Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden

Un journal d'un Jardin Potager du Pays des Illinois

Tag: Spring

Mi-mars

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 heritage@fdcjardin.com directly or follow the jardin’s FB page at www.facebook.com/fdcjardin.

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!

Joyeux Printemps, 45th Annual Fort de Chartres June Rendezvous

photo 2(10)2 juin 2015 mardi

62 degrees, Cloudy

4 mph, ENE wind

“Happy Spring!” This recent salutation from a friend is a fitting seasonal greeting and one to be shared with all. It is indeed spring in the Illinois country, running ahead in our garden paths with summer nipping at its heels. The mid-spring season bounty in the jardin potager has been fast and furious. The mostly cooler temperatures and rains have allowed a continuous harvest of our heirloom Monstrueux de Viroflay spinach, Long Scarlet radishes, Tom Thumb and Forellenschluss photo(21)lettuces, and asparagus. It has been a challenge to keep abreast of the harvest and ripening produce. Within in the past two weeks, the flowering and podding of Tom Thumb and Purple Podded peas and the maturing of Early Wonder beets are the new crops in our jardin. Hope lingers for a continued good harvest as we enter June and the inevitable warmer weather approaches. It is only natural to wish for a delay in the onslaught of heat about to overcome our region as is the norm. Those of us in the Illinois country often feel as if the season swings from early spring to mid-summer in the course of a day. For now, the spring garden can be enjoyed as it is thriving and full, demanding our full attention. The garden bed layout page on this blog has recently been updated so those interested can view the types and locations of heirloom varieties planted in the 2015 jardin potager.

But wait, the arrival of late spring in the Illinois country must also mean that it time for tn_fdcvous5068the Annual Fort de Chartres June Rendezvous held this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7. This year marks the 45th anniversary of this amazing celebration. Each day features opening and closing ceremonies, parades of military units, music, vendors, and food-truly a feast for the senses as one experiences the gamut of the reenactment community. Please don’t forget to visit the FdC Heirloom Jardin Potager throughout the June Rendezvous weekend with a tour of our heirloom garden on the hour, heirloom plant sale, along with free sample heirloom summer seed sample packets and flyers under the garden tent canopy. At our table in the jardin will be Jennifer Pressler with information on the Prairie du Rocher Garden Tour and Farmer’s Market to be held that weekend. The FdC Heritage Jardin Potager is part of this tour and we appreciate the invitation. And with the additional presence of the Master Gardeners of Randoph County to answer your garden questions also present under the garden canopy, we promise a gardener’s haven. We welcome you to the jardin potager and come celebrate the approach of summer with us and experience the June Rendezvous garden style!

A quick note and plea: as this spectacular event highlights the importance of the history of photo 1(9)southern Illinois, please note-sonnez l’alarme, sound the alarm! The Illinois State historic sites are under fire and we ask that you please consider taking a moment to voice your support of Fort de Chatres and other Illinois historic sites to the politicians and departments within the state of Illinois responsible for its operation and of the many worthy sites within state borders. One can understand the severity of the budget shortfalls in the state of Illinois, but at the same time, the investment of time and money that has created and preserved these sites should not be allowed to be in vain. Allowing sites such as these to shutter and close in a

IL State Contacts

IL State Contacts

short-sighted attempt to solve a long term problem, would waste valuable resources and place in jeopardy the preservation of the history that once gone is not easily recovered. So all of us, whether staff, volunteer, or reenactor, who love and breathe life into these sites, sharing the history and lore of our shared past, request your help by asking you to contact the Illinois state legislators to voice your support. Let’s find a way to keep Illinois’s vibrant and significant history alive!