2014 Potager Garden

 Joe and I completed the high-level design for our new potager garden.  A potager garden is a kitchen garden that produces vegetables and herbs, 2014 Potager Gardenand also includes ornamental design features.  Simply put, we want our garden to be beautiful as well as functional.  Our intent is to blend the garden into our existing landscaping and include flower beds plus a bistro area to make it an inviting space.

We modified a design we found in Niki Jabbour’s The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener.  Jabbour (2011) featured a 20-ft x 20-ft potager garden on p. 89 of her book. Design Tools We’re using her basic design but expanded it to 20-ft x 26-ft so we could include a bistro table and chairs in the center.  The next step is to fine-tune what we want to plant in each area so we can ensure that we have all of the seeds.  We will maximize visual interest by adding height to the garden through the use of rustic teepees for pole beans and an arched trellis at the entryway.

Areas 1, 2, 3, and 4 will include raised beds.  We’ll install cold frames on top of the raised beds, so we can continue to grow fresh produce during the cooler months of the year.  Jabbour (2011) Greens and Carrotsexplained that “cold frames can be used for cool-weather and cold-tolerant crops like tatsoi, spinach, chard, carrots, and mache” (p. 89).

Jabbour, Niki. (2011). The year-round vegetable gardener: How to grow your own food 365 days a year no matter where you live. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

All content © 2013-2014 Candace Nigh.
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Salad making is an artform from the ground up!

Salad making is an artform from the ground up!.

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The Enduring Joy of a Hot Cup of Tea

Cup of Hot TeaI start out each morning with several hot cups of chai tea.  I switch to rooibos chai, a naturally decaffeinated tea, in the afternoon.  I find hot tea to be comforting, bracing, and rejuvenating.  In honor of today’s meditation on tea, I found some amusing quotes.

My dear, if you could give me a cup of tea to clear my muddle of a head I should better understand your affairs. ~ Charles Dickens

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee. ~ Abraham Lincoln

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Pop-up Green House: Kick it up a Notch with Winter Farming

1 - Top Soil & River RocksJoe and I purchased a portable greenhouse kit right  before New Year’s Eve.   We also purchased several bags of top soil and river rock to condition the site where we planned to install the greenhouse.

3 - Full FrameThe greenhouse consists of two main parts — 1. A galvanized steel frame (assembly required) and 2. A mesh cover which fits over the frame like a tent.  We assembled the frame in stages in our driveway.

6 - Leveling Frame with RocksWe then moved the frame to the installation site in our backyard.  We leveled the ground with the topsoil and river rocks.  We also placed several large rocks under the frame to serve as a foundation.

Once we were satisfied with the integrity of the base, we installed the cover.  It was amazingly easy to manipulate the cover even though the wind was quite strong.8 - Installing the Mesh Cover

The kit included anchor brackets with stakes.  We were not impressed with the stakes that came with the kit, and purchased longer, beefier stakes from Lowes.10 - Close up of Anchor Bracket

We added river rocks and large rocks around the exterior of the greenhouse so it would blend into the existing landscape.   We will add some ornamental grasses in the spring to help beautify the installation and blend it into our potager garden.

We have been very satisfied with the durability and integrity of the frame, cover, and anchor brackets (with updated stakes).  The greenhouse survived two major snowstorms that dumped 10 inches (early January) and 7+ inches (last night) within a 24-hour period.  It’s easy to clear the snow off by gently prodding the ceiling from inside the greenhouse.  14 - Exterior with Christmas Tree in BackgroundWe use a small broom.  The snow slides easily off the exterior walls of the cover.

The greenhouse is quite roomy inside — the dimensions are 78-3/4 in. L x 118 in. H x 84 in. W.  We are mainly using the greenhouse to grow microgreens, but will also use it to start vegetable and herb seedlings for the garden.  We purchased some shelving units to hold the microgreen trays.

15 - Flats of Microgreens in Trays

Arctic temperatures (due to the polar vortex phenomenon) have been challenging.  Our initial trays of microgreens frosted over and failed to germinate.  We purchased a space heater to maintain temperatures above freezing.  The space heater keeps up with external temperatures down to about 15 F. but the soil frosts over when it drops below that.

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Thomas Jefferson on the Joy and Ease of Walking

Feet on Sand“The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is best.  A horse gives but a kind of half exercise, and a carriage is no better than a cradle.  No one knows, till he tries, how easily a habit of walking is acquired.”

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Thomas
Mann Randolph Jr. (August 27, 1786)

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Winter’s Descent into Terra’s Embrace

Winter’s Descent into Terra’s EmbracePrairie meets the forest

Winter relentlessly
crept into the landscape.
Icing the black walnut
with its frigid glaze.

The arctic stream
permeated my lungs.
With a deep exhaustion
of hopeless despair.

