Posts Tagged With: potager

Bedding Down, or, What’s with the Raised Beds?

Ah, winter, when the garden is covered in slush and the mailbox is full of garden catalogs. I received my Gardener’s Supply Company catalog a couple of days ago and spent some time fantasizing about what a perfect-looking garden I could have if only I had several thousand dollars at hand. And this year, Gardener’s Supply seems to have more raised beds than ever. Continue reading

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We shared some skills!

Thanks to everyone who came to the Irvington Skill Share ‘Feast’ival today! I talked to a lot of great people–so many, in fact, my voice is demanding a cup of tea and a rest.

For those who want it, I’ve attached my edible landscaping handout to this post. Edible landscaping handout compressed

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Notes from the Vegetable Garden

I was out watering in the front garden this week, which afforded me time to review my kitchen garden. As a side note, we're well into a drought here. I am a super tough-love gardener; my plants get no coddling, no fertilizer except compost, and precious little additional water. If I'm watering the shrubs and fruit trees, you know things must be extra crispy. 


So I was watering the tomatoes, and I started thinking about what to do differently next year. This is a common mental state for me in the garden; for an activity that is so sensual and grounded in the moment, gardening requires a whole lot of time roaming through the fourth dimension and trying to extrapolate what the garden might be doing in two months or two years. And of course, next year is always shiny and clean, with no crazy weeds or drought or squash bugs in it–yet, anyway.

Things that I learned this year:
Keep the cherry tomatoes, lose the pear tomatoes. I love being able to pick the cherry tomatoes off the vine and eat them on the way into the house.

Don't bother with any other tomatoes except the cherries and the paste tomatoes. I know that's heresy in Indiana, but we eat a ton of the cherries and use the paste tomatoes for cooking. I often forget the slicing tomatoes. So I'll use that extra space for something else.

Don't use the tomato spirals with the cherry tomatoes. The tomato spirals are a support structure that require you prune the tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes swamped them early in the season. I'll use the spirals for the paste tomatoes and figure something else out for the cherries. Plant them a bit farther back from the walk.

Fewer green beans, more edamame.

Keep the zinnias; I like the color and they draw in insects.

Keep the leeks, but maybe buy transplants next year instead of starting my own.

Move the vining stuff to the back where I have trellises. I just allowed pumpkin volunteers to do their own thing in the back this year, so I had pumpkins in July and none now that we're moving into fall. 

Love the Mini Red Pony watermelon. Move it to the back trellises next year. 

Plant salad crops next year. I held off for a few years because we got good salad greens from Farm Fresh Delivery, but lettuce and spinach are so easy it's a shame not to grow them. 

More peas, plant them earlier, and then get the cucumbers in earlier.

Keep trying on the carrots. Good carrots require loose, sweet soil, and I'm just not there yet. But I'll dump more (chicken poop) compost into the bed this winter and use the broadfork, so that should help.

Keep clearing out the spaces around the fruit trees. The nasturtiums I planted under them this year did not do well, so try something else next spring. Plant daffodils around them this fall.

And finally, acknowledge that the lovely, immaculate French-style potager I envision in the front yard is simply not going to happen. Maintaining that beautiful picture requires a lot more time than I have to devote. My veg garden is still beautiful in its exuberance, so I'll just go with that more country, less formal style.

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Categories: In the garden | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The lusty month of May!

Happy May Day! Traditionally Beltane is a holiday celebrating fertility in all its stripes, which makes perfect sense when you take a look at what's happening in the garden. Plants are unfurling left and right, promiscuous weeds are attempting to take over, and the promise of warmer (and hopefully drier) weather is lurking on the breeze. So here's to "the lusty month of May," and the chance for us all to go blissfully astray!

