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New to Potager Forum

Posted by lavender_lass WA zone 3/4 (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 13, 09 at 20:50

Hi, I'm new to this forum and I have a question about non-vegetable plants for a potager. I would like to include some raspberries along the outside and at least one rose in the herb garden section of my planned potager. I've also wondered about dwarf apple trees, but I may not have the room. Does anyone have any recommendations?

It gets pretty cold here in Eastern Washington, but at least the potager is protected from the wind, so it should be zone 4.

I have planned four beds, each 6 1/2 feet by 8 feet and three beds that are 8 feet by 8 feet. The smaller beds will have narrow brick paths about 18 inches wide, with three foot wide grass paths between the beds. Here I plan to rotate tomatoes, cabbage with bush beans, melons and salad/root vegetables. The larger beds are for rotating corn with pumpkins, potatoes with bush beans, and pole beans with broccoli.

I've also included a seating area, with herbs and hopefully at least one rose bush. I plan to include raspberries along an outside fence and blueberries along the back gate. Any other suggestions? Thanks for the input!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: New to Potager Forum

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 14, 09 at 11:34

The smaller beds will have narrow brick paths about 18 inches wide, with three foot wide grass paths between the beds.

I'm confused. Are you saying brick paths within the smaller beds? All of those beds are really wide. You're going to have a hard time managing them. In my former garden my beds were 4' wide. I could reach the middle from all sides, but it was a stretch. I knew I wanted something a little easier in the new garden. Mine are 3' wide now and that's working out great. My center path is 4' and the ones on the side are 3'. I think you'll find that 18" is limiting.

Your basic ideas sound good, but I'd reconsider the bed sizes.

RE: New to Potager Forum

I knew that was going to sound confusing :) I'm hoping to have small paths to walk on, within the bed, just to harvest and weed. The three foot path is grass and actually goes between the beds.

If I had more room, I would design it differently. I looked a lot at Jennifer Bartley's book on Potagers and I noticed her center beds looked too large to reach the plants in the middle, from her brick walkways. I guess she steps into the beds, which most gardeners have told me is not good for the soil. My Mom uses stepping stones in some of her deeper beds (she's been gardening for years) but I thought a narrow path of bricks (kind of an 18" wide basket weave) would look more like a Potager.

I did base the size of my grass path on my Mom's vegetable garden and three feet has been fine for her, but I could go up to four feet if necessary. I think my husband would like it wide enough to fit the riding lawn mower, but then my beds would only be two feet across :) My Mom also edges her beds with flowers (as I plan to do) which opens up more room for at least the corn is not growing into the path.

Thanks for the input and I appreciate any suggestions!

RE: New to Potager Forum

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 14, 09 at 11:52

Lulabelle modeled her potager after the one on the cover of JB's book. I think she can offer some good advice. Hopefully she'll see this thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lulabelleview's potager

RE: New to Potager Forum

I once planted a really deep perennial bed with a stepping stone path running through it. It was a pain. That small of a path is so narrow that you feel like you are walking a tightrope as you try to wiggle around, under, and between plants. When you stoop to work, it's even worse.
I agree with natal. Your beds sound too wide to me too. Is there a way to design your beds so they are extremely long, yet still narrow? This would help make better use of your space without an excessive number of paths.
And, if I were you, I would definitely leave enough space for the riding mower to get through.

Just for your information. My beds are three and a half feet wide and they are perfect for me, especially if I put one foot on the edge to reach in. I am five feet nine tall.
I wouldn't want them any wider.

RE: New to Potager Forum

Hi Lavender Lass and welcome to the forum!

I'm still working through trial and error in my potager garden but I can give you some input from personal experience. My interior perimeter beds are 45" deep and can only be reached from one side. For me, it's not very comfortable and I'll probably put some stepping stones here and there to avoid packing down the soil. My quadrants are 4 feet by 8 feet and can be accessed from both sides very comfortably. So far I've planted flowers, herbs, strawberries and a handful of tomato plants.

I imagine your beds will be easliy accessible since you are planning a small walkway down the middle. Your seating area with herbs sounds beautiful. Looking forward to seeing you project come to life!

RE: New to Potager Forum

Lulabelle, you're garden is beautiful! Your brick paths are so pretty. How wide are they? After seeing your garden, I'm rethinking my design. I still want to use the grass paths (just more affordable right now) but I like the way you planted all the way around the garden, with the larger beds in the middle.

Your garden is so pretty with all the flowers, but I need to put in more vegetables, for practical reasons. Is a 4 feet by 8 feet bed large enough for crops like corn and pumpkins? I have a lot of nieces and nephews, who really like gardening, but their parents are not inclined to put in a garden at their own home. I want to give them the chance to experience home-grown food, so I'm trying to accomodate their vegetable and fruit choices, as well as my own.

Since I'm trying to keep the garden child-friendly, I'm also trying to stay with non-poisonous flowers and herbs, as well as no eggplants or sweet peas. Sweet peas are beautiful, but I'm afraid the little ones might think they're edible. I tried climbing peas this year (edible pea pods) and they had beautiful flowers that were light pink/lavender on top and a darker shade on the bottom half. Not sweet peas, but still very pretty.

Thank you all for the input!

RE: New to Potager Forum

lavender lass, the brick paths in my garden are two feet wide. If I were doing it over again, I'd probably make them three feet. Visually, I like the way they look with the scale of the garden, but it is a little tight for moving around with a wheelbarrow. I purchased a small one that works just fine, but ideally, a little wider would have been better.

Have you browsed around in the square foot gardening forum yet? I did a quick search for growing corn and there was some information that you may find helpful. If you are so inclined, I'm thinking your 4 feet by 8 feet beds may work out well for the square foot gardening method.

Your nieces and nephews are lucky children to have someone like you who is willing to teach them about growing your own food. I imagine it will be a rewarding experience for you as well.

RE: New to Potager Forum

Thank you Lulabelle, I will check out the square foot gardening forum. I have discovered that most of my questions on how to set up my garden is the result of wanting two different styles of gardens :)

I really need to have a big vegetable garden that I can easily access. This is ideally for corn, potatoes, pumpkins, melons, beans, tomatoes, etc. We have a short growing season, but it's really warm, so it's important to grow as much as possible in the three to four months available.

On the other hand, I love the idea of a more romantic garden, with some vegetables, but also lots of flowers, herbs, fruit, etc. I think your garden captures that style perfectly.

I've decided to keep the majority of the vegetables in a "kitchen" or vegetable garden with some edible flowers and a few herbs, but fairly utilitarian. However, I want to use a smaller child-friendly potager garden to grow some fun miniature vegetables, lettuces and spinach, strawberries, some herbs and flowers. This would be the garden my nieces and nephews can "help" me with.

I saw a cute idea for a children's garden, using fairy tales. The example they used was planting some pole beans on a narrow, four foot bean teepee, putting a house at the bottom, a "Jack" figure on the beanstalk and a larger "Giant" figure on the top. That would be really cute in the kids' garden.

Thank you all for the input and Lulabelle, thank you for your beautiful pictures.

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