I lBlack walnut in winterooked to the black walnut
in stalwart repose.
Surrendering itself
to the polar efflux.

I felt myself sinking
into glacial quiescence.
Shedding foliage long dead
but still desiccating my core.

Releasing it all
I descend to the taproot.
That wellspring of verdure
which flourishes in spring.

Snowy view of Eagle CreekHere I sit dormant
in Terra’s embrace.
Waiting warmth and renewal
and the sustenance of Grace.

All content © 2013-2014 Candace Nigh.
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Emerson: Finish each day and be done with it.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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So What the Heck is a Parsnip?

Roasting VeggiesLast night I prepared Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup using a recipe I found on Real Simple.  I roasted a pound of carrots, a pound of parsnips, a sweet onion, and three garlic cloves at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes (Real Simple, 2013).  The parsnip rounds look a little bit like banana slices in the picture.  I drizzled olive oil over the vegetables and added salt and pepper.  I transferred the roasted veggies to my food processor and pureed with 3 cups of water (Real Simple, 2013).

The soup has a delightful flavor, and is very satiating.  The high fiber contentHearty Crock 'o Soup in parsnips — 3 grams per half a cup — causes the satiation factor (Thompson, 2011).  Parsnips are also a good source of “vitamin C (17% of RDA), folate (11%), and manganese (11%)” (Thompson, 2011, para. 4).  Of course, this begs the question … what the heck is a parsnip?

The University of Illinois Extension (2013) explained that parsnip is a member of the carrot family.  The parsnip’s flavor does not fully develop until the roots have been exposed to freezing temperatures for at least two weeks (University of Illinois Extension, 2013).  WebMD reported that the freezing process converts the starches to sugar, and parsnips were historically used to sweeten preserves and baked goods (Three ParsnipsThompson, 2011).

A Modern Herbal noted that parsnips grew wild in Europe, and varieties were cultivated to develop specific qualities (Grieve, 1931).  Pliny the Elder claimed that Emperor Tiberius valued parsnips so much, he had them transported to Rome from the Rhine River region (Grieve, 1931).  Irish cottagers brewed parsnip beer by “boiling the roots with water and hops, and afterwards fermenting the liquor” (Grieve, 1931, para. 6).  The versatile parsnip was introduced to North America in the 17th century (Thompson, 2011).

Cultivating the parsnip requires patience and fertile soil (University South End of a Parsnipof Illinois Extension, 2013).  Horticulturists recommend marking the rows with radish plants since the parsnips take so long to germinate (University of Illinois Extension, 2013 ).  Joe and I haven’t decided yet if we will add parsnips to our garden mix.  We have until May, 2014 to decide … so until then, we’ll sip our soup and dream of spring.


Grieve, M. (1931). Parsnip. Retrieved from A Modern Herbal website: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/parsni12.html

Real Simple. (2013). Roasted carrot and parsnip soup. Retrieved from the Real Simple website: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/roasted-carrot-parsnip-soup-10000001664946/

Thompson, C. (2011). Seven healthy facts about parsnips. Retrieved from the WebMD website: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/seven-healthy-facts-about-parsnips

University of Illinois Extension. (2013). Parsnip. Retrieved from the University of Illinois Extension website: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/parsnip.cfm

All content © 2013-2014 Candace Nigh.
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Exploring the Relationship Between Education and Incarceration

Exploring the relationship between education and incarceration - graphicThis infographic highlights a few important facts.  I’m not trying to say that a poor education causes incarceration.  But they are linked.


  • Bureau of Justice Statistics, (2006). Federal justice statistics 2006 – Statistical tables NCJ 225711. Washington DC: Author.

All content © 2013-2014 Candace Nigh.
All rights reserved.


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Got Leaves?

Today, Joe and I volunteered at GGrowing Places Indy Signrowing Places Indy.  As explained on their website, “Growing Places Indy is a non-profit organization committed to cultivating the culture of food and urban agriculture in the Indianapolis marketplace”.  They farm several sites in Indianapolis.  We visited the site at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center.

Joe and I loved the folks we met today.  They were super friendly, and answered several of our questions about our own garden.  Today’s work consisted of spreading leaves over new garden beds that will be planted next year for the first time.  The farm manager explained that placing leaves directly on the grass, watering them down with a hose, and then covering with compost will break down the grass so that the beds are ready for planting next year.  Joe and I had planned on renting a rototiller to clear the sod for our expanded garden beds.  TheGrowing Places Indy Raised Beds wet leaves and compost method sounds a lot easier and better for the environment since we won’t use any fossil fuel.

I guess we’ll be visiting our neighbors asking if we can help dispose of their leaves.  We’ll make sure we get there after they’ve finished raking and bagging them.

All content © 2013-2014 Candace Nigh.
All rights reserved.

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