The Potager

The Potager

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I hope you weren't expecting my vacation photos!

I went away for a three day weekend and came back to insect damaged cabbage. If you look closely, you'll see the culprit on the leaf to the left.....>

Ugh, Cabbage Moth Caterpillars.

I spent the morning after I got back picking them off.

Some were big like the one above, some were tiny like the ones on this leaf. There were a lot of them.

The cabbage will recover. I thank God for gardening gloves! Ewww!

Even though I tied my melon up with pantyhose, it slipped off it's stem while I was gone.
I guess I need support hose!

The cucumbers that were too small to pick are now a bit too large. (We'll still eat them!)

On the bright side, while I was away the turnips I planted sprouted.

Let the fall garden begin!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thinking Fall

I can't believe it is the last week of August already.
The summer flew by.
It is time to think about the fall garden.

Since the eight-ball zucchini bit the dust, I removed it and added 5-10-5 fertilizer to the soil.

In this space I planted to the right, Golden Beets, Tall Top Early Wonder Beets and Detroit Dark Red beets. These are all old seeds, so I'm hoping they will come up.
I planted Swiss Chard Bright Lights in the center, and Purple Top Turnips to the left. The turnip seeds are also old seeds.

The cabbage plants I impulse bought at Lowes two weeks ago are looking good, in spite of the fact that the day I planted them, cabbage moths were fluttering around them. (Do they just hang out waiting for someone to plant cabbage?) I haven't seen any egg masses yet.

As for the Asparagus in the future lawn, most of it has been moved to a berm of soil behind the garden. Deer and rabbits don't like Asparagus, so this should be okay. When he has a minute, my husband will build a box around the plants and we'll fill it in properly.
They seem to be doing fine. I know it was totally the wrong time of year to transplant them, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Homegrown Asparagus is so much better than store bought!
Binx doesn't care for Asparagus, he just likes walking around the garden with me!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

While watering my peppers this morning I saw something white. My first thought was an egg mass of some sort that needed to be destroyed.

I'm glad I took a second look!

It's a tobacco horn worm (the bad) with parasitic wasp cocoons attached (the ugly). These are cocoons of the braconid wasp (the good). This wasp lays it's eggs inside the worm. As they hatch they eat their way out, thus killing the worm. Then the larva spins cocoons which attach to the worm. Soon they will hatch and fly off to find other hornworms to kill.
God bless nature's checks and balances!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rainy Day

I love rainy days in the garden (as long as there are not too many in a row!).
No watering to do. All the plants look happy.

The sunflowers look confused - which way is the sun?

It's nice to have a day off from gardening chores once in a while.

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Too much of a good thing!

 Cucumbers are abounding in my garden.
Cucumber salad every day isn't making a dent in the harvest.
Everyone I know has too many, so there is no one to give them to.

Enter the  August issue of Real Simple magazine and a recipe for refrigerator pickles! See the recipe here:
Real Simple Almost Hands-Free Dill Pickles

Monday, August 16, 2010

Life Finds a Way

We cut down trees so our old garden could get more light. Then we decided to move the garden and build our lovely potager.
There were still perennials in the old garden - thyme, chives, mint, strawberries and asparagus, not to mention a whole lot of flowers.
I was waiting until the fall to transplant them.
So you can imagine my horror when my husband took the backhoe and leveled the yard!
He really thought he was being helpful.
I mourned for a week. My poor plants - gone.

However, as Dr. Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park,  "Life, um,  finds a way."

In the scarred landscape the asparagus returned!
It's August, I don't know if I can move them, but they don't belong in the middle of our future lawn.

I dug out a few and put them in the bed of my garden to see if they would survive the August heat.
I dug a trench, made a mound of compost in the center and laid the roots out, then I covered them with dirt, leaving the crown close to the top, barely covered.

So far, so good.
My dilemma now is that the "asparagus" bed is filled with tomato plants and flowers.
I may put these mature asparagus elsewhere in the yard and hope for the best, then buy new plants this coming spring for my garden bed.

I do have six baby asparagus that I transplanted from the asparagus bed in June that are doing well. But it will take 3 years before we can eat these.
I was hoping to move the older plants and only have a one year wait.
We'll have to wait and see how this all works out.

Will I find a place in the yard to replant the rest of them?

Will the ones in the Potager survive growing in raised beds?

" All major changes are like death. You can't see what is on the other side until you get there."   - Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Garden Update

 This morning's harvest included two large zucchini (yellow and green), one cantaloupe, some cherry tomatoes, a big boy tomato and 7 cucumbers, including two that grew through the fence.

Those are some odd looking cucumbers!

We have been eating fresh tomatoes everyday, but we don't have  a basketful at one time - yet!

These are german queen tomatoes, just about ready for picking. The cracks are normal for this kind.

This Ugli tomato weighed almost one and a half pounds!

The green beans and purple beans haven't done well, but the wax beans are starting to produce.


The bell peppers and the cubanelle's are doing well, and the jalapeno is definitely an over-achiever in the garden.

