top of page

Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

  • Writer's pictureSarah Fremont

We tend to adopt “neighbor grandmas” wherever we live, and our time in New Mexico was no exception. We stood in line next to Miss Norma at a garden tour in Albuquerque, and after chatting for a bit discovered she lived right down the road from us. We invited her over for tea and very quickly formed a sweet friendship. When her lavender was in bloom she called us down to pick fresh stems from her front yard and taught us how to make lavender wands. She showed us a few wands she had made years before and they still smelled good. We were so excited to learn this beautiful new craft!

I've always been smitten by lavender and Albuquerque's high-desert climate was the perfect environment for growing this fragrant herb. Our local organic farm, Los Poblanos, was famous for their gorgeous lavender fields and had this to say about their lavender crops: “Lavender is a low water use plant that thrives in our arid environment, and our fields have grown to hold thousands of plants after years of hand propagating the original lavender plants in our historic greenhouse.” I planted dozens of lavender plants around my property and was excited to make lavender wands every fall with our own crops.

How to make lavender wands:

  1. Gather 15 freshly picked stems of lavender and about 50 inches of narrow ribbon.

  2. Remove all the leaves from the stems.

  3. Line up the bottom of the flower heads and tie them together.

  4. Turn the bundle upside down.

  5. Gently bend each stem down around the blossom heads.

  6. Start to weave the ribbon under and over the stems.

  7. Continue weaving until you have covered all the flowers. Wrap the ribbon around the neck of the wand and tie it off.

Miss Norma had wands from years ago, and to release more scent she simply rubbed the wand in her hands. We still have ours that we made with her that day and they still smell so lovely. I hope you will invite your neighbors over for a lovely time of crafting lavender wands. Xo

* We have since moved away to Tennessee, but Miss Norma packaged up her fresh lavender and sent it to us so we could make this project again.

629 views0 comments
  • Writer's pictureSarah Fremont

PRONOUNCIATION: pot . .uh . .JAY. (the J is soft)

DEFINITION: a French word originally defined as “kitchen garden,” but it has not come to mean “a part of the garden in which vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers are grown and arranged as much for their visual impact as for their edibility.”

I entered my grandparent’s home to the smell of applesauce cooking on the stove. My

grandfather was making two kinds, cinnamon and rhubarb, all made with apples grown in their

backyard garden. I sat down at the table and he scooped me up a warm bowl of goodness. As I ate, I looked out the window and could see the apple trees arranged in lovely rows at the far end of the property, box hedges lining the sides, and roses and wildflowers intermixed with the fall vegetables of beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips. They definitely took great pride in their potager garden-- it was fruitful and very beautiful!

When designing my own gardens, I am definitely influenced by the memories of my grandparents’ garden. I always create my gardens within view of the kitchen so i have a beautiful view when I look out the kitchen window. And I make sure my gardens are producing delicious things to eat! Here are a few elements I like to add to my gardens to elevate them to potager.

Trellises: They add height and visual interest to a garden. Plant vining vegetables or flowers at the base and watch them climb.

Box hedges: Plant along the border to create a natural fence and lovely structure.

Roses: The beauty and smell add a softness to the garden and bring in pollinators.

Fruit trees: Grow at the back of the garden or train them to grow vertically along a fence.

Garden paths: Rocks, woodchips, or bricks make lovely paths through a garden.

Garden beds: Vary their shape- rectangle, square, triangle, etc.

Consider all the ways you could add beauty, creativity, and color to your garden. Potager gardening is a way to express yourself in the garden and provide good food for your family. Happy gardening! xo

429 views1 comment
  • Writer's pictureSarah Fremont

Thinking about pumpkins in the summer? Probably not. But you should. Growing your own pumpkin patch is so fun and easy, but pumpkins take 100 to 120 days to mature. So if you would like to grow your own fall patch, let's plan for it now and get things started!

When we first moved to our homestead, we were anxious to try and grow everything. We were especially excited about growing our own pumpkins. We picked one garden bed and dedicated it to the pumpkins. We scattered our seeds a bit haphazardly and hoped for the best. A week later little seedlings emerged everywhere. We were elated! After several weeks vines were forming. Our pumpkin patch was growing great—a little too great it turns out. The vines spread out everywhere: down the paths, along the sidewalk, and all over the entire garden. So many pumpkins! We learned many things after our first attempt at growing pumpkins. The next year the pumpkins got the boot out of our garden and we grew them in their own spot where they would have plenty of room to stretch out.

Here are a few other things we learned:

  1. Simply plant your pumpkin seeds right into the soil. You do not need a large garden. (You could even use five- to ten-gallon buckets.) You just need a little space for them to sprawl out their vines.

  2. Pumpkins like good soil. They did extremely well in our garden because the soil was all organic and we had amended with compost. They did not do as well when we just planted them in the dirt outside of the garden.

  3. Pumpkins need a lot of water (be sure to water the roots and not the vine) and they like full sun.

  4. When your seedlings begin to emerge, thin them out to the number of vines you would like to grow. In our first attempt at growing pumpkins, we let all the seedlings form vines and it was mayhem.

  5. As the vine begins to form fruit, place a thin board or heavy cardboard under ripening pumpkins to avoid decay.

  6. If you grow heirloom pumpkins (it will say on the packet of seeds), save your seeds and use them to grow your pumpkin patch the next year.

Growing pumpkins are easy and it is absolutely thrilling to watch the seedlings emerge, grow into a vine, and form flowers that eventually develop into beautiful pumpkins. I hope you will try your hand at growing your own patch. Happy gardening!

427 views0 comments
bottom of page