Changes we have made...the good, the bad and the ugly

lavender_lass(4b)March 9, 2012

This is an interesting idea for a thread...not mine, but I thought I'd get it started.

What changes have worked for you, in the potager? What changes have not? What have you done, to make your beds 'prettier' if anything?

For me, the best change has been to make all the perimeter beds fruit, perennials and shrubs. This leaves vegetables and annual herbs/flowers for the middle beds. It makes the garden much more interesting, year round.

The other change (not so successful) was putting blueberries on the outside edge of the other perimeter beds. They're too difficult to water and weed, so I'm moving them back into the garden, where they're easier to maintain.

To 'jazz' things up a bit, I'm thinking about adding some perennials in with the blueberries. I don't add acid to the soil and I think it would make that area much prettier :)

How about your garden?

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mrtoad(7b NC)

this is an idea that just did not work, i put three terracotta pots at the end of each planting box and for a few years i experimented with different planting schemes, peppers, flowers, veggies and flowers. but could not keep pots aligned and invited slugs. looked good when first planted but idea quickly went to pot :)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 5:48PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I started 10 years ago with one 8x8' bed. Have changed to 4x8 or 3x8 or 6.
I now have 4 4x8s, 2 3x6s and 2 3x3s along with an herb garden in pots in a 4x12' area with stepping stones throughout. This leaves 2 sitting areas, one surrounded with nasturtiums (by the herb bed)and another facing the garden with a fountain and a stripped umbrella with morning glory growing up it. The sitting areas have my DH's hand carved chairs to sit upon and enjoy a nice glass of wine in the evening (soon! DLS starts this weekend!)
Hopefully expanding with a greenhouse (DH has been PROMISING!) and some fruit trees soon! We do have 1 1/4 acres, but want to keep the garden area close to the house for convenience.Wish I knew how to post pics! Nancy

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 8:43PM
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My potager consists of 30" beds separated by 18" wood chip paths, on either side of a brick walk with a patio in the center and a greenhouse off the patio. Last year I put annual flowers on the edges of the beds along the brick walk - varieties like small zinnias, California poppies, Victoria Blue salvia, and yellow marigolds. It looked really nice and I think I'll do that again. Sometimes if I have a bed that I'm not using I'll also plant an annual flower mix there. And I usually alternate my tomato tripods with basil, marigolds, and the blue salvia. This year I'm going to interplant the tripods with eggplant, too, to try to get ahead of the flea beetles which supposedly are repelled by tomatoes.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 9:47AM
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I don't know if this works, but I've read that the little orange marigolds are supposed to work well, around eggplants and tomatoes, too. Maybe worth a try? :)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 1:43PM
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I do use marigolds between tomato plants and sometimes between eggplants. I'm never sure which are the ones that are effective in deterring pests, though. Last year I put my young eggplants in a planter upstairs on our balcony, and managed to avoid flea beetles that way. Once they got larger I moved them into the garden, and by then they could resist them.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 4:25PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

I started out turning over some soil, amending, and planting some veggies and flowers in a corner near the driveway. It did pretty well but I lost some plants to gophers and had trouble fighting back the weeds, so the next year I had my bf build some raised beds and protected them with gopher wire. I had more success with that but realized that 3' wide beds and 2' paths did not make for comfortable working conditions. So I planted blueberries in those first beds and my bf built me a new bed, 2.5' wide x 25' long, out of cinder blocks, which are supposed to help tomatoes ripen in our cool-summer climate. The bed was great, but the footing around it was very treacherous and the whole area was lumpy and weedy - too embarrassing to photograph and post. So this year I dug out a path above the bed (it's on a slight slope) and duped the dirt below to create some level pathways - 4.5' wide, I like the nice roomy feel. My bf put in a short retaining wall to hold back the dirt above the path, which I turned over and amended in preparation for it becoming a rose and flower border. The next project is to add a second bed, with paths around it from the start this time. And the long term plan is to have 4 large annual bed, with perennial border gardens around all 4 sides, a fence to keep the dogs out, and a nice little sitting area shaded by an arbor.