Sadly, I think the eight-ball zucchini is a goner.The other zucchinis also look bad, but they are still producing. The eight ball looks like it will not survive

< From this
to this >

Hiding in the parsley was the expected swallowtail caterpillar. He's free to munch away. A small sacrifice for something so beautiful!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pollinators and other cute bugs

Bees and other pollinators are essential to a good garden. I love watching the bees climbing in and out of the flowers in the morning.

Bees carry the pollen in Pollen Baskets on their hind legs.
The bee to the left has yellow pollen and the one to the right has collected a reddish-orange pollen.

Not a pollinator, but a friend to the garden, the lady bug or lady beetle, eats bad insects and keeps the garden healthy. And they are really cute!

 The beautiful dragonfly also eats bad insects and is very welcome in the garden. They only can fly when the sun is shining and only live in this form for this one season. They will die with the frost. 
But hopefully they found some water in which to lay their eggs. Dragonflies spend the first three years of their  lives in the water.
And everyone's favorite, the butterfly! This one is a Spicebush Swallowtail. I always plant extra parsley to attract the swallowtails to my garden, but I haven't seen any caterpillars yet. I don't mind losing a bit of parsley for something as beautiful as this.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The garden path

Come into the Potager and meander around it's paths.

 In the center of the garden there are four beds, 3' by 6'. The entire garden is surrounded by a 2' deep bed .     

The front gate opens to the center path which goes through the garden to the back perennial beds. to the left are two center beds with squash, to the right are one center bed of peppers and one center bed of melons.

In the center is a flower pot and my whirly gig and in the far back is Heartstrings, looking over the garden.

This is the first path that intersects the center path. We are overlooking tomato plants down the path to my Three Sister Bed of corn, beans and pumpkin.

This is the second path to intersect the center path. It too is in the center of the Potager. Looking out from the bench, the peppers are to the left, the melons to the right.
Beyond the flower pot, the eight ball zucchini is to the left and the golden zucchini is to the right.
At the end of the path is one of two faucets my husband surprised me with in the garden. He cleverly put a hook above them so I don't have to hold the watering can while filling it. In the beds along the fence there are cucumbers to the right and basil to the left. And flowers tucked in here and there.
Beyond my garden you can see the sad remains of my old garden. This will become a lawn, hopefully this fall.

This is the third path that intersects the center path. The melons and golden zucchini are to the left. To the right is dill, greek oregano, roses in the close bed, and roses, wax beans and jalapenos in the far bed. The end of the row has flowers and cucumbers.
The low fence on the left separates this part of the potager from the back section which is going to be my perennial beds.

And this is the back path in the future perennial bed.
Since I got a late start and couldn't put in the perennials, now there is the two Ugli tomato plants (or as I like to call them, the Plants that took over the garden), zinnias and morning glories to the left and petunias to the right.
I love the way the petunias spill over the beds, so some strawberries will be replaced with petunias next spring.
I also love looking into the center path and seeing the zinnias in the back, so flowers will replace some of the asparagus next year.
At the end of this path is the second faucet and a clever fold down table made by my talented husband.  And a little blue Fisher-Price chair that was used by my 26 year old son when he was a toddler.

And this is a look back, looking over the zinnias back to the front gate toward the house.

There are also two paths on either side of the center islands, but it seemed a bit redundant to show you them.

Thanks for meandering around my garden with me!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jelly from the Potager


16 Jalapenos and one green bell pepper from the Potager equals 7 jars of yummy Jalapeno Jelly!

I have never made Jalapeno Jelly before so I did an internet search and chose this recipe from All Recipes:  

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Squashed Dreams

We've all heard the stories of the abundance of Zucchini - of people having so many, they leave them on neighbor's door steps, ring the bell and run away.
I want to have an abundance.
What I have instead is sickly plants.

The stems are split and gnarly looking.
I thought it was the dreaded squash vine borer, but I don't see the evidence of insect infestation.
And remarkably the plants are bearing squash. Just not an abundance of it.

My favorite this year has been the Eight Ball Zucchini. We have had these stuffed, sauteed, roasted and parmigiana-ed and they have been wonderful. You pick them at 3-4 inches. I will definately plant these again.

The Ambassador Summer Squash just hasn't produced that much. I think I've harvested three squash all summer. they have been tasty, but I was hoping to make zucchini bread to freeze for the winter.

The Zucchini Gold Rush has performed better, but lacks in flavor. Next year I'll return to crookneck squash.

I used one Ambassador Squash and one Gold Rush Zucchini to make a yummy Zucchini Bacon Quiche the other night.
I sauteed the zucchini slices with onion and garlic in olive oil and put it in a pie crust. Then I shredded some swiss cheese (maybe a cup - I really need to start measuring things!) and put that on top of the zucchini. I fried up four slices of center cut bacon and crumbled that on top. Then I whisked up 4 eggs with about a cup of light cream, salt and pepper and poured that over everything and baked it at 400 degrees until the top was nicely browned. I then turned it down to 325 until a knife inserted came out clean. It baked about one hour total.
Using fresh produce from the garden for your meal is what a Potager is all about. What's for dinner is what's ready to be picked.