Potager now vegetables again...maybe a few roses

lavender_lass(4b)December 22, 2009

Change in plans...again, but this time I think it's a good thing. My nephew has informed me that he would like to have more vegetables this summer and he does not have the space at his house, so he would like to have his garden out here. (He has a big dog that takes over the whole backyard, making gardening difficult.)

He's 10 and loves gardening. He just started last year and wants to try more vegetables, more flowers and a red rose...don't know where that came from, but cool! So, we will have at least a few red roses in the potager (back corners by seating area) and maybe tuck some herbs in still (I really want a small potpourri garden) but the rest will be purple sprouting broccoli, climbing beans, tomatoes, mini-pumpkins and watermelon...well, you get the idea. He also discovered fresh peas last summer and loved them, so lots of peas in the garden too. I was going to give him a small area for his garden (which will probably be his watermelon patch) but he really wants to help with the big garden. How do you say no to that??? Roses can wait, so it's back to the vegetable garden :)

He also said he liked the idea of roses that change color (I got some gallicas for next year to go in the nieces' fairy garden) so now I think that will be the magical garden...my own fault for being sexist. Magical gardens can have fairies, but also cool guy stuff, right? Any ideas???

I'm really glad my nephew is so excited about gardening! There is another upside...have you seen the cost of roses lately? (LOL)

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senko(6b ePA)

I have been thinking about a potager garden also, but have not been able to come-up with a good idea of how big it should be. You seem to have a very large property, so the size is not a big problem. I have a larger property but live in a suburb neighborhood and can not have something unsightly. You know, alot of us move more often and need to sell the houses. So, I am not really giving you any idea but rather trying to get an idea from you. What you are planning sounds good.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2009 at 8:50AM
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Senko- You would think I would have plenty of space for my potager. We have a hundred acres in eastern Washington and all I can find is a space 24' x 28'. Everything else is either too far from the house, part of the horse pasture, on a hill (do not want to terrace) or a necessary path my husband has to snowblow in the winter...not good for garden spaces. Later, I may be able to reclaim some land behind the old farmhouse, but right now it's just too overgrown. Maybe my future garden with a grape arbor???

Anyway, for you, it sounds like your garden is much like my mom's situation. She lives in town and has to consider the neighbors, but no covenants, thankfully. She uses more of a cottage garden approach with vegetables tucked in with the flowers. This year, she's planning to put in an island bed (about 16' in diameter) with an obelisk and grow mostly vegetables with a few flowers. The other flowers will hide it pretty well from the street, but it would still be attractive. She's going to have a round bed, with the obelisk in the middle and the vegetables in circles around it. Probably a cucumber on the obelisk and maybe some sweet peas, with cherry tomatoes, then parsnips, bush beans and then flowers. She'll probably put marigolds around the tomatoes, alyssum in between the beans and edge the outside of the garden with small zinnias and cosmos.

Potagers can be very pretty. There are a lot of really beautiful pictures if you go through the forum. Some have been deleted, but enough remain to give you some good ideas.

If you like roses, tuck in some garlic and herbs with them to give a little texture and color to the bed, and help keep the bugs away from the roses. What I like most about potagers are the structure it gives to the design and that by mixing up flowers and vegetables with herbs and maybe some fruit it confuses the heck out of the "bad" bugs and brings in a lot of the "good" bugs. A well designed potager does not have to be big, in fact, most books say you should start small. The potager should provide beauty, food and a nice eco-system for your yard. What future buyer wouldn't like that?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2009 at 1:13PM
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senko(6b ePA)

Wow lavender lass: you have hundred acres! OK! I am not the one to give you any advice.
Thanks for your info. I am collecting ideas for potager garden and somehow combining with fruit trees. I want fruit trees and my DH thinks I am nuts. But, what is better than eating out of a tree?
I love roses as well. In fact, I know you from Roses forum. I am not posting there until this Austin fight settles. I love Austins and OGR.
It will be a long winter.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 3:21PM
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Senko- please, I can use all the advice I can get :)

Do you want to espalier your fruit trees, or just have them in the garden? Espaliered fruit trees are very potager, but I'm not good at pruning. I always feel bad cutting off so much of the plant...I'm sure that's a newbie mistake, but I'm going to have a few dwarf apple trees behind the "magical" (formerly fairy) garden.

The Austin/OGR fight is so silly. Did you see what I put as the 80th or so response? Basically, we don't need more division, there are so many forums now, I find myself posting the same question over and over again. Some forums are so busy and others are very slow. I hope this forum gets busy again as spring gets closer. I think you're right though, it may be a long winter.

