The Potager

The Potager

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Garlic Harvest

This was such a warm winter that my garlic grew all winter instead of coming up in the  spring. I noticed  the leaves starting to turn brown in late May. But I left it in there until I could see that it was truly ready to be pulled.
But I may have been a bit late.
Several of the bulbs have no paper/ or the cloves have come off.  The above photo shows one that is growing a new clove out of it's stem. These are signs that the garlic was harvested too late. I will not be able to store any garlic that is not enclosed in that papery covering. I will let them cure for a few weeks and see how they look as they dry.
I am curing them on a window screen over the 3 sided box my bird's cage sits in most of the year. The box is to contain his seeds. I decorated it so it's not just a box, and he can look out the window to the front. During the summer he is moved to the screened porch.
The unused box makes a perfect drying rack for the garlic. Well mostly unused. After I had moved the bird outside, I came back in to clean up the seed mess and found this:
(Sorry for the cell phone photo.) Now Binx is to be found here most mornings, under the garlic, enjoying the morning sun. It's not easy being a hard working garden cat!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Foodie Friday - A celery substitute

I have heard it is difficult to grow celery. I have never tried it, and I probably never will. I don't use that much celery to begin with, and during the summer I have a secret substitution that grows easily.
Swiss Chard. I particularly love Bright Lights. The colors are so amazing! If you have a garden and have never grown chard, you need to try it next year. It is easy to grow and will not bolt in the heat of summer. When small the leaves are tasty in a salad and when full size it's a cut and come again vegetable.  According to June's Cooking Light magazine, a cup of cooked chard greens has six times your daily recommended intake of vitamin K, which helps with bone health. And having just had another birthday, bone health is becoming more important to me
Chard has two parts, the sweet tasty leaves and the crunchy stem. Because they cook differently, most recipes use one part or the other. Most recipes, in fact, use the green and say things like "discard the stems". What? Throw away a perfectly yummy part of a vegetable? Never.
After I use the leaves in something yummy, like White pizza topped with Garlic and Swiss Chard,
I save the stems to use within one day. There are plenty of recipes for the stems, but I also use them as a celery replacement in tuna, egg and chicken salads. Chard, like celery, is higher in sodium than most vegetables, and it is crunchy. It doesn't taste like celery (celery seems sweeter and saltier than chard to me) but when added to a salad it serves the same purpose. But more colorfully!
Simply slice and /or chop up the chard stems as you would celery for your favorite salad. Today I am making egg salad.
Do you see how beautiful they are? We could call this confetti egg salad! But we won't. It's just the color my egg salad is in the summer. Oh and this was taken before the mayo was added.
There it is, ready to eat. Yum, Yum. Next time you have chard stems left over, try using them as a celery sub. They are really good - and good for you!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


My raspberries are beginning to ripen!
This is my first year with them. They are also being eaten by an assortment of insects, both leaves and raspberries.

I am spraying with insecticidal soap, but I hate spraying the fruit. I need to read up on this again.
But in the meantime, I had a handful of freshly picked (bug free) raspberries on my oatmeal. Yummy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wedding Wednesday- We cleared the side yard

As I mentioned before, my daughter is getting married and having her reception in our back yard next year. I hope to occasionally keep you up to date with how we are preparing our modest backyard for the big event.
Shortsightedly, I never took a before photo, but my former flower garden was the overgrown mess between the patio and the fence in this old photo I found.
Hubby got his back hoe in there and totally cleared it out.
It looks so large now! We are getting a sprinkler system and having grass sown in the whole backyard, including this area. The bride-to-be plans on laying quilts on the grass in this shady area for guests to sit on and chat/take a break from the patio dance floor.
Hubby has already started adding his art to the fence. I love it!
I also love that I can once again see my Annabelle Hydrangea that was hidden for years behind a hedge of spindly lilacs, daylilies and weeds.
Next he and I will have to make beds around the perimeter and plant shade loving perennial plants that bloom in July. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I bought the wrong plants

