The Potager

The Potager

Monday, March 28, 2011

Haste makes ...a big mess

It was a big busy weekend for me, I had my whole side of the family coming to celebrate my Dad turning 80.  There was no time to garden. However, the seedlings coming up did need a bit of watering. I dashed out with my watering can Saturday morning, lifted the handle on the yard hydrant in back of the Potager (as my garden faucets are not on yet) opened the valve to fill the can and sprayed icy cold water down the front of my jeans. I finished watering and went in the house to change and prepare for the party.
Did you notice what I did not do?
I did not put down the handle on the yard hydrant. While the valve was shut off and there was no water coming out of it, the water was still coming into the hydrant.
That night it went below freezing and the morning of the party, we woke up to a flooded yard. Oops!

In the background, with the red handle, is the yard hydrant I forgot to shut down.

There was water surrounding two sides of the potager.

And the paths on one side of the Potager were also flooded.

What a mess.

Normally I hang out looking at the garden when I get done with my chores and I normally would have noticed that I left the handle up.

It was not a normal weekend.

But in the end, the garden and it's surrounds dried out, the party was a success and everyone had a good time. Maybe not a normal weekend, but a really good one, nonetheless.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Showing it's Age

This is the old planter that sits in the middle of the Potager. It once sat in my Great-Grandfather's yard.
It is old, perhaps as old as my father, or older. From this side you can see that it once had a rope like detail around the top. But that has all been worn away from decades of sitting outside.
This is my dad at three years old in 1934. He is at his Grandfather's house. Do you see the sheep lawn ornaments behind him? I have the one to the right of him, although the years have etched away the details.

The years have been hard on this planter too. My husband fixed a broken corner last year, but now this large crack has appeared in the lower corner. I'll ask hubby about patching it up. But I think it's time for this grand old pot to be spending it's winters somewhere warm - or at least sheltered.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seedling update

These are my current seedlings. I'll be planting tomatoes later this week. The guest bedroom was in use, so all the seedlings (except the onions that are hardening off) ended up in my bay window.

To the left are the California Wonder Peppers and to the right are the King of the North Peppers.

I'm thinking of planting 14 pepper plants total because I want an abundance of peppers.

So all of these will not make it into my garden.

I'm hoping 14 survive my inexperience.

(It was so much less stressful to go into a garden center and pick out a plant to transplant, but this is so much more fun. Fun and stressful.)

The Jalapeno M plants are coming along nicely. I'm hoping to get 4 to plant in my garden. 9 have sprouted.

To the far left are the Delphinium. 4 out of the 5 peat pot cells have flowers growing in them.

Next to them is the lavender. Only three of the five have sprouted.

The there are the Black Beauty Eggplants. 4 out of 5 have sprouted.

And to the right of them are the Rosa Bianco Eggplant. Again, 4 out of 5 have come up.

I planted two seeds in each peat pot cell. I am at a loss as to why the seeds in some cells never grow.

My cute little broccoli is to the left.  I might plant all 10 cells, if they survive.

To the right are my Southport Red Globe Onions.

This last tray holds New Red Fire lettuce in the front, Buttercrunch lettuce behind that, Ruby Cabbage and  Golden acres cabbage. The seedlings really lean toward the window every day. A light set up would really help them grow straighter, but it is what it is.

I purchased all these peat pots at a dollar store. I'll have to move the egg plants to bigger pots before they go outdoors. Maybe some of the others too. But it was an inexpensive way to get started this year.

And lastly my onions and scallions have been outside on the porch hardening off and attracting the curiosity of Binx.
One third of these spanish onions are in the potager under a floating row cover, since the temperature plunged after I planted them. They seem to be doing okay. At least we didn't get snow like North Jersey did.

Monday, March 21, 2011


A little surprise was waiting for me in the Potager tonight:
My baby asparagus I put in the Potager last spring are coming up! Of course, they are now only one year old plants, so it will be a while (years) before I can eat them.
I anxiously looked for signs of life among the older plants that I had transplanted in the fall, but there's nothing there . . . yet.

A happy return

Last summer we had a patio put in. The decision happened quickly and I had to scramble to move some plants that were in the way. It was the wrong time of year to be transplanting. There were no beds prepared to move the plants into. I gave away a lot of perennials.

I hastily put a few oriental poppies by the back garage. Within a week they were brown and dead looking.

But this weekend I found them coming up! They are some tough plants. I love nature's will to survive.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcome Spring!

 First day of Spring and the Crocuses bloomed today! I was just saying to my husband that we must have accidentally dug them up last summer. But here they are!

Some daffodils joined them! Hooray!
Spring has Sprung!

In the garden I planted another square foot of Turnips, 2 rows of Spinach and I put in some onion seedlings. It may be a bit early for the onion seedlings, but if they don't survive, I'll replace them. I didn't plant them all. This is my first year growing onions from seeds, so it is a learning process.
I planted the spinach in between the onions. They should be harvested before the onions need the space.

The radishes are already poking up through the soil, as are the turnips I planted last week!

No planting today as I'm cooking a birthday dinner for my Dad who turns 80 today! Next Sunday we will have a big family gathering to celebrate. So I'm hoping Saturday is warm and sunny so I can get the next bed turned over.

It's not easy being a weekend gardener.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Oxyalis (a 4 year old plant) in my kitchen window
To all of you out there planting your peas today, I wish you luck! I have to work, so there will be no gardening today. Just a Happy St. Patrick's Day from Debbie's Potager!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A New Compost Pile

Perhaps only a gardener will understand my joy this week.
I have a new compost pile - no even better than that I have a new compost structure.
This is what my compost pile used to look like:
Slapped together by me, held up with concrete blocks and made out of anything I could find. The pile on the left used to have walls - they blew down in a storm.
Construction is not my strong suit.

