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My Mom’s Potager

August 7th, 2011

This past Wednesday I went to my mom’s to work in the garden. The plan was to harvest all the potatoes and then to plant peas and fall broccoli, cabbage, kale brussels sprouts and cauliflower. It rained all night long the night before so we couldn’t plant or dig potatoes, but we could weed. We spent a couple hours weeding her, no longer tiny, potager garden.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that my mom and I cultivate this garden together. She has nice rich soil and plenty of sun, two things I’m severely lacking here at Chiot’s Run. Each year the garden has grown a little larger and has finally reached it’s final size – about an eighth of an acre. We have a good time gardening together, something we both enjoy. Last year she added the cedar sun shed in memory of her mother, who also enjoyed gardening.

Sometimes I wish I lived closer to my mom so I could spend a little more time working in the garden with her. I usually am able to make it over every week to put in a few hours of garden work. It’s about an hour drive each way.

Do or did your parents garden? Have you ever shared a garden with anyone?

28 Comments to “My Mom’s Potager”
  1. Sue on August 7, 2011 at 4:53 am

    I shared a garden with my ex’s father. We had a wonderful time working out there together. Sometimes the whole morning would pass without a word being spoken but we had an enjoyable time nonetheless. I miss him alot, but always have those memories.

    Reply to Sue's comment

  2. Janet on August 7, 2011 at 5:42 am

    both my mother and her father(both now no longer with us sadly) were great gardeners and I learnt a lot from them. Maybe it’s in the genes.

    Reply to Janet's comment

  3. Jennifer Fisk on August 7, 2011 at 6:23 am

    My Grandmother and Aunt always had a garden and put up a lot for winter. That was in the day before grocery stores were brimming with out of season or exotic veggies and chemical fertilizers were coming in. My parents always had a garden and put up tomatoes in various forms and at one time froze a lot for winter. That was in the day when the swing from chemical fertilizers to organic practices was just beginning. Now I’m gardening strictly organically and freezing veggies for winter.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  4. goatpod2 on August 7, 2011 at 7:47 am

    My Dad gardens and I help harvest it since I still live with my parent’s.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  5. Melissa on August 7, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Such a beautiful Garden! Really love the cedar sun shed!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  6. pam on August 7, 2011 at 7:58 am

    What an idyllic garden setting! My grandmother gardened.

    Reply to pam's comment

  7. kristin @ going country on August 7, 2011 at 8:12 am

    My dad had a garden in Alaska, in which he grew enormous carrots, and I remember my brother shooting at moose with his BB gun to keep them out of it.

    My dad now has a small raised-bed garden in Tucson, AZ, in which he grows a pretty impressive variety of food. Winter gardens for things like carrots and onions, and basically spring/fall gardens for things like tomatoes and peppers. Too hot in the summer, everything dies.

    It’s fun to talk to him about gardening such a different climate with such different challenges.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  8. Allison on August 7, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Your garden with your mother is gorgeous!! My mom shares a love of gardening and I wish I would have been into it more when I was younger with her ;)

    Question: I am trying fall succession planting for the first time and am curious how you mention peas. Are these a shelling pea? I’d like to grow some of these to make baby food with; will shelling peas grow if I plant them now?

    Reply to Allison's comment

    • Susy on August 7, 2011 at 9:00 am

      Yep, it’s time to plant peas for a fall harvest. Around here we usually don’t get frost to too cold of weather until mid-October. The peas produce quite nicely in fall because of the cooler weather. Every now and then we have an early cold snap that does them in and we don’t get any – but generally they do quite well in fall.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Allison on August 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm

        I am in the same area as you so I am going to give them a go :) Which variety do you like?

        to Allison's comment

      • Susy on August 7, 2011 at 11:49 pm

        I like Wando and Alaska – this fall I’m trying a few new kinds from Baker Creek (can’t remember the names off the top of my head.

        to Susy's comment

  9. Bertie on August 7, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I should plant a garden at my parents’ house. They live about 45 minutes away from me and have about 30 extra acres that they aren’t using. So I guess that I could have as big of a garden as I wanted. Their soil isn’t all that great though. Really heavy clay soil. It’s not so bad where their garden was and I could always improve the soil.

