The Potager

The Potager

Monday, July 30, 2012


I don't do hummingbird feeders. They need to be filled daily and washed weekly. I barely get my dishes done daily.
But Hubby and I do love hummingbirds so we plant flowers that will attract them.
I was deadheading in the perennial garden this evening watching the hummingbirds swoop around the Cleomes. I tried to photograph them, but they looked like this:
The bird is to the upper right of the Cleome. I don't have a really good camera, just a Sony Cyber-Shot.
So a little while later I was very happy to see the tiny birds take a break on the tomato cage holding my Ugly Tomatoes.
These are Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, the only kind we have around here. The one with her back to us is definitely a female. You can tell by the rounded tail with white tips. I think the other one is a young male.  Males don't get the red throat until after their first molt. Or it could be another female. I'm not a hummingbird expert.

The juvenile hummingbirds of both sexes look like a female. So my visitors may have just been curious youngsters out for an evening fly. I love the squeaky little chirp they make while flitting around.
These amazing little birds spend their winters in Mexico and the Caribbean. What an long journey for such a small bird!

I will always plant flowers for the hummingbirds.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Magic Beans

We finally had a harvest of Royal Burgundy Bush Beans for dinner tonight. After the rabbit had mowed them down, I am thankful for even the small amount I harvested tonight. I simply added corn to them to stretch the amount. As you can see in my rather blurry photo, Royal Burgundy's are purple outside, but green inside.
I originally planted these beans years ago because they were purple. One cannot buy purple beans at the grocery store, so I thought it was cool. But I was won over by their flavor. I grew these with green beans one year and truly preferred the flavor of the Royal Burgundy. They are also very easy to grow. I have never had any problems getting a good harvest of Royal Burgundy -  until our rascally rabbit that is.
It would be really cool if they stayed purple when cooked, but they don't. Some kind of magic goes on and they turn green when cooked.
If you are looking for a new bean to plant in your garden next year, try Royal Burgundy. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A wascally wabbit

I told you that something ate my beautiful lettuce. Well it returned. It mowed down the rest of my green beans. It ate the tops off my poor parsnips.
And my radicchio was just starting to head up ( while still not turning red) when half of it got mowed down!

I showed hubby. He said he saw the ground hog running away from the back of my garden with something green in his mouth. I've seen that too. But always from the back,  I never thought he could get into my garden. I walked around reinforcing any areas of the fence that looked like a ground hog could get in. Our ground hog is so fat. The few loose places along the fence were so tiny. Hubby and agreed that after dinner we would double check (four eyes are better than two) to see where he could be getting into the Potager.
When dinner was done we went back into the garden to see if there were any holes under the squash and were greeted by a horrible sight.
All the radicchio had been eaten while we were in the house eating our dinner!!! The nerve of this creature! Hubby figured it had to be a rabbit and he must be going through the wooden rays of the gate. Since everything that has been eaten has been in the front of the Potager, this made sense.
As it was getting late, he covered the gate with a sheet and said that would suffice until he could do something better.
I had my doubts about a sheet stopping a vegetable loving varmint, so I liberally doused the sheet with Deer Off and added my own little deterrent.
A little rubber snake amid the sad remains of my green beans.

Incredibly these preventative measures worked! No more damage until hubby could make something more permanent. As lovely as that sheet was.

A day or two later, he took a bit of left over plastic fencing from the garden and attached it behind the garden gate.

It doesn't look ugly, which I was concerned about, but if that is how the critter got in, it will be impossible for him to get in now.

And just in case it somehow shimmied under the back gate, hubby added an extra piece of wood to keep the critter out.
So far so good. Since he's done this, nothing has been eaten. 
Directly behind this eaten green been is a bean that was not eaten. Behind that are the  Royal Burgundy beans that were previously eaten. They have recovered and are giving us beans now.

The green beans  are getting new leaves and may survive (although I have to replant more than half of them), and the radicchio has perked up. I'm waiting to see if it will eventually need to be removed.
While I'm all for letting the wild animals graze in my yard, this rascally rabbit has gone too far! I'm hoping the reinforcements will make him search for food elsewhere from now on!
I'm linking this up to  at An Oregon Cottage . Be sure to tour all the gardens linked up there.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Two pumpkins hanging inside the box and outside
In the back bed, outside the fence, I planted three seeds - watermelon (sugar baby), pumpkin (small sugar) and a melon (I think Jenny Lind, I'm not sure). I wrote it down on a piece of paper, what I planted and where, but of course I got into the house and could not find the paper. Two of the three began to grow. The third did not. I took a guess and replanted the pumpkin seeds.

Fortunately for me, as they have grown, they all look different so I can now tell them apart. And it was the pumpkin that did not grow originally, but now I have pumpkin all over the place.
The biggest pumpkin on the path between the boxes

The leaves of the three plants look markedly different.
The large one is the pumpkin, the smaller one, which looks similar is the melon and the one that looks totally different is the watermelon.

 The pumpkin plant looks a lot like the zucchini or summer squash plants with the same big yellow flowers and is as prickly as they are, but vines more.
The pumpkin vine, growing out of the box, across the path, through the asparagus and into the Potager's Strawberry bed!
Twining through the pumpkin is a melon. While prickly like the pumpkin, it's flowers are smaller, and it's fruit is still very tiny. I'm guessing that the pumpkin grew so much faster that it shaded the melon and that's why the fruit is just starting now that it has climbed it's way out of the pumpkin's shadow. I have searched through the prickly tangle of leaves and haven't found any baby melons except the ones still attached to flowers and they are tiny still. I am doubtful we will have melon this year.
To the right of this flower there is a tiny melon, to the right of that is a larger pumpkin just starting out.
The swollen part under the flower will be a melon.

