The Fort de Chartres Heritage Garden Project has capitalized on increased opportunities to share with the general public our heirloom seeds through the our heirloom seed events, the Fort's annual special events, and new community outreach events-giving talks and offering seeds throughout the region. Our garden project has received new volunteer help this year and with this help, the garden has been able to move through the seasons with succession planting and harvesting. Due to the SeedMoney crowdfund grant, the new wood needed to replace four more of our garden's aging raised beds has been purchased and is now curing, with replacement beds to be constructed this fall. Earlier this June our French Colonial Heritage jardin potager participated in the Bi-State 2nd Annual French Colonial Gardens Driving Tour, an event uniting the French Colonial gardens in our region. This event offered new opportunities to share the region's history through its heritage foodways, interpret the Fort's jardin potager, and share heirloom seeds and garden produce with the public. And finally, we began our new heritage wheat project by planting two 10' x 10' seed plots of a heritage bread wheat, celebrating the region's rich wheat history and it importance in its eighteenth-century French Colonial settlement.
What challenges did or does your project face?
Our biggest challenge this year has been the weather. Prolonged late winter and spring cool temperatures and drenching rains severely impacted our early harvests, especially as we moved directly to 90+ degree temps with no moderate temps between seasons.
How are you working to overcome them?
We transitioned to our summer planting a bit earlier this year and are working hard to overcome the higher temps with extra watering. We are planning a more intensive fall planting this year to increase the yield from the fall garden to make up the lack of produce from this year's spring garden. And while the vegetables have suffered, many of the heirloom flowers are thriving so we are using this opportunity to showcase heritage flowers, native plants, and seeds of the eighteenth century.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
While we cannot control Mother Nature, we can look for ways to capitalize on any bounty a garden might offer. We just have to open ourselves to the possibilities and transition our goals to match the reality of the conditions around us.