The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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What’s Growing: Tomatoes and Little Princes

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I have not shared what’s growing with you in a long time for shame of the condition of my Potager! I have not spent enough time and energy on my own garden this year. You think it looked wild before? You should see it now! Yes, that is a giant weed right next to the rustic arbor (above). But really, I still find my sanctuary beautiful, maybe even more so for all its wildness. Purple Perilla, asparagus and horse radish gone wild …

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In spite of my neglect I still manage to harvest. Tomatoes are my now favorite food!

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I’ve declared Sungold cherry tomatoes a staple for the Potager EVERY year. They are candy.

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I love to cook cherry tomatoes down and freeze in half pint mason jars for a winter treat. To learn how I prepare them head on over to They Draw & Cook where I’ve illustrated my favorite recipe entitled “Summer in a Jar”. (It is also the artwork you see under the Artist Kathy Sturr tab.)

What’s for breakfast? A tomato sandwich, of course! You know Vegenaise is just as good, if not better, than regular ol’ mayo. (Yes, I am still on my plant based diet – 9 months – I am not going back to meat and dairy because I find the plant food palette delicious and nutritious! I do not find it limiting at all. I’ll share some of my favorite recipes with you one day.) We eat sprouted bread around here. It has become the norm.  I believe this is a Brandy Wine tomato – grown with sandwiches in mind.

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I’ll be making sauce soon, too, to freeze in quart mason jars.

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And freezer pesto! (Minus the cheese which I have always done anyway.) I just LOVE the purple basil – wonderful flavor! It looks beautiful with Sungold cherries or in salads or sprinkled over just about anything. It is part of a variety pack, Hudson Valley Seed Library’s Basil Bouquet Art Pack, but next year I am buying it straight. I am dreaming fields of purple basil.

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And we’ll even have squash! Now that I’ve cut down the Dill forest, there’s more sun and the squash are growing. I love this little two-toned squash, Zephyr Summer Yellow, from Johnny’s Seeds although I have yet to taste it.

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I spent most of yesterday harvesting garlic – yes, harvesting garlic. A little late, but better late than never. Besides, I hear sprouted garlic is the new garlic – higher in antioxidants with more nutritional compounds, although I have yet to venture further and try black garlic. My garlic, fully yellowed and even crispy brown, was growing in here … just to the right of the rustic arbor. Yes, that is Queen Ann’s Lace among the garlic. Yikes.

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I didn’t do too bad. Edible (and even sprouted), but I am very glad I ordered some garlic to plant this year. I went with a variety pack from Hudson Valley Seed Library. I am looking forward to trying some new varieties although the German Extra Hardy is my favorite. I needed some new stock I felt, anyway. I have been planting garlic for three? four? years now.

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I prepared the bed for the Fall, too – and even reclaimed my path!

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The Queen Ann’s Lace is GONE! I like to use grass clippings as mulch in the Potager since we do not treat our lawn with any chemicals. I’ll pile some compost – ready or not – and leaves on here, too, to break down over the Winter. Last year I didn’t prep any of my beds and I am so sorry. I will not skimp again!

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My beans are lagging way behind (are you sensing a trend here?). I managed to squeak out not one, but two, Dragon Tongue beans from one plant that lived through the ant farm. I love the colors! They looked so coordinated with Little Prince eggplants from Renee’s Garden, that I photographed them together.

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I grow Little Prince in pots in the Potager. I like them because they are perfectly sized for a serving of eggplant – not a whopper of eggplant. I would like to explore the world of eggplants further, though. Do you see that they are resting upon brick? Yes, impenetrable-to-weeds brick pavers that will be laid down in the center path of the Potager by ****fall. (I just couldn’t say that word!)

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I love that in gardening, you always get to try again next year. It is never final. It tastes good!

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What’s Growing: Purple Peas and Potato Seeds

In spite of the roaming and very hungry rabbit herd, I actually have harvested a few things from the Potager for myself!

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The garlic is now hanging to dry in my shed.

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I planted Purple Podded Peas from Hudson Valley Seed Library. Each year members are asked to grow a different heirloom seed by the library, and then to collect some of the seed and send it back to the library. This way heirlooms are grown in and spread about various places so the plant varieties live on. This year the chosen seed is Purple Podded Peas, a wonderful dried pea that was absolutely beautiful growing on the vine. I just recently harvested the pods I let dry (on the vine). I cannot wait to make a homemade split pea soup with these! – though I can wait for the colder weather to do so, even after our recent heat wave.

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Purple Podded Peas

Speaking of heirlooms, I did not realize that potatoes actually produced seeds! Did you? Most potatoes no longer set seed as this trait has been bred out. I planted a variety pack from Wood Prairie Farm called Potato Blossom Festival.

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Potato Seeds or Berries

So far no signs of damage from the Squash Borer Moth on my cucumbers and squash. I hid a bean bush in there that the rabbits didn’t find and actually picked my first few green beans!

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Cucumber Tower

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Cucumbers beginning to form.

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Squash Towers

The asparagus has been tossed about in recent high winds and chopped off by, yes, again the rabbits, and still the first year fronds manage to fill out.

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I’ll be making salsa verde soon, minus fresh chiles from my garden. The peppers have been picked almost to death (again, the rabbits) – maybe they’ll make a come back. I am hopeful. They are now secured within open-ended black, plastic pots. The cold frame is covered with plastic potting trays for the same reason – actually a rather nice shade cover – and is planted with beets, carrots, turnips and kohlrabi.

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Tomatillo

So far, a couple of the artichokes, surrounded by zinnia and nasturtium, look promising. I sure hope they flower – last year they dried up!

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The pole beans are not-so-mysteriously missing from this bean tower. Morning Glory climbs up it instead. Third round of sowing seeds … maybe this round will make it?

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Potted eggplants – a container variety from Renee’s Seeds called Little Prince – next to purple perilla which has seeded itself throughout the Potager.

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Container Eggplants and Purple Perilla

Volunteer dill has been left to run wild through the Potager.

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I have been training the trumpet vine over the rustic arbor. It has doubled in size this year.

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Trumpet Vine Campsis ‘Flamenco’

I will be planting more lettuces, chard, kales, and spinach over the next few days for autumn harvest. I am going to raise one of the beds another 12″ to see if it will be too tall for the rabbits to take interest. If anything, it will be easier to tend.