I'm pretty fanatical about fruit growing, so in the time I've been working on my potager garden I have also planted 12 fruit trees (augmenting the 4 already on the property,) 8 grape vines, a male-female pair of kiwis, 10 raspberries, 5 blueberries, and a lot of strawberries.

My goal this year is to get everything looking good enough to take pictures and post them, and also to get an irrigation system installed so I can spend more time tending and less time watering.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 11:55AM
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Lavender Lass,

I plant alyssum around the base of my tomato plants to keep the weeds down - and it seems to work! I pick up a flat of the alyssum, pink, purple and white, and put 2-3 around the base of each plant. Actually, I think I got this tip off this forum a couple of years ago!

I plant marigolds down the sides and across the ends of the whole potager also. They are supposed to be good for
controlling nematodes, I guess, especially the French marigolds. And the bright color looks so pretty when you put it around the beds. This is a trick I learned from my dad, who loved gardening and has been gone for 7 years now, but I think of him as I plant every marigold.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 3:00PM
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The alyssum is interesting! I use salt hay as a mulch, with irrigation tapes under it, so I don't need alyssum, but I bet it's really pretty.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 7:12AM
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Riverfarm- I don't have a good picture of the veggie beds, but here's some lavender alyssum, in front of the little fairy castle. It's very pretty and has a nice fragrance, too :) From Lavender's Garden

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 6:12PM
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That's beautiful, Lavender Lass! I'll bet kids love it too. I have a few metal Flower Fairies around my pond, just peeking out of the foliage; nice effect.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 7:13AM
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Two years ago I had a glut of vegis so the mantra last year was succession plant. It worked but I also got chickens which reek havoc. This years mantra is "putting up" and I will freeze, can and dehydrate the surplus. I'm having an area fenced for the chickens as I type :)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 10:38AM
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A few big changes are happening this year since that freak snowstorm in Oct. This is how the arch trellises used to look until the tree branch in the upper left corner came down.

I'm building new pole supports for the hops and I still need to build a stronger arbor support for the kiwi. It's just flopping on the ground right now. I'm going to put my tomatoes and peppers where the arches were. There was a lot of wasted space under the arches but they did look cool covered with vines.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 1:45PM
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Resalesally, we have our chickens fenced in one area and our garden fenced in another, since we have discovered that they don't mix well. We got rid of our guinea hens because they seemed to like to eat young vegetable blossoms. It's a constant learning exercise, isn't it? We've never had much luck with succession gardening, maybe because I run out of steam toward the end of the summer, so we do a lot of dehydrating and freezing. We eat out of our freezer all winter.

Ali-B, what a shame about your hoops! And couldn't you grow cooler-season crops like lettuce and spinach under the arches? At least now you have another chance to play with your garden design!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 7:52AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Oh, my aching back! My potager changes involve noting that next Fall I will clean all beds then heavily mulch them. I didn't do this last year and so there's a huge amount of chickweed and Creeping Charley to dig out -- maybe I could cook it, LOL.

The climbing antique roses are starting to take off as planned, and they will use up some of the previous veggie space. But I'm still going to plant the usual tomatoes, peas, cucs, lettuce and then prettify it all with nasturtiums (which aren't just for pretty, but go into our salads).

I'm pushing at the fenced limits of the space, but with the big cedar posts for holding the fence I used, I can't open the space up. So I made a long bed on the outside of the south face and moved a lot of irises there. About 25 ft. to the south there are 2 small fruit trees. Maybe I'll put a bench and some chairs between the trees and the potager, looking in. I have to keep in mind that a hired lawn person will be mowing the grass outside the potager and along the new iris bed, so I've lined the new bed with large rocks.

But there's a limit to what my aging body can do, so I don't dare move the cedar posts further out, to make the potager larger. Could I add a 2nd set of garden beds outside it, fenced lower and using stakes, not big posts?


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:30AM
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My garden started as a 20x20' space and my fence posts kept moving further out and now I'm maxed out at 40x32. Then I started putting edibles in pots on the deck and planting rabbit/deer resistant plants in front of the garden. Now I'm thinking that I could squeeze in a 1 foot strip around 2 sides of the garden for chives, sage, oregano and onions that don't need critter protection.

