Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Winter gardening in the Potager

    Winter can be the best season for cleaning, re-designing and working the soil in your garden. Really, I mean it!
When nothing is growing, you can really get a feel for your garden's design, or lack there-of.
  My very favorite garden here in Hopalong Hollow is the Potager. Maybe because I can see it from the Kitchen window, the bathroom window and right off the side porch.
Besides, I love the variety of plants you can include in a Potager;  ornamentals, fruit, vegetables, herbs, fruit-trees, roses, annual seeds and on it goes...

My garden style is Hopalong Hollowscaping, it's from my books. You may prefer a more formal style of gardening, but I am pretty rustic, old farm and cottage in my endeavors.
   I change this garden regularly, and it is always during the winter that I do the majority of the  "re-decorating".
This is a great time for you to add manure and compost to your soil and think about fencing, paths and garden structures. Just pull out your pad and pencil and make a plan because:

PLANS ARE IMPORTANT
 and this years plans included planting over 800 various bulbs in the Potager for a superb Spring showing.

 
 I've had the bulbs for months, but each time I meant to bury them, a weather incident prevented it. No worries, the bulbs were stored in an extremely cold area of our old house. Besides that, I once heard a garden expert say that you shouldn't plant bulbs until you've had at least 3 hard freezes.... figure that one out. 
 In late January, I finally had a chance to plant my bulbs. Everything else in the garden was prepared and waiting due to the winter work I had done previously.
 .
 We had moved the mini greenhouse and  gathered as many old metal tubs and containers as could be found. These included watering troughs,



large feed buckets... some so tattered they had holes in the bottom,

antique wash tubs,
 and pails.
 I love the idea of all these decrepit wash tubs filled to the brim with pristine, tall, vibrant Tulips!
The contrast should be striking and charming at the same time.
I had already prepared the soil by hauling donkey and sheep compost from the barn, and stone, sand and gravel from the creek bank to line the bottom of each container. This was all done in Dec and Jan.
All of the 400 tulips were planted in these containers as well as some
 huge clay pots and an old wheelbarrow.


These clay pots were filled alternately with Salome Daffodils, 16-18" tall, and Dark purple Tulips. After bulbs bloom, you must leave the foliage until it turns yellow. It's not pretty, but necessary for the bulb to gather energy to bloom again next year. In order to cover that unsightly foliage, I will plant sweet pea vines and scarlet runner beans and morning glories on the tepee trellis's. 

The reason I plant all the tulip bulbs in containers is that Tulips are notorious for NOT returning the following year. Unlike daffodils, alium, muscari and hyacinth (which simple multiply underground... as the gift that keeps on giving), tulips need to be dug up and stored in a cool place after their foliage has turned yellow.

   Therefore, all the tulips went into containers, while the remaining, 400 or so Narcissus, allium, muscari and Hyacinth went directly into the soil.... Bless those little bulbs, they will just keep on having babies!
You must plant some Narcissus, they will naturalize so beautifully for you

 Something else I decided to try this winter, is a "no dig" bed. You simply put down layers of cardboard right on top of your grass or weeds, and add a deep layer of compost on top, then a layer of straw or leaves. The weeds will die under that cardboard.
 When spring arrives, you will have a nutritious bed to plant your herbs, veges, or flowers. I will plant herbs here surrounding this dwarf Peach tree.
  The cast iron wheels are keeping the leaves in place for now.
 Since your Spring Bulbs will not last into summer, plan ahead on what you will be over-planting with, because your garden is always changing... and that's half the fun of it!
  So, when that one or two days of sunshine hit you this winter, go outside and garden!




28 comments:

  1. A lot of work but we'll worth it come spring.

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    1. I'm pretty sure this garden will be nearly weed free due to my prep work!

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  2. I'm looking forward to seeing all of your labor in bloom in the spring. I use the no dig method too, Jeri. It's so easy. Now all we need here is rain--we are in a severe drought. Hopefully tomorrow! ♥

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    1. I just learned of it recently, to think of all that soil I have turned in the past, what a back-breaker. I'm going to try it in a good size vegetable bed as well.We have rain today, I sent it up your way.

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  3. We are frozen solid and the yard has just reappeared from a long lasting layer of snow. But I do love to go out and "clean-up" when we get that first semi-warm day that just doesn't seem long enough. Oh I just bet all those blooms come spring will be gorgeous! 💐🌷🌾

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    1. We had frozen soil 6 inches deep for awhile. That's why I couldn't plant. But, Spring is just a hop away. In the meantime, it's fun to just make your plans and order your seeds to start inside.

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  4. Can't wait to see all those bulbs in bloom this spring. Of course we're still all snow covered and frozen here in NH so the only gardening going on is making plans and ordering plants and seeds. Caring for the house plants offers a small bit of gardening fun thru out the winter :)

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    1. Ordering seeds is a real pleasure, as well, though I always order too many.
      I'm lousy with house plants, glad you aren't.