    Reply to Bertie's comment

    • Susy on August 7, 2011 at 8:59 am

      If you add lots of manure, clay soil is actually pretty good for most vegetables. Clay is actually very nutrient dense, it just needs some humus added to avoid water logging. The areas of my garden that are clay grow the most prolific vegetables (I’ve amended heavily with humus, leaves, etc).

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Katherine on August 7, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I share a garden with my mom in her backyard, only a block away from us so it’s fairly convenient. Her yard gets way more sun than ours, though it still isn’t full sun. Thins our 3rd or 4th year gardening there and we have vpbeen expanding and amending every year.

    Reply to Katherine's comment

  11. Wendy on August 7, 2011 at 9:59 am

    We never had very large gardens when I was a child, but we always grew something. This year is the second year we’re sharing our large garden with my husband’s parents (just next door). They have the full sun and space we need for growing things like tomatoes, corn, and potatoes. We grow things that thrive in shadier conditions at our house.

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  12. Kay on August 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    I grew up gardening with my mom in Pennsylvania. Now I garden with my 4-year-old daughter in California. She gets really excited about the worms and mixes up “special dirt” for the plants.

    Reply to Kay's comment

  13. Mistresseve on August 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I grew up around gardening as my mother, aunt and grandmother all had plots, but I was never interested in it until I graduated high school. My grandmother has long since passed on, and my mother gave up her garden a couple of years ago out of pure exasperation due to the groundhogs and deer. This year I helped her put in a small 4×8 raised square foot garden; closer to the house, hardly any weeding, easier to water, and, so far, the critters are too intimidated to come so close to the house. She is happy to be growing edibles again, even on a small scale, and I am glad to have had a part in that.

    Reply to Mistresseve's comment

  14. KimH on August 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Your Moms garden looks great!! Thats wonderful that the two of you garden together.

    My maternal grandmother had a garden that was almost an acre and I used to help her a lot when I came for the summer. Thats what really gave me my first love of gardening.
    My dads dad also had a gorgeous garden, though not so large as my other grandma’s, but they grew more diverse fruits, & fished & hunted for most of their food. They also gardened year round since they/we lived in the sub-tropics.

    I gardened with my mom several times over the years but most of the time I’ve done it on my own. Mom enjoys the fruits, but just didnt really get the bug my sister & I did.

    My dad also has a garden but he lived too far away to garden with.. 2000 miles nowadays..

    I also shared a garden with an old man (Old Man Myers we called him) who lived catty-corner to me when I first started seriously gardening when I was in my mid 20s.
    I bought the seed, he provided the land, and we both worked on the upkeep. He was like a grandfather to me & my kids and we enjoyed the hours in mine, his, & our gardens..

    My younger daughter who is 27 now gardened with me when she was little girl, and her sister had no interest at all then, but has one of her own today.. Yay! Its small, but shes out there Its a first step.

    I used to garden in a community garden & shared it with my Sorta-grands who were from 2-6 years old then, but now just have my little bit tucked in here & here at my house. They’re 6 & 10 now, but I still let them help me sew tomato plants and squash, & pick them too. They love it & so do I..

    I love sharing the good stuff!♥

    Reply to KimH's comment

  15. MAYBELLINE on August 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    My father loved to garden. My blog was started so he would be able to view my progress.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  16. judym on August 7, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I can remember “helping” my grandmother in the garden when I was very young. She wore an old fashioned straw hat or one of those Pioneer bonnets to keep the sun off. I really remember canning time. All the jars were taken out of the smokhouse and put in a large galvanized tub. Since our hands were small, we children had the chore of washing all the jars. How clean they were was debatable but we sure had fun in that hot soapy water!

    Reply to judym's comment

  17. Sincerely, Emily on August 7, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Your mom’s potager garden is stunning. My Gram has a garden at our house when I was young. My mom had veg and flower gardens. Then when my step-dad retired he took over the veg garden and mom still has flower gardens. I am going there next week. I know I will enjoy both the flower and veg gardens and I will work in them too. Emily

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  18. Kate on August 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    My parents have a large garden and our freezer was always full of corn, peas, and brocolli to last us the year. When I started gardening a couple years ago, however, I really wished I had paid more attention to my mom’s expertise while growing up!

