The Potager

The Potager

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November Garden

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

The November garden is stark and bare, with almost no growth to bring me in daily. But there is a bit of life still clinging. The strawberries are still green and lush beneath their layer of straw, promising yummy berries come Spring.

The Roses, which will be moved in early spring, still show signs of life, although the leaves tell a different story and are falling off the branches rapidly.

There are a few red onions that summered over and decided to start growing in the fall. The turnips are still growing.

And one lone head of lettuce that didn't get the frost memo. It's not big enough for a salad for one, and I wonder if I can keep it going with frost protection until it is big enough to eat. Or is that just a waste of time.
The Perennial/Herb garden is bare too. Most of the perennials have died back, there is garlic and shallots planted in the former squash bed, now covered in wood shavings to protect them.
Most of the herbs are still growing. I picked most of the sage to dry it, so the poor plant looks skinny and half dead, but it's still producing green sage leaves. The parsley is surprisingly still growing well. I don't think mine has ever lasted through multiple frosts and a little snow storm before. The Rosemary will hang on until the temperature drops too low, as will the thyme. The oregano and marjoram are still green, and I don't think they lasted this long last year.
Tiny flowers still bloom unexpectedly. What a delight to find them.
Lenten Rose 
Miniature Rose

Inside the house, the carcass of the Thanksgiving turkey is slowly turning into a rich broth, simmering in a pot along with herbs freshly picked. Soon the turnips pulled up this afternoon will join some fresh store bought organic vegetables and make a lovely soup for a November dinner.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I fail at weather watching

I do not watch or read the right weather forecasts. I heard we might get snow Saturday night, but I never heard that it would rain all day Saturday. I had planned on getting all the veggies out of the garden Saturday morning. But it poured all morning. Hubby couldn't believe I didn't know it was supposed to rain all day. I never gleaned that bit of information from the forecast.
Around noon I heard something hitting the glass. I ran out front and saw sleet.
Sleet gathering on the ground! I ran back to my garden and began picking like a mad woman. The rain/sleet mix was numbing my hands, but I gathered everything that was fit for eating.
Peppers, jalapenos, lettuce and one turnip.
Flat leaf and curly leaf parsley and rosemary. I could have gathered more herbs but by then my hands were so cold and painful from the ice, that I couldn't move them.
That night it began to snow.
October 29 and we are having our first snowfall. That's unusual. We haven't even had our first ground frost!
The next morning the sun was shining and melting the snow away.  We have our first frost warnings for this evening. At least "all is safely gathered in" now.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Still eating from the Potager

We have not had our first frost yet. A friend who lives in the same town as me, but in a more rural area, has had two light frosts already. I am watching the weather closely and I think Saturday night's temperatures may be too close to frost to be comfortable. So I have plans to harvest everything I haven't yet harvested on Saturday morning and put the garden to bed. Just to have this weekend free of any other plans is amazing to me! This has been such a busy gardening year!
But for now, I still am enjoying what is left in the garden - fresh herbs, peppers ( hot and sweet), one Ambassador Zucchini plant is still going, lettuce, scallions and an occasional Juliet tomato. The turnips were attacked by bugs, so I'm not sure how they are doing. The snow peas didn't do as well as they had in the spring - I really only got a handful from them. I harvested a small basket of small sweet potatoes and about a pound of white potatoes that look funny but are quite tasty. We've eaten the last of the  stored onions and have about three garlic cloves left. This wasn't a stellar gardening year for me, to be sure, but I enjoyed it. I am still enjoying it daily!
Sweet potatoes roasted with rosemary and parsley, sauteed zucchini and a side of pork. Yum!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The battle of the Sunflowers

They were beautiful. Towering over the 6 foot fence, 10 to 12 feet tall. Cheery yellow faces following the sun.
At the end of summer the weight of their seeds made them droop over, looking like giant shower heads in the garden. We didn't harvest the seeds - we were enjoying the birds and squirrels gathering them. The thing I didn't know about sunflowers is that eventually the heads come crashing down, scattering seeds everywhere.  Smashed sunflower head on the swing - another on the pathway. They need to come down.
The trunks on these sunflowers were almost 3 inches across. I tugged and I pulled. Hubby came and knocked them down. But they still needed to be lifted out of the ground, have the soil knocked off their roots and taken out of the Potager.  Yes, those are my long handled clippers hanging off the sunflower stalk I was trying to cut. They are stuck there. This was no easy task!  I did about three sunflowers and gave up. Exhausted. It was late in the day.
The sunflowers may have won this battle, but they are worse for the wear. I will win the war.
Earlier in the day. When I have more energy. And a chainsaw.
And in case you were worried about the birds and the squirrels  - there are sunflower heads all over the yard tied to or wedged into trees, as little feeding stations. I hope they realize how hard I worked so they can eat this winter!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October Harvest

Three White Scallop Squash, 1 zucchini, a whole basket of jalapeno peppers and a basket of green peppers. It seems like the garden is giving one last hurrah before the frost! Sadly, there were only about five snow peas. They didn't do well in the fall.
We dug up some of the potatoes. They were a bit oddly shaped. But fried up with some of those peppers and the last of my homegrown onions, they were very tasty!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Perennial/Herb Garden in October

