The Potager

The Potager

Monday, October 21, 2013

Listen! the wind is rising,
and the air is wild with leaves.
We have had our summer evenings,
now for October eves.
~Humbert Wolfe, P.L.M.: Peoples, Landfalls, Mountains, 1936

Our crabapple trees are loaded with fruit this year.
I should learn how to make crab-apple jelly.
Not being big jelly eaters, would we even eat it if I did?
I have never seen the trees so heavy laden with fruit. Does this portend a cold long winter? Or is it just because of the extra watering the trees have had since the sprinkler system was installed in the back yard?

The Montauk Daisies are full and lovely. The bush missed a cutting and has sprawled to the ground, but the daisies keep it from looking bad. How could anything look bad with pretty daisies covering every inch of it?

Our Pampas Grass has no heads this year. It is over 6 feet tall and looks amazing, but I miss those fluffy seed heads. 
The Virginia Creeper which we've allowed to climb on our fence, and spend a lot of time trying to control everywhere else, has turned a beautiful shade of red.  This is one of those plants that got away from us quickly. It was a volunteer in a potted bush we bought at a nursery. We quickly learned that if you pull it out and then throw it on any type of ground, it will root and take off. I could see this covering Sleeping Beauty's castle in no time flat. But it has no thorns. And it is a lovely vine, when controlled.
Spring is exciting, and summer is glorious, but Autumn has a very special charm of its own. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hello,....did you miss me?
It has been a busy summer, and now look! fall is upon us.
The marigolds have taken over the garden.
 They are spilling into the paths and should be cut back, but I am letting them have their last hurrah. They are so pretty.
We are still harvesting cherry tomatoes, but the larger tomatoes all succumbed to cooler temperatures and died away.

The peppers are still producing, as is the lettuce and the Royal Burgundy Bush Beans.
We still go into the potager daily to harvest these and fresh herbs.
It is such a pleasure to have these fresh vegetables to put into our fall stews and soups.
The beets I planted did not do well and none of my radishes came up.
I think my soil may need some serious work.
Unfortunately, I had another surgery, a minor one, that is prohibiting me from lifting, so garden work is being pushed off again.
The swiss chard is doing great. We are just tired of eating it!
The flower garden is quite over grown, with flowers obscuring the path. But it has it's own end of season charm, so it is being left alone for now.
The fall garden should be very productive, but this fall gardener gets behind every year. I really don't mind my neglectfulness. Overgrown and neglected seems just right this time of year.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Garden tidying

It felt so good to be able to get back in the Potager and tidy it up a bit. I promise you I did no lifting or anything strenuous.
Hubby helped me by pulling out the finished pea supporter and the Old German tomato plant that was doing nothing. I was then able to weed all the beds while sitting on a little stool and side dress the plants with an organic fertilizer.
The cucumbers were cut away from the pepper plants and they are looking better already. There are plenty of cucumbers left.
I was able to plant beets, beans and some lettuce in the cleaned-up beds. I'm hoping this screen shades the lettuce without getting damaged until I can construct a more garden worthy structure. The screen should be on one of my windows.
I also got to do a little cleanup in my flower garden. Since it is not raised beds, there is not a lot that can be done from a stool, so there are still a ton of weeds in here.
Still it looks much better than before, almost like a place you would want to sit in to relax. A nice tidy garden. Ahhh. Now about the house.....

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I will choose the Season I Bloom, thank you!

My Lenten Rose is blooming. I thought these bloomed in late winter/early spring. This one was bought in bloom in the fall, bloomed all winter and then bloomed the next year, but not this past year. I thought it was dead. I guess it wants to be a fall blooming Hellebore! That's fine by me.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Japanese Invasion

The Potager, end of July 2013. It looks so peaceful. But...
I have been invaded.
My Zinnia's are covered with Japanese Beetles!
Ewww! Well at least it's only on my zinnias and not in my vegetables...yet!
I had planted Four O'Clocks to combat these beetles. I had read somewhere that they attract Japenese Beetles, who will feed from them and then be poisoned and die!
Pretty, but deadly! Or so I read.
I hope it's not poisonous to the bees that are always around it! I have never seen a Japanese Beetle on this plant. Maybe I received bad information. Or maybe the Japanese Beetles read the same thing and agreed to avoid the plant.
Or maybe it's because Four O'Clocks spend most of the day with their flowers closed up. Talk about sleeping in! I should look at night and see if any Japanese Beetles are visiting.
Not wanting a full scale invasion I am back to the tried and true method of knocking the beetles into a jar of soapy water. Not as cool as a poisonous decoy plant, but effective.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Convalescence and Cucumbers