I know I'm not the only one who has accidentally picked up the wrong plant at a garden center. Knowing that doesn't make me any less annoyed.
Saturday morning Hubby and I got up extra early and drove 40 minutes to watch the sun rise over the ocean. For those of you who prefer to sleep in on weekends, this is what it looks like:
It was beautiful. Worth getting up at 4:30 for.
Yes, there are young adults swimming. There were several young adults watching the sunrise. We were at Seaside Heights. My guess is they stayed up all night.
But I digress.
On the way home we stopped at Lowes. It was about 6:30 am. For those of you who like to sleep in, it may surprise you to know that Lowes is open at 6:30 am. I think it may open at 6. Home Depot also. However, the garden center gates were not open and there were no carts in the parking lot. So I walked over to the plants that were outside and grabbed a tomato (plum) and found the section that said Jalapeno. I saw the front plant also said Jalapeno and grabbed three. My hands were full, the plants were soaking wet and I didn't have a cart, so I never looked at the two other peppers I purchased. Until I planted them.
They are cayenne peppers. Oops. Now what do I do? I've never grown cayenne. I'll need to research growing and using this hot pepper. I don't even think I've ever cooked with a cayenne that wasn't in powder form.
I placed them by themselves in the back of the garden between the leeks and the squash.
So I am still missing two jalapenos. Another trip to Lowes is in my future.
Perhaps later in the day this time.

I've linked this post up to  at An Oregon Cottage

Monday, June 25, 2012

The flower Garden

The Perennial/Herb Garden is looking good this year. I am in the process of making a path, hence the black plastic on the ground. (It is there to kill the weeds underneath. Because I am too lazy  don't have enough time to pull all those weeds myself!)
The holder that held the glass bird bath now holds a lantana. I was going to do a hanging plant, but the cone flowers soon began towering over it. I think it's kind of funny looking, so I may move the stand and do a hanging plant in it next year.

There are more perennials growing this year, but I miss the way the zinnias looked. I may have to plant more. I hope it's not too late in the year. The transplanted roses have rebounded well and look lovely. We have had a deer in our yard this past week. But he hasn't found the roses yet. My plan was that if I had enough flowers that did not appeal to deer, perhaps the deer would not investigate to find things that would appeal to him.
So far so good. Having said that I expect the deer to attack this evening.
Every garden looks better with a back hoe beside

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Funday - Birdhouses

Hubby made me some decorative birdhouses for my Birthday.
Is this not the cutest birdhouse you have ever seen?

The day after he put them in the Perennial/Herb Garden, birds began flying in and out and bringing sticks.
Each of the three birdhouses is made of a cedar fence slat and so has a slightly rounded appearance. Each has a unique hole.  They are all different heights.

The birdhouses were a wonderful addition to the garden. I love them! (And the guy who made them for me!)
Hubby didn't make this birdhouse. I bought it in Cape May. But hubby did attach it to that pitchfork I bought at a yard sale last year that turned out to be totally useless.
How cute is that? The birds have been flying in and out of this one too. I once saw two fly in at the same time - one in the top hole and one in the bottom hole. Pretty funny birds.
But this one wasn't made for outdoors. It's already warping and coming apart at the seams.
(Just adds more of that rustic charm!) Still it is another nice addition to the garden.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Deer - arrgh!

If you come to my front door and notice a funky smell, I apologize. In spite of the fact that the deer have to walk onto my porch to get to them, they have eaten my beautiful geraniums flanking my front door.
So now I have to put Deer Off on my flowers. They also chomped down all but one sunflower by the Potager.
My friend tells me she plants things close to the house and the deer don't bother them. I fully expect to come out one day and find a deer sitting on my porch rocker sipping lemonade and asking "Wa's up?"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Foodie Friday - Harvesting Oregano: A Lesson Learned

