Zone 6A, potager garden

mtnrdredux_gwMay 8, 2011

I have been a user of the GW Kitchen forum for about 18 months. As our reno project draws near an end, my thoughts turn to the outside. Like almost all renos, we are way over budget and I am so tired of writing big checks all the time.

I have a landscape plan for the property, done by the same person I used for my last house. I do not want to implement it now because 1) It would be well into six figures and we have already over-improved 2) I may buy some neighboring land which would change the driveway design, a major part of the expense 3) i would like to live in our house a while to see how we use the property and 4) I loved the work he did for us last time, but I am starting to think his style may not suit my new house.

For now, I am attacking two areas. A bed near my front walk, and a fenced potager style garden. (see photo)

I would like the potager garden for veggies. I don't know what's realistic in my zone, but lettuces, herbs, carrots, beets, cukes, green beans would all interest me (im assuming tomatoes are for containers elsewhere on the property). I's also like it for cutting flowers. I have hydrangeas, but also love peonies, delphinium, stock. We have gardening help that has been with the property 15+ years. Higher maintenance plants are not a deterrent. The area is approx 25x32 overall, laid out in four "L" beds, four rectangles, and four barrels.

On the kitchen forum, people post proposed layouts all the time, or just open space, and others are extraordinarily helpful in designing layouts. What is appropriate here? Do people do similar things? What other information should i provide if I am looking for help?

Thanks in advance.

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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Is that your yard or is that just an example of the kind of thing you are wanting to create? Because if that is what you already have, you already have an awesome potager landscape. Are you looking for specific plant arrangement suggestions? I have some photos I took of a similar potager in upper Michigan that I could post for some combination ideas. Let me know.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 9:13AM
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Thanks very much, Lpink, that is our garden in the photo. We bought this property almost two years ago, this is our first spring here, and we have no clue what to plant.

What veggies will grow in our zone in these types of beds? And what cutting flowers? I think the whole thing its pretty much full sun, if that helps.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 9:32AM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

I posted the photos in the "Gallery" part of this forum, otherwise it would clog up the loading time on this post. They are listed under "Potager ideas."

I love this style of garden but pretty much had to give it up in my small urban yard as the local vermin trash almost anything I plant. The bunnies even decimated my small blueberry bush. I am relegated to pots around the house that I can keep an eye on. Herbs are ok though, they don't mess with those. The squirrels bury nuts in the far away pots and throw dirt all over the paths, so I have even given up those! I envy you with the awesome fence!

Check out information on companion planting, that will give you some ideas of what herbs and flowers and vegetables go together. There is lots about it on the Web and in books. There's little scientific evidence behind it, but it is the result of lots of people sharing some tried and true combinations that have worked for them.

I have two books that I like on the garden design subject, one is "The Edible Garden" which is a Sunset book. The other is "Theme Gardens" by Barbara Damrosch. It has a layout for a children's garden in it that looks similar to what you have. But I am sure there are gads of cool picture books you could check out at the library or bookstore to give you ideas. In zone 6 you have a LOT of options!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 11:21AM
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Thank you, LPink, I will be off to the library.

And then I will go look in the gallery, too

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 1:19PM
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Have you also been following the Potager Gardens Forum here on GW? Very active group with great ideas.

Question...have you asked your gardener these questions and possibly to install a vegetable garden for you? An easy solution.

Or, if this is a DYI project then you first you must stop at a book store where you will find numerous books on vegetable gardening. Buy several. Study them. You have many plant choices in your growing zone and the already started young plants can be purchased at your local nurseries and box stores; lettuce, peppers, onions, herbs of all types, tomatoes, egg plant. Buy seeds to sow of the following; green beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, radish, summer squash. The books you have purchased will give detailed instructions for growing each. It looks as though the former owner was growing tomatoes in the front two barrels.

Plan to grow flowers in the potager garden which attract beneficial insects. Again, your books should describe how to do this. I like to sow seeds of cosmos, calendula, low growing nasturtiums, dwarf sunflowers in small pots and when they reach suitable planting size scatter them throughout the vegetables where there is space.

So, dig in, read and plant. And check with your gardener once in while for what I suspect is a wealth of information.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 1:23PM
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Yes, in fact, I am going shopping with my gardener on Thursday. I just wanted to try to do some due diligence in advance. He has already prepared the beds, but as a family activity I would like all of us to be involved in planting and maintenance, too. I may be wrong, but it looks like something manageable for us to take care of.

For example. I didn't know about flowers to reduce insects .. will add that to my list, thanks!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 2:13PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Other good plants for attracting beneficials: yarrow, anise hyssop, catnip, bee balm, dill, chamomile, salvias, borage.

Some cool edible flowers: cornflower or bachelor's buttons, nasturtuims, day lilies, rugosa roses (the hips), calendula, chive blossoms. Pansies too, but I have to say I don't much care for them. I like candied violets and borage flowers, borage tastes like cucumber.

Tansy, (with pretty flowers), rue, sothernwood, artemesia, wormwood, all have interesting foliage and deter insects, (but are toxic to humans too!) as do garlic and chives, which humans like. Pyrethrum dasies and some other types of chrysanthemums also deter pests and look pretty.

Comfrey is supposed to be good for composting but it is gawdawful ugly IMHO. Supposedly the long taproot brings nutrients up from the subsoil. Maybe the same for horseradish, something else I don't like but you might want to include if you think you'll use horseradish.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 2:47PM
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