Beginnings of my potager

dayleann(z4 VT)February 6, 2006

Last summer was the second since I bought my semi-derelict little Victorian cottage. The first year I spent mostly cleaning up garbage and clearing out overgrown beds of daylilies and figuring out how to lay out my garden. My lot is small and sort of triangular (wide in front), but laid out in such a way that it lends itself to several different gardens. The only truly sunny spots are a narrow strip along the southeast side of my house, and the spot below it, between the house and the barn. So that is where my potager is.

The first year I got the soil dug, enriched, and mulched (it was grass, and had time to grow some lettuce and other short season plants, with calendula and some other quick flowering plants tucked in. I splurged on some artichoke plants, and got them in early. They grew beautifully, but the summer was so cool and wet that they never set buds. Oh, well.

Last year I was able to get the garden planted, with just the outlines of what I want it to be in the long term. Here it is early in the season:

Pic is fuzzy because I took it through the screen from my bedroom window. The property line crosses at an angle on the left, narrowing toward the back. My raspberries are planted along it at the far end. That's a clump of rhubarb in the center. That area is the "center" where my little water feature will be, I hope. I have to put in a rock well to drain my sump pump into, and that seems to be the best place to put it (the hoses are just laying there in the pic, and run to a natural drainage swale that crosses my neighbors yard).

If you look closely, you can see the four tomato supports made out of concrete mesh near the property line just to the left of the hoses. In front of them is the beginnings of my herb bed. Lettuce and other greens interplanted with calendula, love in a mist, and other annuals below that. On the right are my pepper plants, which were interplanted with green beans, beets, and chard. Those beds were so pretty when they filled in! I wish I'd taken a photo of it all when things were crowded and tumbling all over the place. I ate out of that little garden right into late fall, and put a lot of veggies in the freezer.

What you can't see is that just below my window is a 6 foot wide slider into my studio in my daylight basement. I want to put a small vine arbor in front of the slider and pave the area with bricks and slabs of marble for a little sitting area, and to frame the view of my potager, which I want to semi-enclose with double hoop wire fencing painted white.

Oh, dreams! Not as pretty as some of the more established potagers, but on the way...

Dayle Ann

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I think it is very nice! Oh fresh rhubarb..... I grew up in Colorado but I currently live in GA. I used to eat it when I was little dipped in sugar just like people eat celery. -Rena

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 9:02PM
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Rena, I did the same thing. What a treat. ;)

Dayle Ann, do you have trouble keeping the grass paths from encroaching in your beds? Down here that would be a constant hassle.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 9:13PM
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Hit send too soon.

I used similar wire tomato cages for many years. After last season I decided they were too twisted and misshapen to bother with anymore. This year I plan on using 8 foot tall plastic-coated metal rods. I'm hoping those will be sturdy enough. They'll definitely take up less room in the garden. I did keep the two shorter & wider (about 4'x4') cages for some of my paste tomatoes since they don't grow as tall.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 9:20PM
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angelcub(Sunset 3b)

Wow, Dayle Ann, you have done a lot of work in a short time. I remember when you first posted pics of your Victorian cottage (not derelict, imho). I loved your descriptions and all you planned to do to it. Now it seems like you are well on your way. : )

I like your idea to frame the view of the potager. Are there any perennial vines hardy to your area, or will you be using an annual vine? And your sitting area sounds so inviting. I think it will be a lovely spot to view the fruits of your labor.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 9:30PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I agree with Diana, and was wondering how you and your cute little house were doing all this time!
Dayle ann's house is just adorable for anyone who hasn't seen it. Your potager is coming along really nicely Dayle Ann! Cudos on all the work you are doing! I know how time consuming (and cash consuming) it is!!


