The potager is not supposed to exist. Three years ago it was part of a larger field that was cordoned off and ploughed in the hopes of turning it into a potato patch. This idea fell through when the contractor involved then spread the wrong topsoil, and nettles and dock leaves were permitted to flourish.
After a few months of making inedible nettle soup and tripping over dock leaves which had more of a likeness to giant prehistoric ferns, I decided to roll up my sleeves and create a vegetable garden which was based on a French style potager. I started by laying a square path along the outside and then a circular path inside this, with paths connecting them. I also made my own hazel hurdles, which were inspired by Monty Don’s. I’m not sure they’re as neat as his but I think that they do the job!
The digging was easier said than done, as most of the weeds were by that stage taller than me and I was constantly reminded that I had the wrong kind of soil. I strimmed it, covered it with plastic, weeded it and dug it. Consistent digging lends itself to all kinds of problems, and usually I am in desperate need of a pair of Monty Don’s infamously snazzy braces, but I have managed thus far without them.
I would be lying though if I didn’t admit that there have been times where I’ve spent hours digging only to look up at the end and feel completely overwhelmed by the vast amount left to do. The constant digging and the onslaught of caterpillars last year nearly persuaded me to give up, but the success of crops like my runner beans and pumpkins encouraged me to keep at it.
I still have some purple sprouting broccoli growing, even after an attack by a neighbour’s goat! The rhubarb and garlic I planted in January are just beginning to sprout, and the buds on the gooseberries and summer fruiting raspberries are just beginning to show as well.
I have to confess to having lured friends down with promises of baked goods in return for help with the weeding, and I am truly grateful for all their slaving. I can only hope that my baking is up to scratch and that they’ll come again since there’s still a lot left to do!