Raised Beds || Building a Garden
I’ve always dreamed of having a garden but never got around to it. A friend suggested I watch Monty Don’s French Gardens on Netflix and THAT. WAS. IT.… I knew I wanted a Potager garden. I instantly fell in love with the idea of doing this style of garden. Potager gardens combine utilitarian nature of English kitchen gardens with the symmetry, beauty and style of grand French chateaux gardens.
To add more interest I decided to build the garden around the playhouse we were building for my daughter Alexandria. (Stay tuned for my post next week on her playhouse.) I loved the idea of looking out into the backyard and seeing her little house surrounded by the garden.
I knew I wanted to make the beds out of cedar wood since I wouldn’t have to treat it and it would resist rot the longest. Luckily we had a bunch of untreated cedar pickets left over after having our fence built. They aren’t ideal because they aren’t very thick, so I decided to reinforce them with smaller pickets pieces running vertically every 12” or so. I clamped the long ( 8’) pickets together on either side so that I could easily nail the smaller pieces on the inside. I made sure to cut the inside pieces shorter so they would be less visible from the top of the beds.
I made a drawing of the size of the playhouse and how large the beds would need to be to surround it. I decided there would be 4 beds total - two L shaped beds (5’x3’x2’) to frame the front of the house and two smaller beds in the back (3’x2’). I used thicker wood for the corner posts (2x4s) and nailed them in the same way. I planned to go around at the end and secure all the corners with screws.
After attaching all the vertical interior posts it was time to put it all together! I used the clamps again to hold it steady as I went around and nailed it together.
I decided to finish off the beds by adding a mitered trim to the top edge to help disguise the vertical pickets on the inside. It really helped finish off the look and give them more of a clean finish.
After stapling landscaping fabric underneath all the beds to help protect against weed we flipped them, measured out the layout and filled them up with soil! Because I wanted to do more of a Potager garden feel I decided that the sq. ft gardening method would work best to start off with. With that method you mix equal parts peat moss, vermiculite and compost. I altered the mix a little and used more compost with some topsoil added in as well. Its amazing how much you can fit in an SUV…
Ali decided to take over the tarp we used to mix the soil for a picnic instead. :)
After filling up the beds I began my favorite part…planting!! I used some initial lines to help keep everything symmetrical and straight.
My beds weren’t ready till pretty late in the spring season so instead of planting all seeds I went with planting some transplants as well.
I wanted the beds to be surrounded by gravel so a few weeks after my plants started thriving we had the grass removed, added edging and landscape fabric. I changed one of the sprinkler heads near the beds to a drip line that I ran to each bed. I made a hole on the bottom inside panel of the beds and ran drip lines through to all the beds. Then we laid the gravel on top covering all the drip lines.
During this process we decided to build a little roof for my husbands vintage Datsun convertible so it could live next to the garden. I plan to plant jasmine vines along the cedar posts going up sometime soon!
It may be be little chaotic to call it a true Potager garden but we will get there! I wanted to plant things we would actually eat so I decided to mainly put herbs in the from of the garden so we would haven’t have too many empty holes in front due to harvesting. The potatoes in the back went a little crazier than I expected so I can’t wait to harvest them! them up! Below is a list of all the things I planted! This was earlier in the Spring but most everything is still going strong except for my cilantro which bolted but now I have pretty little white flowers. (Its too hot in Texas for full summer sun Cilantro - we are Zone 8A here) But I read somewhere if you just keep dropping seeds every few weeks you can harvest continuous cilantro before it bolts. I tried it, and so far I have some peeking through so we shall see!
Herbs: Rosemary, Oregano, Sweet Mint, Peppermint, Dill, Thyme, Lavender, Garden Sage, Lemon Balm, Pineapple Sage, Parsley, Eucalyptus, Basil, Thai Basil, Red Rubin Basil, Cinnamon Basil (we love our Basil :)
Veggies: Zucchini, Okra, Eggplant, Corn, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Yukon Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Corn
Flowers: Kept the flowers mostly in pots and also made sure to have some Penta’s and Lantana’s to help attract pollinators.
I started out planning out in detail what should be planted next to what… but in the end I just decided to get my hands dirty and see what looked the best. This is definitely a learning process and I’m trying to learn as much as I can from books but sometimes you just have to learn by doing. I hope this inspires you to start a garden in your home. You don’t need raised beds either! You can plant nearly anything in pots as well.
Stay tuned because next week I will post a step by step on the playhouse I built for the center of the garden!
Below are a few of my favorite things that have been getting the most use when deciding to start my garden. My favorite gloves, shears, trash bin etc. (which comes in SUPER handy for weeds, fallen leaves and branches.)
Good luck and happy planting!! Thank you so much for reading! Hope you enjoyed this post.