The Potager

The Potager

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mystery Trees

A few years ago these weeping type trees began popping up all over the yard. They must have been in the yard a while, but we didn't notice them until they were at least 5 feet tall and very full. We watched them for a few years, then  decided they must be some kind of weed tree and removed the ones in our way.

My "removed" tree is now about 8 baby trees
 I should clarify that my husband removed the ones in his way. The ones in my way that I tried to remove grew back with friends attached.

It amazes us how many of these we found and still find to this day all over our yard.

We assumed they came from birds dropping seeds from one of our neighbors' weeping cherry trees, but they did not have the same bark, nor leaves similar to our flowering cherry trees. Then we decided they must be some native tree that just grows everywhere stealthily, without attracting much attention to itself.

The ones that we did not cut down were getting large.

This tree is taller than the shed it stands next to.
The lighter trees behind the pine tree are the same trees

But this week one of the trees bloomed!

It is very sparse and looks nothing like my grafted weeping cherry.  
The store bought grafted weeping cherry

However sparse it may be, I am enthralled! I am hoping that all the remaining trees bloom within a few years. How lovely when an ugly duckling tree turns out to be a graceful swan.

They know, they just know where to grow, how to dupe you, and how to camouflage themselves among the perfectly respectable plants, they just know, and therefore, I've concluded weeds must have brains.  ~Dianne Benson, Dirt, 1994

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One Week Later

Radishes - you have to love them. I planted radishes on March 17.  4 days later I saw this:
By the end of the week there was green in my garden!
 Yes, they need to be thinned (they were old seeds and I wasn't sure they would germinate) and yes those are sunflowers volunteering in their midst. The sunflowers will be moved. But if you are longing for green in the garden, radishes are the way to go.

The radishes aren't the only green out there! The Arugula came up the same time as the radishes (no wonder they call it rocket!) and while it's not as large leafed, I was impressed with the speed of germination.
And my asparagus is starting to come up. I should be able to grab a few this year, only there are only four showing right now. That wouldn't be a meal!  It's early yet. I can wait.
Although it looks like nothing's happening, the turnips, pak choi, spinach, peas and lettuce have all come up.
Unfortunately there seems to be as much green in my pathway as in the beds. We need to replace the mulch this year. It has decomposed to the point that things are growing in it.
So that's the garden update. Mr. Binx and I will keep watching for signs of new growth and let you know about it. Mr. Binx is a well behaved garden cat who has never stepped foot in any beds. His "brother" Smokey would use the beds as a litter box in an instant which is why he is banned from the garden.
In retaliation he uses all other beds as litter boxes. Sigh.

I am linking this up to  at An Oregon Cottage. Check out what other gardeners are doing this week. It is inspiring!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy First Day of Spring!

It has been a busy week in the Potager. English, snow and sugar snap peas have been planted, along with radishes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, pak choi, lettuce, spinach and arugula.
The roses, which were put in the Potager to prevent deer decimation, have been moved to the open perennial/herb garden because they were getting too big for the potager. I will wait and see how long it takes for the deer to find them before I spray them. There's nothing worse than bending down to sniff a lovely rose and smelling Deer Off! (Okay, yes there are lots more things that are worse, but I couldn't think of a better expression.)

The self seeded cilantro was moved into the "salad bed" next to the spinach seeding as they are good companion plants. (They look odd because I harvested them last week pretty heavily.)

It is rather nice to see a row of something growing at this stage in the garden!
The cilantro that I sowed back in February has come up also, which is good, because cilantro bolts so quickly that succession planting is the way to go.
The garlic is doing well and I am so thrilled at the shallots. All but two came up! (You can see them in the last photo below.)

Hubby made a bed on the north side of the potager for sunflowers and four o'clocks over the weekend. (This garden keeps getting bigger and bigger!) We loved the look of Sunflowers in the potager, but they really took up a lot of room and dropped seeds everywhere. Deer will eat small sunflower plants, so we will have to be careful to spray deer repellant while they are small in order for them to live outside the fence.

I still have more to plant that I just didn't have time for, chard, broccoli raab, bunching onions, and more. I'm hoping the nice weather keeps on all week so I can sow after work every day!

In the meantime, here's a happy First Day of Spring montage! Enjoy!

I am linking this up to  at An Oregon Cottage. Stop by and see what gardeners from across the country are up to.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Foodie Friday - First Harvest

This has been a wonderful week, weather wise.  It climbed into the 70's Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. My hubby and I have new bikes so we  have been enjoying taking a ride after work. And with daylight savings time, I still had time to turn over and prepare 4 of my 8 beds.
Thursday, I was talking to my son and he was saying how beautiful it was outside (73 degrees!). But here, only an hour away from where he lives, it had been cold and damp all day, never even reaching 63 degrees, a very certain reminder that it is still late winter. The kind of day that called for comfort food.
As I cooked beans and rice for dinner, I remembered that in the Potager there is some self seeded cilantro! I somehow never got to planting it in the fall, but nature took care of that for me.
So I harvested most of the cilantro and sprinkled it on the beans and rice.
The recipe I used was just from the back of the Goya can - it was delicious. I used organic red peppers instead of green because that's what I had. Hubby is a meat and potato man, yet he had seconds and said he didn't even miss the meat. We both agreed that what set it over the top was the fresh cilantro! Yummy!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

I came home from work last night to find the first daffodil of 2012! Welcome Spring!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Philadelphia International Flower Show

My older daughter and I went to the Philadelphia International Flower Show yesterday. It was a beautiful day to be out and about (and not at work)! We were able to walk from the parking lot to the convention center, and stroll around the block to Starbucks when we needed a break, without coats on. Lovely!
The theme this year was Hawaii, and there was plenty of orchids and tropical plants.

