FINALLY some progress to share!!

nycynthias(Z6 NY)April 27, 2010

It's been a long time coming, but I finally have a little bit of potager progress to share with all of you! We carved a 24x24' space out of a slight slope on the eastern side of our house to site the potager. Even though the slope was only about 9-10" over the whole span, it was still a ton of work! After digging out, we placed pressure treated 2x6's along the outside perimeter, and then started hauling gravel. Actually it's 3/8" crushed bluestone. And it weighed many, many tons. We finished up the gravel Saturday, but it's rained ever since, so we're sort of stalled at the moment--today was the first break in the weather since then, and I haven't had an opportunity to do much other than snap a few quick photos. Next step is to adjust the placement of the boxes and leveling them (obvious when you see the photos, LOL!!), then I can start filling them up and planting. I can't wait!!

I do have a few young plants & seeds in one perimeter bed between the potager and the fence--a couple of cabbages, a couple of broccoli, peas, turnips and onions at the moment. I couldn't let the *entire* spring season pass me by!

Thank you all for your great advice, help, photo inspiration and input thus far--I will definitely be posting pics as the season progresses!

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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

It looks lovely, you are doing a great job!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 6:58PM
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tammyinwv(z6/WV)

Wow! Great job. I love the white boxes.
Tammy

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 9:14PM
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ali-b

Ditto on the white boxes. Great choice with the bluestone underneath. I'm glad you posted your pics. Great to see.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 10:01PM
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lavender_lass(4b)

Very nice! It looks so good with your fence :)

Are you planning something special in the middle? You've probably mentioned something before, but I'm having enough trouble keeping all the details of my own garden straight. LOL

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 11:38PM
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sisterrific

it looks great! I love the white boxes. can't wait to see more in-progress pics!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 5:00AM
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juliegardens247

It is so pretty and crisp with the white that contrasts so well with the landscape. Are you enclosing the space in some way? I just love looking at pictures of parts of the country that have such open spaces and acreage.

Julie

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 10:17AM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

Thanks, everyone! It's raining yet again today, ugh, so not much getting done.

lavender_lass, yes, we're planning for an armillary in the center, though that may or may not happen this year because DH wants to find an antique one...and since I'm cheap, I probably will veto every one he finds. LOL! This year I'll probably put some annuals in an urn there.

juliegardens247, we keep changing our minds about the enclosure issue. On one hand I would love for it to feel enclosed like a proper potager, but on the other hand the rest of our landscape is very informal and rustic, with stone steps everywhere and not a straight line to be found except in fencing and the house...the potager is directly visible from both our small and large patios and from part of the pool area too, so I want the styles to flow together somewhat while still being separate "rooms". Anyway, the short answer is: I
I'm not sure yet! I've pondered doing those teeny tiny boxwoods around the perimeter, with spaces left open for access, of course, but still can't come up with an idea that hits me just right. I might just live with it for the season and then decide? Suggestions welcome!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 10:57AM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

What about a blueberry hedge with strategic openings? They ae a gorgeous red in the winter.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 11:37AM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

Susan, funny that you mention that, I have 6 blueberry bushes waiting to go into the ground right now. I had originally purchased them as hedging for part of the potager, but for a variety of reasons (ahem, husband, ahem) we've decided to use them elsewhere.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 12:05PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Charming. I love the cool blue of the stone, and what a wonderful view you will have!
Renee

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 1:01PM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

Thanks to a day of gorgeous weather and hubby unexpectedly taking a half-day at work, I have more pics to post--in these, you can see more of the setting for the potager, and maybe see why I'm having a hard time imagining how to hedge or edge it while still integrating it into the overall feeling of the yard.

With my back to the fence, looking toward the largest of our entertaining spaces and the woods beyond:

The things that look like piles of boulders are actually rustic stone steps with boulders--still awaiting some crevice plantings.

And just for fun, here's a non-potager picture of the front of my house & the lovely spring colors! Be merciful and please remember that these plantings are not even a year old yet ;) And PS yes I know my lawn is a nightmare. Working on it!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 7:55PM
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juliegardens247

I.... Am. So. Very. Very. Jealous.

Julie

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 10:51PM
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ali-b

Very nice! How often do you use your back gate? In looking at your potager, the bluestone and the boxes themselves delineate the area nicely. If you use your back gate often, perhaps, a pathway to the gate around the potager in a different material. Plus, something to connect your house to the potager, maybe just some stepping stones will tie it in.

Which spot do you want to make "the entrance" to your garden? You could set that off with some additional matching pots and two benches. (A great place to put a pair of gloves or clippers.)

The view from your entertaining area is gorgeous. I would try to keep the potager low profile to keep the view open.

Of course, all IMHO. I'm already picturing all those beds filled in with veggies and flowers. You can walk right out and grab some chives for your morning omelet. Later on, a tomato or two for your salad.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 4:59PM
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lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

Very nice!! I love your house. Your potager looks so grand compared to mine. To have that space!

Doesn't it feel great to make progress? I am about to post some pics myself. I was about to ask what you planned to fill the beds with and then I saw the picture with the pallet of garden soil. I'm still undecided. What made you make that choice? Thanks in advance for any insight!

Lisa

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 9:52PM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

ali-b, I personally use the back gate to get to the composting area, which is actually in the front yard, tucked behind that massive piece of rock (which is something like 40' by 30'), and the lawn mower comes through that gate since it's the largest one. Otherwise, though, no one uses that gate because we have several others that lead to the barn, pool, paths, etc. I agree about tying the potager to the house somewhat, and may use stepping stones for that purpose. I really can't decide about the "entrance" to the potager...it's either the north side, which faces the entertaining area, or the west side, which faces the house. Both have pros and cons...from the north side you would enter right into the backs of my tomato trellises, which isn't going to be the prettiest view to choose. From the west side, it would be the prettiest view, but it's easy to cramp up that fairly narrow space between the potager and the house if I'm not careful. I'm really waiting to add more structure until after I get the beds filled (hopefully today) and planted. I think it will come together, maybe not right away, but something will jump out at me and just feel right!

