I need help from the experts.

tammyinwv(z6/WV)March 15, 2010

I am planning my first potager. I have played around with some ideas on paper, but I am just not sure what to do. I want it to look attractive and not just a jumbled mess. My husband has bulked on this idea several times before, saying everything will just look like a mess. I hope to prove him wrong since he has finally decided to do this for me. I am hoping that I might get some planting ideas from some of you experienced growers. I have really done very little veggy gardening in the past. I have had bush green beans and tomatoes in the past. My biggest obstacle is keeping deer out so I am going to put a fence around it. The entire area is about 28x21. Four 4x8 beds in center with a 2 foot deep bed around the inside perimeter. Below is a pic of my plan.

I want to add marigolds, and other flowers inside as well. I have several things I am wintersowing.I would appreciate any help or ideas you have, dont have much of my own.


Tomatoes (prob will only try 1-2 plants of each:

1. Early Girl

2. Brandywine

3. Caspian Pink

4. Black Krim

5. Sungold Cherry

6. Cherokee Purple

7. Black Plum

8. Mortgage Lifter

9. Sweet 100's (yet to find)


1. Simpson Elite

2. Master Chef Blend from parks

Watermelon: Crimson Sweet

Basil: Genovese, and Sweet


Marjoram, Sweet

Garlic Chives

Onions, evergreen bunching

California Wonder Peppers 300TMR

Burpless Cucumbers

Blue Lake 274 Green Beans Bush Type

white Half Runners Pole Type

Mr. Big Peas from Parks

Strawberries (have 15 so far, may buy another 15 Sequioa

Raspberries 2-3

May also purchase some Oregano too

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Tammy- I think your potager plan looks beautiful! If your husband has concerns, show him a picture of Lulabelle's potager (I bumped it up). She said the 4' x 8' middle beds worked great, but she wishes she had made shallower perimeter beds (hers were 3 1/2' deep). I think your design will prove very easy to manage :)

If the cucumbers or beans need something to grow on, you might want to put some obelisks or teepees in the middle beds. Basil loves to grow with tomatoes and marigolds are always good to plant around the tomatoes, to keep the nematodes away. Sunflowers attract a lot of bees and yellow jackets here, so you may want to keep those away from the entrance. The raspberries and strawberries look great together and the grapes are a wonderful addition!

I hope you post lots of pictures of your garden. If you have problems with weeds in the beds, I use alyssum between the veggies to keep the weeds down and bring in beneficial insects. Alyssum stays small, so it doesn't shade the vegetables, but it makes it harder for the new weeds to get any sun (LOL)

Good luck with your garden. It looks like a classic potager style to me and I think you're going to be very happy with it!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 1:12PM
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Lavender-lass, I fell in love with Lullabelle's at first site. Thats when I realized I wanted a potager and not just a typical row garden. I have showed him lots of pics, I think thats in part why he is finely agreeing. Thanks for the tip on alyssum. I do have some seeds already waiting to be winter sown. My problems is figuring out the best placement for the plants in these small areas.I saw a pic yesterday where the teepee's were painted a bright blue, which i think looked really pretty.

Above shows placement of the garden. This is a terraced bed directly behind my house. after about 10 feet behind the upper wall,this back area appears to slope upwards by about 6-8" at the backside of the planned garden.The gate to the garden will face this wall and back of the house.
Thanks a lot for your vote of confidence. looks like I am heading in the right direction.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 1:27PM
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I just read this statement somewhere:

" when she found this vintage ladder in a trash heap, she rescued it and put it to use as a support for vining vegetables. Peas climb it in spring (cucumbers take their place in summer."

So does this mean, I hold off planting the cukes until the peas are done, instead of planting everything at once?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 1:39PM
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Tammy, you have a beautiful backyard!

Cucumbers are like melons, squash and pumpkins. They are warm season veggies, so they go in the garden after your last frost date...probably early May in zone 6. Peas can be planted as soon as it's warm enough to work the soil. They are a cool season vegetable. There should be lots of info on the internet. Tomatoes, beans, basil, marigolds are all warm season, but lettuce, spinach, radishes, and others are cool season. You can replant lettuce and spinach all summer, but they like some shade when it's hot.

