Potager Tour: Summer 2016

Last October, back when the podcast was in full swing (it’s just on hiatus!  It’s not gone forever!  Pinky swear!), I gave you a tour and brief history of the potager garden.

Then a bunch of other stuff called “life” happened, and I totally forgot to keep you updated on the progress.  So let’s fix that now, shall we?  We shall!  If you’ll just follow me, right this way, let’s go see how our fancy French kitchen garden is shaping up.

This tour actually started yesterday evening, did you notice?  I waited until the Golden Hour had come, and grabbed a wild and willing tour guide to lead us.  Here she is:

rocky portrait
Though she be but little, she is fierce! Our four year old tour guide has a plains coreopsis, and she’s not afraid to use it. So be careful you don’t step off the paths.

Ok.  Let’s get this party started.  Here we go.  The potager, from the house, looks like this:


See?  See why I waited until Golden Hour to give you the tour?  That light!  Don’t you just want to take a bath in it?  

Oh.  Right.  Our tiny tour guide is leading us down the path from the house to the potager, through the wildflower meadow that we planted to honor a special saint whose intercession we relied on to buy this farm.  Let’s follow her before she gets irritated.

So this wildflower meadow, built over our septic system’s tile field, is only in its second year.  But look at it!  It’s teeming with color and life and bees and flowers and butterflies!

field to potager

When I think of where it was this time last year, I just want to jump or cry or swear happy swear words or something:


Yup.  That was this same spot, 14 months ago.  I’m telling you.  Never underestimate the power of the combination of Pinterest + ambition + willingness to work hard.  

See?  14 months later:

potager one year

Can you even believe it?  I can’t.  Like, I sometimes feel self conscious for these blog posts, but I’m always so glad I did them later, because I can look back and say, “What in the WORLD?  We’ve done so much in such a short space of time!”

What?  Oh.  The tour guide!  She’s yelling at us impatiently!  Ok, ok, let’s keep walking down the path amongst the wild floooooooowwwweeeeerrrrrs.  In the Golden Hour.  Where everything is so beautiful you almost fall out dead.

Rocky flower field

Oh man.  We’d better get a move on.  Tiny Tour Guide don’t play.  Ok.  Moving along.  Right.  Here we are.  The potager garden.  Let’s take a look:


Isn’t dill just amazing?  Like, all parts of it?  The fronds, the flowers, the seeds, the smell?  I don’t know if it’s my Scandinavian blood coming out or what, but I agree with my Ma: when in doubt, add dill!

What?  We’ve stood here so long contemplating the quality of light and progression of wild flowers and deliciousness of dill that the sun has dipped below the trees and we have to pack it in for the night?  


Ok.  Well, let’s meet back here tomorrow morning, bright and early.  We’re in New England, so it’s light here in summer by 4:30 a.m.  See you then.


Good morning!

Last evening’s tour guide won’t be joining us today.  She is currently a wild haired tangle of curls and sweat still sprawled out in her bed.  So we’re going to have to go with this guy:

ken guide

Ooooh.  He looks like he’s not going to indulge our side trips.  Let’s not test him.

Ok.  The potager in morning light:

potager morning

I know it’s hard to judge size from a computer screen.  So let me give you some examples.  Our very first house in Dearborn Heights, MI (1,073 sq ft) could have fit in the fenced area.  Our second house in Olive Branch, MS (2,100 sq ft) could have fit in the fenced area (once the Dearborn Heights house was out, of course).  And I’m pretty sure our house in Simsbury, CT (2,186 sq ft) would fit in there, too.

So yeah.  The space is pretty large.  Like, big enough to literally fit a house in large.

What?  Our tour guide is giving us the stink eye?  Ok, then let’s go.  Down the path, through the wild flowers.  You know the drill by now.

potager front

So here we are.  Finally.  

Now there’s three places I want you to be aware of, because it’ll help with the rest of this long-winded virtual tour.  The first is the area to the left of the potager.  There’s a side field there which at one point was sorta kinda gonna be fenced in too?  and then digging got to be too much?  or I just made all that up and we added the field on later?  Anyway, I don’t know.  But it’s to the left of this picture frame.

The second is the the left of the orange umbrella you see in the potager proper.  

The third is the back left corner, which is juuuuuust cut out of the frame.

Got it?  Good.  Let’s go look at the field to the left of the potager:

Mae Field

We name all our fields with female names.  It helps with assigning tasks.  “Kids, go weed the field with the squash and kale” is less helpful to young humans who willfully refuse to learn how to recognize squash and kale as “Kids, go weed Jennifer” is.  

Not that we have a field named Jennifer.  That would be silly.

This one is Mei.  She’s named after the character from “My Neighbor Totoro“, because this is where we  knew we were going to plant corn this year, and Mei is very attached to an ear of corn at one point:

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 2.54.53 PM

My word.  She certainly is as dirty as one of my children.

Anyway.  Here’s Ken indicating that the corn is behaving as should be, namely, that it’s knee high by the 4th of July.  Which is pretty much all I know about growing corn so far.  Also in Mei are two kinds of bean (cantare and dragon tongue), snow peas, and some scarlet kale that is too small to see.

Now, on to that second point I told you to remember.  QUIZ TIME!  Where?  Yes, to the right of the orange umbrella.  Gold stars all around:

potato potager

Here we are with the umbrella to our left, and the herb box behind us (not pictured, because it refused to play nicely for the photographs).  The potager has raised beds, which help control nutrients, weed, temperature, and aesthetics.   In fact, the whole potager was the result of a challenge Ken threw at my feet one day, that vegetable gardens could never be beautiful.  

I think I won.

Anyway, we’re looking at two rows of baby bok choy (now harvested and sent out in this week’s CSA shares), wax beans, two potato boxes (tutorial coming this fall, should the experiment work), then four boxes of assorted cherry tomatoes, habanero peppers, and ghost peppers.

Ok.  Now on the point three- the back left corner.  Oh, what’s that?  You want to look at the lovely hand dug pond in the center of the potager first?  Well, twist my arm:

potager pond

Gosh, but that pond’s pretty.  We call him Rory.  Rory Pond.

Why yes, we are Doctor Who fans, why do you ask?

Ok, so off to the corner our guide is pointedly staring at in the above picture.  We got it, we got it, we’re heading over there right now.  Sheesh.

potager back corner

Back corner (it’s really hard to photograph this garden, by the way.  How do people for fancy magazines do it?).  The two boxes in the foreground, until last week or so, held our garlic and shallots. The next two beds are our permanent asparagus beds, though I may have broken about a thousand rules and stuck some cauliflower for the CSA in the one on the right.  

Next layer back are two more potato boxes, then eggplant, then broccoli and another herb bed.

So there we are.  The potager.  Feel free to wander around all you’d like.  Take some dill while you’re at it.  My Scandinavian ancestors insist.