Travail d’octobre

Fall jardin

18 octobre 2017 mercredi

75 degrees, sunny

2 mph, w wind


Latter end cut down your Asparagus, and cover your beds with dung, plant Beans for spring, sow Cabbages… prick Lettuce into boxes, sow Peas for the hot bed, Radishes, turf this month.

-A treatise on gardening, by a citizen of Virginia, John Randolph, jr. (1727-1784)

The jardin potager at Fort de Chartres fared fairly well over the summer season but as autumn approached and is now fully entrenched, the difficult weather conditions have taken a toll on the fall kitchen garden. The pea and bean crops have shriveled in the dry heat and  lack of precipitation  and overall  extreme conditions have affected the germination of the fall sowing of crops. The most important garden work is the continuation of watering and seed gathering. Current cooler temperatures and recent rain have been most welcomed and we hope for better conditions in the near future.

Approaching the garden.

The recent discouragements do not prevent a fall Fort garden event in the Fort’s Trading Post, an Heirloom Jardin Potager to be held Saturday, October 21st, from 1-4 p.m. Stop by and visit for a discussion about fall garden activities such as seed saving, which seeds to plant in fall, and preparing raised beds for winter. Sample heirloom seed packets and informational flyers will be available to visitors in the Fort’s Trading Post on Saturday, as always.  Join me, as we continue that time honored journey, down the ever challenging but rewarding garden path!

Visit the jardin facebook page at, or check in this the garden blog for any updated information. Printable Jardin Potager Heirloom Saturday flyer: Fort de Chartres 10 21 17

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La fin de l’été

August harvests.

5 septembre 2017 mardi

72 degrees, partly sunny

12 mph, nw wind


Sow Cabbages, 10th, plant cuttings of Currants, Clary, Comfrey, plant cuttings of Gooseberries, sow Radishes, plant layers or suckers of Rasperries, Rosemary, plant out Strawberries, string your Strawberries, and dress your beds, plant Tansy.

A treatise on gardening, by a citizen of Virginia, John Randolph, jr. (1727-1784)

FdC Jardin Potager

Ete.  Summer.  Just the word “summer” here in the Illinois Country brings the feeling of oppressiveness, as heat and humidity are a constant companion. One can argue the garden becomes all about the art of watering and under a summer’s sweltering conditions, the raised beds of a jardin potager require careful executing of that art.  Luckily as September begins to stretch into its first week, the days and weeks of extreme warmth have finally broken and we relax our guard over the constant worry of keeping the garden watered, welcoming the scattered showers drifting across the region, signaling transition. The transition really began earlier last month, just as John Randolph’s eighteenth century garden advice for August urged:

Sow Cabbages, latter end Carrots, get your Cucumber seed, sow Cresses, prick out Endive, early sow Lettuce, Mullein, gather Onion seed… sow Peas for the fall, sow Radishes, middle sow Spinach, tho’ some say not till after the 20th, sow Turnips.

Hidatsa Winter Squash

The centuries old advice recorded above is still sound practice for our late summer garden endeavors as we plan and plant a fall garden here in the Illinois Country.  Even as the harvest of the summer crops of cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, onions, peppers, summer squash and watermelon continue, the summer season marches towards autumn with the first harvests of winter squash. Direct sowing of fall plantings of heirloom bush bean, beet, carrot, small bush pea, radish, and turnip seeds have been accomplished and as temperatures continue to cool, lettuces and spinach plantings will not be far behind.

Summer visitors. Photo by Ericha Johanning.

Over the summer months, Heirloom Produce Saturday and Fort visitors were welcomed into the jardin. Interpretation of and information about the colonial French kitchen garden were given, sample heirloom seeds packets were shared, and an ear was offered to all gardeners visiting to recount their garden stories. It is so interesting to learn of the seasonal peaks and valleys we each suffer in our yearly garden journeys and the connection and sense of camaraderie we develop by sharing these stories. To a gardener, the passage of time is measured in the triumphs and tragedies a pace of a season, as it has through the centuries here in the Illinois Country.

Wayne Wildey hoeing.

