The Potager

The Potager

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.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Wedding

The wedding day was hot and sunny. We set the ceremony up in the side yard, so most of the guests were in the shade. As you can see the lawn renovation worked perfectly and most of the flowers were in bloom.
I has asked my husband to bring home discarded doors. Hurricane Sandy made that happen. Builders who were remodeling were very generous. We used them for the bar menu, to hold photos of the happy couple growing up and we made an entrance to the aisle. You can see how my clever hubby stood these doors up in the middle of no where in the photo below.  It was a perfect touch.
Pipes pounded into the ground and attached to the doors. Someone asked us if they were just garden art. They really looked nice. And made a perfect entrance for the bride and her dad. 
My crafty daughter-in-law spent hours making all the flower arrangements and bouquets. We had thought about growing flowers for the bouquets, but decided against it. Wise decision. All the flowers we had planted with that thought bloomed a week later. We would have been so stressed out! We ordered bouquet flowers from Fifty Flowers and they were really nice. All the centerpieces were from Shop Rite floral department - two days before the wedding we went in and scooped up $150.00 worth of flowers. It worked.
We didn't bother with an arbor or altar. The Virginia Creeper covering the corner of the fence behind them and the trees made a perfect backdrop.
They did a tree planting ceremony (similar to a sand ceremony or a unity candle) My frined Sheila dug up a dogwood tree from her yard and they used that. It was really nice.
The bridal party went to near by Double Trouble State Park for photos.
The tent covered the lawn from the flower garden annex to the tree line. There was plenty of room under the tent for everyone. The bar was next to the house and they danced on the patio and played games by the garage. That tan building in the driveway is a luxury wedding bathroom trailer. It was airconditioned. It was very popular.

In addition to the flowers we bought at Shop Rite, we had planters with flowers and herbs at each table. We had read that herbs would keep bugs away and it may have worked because everyone said that bugs never bothered them. Hubby made the cute little table number birds. I plan to use the left overs as garden markers next year. I will also use the left-over burlap in the garden. 

The dance floor was so hot that other than the couple and parents' dance, no one danced until the sun went down. 
But then they partied until we had to stop the music because of local noise ordinances! Hubby figured out a way to string lights over the patio and they are going to stay up the rest of the summer. They look so beautiful.
 One nice feature about having a wedding in your backyard is that family pets can join the celebration.
Another is that when the wedding proper is over you can have an acoustic after-party in front of the Potager 'til the wee hours of the morning.
The wedding was lovely. Everyone said they had a wonderful time. I did see one of the photographers shooting pictures of the couple in my garden, but we haven't gotten any pro shots yet - all these were all taken by friends and family.
So all in all I would have to say that the backyard wedding was a success. The yard and the gardens looked lovely. It was a tremendous amount of work, but all my kids and my hubby pitched in and we did it. It was a great day.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer has officially begun

The cucumbers are ready and my first large tomato, this one is a Jersey Devil, has been picked (we've been getting some of the smaller tomatoes, but they never make it into the house to be photographed!)
We just sliced them and ate them with a bit of sea salt (the parsley and cilantro was added to the quinoa I was making.) The Jersey Devil tomato is interesting - shaped like a pepper and very meaty, with almost no seeds. There is nothing like a fresh picked cucumbers and tomatoes. Yum!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Garden Tours, part 2

My friend Sheila and I have birthdays separated by one day.  On that one full day, when we are both the same age, we go on a garden tour.
This year it poured. I'm talking buckets of rain, relentlessly driving rain, rain that washes dirt away.
But we had scheduled the day off so we headed up to Deep Cut Gardens in Monmouth County and were the only people in the garden that day.  :)

The vegetable garden was amazing - the plants were very small as it was mid June, but it was a true potager, with a mix of herbs and flowers and vegetables. It was huge! It was done in a circular pattern with slate raised beds and a pea gravel path. In the back were compost demonstrations. They were flooded, so we didn't get to see them. 

We ducked under a tree for a view of the rose garden and gazebo from near the library.

The rose garden was stunningly beautiful, but the rain had beaten down most of the roses.
Still it was so pretty and fragrant!

Sheila and I asked a worker what the half round structure was behind the rose garden and gazebo. We were told it was where there was once a swimming pool. He added "that may be where he buried some bodies, you never know." We were thinking he was strange, but found out in the library that the land belonged to a notorious mobster before the park department got it. It would have been good to know that before we asked the employee about the land! LOL!
They were working on the rockery, but what they had done looked very promising. I would like to come back and see the vegetable garden in full bloom and the rockery finished.
These flowers made me laugh! They are like fireworks!I'm guessing some kind of allium.

This is a county park and it is just beautiful. I highly recommend stopping in if you are in the area...
but maybe while it's sunny.