels for the roof instead of a standing metal seam roof, which I could not find anywhere in such a small quantity.  In the end everything pretty much came from Lowes.


John said the most annoying part of the job is stapling the hardware cloth onto the frames.  I helped him while he put it together, and this can definitely be made by one or two people with maybe advanced intermediate wood working skills.


Sorry for all the weeds! This part of our yard looks pretty bad right now; we let to go to seed while we were doing other renovations, and now that the coop is here I’ll have to focus on this area again.

I think I really want a metal sign for the coop door that says “Coop du Jour” !







The husband of a friend of mine is a serious gardener with years and years of experience, and I always use his transplant method for tomatoes.  This formala is like a Cook’s Illustrated recipe – just do exactly what it says, don’t deviate from the plan, and you’ll get a great result.

Peter’s Perfect Tomatoes

When you transplant into your garden do the following:

  1. Dig a hole as deep as the seedling height and twice as wide as widest set of leaves.
  2. Fill the hole 1/2 way with a 50/50 combination of peat moss and composted manure.
  3. Water the mix and make a thick mud.  The water should contain a transplant fertilizer (organic or chemical – your choice)
  4. Plant the seedling in the mud and bury it past the original seedling leaves.  The tomato will sprout new roots from the buried stem.
  5. Water as required for the rest of the summer but do not fertilize again – the tomato has everything it will need for the entire season.

Your tomatoes will go gangbusters – trust me!  Heirlooms in particular really like it.

Last summer my husband built raised beds out of Trex, the deck material.  They turned out really well, and a few days ago I posted this pic on The Easy Garden Forum.  If you click over to there in the  course of a few pages my husband and I answer questions about how they were built.

Seed Starting has just about finished up; we have a metal shelf unit set up in the garage with two sets of grow lights on chains.  The seed trays with covers are on heat mats 24/7 until germination, then the covers are removed and the mat turned off because the ideal temp for seedling is about 60-70 degrees F.

The mats speed up germination by increasing the soil temps about 10-20 degrees F above the air temperature, and a thermomater helps me keep tabs on the temps (see white disc on the right).   Here we have heirloom tomatoes on the top left, already sprouted, and on the top right are 3 types of basils, 2 types of peppers & some jalapeno chilis. Bottom right are cantaloupe, summer squash and watermelon and an ornamental annual flower called Castor Bean (var. “Carmencita”).  The lights are on timers for 18 hours a day so that by the time a seedling is ready to go into the ground its nice and stocky.  

Last month the early spring, cold hardy seeds were started (kale, lettuce, swiss chard, broccoli de rabb and scallions) and those have already been transplanted outside.  Those seeds will germinate in temps as low as 50-60 degree F, so with the heat mats I was able to start seeds even though the air temperature during March was in the low 40’s.  The raab is already in the garden, and swiss chard (below) will be ready to transplant in another few days.