Début de l’été

Jardin Potager 2016 (CK)

Jardin Potager 2016 (CK)

29 juin, 2016 mercredi

85 degrees, Sunny

8 mph, SSE wind

Postings to this chronicle of a French colonial Illinois country kitchen garden have been sporadic this year and this writer begs your indulgence. Though writing of this garden’s progress has suffered, actual work in the jardin has not. The hectic pace of early summer has given away to a slower rhythm in the extreme heat of recent days. Summer in Upper Louisiana shimmers in the extreme warmth then steams as the countryside is finally awash in long awaited rains. All efforts in the recent kitchen garden have been focused on watering raised and melon beds while controlling weeds, nurturing the May and early June plantings of the summer crops of bean, corn, cucumber, summer and winter squashes, melons, and watermelon. Eighteenth century garden advice for late June and early July not only directs the succession planting or transplanting of crops but also advises “draw up by the roots all your weeds[1]or “if the weather is dry, gather up your herbs again for winter, such as lavender, rosemary, sage, mint, sweet marjoram, thyme, etc.  Take special care to preserve your plants from the scorching sun:  stir up stiff ground: continue to destroy weeds:  and give your plants gentle watering about their extreme fibres, which should be done at close of day.”[2]

Paintings (1769-1774)  A. N. Duchesne and the History of Cucurbita pepo (1770)

Paintings (1769-1774) A. N. Duchesne and the History of Cucurbita pepo (1770)

Reflecting on the first half of this garden year, the jardin potager has been keeping apace through the seasonal changes as late winter melted into spring and now the summer season has arrived in a tide of heat. The garden marks the season’s ebb and flow from its seeding through harvests, beginning with  late winter,  preparing the raised beds and the pruning of fruit trees, followed with the sowing of peas, spinach, and field poppies. March brought the sowing of heirloom beet, cabbage, carrot, kale, leeks, lettuce, and radish seeds, while April saw the first harvests of spinach and lettuces and radishes while succession planting throughout. To review this year’s  garden list of heirloom plantings, view the Jardin Layout page of this blog. And as our focus shifts to the garden in mid-summer, we prepare to handle the upcoming harvests and the preserving tasks awaiting us in this season’s duties. And by the end of the next month, once again we will be clearing space in the jardin, this time for the fall garden. These comforting waves of garden cycles annually await us, timelessly undulating in the winds blowing across the meadows and in the fields of golden grain billowing in the countryside.

Illinois country wheat.

Illinois country wheat.

The garden waits for no one, as its schedule it set by the vagaries of nature. We can only ready ourselves to be at its disposal, portending the signs it gives, reading its temperament as best we can. Just as it is in nature, politics often reflect the same patterns and the current model is no less demanding and confusing. One could compare heat paralyzing a region, bringing crops to a standstill as helpless farmers/gardeners watch their work burn in the fields where they were sown, to politicians in the midst of a budget crisis, freezing state funds, threatening the fabric and underpinnings of society. Both instances potentially wreak havoc in their wake. As an antidote to the state budget crisis, much time has been spent by volunteers at Fort de Chartres State Historic Site this season, volunteering to support the Fort and raising funds nurturing a historic site vital to the preservation of the cultural legacy of entire region. As part of these efforts, a fundraising effort has been undertaken by the not-for-profit Les Amis du Fort de Chartres, the Fort’s support organization and a longtime supporter of the Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden Project.

Kid's Day 2016 Rope Making

Kid’s Day 2016 Rope Making. (EJ)

Just as many of us are unable to resist the lure of unplanted garden beds, Les Amis is not content to stand on the sidelines and watch our site sit idle. They have agreed to sponsor the 2016 Special Events held at Fort de Chartres, keeping the site alive with activity and growth while bringing thousands of visitors to the Fort and the surroundings communities. Please support their efforts through their crowdfund campaign at RESCUE Les Amis du Fort de Chartres 2016 Special Events! To keep updated on the Fort’s special events in 2016, please check the list of events on the Evénements page of this blog or though the Les Amis du Fort de Chartres Facebook page. We ask that you visit and share in our history and excitement, helping our site grow!

Early summer, dill and carrots setting seeds while sheltering the companion planting of beans.

Early summer, dill and carrots setting seeds while sheltering the companion planting of beans.

Finally, on Saturday, July 30,, at 10 AM-1 PM, join us in the kitchen garden for a Heirloom Jardin Potager Saturday event, harvesting summer crops, sharing information on preparing for the fall garden, and offering free heirloom sample seed packets for fall plantings. Let’s celebrate the summer garden while anticipating the bounty of the fall season!  For more information and for current garden updates, visit the Fort de Chartres Jardin Potager Facebook page.

[1]  A Treatise on Gardening: By A Citizen of Virginia, John Randolph Jr. (1727-1784)

[2] “Encyclopaedia Britanica; or, a Dictionary and Arts and Sciences, compiled on a new plan. In which The different Sciences and Arts are dicussed in distinct Treatises or Systems; and The various Technical Terms are explained as they occur in the order of the Alphabet”. Vol II, 1771

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