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  5. Good morning Jeri! Our garden was pummeled by a downpour of heavy snow last week, but it's truly fascinating to see how resilient our arbor vitae and boxwoods are. They just bounce right back after the melt and when the sun comes out, they bounce right back. Our landscape is very different from yours, since we're city folk living in this FROZEN COLD tundra! But come spring and summer, I'm out there loving the clean up and the tidying up of my beloved boxwoods. A few potted plants and then I'm set to just sit on the deck and watch the bluejays zoom in for a landing on the arbor, see the rabbits dart out from their boxwood mansions, see an occasional fox peep into our courtyard from the alley. Gardens, whether in the country or the city provide hope and hours of enchantment, even during clean up!

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    1. Ever-green box hedges are always beautiful. If it weren't for all my animals, I'd be tempted to do a more formal look in at least one garden. Your French garden is just perfect for your home and personality; and the fact that the creatures make it a favored hot spot, makes it all the more joyous!

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  6. I am one who collects galvanized buckets and tubs too. Most of mine are in the house-something about them I just love! I do love a potager as well, and hope to get my gardens back into shape this year.

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    1. I just knew you love those old buckets too! We definitely share a love for old-fashioned, rustic charm. I imagine your garden space to be filled with interesting and odd objects.

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  7. oh jeri this is going to be magnificent! i can't wait to see it!

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    1. Me too! Consolidating ALL of those bulbs in one small garden is something I wanted to do for a long time... but I always dispersed them into 9 different gardens. Not this time!

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  8. hey...btw, have you seen my new pup? she looks like something you created!

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    1. Saw her, what a beautiful fluffy bear cub she is!

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  9. I've been itching to get out in the garden. All the bulbs will be stunning. I have some cleanup to do, so maybe today...

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    1. Scratch that itch, Clean up now, rather than later. So much easier in chilly weather.

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  10. I really like the idea of the bulbs in containers especially where I don't have something to grow up and hide the dying foliage. I have a lot of clean up to do this year because I left so much undone last fall. I'm waiting for February, though, in case we have more snow in the meantime--or the subzero temps! I need to move a whole bed of daffodils into containers because right now they are in the periwinkle bed--they actually prevent the periwinkle from growing. Will it be all right for me to dig them up once they poke above ground so I can see where they are without disturbing the periwinkle too much and transplant into tubs then?

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    1. I've moved daffodil bulbs that are several inches tall and had no problems. You would be fine getting to them just as they begin to emerge from the soil and putting them into pots. Another great thing with pots, if they are small enough, it that you can move them around your yard or porch wherever you need some extra color or splash.

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  11. Hi Jeri,
    How I love all the different containers you have chosen. Really like your cast iron wheels and clay pots.. I can't wait to see all the bulbs in full bloom.

    My roses still look so sad.. The only thing that is still holding on are the lavender plants.. I hope things perk up soon. Did I tell you about the little bun bun that lives under my Spanish Lavender? I have six planted in a circle around the bird bath. He has burrowed a space between two of them, and every morning when I go out front I tap on the top of the lavender and he takes off like a bullet. He is a little cotton tail. Lily was here last week for a visit and I took her out to see him. You should have seen her little face when he ran out. Priceless.

    Thank you for your encouraging words about Jane. It was so sweet of you to come visit.
    fondly,
    Penny

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    1. Those funny old wagon wheels, I never know what to do with them! I'm so glad you have a resident bunny, he picked a wonderful spot to dig his burrow; wonder if he helps himself to the lavender to make his tea?
      Precious Lily, she must have had a look of total surprise to see a real rabbit!

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  12. Entirely inspiring Jeri. Very slowly I have been gardening over the years here. Without having fencing, everything I do I have to consider DEER who eat all day and all night. Plus I like the freedom of getting up and leaving home, so I would need a sprinkler system. I seem to focus more on wild foods that grow in the forest and meadows because of this. I love seeing your garden, so much.

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    1. Well it doesn't get much better than a natural garden in a forest or meadow.... that's where gardening began!

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  13. Dear Jeri - can't wait to see your beautiful spring bulbs. They make such a cheerful sight. Thanks for bringing such an uplifting post. It was just what the doctor would order. Have a super day! Hugs!

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    1. I was poking around in the other gardens today and found the daffodil bulbs, planted in previous years, popping up about an inch! That means Spring in just around the corner...

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  14. Your garden will be spectacular this year, thanks to all this hard work in preparation. I have only just begun this process....starting a bit later than usual this year. I look forward to seeing your potager in full bloom this spring!!!!

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    1. Yes, My fellow gardener! I suspect my weeding will be minimal in this garden, It really pays to get out there as soon as possible to do the clean up. And I actually find clean up enjoyable.

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