The Potager

The Potager

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why my garden is a Potager

A Potager, by definition, is a kitchen garden which is planted intensely with vegetables and has flowers and other features that make it not only functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. The Potager not only feeds the body but it also feeds the soul.

When I first started vegetable gardening I read in the Square Foot Gardening book that you should plant flowers in your vegetable garden. "That's ridiculous," I thought. "Why waste valuable garden space on something you can't eat?"
I've completely changed my opinion about that.
There's a lot of green in the vegetable garden. Flowers break up the monotone and give the eye something to look at. I have Zinnias, Salvia, Marigolds, roses and petunias planted this year.
And this volunteer morning glory that has taken over the back fence.
I also planted moon flowers but they haven't bloomed yet.

In addition to flowers, I have art in my garden. Whimsical art that makes me smile whenever I see it.
Like this piece I call Heartstrings.
I was sitting with hunky hubby in a dentist office leafing through a magazine and saw something like this. I told him I loved it and he didn't seem interested. But a few weeks later he had made this and gave it to me for my birthday. Heartstrings sits high above the garden watching over everything.
I have always wanted chickens, but we are not zoned for livestock here. So Duke and Daisy from Gardener's Supply Catalog, grace my garden.

This concrete planter belonged to my great-grandfather. It sits in the center of the Potager on a round piece of slate that was once my grandmother's porch table top. I like having pieces of my family history in my Potager.
Coming out of the planter in the center of the garden is this Whirlygig which my son and his wife gave me for my birthday. When the wind blows, the propeller turns and the dog moves up and down as if balancing. It is so much fun and always brings a smile to my face.
My dad is a pilot, so there had to be an airplane somewhere in the garden.
On the back gate of the garden, my husband made a cat. This art form is called Intarsia and it is done with woods of different colors carefully pieced together - no stain. He is an amazing artist.

He also designed and made the gates to my garden and the fence.

 When he was building the Potager, my husband included our old wooden swing. It is a wonderful place to sit and enjoy our creation. This is where you will find us each evening after work, winding down and reconnecting.

 Of course the best part of the Potager is seeing my family enjoy it, both human and feline. 
It is my version of the happiest place on Earth.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oh Deer!

How odd! The cucumbers spilling out of my fence have been trimmed!

A deer is the culprit and I know exactly which one it is. We have had a doe and her two fawns living on our street since spring.

She has no fear of humans, giving us a passing glance when we pass by.

Even though our yard is fenced in and we are diligent about closing the gates to the fence when we leave for work, she is agile and able to jump the fence.

And to nibble on some tasty cucumber leaves.

But if you look closely you'll notice that she left the cucumbers for me.

I can live with that.
Besides, we have plenty of cucumbers inside the garden fence.

Yummy crisp cucumbers.

My harvest today: three cucumbers, parsley and two squash - one Ambassador Zucchini and one Eight-Ball Zucchini.

Hunky Hubby and I traded places and I grilled the chicken while he made the Cucumber Salad:
Sliced Cucumbers, Sliced Onions, Salt, pepper, chopped parsley from the garden, chopped dill from the garden, white vinegar and sour cream.

The bowl may be a bit messy, but it was delicious!

Cucumber and Sour Cream Salad

Monday, July 26, 2010

Stormy Weather

Yesterday evening, around supper time, a storm blew through. The rain barrel was overflowing within minutes and the husband and I were on the porch watching the lightning.
Did you know lightning is good for a garden? Apparently the electric charge of lightning causes the nitrogen particles in the air to bond with the oxygen particles and form nitrogen oxides. These in turn attach to a rain drop and fall to the earth, naturally fertilizing the garden. This is why your garden will look so much greener after a thunderstorm.
However, the heavy rain and wind did a bit more damage as Binx and I discovered as we toured the garden this morning. The squash plants are beaten down, but they will pop back up on their on.

This poor little pepper plant was weighed down by the peppers.

A quick stake to support it and it will be fine.

This Ugli Tomato plant, which is over five feet tall and is in a cage, was a bit of a surprise. While I supported it back upright with some stakes, I'm a bit worried about how shallow the root system must be for something that large to topple.

Time will tell if this one survives the storm.

Gardening is God's way of teaching patience.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Geometry Bugs?

Now what kind of bug do you suppose makes these perfectly spaced holes in my petunias?
Again proof that there is order in the universe!
Whatever it is, it is in both of the beds of New Wave Petunias in this part of the garden, but not in the petunias in the other part of my garden.
I'm calling it a geometry bug.

Alas, I have doused the petunias with insecticidal soap, so the geometry bug will be no more.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Three Sisters

In this corner of my garden is my tribute to the earliest settlers, the Native Americans. You may know that the Indians planted corn, beans and squash together and called them "The Three Sisters."
Corn uses a lot of of nitrogen. Beans naturally contain a bacteria that takes nitrogen from the air and puts it in the soil. Corn stalks support the climbing beans. The squash shades the soil, preventing weed growth and keeps varmints out of the corn patch with it's prickliness.
It's a symbiotic relationship.
I love the idea of corn in a backyard garden. I have visions of coming home from work, putting the water on to boil, going out to my garden, picking corn and having it on the table 5 minutes later.
However, I have never had luck with corn. I usually end up with little tiny stalks containing small mutant ears of something resembling corn, but not appetizing to look at.