This past week, my husband made a new compost structure.

Three three foot by three foot sections - one for putting scraps in, one that's "cooking" and one to use, with a cute picket fence front that is actually three gates to access the piles!
Loads of aeration from the netting on all sides.

And I think it is just pretty!

How brilliant is this? (And how cute that he put the picket fence around the sides too!)

I was so thrilled that I didn't mind at all moving the two existing piles into the new bin.

Here is a view of the gate opened in the "ready for garden" pile.

And instead of in the middle of the yard, it is tucked neatly next to the fence behind a little birch tree (that used to be behind the old compost). To the right is my leaf compost bin.  I cannot tell you how happy this scene makes me. I love my compost pile!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pea Planting Day

They say March 17 is the best day to plant peas. Looking at the forecast, I decided to bump that up a bit and planted peas and some other cool crops Saturday in the Potager.
I used the tall tee-pees that hubby had made for the moon flowers and morning glories last year and added twine tied to earth staples pushed down far into the soil.
In this box I planted English Peas (Lincoln) with four heads of Oakleaf lettuce inside the tee-pee. In front of the tee-pee I planted 9 turnips. I'm planning on planting a square foot of turnips every week. I can eat 9 turnips a week, but I can't eat 54 all at once! The onions and the scallions spent the day in the garden with me, hardening off. I'm hoping I can plant them next week.

The box to the left was planted with Snow Bird snow peas. Inside the tee-pee are four heads of Freckles lettuce.

In the garlic bed, I measured out for square foot gardening. This bed was planted with 32 beets next to the garlic, the left side was planted with 32 Danvers Half longs, inter-planted with French Breakfast Radishes. The right side was planted with 32 Kaleidoscope Mix Carrots interplanted with Gourmet Blend Radishes (2009 seeds - they should be okay, I hope)
The center section was left unplanted this week. Next week I am hoping to plant some of the onions and spinach there.

This is the bed all planted out - the garlic is doing real well. All of the grocery store garlic I planted came up.
The three that I found in the compost pile sprouting did not come up. So that is something I will not do again.
While I was in the garden I trimmed back the roses. I hope I didn't over trim them. They were seriously over flowing the space they were allocated in the Potager.

I also peeked under the row cover to see how the cilantro was coming. It's still growing. No big growth spurts, but it's still cool out. I'm just happy that I didn't kill them off when I removed the mulch and added the compost!

All in all it was a good day in the garden.

To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds and watch their renewal of life -- this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do. 
-Charles Dudley Warner, author, editor, and publisher (1829-1900) 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Seedling Update

Just to keep up to speed on what's growing inside, these are the onion seeds I planted on January 22. They are about 5 inches tall and are looking healthy. I had to make a decision at this point whether to pot them up individually or leave them in the flat until I plant them outdoors. I decided it would be less stressful to leave them in the flat. These are Spanish Yellow onions.

That same day I planted scallions - Evergreen and Red Baron. None of the Red Baron germinated. The seeds were two years old. I know better now. Onion seeds don't keep.
This is what the Evergreen look like today.

I find it funny that several still have their seed "hats".

Both the onions and the scallions will be moving to the Potager at the end of the month. They are in a sunny window in my guest room/sewing room with no heat on. I'll harden them off in a few weeks.

Sharing the cold room with them are the broccoli seedlings. Aren't they adorable? They will be thinned out when they get their second set of leaves.
I planted these on President's Day, Feb. 21.

To the left of them are the Red Globe onions I also planted on President's Day.

They are growing nicely.

In the bay window in my living room, I have the warm room seedlings. In the foreground are Black Beauty Eggplant and behind them Rosa Bianco Eggplant. Both were started on March 1, but the Rosa Bianco took a bit longer to germinate. Only three of them have sprouted.

This sad little seedling is one of two lavender seeds that have sprouted from my sowing on February 26th. I tried lavender a few years ago and had no luck. I have also winter sown a bunch out in the yard. I'm hoping a few will make it to a plantable stage.

The Delphinium I started on the 26th has not sprouted at all and is still in the heated cabinet, along with my peppers. I planted King of the North Bell Pepper, California Wonder Bell Pepper and Jalapeno M Peppers on the 5th of March.

They should be making an appearance later this week.

I really need to plant some cabbage tonight. I should have done that last week. So little time, so much to do! I need to quit working full time and garden full time!

"I'm not really a career person. I'm a gardener, basically."-- George Harrison

Monday, March 7, 2011

It's almost time....

Ahh, the first weekend in March! Gardening season is beginning to move from planning to doing. This first Saturday was cloudy but hovered around 60 degrees. I turned over the four central beds to prepare them for spring planting. I was surprised how workable the soil was, thanks to the layer of mulch I had added.

I even found several healthy looking worms, which thrilled me.
(I'm easily excited)

I removed the mulch from the garlic and replaced it with a layer of compost.

They look good. I hope they bulb up. I just read that if you choose a variety that's not locally grown, they may not bulb up. Who knows where my grocery store variety came from.

I also removed the mulch from the cilantro seedlings I had sown last fall and replaced it with a layer of compost.

I then bent some old flower supports into hoops and covered the cilantro with floating row cover. They are tender little seedlings and I don't want them to freeze.

Note to self - buy some ground staples. (Although the copper pipe withstood the wind and driving rain two nights later.)

Lastly I emptied the dirt from the antique cement planter in the middle and replaced it with fresh potting soil. I then covered it with plastic to warm the soil so I can plant sooner. I am going to seed Nasturtiums in there this spring.

So now we are ready for Spring. I keep changing my plans on where to put things so I can't share that with you yet. Just check back and see what's growing!