Anyway, more time to plan, right? I saw a picture of a potager a while back (probably somewhere on the Internet) and they had a four square design with a fruit tree in each corner. I'll try to sketch it below, but it may all go wrong on the next screen. Hopefully, you get the idea :)

Xooooo oooooX
oooooo oooooo
oooooo oooooo

oooooo oooooo
oooooo oooooo
Xooooo oooooX

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 11:10PM
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senko(6b ePA)

Thanks for the idea. I think four dwarf trees on each corner might work. Only thing I am concerned is the shade from them.
Espaliered tree is something I don't know how to do, but I can try one.
Time for armchair gardening: I will like to start small, so I can enjoy what I am doing instead of rushing to get things done. But of course I need to have full plan even if I do not set-up everything during the first year. I have some animal issues: rabbits, grounhogs, deer. So the first thing I need is fencing above and below ground. Takes out all the fun.
Good luck with your design. I know you have been changing your mind, but that is how it evolves.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 10:07AM
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Even with all the wildlife around our area, the only minor problem I've had is with the deer. There are only a few brave enough to come near the house, but I have to hide the roses from them. They didn't seem to notice the other plants, so I don't think they're hungry.

We have barn kitties and that seems to keep the little animals out of the garden. Again, I don't think anyone is really hungry, since there is so much to eat out in the fields and pastures (we also feed the kitties) but they help keep the mice away from the house :)

In your area, the little guys might be hungrier, but a few good cats can help keep some of the groudhogs and rabbits away from the garden. You probably will still want a fence, which will look nice, since most potagers are fenced in. I've seen some pictures where they use picket fences with wire on the bottom foot or so.

Jennifer Bartley has a really good book on potagers, called the American Potager. It should be at the library (that's where I got it) and it's very helpful in planning, fencing, plants to choose, etc. Also very common to put raspberries along one side of the fence (on the outside) to keep animals out, or espalier fruit trees along one wall or fence.

Vertical planting is important too. Potagers are very functional and pretty, so the idea is to grow a lot of plants in a fairly small space. Climbing beans, cucumbers, melons, flowers can all grow vertically and then flowers or small vegetables are often used around the edges of the beds.

I think you've got a good idea to start small, but have a plan, so it all looks good when you finish. It is nice to have some time in the winter to try different ideas and see how you like them, before going out and actually digging :)

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 2:06PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Hello, you two. I have a book recommendation for you both. Check out The New Kitchen Garden by Anna Pavord. She gives lots of information on incorporating fruit trees and plants into potagers, AND she gives the basics on espaliering fruits (with pictures). If my climate were more conducive to fruit growing, I would have more. Even then, she inspired me to plant two semi dwarf apple trees at the west end of my potager. They're just one year old, but they did grow nicely this first year.

Lass, I'm glad you're not giving up on vegetables in your potager yet. My first year had as many failures as successes, but my fall/winter crops have been fantastic. I think the soil is in better shape now and I am hopeful for a better year next year.

In the meantime, take rose cuttings! Our state capital's rose garden gives cuttings to all volunteers who help with the winter pruning chores....

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 11:42PM
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Donnabaskets- Thanks for the book recommendation :)

I don't think our rose garden gives out free cuttings, but it never hurts to ask! Maybe CMK would know...she goes to the sales there every year.

I think I'm going to try the old-fashioned roses (and maybe a few David Austins) in front of my lilac hedge. That will keep the deer away from one side and hopefully perennials and herbs mixed in will keep them from noticing the flowers.

Vegetables are more practical and my nephew is really excited about the garden. I only had a very small "trial" garden this summer, but it was fun to pick beans or peas and then have them with dinner.

Do you have any pictures of your apple trees?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 11:45AM
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senko(6b ePA)

Thanks for the book recommendations. I will start to read and plan, since it is the bleak time of the year with all the hollidays being done.
Happy New Year!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 11:52AM
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Happy New Year Senko!

Yesterday I bought all my seeds for the vegetable garden/potager, so no changing my mind now! (LOL)

I decided in would be smart to buy seeds early this year, while they were all in stock. I got some seeds for mom too, so we are both going to be busy this spring :)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 4:22PM
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senko(6b ePA)

Happy new year lavender! You do not let the grass grow under your feet. Good for you! I still need more time before I can get to that point. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 3:40PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

As I scrolled down the page, I thought you were sending out free hugs and kisses, lavender lass.

I had to back up to see it was a garden plan!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 10:32PM
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LOL! Yes, it's a garden plan. I guess I was thinking more tic-tac-toe, than hugs and kisses :)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 5:46PM
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