    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 10:05PM
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I love it Dayle Ann..looks very nice. The barn on the right...mmmmmmm I love barns.
Don't you find a potager is something comforting to look at, to contemplate, to meditate upon. It's neat you can see it from your bedroom and your art studio. Your idea of fencing it with a white painted double hoop wire fence is a very good one and I love the idea of that sitting area... seems just the right thing to have there and could be done with time. It's not one of those impossible or grandiose projects. I can see the picture you want to give it...very "champêtre" as we say in French.
Like Girlgroupgirl and Diana I remember when you posted several pictures of your Victorian House and loved it. You have the kind of property that should be named. I don't know if I express myself know what I mean?

How are you doing with your renovations? If it's like me's far from finished but it's coming along nicely.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 12:50PM
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dayleann(z4 VT)

Oh, funny you should mention naming my cottage! I've always thought so, too, and kept trying out possibilities. I finally came up with a name for my cottage! Every time I did something, even in the yard and barn, a penny would turn up! Nothing really old, but going back several decades. One day, the name "Penny Cottage" just popped into my mind and it seemed perfect for my little house. So Penny Cottage it is.

Penny Cottage last July:

This year I hope to get it painted-- pale mauve with blackberry and turquise trim with bits of bright red!

Dayle Ann

Here is a link that might be useful: More photos of my house and garden

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 6:19PM
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BecR(zone 9 CA 19)

Hi there Dayle Ann. I have been enjoying seeing the wonderful progress you've made in your home & garden. Thanks for sharing your photos. Can't wait to see more!


    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 7:22PM
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dayleann(z4 VT)

Oh, I forgot to answer the questions people asked:

Rena, when I was a kid, we ate rhubarb the same way!

Harper, I don't have trouble with the grass in the path, as it is a clumping type that doesn't run. I DO have problems with the grass creeping over from the neighbor's side! When I get my fence up, I plan on putting boards on the ground underneath to keep the grass from growing up to the fence and they can run their mower wheel on it.

My tomato cages are made out of concrete reinforcing wire. It does not get mooshed! I also have a panel of it that will become a climbing trellis as soon as I can figure out where and what for. I might use it as the top of my arbor.

Diana, yes, there are a number of perennial vines that I can use, including some lovely natives. Not sure yet what I want to grow-- something lacy so it doesn't block too much light, I think, with hummingbird flowers.

Anicee, I so agree that a potager is a wonderful meditation. When I first looked at the house, the basement was flooded, but I knew I could fix that, and could visualize working in my studio and looking out that big glass door at a semi-formal potager, with a sitting area just outside. Yes, a continuous work in progress, but each year a little more gets done.

Thanks for all your positive words, everyone. I love sharing my progress with you all!

Dayle Ann

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 9:28AM
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Dayle Ann, my cages were made out of the same thing, but after 20 years of use they'd seen better days. Heavy tomato vines, windstorms, and just years of use took their toll. Storing them in the off-season was always a pain. Don't get me wrong, they were great for a long time, but I'm ready to try something new.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 11:42AM
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dayleann(z4 VT)

LOL, well, yes, I see what you mean. I think mine might be a bit sturdier-- it's the kind used in streets. But after 20 years they'll probably look like yours. As it is, I'm surprised they look as good as they do, because I've been hauling them around for nearly ten years through several moves! I just tossed them on top of whatever and tied them down.

My first tomato cages were made out of cedar lumber ends I got for free at a local mill where I used to live, nailed to cedar 2x2s. They were actually kind of fun, a funky sort of garden art, each one different. Someday I'd like to weave some towers, but that's WAAAAAAAY at the bottom of a long list of things to be done... wait, there's a small mill I pass on the way home from work, hmmmm.

Dayle Ann

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 1:17PM
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Nicki(z9 FL)

Dayle Ann, you have a nice sized garden! And I love your house... it's a real beauty. Penny Cottage. That's cute. I want to name mine, now... oh lordy, look what you've started...

The colors you want to paint your house sound lovely. I hope you don't forget to show us when you get it painted!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 11:44AM
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memo(Zone 4B Nebraska)

I enjoyed once again seeing the pictures of your home Dayle Ann. You have made so much progress in the short time you've lived there. I imagine you are making good progress inside too.