What a beautiful warm weekend we had - I did  a lot outside and in, but there is still so much that needs to be done! I spent most of one whole morning straightening up the Perennial/Herb garden.
While it looks nice in the photograph, the truth was the plants were all growing across the path and most of the flowering plants were spent or half dead.
I weeded and weeded and weeded some more. Fortunately they were mostly shallow rooted weeds. Then I cut back the sage in the herb garden and tied them into an aromatic bundle to dry inside. I then weeded all the strawberry plants that had spilled out of their beds and were taking over one corner of the garden. Who knew strawberries were so invasive!!! I thought the squash plants were dead, so I began pulling them up and cutting them back and I found two white scallop squashes hiding in the seemingly dead foliage. I planted the white scallop squash in the Potager. It went everywhere!
I pulled out mostly dead zinnias and cosmos, cutting the nicest flowers off and sticking them in an old can. I wished I read Gina's tips for saving flower seeds before I did all that ( click here to read : Home Joys) but I think I may still have some that can be harvested next weekend.
I pulled up the sweet potato vine that had spilled into my herb bed and was rewarded with a bunch of tiny sweet potatoes! These were later wrapped in foil and grilled with our steak for dinner and they were delicious! I'm looking forward to harvesting the ones in the actual bed - they should be much bigger!
In the space freed up by the missing flowers, I transplanted a peony that had never done well in the side yard. I'm hoping it will find the Perennial Bed in the garden more to it's liking.
I'm keeping the cage on it to remind myself that it's there in the spring. I also put in a bunch of daffodil bulbs to brighten the pathway next spring.
Earlier in the summer, I had taken some seeds out of the hollyhocks in the side yard and scattered them in the perennial bed and I was happy to see baby hollyhocks.
I hope they come back next year and bloom for me! I think hollyhocks are just beautiful.
By the end of the morning, the Perennial/Herb garden was looking much better.
I'm linking this to Tuesday Garden Party at 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

As summer wanes...

As summer wanes....
....Zucchini continues to grow- the energizer bunny of garden plants!
...the Herb bed overflows - purple pesto anyone?
....volunteer onions have sprung up - what do I do with these?
...the bell peppers are having their last hurrah - I may have enough to freeze some!
...and little tiny holly hock seedlings have come up - will they survive the winter?

"For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.  For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad."  ~Edwin Way Teale

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The last days of summer

Fall is coming, and the Potager is winding down. My crazy schedule this year combined with the weather made a less than successful gardening year. I never got all my fall garden plants in on schedule.  The gardener in me says, next year, next year,...there's always next year.
My lack of produce has sent me to local farm markets that I might not have otherwise visited. I found this cute little sign in a clearance bin for $3.00 at one market.
I got this Crimson Pygmy Barberry for $5.00 at another. The owner thanked me for rescuing a left-over perennial. We had one in the front of the house that hubby removed. I always missed that plant. Now I have my own by the perennial garden. I was a bit disappointed to learn that the birds don't eat the berries. I guess the taste isn't worth the thorns!
I also got this in a perennial sale shelf for $5.00. It had no tag and the gal at the cash register had no idea what it was or how big it would get. I'll give it a try in the perennial bed and see what happens.
Of course while I was at the farm stands I had to get some mums. I had taken out the overgrown cosmos a few weeks back. I also want to plant tulip bulbs in here. Hopefully the squirrels won't find the bulbs here and they'll be safe from the deer in the fall. The strawberry beds I put in last spring are very full of plants. I am looking forward to home grown strawberries this spring!
And to add just a bit more color in the Potager, I bought a purple hose! Of course, with all the rain we've had lately, the hose has just been sitting there as a decorative contrast to the marigolds, but the thin lightweight design should be helpful next spring.
These pops of beauty help hide the fact that the garden has lost some of it's charm. There are large empty spots reserved for fall crops that never were planted. The squash and the zinnias have been infected with powdery mildew and their days are numbered. The sunflowers look like giant shower heads bowing down over the garden and will also be taken down soon.  I sit in it and take notes of what worked and what didn't and what I will do next year.  Next year, next year...there's always next year!
 "But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness.  The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head ... The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on."
-  Robert Finch 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Garden Funk is over

I was so upset that I lost most of my tomatoes to blight. Then my cucumbers got something - all the leaves turned brown and the cucumbers on the vine shriveled up. Then the squash I planted later got squash worm borers anyway ( I thought I had planted them after their laying season, but that information was incorrect!). I turned away from my garden.  Literally. I haven't been in it other than to pick herbs and an occasional green pepper in over a week.
So tonight I was making soup for dinner (it's not cool here, I just had a roasted chicken I needed to make into something else) and wondered if there were any green beans left alive in the garden.
Oh yeah! In my absence the green beans that were struggling exploded with beautiful and tasty beans.
The turnip seedlings, that looked dead the last time I saw them, have quadrupled their size!
I have lettuce! Not as much as I planted, but there was none the last time I looked.
And a lone radish (I have no idea what happened to the other radish seeds)
And on those tomato plants that I trimmed back to within an inch of their lives, there is a non-blighty, healthy looking tomato!
There's even some cucumber recovery!
I guess my garden and I just needed a break from each other!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Winged visitors, small to large

 Grey Hairstreak butterfly - I love how the tail end looks likes the head
Unidentified butterfly, maybe Indian Skipper? Check out that long proboscis!
Hummingbird, edited to get this close up. However he did pose!



Saturday, September 3, 2011

Late Blight?

I think my tomatoes had late blight.

Even if it isn't late blight, it wasn't pretty. So the affected plants were pulled out and separated from the compostable stuff. They were thrown in a black garbage bag and put in the trash. Other plants were drastically pruned back to healthy stock, hoping they will survive.
Now my garden looks empty and I had to buy tomatoes at a farm market this morning.
Ah well,  "There's always next year!"

There is no gardening without humility. 
Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom
of the class for some egregious blunder
 Alfred Austin