    Reply to Kate's comment

  19. Johanna on August 7, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    My mother always had a garden. When I was little we lived in a 100 year-old Victorian in Iowa, and had a big sunny yard. My mother likes to tell a story about me toddling through the garden, grabbing vegetables and taking large bites before tossing them over my shoulder. She’d follow behind with a basket, and turn whatever I’d eaten into some sort of stew for dinner.

    When I was 9, we moved into a 1950’s ranch in a neighborhood known as “rabbit town”. We were about 2 blocks from a little nature park. That yard was fairly large too, but it was mostly shaded by a maple tree and a privacy fence. It also had a plum tree, and grape vines growing behind the garage. My mother dug out a vegetable garden in a single sunny strip that ran along the neighbor’s driveway. We grew green-beans, tomatoes, and broccoli. We also had an herb bed next to the back door (chives, basil, thyme, mint, and sage), and some rhubarb growing on a mound of dirt in the far corner. I spent my summers weeding, and hauling away painter’s buckets full of sod and yard waste. This was not a fun task, and I’d do my best to sneak away while my mother was busy.

    When I was a teenager, my mother and I moved into a fourplex with attached garages. She was really excited when the landlord told her she could plant things in the flower beds (he took care of the lawn). She put a giant pot of herbs on either side of the garage door, and hid rhubarb and a few tomato plants among the flowers.

    Eventually she decided that I was old enough to know my own mind when it came to gardening, and put me in charge of housework instead (she was single at that time and my brothers had grown up long ago, so I was expected to help run the household).

    Now I find that my interest in cooking is turning into an interest in growing my own food. I’d like to try gardening again, once I have the space and the time. But I don’t think my mother and I could ever enjoy gardening together, we both like being in charge too much :)

    Reply to Johanna's comment

    • Susy on August 7, 2011 at 11:52 pm

      Cooking was one of the main reasons I started growing food again as an adult. When I got into it my mom got into it again as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Susy on August 7, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Thanks for all the great stories about your gardening history and the people you’ve gardening with throughout the years – I really enjoyed reading them!

    Reply to Susy's comment

  21. Ecoteri on August 8, 2011 at 12:54 am

    I remember being fanatic about vegetable gardening when I was 9-10-11-12 and even older. My dad, who worked hard as a family doctor all day, would come home in the late winter and he and I would go spend an hour in the back (over the fence). Where he would wield the fork and I would pull out the roots of the couch grass. I would be crouched at his feet and he would turn over the sod and whack it, then I would pull out the long roots. I think we did this for a number of springs, then he and I would discuss what to plant and then get it into the ground.
    My Mom says that Dad’s gardening was a bone of contention between them, as he didn’t either thin or weed, by MY memories are of this lovely time when he was 40 and I was 10 and we dreamed together while working hard. I used to bring home bags of “poo balls” collected at the local horse stable, he and I would carefully compost them to enrich the soil.
    This spring, sadly, my dad died. And a week ago I went home to drop something off for mom, and to check out over the fence – as Mom had mentioned that she was taking the garden out. I just sobbed when I opened the back gate and found his garden fence torn down, the composts piled in a burn heap, and the garden beds ready to return to nature. It is so sad to have to see my Dad’s garden is gone.

    It has been 40 years since I dug in the garden with Dad, but still it is one of my most precious memories.
    Now, at my house, I have hardly any back lawn – it is totally filled with raised beds and green houses, and is lush with healthy veggies, just as Dad and I always dreamed was possible. Dad came up to see the garden a couple of weeks before he died, but was not able to get further than the back gate – a sad thing, as he would have been thrilled to see what we were doing.

    But I know that he can see what we have done, from where he is. Ssometimes, when you hold a dream close, you DO get what you wish for.
    Happy healthy food y’all

    Reply to Ecoteri's comment

    • Susy on August 8, 2011 at 8:38 am

      What wonderful memories to have of you & your dad – a great encouragement for people to garden with their children!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  22. katie on August 9, 2011 at 12:09 am

    I visit my parents and help them in the house and the yard every weekend (45 min away). Unfortunately mom hasn’t been able to garden for the last year or two due to increasing fraility. And this summer I’m working in Alaska while they are in Massachusetts and mom fell and broke and her arm and pelvis. Besides my husband, I miss them, my dog, and my garden.

    Reply to katie's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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