A ladder would look nice. I just saw a pictures where someone had painted ladders in the garden. I'll see if I can find it and bump it up. Mom loves that idea, so I wanted to show her how fun they would be in her garden.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 2:58PM
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So essentially everything is growing at the same time. I thought maybe one thing could be planted and harvested then another thing planted in its spot. I think I remember someone on GW having a painted ladder now that you mention it.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 3:34PM
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Tammy- Here is a great list of cool season veggies. I'm planting asparagus this year, so I'll have something coming up in early spring :)

Here is a link that might be useful: cool season

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 4:43PM
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Here is a list of warm season veggies. Some of the cool season vegetables will be done in time to plant warm season veggies in their place. Others might take longer, or be followed by another cool season vegetable in the late summer for fall. I hope this helps :)

Here is a link that might be useful: warm season

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 4:51PM
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Thanks for the links lavender_lass. I bookmarked them. I think I understand that part of gardening. Now I need some ideas on what would be the best way to arrange things for looks.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 5:12PM
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I like your plan too. I think the defined beds and paths really help things to look neat even when some veggies are not at their prettiest. I like lavender's idea of the sweet alyssum. That way if something is done (ie. lettuce bolting) there's still something pretty in the bed.

When arranging things, think about how tall they'll get and what they might shade. You could divide your 4x8's into 4's either in a cross or diagonals and plant small marigold's or alyssum as dividers. That will help all your beds look more uniform even though there's different veggies in the divisions. You could put red/green lettuces or red/green basil in the opposite spaces for a neat look.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 5:35PM
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Thanks ali_b. I like your idea about dividing into 4's. or diagonals..

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 6:55PM
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marcy3459(6a NE OK)


You won't get it the way you want it to look the first year. After this year, you will see how things grow, how they look together, how the spacing works, and make changes. In year two, it will be much better. But then, you have to think about rotating the third year! It never ends, but ENJOY it.

But definitely plan on pulling out the peas in May and replacing with either cukes or pole beans. It works out perfectly. And find shady places if you want the chance to have salad greens almost all summer. I tuck mine under the tomatoes and underneath my A-frames on which my cukes and beans are planted. That gets me through until fall planting. Carrots also like it under the tomatoes and I like the way the lacy foliage hides the bare tomato stalks close to the ground. You'll find ways to tuck plants into your spaces to make more room and get the look you want.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 12:00AM
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Marcy that was very helpful.I think I am just trying to overthing things and worrying too much since this will be the first.
So it sounds like the peas need to be planted now or ASAp. I think our last frost date is April 15, my husband swears its mid May tho. I cant remember for sure. I have seen both dates noted on the web.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 7:15AM
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Tammy- You can plant peas as soon as the soil is "workable" which usually means there's no more snow on the ground, in our area :).

Mom is planting her peas today and her sweet pea flowers this weekend, and she's in zone 5a. I think you could probably go ahead and plant many of your cool season veggies now or in the next few weeks. Many will say how many weeks BEFORE your last frost date they should be planted.

Warm season veggies are the ones planted after the last frost date. This is true for many herbs and some flowers too. It should say on your seed packages, how many days to plant or to start inside and transplant into the garden at a certain time (like tomatoes). I hope you post pics of your garden!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 1:12PM
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Lavender_lass, i will certainly take pics. I know how much I love looking at everyone else's pics. We had some unexpected expenses the last few months, but my husband says he will start getting the wood for the beds next weekend.I guess my planting will have to wait until then. I do have some tomatoes started in the windowsill, and plan on wintersowing the rest of them.You have been a big help.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 2:01PM
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I'm having the exact same problem! I'm just putting in my garden this spring and nothing will be planted until probably the end of May. Next year, though, I should be ready for spring planting :)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 4:34PM
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Tammy- What computer program did you use to draw your potager? I have been drawing mine on graph paper, but want to do one on the computer to e-mail to a friend on the cottage garden forum. Thank you :)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 11:32AM
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What I did was download a free graph paper, then opened that up on Paint. The free program already on your computer. That worked out the simplest and quickest for me. There was also a more complicated and time consuming software online, But I dont have it bookmarked on this computer.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 11:39AM
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