You could also put in some raised beds with their own short fencing attached or a shallow raised bed on a table for lettuces. Building fences can be such a hassle!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:34PM
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Carol- As long as you can protect your gardens from the lawn should be fine, adding some new beds. I like the idea of a bench and a couple of chairs, between the two!

The fence will protect the roses from the deer, as well as lettuce and other 'snacks' they like. Potatoes, tomatoes, squash, and several herbs and other veggies don't seem to appeal to the deer at least not our deer. So, they should be fine outside the fence.

Don't take on too would your lawn person, like to learn to garden? :)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 3:48PM
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You must have picky deer. It still amuses me to note than any vine or leaf that grows through my fence will be pruned off within the week. They've even tried the hops which are prickly.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 2:41PM
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Ali-b The deer are picky! LOL

They only eat things (except for tasty roses!) in the early spring and late summer/fall, when there isn't as much food in the pasture/field. They ignored my broccoli all summer, until the first frost. When the marigolds and zinnias died...then the deer found the veggies behind them :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 4:48PM
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This thread has been interesting! One change we're currently working on, is putting cedar raised beds around the perimeter of our patio. [Two sides, actually; the other two sides are the outside walls of our house and entryway.] My DH and boys have been working on them this week, and I can hardly wait to start planting veggies, flowers, and herbs in them!
I'm a newbie to potager gardening, [2 experimental yrs.!] so I must admit, I'm not sure my hodge podge of plants will look very "coordinated"! I guess I'll just dive in and start planting, and see what works!
One challenge I have: Because of a gigantic oak, the area is shaded until 2 or 3, then gets blasted with afternoon sun. I have some sweet peas that I'd love to incorporate, but I'm not sure they'll appreciate that! Any ideas? I wanted some fragrant plants out there as well, since we often use the space in the evening, with candlelight, music, ect....
So far, my "hodge podge" consists of Jasmine in windowboxes, a few White Ginger Lilies, a trellis of Confederate Jasmine [against the house], [wonderful vine, BTW!] a climbing Don Juan rose [also against the house], cherry tomato plants, basil, lemon verbena, a few peppers, lettuce and mixed greens......and of course, the sweet peas, which are already flowering in their overgrown pot.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 12:16PM
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posyplanter-Oh how fun! And, I love the scent of jasmine. For a more uniform look, you could plant the same edging plant around every bed. My favorite year for my potager was when I splurged on yellow marigolds all the way around the perimeter. Or, put the same plant at the corners such as your basil. It gives a more intentional look.

Couldn't resist....Here's a pic of a corner of the garden with the yellow marigolds.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 11:02PM
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Last year was my first year in a new house. I planted way too much in my kitchen garden. By July we were worried about the cherry tomato consuming the porch and inhaling small children and pets. And who knew that the tiny little cabbage plant that came in a four pack got THAT big. ;-) I don't even want to talk about the morning glories--they are now officially banned from the property!

This year we have an additional garden space a little farther away from the house for summer veggies, but I've still kept the earlier cooler season things in my little kitchen garden, or my "salad garden." Lettuces, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, leeks, peas, plus the pansies left over from last fall that still look good.

In another month or so when everything bolts I think I'll rip it all out and throw out some annual flower seeds. Maybe turn the whole area over to zinnias or something.

The salad garden is shown on the right of the walkway. Not in the picture to the left of the walkway are herbs.

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    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 10:51PM
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Hello all,

As for changes that are bad, I am regretting adding a bed across one of my walkways, between two other beds. It seemed like a good idea at the easily add a bed within the general area of the garden. But now I miss that access point to the garden! The only solution is to remove all the earth in it and dismantle the bed, and then I've lost a bed.

Access to all the garden beds, and enough pathways to move around easily is really important. For me, it was just that feeling of being able to walk into my garden from several different vantage points with my wagon.

I guess the moral of my story is "Don't underestimate the value of those garden paths!" :o)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 9:32AM
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