It’s rather big headed to think that anyone much is going to be interested in the ramblings of an enthusiastic but none too expert vegetable gardener and cook, but when I was searching on the net for design inspiration for my first foray into designing and tending a backyard potager, I was surprised at how little I could find, so I thought I’d share my faltering steps into designing and maintaining my potager which has given me an unbelievable amount of pleasure over the last few months.
One of the things I was most excited about when I moved house nine months ago was the chance to grow things again, and vegetables and fruit in particular. The garden in my new house wasn’t big – about 7m wide and about 30m long, but I was determined to squeeze in as much fruit and veg as humanly possible and also to try to make it look good too. The potager style vegetable gardens of Rosemary Verey, Monty Don, and especially Nigel Slater’s town house potager I’d seen with envy and longing were what I was aiming for, but with little hope of achieving it. As you can see, not a lot had been done to the garden for a long while, so it was a blank canvas.
The house itself took six months of excruitiatingly expensive renovations to make it habitable so, there wasn’t much money left over for the garden. And to make things trickier the previous inhabitant had obviously had a bit of a predilection for concrete, as there were numerous old concrete paths hidden away under the grass.
The winter months were spent poring over two of my favourite books by the great guru of vegetable gardening, Joy Larkcom, searching for inspiration, and also indulging in a rather serious seed buying habit. I probably have enough seeds now for a five hectare smallholding let alone a 200sq metre garden. Guided by the inimitable Joy, I measured my plot and drew a scale drawing of the site onto an A3 sheet of graph paper, and then spent many hours drawing up all sorts of designs. These ranged from the frankly ridiculous to the dismally boring. Eventually I decided to go for something quite simple and called the brilliant gardener and all round superwoman Sue who was going to put in the paths and raised beds for me.