I had hoped that the story of this year’s garden would have been recorded more faithfully this season but the days have not seemed long enough to accomplish this simple task. Maybe one day I will be able to return to a more regular accounting of the garden’s season. While the jardin’s tale of successes and failures might be interesting, it is really not the only story to be recounted. What also has importance, especially for this gardener, is the help received during the course of the year. The assistance of volunteers always helps this jardinier have a garden story to share. Their efforts provide a solid framework of support that allows the work to move through the seasons. From late winter/early spring plantings of peas and spinach to the planting of cabbages, radishes, and turnips for the fall season, success and failure often rest on the simple garden chores of weeding, watering, and hoeing. Invaluable volunteer assistance this season was given by Jen, Jason, George, and Wayne, not to mention my husband’s unfailing help and support, and the enthusiasm and sheer joy of granddaughter Olivia. My friends Toni and Renea, along with others, have always offered a helping hand and kindly answered the call for assistance through the years and I am grateful.

James Adams’ new hay rake.

Also important in this heritage jardin’s journey are the lovely reproduction tools created and/or donated to the project, especially those by James and John. This garden has received gifts and support from many these past eight years and I am sincerely grateful. As we wend our way towards this season’s conclusion, the story of these volunteers is as important to this garden odyssey as the crops grown within its boundaries.


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Événements de juin

31 mai, 2017 mercredi

The jardin potager in May.

82 degrees, sunny

7 mph, NW wind

So much is happening at Fort de Chartres State Historic Site in the Illinois Country over the next two weeks! We have been busy trying to keep up with the usual seasonal garden tasks while preparing for important and exciting upcoming Fort events. I haven’t been able to find a moment to write a recent jardin update and time has flown since my last post the end of March. I promise a regular garden blog post mid-June, once the jardin schedule settles into the slower pace of summer.

FdC June Rendezvous

Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4, I will be in the jardin during the Fort’s 47th June Rendezvous. This signature event transports visitors back to the 1700s and this annual Rendezvous is the largest gathering of its kind anywhere in the Midwest, attracting many thousands to the site. Visit the June Rendezvous page located on the Fort’s website for event information and updates.  I will be interpreting in the garden throughout the 2-day event and I hope you stop by and visit!

And new this year, our jardin potager will be part of a five site French Colonial Gardens Driving Tour, Sunday, June 11, Noon-5 PM.  This new garden event is sponsored by the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve and Les Amis du Fort de Chartres. There will be garden tour flyers available in the jardin during the upcoming June Rendezvous. Plan a day trip on June 11th and enjoy a Sunday drive through the ‘French Colonial Corridor’ along the middle Mississippi River valley. Whether you begin your journey near Prairie du Rocher or Ste. Genevieve, these gardens and sites are sure to provide inspiration and enjoyment.

In Ste. Genevieve Missouri, see these historic gardens

Jacques Guibourd House Garden

Felix Valle State Historic Site Garden (Closes at 4 PM)

Near Chester Illinois, see this historic garden

Pierre Menard Home Garden

Near Prairie du Rocher Illinois, see these historic sites & gardens

The Creole House

The Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden Project  (Jardin Potager)

We hope to be visiting with you soon during June Rendezvous or during the garden tour when you travel to visit these gardens and sites in Missouri and Illinois, located within our historic Illinois Country.  A bientôt!


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16 mars, 2017 jeudi

49 degrees, cloudy

12 mph, SSE wind

March in the Illinois country jardin has always been somewhat of a wild journey, and this year is no exception. The mild winter has produced little snow and rain while temperatures drop from high to low and back again, similar to years reported in the some of the first accounts recorded of the Illinois country. As l’habitants planted their jardin potager in those early  gardens, they learned to judiciously clear and plant beds, careful not to risk too much too early. They discovered how to plant what, when, and where in their gardens in this new continent as illustrated below in the instructions on the planting of peas as written in one of the earliest garden books printed in the American colonies, sharing commonsense garden knowledge, just as wise now as it was then.

Pisum sativum. Le pois/Le pois commun
bibliotheque nationale de france gallica

“You should sow your Peas every fortnight, and as the hot weather comes on, the latter sort should be in a sheltered situation, otherwise they will burn up. I would recommend the sowing in drills about two or three inches deep, levelling the ground very smoothly with light mould, in rows about four feet asunder, for the convenience of going between, in order to gather the crop, and raising Cabbages or other things at the same time. In the spring let your rows be east and west, in the summer north and south, for a reason which must be obvious, viv. the giving them as much sun as possible in the first instance, and as little as possible in the last. When your peas are well up, they should be hilled once or twice before they are stuck; this not only strengthens them, but at the same time affords them fresh nourishment; the manner of sticking them every body knows; I shall only therefore mention a caution to put your sticks firm in the ground, otherwise they are apt to fall, when the vines grow rampant, and not to stic on them in too near the roots, lest you do the plant an irreparable injury. In the spring it has been found that scattering some dry cow dung in the trenches before you sow your peas, has been very beneficial.”

