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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.