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Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

  • Sarah 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

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  • Sarah 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!

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  • Sarah Fremont

Our front yard in Minnesota received the most sun, so it only made sense to create my garden there. I would head out in the spring mornings and work towards ripping the lawn up. My neighbors were horrified. But why would I choose the shady, damp far off reaches of my backyard? I did not even have to make any amendments to the dark, black soil underneath, I just began throwing all the seedlings in—tomatoes, of course, and as many as I could fit. By mid-summer the crop came bursting in, and it was obvious I had been a little overzealous with my plantings for a family of three! We harvested the fruit as quickly as they came in and shared our bounty with neighbors and friends. My two-year-old obviously thought we had an overabundance as I discovered him eating them quickly off the vine and throwing them just as quickly at his friend across the fence!

Once you start growing your own tomatoes, store bought tomatoes will be ruined forever for you. The two are so drastically different, you will wonder if they are even the same fruit! Tomatoes allowed to ripen on the vine (versus those bred to survive a country transport) are delightfully both sweet and savory, and full of nutrient goodness. Although it took very little thought to grow tomatoes in Minnesota, our Texas garden required a little more preparation, so I will share what I learned. Growing your own tomatoes will be so worth the effort!

Tomato Growing Recommendations:

  1. Sun! Plant in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight. (Morning sun preferably.)

  2. Plant in the richest soil possible. In Texas my raised garden bed was half soil and half non-manure based compost.

  3. Plant a variety of tomatoes. Choose varieties that are fairly quick to mature. If your growing season is short, make sure the time of harvest occurs before the first frost. I would also grow a couple varieties so the maturing time was spread over the growing season.

  4. Planting and growing temperatures are critical. Plants are harmed by temperatures below 45℉ and will quit growing at temperatures above 90℉.

  5. Watering is important. Keep the soil moist throughout the growing season and try to avoid wetting the leaves to prevent disease.

  6. Your tomatoes need nutrients. I like to feed my plants with a seaweed spray to promote health and growth.

Once you start growing your own tomatoes it will become obvious why it is the most popular crop grown by the home gardener. Nothing can compare to the delicious eruption of flavors. Cheers to the end of the store bought tomatoes. Happy planting! xo

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