Yes, I’m still growing food!

I can’t imagine the potager without a bounty of edibles!

With most of my focus on growing flowers for the “Growing Kindness Project” in 2022, and plans to expand it a bit this year, many people have asked if I’m planning to grow any food. That was my main focus after I sold the herb farm and built the potager in 2015. In 2021, my little potager produced 1500 lbs. of edibles. That was WAY more food than we could eat, especially since with Covid we’d had few guests for meals, no parties, etc. And, without company we weren’t working our way through the hundreds of jars I’d canned or the freezers completely bulging with food. Plus, admittedly I was getting a little bored and wanted a new learning experience. I pretty well had the scheduling and growing optimized. Thus, growing flowers for bouquets was a new, fun challenge.

I would miss braiding shallots, and they are so expensive in the store I’ll always grow them!

That being said, last year half the potager was still planted in veggies. I just didn’t write about them much because I felt I’d said it all in prior posts in prior years. It still produced WAY more food than we could eat and as usual we gave much of it away. The only things I canned were diced tomatoes, tomato juice, kraut, strawberry jam and pickled beets. I froze peas, fava beans, green beans, pepper strips, French horticultural beans, diced peppers and strawberries. We are well stocked with braids of garlic, shallots, bags of onions. We’re still eating lettuce, carrots, and leeks directly from the potager, and there are still cabbages and parsnips in a refrigerator bin.

There’s nothing like the anticipation of waiting for miniature melons to ripen to luscious sweetness!

For 2023, about 1/3 of the potager will produce food. There are some things I love to grow: miniature melons and the luscious EarlyDew, lettuces of all kinds, spinach, garlic, peas, beets, carrots, French Primor leeks, Royal Burgundy beans, various herbs. Since I built the obelisks, I may as well grow a cucumber or two (even though D doesn’t like them!) My Napa cabbage was beautiful last year; I just grew too much of it. Pac choi is tasty, and when it bolted in the heat made a great filler for bouquets! I adore the French Horticultural beans, and the timing to plant them on the pea fences when the peas are finished just works so very well, and they are basically no work until it frosts when they are picked and shelled indoors by a cozy fire. All pleasant!

French fillet bean “Velour”

I’ve just whittled down the list to the food we especially love to eat, the crops that produce a lot in a little space, things that are expensive in the stores, and the things I enjoy growing. I’d rather use my energy to dig holes for dahlias than for potatoes. I can buy lovely potatoes very cheaply, but beautiful dahlias are hard to come by! I no longer grow pumpkins because I can support local family farms and my freezer still has boxes and boxes of pureed pumpkin and squash for more pies than we’ll ever eat. We live in a major sweet corn growing area, so it’s senseless for me to battle the raccoons when often I can trade for all the corn we need. Fresh green beans are a must, especially the French fillet bean “Velour” and the hearty “Dragon Tongue.” I will need to can green beans, although my mother canned over 50 quarts last summer and doesn’t even like them so she said I can help use hers! And I do one batch of kraut every year. The strawberries are still established so those beds are a given, but there will be few tomatoes, no winter squash, fewer varieties of peppers. David loves kohlrabi, so those are a must as well. We really don’t need 6 kinds of summer squash, so one or two plants will be sufficient even with the “Zucchini Sugar Cream Pie” that was such a hit last summer being on the request list again by many.

So that’s the “plan”. The veggies will be there for the taking, but the FUN is in the FLOWERS!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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7 Responses to Yes, I’m still growing food!

  1. I enjoy growing flowers and they bring lots of pollinators in for the veg too. I recently started growing dahlia, they are so beautiful!


    • carolee says:

      Admire your blog, and your enthusiasm which comes through in your writing. Wasn’t a dahlia fan for years, but they really do play their part in the late summer garden. My very favorite is “Star Elite”


  2. Peg says:

    I admire your resourcefulness! And your energy.


  3. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I love reading your posts Carolee. Like you I want to enjoy my growing so intend concentrating on things I like to eat and that grow easily. My only caveat is that we are getting many more unusual weather patterns and events so what grew easily in the past may not do so in the future – I need to hedge my bets a little.


    • carolee says:

      Totally understand that…..I’ve given up growing all the “weird but fun” stuff…less energy, less time means I need to focus on what we actually like to eat. And we’re having different weather now, too…way more rain in winter and less snow cover…less rain during the actual growing season and it seems to come in huge quantities that are few and far between rather than an inch or two every week or so as in the past. I’m planting more penstemon this year…drought tolerant and the hummingbirds and butterflies love them.

      Liked by 1 person

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