In my garden, the tulips are in full bloom, including some gorgeous ruffled purple "Backpacker" tulips I bought at bargain basement prices at S&H last year. I also bought some fancy daffodils; they opened later than the others and are still blooming their heads off even as the geraniums are opening. The peonies are budding, the lilacs are starting to open, and the strawberries are blooming. 
I've created the new vegetable bed in the front yard with newspaper and compost. I think I'm probably going to have to weed along the path, though; I can see grass coming up there. All my fruit shrubs are in, and I'm going to fill in the maple tree/aronia/goumi bed with yet more strawberries. The fruit sticks are starting to leaf out, and once I get more mulch I'll circle them to make mowing a bit easier. I'm scouting for recycled brick to make a mowing strip around the big round bed too; it's tough not to fling mulch everywhere when I run the mower. 
I've started a load of tomatoes inside; they'll be ready for transplanting in a few weeks. I've also just started melons and summer squash inside. I've never managed to get a ripe melon by direct sowing, so this year I'm trying to get a head start.
In other news, Ginny's bathroom is finally functional! I have to add one more bit of trim, a threshold where the new tile floor meets the vinyl, and install a shower rod (as soon as I find one short enough), but then it's done. Huzzah! She's been really patient. 
The Chicken Coop Caper begins this weekend, with Dan and Mr. Roy coming out to kick a few tires and maybe get the framing done. Updates as they occur!  

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Categories: The garden year | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Planning for Produce

I've spent parts of the last few days refining my ideas for this summer's vegetable garden. I have seed from last year, and even though you lose about 10% germination each year, it's worth using it again. I have a lovely color-coded plan for the front yard, and I've ordered fruit trees and shrubs. 

Here, then, is my first go-round on this year's edible garden:
Fruit:
Dwarf Liberty and Redfree apples (6 to 9 ft tall at maturity, 2-3 years to harvest) Both of these are recommended by the extension service for the home garden, thanks to good disease resistance. You need at least two for pollination. 
Dwarf Lapins sweet cherry (6 to 7 ft at maturity, 3 years to harvest). A calculated gamble, because late frosts often kill the blossoms. But I love sweet cherries, and they often do better in the warmth of urban gardens than elsewhere.

Patriot blueberry (4 to 6 ft at maturity, 2 years to harvest). To replace the dwarf blueberries that didn't survive last summer. I do have three other blueberries out there that seem to be doing ok, so I'll see if I get berries this year.

Nero aronia (3 to 4 ft at maturity). A fruit-bearing shrub from Eastern Europe that's super-hardy and great for juice and jam. So I thought I'd give it a shot. 

Sweet Scarlet goumi (4 to 6 ft at maturity). Another unusual fruit-bearing shrub. The fruits look like small cherries with "unique sweet-tart flavor that hints of cherries, apples, and black currants," according to the catalog. I've heard good things about this one.  

Strawberries from various plantings already in the garden. 

CAS said "Where on earth are you going to put all those fruit trees?" The answer is that the dwarf apples go on the south side of the front yard, the cherry on the north side, the blueberry in the blueberry bed, and the goumi and aronia in the parking strip that contains a maple tree (both do well in some shade). The idea is to use productive trees and shrubs to frame in the garden, then use the space in the middle for vegetable crops. I'm also planning to underplant the trees with a mix of daffodils, comfrey, dill, and other plants according to permaculture principles (more on that another time).
Vegetables:
I already have seeds for:
Jewel Tone bell peppers
Little Prince eggplant
2 mixes of heirloom tomatoes from Renee's, plus a Cherry Sugar Sweetie
Cinderella's Carriage heirloom pumpkin (a flop last year, but worth another try)
Tricolor pole beans and Rolande French filet beans
Bush Blue Lake 47 beans
Sherwood leeks
Super Sugar Snap peas
Babette French baby carrots and Romeo round baby carrots
Crimson Crunch radish
Bush Sugar Baby watermelon
Cilantro, parsley, chives
So I'd like to add to my stash:
Baby Bear pumpkin (a reliable producer for me; I trellis the vines and get enough pumpkins for Halloween decorating)
Patty Pan squash (Renee's makes a tricolor mix)
Cabbage
Swiss chard
Cucumbers for pickling
Some Roma tomatoes for canning
Salad mix, possibly Little Gem lettuce (I have to admit, I'm not very good about staying on top of the salad crops)
Edamame (Amy F grew her own last year and raved about them, so I'm giving it a try this year)
Potato (Grew my own Yukon Gold last year and had a huge rush of accomplishment when I dug them up. I'm either going to grow some in a compost pile or use them to break new ground this year)
This looks like a lot, but once you factor in succession planning, the new growing space in the front yard, and the fact that I only plant a few of each thing (I am not, thank god, trying to feed a farm family of six completely from my garden or anything), it's a not-unreasonable mix. 
Of course, I may be singing a different tune in August, so stay tuned for updates. 

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Categories: In the garden, The garden year | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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