Verey's potager in her garden at Barnsley played a significant
part in veg gardening’s rise from the backwaters
to the gardening limelight. Here she shows how to keep
ahead for the busiest time of year
Since I made the potager at Barnsley vegetable gardening
has always been firmly in the forefront of my plans
for the garden and enjoyment of it. I decided to make
a formally patterned potager because not only is it
very economical on space, but I think the orderly design
adds to the whole atmosphere of productivity that is
the best thing in a kitchen garden.
This year’s weather conditions have been perfect
for growing plenty of produce and it all fits in with
our present day wish to have fresh vegetables picked
from the garden and put straight into the pot. The main
bonuses have been enough frosts in winter and early
spring to put paid to some of the bugs, but allow the
soil a chance to warm up slowly thus creating the best
conditions for preparing seed beds; and plenty of rain
alternating with (some) sunny days.
This goes on throughout
they year but these are the weeks that the potager seems
to offer a steady array of crops to harvest and that
should be the aim of any veg patch large or small. I
think it helps that the area is divided into regular
but quite small blocks whose succession of plants can
be organized individually and yet fit in with the whole
The pattern of beds also makes it easier to plan the
groups of plants in a decorative manner. With some,
for instance lettuce, it is easy to do with alternating
rows of greens and reddish-purple. But by mixing in
rows of slower-growing winter veg such as cauliflowers,
or contrasting tall, thin onions, the tapestry look
takes on ever more variety.
I try and think of my vegetables as garden plants to
be arranged with thought, as you would do in a border.
A good example is how much difference is made to the
runner beans climbing up bamboo canes by simple but
neat squares of golden box enclosing each group.
Infact lots of supports
for climbing or trailing plants are a great asset. Vegetables
gardens, however well planned, can look a bit flat and
so we try and break this up. I keep the support materials
simple – bamboo canes, hazel or other woods are
ideal. One of my favourite effects is a combination
of nasturtiums and sweet peas mixing together.
This time of year also shows you the really quick growers
that are ideal for filling spaces – all the salads,
radishes, spinach, parsley and many gourds for instance.
Success comes from balancing these with the ones that
need longer planning, Last but not least, grow what
you like. There’s no point in struggling with
celery or chicory if no one is going to eat it. Plant
instead another row of those delicious, decorative broad
beans that are just about to be ready now.
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com