This was the potager in January, when it was below zero even during some of the daytime hours! It was too cold to finish the garden clean-up. There were only quick trips to get flats from the greenhouse for indoor seeding in the basement and to harvest the spinach growing in the polytunnel, sometimes impeded by frozen gates which required climbing the fence! No one was sorry to see January end and we had high hopes for the next month! February brought only 7 days of sunshine, so I captured one of them, an unusual day (the 26th) when it was clear, calm and precipitation free. If you compare carefully, you will notice that all of the old crops have been trimmed, buckets of compost have been carried out and just general tidying has taken place. However, there have been NO blooms yet, nothing planted other than a few seeds of larkspur and poppies sprinkled in the Cutting Garden, and nigella, lettuce and poppies sprinkled in the potager’s interior border. Even the chives have yet to emerge and often they are 3-6″ by now. That’s it…..no weeding of the berry rows, no hauling compost, nothing. We’re pinning our hopes on the upcoming month, and feeling very thwarted by the two that have already passed.
Does this look familiar? Practically the same view as in February, since March was almost sunless and unusually cold. The garlic has emerged, the chives are up 1″ and the wintered spinach without cover is showing new growth. The tree roses have been pruned and the greenhouse is nearly filled with baby plants. No sign of the peas, snow or snap peas, salad greens, or shallots that were planted this month when the first crocus bloomed. A few black-eyed Susans have begun to green in the cutting garden, but no sign of anything else. In the Deck, Addition and Front Gardens the daylilies are about 2″ tall and one hellebore has buds. Not a great report for March, but at least it’s not snow-covered!
Finally there’s several shades of green in many of the potager’s beds. Admittedly, this photo was taken at the end of a very wet April, as one can see water standing in the south path. But lots more plants are emerging, more seeds have been sown, some compost has been spread, and flats of plants are hardening off on the outdoor benches. The poly-tunnel has been removed, the garlic is 8″ tall. The growing season is definitely underway!
May was a busy, busy month, as always, with lots of seeding and planting. Peas are climbing the fences, the cole crops are bursting with growth, and the edging of violas is showing good color. There’s very little empty space left as first seedings of beans, carrots, and beets emerge to fill their rows. Harvests of early crops of lettuces, spinach, baby kale, bunching onions and other spring crops are a welcome addition to the menu. Temperature were still on the cool side, and the wet weather continued, preventing area farmers from planting. So glad for raised beds.
Space is at a premium as the first strawberries, peas, broccoli, snow peas, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic scapes, baby cucumbers, kohlrabi, fava beans, zucchini, and purple beans are added to the harvest list. Just as soon as something comes out, a new crop goes in. The daylilies replace the color provided by early tulips, and the vine crops are just beginning to climb their trellises. Thankfully, it’s been a bit drier, but not enough to get a truckload of mulch back to the potager.
July, and as the edging violas begin to stretch and rest, the marigolds shoulder the burden of providing color. The pepper harvest has begun, and beets, cipollini, the first Indigo Cherry tomatoes, Italian Red scallions, several varieties of summer squash, eggplant and green beans come into the kitchen. The peas have all been picked and frozen, so their fences have been replanted with baby pumpkins, more cukes, and French Horticultural beans. The first garlic, “Romanian Red” was dug this month, and the first onions harvested in an attempt to save them before rot set in. Yes, it’s still raining too much. See the flooded path lower left? Lots of leaves are yellowing from too much rain, and still unable to haul mulch. However, it was nice enough that the green chairs finally came out of the shed, and were enjoyed on any sunny days.
August felt like a transition month. The temperatures finally became too hot for the early cole crops, the lettuces not eaten have gone to seed, and we’re getting tired of green and purple beans! The tomatoes have gone crazy, the melons are filling the refrigerator (our & neighbors!) and fall crops have gone into the ground as other crops were harvested. The French Horticultural beans have formed a lovely dark green mound on their pea fence, and the Wando peas across the center path from them are almost to the top of their fence, too. Nearly 200 pounds of produce were logged this month!
Most noticeable to me is that finally, there are very few plants on the outdoor benches to still go in the ground. It’s too late to plant any more crops for harvest this year, so only a few perennials for the potager’s interior and exterior borders remain. The garlic and potatoes have all been dug, many of the trellis vines have been removed, although the later melons and cukes are going strong, joining the tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, and beans as the major poundage. The Wando peas have been picked, and the French Horticultural beans are beginning to have yellowing leaves. Over 300 lbs. this month!
Can we just go back to September? It was much more promising than the emptying canvas of October. The first frosts arrived, thankfully toward the end of the month, which brought an end to the prolific melon, tomato, cucumber, squash and pepper harvests. Most beds have been tidied, although there are still broccoli and asprabroc sending out shoots, kohlrabi and carrots available, and leeks and rutabagas to be dug. The pumpkins and gourds provided lots of autumn decor, and added to this month’s 184 lb. total.
November began and ended with a bit of snow, but overall it was a mild month, filled with laziness on my part. Other than bulb planting, storing away supplies and furniture, and a bit more tidying, I was a non-gardener! Leeks and carrots were dug, some salad greens and beets harvested.
This snow arrived a few days before Christmas, but quickly melted. December had below zero nights and below freezing temps for nearly two weeks, then two weeks of above normal temps. Other than digging the rutabagas and the last of the leeks, and harvesting a bit of spinach, kohlrabi and broccoli, the potager was ignored. It was too cold early in the month, and I was too busy later. So ends twelve months in the potager, but I’ve enjoyed looking at it through these photos. Next year’s vantage point needs to be selected, and there definitely needs to be more color added to the potager overall. (Those blasted dahlias would have helped!!!) So, I’ll spend some time studying more colorful veggies and edible flowers before I place my last seed order. Thanks for visiting the potager in 2019!