And Hawaiian Dancers
Me, by orchids, inside the big wave at the entrance
My beautiful daughter by some tropical plants

But I do not live in a tropical paradise and so I quickly found landscapes that spoke to my heart. I loved this little path through spring bulbs. I think paths invite you into a garden to explore. Of course, tulips are major deer food around here, if the squirrels haven't gotten them first, so I could never get this look.
But don't you just want to wander up that path and see where it brings you?

There were plenty of vegetable patches. Most in neat little rows, some all interplanted, and there was a wall full of lettuce! My daughter and I joked that the wall would be chewed up as high as a bunny could reach.
Cool tomato support system

So perfect - in a perfect world with no deer or rabbits
These turnips had to have been 8 inches across!
I just loved all the garden displays. I took photos of cold frames because I do so desperately want to build some cold frames and harvest greens through the winter. A gentleman suggested to me that I could find old windows on Craig's list. I may start looking.

And I fell in love with this shed - it's big enough for my husband's lawn mower and other man stuff and still room enough for my gardening supplies - and has a side door so I wouldn't have to climb over the lawn mower to reach the rake like I do now. 

Isn't it perfect? It's on clearance for only $6599.00! Sigh. Perfection has a price. One that I cannot afford.

I also did some shopping while at the flower show, of course! I got some seeds, my favorite gardening gloves 3 for $20.00, a cool garden broom that is like a cross between a broom and a rake for $20.00, 3 dozen roses for $10.00, some garden flags for the front of the house and this cute bird bath, which at $39.95 may not have been a steal, but it supported the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which hosts the Flower Show, so I'm good with that.

We also found a free wine tasting area - not just wine, but wines and spirits. I am not sure what that has to do with flowers, but it was a nice break for us. My favorite wasn't any of the wines, but a mojito. I am famous (in my family) for making a great mojito with my homegrown mint. (My secret ingredient is simple syrup as opposed to sugar). The sample mojito used sugar (you can taste the difference) and was a bit sweet - very tasty, but not as good as mine. But it reminded me of summer and the wonderful weekend mojitos to come! Yum!

We ended the day at a special event called Wedding Wednesday, because my darling daughter is getting married in my backyard!!! More about that later. 
We tasted champagne and cake (I had the best cake I have ever had - I couldn't figure out what made it so good. It looked like a pound cake with white frosting. It was actually a peach cake. Very subtle - really good. ). We also tasted food from a caterer that was not really good. You would think you'd bring your best to an event like this. All in all, we were looking for flower ideas and there were not very many florists, and not too much creativity. Really? At a flower show? 
I understand someone was getting married that night at the event, which my daughter and I both agreed was kind of sad and impersonal, so we didn't stay for that. We did make leis at the wedding event which was cool.
My daughter putting on her finished lei
All in all it was a lovely day and lovely to spend that much time with my beautiful daughter. The flower show runs through Sunday, March 11, if you have a chance to attend. It is so worth it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The first weekend of March

There is not a lot to do, this first weekend of March. The weather is cool, but not cold and I am chomping at the bit to get in the Potager and dig. But I do not want to damage my soil structure. 12 more days until pea planting day!
So I sow more seeds indoors - beets and peppers and hollyhocks.
And I work on projects outdoors with my talented hubby.
Hubs made a pea trellis for me and I strung twine on it. It is 36" high, enough for my 30" high growing english peas and dwarf snow peas. I still haven't decided if I need any twine to go horizontally. I'm hoping simpler is better. Then after I was done I folded it up and put it back in the shed. Sigh.
Then we tackled the raspberry bed. Hubby made supports and we strung coated wire between them. I weeded the bed and then mulched the raspberries with grass clippings. I also cut back the canes that were well over 6 foot long.  Since none of my canes bore fruit last year, I did not cut any of them. This year I will cut them after they finish bearing fruit. I also cleaned up the stray canes that were all over the ground outside the box. Raspberries really spread! I have to remember to keep on top of them or they will take over. You remember the thorns that covered Sleeping Beauty's castle, totally obscuring it from view in 100 years - that had to have been raspberries! It was nice to have them somewhat contained by the wires. It was getting difficult to walk around back there!

I will admit to digging a wee bit - I found this cute English Daisy outside the Agway and plopped it in the ground that very afternoon. It seems to be surviving.
I also potted two pansies and placed them by my front door, removing my winter decor. But the next morning, a hungry deer had chomped down the one easiest to reach. Now my pansies are liberally coated in ground cayenne pepper. Game on deer!
I also gave the decorative grasses by my patio a much needed haircut and topped off the compost pile with the cut grass. Now I am beginning a new compost pile and that one will sit for a long year. I have noticed that Mr. Binx spends a lot of time hanging out at the compost pile, keeping the critters out of it. Good garden cat!

I am linking this to  at An Oregon Cottage. Be sure to stop by and get your fill of garden dreams!