“What I want is a potager!,” I explained to my husband, “not just a vegetable garden.” It will have to look as good as the food it grows. That is what I set out to do this past Spring – start my “potager.” A trip through the Ontario province of Canada helped illustrate my vision. The country side was dotted by proud farms – rightly so – with geometrical rows of crops, arrangements of flowers, and shrubs all surrounding stately, brick homes. I had never seen such beautiful farms. I found more inspiration in two books, “Designing the New Kitchen Garden” and “Four-Season Harvest.” (I love books.)
I confess I haven’t grown a vegetable since I was a little girl growing up in Wisconsin. I couldn’t eat green beans for years for all the beans we picked! (And then froze so we could eat them all winter long, too.) Fortunately for me then, my old labrador loved all food – including green beans. Fortunately for me now, my taste for them has grown back. I guess I just didn’t get around to starting that vegetable garden before we moved again, and then again. Now, I’m not sure how I ever got along without one!
So, I am a beginner really when it comes to gardening vegetables. But I sure do have a taste for it so it can only get better from here. The idea of a potager intrigued me because it could be ornamental and beautiful – a focus of the garden, and also grow a good amount of food (and flowers) in a small space.
First, I decided where I was going to begin. And that was in the back, back yard. Ideally, a kitchen garden should be right outside the kitchen but that just wasn’t going to work for me. Not the best sun, not the best site with a deck that we plan to turn into a four-season room – future construction. So I decided between the tool shed and the compost – easy access to both to tend the garden. I love “making the journey” back to my little potager before dinner. It is a “passage” to great food. A ritual. Here’s the spot before …
I really want the raised beds to be made from stacked stone but I don’t have the budget for that right now with all the other garden projects I’ve got going on so we just framed the beds with wood temporarily. I love stone. I want to see it age and grow with the garden, to feel permanent. I have allowed for the thickness of the future stone walls in my layout. Here the “framed” beds are waiting to be filled up (viewed from inside the shed).
I placed a thick layer of newspaper in the bottom and started filling. I had a nice pile of old sod that broke down over the winter to start with as a base. Then mixed in some compost, potting soil, peat moss and top soil.