The Potager at Copper Top Cottage May 2010

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This almost didn’t happen. After collecting some of my favorite books on the subject and going gung ho for months about it, there almost wasn’t a vegetable garden at Flowergardengirl’s house.

The Potager at Copper Top Cottage as you see here is in the first phase and I got reenergized about it today. Two things happened to discourage its being here at all but I persevered day by day and now success.

These are heirloom German Johnson and Black Krim tomatoes. There are carrots planted between the plants. The straw is my mulch and the border is that 100 yr old brick I salvaged in the Fall. I was going to use the brick as a patio for Copper Top Cottage but it’s too brittle. It makes a great border.

Two things discouraged me from working on the potager. First, I had emergency gall bladder surgery which has been difficult to recuperate from. It drained my energy and I am/was so sore. But I had a lot of tomatoes grown from seed and they needed to be planted.

So–one day I just started digging at a very slow rate. So slow in fact that I was sure the grass would move in and choke out the tomatoes before I could get to the organized process you see above.

My progress inched along and as you can see the tomato plants are doing grandly. Today my oldest son—who moved back to the area several weeks ago—helped me do some yard work. He mowed, trimmed, and then helped me put down the straw and put the brick in place.

Once it was finished, I got so excited. Imagine me thinking this would not happen. And the second reason this almost didn’t happen was because earlier last week I harvested my first bunch of lettuce.

That lettuce was so bitter and awful that I determined the farmers could do this much better than me. I was gonna give up. But now—seeing this—I’m reenergized. I’m back to thinking about the successes as of date–such as: my cilantro, peppers, crook neck squash and bush green beans are doing well. They are located to the left of Copper Top Cottage. No doubt these tomatoes are going to do grandly. I know I can grow tomatoes.

I didn’t have tomato blight last year. I think it was due to my Bloom Mix by Flowergardengirl. My theory is it fortifies the cell walls of my plants and they are not susceptible to the disease. We will shortly find out if this is true–because 2 of the tomato plants in the new bunch have tomato blight. I sprayed them today with my Bloom Mix by Flowergardengirl and I’ll let you know how it goes. Right now I’m out of the mix and you’ll have to go on a waiting list if you want some. If this fights tomato blight I’ll be bragging about it come Autumn–or sooner of course.

So here you have it folks–I have a potager in spite of all the crazy things that have happened to me this Spring. I’m so glad too cause I’ll need lots of cilantro and peppers to make spaghetti sauce and salsa which my family loves.

I have a lot of people to thank for giving me advice and have been encouraging about my potager. I’m going to write more on these books and folks as the potager grows but I want you to have access to their knowledge right now. It is these books and folks who have driven me on to keep trying. Thanks to all of you.

Mary Ann Newcomer ( who gardens in Idaho and has snow-still-in May errr…see her pictures cause that is just craziness!) at Gardens of the Wild Wild West . She sent me several wonderful books about potagers and suggested to me Jennifer Bartley and her book, Designing The New Kitchen An American Potager Handbook. ~~ which is inspiration for my potager. I want one just like on the cover of this book—in time of course. And check out Jennifer’s new book–The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook! which comes out this Autumn.

Mary Ann and Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings ( who has an amazing article about her chickens HERE and also added a beautiful potager this year) also suggested the book–Carrots Love Tomatoes which is about companion planting. The right plants together can make pest and disease control manageable without chemicals. You can purchase and preview Carrots Love Tomatoes by visiting Dee’s site–clicking through her Amazon widget–and then searching for the book. Dee will get credit for the clickthrough which is cool beyond words! ( Dee!! , I want to be a chicken expert like you!)

One of my favorite new books out that I’ve referenced and will write more about later is called  Grocery Gardening which you can buy at Robin Ripley’s blog Bumblebee Blog. Robin has pictures up today of her potager and the killer egg that one of her hens produced. Ouch-you gotta see that egg. I like chicken people it seems and Robin is more devoted to them than most people are their pets. Robin co-authors this book with a bunch of awesome people I admire–so if you wanna be in the know for one of this season’s best garden potager books that is chock full of recipes too–go get Grocery Gardening.

And finally—a beautiful approach to landscape gardening with Nan Chase and her book, Eat Your Yard. I love this book! Nan is from Asheville, NC in my neck of the woods and I was particularly interested in her artistic approach to incorporating landscape edibles. She talks about 35 landscape and edible plants that also include a recipe. I love her Pickled Nasturtium Seed recipe on page 90.

You are going to hear more about all these books such as Eat Your Yard’s practical advice on everyday uses for plants. It’s not a book that will sit on the shelf and gather dust. It’s an every day lifestyle approach to gardening. Nan says you don’t have to dig up your front yard to have an edible landscape.

Please click on these links and get the books now! They are all sitting on my coffee table for easy reference. I requested these books from all that are on the market this season. I knew they were going to be good and wasn’t disappointed. The pages are full of beautiful illustrations and photos. These books are witty and written by women who’ve been gardening for decades. I have come to trust all of them.

Look for more on these books in the weeks to come as I will certainly say more on them. They’ve inspired me not to give up on edible gardening and they are my heroes.

Oh–This is seedless straw around the beds. It will keep moisture in, compost easily, and will keep the grass away.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Sorry to hear about your surgery but that is a wonderful potager – the old bricks look so wonderful.

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  2. tina says:

    Good job Anna! It looks great and soon you’ll be enjoying good tomatoes. Don’t worry about the lettuce. It is really too hot for it now. Not your fault at all. Keep going…

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  3. Robin says:

    Anna, you are quite inspirational yourself! I’m so glad you got your potager started and your tomatoes planted! I

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  4. It’s looking good! I’m glad you didn’t get discouraged and kept plugging away at it. I like those brick borders around your garden, very neat!

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