Lisa, thanks so much! I don't really think it's grand, per se, but it is a blessing to have all the space. Well, blessing and a curse...it's a lot to keep up with, especially with twin toddlers who require my attention 90% of the time ;) With regard to the soil--to be honest, I had originally planned to do the square foot garden soil mix (Mel's mix), but I had nowhere near enough homemade compost so would have had to buy that, in addition to peat moss and vermiculite. The cost would have been astronomical, and since we'd already spent a fat chunk of money on the gravel and the composite lumber and renting a tiller to help us take down the hillside, etc., when the 2 cu ft bags of garden soil went on sale at Home Depot, I said the heck with it and had them deliver 2 pallets of it. I am adding some vermiculite but nowhere near 33% as Mel suggests. I really would have preferred to stay totally organic (this is Miracle-Grow garden soil) but in addition to being cheaper, the bags are sooooo much easier to handle than having a huge truckload of loose soil dumped off the driveway. It really was largely a function of limited time, limited manpower, and manageability vs. cost. It turns out to have been the right choice, because the death march necessary to bring the 60 or so loads of gravel to the potager from the driveway (about 2 acres away, LOL) was seriously horrible. On the bright side, I sure got a workout.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 9:17AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Cynthia, your home and property is absolutely gorgeous! Have you considered using a shorter version of your picket fence to enclose the potager? Are you planning an arbor for the entrance? My choice for entrance would be the side closest to the house.

Don't feel too guilty about the initial soil mix. We started our compost bins a year before building the first garden, but still didn't have enough to fill the beds. After a couple years of adding peat and vermiculite we were able to get by with just compost. You'll get there.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 3:54PM
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lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

Having spent the day hauling rocks a short distance, I am hurting for you just thinking about 60 wheelbarrow loads of gravel across 2 acres! Holy cow.

Thank you for sharing your decision-making process for filling the beds. Believe me, practicality is high on my list, too. I considered Mel's Mix also. In the end (today), I decided to use straight compost. I live near Delaware Valley College (an agricultural college) and they make and deliver compost. It is a cost-effective and straight-forward solution. I spent the day pricing the components for Mel's Mix, but in the end, practicality won out for me, too. I simply didn't want to mix it all myself. I'm exhausted enough from hauling stone. LOL.

Thanks again, and I hope you'll post more pics as you plant!

Lisa

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 9:25PM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

Thank you, natal! I have thought of the shorter picket-style to enclose the potager, but haven't brought it up with hubby yet. I think he's ready to encase my credit card in concrete and throw it in the Hudson, so maybe I'll wait til the card isn't actually smoking/threatening to self-ignite before I bring that up ;) I agree that the side closest to the house is a good entrance spot, just haven't quite figured out the proper proportions quite yet. Thanks for the encouragement about the soil...I do feel a bit guilty for throwing Miracle Grow in there, of all things, but hey. Gotta do what you gotta do.

Lisa, yep, we haul a lot of rocks around here too and it is not fun. You are so lucky to have a great source for compost! Our town delivers it as well but it's sort of a silly pricing structure if you need any substantial amount, because you have to pay a separate delivery fee for each truckload (which is only about 10 cu ft).

Will definitely post more pics! Hoping to finish up all the soil & mixing in the next few days--today was entirely too hot to finish it though we did give it a college try for a couple of hours. Now I'm mentally moving on to the planting stage and trying to remember what, exactly, I mail-ordered. Heh.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 9:51PM
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hvaldez(7)

Your Potager is looking quite lovely. The white boxes look great but I am curious...What did you use to build the boxes? Are they vinyl or wood? If wood then what type of paint did you use?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 1:06AM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

hvaldez, I used a composite lumber called Tuf-Board to build the boxes. It's a prefinished material, technically, but since it's only really primer on them, we are painting them (using Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior, very low VOC latex paint, and only on the exterior of the boxes). Since I had them cut at Home Depot, they are not all perfectly 4' long and I don't own a power saw, so there are some wonky angles in there. It's OK though because 1) they're functional, and 2) we're adding corner molding.

I've made more progress this week, have several beds filled with planting medium, and the strawberry bed is complete (along with a chicken wire cage to go over it & keep the birds out). The herb bed is 99% complete, just need a few more plants to replace a couple of basil seedlings I didn't like the looks of. The asparagus crowns appear to have survived their nearly 3-week hiatus in my basement, and are soaking as I write. Hope to plant them today even though obviously it's super late in the season. We'll see how they turn out, if at all.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 5:59AM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

hvaldez, I used a composite lumber called Tuf-Board to build the boxes. It's a prefinished material, technically, but since it's only really primer on them, we are painting them (using Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior, very low VOC latex paint, and only on the exterior of the boxes). Since I had them cut at Home Depot, they are not all perfectly 4' long and I don't own a power saw, so there are some wonky angles in there. It's OK though because 1) they're functional, and 2) we're adding corner molding.

I've made more progress this week, have several beds filled with planting medium, and the strawberry bed is complete (along with a chicken wire cage to go over it & keep the birds out). The herb bed is 99% complete, just need a few more plants to replace a couple of basil seedlings I didn't like the looks of. The asparagus crowns appear to have survived their nearly 3-week hiatus in my basement, and are soaking as I write. Hope to plant them today even though obviously it's super late in the season. We'll see how they turn out, if at all.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 6:00AM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

Ooops, sorry about the duplicate post.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 8:20AM
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