  • A treatise on gardening, by a citizen of Virginia, John Randolph, jr. (1727-1784)

As garden beds are prepared for planting, precipitation would be welcomed and appreciated. This past mid and late February brought the planting of peas, radishes, and spinach. As we travel through the month of March, it is time to direct sow heirloom beets, scarlet runner beans, cabbages, leeks, lettuces, and onions. Mid-month is also a good time to plant the flowers and herbs like celosia, snapdragons, parsley, and field poppies. The pruning of the jardin’s fruit trees has been underway and other timely garden tasks yet to be accomplished in our jardin include clearing the asparagus bed, pruning out the old canes of the gooseberry and currant shrubs, and dividing the garden’s fall blooming perennials.

Some of these March gardening tasks will be undertaken with the help of friends during the annual Fort de Chartres Jardin Potager Weekend on Saturday & Sunday, March 25 & 26. Visitors are welcome to join volunteers on Saturday at 10:30 AM. for a discussion about direct sowing seeds in the garden. After a break and until 3 PM, work will begin in the garden preparing raised beds and planting seeds appropriate for spring. On Sunday, volunteers will be working in the garden from 11 AM-1 PM. Sample heirloom seed packets will be available to visitors traveling to the Fort to celebrate the upcoming spring season. This event is free and open to the public. If you would like more information about the Fort or upcoming events, call Fort de Chartres State Historic Site at 618-284-7230. For more information about the Fort’s garden events, please email Carol at directly or follow the jardin’s FB page at

Note: I would like to thank the Northwest Historical Society of Jefferson County for inviting this gardener to speak earlier this month at their monthly meeting held in Byrnes Mill, Missouri. As a Master Gardener of Jefferson County, Missouri, it was a pleasure to share the history of Fort de Chartres, as well as the information on the eighteenth century demonstration garden located on-site. The presentation was well attended and I thank all for the wonderful questions about the garden and the Fort.  I was very happy so many sample seed packets and informational flyers were shared. Next to working in the Fort’s kitchen garden, sharing the histories of French colonial eighteenth century gardening and Fort de Chartres are a passion. Many thanks to all who attended and I hope they travel soon to visit in person the Fort’s jardin potager. A bientôt!

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Jardin événements d’hiver 2017

Jardin 2016 seed exchange (CK)

Jardin 2016 seed exchange (CK)

Fort de Chartres State Historic Site Heritage Garden will host two jardin potager events for early 2017.  The first event will be hosted by this garden curator and the event will include a seed exchange event on Saturday, February 18, from 10 a.m.-noon. The seed exchange will take place in the site’s guard room and free heirloom seeds and sample seed packets will be available. Bring your favorites or extra seeds to the fort and share your seed bounty while having an opportunity to select seed from the garden project or others offering their seeds. After a break, weather permitting, at 1 p.m. we will move into the Fort’s kitchen garden and learn how to prepare raised beds for the upcoming growing season and learn which vegetable and flower seeds than can be planted in February in the Illinois Country. Also, the garden’s fruit trees will be pruned for their most important pruning of the year.

2016 Winter Garden Event (EJ)

2016 Winter Garden Event (EJ)

The second garden event occurring late winter at the Fort is the annual Fort de Chartres Jardin Potager Weekend on Saturday & Sunday, March 25 & 26. Visitors are welcome to join volunteers on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. for a discussion about direct sowing seeds in the garden. After a break, work will begin in the garden preparing raised beds and planting seeds appropriate for the approach of spring. Heirloom seed packet samples will be available to visitors traveling to the Fort to celebrate the upcoming spring. À bientôt!

Mes amis dans le jardin. (CK)

Mes amis dans le jardin. Toni, Renea, and Jen-merci!(CK)

These events are free and open to the public. For more information about these garden events, please email me, Carol Kuntz, at or visit

For a list of the 2017 Special Events at Fort de Chartres, please check the Événements page of this blog. and if you would like more information about the Fort or upcoming events, call Fort de Chartres State Historic Site at 618-284-7230.


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