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Potager Evolution

Posted by HerrGothic none (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 20, 12 at 23:26

Hi everyone. I am new to potager gardening and have taken upon my new project with gusto. I am completely renovating my existing garden in Spokane, WA by transforming it into a very large potager. My initial inspiration came from the gardens at Villandry. I made a facebook page documenting it called "le Potager". I would very much enjoy receiving your input and suggestions.

Sean

Here is a link that might be useful: Potager on Facebook


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Potager Evolution

Looks like you're off to a good start, Le Potager! What fun!


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Wow! Your plans look great! Are you still doing the herb area? What about the roses?

We live southeast of Spokane, but we usually get a lot more snow and have a shorter growing season. The deer make growing roses (and veggies) a bit of a challenge, but it's been so much fun, planning and planting the kitchen garden :)


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Hi Lavender Lass. My first priority is to get the big garden set up, and then get the smaller herb garden closest to the house built. We also have a small chicken area going in that will need some work. I plan on putting in lots of roses, but won't think that far into it until I can get the structures realized first. We also will be planing lots of Lavender, I already have a lot of plants started indoors: munstead and tall english.


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Hidcote lavender

We've had great success, with Hidcote lavender. I got them at Lowe's a few years ago...and they've been very hardy and don't mind my overwatering. They are in front of the roses, in clay soil...but don't seem to mind.


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This is my current vision. I am shooting to get at least 75% of it completed this year.

[IMG]http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/s720x720/546872_378415528847252_324523227569816_1209817_600574123_n.jpg [/IMG]

This is my progress so far:
[IMG]http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/380744_378421875513284_324523227569816_1209818_500549382_n.jpg[/IMG]


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that didn't work, how is this:


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Wow! You are going to be busy! Looking forward to seeing your progress photos...it's going to be amazing, when you're done :)


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Okay, what software did you use to create those garden plans? They're great! I keep looking for something like that, but I have a Mac and there aren't any good applications for that purpose. I ended up using PhotoShopElements but it's a bit rough.


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I used "Vegetable Garden Planner". It is single purposed, i.e. vegtable gardening. So it is missing a lot of the elements needed for a nice potager like paths, structures, fences, etc. I used it free for 30 days, by then I was so invested into my design I payed the $25 to use it for the next year. One of the nice things about it is that it has a feature for crop rotation thats nice. The vegetable selection is sufficient for probably 90% of growers, but I had to insert another 20 varities it didn't have.

Here is my latest progress by the way:


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This is just wonderful, HerrGothic! Please keep adding your plans and photos! :)


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I love your garden, and have a few questions.

This is an elementary one, but how did you make those raised beds and what tools did you use? I try to do a similar thing, but I never get them that high, and the edges collapse or shrink down when they get watered. I've tried digging up soil from the paths and piling it onto the beds, but then the paths are lower than ground level. Yours appear to be level with the surrounding area, or am I seeing it wrong?

What kind of soil do you have in Spokane? It seems to have a very nice texture. (Ours is VERY ROCKY, another issue when trying to dig up soil from the paths.) Did you amend the soil, and if so, with what?

Lastly, how wide are your paths? Some seem wider than others.

It's beautiful! Enjoy!


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Hi,

Good questions.

Raised Beds: I use a regular shovel, a digging spade, a rake, a garden fork, some stakes and some garden twine. The beds will settle, they just look big now because they are so fresh. I never ever walk on them either to help keep them airy. The first thing I do is loosen all the soil, that builds it up an inch or two already (double dig if I have the energy), add manure, compost and anything else I might have, and then also dig out all of the soil in the paths. All combined it really adds up. My paths are lower than the ground level. There is a slight slope in the garden that helps make it look like it isn't sunken, but it is. I am also filling up the paths with wood chips and it levels out the ground again. When the woodchips are all good and composted I will probably shovel them ontop of the beds, then lay down fresh chips. It works really well.

