Friday, May 11, 2012

Let's Talk About the Pot-AH-ger: It's Been a Long Time

The pot-AH-ger has been soooo very neglected on the blog and is crying out for attention. Okay, not really, tis me who wishes to post about the vegetable garden. The AH in the potager is what I say each time I go to eat a strawberry-ah then yum! The fact that I haven't been posting about the vegetable/potager garden does not mean that it has been neglected. Quite the contrary. In fact I somehow manage to fit in maintenance on the potager as well as a few gardens but all gardens are feeling about as neglected as the potager this spring. It has been a busy spring!

The strawberries are awesome! They are so awesome the chipmunks think so too. Do you see the bite out of the big one? Yup, the chipmunks have that sixth sense and know exactly when to nibble the strawberries. We have had a big problem with chipmunks this year and I hear we are not alone. I have taken to trapping them and the dogs have been killing them. Together we might get the population down a bit so the fruits and vegetables in the potager will be safe for us to eat. 

I grew June bearing strawberries this year. Actually, the plants were planted last year. We really didn't get any strawberries last year but this year we've gotten a whole bunch. I recommend planting June bearers over everbearers. The everbearers are good and sweet and you can pick a few over a period of months but you never really get enough to satisfy the desire for sweet strawberries. At least I didn't when I grew them years ago. With everbearers we actually enjoy strawberries daily and not just one or two. This is in spite of the chipmunks and a mold or fungus that has been attacking the ripe strawberries. If we don't pick the berries fast enough some of them are molding and turning gray; especially the ones inside of the above bed. The mold is very frustrating and I need to figure out the problem. For the most part the June bearers have been easy to grow and harvest and so AH yummy! 
The blackberries are beginning to change colors. Raspberries are also ripening and boy are they good! I ate one on Wednesday and wow they taste just like the berries my grandmother would feed me as child. This is only the second year for both the blackberries and raspberries and judging by the amount of new canes (which will bear fruit next year) the amount of berries will only increase with time. I'm so excited!
The tomato plants are getting big. There aren't any blossoms or tomatoes as of yet. I am also growing three 'Silver Fir' heirloom tomatoes in pots out front. I started those plants from seed and had great luck with the seeds. Those plants already have blooms and I am looking forward to tasting those tomatoes. The 'Silver Fir' tomatoes are determinate and not indeterminate. Normally I grow only indeterminate tomatoes (the plant grows indefinitely) and not the determinate variety (plants stop growing at a certain point and all tomatoes ripen at the same time) 'Silver Fir' is but I received a bunch of free heirloom seeds last year. When I sowed them in the mini greenhouse in March all seeds germinated and have grown into lovely plants. I am pretty sure I got the seeds from Seeds of Change but can't find 'Silver Fir' on their website; which I think is odd. I did a posting on Seeds of Change last year you can find here if you'd like more information. Perhaps they don't carry 'Silver Fir' anymore.
The lettuce was late this year. Odd since everything else was early. Usually we eat fresh lettuce every day but so far this year we've not eaten as much. It is most likely most of the lettuce will be used to feed the rabbits as I suspect it will start turning bitter soon.
The peas are quite tall and are finally producing. I just can't get the knack of growing peas. No matter when I plant them the peas take weeks and weeks to germinate. Then they are slow to get going and before I know it the weather is hot. Note the strawberry plants outside of the potager proper, those are the strawberries for the chipmunks-if only they'd stay out of the potager they could have all they want! Since we have dogs we like to only eat the veggies and fruits from inside of the fenced potager; which makes sense for obvious reasons.
The blueberry bushes are loaded this year. They like the new location of a well watered potager over a dry partly sunny ornamental bed in the Northside Shrub Border. The robins are anxiously waiting for these berries to ripen. I can't walk near the potager without half a dozen of them flying off and scolding me for intruding on their space. The robins are a big nuisance. I will soon be netting the blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. I don't mind sharing but last year we got only ONE blueberry  the whole season. That will certainly not work this year.

I have told you all about our chipmunk problem and I have also alluded to a dog problem as well, but I really haven't discussed the issues in detail. The chipmunks themselves don't cause half as much damage as the moose known as AJ and the ballerina known as Lady. AJ cannot jump so he barrels after the chipmunks-no fence or plant will stand in his way. He has destroyed daylilies, croscomia, hydrangeas, flowering tobacco, and peonies. What he doesn't destroy by trampling on his quest to catch a chipmunk (he never does catch them but does steal them from Lady when she catches them and acts like he caught the varmints) Lady will dig up. She has dug up Japanese maples, hellebores, a kerria, a camellia, and numerous other plants. I have finally gotten so fed up that we have begun outlining the gardens with the underground wire fence that keeps our dogs contained. Soon the dogs will not only be contained but they will also be limited to only grassy areas-that is my hope. That underground wire fencing system works well. Can you see AJ's collar with the receiver on his neck? He never goes outside without that collar on. Immediately after we (okay, Mr. Fix-it and the Jimster) installed the wire the dogs somehow just knew it and wouldn't even come off the deck! So far two large gardens have been wired but now the transmitter is not sending out as strong of a signal as it did when we initially installed it. The signal is enough to keep the dogs at bay for now but as we install more wire Mr. Fix-it is worried about the dogs going through the signal. All I am worried about are my gardens. We love our dogs but they can be really annoying at times. 