I have tried unsuccessfully to grow rhubarb three times now. I would love to have a good stand of much you can make with it. This year I'm going to try again with a variety that is red all the way through and have ordered it from Park Seeds to get some already growing plants. I hope that it will take for me as the seeds and root stock that I tried did not.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 12:06PM
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dayleann(z4 VT)

MeMo, what kind of soil conditions do you have? At every place I've ever lived, I had rhubarb tucked everywhere. I love to eat it, and think it makes a wonderful landscape plant, too. Even when I lived in the Colorado Rockies at 9000 feet, everyone had rhubarb, because it was one of the few things we could count on!

The rhubarb I have now came out of old, deteriorating beds at my daughter's. I dug them up, cut out the old, rotting parts and started a bunch of plants from the healthy roots. My daughter has rhubarb all along a section of fence. We let them have two years to develop before we started harvesting.

Rhubarb likes rich, well-drained soil, lots of moisture during the growing season, does well with mulch. Plant shallow, just under the soil-- planting too deep is the biggest mistake people make with rhubarb, I suspect.

Maybe we should start a rhubarb thread...we'll figure out what is going on, and get you set up with some good rhubarb beds yet!

Dayle Ann

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 8:42PM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

I tried to get rhubarb to grow twice so far. I'll try again this spring. I have heavy clay soil that is amended, and I use soaker hoses, so moisture isn't usually a problem.

Park Seeds, huh? I have their catalogue (and 20 or 30 others)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 2:15PM
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I was just digging out this old post and was wondering if everyone here is still working hard in their potager and is looking forward to another vegetable/fruit/herb-flower season.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 7:52PM
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granite(z6 NC)

Trying to have a good gardening year; its been difficult due to drought and early hot temperatures. This is the first year that I couldn't get sunflowers or beans to perform! Stupid rabbits are so hungry that they are going around the bean area from the outside of the fence and eating the vines as they come through to climb the fence. So...I have a row of pole beans that have been bunny-pruned into bush beans. The squashes have been doing great and my family is very happy to have grilled squash on an every-other-day basis. My lavender is blooming like crazy and I really should get out and pick the second flush of blooms but I'll wait for the afternoon heat to die back to under 80 degrees (mid-90's out there now with high humidity as YEAH we finally got a good soaking rain yesterday). In some ways its been a tough year for certain elements of my potager; I don't have any beans producing, the zinnias are not big enough to flower yet, less than 1/10th of my sunflowers came up..... Still, I love growing things and I'm taking advantage of the gaps in the garden to add compost again or mulch an area to let it "rest" for a fall crop of spinach or broccoli.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 5:32PM
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Dayle Ann,
I love your house and your potager. Your description for what you wish to do sounds wonderful to me. Yes, please keep us posted with your progress. Looks so fertile there, like you could grow anything in that soil. Lucky you!

I still want to move to NC...(I can dream can't I?). Love your potager. You have so much space! I miss seeing mountains on the horizon, so I love your view. Wow! Although I love living in Oklahoma, it feels stifling to me here. We live on some acreage on a high ridge above the lowlands, but there are no mountains near here. I think I could really breathe there. It is cooler, especially at night. What is that lake down below?

~ sweetannie4u

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 7:57PM
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granite(z6 NC)

? which lake down below where?

The closest useful lake to Asheville is Lake James, which is near Nebo and Marion.

Yes, it does get significantly colder here at night. It will be in the 80's to 90's in the daytime and 50's to 60's at night.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 8:26PM
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I thought there was a lake in the background of your second garden photo. There between the trees in the looked like water with a dark shore line. I can clearly see now that it is a white building of some kind with a dark roof. Ooops! My blind!
Your climate sounds great! Hot summer days but cool nights. My kind of weather. Sorry for the drought. We went through that for several years here in Oklahoma. Miserable to say the least.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 4:10AM
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friesfan1(5b NW-KS)

Dayle Ann,
The link you posted no longer works, do you have another
link with pictures to share? I love looking at others

z 5b KS

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 5:47PM
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