My soil is terrible. It is Gravelly Sandy Loam on top of Cobbly Sandy Loam, i.e. lots of rocks. The center part of my garden has existed for 20+ years, and so it has been very well conditioned. The expanded areas are rocky. In those areas I added lots and lots of additional organic material (two dump trucks of composted horse manure and saw dust combined with the tilled in existing soil and grass).

My main paths are exactly 3 feet. The secondary paths are exactly 18 inches.

This photo is a little old, I will try and get an updated one this weekend.

Sean
HerrGothic


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Wow! That's a lot of work but it looks fantastic!


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crazy busy... I have finished planting everything except some additional flowers. Here is a picture from this morning.


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Wow - thats a big undertaking. Your "evolution" is a lot faster than mine. I just added two more 4x8 beds and was feeling proud until I saw your post.

You have enough space that you ought to consider some dwarf fruit trees. Are you planning on fencing it in, or do I see a chain link surrounding your property?

My only suggestion would be more structural things to add height variations. though once it is all grown out, that may make the difference.

I have been using a lot of bamboo poles this year too. Right now my garden is feeling a little to much like a leafless bamboo grove.

Please do post more as the garden grows in this summer.


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That is lovely, and a very good illustration of raised beds the "old fashioned way" without structural sides.
What drove your design?
What are goals for your growing and gardening?

I ask because I've slowly transitioned out of a potager as they "were" and now have a vegetable garden set in a garden setting. My beds are "boxes" but the boxes are erroding and I'm planning on slowly changing them into a more garden like setting with rock edges. I'm getting away from a traditional bed system and trying to integrate food into the entire garden (as it gets bigger and bigger). I already have one "New" area from last year being a total potager but with a rather unconventional circular layout.
I'll continue to use this front area, and will (fingers crossed) in the fall have a good sized expanse for traditional row gardens. My husband seems to feel more comfortable growing in rows or blocks.
You've done an amazing about of work! Kudos to you, and thank you for lovely photographs!


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Sean, thanks for describing your raised bed process. I started digging the path soil up and tossing it onto the beds, but I'm having a hard time with the curved edges. Do you tamp yours down? How do you get the shape to hold? I ordered a spade and hope that it might cut clean lines on the beds and discourage the soil from sliding down.

I love your design! Your garden is so big -- do you use everything you grow yourself? Mine is kind of similar, but smaller (45x45') with 30" wide beds, all running in the same direction. I can't think of what I'd do with all the extra space you have. Maybe grow more winter squash, which is the one thing I don't grow much of because it takes up so much space. Maybe corn. Do you grow a lot of things for storage? Are there a lot of flowers taking up the space? Berry bushes? What do you grow?

Please post some more pics as the season goes on!


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I have actually divided my entire property (1 acre) into multiple gardens: herb garden, kitchen garden, wheat field, the "palace garden" and the "Disney" garden. My "Palace Garden" is the one pictured above. The "Disney" garden is a perennial vegetable garden carefully and decoratively laid out I just finished last weekend. I have lots more planned including a native region, cottage garden, pond and bog garden, vineyard, fruit garden, permaculture fruit forest, insect garden, mushroom garden, bees and anything else I can possibly fit in.

Raised Beds in the "Palace Garden": my plan is to partially board them where I have the main paths, but to allow them to slope naturally otherwise. You can see some fully boarded deep soil beds on the bottom right, that's my "Kitchen Garden". For the sloped beds, total bed size, including the slopes, greater than 4' is just too big, 3.5 feet is probably better.

Trees: they are hard to see, but the "Palace Garden" is walled in on three sides by 18 apple trees. They are all new and so quite small. They will be Espalied. The varieties are Cox's Orange Pippen, Calville Blanc d'Hiver, Spitzenberg, Akane and Scarlet Surprise.

