Dear Friend and Gardener – I am going to have to go back a bit to give you the history of the 60 x 40 fenced Potager to explain why my main crop appears to be woodchips. Originally this garden began as a 12 x 12 foot veggie garden tilled and planted before I had my hip operation in 2003 and had to limit (try to limit) my garden activities. After my successful hip replacement I added a red raspberry patch right next to the veggies. Then when there was so much excitement about lasagna gardening and sheet composting I added another ten foot of vegetables at the end of the raspberry patch.
This garden was essentially in the middle of a field and deer did come and take lunches here. A fence was needed. Potagers were all the rage with their combination of veggies, flowers and herbs. Well, I decided the time had come to fence an area that would protect all those things. We made a substantial investment in poles and wire, not to mention labor by my husband who insisted he was building nothing less than a stalag. A very different view of the space than mine. In this new space I added new veggie beds, scarlet bee balm, agastache, zinnias and a couple of flowers that couldn’t find a place in the ornamental beds. I also added two blueberry bushes and a row of ten black raspberry plants, a cold frame made from a damaged pyramidal skylight and compost bins and pile. You must admit I really really needed a lot of room. I also needed room simple to maneuver because even after my hip replacement I am not as agile as I was. And that brings us to the woodchips on top of lots and lots of cardboard to make paths. The cardboard comes from our Transfer Station and the woodchips from roadside clearing operations by the town. Rough chips, but functional and free.
This spring I confessed that the blueberries were not doing well, and that the black raspberries had to come out – and that was a job. Black raspberries are incredibly thorny and need more pruning than red raspberries, but most importantly they needed 2 inches of rain a week to produce an edible crop. Neither the clouds nor our well gave us this generous amount of water, so after a three year trial we ripped them out. No point in maintaining a space eating crop when there was no harvest. Next year this space may be a winter squash patch but that project will have to wait until I finish digging up the roots. In the meantime I have planted two hills of Botanical Interests “Lakota”, a heritage winter squash in the space where I used to have a compost pile. The squash should cover an extensive area of chips.
I am beginning to think the paths are encroaching on the veggie beds, but I can pull them back. The cardboard and chips (which do need renewing every spring) make a very comfortable habitat for the worms. At this season the veggies are not easy to see, but there are bean poles, newly planted, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, as well as 50 red onions, summer squash and 2 tomatoes; The foliage in the left corner is a bed of garlic with lettuces and beets on the other side of the bed. Cilantro volunteers coming up here and there.
There I am weeding a bed of cippolini onions, all the rage in our region. This is at the foot of the raspberry patch. On the other side of this path is a bed of peas and carrots. Too small to be photo worthy yet.
I may have confused you with all the quadrants of the garden, but it lets you see the scope of my ambitions and foolishness. This is a one-woman garden.