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conceptualizing a new garden

Posted by katielovesdogs z5b/6a Indiana (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 7, 07 at 10:16

I'm new to the idea of potager gardening, although I have been a perennial flower gardener for about 10 years. I need inspiration and reality checks. My backyard gets full afternoon sun. The existing flower beds surround a small patch of lawn. [I like a small bit of lush lawn in my garden plans]. My soil is beautiful because I have added three years of leaf mold, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and composted horse bedding. I don't use any chemicals on my gardens [with the exception of Round Up for Poison Ivy]. I may expand the beds as my potager develops.

Initially, my potager will fit into the L-shape made by a privacy fence and my garage. The length of the legs of the L will be 25' and 20' and the width will be 6'-10' (I'm not one for straight edges).

So far, I'm thinking about growing tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatillos, and squash on trellises along my fence and garage. I think that I will grow beans and peas on teepees throughout the border. I may also add some potted blueberry bushes (my soil is too alkaline to amend well). I am thinking about filling in the border with herbs, peppers, shallots, carrots, and cantloupe. I want to tuck in some annuals (marigolds and nasturtiums), monarda, and daylillies. I have a feeling that I am planning too much for the space. The L will probably become a triangle and my other flower border will be supplemented with produce.

What do I need to do now to prepare for next year? What 'must have' fruits, veggies, or herbs should I also include in my garden? Now that you have experience with potager gardens, what would you do differently than what you did as a newbie? I need advice.

I would also LOVE to see pictures of pretty plant combinations and architectural features in your gardens.

Thanks for your help and wisdom.

Katie


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: conceptualizing a new garden

My advice is UNDERplan. You seem to have a great handle on what you want, but leave a little room for inspiration to strike. I have had my garden on a worksheet for 2 years, and plan from the how many sweet pea packs will fit along this side down to the number of eggplant seeds I start, but just 3 days ago I was wandering around muttering to myself.... "Where the HECK am I going to put these 3 tomato plants !?!" People always give me extra, and I can't seem to stay out of the greenhouse. I always find something I hadn't thought of.

I love unique colors and shapes so here are my essentials:
Heirloom tomatoes (Black Krim and Pineapple are my favorites)
Weird colored eggplants (started 6 varieties from seed)
Squash (I'm trying Patty Pan this year!)
Cukes (for my husband who eats them like popsicles in hot weather)
Green Beans
Bright Lights Chard (which fills in the bare spaces)

Then I expand from there. This year my experimentals are parnsips, celery, kohlrabi and I also had another go at Broccoli and Cauliflower which I have had no luck with in previous years.

I planted cilantro this year for salsa, along with about 8 other herbs and I have everything edged with naturtiums and marigolds.


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RE: conceptualizing a new garden

What I do to prepare for the next garden is make two lists: the gotta-haves and the wanna-haves. I photocopy maps of my beds and then doodle on them until I have figured out what I actually can have (square foot gardening forum is still the best bet going on ideas of spacing).

I use lasagna gardening, which means I check my beds and then start feeding them with an eye to what I want to pop into the bed next year. For example, I knew I wanted to try some bush watermelons along the fence. I fed the area throughout last fall with compost, leaves, and lots of coffee grounds.

I think the biggest mistakes I made as a beginner was 1. trying to make things too neat (unless you have a row of greenhouses behind your place, there is always going to be a hole or two where something failed)

2. not planting for my own tastes - I like eggplant and okra but my husband doesn't so a plant of each is plenty! On the other hand, I love fresh flowers, so I give more room than most veggie gardeners I know to cut flowers such as zinnias and coreposis.

3. Forgeting about shade. It seems elementary to push the tallest plants to the back, but I messed up quite a few times and ended up with a plant shaded out by another plant. It took me a while to learn how the sun moves and how the different structures and houses around me affect the light. I think I have almost got the hang of it now!


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RE: conceptualizing a new garden

Suggestion, plant what you will eat first, then add what you enjoy giving to others. Blueberries grow well in 20-inch and 24-inch diameter containers. Delicious! Also, design your garden, then impulsively change it as new ideas occur to you. The garden design is a living work of art that evolves as we do. Good luck.


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RE: conceptualizing a new garden

Though I love Nasturtiums, I would say don't plant them in raised beds! I was pulling them out by the handful this year and they choked out some basil and a tomato plant!
I would plant them maybe around outer edges of the gardens in order to keep them in check.


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