Design: I started with a practical design, or rather several of them. But my wife and I realized that the more we beautified the garden the more we enjoyed it. I then spent two months working on the design and settled on one that was both practical and inspiring. Inspiration came from a combination of an English Walled Garden, the Potager due Roi and the Potager at Villandry.

Goals: build a paradise in my backyard, feed my family with the finest foods available, and create a wonderful place both my friends and family can enjoy. I work indoors during the day and this fulfills my longing to be outdoors. And to challenge myself with something seemingly impossible to accomplish.

I am not sure if I like the bamboo, but it was all I could find on short notice. I was thinking of also creating a "Copiced Woodland" in an area of my yard so that I can harvest my own material.

This is my 3rd garden. My first was a traditional row garden and it was terrible. So full of weeds and difficult to maintain and most of the plants did poorly. In my second garden I did raised beds and it was lots easier and I got better plants.

Vegetables: i have everything. My wife and I made 150 unique labels the other day and we are probably at least another 25 short.

I have a number of other gardening goals including all organic methods, no-dig methods, permaculture, sustainability and growing all my own compost, more French varities, all open pollenated, etc, etc.

I am optimistic, but I admit this is all a bit ambitious.

Sean


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Right now I am having a bad case of youth envy - you must be young to have the ambition and energy to take on so much!

I just cant imagine working all day and still getting this much accomplished. I teach and barely get anything in the garden done until school lets out. Then I can work at it full time - and I still dont get as much done as you seem to!

You should be blogging all of this (if you aren't already) I would love to follow it.


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So what do you grow in your kitchen garden if your palace garden has vegetable crops?

Nice choice of apple trees. I chased down a Cox's Orange Pippin apple at an orchard a couple of years ago, but it wasn't anything special at all. That's when I realized that the particulars of the area apples are grown in have a lot to do with their taste. Some of yours, if not all, are bound to be great. I'm curious about the Calville Blanc D'Hiver and Spitzenburg too. I don't think I've heard about the other two varieties you mentioned.


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I am quite excited about the apple trees. I will keep you updated on how they progress. Right now several of them are flowering.

In my Kitchen Garden I grow... more vegetables. I have popcorn, lots of tomatoes, peppers, carrots, garlic, and loads of greens.

A blog? sounds like work?


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HerrGothic,
Thank-you for explaining things. I ask because I too have a large yard (3/4 of an acre) with similarly ambitious goals, and the ability to complete some of them rather rapidly while others (the ones more out of my control) take more time.
I also love that you theme gardens. I am a theme garden addict although have changed themes more recently from those that I love for pure visual enjoyment to those that serve more of a purpose. I still intend to eventually have my Soul (music) garden and a Daguerreotype garden.
I have planted some fruit, and will have many more fruit trees. We will be undergoing more yard surgery next week with two more trees down (since purchasing we've lost almost 20 trees to tornado and after effects of erosion)and having a huge drain pipe installed in the yard to help contain seasonal flooding waters. After that, it's all about building the new garden and outdoor living areas! So exciting. It's taken me many years to get to this point.


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Soul (music) garden, fantastic idea. Do you have any photos to share?

What would a Daguerreotype garden look like?


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No, my Soul garden isn't done yet. I'd mix in quite a few old Southern favorites in this garden, and probably plants with names from my favorite soul songs.
Daguerreotype: over time these photos become mellowed with tan, brown, buff...there are lots of plants that fall into this category but don't get used that often. I'd say for a potager type garden there are some great choices that fit in well - like black tomatoes, brownish skinned eggplants...


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new picture I took this morning. On the far left is a new section, a fruit garden with Raspberries and Blackberries.