Tomorrow marks the end of my two week post surgical convalescence. In my mind I thought I would be straightening up my garden or reading a book at the beach.
The first week I couldn't drive and I was in pain, so I sat inside in the air-conditioning.
The second week I was beginning to feel better, but I would get so tired from the littlest tasks.
Needless to say I never made it to the beach and only in the past two days have I done anything in the garden.
So what did I do with my time? I watched a lot of daytime TV and let me tell you, there is nothing good on TV during the day. I don't watch Soap Operas. I really don't care about celebrities, so talk shows were out. I began watching HGTV all day. HGTV is terrible! First of all, it should be renamed the Real Estate Channel, because every show is about buying or selling a house. Of its millions of viewers, how many do you think are actually doing that? 10%? Secondly, they play the same show all day long. One day, Property Virgins all day. The next, Property Brothers. All day. Then Love it or List It, all day. Get my point. It's awful! Thirdly, HGTV stands for Home and Garden Television. Garden? No. Early on the weekends there are landscaping shows, but they are entertainment. You really can't learn a thing from them.
This is what made me become a gardener 
This also taught me how to garden
I long for the days of Square Foot Gardening and the original Victory Garden. Practical information you could use. Hubby & I watched them every week when we were living in a rental and had no garden. They were great.

P. Allen Smith seems to be reruns cause I've seen them all. Victory Gardens hasn't been produced since 1992 and they only seem to replay the same bad ones.  I never saw any other gardening shows the whole two weeks in the TV listings.

Which leads me to today's post.

Having given up on Daytime TV, I began watching movies, and one day I was watching Julie and Julia. This would be the third time I had seen the movie. I also read the book and occasionally read the blog the book/movie are based on.
As I was watching it with my hubby, the scene came on where Julie is hosting a dinner party and lifts her fork and says, "Braised Cucumbers are a revelation!"
I sat up straight and said "Braised Cucumbers?"
Hubby said, "Eww, no. No."
But I had at the moment 12 cucumbers in my fridge and several more that could be picked. So I searched for Julia Child's Braised Cucumber recipe.
There were several braised cucumber recipes that people claimed were Julia's, but I eventually came across Concombres au Beurre, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If I remember my French right, that means Cucumbers in Butter. And they are baked, not braised. I guess that is why it took so long to find the recipe.
Take 6 cucumbers, about 8 inches long. Peel them, cut off the ends, and de-seed them. Cut them into 1" x 2" sections.
Place them in a bowl and sprinkle them with 2 Tbsp. white vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt and a pinch of sugar and let them sit 30 to 60 minutes.
Drain the cucumbers and dry with a towel. Place dried cucumbers into a square baking dish. Preheat oven to 375.
Toss cucumbers with 3 Tbsp. melted butter, 1/2 tsp dill or basil (I used dill from the Potager), 3 minced green onions (I didn't have any green onions, but I did have an onion in my garden that hadn't bulbed out yet, so I used that. I was short on the onions.), and pepper to taste.
Bake for one hour, tossing occasionally.
How were they? Good. They had a definite squash taste, like a cooked zucchini, only with that freshness that cucumbers have. They were firm, not crunchy, but a velvety texture.
The four of us ate the entire dish. Even hubby liked them!
Cooked cucumbers! What a revelation!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Big Spider

Fortunately the spider moved before my daughter and I walked into this!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Old German Germination Problems

In spite of all my other tomato plants being loaded with tomatoes, including the very weird Jersey Devil right next to it, this Old German tomato plant I purchased from Territorial Seeds has not had a single blossom. It's over three feet tall. I have no idea what would cause a barren plant. I checked the soil and it's not high in nitrogen. Does anyone have any ideas?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Potatoes, First Harvest 2013

We harvested some of our potatoes yesterday. (Hubby harvested and I supervised because I can't dig as I'm recovering from surgery.)
These were  Purple Majesty and Mountain Rose Potatoes. Purple Majesty is a mid-season and Mt. Rose is an early potato.
As you can see the blue were blue all the way through and the red ones were pink inside. (This photo was from this morning when we cut up the small ones to fry for breakfast.)
We enjoyed them for dinner roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and some fresh rosemary from the garden. The taste was so much better than store bought potatoes. From ground to plate was less than one hour. That is what it's all about.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

R.I.P. Binx the garden cat

Went to the vet with breathing difficulty. We thought he had a bone stuck in his throat. His X-Rays were normal. Vet sedated him to see if they could find anything and while under he stopped breathing. They tried but couldn't revive him. So sad.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Attack of the Killer Cucumbers!

Over grown beans
I have been so busy with wedding projects that I hadn't been in my garden for two weeks. Other than weeds and string beans that should have been picked weeks ago, things actually looked pretty good.  The swiss chard was tall and healthy looking, the tomatoes and eggplants looked right on schedule, there are baby squash and the okra looks ready to bloom. Everything looks great except...
Except my Cucumber plants have taken over my pepper bed!
My thought was that peppers need shade, the cucumbers will climb the fence and provide shade. Everyone will be happy.

I neglected to train the cucumbers up the fence and being cucumbers, they have just grown everywhere!
There is a pepper plant next to each of those posts, drowning amid cucumber leaves.

I will try and free them when I am able to work in the garden again.

Or maybe they can grow together. 

I may have to find out since I'm having surgery and won't be working in the garden for a week or two.

If there are no new peppers then, I'll have to take drastic action. I think I have enough cucumbers to lose a few.