I have to tell you a funny story about AJ. AJ tries so hard to be a good boy but he is hard headed and not as laid back as my dear BJ was. AJ cannot jump and doesn't move very fast. He is a big stocky dog with short legs and is not a nimble dog at all. The other day he came up to the back door holding in his mouth what I thought was a stick. I told him to drop it and what fell out of his mouth? A stiff and straight as a board chipmunk! And he acted like he had the best prize in the whole world. His tail was just a wagging and he was smiling at me as if to say, "Aren't I a good boy???? Yeah, yeah, yeah!" He wasn't fooling me though. That varmint he had 'caught' had been dead a while and I'll bet 100 to 1 that Miss Lady killed it. That's okay, hopefully we'll fix the chipmunk problem so the vegetables and gardens will be safe for fresh eating....

in the garden....

Happy Mother's Day to my mother and all the mothers out there!

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. Awww, AJ looks so innocent, you gotta love him:) Sophie is pretty good about not disturbing the garden, but after I planted asparagus this spring, I noticed something dangling from her mouth--yep, an asparagus plant. Apparently, she thought it was one of the weeds she "helps" me dig out.

    I got an earlier start than usual on the vegetable garden this year, but yours is way ahead of mine--I can't believe those peas!

  2. It's nice to have helpers in the garden if they stay off the plants. lol Your dogs look great. Trying something new this yr. Strawberries in a bag. Couldn't resist, such a good deal. Berries are hanging up head high, so just have to watch birds. Just discovered an apple, first one. Peaches have finished, only 2 this yr. as a late cold spell messed with the blooms. Dug first planting of potatoes yesterday. They look good.
    Happy Mothers Day to all the mommies out there.

  3. Your pot AH ger definitely doesn't look neglected to me Tina. Very productive is what it is...
    I found a couple strawberries on one of my plants the other day ~ made my day. We don't have chipmunks so no worries on that front. My new neighbor has sprayed chemicals all over MY raspberry patch because it wasn't weed-free enough for him. So not happy right now. I'll be afraid to eat them if they survive...
    You must be busy 24/7 with all you get done in the garden!
    ps those underground fences do seem to work ~ a couple of my neighbors have them & I never see their dogs out. I would be putting one in too if my dog were digging up all my plants. Glad you found the solution. Have a great weekend.

  4. Your veggies and fruit all look great. I planted peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, celery, onions, carrots, radish and beans. The only thing that was up to any degree of worth was the peas and lettuce. With all the rain ever since I am worried I will be replanting but since we are to have 2 sunny days now and then another 4 days of rain, it will not be done for a while.

    As the mother of 4 of my wonderful grandkids I hope you also have a very happy Mothers Day, along with all mothers out there.

  5. Happy Mother's Day goodness the fruits and veggies look peas are the same way...hoping to get more veggies going soon...radishes have been the best.

  6. Tina, I just love dogs. Esp the ones in other peoples gardens! Hee hee... Zip is our daily visitor and he is pretty good. I do catch him watering a plant or two at times though. OJ kitty is the one I must watch. He will find a nice soft plant and decide it will make a great bed to snooze. Now Lilo kitty is starting to show up in the gardens to visit. He is pretty good thus far about staying out of the planters. I have seen him creeping through the Monkey grass planter and down into the ground cover of Vinca. I am sure he is scoping out the birdfeeder near by. He also gets a sip out of the birdbath. OJ does the same. We have decided they like Bird flavored water better then their fresh water at home... LOL....

    Your veggies and berrys look yummy. We have not even planted as much as a mater this year. Did not want to fool with them this year. Too much going on and with a 3 year drought, not worth going out to keep things happy with water... I shall get my veggies at the stand on the roadside. Yummy....

    Happy Mothers Day Tina and see ya soon....

  7. Those are the tallest peas I've ever seen. Everything seems to be doing well. Odd about the lettuce though.
    Too funny about AJ and the dead chipmunk. Yuck. I'll bet he did look proud. "You said catch them. I caught one." :-)

  8. I want to try blueberries this year, in pots. What should I know? Do they need a certain soil? Can I net them right from the start to keep the birds off?

  9. Sorry you have such a problem with chipmunks....Our neighbors have seen them in their garden, but I haven't seen them here. Funny how that works.
    You really have a nice variety of fruit crops. Hope the robins allow you to harvest some of those blueberries!
    See you this coming week!

  10. I love all your gardens!! We get such a slow start here with the crazy weather in Colorado.

  11. Thanks for posting about your potager. My dogs like to lie down near me so they have layed down in rows of plants, oblivious. A favorite treat of one of the dogs is fresh tomatoes right off the vine.

  12. Tina, great meeting you this week. Funny, but still no internet in this hotel. We are in a dead zone here and I am standing at the elevators trying to comment. Loved your post, what I can see of it.