I noticed this week that the Oregano was about to bloom.
Oregano is one of those herbs that taste better in recipes after it is dried. I do use it fresh, but you have to use a lot of it to get that oregano flavor we are all used to.
I read on the internet that the best time to pick oregano for drying is just before it blooms. So I went out into my garden and chopped down all my oregano.
Literally. I had read that if you chop it down it will grow back bushier. My oregano was two feet tall and rather unattractive. So I am going for bushier.
There was a little volunteer plant that I left in case the bigger one does not recover. Which I doubt.
I have learned that oregano is hard to control. A lot like mint. I think they are related. In any case, all that chopping led to a big basketful of fresh oregano.
It's about this point that I begin thinking, "What was I thinking?"
My internet source says to tie 4 -6 sprigs together and hang upside down in a brown paper bag with holes punched in it. It said label the bags. Which I did. (Because I have so many bags of herbs hanging that I may forget what they are?) You will notice that I have two bags. In my neck of the woods everything is sold in plastic bags. These paper bags came all the way from Medford, NJ, with my son on Father's Day.
So, if I bundle 6 sprigs together  and hang them in my two bags, that will take care of twelve, leaving... a whole bunch of oregano still to do something with.
I cheated and tied eight sprigs together. I'm so daring...not! Then I made two more bundles in the hope that I come across two more brown paper bags in the next few days. You never know. 
I also put a bunch in water to use fresh in the kitchen. Leaving.....a whole bunch of oregano still to do something with.
It's at this point , and after finding a few of the above, that I realize, it's June. I will have more oregano. 
This isn't a last chance to dry the oregano, it's the first of several. And so the rest of the oregano went into the compost pile. Wasteful, perhaps. But realistic. 
Lesson learned. Don't harvest more than you can process.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Garden Update

A brief update of what's going on in the Potager this week.
The snow peas and the sugar snap peas are still producing. The snow peas leaves are starting to turn yellow, so I don't know how much longer they will hang in there, especially with this mini heat wave we are having today.
When the peas get hard to find, they will be removed and replaced with more string beans. I have Royal burgundy bush beans and pole beans planted as of now.
I was hoping the peas would last until it was time to pick the beans, but I don't think that will happen.
The Collards.
This is my first year growing collards. Something is eating them.
I've seen the white cabbage moth flitting around, but no sign of cabbage caterpillars. Still I sprayed them with Thuricide and they still got eaten.
I've sprayed them with insecticidal soap and they are still being eaten.
That's as far as I will go with spraying. Even though they are considered organic sprays, I'm still not comfortable with the idea of spraying.
Maybe it's slugs? I certainly have a bonus of them this year. I don't know. I do know that next year the collards will go under a floating row cover. They don't need to be pollinated but they do seem to need to be protected! As for this year, I suppose that I can chop them up and cook them anyway and I won't notice the holes. But.... They just don't look appetizing to me. How sad.

I am happy to report that switching types of beets worked for me and I have a bunch of beets ready to be harvested. Yum!
I waited until Memorial Day weekend to put my tomatoes in but it was fine. They are growing well and I have a few little green tomatoes already.
I put in two beefsteak varieties, one cherry tomato, and early girl.
I have two that self seeded and I don't know what they are. One is doing well and has blooms, and the other is still very small. It may be replaced with a larger tomato plant if I can find a garden center that still has them.

I have little Jalapenos appearing on the Jalapenos I planted from seed.
That makes me happy!

I need three more. I will have to search out garden centers and stands to see if anyone still has them.

The King of the North Peppers and Rosa Bianco Eggplant I grew from seed are looking great. The peppers (and a cubanelle pepper my son gave me for Mother's Day) all have flowers on them.
I (so far) have won the war with the flea beetles on the eggplant. I had it under row cover until this week, and now it's being sprayed with insecticidal soap. Hopefully, it is big enough now to withstand any minor attacks.

The Bright Lights Swiss Chard is ready for harvest. It looks beautiful.

In addition we are still harvesting lettuces and herbs.
The garlic from last fall has been harvested.
There are more things growing that I haven't talked about.
But I will share all that another day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm back!

"Umm, hello...," she said sheepishly. Has it really been two months since I last posted? I totally didn't post about the great spring garden I had this year?
I'm sorry.
Many of the things growing when I last posted are gone now, happy memories of good food eaten.
The turnips were amazing this season. They were large, pest free and yummy!
Strawberries that we could not keep up with (not a bad problem to have)
The English peas clambered up the trellis that hubby made. They were sweet and abundant.
That corner of lettuce, now just a happy memory, fed us for two months.
But no worries, The Potager continues to feed us and those spring crops have been replaced with yummy summer crops.  There is a lot to see in the Potager, so stay with me. I promise not to disappear again!