Of Pumpkins, Potagers and New Products

Pumpkins, Potagers and New Products
IMG_2698I’m harvesting my Musquee de Provence pumpkins, the most beautiful of all in the pumpkin world. They are big and deeply lobed with burnished copper-gold skin. They remind me of being in Provence in fall, when the market vendors stack the pumpkins and then sell them cut in wedges. The best thing about this pumpkin is how good it tastes. Its flesh is dense, not fibrous, and it takes well to both sweet and savory treatments. My personal favorite is using it to make pumpkin gratin well-seasoned with garlic, fresh thyme and lots of Gruyere cheese. Happily, Musquee de Provence pumpkins can increasingly be found across the country both in farmers’ markets and in retail supermarkets during fall. I just found a binful at a La Superior supermarket in Woodland, California.

A Seasonal Potager in a Box
Michael Schwab, the brilliant graphic designer behind iconic logos for such clients as Amtrak, US National Parks, and NPR, http://www.michaelschwab.com is also the design force behind La Vie Rustic. Most recently he created the design for my Potager Garden Seed Set with Maps. IMG_2676

There are 3 fold out maps, one each for spring, summer, and fall. On one side is a planting scheme for a small garden space and on the other, complete planting and harvesting instructions. Packaged in the convenient Kraft box along with the maps, is a muslin bag with a Baker’s Dozen of French vegetable seed packets, a packet of melon seed, plus one of a flower – because gardens should be pretty – to plant throughout the seasons. Also in the box are 13 aluminum plant markers for you to write on.

The beauty of a French style potager garden is that it supplies your kitchen, year round, and the Potager Seed Set has everything you need to begin your get started. Imagine what it will be like. In early spring plant quick growing roquette (arugula), Flamboyant radish (pictured left), Paris Market carrot, frisée, lettuce, and peas to harvest in late spring.

At the same time you are harvesting your spring vegetables, you’ll be planting for summer – Longe de Violette eggplant, Marmande tomato, La Victoire haricot vert, Verte de Petit Paris cucumber, Ronde de Nice zucchini, and Charentais melon, followed in mid –to late summer by another planting of Frisée, lettuce, carrots, roquette and radishes for fall and early winter harvest. The nasturtium seeds can be planted anytime. (photo below of a Provencal potager in summer)



Potager Seed Set with Garden Maps.……………………………………………….$38.00


A smaller version, with six spring vegetable seeds plus nasturtiums packed in a heavy Kraft mailer, is also available. These are the same French vegetable seeds and map that are found in the larger set above. This is packaged in a sturdy Kraft envelope.








Spring Potager Set with Garden Map.………………………………..$18.00



childs garden

And, a repackaged Children’s Kitchen Garden Seed set in a similar format.






The attractive packaging makes these 3 different seed sets a beautiful as well as useful gift.

NOTE: New photos coming soon of the 2 new Potager sets and the repackaged Children’s Kitchen Garden.

Living with the Seasons

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Part of what I enjoy about the seasons is how, especially in fall, they crossover. I’m still harvesting the last of summer’s tomatoes, basil, and Sultan de Marabout figs while beginning the harvest of fall pumpkins. If you would like to place an order now to reserve your 2-year old Sultan de Marabout fig tree (fruit and tree above) for bare root shipping in early spring La Vie Rustic can do that for you.

And, Speaking of Seasons…

Fresh Sweet Bay Laurel and Olive Swag
Sooner than we think the holiday season will be upon us, and La Vie Rustic, in addition to our classic letterpress holiday cards has added a Fresh Sweet Bay Laurel and French Olive Swag, cut to order the day they are shipped. The bay is the same bay we sell fresh in bouquets and dry in packages. The olive branches are cut from a combination of French varieties, Cailletier, Bouteillan, Cayette Roux, and from 100 year old Mission olive trees. We imported cuttings of the French varieties more than 10 years ago under USDA supervision and now have a small orchard of them. The Mission olive trees were growing on our property when we bought it.
Over time the bay and olive leaves will gradually dry. The bay leaves can be used to flavor soups and stews, or anytime a bay leaf is called for in a recipe. The dried olive leaves can be used to brew olive tea.


La Vie Rustic DIY Roulade/Pancetta Set Photograph Thomas Kuoh

Any of La Vie Rustic’s products make good gifts. DIY Jambon Cru and DIY Roulade charcuterie sets (see photo above), artisan fruit and herb salts, Heirloom French Lettuce and Chicory Seeds, French Red Poppy seeds, gorgeous handmade gratin dishes and brilliant prep bowls, silk-screened pillow shams – even something for the chickens – a juicily tasty pasture mix.. There is much to choose from, all practical, useful, but also beautiful – in the French style. Visit La Vie Rustic’s store to peruse and shop.

What people are saying about La Vie Rustic…
From William Widmaier, author, A Feast at the Beach, “Think of it as a quasi-secret French village store. The kind that would open only when Madame was in the mood, is stocked with magical treasures sourced from the land the old fashion way, by hand, and is known mostly to the locals and those few tourists that stumble upon it.

It’s the type of place that would sit in the old barn on the ground floor of a 700 year old village house located in an off-the-beaten-path town settled before the Romans dropped in for an extended visit in the hinterlands of Provence. Well, it reminds me of a place like that.” [except it’s online]