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The Potager

July 23rd, 2018

This time of year, the potager is stunning. It’s a drift garden of sorts, full of things that spread and seed down. There are all different heights, textures, and the color schemes is predominantly dark pink/purple, greenish yellow, and white, with a few pink flowers thrown in as well.

Some of the key plants in this garden are: marjoram, creeping thyme, bronze fennel, asparagus, monarda, hollyhocks, limelight hydrangeas, and dill. There are also hostas and some tiny roses planted here, which will eventually be moved to other spots around the garden. This garden looks best at about 6-7 in the evening, when the low sun casts golden shadows across it and backlights the flowers and textures. You will find me looking at it most evenings during this time.

What’s your favorite time of the day to be in the garden?

Asparagus Season!

May 9th, 2018

We really enjoy asparagus, when we moved here, there was supposed to be an asparagus patch. It was overgrown with quack grass, and thus the asparagus was not happy. After a good weeding and mulching, we thought it would bounce back, it didn’t.

Two year ago, I started two heirloom varieties of asparagus from seed. Last year, I added 50 crowns of asparagus (25 of Jersey Supreme, 25 of Purple Passion).

They grew well all last year, this year we will be able to harvest a few spears. Newer studies show that asparagus actually produces longer if they are harvested in their second year.

Next year, I’ll replant the crowns started from seed in rows, I’m not sure where I will put them at the moment, perhaps in second rows alongside the current rows of asparagus. When I went to Monticello 8 years ago, I was blown away by the HUGE bed of asparagus.

A huge plot of asparagus foliage is a really show stopper in the garden. Since my asparagus will be behind a perennial border, I think it may be the perfect backdrop for a mix of roses, clematis, catmint, and other lovelies. You certainly can’t beat the perennial nature of asparagus, a vegetable you plant only once every 25 years or so is a big win in my book!

What’s one of your favorite seasonal vegetables?

Long Lived, but not Immortal

May 24th, 2017

There are many perennial vegetables, but that doesn’t mean that they are immortal. Often, long lived perennial vegetables exhaust themselves or slowly decline after reaching a certain age. There are many factors that contribute to this. My asparagus patch here has been on the decline, it’s pretty old. I noticed that it produces much later than my friend’s and the harvest is much smaller. This is after adding compost and amending the soil well. The plants have probably just exhausted their productivity.

Last year I started two varieties of asparagus from seed (Precoce D’Argenteuil & Mary Washington), they overwintered well and are growing nicely. I also ordered 25 crowns of each ‘Jersey Supreme’ and ‘Purple Passion’ asparagus from Nourse Farms this year. Both of these varieties grew in my Ohio garden and I was very happy with them.

It looks like I will end up with 75-100 asparagus crowns including the ones I started from seed, which will be more than we need, but neighbors never complain about it when you give them asparagus so I don’t think I will have any issue using it all up. One of the varieties I have is supposed to produce quite early, so I’m thinking about trying to maximize this by planting it in a space where I can cover it with a low tunnel for the winter and try to force an extra early harvest. I may also plant some early strawberries with it for an extra early strawberry harvest as well.

I’m always happy to add perennial vegetables to the garden, it’s nice to know that each spring I will have a lovely harvest of asparagus with not much input on my part. With a little maintenance each year, an asparagus patch will produce for many, many years. However, if your patch is on the decline, it may be time to cut your losses and start over.

Do you grow asparagus in the garden? Do you have a favorite variety?

Seasonal Eating

June 30th, 2015

One of the things I love about having an edible garden is the changes in our diet throughout the season. Spring dinner plates are filled with salads of leafy greens. When the weather turns hot and dry, the lettuce starts to bolt and get bitter. There’s never a lack of green on our plates, just as the lettuce is going by, the other summer vegetables are coming into full swing.
edible gardens 2
There are just a few spears of asparagus left to pair with garlic scapes, sugar snap peas, broccoli, summer squash and other vegetables. Stir fries become our main meals, filled with whatever is ready to harvest and paired with some kind of meat from the freezer, or local seafood. Here’s my recipe for Ginger Beef Stir Fry if you’re interested.
edible gardens 1
edible gardens 3
Having a vegetable garden, not matter how small, is a great way to get in touch with seasonal eating. You learn how good vegetables can be when harvested at the height of their maturity and eaten straight away. Vegetables at the grocery store don’t even compare to the ones you get from your own garden.
edible gardens 4
As much as I love salad, I’m excited to move on to summer vegetables. Broccoli and sugar snap peas are probably my favorites.

What are you harvesting from your garden this week?

Quote of the Day: Jessica Prentice

May 11th, 2014

“What if I had simply grown up in a time when food was seasonal? When there was, in each year, a time of more and a time of less? When food was not just there in packages on the supermarket shelf all year?”

– Jessica Prentice from Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection

Right now I’m hungering for asparagus. Every couple days I check the patch for signs of spears peeking out of the soil, every day I see nothing. It shouldn’t be too much longer, but it seems like it’s taking forever.
To me asparagus is the epitome of seasonal food, it really is best picked and eaten right away. There is a definite season for asparagus and I only eat it during this time unless I’m visiting someone who serves it. I love food that has such a short season and so long in between, it makes those few short weeks of gluttony so much sweeter!

What vegetable do you see as the quintessential season food?

Reading & Watching

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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.