There are a few watermelons at this stage
The watermelon has very different leaves and, due to it's unfortunate run in with the ground hog, it is also just starting to bear fruit.

This is a small watermelon when mature, so I think it will not take as long as a large watermelon. It's possible the watermelon may ripen before it begins to get cold.

It's amazing how fast summer is going, isn't it?
This is the biggest watermelon, at about 2 inches
I wasn't thinking ahead when I planted these melons out of the Potager so they are protected by a mish-mash of whatever I can find to keep critters out. It's probably been working because the total effect is offensive to even wild animals! Note to self, be better prepared with extra fencing next year!
You may notice that there is a tee-pee in there. I originally planned to add wooden supports to the tee-pee for the melons to climb up. I never did that. So now it's another part of the mish-mash.  As ugly as it is, since that first ground hog attack, the melons have been unscathed, so it is working. It's proof that you don't need a well-laid out Potager to grow vegetables in. Just some good soil and water and a mish-mash of assorted fencing!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Foodie Friday - Stuffed Squash

This year I am growing regular yellow squash and One-Ball Squash. Like 8-ball zucchini, the One-Ball Squash grows round and should be picked while young. Both taste great, the variety of regular squash I am growing is very mild and buttery, so the one balls may be more "squashy" flavored, but still mild and tender. The regular shaped squash is more useful in things like kebabs or grilled vegetable sandwiches. The One-Ball shines as a stuffed squash. Both are great sliced and roasted or sauteed.
Like the 8-Ball Zucchini, the One-Ball squash is prolific, leading to my husband's nightly moan, "Squash again?" This squash has been cooked nightly every way known to man (and occasionally making an appearance in omelets in the morning.) My husband looks at me and says, "Did I ever tell you that I don't like squash?"
Too bad, hubby. The squash borer hasn't killed my plants yet and they are producing a lot.
In spite of careful spraying, before the summer ends, the squash borer always wins. So we must "enjoy" the squash while they are in abundance.
The adult Squash Borer - it lays the eggs that hatch into caterpillars that dig into the squash plant and kill it
So the other night I made up a recipe on the fly after work that used whole squash - stuffed. The nice thing about the One-Ball (and the 8-Ball Zucchini) is that when you stuff them, everyone gets their own individual squash. It's so cute!
I cooked organic ground beef with onions, peppers and garlic (all from the garden) and seasoned with salt and pepper.
While it was cooking I cut the tops off 3 squash and cut the bottoms only enough to level them in the greased baking dish. Then I scooped out the innards, leaving about a half inch of squash evenly all around. I didn't take photos of this because I was making this up on the fly and, not knowing how good it would end up tasting, I didn't know this was going to be posted on the blog. Sorry about that. When the beef was done cooking I stirred in an egg and some whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs and mixed all that together, then stuffed it all into the squash. I topped the meat with slices of Monterey Jack cheese, because everything tastes better with cheese. :)
I took two cans of diced tomatoes in sauce and poured it all over the squash, sprinkled it liberally with Penzey's Italian Seasoning and baked it at 350 degrees.  Like I said, I wasn't planning on putting this on the blog so I don't really know how long I baked it. Hubby and I went outside and did some work on the yard and then came in and checked on it and it was ready. I'm thinking 45 minutes? The meat was precooked, so it was only the squash that was baking. It was fork tender when done.
Not the best photo in the world, but this is what it looked like when done. It looks almost as messy as the counter I photographed it on. But it was delicious! I ate half and I was full. The other half heated up nicely in the microwave at work the next day.
And hubby the squash hater? He ate two.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bean Fungi?

My pole beans have a bean fungi - the kind that lives in the soil and kills off my seedlings.

I have pulled them out and replanted the beans, but I fear without innoculant, I will continue to lose them.

However some have survived and are beginning to climb the tee-pee. Maybe it isn't a fungus, maybe it was just the heat or bad watering practices. Who knows? I just hope I don't lose anymore. It's getting late to still be planting my pole beans.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Garden Update - Tuesday, July 17

Welcome to my Potager in the middle of July! I am harvesting cucumbers, swiss chard, squash, zucchini, beets, scallions and lettuce. The red onions, garlic and shallots have been harvested and are drying.
The jalapenos could be harvested, but I'm letting them get a bit larger first.

I have planted a lot of jalapenos so I can make a lot of jalapeno jelly! But that will be later in the season.
These babies will be made into poppers and used to season many dinners to come. Yummy!
The basil has been made into pesto and used to season many dishes but is in no danger of being over-harvested, in fact it's getting hard to keep up with.
The King of the North peppers I grew from seed are loaded with peppers that will be used soon. The plant my son gave me with banana peppers is ready now.

The tomato plants are loaded with green tomatoes. I can't wait for them to ripen! (But I will)
The leeks are finally fattening up. Well, most of them anyway!
The Rosa Bianco Eggplants are filled with flowers. No little eggplants yet.

There are three small pumpkins forming on my pumpkin vine! I'm hoping they survive to make our pumpkin pies this Thanksgiving.
The Ever Bearing strawberries are giving a small amount of ripe fruit daily. Not enough to do more than sprinkle on cereal. Which is fine, since the raspberries have just about stopped and I need some fruit for my Oatmeal!
I pulled out the collards. It was a lesson learned. They did grow well, but they definitely needed some protection. I need to improve the soil where they were with some manure and prepare it for some fall crops to be transplanted next month.
I'm not too sure about the broccoli. One of the three plants is starting to head up, but it doesn't look like a nice head. I'll wait a bit and see if it improves.
Thank you for stopping by. There is more growing that hasn't gotten to the picking and showing stage yet. But so far it is turning out to be a good year!
I am linking this up to  at An Oregon Cottage , where Jami's harvest makes me weak in the knees - If only I had more gardening space!