My husband tells me not to plant corn. "It's cheap at the farm stands", he says. "It's a field crop, not a garden vegetable."

But still I love the idea of corn in a garden.
This year, my corn looks strong and healthy.
I am so excited to see it's progress.
We had a rocky start.
I lost half my corn to what I think was seed corn maggots. The little stalk of corn would look withered and I'd pull it out to find it full of little white maggots by the roots. Trying to treat it organically, I'd dig out all the soil around the roots, then pour boiling water in the soil to kill any escaped maggots.
It seems to have worked.  Look how beautiful my corn is now!

I know there are ear worms to contend with in the future, and one bad storm could send the whole crop to the ground.
But for now, the tassels are ripe and the little pollen-filled "flowers" flutter in the slightest breeze.
Soon they'll be little ears for them to pollinate.

My mouth is watering just thinking of that future corn.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Melon Patch

When I planted melons, my husband said they would take over the garden. I told him I would contain them. While it seems a daily battle to keep them somewhat neat, I love the look of the melon patch spilling over into the paths.
I stuck in a makeshift fence for them to climb to contain them somewhat. Within 15 minutes they had wrapped their tendrils around the wire fencing.
I have cut off some vines that threaten to obscure the path and I make use of ground staples to gently guide the vines where I want them to go.
 But in spite of my best efforts, the vines spill out and happily grow everywhere.
And the melons grow daily! We will be sick of melons by the end of the summer!

But I'm hooked.

I love the melon plants in my potager.

This year cantaloupe, next year I would like to add honeydew and watermelon.

I may need a bigger garden!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some like it hot!

In the corner of my garden, tucked away in the back, are two jalapeno pepper plants. Tucked away in the corner because one year I planted them in my pepper bed and all my bell peppers tasted slightly hot. Two because that seems to be the right amount for me and my husband. These plants are prolific!

A peek under the leaves reveals lots of  peppers ready to be picked. Only four days ago I picked 8 and made Baked Jalapeno Poppers. I still had some leftover filling so....
I picked some more and a cubanelle pepper too.
I made Baked Jalapeno Poppers and fresh Salsa for tonight's dinner.
Here's how I make my Jalapeno Poppers.

The peppers need to be halved and de-seeded - the seeds are really hot! I would wear rubber or latex gloves when you do this - or get your hunky husband to do it for you!

Fill the halves with a mixture of softened cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese. I also mixed in a little cumin and cayenne pepper too.

Dip the filled pepper in flour, then in a mixture of eggs and a splash of milk, and lastly in plain breadcrumbs, mixed with cajun seasoning. I use Penzey Spice Cajun Seasoning.
Place on cookie sheet sprayed with oil.

Here they are - all dipped and ready to pop in the preheated oven.
Spray with oil to keep the top from being too dry and to help with the browning.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until browned and the cheese starts to run.

Try to remember to take picture of them before everyone eats them all!

These are so good!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bugs! Big Bugs!

This morning I noticed some damage to my tomato plants - just the ugli tomatoes a friend had given me and the cherry tomatoes that sprouted in my compost pile and were replanted. No damage on any of the tomato plants I bought. I searched and found the culprit - the tomato horn worm!

Egad these things are big - and ugly! I pulled off 7 of them, putting them in a jar of water to drown.

I think I need a bigger jar!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Yummy Cucumber Salad
This is so easy to make. I never measure anything in it and it always turns out great.
Slice cucumbers (I used 3) and add salt (maybe a teaspoon). Add sugar(maybe 1 1/2 tsp.) and white wine vinegar (maybe 1/4 cup). Add chopped parsley and dill (also from the garden!) and add water to barely cover. Taste to adjust taste. Stir and let sit a few minutes. Enjoy!

This year I planted Eureka Cucumbers. They are doing really well in the Potager.

This is the cucumber bed. The Cukes are climbing the fence. There are marigolds to the left and parsley in front of the cukes. All of my potager is in raised beds.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Today in the garden

The tomatoes look great but are still green.

The bell peppers are getting big.

The first signs of egg plant.

A baby melon! This is Fastbreak melon.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Welcome to my blog. My husband built me my dream garden this year and I have been saying all the while, I need to keep a journal to remember all this. So this blog is the journal of my garden. I hope you all aren't bored to death reading it!
I designed my Potager after reading about a very large one in a magazine. We had decided to move our current square foot garden to make more room in the back yard, so I showed my husband what I wanted and he created the most wonderful garden for me! We weren't able to start planting this year until June 5th so some of our plants are a bit behind. Someday I'll post the construction photos. But for now, I will post what's happening daily.