Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden

Un journal d'un Jardin Potager du Pays des Illinois

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 13)

Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden Annual Heirloom Seed Swap

13 février 2018 mardi

46 degrees, Cloudy

7 mph, SSE wind

February’s continuing periods of cold temperatures and wintry weather has contained most of my gardening efforts to the indoors. On a recent afternoon, my granddaughter helped me plant rosemary and lavender seeds, helping jump-start the growing season for those seed varieties that are difficult to direct sow in the garden. Always a pleasure sharing these gardening activities with her and it feels like we are sharing our hopes for the future, planting seeds together.

While I may not be working in the jardin just yet, that is not to say I am not busy preparing for the upcoming season. Saturday, February 17th, Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden will host its Annual Heirloom Seed Swap from 10 a.m.-noon. The seed exchange will take place in the Fort de Chartres Guards’ Room and free heirloom seeds and sample seed packets will be available for visitors. You can bring your favorite or extra seeds to the Fort and share your seed bounty while having an opportunity to select seed from the garden project or from others’ shared seeds. After a break and weather permitting at 1 p.m., we will move into the Fort’s kitchen garden and learn about the upcoming growing season and which vegetable and flower seeds can be planted in late winter in the Illinois Country.  If the ground is too damp to work in the jardin in the afternoon, I will stay in the Guard’s Room until 2 p.m. and will be happy to visit with anyone who stops by.

This event is free and open to the public. For any updated event information about this garden event, check the jardin’s FB page at If you would like more information about the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, call Dr. Todd Hamilton, Site Specialist, at 618-284-7230.

Hope to see you this Saturday!

Joyeux Noel

24 decembre 2017

29 degrees, snow

5 mph, wnw wind

With light snow falling across the Illinois Country, this anonymous jardin photo taken a few years ago came to mind. Wishing everyone a lovely Christmas and may it be filled with the joy of special time spent with family and friends, and appreciation of the season.

And a sincere thank you to all those that donated to our recent jardin SeedMoney campaign. $800 was raised, allowing us to meet and exceed our goal. Merci.

From this jardin to yours, sharing a little info about snow and the garden!

S’il vous plaît

15 novembre 2017 mercredi

The garden’s longest new bed frame prepared for placement earlier this year.

58 degrees, rain

11 mph, w wind

Mes Amis:

As we approach Thanksgiving, one reviews the many blessings received over the last year. One of our many garden blessings this year was the ability of garden volunteers to replace four of the garden beds in the Fort de Chartres jardin potager. These beds were created with lumber purchased from funds received from a crowdfund SeedMoney* Grant received in 2015 and much volunteer effort. With additional money from this grant, we were also able to purchase heirloom seeds used in the garden and in our sample seed packets offered to the general public throughout the year in our heirloom seed outreach program. I can’t tell you how much your continued support is appreciated and has been instrumental in helping this jardin continue on its path of interpretation of the area’s French colonial history through its historic foodways.

With the Fort site’s financial issues over the past several years, it is appreciated and recognized how so many have risen to the rallying call and given wonderful support to the site and its supporting organizations. So embarking on a crowdfund campaign at this time was given a lot of thought and not undertaken lightly and with great appreciation of all the site support that has been so generously given. But time waits for no gardener and the jardin potager needs to replace more of its decaying wooden beds and could certainly use some funds to help with its heirloom seed outreach project. It is time once again to ask for your support to accomplish these goals with this new SeedMoney crowdfunding grant opportunity. And thanks are given to Les Amis du Fort de Chartres for agreeing to be the sponsoring not-for-profit organization for this garden fundraising effort!

Fall jardin

At 11 AM CST today, the Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden Project crowdfund grant campaign goes live and we will have 30 days to collect online donations.  The first 50 campaigns to reach $600 in funds raised will receive an additional $400 challenge grant from the SeedMoney organization and the campaign can continue raising funds even after the $600 funding target has been reached. Again, the 4 week online campaign runs from November 15th to December 15th and you are asked for your support to help make history come alive through this heritage garden. Any and all donations are appreciated and they will allow our Fort de Chartres garden to continue to thrive, providing a window to the eighteenth century through its produce and the inherent beauty of a French colonial garden.

You can now view now our SeedMoney garden information online here and/or donate beginning at 11 AM today, December 15th.  Please DONATE now!

Update: The SeedMoney challenge grant website is now gone live online and you can donate through the link above now through December 15!

With heartfelt thanks, merci!

Carol, Volunteer Curator

Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden Project

*SeedMoney is a Maine-based nonprofit providing grants, crowdfunding opportunities and training to food garden projects across the country and around the world.



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

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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