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Looking good!
We plant to add many fruit after a large drainage project is finished in our backyard. Right now in a large storm (like we may have tomorrow) we collect a lot of rain and polluted groundwater (up to 10 acres from pavement and roads) we are planning on cleaning up as much as we can with plants, and scooting the rest off of the property. It's a big job.
However what falls from the sky is precious here and I definately need some of it, and in areas where rain doesn't collect and hold but just errodes. In these areas I plant to do like you with your fruit but use hugelkultur berms to establish small fruit trees and especially hedgerows (much cheaper than adding a large spikey metal fence, we've found). They will look much like your berms, and I hope to water them less. We get a lot of branches and dead wood around in the neighborhood and people will be so glad to find a way to get rid of them. Hopefully new fruit will also help with some of the sun. I get all-day sun pretty much ever where right now, and when it's 95 outside, my garden near the ground is often well over 100 degrees due to lack of shade. It just cooks! You are lucky to have some lovely evergreens to help with the elements.


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Another picture


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And here is the completed Fruit Garden with Hugelkulture beds.


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Nice! I just had 3 blueberry bushes, 25 strawberry plants and a dwarf apple tree arrive. I still have to build the beds. I seem to set things up so that I feel constantly behind.


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  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 26, 12 at 13:19

Thanks for sharing your photos. Inspiring and shows what can be done with a lot of space.

Do you irrigate and how?

In my dry summer climate irrigation is important because just as we get warmer temps for more growth the rains stop. However, sunny days are better than cloudy and rainy, so we just plan for watering once a week. Lettuces get a 2nd watering by hand.


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currently irrigation is confined to my overhead sprinkler. If time and money allow I may install some drip later this year.


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It's starting to look like a quilt. It's beautiful!


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Latest update


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That is beautiful! So lush and bountiful! I'm in heat scorched Oklahoma and I'm very envious!


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It looks wonderful.


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WOW! it is looking gorgeous! Lettuce, nasturtiums, onions in summer...glorious!


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One of the most awesome potagers I've seen! Gorgeous!


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My raised beds, what I call the "Kitchen Garden" with the new support posts for the garden netting.


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Herr...
I have been lurking here off and on and watching the progress of your garden. It is magnificent!
I have alot of Questions, but mainly how do you combat the bugs? and the deer and the raccoons? Your gardens look lovely and fresh in July, here this past July it was 100 degrees and there was no rain. do you plant intensively to keep out the weeds?
Sorry for all the Questions but we have been gardening for a long time and it seems we never get good solutions to all these problems.
roseberri


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Hi Roseberri,

Bugs: I do not nothing... sort of. This is a fully Organic garden. All my efforts are placed into soil building, improving the soil food web, adding organic matter, not tilling, etc. I also have defined wild areas and am working on improving insect habitat too. I will post a picture of the Insectenhotel I just completed soon. As a result I just don't have insect problems. I have loads and loads of beneficial insects and they have done a fantastic job.

I plant intensively to keep out the weeds, moderate the soil temperature, the beneficial effect it has on the soil food web, reduce watering needs and maximize yields. I tried row gardening once and compared to this it was a complete failure. Beds are the way to go.

Also, for water issues, the best place to hold water is in the soil. I don't water half what I did last year. This is a combination of deep watering when i do, mulching, intensive planting, and more organic material in my soil. My July probably averaged 95 and I don't recall any rain either.

I hope this helps you out.

HerrGothic


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Thanks Herr! I think that could be our answer!I am going to show my husband this blog and see what we can do to make improvements in our garden.
roseberri


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I took this picture against the sun so its a little fuzzy. This is what it looks like this afternoon.


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SOOOO pretty! I just love it!

What is the plant with the tall, burgundy plumes over by the corn? Whatever it is, I love it.


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Amaranth, we love it.


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That's the gluten free grain that is fairly expensive, right? Do you harvest the grain? I had no idea it was so pretty too! I wonder how much I would need to grow to get say a few pounds of grain per year? I have celiac and use a lot of these alternative grains, including amaranth, sorghum, millet, etc.


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Yes it is. I am growing it for the grain, its worth the beauty but don't know how much grain to expect out of it yet. I am also experimenting with Quinoa and that is going well too.


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