July, 2017

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Mattapan Farmers Market

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

It was back to the Farmers market at Mattapan square with the Urban Farm Institute.

Cucumbers did Poorly Last Year, This Year I’m Trying Different Things

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Last year I got almost no cucumbers, so this year I am trying different strategies to see if I can improve on their performance.

First, I started a whole bunch from seeds in flats on the sun porch. The potting mix I used was organic from Home Depot, brand name was Kellogg. They germinated well but then stalled and wouldn’t grow until I transplanted them into a homemade soil/compost mix. Here are two that have been moved to the porch.

Transplanted from flats, homemade soil/compost mix.                                                     They have suffered some insect damage but seem to be growing well. They will get transplanted into larger pots this week.

Some from the seedlings from the flats went right into the garden on May 29th and some went into the garden by the house.

The original 6 cucumbers were planted and have survived although they struggled at first and so we planted some seeds which have germinated here also. These had a row cover for a while.

At the same time the same seedlings were also planted in another garden where I’m experimenting with using black locust to supply nitrogen. Black Locust (Robinia psuedoacacia) is a tree and a member of the pea family. It forms nodules on its roots where its symbiotic relationship with Rhizobia bacteria help to fix nitrogen from the air into useful forms of it. This garden also uses comfrey, which is able to draw minerals from the soil and make them available to plants. I periodically will either cut the entire plant down or just rip leaves off. Because comfrey is a favorite of bees, I like to let the bees finish with the flowers before cutting them.

These cucumbers have been under a row cover since May 29th.

Some of the transplanted cukes have also been moved to a new raised bed. This bed was not suppose to be used for a while so I seeded it with a cover crop of oats and vetch.

These transplants were moved to a new raised bed

All except the plants just uncovered have some insect damage although they don’t seem to be significantly impacted at this point. We’ll see how they progress.

Mattapan Farmers Market

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Urban Farm Institute (https://urbanfarminginstitute.org), continues to make fresh, organic food available to underserved neighborhoods by having a table at the Mattapan Farmers market in Mattapan square. UFI has a number of small plots in Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury where they teach young (and some not so young people) how to grow food. Breakneck Hill Farm has been working with UFI to donate my extra food to their farmers markets. This was the opening week for Mattapan square and Mayor Marty Walsh was in attendance to make the rounds and offer support. Attendance by the community and a number of local farmers was strong. I brought beets, zucchini and lettuce with me. All but the zucchini went pretty fast. Fortunately, the zucchini will last until Thurs when UFI has another farmers market in Egleston Square in Roxbury. Breakneck Hill Farm will be there making fresh organic, nutrient dense food available to people who don’t necessarily have that opportunity.

Here I am with members of UFI, the community and another farmer from Bellingham.


Here I am with Nataka Crayton from UFI

Update, July 4th, 2017

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

June was the 4th rainiest on record. Everything is so green and lush. Here an update on the progress made this year and some of the new things I am trying.

The beds have been fully planted and mostly growing well. With the cool wet weather the warm season plants were a little slow to get started.

Lettuce has been spectacular.

These beets have really taken off in the last two weeks.

Kale was a little slow but has finally gotten going. The onions have really done well.

These cucumbers struggled for a while and have started to grow but last year we lost almost all of them (fungus?). So this year I have a bunch of different plantings, trying different areas, soils, conditions. Hopefully, they’ll find someplace they like or at least whatever got them last year, doesn’t like.

Tomatoes are a mixed bag this year, some doing really well some not so much.

These pepper plants have purslane as a ground cover. Purslane is an edible weed which is very high in omega 3’s.

These potatoes were started under row cover to protect them from cool temperatures and bugs but when they out grew the row cover and I took it off the potato beetle was quick to find it. Hand picking is ok for small scale but the beetles are eventually victorious. Interestingly, the potato plants that started from missed potatoes last year have little beetle damage.

Here are a couple butternut squash plants I decided to try in a compost bin which protects them from the chickens but the plants will just grow out through the pallets. I though the pretty fresh manure in this pile would damage the roots but they certainly don’t look hurt.

Here are some more Zucchini started  under row cover. I want to grow these until they start flowering to see if I can reduce the bug damage.